"For now we see through a glass darkly, but then face to face" (1 Corinthians 13:12)
A young man watched from the top of a nearby cliff as the Saint Mary washed ashore. He looked to be about fifteen years old but in the land of Forty Winks looks can be deceiving.
The boy was dressed completely in black; he had jet black hair and bright white eyes.
He looked over at the wreckage and sneered, "Another one got threw; I seem to be loosing my touch. This is not good."
"Not having a good morning Noctum," said a voice behind him.
Noctum turned to find someone who looked to be the same age as he was standing behind him.
"Hello Filo, What do you want," said Noctum rather coldly.
"Aren't we in a foul mood this fine morning," said Filo as he walked up next to Noctum.
"I don't see what you find so great about morning," said Noctum. "It's far too bright for my liking."
"This world wasn't made with you in mind," said Filo.
"Did you come to bother me for a reason?" asked Noctum as he eyed the wreckage on the beach.
"I came to give you the Moirai's requests for the month," said Filo as he handed Noctum a parchment scroll.
"What do the three old hags want this month?" spat Noctum. "I don't need their approval to do my job."
"But you do need their permission," said Filo.
"If the old hags didn't like you so much I'd be paying you a visit," Noctum said as he unrolled the scroll.
"Fate and Death are forever intertwined," said Filo. "You can't have one without the other."
"Yes, yes, so say the Fates. I bet they have something to do with that ship that just washed up," said Noctum.
"Why would you think that?" Filo asked.
"Don't try and play innocent, I may live mostly in the dark but I'm not stupid," said Noctum. "The only reason I ever fail at my job is when they interfere."
"If you have a problem with it then take it up with your boss, he was in on it as well," said Filo.
"Sure he was, and I'm the god of Darkness," Noctum said sarcastically.
Filo laughed, "Its fine with me if you don't believe me."
"It doesn't matter anyway, I'll just get this mistake later," said Noctum as he watched a thirteen year old boy emerge from the wreckage.
"Don't count on it this time Noctum, for some reason the Moirai like this kid," said Filo.
"The Fates don't like anyone but you. Probably because you're just as old as they are and they fear getting rid of you," said Noctum.
"Funny, shouldn't you be turning into something else about now," Filo replied.
"Actually, yes, I'm off to see the end of another mistake from last month," said Noctum. "Would you like to come?"
"Why in the name of the Nyx would I want to watch someone die?" said Filo.
"Hey leave my mother out of this," said Noctum. "But you are suppose to be there. After all you are the First In Last Out for everything."
"That doesn't mean I have to watch every thing YOU do," said Filo. "Besides I have other things to do."
Whatever you say, oh King of Confusion," said Noctum.
"Ha, if I'm the King of Confusion then you're the Prince of Insufficient Light," laughed Filo.
Noctum looked at Filo with a blank stare, "Funny. Anyway, I'm going to be late now."
"Then leave already!" said Filo.
"Maybe I should have one of my friends watch this boy," Noctum said referring to the boy who was walking up the beach and heading for the forest.
"I am watching him for the moment," said Filo.
"Yes but I don't trust you," said Filo. "You work for the hags."
"Those hags can give you, your parents, and your master a run for there money," said Filo. "The Moirai are not a force to mess with."
"Quit your preaching, I'm just worried about the direction that boy is walking in," said Noctum. "He's headed for the City of Nod , which is where I am going, and I don't want him getting in my way!"
"You let me worry about that boy and you be on your way now," said Filo.
"Sounds to me like you have something up your sleeve," said Noctum.
"What the Fates have me do is their business not yours," replied Filo. "Now get going, you already said you were going to be late. I can see it now, Noctum Thanatos, late for the first time in history."
"Shut up old man," said Noctum.
Noctum looked toward the sea one more time and then transformed into a crow and flew away.
"Ha, young gods these days, they have no respect," said Filo. "He thinks he knows everything."
He watched the Kaleb reach the forest, "Hurry boy, hurry. No time to waste, no time to rest. You have a job to do whether you know it or not. I shall try and help as the Moirai have asked but I can only do so much. I beg you not to fail."
Filo sighed to himself and then disappeared.
Kaleb walked for hours and found nothing but trees and hard ground.
"How can you have both trees and rock hard ground," thought Kaleb as he trudged through the forest. "And there has to be something out here somewhere."
Kaleb sat down on a nearby rock, "It would help if I knew which direction I was going, but I can't even see the sun. What kind of island is this anyway?"
Kaleb's feet were starting to hurt and he felt like resting for a little while. He was definitely worn out from all that had happened.
"I should stop for the night," thought Kaleb.
Suddenly a voice came out of nowhere saying, "I don't recommend stopping to rest out here."
Kaleb turned to see where the voice had come from and saw a woman emerge from the trees. Kaleb jumped to his feet and got behind the rock he had been sitting on.
"I don't bite," laughed the woman. "I suppose you're new to our little island."
"Who are you?" Kaleb said softly.
"I am Nyx," said the woman. "I won't hurt you but I do recommend that you get somewhere safe for the night. While I may be gentle, not all that follow me are."
Kaleb was confused, "What do you mean?"
"Oh, dear me! I forgot that you don't know me," said Nyx. "I am the goddess of Night. While I am gentle I also provide cover for those who are not so."
"The goddess of Night?" said Kaleb. "You can't possibly be a goddess."
"You poor thing, do you think you are dreaming all of this? This is the Island of Forty Winks , where everything humans regard as fairy tales and myths live," said Nyx.
Kaleb stood there with his mouth hanging open.
"Dear boy, close your mouth. You'll catch flies that way," said Nyx. "As I was saying, you should not sleep out here. I would suggest heading for the city just a little way from here. The City of Nod , I think that's what its called, yes I'm sure it is."
Kaleb quickly decided to trust that what was happening was real and replied, "If you are the goddess of Night then how long do I have to reach the city before you bring the night?"
Nyx smiled, "To be honest, you have no time. I was about to call for it now but I'll tell you what, I like you so I'll give you one hour."
"Thank you very much," said Kaleb. "Which way is the city?"
"You are very welcome my boy. The city is off that way," Nyx said pointing off to the left.
Kaleb picked up his book, which he had dropped behind the rock, "Thank you again...your ladyship."
"Don't mention it dear boy it was..." suddenly Nyx saw the book Kaleb was carrying and gasped. "Oh, my! Oh, forgive me...I must be off...on second thought take all the time you need dear boy. I won't make it night until you reach the city safely."
Kaleb looked at her funny, "Okay then, err thanks."
Kaleb wasn't quite sure what changed the goddess's mind but he really didn't want to stick around to find out. So Kaleb started off in the direction that Nyx had told him to travel in.
Kaleb hadn't been walking long when he finally emerged from the forest and into an open field. At the far end of the field Kaleb could see the gates to a large and grand looking city.
"Finally, some sign of civilization," Kaleb said to himself as he began to jog toward the city gates.
As Kaleb reached the city gates, though, he found it unmanned and wide open. Kaleb slowly walked in to the city to find if completely empty. There was no sign of life anywhere. It gave him a kind of eerie feeling.
"What kind of city has no people in it," thought Kaleb.
He walked around the city, going into every building looking for some sign of life but he found no one. Kaleb finally reached what he would guess to be the city's capital building and went inside.
"I'm bound to find something in here."
Kaleb searched most of the building for the next few hours and found no one. He was starting to get really tired just as he came to the last door in the very back of the building. Kaleb opened the door and found a dark, winding staircase, that heading in a downward direction.
"Oh, good lord; you can't expect me to go into there for any reason," Kaleb said to himself. "That just spells Death. I think I'd rather be a mouse that just walked into a room full of cats. Perhaps I should skip this room."
Just then though, as he was about to close the door, Kaleb heard something. At first he couldn't make it out so he tried to listen harder.
"It sounds like someone crying," Kaleb concluded.
Kaleb looked back into the inky blackness of the staircase and sighed, "Why does the only sign of life have to come from down there?"
Kaleb looked down at the book in his hands, "Well, it's just me and you book, so if I get killed don't expect me to carry you back up here."
Then he slowly walked threw the doorway and carefully started to descend the stairs.
They seemed to go on forever and there was no sign of light anywhere but as he went down the crying got louder.
"Well at least I'm heading in the right direction," Kaleb thought. "I really am crazy for coming down here."
Kaleb pressed on and soon reached the bottom of the stairs. As luck would have it there was a lit torch at the bottom. Kaleb took the torch off the wall and proceeded to walk into what appeared to be a dungeon.
He listened for a moment until he was sure of what direction the crying was coming from and then moved on.
As he got closer the crying became more erratic and he heard some shuffling and moving around. Then out of the darkness he heard someone yell.
"Leave me alone! Please don't hurt me anymore!"
Kaleb moved closer to whoever it was and was able to make out someone trying to hide in the corner of the room.
"I'm not here to hurt anyone," Kaleb called to whoever was in the corner.
They didn't reply; so Kaleb moved closer. That someone in the corner turned out to be a young boy with blond hair and bright green eyes who looked to be about Kaleb's age.
"You're not one of those creatures," said the boy. "Oh thank God! Please help me!"
Kaleb came over to the boy and sat down next to him.
"Sure, how can I help," said Kaleb as he set down the book.
"They tied my hands and feet together," said the boy as he showed Kaleb his bound hands.
"I think I can manage undoing a few ropes," said Kaleb.
As Kaleb undid the boy's ropes he asked him his name.
"My name is Miles," said the boy. "Miles Morphus."
Kaleb smiled, "Well its nice to meet you Miles, my name is Kaleb."
Kaleb got Miles' hands untied and started working on his feet.
"How did you come to be down here?" Kaleb asked.
"The creatures that live here tied me up and threw me down here," said Miles.
"Creatures? There isn't anyone in this city," said Kaleb.
"That's what I thought at first," said Miles. "But then it became night time and they just suddenly appeared as if they had been there all along."
"They appear at night?" Kaleb said.
"Yes, Oh God What time is it!?!" shouted Miles.
Suddenly the boys heard the sound of a bell ringing far above them.
"We have to get out of here!" said Miles. "Its midnight!"
Kaleb helped Miles to his feet and then noticed that Miles was naked, "Where are your cloths?"
"I don't know," said Miles. "It doesn't matter anyway; we just have to get out of this city."
"Okay, hold this," Kaleb said as he handed Miles the torch. "I got to get my book."
Just as Kaleb picked up his book Miles let out a scream. Kaleb turned around to see a dark disfigured creature grab the boy.
"Thought you could get away did you," the creature hissed.
Suddenly three more creatures walked up carrying torches.
"Was he tryin ta get away?" one of them asked.
"Yep, our little offering thought he could get way," said the creature that was holding Miles.
"Please let me go," Miles pleaded.
"Let him go he says," laughed one of them.
"Please he says," said another.
They all laughed at that. They seemed however to be ignoring Kaleb. And Kaleb thought he'd be bold.
"Let him go," bellowed Kaleb in the deepest voice he could muster.
All four of the monsters looked over at Kaleb.
"Who are you?" one of them asked.
"It doesn't matter who he is," said another. "We must get the offering to the ceremony right away."
All the monsters seemed to agree and instantly started heading out of the dungeon without a second thought to Kaleb.
Clutching his book tightly Kaleb ran after the creatures as they drug Miles kicking and screaming up the stairs.
"This little bugger is hard to hold onto," said the creature that was holding Miles.
"Then drag him by his feet," said one of the others.
That comment was shortly followed by a thud and more screaming.
Kaleb practically ran up the stairs to try and keep up with the creatures. Soon they reached the top of the stairs and Kaleb could see that they were dragging poor Miles my one foot as they continued down the hall and out the front of the building.
Kaleb took off running after them.
"Damn these creatures are fast," Kaleb thought to himself.
But as soon as Kaleb got out the front door he found that he didn't have far to go. The ceremony that had been mentioned was being held right in front of the Capital building.
Kaleb looked around at the crowd and found many very odd looking creatures. Some looked cute and fluffy, some mangled and ugly. Kaleb looked around for where they had taken Miles and saw that they were tying him to some kind of alter.
Suddenly Kaleb realized some of what was going on, they were going to sacrifice Miles.
Just then a man dressed in black robes came out of the building and headed for the alter.
"Today," said the man. "We will cleanse this city of this creature's vile soul. May the Fates and the Dream Keeper have mercy on him."
The man pulled out a knife and got closer to the alter.
Kaleb had to do something, he couldn't stand by and watch them kill this poor boy. Thinking quickly Kaleb ran up to the man with the knife and chucked his book at the man's head.
Surprisingly, though, the man caught the book.
"Who dares to interfere with my ceremony," said the man as he threw the book back at Kaleb.
"I do," said Kaleb.
The man stared at Kaleb for the longest time looking him up and down until his eyes came to rest on the book that had just been thrown at his head that was once again in Kaleb's hands.
"You can't be," the man whispered to himself. "That book...it...you."
The man looked at the knife in his hand and then dropped it, "What have I done."
He slowly started to back away from Kaleb. Kaleb noticed that the man wasn't the only one backing away; it seemed everyone was backing away. Kaleb took this opportunity to free Miles.
Kaleb stooped down and grabbed the knife, went to the alter and proceeded to cut the ropes that bound Miles to the table.
"Why are they backing away from you," Miles asked in a whisper.
"What does it matter, let just get you out of here," said Kaleb as he cut the last rope.
Kaleb helped Miles off of the alter and started looking around for something that Miles could put on.
Kaleb looked back at the man dressed in black to find him removing his robe and offering it to Kaleb.
"Ok, this is strange," thought Kaleb. "Then again what about this place isn't."
The man threw the robe at Kaleb's feet and then turned around and ran. It seemed the whole city liked that idea and followed suit. Soon it was just Kaleb, Miles and a strange boy standing where the crowd use to be.
Kaleb quickly picked up the robe and threw it over Miles' shoulders.
"Thank you," whispered Miles.
Kaleb looked over at the boy who was still standing there. The boy was dressed in black and had his mouth hanging open.
"Black must be some kind of fashion statement around here," said Kaleb as he surveyed the boy.
He heard Miles giggle next to him but Kaleb was still staring at the boy in black.
Slowly the boy closed his mouth. He said something Kaleb didn't understand and then just vanished.
"Kaleb?" said Miles.
Kaleb turned and looked at his new companion.
"Thank you for saving me."
"You're welcome," smiled Kaleb. "Now let's take your own advice and get out of here."
Slowly the boys walked toward the gates to the city and back out into the open field before it.
Noctum watched from the top of the capital building as the boys left the city.
"Now that I made a fool of myself," he said as he straitened his jacket.
"I thought it was quite funny," said a voice from behind him.
"Hello again Filo," said Noctum.
"You looked absolutely hilarious standing there with your mouth hanging open," Filo said as he walked up next to Noctum.
"This is your fault, I know it is," said Noctum. "That boy was suppose to die as an offering to the god of Darkness."
"I don't see any dead boy," Filo said smiling.
"The new one, that new boy has the book," said Noctum. "Why wasn't I told?"
"You were told, you just weren't listening," said Filo. "But that's you."
Noctum suddenly realized that he didn't read the entire scroll from earlier.
"Was it in the scroll that you gave me?" asked Noctum.
"You should know the answer to that," laughed Filo. "I have to go now. Have fun."
And with that Filo vanished leaving a confused and somewhat cheated Thanatos behind.