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The Beginning

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Jack tapped his finger anxiously on the sill of the window. Beads of sweat slid down his face and dripped from his chin. He was becoming nervous, fidgety, and unsuspectingly…scared. There weren’t many things that Jack feared or detested, but being useless was one of the few. He could barely stand the agonizing shrieks his wife let out every couple of seconds from the room behind him. She was giving birth to their first child; who was most likely to be a son. Although Jack was edgy, the moment was as exciting as it was frightening.
For certain Miranda, his wife, wasn’t feeling the same. The child inside of her was to be different than any other; he was powerful even in the womb, and the fact did not help Miranda’s pain in the least. Jack wanted to be in the room with her, to hold her hand, to tell her it was going to be okay. Unfortunately only the mid-wives were permitted to help Miranda in giving birth to this child. Why, you ask? The child had a prophecy and a curse that came with him; Jack would not be able to see his son until the day after his birth. Yes, the child would be different indeed; different from anyone in our world or Jack’s.

Jack was different from the civilians of his world also though; he was the eleventh son in line of a family called the Keeper’s. In Jack’s world the Keeper’s were in the business of…well of keeping. Not being gatekeepers or shopkeepers as any simpleton would guess; but rather keeper of the elements, wind, rain, night, day, and many magical things that even I could not explain entirely. The title of keeper in Jack’s world was not minimally restricted to the “Keeper” family though. No, many others held the title and passed it on to their children, who then passed it on to their children, and so on. In fact, Jack’s wife Miranda was the keeper of shadows. As she screamed and cried deep into the night while giving birth, everything around her was enshrouded in darkness.

“She will be fine Jack.” A hushed voice from behind him tried to pacify his anxiety.

Jack turned to see a cloaked figure standing by the door. The hood of his cloak cast a dark shadow over his face so that Jack could vaguely see him.
“Who are you?” Jack asked, wary of the sinister looking man.
“Do not be alarmed. I’ve come to ease your pain.” The man did not sound as reassuring as is words. There was an undertone of malice in his voice, and Jack wasn’t so sure of what to do. “Trust me Beast-keeper, what I am about to do is for the better.” The man took a step towards the room in which his wife was giving birth.
Jack’s hand instinctively grabbed onto the hilt of his sword, “I’ll ask you one more time. Who are you?” Jack asked again but more imposingly. How did this man know he was the Beast-keeper?
“You will not understand any of this at first, but it will become clear in the future. You cannot stop me, do not try.” The man warned.
At that moment the howling of Jack’s wife ceased and was replaced by a shrill cry; the cry of a newborn child. The man took another step towards the room and within the blink of an eye Jack’s sword was drawn and pressed against the man’s neck. Yet the man didn’t seem to care. “You cannot stop me Jack,” he said, then disappeared. Without a second thought Jack burst through the door and into the room.
Everything was dark except for a candle that was held over the newborn child’s face.
“What are you doing in here?” His wife almost screamed at him.
The child began to cry louder than before. Miranda cradled the baby in her arms and spoke to him softly. The midwives tried to shoo Jack out of the room, but without success. Jack ignored them and looked around the room wildly.
“I need candlelight, now!” He commanded.
“Perhaps I can be of assistance?” A voice offered from the darkness. A small blue hued fire lit up a corner of the room and revealed the hooded man. Jack leapt across the room, sword held high. He plunged his blade deep into the man’s chest. The man didn’t budge; he gave a wicked smile and said, “You fool, not only have you cursed your son by looking upon his face, but you’ve angered me as well.” Whispering words under his breath the man smacked Jack aside, sending him flying against a wall. Miranda used all the power she had left to make herself and the child disappear into the shadows. The mysterious man was as adept to the shadows as Miranda though. He followed her into the darkness.
As you could’ve guessed, the inside of a shadow is pitch-black and silent, but for Miranda and the hooded man it was natural. They were both Keeper’s of the Shadows after all.
“Miranda,” the hooded man called out mockingly.
He could hear her heartbeat, sense the tears that slid down her cheeks, feel her anguish. For a moment his conscience troubled him, he felt pity, but only for a moment.
He found her curled up on the floor, holding her child tight. He summoned a small blue fire to come to him and examined her. She was as beautiful as he remembered her. Her long, raven-black hair tied back in a ponytail, her fair and divine face, her twinkling amber eyes pouring tears. She had been crying the last time he saw her, it was a sort of curse he had; people feared and hated him. Who could he blame? He was evil and cruel. But he loved Miranda; that was the only thing keeping him from taking the child by force.
“Miranda,” he spoke in the softest voice he could. “I’ve come to save you and the child. Give him to me.”
“Why are you doing this?” Miranda cried out. “Why”?
“I’m saving your life! Now give me the child!” The man’s voice echoed off into the darkness. He could tolerate her disobedience no longer. Swiftly, he snatched the child from her and disappeared.
….
It was days until Miranda finally came out of the shadows. Jack insisted that they search for their son together, but she refused again and again. The torture of her loss was too much for her to bear. She lay in bed for days refusing to speak, or eat, or sleep. Jack went to search for their son alone and did not return for weeks. When he did return, Miranda was gone. The servants of the house knew almost nothing, except that on the day she disappeared the sun was blocked out by a great shadow, and the cry of a child rung throughout the hills.




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