Syche: The Dark Element

Prologue: The Dying Dark

Prologue: Four Remain

I stooped to kneel beside the dead body, the corpse that spread out like an endless expanse before me. My hand plunged into the ink-like mixture and came out only holding fumes, wisps. I turned my hand over as I watched the last droplets of black melt into the air.

The rest too would fade away before the day was done.

The Dark was dead and all the lake of blackness would fade away as if it had never been. It made me shiver in excitement. I'd stood before the exact scene time and ago, days ago, centuries ago, it all blended together. Yet this one, the only one to make me shiver. It was the Dark. The pure unknown, pure evil, pure everything humanity always fought against. Dead.

I considered sitting, draping my feet into that putrid black lake that choked the valley now, surely there could be no harm in it. But the instinctual fear was there. That fear of “what if?” Below us, surely the black soaked into cracks and crevices, tainted the rivers, smothered life, took what it could with it. It's last hurrah. One last act of evil.

No, that isn't fair, I thought. It was never evil. It was what man made it.

I slowly pushed myself to my feet and dusted off.

"What are you looking for?" a man said. My head jerked up to look at the man standing next to me-- an old friend, an accomplice in what we had accomplished today. One of us had killed this thing, I absentmindedly patted the dagger at my waist. We both knew it was me. In another hundred years, he'd probably forget and deny my achievement. He could have it, as long as it was done.

My friend stepped forward and thrust his knapsack into my hands with no warning. "Hold that for a second," he ordered. He opened the flap and revealed two large books. There might as well have been one. The one that shone like the sun, pure and radiant. Light incarnate. He pulled the other out carelessly and left me holding the Book of Light.

He stooped to his knees in front of the lake of blackness and submerged it. The darkness wisped like smoke as he pushed further in until it changed composition and stuck like clawing slime up to his elbow.

However long he stayed like that is too far back for me to remember, but eventually, he pulled his arm out and with it the book. Its cover now shown with the purest black imaginable. It was like my friend held the void itself. A perfect contrast to the Book of Light I now held. What a pair of twins these two would make.

He motioned back for the radiant book I held and together he placed them back in his knapsack, what remained of Light and Dark in their new home.
"Our work is almost done,” I said. “Only four Elements remain: Blood, Release, Metal, and Conduction.”

"That," my friend began, "will not be easy. The Elements are protected and our numbers are too few for war. Not again." I looked at him. I expected some grand twist to his words. Surely he would know the way forward. "I think I'm done. I've worked hard and I can live in the world we've made. At least I think so.”

I was shocked. This man had never promised me anything, but this was betrayal. An unthinkable, gut-twisting betrayal. And of course, he read it in my eyes.

"Not everything can be revenge," he said. "We've scourged the world, and taken all but the remaining four elements from the Psychics. The bloodlines that control the Elements are almost extinguished." He looked me up and down and shook his head. His hand slowly rose and patted my shoulder, as if that was some sort of consolation, and began to walk off.

I turned in disbelief. I imagined I was angry at that moment for years after, but I see now that wasn't the case. I felt nothing. I was too in shock to process any emotion. The anger was a fiction I invented because of what happened next.

As he strode off, his back turned, I followed and unsheathed the dagger at my waist.
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Some people don't like prologues. I think they are mandatory for fantasy.