A Realm of Shadows short story

By: J. A. Cunningham


Two years ago, I came to this mortal realm. Why, you ask. Well, let me tell you. But first, let’s start from the beginning. My name is Fredrick – no middle, or last name – in the Realm of Shadows that’s all that is needed. If I would have been kept by my parents – whomever they are, or were – I would have been called ‘Fredrick of clan whatever it would have been’. That being said, let me tell you about my childhood, a brief run-down anyway.

Much like this Mortal Realm, we have a foster system. I spent more time in foster care then I would have liked to. Everyone who came looking for a child to adopt, or take under their care, always overlooked me. The only reasons that I could come up with, was for one; no one liked me, and two it had something to do with my eyes. It wasn’t until I ran away from foster care and met the guy who would change my life forever that the eye thing even came up.

At the age of ten, while still in foster care, I started developing my magic skills – one in the Realm of Shadows doesn’t start developing these skills until around twenty years old – I knew at that time there was something special about me. My first skill, having learned it by total accident, was dream intrusion. What is dream intrusion, you ask? That is when one can slip into another person’s dream taking total control, doing whatever they want, yes, even kill that person – the only thing is, to be able to slip into their dream, you have to have met them before. This skill is very useful here in this ‘Mortal’ realm. In the Realm of Shadows, those who are smart either put in place, or have someone put in place a protection-ward preventing dream intrusions. Lucky for me no one expected a ten year old to be capable of such skills. The Foster Care center I was at had none in place, allowing me to hone my skills at an early age.

Speeding along, I’m sure you really don’t want to hear about me being bullied and mistreated by the Foster Care staff and children, so we’ll move along to after I had escaped – ran away. Having nowhere to go except away from where I had come from, the woods seemed like the perfect place to go. I almost forgot to mention how old I was when running away from Foster Care. I was twelve years old and no I don’t know exactly how long I was in there. All they said to me was that my parents left me on the front steps when I was a baby, so I would adventure a guess at twelve years.

Staying in the woods was rough; no food, water, shelter, and of course no change of clothes. Yes, I did know what I was getting into, but it was better than foster care. I spent a lot of time sitting around trying to figure this whole magic thing out. Learning the hard way that the more you try to use magic, the more food you must have to restore the energy used. Oh, I’m starting to bore you again, well let’s move a little faster then.

My attempts at magic were not as successful as I would have liked, but I will learn more, later. After spending weeks in the woods living off whatever I could find, I took a trip into the village. Gathering looks from all those who I had passed, I started thinking this wasn’t such a good idea. It was apparent that nobody liked me. It was shocking when an elderly women – about 700 years old – had approached me asking if I could use some help. Of course I told her that I could use some food and change of clothes.

What is that? Oh, yeah, the 700 years old part. We live for a long time, some never die. Shocking isn’t it, especially considering how long you mortals don’t live. Yes, before you ask, I did say ‘you mortals’ I am one who will likely live forever. That and you are from the Mortal Realm, I am not. Now where was I?

The old lady asked me what my name was, I can still hear that shaky high pitched elderly voice; ‘what is your name, little boy?’ My answer to her was just “Fredrick.” She didn’t press me for a clan name, just shook her head and took a hold of my hand leading me to her house. The food was good, the fresh clothes felt nice and I even got to wash up with soap. For once in my life, I thought someone actually liked me, boy was I wrong.

Thanking her for the food and clothes, I went to the door in an attempt to leave. The hideous laugh that escaped her elderly lips, sent a shiver down my spine. “You are not going anywhere,” I remember her saying. “I am the last of my clan, and since you didn’t say that you had a clan.” I began yanking on the door at that point, trying to get out. “I am going to use your soul to bring back my husband so that we can continue the clan name.” As she told me this, I noticed her hands beginning to glow with blue flames around them. I learned two lessons that day; one, you don’t trust anyone who is not in your clan – I don’t have a clan so that means I can trust no one – and two, when in a desperate situation it is amazing at what magic you can pull off.

It was all out of instinct, when she raised her hands to cast whatever it was she had prepared at me, I threw my hand forward. I was thinking ‘get her away from me’ as I thrust them forward, she went flying back as if struck by something. Her head bounced off the floor, as she hit with a solid thud. Standing there amazed at what I had just done, I turned toward the door repeating the hand thrusts, thinking ‘open’. My first attempt did not work, taking a second attempt, I finally pushed the door open, breaking the lock. The elderly lady moaned as she propped herself up. Turning to look back I saw her raise her hand, mouthing the word ‘stop’. In a split second, I thought she might be able to prevent me from getting away so I looked at her, thinking as hard as I could, ‘fire’. Oh, the look on that women’s face when she went up in flames, I could tell she was shocked that a twelve your old just silently casted a fire spell. As I walked out the door, she started to scream, thinking the word ‘quiet’ worked like a charm – she quietly burned in her house as I made my way down the street.

I would later learn that it was the lack of food that kept me from succeeding with magic while living in the woods. I spent about two years living off the streets, going village to village. So that would put me about fourteen years old when I met Jarvel of Clan Sparlington. He could not make me a member of his clan, but did want me to join his guild. Jarvel, the leader of one of the toughest thieves guild, took me under his wing; giving me guidance, and knowledge in the skills and use of magic and theft.

Throughout my training, he had enlightened me on the color of my eyes. Having emerald colored eyes was a sign all of its own – but mine, as you can see, have a shade of red fading into the emerald. Emerald eyes is a sign of a Dreamweaver – that explains the mastery of dream intrusion. Javel told me that one’s eyes are not this color until they have mastered the craft. The shade of red – actually it’s the shade of any color – is the indication of one being a Shade.  The red is the color of one who has mastered the craft of dark-magic. I told Jarvel my eyes have been this color ever since I can remember; as far as I know, I was born this way. I still remember his response today: ‘that means you are destined for nothing less than greatness. In time, you shall rule this Realm of Shadows, and maybe all the realms.’ He placed his hand on my shoulder giving it a gentle squeeze, ‘if you would have been born to me as my son, I would never have given you away. You are a prodigy, son, you will be known as a legend.’ Jarvel is a very wise man, I never have quite figured out what his powers are. He is the only person to have ever shown me any compassion, and he is right, I will be known as a legend and rule the realms.

Yes, before you ask, that is part of the reason I am here in the Mortal Realm, but I will get to that shortly. As the years went by, working alongside Jarvel and his guild, I perfected my crafts. Amongst the citizens of my realm, I was branded with the name of ‘Fredrick the Dreamweaver Shade’, feared by most, hated by all. Yea pretty original, huh! You would have thought they could have come up with something more sinister. I caused a lot of chaos and deaths.

I grew tired of just stealing, as fun as it was, it just became too easy. Moving on to bigger and better things – after talking to Jarvel – I started my quest to become ruler of the Realm of Shadows. There was an easier route than I chose but I do love a challenge. Let me explain the easier route first.

Lords of the Realm of Shadows rule for a term of two hundred years. After their term a competition of sorts is held. During this event, anyone who feels they have what it takes to rule will fight in the palace arena. There are two ways to lose; you die or you give up. It is amazing how many fools just give up; I for one would not have. The event ends when one man or women is left standing – I have never seen or even heard of a women actually entering yet. The winner of this event then faces off against the current ruler. Let me just say, the current ruler has been lord for way too long and needs to be taken down.

Now for the way I went about it. To start with, anyone who has spent time in the palace prison does not get the chance to compete. Let’s just say they had a cell with my name on it, I spent so much time there. With that being said, I really didn’t get the option of going about this the correct way, so I just attempted to kill the ruler outright. That did not turn out so well for me. Lord Garemount of Clan Whitemoore, is and has been one of the most powerful people of the Realm of Shadows. The wards he has in place at and around the palace prevent the use of magic to anyone who does not belong to Clan Whitemoore, or the guilds that serve the palace. Yes, I knew about these wards before I attempted to kill him. What I didn’t know was how strong they were. During my time with Jarvel’s guild, I had gotten strong enough to break through most wards.

My actions got me sentenced to life in the palace prison. For me, that meant an eternity, for I am – until proven wrong – immortal. I will not go into details about that topic; that I will tell to someone else, at another time. Now we are getting closer to why I am here in your realm.

What? You ask, how I am here if I was sentenced to life – well, I escaped of course. You see, I am destined to achieve greatness; born with the gift that everyone in my realm dreams to one day get a taste of. No one knows who my parents are, or were. If I knew, they would be dead for sure. Having given me up, being the first to show me hatred, they do not deserve to live.

My fault, back to what I was saying. My gift is that of having the power of all forms of magic existing within me, never having to master the craft, it just naturally comes to me – I just needed to learn how to call on it. I will be more powerful than anyone has ever seen. My escape from the palace came at more of an ease than I thought it would have. I murdered the head prison guard; that was fun, he put up quite the fight. He was nice enough to give me a gift, I will show it to you here in a little bit. I’m sure you will agree it’s to die for. Anyway, back to where I was, my escape. After relieving the head guard of his duty along with a couple other guards, I headed toward the woods to help with my disappearing act. One skill that required no magic, the skill of stealth, is something I had spent years mastering, might I say – I am pretty skilled at it.  Well let me move this along, you wanted to know who I was, an what I was doing here, so let me skip the whole escaping part we both know I must have succeeded.

After my escape I headed to see Jarvel. Before I attempted to kill Lord Garemount, Jarvel had told me if it didn’t work he had something to tell me that might help. Making my way to the guild house, Jarvel had been waiting for my arrival. He never has explained to me how he can do that, it is hard to surprise someone who knows when you are coming, even if you didn’t. I am closer to telling you why I am here, don’t get anxious on me. Oh, I can tell by the look in your eyes that you want to know what any of this has to do with you, I’m getting to that as well.

Jarvel told me about a medallion that held a special emerald in it. This emerald would help me strengthen my powers, they are already stronger than everyone but the ruler of my realm. By acquiring said medallion, I could potentially be stronger than everyone. Jarvel had heard the last known location was hidden here in the Mortal Realm. So know you have the answer to two of your questions; who am I and why am I here. I know those were not your exact words, they went something like this; ‘just who the hell do you think you are, and why do you think you have any business here?’

See, I did remember what you said at the bar, when you was giving that beautiful women, Rose, such a hard time. You know I never thought I would like you mortals, but there is something about Rose I must get to know her better. She gave me her number, too bad I don’t own a phone. I just might have to get one.

So now you know who I am, the reason I am here in your realm – to find that medallion. Now for the reason I am in your dream – well that has two reasons. One, I wanted to show you my gift the prison guard gave me, well I guess you could say I stole it from his dead hand. And two, I simply don’t like you, or the way you treated Rose. The disrespect and hate you showed that night, I cannot let go without consequence.

Now you ask, what am I going to do about it? Take a look at this dagger. Isn’t it a beauty? I can tell by the look in your eyes you want to run. Too bad I have control of your dream, there is nothing you can do. Watch how easy my dagger penetrates your chest cavity, I can feel the beating of your heart as its blade rest against it. The look in your eyes tells me you don’t like the way that feels. I know what you are thinking, this is only a dream, you will wake up and everything will be fine. I have some bad news for you, remember how I told you about ‘dream intrusion’?  Guess what? I have intruded your dream, taking control. The reason you can’t move, can’t wake up, is because I won’t let you. And no, you will never wake up again. I am not trapping you in your dream either, so don’t think that is what is happening. Remember when I said my gift – this dagger – was to die for? Tell me if you agree as I slowly put it through your heart. As you lie there taking your last breaths, let me assure you, I mean no harm to Rose. Something about her really grabs me, you know what I mean.

I see the tears in your eyes. You heard me correctly, I did say last breaths. For I am the Dreamweaver, and I have just taken your life.

The End

 DREAMWEAVER, and Realm of Shadows are (c) J. A. Cunningham 2013


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