Shadow rummaged through the woods and over the hills, with no particular hurry.
He savoured the bitter taste of terror that had run over the land, after his blossoming. Now that his wings had spread, he felt like nobody could stop him. Nothing would stand in his way now. He had stayed vulnerable and latent, like an evil cicada for too long. But the wait had been worth it.
A number of villages had been razed to the ground already, but Shadow only felt a mild satisfaction out of the devastation left behind him. Each life taken made him stronger, but curiously didn’t calm his hunger the least bit. If anything, it made him even hungrier and his fury grew stronger and stronger.
When he stopped in front of the hidden house, he felt something different.
All along his deadly path, fear had preceded him and his Hell Hounds, like an invitation to carnage. But not this time. There was life in the remote home, Shadow could smell it, but it reeked with defiance. A challenge, at last, he thought. Smoothing his tousled pitch black feathers, Shadow walked to the main door.
Blowing the entrance open, the dark angel gazed inside, to find the old man sitting straight in the middle of the room.
It’s been a long while, Shade… Hasn’t it?
Shadow took a step back, a bit off balanced at the sight of Claudius. Of all living beings, the wizzard was the last he wanted on his path, and the memories confused him, if only for a brief moment.
While he hesitated, the old man got up, helping himself with his walking stick, and took the few steps to meet Shadow at the door.
We both knew it would come to this, didn’t we?
Passing by him, and making his way out, Claudius stopped right on the line between the land Shadow had sucked the life out of, and the untouched ground. Of course, the man looked older than the once young Shade remembered him. But not as old as he would have imagined him. His eyes still had this shine to them, the same he had noticed when he had rescued him from the village, after his parents’ suicide.
Shadow’s mind was puzzled.
He knew all too well that taking Claudius’ life would make him incredibly fiercer… But a part of him still felt grateful that the wizzard hadn’t left him out to die in his previous life. The wise man probably read the doubt on his face, and after giving a long look at the trail of ruins that Shadow had left behind him, he spoke loud and clear.
If this is indeed your destiny, son… You’ll have to kill me to go on!
There was no fear in his voice, and for a moment, Shadow hesitated. But the darkness soon raised again in his veins, like a poison, covering every sweet memory of the good deeds Claudius had done for him.
Stomping heavily on the dead ground, the dark angel called his Hell Hounds to keep the wizzard from any chance of escaping him. Running from the surrounding hills, thundering their way to their master, they circled Claudius with their blood shot, death seeking eyes and razor sharp fangs.
Shadow walked slowly to the old man. He could have sucked the life out of him from a distance, but this time, it was personal.
Gratitude is a feeling for the weak!
Wrapping his fingers around the wizzard’s wrinkled neck, a burning feeling almost made him let go. The old man’s skin felt like white-hot metal in his hands, and instead of making him give up, Shadow just tightened his grip. Never before, had he felt such dizzying power from taking a human’s life. Claudius was no average man, he knew it, but he had underestimated his once mentor…
The numbing euphoria distracting the dark angel, he didn’t notice the growing rocking back and forth of the trees on the preserved piece of land he hadn’t destroyed yet, behind the old man. In a flash, just before the final kill, a giant oak’s branches reached down, tearing Claudius from Shadow’s grip, and pulled him up to the canopy.
Shaking his head in disbelief, Shadow didn’t understand just yet what was happening. But the old wizzard, although on the edge of passing out, recogized her right away.
The Forest Spirit… His beloved Lady.
Claudius couldn’t believe she had taken such a chance for him. Most of what was left of the wild life’s survival rested on her shoulders. Yet there she was, holding him as close to the sky as he had ever been.
The wind blew softly in the tall oak tree’s leaves. A murmur intended for the wizzard’s ears.
One last favor, dear old friend…
Claudius smiled, as she tightened her branches and crushed his body, taking his life before Shadow even realized it.
The shriek shook the ground like an earthquake, but it was too late. At the epicenter of his fury, Shadow watched the Forest’s Spirit vanish from the oak tree, and Claudius’ body fell heavily at his feet.
To read the previous episodes of Cibelle & Vohne’s adventures, click here.