And Then…

Somewhere in the darkness, he opened his eyes.

He was there. He existed. He was alive.

It shouldn't have been possible, but it was.

He shifted in the darkness, his form becoming more solid with each passing second. Flexing familiar muscles, feeling the familiar texture of his rough skin, he laughed. He spun in a circle. He was alive.

Something glittered at his feet. The runestave. Bending slightly, he picked it up. The surface of the wood was mostly smooth, cut with the decisive edge of a sharp blade. Except for one small part. Smeared with the dark stain of the girl's blood, her delicious human blood, was a series of seemingly random cuts. Nestled among the angry cuts was a name. His name.

The bitch had thought she had gotten rid of him. His dry lips stretched into a smile. Wasn't she in for a surprise.

He looked around. All that remained of his beautiful Shadow World was this dark pit. All the wonders that had been had vanished along with the last Shadow Man. Didn't matter: he could remake it. He would remake it all, better, more glorious than before. He brushed the tips of his fingers along the smooth edges of the runestave, where once the names of his elders had rested. He would bring them back. This time he would be the father, the life-giver. This time he would be in charge. They would all bow to him and his plans. It was time to bring a little fun back into the Shadow World. Once he had regained his strength.

His mind wandered to the girl with startlingly green eyes and shiny dark hair. The girl who had looked at him with such defiance, who had the kind of strength few humans did. At one time she had amused him; he had wished to keep her. Now all his thoughts toward her were filled with poison. She would suffer for what she had done to him, for how she had humiliated him. He would make sure of that.

Once he had regained his strength, once he had remade the shattered ranks of the Shadow Men, he would focus all his energy on her. Every breath she took, every smile, every moment he would always be with her. Watching. Waiting in the shadows. He would haunt her until her deathbed. If she was fortunate to have children of her own, he would complete the circle and bring them to the Shadow World for a fresh Game of their own. Only this time he wouldn't be nearly so tolerant.

Better be on guard, chicklet. I'll be seeing you soon.


And that's all, folks! The end. I just moved to a new state, and during the weeks of no internet or cable (seious distractions for me) I was finally able to finish. Many apologies for the wait. I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing. Comments always welcome. Thanks much and peace!

(And no, there will be no sequel. I just like ending with ambiguity. But don't worry about Charity - she's tough. I don't doubt she'll be able to handle anything Kadar throws at her). :)