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Cysgod by Cannwyll

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The horrors of Nocturna began eighteen years ago, when a strange man came to town. It was rather odd for a stranger to appear at all, seeing most avoided the city due to its lingering shadows and constant grey skies. He had entered on a particularly dark day in Nocturna and the shadows of the city seemed to almost follow him, like they had been awaiting his arrival and were now ready to serve him. Most played it off as a trick of the eye, but no one could help but be unsettled by this stranger. His look did not help to ease their minds, his black, unkempt hair brought a presence of ominence to his appearance, while the gold embroidered edge of his cloak seemed to dance tauntingly above the pavement, telling of secrets untold. He did not stop to talk to anyone but his gait was sure footed, confident even, yet slightly anxious. His intended path of travel seemed to be altered abruptly as he made a sharp turn into "Depths & Despair”, a bar that many of the citizens patronized especially on a day like this. As he entered, a hush fell, the sound of the baseball game on the mounted television even seemed to lessen, turning into an incoherent babble. The tension mounting around the stranger as he made his way to the bar penetrated the air so deeply, the rowdiest drunks could not help but become quite still.  Just as the stranger was about to touch a stool, a choked scream erupted from a burly man who had been sitting in the corner. It appeared as though he was being strangled, but by what? The only thing that could be seen upon the man’s neck was a shadow. As chaos erupted throughout the room many of the patrons struggled to remove the shadow from the man's neck but found they could gain no purchase on it.


Deciding that the spectacle had gone on for long enough, the stranger stood up and relinquished the shadows grip on the man's neck. The eyes of the patrons traced his movement as he took his time to descend into the cracked, pleather seat cushion, the neon lights reflection off his pale, straight nose. As he began to speak, his deep brown eyes stared at each Nocturnian in turn.

"I, Cysgod, ruler of the shadows, have come to the town of Nocturna, in the hopes of extending my power to the three dimensional world," the stranger said in a soft, husky voice that one would associate with the terrors of nightfall. "You have seen what I am capable of, so you know as well as I that to not comply would be futile. You will not be able to escape me, even on the sunniest of days, the sun betrays and places a shadow beneath you. I ask, not for war, but for peaceful compliance. I do not wish to harm you, only to rule, but do not begin to conceive that I am above it. The day you stand against me is the last you shall see. Though I advise against it, the choice to follow is yours, so make the one that reflects who you are. If you chose not to, well then, my friend, make sure you are willing to accept the repercussions that accompany it."

His words seemed to echo in everyone's mind, yet no one spoke. No one even moved. The terror that was instilled by his words was surpassed only by the absolute truth that lay behind them. There was truly no place for them to hide, especially in a shadowy place like Nocturna. They could not fight, they could not escape, they had to submit to him or face their doom. ````````````````````````````

News quickly spread throughout the city and there were more demonstrations like the man in the bar, except they occurred due to insubordination.

The first few days were some of the quietest ever experienced in Nocturna. No children played a pickup game in the street, nobody went to work. Everyone lingered indoors, waiting, worrying, anticipating what would happen next, what the new regime would entail.  

They knew. They knew that this was not the end of it, knew that something was brewing, that the silence and unknown were just the calm before the storm. In the darkest corners of the city, Cysgod was gathering a following, people to help him rule, to punish those who resisted.

After three days of silence the first decree reached the citizens.

Cysgodian Decree No. 1 : All citizens of Nocturna must be in their place of lodging from dawn until dusk. Only once the sun has set are citizens permitted to enter the streets and go about their business.

This law did not surprise many citizens, they knew that though Cysgod had shadows he could utilize even on the sunniest of days, he had unlimited powers and shadows once night began to fall and the entire city would be cast into impenetrable darkness.

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The following days new decrees were thrust upon the citizens including a ban on fluorescent lights and excessive lighting of rooms, which most believed were to increase the shadow density during the day and inside houses. Men and women wearing earpieces and carrying batons could be seen during the day patrolling the streets with the orders to capture anyone who broke curfew and bring them directly to Cysgod himself. Few ever broke curfew out of pure fear, but there were still those who refused to bow down under the new regime, and they were some of the first to pay the price, and subsequently were not seen or heard from again.

Families were broken apart. The town became even more dispirited than it had been previously, an ominous gloom had settled in their hearts causing them to lose hope and the will to fight. They were trapped. Trapped under the control of a higher being, one blessed with special abilities, who had no equal amongst Nocturna. He was the only person of supernatural abilities within miles. All the citizens could do was sit and wait for times to change, to get better, for what else could they do? Fight? That would lead to their ultimate end. Even though Cysgod had stated he wanted to rule them, he did not seem above a total annihilation of the population, and as he could do so, so easily those who had an inkling of a doubt that he would kept to themselves and did not act upon their thoughts.

Cysgod himself made very few appearances and when he did everyone seemed to hold their breath as he passed, as their shadows gravitated toward him, until he appeared to be hovering over a very deep hole.

Within his second week of rule Cysgod appeared in the town. As he walked down a random side street his eye was caught by very bright light seeping out of the hospital windows. The hospital had thought they may be allowed to still have these lights because of the nature of their work, however they were much mistaken. Without hesitation the masses of shadows that were surrounding him came upon the structure and without warning began to crush it. The horrible creaks of metal beams being bent under the immense pressure and the screams of those trapped inside echoed throughout the city. The screams ceased as the building came to rest in a pile, but they seemed to hang in the air for hours, haunting the citizens of Nocturna, forever engrained into their memories. To this day when people pass by the space between the long stretch of buildings, the piles of debris that lingered after months of weathering, they quicken their step, hold their breath, and give thanks that they had not been inside, that they could still live to see another day.

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Days, weeks, and months melted into one as the citizens of Nocturna experienced more changes under the rule of Cysgod. The outlawing of daytime activity was first thought to be a minor thing, no big deal, they could just get their days work accomplished by moonlight. But, this was not all it did. Although the city of Nocturna was a generally dark and gloomy place they did harbor a few crops that they could grow in these conditions with the help of heat lamps. But since heat lamps, although rather dim, had varieties that created bright lights they were outlawed causing a famine among the citizens. Food was getting very limited. Grocery stores were unable to replenish their stocks because the companies they used only allowed daytime deliveries.

As the famine increased and fatalities began to occur, more and more citizens could be seen breaking curfew trying to accept the grocery deliveries. Meanwhile, others were trying to produce the crops while using illegal heat lamps in a desperate attempt to restart the food supply. Those who were found were brutally murdered by Cysgod, but some did get away with their actions if they were caught by a Cysgodian officer who was just as hungry as they were, as long as they were given a portion of the food for themselves that is.

Eventually as the fatalities reached monumental numbers, Cysgod allowed the workers of the grocery store to break curfew from 2pm to 3pm three days a week to receive deliveries. This at first sounded like a fantastic thing, the famine would surely end now, right? No. Delivery trucks were unreliable and were not always guaranteed to show up within the hour that they were allowed out. An hour was also not enough time to accept large deliveries so that the city had to depend on those three delivery days every week or suffer from the hunger. The fatalities due to famine were once again restored to normal, but on days that the delivery hadn’t made it within the time frame you could hear the cries of babies and young children fill the streets, complaining of empty tummies and hunger caused fatigue.

As years passed not much changed, the occasional famine still occurred, the children still cried, the fear of Cysgod remained and perhaps increased, ridiculous laws were passed. This gloom was different than its predecessor; this gloom crushed dreams and hopes and could not be relieved; this gloom was a more permanent fixture; even when sun shone through the windows of their houses in Nocturna, this gloom remained. Like a flower who never came to bloom, their will wilted before it became, lifted from their reach before their fingertips could even caress its surface, empty, they retreated into conformity, into nonbeing, into insignificance.The populace could not muster the will to fight even after all these years, they could barely convince themselves to get out of bed every night, they had reacted just the way Cysgod had hoped them to, and this was a most terrible thing to have happened.


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