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Anathas' Shadow

Anathas' Shadow

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Published by Garland Culbreth

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Published by: Garland Culbreth on Apr 11, 2011
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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ShadowsAnathas sat in the lower floor of Lucar's bureau. The network was run from this building. Headmired the simple but sturdy stonework of this vaulted cellar, however dank it may be. Since he wasmasquerading as a slave, he had been given quarters, if a cage could be called quarters, in this cellar.He had enough room to sit and lay down, but not quite enough to stand. However, he only used it tosleep and when the cellar was occupied by humans. At the moment, he was sitting at a wooden table inthe center of the room, contemplating something he'd heard earlier that day.Lucar had gone to a tavern and had taken Anathas with him. Anathas had waited in a slave cagenear a dark corner of the tavern's common room as Lucar enjoyed himself while waiting for a contact.Anathas had skulked in the cage for about an hour when two men in cloaks entered the common roomand sat at a table within Anatha's hearing. Out of boredom, Anathas had listened in on theirconversation, and he quickly became very interested. One of the men seemed to be a lore master orhistorian of some kind, and the other appeared to be a traveler, perhaps a slaver. The historian wantedto hire the traveler for an expedition into Kythian territory. The traveler was naturally curious as towhat the expedition was, and Anathas was astounded at the reason.The historian began to relate to the traveler the legend of the Blades of Chaos, hidden deep inthe Kythian forests. The legend told of seven mythical swords hidden all across the world. Who theyhad been made by was beyond the historian's ability to guess, but he readily admitted that hisknowledge of the legend was not complete. Anathas listened quite intently to this, the historianbelieved that some of the Blades were in the Issun, Revthe, Satheu, and Ordthi regions. He explainedthat he'd studied records from past ages, and was convinced that the blades were real and in thoselocations.Anathas barely believed his ears. He knew the legend much better than the historian. TheAncients had forged the Blades of Chaos in the age before time, and had hidden them across Aryae tohelp the inhabitants fight the evil in the world. Each one had a temple of sorts devoted to it. In themidst of that temple, protected by unknown forces, was the Blade itself. Supposedly, if they were allrecovered, one of them would become the master blade, and the six would form its three companions.Anathas stopped listening to the conversation, and pondered its meaning.Shortly after, Lucar had met with his contact, and let Anathas out of the slave cage. Anathasglared at him briefly. Lucar led him out into the street and they returned to the bureau. Since then,Anathas had been sitting in his cellar thinking. If he could find the Blades of Chaos, he would have aweapon to challenge the Templar's power. However, he needed to stay here to run the escape network.Krede was not likely to believe what he would no doubt call a bedtime story, and Lucar had far toomuch responsibility to go looking. Anathas saw only one option. And he did not like it.Anathas walked over to a shadow in the corner. The lamp in the vaulted ceiling cast themeverywhere. He stopped at the edge of the darkness and held out his hands at waist height. He openedhis aura, and called softly,“Shadow. I must speak to you.”There was a sound, as if a breath had been exhaled from the walls, and Anathas opened his eyes.Before him, standing in the darkness, his red eyes glowing faintly, was his shadow.Shadow walked out of the darkness. His black cloak billowing behind him and his hood up.His sword was slung across his back.
“It has been long since we spoke Shadow.” Anathas said.“I did not come to share pleasantries, Anathas, what do you want?” Shadow responded rather sharply.“You know the legend of the Blades of Chaos?”“I am a part of you Anathas,” Shadow said, “I know what you know.”“They are real, and I may know where four of them are.” Anathas began.“Issun, Revthe, Santheu, Ordthi.”Anathas closed his jaws.“And you cannot spare your precious time, so you want me to spend mine looking for them like I'myour errand boy. You are as transparent as the day” Shadow's voice was very cold.“Yes. I do.” Anathas said bluntly, not expecting Shadow to be pleased.“You are fortunate that I am intrigued by myths,” Shadow said after a pause, “Very well. I will findthe Blades of Chaos, though it may take some time.”“I do not know if they are there for certain. Or if someone had taken them from their temples.”Anathas cautioned.“I will find the Blades.” Shadow repeated. A hint of annoyance permeating the coldness of his voice.And with that, Shadow turned and disappeared back into the darkness. There was the sound of abreath, as if let go of the earth, and he was gone.Anathas took a deep breath. Shadow was a part of himself, but a part of himself he tried toavoid. Shadow knew no mercy or pity, but he was relentless, and that was what Anathas needed. Hewas slightly surprised that Shadow had been willing to help without any convincing, but he thoughtlittle of it. He yawned, and crawled into the detestable cage that he slept in.
Shadow ran. He ran faster than the wind that blew around him. His hood fell from his head,and his cloak billowed out behind him. His sword pounded against his back, but he ran on. He did nottire. He ran in a black fog until he sensed his destination. Then, he slowed and stopped. He felt for amoment, and made sure. He now had to search the entire region for a temple supposedly containingone of the Blades of Chaos. He could run faster than any light dweller and did not tire, but he wasresentful of being ordered around like an errand boy, even if he liked the errand. He traversed theregion for three days before he found what he searched for.The temple was hidden in a part of the forest hidden from the rest by a wall made of trees.They had melded together and formed an impenetrable barrier. Shadow found a small opening aftermuch looking, and passed through it.The inside of the secret grove looked as ancient as it was. Crumbling stonework waseverywhere and he saw old machines flanking what looked like an old doorway of some kind. He drewhis sword and approached warily. As he did, two statues one on either side of the door, and some ofthe ancient machinery, came to life. He raised his sword to ready and his eyes danced from one to theother. They walked slowly and deliberately in front of the doorway, blocking his path. Shadowgrowled softly. The two statues stopped, and a voice emanated from them.“We are guardians of this land. You must pass our trial to gain entrance to the sacred place.”Shadow felt the ground quake. Great rifts opened in the ground, dividing it into segmentsaround him. The guardians stood on two, he on another, and there were many more all across wherethe courtyard had been. Two standing places appeared where the statues had been before they woke.Shadow guessed that he was probably supposed to move them back there, although he could not guesshow. However, as he turned thinking about it, he saw that the statues turned with him. He took a stepforward and they did as well. He thought out his course, then carefully guided them back to theirplaces. When they were both where they had started, they glowed deeply blue for a moment, theground filled itself in again, and the area was back to the way it was when Shadow had first entered.Except now, the stone door was open.Shadow entered through the stone archway. Immediately, the stone slammed to behind him.The darkness was very full, and it would have dominated anyone born of the light. But Shadow wasone with darkness. His eyes pierced it and gave him sight in that fog. The temple was great andancient. Its ceiling high, so high that it was nearly out of sight. Before him, Shadow saw a stair wayleading to a large gateway. The iron gate was raised, and the way clear. As he ascended, four lampsignited as he passed them. They glowed an eerie blue, lighting the blackness. Shadow could feelpresence in the next room, such that he had never felt before. Blue lamps shed their faint light into thecavernous room, and four ghostly lamps hovered in each corner. They were not suspended by anythingShadow's eyes could see, but he felt as if a evil being held each one.The lamps began moving toward him. They did so slowly, as if their keepers meant to strikefear into Shadow's heart. He readied himself for battle, and strained his eyes to see the enemy he faced.There was a shriek, and the lamps went out. Complete darkness enveloped the room, and Shadow'sassailants were at last revealed to him. They were pale, pale almost to invisibility. They hoveredabove the ground on legs Shadow could not see. They were cloaked with faintly white with a darkerhood. From beneath the hood, each one's eyes peered out, glowing like a pair of white candles. Noneof them bore a sword or any weapon Shadow recognized, but the light in their lamps glowed hot. Thefour of them moved around Shadow and he turned with them, keeping his blade toward them.They began moving very quickly. The one to his left lunged at him and swung its lamp as if tostrike him. He dodged it, and struck at the arm with his blade. The shade shrieked at the cut, andretreated. The shade behind Shadow now attacked, twirling his lamp as to land many blows. Shadowleapt aside and forward, and thrust his blade through the gap under shade's hood. The shade shrieked,

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