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Shadow Gifts


by scarletspindle

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The small Yellow Lupe shuddered with the fear of dark and cold as he curled up all alone in the rickety abandoned house he’d found a week ago to live in. The rotten floorboards creaked and shifted under him as he huddled in upon himself in a tatty blanket he’d found discarded in one of the rooms. He sat in what had once been a dining room. It was now coated in dust and reeking of mildew and death. He didn’t seem to mind it very much, though; anything was better than being outside and exposed in the Haunted Woods.

      Nobody knew where he was and nobody cared; the concept terrified him completely. Not long ago he had thought he’d left that fearful feeling behind him; not long ago he had thought himself loved and treasured even if it was by only a few friends. Now he was sure that he’d been dead wrong the whole time; now it seemed ridiculous to think that running around with other ruffians and sleeping in game stalls in the Deserted Fairground was an enjoyable and permanent lifestyle.

      First he hadn’t noticed the change in his friends; oh, perhaps there had been a snicker or a whisper behind his back every now and then, but none of it seemed malicious. The reality had been unveiled that bitter day a week ago when they had all turned on him and transformed his façade of bravado into the truth of a cowering whimpering pup.

      Those he had called his friends had all tried to attack him and hurt him and he had run away; even now he wasn’t sure if their intention was to maim or kill, but either way the end result was his complete and utter aloneness. In the dark, the small Lupe wept for everything he wanted and would never have.

      “I wish I wasn’t so alone,” he moaned sadly as salty tears dripped down his muzzle ceaselessly. “Nobody even cares if I’m alive.”

      The crack of lightning overhead made him jump with surprise as a torrent of rain began to gush down outside. One of the old dusty windows in the room was broken wide open and the water began to dart through, seeping slowly into the already rotting floorboards. For a moment the Lupe just stared at the pooling water, his lower lip quivering as he tried to hold back another wave of sadness.

      “Did someone make a wish?” a hoarse voice whispered from behind him.

      The Lupe let out a shriek of surprise and jumped to his feet, whipping around to face whoever had addressed him. What he saw almost made his heart stop in his chest.

      Before him stood a Uni, the signs of rot and death emanating from his body as he regarded him with piercing red eyes. His mane whipped about his undead face in a spectral wind that the Lupe couldn’t feel and loosened bandages hung about his corpse like a twisted decoration. The smell of old burning wood reached his nose as the flaming hooves of the Uni bit into the ancient floor. Every instinct told the little Lupe to run, but he couldn’t seem to make his body move.

      “You made a wish, did you not?” the dark creature whispered again; his voice sounded like sandpaper and broken glass. “What’s your name, child? Then tell me what you wish.”

      “A-Asunder,” the Lupe choked out after a moment’s hesitation. “It isn’t a very good name, so I don’t like to tell it to people.”

      “Oh? Why don’t you like it?” the Uni asked stoically, his eyes sparkling with malice.

      “Because it means to be broken apart... I know my mom named me that because I ruined everything... so she left me with nothing but a name that tells everyone that nobody loved me.” Some of the tears the Lupe had been holding back leaked down his face as he spoke.

      “So what is your wish, Asunder?” the undead Uni asked. “What do you want more than anything in the world?”

      “To never be alone again,” Asunder said before bitterly adding, “and to hurt everyone who made me alone in the first place.”

      The Uni’s face broke into a ghastly grin. “I can’t help you with the first part, but I can give you power enough to fulfill the second. Do you want that gift?”

      Asunder paused for a moment as he thought of an answer; the Uni frightened him--there was no doubt about that, but the power he offered was a tempting thing. He remembered the terrible aloneness that had clawed at him since the day of his birth; how for a while he thought he had truly found respite in friendship and belonging, only to have it ripped away. As he pondered, he was filled with a horrible blistering rage that stole away any last doubt.

      “Alright... I want your gift... I want those people to suffer.” The words burned like acid as they fell from his lips.

      “As you wish...” the Uni said as the maliciousness of his eyes bled into the smile that was fixed upon his face. “You will make this pact for power?”

      “I will,” he said firmly. “What did you say your name was?”

      “I didn’t say,” the undead Uni said coldly as the smile on his face grew wider. “The few who know of me, though, call me Nightmare... and now it’s time to begin yours.”

      Suddenly the power in the room became palpable and the hatred and anger Asunder had been feeling melted away again into fear. He opened his mouth to say he’d changed his mind, but no words came out. It was as if his voice had been stolen away from him as he cried out muted protests to the dark creature that regarded him with brimstone eyes.

      Slowly shadow began to leak from the Uni as his corporeal form dissipated into darkness that consumed everything in its wake. Asunder screamed silently as it devoured him, everything that had frightened and hurt him suddenly multiplied tenfold as panic wracked his body mercilessly.

      He could feel the shadows that choked him seeping into his fur and winding around his bones, filling his whole body with blind terror as it churned within him. Then suddenly the cold terrifying pain of darkness and utter abandonment turned into a searing physical pain that consumed him completely. Everything felt like it was melting and then forming together again transforming him into an entirely different being than he was before.

      Then as suddenly as it began it stopped as Asunder fell to the floor with a terrible cry that cut the air like a knife. His body quivered with complete exhaustion as he wept, unable to so much as move his newly formed muscles.

      “Get up,” Nightmare said icily. “You should at least look at what I’ve given you.”

      The Lupe didn’t even try to stand as he sobbed into the old wood floor.

      “Up!” the Uni snarled angrily; power wrapping around his words and forcing the Lupe to his feet.

      “P-Please–” Asunder began and then froze at the sound of his own voice. It was gruff and low and very unlike what it used to be.

      Nightmare paid him no heed as he forced him onward to an old full-length mirror that was fixed upon the opposite wall of the dining room. Dust thickly caked it, but with a twitch of his head the Uni conjured a wind that dispelled most of it.

      “Look,” he ordered as he grinned yet again.

      Asunder stared at himself in the mirror in abject horror; the magic of the Uni’s command making it impossible to look away. His once yellow fur was now a thick dark brown that flowed over a large muscled body that had once been scrawny and small. It terrified him completely, but the worst part was his eyes; they radiated a soulless unearthly green as they hollowly and hungrily stared back at him. The Uni had made him a Werelupe.

      “I don’t want to look anymore!” he cried. “I don’t want to see!”

      With a heartless laugh the Uni released him and sent the Lupe sprawling into the floor where he lay in anguish. “You agreed to take this power, Asunder. Perhaps now you can break and shatter and destroy enough to truly live up to your name.”

      With one last glance at the Lupe who lay crumpled on the floor, Nightmare vanished; the only testament of his presence the damage he had left behind.

      Alone in the Haunted Woods, Asunder wept.

The End

 
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