Aaron’s Notes: I wrote this short story on my trip to Glacier National Park last year.  It was intended to be 7 Episodes, with 1 Episode released via web and mobile every few months. I’m going to release Episode 1 on the blog a section at a time. I’d love to get your feedback as it goes along!
Shattered #1

Here’s part 2 of Shattered. Oh, and this is at least PG-13.

Episode One

Panic knocked upon the threshold of her sanity. The icy tendrils of fear, so familiar in the past, pulled her up from the haven of a deep slumber. Her eyes snapped open. Darkness greeted her. The silence upon the dwelling was heavy and unnatural.  Carefully she willed her senses out through her sleeping home.  She found exactly what she had prayed she would not.  The tangy smell of blood assaulted her already bewildered senses.  Her mouth opened, and she rent the night with a scream.

Sliding out of bed with the natural grace of a feline, she moved to the door without another sound. Already knowing what she would find down the hall, she paused to take stock of the situation. This home had been her family’s secret for generations. Their ancient enemy had never ventured near the hidden valley deep in the Fonus Mountains.  For the last ten years, since the decisive battle of Utand, she had lived here in peace. And now that peace had been shattered. Shattered in blood and soundless terror; shattered in the deepest depths of the night; Shattered – while she dreamed dreams of the boundless future.  They had come to her home; the home hidden from them through the slow turn of centuries. She slumped against the wall. They had violated her home and stolen from her the one thing she truly treasured.

How had this happened? The hurdles the enemy cleared to come into her home and perpetrate this crime were high. Somehow they located the secret valley, something they had failed to do in the previous centuries of warfare. Then they had found a way past the wards and dweomers strategically placed throughout the valley.

Some sorcery was involved to keep her unaware of the presence of the enemy. Before she retired to this secluded refuge, there would have been no way a simple sleep spell could have caught her unaware.  She cursed her naivety, and prepared to face the horror in the next room.  But then one nagging thought entered her mind.  She should have been safe. She had retired for a reason.  The ancient enemy of all life had been broken and sent back to hell on the hot plains of the Utand ten years ago.  The elders had proclaimed that a golden age of peace and justice had dawned, free of sickness and strife.  So what had brought evil into her home?  She knew their icy presence better than any still alive.  Could she be mistaken?  Maybe she was overreacting.  It could not be what she thought it was.  She steeled her nerves and stepped into the dark hallway.

The corridor was eerie and foreboding where normally it was warm and inviting. Perhaps it was just her imagination. She hoped it was.  Yet at her core, she knew it was no dream, though nothing was out of place as she stalked down the hallway towards his room.  The child she had desired for so many years was a tall, precocious, eight-year-old boy named Maximus.  She loved his golden hair and the twinkle of mischievous intelligence in his eyes.  Though she had survived terrible wounds, destroyed countless demons and hordes of evil beings, she was not sure if she was strong enough to survive what she thought she would find behind the door.

Yet open it she must.  She fervently prayed that the instincts and senses she had honed through countless hours of training and bloody battle would betray her now, and she would find her precious child slumbering safely, snug in his bed.

She held her breath as she turned the wooden knob to his door. Instantly, she knew her prayers had been too late and in vain.  The stench of blood and offal overwhelmed her, sending her to her knees.  Sobs racked her body as she struggled to regain her feet.  She had to see her boy’s eyes and hold him one last time.  Surely some hideous crime had taken place, but it must have been some evil man or crazed creature.  It could not be what she feared it was.  It was just not possible.

Unable to will herself to her feet, she crawled forward; blood covering her hands and knees.  Slowly she pulled herself up to his bed.  She wanted to hold him close but was not able.    There was too much blood.  His skin had been laid open from his feet to his neck.  Small holes could be seen in each bone.  Flecks of marrow littered the openings. Unable to tear her gaze away, but knowing she had to confirm her suspicions, she looked into his eyes and despaired.

He had been Shattered.

Where once Max had brilliant blue eyes, she now found glassy orbs blacker than midnight. Where his pupils should have been, there was a cylindrical hole, cauterized to a glassy sheen. His soul, his very essence had been stolen from him; sucked out through his eyes and taken to serve the dark god Memnon.

His minions had time to feast upon Max’s marrow, infusing them with his strength.  Taken in his sleep, his body felt no pain, but his soul would suffer for eternity.  Hot tears fell from her eyes as she fought through her natural instinct of revulsion to hold Max tight, unconcerned of the blood and filth that coated her body. There would be a time for questions and investigations, for action and hot revenge, but now was a time for grief and sorrow.