Shadowchild: Part One
Author's Note: This series is a sequel to several of my previous works. To
better understand the events and characters of Shadowchild, I would strongly suggest
first reading Windstorm, Firejewel, and EndingArrow. Thanks, and enjoy!
A Dark Claim
The sword stood alone in the centre of the barren plain,
untouched for a small number of years. The blade still gleamed brightly; the
edge was still fatally keen. Neither rain, snow, nor any other form of weather
could have marred the weapon. Like its previous owner, it was seemingly immortal.
It had been fixed in the moor's earth a millennium ago, but had been wrenched
free twice since that time. Each of these times it had drawn blood, but failed
The shadow watched.
A moment ago, the plain had been completely
empty, with not a soul nearby. But now that the darkness was here, it had always
He was drawn to the blade; it glittered like
a precious gem amidst the desolation of the field of torn up earth. He knew
that he was destined to be the new wielder of the spectacular weapon, slightly
taller than the ambitious warrior.
The presence took several smooth strides forward
until it was standing next to the sword. Engraved near the center line was the
weapon's name: Sirocco.
There was a soft snickering and the gleam of
malicious eyes, and a hand with fur as black as coal closed around the hilt
and claimed its prize.
I thought I was gonna be sick.
These stupid little tilt-a-whirls made out of
what seemed to be tin buckets were merely another reason that the Usuki Convention
gave me nausea.
This had all been Dayne's idea, obviously. She
was not only obsessed with shopping for clothes and accessories, but also for
those little dressed-up Usul dolls that creeped me out with their staring little
plastic eyes and demented hairdos. Today was the opening day of the Annual Usuki
Convention, and she had begged me to come with her, as she always did. The Island
Zafara dragged me everywhere, even though I was no longer her roommate, having
moved into my own apartment…mind you, it was across the hall from hers.
In order to keep myself sane, I'd asked Terzin
and Aly to come along. These two were very close friends of ours who had helped
me face my harsh destiny a few years ago. Terzin had reluctantly agreed, which
gave me some relief - another male coming along was some comfort. Aly, on the
other hand, a tomboy at heart, refused to accompany us and had stayed in her
home, another world beyond Neopia, accessible only by the WindRoads, ancient
passages hidden in the woods rimming Neopia Central.
Dayne had urged us onto this stupid little ride,
decorated with plastic flowers and operated by overly jolly pets in huge, fuzzy
Usuki costumes. When we'd first got in, I'd been sceptical about whether the
round seating area would hold the weight of two adult Zafaras and a brawny Cloud
Lupe. The Usuki doll attending us merely giggled and shrugged, causing me to
cock an eyebrow at her giddiness.
By the end of the ride, Dayne was laughing uncontrollably,
deeming the experience "totally, one-hundred-percent awesome", and wanting to
do it again, while I was trying to steady my weak-legged self on a nearby doll
display. The pet hovering over the dolls was asking me not to touch the items
unless I planned on making a purchase, but I wasn't listening. As for Terzin,
he was tough enough to endure the insane whirling of the seats, but I couldn't
help but notice that he appeared to have taken on a slightly green undertone.
I shook my head, trying to clear it, slightly embarrassed that my digestive
system wasn't up to these Usuki rides, but the greater embarrassment was that
I was here in the first place.
This event was oddly casual and quirky for me,
and I'd been experiencing such realizations for the past three years, ever since
my conflict with my fated adversary, the wind mage and warrioress, Frey KeenBlade,
had ceased. It seemed such a short time ago that I'd been fearing the next attempt
on my life at almost every waking hour, despite the help my friends offered
and my formidable gift of Storm magic, which was the only existing power that
could rival Frey's.
The Storm was a force woven from the six elements
of Neopia: Water, Fire, Air, Earth, Darkness, and Light. It adapted all traits
of a real, natural Storm into its being, and as a result, was capable of such
things as altering time, something formed from the strange lapse between the
flash of lightning and echo of thunder. The Storm was born into existence once
a millennium, and it was I who had received it this time around. Before me,
it had been a Fire Cybunny by the name of Tasson, who had been close friends
with Frey when they had lived, but because of her insatiable greed for his gift,
he had been forced to slay her, as I had.
When Frey had finally died by my hands, I had
felt release from my destiny, but ever since her death, I couldn't help but
think that this just might not be the end of it. These doubts were rooted in
the new prophecy she'd made before her life had been extinguished - words that
had been seared into my memory, which I could never seem to forget, a rhyme
heralding a dark avenger.
"SISSLIO, WATCH IT!"
I snapped out of my reverie, realizing that it
was Dayne who was screaming at me. No sooner had I heard her cry then I realized
that I'd caused one of the rare porcelain Usukis to fall off the display table
by unknowingly shifting the cloth draping the table they stood on. A second
later, a doll dressed like a majestic Sahkmet pharaoh toppled onto the sidewalk,
its delicate body splintering into several fragments.
The Pink Kacheek standing nearby casually chewed
on some bubble gum and adjusted her Usuki Con souvenir hat. "You break it, you
buy it," she informed me.
I sighed in exasperation, but pulled out some
money. "How much?"
"Twenty-five thousand Neopoints."
My jaw almost dropped - that little porcelain
thing was worth 25k? I looked to Dayne, hoping she'd take some of the cost.
She shook her head, catching my drift. "No way - I'm not blowing my Usuki cash
on some smashed-up thing!"
I sighed a second time, but reluctantly paid
the girl. "Thanks," she mumbled, her gum making odd smacking sounds as she chewed
I tossed the porcelain splinters into the nearest
trash can, and kept walking along with Dayne and Terzin, following my one-time
roommate to various games, displays, and gift shops. In the next hour, I was
weighed down by a multitude of fluffy pink and purple bags filled with all sorts
of useless merchandise. To the casual observer, I probably didn't look like
a male white Zafara at all - more like a collection of bargains with legs.
Eventually, the day was well on its way to ending,
and we were looking to get something to eat, or in my case, dump the burdensome
bags somewhere. After begging Dayne for quite some time, I convinced her to
head back to her apartment and leave the stuff there. Afterwards, the three
of us went back out into the city, where the Usuki fans were selling glow sticks
and hanging up lights. There were crowds of girls awaiting the fireworks, some
with male companions.
We found a small, quaint restaurant that served
Mystery Island-style cuisine, and ate a tasty seafood dinner. Following our
meal, we returned outside again to watch the approaching display of flaming
In a few moments, the first blast went off, an
explosion of pink sparks, showering the streets with iridescence. The summer
air was afire, and after one exasperating Dayne day, I felt calm, and in awe,
which surprised me, considering that we were at the Usuki Con.
The evening was alive. Children were racing around,
whirling their glow sticks on strings until they became a fluorescent wheel,
spinning wildly in the darkness. Pets still in their Usul costumes shed the
furry garments, which gave way to sweaty tank tops and shorts. They danced under
the spectacular blazes, their foam sandals crushing the lush grass beneath their
toes. More explosions of beauty split the air gloriously, and couples stared
at them in wonder.
I found myself wishing that Aly had come with
us today - it would have made the convention more enjoyable for us all, or at
least for Terzin and me. Then again, now that I thought about it, I hadn't seen
much of her recently, and I felt a subtle hollowness without her. I wanted her
to be here with me, under the stars.
Slowly, I managed to slip back into enjoyment,
and my eyes widened at the next glittering flower of light, and the soft crackling
that echoed in its wake.
Worlds and Roads away, Alysoun SkyGaze was also
observing the heavens. Having found nothing better to do, the Striped Zafara
had come out into the warm shadows of evening to look at the cloudless sky,
letting the zephyrs ruffle her fur as they floated through the atmosphere brought
on by the day's end.
Aly realized that she somewhat regretted not
going along with Terzin, Dayne, and Sisslio to the Usuki Convention. She'd been
sitting around at home for the past five hours doing absolutely nothing. But
she hadn't wanted to look like an Usuki-loving moron.
Aly had learned to act independent and dauntless
for most of her life - she had never let this façade fall to anyone. She was
a mage and a warrior, and was able to take any kind of damage dished out at
her without sobbing about it. She had been proud about this until about three
years ago, when Terzin's mother, an accomplished soothsayer, had talked to her
about her shielded emotions. She'd been told that she was "wounded", and had
been advised to share how she felt with others. She'd blown this off nonchalantly
- the Lupess was talking as though she needed psychiatric help or something
just as pathetic and ridiculous. She wasn't soft, and didn't plan on acting
like it. Aly hated girly stereotypes with a passion, and had proved to everyone
she knew that she would never be beaten down by another ordinary pet.
Well, there was one pet who she hadn't completely
convinced, or at least she thought so: Sisslio. Before defeating Frey, she'd
caught herself crying in front of him, and upon remembering this fact, would
regret it deeply. Still, she'd noticed over the years that the young Zafara
was a very dependable friend, and he had yet to let her down. Truthfully, had
she been forced to appear weak and vulnerable to anyone, she would have preferred
it to be him. Despite this, she felt guilty of his friendship - because of her
first encounter with him, he'd been plunged into the adverse fate which awaited
him as Frey's Foreseen Windstorm. She'd never even thought to question the task
her family had been charged with: carrying on the Windstorm prophecy until finding
the Storm's wielder.
Trying to break away from this train of thought,
Aly stood up and went back inside her home, thinking of either eating something
or going to bed. Realizing that she still had some dried, salted fish left over
from her lunch that morning, she sat down to finish it.
About a minute later, Aly's striped fur was standing
on end; she was sensing an incoming presence, and a negative one, at that. Standing
up swiftly, leaving her meal on the table, she tensed, as her magical senses
were taken over by her physical ones; she was hearing distinct footsteps, light
and nimble, nearing her home.
Becoming increasingly wary, Aly snatched her
dagger from her belt - she always kept the weapon with her, no matter where
she was. In a matter of seconds, the door of her cottage was flung open, the
wood colliding with the wall. Aly's indigo eyes widened at the silhouette of
the creature standing there:
A Zafara, the immense war sword she knew as Sirocco
borne across its shoulders.
The Striped mage tightened her grip on the dagger's
hilt in fear and surprise. She sneered defiantly as she hissed the name of her
To be continued...