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Shadowchild: Part Nine


by sara_mossflower

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Enigma

I padded through the grass, my mind whirling in a turbulent jumble of thought. Tyrin… the new curse I had to spurn from my life. How had his mere presence disrupted the Roads? The fact that he was connected to what had just happened was not definite, of course, but I had enough reason to believe that my theory was true. I still didn't wholly understand his connection to me. Why had he been created to be mindless? Why could his aura disorient the Roads? And most curious, why had he thought to call me his father? Truthfully, this was what baffled me the most. I was in no way connected to him, other than through Frey, so why had he seen the title fit for me?

     "Hey, you sure you're all right?"

     I flinched at Aly's voice; I hadn't even noticed her come up beside me.

     "Yeah. I'm fine."

     "Okay, then. Just seemed like you wasted a lot of your strength back there."

     "I didn't waste it," I snapped back, slightly appalled by her use of the word 'waste.' "Why would using the Storm to help you - all of you - ever be a waste?"

     She shrugged apologetically. "Sorry - maybe I shouldn't have worded it that way. But you're going to need to be ready to fight that Tyrin kid with the Storm."

     I noticed that we were slowly falling behind Dayne and Terzin. We were almost at the bottom of the cliff.

     "That's true," I sighed. I didn't know what else to say - I knew that eventually I would have to tell Aly about the Shadow Zafara's strange origins, ones that he himself seemed so strangely certain of, but I felt inexplicably uncomfortable even thinking about it. She was bound to his origins - it would be wrong to let her go without that knowledge, but I had a feeling that she wouldn't accept it very easily. Still, we were nearing the village, and once we had settled in at someone's house, I'd have to explain why I'd come through the Roads and what I had to tell them. As I thought about this, I felt subtle trepidation and panic begin to pulse through my body - I didn't want to tell them.

     Or at least, I didn't want to tell her.

     Crisp wind sauntered past me and I recalled the difference in seasons in our two worlds. Back home it had been late summer, but here it felt like mid-autumn.

     "I still need to figure out what to do," I murmured. "I don't know how to subdue him." I knew what her reply to this would be, but I cut in. "And I'm not talking about using the Storm. I just don't want to have to kill him. He's just a kid."

     "A bloodthirsty kid with ties to Frey," she sniffed, but I could still detect some sympathy in her voice.

     And ties to us, I couldn't help but think.

     I tried to coax some courage into myself, but couldn't. I was suddenly terrified of telling Aly what I knew. There was no way - I couldn't let her know that she was entwined in something so horrible. My subconscious was rationally arguing that it was ridiculous to withhold that information. I couldn't deny her the truth when she'd helped me through so many other trying ordeals. Aly was my friend, so why didn't I want to reveal these key facts that only Dayne and I currently knew? It wouldn't do any good - wouldn't protect her from anything, wouldn't help to defeat Tyrin in any way. I would just be able to spare myself the pain of breaking the news.

     But what was so painful about it? Sure, it meant that both of us were more closely caught up in Frey's malicious plans than ever before, but we could deal with that, right?

     "Why so quiet all of a sudden?"

     "No reason," I mumbled, a little nervously. "Just thinking."

     Swifter than I'd expected, we were standing at Aly's door. She stepped forward and let us in; I entered almost reluctantly.

     What could I do…?

     Soon the others were making themselves comfortable at Aly's table - it was where we always sat, whether here or at anyone else's house. When we needed to discuss the latest dilemma concerning Frey, it was convenient to sit around one another, making it easy to share ideas and facts.

     But I wasn't planning on sharing anything - how could I? The problem Tyrin posed was more complex than anything else I'd ever faced, which really gave me all the more reason to inform them so they could help… but…

     They were all seated, looking at me expectantly.

     "You going to sit down?" Terzin invited.

     "I…"

     My eyes traced each one of their faces. I never thought I'd feel so uncomfortable in front of my friends. Dayne appeared especially perplexed, for she had already heard what I had to say. My mind whirled. I needed help with this, but couldn't find any here.

     Finally, I managed to wet my throat and form words. "When I fought Tyrin yesterday, he told me something - the only thing he knows about himself. He was created from emotion, just as the prophecy said. The emotions of…"

     I decided to conceal the truth, and cloaked it from view in the back of my mind.

     "…Frey and me. The way she hated me, and I guess the empathy I was feeling when I killed her."

     It would never work. They knew the "born from the love of one pair" line as well as I did - it had to be clear that I was excluding something. I could already see Dayne's green eyes probing for my purpose. I couldn't stay here now - I couldn't bear the feeling of vague confusion and distrust pressing in on me from all sides. Where could I go?

     This felt so strange - I'd never felt so unsure of myself before. But I'd somehow, through mere minutes of twisting my thoughts; I'd come to the conclusion that I was going to face him alone. The threat was… coming from the inside, in way.

     "But what about -" Aly began, but I cut her off.

     "That's what I found out, and I'm going to do something about it. But… I need some advice first." The idea had risen, unbidden into the torrent of conflicting thoughts I was experiencing. I knew where I'd go to.

     I fingered the Windscythe's hilt uneasily. "I'm going westward… by myself."

     "By yourself?" Aly snapped, "Why would you do that?"

     "Yeah…" Terzin put in, his voice hesitant. "Sisslio, this seems a little sudden - do you really have all of this planned out?"

     No, I didn't. I was making it all up as I went.

     "I know what I'm doing. I'll come back though, don't worry."

     I turned towards the door.

     "Hang on!"

     Dayne had stood up, her hands braced on the table with a perturbed energy.

     "What are you doing? I thought you were going to tell them what you told me! What's with this whacked change of plan?"

     I wasn't sure how to answer that. Aly and Terzin's eyes had widened, as though they'd been caught up in the midst of some conspiracy.

     "Change of plan?" Aly repeated, gritted out the words. "What's going on?"

     "Nothing," I mumbled, not convincing at all. "There's something important that Tyrin told me, but…" I faced them, urging my honesty to resurface. "Can you just wait for me until I figure it out?"

     "But what is it?" insisted Terzin. "From the sound of it, you've already told Dayne."

     "Yeah, I did."

     "And why not us?" Aly snapped. It was clear that she didn't appreciate being excluded from the secret that resided in both mine and Dayne's minds. "Sisslio, how do you expect us to help you if you don't even tell us what we need to know?"

     "I don't expect you to help," I choked. "Or at least not right now! I'm sorry, but I just need to go somewhere before we face him down."

     "And where would that be?"

     I didn't want them following me. I remained silent.

     Aly's indigo eyes seemed to darken with defeat as the enormity of my choice was realized. This time I wasn't doing something alone because fate had forced me to. I was choosing.

     Choosing out of cowardice.

     "Just stay here," I told them. "Dayne, you know you can't go back through the Roads."

     She didn't nod or do anything to acknowledge my request; just continued to look infuriated. "You can't just turn around and leave all of us just because you feel like it!" She drew herself up, taller. "I'll tell them both exactly what you don't want them to hear!"

     I sighed, a twinge of fear scurrying within me. "Just wait until I go before you say anything, all right?"

     I didn't want this to drag out any longer. Turning on my heel, I turned the doorknob and exited the house, striding briskly through the village. There were no sounds behind me; hopefully that meant that they respected my choice enough to not tail me.

     What was I doing? Why had the idea of revealing her connection to Tyrin cowed me into fleeing from my companions? My brow furrowed and I fixed my troubled eyes on the dry grass below my feet. It was already too late to go back, or at least it was to me.

     The empty air of autumn stood still - as forlorn as I felt. I could see, down the dirt road that meandered through the village, the beginnings of the desolate field I knew so well. I quickened my pace, and soon set foot in the open space. I stood there as though on the brink of everything I knew, the comforting village behind me, the realm of Frey's war and demise ahead of me.

     Inhaling deeply, as though preparing to submerge myself in icy water, I took a few short paces forward. I hadn't been here for three years. I'd never returned since sending that arrow into Frey's heart, and I felt a subtle chill of fear and guilt race up my spine. Sirocco was no longer planted here, but I could still pinpoint the centre of the field without the blade as a marker. I could feel the ancient reek of dead power at the core of this world, the place where Frey had diminished and left me.

     "I'll pull through this," I spat, a little more determined-sounding than I felt. "I won't let him kill me just because you couldn't bear to lose."

     I strode across the vast expanse in silence then, treading over the spot where Frey was buried. I felt a sense of slight elation as I made my way out of her vicinity, and looked toward the sun's daily destination: the west.

     I continued moving forward, my paces luring me deeper and deeper into my journey. I knew exactly where I was going; to speak to one who no longer breathed, to the only other I knew of who shared my burden, to the one who rested in the land where his enemy had once dwelt. Now that I thought of it, it was somewhat ironic that Frey now rested in the East and he in the West. I wasn't even sure if I would still be able to commune with him, but I had to try.

     The one who had struck her down a millennium before me:

     Tasson.

     I walked on, fully aware that there would be a shadow stalking my path.

The End

 
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Other Episodes


» Shadowchild: Part One
» Shadowchild: Part Two
» Shadowchild: Part Three
» Shadowchild: Part Four
» Shadowchild: Part Five
» Shadowchild: Part Six
» Shadowchild: Part Seven
» Shadowchild: Part Eight



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