Silverfang Episode 6: Run

Run. Run fast. Run far. That was all I could think about coherently. I knew my way around the backstreets of the city, and with my working knowledge of the aqueducts and shortcuts, I had a chance to escape my tormentors. Whoever these people were, they were on my turf. My heavy breathing seemed insignificant with the adrenaline pumping through my body. I didn’t dare glance backward. I knew he was there, and boy, was he fast. I needed to get away, but if it came down to it, I would have to fight.

I allowed myself one backward glance. The male assailant was no more than a few yards behind me, his female accomplice nowhere to be found.

I felt the fear slithering up my spine as I realized she could be anywhere.

I had finally gotten out of the alley, but I had a bigger problem now. I paused momentarily to look around for another route to take. That was a mistake. I didn’t have much time; he was still behind me. I could hear him, and those large violet eyes seemed to burn right through my back. I turned left and darted towards the pitch black night.

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The street’s orbs turned on a second too late as I continued on the abandoned streets. It was near midnight; of course everyone who was sane would be at the canal right now. The stranger suddenly appeared behind me. He was faster than I thought. A glance over my shoulder told me he was not slowing down anytime soon. He was a shadow-walker like me, except his experience far surpassed mine. I used my own shadow ability to run right through any obstacles in my way.

I wouldn’t stand a chance at this rate, and I could feel my legs beginning to struggle to keep the speed I was going. The street wouldn’t last forever though, and I was getting closer to another corner. No, not another corner. A dead end.

I needed something fast. I felt the pressure in my chest and the fire in my lungs. I couldn’t keep running for long, and I was not about to fight him. An idea dawned on me. I noted that he had to shadow-walk around the objects in the street; he couldn’t run right through them like I could. Bearing this in mind, I searched for something big enough to wisp through. My legs were beginning to give in. There were only two buildings left on the street. What would I do when the pavement ended?

Then, I saw it.

Ashel’s largest cathedral stood majestically ahead, a massive statue of Mother Earth above it’s doors. If I could run through the building, he would have to find a way around it. I might be able to get away with that kind of distance between us. I focused my energy, calling upon the warmness in my fingertips. I closed my eyes and hoped my magic would hold up long enough to phase through the church I was about to crash into.

My concentration was high as I melted through the massive cathedral. I ran through pews and walls, unwilling to slow down. I closed my eyes and gave all I could, feeling the tingling sensation turn to painful shock on my skin. I pushed my ability to its maximum. As I ran away from the church, I looked back and found no one following me. My instincts were right.

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But Something hit me. Hard. The wind was knocked right out of my body. My vision turned black. It was like being hit by a boulder at 100 miles an hour, and I could have sworn I felt the rib on my right side crack. The impact of hitting the concrete drew blood from my head. I could feel the warm liquid seeping out of my head. My legs were shaking, my heart was racing, and the blood was rushing to my brain.

Through my blurry vision, I could faintly see her features. It was the girl with the doll. My pathetic attempt to fight her was no use. The masqued man was back- the phantom. I could hear the heavy breathing behind his masque as he picked me up to put a black sack over my head.

“Rozalynn,” he said.

Silverfang Episode 5: Unmask Me

My heart beat wildly as the fear paralyzed me. The vibrant colors, once beautiful, were now disorienting me. The crowd herded towards the heart of the city, the music getting louder.
“Pretty doll,” the voice called. It was as if the malicious coo was coming from the walls in my head. I felt the crowd knock me over in one wave as it moved towards the town square, swallowing me whole. The flashes of light shocked me.
I reached my hand out for Vera. I wanted to tell her to run- to sprint as far away from me as she could. However, the bright lanterns blurred my vision, and my panic left little ability in me to make sense of my surroundings. I couldn’t find her anywhere. I was overwhelmed by the noise, the smells of the street vendors as the people squeezed me along. My senses became sensitive to everything, until that coo came back around.
“My dearest pretty doll,” it cried.
My breath was ragged, my eyes frantic for an explanation. I wanted to run. I wanted to scream. I couldn’t find my voice or my legs. A cold slithering came over my limbs, locking me in place. It was as if the fear itself had manifested and entombed me where I stood. My stone body was only passed along the streets in the crash of the crowd. A slithering came over my chest, knocking the very wind out of me.
From the shadows, I could see a figure forming. My eyes widened in bewilderment. A white masque emerged atop a black silhouette. The piercing violet eyes behind it were haunting as the figure emerged. A large hand extended from the shadow, as if it could reach out and take me for its own. I choked in a feeble attempt to live. I began to feel a numbness in my body.

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I saw her appear slowly out of the darkness behind the white masqued man. She stood there in the middle of the sea of people, eyes centered on me. The violet in her eyes glinted against her pallid skin, hidden behind a black masque- a devastating beauty. The rest of her was hidden away behind her red satin hood. I could feel the world fall away. All of the lights and noise were silenced. She cradled her porcelain ragdoll in her arms, stroking its dark brown hair gingerly. She and the masqued man made no movements; they only stared.
I closed my eyes for a moment, wishing for the figures to disappear. As I reopened my eyes, I found nothing but the crowd. I wanted so badly to believe I hadn’t seen anything, but their faces were etched in my mind. They were waiting for me.
My eyes darted throughout the horde of slurring bodies, stumbling along the streets.
And there she was- the girl with the doll- not even 30 feet away from me. She was getting closer. I looked to my left and found the white masque and violet eyes coming closer. There was no doubt they were coming for me. Regardless of what that meant, I was not about to become a victim. I pushed past the crowd, trying to find a way out. My instinct told me to run, but in this mass of people, it would be impossible. They were gaining on me. I had to think fast.

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Think, dammit. There had to be a way out of this. In my mind, I could see the map of the city square. I needed to put as much distance between us as possible. If I used my shadow magic to pass through the crowd, I would be exposed.

Or would I? I thought. A flash of bright colors overhead sparked my mind. The populous around me was the perfect cover. With all the lights and sounds, no one would be paying attention to me. I’d have to take a risk with my newfound magic to get out of this one. I could feel them gaining on me. I’d have to time it perfectly. I had no way of knowing if it was just the two of them either.

“Don’t go pretty doll,” the girl called.

I waited, ignoring the loud noise and all the while settling my nerves. Another flash in the sky exploded. I conjured the warm feeling in my belly. My nerves hummed with life. I wisped into smoke, putting three more people between me and my assailants. I let the cold feeling settle. I had walked through objects before, but never people. The feeling made me sick to my stomach.

Pull it together. I forced myself to look back. The two were gaining on me.

Another flash let me wisp through four bodies this time. My stomach was turning. The crowd moved painfully slow as another flash let me wisp through seven people. I felt like I would actually be ill. I could see my hands reforming from the smoke at a painfully slow rate. I wouldn’t have much left in me if I kept this up.

The male figure was still gaining on me, and in the inside of his hood, I could see something shiny and metallic. There was no doubt in my mind what it was: the hooded stranger was carrying a knife, and as the crowd overflowed into the open fields for celebration, my mind and body agreed on only one course of action to take.

Run.

Silverfang Episode 4: Pretty Doll

Ashel was a beautiful city, to say the very least. During the holiday season, the florescent lights were even brighter, filling the senses with life in the heart of the city. The paper lanterns illuminated the ebony sky and the crowd of hundreds. Every Tribe was represented in the magical floating orbs the people carried. It came as no surprise to me that there were clusters of the same color orb in the crowd. Tribal history had a tendency to bring people together.

The Winter Solstice was the most extravagant of Empirical holidays. It represented the combined history of all our people, Silverthornes and Thunderfangs alike. Our abilities manifested from the five Silverthorne tribes and the seven Thunderfang tribes. Although our race was either one or the other, our heritage and magic stemmed from our ties to our tribe. Vera was a Thunderfang with ties to the Curratrix tribe. Though I had no knowledge of my tribal history, I knew for sure of my race: Silverthorne. At least, to them I was. I was actually something far worse. I was a foul half-breed. I had the birthmarks to prove it, and in a mostly Thunderfang city like Ashel, that was a very dangerous thing to be.
Since the battle of the races began, hostility between the 12 tribes had risen to an all-time high. Had I known my tribal heritage, I would have been smart enough to keep it to myself in a primarily Thunderfang city. Luckily for me, the sinuous silver lines that would give me away were primarily down my back and torso; they also ran down my arms, which were completely covered by the four layers I wore.

My birthmarks aside, none of them would ever know what I am.  Without that one mutation in the pigment of our skin, no one could tell what anyone was. I became overwhelmed by all of the silver and violet birthmarks I saw. They were proudly on display tonight, and I began to feel even more insecure. I knew that under all my layers was the silver, violet and ice blue secret that would cast me out of this celebration.

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Vera beamed as we waded through the crowds of drunken people. She seemed unbothered by them or anything else that took her attention from the food cart she was hunting. Even she showed off the violet and silver lines on her forearm. The music rattled my body, leaving my skin tingling with the energy of the city. The streets were filled with laughter despite the grim realities of the morning. That was the most incredible feature of the Thunderfang people: even as their homes were destroyed by warfare and bloodshed, they found a triumphant spirit to celebrate the days. When everyone is masqued, there are no sides; there is no war. It is only people celebrating.
The streets were crowded with merchants and vendors selling precious stones and antiques. Women of all ages lined up to have a new necklace made of rubies or jade stone, very well aware that they were fake, but all the while determined to find something sparkly to compliment the elaborate masques they wore. I could smell the fried foods and appetizers from the carts up ahead, and although the cuisine was questionable, I found myself nearly willing to eat.

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As per tradition, we were handed an orb of light and took our place within the throngs of people. An older gentleman, who I assumed to be the head council of Ashel, took the podium at the front of the crowd, which blocked entry into the center of the city. He cleared his throat, and a booming voice came with it.
“Brothers. Sisters. Good evening. I welcome you all to Winter Solstice night,” he began. I immediately snorted. This man had graying hair that was well kept, his face was paler than the rest and the elaborate mask on his face was full of feathers, real gold and rare jade stone. He hadn’t worked a day in his life and still managed to find the nerve to call these people his brothers and sisters. Nevertheless, the crowd roared in celebration. The gentleman raised a hand for immediate silence. “Let us remember the true purpose of this night: we are here in celebration of our tribal heritage, despite the atrocities occurring in the world between our two races”.
I rolled my eyes without so much as a thought. The speech never changed. It was always about and love conquering hate. There was always a part about our race determining what we look like and our tribe determining our magic, and ultimately, those qualities defined who we are.

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However, the reality was that our tribal history didn’t matter. It was always us versus them- Silverthorne versus Thunderfang. As much as we wanted to put aside the tension, the fact remained that we were at war for a reason no one could even remember. I couldn’t be sure of the reason, but I felt the uneasiness in my stomach return.
“Let us rejoice in our heritage! Let us remember the bonds we have regardless of our race.” The gentleman waved a hand, levitating a large white orb.
“Triba Elimanta,” the naturalists cheered. My stomach was in knots. I could feel an eerie presence nearby.
“Triba Curratrix!” The mayor levitated a topaz orb into the arc in the sky, which was followed by a roar of applause from the crowd. Vera stood a few feet away, having climbed up a man’s shoulders for a better view. New friends of hers I suppose. My breathing suddenly became painful.
I felt the familiar slithering feeling along my legs. My eyes darted around as I tried to remind myself that there was no reason to be paranoid. I tried to call out to Vera, but the roar of the crowd swallowed my cries. And then I heard her.
“Pretty doll…”

Silverfang Episode 3: Not Yet

The thing about ascending is that it happens nearly overnight. There is no warning when your magic will mature and manifest within you. In most cultures across the empire, it was a rite of passage into adulthood. Vera had not only matured, but she’d ascended into one of the most respected forms of magic.
“It happened a few weeks back,” she explained. “I started noticing that no matter how much I hurt myself, every time I would get a cut or a bruise, I always healed right up. No matter how bad, it went away immediately. So I decided to push it and see how far it would go. And this happened,” she gestured again to her once wounded wrist.
I was ecstatic for Vera. Now that she had her magic, her life could change drastically for the better. She had all the opportunity in the world now. “Congrats, but I could have gone without the theatrics,” I laughed in relief.

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“You know I live for theatrics darling,” she said with a hair flip. The excitement was oozing out of her. “This means in a year, I can take my Triads!”
Only Vera would be optimistic enough to want to take the single most difficult exam offered by Silverfang. The test consisted of 21 days, 12 different examinations, and a lot of crying. It was the Elders’ way of making sure no talent went without their chance to exploit it. I couldn’t blame her though. If I had the chance to be taught by the top clans in Silverfang, and also make as much money as they do, I’d cry all 21 days, and then I would ask for seconds at the end. Poverty had a funny way of taking your pride that way.
“Can’t wait,” my words dripped with sarcasm.
“What about you? Any luck?” Her childlike eyes were wide.
I could tell Vera felt bad. She wasn’t being insensitive by being happy about her news; I was just a pessimist. Sometimes, I felt like Vera was more excited about my blossoming into adulthood than I was. It was a chance for a glimpse into my tribal heritage- a chance to know where I came from. However, shadow magic was a rare manifestation that was frowned upon, because it was a result of generations of tribal cross breeding. I don’t know any more about myself now than I did a few months ago before I’d ascended.
“Nope, not yet,” I lied casually. I averted her eyes.
Her demeanor fell a little. “Well, that’s okay,” she smiled. “It’s bound to happen soon. October babies are usually late bloomers from what I‘ve heard.” Her optimism was unfaltering. Her enthusiasm was infectious, and I couldn’t help but entertain her antics. “Put your masque on! Last one to Scarlet Keys buys the first round!” she yelled as she sprinted away.

Silverfang Episode 2

“Rozalynn!” I heard Vera shout. Her hand on my shoulder startled me. “Calm down! Are you okay?” she asked. The air was still now, and to my relief, the only presence was Vera.
“V, you can’t just creep up on people like that,” I said, slightly irritated. I let my heart settle into its natural rhythm, relieved that I wasn’t losing my mind after all.
“Creep? It’s not my fault you were completely spaced out,” she defended with a laugh, exposing the deep dimples in her cheeks. “Are you sure you’re okay? You look a little pale,” she giggled.
“I’m fine,” I frowned. “Just not used to being out and about this late. This forest is creepy at night.” My breathing settled, and for the first time, I noted the elaborate web of cloth Vera wrapped herself in. Always one with a flair for the dramatic, she did not come up short in the silver and violet labyrinth she called her dress. Oddly, her small frame wasn’t swallowed by the fabric. It always seemed as if her large personality made up for the difference in height she had with most people.

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“You look really nice,” I said.
Her wide grin touched the corners of her bright eyes. “I made it myself,” she boasted, giving a full spin like a child in a beauty pageant. The detailed shawl shimmered in violets and ice blues with an exaggerated white and blue collar meant to imitate snow. It was far from lavish, clearly having been sown together from leftover fabric, but she wore it well. She even had small flecks of shimmer in her tightly coiled curls. The things she could do with scraps of fabric and a needle never ceased to amaze me.
Her mask was probably the greatest spectacle on her. It shimmered with garnet greens and topaz flecks to match her eyes. She was a clear descendant of Triba Curratrix, the Tribe of the Life. When Vera matured, she would no doubt have a spectacular ability. Maybe she would be able to talk to animals, or she would be able to grow plants anywhere. Triba Curratrix was one of the most respected tribes in history, and its ability had been passed down through years of pure breeding.
“Well, it’s much more subtle than the stuff you usually wear,” I said, feeling a playful swat against my shoulder without enough reach to get to my head.
Vera fanned herself as she gave me a small pout. “I’m sure the Guardians will find my shawl quite charming,” she cooed. I rolled my eyes, laughing at her overall ridiculousness. Vera liked to talk in her ‘regal voice’ whenever she was feeling extra confident.
“Can we go now?” I asked, the uneasiness settling in my stomach. “It’s freezing out here.”

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“Not just yet,” she beamed. “There’s a reason I was late today.”
“Besides getting your giant ‘fro through that complicated collar?” I smirked. Her excitement only faltered long enough to give me the finger. My laughter was stopped short as she revealed a small blade from her boot. She peeled back her sleeve and stroked the blade across her wrist.
“V! What are you doing?” I yelled, grabbing a hold of her hand.
“Roz, relax. Look.” She pointed to the crimson flowing down her honey colored arm. The wound was disappearing before my very eyes. The cut left no scar or trace, leaving Vera’s skin smooth and seemingly untouched. “I’m ascending,” she whispered.
Her eyes glittered in the moonlight. Vera had become a woman.

Silverfang Episode 1: Solstice

model-1428081_960_720My heartbeat was loud in my ears. I tried my very best to control my breathing, narrowing my focus on this one moment. I felt the familiar warmth in my belly as I willed myself to disappear. Maybe one day, I’d go farther than I ever had before. Maybe one day, I’d close my eyes and disappear to a place far away.
I took a deep breath, focusing all of my energy. I listened intently to the air entering and leaving my lungs, and felt the cool September breeze on the nape of my neck. My left hand clutched the dog tags around my neck. I fixed my gaze on the stone about 20 feet in front of me. All of my barriers were prepared to be lowered so I may lose myself and become one with the warming sensation in my nerves. The tingling in my toes made gentle was up my legs, touching every part of me. I took a deep breath and released.
Somehow, I only managed to teleport 10 feet. As I opened my eyes and realized I’d missed my target completely, I let out a low groan. I crossed my arms as the stone I’d used as a mark mocked me from a distance. I wanted to be rational and remind myself that shadow-walking wasn’t the easiest skill to master. After all, I’d only known I was capable of it for a few months now. However, I couldn’t help my self-criticism. No matter how hard I tried, I still wasn’t able to flash more than a few feet. Not to mention, I could only go in one direction.
I let my body ride out the shock of my new found ability. I could never quite get used to the cold feeling that lingered in my cells after using my ability. I watched my hands catch up with the rest of my body, reappearing in wisps of violet and black smoke. They never teach you these kinds of things in school.
I remembered the very first time I’d tried to shadow-walk. I was terrified as I began to disappear into black and violet smoke, unsure where the warm feeling in my belly would take me. Even after I’d experienced wisping into black, the feeling of shadow-walking was very bizarre. It was becoming natural to me now, but there are nights like these when I come up short in my own expectations. Papa warned me it would be difficult to master my abilities. Shadow magic didn’t come with a manual like everything else in this godforsaken empire.
I sighed and looked down at the dog tags glistening from the moonlight around my neck. Papa would have been so much more patient than me. Now more than ever I needed his guidance, and the grieving hole in my chest reminded me I was on my own- that I had always been on my own.
I dismissed the thoughts immediately. I wouldn’t allow my grief to get the better of me tonight. Not on Solstice, when the Empire would be at peace for a few hours and vibrant with the standard blue, silver, and violet of our combined people.

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My tags weren’t quite suited for the bright blue shawl I wore and looked awkward cradled in my hand next to my masque. Vera spent hours decorating it with all the feathers and jewels she could find. She was never one to take no for an answer, even when I’d rejected her friendship at first. Truth be told, I would not have made it on my own for this long without her, and in the last three years away from home, she was the only friend I had. She was a runaway like me, except she’d been on her own for much longer.
After her home had become another hot spot in the war, Vera was separated from her family and had no choice but to leave them behind. She’d opened herself up to me almost immediately after meeting me. I thought her an odd one, having so much trust in me so soon. However, it was her raw honesty that allowed us to get so close. I could relate to her homesickness, and her sense of loneliness. Even only in listening, I could see the good in her, and so the open book found her way to the iron maiden.
I’d been waiting for a while for Vera to make an appearance tonight. I mentally cursed her for wanting to meet just outside the town in the cold. She never had the knack for being on time, and so I stood alone among the trees in the forest just outside the luminous city of Ashel.
My thin shawl was no match for the frigid wind, forcing me to keep my arms around myself to keep warm. A rustle in the leaves gave me hope Vera had finally arrived, but instead of the usual grand entrance Vera would make, I heard a whisper. I had the overwhelming feeling someone was watching me. My muscles tensed. I listened intently, scanning the trees and all the while hoping Vera would appear. The fog circled me until it wrapped itself around my ankles. I couldn’t even see my own hands. A shadow crossed in my left peripheral. I turned quickly to catch it, only to find nothing. The wind brought with it whispers that caressed my ears.
“Pretty doll,” a raspy voice sang to me.
I tried to reason with my fear- to keep my mind calm. Surely the forest was playing tricks on me. This is what happens when you’re alone in the dark for so long. I listened again, hoping to make sense of what I was feeling.
“My pretty little doll,” the voice hissed.
I felt a firm hand on my shoulder and let out a scream.

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Meet the Author

I have a desire within me to communicate of basic human instinct through the written word. Perhaps I yearn a connection to people and can only find warmth in the relationships I have built with the imaginary characters that manifest in my mind….

Or at least that’s how I’d like to think I look at life. Pretentious and wordy. Smart and smart-assed all the while believing my own bullshit.

I write stories. That’s what I do. I create characters, scenarios, and plots I believe to be real in my own mind. Everyone does. When we are children our minds expand creatively to ways we couldn’t possibly dream now in adulthood. I guess I’m one of those children that never quite grew up. Hence, a fiction blog…

I don’t have the slightest clue what I am doing and sitting in my polka dotted pajamas with a bag of Cheetos in front of my laptop, I would find I am making great strides towards figuring it out. More than anything I want to take you into my mind. I want you to meet the characters my childhood self could never quite let go of- the very people I believe to be real.