Hours later, Darren sat staring towards the ceiling in the room that once belonged to Sandry. He closed his eyes, calling out the darkness of his power to trace the room of the noble he had met once. Discipline Cottage had well preserved her basic presence in the room, one he found enchanting. Her fear of what made his magic work was oh so compelling to him, and when he discovered her light ball in on the bedside table of the magic vision he had formed, he was not surprised.
He dismissed the memory vision, sitting up to look out the window into the night. The storm had cleared, a clear moon shining out over the sea and the city.
"Only you understand me," he smiled sadly towards the moon, as he opened the window slightly to allow a breeze in. He twisted it around his fingers, using his shadowy power to play with it. "All else shuns me," letting loose his magic, the wind escaped, running far from the mage. He gritted his teeth.
They kept his past from him, Darren knew it. He didn't blame them, honestly. Knowing what he knew of his powers, and of other wielders of the shadowy energy, he was sure that the gaping period in his memory before he turned nine he did not want to remember. But it still hurt, deep inside, not to know. Even if he was a monster, it would be nice to know.
The shadows of the house told Darren that Niko was attempting to sneak past his door, out of the house. Closing his eyes and rushing along to view through the shadows, Darren found it was not just Niko leaving. Rosethorn had already left her bed and was out of the house waiting in front. Lark Darren could not see, but he could see a blank space in his vision moving along the first floor towards the door.
Darren shook his head. This could only be about me, he thought, otherwise Lark wouldn't be hiding herself from me. Though I must ask her how she did it. I didn't think a thread mage could ward off shadows.
The shadow mage sat on the windowsill, closing his eyes to his power to look out into the world around him. He found the front of the house again, watching as Niko and Lark exited. Lark was placing something into her pocket, but Darren could not see what.
"Niko, is he near?" Rosethorn asked casually as the trio walked away from the cottage, forcing Darren to follow and expend more power.
"I sense he is," the sight mage responded. "But remotely. He himself is not. A surprise really, I didn't think he would follow out of the cottage."
"Anything we can do to hide from him?" Lark asked.
"Only visually, like with your cloak there. Audibly, the shadows always catch it. I can only think of one place that we could speak without his eavesdropping, but I don't wish to wake Crane." Niko smiled.
"Nor me," Rosethorn laughed. "That man is grumpy in the middle of the night."
"And you aren't?" Lark smiled impishly.
Rosethorn looked about to say something, then shut her mouth. Lark's smiled deepened, as Niko's face reddened, his pace quickening.
"So, what are our options, Niko?" Rosethorn asked at they approached the central tower.
"After we meet with Frostpine, we can walk towards Darren's lab. The sheer distance should be enough to exhaust his ability to view through the shadows. I'll tell you if I feel his power drop off before then."
The women nod as they all continue to walk on, with directed purpose towards the house that Darren knew was Frostpine's, the mage-smith of immense skill only partially matched by Daja, the mage-smith of the four.
Suddenly, less than two houses from the mage's abode, Niko held up his hand.
"I feel another presence," He said warily, eyes narrowed. "It's weaker than the first, but it's source is closer… much closer." He shut his eyes completely. Darren felt magic come from Niko and probe the shadow he had been looking from.
Darren? Niko's voice asked Darren through their magic. You're awake?
Yes, Niko, I am, and have been since you snuck past my door. You didn't sense my shadow sight? Darren suddenly realized that whoever the 'he' that the great mages were walking away from was not him.
Not until this moment, no. This doesn't look very good, does it? Niko asked.
Not really. Darren's voice was deadpan. What's going on?
Join us at your home, and we'll tell you. Shadow jump from within the cottage fence though, right to your door. Try to not be in the open to long. Niko ordered.
Alright… Darren was unsure, but closed the link and his power.
Several minutes later, after gathering his things together, Darren, now fully cloaked once more, walked outside into the beautiful night. Calling up the same power that stained his eyes, Darren focused on his own home, a particularly dark beacon in the night over Winding Circle. Reaching out to pull himself there, Darren pulled himself from reality, and rejoined it under the awning over his front door. The stucco building was his home, and he loved it, patting the carved wooden nameplate next to his door, with his name upon it. Entering the house by passing under the door like a shadow, Darren retook his human form in his study on the upper floor. He opened the windows leading out onto the balcony to listen for his friends to arrive, and then sat, closing his eyes to rest for a moment.
Sleep overtook him instantly.