Shadows of Darkened Time

In a world of Shadows, Alexander and Suzan find themselves on a quest to stop what this world has become. Through their journey they will stop at nothing to see the end of this, but first they must solve three riddles and learn the deeper meaning of the Song of the Corrupt. Approximate word count: just over 4,600 words.

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4. Chapter 3

The center of the town of Oblìtus was a tranquil one, as odd as that was. In this area, the bleak, black fog clouded around the buildings more heavily than anywhere else in the world. No inhabitants lived in these buildings. There was a good reason why.

Alexander walked on the cobblestones, with papers in hand. He was staring at them with furrowed eyebrows, and had his gaze firmly fixed on his scrawled notes. Everything had directed him to just around here, though there was nothing that could possibly be perceived as a Shadow's Key anywhere. Nevertheless, he continued on the path, sifting through the papers. His pace slowed down as he focused on a small paragraph, which he hoped was of significance.

Suddenly, the paper in his hands went flying on the floor, and he felt a hard impact on his chest.  Two icy hands gripped onto his forearms. Alexander shut his eyes tightly, fearing the worst. "Oh, I'm so sorry! I didn't see you there," said a voice that did not sound deadly, or beastly in the slightest.  He quickly flipped his eyelids open, and saw before him a girl who looked roughly around his age, possibly a little bit younger. 

Her deep brown eyes briefly stared into his, before awkwardly looking at his arms. She realized she'd been holding onto them to steady herself, and let go of them, taking a step back. They both stared at the ground uncomfortably. "And I knocked your pieces of paper onto the floor too. Wow, I'm making such a good first impression.” She laughed shortly, then started to pick them up. 
 

Alexander glanced at her curiously, before joining her in collecting the scattered papers. He noticed after a few moments that the girl was staring intensely at one of the sheets, and asked her if he could have it back. 

Promptly, she placed the papers she'd gathered in his hands, and shrugged. "I'm a bit nosy, sorry." 

Alexander smiled at her, bemused. "Please stop saying sorry." 

"Oh, okay, sor..." She trailed off, grinning sheepishly. 

They both chortled. "So what's your name?" Alexander asked, smoothing down his white t-shirt.

"I'm Suzan Austin. What's your name?" 

 He held out his hand to shake. "Alexander. Alexander Lance." Suzan shook his hand gently. "What's your business around here? I'd find it hard to believe you stumbled here by accident. It is practically in the unknown."

"Business is business," she smiled.  She gestured at his notes. "I'd ask you the same question, but I think our business here is the same..."

"You're looking for the shadows key as well?' He raised an eyebrow.

Suzan nodded. "Mm, though I have no clue where to start. I only got a letter from The Rebellion yesterday asking for me to look for it here, since they think it'll be useful for something." She noticed that Alexander's face had clouded over. "What's wrong?" 

"Oh, it doesn't matter. I suppose we'd better get started looking for the Shadow’s Key, then."

"Yes."

Alexander turned east, and started to head towards an alley of buildings. He then turned around to face her. "Well? Aren't you coming with me?"

After many hours of trudging around Oblìtus and scouring Alexander's notes, they both collapsed on the edge of the fountain, exhausted. "It doesn't make any sense," he sighed. "Every single lead we have had has turned out to be a dead end." 

"I know. It's frustrating."

"And I've ran out of any trails now."

"That's bad."

"Suzan, are you actually listening?" He looked up at her, to see her gazing wistfully at one of the smaller buildings.  It had a tea pot and cup on the shop front. 

She bit her lip. "Sorry, I was just thinking about how nice it would be to have a cup of tea." She grinned wryly. "The first thing you should know about me is that I'm a bit of a tea addict."

"Suzan, you might just be a genius." She looked at him blankly. "We've been walking around for hours looking at the buildings, but we didn't think to look in the buildings!" 

They exchanged broad grins. "What better place to look than the tea shop?" Suzan giggled.

"Indeed. And..." He winked at her. "I'll see if I can fix you a cup of tea whilst we are there."

So they made their way into the tea shop, treading warily. Once they'd been inside the main room for a few minutes, and had gathered it wasn't dangerous, they both relaxed a little. "Shall I sort out that tea?" 

"Do you even know how to make tea?" Suzan laughed. 

Alexander shuffled his feet. "Well...Sort of..."

"Let me handle the tea, and you can start searching, if that's alright?

He nodded. "OK then, lets split up." With that, Alexander headed up the stairs.

Suzan made her way towards the kitchen, and boiled up the kettle. She looked in the cupboards for two mugs, and eventually found two that looked decent to drink from. Then, she put a tea bag  into each one. Once she'd done that, the kettle had boiled, and she poured the water onto the tea bags.  She knew that it'd take around five minutes for the tea to brew, so she wandered over to the head of the stairs. "Alexander, are you alright up there?"

"I'm good, yes. Is the tea done?"

"Nearly!"

Whilst Alexander made his way back down, Suzan went back to the tea. However, the kitchen had steamed up with black fog. THE black fog. "Alexander..." 

He walked over to her, and he saw the black fog. "The shadows key must be in the tea!" Alexander whipped out his notes. "Yes, it says here that-"

"Don't bother! Let’s just grab the cups and get out of here!" 

Once again they found themselves sitting by the fountain, and it seemed that Alexander's tea had been tainted with the shadows key's fog. He carefully filtered out the tea into the fountain, and peered inside the mug. Then, he fished out what appeared to be a miniature hourglass. It was carefully crafted. "It isn't a key, but it does add up with a lot of the things in my notes."

Suzan frowned. "So what do we do? Who's going to take it? I mean, although The Rebellion..." She saw that Alexander looked unhappy again at the mention of them. "Why don't you like The Rebellion?"

"Because of them my father is dead," he said sadly. 

"How do you know for sure he's de-"

"Because we got a letter yesterday telling us so."

Alexander and Suzan stood quietly, not saying a word between them. Alexander then felt her hand on his shoulder. "I'm so sorry to hear that, Alexander," she murmured.

"There isn't anything that can be done now," he whispered. "All I can do is to try and track down this shadows key so I can go to The Evil One and avenge my father."

Suzan's eyes grew wide. "You're going to confront The Evil One? Alone?" She lowered her voice. "Are you crazy?"

"It's the right thing to do."

"Well...At least let me help you." 

Alexander looked at her carefully. "We aren't on the same team, Suzan."

"Can't we be?"

He paused, then nodded. "Alright then. Lets go," Alexander smiled. Before he had time to say anything else, Suzan grabbed his hand, and led him back towards the wilderness. He didn't object to her doing so.  

 

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