“Have you ever been scared of anything, N.D.?”
I could feel the black nothingness swirl around me as I asked the question. It pulsated with contemplation. Nog-Delar was a being of immense power and few (if any) words, and I was his only pupil. The Ever Black ebbed around me, grabbing at me and letting go just as fast. Then, there was light. Images…
It was of me, well one version of me strewn across the multiverse, laying in bed cuddled up next to a night light. He… Me… I couldn’t have been older than 15 and I was still grabbing at the glass confinements of the light source like a spoiled newborn. I always had a fear of the dark, of the monsters that dwell within it’s unseen recesses, but this was but the tip of the iceberg when it came to what true fear was. I knew one thing back then; I had my safe hopeful light, and out there was a true, horrifying darkness. The Image shifts again.
It’s an exact replica of the armory in The Saint’s mansion, and standing in the middle of it is me, bewildered. The place seemed to drag on for miles, cluttered with all sorts of arms and armor from ages past and ages not yet witnessed. Still, in that infinite expanse, one thing called out to me more than any other. Something that didn’t belong. I only saw a small portion of it at first… No, I didn’t see anything. I saw nothing.
I reached out, and I grabbed the nothingness with both hands.
Another change of scenery, this time to A city hidden in a frozen desert. I would learn one of the great secrets that the universe doesn’t like use mortals knowing. Nog-Delar already knew this secret, but I had to learn it for myself. And so my great teacher gave me my first real lesson, burning a hideous and terrifying truth into my psyche.
“What are you trying to show me?” I called out. My voice echoed threw the invisible twists and turns of The Shadowlands. My answer wasn’t spoken but felt. a final shift of images, these going as rapidly as the hurricane inside my brain; A little sister that meant nothing to me, a red planet swarmed with chimeras, The visage of an angel and demon locked in combat, a sword in a bonfire. Dying. A horse with my face. Dying. A familiar face with a broken mind. Dying.the soothing voice of an old dead woman. A broken king with the a heart of hatred. Invisible Eyes. A lantern…
The slideshow goes out. The warmth of the Nether felt comforting. I’m not scared of the dark anymore. I can’t be. It’s my hell. My home.
“It’s time for your next lesson, Joseph.”
“What would you have me do? I’m lost with no home and I’m not even sure I can trust myself.” The lack of fear must’ve been evident in my voice. I wasn’t scared anymore. I had overcome the fear of the unknown before. What’s doing it again?
“I’m not sure, but a good place to start would be to wake up.”
And from my safe, hopeful darkness came true, horrifying light.