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The Unlikely Shadow Slayer Chapter One
The Story So Far...
The world of Milya is a world where dragons are as innumerable as the birds in our world. This is because dragons had not yet finished evolving from dinosaurs into birds. As such, dragons are everywhere, but after Orion and Eurydice’s heroics twenty years ago, enough dragons (including the former king of the dragons, Wagner) were slayed that dragons decided it was in their better interest to stop eating things that could very well kill them.
However, it is the nature of peace to be disrupted. In this world in which dragons and humans finally coexist, a meteor falls and lands on a continent to the north of Telos. Soon, a mining town is built around the meteor and the people of Skyfell slowly chip away at it to forge swords, jewelry and other items from its ore, an ore named orichalcum. Swords made from orichalcum quickly begin to carry rumors of a curse. Rumors say that very much in the same way as people chipped away at this meteor, the swords crafted from it will chip away from its wielders’ souls.
But rumors like that won’t dissuade our spunky heroine, Cassandra, who dreams of following her parents’ footsteps into an epic adventure of her own. But when she buys a new, cursed sword, it threatens to master her before she can master it. Can she gain control of her shadow blade and defeat the stranger that controls shadows like puppets? As her father once proved, nothing is truly unlikely.
Part One: Peace
Ours was a world of blunt honesty, carved of the hearts and minds of its native races. There were many dragons, which preyed on humans like cattle, and dragon defense forces were formed in most major cities to defend against them. But the dragons hated us no more than the hawk hates the mouse in its claws. It was always a simple matter of our planet, Milya’s food chain, and the dragons were always at the top.
It’s been a while since those days, thanks to my father, Orion, who fought off the king of the dragons, Wagner, along with several others. Now the world enjoys peace between dragons, humans and elves as no dragons want to go toe to talon with my dad. Settled in the massive port town of Meridia, Orion continues to live with his wife, Eurydice, adopted son and daughter, Osiris and Isis, and this is where I, Cassandra, come in. I’m the biological daughter of Orion and Eurydice, and I inherited my father’s skill with the sword and my mother’s offensive magic.
While I admire my parents’ ability to stick together for twenty years and counting, I always loved their tales of adventure more. When I was little, I used to go own my own adventures in the town of Meridia, pretending I was as great a dragon slayer as my dad. Alas, considering the fact that dragons have stricken us from their diet, I probably wasn’t going to have the same glorious adventures my father had.
But unknown to me, trouble was stirring in a town on the continent to the north, for a meteor had landed there and the mining town of Skyfell was erected surrounding it. While the miners couldn’t actually excavate the huge meteor, they slowly chipped away at it and made swords, armor and jewelry from it. While I was interested in these swords, unsettling rumors circulated, regarding the sinister nature of these swords. It was said that swords made of the orichalcum from the mines chipped away at the souls of its user. The same could be said of killing, however, so veterans and mercenaries often scoffed at the rumors. I, on the other hand, took a more optimistic approach.
“What if they’re magic swords, like father’s?” I asked my mother, Eurydice. “Wasn’t his sword useless to everyone but him? Maybe there’s a sword out there for everyone!”
“You certainly are your father’s daughter,” sighed Eurydice. “Fine, we’ll buy you a sword from Skyfell.”
“But I get to pick it out! Unless it picks me out!” I shouted, quickly running to the door. Eurydice collected Isis and Osiris and called to her husband, “We’re going to Skyfell, dear!” Orion put down his pen and paper. “I’m coming!” he said before rushing to catch up to his family.
The new tool of the unlikely dragon slayer
“Living in a port town sure has its advantages,” said Orion as we arrived at the docks. The ship we board is big, but non-descript, save for a mermaid carving in the front, with long hair flowing over its breasts.
“Are you referring to the convenience or the mermaid carving?” my mother asked my father.
“The convenience, of course. Not that mermaids ever hurt anyone—ouch!”
Eurydice swiftly stepped on Orion’s toe with a smile, proving him wrong mid-sentence. It’s because my parents get along like this that their marriage has lasted. Neither of them is unwilling to have a little fun at the other’s expense. Within reason, of course. Halfway through the boat ride, we’re all out on deck, watching the ocean waves below us. Turns out we all love the ocean, but that’s why we live in Meridia.
Finally, we arrive at the port town of Gaitt, just a little south of Skyfell. We travel to Skyfell by way of horse drawn carriage over a cobblestone road. The driver’s a friend of my father’s, but then again, who isn’t? It’s nice to see someone so respected while he’s still alive. I’ve come to notice it’s a rare thing. On the ride, my siblings are almost as excited as I am to see the Skyfell smithies.
“I’ll get a two-handed sword,” I said, eager to follow in my father’s footsteps.
“But what will you do with it?” asked Isis.
“Hunting, of course!” I replied. “Gotta get experience somehow.”
“Isn’t a two-handed sword a bit much for that?” asked Osiris.
“Pfft. Details, details,” I waved my hand at my brother dismissively. “You know it’s what dad used, anyway.”
“And he was lucky we complimented each other so well,” said my mother.
“I can already use your magic, mom, but imagine me with a magic sword on top of that,” I proposed.
“I’ve already let Eurydice use my sword,” said my father. “She was quite formidable with it, but I’m sure you’ll be just as impressive.”
“We’ve arrived at Skyfell,” the driver said as the coach came to a halt.
“Yay!” I jumped out the door as soon as it was opened.
“Geeze, you’d think it was her birthday,” said Osiris.
“And not her nineteenth, either,” said Isis dryly.
“Where’d she get all that…bubble from, anyway?” asked my mother.
“Beats me,” my father answered.
We were finally in Skyfell. Being an inland mining town, there was much to see. A jewelry shop, armor, and weapon shops, the usual tavern, grocery, even a hobbyists with board games and toys. Lots of restaurants with food from all over the world, too.As tempting as some good Vanian sounded, I as really only here for one thing.
The smithy! I bolted over to the blacksmith’s shop and entered the door, almost forgetting to open it first. His shop was a thing of beauty. There was dark armor and swords all over the walls, under glass displays, but none of them really jumped out at me until I spied a two-handed sword with a curved, two foot black blade with a white flat, ivory hilt and star-shaped guard, which reminded me of my father, for some reason.
“That one!” I cried, pointing to my weapon of choice.
The blacksmith headed over and lifted the glass. “This one, young lady?”
“Aye,” I confirmed.
“Alright, it’ll be 80 silver then,” the smithy said.
“Sure, sounds about like what I expected,” said my father.
“Oh hey, you didn’t tell me you were Orion’s daughter!” the blacksmith said gleefully. “I’ll make it 50 for you.”
“Wow, that’s generous of you, but your handiwork is surely worth more than that. Let’s compromise for 70.” That’s my dad, saving the world and haggling upwards.
“It’s a deal,” the smithy said, extending his hand to shake my father’s. “And it’s a pleasure to meet you and your family.”
I’ll have to remember this guy. Once I took my new sword in hand, I felt even more convinced it was made just for me. My hands fit the grip of the hilt perfectly, which means a lot when you’re a woman. The sheath kept up the star design with a white falling star traveling downward along it with a trail of white flames that reached all the way to the top, where I snapped the sword in.
“I hope it handles as good as it looks,” said Orion as we hopped back into the carriage. The driver flicked the reigns and the horses took off, taking us back to Gaitt.
“Funny thing for you to say, dad,” I said reminding him that his own sword was largely believed to have been useless.
“Heh. Oh yeah,” my dad said.
When we arrived in Gaitt, it quickly became apparent not all was well in the town. The ships seemed to be going nowhere.
“What happened? We weren’t even gone that long,” my mother asked a nearby sailor.
“I’m sorry to say our ships won’t be leaving for a while. A kraken’s been spotted in the water and it already sunk two of our ships.”
“Sounds like we came at the right time then,” I said, eager to test my blade.
“No. Your mother and I’ll handle this,” dad said. Denied. “Just until you have some experience on land.”
“Fine”, I said with a stiff bottom lip.
“Will you be alright on your own?” the sailor asked my parents.
“You don’t know our parents,” said Isis.
“I’d save your concern for the kraken,” Osiris said.
The sailor set out with my parents on a small lifeboat and my siblings wished ‘em luck, just to be on the safe side. But I wasn’t really gonna let ‘em go without me. I gripped my sword, sheath and all, and ran for my own life boat. Upon hopping aboard, I quickly started rowing.
“Our little sister is rather reckless,” said Isis.
“Now we’ll have to wish her luck, too,” said Osiris.
I’d nearly caught up to my parents when a giant squid leg split my tiny boat in half. Apparently, I’d found the kraken before my parents. Clinging tightly to the boat with my left hand, I drew my sword with my right. Then I remembered it was a two-handed sword.
“Crap,” I said dryly, letting go of the boat and took my sword by the hilt in both hands, swinging it downwards, slicing through the kraken’s tentacle as I fell into the drink. The next thing I can remember is waking up on a dry beach, and I had no idea which one.
“Reckless indeed,” I admitted to myself.