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Eyes in Shadow - Chapter 1: Restless

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Disgusting and depraved. Ruthless, and even demonic. That's what he saw there when they came to the cape of the city, and he could see his first glimpse of the dock. Always, were the waters around the boat district restless, as always were the skies. Once again it was an evening filled with rain shadows and flooding. Dark clouds were lightly threaded across the polluted purple sky, and a sailing wind brushed the trees gently. Another familiar evening in the city they called Jylia, which stood there with the same glint in her eye; demented, imposing, sadistic, and no doubt plotting another gruesome night for the people upon her streets. Dark Jylia, the Nightmare City, was under siege of a soon-to-come storm.

Footsteps pattered together down the wood walkway as they departed from the boat. The feet of the many newcomers thumped against the creaking dock until they came to a solemn pause, and their faces ceased in blankness. It was a moment atoned in silence at the awe and beauty of such a world. Jylia looked back with her street lamps aglow under moisture-induced halos from the weather. The city spied them with an ever-so innocent look beneath stone architecture built as intricately and beautiful as a spider's web. Indeed, Jylia City was a spider's web, one highlighted by the lightning flashes from the distance. Yet not all were fooled by this haunting facade.

“And why are we stopping in this despicable city, guide?” The woman's voice was deep, scorning, and snobbishly aristocratic. It made the guide leading them nearly snarl as he heard it. Afterall, how much more pampered and decidedly “clean” were the lives of these wealthy elite and free individuals compared to his own twisted world that surrounded him. The “freebies” they called them here. To them, Jylia was perhaps curious and alluring, as if the city were more from a fleeting dream. But to those that knew her, she had been a reality worthy of the nickname she bore. To this thought there was a piece of the silence he partook of himself, and felt the rain-swept wind blow through his fluttering, half-way done hair. Droplets tapped the edges of his somewhat ragged jacket as he stared upon Jylia.

The Nightmare City beckoned them quietly, waiting for the guide to wander them into the darkness as night made ready to seize her throne, and even then he knew that she was still as eerily alluring to him as the newcomers, who had never laid eyes on her before this day. Jylia City indeed, was alarmingly intoxicating.

"Guide? I'm waiting. We're all waiting.” The demand came again, and moodily he staggered about to face them, carefully choosing to look at them with his right eye as his left would peculiarly wander to the side as he spoke. This he could tell they found rather disconcerting but such as it was, he had a half-way crooked smile to match. A raspy voice rattled the chambers of his lungs as he spoke.

“Because m’lady, there is a storm flanking us, and it seems to be one of the worst I've seen this season. So we are here to find shelter within the city, unless you feel you would rather stay on the boat?” The smile was fake, as so was his patience. To each tourist he glared with frustration. To some, he would give the occasional glance with his wandering eye.

Even as they looked back as if to protest, he could hear the rain drops begin to rattle the brick streets with a quickened pace, as if Jylia meant to menace them forward. The water of the docks were singing in a troubled seaworthy tone that wrought the boats into an unsettling frenzy. Wood was slamming against wood in answer to their doubts.

“There are satisfactory accommodations that we can partake of in Jylia, that you should find perhaps pleasing.”

That is, if anything pleases the likes of you. He thought as he once again began to maunder forward (was that a hump upon his back?). There were no more protests. Instead, just silence amid the thickening storm. The guide continued to amble forward onto the intricately inlaid bricked streets of Jylia. Even the Nightmare City's mere cobblestone streets pavings were famous for the aesthetics and architecture. So wondrously carved and planned was the architecture that surrounded them that this in itself must have piqued the Freebies awe and attention once again, for someone's footsteps had approached from behind quite suddenly, followed by a peculiarly thin, and wispy noble woman's voice.

“So then this is Jylia?” Timid were her footsteps as she came closer for the questions. She had remained out of his view as she spoke, though still hobbled away from her and forward. He had nothing to say to her.

“How did it get it's name?”

No answer came but for the wind howling.

“I've always wanted to see it, I've heard so much about it.” Her's was a curiosity that was incessant and matched only by his own stubborn will not to satisfy it.

“Is it really as dangerous as they say? It looks just... so very beautiful from here... even lovely.”

No... now he could not help it. The utter audacity shook him from his quiet reverie and with a disarming halt the guide turned around and slammed his half-twisted glare into her own with his half-wandering eye deliberately pulled upon her.

Here was a young woman with eyes of blue and hair that was a wonderful black mess of curls swept into a ponytail behind her, amid blue ribbons. Those silken strings, they matched her iris' hue, and carried with them the most innocent of stares that scraped across the elaborately carved buildings that loomed upon them like Jylia's claws beneath the lightning.

In another half-crooked wry grin of his, had he looked to the ground and then back at her with not so much of a laugh but a chortle, as if he had a secret to be told.

"Jylia is the most famous, but the most dangerous in all of Deist. Capital or not, this city is as ruthless, as Jylia is rotten, as Jylia is always restless. There are many reasons why they call it the Nightmare City, folks, and one of them will require the ladies to stick close to the groups while we walk or you will risk being carried off into her depths. Then you should perhaps get the tour of the lifetime, that you were so desperately craving.”

Within so much as a lighting flash, he noticed that the Freebies had suddenly been hugging closer until they had drawn their ranks into a near single-file. The half-crooked smile peeled tighter against his lips. “Still curious are we?”

o this, the blue-eyed girl nodded, even though it was small and feint as her figure. So come along now folks, and come see the reasons why beautiful Jylia has been named the Nightmare City. Come see how destructive the seducing Jylia could be, why she is the land of widows and woes. Before tonight is over, you will begin to know some of the deepest secrets of what could be hiding in the shadows...”

Slowly, they braced themselves to the darkening, purple, horizon. They stared at the massive storm in it's siege of the sunset. The chortle of the guide feintly arose from ahead of them, followed by a thundering roll in the distance, as if Jylia were somehow laughing at them from afar...

The lightning flashed above...

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  1. N. E. White's Avatar
    That was fun!

  2. virangelus's Avatar
    LOL Well, that was general. I didn't even know a person could leave comments on these things, let alone that the infamous TMSO left me a blog comment I am most pleased.