From Darkness, Into Light

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Elora's breath stuttered as she lay heaving on the ground. Her fingers, smeared with black ink, twitched closer to shattered bottles and oozing black liquid. She had been so close.

Everyone warned her not to leave the settlement. A slum, though it was, still was far safer than the abandoned interims. Unscrupulous sorts were known to wander here, raiding ink shipments, hoarding already scant supplies, running low-grade ink production rings, all among other fretful acts. But what did an orphaned child collecting scrap on the streets have to lose? Just one bottle of ink could have given her a chance at making it to the city- she should have been an in and out! But now, her one shot shattered and dripping on the pavement... darkness as black as the spilled ink enveloped her. 

She was cold. Her ribs ached... there was no blood, but the area was so tender she was sure something was broken. It hurt to move, it hurt to breathe. The effort to simply lift her head nearly sent her reeling, and it certainly wasn't worth the view, blurred as her vision was. Not that there was anything worth seeing. This landscape was unfamiliar, and with the light fading, unfamiliar shapes dissolved into unfamiliar shadows. She was alone, abandoned, forgotten.

"So, no different than in the slum," she bitterly laughed. The exertion sent pains shooting back up her sides, and she curled even further upon herself on the ground. "Except this time it's different. I might die here... with nothing to show for my lousy life... and no one will ever come looking for me."

She thought she had nothing to lose in taking the risk to come out here. Yet, the thought of losing her life, the one thing she DID have... terror gripped her. She'd grown up alone, lived alone for so long... but she didn't want to die alone.

She had travelled far from the slums to make it this far. But if there was any chance she could make it back and find help, well, she had to try. Now, surely, she really had nothing left to lose. Slowly she eased herself from the dirt. Her eyes struggled to focus in the dark. The sun had sunk completely below the horizon now, and just a sliver of moonlight illuminated in it's place. Barely a silver outline highlighted the terrain, but she travelled south to get here. As long as she headed north, it would be a start. Locating north in relation to the moon was easy, but unfortunately, it also brought to her attention her first obstacle: the steep hill of trash she'd been tossed down.


A shrill whistle pierced her ears. A sharp, trilling cry commanded her attention, but with a sing-song note at the end she couldn't quite place. Wincing, her gaze flicked skyward in search of it's source. 

Though dark night had dowsed the landscape, a foreign, golden glow stationed itself atop the hill. Elora's eyes still wouldn't focus. What was that light? The shape the glow outlined was large and... moving?



It was the darkest night Suree had ever known. Not even the moon peered down, but she hardly noticed the lack of literal light. Pangs of anger, hurt, guilt, all beat against her chest. She would've wept, but no more tears would come- she had cried herself out days ago. For how long had she been stumbling numb around the interim? Where was she even going? What, really, was left for her?

Though her body had already renewed itself, her arm still throbbed with the ghostly scorch of flames. Every poke and pressure triggered the pain- but moreso, the memories. Still, she couldn't bring herself to loosen her grip on her treasure- one single, surviving book. It's pages charred and delicate, she dared not open it. The lack of knowledge, though, was really starting to affect her. A paralogos like herself hungered, literally, for information. 

Her toes dug slightly deeper into earthy ground to counteract what little momentum had caught up to her. The world stood as still and quiet as she. Solemnly, her gaze travelled up and down the scorched book cover. It's title had burned away. What... had she even picked up? It all happened so fast, she just grabbed the first book she saw. As far as Suree knew, this was all that remained of their dear library.

The mere thought pierced clean through her, but the fear of potentially damaging this final remnant even more. Still, if she didn't read something soon, she herself would be lost. Fingers trembling, Suree sank gently to the ground. Her grasp on this unmarked tome loosened until gravity alone parted it's pages; rough, exposed cardboard and fraying singed canvas swung to rest on her palm. Working up courage to turn past the flyleaf took effort in and of itself, but when she finally managed it, her white nubbed claws came away black with soot stains, eliciting a wince. Upon further inspection, the page hadn't appeared to sustain any (more) damage, so albeit cautiously, she dared flick further into it's pages.

There was no table of contents. No author's note, no dedication, no foreword. Rather, it opened with an intricately illustrated frontispiece of a sleeping human babe, and the title page:

"The Name BookFind hidden gems in our curated collection to choose for your very own treasure." If it was possible, Suree felt even more numb than before. "All I have to remember our library... our family.... is a book of baby names?!"

Suree wasn't sure what she'd expected, but she'd hoped for something holding some amount of sentiment, not a dictionary of names. She wanted to cry. She wanted to shred every last page. But of course, she'd never bring herself to do such a thing. She said it herself- it was all she had to remember her life by. It wasn't much, but perhaps somewhere in these pages, there was some small shred of comfort?

The initial instinct of most, if presented a book of names, would be to look up their own designation's entry. Suree, instead, flipped straight to the L's.

"Lucas... Lucas..." Her eyes scanned each page with incredible speed and frightening accuracy despite the book's delicate condition. Some of the names were hard to make out through burned edges and singe marks- she prayed the entry survived at all. But finally- 

"Lucas: a name meaning 'bringer of light,' and originating from the latin verb 'lucere,' meaning in turn, 'to shine.'" A sudden stillness came over her- not calm, not terror, but a numb paralysis. It was broken only when reflexively, Suree flung the book from her lap as hot tears dribbled dangerously close to its already damaged pages. 

"And here I thought I was already cried out," her lip quivered. "Lucas... you were my light. All I ever knew was you and your library... now what? What do I do? Where do I go? I need you to tell me."

'Baby steps.' She could practically hear him speak. 'What's the first thing you need?' Suree gazed wistfully down at the book of names. 

"A proper book," she sighed. A book of definitions was like tiny morsels, but its content wasn't satiating. But she'd fled so far from the city, and though she'd never been here herself, she'd heard tell of the conditions outside Sermos. Where in the world would she find books this far out? Paper? Ink-?

Ink. She could sense it nearby. Normally it would only be a full library, or at least a small collection of books that garnered a paralogos's attention. But in this void full of nothing else, she supposed, even the mere ink grabbed her attention.

Shakily, she rose back to her feet. Somehow the weight of her physical shell felt heavier than before. Already labored breaths struggled to cut through the thick atmosphere. But the ink... as long as she sensed it, she had direction.



The glowing form atop the mound bolted suddenly, urgently seeking a safe path down the precarious trash mound. Elora couldn't be sure of this thing's intent, and panic gripped her in the uncertainty. She started to shimmy the opposite direction in a one-armed army crawl. The exertion earned her about a two feed of distance, only to end up face to face with that thing's feet. At least from here she got a better view of it. It was unlike anything Elora had ever seen- though life was so scant in the slums, that wasn't saying much. The creature loomed above her on two legs, its toes dangerously raptor-like, yet its claws were dull and rounded, unlike the sharp talons Elora would have expected. Though it was night and everything around them was cast in darkness, small striped markings stretching from the sides of its neck down to its toes glowed brightly, illuminating the rest of its own form. Bushy, golden yellow protrusions jutted from its shoulders, hocks and the base of its tail, punctuated by roughly textured brown circles at their base. There was something so unnaturally, well, natural about this creature. Everything in the slums was plastic and metal, or a cheap imitation of the nature humanity had wiped out from the planet. Those bushy patches, was that what real flowers looked like?

Suree looked over this human with deep concern. Suree had spotted her from atop the hill- this is where she sensed the ink, she was sure. She'd come seeking help, but it looked like this human needed aid far more desperately. Her skin was a medium-dark tone and smeared all over with dirty grit. Her garb was in terrible condition, similarly filthy and torn, but this "fashion," if it could be called such, was unlike anything Suree had witnessed in the city. It was utilitarian, no frills whatsoever, and most of the color had already faded from their fabrics. By contrast her hair was a striking black. Most of it had already escaped the restraint of a hair tie, and the rest was plastered to her face. And her eyes... though it was clear she was injured and in pain, those dark eyes pierced Suree, emphasized by gritted teeth, daring her to inflict further harm. 

Now Suree was chatty for a paralogos, most of her kind preferring to converse only with their caretakers. On the other hand, Suree would often make small talk with many of Lucas's visitors. Even so, initiating conversation with a human, one with no connection to Lucas, it felt wrong. Just another reminder he was gone. Raw as it was, she couldn't bring herself to turn a blind eye to this injured human, either.

"Are... you alright?" 

Elora jumped. Curiously, the words didn't reach her ears, echoing instead within her mind. Was she hallucinating? Was she dying?

"What? What are you?" she gasped instead of answering.

"Me? A... paralogos... have you never seen one of my kind before?" 

"I've only heard stories." In awe, Elora's squinted gaze made it's way up and down the creature's form. "Why are you-? How are you in my head?"

"I'm sorry, it's the only way I may speak with you," Suree cocked her head. "Paralogos cannot vocally communicate with humans as you can. I can quiet if you find it jarring-"

"No!" Elora's hand reached with shocking speed for her strange visitor, grabbing the closest limb (in this case a leg), eliciting a surprised trill from her visitor, and a fresh shoot of pain that panged at the back of her skull. The sudden grab spooked Suree, and she prepared to bolt. In her dizzied state, said jolt forced Elora's grip to loosen. "Please I... don't want to be alone." Those dark, piercing eyes weren't so piercing now. Now, spite was replaced with... fear. Outright, pure fear- a feeling Suree knew all too well. The paralogos's body relaxed. 

"I... suppose that makes two of us." Suree lowered to the ground, crouched beside this new companion. "I didn't even ask your name. I'm Suree. What's yours?"

"Elora." The human's voice cracked, clearly relieved.

"Elora..." Suree echoed. An... unusual name. Curious, she cracked open her book and flipped to the E's.

"Is that... a book? Like a real book?" The human's eyes widened, and in her excitement attempted to sit up, only to stumble back upon remembering her injury.

"This is... all that's left of my library." Suree felt tears rising again as she put the thought into words, but shoved them down under guise of engrossment in her search. 

"Oh. Sorry." Now that she mentioned it, Elora noticed the rough condition of the tome, covered in scorch marks and some pages half burned. "What... happened to it?"

"Elora," Suree found the entry just in time to dodge the question, "a name meaning, 'my... my light.'" 

'My Light.' And Lucas, 'bringer of light.' That... couldn't be coincidence, could it?

"Really?" Elora coughed with a halfhearted smile. "Coulda fooled me."

"Elora," Suree's tone of voice, even through telepathy, became urgent. Anxiously she fidgeted on the spot." I..." words caught in her throat- or rather, her mind. "I need a caretaker."

Elora's eyes widened. Was she really asking-?

"So-" Suree quickly sputtered. Both their minds fogged- presumably the telepathic equivalent of clearing one's throat. What was she doing? She couldn't just replace Lucas! Especially not with a stranger she'd just met, no matter her name's meaning. It was just a stupid coincidence. But she DID need access to books, and this human was expecting some explanation.

"I need an escort back to the city to find one. My caretaker... my last... caretaker, had friends that may be willing to take me into their libraries."

Elora's heart sank, to say the least. What was she expecting? An open invitation to bond with a mystical, magical paralogos she just met? Such privileges were only awarded the rich, and she had nothing. She was nothing. Of course she was going back to the city. Still, an escort to Sermos- the very place she'd been trying to get to herself. This seemed to benefit Elora even more than it would Suree. Elora wasn't one to look a gift horse in the mouth, but it was... suspicious.

"Of... course." She couldn't bring herself to force a smile, but she was used to steeling her emotions. "But what do you need an escort for? You can't go yourself?"

She had a point, and Suree was bad at lying. She couldn't bring herself to admit the thought of bonding to Elora had crossed her mind, and she was just covering the rescinded invitation.

"There are those in the city that may take advantage of an unbonded paralogos," she found herself saying. It wasn't a complete lie. "If they think you are my caretaker, just until I can get to a new library, I'll feel far safer."

"Not even Sermos is as perfect as it sounds then, huh?" Elora smirked. "Alright. I'll play the part."

"But first," Suree changed the subject, "we need to find you a doctor."

"There are no doctors in the slums. Not that I could afford one anyway." 

"Humans would value currency over one's life?" Suree was aghast.

"Welcome to the slums." Elora made another effort to sit up, which Suree gently assisted until she was leaning on the paralogos's side. "It's a hard truth, but it is the truth. That's why... I'm here, I guess. I thought if I could grab just one bottle of ink from that shipment, I could sell it. And with that money, maybe even get to Sermos."

"Stealing, you mean?" Suree fretfully began to wonder just who she was associating with. Elora frowned. 

"You've never been outside the city before, have you?"

"Well, n-no-"

"Life out here isn't as cushy as you Sermosians have it. We don't have our every need catered to. We don't have any leftovers. And if a shipment to those who already have plenty was short one bottle, then so what? Who would notice? Who would-?"

"Okay, okay," Suree soothed her before Elora worked herself up. "What happened, then?" 

"My knife was dull," Elora bitterly remised. "They bundled those bottles in so much cellophane, I couldn't cut through the packaging fast enough. The bottle snagged on the hole, it started clanking... bottom line, I got caught. The driver didn't take kindly to visitors and gave me what for, then tossed me down here."

"And he just... left you?!"

"Like I said," Elora laughed, "welcome to the slums."

This was... a lot for Suree to process. Was she really that sheltered within Sermos's walls? Or was this what humanity looked like- really looked like, without the influence and assistance of paralogos?

"You got the ink, at least?" The ink. Though she didn't approve of the method of which it was acquired, that must've been what had drawn her here. And, Elora was right- ink was valuable. Perhaps a doctor would accept that in exchange for services?

"I got it alright," Elora solemnly pointed to the ground on which it had spilled. 

"Oh." Suree was running out of options.

"I'll... be fine. We should just go." Suree's sing-song whistle turned into a surprised honk as Elora started wobbling to get up.

"You're in no condition to walk-"

"Even if you did find a doctor, no one in their right mind would come this far out into the interim," Elora insisted. 

The unfortunate truth was, they were both right. The exertion and pain of merely standing dizzied Elora, but if there was any hope for medical attention, they would have to seek it out themselves.

"Alright, you're... right," Suree relented, awkwardly supporting her on one side. "But you're still not fit to be walking. Can you get on my back?" Making sure to shift her- and Elora's- weight carefully, Suree eased herself completely to the ground. She'd never carried a passenger before. It was considered taboo in her, well, Lucas's social circle. Desperate times though...

Elora's breath caught in her throat as reality caught up with her. This was really happening. Maybe she wasn't meant to bond with one of these creatures, but she was about to ride one, away from this life in the slums, and on to Sermos. A city of wealth. A city of second chances.

From Darkness, Into Light
1 ・ 1
In Literature and Writing ・ By PaisleyPersonContent Warning: Near-Death Experience / Grief / Loss / Hurt

Elora, a young girl from Lingua's slums, dreams of one day making it to the grand city of Sermos. A dream that's impossible for someone like her, until chance brings her an unlikely ally: Suree, a rare being of magic- a paralogos. A paralogos who just fled the grand city when her library, and former caretaker, went up in flames. 

This first chapter follows Elora and Suree as they come together in an unlikely alliance to return to Sermos, and discover what really happened to Suree's library. 

Submitted By PaisleyPersonView Favorites
Submitted: 1 year agoLast Updated: 1 year ago

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[From Darkness, Into Light by PaisleyPerson (Literature) ・ **Content Warning:** Near-Death Experience / Grief / Loss / Hurt](


mewhaku Avatar
mewhaku Staff Member

Really well done- you have a great talent!!!

2022-10-18 16:18:51

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