The Dark Hours of the Night

I thought I was asleep, dead in my bed, as some would say, but I find myself here in this dark place. The moon is shining dimly between the clouds and though I can see no one I know, deep in this forest, I am not alone. The feeling of being watched is too strong and it pesters me like a swarm of angered wasps but hard as I try it won't go away.

Distraught but not frozen, I begin to walk deep into the darkness, watching the abyss of the night as I do.

Forever will we stay…

I jump at those haunting words and spin about, searching through the night. A quiet shuffle across the ground behind me causes me to jump as a cat would before turning around to face whatever, but only find darkness in its wake.

Forever will we stay…

"You," I stutter, fear creeping up my spine "who are you and what do you want with me?" A snicker and the groaning of a tree branch is the only reply. Dread instantly grips my soul and my legs take on a mind their own as I run, run deep into the darkness, trying to get away.

Forever will we stay…

That chilling, haunting, malevolent sentence comes again, over and over as I try to flee. I know it's futile, I know their gaining; I can hear them, in the trees, on the ground, stalking me like a hawk would a mouse.

Regaining lost composure, I stop suddenly and face whatever these things pestering me are. With heavy breath, I see four bestial like bodies and eight demonic eyes staring out at me mockingly.

"W-what…w-who are you!" I exclaim, partly angered, mostly scared, only drawing snickers from the beasts.

As if on cue it drops from a tree. It's a short, ruffled humanoid creature wearing dull black clothing with a shimmering steel sword strapped to its back.

"Ye know, who we be." It said, evil burning deep within its blood red eyes. "And we will never leave ye. Forever will we stay…"

Its voice, as raspy as sand, its words as hot as fire, burn deep into my heart, mind, body and soul. I can't think, can't feel, can't breathe! All I can do is stare at this foul monster before me in fear, anger and hatred for what it is doing to me.

They again snicker as the sword wielder moves to stand just inches in front of me. With a wicked sneer his hand reaches behind him to grab the metallic weapon fastened to his back. He draws the weapon as I bow my head slightly to look away.

Forever will we stay…

I look up in time to see the demonic thing raise the blade high over my head. For the second time I cannot move, can't feel, can't think, nor breathe as I watch the sharp steel descend in a quick movement towards my head.

And then…I wake…

With a panicked jolt I sit up, cold sweat covering my entire body. Realizing I am safe at home in my bed, I release a stuttered sigh in relief before swinging my legs off the bed and bowing my head slightly, trying to compose myself into at least a reasonable mental state.

I remain that way a moment, convincing myself it was only a dream, nothing but a dream. I still don't fully believe this though as I lift my head, looking over the dank barracks of the Dragoon military. The other three are asleep, tucked away nicely under the covers blissfully forgetting about their duties and more than likely dreaming of something more favourable to them.

I smile grimly to myself before hoping off my bunk and snatching my cloth shirt from atop a large trunk, pulling it over my bare chest. A loud noise to my side causes me to turn my head. Peering at the bunk beneath mine I see that its occupant is snoring quite happily while mumbling indiscernible sentences.

I shake my head. Karsh could probably sleep through anything. I had convinced myself a long time ago that his mop of long, thick lavender hair settles in his ears at night and the only thing that could pierce it was the dragon's roar that signaled morning. I still believe that.

"I'm glad some of us can sleep." I mutter quietly, annoyed that another of my odd, frightening dreams had woke me up. Shaking my head again I snatch up the dragon sword, Einlanzer, and latch the belt to which it is attached through the loops of my worn leather pants. Sitting on the trunk I pull on my armored boots, the only pair of boots I have, before quietly exiting the room and weaving through the maze of halls and stairways that's associated with the barracks and Viper Manor above it.

After several long minutes I find myself wandering out the front doors of the huge manor and quickly through the large elegant gates protecting the only means of entry. I walk deftly through the open, grassy plains before suddenly stopping in the middle of nowhere and lying down in wind-propelled blades of green.

The night sky captures my eye with the awe-striking sight of thousands, no, millions of star, shimmering elegantly on the vast background of black. They seem to dance with the full moons, which shed eerie white light off their red and blue surfaces only adding to the beauty of the night.

My thoughts wander to times, places, people and duties as the warm El Nido night mixed with the soothing wind slowly draws me into drowsy state. Lazily I run my hand through my disheveled sandy blonde hair, feeling its thick natural spikes between my fingers before leaning back on my elbow as my eyes gently began to droop making my body feel heavy.

Forever will we stay…

With a loud cry in surprise I'm wide-awake, while looking about with the Einlanzer drawn and held firmly in my hand.

Ye din't ferget…did ye?

"Who the hell are you!" I growl, attempting to quell both fear and anger. "Show yourself!"

Silly lad, we be here, we have always be here. With you.

"Stop with the mind games!" I exclaim with snap, allowing a small fit of rage to escape me.

Suddenly something begins to appear in front of me. I drop into a defensive stance, my left arm held slightly in front of me with my blade close by, waiting to block an attack.

"Ye know young lad. Ye be awfully apprehensive. T'is bad fer ye heart, Dunnae know?"

I glare at the creature, the same from my dream with hatred burning in my eyes. I'm too angry to feel frightened of the creature now, or any of the other four that suddenly materialize behind him.

"As fer Ye earlier question, Ye know who w-"

"None of that!" I snarl, my livid tone causing it to stop. "Now tell me who the hell you are!"

It exchanges looks with the ones around it before turning back to me and sneering wickedly, knocking down my courage level slightly. It walks up to me hardly wary of the Einlanzer as I held the blade ready to strike.

"We are ye nightmares, Glenn." It says in an unnatural, malevolent manner. "We be ye hopes and dreams that ye tossed to the side an' ye never pursued for ye were afraid. 'ny pain ye've ever felt, 'ny sorrow that has filled ye wee little heart. We be ye fears lad, an' after being pressed to the back of ye mind fer so long we be thinkin' t'is time we came out after so long. Dunnae agree?"

I have nothing to say.

"And we be thinkin' ye be deserving some punishment fer condemning us like that." They all glare at me with a sinister look, there eyes ravenous for the revenge they've sought upon me for so long.

The humanoid one laughs evilly while drawing it steel blade, allowing me to jump back instinctively, moving to stand with my left side partially to him while bending my knees slightly as I move my legs to shoulder width. My left arm is held up defensively, bent at a ninety degree angle slightly below and out from my face. I allow my right arm to sit slightly bowed at my side while I grip the Einlanzer fiercely.

The armed one waves his hand in my direction causing the four behind him to lunge at me. I wait until the last possible moment then hop backwards getting off a swift powerful swipe with my sword, striking along the side of ones neck, sending it to the ground to writher and scream before exploding into thick black smoke.

Surprised, I lose my concentration for a precious second before being slammed into from the side forcing me backwards before hitting the ground harshly and tumbling like a rag doll through the grassy fields.

I won't allow myself to be dazed as I stand back up. Dropping back into my stance I face the three remaining creatures bounding at me, their orders taken from the humanoid one behind them.

Full of rage I draw my blade close to me and shut my eyes. I feel power well within my body and move through my arm to engulf the Einlanzer with a transparent green glow, shedding dull light around me for the split second before pulling my sword back and give a mighty slash at empty air. As I do so a long thick beam of energy disperses from the tip of my sword, creating a sharp, curved blade of energy which tore through the air and ultimately the three creatures leaving a surprised, satisfying look on the other blade wielders face.

They don't call the Dragoons the pride of El Nido for nothing you know.

"Very nice! Very, very nice! Ye be good Glenn, Karsh trained ye well." It grins, while walking towards me in a cocky manner. "But I'm afraid ye gotta go now. Ye see I-" I don't allow him to finish his sentence as I dart forward, moving the Einlanzer swiftly to swipe at his head. There's a loud clash as steel clicks against steel, sending sparks flying through the air, shedding brief light upon the battle. Standing at a dead lock, our faces are inches apart as we both push hard against each other's blade. I can smell his acidic breath as he sneers up at me causing me to sneer back in mortal defiance. I kick out with my foot, connecting with his gut, forcing him backwards hardly managing to maintain balance.

It snarls maliciously at me before bouncing to its feet and striking its sword hard down towards my head, so swift I hardly have the time to deflect it. My teeth grit tightly together as it unleashs blow after blow to rain upon me, scarcely leaving me time to lift my weapon and block the spiteful blows.

Suddenly with a loud roar it swings its weapon down upon me with as much force as it could possibly muster, such a blow I cannot block so I jump, deflecting the swipe best I can. I find it is not good enough as I feel the tip of its blade drag jaggedly across my skin, slicing shallowly through the strong muscles of my chest allowing me a pained and angered grunt. I glare at the creature, who seems thoroughly delighted at the sight of blood, my blood, on his blade before it strikes me where I'm wounded with a steeled toed boot.

I release a loud cry in pain as I'm sent back into the field, instantly feeling its grotesque form kneeling upon my injured self.

"I told ye, ye would pay." It says after letting out a loud chuckle and placing a clawed finger between my eyes. I glare audaciously at it causing it to growl and drag its claw roughly down the right side of my nose before flicking it off my cheek though I refuse to yell out in pain.

With a last malevolent snicker in triumph it raises its blade high above my head, readying to jab it to my chest. "Dunnae worry Glenn, Ye dun't need ta fear death. Death is only the beginning."

"Keep telling yourself that." My cold remark causes his eyes to open wide in shock as my legs swiftly wrap around his midsection and jerk him viciously backwards to slam harshly into the ground sending his blade flying to land several feet away. His momentum of falling pulls me to a sitting position were I ignore the blood streaming down my face, I ignore the excruciating pain in my chest and gouge the Einlanzer deep into the depths of his skull.

Twisting the blade slightly I remove it before shoving the dead creature off of me disgustedly. I begin to stand as I notice the body swelling rapidly. It continues to swell at the abnormally fast rate, looking as a marshmallow would if thrown into the depths of a fire. I put on a disgusted look as the bloating continues, snapping the restraints of clothing. It almost looks as though it's going to…

KA-BOOM!

The serene feeling of floating on air fills my mind, as time almost seems to stop. For several long and blissful seconds nothing but that wondrous feeling flows through my veins. Then for a split-second I thought I were dead though reality hit me as the unforgiving ground met my back and sent me back up into the air, flipping me slightly before landing on my front and bouncing again. After a few moments of this hell I finally stop, flat on my face. I manage to lift my head painfully and look back at the creature's body though all that was left was a smoldering pile of ashes.

I blink before allowing my head to fall back to the dirt. Every muscle in my body aches with agonizing pain, breathing seems to hurt more than its worth and I can feel my open wounds throb and burn unbearable. Taking this and what just happened into thought, I begin to laugh spitefully, causing me yet more pain, which causes me to laugh harder at the simple irony.

I laugh until it's impossible to do so any longer and look up at the sky. I remain that way until a throbbing headache over comes my beaten form, sending me into darkness.

The intoxicating smell of sea air fills my nostrils, rousing me from the dreamless slumber I had fallen into. I slowly open my eyes only to half squint them shut due to the bright light shining down upon me. As I allow my eyes to adjust I can feel a soothing wind caress my exposed skin and play gently with my wild hair as blades of grass tickle my neck and arms. A small smile plays across my lips but quickly switches to a cringe as my muscles begin to pulsate with wave after wave of burning pain. My chest and the right side of my face sting heavily as I suddenly remember the happenings of the other night.

Willfully I force myself to sit up. As I look about I permit my jaw to drop at what sits before me. Grass, grass and more grass! Where's the soot? The smoldering pile of ash? The creases in the grass from battle? The damned crater caused by the friggin' explosion!

"Where is it?" I mumble before jumping to my feet and completely losing my temper. I throw my head back and look at the sky before shouting as loud as I can "Where the hell did it all go!" I then release a very loud throaty yell in frustration before my sore legs buckle beneath me dropping me into a rough kneeling position.

I stay there a long time, breathing heavily while reliving the horrid nightmares and events of the previous night. I suddenly find myself remembering when I was a little boy no more than 4 or 5, being sung to sleep by my mother. She would always sing about beautiful angels or the light within the darkness. Of course when I was a child I paid no heed to the lyrics, just the soothing sound of my mother's voice as she sang.

"Glenn." She would always say to me just before I was ready to sleep. "Beware the fears of others and beware fears of your own. Watch yourself as you grow and remember to always take heed to the dark hours of the night."

Looking back on that now I realize what she meant. I smile slightly while dwelling on old memories before releasing a small chuckle.

"I don't think she meant it quite as literally as I've experienced." I mused, vaguely aware I was speaking to myself. With a quiet grunt in amusement I get back to my feet, slightly more careful this time while holding my head lightly. Scanning the area once more I spot the Einlanzer off in the distance, stuck blade first in the ground. I slowly make my way towards it, ignoring the protest of my burning muscles.

I reach out my hand and pluck the sword from the earth and remove the dirt from its tip by wiping it on my pants. As I do so I hear a loud shout off in the distance.

"Glenn, GLENN! What in fire dragon's name are you doing out here! I should kick your little dragoon a-"

I shake my head, drowning out the rest of his short and inappropriately worded speech. I sheathe the Einlanzer and start off gingerly in his direction. Looking ahead of me I see his tanned and well toned form covered in white pants and V-ed vest lightly jogging towards me, his large Ax and long lavender hair bobbing up and down slightly on his back. I suddenly find myself wondering why his clothing has those oddly drawn red suns and green teeth-like drawings on them.

As I watch him quickly draw near, the right side of my face begins to burn. Slowly I squeeze my right eye shut, helping to suppress the pain caused by its neighboring wound.

"Kid, I swear if I find out you've been…" He trailed off a moment before stopping little more than 100 feet from me. "Holy hell! What happened to you!?"

I open my mouth to explain. Then again how do you explain that a horrible dream woke you up and you left the barracks to find some peace when suddenly the revolting creatures from your nightmare appeared before you resulting in a life or death battle and at the end you were blown up and knocked out until just a few moments ago. Especially to a man who won't believe it until he sees it who also happens to be your commanding officer and one of your better friends?

It's extremely hard even with evidence, that of which I do not have.

"I couldn't sleep so I…I came out here and was attacked by a wild dragon." It sounds horribly lame to me, though with the dragons' breeding grounds so close by and at the height of their nesting time, not entirely unbelievable.

Karsh looks at me for a long time trying to find any untruth to my story. I keep my face straight and my breathing steady. Eventually he nods his head slightly and grunts "Damn dragon got you real good. Common lets get you back to the barracks and see if we can do anything about your wounds." I nod and we both begin back towards the Manor at a slow pace

As we walk I allow my mind to drift idly back to thoughts of what mother said. Both she and father had always told me never to hide my fears just be wary of them and confront them anyway possible. If they were alive now I think they'd be proud of me for I faced my fears and won. I reflect back to what the one demon said about exiling them to the recesses of my mind. I silently swear never again to do that. I swear upon my honor as a Dragoon never again to enter the lost, forgotten, dark hours of the night.