Chapter 6: Clouds
They flew deeper and deeper into the clouds, passing through cloud fog, and as they moved further in, Dani saw more and more of the people hiding in the midst of the wisps of clouds.
They looked ethereal, very pale. One very distinguishing feature that each of them had a unique eye colour. Each hue that she saw in every one of them was different. Some of the colours she couldn’t even begin to describe. At least not in her mere human vocabulary.
She wondered if the eye colour represented or showed something about themselves. Perhaps they changed? Maybe the colours in their eyes were earnt.
She hoped she would find out.
Dani moved again through the clouds and was shocked to discover that they were becoming more solid. They eventually became like solid stone and she landed firmly on the clouds, that somehow were able to hold her.
She saw that there was an entire kingdom up here, literally. It was made of the same material as what she landed on. Caden turned to her.
“It’s called Cloudstone.”
Dani drifted her hands over it and despite its appearance, wispy, somewhat even rugged looking, it was as smooth as ice. It felt unusually cold under her fingertips and Dani took her hands away.
She felt a presence in front of her. It was a Cloud creature. It appeared to be a girl, she looked from what Dani could see, to be about 16 and she was holding something in her hands.
The Cloud girl held it out to her and Dani looked at it curiously. The Cloud girl nodded eagerly at her and thrust the object into her hand. Dani felt a cold electrical charge in her hand and opened it.
It was pure silver, perfectly smooth and oval in shape.
“It’s polished Cloudstone. It’s very hard to make.” Caden whispered again in her ear.
Dani nodded, entranced by its beauty. She stared into it until all she saw was silver, white light.
She felt it warming in her hand and at the same time felt a pull that was more than gravity. Something different.
“Maybe…” she thought carefully.
She concentrated on the stone, and it began to change colour. Slowly, from a white to silver, to a light hue of blue and then all of a sudden took on a navy cobalt blue.
The Cloud creatures saw the changed Cloudstone and gasped in wonder.
Dani wondered what all the fuss was about.
Caden was giving her an odd look, one of pure wonder and shock.
He encased her hand in his hand, and then when he took it away, the stone was again it’s glowing silver colour.
“You just made purified Cloudstone. That takes centuries to make, and it has incredibly strong magical properties.
“Like I did with the portal traveller?” she asked curiously, still staring at the blue stone.
“Something along those lines.” Caden replied, a small smile gracing his features.
They walked up the long cloud path and Dani noticed that they were walking towards to impressively tall towers, that of course, where made out of Cloudstone, not the purified kind however.
“Who are we going to see? Is there someone waiting for us?” Dani said into Caden’s ear. She doubted it would have the same effect on him that it did on her.
Caden took her by the hand. “The Cloud tribe have already alerted the Cloud King. The Cloud Queen will be there too. I think she might be a little jealous of you.” Caden said.
Dani looked back at Caden with a measure of surprise.
“Why on earth would she be jealous of me?” Dani asked.
“Well for one thing she envies extraordinary beauty. And of course, you can make purified Cloudstone. “ Caden said, picking up a strand of her hair and then tucking it behind her ear.
“Well, I’d agree with you on one count only. Purified Cloudstone I can make, apparently, but I am not what you’d call beautiful. I’d agree with odd looking, definitely. But not beautiful.”
He looked at her with an unfathomable expression.
“You don’t see yourself clearly, do you? I guess maybe I do agree with you after all. You aren’t beautiful. You’re astonishing beyond belief.”
“Your eyes must be different to mine.” She said softly, lifting a slender finger to touch the side of his face.
“I’ll say. I don’t know what you see in me, personally.” Caden replied, placing his hand over hers.
Dani laughed and her eyes widened in disbelief.
“You’re not serious, are you?” she said in unbridled shock.
“Absolutely serious.” Caden said.
They were nearly at the entrance to the Cloud Kingdom now, the tribe had noticed their little exchange and were giggling amongst themselves.
“I’ll have to explain to you later exactly what I see in you,” Dani leaned and murmured in his ear.
“Good luck with that,” he murmured back.
“Trust me, I won’t be needing it.”
Caden was about to make another comment, but all of a sudden the doors of the Castle swung wide open and they came face to face with the rulers of the skies.
The eyes of the King were astonishing to behold. A colour Dani found difficult to describe, yet she tried to bend mere human vocabulary to describe the hue in his eyes.
Flecks of gold and silver mixture, outlined by a blue that she had never seen before. The Queen’s eyes were equally as dazzling to behold. The Queen’s eyes were gold, a striking gold pure gold that entranced Dani, with specks of purple in amongst the depths of liquid gold that she trapped in her iris’s.
Caden began to bow in respect for the King and Queen, and Dani also followed his lead, but they stopped them by placing a gentle hand on their shoulders and gesturing that they should remain standing. Puzzled, Dani righted herself, but Caden looked as if he had seen it coming.
That made Dani curious. Yet again.
Dani stood in quiet bewilderment as the King and Queen seemed almost in awe of them, although she couldn’t understand their reasoning.
The Queen said something that Dani couldn’t quite make all of it, but she the word “dangerous.”
Dani tried not to let them know she had heard it, but she couldn’t help the little tug at her heart that made her remember the fear.
Caden felt her slight fear and squeezed her hand in reassurance. Dani squeezed his hand back like a life line.
Finally the Queen pulled away from the King.
They both smiled at them and then addressed them.
“Dani – “ the Queen, was about to add something on, but a gentle nudge from the King dissuaded the rest.
She shook her head to catch herself, Dani wasn’t sure what they were hiding, but she knew that she would eventually find out soon enough.
“It’s an honour to final –“ she cut off mid – sentence. “meet you.” she finished.
Dani wondered about why she was going to say “finally” but she decided to leave the questions for later.
She was about to curtsy, the way she had been taught back at home in Italy when she was younger, but Caden stopped her and showed her something. In her mind. She had a feeling they might be able to do this, but she hadn’t tried.
Caden was bold.
She saw herself lift up her hand to the Queen until their palms of their hands were facing each other and then saw a bolt of what looked like electrical, static light, spring forth from both their hands. The light energy from both their hands seemed to bond for a moment, turn a light blue colour and then the energy retreated back into their palms.
“It’s the souls introducing themselves to each other.”
Dani couldn’t help but let a smile break across her face.
She lifted her hand up to the hand of the Queen.
The Queen moved her hand towards Dani and Dani could almost see the energy bursting out of her in eagerness.
All of a sudden, she felt a sparks flying down her arm, rippling along like a tidal wave. She did not know how souls seemed to have an entity of their own here, but perhaps it was because emotions were stronger in this sacred planet.
Perhaps everything had a life of its own.
Perhaps everything was much stronger here than she ever could have imagined.
The magnetic feeling became slightly stronger, and then dulled a little. The energy became more quiet and almost seemed a little shy as it approached the hand of the Queen.
As their two energies moved around each other in between their hands, it was quieter than she expected, more hushed.
They seemed to be exchanging secrets that Dani could not see.
At least not yet.
The Queen seemed to know that and she gave Dani an encouraging smile in return.
“You will soon know the secrets of your soul. Some of your new knowledge has not been acquired from mine. But you will know where it came from.”
She felt Caden’s enigmatic presence beside her and as if she needed a stronger reminder, his dark brown wings brushed against her skin, causing her heart to expand in her chest. The Queen smiled knowingly and looked at the King.
It was time for him to speak. Dani knew that what he had to say could again reveal things that would put Dani at a loss for words. Caden would most likely uncover new secrets that he never knew. She wondered his reason for coming here before. A visit? A mission? Something that maybe he could not even tell her?
All of a sudden Dani heard a mighty wooshing sound, she looked around in alarm and instantly searched for Caden.
He grabbed her arm to keep her steady as they moved through what seemed to be a tunnel of light. Caden moved with greater fluidity and balance than she did, he must have traversed these tunnels before.
Dani’s brain quickly burned alight with many new questions, but before she could begin to find answers for them, the light faded and she again saw Caden, his brown wings still strong in the air.
They were in a room of incredible proportions, colours and objects surrounded Dani that took her very breath away, stole the words out of her mouth, and she couldn’t help but let out a small gasp of awe.
The turrets that they looked up to looked up a pearl substance, except with beautiful glow to it that could not be replicated by work of man.
It was also extremely unusual to Dani how that they were literally “in the clouds.”
A castle made of cloud.
A cloud castle, if you will.
It surprised Dani when the she heard a voice that she did not recognise.
The King still had not spoken before this time, so it was his voice that she heard when she turned to face the sound.
“We were indeed expecting a new comer, but nothing could have prepared us for this!” The King said, laughing enthusiastically, the Queen joined in the merriment of her husband. Her laughter was tinkling, like tinkling crystal against a faceted diamond. A strong contrast between the King’s energetic laughter, but fit together perfectly.
Dani looked to Caden in puzzlement, but Caden only grinned back at her, and did not interrupt the King’s voice.
“What do you mean, you weren’t expecting this?” Dani asked, mystified by the King’s strange words.
The she realised. She really wasn’t what they expected. They wanted – no, needed better than her. She understood and sympathised with them. She really didn’t have any clue, besides escaping the Hunters and claiming back Amanda, what her purpose was here.
If it were not for Caden, she would have returned to Earth long ago. Although, that wasn’t entirely the truth. She felt at home here, beauty and mystery ruled here and she relished in that enigma.
Even though everyone here was so much better than her, she still felt like she belonged here. Maybe better to wander this world alone, than to drag people along in her still unexciting person.
“You need someone better equipped. Someone – “ Dani struggled to find a word.
“Special.” Dani found a word that described what she knew they needed to fulfil whatever mission this world had set out for someone to solve.
The King, Queen and Caden all looked at her in bewilderment, Caden especially; who had somehow taken on the look of a predator again.
It didn’t frighten Dani however. Nothing about him scared her.
“Seems I have yet still a bit of convincing to do, Danielle.” She heard Caden’s voice in her head suddenly, burning with some emotion that she couldn’t quite identify.
Dani was really glad that other people couldn’t hear what was going on in her mind. Caden moved closer to her and his wings brushed alongside her waist.
The King shook his head in astonishment, took her hand and looked her firmly in the eyes.
“Dani, I think it you who perhaps doesn’t understand exactly what you are, what your very existence signifies.” The King said solemnly and the face of the Queen matched his degree of seriousness.
He dropped her hand and Caden took it. Dani simply did not know what to say.
Dani noticed that in the room where they were, it was beautifully furnished; stunning in taste, with objects that she had never seen and the structural, sometimes mechanical beauty made her stare in wonderment.
The King and Queen led them to the most comfortable looking objects she had ever seen. Dani thought perhaps they might be made out of cloud.
“Please take a seat, you may be visiting a while.” The Queen smiled affectionately at them both and then took her own seat next to her husband.
The King began again, directly addressing Dani.
“There is much for you to learn. I imagine coming here has already changed your life in ways you cannot begin to imagine, so many things for you to learn and discover that was non – existent back in the Realm of Earth.”
“Dani, you are not the first of your kind to discover our world. There are – were – others like you. I don’t suppose you have looked into your family history have you Dani?”
She shook her head regretfully.
“They are heavily guarded by security –I’m sorry, you are probably unfamiliar with the term –
The King interjected.
“It’s alright Dani, I understand. There are many things that I know of your world.”
Dani finished. “Our family records are kept under lock and key, no one besides our leader of the country has access to them. That I know of.”
“Dani, there is a reason that you are not able to know of them. They are far more valuable than you realise. They are on paper, no?” The King asked.
Dani looked inquisitively at the King.
“Yes, all important records are kept on paper. I won’t ask how you knew that.” Dani asked wryly, casting a glance at Caden, for she knew that he somehow knew things that no one else knew.
The King looked at her, impressed.
“Your history of where you came from is meant to be guarded at all costs. Everyone’s history is guarded, but especially yours Dani.” He said, standing up suddenly and staring out the window as if it would somehow tell him what to say next.
There was silence that echoed for a short moment and then was broken once again.
He sat down and looked again at Dani.
“Your family did not originate on Earth, Dani.”
Dani simply gazed in disbelief at the King and could not form a coherent sentence.
The King continued on.
“It’s time you knew of your true heritage.”
The King started again and the words brought images to her mind that were not her own.
“It all started back when there was nothing. Nearly everything was void. Of space, light and energy. All except for beings who lived in the Shadow Veil.”
Dani leaned forward expectantly, Caden’s wing still resting on her shoulder. She could tell that he was curious also. The King’s story held secrets that he himself did not know.
The King continued on, his voice echoing, but still calm in the room of clouds.
“Light did not exist, this was true. But shadows did. And yes, it is a commonly known fact that shadows need light to actually exist. But these shadows were different. They were a separate entity, what the shadows we now know originated from.
They were an independent element, they possessed power, something strong. They had always existed. That’s one of the mysteries that we still do not understand.” the King said quietly.
“Your very ancestors, Dani, lived among these Shadows, inside this Shadow Veil, that protected them from the void outside, protected them from the dark.”
“But they knew something was missing. Something that they felt every passing moment of their existence.”
“Something wonderful that they had the power and the will to make. Something that when they saw it’s magnificence inside their minds, wondered in awe. They knew the idea of what to create did not come from them. It came from the very Shadow Veil itself.”
They saw many things which they themselves did not know what to make of. Creatures they had never seen, colours they had never beheld, and to infuse each place they mad with power that could not be understood; that was not meant to be comprehended fully.
Truly, this power never could be realised fully,for what they had created, all they made came from the Shadow Veils.
Even they themselves knew not from where it the Shadows had come.”
And so they all, harnessing the power of the Veils, begin to create worlds, universes, dimensions.
Unimaginable creations that they themselves did not understand fully.
And they were beautiful.
What they had made from the power of the Shadow Veils was simply all and more they had imagined it to be.
And so they explored their new creations, the wonders that they had made.
Delighted they explored, fascinated, as much of what they brought into existence was a marvel to them, a mystery. Which is what they had hoped, what they had desired from the very beginning. For mystery, unfathomable depths which they could explore endlessly.
“And so the magic they made took on a life of its own, eventually being able to make new mysteries of its own that your ancestors did not understand.
The magic made new creatures with many bewitching powers that made everything around them beautiful.
But the things that were beautiful began to come to an end, slowly, before your ancestors even began to realise what was happening.
It had been three thousand odd years since they had used the Shadow Veil to made the many universes, dimensions and worlds you see now, Dani. Many creatures existed, far more than you could ever count. Magic existed in all forms now and had many purposes.
Evil still managed to corrupt. It slithered into the beauty, like a venomous snake, fangs bared; ready to inject its lethality.
Something more malevolent came to light that could have ever been thought to exist, to have to coincide with the brilliant magnificence that they had so lovingly created.
From whence this wickedness came, I do not know. I only know of what was retrieved of our archives after –“ the King broke off and looked down at his hands for a moment, as if to hide something dangerous from Dani’s mind.
She felt Caden’s hand tighten around hers and she turned to look at his face. His face was slightly pained, but he worked to conceal his grief from Dani and replaced it with a convincing smile down at her.
He knew she would ask questions later.
“I’m sorry. “ The King sighed and then glanced at his wife.
She smiled reassuringly at him and clasped his hand in hers.
“Please continue. “ Dani urged.
“I want to know.” She could also feel Caden’s increasing curiosity. She knew he too was discovering things.
“Evil rose up from what was perfect and unflawed. It crept in slowly, unnoticed at first, but then becoming more obvious as the years went on.
This evil soon created its own brand of magic that was more terrible than anything anyone could of conceived.
How this evil came to be, no one knows. The only thing that the ancestors knew was that they must leave before they became tainted with the dark magic and there was no hope left for any of them.
Out of desperation, and lack of strength, their magic slowly dwindling, they made another world, in another dimension, another universe. They had to project their magic far into the abyss and so by the time it reached its destination of where to create, their magic had diminished so much that there was only energy enough to make a world devoid of magic.
At least almost devoid. A sliver still remained, they had made sure of that, in the hopes that someone would discover them and come to rescue them from the travesty which was the Dark magic that had manifested itself.
And so Earth was created.
A beautiful planet.
But almost devoid of the one thing that was most incredible.
But that was not all.
In order for the world to survive, they had to sacrifice two of their own.
Two newly born children, they had to throw out into the abyss and send them to the earth so they could save their spec ies.
And so, these two beings were flung out into the deep, a desperate attempt to preserve themselves.”
She could tell the King was fully immersed in the History, as Dani could see tears filling up in eyes as he reflected on the sacrifice that these pure beings had made to save goodness.
He took a deep breath and with a firm, loving look from the Queen, he continued on his tale.
“Each child preserved in a shield of light, each possessed a magical element that they had been born with, in hopes of filling the Earth with good, pure magic, breaking the overpowering reaches of evil that sought to pollute their creation with dark menace.
Their magic had however been weakened during the journey as they crossed through thousands of dimensions.
The magic only could be strengthened by settling into an abnormality in the line of their descendants, a chance event caused by a power not known to them.
It was there that magic had the potential to grow stronger, to unleash its full might and fire.”
It was now dark outside the Cloud Kingdom, but she could see light that did not come from the sun through the windows. She looked through the clouds and saw Cloudstone that had lit up and was speckled all through the clouds. The light cast onto the Kings face, causing his eyes to give of an ethereal glow.
His voice became stronger now and urged on, he spoke again.
The magic found its strength in the unusual, in the strange, it was what brought it to life.
Through a miracle, the two children of the Shadows arrived on Earth.
The creatures of Earth heralded their arrival, and took them in as their own. Raised by wolves, bears and mighty creatures alike, they sought to preserve the natural beauty of the Earth and to instill magic back to where it ought to be.
But something was missing.
Although they both possessed their own magic that they had been born with, it was not strong enough to thrive on the face of the Earth, devoid of true, unrelenting mystery.
It caused the Children to doubt, to doubt what they had been destined to do, doubt that they had come from the Shadows.
They bore generations of children, great grandchildren, further and further down the line.
The son of the Shadows lost hope, and began to wander the Earth fruitlessly, searching for something, something other than what he knew.
He became desperate, frantic, driven to the point of sheer insanity.
He had forgotten his purpose and had become ordinary.
The magic could no longer reside with him, and driven mad with despair, flung himself beyond on the Shadow Veil.
You see, the beings could not turn the Shadow Veil into their creation, they could only harness it’s power. And using it to make beauty did not drain it’s life force, but instead made it stronger. It stretched itself across thousands of dimensions, it wrapped itself around the many worlds and universes; this protected the creation and the beings from The Region of the unknown.
When the beings first knew they existed, there was the space outside of where the resided. One had dared to look through the Shadows into the darkness and was horrified at what they saw. Or rather, what they didn’t see.
Their minds filled with misery, black fog twisted through their minds, eating away at their soul, at their magic. They felt themselves start to slip into a trance like state where all they were away of was emptiness.
They recoiled back in terror and knew they could never go Beyond the Shadow Veil, into the Darkness, into the Emptiness.
So for the Son of Shadows cast himself beyond the Shadow Veils, life as he knew it stopped.
He too, felt himself drifting into a trance like state, became aware of nothing but endless emptiness, misery and horror. But feeling that, to his mind at least, was better than wandering the Earth, rejected and driven mad with doubt.
But the Daughter of the Shadows was stronger, and she had hope.
She did not give up, she knew she could not.
Her descendants populated the Earth, and magic finally existed in the children of the Shadows, who became witches and wizards. But yet, it was not enough to bring back light to the whole Earth. Some of the children followed after the ways of their forefather and rebelled against this magic. They rose up and they too became strong in their quest to defeat this magic.
The pure descendants of the Daughter of the Shadows knew the danger and the risk and so again, they fled.
They knew not where to go and so cried out into the abyss hoping someone would hear their pleas of desperation for salvation.
Their cries travelled again through the Dimensions, and reached the last Shadow Being left. They had slowly been tainted with the Dark Magic and rather than let themselves succumb to its darkness, had become Shadows themselves. Evil could not harm the Shadows. Different again to the Shadow Veil, they were portals, which allowed future people to travel in between worlds, universes and dimensions safely.
The last Shadow being heard the desperate plea of their Shadow daughter.
With one last surge of energy and the depletion of their magic, they were able to send back one final message to them. There was a universe that had escaped the eyes of the Darkness. It was full of magic that was untainted by the darkness, it would thrive once more with the power of the Shadow beings. But they must be careful, for it was the last untainted world left and for it to be overcome would mean that all the dimensions were cast into utter darkness, malevolence and evil for all of eternity.
And so the Daughter of the Shadows and her descendants travelled to this world using the Shadow Portals for the first time. It was strange for them, for they were used to their travelling taking days, even with magic that enabled them to get to places faster; however, the Shadow Portals allowed travel to many places in merely split seconds.
They arrived at their salvation from the Rebellion, in a euphoric state.
They were safe, finally sheltered from the clutches of many evil powers.
They were able to let out centuries of unused potential into the world that they had inhabited.
This world, the recipient of centuries of unused magic, became a very mighty world, much more powerful than all the other worlds. And this is what made it so dangerous. The Evil was never supposed to find it.
But, the Shadow Portals were vulnerable to external forces, and the Darkness found their portals. Their victorious cries echoed out into the Shadows and they drew back in horror, but they could not close themselves. They had given themselves to a life of sacrifice to travellers and they could not prohibit anything or anyone who happened to venture inside.
And so, the Shadow Portals had no choice but to let them pass through to the world, but not without putting up a fight and destroying some of their power. The Darkness shrieked and recoiled in attempt to protect themselves. They made their way into the universe, greatly weakened, and so because of this weakness, the World was still safe.
At least for a while.
But they are gaining power fast, Dani.”
The King was tired but he lifted his head once again. They had been sitting there for many hours and the Queen had fallen asleep on the King’s shoulder, her peaceful face indicating pure, beautiful dreams. At least Dani hoped, for she knew that appearances could be deceiving.
“I will finish the most important part of the story in the morning. But, you two must be exhausted. It is time for you to retire to the Cloud Chambers.”
Dani realised, after a moment of reflection, how true the Kings statement was. She was utterly spent. She could feel her eyes drooping and, before she could even look over to Caden she had fallen asleep.