May 17, 2013
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Drake saw a baby lying in a crib, staring up at the ceiling. But he wasn't in a bedroom, at least not one that he knew of in Grand Rapids. The room was circular, like a tower, with stone walls and a wooden floor. Out the window he could see the moon, and unnaturally pale blue. And then, he was not alone. A person dressed in black, with a dark hood covering his face, stood next to his crib. He leaned over and looked down at the child. Dark mist began escaping from beneath his hood, slowly enveloping the baby. It began to struggle, but the mist continued to flow.

Suddenly two people, probably the baby’s parents, burst in. The mother screamed and ran forward, snatching the baby away from the vapor. The father stretched out his hand and a wind rose, dispersing the smog. He turned to face the hooded man, but he was no longer there. The mother clutched the baby close. “Renulus,” she said. “You know what this means.”

“Yes Mary.” he said. “It’s no longer safe for him here. We need to leave.” they hurried out of the room and the dream dissolved. Drake awoke, startled by what he had seen. He had never had dreams like that before. But it was more than that. He felt a strange connection to the dream. Like a persistent feeling that had long been suppressed. He rolled over and looked at his clock. It was 2:30 a.m. Tomorrow was the last day of his freshman year, he couldn't afford to be tired in the morning. Putting the unsettling dream aside, Drake closed his eyes and went back to sleep.

Footsteps now lighter since school was over, Drake walked home. He reached his house and walked up to the door. He opened it and found the house surprisingly quiet. "Mom?" he called. "Dad?" no reply came. Fear began to wind around his throat. He raced across the foyer, and was suddenly hit by a blast of intense cold. A dark, heavy atmosphere permeated the room like a fog. From behind him came a dry hiss, like a snake laughing.

With great effort, Drake turned to find a person cloaked entirely in black, his face hidden beneath a hood. No, it couldn't be. It looked just like the person from his dream! "Who..." Drake muttered, trying to force word past his frozen lips.

"Same brown hair and eyes.” the man said. “Yes, you're definitely him. But I digress, who am I?" the person completed. "A fine question. I am known by many names; Shrouded One, the Black Mist, the Demon of Nightmares. All fitting titles I suppose. But I doubt those mean anything to you. They're from your other half, you Merilian half."

Drake was completely lost. What did he mean 'your Merinian half'? Drake had never heard of anything like that. Apparently his confusion showed, for the person looked at him. "Oh, you don't remember? What year was it then? 1998? Has it really been 15 years?" he said. "Maybe you remember this." black smoke began to seep from beneath the persons hood. It curled around him, and then slowly dissipated. The feeling was getting stronger. Drake felt like he was on the verge of remembering something. But he couldn't.

"Still nothing?" the person said. "Wait, I see it now. I should have noticed before. That fool Renulus. He was so frightened that you would remember, he sealed your memories. But surely you haven't been completely duped. Answer me, have you ever had any strange feeling, like you should remember something but it simply isn't there?"

Drake didn't know why, but when the person said it, the words rang true. “But don't worry.” the person said, walking towards Drake. He placed his finger on his forehead. “For what you have concealed you shall become!” a flood of memories assaulted Drake. The baby, the people, that was him! Those were his parents!

“Drake!” a voice yelled. The man was blasted backward by a bolt of fire. The cold spell broke, and Drake turned in the direction of the fire. There stood a man in a blue robe. His hair and beard were rather long and greying. He made a series of hand motions and thrust them forward. White bolts of light shot out of his fingertips, quickly forming a cage around the person in black. “Hurry.” the man said. “That won't hold him for long.”

“Wait,” Drake said. “Who are you? Where are my parents?” the man's expression turned pained.

“There may still be time to save them.” he said. That got Drake’s attention. He followed the man out the door.

“Where are we going?” Drake asked.

“To Merlina.” the man replied. Producing a silver key from a chain around his neck, he placed it in the air and turned it. A rectangular space suddenly opened up, it was a view of a barren valley, save for a large black door set into a cliff side. Drake looked around the other side of the space, but there was nothing there. This defied the laws of physics. Then again, pretty much everything had this afternoon. “Quickly.” the man said, stepping through the rectangle. Hesitating slightly, Drake stepped through as well.

Once he was across the threshold, the rectangle disappeared. Drake was glad to get away, but the valley was not exactly a comfortable place. It was littered with bones, from wild animals, to suspiciously human skeletons. “Where are we?” Drake asked.

“The Valley of Mist.” the old man said. “The only way to get to your parents.”

“Don't tell me,” Drake said, pointing to the black door. “That they’re in there?”

“I’m afraid they are.” the man said. “But don't worry, you probably won't die.”

“This isn't funny.” Drake said. “What do I have to do?”

“Take these.” the man said, handing Drake a small pouch and a dagger. “You’ll need them.”

“How do I use this?” Drake asked, holding up the pouch.

“That contains gold dust. When you see an enemy, take a handful and throw it. It should have an interesting effect on the things in there. Speaking of which, there are most likely three guardians.” Drake swallowed, this was huge. The lives of his parents depended on this.

“Alright.” he said, and walked over to the door. He pulled it open and stepped inside. The room felt cold and old. He shut the door, closing out what he hoped wouldn't be his last glimpse of light. As soon as the door closed, torches lit along the walls. A low growl emanated from the center of the room. As the final torches lit, it revealed a wolf, almost as big as a horse. It snarled and stalked forward.

David reached into the pouch. He grabbed a handful of the powder and flung it at the wolf. The dust was silvery in color, and seemed to catch in the torchlight, flashing as it went through the air. As it made contact with the wolf, it flared brightly and the wolf yelped. Then it fell over, the places where the dust had hit it burned.

Suddenly, a door opened up on the far side of the room. Drake went through it, and found himself in another equally creepy room. Like before, torches lit along the walls, revealing Drake’s second challenge. It was a bear, but it stood taller than any bear Drake had ever seen. It was clad in iron armor, and, while it carried no weapons, its claws were the size of daggers. It roared and charged Drake, who, like before, assaulted it with dust. As the dust made contact, the bear began to shrink. It grew smaller until it was the size of a cub, and ran away into the darkness. Another door opened up, and Drake went through it.

This time, no guardian was revealed when the torches lit, only a yawning pit. Suspended above it by a chain, was a steel cage. Inside were his parents, both unconscious. Drake ran forward, but was stopped by the same cold feeling as before. Out of the pit rose the person dressed in black. He stopped, levitating a few feet above the center of the hole. “I’m surprised you made it this far.” he said. “But trust me, this is as far as you go. Once I take their power, I’ll be able to fully rise, and destroy both these pitiful worlds.” Drake reached into the pouch, but it was empty. “Out of dust I see,” the man said. “Too bad, it looks like you won't be able to stop me.”

Drake balled his fists. How could he have come so far and be stopped now? Then a thought entered his mind. Hoping that his plan would work, Drake swung the pouch in a wide arc, dispersing what remained of the dust. Thankfully the dust did what he had hoped and expanded and covered the area. “I don't know what you're planning.” the man said. “But it won't work.” the man looked around, eyes sweeping the chamber for Drake. Too late, a streak of silver caught his eye. He looked down and saw the dagger hilt in his chest. “You... You...” he mumbled, and then he fell into the pit, which then closed.

The cage was lowered and opened. Drake and his parents exchanged tearful reunions, as well as apologies for lying to him. The three of them left the place, and found the old man where he was earlier. “My,” he said. “You actually did it. You know, this place could use someone like you.”

“Thanks,” Drake said. “But I think I’ll go back home.”

“I understand.” said them man. He then took of the chain with the silver key. He handed it to Drake. “Come back any time. Just think of here and turn it.”
“I’ll be back soon.” Drake said. He then turned the key and opened a door back to his home. Once everyone was through, he remembered that it was summer. But it was going to feel pretty boring after what had just happened.

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