In The Shadows (Ch 4)

In The Shadows
By. S. F. Wheeler

Chapter Four

     We both flew threw what looked like a really bright tunnel and fell out the other side right next to the plane.

My god.” Conner said. “There it is.” he touched the broken wing of the plane and skimmed his hand along the half burnt wall of the cockpit. He walked around the rubble and burnt rocks until he found the passenger seats. The bodies were long removed but somehow I think he knew where his parents sat. He brushed some ash from the handle of half a seat and read the number allowed.

14 B.” he said. “That’s it. They sat here.” he found an almost un-damaged red leather suitcase and tried to open the melted clasps. He cursed when they didn’t open. I took my marker and drew the open symbol. The case snapped open. He held in a small choking sob. A silver dress was on the top in perfect condition. In the pocket was a silver chain with a crystal dove hanging from it. There was a reason I didn’t try to find my mom and dads bag. I found mine and Colby’s and salvaged our cloths but that was it.

     Conner dropped to his knees and sorted threw the fancy dresses. He pulled out a silver locket on a chain and tried to hold in a sob again. In it was his mom and dad’s pictures. He tried so hard not to but he finally broke and tears streamed down his cheeks. I didn’t know weather I should leave him to himself or try to comfort him so I just stood there. When the crying started to shake his shoulders I knelt next to him and put my hand on his back.

Not very manly now am I.” he said threw gasps for air.

I’m not sure I ever said you were manly.” I replied. He laughed or choked, I’m not sure, but he smiled. “In fact I don’t remember that word ever coming up.”

For your information I am very manly.” he said. “Just not right now.”

It’s alright you know.” I said. He snorted and grasped the locket tighter. He put the locket on and closed the bag.

Did you find your parents stuff?” he asked wiping tears from his cheeks.

I couldn’t.” I said.

Why?” he asked.

I think you know why.” I said.

Victoria Forrest.” Conner said.

What?” my voice cracked.

There.” he said pointing to a blue leather suit case. My mom’s hand writing was on it.

A passport was next to it and I picked it up.

Victoria Angel Forrest.” Conner read over my shoulder. “DOB December 13th 1996? that’s not your mom is it?”

No. That’s me.” I said. “My real name is Victoria but no one calls me it anymore.” I slipped the passport in my pocket.

Is it your bag?” Conner asked.

No. My mom’s name is Victoria too.” I said.

Should we go then?” Conner asked. I looked at the bag then at Conner’s red eyes. I knelt by the bag and opened it. My mom’s perfume rushed to me and suddenly I felt safe. Like I was back home on our ranch.

A horse racing ribbon?” Conner said quietly.

My mom was a racer.” I said. “We owned a ranch.” I felt my throat close up and looked away. I pulled out my mom’s favorite plaid shirt and hugged it to my chest.

Puteus ‘memini te semper.” Conner said in Latin I think. I looked up at him and the words came to me.“We’ll always remember you.” I translated.

     “You took long enough.” Tex said waiting by his door.

Sorry.” I said. “We had to look for something.”

The doc said I could go.” Tex said. “And I know where I want to go.”

I still don’t know if it’ll work on you.” I said. “But I’ll try. Where is it?” I took out my marker and pulled up my sleeve.

An island. A deserted island.” he said.

A what?” I asked.

I want to start over. Completely.” he said.

I nodded and wrote his destination on my arm. I took his hand and drew the teleport symbol on my hand in his. We vanished. Unlike me Tex was spinning wildly in the tunnel of light and he would have flew off if I hadn’t grabbed onto him. We fell very harshly onto a hot beach and the sand puffed up around us. After a few coughs we got up and looked around. It was a nice size island with plenty of coconut trees and other odd fruit.

I’ll put my house here.” he said climbing onto the lush grass part of the island.

What will you call your island?” I asked.

I don’t know.” he said. “I’ll think of something some day.”

Think fast.” I said. “It needs a name if I want to come back some day.”

You’d come back?” he said.

If it has a name.” I said.

I’ll call it cennet.” he said.

It’s Turkish for paradise or heaven.” Tex said.

Then I’ll come visit you at cennet.” I said. “Goodbye Tex.”

Goodbye Angel.” Tex said as I vanished.

     “Where is he?” Conner asked when we got back to camp.

He calls it cennet.” I said. “It’s beautiful there.”

He called it paradise in Turkish?” Conner asked.

How many languages do you know?” I asked.

All of them.” he said.

Really? How?” I asked.

My talent.” he said. “Like you are natural with those symbols I’m natural with languages. Your brother is natural with speed, Will is natural at healing if you’ll believe it. We all have natural talents that we cant explain.” he said.

     “Where were you?” Colby asked running up to me.

Sorry Colby. I had to help a friend.” I said.

Is your friend okay now?” Colby asked.

Yes.” I said.

Then I forgive you.” he said skipping away.

Well.” Conner said.

Yeah. I’m not sure why but I think he knows more than I do sometimes. He’s actually the one who told me to chase after you when we first seen you.” I said.

Smart kid.” Conner said. “You want to go for a walk I want to show you something.”

Sure.” I said.

     We quietly walked up a hill and I noticed the burnt flower on the cliff. This was the cliff I found last night. He pushed some trees out of the way and it opened into a clearing. Conner had vines strung across the trees to form a sort of roof and bamboo grouped together to make beams that the vines spiraled around. It looked like a homemade gazebo. It was beautiful. He even had a swing hung from one of the oak trees.

I sat on the swing where I could see the whole forest and laughed.

What’s funny?” Conner asked.

If I weren’t here right now I would not believe this.” I said.

Believe what?” he asked

This. Me sitting on a swing next to a beautiful gazebo.” he pushed the swing as I spoke. “You pushing me on the swing. A mad man trying to kill us. Magic. It’s like a story.”

Maybe it is.” Conner said. “If it is, what part of the book would this be?”

The part where the hero tries to kiss the heroine but before he can the bad guy attacks.” I said. “Usually a suspenseful part of the book.”

Attack? I think I liked the first part better.” he said sitting on the swing with me.

     I didn’t know what I was supposed to do. The only guys I can remember were my dad and brother. After the crash I didn’t think I’d ever see another guy and I especially never thought one would try to kiss me. Did I want to kiss him? I wasn’t sure. I didn’t know much about him it’s only been a day and a bit. As he leaned in I couldn’t think of what to do so I followed his lead. We both jumped when a gun shot fired. “I told you.” I said shaking my head. Always happens. “The readers are on the edge of their seats waiting for them to kiss when ‘bam!’ the bad guy ruins it.”

Damn!” Conner said. “Lets go.”

No wait.” I said. I took out my marker and looked at Conner. “We can be invisible.”

Good idea. Then we can take his gun… again.” Conner said.

Exactly.” I said.

Hurry then.” he said.

I drew the invisible symbol on us and we vanished. I could hear heavy foot steps coming toward us, crunching leaves and sticks as they neared. I could see his shadow now, emerging from the darkness. I seen Conner’s foot steps in the dirt and realized too late that the man wasn’t Mill. Conner leaped at him and disarmed him as I called ‘no!’. the poor man ran from the woods screaming ‘Ghost! Ghost!’.

     “My bad.” Conner said.

It was dark.” I said. “We didn’t know.”

Well… we can add this gun to our stash.” Conner said.

And pray he doesn’t tell people.” I said.

At least not people that will believe him.” Conner said. I wiped the invisible symbol off of me and reappeared.

Um…” Conner said. That didn’t sound good.

What?” I asked.

I don’t know where the symbol is.” he said. I laughed and found the invisible him. I took his arm and found the symbol in a second without even seeing him. It helped that it was on his muscle and that was easy to find.

So where were we?” Conner said.

You’ll have to catch me first.” I said leaping and shifting into a wolf. I ran off threw the trees and I could hear Conner following. I wasn’t sure where I was going but I kept running and dodging Conner’s attempts to catch me.

     We came out by a big lake when another gun shot went off. We shifted human again and tried to find the person with the gun. I was going to suggest it was another hunter when I heard Mill shout.

Here pretty pretty.” he said. “I know you’re out here.”

Damn.” Conner said.

We’ll have to run in the opposite direction of the camp.” I whispered.

I know you’re with them Tex. I’ll let you come back.” Mill said. I tried to stifle my laughter.

Who in the right mind would go back to you, after that.” I called. I threw a rock into a nearby tree and three birds flew off. Mill, thinking they were us, shot wildly at them while Conner and I made our way around the lake.

     I thought we were doing good when I heard him behind us. He was far but he was still there. We tried to move faster but it only drew Mill’s attention. When I turned to see where he was I noticed his rifle had a green lens. Thermal scope. I didn’t feel it or see it or even here it. He had a silencer on his gun. I stood there for a second until I felt my shirt dampen. I moved my hand to my stomach and felt the warm sticky blood. Then everything was swallowed by darkness.

In The Shadows (Ch 3)

In The Shadows
By. S. F. Wheeler

Chapter Three

     It took about two hours as a cheetah and six miles for me to get to the city but I made it. The bell rang from an ally about a ten minute walk from here so I shifted to human form and stepped into the street only to almost get run over by a car. I forgot about those. I stayed on the sidewalk from then on and found my way past the hundreds of people in skimpy sheer clothing. I was appalled by their lack of cloths and skirts that served no purpose I could see, they didn’t cover anything. I found the dark dank ally but no sign of Tex. I thought of turning around when a single ring of the bell told me he was in the next building. It looked abandoned and ready to fall at any moment. I slipped into the building threw a broken window and landed about ten feet down on the other side on little shards of glass. Luckily they weren’t sharp. One ring of the bell sounded again. Almost like he wasn’t trying to ring it now.

“I told you to shoot it!” I heard Mill shout angrily.

But uncle Mill…” Tex said.

Shut up brat. I gave you an order and you didn’t listen to me.” Mill said.

Uncle Mill…” Tex tried.

Shut up!” Mill roared. “You’re no good to me now boy. Just a waste of time and money.”

Mill no!” Tex said. I shifted to a wolf and charged up the stairs. Mill had a gun out and it was pointed at Tex who was shackled to a wall. I tackled Mill and took his gun in my mouth and carried it to Tex’ feet. I shifted to human form, letting Mill see clearly who I was, and used my marker to draw the symbol for free. The shackles fell to the floor and Tex took the gun.

You!” Mill said to me. “I knew it. And your sister.”

That was another shifter dumb ass. Now get the hell out of here before I turn into a dragon and rip you to shreds then burn the remains.” I said. He scrambled up and pulled a pistol from his belt.

No!” Tex dived, the gun fired, I fell, Tex fell, Mill ran, then the floor crumbled beneath us and we fell threw to the concrete below.

     I hit the floor with a hard thump and the sound of breaking wood. Tex was half covered in splintering wood and his eyes were closed. Did the bullet hit him? I tried to pull myself up and winced at the shock of pain. I seen my marker and stretched out to it. When I felt the cold plastic of the marker I let out a sigh. I drew the symbol for healing on my arm and it slowly faded along with my pain. I crawled over to Tex and threw the wood off of him then drew the healing symbol on his arm. It disappeared so fast that I almost didn’t get it done. I drew it again and again only to watch it vanish with no effect. I closed my eyes and sat there. He wasn’t a shifter, the shadow symbols must only work on shadow shifters. The bell rang and my eyes flew open. It was tied to his wrist. He had to move, the only way to ring the bell is to shake it. And you have to shake it hard for it to work. I watched and his fist flew into the air again then went back to his side.

No… Uncle… don’t hurt them… uncle… not right… I cant… she’s my Angel… she’s a shifter… don’t hurt her… no.” Tex mumbled.

Tex.” I said. “Tex wake up.”

Angel… Angel.” he murmured.

I’m here.” I said. “Wake up.”. He sat up so fast I almost jumped.

Oww.” he said as the pain hit him. “What happened?”

You leaped in front of a bullet and the floor broke.” I said. “Did it hit you?”

No I don’t think so.” he said. He tried to stand but fell back into the rubble.

My leg.” he said.

I made my way to his side and tore the leg of his jeans from the knee down. The bullet did hit him.

You’ve got to take the bullet out.” he said.

What!?” I yelped.

Please. You have to take it out to stop the pain. Then wrap it up to stop the bleeding.” he said.

I cant.” I said. “I don’t know how.”

You have to. You owe me.” he tried for a smile.

Alright.” I said. “I’ll try.”

I touched his wound and he inhaled sharply so I pulled away.

Come on you have to.” Tex said. “It’ll only hurt for a second.”. I tried again and found the bullet not far in. I pulled it out and tried to ignore Tex’ cries of pain.

There.” I said. “I got it.”

Give it to me.” he said, he wiped the blood from the bullet and shook his head. “Silver bullets. He thinks you’re werewolves. They’re heavy duty bullets too. He wasn’t even trying to wound you he wanted a direct kill. The bastard.”

There it’s wrapped for now but we have to get you to a hospital.” I said.

I don’t know if I can walk.” he said.

Do you think you can get out of the building?” I asked.

I’ll try.” he said lifting himself up.

     He made it outside into the ally with the support of my shoulder, and fell against a brick wall.

I cant keep going.” he said.

No need.” I said. I looked up and down the ally then at Tex. “Pull the rains the way you need me to go to get to the nearest hospital.” I shifted to a black stallion and Tex watched the transformation in amazement. The reason for our name, Shadow Shifters, was because we seemed to turn into a black shadow like fog that then shifted and changed into something else.

I nodded my head and made that weird horse sound that’s like a neigh and a sneeze. I realized then that he obviously couldn’t jump on, so I knelt down and he swung his bad leg over my back. When he patted my neck I got up and charged off into the street. Damn the cars. He pulled the rains and I turned right then another then a left. It didn’t take long when I seen a big red H in the sky. I ran toward it faster now that I didn’t need direction. When we got to the door I almost forgot I couldn’t go in like this. I went to the side where people were less likely to see me and shifted back to human form then helped Tex limp into the hospital. The nurses whisked him off and left me standing in the waiting room.

     “How did this happen?” A man in the blue hospital uniform asked me about a half hour later. “How was he shot?”

I didn’t know if I should tell a lie or not until the shadow symbol for half truth appeared on my hand.

A man named Mill.” I said. “Tex is a military solider and he was capture by Mill. Mill tried to shoot Tex but I stopped him then Mill tried to shoot me and Tex pushed me out of the way.”

You must consider yourself lucky to have your own hero.” the doctor laughed. “He’ll be fine to go soon don’t you worry. It was a minor wound that did little damage. Just some torn tissue and…” he went on with words I didn’t know and things I’d never heard of. I tuned him out then looked at my hand and gasped.

Yes I know it sounds painful but he didn’t feel it.” the doctor said. I looked at my hand again. I don’t understand, did it mean Tex or someone else. God I hope it didn’t mean the doctor. The symbol vanished. “You want to see him?” the doctor finished.

Oh. Yes.” I said.

He took me down a hall of endless doors that all looked the same to me and we stopped at number 213.

In there when you’re ready.” the doctor said before he left. I opened the door and Tex sat up with red eyes. He looked tired.

Hey.” I said unable to think of a better word.

Hey.” he said. “I’m still a little groggy from the sleep drug they used. Did you see what they did to my leg? It’s got little stitches in it. They sowed it like it was cotton.” he giggled and I had a feeling the drug was still messing with him. “You think it hurt? I couldn’t tell.” he giggled again. “Hey hey! Look.” he pointed at my hand. “Pictures on your hand look like there moving. How silly.”

What?” I looked at my hand and he was right. The symbols changed from hate and the one I seen earlier. Love. That’s when Conner burst into the room.

Angel are you okay?” he said charging in.

He’s funny.” Tex said.

What?” Conner said.

I’m fine.” I said. “Tex saved me.”

Yeah I’m a super man. But she saved me number one.” Tex said and giggled again.

You mean first.” I said.

What’s wrong with him?” Conner asked.

Pain killers and sleeping gas.” I said swirling my finger by the side of my head. “Crazy.”

Zebras are crazy.” Tex said. “Are they white or black.”

White.” Conner and I said together. The love symbol vanished but the hate symbol kept flashing. I looked out the window and let out a yelp.

Ooo. Did you hear that?” Tex asked. “Like a puppy. I want a puppy.”

Yes mate I did hear it. What is it?” Conner asked.

Mill.” I said. The hate symbol vanished.

The symbols only vanish when I know what it was that set them off. The danger symbol flashed when I seen Mill’s gun.

We have to go.” I said.

Then lets go.” Conner said.

We cant leave Tex.” I said. “And he cant walk out like this.”

Then carry him.” Conner said.

We cant leave. The doctors wont let him go.” I said.

Then we need to get rid of Mill.” Conner said. “Great. I’ll go distract him.”

No.” I said. “Bump into someone and shift into them then bump into Mill and take his gun. He cant do anything without it. There are doctors and security guards everywhere anyway.”

Alright.” Conner said slipping into the hall.

     A few minutes later I seen an old man bump into Mill. I also seen the gun go from Mill’s belt to the back of the old mans jeans. Mill turned on him and snapped while the old man put his hands up in apology. A few more minutes later Conner came back into the room.

So who’s up for lunch.” he said. I was about to question it when the doctor walked in.

We can deliver your lunch to you or you can all make your way to the cafeteria. Tex should be fine, he’s a tough soldier.” the doctor said.

Cafeteria.” Tex said. “The colors look soo cool.”

Hum yes. That should wear off soon.” the doctor said.

     We made it to the cafeteria with only minor Tex problems. He wouldn’t use the wheelchair so we got him some crutches witch he then tried to use to hit Conner who he thought was a monster unicorn. After that Conner tried to keep his distance from Tex who thought he was Conner’s shadow. When we got Tex some kind of hospital sandwich he complained there was sand in it. Lets just say it was a long night.

How did you find me anyway?” I asked Conner after Tex fell asleep.

After telling the pack to watch your brother I chased after you. When you hit the streets I lost you and wondered around until I heard that a horse ran to the hospital then vanished. I thought you were hurt.” he said.

I would have been dead.” I said glancing at Tex.

Is that one of your bracelets?” Conner asked seeing the bell on Tex’ arm.

One of them yes.” I said. “I told him I owed him when he got Mill to leave, and to ring the bell when he needed me. That’s what happened at camp, I heard the bell.”

And it hurt you?” Conner asked.

Sort of.” I said. “It’s high pitched and he rang it very harshly.”

Witch you would if you were about to be shot by your uncle.” Conner said. “So how many of those do you have?”

I pulled up my sleeve witch had two others on my right arm and one on my left. Then I pulled up my pant leg to revel ten more.

Why do you have so many?” Conner asked.

For emergencies.” I said. “Here.” I took one from my right hand and gave it to Conner who watched the bell swing back and forth without making a sound.

I ah…” he looked at me. “I cant tie.” he cheeks turned red.

Here watch.” I said. I took the string and slowly tied it as Conner watched contently. I pulled the lace from my shoe and gave it to Conner. “Lets learn to tie.”.

He tied it around my wrist but it slipped off and he cursed. He tried it again and it was too tight but it stayed tied so I didn’t object. He untied it and tied it again then tied it back on my shoe.

Ha I did it.” he said.

Congratulations you’ve only been tying knots for an hour.” Tex said.

Sleeping beauty finally wakes.” Conner said.

How long was I out?” Tex asked.

Well lets see.” I said. “two hours for surgery, a half hour recovery sleep. Then you woke up for three hours or so and that was a mess. Then you fell asleep for four hours and now you’re up.”

God what day is it.” Tex asked.

Almost midnight on the same day.” I said.

God. Where is Mill?” he asked.

He went to his hotel.” Conner said. “With a mouthful of curses. The doctors wouldn’t let him in with a gun. Sent him away after calling the cops.”

How didn’t they see you with it?” I asked.

Cause I made it invisible.” Conner said gleaming. “I remembered you drawing the symbol and it worked when I drew it.”

Congratulations. Now can we get out of here?” Tex asked.

The doctors wont let you leave yet.” I said.

Then tell them to go to hell.” he said.

Tex.” I snapped.

I cant stay here.” Tex said. “I have to get out of here.”

You wont be stuck in the hospital for long.” I said.

Not just the hospital. Here. The town. Mill is going to find me and with my mom gone I have no where to go. I have to leave.” he said.

Well…” I let the sentence trial off.

Well what?” Tex and Conner asked.

I sighed. “There’s a teleportation symbol but Tex isn’t a shadow shifter. The healing symbol didn’t work on him.”

You tried to heal me?” Tex said.

Yes when we fell threw the floor.” I said. “But it didn’t work so teleporting probably wont work either.”

Maybe you can teleport yourself and pull me with you.” Tex suggested.

Only problem is I don’t know how it’ll work. And I don’t know if we’ll get hurt.” I said then mumbled, “Or if I can get back.”

What?” Conner said. “You could just teleport back couldn’t you?”

I don’t know. The symbols have never done anything before and I don’t know what will happen.” I said.

Is there a return symbol?” Conner asked.

Actually yes.” I said. “Let me try something.” I took some paper and my marker and drew the return symbol then the teleport symbol. I printed the words ‘race track’ and the paper vanished.

     I thought it didn’t work after ten minutes of nothing when the paper appeared with huff prints all over it.

It worked.” I said. “I don’t know if it’ll work on humans though.”

Try me first.” Conner said.

What?” I said. “You could get hurt, we’ll try a fly or something first.”

No.” he said. “I already told you I’m only good at distracting people. The pack wont miss me if I don’t come back. Besides they have you now. That is if you plan to stay.”

I hadn’t thought about staying with the pack but it did make sense. They were all like me and Colby had other boys to talk to now. I guess we could stay. Should we?

Just send him to shut him up.” Tex said.

Alright but give me your hand first.” I said. I took the marker and drew the health symbol then the quick healing symbol then the protection symbol.

What are all the symbols?” Conner asked.

Protection.” I said. “Where do you want to go?”

Hawaii?” he said.

What if I teleport you above a volcano?!” I said. “No way.”

Fine.” Conner laughed. “How about Australia. I was only there when I was small and I’d like to see it again.”

Alright.” I said. I drew the return symbol on his shoulder and bit my lip. I hope this works. I wrote Australia on his arm then drew half the teleport symbol.

Come on. I’ll be fine.” Conner said. I finished the symbol and Conner vanished. I bit my lip and paced the room. Ten minutes passed and no sign of Conner.

What have I done.” I muttered.

He’ll be fine. He’s bigger than paper maybe it takes longer depending on size.” Tex said.

Sounds logical.” I said. “If he didn’t just vanish into thin air.” the door clicked and I jumped to close it.

What? Is everything okay?” the doctor asked.

Um… Yes.” I said. Opening the door and going out into the hall. “He’s getting changed into his cloths. He doesn’t like the feel of the hospital gown.”

Not many people do.” the doctor said.

Is he your brother?” the doctor asked.

What? No.” I said

So your boyfriend then. I thought so.” the doctor said and left. God I hate doctors, always assuming things.

     “What did you tell him?” Tex asked when I returned to the room.

That you were getting dressed.” I said. “So get dressed.” I threw his clothes at him and turned to watch the green door.

Alright it’s good.” Tex said. “I hope the doctor will let us go soon.”

I hope Conner gets back so-” I was saying when Conner fell from the air and landed on me. “Oww.”.

That was amazing!” Conner said. “I was there and I fell right in a field of wild horses.”

I’m glad you had fun.” I said. “So… you want to get off me?”

Sorry.” Conner said jumping up and helping me to my feet.

Did it hurt?” I asked.

No but the landings are rough.” he said.

At least you didn’t land on a cactus.” Tex said.

Here.” I said throwing a damp cloth at Conner. “Make sure you get all the return and teleport symbol off.”

Stubborn and bossy.” Conner said with a smile as he pulled off his shirt.

In the bathroom would be nice.” I said averting my eyes. “or with the shirt on.”

I don’t want to get it wet.” Conner said. “It’s new.”

Alright.” I said looking out the window.

You do know it’s just a shirt?” Tex said.

And?” I asked.

Boys go out with no shirts all the time.” Tex said.

What? Really?” I said.

Yes. Where were you the last four years?” he asked.

The middle of nowhere.” I said quietly. “By a crashed plane.”

You know where the plane is?” Conner spun me around with wide eyes.

Y-yes.” I said. “I built our cabin a few miles away from it. I didn’t know where else to go. Where we fell is where we stayed.”

You were in a plane crash?” Tex said.

Why didn’t you tell me?” Conner asked ignoring Tex. Huh… abs do look good. “Did you hear me?”

Yeah.” I said. “I didn’t know you wanted to see it.”

You have to take me to it.” Conner said dripping water onto the floor.

Alright.” I said. “Tex are you okay here for a bit?”

Sure.” Tex said. “Not like I can go anywhere until I’m let out anyway.”

Lets go then.” I said wiping the water from Connors chest with my sleeve and drawing the teleport symbol.

In The Shadows (Ch 2)

In The Shadows
By. S. F. Wheeler

Chapter Two

     “How much further?” I asked after we had walked for three hours straight.

Not too far.” Conner said. “Do you need me to take your bags?”

No.” I said.

I think you should stop asking.” Colby said. “That’s the seventh time I heard her say no to you.”

Is she always this stubborn?” Conner asked.

Umm… Yes.” Colby said.

Hey. I still have ears.” I said.

Don’t worry it’s not too far. We like to move around a lot but we stay in the same area. Throws Mill off. He thinks we’ll run for the hills or something.” Conner said taking one of my bags and ignoring my protest. “Down there.” he pointed down into a valley.

It was filled with lushes green grass and tall trees, starting to turn for fall, with a lake in the middle. Tents were set up by the edge of the lake and a small fire was started.

Awoooo!” Conner howled and people popped out from their hiding places.

Who’s they?” One of the boys asked. They all seemed to be between sixteen and nineteen and most of them were blond. Was it a coincidence or were they all related?

Shifters.” Conner said.

A girl?” a skinnier boy with pale blond hair said. By skinny I mean he didn’t have a ton of muscle like the others and his hair was so pale it looked like golden snow.

That’s what I said.” Conner laughed.

I’m Colby.” Colby said with a smile.

And a kid?” the only boy with red hair said disapprovingly.

He could shift when he was four.” Conner said. “He’s better than you, mate.”

What are they here for?” One of the black haired boys asked.

They’re shifters.” Conner said.

     As they fought, the boy with the pale blond hair pushed his way threw the crowd.

I’m Will.” he said. “Sorry about them. We haven’t seen new people in awhile.”

I’m Angel.” I said.

Give me a moment to get their attention then we’ll figure something out.” Will said.

Good luck.” I said. Will smiled and shifted into a red fox. He let out a screech like a woman being strangled, and the group went silent. When he shifted back he cleared his throat and said “Guys this is Angel and Colby. These are the pack. Rick is the red haired one. That’s Ian the dark haired tall one. Derik the dark haired short one. Tyler the little blond one. Devin the tall skinny blond hiding in the back. Tanner the blond with the beard. And Frank the oldest one. He also has blond hair.”

And this…” Rick said shaking Will’s shoulders. “Is golau.”

Who?” I asked.

Golau is welsh for pale or light.” Will said. “Because of my hair and the fact that I grew up in a welsh family, they like to call me it.”

He’s secretly a vampire.” Derik whispered really loud.

You know I’m not a vampire, Derik.” Will said un-amused.

Anyway. You and Colby can have my tent and I’ll bunk with Rick.” Will said to me.

     That night I got Colby ready for bed then went for a walk to think things threw. We never had any problems before and we never left the house. Sure we could survive in the woods but I don’t want to end up moving from place to place like ‘the pack’. And what about Colby, he couldn’t keep up with us on our walk here let alone if we had to run form the big scary Mill. I’d have to think of something.

I found myself on a small cliff not to far from camp. It looked out over the whole valley and I could just see the roof of the house off in the distance. I’m not really sure how I got to the top of the cliff but I had a good view of the camp from here. I averted my eyes when two of the boys came out of their tents in nothing but their boxers and started whipping one another with towels. Are boys usually like that? I hope not. I noticed there was one tent for everyone but one. Even if Colby and I weren’t using one of the tents there was still one missing. And one person missing. Conner. He didn’t sleep with the others. Weird.

What are you doing all the way up here, mate?” Conner asked. I jumped when I heard him behind me and spun to glare at him. “Sorry. Would you prefer I make some growling noises first?”

And how would that help?” I asked.

It wouldn’t that’s the point. It’s supposed to be funny.” Conner said.

Funny?” I repeated.

Tell me you’ve heard a joke before. Or laughed once in your life.” Conner said moving to sit on the cliff with me.

I haven’t had much time.” I said. “It was only me and Colby for two years. Everything before is either forgotten or unforgettable.”

I know what you mean. My mom use to sing for me at night to get me to go to sleep. I still have trouble sleeping without hearing her sing you know.” Conner said.

Is that why your up here on a cliff at midnight?” I asked.

Yes. That and my tent is just back there.” he said pointing behind us. “Why are you here?”

I don’t know how you guys like to do things but I would prefer not to run for the rest of my life. I’d like to have a real home and a real family again. I don’t want to be sitting on a cliff in the middle of the night wondering ‘what if’.” I said.

Like ‘what if’ I wasn’t a shifter. ‘what if’ my parents weren’t on that plane. ‘what if’ life was different.” Conner said.

Exactly.” I said.

Wondering will never get anything done.” Conner said. “Do you know what time of year it is?”

Judging by the turning leaves it’s the start of fall.” I said. “And you can always use the moon to tell the time you know.”

It’s hard to find the moon most nights. Too many clouds. And it doesn’t help during the day.” Conner said.

I pulled down my sleeve to revel the tattoo like mark on my wrist. It looked like the moon and right now it was saying it was a quarter moon.

What’s that? Conner asked.

My moon.” I said. “It changes when the moon changes so I always know the time.”

That’s amazing.” Conner said. “So what’s on your hand?”

My hand?” I asked.

There.” Conner said pointing to the palm of my left hand.

Shadow symbols.” I said watching the symbols appear and disappear in the palm of my hand.

What do they mean?” Conner asked.

Right now it’s saying… Fire, Danger, windmill, run, hide. And it repeats.” I said.

Windmill? What windmill?” Conner asked.

Mill!” I said. “We need to put out the fire and hide.” I said leaping from the cliff. I landed as a bluebird and called for Colby.

Fly and hide.” I said to him. He shifted to a little gray jay and flew into the trees. “Conner get your pack to cover the tents with those tree bows then shift to gray jays and fly into the trees to hide. Tell them to scatter but stay in groups.” I said helping him douse the fire.

You heard her!” Conner yelled. “Cover the tents and scatter into the trees. It’s Mill.”

     It was terrifying having to wonder where one kid was but to have ten to wonder about was excruciating. I managed to fly into the trees and find Colby, and Conner was a branch over. I could sort of see two other birds huddled in the branches above us and three others in the neighboring tree. I don’t know how Conner doesn’t die of worry when he doesn’t know where his pack is.

Tex!” I heard Mill shout. “Where have you blundered off to now?”

Here!” Called a young man with a brown military haircut. He looked ninenteen or so and he was carrying a rifle.

When I told your mother I’d take care of you I did not think you would wander off so much. I told you to stay by me.” Mill said then he mumbled to himself something about stupid kids and not listening.

Sorry uncle Mill.” the boy, Tex, said.

Tex. You go over that way and see what you can find.” Mill said pointing to the camp.

Yes uncle Mill.” Tex said.

Oh no.” I said though it came out as chirping the others could understand me. “I have to stop him.”

I’ll go.” Conner said. “I’ll distract him and you guys run.”

No.” I said. “No running. No distraction. I’ll get rid of them.”

How do you expect to get them to leave?” Conner asked.

Did you notice how he was carrying the gun?” I asked.

What?” Conner asked.

He wasn’t holding it like he wanted to shoot something he was holding it like he was nervous he would have to shoot something.” I said.

How do you know, maybe he just didn’t know how to hold it.” Conner said.

He’s military.” I said. “He knows how to hold a gun.”

Military? How do you know all this?” Conner asked.

Just trust me on this one. I can get them to leave.” I said and leaped from the branch.

     I got to the camp just as Tex discovered our tents. He sighed and looked into the woods with a distraught look on his face. He opened his mouth to speak but I shifted to human form before his eyes and he stood there in awe.

Don’t do it.” I said.

You are real.” Tex whispered.

Yes.” I said. “And in danger.”

Mill wouldn’t hurt you.” Tex said.

No? Then why do one of my friends have a bullet wound?” I asked. I noticed Will trying to hide it earlier.

He… he shot at you?” Tex said. “but I thought…” he took his gun and opened the chamber to see very real bullets in the gun. “I thought they were tranq darts. I would never shoot an innocent.”

I know.” I said.

You do?” he said.

You’re military. One thing I know about the military is that they would never hurt an innocent unless they tried to attack you.” I said.

How do you know I’m military?” Tex asked.

Your hair for one and your dog tags are showing.” I said tapping the shining tags around his neck.

Privet Tex Summers.” I read. “I’m Angel.”

Tex!” Mill called.

Please Tex. You cant let him know we’re here. He’ll kill us. There aren’t many of us left and I’m the only known female. You have to get him to leave.” I said gently touching his arm. He steered at my hand then looked at me with a smile. God guys are so predictable.

Tex!” Mill called again.

Nothing here uncle Mill. I think they left the woods hours ago. Maybe we should try the town.” Tex called.

Thank you Tex.” I said. “We owe you.”

Can I see you again?” he asked.

Your uncle cant know we’re here.” I said.

He wont.” Tex said. “I swear.”

Then take this.” I said unclasping my string bracelet and handing it to him. On it was a little silver bell. “Ring it when you absolutely need me and no other time.”

Come on then Tex. We’ll try the town.” Mill called.

Till then.” Tex said running off.

     “How did you do that? They’re leaving.” Conner said when I returned to the tree.

Boys will always be boys.” I said.

What?” Conner asked.

A few hair flips and fluttering my eye lashes did the trick.” I said.

You flirted with him to get him to leave?” Conner said amazed.

It worked didn’t it.” I said. Conner chuckled to himself.

Coast’s clear, pack.” Conner said a few minutes later.

     We all returned to our tents but I kept watch. I sat on the cliff again and steered at my hand. The symbols were gone now. I drew the symbol for fire, that was stuck in my head, in the dirt with a stick. It kind of looked like a flame. The second I thought it the dirt blazed up and the stick caught fire. I scrambled to put the fire out. What just happened? The symbols had never done that before. Curious, I drew it again. The same thing happened. The symbol itself caught on fire and stayed on fire until I broke the symbol. Still curious and amazed I drew the symbol for flower. A beautiful tulip grew in fast-forward on top of the symbol.

How did you do that?” Conner appeared behind me. “You grew a flower.”

It’s the shadow symbols.” I said. “Watch.” I drew the fire symbol right next to the flower and it caught on fire.

Holly shit.” Conner jumped back. I drew the water symbol but it only made a puddle of water.

What if you drew it on your hand?” Conner said.

Um. You can.” I said. “Id rather not turn into water.”

Then draw it on me.” he said.

Are you sure?” I asked.

Yes.” he said holding his hand out to me. I burnt the stick a bit so the ash rubbed off and drew the water symbol on Connors hand. His hand filled with water and he healed it over the little fire. A small stream of water poured from his hand and doubted the fire. He rubbed the symbol off and the water stopped.

I have to try something.” I said taking the stick and drawing a symbol on my own hand. It glowed then shined until it was as bright as a star. “It means light.”

Wow.” Conner said.

They never did this when I drew them on paper.” I said. “I have an idea.” I took a rock and drew two symbols on it. On meant switch like on/off, the other meant light. I tapped the switch symbol and the rock lit up. “It worked!” I touched the switch symbol again and it went out.

Can you make me one?” Conner asked.

Sure.” I said.

     After showing the rest of the pack, I made more light rocks that I decided to call glowstones. I made a small glowstone for myself and put it on a string that I tied around my neck. I also made a small one for Colby that I tied to his wrist.

The next morning we decided to move the camp to our shack. I hoped Mill wouldn’t look there again but just in case I had an idea. I drew invisible symbols on all the tents and they vanished. I made sure to put a rock at all four corners of each tent first and a stick where the door was. Everyone who entered the tent vanished as well. I turned the shack invisible too and put trees all over the place so it didn’t look like the place Mill saw. Just in case.

Too bad there isn’t one for strength.” Will said to me.

There is.” I said.

Really?” Will said. “You wouldn’t draw it on anyone though would you?”

I can draw it on you if you like.” I said. “It can come off.”

Really?” Will said. It must be hard being weaker then everyone around you. I took out my marker and pulled Will’s sleeve up and began to draw the strength symbol.

That feels weird.” Will said.

Try it out.’ I said. He picked up a bolder and smiled at me.

Like a feather.” he said.

“Thanks.’ Conner said appearing at my side.

For what?” I asked as I ate my rabbit and berries.

What you did for Will.” Conner said. “I haven’t seen him so happy before.”

I didn’t do anything.” I said.

I seen the symbol on his arm and I bet it means strength.” he said.

You must be seeing things.” I said.

Well thanks anyway.” Conner said. A high pitched ringing sent me falling to the ground with a whimper. “Angel! Are you alright?” Conner tried to get my attention but it was useless. When the ringing stopped I got up.

I have to go.” I said. “But I’ll be back. Can you watch Colby?”

What. Sure but what’s going on?” Conner asked.

He needs help.” I said.

Who?” he asked, but I shifted into a cheetah and zoomed off.

In The Shadows (Ch 1)

In The Shadows
By. S. F. Wheeler

Chapter One

     I was sitting on a beach, my hands and feet buried in the hot sand. I watched the waves flow in and out, in and out. The seagulls cawed and the wind whispered threw the trees. It was peaceful. Until a wave grew to the size of a house and crashed into my face.

I woke spitting water out of my mouth and wiping it from my eyes.

What are you doing?” I asked.

Trying to drown you in your sleep. I guess it didn’t work.” Colby said.

Very funny.” I said throwing the wet blankets off my bed. Colby just stood there with his little boy grin and an empty water pitcher in his hands. His messy blond hair was too long and got in his pretty blue eyes.

Are you hungry?” I asked as I rung out my long blond hair. Colby calls it gold hair and complains that girls have longer hair then boys. My hair was down to my waist now but oddly never tangled. It just stayed straight and refused to do anything else.

Yes.” he said wiggling in his place.

Let me get dressed and we can get some food.” I said as I pushed the hair from his eyes.

Kay.” he said then ran out of my room.

     Once I was dressed in a simple t shirt and jeans I went to the bathroom to fix my hair. I quickly brushed it and tied it in a pony tail.

Alright lets go.” I said as I opened the door to the house. Well shack really. It was only two rooms and a kitchen and most of it was falling apart. Colby didn’t seem to mind, but then again he was only seven. I was only eighteen but without parents I was the adult. I slipped on my sleek black suede jacket and put Colby in his little green jacket before closing the door behind us.

Colby was my little brother. We live out in the middle of the woods by ourselves ever since our parents died in a plane crash. The last thing our mom said was “Think like a bird. Think really hard and jump out the door.”. I was fifteen and Colby was four so we did what she said and jumped from the falling plane. When I lost sight of Colby I tried hard to think of birds, of flying, blue birds and robins, hawks and eagles. I watched the trees rush up to meet me and tried to flap my arms like wings. I heard Colby call to me but all I could see was trees and sky with little dots that I think were birds. My heart raced so fast I think it would have burst if I didn’t stop falling just before I hit a tree.

“Lets go. Lets go.” Colby said as he pulled me into the yard. I raced for the woods and leaped head first over some bushes, landing on all fours and charging off. I could hear the clumsy foot steps of Colby racing behind me and our nails scraping the rocks. I looked back and seen Colby’s tawny fur and strangely round wolf ears blowing in the wind. He let out a little bark and I jumped, without looking, over a log. I slowed by the river and waited for Colby to catch up.

I looked at my reflection in the water, I had very light blond fur and I still had my blue eyes. I was at least five feet from the ground with 170 pounds of muscle and fur. I growled at my reflection, showing my long sharp teeth. Colby watched me and gave a growling chuff to show his amusement as his tail waved wildly behind him.

     We were use to being wolves. It was our favorite form to be in and our best form to hunt in. My brother and I are Shadow Shifters, shape shifters I guess, we can take any form we want at any time we want for however long we want. It’s fun but also takes a lot of concentration and effort. We never knew what we could do until the day of the crash. Our dad always told us we were Shadow Shifters but we didn’t know what it meant. He told us we were rear and special people and that we would live great lives one day. That day was not today. Without parents we had no home or money. I built our shack and everything in it, we catch our food and cook with a fire. And without school since I was fifteen, I couldn’t get a job. I cant say I’ll miss grade nine though.

Is it cooked?” Colby asked again.

Yes.” I said handing him his rabbit on a stick. Yeah ‘great’ lives we’re living.

Yummy.” He said threw a mouthful of rabbit.

It’s a good thing our father made us watch all those documentaries on wolves and hunting or we would starve. The one thing I wish I knew was what my father meant when he said “You’re the last one of your kind. There are other males but one girl. Only one. You can save us.” I thought he meant I could save them from the plane but now I don’t think he did.

“Did you hear that?” Colby asked.

Hear what?” I asked.

Listen… there.” he said as a bush shook.

Probably a rabbit.” I said but I kept steering at the bush just in case.

A big blond panther came racing from the woods and reared in the other direction when it seen us, it ran off and disappeared in the trees.

Or it could be a panther.” I said shrugging my shoulders.

He looked funny.” Colby said with his lips puckered and eyebrows pulled together in his thinking face.

Funny?” I repeated.

Umhm.” he mumble threw his food. “Like us.”

What do you mean?” I asked.

Go chase him and find out.” Colby said.

What?” I asked again.

I’ll go inside, you go find him.” he said with a smile and trotted off toward the shack. Sometimes I think he knows something I don’t.

     I did what Colby told me to and shifted into a panther then ran threw the trail the other panther was on. It took me awhile but I spotted the other panther and raced after him. When I got close enough I leaped threw the air and tackled the panther. He let out a startled yelp and struggled to get free. When he seen that I was another panther he stopped and I eased off of him.

Who are you?” I asked. “And why are you in my forest?”

Wha?” he steered at me.

I said…”

I know what you said, mate.” he interrupted with an Australian accent. “I don’t know how you said it.”

With my mouth.” I said.

No, mate. Listen. Normal animals don’t talk so I want to know how you did it.” he said.

Well… ‘mate’… I’m not an animal.” I said.

You’re not?” he said.

No and obviously you aren’t either.” I said.

No. I’m a shifter.” he said.

Then show me.” I orderd.

You first.” he said.

We could do this all day.” I said.

Together then.” he said.

One… Two … three.” we said together then shifted back to human form.

He was about a foot taller than me with shining blond hair and green eyes, and he was defiantly strong. If your wondering how I know this is the real him and not someone he shifted to, well it’s because we cant shift to other human forms unless we’re touching them at the time.

He looked me up and down then said “Yeah you’re human.”

What did you expect?” I asked.

Not sure. I haven’t seen a female shifter before.” he said.

Have you seen others?” I asked.

Yes.” he said. “My pack. There are nine of us all together.”

Really?” I asked.

Yes. Are you alone?” he asked.

No I have a shifter brother.” I said.

How old is he?” he asked.

He’s seven.” I said.

Really? And he can shift?” he asked.

Yes.” I said. “He first shifted when he was four.”

Really?” he said again.

Yes.” I said. “you asked me questions now its my turn. Who are you?”

Conner.” he said “What about you, mate?”

Angel.” I said.

Like the magic people with wings?” Conner asked.

Yes.” I said. “Is there a problem?”

No. Do you spell it the same?” he asked.

Yes.” I said.

Are your parents shifters?” he asked then.

I don’t know if they were but they’re gone now.” I said.

How?” he asked. Before I could hit him he said “Was it a plane crash?”

Y-yes.” I said.

Then we have something else in common.” he said.

Your parents were on the plane too?” I asked.

Yes. Off for a business thing. Left us with a nanny.” Conner said. “A lot of shifter parents were on that plane and we don’t think the crash was accidental.”

So who were you running from earlier?” I asked.

A man named Mill Saunders. He hunts shifters. My pack’s been dodging him for years but he seems to have found us. And I suggest you and your brother get out of here before he finds out about you too.” Conner said.

Were is everyone else then?” I asked.

Moving camp. I was the distraction. All I’m good for really.” he said.

So you brought a shifter hunter to my house!” I yelled. “My god we have to get Colby.”

We?” Conner said.

Yes we. You brought the hunter here now your going to help me get rid of him. We can be campers with our family he wont know we’re shifters.” I said as we jogged back to the shack.

But he knows what I look like.” Conner said.

Then look like someone else.” I said taking his hand. “Shift. Now.” he shifted to an exact replica of me only he had his black t shirt on and his old jeans.

We look too alike. He’ll know.” Conner said.

Umm… here.” I said taking a knife from my belt.

Wow. No need for that.” Conner said.

It’s for your hair.” I said. “I’ll make It shorter.” I slid the knife threw his…my… my hair on him and cut it to his shoulders… my shoulders. Wow this was weird. I don’t know how twins can live together when they look exactly alike.

Is it alright now?” Conner asked.

One more thing.” I said.

What?” Conner asked.

Look over there.” I said pointing to the side. He looked and I gently slashed the knife across his cheek. He took a sharp breath then touched his face. There was no blood just a little cat scratch.

Just in case.” I said.

     We came up to the shack and seen a man in his late twenties walking around the building. When he peeked in the front window I said “Excuse me sir. This isn’t your house.”

What are you doing here?” Conner asked in my voice.

Sorry ladies. I was looking for an animal that might have ran by here. I tracked it to this cabin.” he said.

Well sir I’m afraid we were out eating berries all morning and I didn’t notice your animal run by.” I said.

Oh. Is anyone else here with you?” he asked.

Yes sir.” I said.

Our brother and father.” Conner said.

Do you always finish each others sentences?” he asked.

Not always.” I said.

But a lot.” Conner said.

Well I’m sorry to have bothered you.” He said with an odd bow before leaving. We watched him leave and faked giggles until he was far gone. I ran into the house and when I didn’t see Colby I panicked.

Colby!” I called. “Colby?”

Here.” his little voice came from the underground cellar.

I pulled the carpet away as he opened the hatch and I hauled him up in a bear hug. “Is he gone?”

Yes. He’s gone but we have to leave.” I said.

Who’s that?” Colby asked.

That’s Conner.” I said. “It’s okay he’s a shifter like us.”

Really?” Colby said as he trotted over to Conner who was himself again.

Colby Forrest. Nice to meet you sir.” Colby said.

Conner Andrews.” Conner said. “You must be the man in the house.”

Yes.” Colby said with a big smile. “I’m in charge so if you’re in my house you have to do what I say.”

Yes sir.” Conner said. “I’d hate to see what he does to your boyfriends.”

What boyfriends. We don’t know anyone.” Colby said.

Well I have some people for you to meet.” Conner said.

Really?” Colby said amazed. “Where?”

Get your things first. Then I’ll take you to them.” Conner said.

In This World (ch 2)

In This World (ch 2)

Chapter 2 of In This World By. S. F. Wheeler

     “You alright down there mate?

Im being kidnapped by a dragon on my birthday yeah Im perfectly fine, just what I wanted. I spat sarcastically.

Sorry about that. Were almost there though. he said.

Almost where? I asked.

Drac món. he said with an accent I couldn’t place.

What does that mean?

Dragon world. he said That was Catalan I was speaking, the true language of the dragon.

Ive never even heard of it.

Its an old language and not many speak it these days Look there it is. he said pointing a claw down at what looked like a mountain in the clouds.

Thats dragon world? Just looks like a mountain to me. I said unimpressed.

Wait till we get down there. he said.

     “You have done well, Jason. an old woman in black said when we landed. Welcome Miss Farwin. We are honored to have you. she bowed.

I was taken by force and I dont plan on staying. I said turning to leave.

I wouldn’t go that way if I were you. Jason, the dragon guy that kidnapped me said.

And why not? I shouted. I found out why when I took my next step and my foot didn’t hit the ground. I fell off the extremely large mountain and into the clouds that surrounded it. Oddly enough the top of the mountain was above the clouds while the edges and below were submerged in the fluffy whiteness of the clouds.

Ive got ya. Jason said wrapping his dragon hand around me just before I hit the side of the mountain.

I would have preferred to fall. I grumbled as he put me down.

Ombra drac, what is bothering you. the old woman asked me.

What is bothering me is that this thing I gestured to Jason. just kidnapped me on my birthday and now Im stuck on a floating mountain!

Ombra drac, I am very sorry but you must come with us before your iniciació starts. the woman said.

Every dragon starts their iniciació on their eighteenth birthday. Thats why I had to bring you here today. Jason said, shifting back to his human form with ease.

Iniciació is your initiation into the dragon world. the woman said.

My initiation into the dragon world? Im not a dragon! I shouted, stomping off into the cobblestone city. Everything was cobblestone here and giant trees loomed over the few buildings. I could faintly see a castle in the background and wondered if I had traveled back in time. Wouldn’t surprise me.

Ombra drac! the woman called. I dont know what it means but obviously she thinks I should.

Casey you cant wonder off. Jason said.

How do you know my name? I shouted, spinning to face him.

Its my gift. All dragons have gifts. Mine is mind reading and yours is…”

Electricity. we said together.

Here. he said taking my hands. I tried to pull away but couldn’t. He snapped the rubber bands on my wrists and I watched them fall to my feet. My fingers started to tingle then a spark shot from my hand to his and he reeled back with a yelp.

Im glad you think thats funny. he said.

I didn’t even laugh. I protested.

I read your mind, you think this is hilarious and the perfect payback for dragging you here. he said rubbing his hand.

Ombra drac, the woman said coming over. We can teach you to use your power. You have a one and only gift, no other dragon posses it.

What does ombra drac mean? I asked.

Shadow dragon. Jason said. Youre the shadow dragon, the only dragon able to harness lightening. Shadow is for the dark black color of lightening clouds and obviously dragon is because youre a dragon.

No Im not. I dont turn into a dragon. I said, suddenly feeling dizzy. I swayed for a moment then shook my head to clear it, just like in the arena.

The initiation is starting! the womans voice echoed through my head.

     “Casey can you hear me? Jason was saying. I looked around but it hurt my head, I was somehow on the ground now.

Dont fight it. Just go with it. Jason said. I looked around to find him but I couldn’t see him. The woman was to my left with a worried look on her face. I managed to sit up and seen that Jason was holding me.

Dont stand up. he said Just relax.

Shes not ready master Jason, she wont make it. the woman said.

Shush Edna. She can make it. Jason said waving the woman away.

     “Jason just give up, shes gone. a strange voice said.

Bite your tong Mildred. Jasons voice floated into my thoughts.

Jason. Her heart has stopped, shes gone. the voice said.

Shes fine! Jason cried. Si us plau retorni. Vosté ha de tornar. he whispered into my ear. Please come back. You have to come back. he translated.

I tried to speak but nothing came out. Im ok. I thought, hoping he could still read my mind.

Sh-shes okay! Jason shouted.

Jason look at that monitor, her heart isnt beating. Shes gone. Mildred said.

No, no she isnt. She just told me she was okay. Casey think again. he said.

Where am I? I thought.

Youre in the infirmary. You are going to be fine. Can you move or talk or feel anything?

I tried to move, No. I thought.

Thats okay Ill get the doctor. he said getting up from where he was. I thought I felt my hand get cold but then there was nothing. Everything was black with no feeling.

Shes okay? Edna said moving into the room.

She can think. Jason said. Im talking to her through her thoughts. My hand felt warm again and I tried to move it. Hey! Hey I felt her hand move. Jason said excitedly.

Well you would know since your hand has been glued to hers for the past three days. Mildred said bitterly.

Now is not the time Mildred, please leave. Edna said.

Shell be okay right. Jason said.

I cannot be sure. Her heart isnt beating but you say you can still read her thoughts?

Yes.

Then ask her what she feels. Edna said.

Only your hand, Jason. I thought.

She can feel my hand. he said. But nothing else.

Take her other hand. Edna said.

I can feel that hand now but not the other one. I thought.

She can feel this hand but the other one lost feeling when I let go.” Jason said.

Strange. Edna said. Can you fell this, dear?

Feel what. I thought.

No she cant. Jason said.

Like the sleeping beauty story.

Story? Jason said confused.

A book. You wouldnt know about them. Sleeping beauty was a story about a princess who was put under a sleeping spell and only a kiss from a prince could wake her. Edna said.

So?

So, prince charming, kiss her. Edna said with a little laugh.

Will that really work? I thought.

I dont know. Jason said. “I never heard of the story.”

What did she say? Edna asked.

Will it work?

Its worth a try isnt it?

What do you think? Jason asked.

Not like I have a choice in the matter. Anythings worth a try. I thought.

I felt tingling but I couldnt move.

She can feel but she cant move. Jason said.

If she recovers then she might still be able to fulfill her mission. The war has started, we need her now more than ever, she is the only one who can save us from all this destruction.

Then the world went dark.

     I woke to a blinding light and tried to open my eyes. I think the light was one of those doctor lights they have hanging from the ceiling.

She’s awake! Her eyes are open!” Someone yelled. I sat up and looked around the infirmary like room. I heard running foot steps, then the doors swung open and Jason and Edna came running in.

The one time I leave and she wakes up.” Jason muttered to himself.

Where am I?” I asked.

I don’t understand.” Edna said. “Is the heart monitor working?”

It’s working.” the doctor said.

But…” Jason looked at me confused. I looked at the heart monitor and seen a flat line. I looked down at myself and back up at Jason and Edna.

My heart’s not beating.” I said.

She’s also not aging.” The doctor said. “I believe this is the dragon’s way of immortality. Only Drake had this gift.”

So I’ll be eighteen forever?” I said.

I think so.” The doctor said.

What happened?” I asked.

Don’t you remember?” Edna asked.

No.” I said.

What do you remember?” Jason asked.

I was at home. I just won the fights. Then I was at Tyler’s house for my birthday surprise. Then… then… a… a dragon. There was a dragon and it brought me here.” I said.

That dragon was me.” Jason said.

You’re a dragon?” I asked.

We’ll fill her in then bring her to the dragon dome until she changes. We should do this quickly I don’t know how long we have until her initiation starts again.” Edna said.

Initiation?” I asked.

I’ll explain on the way.” Jason said taking my hand and running down the hall.

“What’s this?” I asked seeing a giant glass dome in the courtyard. it looked big enough to fit a thousand train cars in.

The dragon dome.” Jason said.

So you say its to protect and contain us when we start the initiation and turn into a dragon.” I repeated what he told me earlier. I could remember everything from earlier now. My initiation started and I almost died. Or I did die I’m still not sure.

Yeah. You wont be in there for long and it’s not that bad. I can sit by the door and keep you company.” Jason said.

Thanks. Will the change hurt?” I asked.

No.” Jason said. “It might feel weird and your muscles might hurt a bit but its not that bad.”

Alright. I guess I don’t have a choice now do I.” I said entering the door to the dome. Jason closed the door behind me and sat outside it.

I feel really trapped in here.” I said.

Yeah most people do.” Jason said. “It could be ten minutes or five hours to your change.” Jason said.

Oh great. Well since I was kidnapped and then died for three days then came back to life and got stuck in this cage can I at least call Tyler or my mother to let them know I’m okay?” I asked.

I’m sorry. You cant. We’re not allowed to see our old life again. After the initiation we can never have contact with our families.” Jason said with watery eyes.

I take it you miss your family.” I said.

I do. Very much. But I can’t see them again.” Jason said.

Why not?” I asked.

It’s the rules. Humans cant see us as dragons, they cant know of us after we change so they have to think we died or mysteriously vanished.” Jason said.

Mysteriously vanished? Do you know a TJ Chafe?” I asked.

Yes why?” Jason asked.

That’s Tyler’s dad. He vanished a year ago. Tyler thinks he’s dead. He probably thinks I’m dead now. Oh poor Tyler. He’s lost so much, I have to go back Jason.” I said hitting the door of the dome. “I have to.”

You cant.” Jason said.

I haven’t changed yet and I need to tell him.” I said angry now. “I cant let him think we’re all dead.”

I…I cant let you out. I’m sorry but I cant.” Jason said. I yelled at the dome and smashed my fist against it over and over until my fist wasn’t a fist. It was scaly and black with long sharp claws. I looked back at myself and seen I was a black dragon. I had beautiful wings and a long tail with a blade at the end. I sliced my tail across the dome and heard an ear shattering screech. It left behind a big gash. I yelled, or roared, then lightening shot out around me.

Casey! Calm down.” Jason shouted. I roared at him letting a chain of lightening stream from my mouth. I jumped into the air and flapped my wings, then flew straight for the dome top.

     It shattered around me and I flew through the sky with lightening speed. I sliced threw the clouds and found the direction of Millwick. I soared at the bottom of the clouds so I was able to see the ground but the people couldn’t see me.

Casey!” Jason roared. I moved deeper into the think clouds and soared silently around. I could here Jason flying past me and when I was sure he was gone I headed back in Millwick’s direction. I could here Jason’s distant calling as it got quieter and quieter. I flew faster until the ground below was rushing past at impossible speeds. Then I seen it. Millwick.

I slowed down and scanned the town until I found Tyler’s house. I flew down toward it then I was hit by Jason and we tumbled threw the sky, crashing into a clearing in the woods.

What are you doing?” Jason shouted at me.

Telling Tyler I’m okay and his parents are too.” I said storming off toward Tyler’s house.

No your not!” Jason said. “You cant.”

And who’s going to stop me?” I shouted. “You?”

Yes.” Jason said.

Then go right ahead and try.” I said. Jason leaped at me and I sent lightening sparking out in all directions. He fell back with a cry and turned to his human form. I left him shaking on the ground and went to Tyler’s house. I flew into the big broken window and scratched at his door.

Damn it. Not again.” I heard Tyler say from the next room.

It’s me Tyler. I’m okay and so is your dad.” I said.

Leave dragon.” Tyler said pointing his sword at me.

It’s me.” I said.

I’m not afraid of your roars stupid creature. You bring Casey back here or you die.” Tyler said. “Leave now!”

Tyler? You cant understand me can you?” I said just as Tyler’s sword sliced my leg. I pulled back with a whimper and looked at Tyler.

Leave!” Tyler shouted. “Now!” he sliced his sword at me again. “Why wont you leave.” he hit me again. “I don’t get it. Why wont you leave.” he finally looked up at me and shock filled his eyes.

Tyler?” I tried to say.

Did… did you say my name?” Tyler asked.

It’s me.” I tried to say. I lid on the floor so I was eye level with Tyler. The blade on my tail slid in so my tail was just like a lizards’ tail. I used my tail to pick up a picture of Tyler and me and I showed it to him. He dropped his sword.

What did they do to you?” Tyler said.

Nothing really.” I said.

Oh! Oh your leg. Are you okay? Oh my god I’m sorry.” Tyler said. He put his hand on my clawed hand and looked at my leg. “Well it’s not bleeding.” he said.

Can you turn back to normal?” Tyler asked. I sighed and put my head on the floor then pointed with my tail to a clock.

It takes time does it?” Tyler asked.

Yes.” I said.

Then I’ll wait with you.” Tyler said. He came over and sat in a chair next to me, then changed his mind and sat on the ground using my leg as a head rest.

     I woke up as a human and looked around. Tyler was curled up next to me and I couldn’t see anything else unusual. But something felt off. Sleep pulled me back under and my feeling of unease went away.

I woke again and I was cold. Considering the whole window was gone, which was like the whole wall, the wind whistled in.

Casey? Are you up?” Tyler asked sleepily.

Yeah I’m up. And normal again.” I said. Tyler rolled over then covered his eyes with a big smile.

I guess dragons don’t wear cloths.” Tyler said. I looked down at myself and almost died when I seen I had no cloths on.

I guess not.” I said.

Good thing you still have your cloths here.” Tyler said. “I’ll go get them.”

Thanks.” I said trying to cover as much as I could.

“Here’s your cloths.” Tyler said bringing my bag with his eyes closed.

No peeking.” I said snatching my bag and pulling my cloths on as quickly as I could.

Can I look now?” Tyler asked.

Yes.” I said. Tyler smiled then hugged me.

I thought you were gone.” Tyler said.

I’m fine Tyler. And so is your dad.” I said. He backed up with his hands still on my shoulders and looked at me.

He’s what?” Tyler said.

Your father is okay. He was like me. He turned into a dragon.” I said.

So why didn’t he come back like you did?” Tyler asked.

We’re not allowed to come back. We cant have any contact with our old lives. If he could come back he would.” I said.

How did you come back then?” Tyler asked.

I broke out of the dome and flew here.” I said.

Dome?” Tyler repeated.

I’ll tell you everything later. What does my mom think?” I asked.

I told her you were sick so you were staying here until you felt well enough to go home.” Tyler said.

And what did she say?” I asked.

She said and I quote ‘Sick? Okay have fun. Tell her I said get well and I hope it works out.’” Tyler said. I almost choked and Tyler looked at me with a questioning face.

That’s so not my mom. I think she was replaced by a robot.” I said.

I’m serious. That’s what she said and when I asked her what she meant she laughed and hung up.” Tyler said.

Yeah she doesn’t think I’m sick.” I said with a laugh. “But thank you for lying so she didn’t worry. She had a hard enough time when your father disappeared.”

I know. That’s why I lied. I was about to go looking for you but I feared the worst.” Tyler said.

I’m okay.” I said.

Are you sure? It felt like you died. I was so worried my feeling was right.” Tyler said.

I’m fine.” I said with my most convincing smile.

Good. Then welcome home.” Tyler said.

Well. The dragon that took me… he followed me back here. When he recovers he’ll come to get me.” I said.

Then we just get rid of him.” Tyler said.

I don’t think we can.” I said.

Why not? He may be a dragon but I can still hit him with my sword.” Tyler said.

No you cant. He can read minds. He’ll know when and where you’re going to strike.” I said.

Read minds?” Tyler repeated. “I’d ask how that was possible but he is a dragon.”

I am.” Jason said flying in the window. “And we are going now.”

I’m not going.” I said. He turned human and glared at me.

You going to electrocute me again?” Jason asked.

If you try anything.” I said.

Casey you cant stay here. You have to go back to drac món. We have to go now or they’ll come looking for us.” Jason said. A growl came from behind us. I turned to see Max.

I didn’t know Max growled.” I said.

That’s because he never had a reason.” Jason said. “He thinks his love and his children are in danger.”

His children?” Tyler and I said together.

Bella is about to have puppies.” Jason said. “In three, two, one.”

What?” Tyler said.

He’s reading Max’s mind.” I said. “Where’s Bella now?”

In her room.” Tyler said.

Your dog has its own room?” Jason said.

Not now Jason.” I said.

Why do you love the dog so much?” Jason asked.

What?” I asked.

You love her and you want to be with her now. You think she needs you.” Jason said.

I do. Now shut up and leave us alone.” I said running down the hall to Bella’s room.

“Hey pretty girl.” I said smoothing Bella’s fur down. “Look at the little cuties.”

Beautiful puppies Bella.” Tyler said.

She saved your life?” Jason said from the doorway.

Yes. She did.” I said.

You would have drown?” Jason said.

If your going to read my mind you don’t have to ask.” I said.

Why didn’t you save her Tyler? You were there.” Jason said. “Oh you cant swim.”

Stop reading our minds!” I shouted pinning Jason against the wall with my arm cutting off his breathing. “Now leave or I kick you out.”

I cant leave without you.” Jason said. “So why did you come here instead of going straight to your mom?”

Shut up.” I said.

I see. So what does your mom think happened to you?” Jason asked.

She thinks Casey is here because she’s sick and cant make it home.” Tyler said.

Ha. No she doesn’t. Casey how long have you known you mom wanted-” I cut Jason off by kicking him out of the room.

I knew for two years. She hasn’t shut up about it.” I said threw the closed door.

So are you going to-”

No!” I cut him off again.

What are you talking about?” Tyler asked.

Nothing.” I said.

Oh come on the boy deserves to know.” Jason said.

Don’t you dear.” I said.

Then come with me and I wont tell him.” Jason said.

Damn you. That’s blackmail.” I said.

And?” Jason said.

Fine. I’ll come.” I said.

What, no.” Tyler said. “You cant leave again.”

If I don’t go now they’ll only come again and again. I might not be able to keep them away much longer.” I said.

Then I’m going with you.” Tyler said.

No way.” Jason said. “No humans allowed.”

Then Casey stays here” Tyler said.

Are you sure I can’t tell him. I think it’s inevitable.” Jason said.

No it’s not.” I said. “I will not. Now leave.”

Ha. Yes you will. I can read both your minds.” Jason said. I choked, opened the door shocked Jason, then slammed the door in his face.

What are you talking about.” Tyler said. “Tell me.”

No.” I said.

Casey… tell me.” Tyler said. I could hear Jason laughing.

I could tell him.” Jason said.

Yes. Tell me.” Tyler said.

No!” I said.

For the past two years Casey’s mom wanted grandchildren. For the past year she’s been trying to get You and Casey together. On her birthday she sent Casey to your house all alone. When you said Casey was sick her mom thought-”

Enough!” I said interrupting Jason’s annoying mind read story.

She thought… and she… but you… why didn’t you tell me?” Tyler said.

Because it’s what my mom thought. I’m eighteen, I’m not having kids. I don’t care what she says.” I said. “I didn’t tell you cause I couldn’t.”

Oh did I start a fight. My bad.” Jason said.

Shut up!” I shouted at him. “You’re not helping!”

I wasn’t trying to help.” Jason said.

Shut up!” I yelled at him again. “Sorry I didn’t tell you but what was I supposed to say? And besides, I think eighteen is too young for children no matter what the city says.”

The city thinks all girls should have kids at seventeen? Weird.” Jason said. “Ha. You should hear the thoughts going through his head.”

Tyler? You who. You there?” I said waving my hand in front of his eyes.

Well that’s interesting.” Jason said. I went to the door, ripped it open, grabbed Jason’s shirtfront, shocked him, dragged him down the hall, and threw him out the broken window. He shifted to a dragon and flew before he hit the ground so I sighed and blocked the window with an electric wall I had no intention of making until it happened on it’s own.

     “Tyler?” I said seeing him still standing in the same spot. “Well now you know why I didn’t say anything. Hey Bella. You’re okay.” I sat beside Bella again and pet her.

You don’t care what she said about the kids thing but what about the other thing?” Tyler finally spoke.

Other thing?” I asked.

Yes Tyler.” Jason yelled threw the open window. “She does like you and you should hear her thoughts about when she was here alone with you. Apparently she was dieing to stay the night.” Jason laughed. I slammed the window shut, sat back down by Bella and avoided Tyler’s eyes.

You do?” Tyler said.

You heard the mind reader.” I said.

Then get rid of the mind reader and you can stay for the night. Then we can go see your mom.” Tyler said.

And pray she doesn’t ask questions. But if I could get rid of him he wouldn’t be here now would he.” I said.

Then we get out of here. Max and Bella know how to get threw the tunnels so we can use them. We can go to the cabin. No of us know where it is.” Tyler said.

Except the mind reader.” I said.

No he wont. I don’t know where it is. It’s in this map my father wrote. I’ve never looked at it before and we wont until the mind reader is gone.” Tyler said.

But now he knows where the tunnels are. He’s bound to find the right one eventually.” I said.

Nope. The tunnel location is in the map too. I don’t know where they are.” Tyler said.

Then we just need to get rid of Jason.” I said.

How do we do that?” Tyler asked.

I’ll handle it.” I said. “You get our things and a basket for the puppies.”

Alright.” Tyler said. “Hey… Be careful.”

I will.” I said running and jumping out the broken window. I was glad to know I could just think about turning into a dragon and I would, because if not I would have hit the ground from three stories up.

“Are we going now?” Jason asked.

No.” I said. “You are.”

Ha. No way. Not without you.” Jason said. I tackled him and the blade on my tail came out again. I slashed it at Jason and he started to bleed. Why didn’t I bleed? He clawed me and I bit back. We wrestled until I shocked him with all the electricity I could. It knocked him out and turned him human again. I picked him up and flew him a few miles away just in case he could read minds when he was unconscious. You never know.

     “Did you get rid of him?” Tyler asked when I flew back in the window. I changed back to a human, grabbing a blanket to cover myself, and smiled.

I knocked him out and left him a few miles from here.” I said.

Good. I got our cloths put together and some blankets and extra food in case there’s none at the cabin.” Tyler said.

So where is the tunnel?” I asked putting my cloths on.

Lets find out.” Tyler said taking out the map.

That’s weird its under the spare bed I sleep on.” I said.

Well its not weird that you didn’t see it unless you sleep under the bed.” Tyler said taking our bags to the secret tunnel passage.

No I mean it’s weird that it’s under that bed and not your dad’s or something.” I said.

I guess so. Maybe it would only reach this room or something.” Tyler said opening the door for us. “Lets move the bed.”

How far do you think the cabin is?” I asked. “Bella might not be up for a long walk.”

I know it’s not going to be around the corner.” Tyler said. “But it cant be too far.”

The dog’s are not going to be able to climb down a ladder.” I said when we opened the secret hatch. “So how do we get them down?”

I don’t know. Well…” Tyler looked at me.

You go down first. Let me know when you’re ready and I’ll lower them down to you.” I said.

When he was gone I took my cloths off and threw them into my bag then I shifted into a dragon. Bella and Max didn’t even look at me funny. To them I was still the same person.

Alright!” Tyler called up, his voice echoing. I wrapped my tail securely around Max and lowered him down into the darkness. “Got him!”

Alright. Bella’s next.” I said forgetting Tyler couldn’t understand me. I lowered her and then her puppies before shifting human, getting dressed, and climbing down the ladder.

Did you bring a flashlight?” I asked as I got dressed.

No.” Tyler said with his back to me as he peered into the darkness. “Hey a torch.” he pulled an old fashion torch off the wall and showed it to me. I rubbed my fingers together and sparks lit the torch on fire.

Now that’s cool.” Tyler said.

Lets get moving.” I said.

     “How far now?” I asked as we neared another fork in the tunnels.

About three meters and take a right.” he said consulting the map.

Stop!” I shouted, blocking his path with my arm. He looked down and stepped back. We were on the edge of a giant underground canyon.

Can you see the bottom?” Tyler asked.

No.” I said. “You?”

No.”

Well. It’s big enough for me to fly in.” I said. “But we need something for the dogs to sit in. I could… carry them in some sort of big basket.”

I don’t understand. The map says its this way. If we were supposed to get there then we wouldn’t need wings to get across.” Tyler said.

Look, there.” I said pointing across the canyon. “Some sort of metal basket on a zip line.”

How do we get it back over here?” Tyler asked.

That crank thing I’m guessing.” I said pointing to a weird mechanism on the wall next to us.

This looks prehistoric.” Tyler said grasping the rusty handle.

Lets hope it holds up on the way over.” I said. “I’ll go over first by myself. To make sure its safe.”

You sure?” he asked.

If it falls I can fly back up.” I said.

Alright.” he said. The basket swayed as Tyler wheeled it over to us.

When the basket finally got to our side I hoped in and pulled a handle that was in the basket. It released me from that side and brought me over to the other side in seconds. The same crank mechanism was on this side so I helped Tyler send the basket back over for them.

     Once on the other side of the canyon we took another look at the map.

It should be just up ahead.” Tyler said. We passed dozens of branch offs but we continued straight. Eventually the tunnel started to become an incline. A few more minutes of walking and we came up to a hatch that opened out into a grassy field. I looked behind us and seen the old log cabin.

We made it.” I said. Bella and Max ran toward the cabin and Tyler and I brought the puppies in.

I haven’t been here in years.” Tyler said as he stood on the porch.

It looks the same.” I said opening the door. “Though I think I prefer being drove here while we slept in the back of the van.”

Me too.” I said. “Hey did your father ever tell you why he made this secret tunnel to the cabin?”

Not really. He said it was for emergency escapes and not to look at the map unless we needed to.” Tyler told me.

Good thing we didn’t or Jason would have been able to follow us.”

So what happened exactly?” he asked as we sat to the old wooden table in the cabin.

Well… he flew me to some floating mountain he called the dragon world. I fainted for awhile and when I woke up some lady said something about me stopping some kind of war or something I didn’t really ask what she meant. But then they put me in a dome where I turned into a dragon. Then I broke out and flew to you.” I told him.

It’s been three days.” he said.

I told you I fainted.” I said as I watched Bella curl up with her puppies. Max stood on guard by her side.

So you said my dad was there.”

I asked Jason if he knew your dad and he said he did. And the way he disappeared is apparently how it works for everyone they take.” I explained.

Then what about my mom? I know she died but it was on the same day.” he said.

That’s because she seen me.”

Tyler and I both turned slowly to the door of the cabin to see a man with gray hair smiling sadly at us.

Dad?”

Chapter 3

(Comming Soon)

In This World (Ch 1)

In This World (Ch 1)

In This World
By. S. F. Wheeler

Chapter 1.

     It was only ten or eleven by now but the house was already cold and dark. There was no moon in the star-filled sky tonight to send light glistening through the windows. Only the kitchen was lit, where mom continued to wash every speck from the dinner dishes. The flicker of the candles casting obscure shadows across the room.

Goodnight.” she said over the clatter of the dishes.

Night mom.” I called from my room. I plopped down onto my small uncomfortable bed, through my sheets over myself, and steered up at the leaky ceiling. The constant drip, drip, drip was the only sound in my little room. At least it was the weekend tomorrow so no school. But when I didn’t have school I had another job to do. Worse than going to school in my opinion but if I didn’t do it my mom and I would starve.

     “I’ll be back in an hour.” I yelled as I opened the front door. The window of the door was broken and boarded over with rotting wood while the door itself was freshly carved oak wood. One of my more enjoyable pass times is carving wood, so I made a door for us. Most of the house was boarded up and rotting but that’s common in this neighborhood.

Okay hon.” mom called from the living room. I left and shut the door behind me. The sun beamed down on the silver streets, sending a glare into my eyes. Metal roads wasn’t the best invention but it was the only way to get the hover cars and train to work. We live in what use to be called Newfoundland, now though its called Millwick. Times have changed drastically in the past few generations. My grandmother told me that when story books were outlawed her husband killed himself because he was a famous writer and without books he had nothing. Apparently the province started by taxing books then people revolted and then books were banned completely. I didn’t know what a book was until she told me. They sounded interesting.

Most of the world today is made of special glass and metal. The glass is unbreakable and you can choose if you want to see though it and which side you can see through. It can be two way or one way and its always clean. Too bad they couldn’t make dishes that stayed clean.

I was walking down the almost deserted walkway. No garbage or fallen leaves on the walk, only glistening cobble stone paths. I dove behind some benches when two city guards walked past. The guards all wore the same outfit, metal suits with helmets and visors, colored the colors of the country flag with shining badges for the Covenant. The Covenant ruled everything and everyone. If I was caught out like this I’d be thrown in jail. The rules of Millwick have been very strict and very odd since our new successor, Mr. Menders came to power. Females were not allowed to go out into the city alone unless they were going to work. Though I call what I’m doing work, it’s not actually a real job.

Once they passed, I slipped between two tall buildings and headed toward the black market. The only place where people like me could get food and other important things. Well if we had tokens we could buy things from the black market but most of us didn’t so there was only one other way to get them. No not stealing, battling in the ring. It’s like wrestling but with primitive weapons like swords, bows and arrows.

I came out in the clearing of the black market and seen the long line up of people waiting to get into today’s match. People where chattering about the match and placing beats on the contestants. Most of them were betting on last months champ or the biggest looking player.

I squeezed and pushed my way through the crowd and to the arena doors. The battle field was dug deep into the ground and covered by a giant dome-like top made of some type of unbreakable mesh. Ten warriors would enter the area and battle until one was left standing and the winner would get the grand prize of black market tokens. Sounds stupid but the tokens will get you all the food you need for the next month. That’s how I get food for myself and my mom. My grandma told me the fights reminded her of a book, only the losers in the book didn’t get healed after the match.

     Every month the arena would have different obstacles in it. Some dangerous, some helpful, and some just to get in your way. Today the arena was filled with desert sand and all sizes of rocks and boulders. A cliff loomed over the whole arena, the perfect spot for shooting arrows. I pushed past the rest of the crowd and slipped into the arena waiting area. One of the bouncers showed me to the change room.

Ten minutes till the match.” he said, then left. I pulled off my sweater and sweat pants, revealing my battle gear and hidden bow. Coal black shadow-metal fitting perfectly to my body allowing me to move and stretch with comfort and ease. One of the best inventions I’ve ever seen was the shadow-medal, it was more like indestructible leather with a scale like pattern. Very comfortable too. The shoulder plates, elbow plates and knees of my armor were like the old normal metal and had sharp edges to defend with. A tight belt went around my waist with throwing knives all around it and a sheath was on my leg with my lucky dagger in it. My bow was also coal black and hand carved by me out of the finest wood the fights could get me, with matching arrows.

The PA buzzed on with its usual static and Ms. Deargold’s voice boomed over the noise of the chattering crowd.

Today is the twelfth and last fight of the year 2032.” the crowd cheered. “Our prize today is five hundred tokens, a moths supply of food, and to end off the year in a bang, the winner will also get this.” the crowd went nuts cheering and stomping their feet, creating a loud roar that must travel through the whole city. I couldn’t see what she was holding but it must have been good to get the crowd to cheer that loud. “Now, the players for today are,” she cleared her throat. “Jack the shack…. Money Mitch…” she had to pause between each name to let the crowd cheer. “Sam the ham… Iz the invisible… Dragon Drake…” a few other stupid and rhyming names “and last months champ, The Shadow.” Well, that’s me. I wouldn’t dear use my real name in the fights in case my mom heard about them on the intercom news or Menders decided to make this illegal too. Cant be to careful in a place like this.

     I stepped out into the unnatural blaring sun and looked around the over packed arena. The cheers and shoats were buzzing through my ears, the sun making me dizzy. I shook my head to clear it and walked to the center of the arena where the rest of the players were standing on a metal platform.

Here they are, the players for today’s match.” Ms. Deargold announced. The silver platform rose up from the ground, taking us with it. It was to display the players before the match so people could get a good look at us. That way they know which one to cheer for, who to bet on, and who they should talk to and about after the match.

Let the games begin!” Deargold’s voice boomed over the PA.

I leapt from the platform, grabbed the handles on either of my sides, stretched my arms out straight, and soared to the ground. My best invention yet, I created wings like a bat’s and they allowed me to glide. I couldn’t fly but if I jumped or fell from a high place I could grab the handles, pull them out with my arms straight out to open the wings, and soar through the sky.

I landed in a run and disappeared into the maze of boulders. I could hear the other players fighting each other trying to climb down the eight ladders on the platform. Eight ladders and ten players, the platform was a blood bath. Some people even tried jumping to escape the chaos, but at fifty feet up, that wasn’t the best idea. Even if they survived the fall they wouldn’t be able to get away with broken bones. Just easier prey for the other players.

     I was called The Shadow for a good reason, I always stayed in the shadows and attacked when they least expected it. Almost no one saw me until it was too late, and my battle gear was all black like the shadows. I healed my bow tight and slinked through the shadows unnoticed. The cliff was in my view now, I was almost at the bottom.

Iz was less invisible then she thought, I could see her trying to crawl across one of the fallen spire rocks and I was sure every other person in the arena could see her too. Sam seen her and ran at her like she was made of gold. He held his axe high and bellowed a battle cry as he ran at her.

I took an arrow from my quiver, placed it on my bow, aimed it at Sam, pulled back as far as it would go, and let my fingers fall away from the string. As the arrow flew, I watched in slow motion, heading straight for its mark, spinning so fast the tail feathers were a blur. He stopped mid-run, looked in my direction, though his eyes were clearly unseeing, then fell face first into the dusty red sand below. His body was swallowed by the sand until it was no longer in the arena but under it.

     Under the arena was a well equipped hospital where they treated the fallen players. It was so well equipped that they were able to heal the dead. My best way of explaining would be to say that the doctor injects the person with this insane healing medicine. The medicine goes through the whole body and repairs anything that’s broken, and it’s so powerful that it can literally revive a recently deceased or dying person. It only works seven minutes after death though. Sounds great but they wont use it on anyone who’s not extremely rich or in the fights, and it only works on people who were killed. That’s why the fights are legal, no one can really get hurt. I won the fights last month but a few months before, I died. Sounds weird doesn’t it, I died but I’m fine now. Believe me it wasn’t a fun time.

     I heard a crunch behind me and reached for an arrow but I knew it would take too long so instead I tugged a throwing dagger from my belt. Before I even stopped my spin I released the dagger. It hit Mitch right in the chest, over his heart. He dropped his mace and fell to his knees. He pulled the dagger from his chest and healed it tight in his hands causing them to bleed. The sand started to spiral around him and pull him under the earth, then it resettled just like it was before, like nothing had happened. I turned back to see Iz still froze on top of that rock. I readied an arrow and moved cautiously toward the rock.

Once I had a good enough view, I shot my arrow. It would have hit her right in the head if it didn’t go through her and bounce off the rock. Her image wavered and fuzzed. A hologram. I walked closer to the rock and slowly did a 360 to see my surroundings. Iz was here somewhere, she had to be.

How you doing?” a voice from behind me asked. I spun so quickly I almost dropped my arrow. I pulled the string back and was about to release when I seen who it was.

Looking for Iz. That was a hologram.” I said pointing to the rock. Tyler nodded.

I figured she wouldn’t be so stupid.” he said. His brown hair was swishing back and fourth as he looked around. It must get annoying after awhile, but I cant say much, my hair goes past my waist and I would sit on it if I didn’t move it all the time. Right now it was in a braid so it wouldn’t get in the way. You know, now that I’m comparing I realize that my hair is almost the same color brown as his.

“Do you know where she is?” he asked.

No. Must be close though. Holograms only work if the person is within ninety feet.” I said.

Right… Hey are you alright?” he asked. Putting his sword in a sheath and coming closer.

Yeah, why?”

Your arm.” he said taking my wrist to examine a mysterious cut that I didn’t know I had.

I didn’t know that was there. I can’t feel it.”

It doesn’t look too bad.” he said letting go of my wrist. I felt a cold breeze blow past which sent my nerves in hyper drive. I spun back and fourth, bow ready to fire, when I heard Tyler gasp. I spun to see him pulling a small shining dagger from his leg. Blood dripped from the blade and splashed to the ground. I could hear each drop like a bomb and see them like red explosions in slow motion.

We have to move.” I said urging him toward the cliff, bow sill ready to fire. Tyler limped, sword in hand, while I circled him watching for motion. I didn’t see who hit him but they must have been close because that wasn’t a throwing dagger. If they did throw it then I’m more than impressed. With a heavy handle like that it would have took a miracle and a professional to hit its target and have the blade go in so far.

     “Are you okay?” I asked when we got to the cover of a small cave at the bottom of the cliff.

Fine.” Tyler said gripping his leg.

Here…” I pulled some super absorbent gauze from my pocket “Let me bandage your leg.”

I’m fine.” he said waving me off.

No your not. Sit still.” I said holding his leg tight. He winced as I wrapped the gauze tightly around his wound. Perfect timing too, any longer like that and he would have fainted from blood loss.

Thanks, but you know they heal us after each match.” he said.

I think it would be nice if you made it to the end of the match.”

Good point. Who’s left then?” he asked trying to stand up.

I took his hand and pulled him up. “Iz is out there somewhere, John and Amy too.”

Alright then lets go.”

You sure you can make it?” I asked.

Course, its just a small cut.”

Small cut my foot.” I mumbled.

What was that?”

Hmmm? Oh nothing. Lets go then.”

     I peered out of the cave just as a shadow ran past. I loaded my bow, aimed… but before I could fire, something hit me and I tumbled to the ground. I pulled my dagger from my sheath and threw my attacker off. He hit a rock and the air left him in a whoosh.

John.” Tyler hissed “Amy must be close.” he said, readying his sword. I lifted my dagger and plunged it into John’s heart. He yelped then went silent.

Casey watch out!” Tyler yelled. I spun around just in time to see Amy running at me. She slammed me up against the rocks and Tyler yelled in anger. Her knife was cutting into my cheek, I could feel the warm blood gushing down my face. I seen a flash of metal, then Amy was on the ground in a puddle of shining crimson.

Sorry about that.” Tyler said looking at me with a smile.

Sorry? You saved me.”

No the blood, I got it on your gear.” he said pointing to my armor.

You’re apologizing for getting blood on my battle gear.” I shook my head and laughed. “Nice to know you care about my cloths, but I think you better look at your own.” I said gesturing to his sandy colored clothing, splotched with blood and torn to shreds.

No big deal, I got more.” he said.

Well lets find Iz.” I said heading up the cliff. Tyler smiled and jogged to catch up to me. At least he was feeling better. Once we got to the top of the cliff I could see the whole arena. Every rock, every bolder, every grain of sand, but no Iz. When they said she was invisible they weren’t kidding.

“There.” Tyler said pointing in the distance. “No there. Or maybe there… no there, look!” he was pointing at a fallen rock with a shadow moving under it. I aimed my arrow, healed my breath, and released. A small yelp then the shadow disappeared.

You hit her.” Tyler said.

Yeah in the leg, nothing lethal.” I said disappointed.

Yeah. So now she has a limp. Easier to catch a wounded deer than a healthy deer.”

Deer? Never mind. Lets go find her.”

Are you sure? Its safer up here and we have a better view.”

I looked at him and grinned, “When was safe ever my thing?”

Never.” he sighed.

Stay here and tell me if you see her, okay.”

Alright. Watch your back.” he said.

Always do.” I smiled, then I ran and leapt off the cliff. I pulled open my homemade wings and soared toward the spot where I hit Iz. She was defiantly there, I could see drips of blood. Oh even better, she left a trail of blood drips. There was only one small drip every few feet but it was good enough to lead me right to another cave. I landed just past the cave but easily found my way back to it. This cave was even smaller than the one Tyler and I found and strangely cold and dark. Too cold to be a natural part of the desert theme. Must be a malfunction in the arena set up.

“I thought you’d be the one to come after me.” Iz’s voice echoed through the small cave. I could hear the pain in her voice.

Expecting me were you. Well I hope you fight better than you hide.”

Oh I grantee my fighting skills are quite top notch.”

Really. Well care to prove it. One on one, outside on the platform for everyone to see.” I said putting my bow on my back. I healed my dagger tight in my hand just in case. Not like she could see in this pitch black cave anyway.

Alright, but we meet on the plat form, no fighting till then, daggers only. Agreed?”

Agreed.” I said backing out of the cave.

     Once I made it to the top of the platform unharmed I waited and watched for Iz. To my surprise she honored our deal and came to the platform. Tyler was watching us with a confused look on his face until the crowd started to cheer so loud I thought their vocal cords might snap. Just putting on a show for the eager crowd. The betters went nuts for this stuff.

Arrows down.” Iz said laying her ax on the edge of the platform. I put my bow and arrows on the edge of the platform too then took out my dagger.

Ready?” she asked, her dagger in hand. I could barely here her over the crowd’s cheering.

Ready.” I said. We circled each other, both waiting for a chance to attack. She took her chance and jumped at me but I was prepared and easily dodged her, also managing to slice her side with my dagger. She winced but quickly recovered and ran at me again. She flashed by so fast I almost didn’t see her slicing my leg and laughing in the process. Her laughter made me that much angrier that I almost growled.

Awww, is the little dog lost without her boyfriend to back her up.” Iz mocked. “Too bad he’s a useless nobody orphan.” she spat. Now she’s done it.

I charged at her and knowing she wanted this I dropped to the ground and slid under her legs, knocking her down. I jumped back up and pinned her to the cold bloodstained metal. She lost her dagger in the fall but she wasn’t giving up without a good fight. She struggled and kicked at me but to no avail. I needed both hands to hold her down so I had no way of getting my dagger. I moved my foot to one of her arms and got my dagger but without my knee on her leg she was able to kick me. I fell back but managed to jump up and throw the dagger at her before she could so much as breath. She fell back gasping for air. I stood over her with a grin that might have looked evil and pulled my dagger from her chest and replaced it in my sheath after wiping her blood off in her shirt. She took one last gasp of air then her eyes rolled back and she collapsed.

     You might have realized by now that there were still two people in the arena. Myself and Tyler. I bet your thinking that we’ll be forced to kill each other but you’d be wrong. You’re allowed to have one partner in the fights but most people refuse because it means splitting the prize between two people.

Tyler and I were best friends, we grew up together. We were practically family though there was no real blood relation between us. My mom even thinks of him as her son ever since his parents died last year. He lives on his own now but he comes over almost every day so he doesn’t have to be home alone. He says the house reminds him too much of his parents and he doesn’t like staying there alone.

     I almost lost my balance when the platform jerked and moved back down to the ground. All the rocks in the arena seemed to melt into the sand until the whole arena was flat again. Tyler ran, or jog/limped, over and threw his arms around me.

Hey. A little less PDA if you wouldn’t mind.” I said.

Sorry. Forgot you don’t like public displays of affection. But you won!” Tyler shouted.

Our champions for today, The Shadow and Ty the Guy.” Ms. Deargold announced. His fight name still makes me laugh. “The prize will be split between the both of you but there is only one grand prize. I’m afraid you’ll have to deal with that yourself.” she said handing us both a bag of tokens. Two bodyguards or bouncers, or whatever you what to call two men dressed in black suits with sunglasses fowling all of Deargold’s commands, came to the center of the arena carrying a coal black sword. Every inch of the sword was pure black even the blade which looked like crystal. I wondered what it was made of. Was it a real sword or some trophy like statue.

It’s yours if you want it.” Tyler said.

You’re the one who uses a sword.” I said. “You take it.”

I already have a sword and you know I only use my dads sword, so I’ll teach you to use this one, assuming this sword is real.” he said.

Oh its very real. Very old and very real.” Ms Deargold said.

Then I’ll teach you to use this sword.” Tyler said taking the sword from the two men. The crowd was so silent during all this that you could hear a pin drop from a mile away. I put my hand over Tyler’s on the handle of the sword and we raised it up to the sky. The blade sparkled, almost shimmered, in the sun and the crowd started cheering and screaming again.

     “Sweetie is that you?” Mom called. “I’ve almost got dinner ready.”

Yeah it’s me mom. Tyler’s here too.” I called as I closed the door behind him.

Hey Tyler sweetheart. Are you staying for dinner?” Mom asked.

That’s alright Ms. F, just helping carry in the food” Tyler said taking four bags filled with food to the kitchen. I took the other four bags and followed.

Oh my goodness. Thank you.” Mom said rushing to help with the bags. “You got all this from your job?”

It’s a good job.” Tyler said.

Indeed it is by the looks of all this. Are you sure you wont stay for supper Tyler, we have more than enough now.” mom said.

Thanks Ms. F. I have a few things to finish but I’ll stay for a bit.” Tyler said then he looked at me and whispered, “Maybe we can practice while dinner is cooking.”

Out by the cave in the woods okay. Don’t let mom see the sword.” I whispered back.

Did you say something?” Mom asked, her back was to us as she opened the oven to check the chicken. The smell of fresh chicken wafted over to us and my stomach growled.

We were just thinking about going out side for a bit while supper cooks. We don’t want to be in your way, unless you need help.” I said.

No no go have fun. Supper will be ready in half an hour” mom said shooing us out of the kitchen.

Come on.” I said showing Tyler the back door and shaking my head at mom. She smiled and made kissy faces at me. I glared at her and shook my head. She started mouthing lyrics “Casey and Tyler sitting in a tree…”

Mom!” I snapped. Tyler spun around and mom covered her mouth and barely managed to suppress a laugh. Tyler looked at me and tilted his head to the side with a confused look. I shook my head again and shooed him out the door before mom could say anything else.

     “Alright you got your stance right, now are you ready to try with a sword?” Tyler asked. We were out in the forest behind my little house, by my secret cave. Tyler was teaching me the right frightening stances but so far I was a wimp and wouldn’t hold the real sword. I’m more of a distance fighter, I’ve used a bow and arrows my whole 17 years of existence.

Come on, at least hold your sword.” Tyler said taking the black blade and holding the handle out to me. I took the sword and it started to shimmer again. Tyler let go and the whole blade sparkled, streams of light shined through until the whole sword looked like a black diamond.

Now I’ve seen many swords before but I have never seen one do that.” Tyler gaped.

It didn’t do that when you held it.” I said, steering in amazement and wonder.

No it did not.” Tyler said reaching out to touch the sword. “Oww!” he yelped pulling his hand away from the sword. “It shocked me.”

Shocked you?”

Yes, like it has lightening running through it or something.” he said inspecting his shaking hand. I put the sword down and it turned to its dull coal black again.

Are you alright?” I asked, inspecting his hand.

Hey. You shocked me.” He said smiling. His smile grew until he started to laugh.

What?” I asked.

Your pretty hair is sticking up from static electricity. Like when you rub a balloon on your head.” he said. I put my hand up to feel my hair that seemed to be floating in the air.

Oww.” I said when I felt a shock in my hand. I looked at my hands and seen a spark jump from one finger to the other.

I stumbled and fell on my butt, still steering at my hands.

What was that?” I asked.

Ahhh…? Shock?” Tyler said putting his hand out to help me up. I took his hand and his hair stood up. I tried to stifle a giggle.

What?”

Now your hair is standing up.” I said. He let go my hand and touched his hair but the second he let go, his hair went down.

Dinner’s ready you two.” mom called from the house. I picked up the sword again and it changed to the black diamond looking sword again.

How will I get this inside without mom seeing?” I asked. “It’s not going to fit in my pocket.” the second I finished my sentence the sword started to shrink until it was the size of one of my middle fingers.

Here, I have an idea.” Tyler said taking the mini sword. He tied a little string around the hilt of the sword and took a pin from his pocket. He put the pin through the string and pined the sword, point down, on my shirt.

A broach then. What if mom asks about it?”

I’ll handle it.” Tyler said walking me to the house.

     “Dig in.” mom said putting plates filled with hot chicken, potatoes, and gravy in front of us.

Looks great Ms. F.” Tyler said picking up a forkful of potato. I took my fork but before I could get any food on it, the same electric shock went through the prongs of the fork. You could clearly see the electric current crossing from one prong to the next. I dropped the fork and it clattered on my plate, splashing gravy onto the table.

What happened?” Mom asked coming over with our drinks.

I just dropped my fork.” I said as calm as I could. When mom turned away again I picked the fork up and the same thing happened. I jabbed the fork into my chicken just as mom turned again.

So, how is it?” she asked.

It’s great.” Tyler and I said together.

Good. I also made desert.” Mom said turning back to the fridge. Tyler looked at me and mouthed “What’s going on?” I healed up the fork and his eyes widened.

Here.” Tyler whispered pulling two rubber bands out of his pocket. He put them on my wrists and the electricity going through the fork stopped.

Rubber stops the current of electricity.” Tyler said when he seen the confused look on my face.

“Here’s your desert.” mom said bringing in two plates of chocolate cake.

You really went all out for dinner didn’t you?” Tyler said taking his slice of cake.

Of course. Did you forget again?”

Forget what?” Tyler asked

You did tell him didn’t you?” mom asked, looking at me with an accusing frown.

Tell me what?” Tyler asked.

It’s Casey’s eighteenth birthday today.” mom said proudly.

I know Ms. F. she just doesn’t like making a big deal out of it.” Tyler said, shoveling a piece of cake into his mouth.

Well where did you get that?” mom asked, pointing to the sword ‘pin’ on my shirt.

It was part of her present.” Tyler said.

Part?” I repeated.

The other part is at the house.”

Oh please no surprise party.” I said.

No no. I know you don’t like party’s.”

So what is it?” I asked.

You’ll have to come see tomorrow morning.” Tyler said.

Oh you can go now Hun.” mom said. “I’m sure Tyler can look after you.”

Of course.” Tyler said. “But I thought you didn’t like her going out at night. If we leave now we still wont make it back before midnight.”

If you want Hun, you can stay over to Tyler’s house. Just for tonight.” mom said. “It is your birthday.”

Alright.” I said slowly “but one question… who are you and what have you done with my mother?”

Your eighteen Hun, I think you’re old enough to go out on your own. Besides, I know Tyler will keep you safe. His father was like that too, always protecting us.”

     I grabbed my coat and change of cloths and headed to the door where Tyler was trying to detach himself from my mom’s bear hug. She always hated it when he left. That’s what happened to his father, he said goodbye one day and never came back.

All ready?” Tyler asked.

Yeah.”

Be safe and watch out for those stupid guards. I don’t trust them.” mom said as she watched us leave.

Shall we take the super sucker tube or the old fission way?” Tyler asked.

Tube, It’s quicker and I want to know what this surprise is.” I said turning toward one of the cooler inventions. A tube that will suck up a person, fly them over the city, and spit them out on the other side of town.

     I stepped into the tube, pressed the across town button, and waited as the tube sucked me up. You could see every part of town from up here but you couldn’t enjoy it for long. The tube shot us straight across town at 150 miles per hour. It only took two minutes and we were gently deposited on High Street in the rich part of town. Yup Tyler was rich. He lived in a big white house with blue trim around the windows and a blue tint to the roof. 7 bedrooms, 5 bathrooms complete with hot tubs and fancy chandeliers, a very large and well equipped kitchen, and three giant living/entertainment rooms with personal bars, flat screen TV’s, the best leather couches available, two pure bread golden retriever dogs, and anything else you could ever want.

“Hey Bella, hey Max.” I said when two gold dogs ran to greet us at the door.

I think they missed you.” Tyler said bringing my bag to one of the many spare rooms. I went to the living room beside the kitchen and fixed myself on one of the couches. I couldn’t help but check all the possible hiding places to see if anyone was there. I really hated surprise parties.

Here it is.” Tyler said bringing down a box the length of a ruler and a height half of that.

What is it?” I asked.

Open it and find out.” he said handing me the box. I took it and pulled the delicate blue ribbon off, then opened the top. Inside was the shiniest sliver choker necklace, maybe two centimetres wide with gold trim around the edges. On it were multiple designs and symbols, looping and swirling around the whole choker. A pendent in the shape of a circle hung from the choker and a paw print with long claws was engraved in gold on the pendant.

The choker of spirit.” I gasped. “how on earth did you find one?”

I know some people.” Tyler said smiling. This choker was meant to keep the wearer safe from everything and in legends it was given to Neri, queen of the wolves by her secret lover Nero, king of the jungle cats. No one believed it of course but that didn’t mean they didn’t hope the necklace worked. Some people said it stopped death.

Here let me.” Tyler said helping me put the choker on. “Beautiful.” he said pushing my hair out of the way.

It is beautiful.” I said.

I meant you.” Tyler said “But I guess the necklace is pretty too. You know your green eyes look so much better than mine.” he said with a chuckle.

The shatter of glass made us jump. Tyler ran for his sword and I took the pin off my shirt. I thought hard and the next thing I knew it was a full size sword again. I knew technology was way advanced but this still seemed strange.

     Tyler returned with his sword and we circled the room back to back. More glass shattering, then the sound of footsteps up stairs. Robbers. Tyler signaled for us to go up stairs and I nodded. It sounded like two people stomping around. Two really big people by the sound of their foot steps. I pointed at the door down the hall and Tyler nodded. The loud foot steps were coming from that room then a scratching fowled by the door opening. A young man walked out, dressed in all black, and he smiled at us.

Sorry about the window mate.” the man said. He was maybe 17, 18 years old, coal black hair and blue eyes, he didn’t look the least bit threatening. “I’m not good at landings.”

Landings?” Tyler repeated, sword raised and ready to swing.

Yeah. I’m new and they didn’t mention you would be in a big fancy house. I was expecting to land in the woods and walk to your house.”

Land what?” I asked.

Land what. Ha, you don’t think I came in a plane do you?”

Tyler and I stayed silent.

Sorry mate no time to explain we got to go.”

No ones going anywhere.” Tyler said stepping in front of me.

I don’t have time for this.” the man said pinching the bridge of his nose. “I didn’t want to do this.” his muscles started to convulse and stretch, his skin turned scaly and red then he started to grow. Talons shot out from his finger tips and his whole body started changing. When it was over, a giant red dragon stood in front of us. We were speechless. The man, who was now somehow a dragon, reached out with his giant hand and grabbed me. Then he turned to the gaping hole in the wall and leaped out. We soared into the sky until Tyler was just a dot, screaming my name. Then the fluffy white clouds blocked my view. No matter how hard I struggled I couldn’t get free. Nothing I did had any effect on him. My sword was small again and tightly in my hand which was wedged between my side and his scaly hand. I was stuck.

Chapter 2.

(Coming soon)

Always Never

ALWAYS NEVER
BY. S. F. WHEELER

PROLOGUE

When I was younger I lived in a very strange forest. One that hid many mythical beasts according to mother. I would ask to go outside but the answer was always the same, “You must never go into the woods. Never leave our land. Never be tempted by the forest.”

That was easy to say when you were a witch. Mother simply put up an invisible wall around our house and small lawn. But it didn’t stop me from trying, I walked into that wall a hundred times or more before I realized I was never getting out.

In all the time I lived there though I never did see any mythical beasts. Wolves, bears, the occasional mountain lion, and all the small critters that ran when I looked at them. But not beasts. After spending eighteen years in the same place, knowing my mother was a witch but not having magic of my own, I decided to bail.

You see the strange forest, Mystic Grove, while it may not be home to beasts it was home to many witches and wizards. They hid away from the human world in a forest no human would dear tread. I had only met two other people from Mystic Grove. My mothers friend, Clarice, and her son of my age, Fenri. I think they intended for us to be wed but not even mother, Diana, goddess of the forest, could make me do that.

Unfortunately Clarice and her husband, whoever he was, also didn’t want a witch with no magic to taint their line. A witch with no magic is human for the most part. If I was human then it was the perfect excuse to leave Mystic Grove. So I packed my things and snuck out at midnight, a time when not even a powerful witch would dear step into the darkness.

It was easy to get outside the invisible wall now, I knew a trick to it. I took out my dagger and plunged it in to the hilt then sliced it down to the ground. I quickly slipped threw the tear before it closed back up. I followed the dirt trail into town, yes there was a little witch town in the centre of Mystic Grove. I had only been there a handful of times when mother needed to trade for something she couldn’t make or grow herself.

The town was almost fifteen minutes from my house. When I made it there the faint glow of witchlight illuminated the town just enough to see where I was going. Every scorn had a glowing ball of light in it created by a witch or wizard. They never went out unless the one who made it turned it off. I started to wish I could do that spell so I didn’t have to wander threw the pitch black night. As I passed stores and houses there wasn’t a single movement behind the glass. Not a sole was awake at this time because you never go out at midnight.

I stood at the town square for a moment, watching the fountain statue spray water into the air. I supposed I would miss this place. It was home after all. I didn’t know anything other then this place. That was the most frightening part about leaving. I didn’t know anything else. I was told how the humans lived like us only in bigger cities with cars and gadgets. Would I fit in? I looked down to my silk dress and figured maybe not. And if the woods was dangerous a dress was not something to be running around in.

I slipped into the tailor shop, no one locks their doors, and searched threw the racks. I pulled a sturdy leather armour off it’s rack and put it on. It was still stiff from never being worn but that wouldn’t matter. The tailor always said he put enchantments on his armours. The tag on this one said it was enchanted to be bullet proof, water proof, and teeth proof. Perfect. If a beast decided to bite me I wouldn’t feel it threw the armour. Or so I hoped.

I left some of mothers gems on the counter as payment. Mother dug them up all the time and traded with the tailor who adored them. He said they would make for great embellishments on his clothing.

When I reached the edge of town I looked back for a moment. It was a quaint little town, full of friendly magical people. I’d have liked to say goodbye but of course no one would let me leave then. I went back for one last thing before heading out into the darkness.

I held the witchlight close to my chest and walked into the forest. I was sure when they woke up in the morning the first ting they would see was the empty scorn. I grabbed the little ball of light in my hand and made off with it. I just hoped I only needed it for tonight, when they found it missing they would think it was stolen by someone trying to show real magic to humans. Then it would go out. But I didn’t know how far the human city was from Mystic Grove. I didn’t even know what way to walk in. I kind of just let my feet take over and hope I ended up in the right place.

The sun was rising when I had to stop and rest. So far every creature I met in the woods just scampered away. Most animals were afraid of witches, I didn’t know if it was the purple eyes or the fact that we could see into soles that scared them off. That was the only thing that made me a witch. My eyes were still purple and I could see into soles when I looked someone in the eye. But that was the extent of my magic.

As I sat on the fallen tree I heard footsteps. I remained still so no beast would find me. But whatever beast it was, it was running towards me. I stood, not sure weather to run, hide, or climb a tree. I was frozen in place as someone called “Watch out!” just as a giant furry beast with sharp teeth and long claws leaped at me.

CHAPTER ONE

The pain in my head caused me to wake up. I forced my eyes open and found myself not on the ground but on a blanket. With as little movement as possible I took in my surroundings. There was a fire crackling beside me and a pile of fruit laid near my head. I sat up quickly and gobbled down the berries.

“Hungry were you?” came that voice again.

I jumped and turned to see a boy sitting beside the fire. He had short neatly cut hair an ever darker black then my long wavy hair. But we had the same purple eyes.

“Who are you?” I asked, looking for an escape route. He was a foot taller than me with a well toned body. Compared to him I was scrawny and easy prey.

“My name is Ryker.” he said. “Who are you? And why are you out so deep in the forest?”

“Aleria Thea.” I said.

His eyes widened and he raised an eyebrow at me. “A Thea? Out here?”

“I ran off.” I told him.

“Diana, queen of the forest, looses her child to the forest. Quite an ironic twist.” he said. “I take it no one knows you ran off?”

I looked to the witchlight still glowing on the ground and shook my head.

“It’s quite the spell,” he said “Even unconscious the light didn’t waver.”

“Witchlight doesn’t go out when you sleep.” I responded.

“Lucky witches.” he muttered.

I only knew of what mother told me but she did say that witches were more powerful than wizards. While we merely thought of spells and cast them with the flick of a wrist, wizards had to use spoken spells to cast. When I looked at Ryker though, I could see ruins burned onto his skin. A very old tradition held only for wizards. Each ruin was seared onto the flesh as a permanent mark. I knew the meanings of these ruins, or shadow symbols, very well. On his right wrist was the symbol for strength, the left wrist was protection. It was for a warrior, the right had would hold a sword the left a shield. And there they sat just beside him, shining sword and shield.

“What are you?” I asked then.

A quirk of the mouth as he said “What am I? A wizard.”

“No. The symbols. That tradition was lost ages ago.” I said. “You bear warrior symbols.”

“Very clever. I am a warrior.” he said. “Or should I say was. Your town is not the only one in Mystic Grove you know. My town was feuding with a near town and things got ugly. Able men were marked as warriors and sent into battle. The woman used magics to heal and defend. After years of bloodshed I abandoned my town. But don’t worry I marked myself for that one.”

He turned around and pulled his shirt over his head. Between his shoulder blades was the symbol for abandonment. It was only ever on two kinds of people. Those who left in battle or those who left their family.

“You don’t need to worry.” he said turning back to me “Only wizards get the ruins. And only those who still follow the old ways.”

He had more symbols on his arms and chest. One over his heart for life, it was given as a baby. One beside that for sole and when I seen that the others didn’t matter.

“You have the sole marking.” I said shocked. “They only give that to those-”

“Who are said to have no sole.” he said for me.

“It was meant to give a sole to someone without one.” I explained though I’m sure he already knew that. His eyes darted to mine and I felt myself gasp for air. My heart raced but I couldn’t look away. I felt the emptiness. It was like a hallow tree, it looked fine on the outside but there was nothing on the inside. But it wasn’t just empty that I felt, also an ache a very painful ache. It was suffocating.

I felt my breath catch and blinked hard. Ryker was looking off into the forest.

“Why would you leave if you love your mother and your peaceful little town?” he asked at last with a strained voice.

“You should have seen why. I have no magic.” I said. “Even sole gazing is hard for me.”

“It looked painful.” he said.

“And it is.” I responded.

“Sorry.” he said. “But you could see couldn’t you?”

“Yeah I saw. Emptiness, but that’s not all.”

“What?” he turned to steer at me, avoiding my eyes of course.

“There’s an ache.” I told him. “It’s very painful to feel. Like something is missing. Something you wish to have back.”

He nodded and it was a long time before he spoke. “My mother died in the fighting. I was always closer to her than father.”

We sat together for a long time just waiting for the feeling of the sole gaze to wear off. It was hard enough feeling your own life but to feel someone elses too. It took a while to come back from that.

“So,” I said. “What exactly attacked me before?”

“That was Finnick.” Ryker said.

“The beast has a name?” I questioned.

“Yes.” he said. “Finnick for finicky.”

“You’re kidding right?”

“No.” he said. “It wasn’t me that named the beast. I was only told about it. Finnick is a beast called a shifter. He can take on any form he chooses. Er, animal form at least. I don’t think he can be human. But legend tells that men use to ride such beasts into battle. Many have tried to tame Finnick but as I said he’s a bit finicky.”

“Is that why you were chasing him?” I asked.

“Yeah.” he said. “If I could tame him I’m sure flying into battle on a dragon would stop everyone in my town and the next.”

“Clearly not going so well.”

“No I can’t catch the bugger. But it was a good thing you had on that armour, one pounce from him and you would have been dead.”

“Well thanks for making sure I wasn’t dead.” I said. “But I have to get moving before it gets dark again.”

“Where are you going?” he asked.

“A human city.” I said. “I have no magic so I’m just a human.”

“I doubt that very much.” Ryker said. “If you could look upon your own sole you’d see that too.”

“What do you mean?” I asked.

“You were not born without magic.” he said. “You were cursed never to be able to use it.”

“How could that be?” I asked.

“Look at the palm of your hand.” he said.

I looked at both palms but nothing was there. He took my left hand palm up and whispered the words of a spell. A flash of light blinded me momentarily. Once it faded I could see the blazing red lines on my hand. It was indeed a curse.

“How did you take off the glamour on my mind?” I asked.

“A wizard secret.” he said. “We can undo other spells while witches cannot.”

“So can you undo the curse?” I asked.

“I said spells not curses.” he responded. “I can’t even begin to fathom who would do this or how to undo it.”

“So that’s it? I live my whole life thinking I have no magic then I’m told I have magic but I still can’t ever use it?” I snapped.

“Well I never said that. I said I can’t fix it. But I might know someone who can.” he smiled.

CHAPTER TWO

So I ditched my plan of becoming a human and followed Ryker, the strange wizard I found in the woods, to some old wizard he called Malbor. As we walked he talked.

“Malbor is like your mother. He’s an immortal.” Ryker said. “One of the more powerful magic wielders. People say he can undo any spell and I bet he can help with that curse.”

“So where is he?” I asked.

“Like you and your mother, he lives outside of one of the towns of Mystic Grove, just close enough to still be under it’s protection spell.” Ryker said. “only the town we’re headed to is sort of…”

“That sounds bad.” I sighed.

“Well it’s one of the towns that still live in the old ways. It’s also… wizards only.” he said.

“Well how do I get in then? And why would he help a witch?” I asked.

“That’s the catch isn’t it.” he said. “Lucky for us there’s one way past the male only rule.”

“And what’s that?” I asked.

“Well…”

So I sat hidden in a small group of bushes while Ryker went into town. I stashed my things in a hollow of a tree and brushed out my hair which had previously been tied up. I was shedding my armour when Ryker returned.

“Here.” he said handing me a pile of fabric. “Put this on.”

I unfolded the dress and steered amazed. It was a beautiful red dress with diamonds around the top. A dress of a very wealthy woman whom probably had just gotten married.

“Where on earth did you find this?” I asked in awe as I slipped it on.

“The store.” he said. “If this is going to work you need to pass for a newly wed woman.”

“Then this is defiantly the dress.” I said. “But I doubt they would think a young girl was just wed.”

“In this town…” he paused “Well let’s just say you should fit in fine. And with my ruins no one will think I’m out of place. Oh but here, put this on too. And be careful with it.”

The simple touch of the ring sent me threw flashes of it’s previous life. “This was your mothers.”

“Yeah.” he said. “Now come on let’s see if we can’t get your curse lifted.”

We walked into the town and got a few questioning looks. I grabbed onto Ryker’s arm like I seen all the wives do and most of the looks vanished. There were only three or four girls in the town, all of them clinging to their husbands. One looked into my eyes for a brief moment, just long enough for me to feel her pity and fear. Why was she afraid? She gave an encouraging smile as we passed.

“She showed you didn’t she.” Ryker said quietly to me. “What happens here.”

“I felt pity and fear.” I said.

“Both for you I’m sure.” he sighed.

“Why?” I asked.

“I said women are here only after they wed a man from here yes, well it’s not so fun for them here. A town of all men. They’re only purpose here is to make children. And any female children are only raised to sixteen when they are sold off.” he said.

“Sold off!” I hissed as I tried to be quiet.

“Yes.” Ryker said. I caught the eyes of one of the men for a brief moment and realized why no one but the women seem concerned here. The men were empty like Ryker. No soles.

We stopped outside a store where I acted giddy and pointed to something on display. We wanted to fit into town and not just run right up to Malbor’s house. Luckily Ryker had an idea for that too. We went into the store and while I looked at clothes Ryker went to the clerk.

“That sign out on the trail,” he said. “Is it true?”

“The one about old man Malbor?” the clerk asked.

“Is he really able to tell the future?” Ryker asked.

“I was told so.” the clerk said. “Never tried it myself. You and your wife thinking of getting your future read?”

“Yeah we were.” Ryker said. “Hoping to see if we’ll have a son.”

“Ah I see.” the clerk smiled. “He should be able to tell that easy.”

“Then I think we’ll take a trip up.” Ryker said. “Aleria the sign wasn’t fake. Shall we go have our future told?”

“Yes.” I said with a smile.

It wasn’t hard to find our way. Like my mother, Malbor had picked a house about fifteen minutes from town but it had a beaten path leading to it.

“We should be home free from here.” Ryker said. “Malbor isn’t like the rest of the town.”

“So he has a sole?” I asked as I detached myself from Ryker’s arm.

“Well no, but he is much better than them.” Ryker said. “He should help us.”

“I’ll trust you on that, the sooner we get out of this town the better.” I said with a shiver.

“Thea, I won’t say you’re safe here but your not in danger with me.” he said.

“Well that’s pretty clear since you won’t even use my first name.” I said.

“I used it just seconds ago.” he argued.

“Yeah because the clerk thinks we’re married.” I said. “And here I don’t even know your last name.”

“It’s Shay. Ryker Shay.” he sighed.

“Shay? As in Shawn Shay’s son?” I asked.

He sighed.

“But you’re…” I steered at him confused.

“I’m not dead.” he said. “I ran off.”

“But you… I heard of you all the way in my town. The Shay son seen his mother die and took his life beside her. Shawn was later roomered to have used blood magic to… bring you… back.”

He pulled up his shirt to reveal what I hadn’t noticed before. A scar threw the life symbol over his heart. He turned around to show it on his back too, under another symbol.

“F-Forfeit.” I read.

“Yes.” he said. “My father marked it on me before he brought me back. That’s why I have no sole. I died.”

“These people…?”

“No.” he said. “They lost their soles for doing horrible wrongs.”

“But you-”

“Enough.” he said. “I died, now I’m back, no sole. We good? Let’s get moving.”

CHAPTER THREE

Ryker didn’t act like a man with no sole. He missed his mother and carried her wedding ring with him at all times to remember her. He helped a stranger in the woods and brought her all the way to a man who could get rid of her curse. He didn’t seem to have much emotion but he wasn’t heartless. Either way, I was just glad he found me. What would have happened if I went to live as a human with no knowledge of humans.

Even though he just appeared and told me I had hidden magic and a curse on my head I did believe him and it felt right to try and get my magic back. But… who would have cursed me to not be able to use my magic?

“Who comes?” came an older mans voice as we approached the house.

“It’s me, Ryker.”

“Ryker? Dear boy what are you doing here? This town thinks you’re dead.” the old man, Malbor, said.

“I didn’t come for me.” Ryker said. “My friend has a curse on her head.”

“Oh? A curse? Of what kind?” he asked.

“One that stops her from using her magic.” Ryker explained.

“On the palm of her hand?” he asked.

“Yes.”

“It’s a cap curse.” Malbor said. “It bottles up her magic so she can’t use it. But why would someone put that on you? Who are you girl?”

“Aleria Thea.” I said. “I always thought I was born without magic.”

“That’s not possible for a Thea. You’re highly gifted in magic. If someone put a cap curse on you they knew that and wanted you powerless.” he said. “Do you have any enemies?”

“When I was born? I don’t think so.” I said.

“The Thea always have enemies. But I’m afraid the most I can do is lessen the cap.” he sighed. “It should let you use some of your powers. If you’re strong enough you can break threw the curse.”

“She can use sole gazing.” Ryker said.

“So you already broke threw some of the curse. Come, I’ll lessen it and you should be more than able to cast some spells. But I’m afraid it’ll limit your power to something much less than you’re truly capable of.”

“Well how do I get the curse gone completely?” I asked as we walked into the house.

“That has to be done by whoever cursed you.” he said. “Sit there.”

I sat in the circle and listed to the spell as Malbor stood over me. Little sparks leaped from my hand and the symbol began to burn. I grasped my right wrist with my left hand to ebb the pain. It sparked some more then faded to dim red lines.

“That’s the best I can do for you.” Malbor said. “But look at you, only at half power and you’re just oozing magic.”

“I’m what?” I looked around but noticed a lack of anything ‘oozing’.

“The way Malbor is, he can see magical energy like a mist.” Ryker said.

“Yes and it’s everywhere.” Malbor said. “I just-” he froze solid.

“Malbor? Are you okay?” I asked.

“It’s fine. He’s having a vision.” Ryker explained. “Just wait.”

We waited for about ten minutes before Ryker moved behind Malbor. I was wondering what he was doing but when Malbor gasped he fell backward and I realized Ryker must be use to this. Ryker sat him down on his chair and waited patiently for Malbor to explain.

“You two…” Malbor said. “Beware. A great danger is coming.”

“Great danger?” Ryker and I repeated.

“Yes.” Malbor sighed and looked to the clock ticking away on his wall. “You two best get going.”

“But you just-” I was cut off by a look from Ryker. It didn’t seem angry just urgent. I followed Ryker back into town.

“What was that all about?” I asked. “He said a danger was coming for us.”

“Yes and by sending us off at that certain time he probably altered his vision. We need to keep altering it or we’re in big trouble.” Ryker said. “Let’s get your armour and get someplace else.”

“Where?” I asked.

“I figured you would be heading back to your town now that you have magic.” he said.

“Well… I suppose, I never really thought much about it.” I admitted.

“Doesn’t matter, as long as you’re somewhere safe.” he said. “I don’t know what danger he speaks of but we shouldn’t take it lightly.”

“He said us, Ryker, you’re in danger too.” I reminded him.

“That hardly matters to me.” he said. “But a powerful Thea such as yourself should not die so early.”

“Is this because I have my magic now?” I asked.

He paused for a moment then said “Perhaps whoever cursed you to not have magic now wants you dead. Do you think it could be someone from your town?”

“I don’t know many of them.” I said. “But I defiantly don’t know anyone who would do such a thing.”

“Let’s just get you to your mother and hope she knows something.” Ryker said.

“Sure. Yes. Let’s do that.”

We retrieved my armour and I changed into it before we set out on the long walk back to my town. And to think just a few hours ago I had no idea there were towns other than my own in Mystic Grove. By now the forest was growing dark so I went to get the witchlight from my bag but it wasn’t there. They must have put it out.

“Can you make a witchlight?” I asked Ryker.

He looked at me like I was crazy and said “It’s witchlight, only witches can make it. Go on, give it a try.”

“How?” I asked.

“Just think about it. Focus on creating a ball of light.” he said.

I held out my hand and did my best to picture a witchlight floating there. It took awhile of focusing but the light blared up just as I had pictured it.

“Ah! Look I did it! I did magic!” I said excitedly.

“Yes you did, now let’s get moving before a beast hears your shouts.” Ryker said.

“Has Finnick ever killed a person?” I asked.

“Not that I know of.” Ryker said. “But he’s not the only beast in this forest.”

It was a quiet walk. Ryker didn’t believe in small talk, only spoke when he needed to state some fact or warn me that some plant was poisonous. He wasn’t cold about it though, he just didn’t seem to know how to talk about random things. I asked about what he was doing in the woods but he usually just shrugged it off saying something like “It was somewhere to go”.

“Wait.” Ryker said suddenly.

“Hmm? You need a break?” I asked.

“Shhh.” he said looking around. He whispered under his breath, a spell I think, then closed his eyes. “I think we’re being followed.”

“By who?” I asked.

“I don’t know.” he said looking to the way we came. “I cast a sensing spell and there’s someone behind us.”

“A person?” I asked nervously.

“I… don’t know. A wizards sensing spell only finds living things and the size so I know it’s big.” he said. “Could be human, could be beast.”

“Should we hide or just wait for it to find us?” I asked.

“I’d say hi-” his words were cut short by a snarl. We both turned slowly to see two glowing yellow eyes behind us.

“I think it’s Finnick.” Ryker said. An odd wildcat chuff answered as a big mountain lion walked into the clearing we were in. “Yeah, that’s Finnick.”

“Is he safe or will he eat us. He kind of looks hungry.” I said.

“He usually steers clear of people.” Ryker said. “We can just move on.”

“You sure?” I asked.

“Yeah watch.” Ryker reached for the wildcat and it jumped away back into the darkness. “He won’t let anyone touch him. Supposedly the first person he touches becomes his master.”

“So like the wizards who rode the other shifters into battle.” I said.

“Exactly.” he said. “It was sport to run after a shifter and try to touch it. But now a days the shifters are rear, at least in Mystic Grove.”

Ryker spoke a little more of the shifters before we lapsed back into silence. The only thing letting me know he was still there was how oddly aware I was of his presence. Things around me seemed to be different now. The moon had an eery glow and the stars sparkled more. It was like sprinkling magic over everything. Maybe that’s what it was like when you had magic. The world looked more magical to you.

“Thea, I think we have a problem.” Ryker said.

“Huh? What now?” I asked.

“Either Finnick is still following us or there’s something else there.” he said.

“Well tell whoever or whatever it is to come out already.” I grumbled.

An oversized wolf walked closer to us. It steered at us with piercing green eyes but did nothing.

“Is it Finnick?” I asked.

“Yes.” Ryker said. “He’s really close isn’t he. Hey… why don’t you try to touch him.”

“Me?” I questioned. “The last time I touched him I was knocked out.”

“Wha- that’s right. That’s right!” he said excitedly. “You touched him! He’s not following us he’s following you.”

“That doesn’t make me feel better.” I said.

“Just tell him to do something.” Ryker said.

“Like what? Ask him to sit?” I questioned. But the wolf sat down and watched me. “Oh god. He just sat.”

“Yes he did.” Ryker beamed at the wolf. “That accidental touch made you Finnick’s master. I say we take advantage of that.”

“What do you mean?”

“Get him to turn into a mountable beast that we can ride back to town.” he said.

“Like a horse?” I asked and the wolf quickly morphed into a horse.

“Sure. Let’s go.” Ryker said.

I carefully made my way to Finnick and put a hand on his long nose. He snorted. I took my time mounting, he had somehow gained a saddle and rains with his shift, then called Ryker over. Finnick made no move to run now, he simply let Ryker jump onto his back.

“Do you know your way home?” Ryker asked.

“Um… I think so.” I said.

“Well, let’s go. You can’t get us that lost.” he said.

I flicked the rains and we trotted off quicker than I expected. Ryker was startled too and nearly lost his balance.

“Steady now.” he said placing a hand on my shoulder to steady himself.

“That wasn’t my fault I’ve never rode a horse before.” I said.

“Never?” he questioned, the surprise was clear in his tone.

“I was never allowed to leave my town, I hardly ever got to leave my house.” I told him.

“That’s… strange.” he looked off into the distance then peered over my shoulder. “What did your mother tell you about your magic?”

“That I was born without it.” I said.

“Why? She of all people should know a Thea can’t be born with no magic.”

“Why not?” I asked. “Some magic wielder’s kids are born with no magic.”

“Yes but not a Thea.” Ryker said.

“Why not?”

“The Thea stretch back to the beginning of magic. Like Malbor’s, your family was also one of the originals. The first people to be granted magic. That’s why they’re immortal. Of course… they’re only immortal until they have a child.”

“What? So my mother will die?”

“At a ripe old age, no need to worry.” Ryker said. “But now you’re the immortal Thea and someone didn’t want you to have magic. After hearing Malbor’s warning, I think they might even want you dead.”

“Why would someone want me dead? Is it bad to be from the original line?” I asked.

“No the opposite in fact. A real honour. You’re more powerful than ten witches combined. Well you would be had your powers not been blocked.” he said. “But I can think of many reason for someone to want an original line to end. It means the end of magic.”

“What?!”

“You see, there were five original people that were granted magic a very long time ago. They became immortal and could wield extraordinary powers. One of the people used his gift to help others and get some money on the side of course. That was Malbor’s grandfather. He didn’t have any children until he lived six full human lives. Another of the originals already had a child so the child was not magic. She lived to see her child die. The third original had two children not knowing that only one would become the next immortal. But her second child did still have magic and went off to create a non original line, simply meaning they were not immortal and they had weaker magics. The fourth original was your mother’s great great great great grandmother I think. She liked being immortal so she didn’t have any children until very late. But the last original… he’s known as Ultimor, he’s a very bad wizard. He was the first to discover blood magic and he would never give up his immortality so he still lives today.” Ryker told.

“Yes but that doesn’t explain anything about how killing one means the end of magic.” I said.

“Oh right.” he cleared his throat. “History aside, the original lines are very few and very important. They were the first to have magic and are the most powerful. If the current immortal of an original line is to die then any lines that were created from them, so any relatives no matter how distant, will lose all magic and never pass it down again. Kill all the immortals from all original lines and magic ends.”

“So… are the other immortals in danger?” I asked.

“That’s what we should find out.” he said. “See if your mother knows anything first. I don’t know why she didn’t tell you all this in the first place.”

CHAPTER FOUR

I thought we were lost for awhile but Finnick seemed to be steering us in the right direction. We stopped near a river when it became too dark to see. Finnick happily shifted into a golden retriever and lapped up the water.

Ryker threw a pile of sticks together and whispered a spell that sent the wood ablaze. He smiled happily at his work then took a blanket from his bag and set it on the ground. He whispered something again then cursed when nothing happened.

“What are you trying to do now?” I asked.

“Just wait.” he insisted as he began to chant again. This time his blanket became two blankets. “There.”

“Some kind of duplication spell?” I asked.

“Yeah it makes two of whatever you cast it on. It’s harder the bigger and more complex the object.” he explained.

“Makes sense.” I said as he set the other blanket down for me.

“We’ll sleep tonight and rise early to make it back to your town tomorrow.” he said.

“It’s not far now.” I said. “I followed this river when I lost the path I was on.”

“Oh, here I thought the beast was merely guiding us to water to quench his own thirst.” Ryker laughed.

Finnick grumbled as he was now some kind of giant furry beast. Something like a bear and a dog mixed together.

“Oh hush.” Ryker said. “I didn’t think you’d know where a town was since you keep away from humans.”

“But wouldn’t he need to know where they are so he knows where to stay away from?” I threw in.

“Ah-?”

Finnick chuckled and lid down beside my blanket. Personally, I think he’s too smart to be a beast.

I had nearly drifted off when I heard Ryker get up. I opened my eyes a tiny slit to see what he was doing. He whispered the same spell from before for detecting presences. I sat up and watched him. He paced around the clearing not noticing me wake.

“Ryker?”

He jumped a little then turned to face me. “What are you doing up, Thea?”

“I was going to ask you the same thing. You cast the detection spell.”

“Yeah um…” he turned to look into the darkness one more time.

“Is someone out there?” I asked.

“No.” he said. “Not that I can detect but…”

“But what? If it’s not safe we can move-”

“No no. You get some sleep. I’m just paranoid.” he said.

“Why? What’s wrong?” I asked.

“I-” he looked back into the woods.

“You can tell me you know. I mean who am I going to tell I hardly know any other people.” I said.

A short laugh. “Well you see I ran away from my father after he brought me back. He’s been looking for me, hunting me more like.”

“That’s why Malbor said you shouldn’t be seen in the town.” I realized.

“Yeah. They might know me and find a way to tell my father I was there.” he said.

“So you’re worried someone did just that and your father is out there waiting to whisk you away.”

He nodded and looked back into the darkness squinting his eyes.

“You know, I seen my mother cast a night vision spell before.” I said.

He jerked his head toward me. “Can you do it?”

“I can try.” I said. “Come kneel here.”

Ryker knelt in front of me and I repeated what I saw my mother do. I gently touched two finger tips to his closed eyelids and thought hard about night vision. I tilted my head curious as he blinked his eyes open. He swivelled his head back and fourth then turned to me again.

“It worked.” he said. “I can see threw the dark as if it were daylight.”

“To be perfectly honest I wasn’t so sure if I could do it.” I admitted.

“You can though. And you can do so much more.” he said. “You just need to get that curse completely removed and practice some spells.”

“I need to find out who put it on me before I can even begin trying to convince them to remove it.”

“Perhaps I can help with that.” a strange deep voice echoed around us.

Ryker stiffened and went pale as a ghost while Finnick stood beside me and growled.

“Hello son. Hello Thea.” the voice said. I couldn’t tell where it was coming from.

“Who’s there?” I asked.

“It’s Mister Shay to you, young miss Thea.” he said. “I came to retrieve my son. Would you be so kind as to give him over to me?”

Ryker looked panicked as he turned to me.

“Just give him back to me and I can help remove that curse.” he said.

“I don’t own him, it’s his decision.” I said.

“On the contrary.” Mr. Shay said. “Like that beast became yours when you touched it so did my son.”

“That doesn’t make sense.” I objected.

“Of course not. He’s a sole less you know, but I doubt you would have noticed. I bet he seems normal to you right. There’s a reason for that.”

Ryker, in a panic, tore his shirt off and looked at the sole mark on his chest. It was a faint blue colour now. “Shit.” he hissed.

“You see,” Mr. Shay explained “A sole can be given to one without a sole. The only catch is that the sole will be shared between two people. Your sole is now inside both you and my son. You now own him in a sense.”

“That’s ridiculous.” I said. “I don’t own Ryker, he can do as he pleases.”

Ryker stood in the same spot still, fondling the sole mark on his chest. Then he looked up confused with his head tilted as if he were thinking. “So that means you can’t tell me what to do anymore.” he said. “I belong to Aleria now and you can’t do anything about it.”

“Not unless she gives you back to me.” Mr. Shay said as he finally appeared out of the shadows. “What do you say Thea, give my son over to me and you can have your sole back and I’ll unlock your magic completely.”

“Yeah by using blood magic.” Ryker snapped.

“But her curse would be completely removed, all her power restored. It’s not like she willingly gave you a part of her sole anyway, I’m sure she’d like it back.”

Ryker looked at the ground. “I’ll understand.” he said. “You want your magic back and I’m just some guy you bumped into in the woods. You should do it. I’ll be fine.”

Mr. Shay turned to face me. “What do you say, Thea? Take your magic and sole or take my son, which will it be?”

CHAPTER FIVE

(In Progress)