A Shadow in the Light: It has Begun - Part One
Upon the ridge the dark shadow sat, its ebon cloak hugging
its form. The chilled night air was heavy with frost, and the moonlight that softly
breathed on the earth seemed to freeze from the bitterness of late autumn. The
figure waited patiently, its shadowed form low on the verdant grass atop a small
hillcrest. Then, suddenly, a small crimson fire bloomed in the meadows below,
and the figure stood and leaped toward the signal at a swift pace. Its face was
concealed by the black cloak's hood and as was its body, save for two black paws
that raced over the emerald blades.
The fire was built between a circle of Kau hide
tents, created by a small fire Lupe. The Lupe sat in front of its tent and glanced
around at the other Neopets. They were nervous, even he was. It was not safe
to let the fire glow, but they would die without its comforting warmth. The
enemy was making matters considerably complicated. "Jayla, is Kaan asleep?"
the fire Lupe asked softly to a brown Yurble.
The Yurble nodded and said harshly, "Sovan,
what's wrong? Are we going to be alright?" The fear in her voice was noticeable,
and several of the others shuddered slightly.
Sovan shook his head. "I don't want the child
to be frightened," he said, words slow and almost youthful. He was small, but
it wasn't because he was young in age, but his strangely tiny build. He was
disgusted with himself for not being able to tell them. To have to let fate
take its toll. To be the one responsible if anyone was hurt. "Excuse me, I'm
going to patrol the camp," he said finally, his words bringing a few laughs.
The figure slowed as Sovan stood, the cloak
that had hidden its face sliding off its crania to reveal a shadow Zafara. His
face was frustrated, and he crouched low to the ground to avoid being seen.
"Sovan..." he said in a hiss. His crimson eyes narrowed, and he gritted his
teeth in anger. The Zafara waited until the Lupe was on the other side of the
camp before running the rest of the way to one of the tents, footfalls silent.
He ducked behind the red tent and drew a small, rusted dagger.
Sovan quickened his pace to create heat from
the movement, but just as he finished his first circuit, he noticed a shadow
by Kaan's tent. "Jayla, get Kaan!" he shouted, leaping towards the Zafara.
The Zafara instantly turned his dial to the
furious Lupe, but otherwise didn't move. His dahlia pools glared out at the
canine, making Sovan stop. He smirked and slit a hole in the thin hide. He growled
in frustration as he saw that the little red Yurble was no longer in the tent.
"Manov! What do you seek! Leave Kaan alone and
tell me. We may be able to settle this," Sovan shouted as the Zafara caught
sight of Kaan by the fire with Jayla. Seeing that Manov wasn't listening to
him, Sovan leaped at his cloak and unbalanced the intruder's pounce.
Manov pulled away from the Lupe's grasp and
lunged at Jayla and Kaan, red eyes focused on a chain around Kaan's neck. It
was a golden chain holding a ruby heart pendant, and the firelight seemed to
make the crimson jewel glow as Manov grabbed the chain. He ripped the chain
from Kaan's neck, snapping it in two before running out the other side of the
camp. Arrows rained down behind him, but his slim form slipped past them. He
slowed slightly and sighed as he came to a complete stop. He overlooked the
pendant for a moment, but then a searing pain sprouted from his shoulder. Sovan
wasn't giving up the chase, and his dagger had reached the target. Manov gritted
his teeth and bound away from the Lupe, quickly leaving him behind.
Sovan slowed, knowing that he wouldn't be able
to catch up. He rested his paws on his knees and gasped to catch his breath
once more. 'Manov?' he thought. 'Manov, how could you do this to me?'
Ten Years Before
"Ha! Sovan, my good friend, you're losing your
touch!" the young Zafara snickered.
Sovan looked up into the tree at his friend
and smiled weakly. "I haven't been climbing in several years. I guess I paid
my price, eh?" He laughed at himself, and rubbed his arm on which he had landed
on when he had fallen from the branches. He envied Manov. The Zafara was about
a decade younger than he, and his energy never seemed to wane. They were about
the same size if they were to stand next to one another, but yet Manov was lankier.
"I suppose so," Manov responded softly, looking
out at the blooming spring valley. "How is Shan doing? Has the NeoFlu broken
"No, but she's getting better," he replied,
thinking of his younger sister, Shanmei. "Well, come on down here you Feepit,
and let's visit Dizzconnie or something," he said into the tree, looking up
at his friend. "I heard that she got a new shipment of potato wedges yesterday."
Manov landed next to Sovan. "Well let's go then,
can't let good potato wedges go to waste!" And with that, the Zafara ran towards
the small village of Ovalon.
The Lupe smiled and shook his head. He had known
that once he had mentioned food that the younger would get out of the tree's
branches. He hated to say it, but the boy ate too much. "I wish I could eat
like you do. Eat everything in sight and not gain an once," he called after
Manov, who was nearing the village huts.
The shadow Zafara shot into the village square
and peered behind him before walking to Dizzconnie's small pub. It was dark,
and quite a few pets were sitting at the high seated bar, sipping Neocola and
talking to friends. He waved to the faerie Gelert behind the counter and took
a seat at a small corner near the empty fireplace. When Sovan finally enter,
the Zafara laughed at his friend's feeble attempts to hide his fatigue. "Have
a good run, chap?" he asked, clearly amused.
Sovan rolled his eyes and sat across from Manov.
"Yes, thank you, I did have a nice run. Thanks for asking."
"Sovan and Manov, 'ello lads!" Dizzconnie said
warmly as she padded to their table. "How are the trouble makers doing today?"
After they shrugged she laughed and asked, "Is there anything I can get you,
or are ya here just to plot?"
"I would like some potato wedges if that's alright,"
Manov said shyly, who was slightly embarrassed by his large appetite. "You need
The Lupe shook his head at Dizzconnie. After
she left, he looked shot Manov a serious glance. "Stop staring at me like that,
you look like you've seen a ghost!"
The younger shook his head. "No ghost here,
Sovan, but there's something wrong with Dizzie."
Sovan was slightly worried by his friend's tone
of voice. "She seemed alright, buddy."
"No, she always asks me what I stole today at
the market. She didn't ask!"
Sovan lifted an eyebrow. "You're serious? Come
on Manov, she just forgot, you're just getting a little paranoid." He shook
his head and smiled as Dizzconnie swept by and placed the wedges in front of
Manov. "Hey, Dizzie, everything alright?" he asked before she walked away. He
shot Manov a fake look of fear.
Dizzconnie let her eyes dart from Sovan to Manov
and back again. "Is it that noticeable?" she asked, her voice somewhat shaky.
Sovan's eyes grew wide. "Umm, uh, no, but Manov
got some crazy idea about something when you didn't- What's going on Dizz?"
He set his elbows on the table and put his dial in his hands. "I've got a headache."
"Well" Dizzconnie started. "Lately we've been
getting talk of some strange shadow clad people around Direwood. You know, the
forest on the other side of Dire's Hill? At first I just thought it was just
a group of kids, but now the village blacksmith has gone missing. And at his
hut, they found a strip of black cloth. All this business has scared a few families
away, and I'm starting to get a little scared. Do you think Frauns is alright?"
Sovan and Manov were stunned. "When?" they asked
in unison. Frauns was a good friend of theirs, and it was hard to think that
he was gone.
"Two suns ago, and to make matters worse, those
black cloaked pets have been spotted right here in Ovalon. This is all so frightful."
Manov shuddered. "Someone should go to Coursett,
tell the king about what's happening," he said angrily. Coursett, the nearest
kingdom, had rule over small Ovalon, but lately the kingdom had been ignoring
the small village.
"Everyone's too scared to go. You have to get
through Direwood to get there you know," the Gelert said shakily. "Well, I best
get back to work. Take care ya'll."
"Sovan, that Warf of a king has to know about
this, the people need encouragement!" Manov said frantically. "What do we do?
Should we go to Coursett?"
Sovan was stunned once more, but now by Manov's
question. "Of coarse we don't go you idiot! We're the village nuisance, not
the heroes." He sighed. "But since no one is going... I will."
Manov narrowed his brown eyes. "Hey, what about
me? I'm coming too, right?"
"No, I won't let you get hurt because of this,
friend. Anyway, you're too young."
He didn't want to admit it, but Manov was hurt.
"Alright, I see what you mean. You want to be like the village savior and be
the hero. Well, no. I want to go so that Frauns can be found."
Sovan stood and leaned close to the young Zafara's
face. "You are staying here! You got that!?" he yelled, making everyone turn
Manov stood also, but only glared at Sovan.
He then walked out, leaving his potato wedges behind.
To be continued...