|Series||Fable: The Return by Scorponix|
|← Chapter 14||Chapter Chronology||Chapter 16 →|
The king makes his way through the evil forest that hosts the warm welcome of Wraithmarsh.
The first steps through the gate of the ruined Chapel of Skorm were the king's most trepidatious. His first step landed him on noticeably mushy ground, the second landed him ankle deep in murky water. The water returned a very audible splash that echoed through the foggy forest. The king heard the distant chirps of insects, and the faint mutter of howling from deep within the marshes. He looks to his right, and then to his left. He has absolutely no idea where he is.
The king squats down and rests, he takes time to find himself and try to find a sense of calm. This takes several minutes, he finally starts to listen to the world around him. His ears tune to all of the sounds that fill the marshland, birds, insects, balverines, and the crackle of fire. He hears a fire burning from far off to his right. From this small detail he determines that to the right would be the opposite of where he needs to go. Darkness is his destination, the darkness of evil that douses all flames. His father once told him about the fog in Wraithmarsh, fog that separated the communication between Theresa and himself. Fog that can cover light and erase it from existence.
He turns to the left and follows its foggy path. His steady footsteps continue to make splashes through the marshes. Giant, dead trees lean over the ancient road, their branches stretching to grab the other side. The mangle of branches overhead melds into one dark tunnel through the forest. The king slowly makes his way down the dead tunnel when he comes to an opening. The forest opens up to a large, murky lake. A gentle white fog creeps along the calm surface of the water. The lake is tainted by no plant life, it is only a seemingly endless fog.
The king studies the water for a long while, waiting for something…anything to move. Yet, all that moves is the fog making its way across. He can see no end to the lake, the fog has made sure that his vision is clouded enough. He takes a hesitant step, hoping that the water isn't as deep as it seems. He was wrong. With the first step, the king plunges knee deep into the water. He barely manages to collect himself and stop his momentum from throwing him into the murky deep. The king stumbles backward into the, only ankle deep, water behind him. From deep behind the fog over the lake, a ripple reverberates outward to all sides. The ripple passes the king and a second, lighter one comes moments later.
"It's a funny thing isn't it?" The king is shocked to hear a voice behind him. He immediately stands up and turns around to see a sickly man. He is supporting himself on a very long walking stick made out of old black wood. The top of the walking stick features a dim flame. The man's eyes are glazed over with barely any color showing.
"Who are you?" The king asks as he wipes the mud off of himself.
"Who? Me?" The man laughs and coughs roughly. "Why do you care who I am? I've never known the king to care about his people."
"What do you mean? Of course I care about my people, I have sworn to protect them against all evils."
"All evils eh?" The man laughs again. "Have you ever been here, boy?"
"I am not a boy, I am older than you. Recently I just…overcame some slight changes."
"Ah, some dark magic, eh?"
"No dark magic, darkness will never touch me again."
"Oh will it not?!" The man shouts angrily. "Then by all means…your royal majesty…take a swim."
"What is down there?"
"Darkness." The king looks back to the water to see another, larger, ripple come from beyond the fog. He turns back to see that the man has gone.
"Where…Where did you go?" He turns back to the water frantically to see another, even larger ripple come and pass over his feet. "Who are you?!" He turns around once more and finds himself inches away from the accusing face of the man staring him down.
"Have you ever heard of a kraken, boy?"
"A kraken? Like in the old stories?" He asks. The man grunts and nods once. "But…how could once be down there? These are only marshlands, krakens come from the sea."
"Do you know what people said when the banshees came? Or when the Shadow Court took the lives of dozens of villagers?" He waits, no answer comes from the king. "They asked how it could be that creatures from the Void could just pop up from nowhere. They asked how evil could spawn itself in a place of darkness. You see, boy, something happens when darkness takes over. When all life ends, and the fog rolls in…evil follows it."
"So there is a kraken in this lake? And it just…came to be?"
"How do you know all of this this?" The king asked.
The man stares into the king's eyes for a long while before answering. "I'm a friend of that blind girl you talk to. The one who got you that shiny crown on your head."
"She sent you here? Does she not trust me?"
"No, no, boy." He looks now to the lake. "I watch the lake…I have since the fog took over and turned this small marsh into an evil lake."
"You've got a lot of questions, boy." The man studies the king's face. "You've got a nice, pretty face."
"Oh, what? Nothing, nothing…nothing at all."
The king becomes very suspicious. "Why do you watch the lake? I will not ask again."
"I watch the lake so…so…" He glances at the lake once more, then back to the king's face. "So I can feed my pet." He shoves the burning end of his walking stick into the face of the king. The fire immediately engulfs his face as he falls backward into the water. A small sizzle of smoke rises from the water, the man laughs and disappears into the fog.
Giant ripples explode from beneath the calm water of the lake, fog floats away and clears the area. Several giant, pale tentacles burst from out of the deep. One of the largest tentacles carries the flailing body of the King of Albion. The king kicks and punches at the creature, but to no avail. His fighting is rewarded by being repeatedly slammed into the water at high velocities. His body smacks against the murky water several times before the onslaught stops.
The tentacle holding him drifts slowly towards the center of the lake, the king is almost unconscious. Moments later, a giant head of a kraken emerges from the wake. This pale monster opens its horrific mouth, ready to drop the king inside and feast on his heroic bones. Its razor sharp teeth separate from each other and become wet with drool. The king watches at its mouth fully opens and its throat prepares for a meal.
Mustering all of his remaining strength, the king makes a fireball in his right hand. Right before the kraken has a chance to drop him, the fireball is hurled down into its throat. The sizzle of burning flesh is immediately replaced with the enormous, bellowing howl of the kraken in pain. Tentacles whirl around spastically and the king starts to lose consciousness, he doesn't even notice when his crown falls from his head and down into the murky waters below.
From the pain, the massive kraken hurls the king from its large tentacle and far into the sky, towards the heart of Wraithmarsh. The king barely opens his eyes and sees the vastness of Wraithmarsh flying past him from below. He sees the trees and the paths they form around, the various marshlands that litter the land, large accumulations of fog which huddle around strange creatures, and the several packs of balverines within the woods. He feels himself descend now, falling very rapidly towards the ground. His body strikes hard against a pillar of stone and he flops down onto the wet ground below. The king can barely feel his body anymore, his eyes feel heavy and his head begs him for sleep. the last thing he hears before drifting into slumber is the grand yawn of a Demon Door.