Shadow MAG

October 30, 2009
By Shelby Hailstone BRONZE, Acworth, Georgia
Shelby Hailstone BRONZE, Acworth, Georgia
1 article 0 photos 0 comments

I stared at the arrow, still quivering, embedded in the wood just inches from me. When I looked up, I saw no one, but I could sense a presence. Standing in the doorway of a hut, I felt unnaturally vulnerable, so I looked for the nearest cover. That boulder would do, I decided. I crouched behind it, watching the trees carefully.

Could someone have followed me here? I doubted that; I had covered my tracks brilliantly. Not even the family of elves who had agreed to take me in for the night recognized me. No one knew, and it would stay that way until I reached the border and left these lands forever.

I pictured the archer perched in the trees – probably one of the people who drove me from my home in the first place. They called me a monster, a half-breed. When I closed my eyes, I could still see fire blazing, scorching my skin, making my eyes water. If I kept my eyes closed for too long, I would also see something else. But I never kept them closed for long. I slept little, and when I did, the sheer exhaustion from self-imposed deprivation allowed me to fall into a deep sleep without dreams.

My dress itched, and I yearned for the silk skirts I once wore. This wool was unbearably hot during the day, so I preferred to travel at night. Lately, though, I had been traveling during the daytime as well, hoping to cross the border before the full moon.

I clutched the bow and arrow in my long fingers, ready for anything. Waiting, breathing heavily, I could hear even the smallest sound in the surrounding forest; the adrenaline heightened my senses. When I heard a twig snap, I spun in that direction, my eyes scanning for the archer.

The head of the elf family, an elder in their clan, stepped out of the bushes and raised an eyebrow at me. His pointed ears wiggled curiously, silently asking what had me on edge. I put my finger to my lips and motioned for him to stay there; I would not put him in danger. I had let too many people protect me, and what had happened?

The flames licked at my face in my memory, but I pushed it away again, forcing my eyes out of the blink that took an eternity. I really needed to get some sleep, but if I slept, that memory would return – the one I kept pushing away. I only knew that I did not want to remember. It would hurt too much.

I stuck my head out from behind the boulder, testing the archer. Had he left? As if in answer, an arrow struck the ground, grazing my nose as it passed. I gasped in surprise and pain, bringing my hands to my face to hide the blood from the elf. If he saw my black blood, he would know and attack me too.

With one hand, I tore a piece of my skirt, wrapping it around my nose. I wiped my blood onto the grass, which withered at the touch of the vile stuff.

I hated what I was – a Shadow, part human, part something else. No one knew what made a Shadow, but everyone knew enough to hate them. History recorded their deeds, every bloody detail. Shadows were not known for compassion or humanity.

But I was different. My mother did not abandon me, even when I tried to attack her as a baby. She raised me with morals, and we worked to control my instincts. I only lost control during the full moon, when the magic in my blood took over, and I lost all ability to think. I had to cross the border before then or I would end up attacking someone.

The elf had disappeared, going after the archer, no doubt. While I respected his courage, he knew nothing about my attacker or why I was in trouble. I decided to deal with this problem myself, but the only solution I could figure scared me to death.

When I closed my eyes, I locked myself away and opened a dark, chained chest. A black thing oozed from my chest into my mind, and took over my senses, my thoughts, my heart.

***

When I opened my eyes, I could see every minute detail, every ant crawling across the leaves, every particle of dirt that I kicked into the air as I stood. I could not hear my heart beating, though, because it had stopped. My breath felt cold and metallic, but it tasted good. I could taste a living scent, something bigger than the ants.

It felt good to get out of the chest, to roam free. I usually only came out during a full moon, but now I saw the sun. I pushed that question out of my mind and focused on the scent filling my nostrils. Two scents, actually. I perked up at the new one: elf. My lips curled into a pointed smile; what a feast!

An arrow whistled toward me, going too slowly to fool my astute senses. In my human state, it would have penetrated my heart, but I simply grabbed it from the air and snapped it in two. I heard a surprised gasp, revealing the archer’s position. The poor fool underestimated my abilities. And why not? My silly human side wanted so badly to keep him safe, to protect the thing trying to kill her. She made herself vulnerable by keeping me locked up, silly girl. And she wanted to protect the elf too; I could tell by the fight she kept putting up in the whitewashed chest.

Several more arrows flew toward me. I grabbed each one neatly and shot them back with deadly accuracy. I heard the archer’s heart stop with a satisfaction that she would never understand. To wield that kind of power, to decide the fate of any individual, how could she pass that up? How could she deny the magic that gave her so much power?

The elfish scent washed over me, and I heard the distinct snap of a twig. The old elf gasped when he saw me standing over the dead archer, my eyes as black as stone, and he recognized my form. To my surprise, he did not resist. He closed his eyes almost peacefully, perhaps ready to die.

I licked my lips and took a step forward, but I found that I could not move. No matter. My arrows felt light in my hands, the bow only too willing to bend to my will.

No!

The bow broke, splintering everywhere. I gasped in surprise as the wood cut into my hand, black blood trickling across my knuckles. That never happened; I could touch water without disturbing it. I never overused my strength; it went against my nature.

Perhaps it went against my nature, but my weak human side would do such a thing.

I growled, shoving her back into the little white chest. Not until I took care of this elf. His scent invited me, and my mouth began to water. I forgot all about the archer; the scavengers could have him. But this elf, his scent was different, special somehow.

“Lan,” the elf said quietly.

I stopped breathing. I could hear the old elf’s heart beating. How did he know?

“Lan,” he said again. “You always were one for a challenge, trying to find someone who could keep you bottled up, trying to stretch your boundaries. Tell me, did you find her?”

“She may be powerful,” I hissed, my voice as cold as a snake’s and as fleeting as the wind, “but she holds herself back with human morals. I will triumph over her, not because she will give in to me, but because she needs me.”

I saw something change in his eyes, something light.

“Jul,” I spit his name. Not again!

“It’s been a long time, my friend.” He smiled, his wrinkles reaching up into his eyes. “Maybe the next time we meet, it will be on different terms. A few hundred years from now, you may find people more willing to accept your next host, instead of hunting her down like an animal. What will you do when she doesn’t need to protect herself anymore? Until then, I have a feeling this particular soul will take you decades to win.”

“I relish the challenge.”

“Of course.” He smiled, then disappeared in a blaze of light. The light pushed against me, forcing me back into that chained, black box.

***

I gagged when I saw the mangled archer at my feet. I dove behind the nearest tree, clutching my stomach. Breathing heavily, I forced myself to look at my hands. I saw wood lodged in my knuckles, and black blood, but nothing else. The thought brought a slow smile to my face. It worked; I saved the old elf. I killed the archer but not the elf.

Maybe I could control this thing after all.

A resounding knock from the black chest brought me back to reality. Maybe I just got lucky.



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JOIN THE DISCUSSION

This article has 69 comments.


on May. 30 2011 at 8:40 pm
BlackThunderess BRONZE, Richland, Washington
2 articles 0 photos 6 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Let me see your badge.... It's just a star. Just another symbol. Your talisman. It can't stop criminals in their tracks, can it? It has power because you believe it does." ~Sally Owens

It's brilliant! Please, keep it going :)

on May. 21 2011 at 4:46 pm
kkayla3897 BRONZE, Ogden, Utah
1 article 0 photos 39 comments

Well???? Keep writing!!!!!!!!!!

 


on Mar. 30 2011 at 7:41 pm
Penfencer BRONZE, Amherst, Massachusetts
4 articles 0 photos 27 comments

Favorite Quote:
"I see you have a sword. I have one too. They're very ... manly. And ... tough."
-Mulan

Absolutely fantastic. This is the level I would expect to see in a fantasy short-story anthology. Totally awesome!

on Mar. 25 2011 at 1:46 pm
beckhamm13 BRONZE, Oshkosh, Wisconsin
1 article 0 photos 3 comments

Favorite Quote:
Do or do not. There is no try.

This is great! I think you should keep going!

on Feb. 20 2011 at 3:00 pm
Raven_Mi BRONZE,
1 article 0 photos 45 comments

Favorite Quote:
K.I.S.S.- Keep. It. Simple. Stupid

i seriously hope u write more 2 this cus i would defo read it!!!!!!!!!!!!

on Feb. 12 2011 at 10:04 am
mistaken_laughter PLATINUM, Alvin, Texas
21 articles 0 photos 44 comments

Favorite Quote:
"There are three rules to writing a novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are." W. Somerset Maugham

This a very cool piece i loved it! Keep up the good work!

koolwords said...
on Feb. 9 2011 at 5:28 pm
koolwords, Baton Rouge, Louisiana
0 articles 0 photos 28 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Unless you put your whole meaning into something, it's a waste." -Yvonne Tindelll

Wow. I think that's a good place to start. This story has structure and plot and twists and turns. I hope you write more becuase this is very good.

on Jan. 18 2011 at 8:18 pm
CharlesDickens SILVER, Georgetown, Texas
8 articles 0 photos 82 comments

Favorite Quote:
"I do not agree with what you have to say, but I'll defend to the death your right to say it."
~Voltaire

This is amazing!  I one day hope to become a novelist.  And it seems that you have achieved this already.  I will have teenink email me the next time you post something.

on Jan. 18 2011 at 4:53 pm
springdance BRONZE, Hebron, New Hampshire
2 articles 0 photos 23 comments

Favorite Quote:
Before God we are all equally wise - and equally foolish.
Albert Einstein

This is a really good piece. I hope you continue it. Or not. It is great the way it is, but it would be awesome if you turned it into a series. This is an original idea. Good work!

on Jan. 7 2011 at 9:29 am
poetryislife444, Bedford, Kentucky
0 articles 0 photos 3 comments

Favorite Quote:
" Never too late to live."

his story really interested me. :) At first I didn't know if I could get into it, but the more i read the harder it was for me to stop reading it. REALLY good!

Amaranthina said...
on Dec. 30 2010 at 1:50 pm
Amaranthina, Gravenhurst, Other
0 articles 0 photos 1 comment

Favorite Quote:
'the pen is the tongue of the mind'

This was really great, when I first strated reading i did't think it was for me but then all of a sudden i had finished it! This is a really great start :) keep writing!

pickle*eater said...
on Dec. 5 2010 at 7:03 pm
this is great u should write more hav a squel

Cbwharris said...
on Dec. 5 2010 at 1:16 am
I dont usually read fantasy, but your story is actually quite interesting, Great hook, it kept me reading until the very end. and your protagonist's inner conflict gives for a really good story. Awesome job.

Mickey_D GOLD said...
on Nov. 13 2010 at 7:38 pm
Mickey_D GOLD, Santa Cruz, California
11 articles 0 photos 19 comments

Favorite Quote:
If you don't believe in that subconscious self as a writer, then you shouldn't be doing it. ~Ray Bradbury

I like the concept. This story has potential. However, your execution and presentation could use some work.

 

First, in the beginning of the story, you mention the "human" side watching, waiting, her senses "heightened". However, you also mentioned she was breathing heavily. You cannot be alert and hear every sound if you are breathing heavily. That's a small part that needs to be altered.

You introduce her character as one who desires responsibility and recognition for that responsibility, but "yearns for the silk skirts", which comes across as little less than spoiled. I would suggest altering that selection.

You use "I" for the human POV and "I" for the Shadow POV. You say "In my human state..." as the Shadow. From this story, I can see that you are going for two separate characters, but the quote and "I"s mentioned above keep that goal away. I cannot think of a way to fix this, but I beg you to find a way. It would greatly improve the presentation of the characters!

Please add a little more description for the forest or whatever setting, introduced in the beginning.

 

And that's all of the constructive criticism I have to say. Now, for the positive "comments".

I really did like your story. The concept of the Shadow within the human, the black blood withering the plants and the catching of the arrows really made it stand out.

I only include those "negative" criticisms above because I truly want to help. Saying "Great story!" or "Awesome :)" is not constructive and is therefore not my kind of review. And now my two fave quotes:

Don't shoot the messenger! :P

Good luck with your writing and God bless!


blkel14 BRONZE said...
on Nov. 13 2010 at 11:15 am
blkel14 BRONZE, Sterling Heights, Michigan
1 article 0 photos 1 comment
WOW! I absolutely LOVED this story! I was so captivated that I couldn't stop reading, and I didn't want it to end. I really loved the premise and it was executed amazingly well. I really hope you write a novel based off of this. I can't wait to read it. You definitely have a great writing career ahead of you!

LASwan SILVER said...
on Oct. 22 2010 at 9:59 am
LASwan SILVER, Yukon, Oklahoma
5 articles 0 photos 55 comments

Favorite Quote:
Don't worry about the world endng today. It's already tomorrow in Australia.
-Charles Schultz

A really great premsie executed perfectly.

M.K.Slate said...
on Oct. 21 2010 at 12:06 pm
M.K.Slate, Granbury, Texas
0 articles 0 photos 10 comments
Great story

on Oct. 15 2010 at 5:17 am
AussiMusicLover BRONZE, Central Coast, Other
4 articles 1 photo 42 comments

Favorite Quote:
When you are in Love you can't fall asleep because reality is better than your dreams
The hottest love has the coldest end.
Love begins with a smile, grows with a kiss, and ends with a teardrop
Falling in love is awfully simple, but falling out of love is simply awful.

WOW This was an amazing story!! i luv it.. with the chest.. thats soo cool!! I luv how she has two sides, well done! :)

on Oct. 3 2010 at 10:46 pm
Plush_Baneling BRONZE, Denver, Colorado
2 articles 0 photos 40 comments

Favorite Quote:
"I will devour the world, after that the universe, and when there is nothing but me, I will devour myself"
ME!

This is a really good story

Suhyoon BRONZE said...
on Sep. 30 2010 at 12:39 pm
Suhyoon BRONZE, Guangzhou, Other
3 articles 0 photos 15 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Prestige! Is that nothing, sir? The respect of fools, the astonishment of children, the envy of the rich, the scorn of the wise." BARNAVE

Great! The beginning is a little confusing and I think you should clarify on why the character took such a big risk of putting her friend in danger just to catch an enemy archer. But I love the ending (especially that metaphor about the shadow tapping on the box) and how you switched perspectives between the moral and shadow side. Very cool.




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