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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4. Showing the way

Umbra was sitting up his favorite tree when he remembered his nightmare. It was four hours after he'd left school, and he was content with his score for the archery test. It was average. Normal. And by his score being those things, he'd made himself seem normal, too. The nightmare came back to him fresh and new, and he could see the blood of the princess in her white dress, falling limp to the floor, and the king, whining in the corner. The warrior and his bloodstained sword. The look of greedy pleasure in his eyes as the royals died. The death... The killing... It had been unlike any other dream. For a start, Umbra's senses were sharp, like they would be when he was conscious. Second, it had seriously scared him when not much else ever had. Especially not dreams - or nightmares. And last... he remembered every single detail. Umbra was starting to feel the fear of the nightmare again when his mother called from out the door,

"Umbra, where's your bag? I can't see it anywhere!" Umbra, glad for a distraction, leaped down from the tree and walked away. He walked in through the open doorway, and padded softly through his house to the front door. He usually dumped his bag by the front door. But it wasn't there.

"Oh... I think I left it at school, Mum." he stated, waiting for her to start yelling at him. It didn't take long for her to start shouting.

"You had better find your bag, young man! That's some of your father's expensive money wasted if you don't find it! We spent money on that bag, Umbra! Money does not grow on trees!" she screamed in an angry tone. Umbra grabbed his bow and arrows, and opened the front door. His sword was still buckled to his belt.

"If you don't find that bag, Umbra..." his mother left the threat hanging in the air, as her son walked out the door, shutting it softly behing him. Hopefully, Umbra would find the bag. If he didn't... Well, lets just say his mum would be cross. But he still hadn't forgotten about the dream. Trying to push it out of his mind, Umbra looked around at the wildlife. Usually, animals calmed him down.

 

It was after five minutes of walking along the road that Umbra saw the wolf. It had a stormy grey coat, with pale blue eyes. And it was just sitting, staring at him. Staring with its beautiful eyes, right next to the road. Umbra gasped when he saw it, stopping dead in his tracks. He stared at the wolf, and the wolf stared at him. So beautiful. So powerful. For a few seconds, neither of them moved. And then the wolf turned away, and walked along the road. Umbra, not wanting to loose sight of the wolf, followed it. The wolf seemed to have no intention of dissapearing from veiw. Every once in a while, it would look over it's shoulder for a few seconds, to make sure that Umbra was still there. Which of course, he was. The wolf seemed to be taking Umbra along the path that he walked on every day to get to school. It didn't appear to be veering off into the trees. But then, the wolf suddenly turned into the foliage, leading Umbra away from the path. When it was a few strides in, it sat and waited, like it was letting Umbra decide whether he would continiue to follow it, or go and find his bag. It took Umbra a split second to decide.

He chose to follow the wolf.

 

It lead him all the way through the trees that surrounded the pathway. Umbra had explored the trees before, but he had never been beyond them. And beyond them, there was a long, vast stretch of grass. The wolf, showing no fear, padded softly through the long, tall grass. Umbra paused in shock, then realised the wolf was still walking, not waiting him. He ran after the wolf, then slowed to a walking pace when he caught up. It was strange to see a wolf walking across a field in broad daylight, where it was easily spottable by everyone. Then again, it was strange to see a wolf leading a kid somewhere. Beyond the field was the forrest. It seemed to Umbra that the wolf was leading him there. Umbra was never allowed in the forrest, except when his father went with him. Even then, they would never venture too far. Now here he was, following a wolf into that place that he had never been permitted to go into alone. A wolf. Umbra found himself wondering what exactly the wolf was leading him to. The wolf's ears suddenly flicked. A low snarl escaped it's throat, and it broke into a slow run. Umbra started sprinting to follow it. This may not have been the wolf's fastest pace, but for Umbra, it wasn't just a jog. The wolf continiued to glance behind him, like there might be somebody following them. When Umbra glanced behind him, he could have sworn that he saw a shadow moving in the trees. For the second time that week, Umbra found himself scared. What could possibly scare a wolf? And who was the shadow? How much danger was he in? What was he getting himself into? Shut up. He told himself, as they reached the edge of the forrest. It was probably nothing. After all, I HAVE been freaked out since that nightmare. Forcing his worries out of his mind, Umbra focused on keeping track of the wolf as it bounded through the forrest. It would be easy to get lost in this place, Umbra realised with a shiver. And the wolf, although not trying to leave him behind, was ploughing further and further ahead. Umbra wasn't used to passing through woodland. Especially not if there were fallen trees, sharp thorn bushes and random trees all clumped together, just waiting to trip him up or slow him down. Stumbling blindly, Umbra hardly realised what was happening until he almost ran into the back of the wolf.

The wolf had stopped.

 

Thorn had been finding it incredibly hard to follow the boy. Through the trees, it was easy. When he crossed the grass? Not quite. The assassin could have crept after him silently. But considering that he had a wolf with him, she didn't want it picking up her scent, and turning round to see her. She could take care of a wolf, easily. But she had been warned not to get spotted. Umbra would see her. And it was not as if she could just catch up. The deadly killer had caught the scent of goblins from across the forrest. Not many, just about fifteen. But fifteen was enough to kill Umbra. Thorn had to decide whether to follow them when they were in the field, or wait until they entered the forrest. She chose the later. As soon as Umbra was in the forrest, she sprinted over the field with all her speed and power. Her legs struck the ground with strength, her eyes and ears alert for any sign of goblins. At least Umbra was slower than she was. With luck, she could catch up before he got far. Thorn found that he was easily tracked when in the forrest. The clumsily made trail of destruction was an obvios sign of where he'd been. The scent of goblin was getting stronger now. Stronger, but she didn't think that they were currently in the forest. Hopefully, they were out for a hunting trip or something. Although the reason that fifteen goblins would be in Shegeira was hidden from her. After all, they had just failed at invading Terragon. Thorn didn't spend much time thinking about it, though. Her job was to catch up with Umbra. And fast.

 

My entire body trembling, I swerve around the last lavafall and collapse on the ledge of stone. The surface is burning with heat, but I don't care. I am exhausted. I am in pain. But I am, for now, alive. Alive is good. My body is trembling violently, due to fear and pain and exhaustion. My wing is burning, burning with pain, burning with agony, horribly burning. A choked screeching sound of pain escapes me, but the noise is weak and pathetic. My feathers are singed and blackened, some have been burned to nothingness so that I have bald patches all over my body. The surprise that I am not dead is washed away by my relief to be alive. But for how long? How long until I have to leave the lava falls?

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