Nightmare

She has come from the shadows. She brings all the creatures of nightmare with her.
He stands alone. But is his will enough to stop her?

A little fantasy short story for my readers to enjoy.

NIGHTMARE

Ithraira turned to watch the throng pouring out into the valley below. They were many. They had slept for aeons waiting to walk on this earth again.

Once, they had ruled the land. Enslaving all to serve their will. It had taken many of the inferior creature’s lifetimes to crush their resistance, but all had bowed down to her kind’s ascendency.

Once they had prevailed and swept the lands of all resistance, they had retreated. Why rule a world where none would challenge you? Ithraira and her kind had withdrawn to the dark places, shrinking away to await a time when they would find a race suitable to challenge them.

Some amongst her brethren had broken the laws of hibernation. They awoke early and snuck into the realms to feed and to play, legends. Word of their tinkering had crept into the stories of the new peoples who had risen in their absence. Tellers spoke of her and her kind in taverns. Yet they knew nothing of the truth.

She reached down to the captive cowering at her feet, placing a strong finger under his chin and raising his face so that his eyes met hers. She could feel him trembling, feel his sickly loathing, and feel his fear. His muscles tensed in anticipation. Yet Ithraira did not strike him. She stroked his cheek and leant her head closer.

His language was unknown to her as he began to babble, his foul breath tickling at the hair on her face. She shifted her grip and grasped his jaw firmly. Then she raised the fingers of her other hand and circled her long index finger close to his temple. A twisting rope of dark smoke began to ooze out from under her fingernails, caressing his flesh. It pulled at his skin as it trickled to the edges of his eyes, then she forced it into the gap between his eyeball and the socket, pushing her power into his optic nerves and through them into his brain.

This one was strong; he resisted her influence. Flashes of him dressed in metal plates and carrying a large sword struck at her mind. In some of the images he wore a golden crown upon his head. In others he had a simple hat of straw. She forced him back, stripping away his resistance so that he stood naked and alone, embarrassed of his own flesh, shrivelled before her might.

In this place of thought she spoke to him.

“What do you wish for?” Her voice was strong and low, like the thunder heard before a storm.

“I..I wish that you were gone. That you and all the children’s nightmares who follow you would leave and let mankind be.” His voice was shrill to her ears, as he pleaded, like all who had pleaded before him.

A pity. She had hoped he would put up more of a fight.

“Will you serve me?” She asked.

He froze in place. Words seemed lost to him.

“Will you?”

He shook his head. “What are you? Why do you ask this of me?”

“Many times, my kind have come. Each time we look to conquer. Each time I hope to find life which can resist us. Over the passing of countless of your lifetimes we have always won. We restore the world. When life starts to eat away at the planet, we come. We play our games and drink our fill. Then we step away and allow nature to begin again. But it has become tedious. I look for a challenge. Some day I hope to find my match. Then I will have a mate.”

With a great effort of will he stood. His muscles spasmed as he stared incredulously at her, his limbs barely supporting him. Then he turned his back on her and took a step away.

This was new. Never before had one turned from her. Not in this place. She drove her thoughts deeper into him.

He hesitated. A chasm opening before his feet, with deliberate effort he placed a foot forward.

‘No.’ She thought. This is not possible.

The man took another step. Then another, walking his own path. The landscape she built was nothing to him. He should have fallen into the abyss to burn in the fires below, but he walked on. She thrust deeper into his mind and saw what he saw.

A field of wildflowers stretching to the horizon, a gentle wind causing the blooms to bob and dance as he passed. She tore at the image. Shredding it, pushing blood and darkness into his mind with all the force she could bring to bear.

The pressure of his thoughts pushed the invading smoke from his mind, tendrils of it slapping harmlessly against his cheeks. He put a fist to the rock-strewn floor to push himself up on one knee. His eyes still met hers. His strong jaw still clenched in her hand. She released him and stepped back to watched him struggle to his feet.

Her eyes followed his as he glanced at the horde. A throng of goblins frolicked in the valley, throwing the head of a great boar between them in a game that only they knew. A huge hulking ogre strode forwards, the sound of rock grinding matching its heavy strides. Fairies flitted through the air, golden, glittering cascades of light punctuating their passing as they squealed their delight to be free. Orcs and trolls; elves and unicorns; dragons and dwarves; all cavorted as they poured forth upon the world.

Ithraira smiled at all her creatures and the havoc they would bring.

“No. This shall not be.” He turned back to her, “You are the reason I sleep with my feet covered. You are the reason I light candles at night.” Then he stepped close to her wrapping her in his arms and she felt the cold tug of iron as it pierced her flesh.

“At last!” She thought.

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