Spirits of the Shadow

An idea that originated today. A story of a grand adventure. Based upon the idea that magic lives within the shadows of those that can control it. A war will soon be decided by the spirits of the shadows and the way they are used. This will hurtle a young boy into an adventure that will change his life and the lives of others.

AUTHORS NOTE: Hoping for both compliments and criticism to help with writing style and ideas. Any ideas of how the story could progress would be accepted. I hope to try and get this story going well, whenever the free time is available. However, this does depend on reactions as I am happy to try other projects if this first one fails. Thank you for taking your time to read this piece of work.

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2. The Sand Slums

 

The base of the Arylian spine had recently became a bustling town of its own in the past ten years; refugees had flocked to the area after wars in the Southlands. The city did not have the room or the trust for outsiders so banned them from entry, although they did not try to push them away from the Dustlands, which was an uprising the grand council preferred not to cause.

 

The most recent years had seen citizens descend from the city above due to the loss of money; therefore, they had no choice than to start a new life on the low ground. Arylian soon became a city for only the wealthy and the population soon totalled fifty percent less than those who chose to sleep in the Sands.

 

The Slums had been put together with natural resources from the area and any junk that either fell from above, causing numerous deaths and mutilations, or was brought by the unfortunate souls forced out of the city gates.

 

The Sand Slums consisted of many shacks of all shapes and sizes, based on the amount of resources that had been acquired by the family. It was a first come first serve basis in the Slums which led to singletons living in large shacks with many unnecessary rooms and large families crowding together in one room, like sardines. There was also an inn that made money from city visitors who were too late to take the last lift up to the main city, this was called the Wilted Rose and was the major source of entertainment for the Slums, serving food and drink. At times Wordweavers would arrive and for one night only tell a tale or two of the worlds outside the Slum and legends of old that had been passed from Weaver to Weaver.

 

The final building was the orphanage, it was called the Warm Embrace, wordplay to represent that it gave the orphaned children the same love as their own mother and father would have. Though Thorn Northcross found that he had felt no warmth for the full sixteen years he had lived there.

 

Thorn was a very tall boy for his age, although he had never looked lanky as his muscular build changed him from a boy to a man in the last few years. He had short silver hair which was unusual in the area and a clean shaven face. His eyes were a bright coloured blue like that of the sea, according to an elderly Wordweaver who passed through the Slums; Thorn had no opinion as the sea was a mystery to him.

 

Thorn shared a room at the orphanage with a boy of the same age, named Gart Hillen and a boy of fifteen named Harvey Jule. Gart had long black hair that was tied in a rough ponytail with a simple piece of cloth and had a face full of fluffy black hair that had yet to be touched by a razor. Harvey looked the complete opposite as his black hair was shaved close to his head, and facial hair was nonexistent, except for a few small tuffs below the nasal passage.

 

Each boy wore simple cloth clothes with patches where they had fell during play times or during scuffles with one another. There were four other boys who stayed in the male dorm of the orphanage, a babe in arms name Oly, a ten year old named Derren, and two other sixteen years olds who felt that they ran the place. A heavy set boy who was of a similar size to Thorn, his name was Fryer. Fryer had always been a bully to the dorm boys and had managed to lure in Kai, a short chubby boy to help with the taunts and harassment. Tavi, Lorna, Wiltina and Neve made up the girls dorm, all of the age of fifteen and sixteen. Thorn has always had his eye on the sweet girl Tavi Bywater, watching her long red hair glistening in the sunlight. The simple cloth clothes did not hinder her looks and although she matched the other girls she still seemed to stand out like a goddess to Thorn.

 

“Master Northcroft! Master Northcroft! Come here at once!” shouted a deep voice from the storerooms. The matron was not a patient person, so Thorn jumped to his feet and made his way to the back rooms. “You sure took your time,” Matron Bernadette said with a sharp tone, Thorn replied with a “but...” however did not manage to make his excuse heard due to the interruption of the unhappy matron. “I remember saying that these boxes should have been stacked at the back of the room, four boxes high” a short pause occurred for dramatic effect “these boxes are stacked only three high, this is disgraceful! I do not feed you, bathe you and allow you to stay under this roof for the sheer joy of it. Now get to work and have this done by tea, otherwise you will miss it!” Thorn let out a sign and went to reply, although, once the Matron had turned her back to leave then he held back and decided to get to work. His belly rumbled to remind him that his tea would be sorely missed if he was to not finish his chore quickly.

 

Thorn had worked for over an hour, his top removed due to the heat of the midday sun mixing with hard labour. His body glistened with beads of sweat, a product of his hard work. His hands were red and gained a few shallow cuts from times when the boxes had slipped from his grip due to the sweat that gloved them. Thorn was no longer alone. Gart had been working the right side of the room to help his friend; the plan was to meet in the middle and have the work complete in half the time. The plan had worked and the boxes were nearing the middle, only another eight to be lifted into place.

 

A cackle sounded from behind him, mixed with snorts and heavy panting. The two boys stopped their work and turned to face the storeroom entrance.  The two bully boys Fryer and Kai had made their way into the room and found the situation extremely hilarious. Gart spoke first “We don’t need any trouble Fryer, there is no point easting your time. Why don’t you and your chubby lap dog go play in a sand storm?”  Thorn couldn’t resist a smirk.

“No because we may get swept away!” replied Kai, receiving a sharp slap to the back of his head from Fryer. Kai had never been the smartest apple and found himself accustomed to attacks from Fryer meant to quiet him. “You should watch your mouth Gart! It may cause trouble for you!” Fryer stepped forward and closed the gap between him and the others. The approach was a silent threat and was received by Thorn placing the box to the floor and stepping forward with his arms raise, motioning the larger boy to step forward some more and try his luck. The standoff made the room feel cold; both the boys were silent and just stared at one another, making judgements. Kai also decided to step forward but was pushed back by his master, another slap on the head.

 

“What is the meaning of all this!” boomed the deep voice, no hint of femininity could be found within it. Matron now filled up the doorway and began to usher Kai and Fryer from the room. She then started on her two workers. “Why do you feel that you always need to cause trouble Master Northcroft?” her voice still void of compassion. “I did not Matron. As you see I am working and Gart is helping me. I cannot help if those bullies decide to interrupt us.” Gart nodded his head along with each point that had been made, “Do not try and play innocent boy!” she stamped her foot, “You cause as much trouble as those boys, even more so. Enough with the excuses. Get back to work!” The matron left the room and slammed the wooden door behind her, this causes the walls to shake and rock stacks of boxes, causing piles to fall to the floor. Gart felt his fist punch open hand, whilst Thorn put his hands to his hips, rolled his eyes and looked to the ceiling in disgust.

 

It was just after sunset when the boxes were neatly stacked once again, complete and secure. Thorn left the room behind Gart and ensured he pulled the door shut gently, not wishing to disturb the storeroom. Two small bowls of bread and cheese were left in a tray by the door, enough for the boys to still slight hunger for the time being. The smell of sweet cakes sat on the air, although, none lined the tray. Majority of them were lining the belly of Kai.

 

“There’s a Wordweaver in town” Gart Said, “He will be at the Wilted Rose tonight, probably for one night only”

“I saw him, but did not believe the news. He seems too young to be a word weaver” replied Thorn

“I agree, he cannot have seen much of the world. Word is that he carries the stories of his forefathers. He has originated from a Wordweaver family.”

“A very rare trait indeed” Thorn smiled as he spoke, the excitement colouring his face “It is not usual for Wordweavers to raise a family, they never stay in one place” Gart was listening to Thorns points, but, was running towards the orphanage exit waving his hand in a come here motion, “Hurry else we will be late!” he shouted, not looking back again. Thorn grabbed another piece of bread and lined it with a chunk of cheese; he wolfed it down as he began to run after his peer.

 

The Wilted Rose was one of the only buildings within the slum to contain a major amount of rock and metals within its walls. Wooden beams still made up the structure and stretched from floor to roof. The walls were a mosaic of broken red slate from the city rooftops and white brickwork that had came from the Arylian spine. Unique metals, bought from peddlers, Lined arched window panes. The building was slanted as if materials had become scarce towards the completion. A metal chimney was stuck out diagonally from the rooftop and pumped out black clouds of smoke that rode the back of the winds.

 

Thorn and Gart sat in the back corner of the crowded establishment, just as the burly inn keeper introduced his night’s entertainment before moving back to the ale barrels. A hush fell upon the crowd, a magic spell of quiet. The only sound was the footsteps that carried the Wordweaver to the makeshift stage of tables.

 

The Wordweaver, like all those before him, carried no leather-bound book. His stories were all stored within his mind and memory. The weaver was very young compared to tradition. It seemed that he had not long reach adulthood himself. He wore unique and colourful clothing, first were the white flowing trousers that only fell as low as his shins, revealing a space of leg before the matching white boots were in place. His shirt contained thrills across the collar and wrist; they were colour black and stood out against the vibrant red of the shirts breast. Silver buttons and lining picked up the light and gave a sense of wealth to the outfit. His head was wrapped in a matching red and black bandana that was tied at the left. On the right side of his face hung long strands of blonde and curly hair that fell at the base of his chin, matching a thin patch of yellow chin hair and a slender and trimmed blonde moustache. Green eyes examined the crowd before a seat was taken upon a wooden stool that had been provided.

 

Thorn and Gart looked at the Wordweaver in awe, then to one another, and back to the weaver. They shuffled in excitement and concentrated on the stage, through gaps in the crowd.

 

A voice of wealth and importance rose above the little whispers of the Wilted Rose, a voice that had been honed due to many stories and songs, a voice that also showed power. “Now let me begin...” 

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