Darkness, it was all he was seeing! He felt nothing, he heard nothing, he only saw darkness everywhere. Was he dead? -he asked himself in his head. Was this it? The great afterlife is just this empty and eternal void and nothing else? It couldn’t be, he told himself. It just didn’t feel right!
Then, a spark of light interrupted the vast nothingness. It was coming from far away. Or, so he thought, he couldn’t know for sure, but he was curious. He focused on the light and it kept getting brighter and brighter.
It got so bright that it started to hurt his eyes. He felt pain! He felt something, so, he couldn’t be dead, could he? He kept asking questions in his head and kept focusing on the light as the pain was getting stronger.
Then, the light turned into colors. Bright colors! There was yellow, green, brown, red, but it was all blurry. His pain grew and spread thru his body. His ribs and his back were aching and burning. His hands and feet felt cold. Every breath that he took felt to him like a thousand daggers stabbing his lungs and cracking his ribs.
His vision began to refocus. He could see now, the trees, the lake, the dirt, and dead leaves his face was resting in. He also began to smell. He could feel the fragrance of wet grass and earth. But there was another smell! It was a piercing aroma, like metal. Iron, maybe. He couldn’t identify the source at first, but then he noticed his fingers next to his face. They were dirty and had a brick reddish color. It was dried blood! That was what he smelled.
The man tried to lift his head from the ground. With a huge effort, he managed to roll over on his left side. His memory was coming back. The tall, slim boy at his door, the unconscious girl on the ground, the laughter. What happened?
Did he got mugged? Who would want to kill him and why? He was unable to think straight.
-You’re lucky! – the voice of a man said.
-What? – asked the man.
-With seven stab wounds and still alive, you should consider yourself as lucky, I would say.
-Seven stab wounds… but why? Who? – the man couldn’t comprehend what the voice was telling him.
-Who are you and what do you want? – he interrogated the voice
-Calm down, friend! I don’t want to hurt you. That would be pretty simple, judging by the shape you’re in, don’t you think? – the voice responded. I’m Professor Seann. How do you feel, Son of The Lake?
-Everything hurts! I’m not sure what happened. I remember a boy who came to my door asking for help. He said his friend was in trouble. I came here and saw a girl laid down on the ground. I got on my knees beside her to try and help and then I felt an excruciating pain in my ribs and back. Everything got blurry afterwards. I remember laughter, but I don’t know who or why was laughing and what happened.
-Ha, the classic victim strategy! Those damn kelpies are anything but original, said the Professor.
-Kel-what? What are you talking about?
-Kelpies! That’s what the creatures that attacked you are called. They’re a nasty bunch that preys on unsuspecting victims, just like you. Usually, they finish by slitting the throat of the poor bastard that fell into their trap. Again, you’re lucky!
-I don’t feel lucky, believe me! You said they were some kind of creatures. I told you, I only saw a boy and a girl. They were children, no more than 16 years old. The boy was tall and thin and the girl, she had blonde hair and fair skin.
-Yes, the Kelpies can take human form and they use that ability to lure unknowing folks in their traps. They’re way older than 16 years, trust me. I’ve been dealing with these creatures for decades. From your description, the two that attacked you were at least 70 years old. They’re brother and sister and they’re called Oigearan and Deugaire. They’re young adults by their race’s standards.
-Listen, old man, I have no clue what you are talking about. I haven’t seen any kelpers or what you call them. I saw two kids and they mugged me. Now, if you really want to help me, I need to go to the King’s Guard and report this.
-Kelpies, not kelpers, that’s what they’re called. And, the King’s Guard won’t help you. They can’t, even if they want to! I’m the only one that can, for that matter.
-Old man, I can’t imagine how you can help where the King’s Guard cannot. Now, will you aide me to get to them, or should I crawl there on my own?
-Oh, Son of The Lake, you have so much to learn and so little time. We better get going. Come, let me help you hop in my wagon.
-Thank you, old man!
-Shhh, save your energy! You’ll need it. Now, close your eyes and rest. I’ll wake you when we get there.
The man didn’t argue with the Professor anymore. He laid on his left side in the wagon and closed his eyes. The nothingness soon returned and he could again only see darkness. But this time, he welcomed it. He didn’t feel the pain anymore, so, he figured, not feeling anything is better than feeling only excruciating pain. He was floating in the void again.
The wagon soon began to move on the dirt road and was headed in the opposite direction of the town.