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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17. Meeting Carnelian

Umbra lead them through the sleeping village to find the inn. Nobody was out of their houses, and no lamps were lit inside. At least, not that Umbra could see.

"Whats going on?" Aquila muttered. "Usually, everybody's still up and there's lamps and candles lit in the houses."

"Yeah." Umbra agreed, obviously mystified, looking around at all the dark houses. "It looks totally deserted..." As Umbra neared the inn, he couldn't hear anything. There were no lights coming from inside, and everything was silent.

"Nobody at the inn? There's always loads of people at the inn, drinking!" He ran closer, with Aquila beside him. Thorn walked behind them, listening, observing.

"There hasn't been anyone here for quite a few days. Judging from the tracks on the ground..." Thorn trailed off, bending down to examine the ground. She didn't finish her thoughts, but stood straight and followed Umbra and Aquila, who were too busy looking inside the inn to hear her. Umbra ran around the inn, checking all the rooms while Aquila looked inside the basement and the bar. Nobody. They saw nobody.

"Where is everyone?" Aquila asked Umbra, looking at his friend for reassurance. Umbra didn't reply for a minute, but looked outside to Thorn, who was looking around. Then, suddenly, she ran at them, sprinting towards them with all her power.

"The door!" She yelled. "Get the door!" For a second, neither Umbra or Aquila could react. As Thorn neared, Umbra suddenly snapped out of his shock, grabbing the door handle. As the assassin leaped inside, Umbra slammed the door behind her.

"I know what happened to your village!" Thorn said urgently. "Goblins took the villagers. Looked like they were going to Terragon. I can't see any blood, so I don't think anyone fought back or was killed. But I can't tell with only seeing a little part of the village." Thorn told them. "Looks as if they've been gone for quite a while. There's still some goblins here. It's why I got you to shut the door. There's some watching us, and I thought that they might attack us. They probably will soon. We have to exit through the back." the assassin said, ignoring the shock on Umbra and Aquila's faces. Umbra stared at the assassin. This was too much to handle. His village had been taken by goblins. His parents... gone. Thorn grabbed his arm, and dragged him and Aquila to the back of the inn. They were both still too stunned to move on their own. As they reached the back window, Thorn stopped.

"Guys, snap out of it. Your parents might have escaped. Listen, would they want you to escape and live, or would they want you to stay here and get yourself killed?" Thorn asked, looking at them with powerful eyes.

"They would want you to escape and live, since they are waiting for you in an underground cavern." A new male voice came from up above them. It was strong, powerful and yet somehow calming to hear. Umbra looked up above him, his head jerking up in alarm. An elf, with golden eyes and shortish black hair, was sitting calmly on the huge chandelier, looking down at them.

"Ah, Carnelian. Wondered when you'd show up." Thorn smiled, as the elf dropped silently to the wooden flooring. His eyes glinting, he looked to Thorn.

"I see that you not only have the powerful young warrior - who recently, I have discovered to be the Protector, but the healer as well." Carnelian, the elf, spoke with a clearly impressed expression to his face. He then looked at Umbra and Aquila, inspecting them both with his uniquely coloured eyes.

"Now, shall we be going?" Carnelian asked, beakoning to the window. Umbra breathed a deep sigh of relief. They were alive. In hiding, too scared to emerge, but alive. He nodded, still speechless from the shock that goblins had got past Terragon, and invaded his village. Carnelian opened the window, and clambered through it quickly. Aquila went through next, also too surprised to speak.

"Come on." Thorn told Umbra, swinging herself through the window. Umbra smiled at the effortless agility of the assassin, and followed her through. Carnelian, Thorn and Aquila were all standing outside, waiting for him.

"Zephyr!" Umbra called softly.

Which was exactly when Carnelian pulled him and Aquila to the floor. Arrows whizzed over Umbra's head, thudding into a building nearbye. Goblins charged out from behind buildings, surrounding them completely.

"Ah." Carnelian muttered. "This is a slight hinder." The goblins closed in slowly, waiting for the moment to kill. Umbra drew a throwing knife, ready to kill. Judging from the armour, most of these were not Imperials. Good. It made them easier to kill. Rolling sideways, Umbra threw himself from the ground, launching three knives at once. Three goblins fell dead, thanks to the long hours of training that Umbra had endured. For three long seconds, the goblins stared at their fallen commerades, surprised that this young child fought back. Those three seconds cost them. Carnelian unsheathed a katana, and leaped at the goblins, slashing them to pieces. Umbra charged forwards alongside the elf, slicing at whatever foe his sword could kill. A few weapons scratched his unarmoured skin; swords, an axe, a knife. But none of them stopped Umbra. He had been trained by the greatest assassin in the entire kingdom.

"You fight well." Carnelian's powerful voice laughed, as a shadow passed over Umbra's head. Umbra didn't need to glance up to see who was coming. Zephyr. Bolts of lightning reigned down on the goblins, slaughtering them instantly. An ear-splitting screech echoed around Umbra's ears, as he smiled at the quick response of his new friend. The phoenix grasped at goblins, carrying them up to the sky, then dropping them and letting them fall. Flames licked at the foes surrounding Carnelian, as the nidarinn swooped in to scorch the elf's foes. Umbra lowered his sword, for the remaining goblins were fleeing. Each of them turned and ran, screaming in fear. Carnelian's twinkling eyes looked to Inferno, amazed and breathless at the sight of the gaurdian. Umbra, grinning, looked up to Zephyr as he slowly descended, then landed soflty beside him. Umbra ran up, looking at Zephyr's eyes as the phoenix lowered his head. Umbra put a hand on Zephyr's forehead, smiling as the phoenix pushed his head into his hand.

"Get on." Zephyr told his rider with an affectionate voice. Umbra smiled, and mounted. His second flight on the storm phoenix. It almost made his duties as the Protector okay.

 

I watch as Umbra says his farewells to his family. The assassin stands beside me, and I see a jealousy in her eyes that nobody else has seemed to detect. Umbra hugs his parents, then his older brother.

"I'll miss you." I hear him whisper, tears forming in his eyes. His mother is freely sobbing, his father seems worried.

"Be careful, son." his father says fondly, ruffling his boy's hair. The caverns are large, but hidden well. The goblins shall not find them here. Saying a final goodbye, Umbra walks up to me, and I see the reluctance in his face. He mounts me, wordlessly, and the assassin climbs up behind him, her movements light and swift. Umbra looks at his family with sad eyes. Aquila - the healer - has finished saying goodbye to his family. He is taking Silver with him, for Carnelian has promised that the wolf can stay in the elven city, where he will be happier than he would be in here with humans. The healer is riding Inferno, alongside Carnelian. Silver is nestled in Inferno's mane. I take off from the cavern entrance, my wings beating softly. The young boys look at their family one last time, before turning away. I wonder, with a sinking heart, if these parents will soon be grieving for the loss of their sons.

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