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Her Shadow

By komodithrax

Romance / Adventure

Prologue


Prologue


A cool fall wind blew through the forest air making the trees shudder and shake. A little house stood in a clearing in the woods, away from the rest of the town that was nestled before the mountains. He stood on the outskirts of the trees, starring at the dark windows. There were three in there. Three children tucked away, fast asleep, safe and cozy in their warm beds. Pitch Black smiled to himself. Oh yes they were fast asleep, but they wouldn't be cozy for much longer. He would make sure of that. Evaporating into the shadows he made his way inside the little house. Emerging from underneath a small bed, taking shape, he looked at the small bundles wrapped in their wool blankets in their two beds. A little brunette boy age six and a tiny blonde girl who couldn't have been older than two.
He made his way to the boy first. The dim light of a burning oil lamp made shadows dance across the four walls. Perfect ambiance for nightmares. Raising a hand he let a pinch of nightmare sand that float above the boy's head. It twisted and writhed until finally taking the shape of a black raven. The raven spread it's large wings and began gliding over the child like a vulture, uttering terrifying 'caws'. The child groaned as he tossed in his sleep. Very nice, Pitch thought to himself and he made his way over to the girl. And doing the same to her, releasing a pinch of nightmare sand. The sand took the shape of a ferocious pack of wolves with glowing orange eyes. The wolves snarled and howled, dashing around the girl, making her whimper and shudder. Pitch smiled. Such pretty nightmares these were. He turned and headed into the hallway that lead to the other rooms.
One child to go. A door to his left was opened slightly. He peaked in, two adults lay sleeping in bed. The nightmare king moved on, adults were of no use to his plans. The door at the end of the hall was his real reason for being here. Standing before the oak door he could already sense the subconscious fear begging to be released. Pitch evaporated and again slipped under the door and re-formed. It was pitch black inside, just the way Pitch liked it. As he saw perfectly in the dark he easily found the ten year old brunette haired girl. A dream sand kitten batted a ball of yarn above her head. With a single touch the dream sand was corrupted turning black, the kitten was dispelled being replaced by a large clod of black sand that undulated and pulsated into a black mare that galloped around the room. He smiled, now this is what he came here for. Closing his eclipsed eyes and relaxing his breathe he let his mind slip into the nightmare. In the cold grey dead woods the mare galloped, flattening everything in it's path. The child's fear grew, making Pitch stronger, believed in. A dark mist began rolling in, a nice touch he thought. The girl was tossing and turning but in the grips of the nightmare, could not awaken. The mare began bucking wildly, thrashing trees into splinters and smashing rocks. He admired his creation proudly. This one was wilder than he expected. But no matter, it was strong, that was all he really cared about. The mare began to 'naye' loudly, shaking itself in desperation. That was strange. Pitch realized immediately that something wasn't right. The fog had thickened, he could barely see now. The temperature had risen considerably as well, nearly suffocatingly so. Staggering, the mare fell and melted into a pool of black sand. The nightmare was melting away. It's structure began to break down and what once was a desolate forest was now a puddle of muddled colors. Pitch was forced back into his own mind. He looked around and for once he was afraid.
The room was stifling hot, white thick smoke was pouring in from underneath the door. But even worse than that was how bright it was. The walls were alive with fire, the light of which was being carried by the white smoke caused the room to shine bright. Pitch looked around frantically. Not a shadow, not an inch of darkness for him to escape through. Wheezing he lifted his arms to stop the smoke from stinging his eyes and forced the smoldering door open. A wave of heat and smoke flooded the room. He ran down the hall trying to protect his face. He quickly passed the parents bedroom, it was nothing but a sea of fire now. The end of the hall was blocked by piles of burning debris. Only one possible route. Pitch ran into the children's room. Thankfully it was more smoke than fire, though unbelievably hot. Where the boy's bed had once been was now buried under the partially caved in roof. His eyes searched and searched. There! There behind the other bed was a thin strip of shadow. As he reached the shadow he heard a faint cry. He spotted a small form huddled in the corner, and recognized it as the young girl. She was shaking, looking up at him with desperate and terrified eyes. Without thinking he opened his arms and bent down slightly. The young girl quickly limped over and wrapped her arms around him. Pitch then sunk into the shadows with the girl in tow. He re-appeared on the outskirts of the woods and stared at the house that was currently being engulfed in flames. The house now looked more like an enormous torch illuminating the clearing and woods.
The slight feel of movement made Pitch remember that he was still holding the child and he quickly realized that he'd been dripping nightmare sand onto her hair and down her body. Her blonde hair was stained black except for a single streak. He looked closer at her. Her right leg and hand were burned, the singed purple pajamas still had a couple embers in them. Her tiny hands clutched tightly onto his cloak. Pitch looked around at his surroundings then back to the child. The question now was what to do with her. He couldn't very well leave her there in the woods, that would mean certain doom for her. True he was the king of nightmares, the bringer of fear, the boogie man, but he wasn't a murderer despite what others thought of him. There was a town nearby, he could just give her to somebody there to take care of. But how to pick the right house, it's not like he could go door to door asking people if they'd like a recently orphaned child.
His thoughts were interrupted by a small buzzing sound, like that of a humming bird. Looking around he spotted one of the small fairies that worked for the Toothania the Tooth Fairy.
The little fairy had covered her mouth with her hands in horror. As Pitch stepped backwards onto a twig, the sound caught her attention. They stared at each other, until a soft whimper made the little fairy spot the girl. Her eyes widened and she zoomed off into the night sky. Pitch cursed. Now he'd have the guardians meddling in, they'll probably think he started this fire. He sunk into the shadows and began making his way towards the town.
Even at the speed of night it took him a good chunk of time to reach the town. He emerged in a small neighborhood at the edge of the town. No need wasting time going any further. Searching for a suitable house to leave the child he took the time to glare up at each streetlamp he passed. At the end of the street he spotted a house with lights in it's windows, and he thought he could make out the sound of voices within. But at that moment another sound met his ears. A loud humming, like a swarm of bees. Toothania, he knew for certain. Already she was on her way and in the distance he could make out a faint glow. The Sand Man. Pitch cursed again. This house would have to do. He placed the girl on the doorstep. Finally prying her hands from his cloak he stood, her dark emerald eyes stared up at him with curiosity. He pressed the doorbell a dozen times or so and disappeared into a dark alley. As the door opened he evaporated into the shadows.

Marry Mercy opened the front door of her house and gasped at what she saw.
"Charlie! Get out here!"
Charlie Mercy rushed to his wife's side. "What! Marry what's wrong?" His jaw dropped. A little girl who couldn't have been more than two, with burns all over her body, was sitting on their doorstep in a pair of singed pajamas.
She gazed up at them with beautiful vibrant dark green eyes.
Marry grabbed her husbands shoulder. "What do we do Charlie?"
He swallowed hard. "Well, we can't leave her out here."
"Look at those burns." Marry pointed.
"Marry why don't you get a tub of cool water and a soft clothe. I'll bring our guest in." The woman nodded and hurried to the bathroom. Charlie carefully picked up the young child, mindful of her injuries and brought her inside, closing the door behind him.
Unknown to the two guardians who flew over the house, unaware that the child they searched for was safe within the house.

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