Darkest Star, Brightest Shadow

There are some times in life where even the brightest of stars can become so dark and corrupt, that they are unstoppable. It is at this time of peril that a nobody, an insignificant little shadow, must step up to face the enemy. Umbra. Umbra must step up, and become the brightest of all shadows...

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2. Masked talents

It was only when Umbra tossed over for the millionth time that he realised the sun had already come up. He could see the tiny rays of sunlight, struggling in through the curtains. And then he realised - today was the archery test! Almost forgetting about his dream - no - nightmare in his rush to get ready, Umbra ignored the fact that his hair was a mess, and pulled on his uniform. He didn't have time for breakfast; being late for training today would mean an instant grade of zero. Umbra seriously didn't want a grade of zero. He grabbed his bag, then slung his bow and quiver over his back. As he ran out the door, Umbra buckled his blade to his belt. Without weapons, he felt somehow vunerable. Like someone could attack him. Well, the world was a dangerous place. There could be goblins attacking Shegeira soon, anyway. The thought of it made Umbra shiver. Shegeira. His home town. Goblins attacking Shegeira. After all, they HAD attacked Terragon, the town of stone. Terragon supplied most of Shegeira's goods, and luckily, it raised good warriors. Especially since the rising of the goblins. If Terragon had no good warriors at it's dissposal, then Umbra would probably be dead by now. So would the rest of his villiage. Terragon was located in the mountain pass up above Shegeira, which was the only way you could use to enter the Northeastern border of the kingdom. Unless of course, you had a flying mount. Most people didn't, so nobody could raise an airborne attackforce. Or so Umbra thought...

 

It had been a fifteen minute walk to school along a path surrounded by trees. It wasn't part of the forrest, but that didn't mean that nature was absent. Every morning, Umbra saw at least twenty different animals. He likes wolves best, but they had only appeared to him a few times, and never close up. He liked the way they always stayed with the pack, and protected each other. He liked their free spirit and beauty, the intelligence in their eyes. Eagles, too. He liked eagles. Umbra spotted a doe leaping out in front of him, then bounding away into the trees. Umbra smiled as he watched the doe go. She passed here every once in a while, probably to find more food in the little patch of trees, that she could not find in the forest. Umbra could see his school in the distance. Schools had changed since the rising of the goblins. Before, students had spent most of their time doing work to improve their knowledge. Just a quarter of lessons were spend learning how to fight.

Then came the rising of the goblins, just three years before Umbra started school, at the age of four.

The fighting skills became suddenly more important than knowledge. Fighting was survival. If you couldn't fight, the goblins could kill you. They would probably kill you anyway, but at least you could take some out with you. Now, a quarter of lesson time was used for classwork, and the other time on combat skills. And today was Umbra's annual test on archery. He wasn't above average in his skills, nor below it. Umbra was nothing special - just an average kid with average marks in everything he did. Nothing special. Except... Umbra never tried his best in lessons. Fitting in, being normal, was to keep your reputation alive. When he was small, a kid called Aquila had bullied him about being good at everything. So Umbra had let his skills drop. He knew he could still score a bullseye, easily. But he didn't show that - bullying wasn't something he wanted to go through again. Umbra couldn't deal with people too well. Aquila still didn't exactly get along with him, and Umbra was afraid that if he became who he truly was, Aquila would turn on him and bully him. Again. No, it was easier to be normal, to hide his skills under a mask of normality. Even so, Umbra didn't want to get zero as his archery grade. He sped up his walking speed, the school nearing fast.

 

I glance behind me, seeing the persuers almost touching my tail. FLY FASTER! My mind screams, but I cannot.

And that is when I see the lava falls.

I dissmiss the thought instantly. The lava falls were so terrifyingly impossible to navigate and escape that I can't pass through. But those who chased me... Could I truly escape them without using the lava falls? NO. A voice in the back of my head, driven by fear, whispers in its only too knowing voice. It speaks the truth, I realise with a sinking heart. But what chance have I against the falls? None! But then again... What chance do I have against the persuers? None. Terror is running freely, untamed, uncontrolled, through my very bones. I know my choice must be swift, as I have almost reached the lava. Slowly antagonising pain from the lava? Or swallowed in cruel, dark evil for the rest of my days, having no choice in my unforgivable doings? I choose swiftly. And I choose the lava.

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