Dream of the Shadows
Short Story by Shadow Summit
With a long graceful stride, Shay’d Wrae’th paced silently through the forest of Dervyn’s Thicket. Her sleek body bushing through the dense undergrowth, the moist, mossy ground making for a soft footing. Her trained perceptive eyes glided across the forests dense floor, seeking any sign of the game she was hunting. Shay’d felt a shiver of anticipation course through her body as her sensitive nose picked up the scent of her long awaited prey.
She then crouched close to the ground, slinking against a tree trunk before spotting the rabbit. Shay’d moved forward slowly, as to not spook the rabbit into running. The rabbit sat back, its ears swiveling as if it sensed the danger that lurked close by. Shay’d froze, her breathing slowed, patience being a key point in the art of good hunting. The rabbit stayed alert for a couple of minutes before it relaxed and went back to munching on the rich green grass.
Shay’d took another couple of cautious paces before pouncing out of the low ferns and surprising the rabbit. There was a short chase, as the rabbit frantically rushed to escape, but Shay’d was already on top of it. With a single bound, Shay’d had the rabbit in her mouth, her strong jaw crushing the rabbits windpipe and spine. She then carried the body to a rock nearby and dropped the still twitching body down.
Shay’d flicked her long tail, emitting a low purr from her throat and sitting back on her haunches. She then stretched her front paws in front of her, flexing her claws. The black fur around her paws gradually turned to pink skin and as her fur continued to recede, her paws formed into human hands. Her sleek panther form slowly transformed into a slim, athletic figure. Shay’d’s short, black fur on the top of her head grew long and sleek.
By the end of the transformation all that was left of her previous form were her thick dark lashes that surrounded her calm green eyes. Shay’d wore a deep green leather vest tunic over a black, thick cotton, fitted-point sleeve shirt. A pair of black breaches were covered till just below the knee with scuffed leather boots.
Shay’d pulled a dagger from its sheath at her hip and made quick work of skinning the rabbit. She then gathered a pile of dead wood and dried grass. Her eyes flashed with a quick light and a small flame flickered to life in the middle of the dried grass. Soon the fire spread and enveloped the wood, projecting warm to where Shay’d sat. Shay’d began spit roasting the rabbit, her eye’s reflecting the dance of the bright orange flames. Soon after eating the fully cooked rabbit, Shay’d poked the fire, sending a flurry of embers floating into the night sky. The hearth settled again and Shay’d stretched out beside it. As they began a slow decent back to the ground, the embers started spinning and a bright orange returned to them. Shay’d caught one of them on her hand and brought it up to eye level to have a closer look. As she studied the ember, the ember was revealed to actually be a tiny sprite-like creature.
The ember formed a dress around the pale body of the creature and round amber eyes stared intently back at Shay’d. Shay’d smiled and looked up to see all the other embers were also the same. She didn’t move for a full minute and allowed the peaceful silence to pass as they all surveyed one another. When she believed it had been long enough, Shay’d bowed her head and emitted a deep hum from her throat. This sound was returned by the creatures surrounding her, it was a greeting in the Sylvan language. Silence again fell but this time the small creatures flew around Shay’d, passing through her long strands of hair and running their hands across her brow. Their hands tickled and a quite chuckle passed through her lips. A hundred amber eyes twinkled as they all giggled in turn, their voices making the most soothing sound Shay’d had ever heard.
The creatures danced around the fire for the entire night but as the sun began to rise they began disappearing into the ferns. Just one creature was left as the first ray of sunlight hit the forest floor. The creature seemed sad to be leaving and flew up to Shay’d, planting a row of kisses on her brow. The creature then flew to the nearest fern and looked back once more, letting out a low hum.
“Its time for you to wake up, my friend. But we will meet again soon!”
Shay’d sat up suddenly, her head banging against the bunk above her own. She was in a small room and a heavy snore was heard from above. Glancing out the window, Shay’d noticed that Varian was already bustling with morning trade.
Shay’d had traveled from the Druidic Kingdom, a place where she should have been learning the art of transformation and spells. But she had been exiled after a Lord had found her lying in his garden. If she had merely been trespassing on his land, she would not have been forced out of the country but there were other aspects. She had lain almost in a trance, her eyes open, humming a deep tune. A silver raven hung from a chain around her throat and her black cloak splayed evenly around her. The Lord and Druids had not even asked for an explanation before exiling her for the use of dark magic, which had long been forbidden from the land. Shay’d however was innocent and had never heard of dark magic let alone practiced it. All she remembered before waking up in chains, was the sweet melodic hum of the creatures she had just dreamt about.
Shay’d sighed and flung her legs over the side of her bed, her feet landing on the cool wooden floor. A mirror and basin stood ready near the door. Glancing at her reflection, Shay’d noticed her forehead had a row of aqua crystal shimmering when she turned her head. A quick swipe across her face with a towel and the crystals were gone. Shay’d smiled serenely before patting her face into a more serious expression. Employers rarely called for a tracker with a joyful attitude, and Shay’d was very serious about her work.
However Shay’d couldn’t help but think that if these creatures were indeed part of dark magic, they were the sweetest kind of darkness she’d had ever experienced.
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