Hearts at Dusk

Consturcted Life and Natural Death


Out of this darkness came Umbrum, the first god. A man with pure white skin, teal eyes, a large frame, a pair of horns, and dressed in sheets of darkness. His eyes were not hindered by the lack of light, nor did he notice the extreme cold.


The first thing he did was make the sheets of darkness into proper clothes, calling upon the darkness around him to do so. He ended up creating what we’d call a long tunic and heavy boots. After catching a glimpse of his reflection, he added a hood to cover his face.


Seeing it was successful, he decided to make other inanimate objects. He constructed a basic forge, and started to create what would later be recognized as weapons. To test his abilities to manipulate darkness, he constructed a basic building. It did not keep its form at first, but did with time.

How long he spent alone, there is no way of knowing. Time, as we know it, didn’t exist, as there was no way to measure it. h

But eventually, he felt lonely. Unbearably so. a

Sitting inside his hollow shelter, he wished for some companions. Then he got an idea.

He created a new mould, forming a creature with golden eyes that looked like a silhouette of a horned man. After cooling the construct off, it came to life. It was taller than him, but seemed very wary and disoriented.p

Who are you?”t

The god of creation.”e

The creature’s gold eyes narrowed. “Is that your name? Really?”

Fine, fine, my name is Umbrum. What’s your name?”r

The creature went quiet, looking at the ground.

Oh, you don’t have a name...How does Manx work for you?”I

Manx slowly made eye-contact with Umbrum again. I

“Manx...That’s a nice name.”

Umbrum nodded. “Alright, Manx, help me out to make some more of your kind.”


Manx assisted Umbrum in creating some more shadow spirits. All of them varied wildly in size, eye color, and horn shape. They stuck close to Umbrum, not wanting to stray off from their creator. a

Manx spoke with Umbrum.n

Hi, are there any others about?”d

Umbrum shook his head. “No.”

Manx scanned the area.p

Are you sure?”e

I’m sure, Manx.”r

The shadows kept close to Umbrum, too scared to venture far. s

Umbrum was annoyed by their insistence to be clingy. “Go on, will you? You can’t just stand there forever.”e

Manx spoke again. “Sorry if this makes you angry, but I’d rather stay here, where I know it’s safe.”v

The other shadows nodded.e

Umbrum sighed. They were newly alive, and they were probably right to be wary. r

Fine, you can come into my structure.”a

Even inside the structure, many of the shadows still clung to Umbrum. Especially Manx.n

Can all of you please let go of me?” It was more of a demand than a request. “You’ll never get anywhere if you don’t try to explore your surroundings a bit.”c

All of the shadows obeyed it. Most of the shadows tentatively explored the structure, some braver ones even explored the surrounding area.e

But Manx stayed by Umbrum’s side. !

Why are you here? Go, be free.”


Manx shook his head. “I don’t think it’s safe out there. Can I just stay with you?”


Umbrum wanted to tell him to leave him alone, but something told him not to. To let Manx stay with him.


Fine, but we’re going outside.”


Ascream rang out. 


Out of the distance, a monster appeared. It was like a cross between a crocodile and a workhorse. It was about the size of a greyhound, twice as fast, and thrice as rabid. It had gotten tired of hunting after invisible flying snakes, and thought that Umbrum and his companions would make a good snack.


It lunged at Umbrum, who wrestled it to the ground. It took several bites out of Umbrum, spraying black blood everywhere. 


The newly created shadow spirits stood, frozen in fear.


What are you doing? Do you just like to see me in pain?!”


The horse-croc took a bite from Umbrum’s shoulder. Umbrum didn’t even flinch, giving the monster a swift hit in the ribs. It shrieked in pain. 


Manx, not wanting to see Umbrum in pain, intervened, and strangled the croco-horse. He kicked its corpse away and went back to Umbrum, who was standing further away.


The monster had given Umbrum a couple of wounds, all of which looked bad. 


Manx, wanting to help, touched one of the wounds, his hand getting covered in black blood.


Umbrum smacked his hand away. “What are you doing?”


You seem hurt.”


I’m fine. Are there any more of them?”


Manx looked around. “Doesn’t seem like it. What’s that black stuff?”


Umbrum stood up. “None of your business. I wouldn’t worry about it.”


What were those things?”


No idea. I didn’t make them. At least, I don’t

remembermaking them.”

Around this time, a skeleton appeared over the corpse of the fallen monster. Death.


Death touched the corpse and began to lead away its soul. But one of the shadow creatures tugged back on the soul, suspicious of the stranger. The soul, a shapeless white blob, hadn’t the slightest clue of what was even happening.


Death was taken aback. “What are you doing? Don’t you see that I’m trying to carry away the soul to eternal rest?”


The shadow, Bane, narrowed his eyes. 


How can I trust your word?”


Death scoffed. “You’re not going to make this into a tug of war, are you?”


Bane called on his “brothers” to tackle Death to the ground. The soul waddled away.


Umbrum, after dressing his wounds in darkness, came over with Manx.


He grabbed Death by the collarbone, and brought them close.


State your business.”


They were intimidated by Umbrum, even though he was far shorter than them. “I was just trying to harvest the soul of the monster.”


Umbrum wasn’t convinced. “Is that all? You’re not here to take away my shadows, are you?”


You just made them and you already have a protective instinct?”


One of the shadows had caught the monster’s soul, but found it invincible. It would reform every time you stabbed or whacked it.


Already? Is protective instinct time sensitive or something?”


Death really wanted to get back to doing their job.


“Listen, I won’t come back to bother you. So, please, can you let me go and do my job?”

Umbrum pushed them away, almost knocking them over. 


“Before you go, I have a question. Are there a lot of monsters like that thing?”

Death nodded. 


Do you want any help-”


I’d rather never see you again. And stay away from my shadows!”


Death and Umbrum would cross paths several more times later. Usually as a result of the monsters getting killed by either him or his forces.


It was an endless war. Every time a monster was slain, more took its place. But over many years, Umbrum and his forces had permanent territory, and somewhat temporary holdings in hostile territory. 


It wasn’t perfect, but Umbrum was satisfied. It’s not as if he believed there was much else for him.


Let There Be Light


When Umbrum first saw light, he didn't know what to think about it.

It was a tiny speck on the border of his territory. It gave out a bit of heat, and was starting to fade. If he hadn’t gone out to check his traps, he would’ve missed it entirely.


Umbrum reached out to touch it, curious. Its light became intense, and it exploded.


He covered his eyes, and saw a woman once he opened them. There were other balls of light around her, the first stars.


The woman was about his height, her skin was fair and rosy, her hair wavy and light indigo, her eyes lavender. She was petite, dressed in flowing fabric that sparkled in purples, magentas, and silvers.


Urainia wasn’t sure what to do once she awakened. Umbrum was rather intimidating and not very approachable. But it was worth attempting to speak with him, wasn’t it?


Hi…”


Umbrum blinked, and was silent for a time. He considered leaving her right then and there, but thought it’d be too callous.


Hello...


...Do you have a name?”



“Urainia. What’s yours?


”“I’m Umbrum.


”Urainia repeated “Umbrum, Umbrum…


”Umbrum walked away, feeling weaker due to the abundance of light around him. Urainia followed him.



”Umbrum sighed. “You can ask them all to me in my home.


”Umbrum’s home was a large palace made of darkness. It was large and grand, its tower reaching into the endless up, its foundation stretched ever down. Upon closer inspection, the surface seemed to ripple, like water.


 

“No, most of my creations live there, too. I don’t really go into their rooms.”


”“So you’re not alone?


”Umbrum looked at Urainia with intensity, trying to decipher if she had any ill intent. He found none, but he was still wary. “No, I’m not alone.”



”Umbrum nodded, leading her closer to the palace.



“Who’s this?”


“I found her outside. She’s new. You handle her, I’ll handle Thrym.”


.Manx and Urainia sat on the couch of soft darkness. Though intimidated by his appearance, Urainia had several questions


.“Where’d you come from?”



”Urainia’s curiosity spiked


.“What’s your relationship with Umbrum?


”Manx did not see any ulterior motive behind the question. “He’s my superior and best friend. And depending on how you interpret it, my father.


”“Who else is he friends with? Does he have anyone he’s seeing currently?


”Manx narrowed his eyes. “What do you mean?


”“Is he romantically involved with anyone?


”Manx shook his head.

“He is many things, but romantic is not one of them. It never has been. But if you want to court him, go ahead. Want a drink?”


Urainia nodded, but nearly gagged when she saw the sight of a black fluid being poured into the wine glass. She drank it out of politeness, and found it had a pleasant taste. 


Later, she tried to make a home of her own out of light. After many unsuccessful tries, she found success. It wasn’t as wide, but a tall obelisk that emitted a soft light. Finding it a bit plain, she put a ring around it. She made sure to make it close to Umbrum’s place, but far away enough to give him space. 


Eavesdropping

Umbrum could not say, in good faith, that he liked Urainia. Her starlight weakened his power, and he could tell she had a crush on him. He had no romantic interest in her, and made a low-level creature of his talk to her instead. But this did nothing to satiate her curiosity.

If one good thing had come from all this light, it was the heat it gave off was useful for metallurgy and warding off the monsters that swarmed the place. Umbrum decided to make a staff to allow him to manipulate darkness even when surrounded by light. And yet, just as he hammered out the shape of it, Manx approached him.


Urainia told me that she isn’t going anywhere until you talk to her.”


Umbrum didn’t even turn to make eye-contact with him, still hammering away. “Well, tell her I’m busy. I hope she likes waiting.”


A thought came to Manx’s head, a wicked thought. 


“My lord, if you want Urainia out of the picture, just say so. Urainia won’t be coming back after I deal with her.”



Urainia heard this from the other side of a thin wall. She felt a pang of dread. She knew that there was an undercurrent of malice to his statement


.Umbrum immediately dropped what he was doing


.He turned to face Manx. “Why do you want to
hurt Urainia?”


“Well, my lord, I thought that you should know that I’m willing to.


”Umbrum’s glowing teal eyes narrowed. “Stop calling me ‘my lord’, especially not in that context.


”Manx bowed apologetically and disappeared


.Urainia approached Umbrum from behind, cautious


.Not knowing it was Urainia, Umbrum said “Can’t you see I’m busy?


”“Sorry.”


 Surprised, Umbrum turned to see Urainia


.After a long, tense silence, Urainia spoke.


 “Do you hate me?


”Umbrum chuckled. “No, hate is too strong a word. “Annoyed” is better.


”“Do you want me to leave?” Urainia lowered her head, strands of purple hair falling over her eyes


.“Forever? No. Just give me some space. Everytime that ring on your home makes a full rotation, you can come.


Urainia nodded. "Thanks for the idea. Are we equals or...?"


“Yes. Which means that you can’t keep putting stars around my house.”

Urainia put a hand on Umbrum’s arm. “Does it hurt you?”


Umbrum tensed and moved her hand away. “It weakens me. Just know I won’t do the same to you.”