While Abroad (Promising Piece…somewhat)

So yet another piece written on a train here for your viewing pleasure. Though I’m not entirely certain if I’m happy with it… I’m happy with the way it sounds and it has a strange sort of tone that I’ve never tried before. But we’ll see. : ) As per always.

Tracks shine a dull silver and the mist plays in-between the train windows, humming a merry tune that sounds a bit like Christmas. Barren, lost trees sigh and breezes push them along – always onward, and always moving.

The corners in the dark places of the world snarl.

Grumbling and discontent, the shadows shiver as their ancestors push against their prison door. But the North Wind, strongest of the four moves not. His hands of thunder and rain form a hole, and the ditch will not move. Darkness moves not.

To walk, to stretch their legs- the light creatures of the world must take the shallow graves of The Fallen, digging and stirring what ought to be well left alone. But they always did carry a burden, a propensity to fight, to conquer.

And the shadows wait, an error written out of Nature, who forgets her sons and daughters who shrink under rocks, never allowed to see the sun and bask in its glory.

The others gloat, cruelly laughing and pushing them further and farther into the night so that soon- the moon is who the light skinned shadows call “sun”, and flashes of unexpected sunlight leave them, the black-eyed ones, hissing and with red rashes that turn to black streaks, marred with the essence of sunshine.

The shadows have no leader, and the hierarchy is divided by strength. The ways of birth and darkness of a shadows is unknown, and unless a shadows can recite the Cantos of Wind, the Verses of Nature and sing the Songs of the Undersky, then strength is the least likely thing to be warned on.

And the darkness is like a cloak – hiding them from prying questers, and sly demonic creatures from the Deep. Quiet, reflective and curious, Shadows forgo Nature – instead they roam like thieves in the night.

Waste not, want not – the saying goes.

And the Shadow Who Lives Under The Tree Most Eastward Of The Autren Sea knows that well. She sways like the tree she follows, wasting not a moment as vividly pale eyes watch branches ache and roots uplift. She is young, and like her kind – curiosity is both her best virtue and worst sin.

She has already been the Shadow Under The Northern Galaxy and The Darkness That Lies Yet Under The Mountain Of Shear. But she is yet young. Her names are such that she has moved. Other, older shadows who do not wander are older but naivety drowns their good sense and power.

A wander and Eastern follower yet, she has seen many things. The tree most eastward of the Autren Sea moves much and the Hawks often rest upon his bark covered backs and wind his mind with riddles,stories and long tales that form an essence of themselves, crying and spreading like wildfire.

It was so, then, that The Shadow Who Lives Under The Tree Most Eastward Of The Autren Sea became The Most Eastward Shadow, responding to many names and having as many faces as stars.

The birds called her The Watchful Watcher, but conversed with her in languages that have never reached another Shadow’s ears. Old Autren, and High Shearen words come again into the world and The Watchful Watcher understood all that came during the night.

You know not of the future, the Crow with One White Wing said, full of darkness and terror. The world is changing, tossed on its head and thrown like a lightly coated newly-born. The Darkness Coat will be shed and once again, you, The Watchful Watcher will wander in daylight.

She shook her head at that, noticing not that her skin was not as white as her comrades. But they heralded her on, telling her of the dark future, and of the Ones With Cruel Faces approaching. The Tree Most Eastward Of the Autren Sea would be no more, they said, and her hiding would be noticed.

The lady doth protest too much. Shadows are not an active force in the world, she said with vehemence, and you know not of what you speak. A single ray of sunlight has hit me once before, the crease of dark on my foot is to be seen as the reminder.

But crows do not listen to the protests of young shadows. And for a while yet – the Ones with Cruel Faces did not come. Stories come and the crows begin to ignore the ominous future, swayed by the promise of more tales.

The normalcy hid the truth. Cracked patches of Mother Nature, devoid of all life and light spread like a disease and began to make their way eastward. The Most Eastward Shadow knew the time had come to shed her name and retreat to places unknown and sights unseen.

The night she left is the stuff of lore. Driven by a niggling emotion – her flight was unannounced. The birds and younger shadows fled from her path. Her way led to the Forest of Agneten, north of the Ranges of Mountains that probably touched sun and moon alike. The darkness was free and the way was dangerous, as shadows are sheltered not from darkness that is akin to themselves.

She shed the name of Eastern Shadows and travelled under the alias of Shear Mountain Shadow, one shared by many and known by none. The cloak of darkness that had been her own was carefully buried under the roots of an old sapling and her new blanketing darkness became cold and unfamiliar.

Names are more than they seem.And Shadows know this most of all. You cannot simply take a name and expect no consequences.

But she ignored the changes. And her journey continued on. And suddenly an extraordinary event occurred. The origins of the Event had been unexpected and all together unacknowledged. The Shear Mountain Shadow had been alone for so long, she had forgotten the Northern Woods are home to darker and more dangerous Night Hunters, famed for their near impeccable eyesight of night and their strong intelligent selves that conversed with all things who called the night and darkness their home.

So forgetful of this, she had neither noticed nor taken note of her follower until he shot her with an arrow. It had been crafted with Owlite claws – designed to piece darkness.

The following became known to her then, her snarl making the hunter jump back in shock, such a sound as unheard by anything in living memory that took on a human appearance.

“What matter of being are you?” he called, the shaking of his fingers the only indicator of his fear,

“not one that will harm you if you untie me”

Her voice was harsh, broken by gasps as the blood she had never before seen sluggishly stained her arm, the white fading underneath dull blood.

“Name yourself” he called out again, “And I shall not be forced to kill you”

“I am the Shear Mountain Shadow” her voice came unbidden, and the name sounded bitter and uncouth on her tongue, “And I warn you Hunter, you know not what you hunt”

“When I approach you, you will not lash out”

“If I am not harmed”

“I have no intention of harming such a creature, the likes of which I had never seen”

There was no answer to that, and so she warily remained still, watching his silent approach. He reached his hands into the cloud of darkness and pulled off the cloak slowly – flinching as he became the only human to ever see a shadow in the history of the world.

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