The Shadow Gem by Finbar Clayton

I awake. My fingers stretch out, pulling my body over the rough canvas of my bed. I roll of my bed and slip on some hunting boots. I slowly make my way to the front door of our small cottage and walk outside. I feel the cool breeze on my face and wings. My pointy ears quiver and I begin to make my way to the edge of our small village. I slip through the small gap in our fence that marks the edge and begin walking towards a small plain in the thick forest. When I arrive I immediately know something is up.

I walk over to a hollow oak and retrieve a bow and quiver from a large crevice in the rough surface. I slip the quiver over my shoulder and wings. I look around and see two perfectly round and black eyes staring back at me. I grope for an arrow in my quiver and set it in my bowstring. I draw back and take aim at the figures head. He stands up from behind a bush and strides over to where I’m standing.

“Hello Flynn,” he says in a cold voice. “I am the messenger of the King of the Shadow Realm. I’m here to tell you that, because of your skills with a bow and arrow, you have been chosen for a special quest.”

“And why would I trust you?” I raise the bow, aiming for his forehead.

“Because if you don’t there is a possibility that the world will come to an end, trust me yet?” The corners of his lips raised and shadow poured out from his hair.

I ran it over in my brain and weighed out my options. In the end I lowered by bow and nodded slowly. The shadow realmer nodded too and touched a black gem on his shirt which I didn’t notice earlier. When his pale fingers came into contact with the gem a large black, swirly portal appeared next to him. I took a step back and asked him, “Is it safe?” I yelled over the roaring noise that the portal made. The Realmer smiled and jumped through. I gaped at the portal and grimaced, then ran straight for it. When I was a metre from it I jumped and went through…

When in the portal I felt my body wobbling uncontrollably, feeling my arms moving unnaturally.

“Uhh,” I muttered when I saw my wobbly arms. I saw a small light at the end of the long purple portal and eventually came out into the shadow realm. I looked around and took in my surroundings. I seemed to be standing on large purple cliffs, completely surrounded by shadow. There was a large gathering of people in front of me. They all cleared away when I came out to reveal a small stocky man with the same pale skin and black eyes of the man I saw earlier. He looked at me closely and I began fidgeting, his gaze was strange, unnatural. Almost…

I smiled nervously at him and flattered my wings nervously. Finally the small man began speaking.

“Hello Flynn.”

I waved and stared back down at my shoes.

He continued. “Recently, we have lost a very powerful shadow gem, this gem has the power to turn the world into shadow, if in the wrong hands the world could be lost in shadow. Your quest is to prevent this, otherwise, the world will be doomed.”

I grimaced and thought, “Why do I have to save the world? Why me? I’m just Pegasus herder, nothing special.” I asked the question that had been nagging me since the beginning.

“Why me?”

“Because, Flynn Leaf, you are the son of a hunter, you are special, especially with a bow and arrow.

I gaped while thinking, “Son of a… a what? A hunter, what is that?!” A memory came to me, in one of our legends classes we seemed to learn something about hunters, some kind of person, a very special person. I think that a hunter has enhanced senses and night vision, and excellent tracking. I didn’t even know I was one until now.

“We also have a ally for you, a young vampire named Drake.” He stepped aside to reveal a tanned young man with blood red eyes.

“Hi, I’m Drake,” he said nervously.

“I’m Flynn,” I said smiling, I raised my hand to him.

“You must be that hunter I’ve been hearing about,” he said, taking my hand.

“To be perfectly honest I didn’t even know I was one until now,” I said, shrugging.

“My favourite hunter power is when their steps became so soft it wouldn’t even provoke a deer!”

“Wow, I didn’t even know hunters had that ability,” I said. “Now,” I turned back to the king. “May I research this gem that you wish me to find?”

“If you must, I would prefer it if you left on your quest as soon as possible. But yes, you may.”

“Okay, so where exactly is the library?

“Nipolo, show our guests the library.”

The young man I saw earlier stepped forward and bowed in the King’s direction then turned to us.

“This way,” he said coolly, pointy towards some small steps leading down from the cliff. Drake whimpered.

“Oh, what’s wrong Drake?” I asked him.

“I…I., I’m scared o… of the dark!” He whimpered miserably.

“Oh don’t worry Drake, its just an illusion, its really quite bright down there,” said Nipolo, exasperated.

We began our descent down the stairs. I noticed that Nipolo was right about it being quite bright down there, I could see Drake easily and he eventually began to smile on the way down. When we arrived at the library I gaped, the library was huge! Bigger than my local one anyways. Nipolo guided us to the shadow gem section and believe it or not there ware about a hundred different books there. I grabbed a thick leather bound one with musty yellow pages, and went over to a stool and sat down. I opened the book and read the title of the section. THE GEM AND HOW IT CAME TO BE. Perfect, I thought and buried my head in it. The shadow people created the gem when they were at war with the giants, to threaten them. But then a clumsy shadow realmer named Nafe got his hands on it and somehow and shot it at the giant’s caves. The shadow laser spread shadow all around the caves and took centuries to disappear. The giants have held a grudge against the shadow realmers ever since. And now the gem has been stolen, meaning the giants have a chance at revenge. Well, I thought, Giants Cave here I come.

Soon we were ready for out journey, we had packed spare clothes and food, stuff like bread and fruit. We were waiting on the cliff we had arrived on when at 3 o’clock Nipolo came up from the staircase that led down to the library.

“Are you ready?” he asked softly.

“Yes,” me and Drake both replied.

“Alright, here is your portal gem.” He slipped a small black gem into my awaiting hand. “We also have some weapons for you,” he continued. He handed me two small daggers and a long black bow and a leather quiver with 72 arrows. He then handed Drake a long sword and a thick steel shield. I nodded and thanked Nipolo many times and then he left to report back to the king. I turned to Drake as he nodded to me. I tried a smile and touched the gem with my forefinger. A large lack portal appeared next to me. I nodded at Drake and he jumped through, I soon followed.

We came out the other side soon and I soon realized that we had come out in Werewolf Forest. I knew that because I saw many footprints, definitely not human ones. There were also claw marks on the trees around us. I looked around and saw Drake over at one of the trees. “This is an orange tree,” he said. I went over and began fluttering my wings. Soon I was hovering at Drakes head height. I reached out and yanked an orange of the tree. I dropped down next to Drake. I reached out and gave him the orange. He took it and peeled off the skin quickly. He was about to take a nibble of it when I heard a twig snap. I spun around and simultaneously took an arrow from my quiver. I set it in my bow-string and pulled back. When I spun a whole 180-degree turn my eyes met another pair of eyes. I began hovering while taking in this strange person. He wore a ripped and torn grey long sleeve shirt, simple brown shorts and some leather sandals. He also wore a black belt with a long curving sword in a scabbard attached to it.

“Who dares come to Werewolf Forest?” He croaked. He pulled out the sword, he was trying to threaten us! Drake pulled out his sword and shield and held them up defensively. “Werewolf Forest is cursed, whoever dares come here that is not one shall be eliminated!” He boomed, swinging his sword in our direction. He turned to me and said, “Don’t even try it” Then he simply took the arrow out. I lowered my bow, and then he struck.  I ducked instinctively and pulled out one of my daggers. Drake lunged forward and swung at our foe.

“You dare attack king Nickolo of Werewolf Forest?” He blocked Drakes attack easily and simultaneously kicked me in the chest. I staggered backwards and saw Drake push Nickolo with his shield and come running over to me.

“Come on, get up!” He said urgently. I got to my feet and chucked the knife that I still had in my hand and got Nickolo square in the right shoulder. He yelped in pain and pulled out my blade. He stabbed it into the floor next to him and came charging over to us. Drake blocked his first attack with his shield but wasn’t so lucky on the second. Nickolo swiped and got Drake a long gash on his cheek. Then Nickolo swiped again and cut Drake across the chest. Drake dropped to the floor in pain. I rushed over to him and picked up his sword. I spun around just in time to block Nickolos strike before push-kicking him into a tree. I reached for my second knife and ran over to him. He swiped at me with a lazy strike, but I dodged and threw the knife at his forehead. Before the knife reached him he disappeared into black smoke. I ran over to Drake and ripped a shred of my cloak and put it over the gash on his chest.

“We should go,” I told him.

“Food,” he mumbled.

I pulled a cheese sandwich from my bag and offered it to him. he took it gratefully and while he ate I went over to a tall oak and pulled a few vines off. I went back over to Drake who had finished his sandwich and tied the shred of my cloak to his chest with the vines. I helped him up and we set back on our journey.

“I think we should go to the Elf village next, I know a few warriors there who might be able to help us in our battles against the giants.”

I said to him, “Sure.”

He groaned from the effort of walking and I motioned to stop. He shook his head. When night fell we made camp under a bushy tree. I lit a fire and soon we both fell into a deep sleep. when we awoke I put out the fire and we began eating some fruit. Then we set off again, and soon, after many days and many night we arrived at the Emerald Forest.

We began trudging through the rich soil of the forest until we both noticed a light coming from our left. we decided to investigate.

“I’ll go first,” I said. “See if it’s safe.”

Drake nodded and I gave him back his sword. Then I went over to the light and poked my head around a tree. What I saw surprised me. There was a strange old man in green robes and a pointy hat all decorated in four leaf clovers and he was dancing around a fire.

I walked towards him cautiously. He noticed me and smiled.

“Come take a seat young elf. What do you wish to ask me?” He motioned to a log that lay on its side in front of the fire. I went over to the log and sat down slowly.

“What’s your name?” I asked.

“Oh, my name is Mirno, you can called me the Emerald Wizard.”

“Do you know anything about the shadow gem?”

“The shadow gem, hmm, the shadow gem’ let me see now. Oh yeah, the shadow gem is a very powerful gem that has been stolen and is now trapped in an iron container in the Giant Caves. Oh and I just happen to have a spare key to the iron box.” he said cheerfully.

“Well, may I have it?” And I told him about me and Drakes quest.

“You may, after all, it is for a good cause.”

He then went over to a wooden box that was behind him and ruffled through it for a minute of two, until finally he pulled out a very large black key with a skull on the handle.

“Here you go,” he said brightly.

He handed it over to me and I quickly slipped it into my bag.

“It was nice meeting you young elf,” he said finally.

“You too Mirno,” I said in return and slipped away, back into the thick forest towards my awainting friend.

“Look!” I said to him when I arrived at camp. “I’ve got the key to the Giant’s Cave!”

“Well what are we waiting for?” he said brightly.

He stood up and began the short walk back to Elf Village. It was twilight by the time we arrived; everyone would be asleep.

“Well, we’re just going to have to make a camp here. I went out to gather firewood. Soon I found some and went back to our camp next to my friend’s house. When I reached the house Drake wasn’t there.

“Oh, come on.” I muttered and began searching the village .I looked in through the remains of a window in and abandoned house. What I saw came as a surprise. Drake was tied to a wall with a rope and there were three elves standing next to him with tall spears.

I grabbed three arrows and loaded all three into my bow. I let go and all three arrows found their mark in the guard’s necks. I kicked the door open and ran over to Drake.

“S...sorry Flynn, the guards took me by surprise.”

“It’s no big deal.” I told him as I was untying the bonds. I wonder who they were, I wonder who hired them. Finally the bonds released my friend and he ran to the door.

“Let’s get back to the camp.” he told me and rushed out toward our camp.

I soon followed. When we arrived at our camp the fire had burned out leaving us with only burning embers.

“Let’s go to sleep.” I told him.

He nodded at me and went out like a light. I didn’t go to sleep that quickly; I was always waking up form nightmares of what lay ahead. Eventually I slept.

The day came soon and we covered the embers of the fire with some soil. we waited awhile until my friend Jake came out of his hut. I went over to him and shook his shoulder.

“Hey Jake.” I whispered.

He turned around slowly and smiled at me. “Oh, Flynn, I haven’t seen you in a  while.”

“Yeah, I’ve been on this crazy quest and I need your help.”

“How?”

“Well we need your help battling the giants.” I said.

He looked shocked, but said, “I can do that, but we’re going to need more elves. I’ve got a few friends who would be good for the job.”

“Sure.” I said in return.

Soon we had half a dozen more people to help us on our quest.

“The Giant’s Cave is north-east from here,” said one of the elves pointing toward a large plain surrounded in fog.

I gulped. “Okay, let’s go.”

We began marching toward the plain. We finally arrived at a giant cave mouth.

“Oh my god, that’s really it,” said one of the elves.

“Yep, it is,” I said. “Let’s make a camp here.”

Luckily all the elves had gathered more food sources when we were at the village; mine and Drake’s supplies were running low. We ate what we could afford and went to sleep. We didn’t make a fire that night because we didn’t want the giants to notice our arrival. The sun came up and we all awoke.

Everyone began preparing; sharpening swords, practicing with bows and arrows, and giving each other lessons. Soon night came again and we all decided to go into the caves. We silently tip-toed into the Giant’s Cave.

We passed through a large passage and came into an enormous cavern. There were five giants standing around a large throne. I could not see what was on the throne because the giants were blocking my view.

“Hey Jake, can you hand me that sleep potion?”

He silently handed it to me and I twisted open the lid. i took out an arrow from my quiver and dunked it inot the potion and placed the arrow into my bow string. i fired at the giant that was on my right and he feel to the floor, not dead but asleep; my arrows could not manage to get to his internal organs.

All the giants turned to the sleeping giant and my group began creeping toward the throne. One of the giants turned to us and roared. I dunked another arrow in the potion and shot it at his neck. He fell and the remaining three began charging at us. Drake dunked his sword inot the sleeping potion and jumped onto the giant’s foot. He stabbed his sword into the foot and the giant went down. Another elf dunked his arrow into the potion and was about to fire when the second giant squashed him with its foot.

“Noooo!” Jake yelled and stabbed the giant with his sword.

The giant fell and landed on its face. The other giant turned and another elf shot him in the foot. The last giant fell and we all began high-fiving and cheering and slapping each other on the back.

“Only one loss,” said one of the smiling elves.

“Guys wait, what about the throne?” I asked.

“The throne, oh yeah, I didn’t see anyone on it,” said Drake.

I nodded and went up the steps to the empty throne. I inspected it and looked closely at the arms of the chair. On the right side there was a strange shape in the arm. I looked at it closely and realised it was a keyhole. I reached into my bag for the key that Mirnu had given me, when a cold voice rang out...

“Don’t touch it!”

I looked around and saw a figure that I seemed to recognise. The figure stepped out of the shadow and I realised it was Nickolo!

“Yes, it was I who stole the gem and captured Drake. I am the mastermind behind this plot!” He said, taking note of the shocked look on my face.

“Guys, distract him. I’m going to get the gem.”

My friends nodded and charged at Nickolo. i pulled out the key and put it inot the slot on the arm of the throne.

“Noooo!” Nickolo yelled.

I twisted the key and was about to open the lid when someone yelled.

“Flynn, look out!”

I ducked just as Nickolo swung at the place ny head had been. I kicked him and he flew back and down the stairs. I opened the lid and pulled out the shadow gem. It was a diamond shape with swirling black mist inside. I looked over and saw Jake stab Nickolo through the heart with a cry of heeeyaaaah.

“Guys, come on, let’s go home, I’ve got the gem and we don’t want those giants waking up.”

I pointed at a stirring giants. Drake dunked his sword into the sleep potion and stabbed the creature through the chest. He ran up and joined us.

Everyone clustered around and I touched the gem that Nipolo had given me. A black portal opened and we all jumped through. We came out of the portal and the King and Nipolo greeted us. We were paraded and cheered for, and I handed over the gem. Soon, when the parade had stopped, I told Nipolo I wanted to go home the next day after I had said my good byes.

The next day I began my journey home from the clearing in which all of this had started. I haven’t forgotten my quest and I never will. It still haunts me in the night but now that I have seen the dangers of the world I will never feel the same about home again.

 

From The Incredible Tales of Wowzmarshdoo