Upon seeing him, you might think our protagonist didn't seem the type to be the saviour of an entire race and planet.
And, frankly, you'd be right. He didn't seem the type.
The only thing that had separated this boy from the other just-above-average boys of Asadiea for the twenty years of his life he had lived thus far was the fact that he had a shadow, and they didn't. As if the shadow itself wasn't enough of a reminder, he was named Umi Ubra, which, in the tongue of the ancients, meant "One of Shadow".
He was otherwise unremarkable; of lean but muscular build, bright blue eyes and perma-tousled, curly, and somewhat short brown hair, around six feet tall, and moderately intelligent.
He could fight well enough to live his twenty years fully intact, and even had the beginnings of potential as a magic-user.
However, contrary to his widespread normalcy, he was fated to be a hero, and in fact, the Hero.
But, watching his shadow mimic his every move as he harvested Zyx Beans in the blazing sun, he felt nothing like a hero.
* * *
It lies there and mocks me, copies my every move, and yet it does no work. The others are lucky that they don't have such a black mark marring their presence.
Umi had been spectacularly moody on the subject of his shadow of late, due to some quite unenjoyable incidents involving the girl he was interested in and an amazingly sour young man named Zarqi. The fact that the late afternoon sun was stretching the shadow to disproportionate lengths did little to assuage his anger.
He had been in the middle of a particularly menacing glare in the shadows direction when it did something completely unexpected.
You could argue that the very fact that it existed was unexpected, but after twenty years, he had grown to expect that. What threw him off was that it moved.
That would mean of it's own accord, in case you're wondering what's so special about a moving shadow.
It was no major movement, just a small turning of the head in the direction of a nearby forest of gnarled Blacktrees, but it caught Umi's attention nonetheless. Have you ever seen your shadow move as if with a mind of its own? It would catch your attention too.
His first reaction was to simply gape at the shadow in awe, and then maybe check to make sure his head hadn't actually just moved without him noticing, but he was cut off before part two came into effect, because then he moved too.
Now, the timing was very close, and a eyewitness may have made the mistake of reporting that the shadow had moved with Umi, had one been present, but in actuality, Umi moved with the shadow. The shadow had controlled him, and now he was staring at the forest as well.
And it was a good thing he did, too, because a Fype happened to be charging him with alarming speed.
* * *
Let's take a small break while Umi fights off the Fype to explain exactly what a Fype is.
You recall the beasts of shadow that roam the land? Well, a Fype is a particularly nasty, if weak, variety of monster. These tiny beasties have useless wings and merciless fangs, and if you don't see one coming, you're bound to end up with a gaping hole in your neck, because Fypes jump. Slowly, but silently and with great height.
However, if you do see one coming, it's as easy as bopping it on the head as it jumps, and its weak skull will cave in.
Luckily, Umi saw the Fype coming and made short work of it, so I don't have to drag this description on any longer.
* * *
Umi stared incredulously at the corpse of the Fype, not so much surprised to see it as he was surprised to be alive.
Did my shadow just save me?
But Umi was not the only one to witness the event. There may not have been shadows, but there were some who didn't need darkness to conceal themselves, and two such individuals regarded the happenings with keen and wise eyes.
"Then we were right, the shadow is more than it seems," said the older and wiser of the duo.
"Did you ever doubt it? One shadow, in the entire world? It must be something special. We were fools to wait for so long to get involved," said the younger and more ambitious half.
"Or are we fools for getting involved at all..."