Friday Fiction: What the Shadows Hide

By | May 8, 2009

This is from an older Davien story.  Her orphaned niece and nephew are in her care, and all three of them live in a little cottage in Moonglade.  Due to some heinous fuckery involving dream dust and an old acquaintance, Davien has slowly but surely lost her sight.  Several Noxies tried their hands at cures, but nothing much was working…

…until the night a druid gave her a potion that put her to sleep and kept her there, and made her face the things the shadows were trying to show her.

This is the intro to the piece, wherein Davien’s six-year-old niece Kyree has noticed that Something Has Gone Horribly Wrong, and tries to wake up her brother to help their Auntie Davien.

“Jessy?  Jessy, wake up.  Jessy!”  Kyree shook her brother’s shoulder for the hundredth time, but all he did was mutter in his sleep and turn over, pulling the covers up to his chin.  “Jessy, please.”  The little girl clambered up onto the bed and gripped the covers with both hands.  She yanked with all her might, but even deep in his dreams, Jessen was much stronger.  Her strength gave out at last, and she tumbled off the bed.

There had to be something that would wake him up.  Moonlight spilled into the room through the high windows, making the shadows all the deeper.  But these are just shadows.  They don’t move.  Nothing in Jessen’s room would hurt her.  His new walking staff leaned against the writing desk with its elven scrollwork.  She could see where he was practicing Darnassian symbols along its length.  For a moment, she thought about lifting it and poking him in the side, but she could only barely lift the staff he’d given her when they’d first made their journey to Moonglade; this one was made of heavier wood. Something else, then.

One of his books?  She could open it up and snapitclosedrealfast beside his ear.  But, no.  Jessy could sleep through an earthquake.  Maybe…

Claws clicked along the hallway floor, making their slow way towards the bedroom.  Kyree froze for only a second, then leapt up onto the bed with her brother.  She wrested the corner of the quilt out of his grasp and covered herself as best she could.  The claws slowed down outside the door - Oh, why did I leave it open? – and the snuffling sound began.

I’ll be quiet and still, and pretend I’m asleep like Jessy, and it will go away.

Kyree squeezed her eyes closed as hard as she could, and tried not to squeak.  After a moment, the sound stopped.  Slowly – so slowly that if the monster was watching, it wouldn’t know she was moving – she opened her eyes and lowered the corner of the quilt.

From around the corner of the doorway, slowly – so slowly Kyree wasn’t sure she was seeing it at first – came the terrible beast’s nose.  The nostrils flared as it tried to catch her scent without making a sound.  Long black fur covered its snout, above a mouth filled with sharp white teeth.

Against her will, Kyree whimpered.  Jessen slept on, unaware of his impending doom.  She clamped both hands over her mouth, eyes wide with terror, breath coming in gasps.  Maybe it didn’t hear me.  Maybe it wasn’t that loud.

The terrible mouth opened.  The beast began to pant with hunger.

It chuffed happily and peeked the rest of the way into the room, awaiting an invitation.

Kyree pulled her hands away from her mouth.  “Thrall?”

At the sound of his name, the worg pup bounded across Jessen’s room.  He launched himself onto the bed, wedging himself between the children.  He pushed his nose up under the girl’s hand, demanding a pat.  She wrapped her arms around his neck and hugged him fiercely, terror forgotten.  “Thrall!  You’re going to help me wake up Jessy!”

The dog Auntie Davien had brought home from Blackrock Mountain was nearly as big as Kyree herself.  Still, she managed to heft him up on top of her brother with only a little difficulty.  “This is your last warning,” she said, trying hard not to giggle.

No answer.

Kyree pressed Thrall’s cold, wet nose down onto Jessen’s cheek.

Her brother howled and sat up, knocking both girl and worg off of him and onto the rug.  Thrall found this to be an excellent part of the game and began howling as well, hopping around and occasionally punctuating the howls with a bark.  Kyree dissolved into giggles even as she rubbed at her bottom.

“Kyree, quiet him down!” he said, wiping dog-snot off his face with the cuff of his shirt.  “He’ll wake up Auntie Davien!”

That cut off the giggles.  “No, he won’t, Jessy.  That’s why I’ve been trying to get you out of bed.”

Thrall had started chasing his tail; now he stopped, sensing the change in the room.  Inching closer to Kyree, he gave her hand an experimental lick, then rested his head on her lap and whined low in his throat.

“What do you mean?”  The good thing about Jessen was, even if he slept deeply, once his eyes were open, he was all the way awake.  He dropped onto the floor and sat beside his sister, putting an arm around her shoulder.  “What’s going on?”

“I can’t wake her up!” Kyree wailed.  “I heard her tossing and turning and I went in her room and called her name and she won’t wake up!”

“Did you make Thrall lick her face?”

Kyree sniffled and glared at him.  “She’s not sleeping like you do.  Jessy, she won’t wake up. And there’s something wrong with the shadows in there.  They’re…”  Her voice dropped to a tiny whisper, and she pressed closer to him.  “They’re moving.”

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