You come slowly out of your deep sleep. You figure you have been asleep
for hours. Something soft comes down on the side of your head and lightly pulls
back through your hair. Opening your eyes and blinking away the sleep and
brightness, you realize you are not sleeping on your arm anymore, but a black
pillow. Something soft on the side of your head and it strokes through your
hair again. You turn to look up as it pulls back... Your head is resting on
the Shadow's lap. You roll on to your back, forgetting the sheer robe you are
wearing - although he has seen you in less, and look up at him. He does not
move, looking forward. The dark bottom of his chin is visible in shadow. His
cloak is pulled around his body, crossing on his chest, and the gold trim,
looking like letters in an ancient alphabet, glistens in the daylight. His hand
moves to the top of your head and strokes your hair down the top and across the
side. You are compelled to speak: "When did you get here?"
looks down to your face, his face still invisible in his hood. "I have
always been here."
"But last night..."
you mid-sentence, "there is no time here, no night or day, just existence."
you start to interject, stopping yourself, wondering if he should be
questioned... "When do I get to see what you look like?"
think he is smiling again... "You already know what I look like..."
I haven't seen..."
"Always so many questions, come with me..."
helps you sit up, and as you turn to face him, he is gone, already standing down
on the shore. You stand up, spend a moment straightening out your robe, and
leave the gazebo. The sweet smell of the ocean breeze, mixed with the lapping
of the water, and the light blue sky, is wonderful. The grass grows brilliant
green, set against deep blue water. The cyan sky rises above and is set back
against thousands of diamond shaped leaves that sing in the wind. The lantern
bugs have gone, and the faint squawking of not-to-distant chicken-dragons brings
a smile to your face. Schools of fish continue to fly out of the ocean and fall
back in, as if they can't decide if they like water or air better. Curious, you
glance towards the distant rock, but it is barren... You walk over to where the
Shadow appeared... "You're going to have to teach me how to do that!"
time a big smile comes to his face, you think... you can't tell if he has teeth.
"Close your eyes," he says. And he is inches away, warm hands on
your shoulders. You feel compelled to oblige... Cool breath, and then soft
skin presses against your right eyelid. You begin to feel woozy, body
trembling, his hands hold you up, giving you strength... what is this power he
has over you? A moment's pause, and the same against your left eyelid... all
the trembling returns, worse. You open your eyes to see it was his lips he had
pressed against your eyelids. He holds you close until strength returns to your
legs. You look up at him. He presses his lips against your forehead, so warm,
and then backs up a step. You look to him again...
He turns quickly in
a sweeping motion, cloak spread wide, and he leaps into the water. A
reverberating whisper reaches your ears, "follow..."
up to the water and stick your foot in... nice. Carefully wading in, the shore
gives way and you slip into the water, pushing off with your feet. Surrounded
by a world of ever changing hues... blue, green, and violet. Everything appears
as a blur, but in moments, the blur tightens up, and the underwater world
appears in focus before you. Rays of light play in an ever-changing
kaleidoscope of color on the ocean floor below. A school of fish swims by, all
silver with streaks of red and violet. Your whole body begins to tingle. The
Shadow is before you, slipping past, and swimming deeper into the water, his
cape flapping like wings. As you watch, his cape solidifies, and his legs
shrink down to a tail. You swim towards him, arms at your sides, body waving.
He has stopped changing and glides forward effortlessly through the water. He
turns at a sharp angle, and you see that he has become a manta ray, all black,
gold marks along the edges of his fins. Your vision shrinks at the center, and
then expands to include almost the whole world. You are looking forward and can
see fins where your hands were, and your cloak has become a long flowing fin
down your back, and trailing a ways off your tail, at least as long as your
You easily catch up to the Manta, and are soon swimming amongst a
forest of coral and seaweed. Fish of all colors dart this way and that as you
follow the Manta over colonies of coral and under natural bridges, past rocks
and caverns. The pace slows and you stop to admire the colors... yellow,
orange, and pink coral stands, tinted by the blues of the water. A yellow fish
with black stripes swims by. Small hairy arms shoot out of rock-like tubes and
are quickly pulled back in. One of them catches a small fish in the process.
You swim over to a large mound of coral that looks like a brain. Several crabs
walk sideways across it, claws picking along the surface.
flies past, and you take off with him, deeper into the ocean. Keeping pace, he
is approaching a much larger creature. As he gets closer to the creature, he
seems to be pulling away from you. You struggle to get closer, but it is too
hard. You approach the creatures tail, tension building, tiring, and soon are
being pulled forward: caught in its slipstream. Now it is easy for you to catch
up with the Manta. Great muscles flow like waves beneath the black scaled flesh
of the creature. Spines poke out of his back like trees in a forest. Making
your way towards its head, his back becomes dominated by a large boney shell,
and two arms stick down to end in claws larger than your body. Farther forward,
and you see that its carapace ends in a large rounded forehead. Below are two
round eyes, all black, and what looks like a mouth. Without warning, it veers
into your path, open mouth filled with many teeth, and you bang into its right
side. A sudden flurry of motion and color, and a black form is beneath you,
pushing you away. Looking over the Manta's back, you are able to see the huge
creature surrounded by a flurry of bubbles, its claws grasping a large form
which also appears to have arms around the creatures head. Turning back, you
follow the Manta in a new direction, towards the sea floor.
distance, something is taking form. As you approach, you see a vast hull, hole
in the side, long masts stick out at wild angles. Over grown with coral and
mineral deposits, this sunken ship has taken a uniform blue-gray color. Groups
of fish swim around you, keeping close to the ship, some running to hide in the
holes and cracks. You follow the Manta over the hull to the other side. The
ancient contents of the ship have spilled out across the sea floor. You take a
moment to look for anything interesting, and a thought comes to you... there are
no fish on this side of the ship. Turning and looking up, you catch the Manta
swimming away. You try to call to him, but there's no sound, so you take off in
pursuit. You have hardly moved when a black cloud rises up out, of the debris,
in front of you. You are hit hard against your left side, and you saw teeth...
all goes black, and you think you hear music.