My eyes scan the room, trying to see someone. All I saw was myself, dozens of reflections staring back at me from the mirrors covering the walls.
I heard something pass by my ear and I span around. Panic filled me, my heart pounding like a band.
“You have finally joined me,” whispered a voice.
Gulping down dread, I closed my eyes, taking it all in. When I opened them once again, I was taken aback by what I saw. Shaking my head, I staggered back, my body hitting mirrors.
“What have you done?” I yelled, tears welling in my eyes.
At that moment, it dawned upon me. They wanted me here. They wanted to drag me down.
For the first time since my childhood, I realized just how dangerous I was.
Chapter 1- Lupar
“Lupar!” I spun around to see a blonde haired girl with incredible ice blue eyes running towards me.
“Suldreen!” I shouted back, wrapping my arms around her when she came closer. Laughing, she pushed me away. I tucked my long black hair behind my ears and took a step back. “I thought you were going to be late.”
Gasping, Suldreen put a hand to her heart, her eyes looking hurt. “Me, late? I am offended!”
Rolling my eyes, I reminded myself how similar she was to her dad, Keefe Sencen. From the care she put into her hair to her witty humor, she was like a mini version of him. However, she also shared multiple traits with her mom, Sophie. Reen was kind, caring and extremely determined, willing to put others before herself.
I was also like my father: I had black hair, a pale complexion and intense eyes… eyes that were teal. Mom’s eyes. My mother had left six months ago to visit Grandpa and Grandma, the famous Alden and Della Vacker. She told me she would return in a year, after she had spent some time with her family. I knew she hadn’t seen them in years and I remember overhearing a conversation she had with Dad.
“I should see them again,” she had told him. “I’ll be fine.”
“Are you sure?” he asked. “You haven’t seen them in years.”
“I will be alright. Just look after yourself and Lupar.”
Those words had remained with me since she had left. Look after me? Those words seemed to be… wrong. I thought she didn’t need to tell Dad that. It didn't feel right. They lingered in the air before I heard her footsteps beginning to come towards me, making me run into a nearby room. Mom was always there for me and I knew she would come back. I knew she loved me and Dad more than anything in the world. More than…
“Lupar?” Suldreen said, waving a hand in front of me. When I shook my head, she laughed. “You were daydreaming again.”
“Sorry Reen, just Mom.”
Nodding her head, Reen grabbed my bag and ran off with it. Shouting, I chased after her, my light leaping crystal in my hand. Suddenly, we were both gone, making our way to Foxfire.
We landed on the grass in front of the school, the air fresh and clean. Students laughed and chatted, everyone so different from one another. Reen finally tossed me my bag and I gave her a quick smile. The thought of mom was still on my mind as I walked into the beautiful building. Waving goodbye to my friend, I headed off to ability sessions whilst she went to ability detecting. For some reason, she was one of the last ones in our level to manifest, despite her parents being two of the most powerful elves alive. She wasn’t the only one though, which is why I wasn’t worried about it. I left to go to class, people often saying hello to me as I passed through the halls. When I finally reached my class, the door was closed. The room appeared dark but the handle was loose. Carefully, I pushed open the door, stepping into the chilling setting. Creaking echoed in the room as the door shut and the floorboards showed age. I couldn’t see a thing.
That was when I felt it. The whispers came to me and my mind became a pile of sludge. I couldn’t think clearly. Nothing came to my mind as I drew a blank. I was brought back to Dad’s story about how he manifested, a tragic and horrifying tale. I was in his situation. But… I wasn’t a Shade. Pain hit me, taking over my body. A scream slipped out of my mouth and light erupted around me.
When I awoke, I saw my Dad’s face along with Elwin’s, the school physician. “Honey, what happened?” His panic frightened me. Dad was never scared. He knew everything.
I looked down at my hand, which was numb. I nearly screamed. It was black, glinting in and out of existence.
“Elwin?” I asked, fear in my tone. “Do you know what it is?”
“Yes,” he replied, a worried expression on his face. “It seems like you… nearly faded… in shadows.”
DUN DUN DUN!!!
Chapter 2- Lupar
“But… that’s impossible!” I exclaimed, sitting upright. Wincing as pain rushed to my hand, I lay back down, closing my eyes to gather my thoughts.
How? How had that happened? I didn’t know even though I was doing well in Ability education. Fading only takes place when an elf loses concentration in light leaping, causing them to fade into the light. I hadn’t light leaped once during the whole experience… hadn’t I? I cast my mind back to the experience. Light. There had been an eruption of light in the room. Had that anything to do with it?
When I opened my eyes, Dad glanced at me and back to Elwin. He was pale, running his hands through his hair. I looked at him, worry and questioning in my eyes. He forced a smile then turned to Elwin. Taking a deep breath, he folded his arms, his eyebrows creased.
“Elwin, I know you’ve been here for a while and know a lot but I’m telling you that this isn’t to do with it,” he said, frowning.
“Tam, I know you’re protective of her but I DO know what I’m doing, like you said,” Elwin replied, sighing. “It will be worth running a few tests.”
For some reason, this annoyed my dad even more. “No!” he yelled. “I can do it myself without any of your help! I know what I’m doing!” He stopped, taking a few deep breaths. “Come on Lupar, let’s go.”
I froze, sat in the bed, staring between Dad and Elwin. I didn’t know what to do. Dad’s words ran through my mind: But I’m telling you that this isn’t to do with it… with what? His ability session? My hair fell over my face and I couldn’t bare to look at either of them. I could feel their eyes staring at me, waiting for a decision. A decision I couldn’t make. I had no idea what was going on! I was torn between the professional and Dad, who was a Shade. Tucking my hair behind my ears, I looked at my Dad.
“Can you do it here?” I asked.
He looked at me for a moment, staring into my eyes. Before he could reply, Elwin cut in. “HE won’t be doing it. It is unsafe and he is not qualified to do operations.”
“Really?” he replied, his tone sarcastic. “Your a typical Flasher, aren’t you? I’m sure Leto can agree that I am the person more suited for this situation.”
With that, Dad left the room, slamming the Healing Center door shut. I didn’t realize how much Dad disagreed with Elwin until that moment. Or how much his words confused me. Running his hand through his tousled brown hair, Elwin put down his eye piece and shifted the colored lenses. He motioned for me to sit up and he flashed his light around my hand. Sighing, he lifted his spectacles up and pinched the bridge of his nose. His grey eyes were filled with confusion and frustration as he stood up to get some medicine. “Your father is so arrogant and ignorant… I suppose he always has been. It’s just been hidden,” he muttered under his breath. I didn’t think he realized that I could hear him until I spoke up.
“I’m here, Elwin,” I said, clenching my fist. “He’s my Dad. I love him, no matter what. What do you have against him anyway? What do you mean he always has been? Did you know him?”
His head spun around to face me. His head fell and when he looked up again, his eyes were forgiving. “I’m sorry Lupar. I… I let my frustration get the better of me. We have… let’s just say a complicated history.” He didn’t elaborate. Instead, he grabbed a few bottles and walked back over, asking me to drink the three liquids one by one. They were disgusting. The vile flavors stuck to my taste buds and I drank the glass of water he gave me very quickly.
Sighing in relief, I ran my hand through my hair, worry settling in my mind. How long would it take to get better? Did she manifest? What was happening?! The door to the Healing Center swung open after a while and Reen ran straight over to my side. “What happened?” she asked, tucking loose strands of hair behind her ears. “Do you need anything getting?”
“She’ll be alright,” Elwin replied before I could begin.
“What’s up with him?” she asked when he left, jerking her thumb in his direction.
“Just something with Dad,” I said. “I don’t understand any of it.”
Reen sat on the side of the bed, fidgeting with the Foster pin on her cape. Her lips created a wane smile and her other hand reached slightly out to mine before pulling it away. “I know things are hard for you but I’ll always…”
Reen was cut off by a bang as the door swung open and hit against the wall. Elwin jumped back in shock and clenched his fists as he turned to face who was there. I held my hand close to my heart and my brow furrowed as my Dad took a step into the room. In his palms were balls of shadows. My hand began to hurt and I bit my lip as the pain got worse.
“Step back, Elwin!” he growled. “Let the professional do this.”
Scoffing, Elwin stepped forwards. “Get. Out.”
Both elves stared each other in the eyes and the pain in my hand became overwhelming. Yelling out, tears rolled down my face and Dad rushed to my side. Reen moved out of the way, knowing the stress Dad was going through. Darkness rushed to my mind and my eyes began to close. I wasn’t strong enough to fight it.
Before I slipped away into the black abyss, I heard Elwin say one last thing to Dad.
“Congratulations. You’ve managed to harm someone else.”
I will be adding more chapters when I have some time and if this goes well :)
Chapter 3- Suldreen
As soon as the havoc raged around the room, I ran. I ran as far away as I could. I didn’t want to interrupt Elwin or Tam and I knew I was a coward the minute I left. Instead of going home, I slowed to a walk and headed to Linh Song’s house. She was Lupar’s aunt but they didn’t know each other very well. I did. I knew her more than her own relatives. She was the twin of Tam and they had been taunted and looked down upon because of that. That’s what she had told me. However, she never told me why that never happened today. She would just smile and look off into space. Most of the time, she was in her bed or sitting in her large garden staring at the lake. I had never seen her enter a room with the lights turned off. I remember sitting by her on the bench outside in the fields and her telling me something that remained in the back of my mind to this day.
“Reen, I have something to tell you,” she said, her hand holding mine. Her eyes are a stunning grey and at that point, they were filled with sadness. “You know my brother well, don’t you?”
Nodding, I replied. “I know Lupar well too. She’s my closest friend.” My voice wavered at that. I had always struggled to make friends. Socializing didn’t come too naturally to me, despite the fact that I’m friends with two Vackers. I think I got that from Mum.
“Lupar,” Linh repeated. She muttered the name a few more times before turning back to me. “She has a lovely name, doesn’t she?”
Smiling, I shifted in my seat. “What did you want to tell me?”
“Oh yes, that.” She paused, tucking loose strands of black hair behind her ears. “I don’t like shadows.”
My eyes widened as I looked at her in disbelief. Her brother was a Shade and… she was scared of what he made.
Her head dropped and she looked away. “I know, I am ashamed of myself too. It’s like saying I’m afraid of my own brother. That’s cruel, isn’t it? But it’s the way I’ve grown to be. They’ve affected my way of living too much.”
At that moment, she shouted out and clutched her head, tears streaming down her face. Water from around the garden lifted and gravitated towards her, reaching right for her heart. I dived out of my chair and straight to Linh, my hands reaching out to use my telekinesis. I concentrated so hard that my head began to spin until a few minutes later when Linh grabbed hold of my aching arms.
“It’s alright,” she said, breathing heavily. “I’m fine.”
I made her a hot drink and brought her inside, giving her a blanket. I knew she was ill but I didn’t know that it was that serious. It worried me more than I anticipated and I knew from that moment it was more serious than it seemed. I knew I had to look after her, no matter what.
When I arrived, Linh was at the door in a flowing blue dress that shifted from a bright blue to a deep navy. It didn’t reach the floor and it brought out her grey-blue eyes that Dad shared with her. The dress was like the ocean, the waves calmly moving as she walked towards me, her face lit up with a happy smile.
“Hello Reen!” She greeted me, looking so happy that I knew I shouldn’t bother her with my issues.
“Hi Linh!” I responded, embracing her in a warm hug. I felt embarrassed at the state of myself: my boots were covered in mud and my cape was tattered and torn. “Sorry,” I told her and she only laughed, beckoning for me to come in.
“I remember when I was your age,” she told me, as we wandered through the house to the beautiful archway that led onto the fields.
I laughed at the way she said it as if she wasn’t young or bouncy. She looked amazing and athletic… even more than most elves. We sat out in the garden and Linh looked out to the lake. She raised her hands and water came to her, gathering at her fingertips. I looked in awe and she even allowed me reach out and touch it before she let it go and raindrops flew everywhere. I loved it when she did that. She turned to look at me and noticed my gaze far off in the distance.
“Something happened, didn’t it?”
I shook my head and forced a smile. Linh smiled back but her expression was unsure. I knew she never asked questions over and over and over again so I was relieved when she didn’t question my reply. From a pocket hidden in her skirt, she pulled out a picture. A wane smile crept across her lips and her cheeks flushed. When I looked in her eyes, they were glassy and glazed. A single tear trickled down her cheek and she wiped it away with her hand. I had no idea how she managed to look beautiful whilst crying. I peered at the photograph and wrapped my arm around her. She wrapped her other arm around me and she moved the picture closer to me so I could see it.
“Where’s that?” I asked.
“Near Havenfield,” she replied, tucking a loose strand of hair behind her ear.
“Well, there’s me and Tam,” she said, pointing on the picture. “Your Mom and Dad, plus Biana, Fitz, Marella, Dex and Wylie.” When she said the last name, her tone shifted to something a bit sadder but I didn’t even know who he was. “We took it after Sophie graduated from Foxfire.” She smiled and her expression eased. I wondered why it was so important, especially to Linh. I didn’t ask though.
Just as I was about to ask what Mom and Dad used to do when they were younger, the front door slammed shut and a boy a bit older than me ran up to Linh. “Fitz needs your help!” Linh span around and placed the photo in my hand.
“What is it?” she asked, standing up.
“Alvar’s come back.”
Chapter 4- Suldreen
“Ok, ok ok,” Linh muttered under her breath. She ran up the stairs and I entered the house and stood next to the boy.
His eyes were a deep teal, just like Lupar’s, and he had a movie star smile. I groaned as he grinned at me crossed my arms. His smile turned to a frown, as if he had never seen a girl who wasn’t impressed by his looks.
“So?” I asked.
“What are you doing? Who are you?”
“I’m Darya and I’m Fitz’s son… I thought you would know that.”
“I thought Vacker’s were more polite but, hey, life is full of surprises.”
Darya took a step back and coughed, his eyes looking anywhere but at me. I pushed past him, grabbing my cape and pulling on my boots. I wasn’t going to mess about if someone needed help. I pulled my hair into ponytail and adjusted my badge. After I was done, Darya shook his head and ran to the door. Linh soon came down the stairs wearing a blue tunic and black pants, with boots and a warm cape. She opened the huge door and drew out her light leaper, Darya and I doing the same.
We were on our way to Everglen.
When we arrived, I was astounded by the crystals surrounding the enormous building and I nearly forgot the task at hand. I began to run to the gates, beckoning for the others to follow. Darya asked the guards for entry and the gate swung open. I didn’t hesitate. I ran into the house and followed Darya to Fitz’s bedroom.
“Linh!” he gasped with relief, wrapping his arms around her.
“Where is he?” she asked, panicked.
Fitz shuffled awkwardly and took a step back. “He… um… left.”
Throwing my hands in the air, I turned on my heel and headed for the exit. Linh grabbed my arm and stopped me from leaving. “I’ll alert the guards,” she told him and commanded me to stay right where I was.
“So, you’re Sophie’s daughter,” Fitz said, looking me up and down, as if I was an object or artifact. I hated it.
I looked in his eyes and frowned. “Yes, I am Sophie and Keefe’s daughter.”
At the mention of my Dad, Fitz scowled, a look of disgust and anger appearing on his face. I folded my arms, noticing this. I stepped forwards, hatred for Fitz growing inside of me. He stared in my eyes and the stern expression on my face before looking away. Darya turned to me instead, trying to face me down. He glared at me but his face became blank for a minute. I stood there awkwardly, looking at his dark hair and emotionless expression. He shook himself for a second and his eyebrows furrowed.
“Why do you not like us?” he asked, yelling.
My head began to tingle and I stopped still. “You read my mind!?” I shouted, trying to block my thoughts from him.
Fitz grabbed my shoulder and, through gritted teeth, asked me to leave.
“Gladly,” I told him, raising my light leaper and heading home.
When I returned, Dad was stood at the gates, a worried expression on his face. His face lit up when he saw me and he ran to give me a hug. I wrapped my arms around him before reaching to ruffle his hair. He took a step back and did a fake gasp.
“You did not just try to touch the hair,” he said, quickly tidying it. I laughed, tucking my hair behind my ear. He shook his head jokingly when he saw my boots and cape, then softly punched my arm, in a teasing manner. “She’s home, Sophie!”
Mum ran out to greet me, hugging me so tight that I almost couldn’t breathe. When she finally let go, she smiled, her unusual brown eyes with golden flecks close to tears of happiness. “When Foxfire called us and said you were gone, I began to panic! I’m so happy you’re back,” she told me. I could tell.
We walked inside, me taking off my muddy shoes and cape, taking them to get cleaned. I noticed a few rips in my clothes and even a scrape on my knee but I just shrugged to myself and walked upstairs. I knew they wouldn’t send me back to Foxfire, at least, not until they thought I was ready to. I needed to get changed out of my tatty clothes that were going to be hard to repair. I hated clothes shopping, just like my parents. They didn’t force me into dresses and frocks, putting makeup on me when I didn’t want to. They let me wear comfortable things and to just relax. When Biana was still at Lupar’s house, I remember the way she would buy clothes that were beautiful and elegant for Lupar and, I had to admit, she looked amazing.
Once, Biana looked at my mud splattered outfit and laughed. “You really are like your parents!” I laughed alongside her and apologised for the state I was in.
“Reen, you would look stunning in a dress,” she told me and I thanked her for the offer but refused to wear anything with frills or even the smallest amount of glitter.
I’m not girly like that. I’m just simple and plain, wearing things that usually keep me hidden or just a regular part of the crowd. I never wanted to stand out. I never wanted to be popular. I just wanted to be me. Some people tell me that’s a bad thing.
Because apparently, being me is like being a shadow. Apparently, someday something will happen to me.
And nobody will love me.
Chapter 5- Darya
As the girl left, her hair tangled and her clothes a mess, I groaned with exasperation. I noticed Dad rubbing his temples and he must have seen me looking because he turned to face me. I braced myself for the yelling I guessed I was about to endure but, to my surprise, he began to complain to me about her.
“I honestly should have known,” he muttered under his breath, pacing the room. He dragged his hand down his face. After a while longer, he stopped before me. “Don’t associate yourself with her. She’s not worth your time. Nor is she worth mine.”
I nodded, scowling at the mess laid out before us. “So you’re not cross with me?”
“Of course I’m cross with you,” he said, in a tone much calmer than I expected. “You broke the rules of telepathy that I assumed you knew as basic knowledge at this point. Rules that are there for a reason.” I prepared to apologise but he spoke before I could start. “But I’ll excuse you. Just this once. However, I do expect you to work extra hard in developing your ability and learning the rules. I also want you to do me a few jobs around the house. Make yourself a bit more useful.”
The last sentence was a joke but from somewhere inside of me, there was a twang of guilt. It was true that perhaps I wasn’t always the most helpful. “What do you mean you should have known?” I asked, pushing aside the subject.
“She’s the daughter of Keefe and Sophie Foster, my two oldest friends.” There was a shadow of a smile on his lips.
“So, what’s wrong with that?”
He hesitated. “We drifted apart,” he said at last. Something about him seemed to just… droop, for lack of a better word. “I haven’t spoken to them properly in… so many years.” Regret tugged at his features and I thought it’d be best to talk about something else.
“I’ll help you clean up.”
We worked together to tidy up the muddy footprints on the floor, which thankfully didn’t take us long. Afterwards, I hurried up to my room, promising my dad that I would study. It makes my stomach knot lying to him but my curiosity was just too overwhelming. When I reached my room, I closed the door carefully and tucked myself into my chair and up against the desk. I drew out my imparter and decided to do a bit of research.
First person I talked to: Vale Lemee.
“Hey man,” he said, tousling his dark hair. “What’s up?”
“Do you know who Keefe and Sophie Foster’s daughter is?” I asked, though I don’t really know why I thought that Vale would know.
“No, sorry.” Disappointment set in but before I said goodbye, he continued. “I do know her name is Suldreen, though. I heard she isn’t the most… academically capable at times.”
I chuckled to myself. “I’ll say.”
We parted ways and I made a note of the scrap of information I’d managed to receive on a post-it note.
Next person: Azar Redek. I didn’t usually speak to her outside of Foxfire but we got along well enough in lessons that I thought it’d be useful to speak to her.
“Azar, good to chat to you,” I started.
“Darya, didn’t think I’d be talking to you outside of school,” she responded. I could sense a sort of confusion in her voice.
“Do you know Suldreen Foster?”
“Not very well. I know someone who does, though.”
Next, and hopefully final, person: Lupar Song, my cousin.
She didn’t pick up. When I thought I had a lead, she didn’t answer. I put my imparter to the side for a while and leaned back in my chair.
Millie the Froster