New Arrivals to Vitaras
rating: +2+x

Sand was soft below her, and the wind cooled her skin. Waves breaking on the shore relaxed her, as the sun above granted her warmth. All was tranquil as Theresa laid upon the shores of the Island, for there was nothing for her to worry about.

Until someone nudged her shoulders did her eyes fluttered open. Frowning at the sun that shone in the crystal dome of the sky. When Theresa saw Caelyn, who had awakened her, standing beside her, she scrambled to her feet and stepped back. Her eyes were sharp with alarm and she was holding her arms out in front of her, ready to fight.

“Who are you?” asked Theresa, her voice quivering with fear. Taking a look around at the ocean and the trees further inland, she continued, “Where am I? Why did you bring me here?”

Caelyn raised her hands, palms facing outward, and said, “I didn’t bring you here. I had just woken up myself.”

As Theresa was going to respond, she saw someone in the distance getting to their feet. Realizing that she wasn’t the only one who had somehow woken up here, she said, “Then, where are we?” She put down her arms and walked closer to Caelyn.

Shaking her head, Caelyn said, “I don’t know. By the way, I’m Caelyn.” She smiled and put her hand out.

With a smile, Theresa shook the girl’s hand and said, “I’m Theresa.”

Caelyn turned around and observed those who where getting up from the sand. “Come on, let’s join up with the others. Maybe they have got more of an idea of where we are.”And so they went.

It just so happened that Roland was the nearest to them, and was already walking toward them. As he came closer, the two girls waved at him.

“Where are we?” said Roland, rubbing his eyes.

Caelyn shrugged. “We are just as clueless as you. I’m Caelyn, by the way.”

Roland tilted his head and thought for a moment. “Roland.”

Theresa introduced herself as well and the three of the headed to where the others are awakening.

As they strolled along the beach, Theresa said, “The last thing I remember was going to bed. I closed my eyes and here I am.” She gestured at the sky.

Caelyn sighed, “And here we are.”

“Do you think someone kidnapped us?”

“Seems likely. How else would we have awoken here?” After Caelyn said that, the three of them walked in silence.

The next people they came upon had already formed a pair. These two were Diana and Charlotte, and they held hands with each other.

After the usual exchange and introductions, the five of them continued on their way. The last person they reached was still asleep on the sand.

Caelyn held her hand out to stop them. “Maybe he’ll feel more comfortable if he sees only one person when he wakes up.”
The four of them nodded. Theresa said, “You should go. I don’t know how anyone would get uncomfortable around you.” After saying that, she blushed. “I mean that you aren’t the type of person that someone would assume to be an enemy.”

Caelyn smiled. “Thank you.”

She walked over to the boy and knelt beside him. Grasping his shoulder, she tried to shake him awake. Yet to boy wouldn’t wake. The second attempt was met with equal results. Caelyn tilted her head and pressed her fingers on his neck. After a while, she stood up.

“Roland, Diana, can you carry him?” asked Caelyn.

Roland and Diana exchanged glances. After a moment of silence, Diana said, “Yes, we could. But, is he dead?”

Caelyn shook her head. “No, he has a pulse. It would be wrong to leave him here.” She pointed to a group of people who had gathered in the distance. “Let’s take him over there.”

Roland and Diana each supported a shoulder as the six of them travelled to where the rest have gathered. At the time, Theresa had a malicious thought to leave the boy on the beach. Yet, it was only later when she had realized the boy’s true importance. For the boy was Lucis Everlace.

As the six of them got closer to the larger group, someone from the latter group yelled something, and all of them ran over to Theresa’s approaching group. The group, which Theresa counted to be seven people, formed a circle around the six of them.
A boy asked, “Where are we?” When Caelyn shrugged, the boy sighed. “Well, what are your names. I guess we going to be stuck here for a long time. At least we should know each other’s names.”

As the five introduced themselves, the boy was staring at Lucis, who was hanging limply upon Roland and Diana’s shoulders. After they finished, the boy asked, ‘Who’s that?”

Theresa replied, “We found him like that.”

“Is he dead?”

“No, he’s not.”

The boy shook his head. “Well, I’m Cain. We are going to be setting off tomorrow, going further along the shore to find if there is anyone else on this place besides us. If he doesn’t wake when the morning come, then we will have to leave him here.” Cain turned his attention to the group as a whole. “Right now, we should split into groups and gather some firewood for the night. It would also be preferrable to find some fresh water.”

Theresa and Caelyn had formed a group. Diana and Charlotte had formed another group, while Roland and Cain formed pair. Even though they were in separate group, it was practically a single group, for they had hunted their resources together. Lucis, however, was left on the shore, where two people were preparing the area for the night.

And so, for the remainder of the day, they gathered firewood. When the sky had turned dark, they returned to the shore. Theresa hoped that Lucis had woken up in the time that they were in the forest.

Someone had made a fire and everyone had gathered around it. Orange flames flickered and tongues licked the air. Theresa was getting comfortable in the desert sand, before the warmth of the fire.

Yet this idea of bliss dissolved when Cain shouted, “Where is Travis, David, and Oliver?” Glare from the fire gave him an ominous look.

Someone from around the fire said, “They haven’t come back yet.”

A silence fell upon them.

For a while, all of them sat in silence. Theresa glanced at the darkness outside the ring of light cast by the fire. Dark shapes seemed to move in the shadows of the trees. In the forest came sounds of ghostly whispers. She shivered and crawled closer to the fire. Caelyn wrapped her arms around Theresa.

Caelyn said, “I hear them too. The whispers.” Her eyes narrowed as she looked into the trees.
When Caelyn said that, Theresa noticed that everyone else had also heard the whispers. The thought calmed her. Many thoughts swam in her mind, of what these whispers might be, and what fate the three boys had fallen into. Suddenly, the evening air felt cold, even with the fire.

A rustling came from the bush, which caused her to jump. Everyone jerked their head toward the noise. Travis and Oliver had came through the bush. As they came closer to the fire, Theresa could see a large shape on Travis’ back—David. Cain and a small group of people rushed toward them. Many questions were asked from Cain, but were met with shakes of Travis and Oliver’s heads.

Travis came into the ring of firelight and put down David’s body. When Theresa saw David’s pale face, she blanched and held back vomit.

Cain stood above the body and asked, “How did he die?” He paused, examining the corpse. Theresa noticed that Cain was wincing. “Where is the blood? The wound?”

Travis shook his head and sat down onto the sand. He stared into the fire. Cain frowned as he looked from Travis to the body to Oliver. After a while, he knelt and examined the body closer.

Turning his head toward Cain, Travis said, “There is a wound. On his chest. Move his clothes out of the way and you will find it.” His voice was hollow, as if all emotion had gone from him.

Cain did as he was told. As he moved the cloth off the body, his fingers shook. When the firelight finally hit David’s bare chest, Cain’s eyes widened. Theresa moved closer to see, for the curiousity was too great.

A thin line of blood slashed across David’s chest.

Cain asked, “How? There is too little blood. The cut is too clean.” He jerked is head to look at Travis. “What did this?”
It was Oliver that responded, “Smoke, black smoke. It enveloped us. Then, it came. The shadow.” His voice was as empty as Travis’.

Shaking his head, Cain said, “What do you mean? Start from the beginning.”

“We,” Travis started, his voice quivering, “Had wondered for a long time in the forest. After a long time, we saw that the sun was setting. We headed back. On the way back, we found a spring of water. We drank from the spring and found it was good. By then, the sky was already dark.” He paused, staring at the body.

Cain gestured to him. “Go on.”

“Then, it happened. The whispers happened first. They sounded as if they came from ghosts. There was so much pain in the voices.” Pausing, he continued. “Then, came the black smoke. From this smoke, a figure formed. It had a blank mask. A white silvery mask. Its eyes were like a chasm into oblivion.” Travis shook his head again. “It came toward us. When it got to David, there was a flash of light and he crumpled to the ground.”

Staring into the dark forest, Cain said, “We heard it too. The whispers.”

It was at this moment when a gasp came from around the fire. Silence fell as everyone watched as Lucis got up from the ground. The boy’s gaze went from the fire, to the people around the fire, the forest, and finally falling onto David’s body.
Cain broke the silence and said, “Who are you?”

The newly awakened boy tilted his head as he turned to Cain. After thinking for a moment, he said, “I am Lucis, Lucis Everlace. And who might you be.”

After the introductions were done, he took a seat beside Theresa and Caelyn. Theresa noticed that his eyes were the same shade as Caelyn’s, a rich emerald green. Lucis smiled at her, before looking to Travis and Cain beside the body.
Light from the fire glistened off Travis’ face. “How is this happening? These whispers? What is this place?”

“Tomorrow, we might find out. For now, let’s get some sleep. I will assign guard shifts.” Then, as an afterthought, Cain said, “Also, feed the fire some wood.”

It turned out that there was no need for guard shifts. Everyone couldn’t get any sleep after the incident. Theresa sat close to the fire, with Caelyn beside her. Their arms were wrapped around each other. Occassionally, Theresa would glanced back at the forest, and see shadowy forms flitting from tree to tree. Yet, she would blink and the shapes would disappear.

Lucis seemed to be the only one who was calm in this situation. However, when Theresa asked if he knew anything about the situation they were in, all Lucis did was shrug. Of course, this caused much suspicion within the group. Some thought that Lucis was the reason why they were on the beach, while others believed that Lucis was the shadow that killed David. Even Theresa had a suspicion that there was some truth in these theorys. The only person who believed that Lucis was completely innocent was Caelyn.

When a sliver of the sun appeared from the horizon, they put out the fire and collected the remaining firewood. It was then that the next complication occured—Cain wanted to go westward, away from the sun, while Roland wanted to go eastward, toward the sun. After much disputing, Lucis suggested drawing sticks.

He stuck five sticks into the sand and said, “The person who draws the longer stick would decide which direction we should go.”
Cain and Roland agreed with this suggestion. The two of them took a random stick from the sand compared it. Roland had the longer stick. Without complaint, Cain agreed to go eastward. It was only when Theresa later recalled this memory did she realized how important the choice was. If they went westward, they would enter the territory of the Nocturivus. And that would mean death for a small unarmed group like themselves.

With all in agreement, they set out eastward. They stayed on the shore, though. After last night’s incident, no one dared to go into the forest in fear of meeting the shadow. Theresa’s throat was parched, and she assumed everyone else’s was too. However, no one dared to mention going into the forest in order to find food and water. Because of her lack of sleep, everything seemed like a blur around her so she kept her head down and looked at the sand. She could barely think because of her throbbing head.

Suddenly, she heard shouts and she looked up from the ground. Far ahead, there was a flat expanse. After the first bit of excitement wore off, Theresa saw that the field was gray and lifeless, as if a fire had ravaged it. Yet even so, it was better than nothing. Some of them started to run toward the field, others regarded it warily. But in the end, they had all arrived at the field of ashes.

Up close, Theresa saw that not everything was completely burnt. Stalks of a tall grass still survived, although abit blackened.
Cain walked up to one of these stalks and examined it. “I think its wheat. Jonathan, Charlette, can you please confirm it?”

John nodded. “I think it is wheat.”

“Me too,” said Charlette.

A small smiled appeared on Cain’s face. “If there are crops, that means there are people.”

Travis shrugged. “I don’t know, Cain. It looks rather burnt. Maybe the people here were killed by the shadow.”

Roland shouted, “Look, in the distance!” He was pointing at what seemed like ruins of wood.

Cain’s eyes narrowed. “Let’s go there. Perhaps there is an explanation for why we are here.”

There wasn’t.

When they got to the ruins, the only explaination they received was a confirmation that there were indeed other people on this place. The ruins seems to be remains of wooden buildings that seemed to be burnt down.

Cain said, “Try to find something in these piles of wood. Including food and water. We will stay here tonight.”

Like last night, John and Leslie set up where they would be resting. The two of them moved away the debris and dug a small hole for the fire. Theresa and Caelyn, along with Lucis, set off to find something useful in the burnt remanants. After a while of searching, the three of them had found almost nothing. They have found only a few pieces of good firewood.

When they returned to where John and Leslie had set up camp, they found that Cain was holding a long wooden stick. The tip of the stick was sharpened into a point. Roland huddled with him as they examined the stick.

Diana walked up to Roland and said, “What are you two looking at?”

Roland looked up for a moment before looking back down at the stick. “Look at these symbols carved on this rod.”

With a quick glance at the symbols, Diana said, “So what? The inhabitants of this place had a language. So do we.”

Cain said, “What really confuses me is how the spear is not burnt. I mean, even the best firewood we found here are a least a little bit blackened. But this, this is as if it was newly made.” He paused. “Maybe we can catch something with it.”

With a shrug, Diana walked to the opposite side of the pit, where Leslie was trying to get a fire started. It was only after all the groups had come back did she finally managed to get the fire burning. Cain counted everyone and nodded as no one was killed.
Everyone huddled into a tight circle around the fire. Everyone except for Lucis. The mood was much lighter than last night, but there were still tensions. Theresa frequently glanced at the ruins around them, searching if the shadowy figures had left the confines of the forest. Yet, she could see none.

Cain asked, “Did anyone find bodies?”

No one replied to his question.

Roland shook his head. “This is strange. The entire village is burned but there are no burnt bodies. How can that be?”

Travis intoned, “Maybe the shadow consumed them all.”

Sighing, Roland replied, “In the situation we are in, that might be a possibility. But then, why didn’t the shadow consume David? Why didn’t the shadow consume you two?”

After Roland said that, Travis closed his eyes and tapped his head. “Wait. I remember a flash of light.” He paused. “After David died, there was a flash of light and the shadow disappeared.”

Cain said, “Mysteries upon mysteries.” After a sigh, Cain continued, “Me and Roland are going to take first watch. After all, I am the only one with a weapon. I don’t know what we are going to do tomorrow but it is best we are well rested.”

With that said, Theresa adjusted herself onto the ground and closed her eyes. No sound could be heard except for the crackling of fire and the hushed voices of Cain and Roland. A long time past before Theresa’s mind finally drifted into sleep.

After what felt like long time, her eyes opened. Rubbing her eyes, she got up from the ground. Everything around her was lit as bright as day. As her mind focused, she found that she was alone in the ruins, with only the fire to keep her company. She got to her feet and looked around. As she turned, she saw a figure.

A figure made from golden light walked toward her, its light overwhelmed that of the fire. In the figure’s hand was a curved sword that glowed even brighter than the rest of the being’s body. Even though the light was bright, it was not harsh to look at. Warmth flooded Theresa’s body. The figure stopped

“TRAVEL TO THE CENTER OF THE ISLAND! FIND ME AND YOU SHALL BE FREED!” the glowing figure commanded. Upon saying this, the figure disappeared in a flash of light.

Theresa stood there with her eyes wide with shock. Closing her eyes, she wished it was all a dream. That when she reopened them, she would be back in her own bed. And so, she opened her eyes.

Dirt was hard against her back. Groaning, she tried to roll herself awake. Shouts came from around her. Before she knew it, Cain knelt above her.

He said, “Did you dream? Did have that dream?” His voice was quick and had a frantic tone. Grasping her shoulders, he nudged her.

Theresa blinked a few times and nodded. “Light. There was light.” She paused. “The light said to go to the center of the Island and—” She paused again and yawned. “We shall be freed.”

Cain’s eyes were sharp and intense as he looked at the faces of the others. His mouth formed a tight line. After a while of silence, he said, “I think we should do it. I think we should go to the center of this island. I mean, we all had that dream.”

“Do you think that the … Deity brought us here?” asked Charlotte.

Raising an eyebrow, he responded, “Perhaps, perhaps not. It raises even more of a mystery.” He tilted his head and thought for a moment. “Deity. Yes, that will be its name from now on. The Deity.”

Travis shook his head. “What if the shadow had taken the form of light? What if it is trying to deceive us into its jaws?”

Cain sighed. “A shadow that has taken the form of light is not a shadow anymore. If you won’t go, then we would have to leave you here.”

“I am stuck on this Island one way or another. Death is at the end of every road anyways. I’m joining. What about everyone else?
Turning to the other people, Cain said, “If you wish to come with us to the center of the Island, raise your hand.” Immediately, everyone’s hands, including Theresa’s, went up. “Its settled then. We are going deeper into the forest.”

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