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.