Shades of Darkness: Lights in the Shadows - Part Two
"I didn't kill your father. I am your father."
Tal almost dropped his sword. Jak couldn't be...
he just couldn't. Tal didn't want to believe it. He automatically ran his hand
over the scar on his face.
Tal did what he had wanted to do for a long time.
He walked over to Jak and back kicked him in the shin. His cowboy spur made
contact with Jak's shin. Blood dripped out of the wound.
"That's going to last a long time!" said Tal.
Jak fell backwards. Tal then back kicked him in the stomach. For the first time
in his life, Jak Morgan cried out in pain.
"C'mon!" I said as Shadowlance and I were rushing
down the dungeon steps. I had on my enchanted night vision goggles, so I could
see perfectly. Shadowlance, however, was having a hard time.
"You're going to need to guide me," said Shadowlance.
"I can't see."
I grabbed his reigns and led him down the stairs.
Once we got to the bottom I pulled out the map.
"Okay, we're here and the high security cells
are all the way on the other side," I said. "Well this is simple, all I have
to do is make five right turns and four left turns and I'm there."
It seemed to take forever to get to the other
side of the dungeon. The walls were nothing but cells. Most were full. Most
pets inside them were asleep. The ones that were awake just stared into thin
air and didn't even notice us. We almost ran into the guard once, but we turned
a corner and he passed us without noticing. It was a sad sight. How long had
some of these pets been in here? One particularly thin yellow Kacheek was screaming
for his owner. I felt the urge just to break down the bars right then and there
and free him, but I couldn't. When the war was all over, I would free every
single pet in this place. Losing was not an option when so many beings depended
We finally reached the thirty or so cells that
were high security. Most were empty, but none contained an orange Zafara.
"Oh where is he?" I said aloud.
"Who you looking for?" said a voice. I looked
over at the cell next to me. A spotted Zafara was inside; he held on to the
bars. He looked about twelve, but was very thin.
"An orange Zafara, have you seen him?"
"Yeah, I have."
"Where is he?"
"They took him."
"Where?" I asked
"Ain't telling unless you free me."
"I don't have anything to open your cell with."
As soon as I said this Shadowlance walked over
to his cell door and mumbled some words. The door clicked open.
"How did you do that?" I asked.
"Tal was able to teach me simple magic," said
Shadowlance. "But the most I can do is heal small cuts."
"Thank you," said the Zafara. "My name's Eli
and they took the orange one to the arena."
"Oh no," said Shadowlance.
"What's the arena?" I asked.
"It's a place where Shades fight," said Shadowlance.
"Tal's told me about it. It's on the highest floor of the tower."
"How long ago was this?" I asked Eli.
"About an hour or so ago."
"We need to hurry!" I said. I hoisted Eli on
to Shadowlance before climbing on myself and riding off into the darkness.
"C'MON, RUN!" cried James. They had not managed
to get by the Lupes without being seen. Now the Lupes were pursuing them fast.
One was only a few feet away from the starry Zafara in the back of the group.
The Lupe got close enough to sink its fangs
into the starry Zafara's Uni. The Uni reared up and then fell to the ground.
"STOP!" cried Perigen.
"What are we stopping for?" cried Pudding. "We're
going to get captured or bitten as well! He's fallen, he would want us to go
along and complete our mission rather than having us die with him!"
"That's not Azlan's code," said James. "One falls;
we go back and help him. And besides, we could take on these guys. We are stronger
than any of them."
"Yeah, we are, Perigen," said Dykred. "But look
all around you!"
A mass amount of brown Lupes had made a circle
around us. They were howling like savage animals and sinking their claws into
"Don't move a muscle!" snapped Perigen.
Once the Lupes had stopped howling like crazy,
they began to examine us with interest.
"Well, these are some nice captives," said the
largest Lupe, who Pudding assumed was the leader. He walked over and began to
sniff Pudding's Uni.
"Captives?" said Pudding. "I think not."
The Lupe sniggered. "YOU brought a GIRL along
with you? And I thought you were supposed to be an Azlan Forest Ranger, Perigen!"
Pudding drew her sword and lowered it to the
Lupe's neck. "You've got a problem with that?"
"So we have a fighter? Well then, let's make
a deal. If I win the battle against your Kougra, you become captives. If she
wins, however, which probably won't happen, because we all know girls can't
fight, we'll let you go. Deal?"
I had shed my night vision goggles. I no longer
needed them. Shadowlance was racing at an incredible speed up the steps, not
really caring if we were seen. Somebody would notice Eli was gone eventually,
and time was important right now, not secrecy.
Eli clung to my shirt for dear life. He had never
gone this fast before and was shaking with fright. I could tell he wanted to
yell "Slow down!" at the top of his lungs. But thankfully, he remained
We reached the final part of the staircase that
led to the arena, having only miraculously encountered two Shades on the way
up, and both very frightened to see us.
I dug my heels into Shadowlance's side. I began
riding jockey style as we made the final stretch to the top of the tower.
Shadowlance didn't even bother to open the door.
He just threw himself at it like a battering ram. He rode to the center of the
arena and then reared up into the air.
"Show off..." I muttered.
Tal was in the corner of the room, sword pressed
against Jak's neck.
"C'mon Tal, get it over with and let's go!" yelled
Shadowlance. Tal ignored him.
"I could kill you right now if I wanted to,"
whispered Tal. "But I'm not going to. That would be the easy way out. There
are some things worse than death."
Tal slashed Jak across his right cheek, creating
a giant cut, identical to Tal's. Tal then cleaned and sheathed his sword before
running over to us. He managed to climb on to Shadowlance between Eli and me.
"You'll feel the pain someday. You think it hurts
now, wait till next time," he said to Jak before Shadowlance reared and took
off down the stairs.
The Azlanders and Lupes all created a circle
around Pudding and the leader of the savage Lupe pack.
"C'mon, Zar!" jeered the Lupes. Zar drew his
sword. It was about as half as tall as he was and monstrous with jagged edges
that would really hurt if it struck you. So Pudding quickly knew that she would
play speed in this match. A sword that big would be very heavy, and probably
not very accurate.
Pudding drew her million degree sword out. The
Lupes laughed and jeered. "No way are you ever going to win with that stick!"
Pudding lunged at Zar. Her sword sliced his arm,
making a deep wound in his brown fur.
"Oooh," cried the Lupes. Nobody had ever been
able to injure Zar, but this Kougra had done it in one strike.
Zar charged at Pudding, giant sword raised. Pudding
sidestepped and his blow sliced thin air.
Zar charged at Pudding again, but Pudding ducked
the blow and back flipped towards the center of the circle.
Zar slashed again, but this time he was slower.
Pudding easily back flipped out of the way. This pattern continued, until Zar
made one very inaccurate slash. He was tired and missed by a mile. The Pudding
slashed him right across the chest. Zar howled in pain before Pudding struck
him to the ground. But she did not kill him.
"I have won," she said. "Now let us go and I
will spare your life."
"Yes, sure, anything," whimpered Zar. "Just don't
Pudding sheathed her sword. She walked over and
mounted her Uni. "Girls can fight. Remember that."
The Lupes made a break in the circle and the
Azlanders rode off.
Shades were shouting at us as Tal, Eli and I
rode down the tower stairs on Shadowlance. A Shade jumped out at us and tried
to hit Shadowlance with his blade, but Shadowlance jumped over him easily.
Shades attacked us with swords, bullets, even
wooden boards, but Shadowlance just dodged all their attacks. I gripped the
reigns tightly, while Tal hung on to my shirt and Eli had his arms tightly wrapped
around Tal's waist.
"Do you have any idea what you're doing?" yelled
Tal at me as Shadowlance dodged another attack.
"No!" I yelled. "Shadowlance is doing it all!"
"Tell him he's doing a good job at it!" said
Tal sarcastically. "The kid back here has almost fallen off a couple times!"
Shadowlance dodged every attack till we burst
out of the front gates and on the grounds where Shadowlance ran like a bullet
across the grass and into the forest, and he didn't stop until we were far away
from the tower of doom. Then we all let off cheers.
"Okay, I'm really happy we all got out of there
alive," said Shadowlance. "But could one of you please get off of me?"
I jumped down off of him and Tal took the reigns.
"Hey, where's Raindash?" asked Tal.
"Raindash is back hidden where you were captured.
We figured it would be easier if were just me and Shadowlance." I said. "We'll
go meet up with her after we drop Eli off near Azlan."
Eli smiled as I said that. "I get to go home
at last," he said.
"You lived in Azlan?" asked Tal. "I've never
seen you before."
"I lived there when I was little," said Eli.
"Then my parents ran into the Shades, so they took me away and locked me in
Tal was silent for the rest of the ride.
We took Eli close to Azlan before saying goodbye.
We would have gone in with him, but we already lost a day of traveling to rescue
Tal and we needed every precious minute we had.
"Now look for a large flat stone," I said. "Tap
on it three times with your fist and it will let you in."
"Thanks," he said. "I'll see you again someday,
I know it."
He walked off towards his home as we rode north
Evening came just as Tal and I were approaching
the Grarrl's Teeth. We stopped and I began to make a fire with what little wood
we had managed to pick up.
I wasn't going to pressure Tal for answers about
why he was captured... yet. I was going to wait till we met up with Raindash
and were back on course. Right now, I was just satisfied that we were all alive.
We rode through the Grarrl's Teeth the next day
without any problems and met up with Raindash just as the sun was about to go
down. Once we got a fire going and eaten dinner, Tal said "Well, I think we
should get started on your training."
"Okay," I said.
"First," said Tal. "You need strength to cast
a spell. If you don't have enough strength or experience to do it, results can
be costly. You will most likely pass out, but if it's a really strong spell,
you could die. You cast spells using your palms and fingers.
"Second, there are some things that just
can't be done. Bringing back the dead is one of them. You just can't do it.
You'll die trying; it just takes too much magic. End of story.
"Third, in order to use magic, you need
to summon it. You summon it by saying words of power; it's actually ancient
Faerie tongue. Once you get better at casting a spell, you'll no longer
have to say the word; you just have to think about what you're casting. Got
"Okay," I said. "Let's start."
"We'll start with Enchantment Magic, as it's
the easiest," said Tal. He picked up a rock and handed it to me. "Your goal
is to get that rock to float on air. Your words are Silex Orior."
I repeated those words. Nothing happened.
"Keep trying," said Tal. "It takes a bit."
After a few tries, I managed to lift the rock
off my palm and into the air. It wobbled a bit before falling back down again.
The next day I practiced levitating the rock
as we continued our journey across the plains. By the time Tal called it a day,
I was very tired, but I had managed to hold the rock in the air for fifteen
seconds before releasing it.
"Now that you're getting levitation, try and
move the rock forward and away from your palm," said Tal.
After I had mastered moving the rock in all directions,
including once levitating it over Tal's head and threatening to drop it on him
when he got annoying, I moved onto changing the rock's color, shape, turning
it invisible, making it roll for a certain amount of time, etc. A week later,
I had mastered all the enchantment magic that Tal knew.
The night after I finished my enchantment magic
training, I asked Tal, "How does Jak know you? And why did he capture you
in the first place?"
He was silent for a moment. "Look," he said.
"I really don't want to talk about it."
"I have somewhat of a right to know," I said.
"From what Jak said that night you were captured, I could just assume that you're
evil as well and are leading all of us toward our deaths."
"Trust me, I'm not evil," he said. "I maybe once
was, but I'm not anymore."
"How do I know?"
He sighed. "Alright, I'll tell you."
To be continued...