Silence - By Kailin Gow


For years, there was nothing. No town. No lake, except for the one that was crafted by human hands, dug and blasted with dynamite. No settlers, for those tribes that came to the area always did so on the way to somewhere else. For years, so many years that counting them becomes meaningless, there was nothing there but the endless expanse of trees.

Or at least nothing most humans knew about.

From time to time, other creatures would come, stalking through the trees, or flying over them, or flitting through them only when they were certain that nothing else was watching. Creatures that had names in the tongues of other places, but here in Wicked, were simply dangerous things to be avoided. Things which humans have come to known as monsters or the unexplained. They came in their ones and twos, not knowing why they came at first, but simply knowing that they had to.

Where the rumor came from is uncertain. Like so many rumors, it seemed to start without an architect, and then spread like the fires that would occasional y sweep through the trees in summer. It spread al the faster for jumping between ears that could hear so much better than a human’s could.

Wherever it came from, the rumor was clear.

This place, so far from anywhere and so empty, was different. It cal ed to everything that wasn’t quite human, or had once been human and it drew them in.

It felt like home….this place this vast expanse of trees, val eys, rivers, and streams…this wilderness which wil be name after one of the original settlers, aristocratic creatures from the old world, The Wickhams, known as the Wicked Woods.

More visitors came to look for themselves. A few, those that could pass unnoticed, even stowed away when humans from the old countries came along to “discover” it or to lay claim to it. As they came, and saw, and stayed, more rumors found their way back.

Rumors of gates, and of ways to places where humans had not claimed everything with steel and knowledge.

More than that, the rumors started to make a simple claim. This was where it started. For everything that knew the old magic, or which didn’t fit into the human world, this was where it began. And where, eventual y, they would return. That message spread, even reaching human ears and bleeding into their folklore as yet another fantasy to go alongside the fanged things or the loch ness. Just another thing as fictional as their monsters.

The monsters knew better. The promise was enough to bring them, light things and dark, to the smal place cal ed the Wicked Woods. They came until the woods groaned with them. Until even the burgeoning community at the heart of the rumors could hardly cope with them. They searched, looking for a way through the gates. Looking for a way back. Into the Wicked Woods they went, looking, searching for the fabled land of Palisor.

The monsters searched long enough that many gave up and forgot about it, arguing that it could never happen. That this was their world and that their place was in the shadows. They said that no one would ever make it through the gate.

And then someone did.

Chapter 1

Fal on lashed out upwards with the broken piece of wood he had been using as a stake, and the last of Pietre’s vampires above him died, its mouth opening in a silent “O” of a surprise that a vampire so much younger than him have managed to staked him.

Would he be that surprised when death final y came looking for him?

Not if the battle kept raging the way it had been. Pietre’s vampires had fought viciously, clawing and biting, striking and then moving away with lightning fast speed. Fal on had found himself fighting with three at once, and he was almost as shocked to stil be there as the vampire he had just staked was to lose.

Fal on struggled out from under the creature as it died, cold flames turning it to ashes. He knelt, and then forced himself to a standing position, looking around at the meadow where the gate to the other world of Palisor had stood. What he saw was carnage.

There were no bodies. Vampires didn’t leave bodies. Yet there were splashes of blood on the grass where they had died, and drifting swirls of ash as the wind claimed what was left of them afterwards. There were even blackened sections of grass and dirt where the