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SIR DORAN

a knight's quest

By Aaron MorrisonPublished 15 days ago Updated 15 days ago 5 min read
Top Story - June 2024

The fire cracks and spits, offering light and the illusion of solace, but Sir Doran feels no warmth.

He sits on a fallen tree and watches the fire as he rests his hands on the pommel of his sword, its blade chipped and worn, more symbolic than functional. Much like Sir Doran himself.

However, the sword, he hopes, could still be used for its intended purpose, should the need arise.

His armor is mud caked, scuffed, and no longer holds its luster.

He raises his left hand, and presses it against his breastplate where the etching of the symbol of his House is all but rubbed away. Sir Doran only cares for the locket that rests underneath.

In his periphery, he sees the darkness encroaching upon the light, seeking to swallow it with its glutinous maw, pressing in like murderous fingers around a throat.

The Unknown That Lurk circle and stamp within the woods around Sir Doran’s encampment, remaining just out of sight, content, for now, to simply torment him with the knowledge of their presence.

Sir Doran ignores them and places his focus on fire and purpose.

Day arrives, signaled by less darkness and the coming of rain. There is no sun here, the memory of which has begun to elude Sir Doran like some hazy dream that rests at the edge of waking.

He trudges forward, ever forward, spurned on, but not by vengeance.

The cowards, those conniving, treacherous worms that spewed their evil evil upon him, have already met their end. A poetic cycle of a company of worms poisoning and slaying each other, sending one another to be food for worms.

If there would be satisfaction to be found in watching the life expire in their eyes as he drives his sword deep into their bellies, it had been robbed of him long ago.

Sir Doran seeks what was lost.

For that, he will fight.

For that, he will march on.

The snapping of branches, and scurrying of feet still echo within the woods, though they stay further away then they dare at night.

The rain mats down Sir Doran’s long, unkempt hair, flows down his face and disheveled beard, and drips off the end.

His flesh is tight against his face, like the overwound skin of a drum. His bones protrude. His eyes sunken. He looks more ghast than man.

Up ahead, he sees the ruins of a residence. The remaining stones are a mere impression of the walls they once were, and providing home only for vines and lichen. The crumbling hearth still stands as a dark, empty mockery of the welcoming warmth and light it once offered.

Sir Doran looks over the collapsed table and chairs, and the rain filled cooking pot, with emotionless reminiscence. He runs his fingers over one of the stones, leaving the tips of his gauntlets smeared with green among the dull and mud.

With no sense in lingering longer than he already has, Sir Doran walks on.

The rain stops as suddenly as it started, signaling the start of night.

Sir Doran finds the nearest spot to make camp and, as he has for countless nights, lights a fire and sits to watch its flickering dance.

Lady Esmra smiles, her eyes bright and blue like the cloudless sky, her raven hair loose and cascading over her shoulders. The green of the field, and the white and purples of the flowers within, as vibrant as she.

She removes the golden locket that rests against her bosom, and reaches around Sir Doran to fasten it around him. Her fingertips gently caress the nape of his neck as her lips meet his in a sign and a promise.

Lady Esmra steps away and her smile fades as blood seeps and expands on the front of her dress at the very center of her chest.

Sir Doran kneels and holds her body as all the color in the field washes out as the life fades from Lady Esmra.

Life taken by the order of cowardly lords, jealous and fearful of a knight who held no ambition beyond marrying the woman he loved.

Lady Esmra and the field dissipate, and Sir Doran is left sitting and staring at the fire.

From the woods, he hears what might be laughter of enjoyment of the misery, so he steels himself to not give The Unknown That Lurk any more satisfaction.

Morning arrives again, and Sir Doran moves on.

He finally arrives at the bridge he has been seeking. He crosses over the chasm filled with swirling fog, sickly green light, and strange shadows.

Beyond the bridge stands a wall of a single stone stretching as far up and out as to be lost from vision.

At the end of the path is a stone door, with an empty brazier on either side where green flames flicker above.

Below the braziers, two piles of skulls that turn and watch Sir Doran approach.

Their teeth begin to chatter in excitement as Sir Doran draws cloSir until he stops a few strides in front of the skulls

He waits to be acknowledged.

“What hast thou lost, Sir Doran?” asks the pile to his right.

“My love.”

The skulls chatter their teeth in agreement.

“What hast thou lost, Sir Doran?” asks the pile to his left.

“My faith.”

The skulls chatter their teeth in agreement.

“What wouldst thou give to have them returned to you?”

“Yes. What wouldst thou give to have them returned to you?”

Sir Doran removes his gauntlets and reaches up to his neck. He bows his head as he unclasps the locket, removes it, and lays it out in his offering hand.

The piles chatter excitedly.

“You wouldst offer this freely?”

The skulls all repeat and echo the refrain.

“Yes.”

“What is it that thou offer?”

“My last connection to her,” Sir Doran replies.

The chattering grows louder.

“My hope,” he answers.

The chattering a deafening sea of applause.

“We accept your offering.”

The locket, shining and untarnished, rises from Sir Doran’s hand, hovers and turns for a moment, then vanishes.

The grumbling and scraping of stone on stone begins as the locket disappears, and light seeps from the growing cracks of the opening door.

The way opens, and the piles of skulls turn and watch Sir Doran pass into the blinding white brilliance.

HorrorShort StoryFantasy

About the Creator

Aaron Morrison

Writer. Artist. I write horror primarily, but dabble in other genres here and there.

Influenced by Poe, Hawthorne, Ligotti, John Carpenter, and others.

Everyone has a story to tell.

Author of Miscellany Farrago

instagram: @theaaronmorrison

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Comments (6)

  • Nathal Nortan9 days ago

    Thanks Aron, this is good, I really like it.

  • Matthew Fromm9 days ago

    Ooo consider me invested. Great top story. Got some Macbeth energy here

  • Congratulations on your top story.

  • Superb! Congrats for Top story!!

  • Margaret Brennan10 days ago

    What a fantastic imagination. Want to read more. Bravo!!

  • Dana Crandell15 days ago

    Powerful imagery and I like the terms you've used to describe the dangers: The Unknown that Lurk and the miSiry. Great creative writing!

Aaron MorrisonWritten by Aaron Morrison

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