"Our parents died several years ago. The reason for their death was something I wouldn't find out until much later. At the time, it seemed like it was an accident. I was out of the country when it happened, and Mike, my younger brother, was still living at home. He contacted me...let me know about it.
I rushed home, but when I got there, Mike was gone. What's more, he had taken most of the inheritance with him. I was crushed beyond measure. I couldn't bear to deal with Mike, so I left it up to the lawyers. I think I nearly went insane...until I met Ashley.
Ashley helped me with my grief. Our friendship became love. I proposed to her two months ago, and was ready to put the whole mess behind me. A brighter future gleamed. Then Mike called me, and came back into my life.
Mike was always kind of wild...but on the phone, he sounded nearly desparate. He begged me to meet with him, said he had something terribly important he needed to talk about with me. Part of me hated him, but part of me still loved my younger brother. With Ashley's gentle encouragement, I met with him.
He chose the park we used to play in as the place to meet. I think he was trying to keep me calm. Maybe it would even have helped a little, but he was almost incoherent. Babbling about secret orders, and a dangerous trip. He gave me a golden amulet, which he called an aegis, and told me to keep it close.
The whole thing was so stupid I stormed off. I threw his trinket in a drawer and tried to forget about it.
About a week later, I got a call from the police. They had found Mike's car beside the road, abandoned. Just sitting there out on a lonely stretch of road, deep in a forest. Was this what Mike had been trying to tell me? Now I felt guilty.
So I took the aegis drove to where the police found his car and started searching through the trees. At first, I had about as much luck as the police did. It was late, and I was about to give up and go home for the night, when I saw a light twinkling through the trees. Could this have something to do with Mike's disappearance?
What I found at that light was something that would change my life and Mike's life forever. It was something beyond belief. A realm of darkness forgotten by the passage of time. A realm we would unwittingly enter.
I thought the nightmares in my life were finally over. But I think my nightmare is just beginning."