Rising Shadows

A/N: First of all, I'd like to say thank you for trying this story. At the moment, this story is mainly intended as a test run to see if I can write this particular genre. It may become something more, I do not know for certain.

As will always be the case with me, reviews are very much encouraged. I do expect some criticism and, in fact, I'm hoping I get some. I intend to be a fulltime writer in the future and any help I can get would be appreciated. Before I end this little spiel, there is just one more thing I want to make very clear. I am not going to devote all of my waking hours to writing this story, so the time between chapters may vary. Also, if this story starts to take a downward plunge, I may very well stop writing it. I am not going to waste my time or yours with meaningless trash.

Last, but not least, I find that my best ideas come to me with time. So generally a chapter's original version is not its final one. With this story, I intend to proofread every chapter before posting it for the first time. However, I may edit it as time goes on and then I will replace the old version with the new with I post a new chapter. So if you read a new chapter and notice some discrepancies with the old one, it may be in your best interests to go back and check out the old chapter.

Without further ado, the Rising Shadows:

Prologue

"Avery..."

Excerpt from the journal of Avery Cross: Boy Genius! Adventurer Extraordinaire!

It was another exciting day in the Fangthorn Forest. I managed to locate Switchback in the old quarry and the two of us made it to the king's castle. As it turns out, his daughter (that's the princess) was kidnapped and he promised her hand in marriage to anyone who could rescue her. I didn't quite understand why anyone would want to marry her hand, let alone the rest of her, but Switchback reminded me of our promise to help all in need. So we set out at once.

"Avery..."

Apparently the princess had been kidnapped by my old arch nemesis, Casbury Kingsley. He had gained the help of an old wizard named Iento. They were waiting for us when we arrived. I fought Casbury and defeated him with a little help from my magical sword. By the time I knocked him down, Switchback had already beaten Iento. We went and freed the princess, but she held us up with a bunch of mushy stuff about marrying me and Casbury and Iento escaped. I wanted to go after them, but Switchback made me stay behind so that we could take the princess home.

"Avery!"

We returned to the castle and the king threw a party for us. We stayed long enough to have some cake and ice cream, but then we ran away before the king could start talking about marriage again.

"Avery Cross! Look at me when I am talking to you!"

Avery Cross lay on his bed, his pen racing across the pages of his journal. The ten year old boy was dressed in a bizarre mismatch of sleep clothes and daytime clothing. He had managed to get his sleep shorts on, but he had only gotten one arm out of the sleeves of his shirt and he had seemingly forgotten all about the second one. He had apparently had the same trouble with his socks: He was wearing one of them, but the other was only tugged up over his toes.

At the sound of the shout Avery bounced up into a sitting position and his messy, light brown hair, in bad need of a haircut, almost fell over his eyes. He was surprised to find his mother standing in front of him, with a frown on her face. That got his attention.

Janet Cross was a slight woman with jet-black hair that fell down past her shoulders. She was one of those people had a smile that could light up a room. By itself, it spoke volumes about the beauty of her kind heart that far surpassed her still youthful appearance. All overly poetic descriptions aside, she wasn't smiling at the moment and to Avery, that meant she had the potential to be one of the most terrifying people on earth. Even Casbury Kingsley wouldn't stand a chance.

"Mom!" Avery exclaimed. "Sorry, I was..."

His eyes suddenly glazed over and he went silent. His mother sighed and shook her head wearily. With the air of someone who had done this many times before, she leaned over towards her son and snapped her fingers in front of his face. Avery blinked several times and then he grinned sheepishly.

"Sorry, I just thought of something," Avery said.

His mother shook her head, looking exasperated, but inwardly she felt a flicker of pride. Avery was by no means a genius, but he had a huge imagination and the drive to accomplish something great with it. Admittedly he was still young, so very few of his ideas were all that original, but still, he tried and in time he would improve. The only downside to all of this was that Avery had developed a habit of blanking out when something new came to mind, just like he was doing right now.

Janet noticed Avery's open journal and she reached down and picked it up.

"So what did you do today?" Janet asked innocently as her son looked on in horror. "Ooh, so Casbury had a wizard with him this time. That's different. Didn't he have a frog monster ally before?"

"Mo-om!" Avery jumped up and grabbed his journal back. "That's private!"

"So tell me about it," Janet replied.

"Well...it's not really that good..." Avery hesitated, but it was obvious to Janet that he wanted to continue.

"Go on," Janet encouraged.

Avery opened his mouth to speak when someone knocked on his door. The two looked over to see Henry Cross standing in the doorway.

Avery's father was a tall, balding man in his mid thirties. Time had not been as kind to him as it had to Janet. Henry was already starting to show his age, though this had never been a huge concern for him. He still had the energy and strength of a man half his age.

"Is it story time already?" Henry asked. "And you didn't invite me? Hmmm...the consequences of this could be quite severe." He shot a very obvious wink towards Janet and she smiled, looking thoughtful.

"He's right, you know," she told Avery. "It'll have to be something that you consider torture...like reading your latest entry to us."

Avery blushed. He knew full well that they were joking and that they wouldn't really force him to tell them what was written in his journal. Still, a part of him wanted to read it to them. He had done it before, so it should have been no big deal, but things were changing for Avery. His games and stories were starting to feel a little foolish.

"I..." Avery paused before plowing right on, "...I'd rather not read it to you..."

His parents exchanged a surprised look before turning back to him. His mother opened her mouth to speak, but before she could say a word the doorbell rang. Avery's father immediately stepped out of the room while his mother kissed Avery on the forehead.

"Okay, no stories tonight," Janet said. "Maybe tomorrow?"

Avery didn't say a word as she followed after his father. He wasn't quite sure what to tell her. On one hand, it embarrassed him to read his stories to them, but it also embarrassed him to refuse to tell them. A part of him wished they would just stop asking him to read to them, but when he thought about telling them he didn't like reading it, he felt nervous about doing that too. It was all very strange.

Avery listened to the sound of his mother walking down the stairs of their home. A part of him wanted to go tell her he would read to them, but those same feelings continued to hold him back.

He was still wrestling with his inner thoughts when his father opened the front door. That was when the screaming started.