The Dusk Child and Her Skeleton Knight: Part 1
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The Children of Dusk, as they are called, are beings born once every thousand years with immeasurable power. Shortly after their birth, they are assigned a guardian by the divines to protect them for the rest of their life. This guardian, no matter it’s form or level of intelligence, is drawn to the Dusk Child like a moth is to a flame. This is the Soul Connection at work. Since the day of the Dusk Child’s birth, their soul is linked to that of their guardian’s. If they are to perish, then so too shall their guardian.

The birth of a Dusk Child, however, is not an entirely joyous occasion. With their level of power, they are destined to either be the saviors of the world or harbingers of its destruction. For a time, they simply helped progress the world under the tutelage of the wisest sages and scholars from around the world. However, as with all things, this would not last forever. Nearly a thousand years before the current age, the Dusk Child at the time became corrupted with a Black Magic her guardian had accidentally unearthed in their travels. This magic twisted her, made her into a being that wished only for destruction. She wrought unto the world untold chaos and materialized creatures now simply known as “The Damned" in her pursuit of the Great Cataclysm. She was finally killed, by the hand of her guardian no less, and the survivors of her accursed war were left to pick up the pieces of their shattered world.


1007 Years Later

Argent sat by the window, occasionally peering down at the villagers going about their morning business. It seemed so peaceful here, as if the Great Cataclysm had never touched this part of the world. He spied a child and his mother walking, a bag of groceries in her hand. Past them was a baker, who was in the middle of setting up his stall for the day. It all felt so……normal. But, he knew it wasn’t. He was proof that the Great Cataclysm and its effects were felt everywhere. He glanced down at the hand mirror that lay on the nightstand. His skeletal face with burning green eyes and toothy grin stared back at him. He was in the middle of contemplating whether or not he should start wearing a mask when Della woke up, letting out a small yawn.

“Argent! I’m hungry!” she said, matter-of-factly. The small child sat up on the inn bed, sheets covering everything except her small face and a twinge of red hair.

“I’ll grab you something from downstairs.” he said with a chuckle as he rose from his chair and walked to the door. One glance back and he could already see she was on the verge of falling back to sleep, not yet fully roused from her slumber.

The inn he had chosen for them was a rather shabby one, located nearly a stone’s throw from the main gate. It was a precautionary method, he wasn’t fond of being trapped near the center of the town if things got hairy. As he approached the counter, he could already hear the whispers from the other patrons and guests. It didn’t bother him in the least, gods knew how many years he’d dealt with this sort of treatment already.

“One small breakfast, please. Just a cup of water will be fine.” he said as he slid over a few silver Faro. The barkeep, an aging and burly woman who looked more like a warrior than an innkeeper, gave him a sour look before setting her cleaning rag down. Quickly pushing a tray of food towards him, she'd turn her attention back to the more normal looking patrons.

Tray in hand, he’d head back up towards their room. The few people he passed by either gave him a strange look or an almost disgusted one, like the innkeepers. There weren't many of his kind in places like these, but they still knew of him. They called those affected by the Great Cataclysm like himself, Broken. They could call him whatever they wanted, so long as they left Della alone. He pushed open the door and was almost knocked over as she charged towards him, wrapping herself around his legs.

“Gimme gimme!” she said with ill-hidden anticipation and a big grin.

“Alright, alright. Just give me a second.” he said, setting the food down on her bed. Taking a seat back at the windowsill, he’d watch as she scrambled back into bed and went to work devouring it.

After a few moments and with a mouthful of food, she’d ask, “Hey, Argent? Where are we going?”

He’d told her plenty of times, but Della’s attention span left much to be desired. It was no fault of her own, that was just how children were. “We’re going to Kley, remember? I have a friend there that can find us somewhere nice to stay.”

“Oh yea! I can’t wait, Mom used to tell me all sorts of things about Kley! She said that they have these big balloons you can ride in!”

“Hot air balloons, I’ve been in one before.”

“Can we ride in one? Can we, Argent?!” She asked, her eyes brimming with excitement. It was hard to say no to such a face.

“If there’s one available and it’s not too expensive. We only have so much-’

He couldn’t even finish his sentence before she started cheering, doing a small jig on the bed and sending her tray of food dangerously to the edge. “Balloon! Balloon! We’re goin' on a balloon!”

He was glad to see her so excited about something. Gods knew she deserved to be at least a little happy considering what she’d been through.


One Year Ago

Argent never stuck around a town for longer than a day or so. His kind were not exactly an uncommon sight but they weren’t very welcome either. He supposed it was because they reminded the people that their world had changed, that the Great Cataclysm had taken its toll on them.

He had just left a small town by the name of Pebblebrook when he heard it, a shriek in the forest nearby. Many would either keep walking or call for help, but not him. Much to his chagrin, he had this irritable sense of honor that compelled him to rush into danger if it meant helping someone. He dashed through the woods with ease, despite his skeletal body being void of flesh or muscle.

It didn’t take long for him to find the source of the disturbance. Within a clearing in the woods, he spied a knight adorned in extravagant armor facing off against a horde of Direwolves. He assumed it was some nobleman that got lost but realized it was something much more when he moved out of the way to attack one of the wolves. Behind him, slumped against a tree, was a small girl that couldn’t be older than seven. On the back of her left hand was the tattoo granted to every Child of Dusk when they awakened to their powers. Without a moment's hesitation, he leaped into the fray and joined the knight in combat, thrusting his longsword through one of the wolves' heads.

It didn’t take long after that for them to deal with the rest, a few having ran off after a majority of their pack was killed. He turned to the knight just in time to see him sink to his knees, his sword sent clattering against the dirt-packed forest floor.

“Woah, easy there. We need to get you back to town.” he said, holding the knight’s back to keep him upright. He could hear his breath under his helmet, it was much too ragged and hoarse. He no doubt had some internal injuries. He was idly aware now too that some blood was seeping through his armor near the stomach area.

“No…time. Please…keep her…safe.” he said in between ragged breaths before letting out a series of coughs. He weakly lifted a finger to the girl slumped against the tree, who was still unconscious.

“Her name is…Della. She’s-”

“I know what she is, don’t worry. I’ll keep her safe.” Argent assured him as he gently clasped onto his hand.

“Your…name?”

“Argent, but I went by another an age ago.”

“Argent. Thank…you…” the nameless knight whispered as he took his last breath.

Argent lowered his body to the forest floor, placing the knight’s sword back within his grasp. He wasted no time in constructing a stone burial for the man, occasionally throwing a glance towards the child slumped against the tree. Just a single look was enough for him to be thrown into the grasp of nostalgia, to a time when he himself was a guardian. How many years had it been since that fateful day, when he had had to make the hardest choice of his life?

These thoughts were quickly dispersed as he watched her eyes slowly start to open. Thankfully, he’d already erected the burial to hide the knight’s body. As her eyes fell on him, she reacted much as he expected to. She let out a small gasp, backing away from the skeletal man that stood before her.

“Don’t worry, I’m not going to hurt you.” he said as calmly as he could. Despite using what he thought of as the softest voice he could muster, he could see the fear in her eyes as he continued backing up against the tree.

“A-are you going to eat me?” she fumbled out, tears already starting to well up in her eyes. She had her backpack in front of her, almost as if to use it as a shield.

He knelt on the ground, bringing himself down to her eye level. So as to not scare her anymore than she already was, both of his hands were free of any weapons and far from the daggers on his hips. “I’m not going to eat you. I know I look plenty scary, but I’m a friend.”

She watched him for a few more moments, as if to see if he’d suddenly lunge and attack her. Finally, her posture would relax a bit as she asked, “W-where’s Gregor? He was protecting me…”

Damn, that must have been the nameless knight. It wasn’t going to be easy breaking the news to her, especially if Gregor was part of her family. He nodded towards the stone cairn he erected for the knight. “I’m…I’m sorry. He didn’t make it.”

It took nearly an hour for her crying to end after he broke the news to her. Even then, she still spoke with a small sniffle and occasionally rubbed tears out of her eyes.

“I-I don’t know where to go now. Mom and Dad sent me away with Gregor.” she said as he hugged tighter onto her pack.

No doubt the parents were either afraid of her power or hoped to keep her safe with Gregor. Either way, their plans had come to ruin with the death of her Guardian. He couldn’t very well leave her alone in the forest. His conscience aside, she was the first Child of Dusk since the Great Cataclysm and he couldn’t risk her falling into the wrong hands. She may not know it, but the power inside of her was a risk to not only herself, but whatever country she resided in. “You can come with me. I have a few cities I need to visit, we can find somewhere for you to stay in one of them.

“R-really? You mean it? You won’t leave me?” she asked meekly as she slowly approached him, grabbing onto the edge of his cloak.

“Promise.” he said as his hand came to rest on her head.


Present Day

In the time it took for them to travel to the city they currently resided in, Celinthia, he had taught Della a bit about her powers and what it meant to be a Child of Dusk. She didn’t quite understand how powerful she was, but agreed to keep her status as a Dusk Child a secret. While he knew much about her already, he had intentionally neglected to tell her about himself. He preferred it that way, she wasn’t ready to understand who he was or where he came from. Part of him was scared to hear what she’d say when she found out his negligence had brought the Great Cataclysm upon their world.

“Argent! Are you even listening?” Della said with a huff, thumping his knee with her tiny fist.

“Hm? Oh, sorry. I was thinking. What did you say?”

“I said we should go visit the market before we leave tomorrow!” she said with a huff, obviously annoyed with his absent-mindedness. It was cute, but he could hardly tell her that.

With one quick movement he’d scoop her up and deposit her on his shoulder before heading towards the door. “Well, we better head out now, huh?” he asked with a chuckle.

She gave him a big grin and hugged tightly onto his head. No matter what was thrown at him or who came after them, he had to protect that smile. He had failed to protect those close to him before, but he wouldn’t fail now.

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