Chapter Forty-Nine – Looming Shadow
There was an eerie silence around Deena and Eldrian after the two brothers departed. It was just them, an empty chamber, and a grand set of doors ahead of them. This was something Deena had been looking forward to ever since she learned of its existence—her mother’s secret hideout. Although she’s long since passed on, secrets may lie within.
Her gloved hand swept over the chilling metal front. It looked as if it would take the strength of many men to move such hefty doors, but when she pushed forward, the crack between them widened. Creaking echoed almost deafeningly off the walls, and draft beckoned them inside.
“What should we expect to find in here?” Eldrian asked.
“I’m not sure. For years, my father has tried to convince me that my mother wished me away from family dealings, and I’ve never known why. Perhaps I don’t care the reason. But if it isn’t true, I need to prove it. I just want to know what my mother truly felt,” replied Deena.
A staircase presented itself through the opening, so the two began descending into the unknown. It was still lit by flickering, magic flames along the walls, but they did little for the frigid air. Eldrian turned to her as they neared the bottom.
“Hold on. Something doesn’t make sense,” he said.
“What do you mean?”
“If your brothers didn’t want you finding something here, why didn’t they just destroy it? If it was a journal or something, they could have burned it.”
They peered into the chamber, which was smaller by comparison, but it was still expansive enough to hold a life-sized statue of a woman in the center. Shelves, tables, seats, and other remnants of what was once a study littered the room in disarray, without a book to be seen.
“Maybe they did,” Deena said. “But then why try to stop me?”
“That means there’s something in here they couldn’t get rid of. Something that couldn’t destroy, and maybe, something they didn’t understand.”
“My mother was always clever.”
Deena’s eyes trailed up the statue. Her mind was lost for an incredibly long moment, as the figure the statue was meant to represent was her mother. It was partially worn, but it was immediately recognizable to her. It took all of her strength not to sob. She stared up at her mother, and took a deep breath.
“Maybe there’s a secret door somewhere. I’ll have a look around,” Eldrian suggested.
The witch was far too focused to reply. She stepped forward, removed her glove, and gently brought her hand down the side of the stone sculpture. But she suddenly gasped as she felt something take hold of her head.
Eldrian spun around with his hand outwards. “What is it?”
She wasn’t struggling, however. Her red eyes gazed up to the statue’s face in disbelief, as it was the statue’s hand upon her head, though not in an aggressive manner. It stroked her hair, and with a rumbling of stone, the entire body began to move. It brought Deena into an embrace.
“Mother?” Deena asked quietly.
“No,” it spoke it a soothing voice. “I’m sorry, my dear. I am no longer a part of this world. I’ve enchanted this piece of stone to carry on a message.”
“You’re not mother?”
“I’m only a part. My dear Deena. I need you to listen. I have but a single thing I must tell before I’m able to rest peacefully.”
“Y-Yes. I’m listening.”
She felt the cold touch of the hand against her cheek, but to her, it felt warm. It was the comforting touch one could only receive from one’s mother. It had no eyes, but she could still see exactly how her mother looked all those years ago.
“I’ve always loved you, Deena, and even while I’m gone, that will never change. I will watch over you always. Don’t cry. If we continue to love, we’ll never truly be gone.”
Piece by piece, the stature started to crumble in Deena’s hands. It soon became naught but a pile of dust and debris. Deena stood speechless. In her hand, she held only a single pebble of her mother’s statue, and she squeezed it tight.
It was brief, simply put, and even though it wasn’t truly her mother before her, it was all she needed—closure. Nothing more needed to be said, and Eldrian realised that. She needed time to think. It sounded just like her mother regardless of it being alive or not, and even with all of her magic, Deena hadn’t a clue what happens when one dies. Still, she swear she saw the statue’s shadow roll beneath her feet and disappear, but it was likely just the flickering lights playing tricks on her eyes.
A real life vigilante? Eye witnesses claim to have seen a mysterious figure, dressed in a hood to cover his face, and strange clothing. This person has been stopping crime on the streets of Edmonton supposedly all on his own. Word is that he’s called himself the Dark Mage, and the name has both frustrated and struck fear in the hearts of local criminals. If there truly is a vigilante on the streets cleaning up the city, keep up the good work, though police officials have stated that it definitely against the law to do such a thing, so don’t try this yourself.
“The Dark Mage?” scoffed a man.
He stood in an old warehouse with a few others, and in his hand was a scrunched up newspaper. He threw it to the ground in distaste, and spat.
“He’s just a guy. Gonna get himself killed soon, I bet,” said another.
“You’re right. It just pisses me off,” said the first. “Some guy walking down the streets, acting like he owns the city. We own the city, damn it. If I find this guy, I’ll break him myself.”
“I’ve seen em,” spoke one of the men.
“Really? What was his deal?”
“His face was all shadowy. Couldn’t see anything except for two yellow eyes, like some kind of panther. He had these weird, blue robes. He looked like a mage, just like his name said. Guess he’s got a gimmick or something. But he did all sorts of weird things, man. He was disappearing and reappearing. The other guys were flying all over the place. He’s some kind of freak.”
“Bah. It’s gotta be tricks. I bet he has a team that sets things up, to mess with people’s heads. Strings, traps, whatever.”
“You’re probably right.”
“Knock knock,” came a calm, gentle voice from afar.
Immediately, all the men inside drew various weapons, from bats to knives, and frantically looked around for the source of the voice. The finally saw a man standing to their side, which was odd enough, as it was nowhere near a door or even a window. He had blonde hair, a black cap, and he held an umbrella over his shoulder. It was Noah Jackson.
“Who are you?” the man snarled. “Get out.”
“No. I don’t think I will. See, you’re talking about something I’m very interested in. It seems like we both want to deal with this Dark Mage character, and I’d like to know if you all know anything more that might help,” Noah said with a shimmering smile.
“I know who you are. You’re that cop I saw on TV. Get lost, pig. We aren’t doing anything wrong.”
“I wasn’t asking for permission,” he said as he began stepping towards them. “I’m going to find out everything I need to know, one way or another. The simple truth is that you’re all under arrest anyway.”
“What? You need evidence before you arrest someone,” the man grunted.
“If I was with the police, that’d be true, but the fact is that you know too much, and you’re about to know even more.”
One of the other men screamed. They all looked over, and although it took a moment to notice, all of them were chained together by their ankles. None of them could move. They began to panic, but all it did was yank on the others, causing them to all stumble to the ground.
“What the hell?” shouted the man.
Noah leaned forwards, and from his hand, he produced a ball of flames.
“Hell is irrelevant. You’re dealing with me,” Noah whispered.
Tyreth sat alone on a bench in the middle of the night, if he wasn’t creepy enough on his own. Garbed in dark clothes, and with hair of the same, he looked nearly like a shadow cast upon the bench instead of a man. The park he was in was tiny, and not another soul was there.
The phone in his pocket rang.
“What is it?” he spoke into it quietly.
“Hey! It’s me. Your favourite employee, Poppet. Just calling to let you know we’re alive. I’m kinda curious where you disappeared to though. Just kinda left us there when that guy showed up.”
“It was all a part of a plan I was trying to put into effect, but then the two of you failed miserably.”
“We were almost captured!”
“I have no need for either of you anymore. Tell your sister the same. You clearly won’t get me any closer to the Blade of Shadows.”
“But we had a deal. Wealth, power, everything we’ve ever wanted. Come on. Let us help you find this sword thing.”
“No. And if you two bother me again, I won’t hesitate to fire you permanently.”
“We’re wizards, buster! You think you can deal with us?”
“I can deal with children,” he said once more before hanging up.
Tyreth returned to resting in silence. He gazed up at the stars, and thought of home. The Elf World wasn’t literally in the sky, but it was common to consider Heaven and Hell to be above and below, with Earth in the center of it all. He resented needing to be there regardless. Tyreth crinkled his nose in distaste at the houses, the cars, the people, and practically everything else.
“It’s nearly the new year,” he whispered beneath his breath. “And what a new year it should be.”
Come back next week for Chapter Fifty – Near End and Beginning!