Continued from 85/366 – The Shadow Realm
Saoirse turned to look into the azure eyes of Edri, feeling the warmth of his gaze once more. She stepped toward him involuntarily as he extended an arm and turned her toward the wall. The shadow-wreathed figure that was her new commander fell into step behind them.
“The shadows are our friends. Our power over them is a gift from Myrkul himself,” Edri said as they walked. “I want you to reach out with your heart for Myrkul. Pray to him, and prostrate yourself before him.”
“If he’s locked away, how can I reach him?” Saoirse asked.
“This place,” Edri said, opening his arms to signify everything around them, “is a special place. It doesn’t exist on the Prime Material like you’re used to, it exists between the prison and material. He is much closer here.”
Saoirse nodded and bowed her head, clasping her hands in front as she was taught at the temple in Dobrigh. Her mind reached for Myrkul in silent prayer. She wasn’t sure exactly what was expected, so she asked for power over the shadows.
A voice spoke directly into her mind. It was like the shadow outside the Iron Trumpet, but more robust and all-encompassing. She could feel its gaze upon her without seeing it.
Hello, child. You seek power, I can see that clearly, but to what end? What do you offer me in exchange?
Saoirse thought for a moment about everything she could offer but did not have. In the end, her mind landed on herself. She was all she had at that moment. She realized Myrkul could likely hear every thought.
I can, he said, and your terms are acceptable. I will claim you as my own. You will lead those who cross your path here to the shadow realm where my creations will devour them and send their souls to me. Do you accept?
“Yes,” she said audibly.
Hundreds of shadows materialized from the dark places around Saoirse and swarmed, encompassing her completely, and blocking her view of Edri’s warm smile. Instinctively she held her breath so the cold wouldn’t strip it from her. They pushed against her, spinning faster with each passing second as she struggled to hold her breath. When her lungs could hold out no longer, her mouth opened, and the shadows dove in along with the wind.
Saoirse had expected cold to accompany the shadows as they filled her, but instead, she felt a great warmth spreading through her small body. It began in her stomach before radiating down to her toes and out to her fingertips. She could feel the power course through her veins as the shadows melded with hers.
“See,” Edri said, putting a hand on her shoulder, “Myrkul provides everything we need to accomplish our goals.”
“How do I,” she faltered, searching for the word, “you know?”
“Use the gifts you’ve been given?” Edri asked almost teasingly.
“What gifts did he give you?” Edri asked.
“I-I don’t know,” Saoirse replied.
My first gift is that of magic, both internal and external. Myrkul’s voice echoed through her mind.
She suddenly understood. She had spells at her disposal that would harm others and protect herself. She could call the darkness to her and create a wreath of shadow that would protect her from her enemies. She would be able to make herself unseen if needed as well.
My second gift is that of a servant.
A shadow pulled away from those darting between the buildings and approached Saoirse, shrinking to match her size. It floated off the ground by a few inches and bowed its head to her. It suddenly shuddered and twitched in place as though it were in pain but stopped just as fast. She felt a connection to it that she couldn’t fully explain but knew that if she willed it, it would do her bidding and even allow her to use its senses.
My final gift to you is that of power—the power to see in any shadow. Where there is no light, you will thrive.
Saoirse felt a cold behind her eyes, and the shadow realm around her became more defined. Her vision peered into the dark recesses of the greyscale world surrounding her.
Edri looked on with increasing excitement at the developments he was seeing. Saoirse smiled up at him.
“So?” he asked. “Do you know?”
Yes. She thought, projecting her voice into Edri’s mind. His eyes grew large, and his smile broadened. He also gave me this shadow to control.
“Shall we see what it’s capable of?” Edri asked, looking in the direction of the screams.
Saoirse nodded and smiled back.
Saorise and Edri walked through the streets as shadows darted around them. Saoirse’s commander in tow and her shadow by their side. They came upon a small group of people attempting to shield themselves from the shadow creatures with torches.
Claim them. Saoirse commanded to her servant.
The shadow moved before Saoirse into a small hole in a wall no bigger than a coin vanishing from view. She thought for a moment that it hadn’t understood her, and so she placed a hand on Edri and pushed her senses into it. From inside the house, she could see it moving to the wall where the people cowered. Between the boards of the wall, her servant could see the backs of each of their heads. It reached out a hand, passing through the space with ease, and suddenly it was covering one of the people.
Saoirse could feel the life drain from them as they vanished inside her servant. It moved quickly to the next, and then the next, drinking greedily of the little bit of life they had within them. Saoirse returned her senses to her body as the servant approached and bowed to her.
“Wonderful!” Edri said.
“What should I do with the commander?” Saoirse asked.
“Put him in charge of the attack,” Edri said dismissively, “Alas, I must move on to the next village in the Prime Material to expand the Shadow Realm further. You should take some time to explore and enjoy yourself and your newfound power, my dear.”
“But I just got here,” Saoirse protested, “don’t leave me yet. What if something happens?”
“If, and I mean this in the most general sense, something happens that you are unsure of how to progress, simply send your servant to me, and we can talk that way. I’m heading south for Facuton. I won’t be hard to find in this realm,” he smiled. He dropped to a knee and kissed her on the forehead. “Once everyone is claimed here, come to me. Perhaps we can find more to follow Myrkul. He was pleased with my choice. Don’t disappoint me.”
“I wouldn’t dream of it,” Saoirse replied.
In a flash, Edri was surrounded by shadow, and the form flew over the tops of the buildings to the south. Saoirse felt a stab of regret. She didn’t want to be alone. She turned and looked at her commander and servant and smiled. Myrkul was with her. She would never be alone again.
A smile spread across her face as she turned to the commander. “Take charge of the attack. I’ll be in the Iron Trumpet when it’s done.”
The commander bowed, turned on heel, and marched away. She practically skipped her way back to the inn with her servant in tow. When she walked through the front door, she found Peyton in the middle of the room, breathing heavily with a sword in his hand.
“You,” he said as he adjusted his grip. “This is your fault.”