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Out of the Shadows
I momentarily stopped walking to check my surroundings. I was deep in the woods hundreds of miles away from my trackers. The ancient trees that rose up all around me hushed every noise. Long ferns and overgrown shrubs brushed against my bare feet as I walked silently. There was no wind here and the world seemed to be still. But I could feel them. I felt them moving behind me, far behind me. Felt them walking, I felt each foot step. I also felt Dresden in a tree to my left. I knew he was waiting for me. Closing my eyes, I let my sixth sense consume my mind and felt my way towards him. When I arrived at the base of the oak he was perched in, I brought my mind back by rubbing my check against the rough wood and smelling the sweet sap inside the busty tree. A soft sound like a dove escaped my lips and floated up to my comrade. He leapt down from a large branch, a faint smile on his face. “Where are they now?” he asked quietly. “A ways back.” I replied, “Let’s move on, there’s nothing here.”
He nodded and we continued to walk the way we had originally been traveling before our presence had been noticed by the angel warriors. “Where’s Sorrel?” Dresden inquired as we approached a partially hidden cave. This had been the rendezvous spot for the day. Sorrel should have all ready been here by now. However the sun was just kissing the top of the trees and she was nowhere in sight. Concentrating I released my mind into feeling. And I immediately felt Sorrel. She was as usual in the wrong place at the wrong time. I snapped mind out of the haze and cried “She has been caught!” Dresden let out a shocked gasp, but there was no time for questions. I began to run toward the spot she was being held. Dresden cried out in protest behind me but he would have no trouble following me. He was twice as fast and didn’t trip half as much.
I arrived at the small military base which had been constructed out of felled trees long before we had entered the forest. The walls of the base towered over me. The one opening was closed and I could already tell there was no point in attempting to bust in that way. The ground around the fort was wet with a crimson liquid that could only be blood. There was a deep purple liquid mixed in with it here and there, which led me to believe Sorrel hadn’t gone down without a fight. I climbed in to a nearby tree with a branch that hung over the edge of the fort.
Looking down I quickly examined the scene that lay before me. There seemed to be a large metal box in the middle of the cylinder shaped fort. Three armed guards surrounded it. They weren’t facing the box however; they were facing out ward towards the walls of the fort. This led me to believe Sorrel was being held in the box and that they were confident that she wouldn’t be able to escape on her own. And that they were expecting some sort of rescue mission.
I smiled this would be a lot easier than I would have ever suspected. I glanced up and spotted Dresden in another tree on the other side of the fort. He held up two fingers. This was our sign for attack and leave no survivors. I nodded, it was heartless but it was war. I looked down; leaping from the branch I felt a familiar shiver down my spine as claws protruded from my fingers.
When I was seven my mother had taken me in to the woods. Not these woods, but darker woods far away on my home island of Lexus. She brought me to the heart of the forest were the tree canopy was so dense that no light touched the ground. My mother blindfolded me and tied me to a large tree. She told me I would have to fight for myself if I was ever going to make it in our war torn world. Kissing me on my forehead she told me she loved me and that she was sure I would make her proud. After she left I cried. After awhile I began to hear noises in the woods. I dazed off and shut down my mind, trying not to here the screams of unimaginable creatures tearing each other apart. Trying not to wonder if I was next. It was only after I could no longer see or hear that I could now feel.
My sense of feel is why I’m so good at attacking. I know each little move the enemy makes. Each person in front of me and behind me. There’s no sneaking up on me. Which is how I took down all twelve guards in a blink of an eye. I went down for their throats and came up victorious. And then I turned around.
The metal cage like box was empty. The door was swinging freely in the wind. There was no trace of Sorrel, but she had been here I was sure of it. Looking around, my blood ran cold. “Sorrel? Dresden?” I called. And eerie silence followed. “Over here!” A weak voice called back over the wall. I rolled my eyes in relief. Dresden had already freed her and carried her back over the wall. I ran over and kicked open the bolted doors. There stood Sorrel. Her dark hair billowed around her face. She was dressed in a black suit of stretchy material. I frowned recognizing it. It was a prison suit. However this was far from the most shocking thing about her appearance. A thick black triangular tattoo stretched from along her jaw bone up to her forehead. It was their way of marking her as an enemy.
I sighed and relaxed my body and returned to my other form. I walked over to Sorrel and slowly traced the lines on her face with my finger. Tears formed in her eyes, “They cut my hair” She sniffled. This was yet another great change. Her hair which hours earlier had been flowing to past her ankles was now cropped to just under her chin. Her eyes had a sad, glazed look to them as she turned around and begin to walk back toward the cave. I knew that if I looked at her face now it would be covered in sparkling diamonds of tears. I looked at Dresden and he shrugged. We walked behind her for the rest of the way back the cave where we planned to sleep the day away.
Inside the cave was small, but large enough to hold us for a day. We lay down side by side. I ended up in the middle. Staring up at the rugged ceiling I willed myself to sleep. But I was still kind of freaking out about almost losing Sorrel. She was like a sister to me and since I had been the one to drag her half way across the world with hopes of ending a war that had been going on for thousands of years, I felt responsible for keeping her safe. She was young and naïve at times. She made herself vulnerable by ignoring the orders Dresden and I gave her. Like today I said go straight to the cave, but as always something went wrong. We needed her to complete our mission. She began to snore lightly and I knew she was asleep. Dresden turned on his side to face me I did the same.
“Poor Sorrel, she’s so young and already faced such hardship… her hair was her pride and joy. It seems unfair that she lost it now that we’re so deep in their territory and so close.” He said, his deep voice bounced off the walls of the cave now dimly lit by a few feebly sun rays. I knew Sorrel had lost much more than just her hair. I turned to look at her. Her back was to me as she dozed. She was the youngest of the three of us, and probably one of the only children of her age fighting in the war. She was eight years old; however she possessed amazing powers of prediction which is why we had brought her along. I was currently fourteen and Dresden would turn eighteen soon. I Turned back over and said, “We only have a couple miles left, it’s insane that we came so far.”
Our plan which had been hatched thousands of miles away on the dark and poverty filled island of Lexus, had led us to the angel infested area we were now in. The plan itself had been a simple one it was all the details and actions we had to take to complete it that took so long. We had been on the road for a little under a year. Steal the potestatem orb and bargain for peace. It would sound simple and easy but it wasn’t and still isn’t. “I keep watch you sleep,” Dresden said. And I rolled over onto my side and immediately felt a rush of fatigue overcome my body.
I awoke to someone brutally shaking my arm. I groggily open my eyes and squinted against the sunlight. “Sorrel, leave me alone!” I cried loudly and rolled back onto my side. “Shut up!” She replied harshly slapping a hand over my mouth. “Wake up it’s your turn to keep watch now!” Instantly I realized what was happening and sat up. “You could be nicer about it!” I whispered. “Whatever…” she replied as she lay back down and closed her eyes. I sat against a rock that gave me a good overview of the valley of trees, as it was called. I watched as the sun slowly set over the mountains. I then began to shake my sleeping comrades.
We walked through the woods cloaked by darkness. Only once did we come close to being caught but we had dived into a small stream and hid among the large rocks poking through the surface of the flowing water. We were creatures of the night, built for stealth and speed. It was about midnight when we reached the edge of the woods and the bottom of a very steep cliff. I breathed in deeply and pushed my body into its other form.
This other form as we refer to it is a way of improving our senses. However, simply being in it drains our energy. As I morphed, I could feel my irises grow and my finger nail protrude through my fingers and grow in to neat, sharp claws. My toe nails did the same. My muscles became stronger and my entire body became more flexible. My teeth became sharper with venom packed in each tooth, it was lethal to any organism expect demons. I was deadly in this form, and every creature on this earth knew it. Turning my head I could see that my comrades had also changed, and so we began to climb.
My heart pounded in my head as I reached up as high as I could, on the side of the cliff and dug my nails into the rock. Pulling myself up I kicked my feet into a large crack. I kept climbing in this manner, reminding myself not to look down. Damn angles got wings; they would never have to climb like this. Sweat ran down my face. The muggy air was not helping me to breathe any easier. I looked up and saw I had long way to go. My vision blurred and I felt faint. “Come on Shadow, you can do it.” Sorrel called. My goodness, was she already at the top? With every ounce of energy and motivation left in me, I finally reached the top of the cliff and was hoisted on to firm ground by Dresden. I relaxed and lay in a cool patch of grass, my body returned to its regular form.
Dresden slipped his hand into mind and pulled me to my feet. And although it was tempting to lie there all night I knew we had to keep moving. “You know you really got to overcome your fear of heights.” Sorrel whispered as we began to walk up a slightly less steep slope.
The mountain we were climbing was huge. There were huge and magnificent stairs carved into one side but we would be suicidal fools to attempt to enter that way. Even the heavy wilderness we were traveling now was full of guards which thanks to my sixth sense we had so far managed to avoid, for the most part. However now we had to move faster than ever for the mess we left at that base was sure to be found soon.
Once and a while a twig would crack or a pile of old leaves from the brush would be stirred and we would instantly freeze. Then, most of the time, the guilty squirrel or rabbit would be spotted hopping off down the trail and we’d keep moving.
Inside my head I was always louder than in reality. Every time I place my foot down I would flinch at any small noise it would stir up. Dresden squeezed my shoulder and although he didn’t make a sound I knew what he wanted and I tried to relax. We had been together for so long that it was like the three of us: Dresden, Sorrel and I, could read each other’s minds. Almost like we were one person. It helped to know your enemy but I think it helps more to know your comrades.
I had first met Dresden back on Lexus. He was the one who had found me stumbling through the woods delirious, starved, and parched. Even though I had only been in the woods for a few days I didn’t recognize he was a demon. So I attacked him. We fought hard but in the end he came out on top. He took me to his house on the edge of the city. He healed me, fed me, clothed me, and cared for me, and he has been doing so since. I own him my life for he has saved it countless times. It was in that old house with the paint peeling, that we formed our plans and once Sorrel became involved we decided that maybe, just maybe it could work.
One thought clouded my mind. It filled my brain with every step I took; I began to repeat it to myself rhythmically. My. Feet. Hurt. My. Feet. Hurt. It seemed that the walking never ended. Uphill the whole way, one cliff after another. Whenever I complained about the stupid angels who built a temple on top of the biggest mountain in the world, I got a lecture that made this adventure feel a lot more like school. They had told me that the angels wanted to be as close as possible to the heavens, which is dumb because they can fly. Why not just fly to heaven?
I hated the angels. They had cut my hair and tattooed my face. I didn’t want to look into water anymore; I didn’t want to see my tainted reflection. But I knew what I would look like, for I could still feel my skin burning where they had painted permanent big black lines.
Moon light peeked through the trees twinkling down on us. Shadow and Dresden didn’t like when the moon was out. They said it was an easy way to have our cover blown. But I liked the moon. It was something you could always count on. No matter what, every month it went through the cycle. Little to big and back to little again. Dresden taught me the names of the phase’s way back when we were on a ship coming to Kimland. Kimland was all angel territory. But the moon looked the same wherever you were.
In front of me Shadow froze. Fear instantly filled my stomach and began to creep up my throat, but I swallowed it down. I had to be strong. I mimicked my comrades and crouched low to the ground. Clenching my fists I thought to myself, you can do it, you’re brave and strong. Even though I had killed countless angels they still scared me. Shadow stood again and pointed to the left, then took off to the right silently running through the woods. I followed her and Dresden followed me. We continued until Shadow abruptly stopped and began to hastily climb a tree. There was no time to ask questions. I transformed into my other form and dug my claws into the tree trunk. I didn’t look down, only up at the bottoms of Shadows feet. Finally I saw why we were climbing, for when we had climbed about half way up the tree Shadow clambered through a gaping hole in the trunk and slide down out of sight. I did the same and Dresden followed. We were very lucky. Lucky that many branches covered the hole, lucky the angel warriors Shadow had sensed had no idea where we were, and lucky the tree was big enough for us all to sit.
We had only just gotten settled when the world began to slant. Then it dissolved into a hazy light. I knew this feeling. I lay my head on Dresden’s shoulder before fully throwing myself into the vision.
Once my eyes adjusted to the uncomfortably blinding light I saw people all around me screaming. I was temporarily filled with panic before I remembered I was in a vision. They couldn’t touch me. But as fast as that comforting thought had come it left as a yelling man ran into me and I fell over. Now I really was scared, this was new. I reached out towards a woman and found she too was solid. A large shadow was cast over me and I titled my head back towards the sky. Then I saw what all the screaming about. An angel was silhouetted against the sun; its features were indistinguishable. The angle held a small ball in its hand. In the other it held what appeared to be a rock. Suddenly it chucked the ball towards the ground and threw the rock up high. The people ran after the ball. But it was shattered. The rock never came down. There were angels, I suddenly realized and demons, both together? But it seemed to be over now the screaming stopped and everyone stood unnaturally still.
But someone was screaming, and then I couldn’t breathe. Some thing was pushing my throat closed. I gasped and struggled, my eyesight went blurry as the light of the vision slowly disappeared. Something; a hand was covering my mouth and another was around my throat. I bit down hard on the one covering my mouth. “Ouch!” Dresden hissed before cursing a few times. “Sorry,” I mumbled, relieved it was Dresden. I looked over at Shadow who was frozen with her head tilted up. The expression on her face was a cross between scared and angry. “What is it?” I asked cautiously. Shadow turned to me and her eyes were wide with fear, “You screamed and they heard.”
The sound of many footsteps began to get louder and voices calling to one another were only barley muffled by the tree trunk. I reached for Dresden and he took my hand in his. “They know we’re in here,” Shadow whispered hastily, “We are going to climb out and run, just run. Up the mountain, I’ll find you both tonight.” She turned and her jet black eyes focused on me. “Follow the river.” I nodded to show I understood that was an order. I concentrated for a moment then released my body into the other form. “Alright let’s go.” Shadow led the way grabbing onto knobs and nooks in the tree as she climbed. She paused for a moment before leaping out of the tree and into the night.
Yelling immediately broke out as Shadow began to beat the angles surrounding her. When I peered out over the top of the hole, I stopped. There were at least thirty warriors around the tree. They were specially trained by the look of them. I began to panic, as worries cluttered my mind my body became still. “Move Sorrel!” Dresden shouted over the commotion below. But my body felt very heavy, like I couldn’t move. “MOVE!” Screamed Dresden his voice was fearful. Then suddenly he gave me a push that sent me sailing through the air.
“Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!” The blood curling scream escaped my lips before I could stop it. I landed with a thud on my hands and knees. Meaty hands instantly grabbed my arms and legs. I bit down on one arm and jabbed my fingers into another angel’s eye. Both dropped me a retreated a few steps. Still more attackers surrounded me. I saw a gap in between two warriors and bolted towards it but, another warrior grabbed my leg and I face planted. I tried to stand again as I wiped purple blood and grass out of my eyes. Once again I was surrounded. They began to tie my hands behind my back with thin wire that cut into my wrists. Soon my arms and legs were restrained so every time I moved the wire sliced into my skin.
Lying on the ground helpless I looked around for Shadow or Dresden, but neither was in sight. I wriggled my body around a little more so I could raise my head. Blood pooled into my eyes as I strained to see my comrades. There was Shadow all tied up like me, but still fighting. She was covered in blood as she fought her bounds. Dresden was nowhere in sight. Shadow’s scream pierced the air before an eerie silence fell over the landscape.
I desperately tried to meet Shadow’s eyes and when she finally looked at me I could see tears flowing down her cheeks. Shadow had always been the strong one in our group. She was relentless and won every fight. Now that she had given up it could only mean one thing but, this couldn’t be the end, could it?
Pain numbed my brain and I was unable to think of anything else as I was lifted onto the shoulders of six angel warriors. My body ached everywhere. I couldn’t believe they had captured me. With one last burst of defiance I spat on the face of one warrior and received a punch that may have broke my nose. I began to feel faint, my body needed the deep plum colored blood that was now coating it. I began to forget, to drift…
In my dream Sorrel was getting a piggyback ride from Dresden and singing. I was at the top of a tree watching them. They were happier than I had ever seen them before. A soft summer breeze warmed my cheeks and lifted the wisps of hair that framed my face. But the wind soon became bitter and unfriendly. Snow and hail pelted my face and body. Sorrel and Dresden were gone and I was being buried alive in ice.
I curled up into a ball, trying to suppress the freezing sensation that was consuming my body. I was so cold and the floor was so hard. Rocking back and forth I slowly eased open my eyes. The sight of my slashed up hands sent a jolt of realization through me. I was a captive in an angel fortress. The walls, floor, and low ceiling of my cell were made out of bricks that were frigid. Looking around there was no visible door, but I knew there had to be one somewhere. I frantically began to run my hands along the walls, looking for a weak point, but none revealed itself. Muffled footsteps came from above followed by voices. I quickly resumed my passed out pose on the floor.
I heard a creek from above. I try to make sure I looked unconscious, however I was panicking inside. I was alone, and whatever was hovering over me now could be preparing to kill me. “She looks asleep.” A gruff voice reported. “Go and make absolutely sure.” A deeper voice replied. “We believe she was with the one who attacked the fort in the valley. Once she awakens Rashnu has ordered her to be brought to the court.” I let my mind slip into feeling. I felt a rather fat man attempting to squeeze his way through a small trapdoor that led into a long hallway above. He finally succeeded with a grunt and landed a few feet away from me. A cold boot nudged my head and then my stomach, but I stayed limp and still. A large hand wrapped around my wrist and proceeded to check my pulse. “She’s alive but out cold.” The fat man said as he scrambled out of my cell. “Good.” The deep voice replied in a satisfied tone. The overhead door was replaced with a clunk before the footsteps faded down the hall.
I jumped up and my mind snapped out of feeling. I walked over to the area of stone were I had felt the door was. Very carefully I braced my arms against the section of bricks and pushed upward. Nothing happened. I tried again a little harder now. Slowly the door gave way until I stood up all the way and I could just barely see down the hall. It was grand and constructed of marble, pure and white. I cautiously laid the door on the floor before hoisting myself out of the cell. After replacing the door I began to examine the hall I was standing in.
It appeared to have cells in the floor on both sides of it and Sorrel and Dresden could be in any one of them. Working quickly I pushed my mind back into feeling and discovered there were five cells alongside mine that had bodies in them. I then pushed the feeling out of my mind and dug my nails into the crack around the first door. Wrenching it open I poked my head into the cell. A horrible smell filled my nose as flies buzzed up around my face. On the ground lay a bloody corpse, its arms and legs were detached from its body and dried blood the color of coal coated the entire floor of the cell. The body was so badly torn apart I could not tell if it had been male or female, or even if it had been an angel or demon. Resisting the urge to puke I closed the door. I silently prayed that that had not been Sorrel or Dresden.
Moving down the row I found the next two doors to also have similar cases of mangled bodies, one had all its internal organs ripped out and dried blood coated the walls. The other resembled a large knot of body parts bent in grotesque ways. None of the bodies looked like they could possibly be Sorrel or Dresden but it was impossible to tell. A horrible feeling grew in my heart as the thought of one of my comrades being torn apart filled my mind. Slowly I walked to the next door and lifted it to reveal an intact body. An angel about my age lay in the cell. His face was badly bruised, but he looked alive. His large wings protruded out from his back and curled around his body. I momentarily debated between attempting to wake him up and leaving him there. I was about to replace the door again when suddenly the boy came to life and leapt at me.
He sprung out of his cell with such force that when he hit me I was knocked backwards a few feet and onto the ground. He landed on top of me and quickly pinned my arms behind my head with one hand and held a knife to my throat in the other. I made no move to resist because I knew he would take it as a threat. He was breathing hard as he studied my face. “You’re a demon?” He asked finally. “Yes,” I replied, “I was taken hostage. I’m just looking for my comrades.” He relaxed, rolled off me and released my arms. I rubbed my wrists which were still numb with cold from my cell.
“I’m sorry; I thought you would be a warrior angel. They took me hostage too, because I refused to fight. They killed the others….” He trailed off pointing towards the cells that held the corpses. “It was terrible they were just screaming and screaming.” He shook his head and his brown hair fell into his sorrow filled eyes. “I saw them.” I told him. “It’s horrible.” We sat there in silence for a moment before he stood up then turned to me and held out his hand. “Truce?” He asked. Instead of answering I took his hand in mine and he pulled me onto my feet. Looking into his eyes I nodded in agreement. “I’m Micah.” He said as he looked over his shoulder down the hall. “I’m Shadow.” I told him.
“My two comrades were with me when I was kidnapped. They might be in here.” I informed Micah as I walked over to the last unopened cell and once again dug my nails into a crack so I could hoist open the door. Peering into the darkness I saw a small, tattooed, pale face peering up at me. “Hi.” Sorrel’s voice echoed around the hall. I breathed a sigh of relief as Micah and I lean down to grab her arms and pull her up. I hugged her hard and then planted a kiss on her forehead while she playfully batted me away. Once I had pulled away Sorrel craned her neck to look up at Micah’s face. “Who are you?” She asked shyly. “I’m Micah.” He replied smiling. Suddenly the sound of a door opening echoed loudly through the hall. I quickly pushed the door to Sorrel’s cell closed before sprinting the other way and disappearing into the darkness with Sorrel and Micah close behind.