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CHAPTER 1 - Wake Up, Owain

Shadows Of The Stars

By ChloePublished 3 months ago 25 min read
CHAPTER 1 - Wake Up, Owain
Photo by Bartek Garbowicz on Unsplash

Blood pounds in his ears. He can hear his heart’s rapid beating, and all he can do is hope that it can’t be heard in this despairing silence. He folds his hands over his head and crouches beneath the table, staying as still as possible.

The footsteps echo from around the corner, growing slowly louder and louder. The closer they come, the more afraid he feels, and he sucks in a breath of air, staying as quiet as possible while the danger passes.

The footfalls stop, just in front of his table. He makes no move, afraid that he’ll be caught if he so much as blinks. Has it noticed him? Has the Monster finally found him?

No! It can’t! I’m almost free! Everyone else– the deaf girl, the blind boy, the strange, pink-haired girl, all of his mute friends– has been taken away, one at a time, by the Monster, and he knows that he’ll never see them again. The Monster has probably killed them by now. Isn’t that what it does? Doesn’t it kill anyone who can’t escape this horrid lab?

He holds his breath for so long that his chest aches. I know I can get out. He has mentally jotted down every place that the Monster has never caught anyone before, and he has hidden there for the past few days, absolutely sure that he cannot be found here. This table has a tablecloth over it and is set against the wall in such a way that his shadow does not fall onto the floor. The Monster cannot see him from under here.

…Can it?

The red-headed boy feels dizzy from lack of air. He clutches his head, fighting the urge to take in one gasping breath that will reveal his position to the Monster. I must stay hidden! I have to get out of here! The world outside this worn-down lab awaits him, he just knows it.

But how much longer can he hold his breath before he passes out?

He hardly has time to think of an answer to the question when the tablecloth is ripped in half before his eyes. He takes in a terrified gasp, squirming backwards, just to have a cold hand grip his foot and drag him out into the hallway. He’s torn away from the floor and lifted onto his feet, roughly being forced to walk, though no harm comes to him immediately.

He does not dare stop to wonder why. His heart is racing. Is it leading me to my death? It didn’t happen like this with all the others. What’s going to happen to me?

The Monster shoves him down the broken hallway and through a flung-open doorway. The door is lying on the floor, dilapidated, and looking as if it fell apart years and years ago. A wide window stretches across two of the walls of the room, shedding in prickles of sunshine that he hasn’t seen in ages. Greenery flourishes just outside the window, along with the promise of fresh air. If only I’d have made it to the door, he sighs inwardly. Then I could’ve gotten out there.

Why has the Monster led him to this large room? Does it want me to see what I could’ve had before I die? He slumps with disappointment, in himself and in the morals of the Monster.

But, then again, it’s a Monster. It doesn’t have any morals.

A light flashes on in the ceiling, followed by another, and then another, until the entire room is lit up by white, flickery lights, much different from the inviting sunlight of the outside world. He can see the whole rest of the room now; stacks of papers, messy notebooks, old televisions attached to the back wall, ruined office chairs. Another door, this one actually held up by hinges, sits to his left. Shuffling noises come from the room inside of it, and he can see a soft light under the door.

Who’s in there?

The Monster lets go of him. He stumbles away and watches as the black creature picks up the fallen door on the ground and sets it back in its proper doorway, fastening it into place with a shove. The sound of creaking metal splits the air, and then it’s over.

He blinks. What is it doing? Is it making sure I can’t–

“For someone with a voice, you rarely ever speak.”

He whips around, alerted, to see that a figure has appeared at the opposite end of the room, standing just in front of a tattered office chair. It’s the first human (is she a human?) he’s seen in days, since the blind boy was caught, and it’s the first human out of all the other humans that actually has a voice that they can use.

The figure is a girl– that’s clear enough. A black robe is wrapped around her shoulders and falls all the way to the floor, pooling at her feet. Her hair is blonde and cut rather short, though messily. The one thing that keeps distracting him from responding to her question is her left eye, which is an unnatural, oily-looking black, and seems to be leaking a black trail down her face every few seconds. It’s a rather unnerving sight, and it makes his stomach churn with uneasiness, but he doesn’t mention it aloud.

The girl (perhaps about his age, he guesses) leans toward him, her eyes widening. “Hello? You can speak, can’t you?”

He stutters, naturally, and rubs his right arm, embarrassed. “Y- y- yes.”

She leans away from him. “Good.” Her gaze switches to the Monster standing behind him. He is reminded that he may be about to die, so he takes a few hesitant steps to the side, wanting to be out of reach of the Monster’s long talons. “I think you were right about him, Red. He did survive the longest, after all.”

The Monster folds its arms nonchalantly. He gazes curiously at the cracks in its tall horns, and at the faint glow of its cerise eyes, having never caught such a good glimpse of it before in his desire to remove himself from its presence. “I was being lenient. You know that Venik would never have hesitated a moment if he sensed if any one of them was nearby.”

The girl rolls her eyes, and he cringes. At the Monster? How could you do that? A small blossom of admiration opens in his chest as he gazes at her. She must be very brave.

“I’ve never known you to be so overtly negative,” she says, addressing the Monster.

It narrows its eyes. “Negativity is not the same as straightforwardness.”

“Yeah, whatever.” She walks over to the door in the side of the room, seeming to glide over the floor, and looks like she’s about to knock when she realizes something. Then, picking back up her pride, she grabs the handle and swings open the door, revealing a closet crammed with…

“My friends!” he gasps, barely able to believe his eyes. He thought they were all dead! But there they are, squished together like a sandwich, all looking incredibly uncomfortable– especially Cleo, who, in his paralyzation, has been pushed down onto the tiled floor.

All their faces light up when they see him, and all their mouths move in the shape of his name– except Aoife, with her being deaf and all– but no noise comes out, because none of them have a voice. At this, they all collectively frown– except Cleo, who is already frowning because he has been squashed into the floor.

Without waiting for the Monster or the strange girl’s permission, all of the children his age pour out of the closet, dusting off their clothes and flattening down their hair and stretching, consecutively running over to him to excitedly greet him and tell him without words that they’re all alive, even when he thought they were dead. And they don’t look too badly treated, either; they’re not skinny or malnourished, their lips don’t look dry, and they don’t seem dirty like they’ve been stuck in that closet for the past four weeks. They seem as if they’ve been cared for.

Cleo, instead of lying on the floor and waiting for two of the other children to walk over and pick him up, picks himself up, pushing his chest away from the floor and stumbling unsteadily onto his feet. Owain stares in amazement, not having words to speak, even though he has a clear voice of his own, unlike the other children. How can Cleo move?

Then he sees the strange box strapped to Cleo’s back, held on by groups of wires and small chains that wind around his limbs, and though he doesn’t fully understand how the once-paralyzed boy is starting to move again, he decides to push it out of his mind for now. There seem to be more important things to worry about.

“I think he’s more leader-like than any of them,” says the strange blonde girl, casting glances at his reunion with his friends. “He was in the longest, after all. And he speaks.”

“What difference will speaking make?” the Monster scoffs, looking away. “Venik does not listen to reason.”

“Is it all about Venik, though?” the strange blonde girl questions. “A voice is an important thing, Red. Possibly more important than the ability to escape or to fight.”

The Monster, who he thinks could be known as Red, shakes his head. “A voice will do nothing for him if he encounters any of Them.”

The strange blonde girl scoffs at him. “A voice made you choose not to take over, didn’t it? A voice made you stop being so selfish, didn’t it? Think before you speak, Red. A voice changed everything once, so why couldn’t it do it again?”

All of the children– except Atticus, who is blind– stare curiously at the back-and-forth bantering of the strange blonde girl and the Monster named Red. What history have they had together? What does this entail? And, most importantly, why had the Monster named Red and the strange blonde girl been keeping nine children hidden from a terrified tenth one who thought they had all been killed in cold-blooded murder?

The strange blonde girl turns her face away from Red and towards the ten children. “Good afternoon, Owain, Elwood, Maeave, Niamh, Dae, Ao, Cleo, Atticus, Loft, and Aoife.” Her eyes trail respectively over each of the children, and she waves at deaf Aoife, who gives a polite nod in return. “Owain, I’m sorry about your scare earlier. Red can be… iffy, at times.”

Owain risks a glance at Red, with his tall horns and fading red eyes and solid, stone-looking appearance. He seems very iffy just from a single glance.

Red gives no indication that he has been noticed at all and turns his head away.

The strange blonde girl scoffs at him. “Y’know what? For now, just ignore him. He’s worried for you all, that’s all.” She beckons with her hand towards a spread of little chairs and small tables by the far corner of the room. “Come, all of you. There’s much we need to discuss; but never mind that. For now, you need to rest and eat.”

Elwood leads the way towards the chairs, all the others trailing behind him except confused Owain, who stays still as a statue, his feet glued to the floor.

What? Why? How? Who are these people? Why are they so strange? What are all my friends doing here? How can Cleo suddenly walk?

The strange blonde girl blinks. “Go on. You’ll know everything later. I’ll bring you something to eat; in the meantime, do as I told you and have a seat.” She turns away and heads towards a large, white box and several jumbled cabinets in the opposite corner, and he has no choice but to join his friends around the little circular table.

Stiffly he sits himself down in the one padded chair left for him. He isn’t sure where to start in terms of questions; what can he possibly ask to cover all of his curiosities and fears? He hasn’t any small-talk terms to bring up. And besides, the blonde girl said he should be resting and eating (and perhaps showering, if he’s so lucky as to find running water in this desolate lab), and he doesn’t want to disobey her more than he has to. If he disobeys her, what might Red do to him?

Loft reaches forward and takes a stack of playing cards from the middle of the small table and shuffles them about, acting as if all his life is perfectly normal and fine and there isn’t a monster glowering at them from the other end of the room. But, Owain thinks, he was one of the first to go. He must be used to Red and the other girl by now. Perhaps he doesn’t think so much of them anymore.

Surely Red cannot be scary forever.

Maeve looks at Owain imploringly. Her mind echoes with the question, “What do you want to play?”

He shrugs his shoulders. Admittedly, he has no clue. He has no such a need for playing cards at the moment, for his curiosity keeps making him shift and fidget in his seat. Playing cards would only make it worse.

But to say all his thoughts aloud would take too long, and every child at the table seems to want to play instead of sitting around and absently breathing. “Whatever you like,” he mumbles at last, returning to picking at the edges of his chair.

Loft sets down the shuffled deck of cards and taps the table, capturing Owain’s attention. “Go Fish,” Loft’s mind says, and Owain nods, fine with whatever game they play as long as his friends are all occupied and happy.

They seem happy enough, anyway. When Loft continues around passing out cards from one half the deck and starts the game with the other as the draw pile, everyone appears to be content. Even Atticus, who is quite easily perturbed, does not do his usual distinctive frown and only barely grimaces in frustration instead with the fact that he cannot play Go Fish because he is blind and all the cards feel the same. Why are none of them upset to be in Red’s presence? They were all kidnapped and forced to stay in this room!

Though… it doesn’t look all that bad, he notices as he glances around the room. The wide windows let in much of the natural light, and light that is not supplied from there comes from ample sources in the ceiling. There are boxes and boxes stuffed with assorted supplies, from foods to toys to anything weird in particular. There’s a closet for storage purposes (or for hiding purposes, thinks Owain, since his mind is still partially in the state of searching for the best places to hide) and quite a few puffy rugs and a sink with running water. It’s rather nice here.

The strange blonde girl and Red turn back to each other at last, once the strange blonde girl has retrieved multiple different items of food from the supply boxes. Owain refuses the game of Go Fish and instead keeps his eyes fixated on the Monster and the girl, wanting to know everything there is to know about everything that has just happened.

“I don’t think it’s such a good idea to keep them all right by the windows, Kloey,” says Red, eyeing the blonde girl with hidden furiousness.

Kloey shrugs her shoulders. “You know Venik hates the Light Forest just as well as I do.”

“But that never prevents him from traveling here, does it?”

“Of course it doesn’t,” she retaliates. “I’m not that stupid, Red. I’ve lived long enough to know what Venik can and cannot do, and I definitely know what he will and will not do, and crossing into lightwater is one of the things he absolutely will not do.”

Red folds his arms suspiciously. “I don’t believe you’re right.”

“Well, you can believe whatever you like,” Kloey retorts, following suit. “That doesn’t change what’s true. Venik’s eyes would shatter if he ever went anywhere outside his Blackwoods. He hates it here. And besides,” she adds, turning back to the prepared cans and morsels of food set out on the table behind her, “how would he find out about them, anyway? You know he thinks every child still alive is sound asleep.”

“He is a fool in that sense,” mutters Red, seeming less baleful than before.

“I reckon he thinks that he has the whole world at his command, apart from the Light Forest,” Kloey replies while setting together a tray of delicious-smelling foods.

Red narrows his eyes. “I think he actually does. In that sense, I wouldn’t doubt him. Despite being crafty, he never fails to fulfill his word, and he told me he would not stop until the world was held under his very fingertips.”

Kloey lifts the tray and turns, revealing two very pale, very small hands clutching it from either side. It looks as if only her head has seen sunlight in years. Her black robe and existential darkness cover everything else. “No point in chattering about it now,” she states coolly, taking the tray over to the table where Owain and the other nine sit. “Let them eat and relax. After your testing, they surely deserve it.”

To the delight of the ten children at the table– besides Atticus, who never seems to fail to find something to be upset about– Kloey sets down the tray in their midst, careful not to touch their precious game of Go Fish that seems to be getting along just fine without a shouting chorus of voices behind it. At a wave of her hand she invites them to take whatever food they like, and the nine of them, besides Owain, take off sandwiches and small glasses of water and small tins of chips to snack on while they play.

Owain waits until all the others have had their fill, and only then does he take a tiny morsel of a chip and chew on it absentmindedly, not being very hungry despite his earlier pangs of starvation. His stomach now feels queasy with curiosity and a ferocious determination to understand everything he has just overheard. Not just for his own benefit, but for the benefit of the other nine sitting at the table with him, mentally jabbering on despite their lack of voices; Elwood, with his million-mile hearing; Maeave, with her vivid sight; Niamh, with her language-deciphering skills; Dae, with her dream-spying; Ao, with her swift movement; Cleo, with his perseverance; Atticus, with his clear, telepathic voice; Loft, with his healing ability; Aoife, who has never quite shown a special ability but has always been willing to indefinitely learn whatever she is capable of to protect her friends.

Owain feels a need to protect all nine of them– it is something he has always felt, especially ever since they began to be taken away by the Monster called Red. If this so-called “Venik” is a danger to any of his beloved companions, then he must find out immediately who Venik is, where he is, why he is dangerous, and answer every other question about Venik that can possibly be answered at the moment.

Elwood, sitting beside him, nudges him. “What’s wrong?” his mind echoes.

Owain’s gaze strays over to Kloey and Red, betraying the fact that he needs to know more information about what has just happened. “Nothing much,” he says, not sure if his answer is entirely true or fully false. “I’m just wondering about something.” He stands up, pushing his chair out from beneath him, motioning to the table. “Go on with your game.” Without further ado, he walks over to the two figures standing by the windows at the other end of the room.

When Red sees him come over, he says, rather sternly, “Kloey told you to wait to get answers.”

Owain shifts. “I can’t wait,” he stutters out in his little voice– a voice much too little for a child his age, mind you. “I overheard you talking about something dangerous.” He does not bother to hide his distrust of Red, after knowing Red only as “the Monster” for a long while.

“I was going to explain it to all of you once you’d had a good rest,” Kloey says plainly. “You certainly need one.”

He tries to fold down his curly hair, only to no avail. Everything about him is still quite ruffled from his recent lack of sleep. “I’d rather get one after, thanks.”


“I won’t be able to sleep until I find out what’s wrong,” Owain states flatly, tucking his arms by his sides. If these two, who seem to know the answers to everything he has questions about, will blanky refuse to give him any of said answers, he will blankly refuse to do anything that they tell him to do, even in the presence of the Monster, who seems more annoyed and upset now than malicious and frightening.

Kloey breathes out an audible sigh. “I truly do believe he’s leader material, Red. He’s certainly very stubborn.”

“Being stubborn doesn’t make one a leader,” Red huffs.

“Says you.” Kloey wanders away from Red, leaving him to roll his eyes and angrily mutter, and leads Owain over to one of the wide windows. “I would rather have told you all at once, to spare you having to explain all of this to the other nine all by yourself,” she says softly, leaning into the windowsill, “but since you so desperately want to understand everything about everything, I may as well tell you.

“Do you know what Red is?”

The question comes from her so abruptly that he finds that he doesn’t have an answer. Numbly, Owain nods his head.

“Red is what is called a Shadow,” says the blonde girl in response. “He is made of darkness, as it is and as it was. He was designed years and years ago– a thousand eclipses before you were awake again– by a scientist whose sole purpose was to create something that satisfied his government’s need for military strength.”

She pauses, and looks him in the eyes. “Do you understand that?”

He nods. He does not consciously remember what the government is, but somewhere inside of him is the distant recollection that he once lived in a world where there was such a thing as a government and scientists. They don’t seem to be around anymore, however.

“Good.” She continues, “Thanks to Red’s own strengths that were gifted to him by the scientist, he killed the scientist, but before he could free himself from the laboratory he was captured by the remaining living scientists and kept in for testing.”

Owain turns his head towards Red, who stands, arms crossed, eyes blazing furiously at the former. He doesn’t seem too excited about having his private past relayed to a child who has barely even passed his eleventh year of life as of yet.

Kloey clears her throat, drawing Owain’s attention back to her. Since she’s starting at the very, very beginning, this explanation must surely be very long. “When Red was kept in for testing, the scientists extracted some of the Shadow that made up his body and used that to create Christopher and Blake, his two brothers.”

Owain finds himself interrupting before he can think twice. “What happened to–”

“Hush,” she demands, and the quiet commanding authority of her tone causes him to shut his mouth. “Red and his brothers broke free from their confinement and left the abandoned laboratory behind, which is when they discovered the Earth and the varieties of humans living on it. After many years of observing from the darkness, they finally set out on a mission to change the world eternally, and then–”

“I don’t think you should be telling this story, child.” All of a sudden Red’s voice comes from directly behind him, and Owain spins around as fast as he can, finding that Red has silently moved from one end of the room to another and is glaring warily down at Kloey.

She takes a deep breath, obviously trying not to argue with him. Their relationship must be very on-the-edge, he supposes. “Don’t call me a child, Red. You know just as well as I do that it’s been full eclipses since I was a child.”

“As for him.” Red waves a hand towards Owain, as though just waving him away like a leaf in the breeze. “But I lived this story. You did not. You obviously don’t know all the details.”

She leans against the window, staring at him defiantly. “Would you like me to recite every single little detail of the story like it’s a novel, then, Red? Because Chris certainly took up the advantage when you turned to Stone of telling me everything about the past.”

Red’s face contorts with an unhidden grimace. “Wouldn’t I be a more reliable source than you to tell this story?”

Kloey sets a gentle hand on Owain’s shoulder, being soft but convincing at the same time. “I don’t think this poor soul is ready to hear an explanation quite like the one you gave me those years back,” she says firmly, tightening her grip. “Especially not with your current tone. It’s terrifying, and he doesn’t deserve to be more terrified than he has been for the past weeks.”

Finally subdued from his vehement argument, Red sighs and turns away, leaving Kloey to continue her explanation to Owain in relative peace.

“As I was saying,” Kloey resumes, “Red and his brothers set out on their mission to change the world, but they knew, because they were insurmountably outnumbered by the humans on Earth, that they would need to multiply to get anywhere in their plan. So Red kidnapped the first child, Sven, and tried to turn him into a Shadow, which was an agonizing process that went through many faults before it was finally perfected. Because of those faults, Sven’s Shadow form was very… messed-up. His eyes bulged, and his horns were crooked, and at first he seemed incapable of doing anything useful at all until he killed a human and was revitalized by the taste of blood.”

She pauses and looks at him again. “Do you understand that?”

He shrugs his shoulders. It is certainly a lot to take in, and it sounds more like a fairytale or a storybook than anything real, but seeing as Red is standing behind him with the most vain expression in the world and his friends all have a selection of special abilities, it isn’t so hard to believe. “I guess.”

“Good.” She clears her throat, a pained expression crossing her face, and then continues. “Since Red thought that it wouldn’t be proper for Sven to retain his human name while taking on a Shadow form, he renamed Sven to Venik, and Venik he has stayed ever since then. No trace of Sven’s memory has ever, ever crossed his mind, and he had been Red’s second-in-command without faltering during the entire Takeover.”

“What’s the–”

“The Takeover is when the Shadows continuously kidnapped children of all ages and turned them into more Shadows, eventually scaring the rest of humanity into a panicked frenzy,” Kloey explains without ceasing, clearly not fond of being interrupted despite her protective manner over Owain. “In the end, when humanity was at its highest peak of fear, the Shadows ran across the whole Earth and multiplied, putting to sleep any other humans who got in their way and taking any who wanted to go with them.”

She takes a moment to catch her breath, her one brown eye growing hazy.

“But this was, oh, many, many full eclipses ago, so it’s recently become nothing but a folktale. And that’s how the world got to this stage.” She lifts her arms and showcases to him the glittery, shimmery outside world beyond the two wide windows. Sunshine beams down from above, casting a glimmer over every green and thriving living thing. A small stream bumbles and laughs down a short hill of grass tussocks and bundles of rocks. A dirt path winds into the distance through the waving poplar trees, beckoning for him to walk straight through the wall and head straight down it.

A question comes to mind, considering these strange, Shadow-turned children that he has just heard all about.

“If the Shadows took over the world,” he murmurs, “why does the world look like this?”

Kloey slumps over slightly, her eyes narrowing in dismay. “Oh, Owain. It isn’t all like this.”

Red speaks up, sounding much more solemn and serious than before. “This is just barely a part of it,” he says quietly, eyeing the light-filled world that streams just outside the few layers of glass. “That is the Light Forest, and it only stretches so far. Beyond the Light Forest is the Blackwoods, and the Blackwoods goes on and on and on…”

“Until the edges of the earth,” Kloey finishes, disheartened.

“The Blackwoods is the habitat of Venik and his fiends,” Red hisses angrily, pounding a fist against the countertop as if he can already see his foes. “They have rotted and withered the world with their powerful darkness, and now anything that lives here is dead in there. The only living things that survive in the Blackwoods are Shadows– and not Shadows like me.”

“In the old world, there were only two types of Shadows,” Kloey recites. “Natural shadows, like the one by your feet, and living Shadows, like Red.

“But now there are four types: natural, living, stone, and Them.”

“Stone?” Owain asks, curious. The pieces of this puzzle are just starting to come together in his head.

“Yes,” says Kloey, turning her head to look him in the eyes. “You see, there are–”

“When living Shadows think that they have had their fill of life,” Red interrupts, glancing at him condescendingly, “they fold themselves into a comfortable position, like humans do when they sleep, and they slowly turn to stone. The process itself takes years, as Shadows cannot ever fall asleep naturally, and the stone is very slow in its movements, but once it is done it is done. There is no going back.”

“You mean… Shadows can die by turning to stone? And they choose to do so?” Owain says in disbelief.

Kloey nods her head. “Red almost turned himself to stone in the disbelief that the world would be perfect from now on,” she says quietly, as if recalling a distant memory. “But I woke him before he could fully become stone, because I recognized that Venik’s insane evil was going to destroy the last bits of light left on this earth.”

Owain scrapes his left shoe along the floor, trying to find some sense of balance in all this new information.

The Monster is not a Monster after all– his name is Red. And he’s a Shadow. And there are many, many more Shadows in the world than there were before the time of the Takeover, but some of them have turned to stone, and some of them have become Venik’s “fiends.” And of course, there used to be a different world before the Takeover, but that world involved living humans and not the humans that sleep eternally and the humans that have since become Shadows.

It’s a bit confusing to take in all at once, but at the same time he seems to understand it. And anyway, even if he doesn’t understand it, he’ll have to learn how to if he wants to save all his friends from this supposedly-evil Venik and his band of “fiends.”

“How did Venik become so evil,” says Owain, coming back out of his thoughts, “if he was once just a kid?”

“The memories and innocence of childhood are stripped away from one when they become a Shadow,” Red murmurs. “Venik’s memories have always been gone from him, and therefore so have his feelings of guilt or sadness, or anything that might prevent him from being a murderer of no morals.”

“What has he done that’s so wrong?”

“The humans that the Shadows promised peace to, he has killed without a second thought. He has murdered everything living inside of his Blackwoods, and he has even recruited the young naive Shadows without an inkling of knowledge to be on his side. He has hypnotized them into entering under his rule, and then, once they’ve taken their fill of satisfactory blood, he forces them to do entirely and only what he tells them to do, otherwise they are led to their deaths.”

“Do…” He swallows, wanting to know the answer to this question but simultaneously feeling too overwhelmed by the immoral information just told to him about Venik and his reign of evil. “Do Shadows ever die?”

“We live as long as we live,” Red states formally, as if quoting from an old book. “Until something kills us, we live.”

“So… so Venik could live forever?”

“...Yes,” Red admits sadly, setting his hands down gently on the table. “Or… unless someone has the strength to kill him, he will live. His type of Shadow, Them, are capable of having physical damage done to them. They have bodies, unlike myself… or, I suppose that isn’t so true anymore…”

When he trails off, Kloey takes up the torch to continue talking. “Since Red was once almost turned to stone, the parts of him that were stone have remained stone.” She motions to the tip of his left horn, which has crumbled away, revealing a splotch of cold, gray rock. “That is one part that never fully healed, and that is a part of him that is physical.”

Owain blinks. “You’re not physical?”

“No Shadow was entirely physical before Venik came along,” says Red plainly. “Stone shadows can be weathered by wind and rain, and Venik and his savages can be harmed by physical things, such as swords or jagged peaks, but Shadows like I cannot be hurt by any of those things. Only light, or others of our own kind, is capable of hurting us; anything else completely phases through.”


He thinks for a moment.

“Does Venik e– ever come to the Light Forest?”

“No.” Kloey shakes her head. “It’s quite unlike him to go to places where he feels uncomfortable. The light of this place seems ‘too watchful’ for his taste, as he told Red a while ago. The last time I saw him here was years ago, and I doubt he’ll return.”

“But he has always done the unexpected,” Red adds. “If he ever learns that you’re here, he will come here personally. The last time I saw him he seemed bent on killing every last human on the face of the Earth.”

Owain gulps, suddenly feeling rather clammy and exposed in this window. Could Venik be out there, watching him now? Would he even recognize Venik? Would he have enough time to warn his friends before the monstrous Shadow tore through the glass and ripped them all to pieces?

“That’s not good,” he breathes out, almost silently. The three of them don’t speak for a moment, pondering fearfully on what their next move should be, unaware of the nine gazes boring into their backs.


Owain turns. “What?”

Atticus is staring straight at him with his blank, blind eyes. His mental voice spirals throughout Owain’s head. “Are you going to tell us what’s going on, or are you going to continue to stand there in shock without saying a word?”

Owain stammers. “O– o– oh.”

How is he supposed to explain all that?


A/N: The italics have all disappeared in this version because I pasted it over from a Google Document. As for now, you'll unfortunately have to decipher what is a thought and what isn't by yourselves. Hopefully Vocal will fix this feature in the future. Thank you for reading, and consider leaving some feedback below. Chapter 2 comes out tomorrow.

Part 1Young AdultThrillerScience FictionHorrorFictionDystopianAdventure

About the Creator


she’s back.

a prodigious writer at 14, she has just completed a 100,000+ word book and is looking for publishers.

super opinionated.

writes free-verse about annoying people.

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  • Test3 months ago

    great read

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