I found Ryn alone near the river again. It was much later now and the sky was just beginning to lighten again for morning. He looked so distraught. It was evident that the Shadows were trying to close in on him.
He was silent for the beginning of our walk back to the main camp, so I had to break it; it was awkward even if I did enjoy the silence so much. I liked it when Ryn was speaking - he made me feel happy when he spoke. "You do realize that if the Shadows are getting to you, you can talk to me? Grehan and Frelia always found me helpful to speak to, despite my age." I found that I could talk and talk with him.
He was silent for a while. "What do you remember of the night Grehan gave his powers to me?" He stopped and sat on the ground, beckoning me to do the same. I sat down and went to start. "Well, I remember that it was raining and that because of heavy droughts in the east, I had to try and get the rain as far east as possible, so I had to try to move the clouds. That takes some pretty serious winds." He was listening carefully, as if he were in a crowded room where everyone was speaking.
That's because we're going to get him too.
"So, you were busy?"
"Oh yeah, we were on night patrols as well, so I had more than just that to think about. There were some animals in the north, just outside Portsmouth where you were, they had been possessed by Frelia's Shadow..."
"What did you have to do to them?" I didn't think any animals had been possessed recently, or at least since Ryn had been an Element. He looked very concerned, I wish I didn't have to tell him about how death was sometimes the best thing. I had to try and phrase this right.
"What do you think?" He didn't answer me. "Well... we had to, you know... stop them."
"You killed them, didn't you?" His eyes burned with anger suddenly. I had said the wrong thing.
You always do - I could do much better.
"No... we didn't, the Water Shadow did that; we removed the Shadow." Hopefully that would be the right words.
"Yeah." He didn't sound too pleased , but I dismissed it to the foul mood he'd been in since the incident with Tobias.
"Anyway, back to what happened. You know how when you get older there are certain illnesses you can get of the mind, like dementia and Alzheimer's those sort of things?"
"Well, we think Grehan was starting to exhibit signs of Alzheimer's, and we think when he momentarily didn't understand where he was, a Shadow was trying to take him. He'd become destructive at times, trying to ask us of things we knew, like where the party was headed. It wasn't him. That night he became detached from the group and we feared that without us near him his Shadow would take him completely. Then there was a change in the feelings of the Shadows inside of us. You had been chosen and they were livid. It was like a frenzy of words and comments trying to force us out - like they knew you couldn't be touched yet as you were new to the group and they hadn't 'tuned in' to your mind."
"Oh, I think I vaguely remember that when Alexa joined us."
"Most probably, but it was just a week after you joined us so maybe it wouldn't have been as intense. But anyway, then we went in search of the new Earth Element and found you and also the body of Grehan, he was in a bad way, he never made it back to consciousness." There was a few minutes of silence, as if Ryn had an inner battle waging and was also trying to process the information.
"I didn't think he became the Shadow... mine hasn't said anything about it at all."
"Trust me, he was, and your Shadow can't be trusted. If you want to be sure, Grehan's hands. Did you notice how the palms were red raw? Ten minutes after the Shadow takes you, your body's hands and other extremities can sometimes become red due to them not being used to power yet."
Don't worry you pretty little head, I won't damage your nails, I'll be untraceable.
I got up and held my hand out for Ryn. "So does that help?"
"I suppose." There was a 'but' coming. "But... never mind." He got up, dusted himself off and walked back alone, leaving me standing in the dark, watching.
They don't care about you, none of them do, Tobias, Ryn, Alexa, they all secretly wish you weren't here. We all know, I've spoken to the others, I've seen their minds, and you know what? Maybe it would be better if you left them, tried to work on your own. You could do so much better alone. You like being alone, remember?
I walked behind Ryn. Loneliness was something I didn't need, but the Shadows were tireless tonight.
We came to the other three sitting beside the fire. They were talking about something but I couldn't be bothered to listen. I poked the dying embers with a stick.
"Hey, you OK?" both Tobias and Alexa said, almost in unison. Jeez, I missed just sitting round with Grehan, Frelia and Phaedos, they used to be my family, and I now had to get used to my new family. I wish they were still here though, like Phaedos is.
They'll never be back - you can join them though... all you have to do is let me have your body. They miss you - do you want to speak to them? All you have to do is let go - it'll be easy. Or you could just mope about, suits me fine. I can wait.