Wednesday, May 6, 2009

The Shadow Walker, Part I

by NeverFlyte

“Hello? Is someone there?” A group of people stand alone in a forest. They wear heavily layered animal skins, war paint on their faces, and feathers in their hair. They are all men. Spears, long and sharp, are held firmly in their hands, daggers and poison hidden under their thick clothing.
None of this means anything to him. He has no single name, but has been called many. The Traveler. The Peaceful One. The Thief. The Trader. Even the Killer, but that one never lasts long because usually the ones that call him that are gasping their last words. He sits in the bushes this very second, not more than ten feet away, waiting for the right moment to emerge to give them a friendly entrance.
“I heard something,” the shortest of the men says. He glances wildly over the bushes, spear raised.
“Must've been another rabbit, Two-face, like last time,” the broadest of the four says. His face is the most intricately colored.
He, as we shall call the Shadow Walker, for now, shifts purposely in the bushes. They rustle loudly, unmistakably.
“Hey, I heard something too.” The tallest says.
“Me too.” Two-face, the shortest, says. “Over there.”
He points in the opposite direction of where he sits, and the Shadow Walker is beginning to wonder about the intelligence of these people. He has made many entrances, some wild and fatal, some deceiving and false-smiled, but the truthful, even faced ones are the hardest. He takes a step forward this time, and raises himself slightly from the bushes.
“Over there,” corrects the one who has not spoken yet . You can see the bones more clearly in the sharp angles of his face. He wears less layers of clothes than the others, and shivers every once in awhile.
He doesn’t shiver now, standing at his full height, with his shoulders squared. His poised spear is less than half a foot from the Shadow Walker’s nose.
The Shadow Walker’s eyes glint for a second like a cat’s in the dark, then are normal. He lifts himself to his full height.
“It’s only a boy,” Two-face says, and strides forward confidently to poke him gently in the stomach with his spear. The Shadow Walker doesn‘t flinch. “Just a boy.”
The other three men look more suspicious, but all of them lower their spears. It’s only a boy, after all.
“I come in peace,” the Shadow Walker announces in a steady voice. Two-face laughs, but the other three remain silent, seeing a small bit of what the Shadow Walker really is from his voice. Though high with youth, it expresses a large amount of knowing. “I wish to speak with someone from your tribe.”
Two-face has gone silent now, as well, stricken with the small boy’s seriousness. They cannot refuse his request, the Shadow Walker knows, for he has done everything possible to himself not look like a threat. He only wears a few layers of clothes, all of which are ripped and dirty. Its much too cool to be wearing close to nothing, but the Shadow Walker has felt worse. And this is possibly his most important mission yet, so no matter what lengths he goes to, he could still go farther.
As predicted, the heaviest, most colorful man nods, “We’ll escort you.”

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