Looking out the window, I see that the white fog was present again. It had become a normal occurrence by now. The locals had long ceased to react in surprise or fear. It just faded into the background, becoming an expectation. A thing to ignore. But I knew deep inside that it shouldn’t be. And that it was a sign that something else… something far worse was coming.
Had it not been for my instructor, I probably wouldn’t have known either. I probably would’ve been deceived like everyone else. Fooled by its differing patterns, despite our past encounters. My instructor had passed down so many books. More than I had the chance to read in his lifetime. But, on his deathbed, he told me it didn’t matter. He told me that it was more important that I had them. He was right.
I was an avid reader, as you might have already known. As long as I had them, I was certain that I would eventually get through them. Turns out he shared my certainty. It probably wouldn’t have surprised him then, that I instantly knew exactly what this was. If he were still here, he probably wouldn’t have batted an eye as I made my revelation.
Immediately, I tried to warn them. I tried to tell the people. I admit, perhaps I was wrong to focus on them at the start. Although some had initially believed me, there was always an unspoken suspicion hanging in the air around us. There was one particular youth that was most outspoken with such thoughts. Still, wariness and caution kept them by my side. But one by one, they slipped away from me.
Despite my efforts, the youth and his suspicions won out. The people stopped listening to me. The youth had ran outside, without regard to danger and returned unharmed. Thinking back, perhaps it was at play. Too much time had passed, it’s too late to say for sure now.
Even so, I tried to warn them that this was only the beginning. There wouldn’t be anything yet. At least nothing capable of harming humans. Not yet anyways. I tried to tell them that this was the lull before the storm. They wouldn’t listen.
But I know what it is, and I would think you probably figured out what I’m referring to. It’s the Mist. Yes. That one. The kind that we worked together to dispel years ago.
I’m writing to you because I know they won’t have much time left. In a month’s time, this city will be gone, taking all its inhabitants with it. But, even as they don’t believe me, I can’t just abandon them. I have to save these people.
I hope that you might be able to come. I’m not sure if I can do this alone. Especially not after… that incident. However, I can totally understand if you choose not to. If I were in your place, I probably wouldn’t either.
At least promise me that, if nothing else, you’ll spread the news about the Mist. Tell the rest of the Continent. I’ve heard that pockets of it have been occuring sporadically, and I’m afraid more cities will soon fall victim.
Spread the news. That’s all I ask of you, my dear friend.
He crumpled the letter in his hand. Tears streamed his face. His friend had sent it to him months ago. He never answered. It wasn’t long after the date, so carefully written on the parchment, that the city started to suffer. Postal service got delayed. He’d only just gotten the letter.
He failed his old friend. He failed to both save the man and the people. He’d failed all of them without even trying. Too many cities have fallen victim to the Mist before he caught on. Some faster than others.
His friend must’ve been doing his job… their shared job…well. Despite the man’s concerns, his city was one of the most recent to fall. Everyone had suspected that the city had somehow been unaffected by the apparently global phenomena. It didn’t help that those that had went there, in hopes of escape, never returned. But by the time he’d heard the truth in the increasingly sporadic news… by the time he managed to rush over… it was too late. There had been nothing left.
He remembered searching for days, forcing himself through the rubble, forcing his already blistered hands through pile after pile of concrete. But there was nothing. Not a single sign of life. In the remaining smog that still cloaked the place, he wandered day after day. Finally, he found signs of his old friend. Hints of spells and traces of battle reminiscent of the other man’s style.
But even then, all he had managed to recover was his old friend’s sword. Even so, it’s presence told him all that he needed to know. Knowledge that was only confirmed and further emphasized as the condition of the weapon became clear to him. The hilt and blade were fully detached, torn apart by some unknown force. What remained of the blade was a jagged and chipped piece of metal, as if used continuously with total disregard toward maintenance needs. He knew how much his friend cared for his sword. If not for an emergency, he wouldn’t have let it become like this.
“It’s a gift. It’s precious to me.” His friend had once told him. “I’ll never let the blade leave my side, not while I’m alive.”
Clutching it and holding it like a precious treasure, despite its mangled and unusable state, he had carried it home. If the sword had fallen to such a state, he couldn’t imagine what happened to its owner. But he knew, he couldn’t stay. Not when so many cities were suffering similar fates. Not while knowing that his old friend’s last request had to do with reducing casualties to the Mist.
He opened his eyes and stared into the darkness before him. Letting the crumpled paper fall to the ground beside him, he took a breath. Finally, lifting his blade, he charged into the white fog. Toward an unknown. Toward his potential death. He only hoped that this encounter with the morning Mist won’t end in the same tragedy.
This story was inspired by a writing prompt from the “Promptly written” Publication.
The Morning Mist