The Demons We Create // Icarus (Part 1)

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The Demons We Create // Icarus (Part 1)

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A lonely sun in a clear sky beat down mercilessly on my back as I looked upon the immaculate expanse before me. I gave out a hearty laugh as I studied the golden pillars and royal engravings decorating the castle. It gleamed in the sunlight, beautiful, untouched by man since times of old. A slight sort of ringing noise, the kind of ringing you hear in the back of your head, emanated from the opulent walls, beckoning me forward. A stream as blue as the sky flowed between me and the impressive door of the castle. I took in the water’s beauty, but I was not fooled. As I watched its flowing stream and cutting waves, I saw it for what it was.

A moat.
A barrier.
A challenge.

Luckily, I came prepared. I stared longingly at the castle, both admiring it and searching for my target. My eyes flicked back and forth, scanning the exterior until they rested on a sturdy looking pillar jutting out above, and a little to the left of, the door. I reached behind my back and grabbed the grappling gun that I had brought for the occasion. It would be a difficult shot for sure, but to my good fortune, the winds were peaceful. I squinted, took careful aim, and steadied my arm. The world seemed to hold its breath along with me as I squeezed the trigger and watched my fateful shot pierce through the air.

Smash.

“#%@$!”

The jarring noise of shattering glass tumbling down the castle wall was like a discordant set of wind chimes during a storm. The light shined playfully through the glass, casting colorful shadows as the shards fell to the ground. I cringed instinctively to myself.

Whoops.

I looked over my handiwork. I had missed by a good fifteen feet, but considering I had never actually shot a grappling gun before, I nodded with satisfaction. “I’ll take it,” I muttered to myself, as I pulled on the rope until it caught on the windowsill. I looked around for a tall, sturdy tree, and when I found one, I doggedly climbed the tree until I matched the height of the window I had—obviously—purposely aimed for.

I pulled the end of the rope out of the gun and began tying the sturdiest and most complicated knot I could, discarding the grappling gun and letting it fall back to the ground. Was it smart to trust this windowsill and rope to hold my weight as I awkwardly shimmied over a rushing river? Absolutely not, but I wasn’t going to let something as mundane as reason keep me from my goal when I was this close.

After a considerable amount of expert fandangling, I struggled through the window. I barely noticed the room as I took stock of what I was carrying. I patted my pockets. Two familiar bulges reassured me that my only two possessions, a locket and a pistol, hadn’t fallen out while I was making my way from the tree to the room.

Comforted, I took stock of the grossly cliché room I had landed in. A neatly made queen-sized bed, two disgustingly fancy dressers, a pathetically blank desk, and a spotless mirror filled the chamber. I sized myself up in the mirror. I quickly took in my rough yet somewhat slim build, my tousled hair, and the almost imperceptible tremble of my fingers but my eyes quickly latched onto their twins in the mirror. I stared myself down for a tense few seconds.

In one swift move I whipped my gun out of my right pocket and shot my reflection.

The sound of the glass clumsily cracking and spilling to the floor echoed throughout the pristine room until it faded to empty silence.

Dumbass. You only had six bullets, how foolishly dramatic can you be?

“Shut up,” I muttered to myself.

I swiftly left the room, and explored the hallway until I discovered the stairs. I made my way down, barely perceiving my surroundings as I came closer and closer to my goal. My step quickened as I descended until I reached the lowest level of the castle. An old-fashioned wooden door, thick and tall, blocked my way. A harsh engraving was carved into the stone above the wall: Παρεκκλήσιον. I couldn’t read the ancient text for my life, but I knew what it meant. I had reached the Chapel. I grabbed the handle and pulled with all my might, unceremoniously throwing the door into the wall with a loud clang.

A wide and barren scene spread before me. Once renowned and celebrated, the ancient chapel had been lost to the cruel forces of time. The room showed signs of hasty destruction; multiple burn marks scarred the walls and floor. When this castle had been abandoned, they knew that, to preserve the sanctity of their practices here, they must take away all the evidence that they could and destroy the rest. The thought of an outsider discovering their secrets would have been unbearable to them, and they took drastic lengths to avoid such a crime. It was almost funny; they had done so much to prevent outsiders from discovering it, and for that reason I, someone who was an outsider to everyone, could not resist the allure of whatever treasures lay hidden in these walls. I strode through the ruined chapel, the rush of exhilaration and adrenaline coursing through my veins. The only decipherable remnant of the olden times was a lonely wooden coffin laying on a simple altar. Faint light seemed to emanate it, betraying the hidden power of what laid inside.

I’ve done it. I’ve found it. Whatever magic lays inside . . . I must wield it.

The coffin let out an eerie creak as I threw it open.

A mossy, jagged hand snapped out of the coffin and clutched my arm as quickly as a strike of lightning. The firm grip weakened my dominant hand, still outstretched from opening the coffin. I instinctively fell back, but the hand kept my arm in place, causing me to lose my balance. Pain flared through my arm up to my shoulder; the strength in the hold, and my own balance working against me, were overpowering in tandem. I struggled to regain my balance, wincing as I did so, but the grip remained immutable and intolerable. I gazed upon the terrifying face of what I had so tirelessly searched for and saw an emotionless corpse. It was clearly ancient, yet the flesh had somehow not disintegrated, but remained, moldy and baggy, limply hanging off the skeletal structure poking through. The grotesque image was slightly offset by the presence of an amulet around the neck of the cursed body. The faint light had been coming from this amulet, and it clearly radiated a sense of ancient power.

Thank God. It wasn’t all for nothing, I thought as I futilely tried to pull my arm free from the grip.

I reached in hesitantly with my free hand and ripped the amulet from the withered corpse. The hand released me and fell back into the coffin. I wiggled my fingers as feeling slowly returned to my pained hand. I examined the amulet, turning it over. It resembled half of a beastly animal’s face, mid-snarl. An incomplete image, but a powerful one nonetheless, as shown by the light seeping from it. The ancients would have considered it a great wonder, holding it in high esteem and blessing it in the names of their forgotten gods. They wouldn’t have considered it to be unwhole. They wouldn’t have seen it for what it was.

I reached into my pocket and pulled out my prized locket. I held them up to each other. A wolf stared back at me. Finally.