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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14. Thorn explains

Finally, they had managed to cook the deer. The three of them were eating chunks of the meat off knives, being careful not to cut their tongues off in the process.

"Is now a good time to explain to you about Carnelian? The reason I'm here?" Thorn asked, her face illuminated by the dancing flames. Umbra nodded eagerly, anxious to hear Thorn's story. Thorn took a deep breath, before beggining her tale...

 

"Before I joined up with Carnelian, I was a lone assassin. I worked for nobody, not even if they offered me the highest amount of money anybody ever could offer. I killed for myself. If there was somebody I didn't like, I'd kill them. Somebody I knew was a threat to the side I believed in, I'd kill them. Somebody who was a danger to me, I'd kill them. Nobody knew my name. They all called me 'Swift Death', or, more usually, 'assassin' when they were speaking to my face. I never met one friend. And then Carnelian came along, said he was raising a group of elite warriors. Carnelian is an elf, a great friend of the elven prince. The warriors were being banded to fight away the goblin uprising - the ones who I was up against. Of course, he would also bring along the army of elves, men, dwarves and whatever other creatures he could find to help. But there was to be one main group of us, who would be the best of the best. He persuaded me to help him, for one assassin could not destroy an entire army of Imperial Dark Clan goblins. I would be more useful as part of his team. I agreed, after much persuading. He sent me on many missions, but then sent me to find you. A dwarven prophet told that you were a vital member of the team. Carnelian, however, did not suspect of goblins so highly placed in the ranking of Imperial Dark Clan. I have guessed that they must range from rank 3-24 out of 1000 Imperial Dark Clan. Of these, we have killed most. But there are still many more to kill. Carnelian needs you, Umbra, in his team. But had he known about you, Aquila, he probably would have recruited you. Until we escape the forcefield, I shall leave you to think about your options." Thorn said, looking at both of them carefully.

"I'm in." Umbra said, without hesitation. "I mean, you're in the team, right?" he asked, and the assassin nodded. "Then I'm coming. Don't worry about me changing my mind. For I won't." he confirmed, a reassuring smile on his face.

"And if Umbra's coming," Aquila put in, "I'm coming too. Remember brother, I still owe you." the healer told his friends, looking first at Thorn and then to Umbra, who was surprised at the fact that Aquila had called him 'brother'.

"You do not owe me, Aquila. I saved your life twice, you saved mine twice as well. We are even... brother." Umbra replied. Before Aquila could reply, Thorn spoke.

"Good, you're both coming. Now, we've all thanked each other, we can just accept that you're both going to help Carnelian's team. Stop with the soppy speeches already, and just eat." Thorn reminded them with a hint of a smile. Obeying, the boys were quiet, and just ate the deer meat.

 

For the next two weeks, they trained harder than they had ever trained before. Thorn insisted on small and widely spaced breaks, giving her trainees barely any time to catch their breath. They had started the sessions by complaining constantly, but had soon learnt that it would not get them anywhere, and had decided to save their precious breath, instead of wasting it by moaning. Thorn was a harsh mentor. Harsh but fair. Their duelling sessions, gradually, became far more intense, with the assassin using more and more of her skills to defeat her opponents. Soon, Umbra could hit moving targets with knives, arrows, and sometimes axes. Aquila was struggling with this slightly, but sometimes, his aim was true. Thorn put them through other excersises as well, made them run carrying heavy loads to build up their stamina, set them on agility courses and making them climb to improve their agility, told them to repeatedly lift enormous weights. During meals, she told them about goblins, taught them tricks to defeat them. She shared her knowledge in hope of expanding theirs. The more time he spent with the assassin, the more Umbra admired her. He grew acustomed to the way she flicked hair out of her eyes, the way she scolded them fondly when they were not paying as much attention to her as they should be, the way she smiled at him... The three of them had grown closer bonds, they knew each other as well as a mount knows his master, for nobody will know a true hearted human better than their mount. Umbra and Aquila called the other 'brother', they called Thorn by her name, and she called them by theirs. Silver had returned with no luck, and had joined Umbra and Aquila in training, only the wolf had used different training methods to Umbra and Aquila. But there were many nights when they wondered if they would get free. They stared at the stars, and hoped that somebody would free them. And Umbra, with not much else to do, often found himself recapping the nightmares. Wondering what they meant... Who the warrior, so powerfully fearsome, actually was. He didn't need to wait much longer to find out.

 

The gaurdian opens his jaws, and roars. The sound echos throughout the falls, almost defeaning me. An intense sphere of a glowing golden light is created from his mouth, growing larger every second. Finally, the sphere stops growing. But it is now the size of me, even bigger, perhaps.

"The portal..." I whisper in awe, and the gaurdian looks to me.

"Indeed. It shall take us just two weeks to reach the North-Easten village, Shegiera. Hurry, and fly towards it with all your speed and power. I shall follow behind you." The gaurdian tells me, then adds, "My name, by the way, is Inferno." I nod once, then fly at the portal, my wings beating hard against the air, boosting me. Folding in my wings, I dive into the portal. All goes black. I cannot see, but I know I am going fast. Screeching in joy, my eyes glint with happiness. Umbra will be safe. I can finally meet him. The journey is over in seconds, but, as Inferno, the gaurdian had told me, it has taken two weeks. Two weeks have passed in those few seconds. I see a barrier before me, and sense a powerful presense inside of it. Could this really be the day that I meet Umbra?

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