Thick shadows lay heavily on the night, the new moon casting incapable of casting any shining. The leaves were still, the air moist and stagnant, the nearby pond adding to the perfect breeding ground for mosquitoes. Only dragonfly nymphs and small fish stirred the surface of the water, causing the slightest of sounds. Fat storm clouds hung above, looming over everything as did the surface of the pond to the fish and nymphs so distantly below.
A bush rustled, seeming overly loud. One of the shadows moved, lifted from the ground, then formed a shape. It swelled, bubbled up, and grew limbs, separating completely from the ground save for two points. A human shaped shadow now stood within a line of trees, covered mostly by low hanging braches and undergrowth. From these trees, the shadow’s two eyes glowed against the dark, on yellow, one green, the only indication of its presence.
Two humans passed by the trees, both men unaware of their silent observer. Patiently, the shadow crept behind them, safely passing from tree branch to tree branch, never making a sound. The men, meanwhile, seemed to be made of metal, feet stamping into the soft earth and leaving a clear trail. The shadow nearly laughed at their clumsiness, and stupidity. These humans were a long way from home.
The larger of the men, though both were taller and wider than average, was in the lead, glancing about nervously, something he’d never admit. As one of the trees next t him shivered, he tightened his grip on his axe. The now-weapon had never been used for anything than chopping wood or chasing off the occasional lone wolf. The other was a farmer, of the same village, and he was armed with a simply made bow and arrows, two small hatchets, and a knife.
They traveled in silence, every sound beside their own making them pause and listen before cautiously resuming their trek. As frightened as they were, neither was willing to turn back. Not only was the creature tormenting their village and it had to stop, but their honor demanded that they finished their work, or die trying. Both men hoped it wouldn’t come to the latter. The creature had yet to kill anyone and they desperately wanted to believe it would stay that way.
The shadow grinned to itself, sharp teeth bared. This grin split its face clear in half and most who’d seen such a grin had immediately turn tail and run or simply fainted. An idea had come to the shadow, a cruel, mischievous one. Still grinning, the shadow melted its form from a man to an almost gelatinous state, then dropped back down into the dark.
As it traveled through the Shadow world, the creature remained focused on the lights of the humans’ life force. It could see their hearts beating. It could hear their breathing and footfalls.
The farmer let out a shout of surprise and fear as the darkness around his feet began to writhe. The other man reflexively spun and poised to strike, only the find that his companion was gone. In finding this, only the small part of his brain that was thinking rationally kept him from shouting out. He looked around, eyes wide, trying to see through the night. It didn’t matter, because then he, too, was sucked into the dark. Their footprints were the only things left behind.
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