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The Disappearance

by Kelson Hayes 2 months ago in Fantasy
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Into The Night

The Eastern Shore

FAEN, AENOR

Autumn, 1E72

There was a light mist in the air as cool autumn rain sprinkled down on the elvish town of Faen. The sun was setting beyond the Aryan Forest that comprised their nation of Aenor, sinking on the horizon of the Aerbonean Ocean off the coast of Legion some hundreds of leagues away to the west. Sendarin guided his boat back to shore as the evening closed in upon him. He would tie it off at one of the posts that served as the town's makeshift dock so that the tide didn't carry it out to sea, rowing his ways towards the elvish longboats that lined Faen's shore. He breathed a sigh of relief as he reached the beach and took his boat to rest with its fellows after a long and peaceful day of fishing.

He'd made quite a fair haul for the day, having caught fourteen decently-sized cod and salmon off the coast where he rowed his way out into the North Sea. Sendarin was no different than the average Aenorean elf; he had long, flowing blonde hair with grey eyes and pale, shimmering white skin. His face was naturally smooth and he was slender, but taller than the men of Aerbon— standing roughly two metres tall. The rainfall preceded what looked to be the onset of a heavy storm as dark clouds drifted towards the Aenorean coast, and Sendarin gathered his day's catch along with his fishing gear as he made ready to leave.

Looking up at the sky as he slung his haul over his shoulder, he stared at the storm clouds as they brewed behind the lands across the sea on the eastern horizon. The distant shore was a mysterious and ominous sight to the elves of Aenor, though they dared not traverse the frigid waters of the North Sea towards those lands, shrouded in the perturbing fog where they slumbered menacingly on the horizon. Indeed, few dared to sail far out from the coast at all, and tales of drownings were not uncommon amongst those who did. Sendarin was fairly cautious; not travelling any further out than the average fisherman, though allowing himself to drift far enough from the shore to bring in a decent haul. As it was, he had seen the storm brewing and decided that it was best to make for land even as the first sprinkles of rainfall began to shower down.

“That's a nice catch you've got there!” one of his fellows laughed as Sendarin made his way from the docks. The fellow fisherman was still finishing up with gathering his things, having just tied off his own boat at the shore.

“You don't seem to have done too bad yourself! Soon enough we'll have fresh herbs from the Ahglorians to better celebrate our days!” Sendarin responded, sharing in the merriment.

Several more of the fishing boats drew in towards the shore as the men took their respective loads and departed for their homes. When it was possible, the Aenorean elves preferred to eat fresh fish, along with a diet of fruits, vegetables, beans, eggs, nuts, and oats— as well as bacon, poultry, venison, and other types of meat and game imported from the neighbouring Kingdom of Legion and the pagan lands of Ahglor. The elves of Aenor also dried the fish they caught and salted it or pickled them in brine to store them longer-term through the cold winter season.

Unlike the warm currents of the Aerbonean Ocean along the imperial wine coast, the frigid currents of the North Sea brought with them cooler temperatures and more mild and diverse seasons to the elves of Aenor, as opposed to the year-round fair-weather experienced in the Kingdom of Legion. So it was that although Faen was further south— parallel to Veinos and Mardé— the elvish port experienced pleasantly imperial Spring and Summer seasons whilst enduring harsher Ahglorian Autumns and Winters. Sendarin braced himself against the waves of light rain that pelted him along with the winds that assailed him on his trek home, carrying all of the fish he had managed to catch in a sling over his shoulder as he made the walk.

Passing under the protection of the Groot trees and their towering boughs, Sendarin trekked through the elvish town where he'd spent the entirety of his life, making his way home to his beautiful wife and son. The sun disappeared behind the infinite vastness of the Aerbonean Ocean as the rain gradually grew in intensity whilst he traversed the woodlands on his serene walk. The elf sighed contentedly, having finally reached the place that he called home even as the first crack of thunder sounded. Lightning and thunder marked his arrival, alongside a sudden downpour of heavy rain. He set the fish to hang before entering the tent that he and his wife shared, greeting her upon his entry where she slept. Their elfling son slept in his own tent in a cot, not far from their own. Creeping upon his wife, Sendarin slipped under the covers of their improvised bed upon the grassy earth, nestling up against his wife as he wrapped his arms lovingly around her.

“How was your day whilst I was away? I missed you.” Sendarin murmured as he kissed his wife's neck and shoulders, his hands roaming down her body as they caressed her silhouette, reunited after a long day apart.

Isalé let out a soft chuckle as she rolled over to face her husband, wrapping her arms around his neck as she pressed her body against his. She kissed the tip of his nose before moving up to kiss his forehead, followed by his cheeks and eyes, ears, neck, and mouth— laughing as she did so. Sendarin gasped involuntarily as he felt the warmth of his wife's body pressed lightly against him, her breasts gently rubbing against his chest as she pushed him down onto his back before mounting him. Sendarin's heart fluttered and he felt light with excitement as she made his heart race beneath her; Isalé returned her husband's tender caress as she set to work upon unbuttoning his shirt to expose the bare chest it contained, kissing every inch of his body as her fingers worked their way lower. Sendarin reached beneath his wife's dress to feel the warmth of her silky smooth skin upon his fingers, groping for her breasts as she let loose a moan.

Feeling her husband's cock throbbing against her in lustful arousal, she reached into his pants, gently stroking the shaft as she lightly kissed Sendarin on his lips. Inserting his fingers into her as he felt the wetness dripping down them, Isalé moaned her lover's name as he smirked, biting her ear in loving playfulness before whispering into it; “This night will be the most memorable of our lives.” Hearing his words, she took his shaft into the loving embrace of her hands as she put it into her warm insides, riding him in waves like the ocean crashing upon the shore. She steadily increased in speed and forcefulness as the night drew on, grinding him into the earth itself as she pushed him as deep as she could whilst he wrapped his arms around her waist, thrusting with all of his might as she rode him. Digging her fingers into him as her legs tightened around him, Isalé felt her legs shaking as her whole body spasmed in orgasmic climax and she felt her husband's warm fluids shoot up her insides as he came with her, groaning as she collapsed on top of him. Taking advantage of the moment, Sendarin grabbed her by the waist and rolled her over to take his turn dominating her from above.

“You really want to give Siguil a sibling, don't you dear?” Isalé teased as she moaned beneath her husband.

He laughed even as he set to himself to work, yanking her legs back as he pushed himself deep inside her with a loving kiss as his response. He wrapped one arm around her, tightly holding her by the back whilst the other gripped her round ass, ceaselessly pounding her raw as he delivered long, hard thrusts without breaking the pace. Her breasts jiggled teasingly, popping out from the dress that contained them whilst she quivered beneath him, crying out as he drove her to the point of climax for a second time. Though she felt herself losing control as the feelings washed over her, it almost seemed like a single eternal orgasm that took them beyond the constraints of time and space. The physical world around them had ceased to exist as the pair found themselves interlocked in that moment, and they made love until sleep overtook them, even dreaming of it to the point that they couldn't remember that anything outside of their love had ever existed at all...

“Siguil!” Sendarin called out his son's name after sharply awakening from his slumber to what he assumed to be a thunderous clap in the night, hearing his son cry out as a dark blur streaked off from where he slept into the depths of the night. The shadowy streak vanished into the night, covered by the torrential downpour of rain that blanketed the sleepy fishing town in that early hour of the morning prior to the dawn's first light.

“Isalé, awaken! I fear for the worst!” the elf cried out his wife's name even as he turned to pursue whatever it was that he had seen, drawing an elvish dagger as he charged off into the night. Waking just in time to witness her husband rushing out of the tent that they shared into the night that enveloped the sleeping fishing town, Isalé followed after him, racing without thought into the storm outside— only to spot her husband fleeing their home as he disappeared behind the thick veil of rain that assailed them from all sides.

“Sendarin!” she cried out before turning towards the tent where their son slept soundly, or so she thought prior to stumbling upon the empty cot where he would have been. Claw marks mauled the surface of the elfling child's bed and the fabric of his blankets was ripped and torn, dotted with specks of fresh blood. Anguish and terror seized her heart, though she was unaware and oblivious to whatever it was that had transpired while she rested.

Turning from the empty cot, Isalé charged off into the stormy night in pursuit of her husband; though he had the advantage of a short head-start that was enough to have lost her, his path headed in the direction of the docks upon the shore and so she followed after him in that direction. Thunder cracked and boomed every so often as the heavy rains pelted the leafy boughs above, for though the Groot Trees were known for annually shedding their bark where the Aenorean elves used it in absinthe production, the leaves blossomed year-round without shedding whatsoever. An agonising shriek suddenly pierced the raging storm that assailed the quaint elvish town of Faen on that dark and stormy night and Isalé felt the hopelessness of it all chasing after her. Even as the shriek pierced her heart, freezing her in place as sheer terror took hold of her, it was echoed several times, seemingly from every direction all around her.

“Sendarin!” Isalé cried out desperately to no avail. She had sunk to her knees even as she'd reached the docks along the Aenorean coast, only to find herself all alone— drenched in the heavy downpour.

“Sendarin! Siguil!” Isalé cried out to the heavens as hope drained from her, and she heard a commotion rising up behind her, coming from the village as the sleeping townsfolk started to awaken to her pleas, though her husband could not hear her. Waiting helplessly where she sat, lost and alone as neither responded to her cries, she felt the despair envelope her even as the heavy rain left her soaked in her hopelessness. Although Isalé found herself in the midst of a cold and dreary Autumn night, it was not the weather or the temperature that caused her to shake and shiver there where she sobbed on the beach. Some of the townsfolk of Faen had begun to gather around her even as she openly sobbed at the immense and overwhelming feeling of loss that had taken hold of her. She was sure that her son and husband were gone forever and the reality of it all was beginning to sink in as her elvish kin responded to all the commotion that had just transpired.

“Isalé! What is the meaning of all this commotion? Where is Sendarin and what has passed?” one of the neighbours exclaimed as he rushed towards her before turning to one of his fellows, “Quick, fetch the Elder!”

“Where is Siguil! Is he missing as well?” another neighbour's wife called out as they began to convene on the shore, “I woke to screams and our child is nowhere to found!”

“I heard the cries in the night and came as quickly as I could, but alas; we've come too late, or so it would seem. In the meantime, however, we must find Sendarin— he can't have disappeared and he's more than capable of handling himself. If anyone has any news of what transpired, he would be the one to know.” one of the other elves spoke up from the gathered crowd to unanimous murmurs of agreement...

ARDEN, AENOR

Winter, 1E72

“We are gathered here today in light of the cradle snatchings that have been occurring consistently the past few months. I beseech of all those with something to say on the matter or facts and evidence to present to please step forward now, so that we might convene. It is the objective of this meeting to hear all that is presently known on the matter so that it might be relayed to the Elder Council where decisions can be made in how to deal with the matter.” the Elder Chieftain of Faen spoke up, addressing all those present at the town meeting. His silver hair flowed over a light earthy-coloured robe, and though he was old it was in a timeless sense, only notable in his gaze that showed their experience.

He was one of those born in the time before recorded history, the Age of Myth, and he still remembered those days; before the disappearance of the gods. Though the Elders were those few left of their kin born in the Age of Myth, the elves neither acknowledged nor worshipped the Gods of Man; believing the Source of the force of Life itself to be the highest power— incomprehensible to those of the mortal plane. They opted to worship life as a whole in the stead of seemingly mortal gods that had once walked their world. Isalé and Sendarin stepped forward alongside nearly two dozen other elves, presumably the fellow parents of Faen's lost elfling children, though Sendarin’s voice rose up before anyone else could find the words to speak.

“They took our children in the night, whether it was a monster or monsters is as of yet unknown, but I saw them with my own eyes.” Sendarin spoke up.

“So then you slew the creature, or it was able to escape back from whence it came? Please elaborate, so that the congregation can take all evidence into account as we assess this situation for what it is in its entirety. What was your role in all of this?” the Elder rebutted inquiringly.

“It came in the night... I awoke to a shriek in the midst of a storm as thunder crashed all around, for it was a stormy night, and I knew our son was missing where I’d seen a figure fly into the depths of the dark!” Sendarin began, taking a breath before continuing as the emotions of it all came rushing back to him, for the trauma of it all was still fresh in his mind, “I gave the beast pursuit, but it was liken to a dark streak or a black blur in the night… It vanished without a trace in a cloud of smoke and flew through the night. I don't know whether it was one or many, but there were several shrieks that night. I found myself alone in the woodlands heading towards the coast though there was nothing to be seen on the beach by the time I'd reached it.”

“That's it? Though your child is surely missing, what proof do you have that this is no juice-fueled trip; had you been partaking in the Ahglorian herb before going to rest for the night? Surely you hadn't been eating the mushrooms of the wood?” the Elder rebutted.

“Exactly what is that meant to mean?” Sendarin answered testily with a snarl, “I know the difference between hallucinations and reality— that was no distortion! I was under no influence that night—”

“So then it vanished into thin air in a smoky haze? A creature of the night? What sort of devilry do you insinuate us to be dealing with?” the Elder Chief rebutted in kind, condescendingly at that.

“There were claw marks and tears riddling his cot! My husband was under the influence of no intoxicants; he spent the day fishing and came home to me! How dare you challenge his truth!” Isalé snapped, defending her husband passionately in indignation at the denial of their truth, seeing it as a disrespect to Siguil, their son.

“So you saw the monster for yourself, or you were with your husband to confirm what he saw?” the Elder inquired of her in response.

“I went to check on Siguil whilst Sendarin pursued the wraith or whatever it was. I thought he was surely lost with our son, but then he returned along with his tidings. I felt its presence, though I did not see it, but who are you to deny what he saw or question the validity of his truths?” Isalé snapped back in the heat of the moment.

“He's still the Elder, my dear—” Sendarin whispered into his wife’s ear as he kissed her cheek, wrapping his arms around her waist as he held her back in a tender and loving hug, repressing his own rage at the Elder's investigation.

“They weren't the only ones! Though we were late to discover it for ourselves, Isalé is not wrong!” another elf called out, followed by another, “I too choose not to doubt Sendarin's story, and besides; I saw the claw marks and tears for myself on our own child's cot!”

“They vanished without a trace and took our children with them— even if these things aren't what they seem— surely our children's disappearance is all the proof needed!” another elf called out. There were murmurs amongst the crowd as discontent rippled amongst those gathered there at the town meeting of Faen's populace upon the coast.

“Whatever it is, it's taken our children with it, and more will follow as they already have the past weeks. Something needs to be done!” another called out before the Elder interjected, raising his hand stiffly to cut them off.

“So then what is opinion of the congregation? How would you propose we respond to these creatures of the night, be they monsters, abominations, or demons?” the Elder spoke to the gathered townsfolk as a whole at this point, ready to reach a conclusive decision as he addressed them. His response was greeted by silence as he waited upon them to consult one another or voice their opinions to lay out their options.

“Surely the need for a community watch should be plain for all to see!” one of the townsfolk exclaimed when no one else showed any signs of speaking up.

“We could scour the woods and send patrols to seek out the missing elflings or find the source of the creatures responsible at the very least…” one of the paternal elves amongst those who had initially stepped forward spoke up.

“How many of our friends and family must be sacrificed before the council takes necessary actions!?! Surely the only solution to this crisis is apparent!” another elf interjected, demanding of their chieftain to gather a host of willing volunteers to send forth on an eastern expedition across the water.

“Perhaps, but then again; we have no way of knowing from whence these alleged wraiths came... How many of your kin would you have me send needlessly away when it's apparent that what is needed are more sentries to defend our land? No, I will not send an expedition... Not unless it truly does become apparent.” their chief concluded, thus ending the meeting...

THE NORTH SEA

Winter, 1E72

Elvish longboats cut through the foggy mists of the night along the still icy waters of the North Sea. The boats sailed from the port town of Arden on the coast of the Aryan Forest in Eastern Aenor, carrying scouts and explorers east across the channel towards the mysterious lands swathed in fog upon the horizon. The exploration party had been arranged and sent by the people of Aenor in a unanimous decision. The Elder Council, made up of the major chiefs of the land, had convened by the order of the Great Chieftain after hundreds of reports of missing elves and cradle-snatchings in the night. A body had washed up to shore one morning and the rumours began to spread of dark things in the eastern land over the water and of creatures snatching elves up in the night and dragging them to their watery graves or worse things. The elves of Arden were suspicious of the eastern shore and the Elder Council gathered up the willing for a voyage east to scout out and survey the foreign land.

There were five fleets of ten ten-man longboats sailing through the night after a long day of traversing the cold dead waters. A cold breeze blew upon their faces as they rowed their boats closer and closer to the now not-so-distant shore. The fog that blanketed the coast of the eastern land was so thick that the elvish eyes could only see but five or ten feet ahead. On each of the five fleets of ten boats there was a long length of hemp rope crafted by the people of Ahglor to keep each of the ten boats in tow with their companies so that none got lost in the fog or strayed from their plotted course. After some time, the foreign shore pushed through the fog to reveal itself to the elves— just in time as their boats scraped against the rocky reefs. Jagged rocks slashed through the elvish wood of the Aryan Forest that the boats were crafted from and they screeched in agony as the rocky teeth sank into their hulls.

Icy cold water began to fill the bottom of the boats of two of the five fleets, though only one of the elvish companies had managed to reach the rough shoreline unscathed. They dismounted from their longboats on the bare grey shoreline that was black in the night even as their unfortunate kin screamed out in the agony of the moment. The other two surviving companies of elves abandoned their vessels and swam the remaining distance to the shore. Some of the elves shouted out as they disappeared beneath the water’s surface, snatched below by some unknown creature or thing to join the two lost fleets in their watery graves. Those who weren’t snatched to the great below made their way to the shore and clambered, cold and wet, to their dry kin who were already busying themselves about making a fire to ward off the creatures of the night. After some time, the elves got a fire going with some of the dead branches and brambles that littered the shore, settling in for the night after the chaos of their landing.

“Brace yourselves! Those sea harpies may be the least of our worries yet!” one of the surviving captains of the expedition called out, somewhat uneasily as he peered into the distance outside the light of their campfire. The survivors gathered themselves around the flames, many of them drenched after abandoning the wreckage of their boats.

The land on the coastline was grey and bare, and nothing grew upon the desolate beach. Dead withered trees stretched as far back inland as the elves could see and formed a wall about twenty feet from the end of the bare beach that stretched in both directions as far as the elves could see running from north to south. There were no paths, no lights, no noise, and no signs of life anywhere around them as far as they could see and hear. The coast was devoid of any signs of life or activity but for the dead withered trees and black thorny brambles that were the only remains of a once mighty wood. Archers stood watch through the night whist the main host slept through the night before deciding their course of action in the morning.

There was no activity through the night, though the archers felt uneasy. It was as if they were being watched by some unknown entity, though no creatures were apparent on the beach. The elves woke in the morning and decided to make their way east, deeper inland through the dense dead wood. Some of the swordsmen amongst the gathered host stepped forward, hacking and slashing their way through the thick thorny brambles that beset the elves as they pushed their way into the dead forest. Cutting through the thorny underbrush that slowed the explorers and hemmed them in as they fought their way through the forest, they noticed that the ground steadily rose as the expedition continued further inland.

The fog was not as bad during the hazy light of the day and as the elves climbed in altitude, the further they travelled inland the fog began to thin out. They continued to take note of this until they found themselves above the misty clouds that blanketed the land behind them like a ghostly ocean. The whistle of elvish steel and dead bramble giving way to the Aenorean blades was the only sound in that forest— it echoed through the silent lands eerily in the early morning on that foreign shore. The elves were wary and alert as they pushed their way deeper into the dense wood that surrounded them from all directions.

After some time, the land peaked and the elves reached a plateau high above the sea level. The elves could see for miles eastward; there were mountains on the horizon, hundreds of leagues to the east, running from north to south. As well as leveling out, the land had also cleared up before them. Brambles that had previously blocked their path started to clear out and the wood was steadily becoming more open. In the distance straight ahead and further east, the elves could see wisps of smoke above the tree-line on the sunset horizon within a day’s journey from where they were.

They pushed their way through the undergrowth and by the end of the day they could see a pinprick of light in the distance. As they drew closer they found the source of light to be the torch-lit streets of a small outpost in a man-made clearing within those woods. The elvish expedition made their way into the village centre; log cabins were built in rows forming a network of streets there. In the heart of the village there was a great heap of bodies all drenched in blood and covered in the exposed entrails the spilled out from all their torn orifices. Their grotesque faces were warped in a state of eternal gaping shock and agony while blood soaked the ground all around the mass grave before them. The bodies were impaled upon spears and decapitated, piled atop each other in a crude mass grave.

Some of the younger elves vomited, others stared onwards in brooding silence, but the senior elves in charge took the moment to discuss their next course of action. Even as the elven explorers decided what to do next, a twig snapped; echoing in the dead silence of the night. A stifled gasp escaped an elvish scout’s mouth before he silently thudded to the ground. A dark humanoid figure was hunched over the elf and the creature shoved its clawed hand into the unfortunate elf’s chest, ripping his heart out and devouring it out of the palms of its hands. Elf archers fired their arrows at the foul creature and the arrows flew through the shadowy creature as if it wasn’t even there.

Fear rose up in the hearts of the elves, unsure of what it was that they saw in the depths of the night, just outside of the dim warmth of the torch-lit village centre. The creature turned and charged at the elves, lunging after an archer who had only just fired his arrow in its direction. His shot vanished into the ghastly depths of the black cloak worn by the feral humanoid creature, disappearing into the darkness of its shadowy silhouette as it proceeded to devour the young elf scout. A swordsman sliced through the vampire with his steel scimitar and the enchanted elvish-forged sword bit into its flesh. Blood poured out of the stooped creature’s back and the wretched abomination screeched out a death wail even as the elven warrior beheaded the beast with a second swooping blow.

“What monstrosities does this horrid land harbour!?!” the swordsman cried out as he brandished the sword openly in his perplexion.

Fantasy

About the author

Kelson Hayes

Kelson Hayes is a British-American author and philosopher, born on 19 October 1994 in Bedford, England. His books include Can You Hear The Awful Singing, The Art of Not Thinking, and The Aerbon Series.

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