Leaving the Shadows

Darkness. I hate it here, but it keeps me alive, hides me from those who want me dead. Magic. I don't know what to do with it, or how to use it, but I think it's supposed to help me. Hunters. They seem to know how to restrain me from leaving without even knowing I'm here. Kiri. The one thing I have left to care about. The one thing left living for. The one thing keeping me from ending it all, right here, right now. I have to find her. Keep her safe. It's all I want now. It's all I'm asking for. It's all I've been asking for for the past seven years. But there are those that would be ready to kill even her to stop me if they found out she was my only weekness left. Shadows. The one thing holding me back from finding her.


7. Returning to the Meadow

I’m not sure what I expected, but I wasn’t too surprised the tree was there. Same path, same stump, same leaf draped treed. I step up to the curtain of greenery and take a deep breath to to hold back the tears swelling in my eyes before stepping through. But when I enter, it is a dark and small space, with no fish filled stream or large tree stumps or waterfall. Pain and loss swirls inside me from this sight and I feel almost as if I were sick.


In haste I push back through the leaves and breath deeply to control the tears new pouring down my face. I sit at the edge for a while until a strong breeze gives me sudden courage to look one more time, reach my hand out to feel the roughness of the bark. And so I do. When my fingers brush against the tree, I hold my breath as if I expect the meadow to magically return. But of course that doesn't happen and my silly, worthless wish fades always into the darkness. Slowly I lift my fingers from the bark and back up. As I turn around, though, my eyes are dazed by a sudden unexpected ray of sunshine and I nearly trip over a large stump that seemingly appeared out of nowhere. I realize that many other stumps have also become visible as well as a stream full of the most beautiful fish alive. A ray of hope mixed with defeat pull my limp body to the ground till I'm on my knees surrounded by tree stumps up to my shoulders.


I would have stayed there for quite a while, but a faintly familiar voice startles me, and as I turn, I realize that the same lady who I had seen in the meadow upon my previous visit was standing near the stream, so close to me, and beating me down with the stare of her violet eyes.


I freeze, unable to move, trapped in her focus, perhaps even with the help of some magic. This thought terrifies me. "Kaima," she spoke, and this time she sounded almost relieved but still clearly alert. "I have been searching for you," she continues. "The last we met, though, you ran off from me. And so now we shall indeed talk." Even now I am perplexed by her lovely voice, and I notice it has a bit of an ancient tone in it.


"P-please, don't do this. You don't understand. She-Chybeth-is controlling you-your mind and memory and all-with dark magic. Don't do this!" I stamper out, fear having total control over my actions. To my astonishment, the lady does not try to drag me off to the castle to be executed, but instead puts a look of sympathy on her face.


"Kaima, know that I am not your enemy. I will not send you to your doom the way any and every of the villagers of your kingdom would. I am here only to help you restore your kingdom and save it from your reckless and destructive younger sister, Chybeth. Although it is not in her favor to do so, and even if she is very much against it, her ruling with dark magic controlling her will surely destroy your Kingdom of Abiladia," she began. Of course I don't trust her, this stranger. But the way she continues to say "your kingdom" bothers me, and I must ask why she talks like I am queen.


"Why do you speak as if this kingdom is mine? Even if what you say is true and if you truly did understand what I do, even then it would be my mama's kingdom, and not mine. Surely you know that, don't you?" I ask. But as the last word slips from my mouth, I get another sick feeling and see that what she says could be true. But that would mean that my beloved mom had to have-



"Yes, I know...And I'm sorry," her soft quiet voice interrupts my thoughts. "Indeed it would be you mother's kingdom, but-I'm sorry you had to find out like this, when you don't even trust me yet-but your mother is...well, she died in that old dungeon about three or four years ago. I know what it is like to have this happen and I know what you must be feeling right now and-I'm just so sorry," she finishes.


This news is like a large bolder being dropped onto my chest from high in the air after hovering over me for the last few minutes. I had, at the end, suspected it, but prayed that it was not true, that perhaps my dear mama had simply escaped and run far away as to never return, there for leaving the kingdom to me. Or may that this woman is just crazy. Yes. That's it. And that explains why she hadn't tried to take me to Chybeth already. Besides, how would she know if my mom had died anyway? Still, I have little confidence it this theory.


"It's hard to believe, yes, I know. But I have proof. First, though, I must ask you, do you not recognize me? My face?" I do. She looks familiar, yes, but I can't quite find a name or any memory. Never before have I seen a face that could even compare to her beauty, though I remember a painting of a girl a bit younger than this lady in the castle in the queen's room that does share many similar features with the woman still looking at me.


"The painting. The one in the queen's room above where my mother's mirror had been. You are her, aren't you?" I ask. I see her nod yet continue to look me in eyes, expectantly. "But who are you? And why is your picture in-" I nearly say my mother's room, but instantly remember that she had died and so it was no longer her room. "The queen's room?" I finish quietly.


"You really don't know, do you? Well, I am Aressa. Yes, that Aressa, the sister of the evil Alilandra. You and your people know just a small amount about magic. You know of only three types of magic: dark, good, and illuminated magic. These are not the only ones. You are all unaware of the most powerful magic, the Conscious Magic. This magic is not one you can just find. It stays true to its name and indeed seems to have its own conscience and mind as it chooses its own holders. It can appear and act like good, dark or illuminated magic, as it did your sister."


She pauses here and I take a moment to take this all in. She could be lying, of course, but I'm not sure. She had said she would prove to me that my mother has died, which I do believe, and I am sure she has a way to prove all else she has said. With this I decide to play along and withhold all judgement until she provides her evidence.


"What about my sister now?" I ask confused. "Are you to say that the good magic Chybeth was born with was not good at all, but instead this conscious magic you speak of? Or was she truly born with good magic and later came in possession of conscious magic which has been mistaken for dark magic? Or has it always been conscious magic?" I ask all at once.


"She was born with good magic, yes, and she all did find a true dark magic as well. The only difference is that at the same time she gained the dark magic, a small portion of Conscious Magic was sent to her. This combination caused the Conscious Magic to transform into a dark magic as powerful as the two magics multiplied with each other. Even though the Conscious Magic Chybeth received was a very small and limited amount, Conscious Magic is so strong that when the dark magic, Conscious Magic, and the good magic already inside her all combined, it became a dark magic far more than ten times more powerful than Allilandra had. This is very dangerous and can easily destroy the entire kingdom, kill everyone within fifty miles of the kingdom edges, as well as those within it. If Chybeth realizes this, she will be no match for the strong influence of this monster magic and is she continues to struggle in attempts to resist, it could just as well destroy her and take control of her body. With this allowing the magic to have its complete ability to maneuver with its own conscience and release destructive power to it's full potential, in time it will have brought total doom to the whole world. This result was not planned," she ends her lengthy speech with a faint look of guilt spread across her features.


Then I realize why. It must have been her that sent Chybeth the conscious magic and she clearly at least partially blames herself for this catastrophe. "So it was you that sent the conscious magic to Chybeth? And have you tried this before on anyone else? And is there still a chance," I swallow a lump in my throat when a memory of the sweet little girl I once knew to be Chybeth brings a tiny flash of hope to me in this much needed time. "That Chybeth will return to the way she once was?" An even more desperate cry of hope came from inside me as I thought of Kiri. "Is it possible I will ever again hold my baby girl in my arms?" A tear falls from my watering eyes as I force out the last question in a raspy whisper.


"There is always hope and possibilities and chances. No matter how likely or unlikely it may be, they will always exist. But know that I cannot make any promises to you," she answers in a can, warm and encouraging voice. "Chybeth is the first child of a king or queen to have been born with magic since Allilandra. The Conscious Magic has wanted to ascend upon a royal pureblood that had been born with magic of it's own. During my lifetime, I had discovered the Conscious Magic and upon having knowledge of my life it chose me as its eternal apprentice, messenger, and so forth which started at the end of my life until this point. Chybeth was to become a mighty leader in war, second only under you. You personally have been watched closely and it has been determined that you would be a righteous queen and would never abuse the privileges such a warrior would grant you. But then I realized what had happened to your sister, began on my quest to defeat this powerful monstrous magic that is growing only stronger every day. I continue to try to defeat the monster controlling Chybeth, but now I need your help. You can get close to her. Also, there is already magic with you. It will help protect you and assist you in fighting the Conscious Dark Magic. You will learn to use it over time. Your magic is not as powerful as the Conscious Magic, but it is still strong. You have a large amount of the rare but powerful magic type known as nearfoud magic. It is all around us, in the air. It is difficult to capture, but once you have it, it will be with you forever. I have no access to it except through you. I return for helping us defeat this magic we will begin a search for you daughter. But once again, I can make no promises. The Conscious Magic will always be with you, and so will I. Call upon us, and we will appear either physically or in the form of magic for you to use. You will feel us if we are present. Now I will disguise you so you will be be able to come into the view of the public. But for now, just rest. Sleep for this is much for you to handle...Queen Kaima."


Oh. That's right. Upon the death of my mother, I will now take her place as queen. Indeed this was a lot for me to handle. And I do feel fairly tired. Realizing I am still sitting on the grass, I am about to lower my head to the ground when Areas a reaches her hand out towards me and touches my forehead. Instantly everything goes bleach and my body falls limp to the soft grass.



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