With the moon so bright and high in the sky, the darkness it couldn’t seem to penetrate made Magnolia’s stomach twist and turn anxiously. It wasn’t the darkness that scared her in and of itself, but that she couldn’t see anything in front of or around herself. Even her hand hid in the inky darkness when she tried to hold it close to her face.
Her fear was doing its damnedest to override her common sense, and she would be lying if she didn’t admit that she wanted to run, but she stopped herself.
If she couldn’t see, where exactly was she hoping to go? Into a tree, more than likely.
Closing her eyes, Magnolia took in a deep breath, noticing the sweet smell of pine and the earthy smell of dirt. There was a freshness where she was, one that whispered secrets of past well before her time. A soft smile painted her lips as she soaked it all in, but her relaxation hadn’t lasted longer than a few moments.
Wait… I’m… I’m in a forest ?”
It was one thing to know where she was, but it didn’t answer her question of how she had gotten there. She tried to adjust her eyes to the darkness, but ended up with a headache instead. Groaning, she rubbed her temples, trying to get herself together again.
“If I’m here, someone else should be here too, right?”
There was no way that she could ever end up in a place like this all on her own; Magnolia never did things like this by herself, someone would always have to go with her. Magnolia wanted to call out to see if her friends Alice and Salem were here with her, but the idea that something that wasn’t her friends hearing her wasn’t too appealing.
“If I just follow the moon, I should be able to find a way out of this darkness…. At least, if I’m lucky I’ll be able to…”
It wasn’t a very good plan, but it was all that she had at the moment. Keeping her eyes on the moon, she held her hands out to feel for things, making sure not to bump into anything. The silence that followed her as she walked made the hairs on the back of her neck stand up; There was supposed to be the crunching of leaves on the ground, the call of owls, the sound of running water, or the sound of crickets and yet there was nothing but the sound of her footsteps and her breathing.
She could feel it, she could feel it in her gut. Something wasn’t right here.
Biting her lip, Magnolia did what she always did when she was scared or in danger: imagining a white light surrounding her, she took another deep breath to focus on it and what she needed it to do. This was something she had learned how to do when she had first started her energy work journey, it was how she would ward herself and protect herself from anything meaning to harm her.
She stopped in her tracks and imagined this white light surrounding her like a dome, protecting her from all threats to her safety. The light of it, unlike before, started to pierce through the darkness of her eyelids. Panicked, Magnolia opened her eyes, her mouth agape in shock; the darkness that had engulfed her was no more within her dome, although the darkness outside of it stayed prevalent.
“This… This isn’t the real world?!”
Her surprised voice had come out louder than she had meant for it too, but before she could mourn her mistake a deep chuckle sounded from behind her.
“So you finally figured it out, have you my darling? How clever~ ”
The sickening sound of worms wriggling around in a bucket of slime made her cringe, a foul smell of rotten flesh and centuries old spoiled milk accompanied it. It was strong enough to make Magnolia gag, staggering back as it assaulted her nose.
“I’ve waited for a very long time for you… You haven’t a clue just how long I’ve waited! I’d say I’ve been rather… generous … doing so, don’t you think? I believe that calls for a reward~”
Whoever was hiding from her had a smooth voice that had a bit of a purr to it when he spoke. What had really caught her attention, however, was a grotesque slurping sound that followed his words.
Was he… Was he licking his lips?
It made her shiver in disgust; Although she couldn’t see, the chuckle that left whatever was talking to her made her realize that she was the only one between the two of them that was clouded in darkness.
She was disgusted by whoever, or whatever , was talking to her. The way he was talking to her made her feel like a slab of meat on display for all to gawk at.
“ Well ? I’m waiting on an answer, my dearest.”
His tone was getting snappish and impatient; He was expecting her, no, demanding her reply. Scowling, she answered through gritted teeth.
“No, I really don’t. ”
“Hm, is that so? Such a shame it doesn’t matter. So, play nice and play the part you’re destined for, my dearest Magnolia.”
The smell became stronger as he came closer, but every inch he came closer, was another inch she stepped back. Her dome kept enough light going for her to watch her step, missing things that she could have tripped and hurt herself over. The hidden figure in front of her was getting angry.
“I waited ever so graciously for you, and this is the payment that I’m getting? I am your future husband , your future king , you owe me!”
This creep was sick in the head! Magnolia gagged, the thought of marrying him made her want to hurl!
“As if I’d ever marry someone like you !”
The atmosphere around the two of them filled Magnolia with a sense of danger, as if her words had set off a ticking time bomb.
“ I’ll have you rather you like it or not! ”
An inhuman roar emptied his throat, and the moment he lunged at her, Magnolia turned tail and began to run. Her eyes had to continuously switch from looking at the moon and looking in front of herself to keep from tripping. A fear that was unlike any other coursed through her veins, her legs propelling her faster than they had ever done before.
“You were mine the day that– That horrid woman created you, and I’ll have you dead or alive!”
He continued to scream horrible things at her, the sound of trees falling and the grotesque noise from before followed swiftly behind her. She knew he wasn’t going as fast as he could have been going.
He could have easily caught her and killed her, and yet… He didn’t.
He was messing with her, preying on her fear; She knew well enough about him from their small talk that he was probably punishing her for saying no to him. What better way to handle a disobedient soon-to-be wife than straight up traumatizing her? After all, he was ‘ supposed ‘ to be her future husband, and good wives never said no to their husbands who did only the bare minimum for them!
Why, something like that was completely unheard of!
The sound of trees cracking and falling to the ground followed even more closely behind the both of them; Was he tearing them up from the ground to scare her even more?
“You can’t escape your destiny! You can run all you want, but you have the limited energy of a mortal woman! You’ll tire yourself out, you’ll become an easy prey!”
His voice sounded closer than before; Suddenly, her arm was burning as if someone had poured bubbling, piping hot grease on it. Looking down at it quickly, she noticed that her arm was getting covered in a thick blackish red goop that wriggled like worms, burning her skin. It moved quickly, covering her hand and moving up to her elbow in less than a few seconds. Hissing, Magnolia shook her arm trying to get it off of her, but had lost her footing and fell to the forest floor, rolling for a moment, before forcing herself to get back up and continue running.
Her fall only removed a small portion of the goop from her arm, showing purplish red skin left behind, the bits that stayed continued to burn and destroy her skin.
“Oh deary me, do you not like my present Magnolia~?”
The mocking tone came again, assaulting her mental will to keep going. Magnolia hadn’t much time to stew on it before the burning intensified. Looking down at her arm again, the red sludge had once again started to overtake her hand and arm. Although it was much slower this time, the sludge showed no signs of stopping its attack. Her eyes filled with tears as her breath became rugged; It was getting harder and harder for her to keep her dome surrounding her. With no concentration, it would surely disappear.
“Why don’t we give this cat-and-mouse chase a break, darling… Become mine and I’ll heal your arm, I’ll take care of you and love you as you should be loved, all you need to do is submit to me and become mine~”
With what little strength she had, Magnolia spat her words angrily; She had no intentions of going down easy. The thing chuckled at her; He was well aware that her dome wouldn’t last much longer. He had said nothing after that, and that in itself was scarier than the inky darkness that hid him. Grunting, Magnolia tried her best to keep her dome up, but she was running out of energy and it was getting harder and harder for her to keep going. The sound of large amounts of water falling filled her ears, but before she could even register it Magnolia was shoved harshly, falling and rolling out into an opening where a peaceful waterfall laid.
It went about its business as if nothing was wrong at all, as if Magnolia wasn’t crying out in pain as her arm continued to burn. The moonlight could finally caress her skin, or at least what of it wasn’t burning.
The energy worker snarled and cried as she tried to wipe it off on the ground before rushing over to the water and plunging her arm into it to wash it off, scrubbing frantically to get it off of her. Looking towards where she had been shoved from, the ugliest thing she had ever seen in her life stood watching her, seemingly pleased with his handy-work.
Almost nothing about him looked human.
It was an abnormally large pile of reddish black goop, parts of it looked like worms wriggling and fighting to be free, though other parts of it moved more like a liquid. Parts of its body were dripping all over the place, and having finally gotten a good look at him, Magnolia now understood exactly why the trees had kept falling behind them both.
The trees that surround him had quickly decayed and fell to the ground, melting into what she could only describe as black, bubbling tar. The green grass below him had turned a horrible shade of black.
Everything he touched was dying, in a panic, she quickly lifted her arm from the water free of the parts of himself he had thrown onto her now completely gone. Magnolia hissed, she couldn’t move her arm, but he gave a deep-bellied laugh before coming further out of the forest to allow her a better view of him. All over his upper half were skulls of all kinds; From human skulls, to animal skulls, there were even skulls that she had never seen before in her life.
The way it moved was unsteady and jerky, leaving puddles of his body behind him.
“Come, my bride! Bask in the glory that is your soon-to-be husband! The Great Gorath!”
The glory ?
Magnolia had never seen something so ugly in all her life! To her, he looked like he was the embodiment of all things horrible and nasty! Just looking at him made her sick to her stomach, not that the smell gave him any brownie points.
“Fuck you! I’d rather die than marry scum like you!”
The growl that emptied him rumbled the ground, within a blink of an eye he was in front of her; It now filled the eye sockets of all the skulls that rested on his form with a bright red light. Magnolia wasn’t able to fight back physically anymore, but she would be damned if she were going to just sit back and let him have her without a fight.
If she were to die, at least it would be on her terms.
“ Then perish. ”
Magnolia screwed her eyes shut tightly as he went to cover her in his deadly guck but all she was met with was a pain-filled scream.
“ You’ve met with a terrible fate, haven’t you? ”
Opening her eyes, she saw the creature suddenly covered in fire, struggling to put himself out without getting too close to the water.
“It’s time to wake up, Magnolia. You aren’t safe here. Hehehe…”
A soft voice whispered to her, it was almost as if she could hear it but not hear it at the same time. Before she could even react, a brown shoe shoved her off the waterfall’s cliff. The place where she had just been quickly disappeared, the only thing she could do was let out a terrified scream.
The water came closer and closer to her before she plunged deep into its cold depths. Despite hitting the water from such a great height, there was no pain that followed; Her bones hadn’t snapped and her head hadn’t been busted open, instead it felt like she were being cradled by the water.
It wasn’t until the water started to heat up that Magnolia started to panic again. It felt as if she were being boiled alive that her screaming continued, allowing the water to fill her lungs. Already low on energy it wasn’t too long before her strength had completely depleted. Magnolia noticed that her world was turning black, but there was little she could do about it until something had startled her awake.
“Magnolia! Someone go help her, she’s down!”
“Our healers are down for the count! There’s no one left to help!”
“Kill them and hurry and do the spell she gave us, then!”
“I don’t have the energy to cast another spell, damn it!”
“Damn it all!”
There were loud sounds of fighting and arguing that caused Magnolia’s eyes snapped open. In a sorry attempt to move her body, she found that she only had the energy to move her eyes, not that she could really see much of anything. No longer was she being boiled alive in the deep depths of what should have been her watery tomb. The world around her was still and cold, but the scent of blood and salt burned her nostrils. There was a fight happening, she could hear it, but through blurry eyes she found it fruitless to try to see who it was.
Just where was she?
Why was there fighting?
Why did she need healing?
Plenty of questions bounced around in her head, but she couldn’t find an answer to any of them.
There was a horrible taste of dirt and blood in her mouth, it was gritty and made Magnolia want to throw up. Magnolia tried to move again, but found the task impossible. She could move her mouth just a bit, but her throat felt so painfully dry.
Something didn’t feel right to Magnolia;. All she knew was that something was bubbling up in her throat, something that she needed to say. Something that if she got it out might fix everything. Her mind was a jumbled and messy tornado, but only one thing was clear to her.
“My… My love is lost…. My love is broken… Destroy this horrible world… Make it broken…”
Magnolia winced as she spoke, it felt like she had eaten glass and all of it had gotten stuck in her throat. She didn’t stop, feeling the need to keep going. The ground began to tumble and rumble, the pebbles in front of her making their presence known as they bounced against the hard ground.
“End this terrible existence…. Be not at the stroke of midnight…. Break the glass and shatter the wood– ”
The ground began to rumble even more the further into the spell she got; panicked shouts reached her ears, although they were fuzzy and sounded so far away, she couldn’t even tell who was calling her.
“Magnolia, no! Stop-”
“Destroy this place which has taken!”
Voices were calling her name, but her eyes were going heavy. Unable to stay awake, Magnolia could no longer stay awake. What she needed to do had been done, and with that in mind she drifted off into an eternal sleep.
The darkness surrounded her for a good moment before something else, something much louder and clearer, yelled for her attention.