Time Period: 1900s alternate England, where magic has existed for a long time but is not openly displayed. Some historical information is presented. I used old weather documents, some old newspaper clippings, etc to put some things in the story, but mostly this is based on fiction.
POV: fist person from the view of the shadowling girl Everie
Colors in Shadowed: Colors are pretty important. They are based o the colors of emotions, not the standard "green means money"
Warnings: Gore, Violence, Tragedy, Blood, scary descriptions, brain-exploding, sensual bits, imp insulting and more!
-End of Notes
I was trying to remember how to breathe when I pressed my back to the now shut stone slab. I force a breath. Inside the dark room, the air smelled of mold, the source of which coming from a leak in the stone somewhere a head on my left-hand side.
Good job. Keep it up.
Two. I recognize another stench among the mold. It is the smell of decay.
Yes, that is how it is done – air filling these spongy organs called lungs. Normally, I don't forget these things, but it is hard to remember when you are being chased by mad dogs down a booby-trapped underground hallway.
Way to survive yet again. Now, let's see just how scary this draugr actually is….
I work to adjust my eyes, damning myself for being in human form. Having human eyes certainly makes it difficult to see in the dark, but I have Master's magic on my side. So, in a moment my eyes adjust so that I can get a better view of my surroundings.
The room I now occupy is narrow but long. The floor and all the walls are made of stone bricks while the ceiling seems to be one long, nearly-intact slab. The left side of the wall is empty, but the right wall has long, thin niches that have been cut into the stone. I can make out shapes in each of them, and I can only guess that they are the remains of some long-forgotten priests. On the ground in front of the wall sits a stony rectangular object: the sarcophagus I had been sent to find.
I move forward to double check the lid for an inscriptions. I also wave my arms around the sarcophagus in hopes of catching the last of any possible traps. I do not feel any twine or oddly placed carvings or footholds, so I proceed to open it. Normally, this task would prove difficult for a human being, since the lid is made of solid stone and is very heavy; however, I am not an ordinary human. I open it easily, and inside I see exactly what I hoped I would find. It is a leather-bound tome with strange markings on its top. I pick it up and hug it tightly to my chest.
The Master will be proud.
It is then that I hear movement, and suddenly I see a half-decayed hand reaching for me. I quickly move before it can touch me. I swirl on my feet as I am faced with the owner of the hand, a long, thin body wrapped in tattered cloth. It has a sunken in face with skin so tightly stretched across that amazes me how it can move. It snarls at me, and the stench of rotting flesh invades my nostrils. Surely the smell of it would make a normal person gag, but I immediately decide to hit it with the book. It recoils from my hit but straightens itself almost instantly, during which I commend it for being intelligent enough to hide in the niche instead of its sarcophagus. Still, an undead draugr is nothing compared to me.
It reaches for the tome, but I jerk back and scream, "It's not like ya need it anymore!" It makes a grab at me, and somehow manages to catch me in its strong grip. This undead definitely has a bit of strength to it. It is able to lift me from my spot as it snarls and widens its mouth to reveal ancient blackened teeth. I know what is coming next – it wants to consume me for trying to steal its treasure.
Too bad it does not know who I am, nor does it know what I am carrying. I drop the book, where it falls under my feet, and I reach inside my pocket to bring out a tiny vial. I feel the breath of the creature close to me, and I grab its jaw with my other hand to keep it from snapping at me. I feel its jaw working to get at me, and I wiggle against its strength. I bring the vial up and finally I press it to the creature and shout the magic words.
Instantly a burst of fire erupts along its face, and it screams as it drops me. I feel the faint tickle of flame against my fingers for instant as I roll along the ground. I stop the fire from spreading on me, grab the book, and make a mad dash towards the stone slab door. I press the step that I know will open it, and while I run through the doorway I hear the creature screaming in pain behind me.
Too bad. If only it had pretended to stay asleep.
I run through the hallway and jump over all the booby-trapped steps and stones. As I run, I catch glimpses of the carcasses I had left in my path from earlier: the dogs that had drunk the draugrs' blood and had gone mad.
I see the mouth of the tunnel just ahead of me, and I nearly scream with relief. I pump my legs faster until finally I burst out of the opening and into the grassy marshland. I laugh as I hold the book up triumphantly.
I did it!
My happiness fades quickly as I recognize a familiar popping sound from all around me. I sigh and let my arms fall back to my sides while I wait for the popping noise to stop. It is then I hear the annoying chattering of my fellow cohorts. They sound like a band of screeching fiddles as they laugh at me. I catch snippets of their insults as I drudge my way through the grass towards the predesignated meeting spot.
'Took you long enough.'
'I bet she had to use all those vials.'
'I bet I could have done it without waking it.'
'Look, she's even bleeding essence.'
My moment of triumph always ended when the rest of them showed up, but, just like always, they liked to show up only at the end to display how humorous they can be at poking fun of me. Never did they come to help. I sigh as I realize that the last one had been correct. I was leaking essence. I lightly touched the cuts along my leg. We do not bleed the rich blood that humans bleed. Instead, we bleed our very essence.
'I am sure Master can fix it,' I think while I poke it. The texture is gooey and reminds me of tar. I am not worried about my wounds, though.
And it is then that I hear him – the Master. "Thank you, Everie," he says. I then feel the tome slide from my grasp by unseen means, and a sudden warmth overtakes my body. I feel it all around me and inside me to the very pit that is my essence. The skin that encompasses me shatters all around me like tiny little shards of glass. The illusion of being human is over, and I am no longer corporeal. I am a shadow, incorporeal, sliding across the surface of the ground to join my fellow shadow cohorts. One of them, Grimm, is the one that took the book from me. I watch him use his magic to deliver the book into Master's awaiting arms.
Grimm, the oldest among us, has many awesome powers. One of these powers is the ability to affect things on the Material Plane, the level in which the Living reside. He can move objects while in his shadowling form. He can push them, lift them, throw them, anything at all. Some of the older ones can move smaller objects, though they do not compare to Grimm.
Grimm. After the Master takes the book from him, Grimm moves to stand alongside me. The Master, reading the book, turns to ignore the rest of us as he simultaneously waves his hands in order to lead us to the charm that would take us back to London. The other shadows move to follow the Master but leave a wide girth around Grimm as they cross the marshland. No one dare's to bother him or say anything about me when he is next to me.
"You were faster than they were," he assures me. His voice sounds almost human, unlike how the rest of us sound. His words could be heard by ordinary humans while our voices were never noticed, or, if on the rare occasion they were, they were heard as tiny clicks or beeps.
And here he was speaking to me of all shadowlings. Little me who is still so young, so freshly dead. He must have heard the others taunting me and wanted to offer me encouragement.
I turn my form to create a follow place in the shape of a smile to let him know that I appreciate is comment. I long for the day where I could be just as powerful as he and to master each ability he possesses. I wonder if then I could order the rest of them around like he does. It is another power he possesses. It is the reason they fear him. His powerful voice drips with magic that he can manipulate to compel any one of us to action. There is no way for us to fight that power. Even if he called for us to kill ourselves with a second death, we would be forced to do so.
I want a taste of that power. Maybe then I could command them into silence.
"I am sure the Master took note of your speed. He'll use you again soon, so be ready," he adds. I can only nod my shadow head in response. I can feel a rising of excitement in my center as I let Grimm's words sink in. I look over to the Master, who has found the charm that would lead us back home.
I sure hope he's right. I want better jobs. I don't want to be a lowly cohort anymore. I want to be where the action is…
Master had tied it to the oldest tree in the marsh. It looks almost like a straw figurine coated with a slimy green substance. He takes it and begins to chant his magic. Grimm, meanwhile, vanishes from my side. I see him reappear next to Master, just under the tree.
He calls it shadow-hopping, moving from shadow to shadow. None of the rest of us have such a power. Master looks to Master just for a moment when he realizes Grimm had come to join him. I see a small smile exchange between the two of them. Grimm, as powerful as he is, stands next to Master because he is not Master's minion. Master has no control over Grimm's actions. Grimm is free, and so willingly stands by Master as an equal.
I wish I could be that great one day. I do not want to be stuck with the rest of the idiots for the rest of our shadowling existence.
Still, when I was there, I never once thought that a day would come that Grimm would no longer be there with us. Nothing could have prepared us for that day he crossed into the Light and never came back. It happened just after she died, her wooden body shattered to pieces.
I was left alone to learn everything about my kind, my powers, and the rest of the magical world. And Master, who had been present to witness Grimm's final demise, had been the last to speak with him. Whatever Grimm had said forever changed him, too.