Darker Than Night

By MCross

Disclaimer I own none of these characters and write them simply for enjoyment.

Many thanks to Katy, my Beta. You're wonderful!

Please be kind, this is my first fic in ten years. Please let me know what you think, thank you.

Chapter One -

The forest was dark and forbidding, giving off an air of extreme unease. Dark clouds gathered menacingly with the illusion that they sat in the tops of the trees. If there had been anyone present to listen, they would notice that all the normal sounds of the forest were absent, no creatures stirred. It was like the silence of death. The forest seemed frozen in time.

Long minutes stretched, with only the clouds' movement to indicate the passage of time, until time made no sense. The clouds deepened in colour, becoming blacker by the moment, a strange darkness that seemed to consume all life or light left in this eerie place.

However unbelievable, this was truly daytime and not the deepest hours of night, but with each passing moment it grew darker than that, perhaps darker than any night. If it were truly night there would be, or at least should be, some light, be it from the stars or moon.

This great black presence was devoid of any hope or love, only allowing despair to spread like wildfire throughout the forest.

The wind began to slowly rise. Small piles of leaves seemed to come to life, twisting and swirling around until they danced in miniature whirlwinds. The winds grew stronger until the leaf-laden trees themselves seemed to come alive. A deep moaning sound seemed to fill the air, as the wind made its way through the forest. Tree limbs whipped their way back and forth, swaying in a macabre dance, sounding very much like the cracking of a whip.

An enormous flash of lightning rent the darkness, followed by an explosive crack of thunder. Tense silence fell once more, only to be broken by louder, deeper crashes of thunder. Rain began to fall, slowly at first, just small gentle drops before coming faster until the rain seemed to pour from the sky. It fell in sheets drenching everything in sight, ripping through leaves by sheer force. If any of the fair race of the Wood Elves had been present, they would have heard the loud moans of distress that came from the trees, adding to the cacophony of sound. Nature screamed in pain. The unnatural storm hurt all things in its way; for a storm cared not for the creature and plants it met, seeking only its own path as it tore its way through the forest.

The noise continued to grow, thunder and lightning increased. The wind reached such a force that no human would be able to stand in it. The trees swayed as the wind threatened to uproot them.

Hoof beats sounded suddenly, although one would have to listen with all their might to hear it above noise. The magnificent horse came suddenly into sight. The horse was tall, sprightly and a deep black, though a large white diamond shape sat on its forehead. It moved in the darkness and would have been invisible but for the flashes of lightning, which lit the dark forest for several prolonged moments, before all was once again plunged into darkness.

The great horse stopped. It seemed to be in deep distress; sweat lathered its body and its sides trembled as it drew in heaving breaths. It wore neither bridle nor saddle though on its back was a strange lump. It stood for a few minutes before continuing on its way once more. The horse ignored all of the sound about it, focusing solely on its task.

Finally, the horse came to the edge of the forest, away from the harsh whipping of the trees. Stopping once more, it neighed and nervously pawed the ground. Now that they were here its master would have help.

The unidentified lump on the horse's back did not move and made no sound, but as the horse stood silent once more, it slid from the horse's back to the ground with a sickening thump, lying completely silent. The horse gently nudged the form with its nose, getting no response. Another nudge met no resistance or appearance of life, but revealed one elegantly long-fingered, pale hand, tinged with a deep red.

The horse was unsure of what to do now. It was obvious that his master was unable to continue and he would not leave him, even this close to the forest. The weary black creature did the only thing possible. It knelt, lowering itself carefully against the lump, sharing its warmth with the unmoving being. Hope for help for its master seemed to be fading with each minute that passed…