The Shaded Dragon #2

Shadow ran as quickly as she could while pulling at two very slow horses. She knew they wanted to help Sebastian, in a way that made little sense to her, but she also knew they had no idea how. For horses it was fair to say Steve and Frank were very intelligent, but even the brightest of horses would fail to understand the cruel magic behind making an avatar. Even if they did, she doubted any horse would know how to reverse the magic. Heck, she lived with the brightest mage still alive and he had worked out jack shit so far!

Worse she had to keep herself and the two horses concealed. At one time she could have concealed a whole bloody city, but with magic on the outs she often found it hard to conceal just herself. Worse, magic was taxing on the brain, so she had little room left to try and communicate with the horses. Even worse, repeating on an endless loop was the sound of Sebastian begging for help.

The ruins of the castle looked more like an open air maze now, which was something her family used to great advantage. There were many paths into the middle, where a large but humble wooden villa now sat, but only one was safe. A mixture of traps littered the others, with no clues left as to which was the correct path.

As soon as she hit the maze she unconcealed. The strain was too much, and the more she pulled on the magic flowing the wind, the closer she was to madness. With that burden off her mind she could communicate with the horses easier and managed to walk at a semi decent pace.

“What the fuck are you doing with those two old nags, Mar…?”

“It’s Shadow now, and just get down here and take ‘em, will you? I need to talk to Isabelle.”

“Now listen girlie, you don’t boss me or my brother around.”

Mawr and Bach were the oddest of brothers, even more so given they were twins. Mawr was a short for his kind but stupidly strong and wide. Bach was a tall, thin and athletic. The two were more closely related to the giants of the Deep Reach as opposed to the humans they shared their lives with. They were not true blood giants and many theories abounded about what else was mixed in their blood. For her part Shadow didn’t care; all she cared about was that they were good to be in a scrape with, were lousy at cards and good at drinking.

“Not now Mawr, just help take the horses, I need to see Isabelle and I need to see her now.”

Mawr looked at her, his stare steely. Although the small group were no longer part of any army, and in essence ran with no formal leadership hierarchy, it was hard to move on from the roles forged in those hard times. Shadow was special, not quite powerful enough to be a mage but capable enough to use magic to enhance her natural abilities. When on a mission she was in command, unless Isabelle or Gideon were there, in the down time she was the scrub, the lowest of the low. She was wrong to order the brothers around, but she had no time for this bullshit.

“Take ‘em, don’t take ‘em, I don’t give a shit. This can’t wait and I’m not playing these stupid power games today.”

She dropped the horses reins (knowing full well they would find a place to call home) and stormed off.

“What got up her nose?” Bach asked.

His brother looked at Shadow as she stormed into the small wooden house they all called home. He turned to his brother, a defencive look on his face.

“How the hell should I know? If I was ever to understand the thought process of another being, I would not start with her.”

“She looked mighty worked up, beyond her usual self after you tease her. Reckon something bad in what approaches?”

Mawr just nodded.

“Get the horses in the barn and close the gates. Get Lilli and her archers out on the walls, constant watch. You and I will take it in shifts to cover command. You want first or second?” Mawr said.

Bach looked deep in thought, a sudden smile breaking on his face.

“Play you for it?”

Mawr laughed and nodded.

“Fine, after you get the horses away and Lilli off her lazy ass.”

Mawr watched his brother grab the horses reins and lead them easily away; well more drag them but the horses had nothing on Bach’s strength. With a sigh he let go of the easy years he had spent up here after the war, years free of magic and death, free of nightmares and shadows, free of monsters and war. He had enjoyed them, surrounded by a group of people he considered his family and living only to eat, drink and be merry. Few things could agitate Shadow, so to see her so hot under the collar was a deep concern. Still, things would play out and Mawr and his brother would swing heavy hammers and punch their way through it like they always did, of that we was sure.



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