The Darkness looked down from its perch in the top-most branches of the tree and saw five mortals, their hands linked, surrounding the foot of the tree. And it felt the coldness approach, creeping inexorably, up the tree to where it perched.
Huang, Nurse Suen, and the three mystics had spoken in the cramped hotel room for some time. Later, Huang would wonder just how many words were actually spoken and how many thoughts had been passed through the ether they enjoyed as mystics.
The eldest amongst them shared Huang’s name but pronounced in the Hong Kong style of Wong, knew of a spell that would bind the Darkness, for how long he knew not, but none of the others had anything else to offer. They listened intently as he taught them the liturgy they would recite. The most difficult part would be to get to the base of the tree before the Darkness sensed their presence. Fortunately, in its pride, the Darkness would solve that problem for them. They had rested for a while, waiting for the dark of night, and then set off.
Chan and the policemen watched in amazement as the aura around the tree grew outwards and upwards. The tree started shaking madly as if attacked by its own private tornado. Lai struggled to his feet.
“Come on”, he gasped. There were cries of concern from the officers but he was not to be denied. Holding his wounded neck with one hand he drew his service revolver with the other and led the way out the door. It didn’t occur to him, or the others that the cats would still be there. They were, but now they were cowering in the bushes. Whatever madness had possessed them earlier had since released them.
Lai’s shirt front looked as if it had been liberally dowsed in blood, the compress had slowed the bleeding but not stopped it, only sutures would do that, and that had to be soon, very soon. He was staggering by the time they reached the tree and two of the officers were supporting him. Before them, stood a scene that not one of them could have ever imagined.
Three men and two women, some elderly, some younger, were holding hands around the base of the tree, chanting something unintelligible. Later, when the officers tried to describe what they had heard not one of the versions jelled with the other. There was a glow of light that pulsed upwards, enveloping the tree, and its branches, and as they watched leaves fell from the tree as if it was autumn. The trunk of the tree was slowly turning pale white as if it was being petrified.
The Darkness felt fear for the first time in its eighteen hundred years of existence. Nothing could kill it, of that it was sure. But it was being frozen, frozen in time and space. It looked down and in its glare, there was pure hatred for the five mortals below it.
The spell that Wong had created was that of intense coldness. The same coldness that had frozen the world centuries ago. As the earth’s freezing chill made its way up the tree, the Darkness was trapped. Reluctantly it released its hold on the egrets, the cats, and every other creature it had enslaved. The cats slinked off into the bushes, and the egrets flapped away to their normal perches at the end of the Lam Tsuen River, confused, and wondering why they were so far inland.
Slowly, the Darkness lost its senses, its feelings. It withdrew into itself much like a human suffering hypothermia. They could not kill something that had never existed in real form. It would wait, biding its time, and return to speak vengeance on the mortals that had done this.
Then it froze.
(c) Copyright John Stewart Sloan – 2017 – Not for Distribution