Chapter One

The Shadow

            "What do you think, Shadow? Should we keep looking?" I asked my pet wolf. Shadow was sniffing around the ponds nearby. "Come on buddy. We've checked up and down these marshes for the past three days. I don't think Blade Storm is here."

            I chuckled as he let out a sorrowful whine. "I know. I want to find her too, but she's probably not at the Low-Life Marshes. It was a good idea to try looking for her here, but we've been all over these swamps and all the nearby towns and there's still no sign of her."

            Shadow's whine turned in to a crying howl. "Quit your crying," I scolded him. He yelped at me in defiance. "Hush now! You know we shouldn't draw attention to ourselves. The Low-Life Marshes are called 'low-life' for a reason."

            It was true. The marshes were a haven for foul creatures and deranged men. Creatures with razor sharp teeth that eye you from just below the water. Rodents that follow your every move from afar, waiting to scavenge your corpse should you fall dead. Insects that leave you more dotted with bite marks than barnacles on the kraken in Kraken's Cove.

            "Let's go, Shadow. Come on," I waved him over to me. He scampered along the damp ground, then froze halfway and growled, snarling at something he spotted behind me.

            "Heh heh heh!" a gruff laugh bellowed from a thicket just a few steps away. I turned around to see a filthy man exit the thicket, dressed only in a pair of tattered leather leggings. His hair was long and unkempt. He had a grin spread wide across his cheeks as he stepped slowly toward me. His posture was low and wide, no doubt trying to intimidate me. A rusty knife the size of a butcher's blade was tied to a thick strand of leather that tore off of his pants around his waist. It dangled lazily at his side.

            "Well well, it's my lucky day," the man spoke. "I really should praise the goddess for granting me such a pretty lady to keep me company tonight, and I get her rare ebony furred wolf as a prize. Isn't that outfit you got on a little hot for tromping around in the marshes?"

            "Ah, hee hee hee," I teased him, pretending to be flattered. "Oh, are you going to take little ol' me with you and relieve me of these hot, damp clothes?" I smirked and winked.

            "Ooh, you bet I am," he said excitedly. "I might help you with that problem right now." Shadow barked at him three times.

            "Shut it you beast!" he shouted at Shadow.

            I gasped and stepped back, placing my hand over my mouth. "How dare you talk to my wolf like that!" I shouted back, pretending to be offended by his outburst. I faked a few tears in my eyes as well.

            "Oh no no, I'm sorry lil' lady," the man put his hands up, pleading an apology of sorts.

            "Y-you apologize to him right now!" I wailed. "Get on your knees and apologize!"

            "Gah, al-alright," he gave in, unwilling to aggravate me any further when I already seemed so interested in letting him have his way with me without a struggle. He dropped to his knees and looked directly in to the eyes of my wolf.

            "I'm sorry lil' wolfie," he atoned, failing to notice me unsheathe my glaive off of my back. I rolled my eyes at how pathetic he looked, and how weak willed he truly was. I reared the blade end of my glaive behind me, then swiftly came down at his neck. SLICE. Just like that, he was no more.

            "What a scum," I waved my hand at his corpse in disgust. You must control yourself, Tenshi, a long lost voice in my own head nagged at my conscience. Please, you mustn't do this for me. You mustn't do this to yourself. The path you take, to kill others so abundantly, will be the undoing of us all. You will meet someone soon, and you will have to fight a battle between the darkness, and the light. It is your destiny, Tenshi.

            "That's just like you, to say that Blade," I muttered, remembering the words she spoke before she disappeared out of my life. An anger was rising inside of me. "I killed for you, to ensure your survival and my own. I mustn't do what to myself!?" I shouted at the sky. "What path, Blade!? What path shall I take then!? I did not ask to be a pivotal point in the survival of our world! I do not want the destiny you spoke of!!!"

            My words echoed between the trees. I looked at Shadow. His head was tilted but staring right at me, confused, and slightly upset at my hypocrisy after I had already told him to be quiet. I lowered my head, closed my eyes and sighed. I nearly jumped when I felt the cold wet snout of my wolf's nose gently find its way in to my hand. I giggled and knelt down to pet him.

            "You're right, Shadow," I calmed my voice. "She wouldn't want me to be angry. She wouldn't want me to be so upset." I paused as I stroked his thick black furry coat. "You ready to leave this forsaken marsh?"

            Shadow licked my cheek, his way of saying yes.

            "Hee hee. Come on, let's head south."

                I reflected on the past in my mind. Blade Storm. The one who opened my eyes, if ever so slightly at least. You were the first one to ever halt my glaive from achieving another kill. The first one to truly help me when I had no idea how to behave. The only one besides my husband and daughter to stay by me for years and be my companion. I would have done anything for you, but it was that very fact that caused you so much heartache, wasn't it? Forgive me, Blade Storm. My behavior may have improved, but it is far from what you wished it to be. It all began with that foul man from Raider's Peak...

The End

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