The Shadow Stealer

Kunai picked up a pebble and took the blackened shard between his fingers. With measured gestures, he moved the pebble up and down, caressing it along the dark little shard like a whetstone gliding across a steel sword. Ashlar watched in wonder how the shard gradually developed into a rough prong, then, into a thinly-sliced vane and finally, into a razor-sharp point – even and cutting like the edge of a blade. It now resembled a smooth, obsidian-carved arrowhead.

‘Watch closely, little god,’ said Kunai, lifting the arrowhead at eye-level.

In a flash of tangerine light, the Æbe’trax reawakened. Like a glowing ember relighting a bonfire, the dark shard fluoresced and incandesced as Kaalà seeped back into its atomic structure. The cold grey in Ashlar’s eyes was replaced by warm amber. ‘H-how?’ was all he could mumble.

Kunai bent forward and whispered the answer into his ear.

‘But that would imply—’ began Ashlar.

A rush of cold wind swept the desert. It crept about the place like a living darkness and enveloped the sandhills into a soft fog of war. The gold rising sun became a disk of aged darkness. Across the sea of sliced corpses, shadows began to lengthen and stretch, creeping across the greying sands like sly, Tartarean vipers.

A shadow flew over his shoulder. This one looked broken somehow, taking the distinct shape of a boy without legs. It moved weirdly as it crawled onto Ashlar, his small hands extending into cold, shadowy claws.

He winced. Wherever the shadow had touched him, his skin had grown sore like the cold kiss of frost.

‘S-s-stop that!’ Ashlar shivered, gathering the cloak more closely around him as he tried to avoid the little boy’s shadow. He couldn’t tell whether the cold existed outside of him or within him.

To be continued...

- Louise Blackwick

Advent 2019