Caution: Quills may be sharp Circulation: 93,823,843 Issue: 183 | 26th day of Running, Y7
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A Shadow in the Light: It has Begun - Part Four

by rabbitofkittyhawk


The Zafara was on the brink of crying by the time he was brought to a large clearing in the dark forest. There was a large tree in the middle, its bark a strange alabaster hue. He studied it for a moment, curiosity soon replacing his fear. The cave in its roots was what intrigued him the most, triggering a longing. A longing to go and explore it. "Where are we?" he asked his Krawk captor, only half expecting an answer.

      The shadow Krawk didn't even turn his head.

      Manov sighed and decided to sit down. The walk had been uneventful and utterly boring to the young one, who strongly wanted to return home to his Feepit. Though he wanted to see Chico, mostly he wanted to speak to Sovan. He felt horrid for not respecting what his friend had been saying, knowing that what he said was right. He was too young. "And I didn't even get to eat my potato wedges," he sighed in regret. "Excuse me, sir, but would you happen to have any food on you?" he asked the Krawk, who once again ignored him.

      "You are hungry?" came a shallow voice from the cave. It was like a caressing purr, but yet it was also hollow and cold. The voice was feminine, and soon the bearer emerged from the eerie darkness. It was the Darigan Kougra, Kax. "Get him something to eat, scum," she snarled to the Krawk.

      The Krawk's eyes grew wide and he handed the chain to one of the hooded forms before darting into the forest undergrowth.

      "You. Bring the kid here," Kax hissed, talons clenching into the ground in excitement. As the form dragged Manov closer, a smile played at Kax's maw. "You are rather young to be the Summoner," she said thoughtfully. "No worries, you can still be taught, but if you want to survive you best do what you are told to," added the Kougra.

      Manov gulped, the fear returning yet again. "Where's the cave go?" he asked suddenly, trying to get the subject away from him. Oh how he wished Sovan was there! 'I'm sorry, Sovan! I wish I could tell you that. I wish I could because I don't know if I'll be going back to Ovalon for a while,' he thought sadly.

      Kax let a maniacal grin break across her hideous maw. "It leads to an unfortunate kingdom called Meridell. That is the largest kingdom around, and the most decent place I can think of where you can start your training."

      Manov's mind was starting to wander. "Training?" he asked absent-mindedly. "I don't want training, I want to go home," he said bitterly.

      The Kougra snickered. "He wants to go home!" she chortled loudly, looking to the shadows near the trees who joined in her laughter. "This is your home now. We are your family and here you will live happily..."


      "Sovan, help me!"

      The Lupe swiveled around, auds laying flat on his skull. "What? What's wrong, Dizz?" he asked quickly.

      "There's a Slorg on my head!"

      Sovan drooped his shoulders and walked to his friend, picking the petpet from her fur. "Don't scare me like that again."

      Dizzconnie blushed in embarrassment. "Sorry." Her sheepish face fell as she thought of little Manov, hoping he was alright. He, along with Sovan, gave the village a light. They were two mischief-makers that never put on a show without the other. True, there was a rather large gap in their ages, but still they made a great duo. She sighed slightly as she thought of black clad thieves and missing pets starting to become more common. "Sovan, if we don't find Manov, what are we going to do? We can't just leave him out here."

      Sovan continued walking. "Of coarse we won't leave him, we'll just go back to Ovalon and wait for him to come crying back," he said with a grin.

      "Sovan, that's horrid!" Dizzconnie spat to Sovan. "You're his best friend, you wouldn't do that."

      The Lupe turned back to her. "You really don't think so? Why don't I just turn back now? You find him on you own," he snarled, slowly making his way behind her. He didn't even turn his head as he disappeared into the foliage.

      The Gelert was stunned. "Wait, Sovan!" She gave a low whimper when she noticed that he wasn't coming back and that she wasn't welcome to follow. "What is happening?" she asked herself softly. His mood swings were starting to scare her, and now they left her all alone in Direwood. She shivered from the morning breeze and tugged her cyan cloak closer to her fur. "Oh Manov... where are you?"

          Sovan quickened to a run, his blind anger taking over. His conclusion was that Manov was foolish and Dizzconnie was too sensitive. He winced as his paw struck a root, sending him toppling to the ground. "This just gets better and better..." he grumbled bitterly. He shook his dial and lifted himself to a sitting position. He wanted to cry, to let the hurt and worry flow into a puddle before him so that he could convince himself that there was nothing to be worried about. "But there is... Manov is missing and you didn't care," he mumbled, but as soon as the words left his maw, he shook his head once more. "No, he doesn't deserve worry, he's on his own." And with that, the Lupe stood, brushed himself off, and continued on his way. This time at a cautious walk.

           Dizzconnie was finally too tired to carry on. Her weary paws were cracked and bloody, and her pools drooped dangerously. "Just a little rest," she said as a large, flat rock came into view. She scampered to the rock and lay down, a yawn escaping her jaws as she lay her crania on her arms. "Just for a minute..." her voice trailed off, the words distorting into a low snore. The Gelert's faerie wings folded onto her back; their torn and tattered forms added warmth to the chilled pet.

      It was several hours later that the Gelert awoke, and it was nearly midday. She sat and stretched her limbs and wings before standing. She had no idea where she should go or where to look for the young Zafara. "Sovan, why did you have to leave me out here!" she cried in frustration, rubbing the last bit of sleep from her eyes. Dizzconnie sighed heavily and trudged the way she had come hours before. Or at least, it looked like it was the way she had come from.

      Manov wasn't listening, his mind toiling on Sovan's outburst at the pub. He sat down after a while, making himself look like a rather young pet listening to a story with words that he didn't understand. Finally, the Kougra stopped talking. When she looked questioningly at him, he quickly stood. "Ma'am, could you repeat the first part again?" he asked hopefully.

      Kax blinked in surprise. "Uhh, all of the first part or what?" she asked hardly.

      "Well, you may have to start all over again, I don't think I caught very much of what you were saying."

      The Kougra twitched in her growing fury. This young one was getting the best of her, and he could see he was succeeding. "You listen this time, kid, and I'll consider not killing you myself!"

      Manov recoiled slightly as saliva dribbled from the Kougra's furious mouth. "I'll listen, as long as I get to ask questions." He sat again and looked up at her, innocence sweeping over his small face.

      Kax was lost for words. 'This is the Summoner? Young and ignorant is what I have to work with,' she thought with disappointment. "Fine, I'll start over," she growled. She opened her maw once more, but before a sound could escape her vocals, a loud shriek filled the air.

      Dizzconnie watched from the foliage, her jaw dropping as she saw the cloaked figures by Manov and the Kougra. She clamped her paw over her mouth to keep another squeal from leaping from her throat, but instead her tail started to smack the ground, making leaves rustle in a dance of jade. Seeing several of the cloaked ones advance to her hiding spot, she quietly slipped away, moving around the clearing's perimeter until she was on the other side. She sighed in relief and peered out once more.

      The large feline let a growl rumble in her throat, but soon she turned back to Manov. "Here take this," she said almost gently, extending a paw to give something to him.

      Dizzconnie strained to see what was in the massive Darigan Kougra's paw, but she could only see a chain flowing down from her paw. It looked quite a bit like a necklace chain to her.

      Manov hesitated before placing a paw on the chain's crimson pendant and lifting it from Kax's grasp. He held it in front of him and inspected it. It was a long golden chain with small links and a ruby heart pendant. The Zafara turned the heart over in his paws as Kax spoke again.

      "Go on, just put it on. It will give you eyes, the eyes that will show you what life is like without the pain and suffering."

      The young Zafara snorted. "Yeah, right, and I'm an Angelpuss," he said sarcastically. Yet the necklace seemed inviting. It was just a necklace; a chain and some silly pendant never hurt anybody. "I just put it on?" he asked softly.

      Kax nodded. "Nothing harmful about it."

     The hiding Gelert sprang from the undergrowth, a snarl on her face. Her heart leaped as she saw Manov, but then a violent tug sent her to the ground. She rubbed her dial and looked up to see a shadow Krawk, holding a large sack.

      The Krawk hissed, trying to sound menacing, and picked Dizzconnie up. He stuffed her in the sack and grunted in approval.

      Dizzconnie waited for her eyes to adjust, but then a pair of red eyes met hers. She screamed and punched the Krawk, her small paw doing the creature no harm at all. Then a tiny Meepit leaped into her lap. She cocked her head and noticed the little beady eyes were under her feet. She shifted sheepishly, letting the Meepits that she had sat on jump into her lap. "What are you guys in for?" she asked flatly. She was answered with several 'meeps'.

      Manov looked at the Krawk, curious of what was in the large burlap sack. He then took a deep breath and slipped the chain over his neck, clamping his eyes closed as he did so.

      Kax smiled as he let go of the chain, but then, as the chain touched his shoulders, he fell to the ground as if it weighed several tons. She leaped back and let her jaw drop. "What? You- you brought me the wrong pet, this is not the Summoner!" she shrieked, giving Manov's limp form a kick. She bent over to retrieve the necklace, but a shadowed ebony paw grabbed her wrist.

      Manov stood, looking to the ground. "It's mine, you gave it to me," he spat, his voice low pitched, quite unlike it had been moments before. Not only did his tone sound lower, but it also dripped poisonously with apathy.

      Dizzconnie watched through a small hole in the sack, confusion settling on her face. The hollowness of her friend's voice made her shiver, but when he looked her way, she gasped. His eyes. Manov's once gentle chocolate brown pools were now a pulsing scarlet, their hue seeming to glow. Another thing that disturbed her was the glowing of the heart pendant. "Manov?" she whispered in fear.

The End

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Other Episodes

» A Shadow in the Light: It has Begun - Part One
» A Shadow in the Light: It has Begun - Part Two
» A Shadow in the Light: It has Begun - Part Two

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