The world had been dark for a long time now.
Not literally, actually; although there seemed to be more clouds and less sunlight as time went on. But figuratively. A darkness of the soul, of the mind. Something had descended from the sky that one day, so many years ago. Churches proclaimed the second coming. Cultists announced the return of the old gods. Atheists laughed at both and scientists were desperate to study it. But it melted into the earth, left no trace, and that seemed to be the end of it.
Then the madness began.
Violent crime took a sudden upswing, wars broke loose, anxiety hit an all time high. Several governments descended into pure anarchy, and many people fled to other countries, only to find that the still established government was so soaked in corruption that they were as bad off. And still, scientists could not find a trace of the thing that seemed to be at the root of it all. It didn’t matter. Soon, they too were squabbling-over awards, over recognition, and finally, over nothing at all. The thing had caused a spiritual sickness; it could not be fought with physical weapons even if one had wanted to fight it.
In the midst of it all, there was one being unaffected.
The child had come down from the icy mountains, where he had lived in peace with the monks since he was small. Now, old enough to care for himself, but too young and far too naïve to yet partake in the horror around him, he made his journey. First, down the mountains. Then, across the ocean to the island where the thing had first touched Earth. He was alone. His fellow monks had succumbed to the thing’s darkness. Once on the island, the boy walked to the center, sat down, and closed his eyes.
For a long, long time, nothing happened. All around the world, anger still reigned, yet the boy still sat.
Then, slowly, the light began to shine. It started first on the boy’s stomach, then spread to his whole being. Then, slowly, it enveloped the island. The wild creatures that lived there all went silent. Then, the light began to spread, first to one country, then to another. Soon, the entire world was enveloped in a bright light, and then, just as suddenly, the light disappeared, melted into the land, just like the thing that had fallen before.
The pointless violence ceased. People woke up, blinking, looking around, wondering what was happening. Oh, some did not stop what they were doing; some had the darkness in them already. But soon they were stopped by others who felt the touch of the light.
On a high mountain covered in snow, several monks set out on a journey, to find the lost boy. They traced his movements to an island, but there, they found no sign of him. The only strange thing was the tree growing at the center, towering above all the rest, bigger than the giant trees found in rain forests. The monks pronounced it a sign of the boy’s enlightenment, and the tree became a pilgrimage for many people seeking cleansing from the previous darkness. They did not know that the tree’s roots wrapped around the whole Earth.
Or that caged within the roots was a dark thing, waiting to get out.