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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3. Test of skill

Umbra walked calmly into his school grounds. Act cool. Stay popular. Umbra's 'friends', Opal and Spider, were there already. Opal had blue eyes that matched the colour of the gem he had been named for - the birthstone of October. His hair was blonde, and he had a strong, bulky build. Spider, however, had a thin, spindly body, dark and mischeivious eyes, and shoulder length hair that was pale brown in shade. Umbra had jet black hair, and dark brown eyes. He had a fairly slim build, but it held power as well.

"Archery test's today." Opal stated grumpily.

"Yeah." Umbra agreed. "I hate tests. 'Specially archery." Spider laughed at Umbra, his shoulders vibrating slightly with laughter.

"Whichever test we got, Umbra, you always seem to hate that one most." he pointed out. Umbra merely shrugged.

"Yeah, but I hate tests." Umbra protested. A lie. A lie to keep reputation. Umbra didn't mind tests. They weren't TOO bad.But since he wanted to fit in...

"Who doesn't hate tests, though? Why can't we just stay at home?" Opal groaned. At this point, Umbra lost interest in the conversation. Opal was about to start ranting on about the hate he felt towards school. Umbra glanced briefly at the archery range. The trainers were already setting up the targets, making sure they ran parrallel to the shooting line. No doubt most of the guys in his class would muck around. Umbra sighed. Was there nobody like him?

 

The assassin watched Umbra from the rooftop. He looked like he was fed up with school, and didn't appear to like his friends. The assassin had been asked to follow the kid. She was not going to break her promise. She had been judging him all morning, since he left his hous in a hurry to get to hiks school. And she had to admit - he DID look like the kind of person Carnelian would want on his team. But he would need to be trained. Watching the child carefully, the assassin heard the trainers calling their students over to the archery range. Umbra and his friends trudged over miserably, their bows slung over their backs. Faint sunlight flittered through the trees near the archery, causing Umbra's eyes to light up and sparkle a little. The trainers were lecturing their students, giving them advice and warnings for the upcoming test. The assassin, bored from watching the trainers talking, recapped the night before, when her boss had told her what she had to do.

"Assassin," Carnelian had said softly, "I have a job for you." The assassin's eyes had lit up with the prospect of a new challenge.

"Yes, Carnelian? An incredibly dangerous challenge? Something close to impossible?" she asked him, an excited tone to her voice.

"Not a particularly dangerous mission, assassin." Carnelian replied. "I need you to keep an eye on someone. They're in no danger at the moment, at least, none that I know of. But I need you to just make sure nothing happens to him. Can you do that?" Her leader asked, his eyes looking deep into her. At the mention of 'not particularly dangerous', the assassin's eyes had lost their spark.

"Keep an eye on someone? That's it? Carnelian, I'm the best assassin you'll find! I could be doing something really important. And besides, 'assassin' is not my name. I told you to call me by my name. I'm not just a normal assassin. I don't go around getting myself hired by the highest paying client. I pick a side. And then I fight for it - fight for what I want, not what others want me to fight for. And I picked your side. In fact, we are now friends. That means, Carnelian, you have to call me by my name. You have to call me Thorn." She growled. Carnelian sighed, and nodded.

"Very well, Thorn. But this job is important. I want the guy on my team. His name is Umbra..."

 

The hiss of an arrow snapped Thorn out of her thoughts. She suddenly realised that Umbra was the first to shoot an arrow. He stood, with an excellent posture, holding the bow exactly as he should.

Yet he had not hit the centre.

Thorn frowned. She had seen his skills in combat before he had started to shoot. She had looked at him, and known that he would be good. Yet there he was, with an arrow in the blue. Thorn watched with shock and curiosity as he drew back the bowstring for a second time, ready to shoot. His posture was perfect. Everything was perfect. And then, Umbra dropped the arrow slightly, aiming lower than he had before. Was this something done on purpose? Or was it just an accident? Umbra loosed, and the arrow flew through the air. Then came the contented thud of the arrow hitting the target board. Bellow the centre. In the black. Umbra notched another arrow. He pulled the bowstring back, then repositioned his bow slightly. This time, it was facing towards the left of the centre. Thorn was curious. It seemed that Umbra was deliberately shooting like this. But why? And then it occured to her. He was afraid of shooting too well, of being different. He didn't want to get a higher score. He wanted to fit in. The assassin continiued to watch, and Umbra's method hadn't changed. Well, she thought miserably, even though he was being too cowardly to shoot well, he could actually shoot okay. She just wasn't sure what Carnelian would think of him when he finally got here.

 

I dive into the cave entrance, knowing that it will take me to the lava falls. Not daring to glance behind me to see if my persuers are still chasing me. If they are, then they are almost as stupid as I am. Even here I feel the powerful heat emmited from the lava as it seems to seep into my bones. The first fiery lavafall was up ahead. I swerved violently to avoid it, then found myself almost diving into another. I manage to evade this lavafall, but the tip of my wing passes through the edge. Instantly, I am screeching in pain and my wing feels like hell. The horrifying burning refuses to stop - my screams grow louder. I somehow manage to swerve in between two tall lavafalls, only to be confronted by another, only much larger and wider. My wing still cannot calm down. As I dive downwards suddenly, to prevent myself from crashing into the fall, I know that escape is impossible. And the death that I spoke of before? Horrible, burning death that is even more painful that I thought before? Death, my friend, is certain.

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