"You're useless!" The man screamed at me from the surrounding shadows. "You and all your kind!"

"Why don't you just leave us alone!? Nobody wants you around!" A woman screamed, cloaked in the shadows behind me as well.

I was surrounded by the shadowed forms of nearly a dozen people. I couldn't see their faces, but I didn't need to. I knew who they were. All of them were people of the village I lived near. I found myself receiving such vocal abuse whenever I stayed there for too long.

I did try to avoid the village when possible, and when I did have to enter it, I did so never intending to stay longer than absolutely needed. But it was hard to avoid the place when I needed supplies from it. I had no farming skills, or hunting skills, so I was forced to visit the village in order to eat.

"Everyone would be better off if your kind didn't exist!" Another man in the shadows yelled out.

The reason everyone hated me so, was the same reason I had managed to survive so long by myself. I am a half-elf; something I wish wasn't true everyday that I live. It's not that being a half-elf isn't convenient at times; it's just that nobody likes a half-elf. The beings caught between the other races of the world, belonging neither to the elves or the humans.

Elves despised my kind for their human imperfections. Humans despised my kind for their superior abilities, and prolonged live. Even my parents had abandoned me, not that I blame them. Raising a half-elf child would have been too great a burden for them. Sometimes, even I found myself hating me for what I was... but other times...

"Don't say that!" A familiar voice echoed out of the shadows. It was a female voice; soft, and caring. It was the voice of one of my few friends, Rae.

I turned toward the sound and saw her step from the shadows to join me in the circle of hate. Her double-point ears stuck out from behind her long black hair. Her bangs hung down over her bright green eyes.

She was dressed in her usually brown shoulder-cloak, with her off- white dress flowing down to just about where her knees were. Flowing out beneath that was a translucent white skirt that went to a few inches above her tan boots.

Rae was a Dues, an angelic race that would emerge from the portals of Light during the times of peace. It was thanks to her kind that humans had survived the evils of the Umbras, the Dues's opposite from the gateways of Darkness. Obviously, she was much loved by the villagers.

"Kael is not useless! And I'm quite pleased with his existence!" Rae said on my behalf. She was always standing up for me.

"You shouldn't waste your time defending such a dork!" Another voice came from the shadows; this one a male's, and also familiar.

I turned my head to see Rhagkash step from the shadows, followed by his twin brother Alexander.

"Yeah, Rae, that's our job!" Alex added.

Both Alex and his brother had short spiky black hair. They were identical twins after all. However, the odd thing about them was Alex's eyes were blue, and Rhagkash's were dark purple. I knew the reason for this, but I still liked to tease them about it sometimes.

Rhagkash wore a black tunic over a blue regular shirt, while Alex wore a white tunic over a red shirt. They always dressed this way, and it was mainly so it was easier to tell them apart. But they both had on their usual black pants with black shoes.

"Please, boys, do not waste your time on this filthy half-elf." A man in the shadows pleaded. "He is not deserving of your attention."

"I think that's for us to decide, now isn't it?" Alex asked. The question was obviously rhetorical. The circle around me remained only a moment longer before the people seemed to vanish into the shadows entirely.

I turned to my friends and smiled. "Thank you all."

"Don't worry about it." Rhagkash said. "You're our friend. It's what we do."

I turned to Rae and smiled. She smiled back and moved closer. If I didn't know she was with Rhagkash, I'd have sworn she was going to kiss me.

"Kael?" She said, stopping her face inches from my own.

"Yeah?" I asked.

She paused a moment starring at me. I looked at Rhagkash and Alex through the corners of my eye, wondering if they knew what she was doing. Then, she suddenly grabbed me at the shoulders and started shaking me. "Kael! You need to wake up!"

~*~

My eyes slowly opened and I found myself no longer bathed in the detail-less shadowy environment, but in my own house. Rae was perched above me, shaking me, trying to wake me I guessed.

"It's about time you woke up, Kael." She said, releasing my shoulders and getting off of me. "I've been trying to wake you for almost ten minutes.

I sat up, shielding my eyes from the rays of sun drifting into my bare house. The door leading into my one-room house was standing open, probably because Rae hadn't bothered to close it on her way in. Next to was the window, whose curtains had been opened, probably by Rae as well.

I rubbed my eyes and threw the thin covers off myself. I was already dressed, so I didn't have to worry about Rae seeing anything. I only had one outfit, so it's not like I could change anyway. It was clean though. I washed it everyday after I bathed.

I got up, still sort of asleep, and took the couple of steps over to my pathetic excuse for a sink. It was nothing more than a bucket sitting on top of a table with a hose running through the window hanging over it. I opened the hose's nozzle and let the bucket begin to fill with water.

"Do you have any idea what time it is?" Rae asked, coming up behind me.

I attempted a response, but I think a grunt was all that came out. I closed the nozzle on the hose and dunked my head into the bucket's water. It was freezing cold, but the day was hot, so it felt good. In fact, the day was surprisingly hot for so early in the morning. I knew it had to be early, because otherwise Rae would be in school. She, like all the other kids under 17 years of age, was forced to go to school. Even I went, not that anyone forced me too. Me and Rae were both 17, so we were almost done with it.

I pulled my head out of the water and shook the water off; I didn't have a towel. "No." I answered Rae. "I'm assuming it's before seven though." I told her as I walked over and pulled some bread from my "cupboard". It was really nothing more than a box.

"You wish." She replied. "It's almost noon!"

I nearly choked on the bite of bread I had just taken as I spun to face her. After my coughing fit, I caught my breath and said, "No way! It can't be! If it was, you'd be in school!"

I knew Rae wouldn't lie to me, but I couldn't believe I had slept in that late.

"Professor Cain sent me to find you." She told me. "He was having a fit when you didn't show up today!"

"Aww man..." I wanted to sit down and mope, but I knew I didn't have time to. I ran over to my night table and grabbed my school stuff. I then turned to Rae.

"He's gonna kill me!" I told her.

"Yeah. I know." Rae answered.