“Let Hope Rise and Darkness Tremble”

“The world was black. It was the only way they had ever known it; dark, black, and cold. Evil pressed in on all sides, and people clung to their traditions to save them from it. But even these, once so full of meaning and power, were growing cold. Silence filled their hearts where once, long ago and beyond memory, He had spoken in low tones, His voice full of warmth and light.

The people were afraid. The Dark One seemed everywhere, and wherever he went and whatever he touched was tainted and poisoned. His poison killed the spirit and damned the soul to eternal isolation, where the pained cries could not be heard and hatred and bitterness and self-idolatry flourished. Long ago they had foolishly listened to the Dark One, when he’d first come to the world, and believed a lie, and acted upon that lie, ignorant that their actions were severing the connection He had with them.

They committed a terrible atrocity, as a people, and when they realized what it was they had done it was too late. The Dark One had claim to their souls, and only a payment of pure, innocent blood would release them.

Only there was no more purity. No more innocence.

They were lost.

Those who still remembered — those who clung to the stories they’d been told and the promise of a hero to save them — waited with fading hope, wondering Why? Why do you not come? Have you forgotten us? As the years rolled by and generations fell and died, the rest ailed and despaired. Still they remembered the promise: that a hero would save them. A hero would rise up among them, somewhere, pure enough and innocent, and he would — to save his people — offer himself as a sacrifice, to break the Dark One’s claim, and bring the light back.

They were tired of crawling through the dark, blind to the beauty they could no longer see, huddled together in groups of shadows.

Sometimes they raised their eyes and looked around, hoping to see someone — anyone — wondering if the person passing by was the hero, wondering if the man plowing his field would one day give up his life. Wondering which face in the crowd was the face of their savior.

He would be strong. He would be pure. He would have a heart of fire, and a will of adamantine. His words would be truth, and he would bring an end to the suffering. Nothing could undo the damage done, but his sacrifice would create a bridge. A bridge of escape, a way out, a door where there used to be a solid wall. His death and the spilling of his blood would break the Dark One’s power and a crack would appear, and light would spill through and shine down on them once again.

Once the hero came, it would be the end of the dark.

No matter what happened after his sacrifice, how darkness fought back, what wars would be fought — the light would win.

Once the hero came.

More people died. Souls disappeared, snuffed out, the cries of the doomed echoing in their ears.

It will be over soon the old ones would say, rocking the children. And they would grow up, and have their own small ones, and grow still older, hiding from the destruction and suffering around them, and then they were rocking their own grandchildren, and telling them It will be over soon.

The stars shone down on them, the only light in their dark world. Distant and cold and white they shone, and people began to look at them with bitterness. What good was their light? What good was their beauty? They were far, far away, and cared nothing for the dark world.

And then three of them began to move.

The three brightest lights in the heavens began to draw closer and closer together, till there was no telling them apart, till their light shone almost blindingly down, dazzling the eyes of the people.

What is happening? the people whispered.

A king. others answered. It is the King Star.

Rulers of the world, serfs of the Dark One, began to search hungrily for this ‘king’. People were bribed; children were slaughtered. The Dark One turned his eye on the world, angry and fearful.

What was this light?

What was happening in his kingdom?

Some of the very wise, who had studied and remembered and kept their memory clear, remembered the old stories. They quietly packed their bags and slipped out into the dead of night. They followed the movement of the three stars, stealing along, until they came to a faraway place. A small place, a poor place. And there they found… nothing. No brave youth to step forward. No strong man to stand tall. They found a man and a woman, hunkering down in the shadows, young and wary, with their first child.

The men quaked as they looked upon the child. The light of the Star was in his eyes, and they were clear, and strong. His heart of fire burned in his small gaze.

The men trembled.

It was His fire.

He had not set the burden on the shoulders of one of theirs. He had come. Himself. Stolen into the world of Darkness in the unassuming form of a small, mewling baby, to a family poor.

He had come.

He was their hero.

The time was here, at last.

The men fell to their knees, heads weak and spinning. Laughter, an echo of the laughter from ancient days, filled their chests and brought tears to their eyes.

It did not matter that He had not saved them yet. They knew now they need only wait a little while longer; no more wondering When. No more endless waiting. No more unknown.

The Hero had come.

And the darkness began to tremble. ”

In the Light of the Dawn—Close Up


by J.R.R. Castle