Monday, October 24, 2011

The Isle of Secrets

Once upon a time there was a kingdom ruled by a king with red eyes.

There is an island out there hidden from normal eyes. Some seek it out and never find it. Some stumble upon it blindly. It has been called many names -- the Island of the Unbidden, the Obscure Isle -- but the name that most use is the Isle of Secrets. Legend states that the island is littered with the secrets of dead men, maps of hidden riches, accounts of untold treasures.

You are one of the few to find the island. The sand crunches underneath your foot as you step forward, past the trees, when you see a road. It starts from nowhere and seems to go nowhere, but when the sunlight hits it, you see a shine of metal. Hurriedly, you step foward and pick up a coin -- small and dark, probably made of copper, it can't be worth more than a pence. You pocket the coin and walk on the road, careful to check and see if there are any more coins littering the ground.

Soon, you come across more of the coins and you pick them up, worthless though they are. Surely there will be better treasure than this, you know. You have heard all the tales of this island. You know what you could find here. The images of gold coins and jewels as big as your fist rise up in your mind. However, the next object you come across on the road is neither gold nor jewel. Instead, it is a dagger, sharp and bloody. You pick it up and pocket it, not really knowing why.

There are more worthless coins scattered on the road, but you leave them be, because you see something better. There is a chest made of wood and bronze in the middle of the road. You race towards it and try to open it, but the chest is locked. You take out the dagger and pick at the lock until it springs open, but there are no treasures inside. It is filled with dozens of letters bound together. You discard them and close the chest again.

You do not know how long this road lasts, but you continue walking along it. The sun, which beat down so much on your shoulders, is now going down under the horizon and night is finally descending. There are no more coins on the road, but you see something ahead and rush towards it. In the dark it is hard to see, so you lean down and pick it up. It's a piece of rope, twisted and turned into a noose. You throw the noose back on the ground and continue your walk.

The road is ending, you can see. No, wait, it doesn't end -- instead, it appears to intersect with another road you had not seen before. It is a crossroads. And in the middle of the crossroads, you can see a pile of objects. This must be the treasure, you think, and rush forward. But the night makes you blind and there is something in front of the pile, in the exact center of the crossroads. As you slow, you see it open its eyes, its blood-red eyes.

You try to stop and stumble, you trip and fall onto the ground. The Red-Eyed King stands above you on four legs. You can hear its growl, like the rumble of the earth. It is larger than you ever imagined.

You pull the dagger from your pocket and brandish it in front of you. Blood drips from the knife. Where did the blood come from? You remember now. This is your dagger, the dagger you used to kill. The letters belonged to the man you killed, the writings of a life cut short. And that was your noose, the noose that you should have been hanged with before you left. Before the island found you. Before the Red-Eyed King found you.

The Red-Eyed King looks you in the eyes. It has taken all of your secrets. This is its treasure. The pile behind it, you can see now, is not gold nor jewels, but the bodies of men like yourself. You feel its breath on your face and you feel tears crawling down your cheek.

The Red-Eyed King steps forward and opens its jaws.

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