Shadow Lover (Part 1)

Prologue- The Beginning of Light and Dark

The world was a luminous shining ball in space, full of blue oceans and the green plants that would soon give birth to breathable air on the new Earth. The One stood on the hills, looking out upon his creation and gave a sigh of relief. It had been too long already since humans had ruled a land, and this Earth looked to be more promising than the last one he had made.

He was a young god, and sometimes made mistakes. It was the sad thing that the gods who were supposed to be all-powerful were nothing but humans with the power to create life.

They made the same mistakes as humans did, as the One soon found out.

His first Earth had been a jungle world with only carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and hot liquid nitrogen oceans. He had placed it too close to the sun, he realized, and so he moved further away from the sun, just past the asteroid belt. This planet he made to be extremely large, for he thought if the planet were large enough, perhaps the sun would only be able to hit a small part of it. He mixed nitrogen and oxygen in the atmosphere, and was abashed to find the gasses soon mixing and creating giant storms on the barely born planet.

Another failure.

He moved back towards the sun, between his first failed planet and a planetoid he had not bothered to develop more than placing a few extremely primitive life forms on that would never evolve into real life. This planet, he thought, would be perfect.

It was soon formed, a medium sized planet with oceans of water and lands of grass and plants that used the deadly carbon dioxide gas to live and gave off oxygen. He gave much carbon dioxide to the atmosphere to start it off, making sure to add a little oxygen. He covered most of the Earth with the plants, making sure to make some few places deserts and others to be ice lands.

Now he developed the oceans, creating them from water and making sure that they were not too large that they would flood the lands.

Now came life... he thought of the race he had once descended from, a long time ago, and modeled this new race after them. Humans. He remembered when he had been taught what they had been, and why the name "human" and "mortal" had come about. They could die, true, and they were not beings of light as the Ones were. They were a mix, a paradox of dark and light, and had the choice of which they wanted to follow. And so the One made this race, forming them at the most primitive stage, considering the newborn status of Earth.

Now there was the matter of the human's lifespan. The One would need a different place that the mortals could go to spend their time after their life had been spent. He decided that since they were a people made of both light and darkness, he would make a place for both, and after some thought, made place in between, a kind of stopping spot for travelers.

Now there was the matter of how they would get there. The One was sure that a mortal would not simply know how to get to such places, considering that he had made it a part of them to wonder about life, but not really totally understand it. He would need another One, to help with this process of life and Death. He called upon his brother, who responded quickly.

"What is it brother?" The other One stood silently on the grassy hill, barely glancing around at this new wonder his kin had created.

"I ask of you to do something for me." The One said, giving a small smile that the elders had taught him. They had said in human times it was a symbol for happiness. The thought of joy intrigued the One, so he often unconsciously used the gesture when dealing with his kin.

"Oh? And what is that?" The other One asked impatiently. The One smiled again and looked up through the clouds at his hidden kingdom, then thought of the terrible darkness

"I have given these newly created mortals what I like to call 'free will'. They will do what they will to survive, and will live about sixty to seventy years. But we cannot allow these new ones to live as long as us, of course. We must be the powers that they look to for help that they worship. If they live as long as us, they will think themselves better than us. And so I humbly request that you play the part of the Reaper, the Dark One that will come to take them when the end of their lives are upon them. Become Death."

The other One stared for a moment, than nodded.

"Very well. I will play the part you ask for in this sad little world you have created. But only for a time..." The One smiled, and it was done. The world was created, and the rules were set.

Where there was Life, there would always be Death, eventual and unavoidable.

Chapter 1- From Love to Darkness

It was beginning to get dark as Machus and his little girl walked into the bakery to pick up some loaves of bread for the upcoming holiday celebrations. The old roughened baker looked up from behind the wooden counter and smiled as his most frequent customer walked in.

"My my my, look who we have here. It seems that a certain little girl I know is growing taller and prettier everyday, donít you think Kita?" The old baker smiled at Kita, who giggled and blushed a little. Lare, the baker was experienced with children, considering the large amount of grandchildren he looked after during the week. This had become a tradition for the old baker and Machus' daughter every time they came in.

"I guess so." Kita answered, still giggling. Lare glanced around and then came closer to Kita, whispering in her ear.

"I think there's a present here for you. Go ahead, look in that box over there." He pointed to a small wooden box on the counter not far away, and Kita picked it up with a smile. She opened it up to find a bag of the round little chocolates she loved and her smile grew. She walked over to the baker and gave him a big hug.

"Thank you!" She said with a big grin. The baker smiled back at her while Machus picked out a few loaves of bread and brought them up to the counter.

"You're spoiling her you know." He said good-heartedly, giving the old baker a wink as Kita popped a chocolate into her mouth.

"All children need candy every once in a while." The baker grinned and bagged the loaves for Machus, who gave him the needed coins of payment.

"Thanks again Lare. Oh and before I forget, Shair talked me into letting her cook a big dinner next week and we'd love if you and your family could join us." He smiled and took the proffered bag of loaves and set them on the floor next to his feet.

"Oh I donít know about the whole family, but I'm sure me and Karlita will be there. You have a nice night now Machus. And make sure the little one brushes her teeth tonight." He smiled and gave Kita a wink, and Machus picked up the bag and took her hand and began walking towards the door.

"I'll be sure of it. Shair will kill me otherwise. Good night Lare." He smiled and gave the baker a wave as they entered the cool air of the night.

Machus remembered how Lare had been the arms teacher when he was just a boy and Lare was still young and healthy. Now, though he kept his health, he had retired to bake and take care of his numerous grandchildren. The old man was loved by all children in the neighborhood and wasnít known to overcharge or charge at all for bread if the family was in need. Machus had learned much from the kind and wise man, and was glad that Kita enjoyed his treats and company so much. Perhaps she would eventually learn some good life lessons from him as well.

The candles on the street were lit as they headed down the path towards their house, just a fifteen-minute walk away. Out of the corner of his eye, Machus noticed a shadow that seemed to detach itself from the house nearby. He started walking a little faster as he heard the following footsteps, and he held Kita's hand even tighter.

"Daddy why are we walking so fast?" Kita asked him as they neared their home. The fireplace in the living room was lit and she could just make out the outline of her mother sitting in front of the fire in the old wicker chair, crocheting a blanket as usual.

"Hush honey. We'll be home soon." Machus held her hand a little tighter and walked faster down the street. Finally Kita could hear the soft footsteps behind them, even rhymed and almost lyrical as they followed close behind. She glanced back but saw nothing but the receding lights of the city and the shadows beneath the lights of the withering candles.

Suddenly her Daddy let go of her hand and whirled around.

There was a shadow in front of him with dark glowing eyes, and she screamed. It was so dark that she couldnít see what was happening, but her Daddy fell to the ground and she screamed again. Her mother was running out of the house now but the shadow creature was right next to her. She ran towards her mother but instead ran into the shadow, which grabbed her and lifted her up to see his glowing red eyes. She continued to scream and turned around enough to look back at her Daddy. He lifted his head weakly and called out her name, but it was too late. Her screaming had stopped and the creature let her drop to the ground, then walked back over to his first victim.

"Do you want her to die?" The dark thing asked in a low ominous tone. He shook his head weakly, tears streaming down his face. The dark thing kneeled down beside Machus and looked at him with burning eyes.

"No... I'll do anything, just let her live." Machus managed to croak out. The dark thing smiled grimly and placed a hand on Machus' shoulder.

"Very well then. You shall take my place!"

The world around him went dark, and the merchant known as Machus was no more. He was transformed into the darkness that had destroyed him, the creature of darkness, and taker of life.

He was Death.

Chapter 2- Embracing the Darkness

Golden locks flowing down the back of her frilly dress, Marle pulled up her silk stockings and pulled on her little satin slippers. The adults who lived next door had come over today looking weary eyed and sad, and told her something about putting on good clothes to go to a funeral. She didnít know what a funeral was though. Maybe it was something like a church ceremony, where people all get dressed up to say "hello" to god, as her mom had so eloquently put it to her before.

"Honey... your parents... well, they wont be coming home for a while. Now come, sweetie and get dressed. You'll have to wear your best clothes today. We're going to go to a church."

The looks on the parents faces seemed to be somewhere between pity and sadness, and their eyes were puffy and wet as if they had been crying, like Marle had seen her mom do sometimes when Daddy hit her after they had yelled at each other for a while. She could hear their hushed voices in the next room, though she couldnít make out but a few occasional words with all of the muffled crying.

".... going to do with the poor child, I just don't know..."

"..such a shame...."

"....poor thing, she probably doesn't even realize..."

Marle scrunched her toes inside her little slippers. She hated this! She wanted to know why every one was crying. She remembered crying when she fell and skinned her knee... maybe one of the big tall adults had hurt their knee? Well, maybe she could go in and give it a kiss to make it better. That always made mommy feel better after her and daddy had fights together.

Opening the door quietly, she slipped into the barely lit room. Everyone suddenly became quiet; their eyes on her, and the woman who had been crying stopped herself with only a few sniffles.

"Come here, child. Let me look you over." The old man from next door said. She walked over to him and he checked her outfit, making sure that the laces were pulled tight and the dress properly fitted.

"We're going to a church now, so remember to be on your best behavior." The old man warned her, then took her hand and led her out of the room, the crying woman and the others following behind them at a distance behind. She could hear the soft sobs of the woman still, and it bothered her to think that there was nothing she could do to make the person feel better like she had done for her mom so many times.

She saw the long dark carriage that waited, and the woman that came out of it, tears flying from her face. The sobbing woman who had been following behind went to embrace the other, and the old man let go of Marle's hand. She found herself alone in front of her house as the others wept, comforting the sobbing women and exchanging weary hugs. She began to walk away from them down the long cobblestone streets, angry that she could not understand their weeping.

"Marle..." A low whisper came from seemingly know where, and Marle turned towards the voice. There in the shadows stood a young man, dressed all in black with pale skin and an inviting smile.

"Who are you? Mommy said I'm not supposed to talk to strangers." Marle said quickly, glancing back at the cluster of adults down the street from her. Her curiosity got the best of her though, and his smile was rather inviting, so she took a couple of steps closer, and he did the same, though he did not come out of the shadows.

"But where is your mother youngling?" He asked softly. Marle looked down at her feet. She didnít know where her mother was, she wanted to say, that her mother had left yesterday night with her father and had not come back since.

"I donít know.. she went away and didn't come back..." Marle frowned, a tear falling from her eye. The young man stepped closer and gently wiped her tear away, then cupped her cheek with his hand and lifted her face.

"Hush now child. I will take you to see your mother." He said, smiling softly at her. Her eyes brightened at this offer, looking at him in a pleading manner.

"You promise?" She said, sniffling as another tear fell. He smiled down at her and wiped this one away too, looking into the luminous depths of her green eyes.

"Of course, my child. Come now, let us go visit your mother..." He said, and she embraced
him tightly, her eyes full of joy now that she would be seeing her mother.

"Thank you." She whispered quietly, holding him close to her heart. The young man stepped back into the shadows, holding his new child in a tight embrace. This one he would keep forever, with her young innocence. He cupped her face in his hand again, and looked into her eyes.

"If I take you with me, will you promise that you wont ever leave me?" He asked, a sudden urgency in his voice. She looked frightened for a moment, but nodded.

"Good. Then we will see her." Death embraced her tightly and bid her to sleep, her golden curls spread about his dark robes beautifully like the light of dawn spreading throughout the skies to warm the land. The skies parted and they were gone, vanished from the world of the living.

Chapter 3- In Between Worlds

The world spun around the pair, the figure of darkness and the little child who clung so tightly to his robes, full of innocence and light. The darkness around them was cold and whirled at their feet, and then slowly stopped itís revolving and resolved into a house. They had crossed from the Realm of the Living, Earth, to the land in between, Purgatory, or Limbo as Death would soon tell his little one. He looked around the room and smiled to himself, for the house was just as he wanted it, an exact replica of his Little One's home.

"You can open your eyes now Little One." He said to her softly. She slowly opened her eyes and loosened her arms from around his neck a little. Her mouth fell into a little gape and her eyes were wide with wonder at the site around her. It was her house! A wide smile was spreading across her face and when she looked into Deaths eyes he could see her blue eyes sparkling.

"We're home! Are mommy and daddy here?" She asked brightly. She walked over to the couch and looked under it. Her fatherís slippers were tucked under the edge of the mattress, in their proper spot, and her mothers sewing basket was next to it.

"No Little One, not yet. But they will be here soon, I promise." Death said to her. Marle looked up, her face sunken and her bright smile lost into a frown. Her eyes welled with tears, but she held them back and sniffled a little.

"As long as they get here soon..." She said. Then she came over to Death and hugged him unexpectectedly. He could feel her tears on his shoulder and her golden curls on his back.

"You'll be here though, so I'll be all right..." Marle said, sniffling quietly to herself. Death hugged her tightly; glad to finally have his Little Angel back again. Then he slowly pulled away, remembering his duties that were a part of the deal he had signed a long time ago.

"Little One, I must go for some time, but I promise I will be back before that fire dies down."

He pointed at the fireplace, which was lit with a few small logs in place. Marle looked over then back, her face covered in another frown, though not as mournful looking as the last one.

"Why do you have to leave?" She asked, pouting. Death sighed inwardly and stood up.

"I have to Dearest. I will be back soon." With that he slipped out the door and closed it behind himself, leaving Marle in silence in her home. She sat by the fire and took her satin slippers, shoving them under the couch next to her fatherís slippers. She pulled her knees up under her chin and wished that her parents were here with her, that she didnít have to be so alone.

And she stared at the fire, wondering when her Dark Angel would ever come home.

Shadow Lover, Pt. 2