Milky light seeped through the blinds, striping the bedroom. A wobbly ceiling fan whined as it whirled, the vents hummed, and the clock continued to tick like a woodpecker with insomnia. Colorful grinning dinosaurs stood against the walls, their vigilant eyes painted eternally wide, beneath glowing plastic stars stuck to the ceiling by bits of bubble gum. Underneath the artificial constellations, two boys tossed and turned on twin beds.
Outside, a cloud drifted over the moon and the room was filled with a thick darkness. The younger brother yanked his feet beneath his comforter so he would no longer feel the demons breathing on his toes. He wrapped the blanket tight around his throat, to keep vampires from the tender flesh of his neck. His eyes quivered over the cracked closet door which seemed to budge, ever so slightly, open. You’re imagining it! He knew he was but it didn’t matter. Already, fear’s cold talons had a firm grip on his heart.
With their parents’ room across the hall, he had to whisper so as not to wake the wardens.
Silence slipped back between them.
“Lets go on an adventure?” The younger proposed.
“Where?” The older asked.
“To another planet.”
“An imaginary planet?”
“Well…I found it in a dream.”
“What’s it called?”
The cloud was finally brushed aside and silver light returned through the blinds.
The brothers rolled onto their sides, facing each other, and the older nodded. Together, they left Earth. Their minds, intertwined, drifted off to a far away world in an unknown galaxy on this the first of many visits. Each coming night was spent exploring. They fought through the foliage of foreign forests then sunk to the darkest depths of the seas where submarine civilizations spawned. They climbed mountains into mighty blizzards and battled in citadels draped in snow to oppose villains with frozen hearts. They road across the sunset upon rickety steam engines and braved tunnels beneath barren lands deep within the alien planet’s core where nightmares became daydreams. Together, they journeyed in a world they believed to be imaginary, a world they would forget with age.
As years began to tumble by and time gained momentum, responsibilities constricted their creativity like a boa wrapped around a bunny. Soon it would seem as nothing more than a dream shared between brothers.
But dreams have a tendency to come true once forgotten.
– – –
Warriors surged forward. Blades cut through the shadowy wisps of their opponents as shields bashed the bones of skeletal foes. These undead soldiers were no match for the living breathing persons united against them, but they were not alone. Mortal beings were joining their opponents: blood thirsty wizards seeking to steal the energy from the souls of the enemy, vagabonds hired in search of glory, and idealistic fanatics intent on slaying the infedel. As the dead were banished back to the earth, the living met and steal clashed against steal. The sulfuric scent of explosives and the must of thousands clouded the air like a putrid fog. The familiar sounds and smells of battle put the general’s mind at ease – this was his domain.
He strode forward, raising his L shaped staff high and sending shards of sharp ice shooting from his fingertips. Movement flashed in the edge of his vision. He moved to block but was thrown off his hooves. Heart tumbling in his chest, the fallen forced himself up and turned to face his attacker.
A giant bulbous skull, far larger than his own, sat atop a burning suit of armor. The armor was black, beaten, dented, and scratched but still the insignia of a wolverine was plainly visible across his breast. Green flames consumed the knight, engulfing his entire body, but did not char the ivory bone beneath.
“Benjamin Fasthoof,” spoke the fleshless face, trapped in a perpetual grin, “the one who got away.”
General Fasthoof stood up straight, but still appeared tiny compared to the eight foot monster. For a moment, he attempted to come up with a response but in the end he knew he’d fair better to keep his mouth shut. This was Hermes Retskcirt. This was the man who should have died a million times – the man whose sole purpose in the Black Crown Pact was to hunt down the Samurai and there was only one left to hunt.
“She’s thirsty,” the skeletal knight raised a knotted blue staff, “and her thirst must be quenched.”
There was a chance for escape but Ben thought otherwise. I’m tired of running, he lied to himself, unable to admit the truth – that he was tired of living. His friends were gone, his love had betrayed him, and his war looked to be immortal.
He charged. With his elgroon high, magic burst from his body. The sorcery hit the emerald flames that engulfed the skeleton and evaporated. The Samurai wasn’t done yet. Ice crawled over his right fist and engulfed his forearm, the tip melting into a sharp point. Standing so close to the monster that the fringes of the eerie flames tickled his skin, he thrust his arm up into the dark knight’s chest plate. The ice blade cut through the cold metal and Ben thrust deeper. He forced his frozen weapon far into the shell of the opposing knight’s rib cage, well past where the undead’s heart should’ve rested, but to no avail.
Dread swept over the Samurai like a cold winter breeze as Hermes’ shadow fell over him. The skeletal knight strode forward, one giant gloved hand gripping the arm that impaled him. With his free arm, Hermes raised the staff. The sun glinted off the rust hued gem stone. For a split second the stone shone with the brilliance of a thousand lightning bolts, then it fell dead and Benjamin Fasthoof was no longer there.
The Samurai had disappeared from the face of Mystakle Planet, out from beneath the light of Solaris.