CS Fanfic - The Darkness
My name is Nuzzle Thornwood, and I am a Shadow Shaman. Some reading this journal may be wondering: What the heck does that even mean? Well, to answer your question, I’ll have to begin my story where it all started. Back when I was just a little pup, back before I even knew what the Shadow was that started corrupting everything, back to where I helped save the world.
I sniffed the air tentatively, trying to find what that curious smell was. It had only been a few weeks since I had left my den and I was already discovering so many new things. I continued toward the strange aroma, shoving tree branches out of the way and cautiously stepping over thorn bushes. Finally, I pushed past the last tree and found myself staring out across the large ocean; no one had ever dared to venture out into those mysterious waters.
I swept my eyes across the bay, looking for anything that the scent could have been coming from.
A hooting sound above me made me jump. I scrambled back into the trees but it was too late, I had been spotted.
The old owl came to a whooshing stop right in front of me, landing with a thud on the ground.
He had a feathery gray head and wings the color of the night. A golden necklace dangled around his neck.
"Nuzzle, why have you strayed so far from the hut?" he asked.
I lowered my head. "I’m sorry, Guru. My nose just caught a fascinating smell and I had to find where it was coming from."
"It is good to see you exploring, but I am still your mentor. You need to continue working on your spell casting."
"I know. It’s just that sometimes, learning about spells gets so boring."
The old owl snapped at this. "Boring?! Spell casting is the only way to protect yourself in this deadly world. You know how many deadly creatures prowl the Dark Forest at night? You’re lucky I found you before nightfall."
"Can I at least just find where that smell was coming from?"
The owl stepped back and gestured with his wing. "You may, but I will keep a close eye on you."
I exited the forest again and descended down the grassy hill into the sandy bay. I made sure not to go too close to the water, who knew what was in there?
My nose led me from bush to bush until I found it, a glowing red orb.
"Guru, can you come over here?" I asked.
He glided over and his eyes sparkled when he beheld what I had found.
"A red orb. Fascinating find, Nuzzle! I had been led to believe they were all gone!"
"What does it do?"
"Why, it is a powerful resource that shamans from centuries ago used to cast very powerful spells!"
"Maybe there’s more around here." I said, sticking my nose to the ground and tracking the smell of the red orb very carefully.
I found myself back at the top of the bay, overlooking a cliff. I stood up and looked around. "Now where could another be?"
I looked from my perch but what I beheld was not a red orb, but something much more ominous.
Dark, goopy black tendrils stretched themselves from the sea, grabbing onto the sand and pulling itself out of the water. I looked into the ocean to see what these tendrils belonged to, but I could only see a dark mass under the water.
"Guru!" I cried, "Come, come!"
My eyes were so fixed on this creature, that I didn’t even notice the owl landing beside me.
"Dark magic is at work here," he whispered under his breath, withdrawing the red orb that was tucked under his wing.
"I’ve only read how to use one of these in books," he said to me, "so if anything bad happens, run."
He outstretched his arms, closed his eyes, and held the orb in front of himself. The owl began muttering a string of ancient words that I didn’t understand, but the orb began glowing brighter! It got so bright that I had to look away to keep my great eyesight.
The owl suddenly shouted an ancient word and a shiny, light beam shot from the orb. It hit the shadowy substance and began melting through it.
The dark matter recoiled and retreated back into the water, deep into its depths.
The beam abruptly stopped and the owl fell beside me, unconscious.
I shouted and quickly bent down next to him. "You’ll be alright, you’ll be alright," I whispered.
His eyes cracked open. "Nuzzle," he coughed out, "I think I am dying." He nodded toward the orb. "Do not lose that item, it is full of strong magic and will be able to aid you in your journey."
"What journey?" I asked, fighting back tears.
"The one you will take when I am gone."
"No, Guru, you can’t go, not now! What if that shadow thing comes back?"
"Then you must be ready." A nasty cough escaped his beak and he continued, "Go to the Floating Lake, there you will meet an old friend of mine, another guru. He will help you control the orb."
"You don’t even know my name, Nuzzle. I think you will do just fine on your own." He let out a soft chuckle.
"I need you. Can you at least tell me your name before you go?"
"Odiserus, it’s Odiserus. Goodbye, Nuzzle."
His eyes slowly closed, he was gone.
I raised myself off the ground and retrieved the orb. After wiping the tears from my eyes, I looked to where the Shadow had been.
Where its dark body had been floating in the water, a shiny, purple material bobbed up and down.
I traced my steps back down the cliff and around to where the shiny thing glowed. It emitted a dark, purple aura, but seemed to be causing no danger.
Carefully, I entered the cold water and swam to the object. I got a good look at it and discovered that it appeared to be a rock, with flickering purple fire dancing across it. The closer I got to it, the more it glowed. I reached for it, mesmerized by the beauty of such a curious thing.
Right when my fingers touched its cold surface, all of it got sucked into my body.
I yelped and whacked my hand, I could see through my skin as the purple substance raced up my veins. My eyes followed the trail, as it wound up my arm, across my shoulder, and…into my heart.
Everything flashed a deep purple and my limbs tightened. I screamed as my body rose above the water, vibrating. My entire life flashed before my eyes as a deep pain etched its way through me.
Finally, all the pain stopped and everything went black.
My eyes opened and I started slowly coming back to reality. I forced my body to sit up and found myself back on the beach.
The water must have pushed me back here, I thought.
I looked across the ocean and what I had just experienced flashed through my mind. The purple substance getting absorbed into my body, getting jerked into the air and feeling a pain like no other.
It all felt like it had happened somewhere else. I looked at my arm, all seemed normal.
Then I remembered Odiserus.
My heart leapt and I ran up the hillside to where I had seen him die.
Sure enough, he was still there, no feeling in his face, chest still.
I couldn’t bear the pain of seeing him like this again and soon found tears gushing from my eyes.
I wiped my wet nose and looked away from the poor owl. My eyes wandered and I stared at him again, deciding that he needed a proper burial. Quickly, I shoved my claws into the ground and dug a grave for Odiserus.
I gently picked him up, laid him in the pit, and covered it in dirt.
My paws patted down the last bit of dirt and I looked up at the sky.
The sun was setting, illuminating the ocean in a brilliant shine.
After basking in the sunset, a feeling of fear engulfed itself into my chest. The sunset would mean the Dark Forest would truly awake.
I steeled myself and glanced into the woods, they were already looking more ominous.
I stood, brushed my fur off, and trudged into the forest, in the direction of the Floating Lake.
Every sound that I heard caused me to jump, some even forced out a yelp. My eyes continued scanning trees until I finally made it back to Odiserus’s hut.
I quickly threw all his spellbooks and odd items into a bag. Carefully, I placed the red orb into the bag with the other trinkets. Before leaving, a rusty red scarf caught my eye. It had stitches in the front that formed an X. This was the scarf Odiserus said I would earn once my apprenticeship to him had ended. I grabbed it and squeezed my head through the hole; now a part of Odiserus would always be with me. I headed out the door, this time determined to make it to the Floating Lake before sunrise.
After closing the door, a cold gust of air swept through the forest causing me to shiver vigorously.
"A young one, all alone," a voice whispered across the wind.
The sound of this voice made me shiver more than the air did. I immediately bolted toward the Floating Lake, hoping I could make it out of the Dark Forest before this beast caught up to me.
"You can’t run from me," it hissed, getting closer.
I kept running and the trees began thinning, becoming more welcoming. Glowing puddles of water started frequently popping up around the forest and glowing butterflies flitted about the trees.
"Here I come," the raspy voice yelled.
I glanced backwards and saw the trees shaking. Suddenly, the creature came into view. It was black, with glowing purple eyes. It resembled a snake, except ten times bigger and with three heads.
I froze with shock as I realized what was chasing me. There was no way I was getting out of this unscathed.
I closed my eyes and braced for the impact. Instead, all I heard was the croak of a frog and the loud crash of something else colliding.
My eyes slowly opened and I found a frog in front of me, with a flowing purple robe on, his palms outstretched, heavily concentrating.
A golden yellow substance shimmered out of his hands and created a dome around us. The large snake was just outside, frustratingly banging into the dome.
"Are there any spells you know to deter this beast?" the frog asked through gritted teeth.
I searched my memory for any spells Odiserus had taught me before his passing. One particular spell grabbed my attention and I squinted my eyes and started chanting.
Slowly, a dark blue paw appeared in front of me, steadily growing in size. Orbs that looked very similar to planets popped up next to it, orbiting the paw.
I yelled the last word in the chant and the paw, with all of the planets orbiting it, crashed straight into the snake.
It screeched in outrage and dashed back into the forest, finally disappearing from sight.
The frog stopped his focus and the golden dome vanished from around us.
He turned to me and said, "That was an impressive spell! I am the guru of the Glimmering Woods. You’re lucky you escaped the Dark Forest so I could save you."
"Thank you so much!" I exclaimed. "I would have been snake meat if it wasn’t for you!"
"That was no ordinary snake," the frog said. "It had been corrupted by the shadow, taking on the form of a Hydrattle Snake."
"Yeah, I thought it looked a little too large."
The frog eyed me up and down. "There is a substance in you. Similar to that of the Shadow, but more honed and not corruptible. Has something entered your body recently?"
"Well, when I was in the Dark Forest, Odiserus, the guru there, cast out that shadow thing and it disappeared, leaving behind a crystal that was glowing with fire."
"A shadow fragment, but that’s impossible." The frog looked at me. "My name is Frodon and you must tell me where Odiserus is and how he cast away the Shadow."
My head slumped down. "Odiserus is dead, but he used this-" I took the red orb from my pack and showed it to Frodon. "-to cast out the Shadow."
"A red orb," Frodon’s eyes gleamed with curiosity and he shot a worried glance around the woods. "We must return to my hut at once, for no one knows what those dark beings would do to earn a resource as powerful as this."
He turned away from me and started hopping deeper into the woods.
I followed quickly behind him, not wanting to get caught by another awful creature.
I guess I won’t be making it to the Floating Lake tonight, I thought.
Frodon leapt past the small ponds and through swarms of butterflies, finally stopping at a considerably large brown hut.
It was in a clearing, with a sparkling pool of water in front of it. A stone bridge led from one end of the pool to the doorway.
We crossed the bridge and entered the hut.
Once inside, a hooting sound caused me to jump slightly and look up to where it had come from.
A small owl, probably about my age, glided down from a perch at the top of the hut, landing in front of me.
"Who is this?" the owl said, looking toward Frodon.
"This is-" Frodon began and stared at me quizzically, I had forgotten to tell him my name.
"I’m Nuzzle," I said.
"Nuzzle, this is Iris. She is currently my apprentice."
"Where’d you get this one?" Iris asked, squinting at me.
"He was being chased by a Hydrattle Snake, luckily I got to him in time."
"Why did you bring him back here?"
"He has some items that I find very interesting."
"Really? Like what?"
Frodon nodded to me and I opened my bag and took out the red orb.
Iris was unfazed. "Whoa, it’s a sparkly rock! Why is that important?"
"Forgive her, Nuzzle. When I found her, she was all alone, stuck in a tree. So I decided to make her my apprentice. So if she seems a bit rude or not understanding, blame it on her traumatic childhood."
"Hey! It’s not my fault that you decided to pluck me from that tree. But I’m glad you did!" Iris exclaimed. "Or else I would probably be dead right now. That or maybe corrupted by that stupid Shadow!"
"That reminds me!" Frodon said, looking back at me. "The Glimmering Woods has been having a slight problem with Shadow and I was wondering if you could maybe lend me the red orb so I could rid our woods of its treachery."
"Ummm…" I said. "Odiserus said to always keep the orb safe, and I’m not sure if it’s a good idea to give it to you."
Frodon laughed at this. "Do not worry, Nuzzle. I would not rob you of your orb. If I wanted to, I would have already done so. But if you’re still hesitant-" Frodon walked over to a rug, threw it towards the wall, and opened a secret hatch that was hidden beneath the piece of carpet. He reached his hand into the compartment and withdrew a red gem. "-I will give you this red gem for your assistance."
Iris’s eyes bulged. "What?! You can’t give him a red gem!! Those things are SO rare! We’ll only have one left if you give that one to him!"
"I know, Iris. But it is only a small price for the banishment of the Shadow. Now come, we have no time to lose." Frodon pocketed the red gem, closed the hatch, returned the rug to its original position, and hopped towards the door.
Frodon led the way through the Glimmering Woods, with Iris flying high above us. I trudged behind him, still a little reluctant in letting him use the orb.
Finally, Frodon stopped on a hill overlooking a clearing. I ran up to his side and looked across the wide stretch of land.
A well stood in the center of the once grassy area. Instead of water coming from it, though, the dark Shadow was climbing from it. Most of the clearing had already been consumed by the goopy, black substance. There were only small patches of the once green grass on the very outer ridges.
"The Shadow has had far too much time to toil here," Frodon said.
Iris landed next to us and proclaimed, "It’s even worse than yesterday!"
Frodon stuck his hand toward me and whispered, "The orb, please, Nuzzle."
I opened the pack and slowly handed him the red orb. Frodon retrieved the red gem from a pocket in his robe and held the two resources right in front of him. Both the orb and the gem grew brighter in the close proximity of each other.
"Why do you need the gem, Frodon?" I asked.
He peered at me through one eye. "In old stories, orbs were used for power and gems were used for energy. If my guesses are correct, it would seem Odiserus died because the power of the red orb was too much for his life. Thus, sucking it out. But, with the red gem, the orb should take its energy from the crystal instead of me."
I nodded in reply and Frodon closed his eyes and began concentrating. His lips started quavering and ancient words started floating through the air. The chant went on for a couple of minutes before Frodon shouted the trigger word.
Suddenly, a bolt of light shot from the orb, sizzling against the Shadow. The light beam raced across the field, cutting through every mass of Shadow in its way.
I looked at Frodon’s hands and saw a red shimmering energy float off the red gem and get sucked into the orb. Frodon seemed perfectly healthy and continued to chant softly.
The Shadow seemed to screech silently and scurry back to the well, clinging to the stone surface and propelling itself into the hole.
Frodon finally finished the spell and lowered the resources to his side. He opened his eyes and gazed across the clearing.
"Well, I think that went well," Frodon said.
"Yeah, even though it’s a little charred, the field looks way better without all the goopy Shadow stretching across it," Iris added.
I peered into the clearing, searching for the item I was sure would appear with the disappearance of the Shadow.
There! My eyes caught the purple flicker of the flame engulfed stone.
"Frodon, look!" I exclaimed, pointing to the rock.
His eyes followed my finger until he saw the object. "Oh my, a shadow fragment!"
"What’s that?" Iris asked.
Frodon’s eyes stayed locked on the fragment. "An extremely powerful resource, one scarcely seen. It seems to me that they only appear after the banishing of Shadow."
"What does it do?" Iris asked.
"My dear, what does it do? Not only is it extremely powerful for casting spells. It is said that: ‘When three fragments of shadow have been absorbed, one shall obtain there most powerful form.’"
"Sounds good enough to me." Iris spread her wings and rocketed towards the rock, sticking a talon out to grab hold of it.
"Iris, wait!" Frodon called, but it was too late. Iris skimmed the grass and touched the shadow fragment. Immediately, it got sucked into her talon.
"What’s happening?!" Iris shrieked. Her limbs tightened and she floated off the ground. The purple substance was pumping through her veins, her whole body illuminated by its shine.
A tortured yell escaped her beak before her eyes shut and she collapsed onto the ground.
Frodon and I scrambled towards her fallen body. The frog fell next to her, quickly making sure that she was alright.
"She shouldn’t have done that," Frodon whispered. "She’s too impulsive."
I looked down at Iris, but something else caught my eye, a shimmering glow.
I quickly shot my head to where it was coming from. There, leaning up against the well, flickering darkly, was another shadow fragment.
"Frodon," I whispered, "there’s another shadow fragment over there." I pointed to the shimmering rock, genuinely wondering how two had appeared after the disappearance of the Shadow.
Frodon looked up from Iris and his eyes shone with wonder. "Impossible," he said.
I walked toward it slowly and stuck my paw out. "May I?" I asked Frodon.
He nodded. "Since you have already absorbed one, the second should come much easier."
I reached out my arm and took hold of the fragment. Instantly, it was absorbed into my hand, shooting up into my heart. I knew that this was coming, so I didn’t let out any yelps of surprise.
My limbs tightened and I floated above the grass. But this time, instead of feeling pain, the new shadow fragment merged with the old one and I could see myself brilliantly shining.
A strength, unlike anything I had ever known reverberated through me, causing my fists to clench. I felt so imbued with power, so much so that it felt like I could do anything.
Finally, the feeling faded and I dropped onto my knees, this time not getting knocked unconscious.
I looked at my arms, I could feel the difference with having another shadow fragment within me. I felt… more alive. My eyes locked on to something in my arm and I gasped at the sight of it.
The flickering, purple fire seemed to dance inside my veins, moving up and down.
I stood and walked back to Frodon. His mouth hung agape and his throat bulged. He tried to talk but all that came out was a large croak.
Frodon quickly rubbed his throat. "Forgive me," he said, "but that was incredible!"
"I feel so full of strength," I said.
"That is the power of the shadow fragments you absorbed. There is only one left until you unlock your most powerful form."
I gestured to Iris. "Do you want me to carry her back to the hut?"
"If you would like to, it would be a great help to me."
I stooped over and tossed Iris onto my shoulder. Frodon began hopping back to the hut and I followed behind him.
Back at the hut, I laid Iris down on a small bed and turned to Frodon. "Thank you for all of your help, but I must go to the Floating Lake. That is where Odiserus directed me to before his passing."
"By all means, you may go. Or, you could stay a few days with us and rest."
Iris shot up. "Frodon said: ‘You may.’ So, you can still leave."
"I really must be going. Thank you for all of your hospitality."
"If you must continue on your journey, I bid you farewell. But please-" Frodon hopped to a desk and opened a drawer. He scavenged through it for a second and withdrew a handful of parchment. "-take this with you and study it. These are all of the notes I’ve taken on my studies of orbs and gems. They will teach how to cast the spells and harness the power produced by these resources. There is also a map in there so you do not get lost."
"Thanks again," I said, stuffing the crumpled paper into the pack. "I will always remember how kind you’ve been." I shuffled to the door, and stepped out, inhaling the cool breeze of the coming night.
I started my journey towards the Floating Lake, carefully examining Frodon’s notes and checking occasionally on the map.
My lips moved silently as I tried to memorize every spell Frodon had written. The constant worry of being attacked kept my pace quick and my research quicker.
My eyes started to droop and the feeling of exhaustion settled down on me. I looked up at the sky and saw that it was basically pitch black. A small well came into view and I decided to change my direction towards it.
I extracted some water from the well and chugged it down. My grogginess was overwhelming and I felt my body slump against the well and fall asleep.
Dreams of home and my parents drifted through my mind, but something interrupted it.
A cold feeling of dread entered my brain and a voice seemed to whisper in reality and in my dream. "Another puppet that requires its strings to be pulled, hmmm."
My conscious felt a powerful pull to this thing, like it wanted to be part of it. But something else in me, something embedded within me, resisted this nasty beast.
"Hmmmm.. hasn’t come unto me yet. Let’s see.. Hmmm. Ah, two shadow fragments are within."
An odd sense of amusement emanated in my mind. "You may have two, but I shall make it impossible to obtain the third. Hmm… what is this in its pack?"
The sharp feeling of pain and anger sparked through me. "A red orb and gem, how is this possible! I thought I had stolen each one before I came into this world! You, you beast. You will be MINE!"
My eyes snapped open and I immediately jumped up from the well, but something seemed to come with me. I looked backwards and saw the Shadow, a long goopy stretch of it, sticking out from the well and going somewhere.
I traced the dark matter and my heart leapt when I found what it was connected to, me. My head was bubbling with the black energy from the Shadow.
Quickly, I grabbed the red orb and gem and shouted the trigger word for beam. Immediately, a powerful ray shot from the orb and cut the Shadow in half.
The Shadow that had been clinging to me increased its bubbling and seemed to yell. The bubbling soon stopped and the substance slid off my head and shattered on the grass.
It must have hardened after being cut off from its source, I thought.
I walked towards the well, red orb held at the ready, and peered down it. The Shadow rolled at the bottom of the hole, seemingly seething with rage.
I stuck the red orb towards the substance and shot another energy beam into it, causing the black mass to disappear from view.
I collapsed to the ground, not from exhaustion, but from fear. The Shadow was able to connect to my thoughts. It noticed my shadow fragments. If it weren’t for the fragments within me, I would have become one of those shadow creatures.
I looked around the well, searching for any more shadow fragments, but none were visible. The Shadow had kept its promise, finding another shadow fragment would be very close to impossible.
Maybe it collected any of the dropped shadow fragments, I thought, or, maybe instead of dropping a shadow fragment, it decided to sacrifice a piece of itself.
I looked to where the Shadow had hardened and shattered. It almost looked like black stained glass.
I would have to be a lot more careful on the rest of my journey.