Report The Druid in Darkshadow Posted February 27, 2007 Chapter 1 Beginnings School had begun like so many times before. This year though, I was forced to attend public school. My first day had been horrible. I had alienated three teachers and, most likely, the entire student body. It was August. The sun beat down, waning in strength. The days were growing shorter and the nights colder. It was the season of death, and the land was preparing for its long winter slumber. It would have been easier if they had been honest with me. Kent and Mark were trying to acclimate me to my surroundings. I could see the plan in Kent's mind. "Hey! Back off, Ty," Kent warned. "Sorry, Uncle Kent," I said. I hadn't been subtle enough as I dug through his thoughts and he had felt it. I listened as the gravel crunched beneath the tires of our old Chevy. I found my answer though. They wanted me to become accustomed to the real world. "Look, I know it's hard, Ty." Kent said. I doubted he knew how difficult my first day had been though. I was tempted to push the feelings of my day through him so he would really know. It was a side of him I hadn't felt before. He seemed shut off and absolute. "You have to learn to cope with those around you. This is the real world, Ty," he said, as we turned another corner. I watched as the corn blurred past my window. I wanted to think of anything but this day and he was pushing me. I lay my head against the glass of the window. I wanted a safe oblivious place to rest my mind. We hit a pothole and my head bounced against the glass. It hadn't been hard enough to cause a bruise or bump, but it was enough to pull me from my thoughts. I felt the anger rising in me and I fought it. Anger is a useless emotion. It never served any purpose and their teachings read through my mind like a manual. I heard the words from previous lessons almost as clearly as if they had spoken them "We have to leave you for a while, Ty." Kent said, in an even tone. "Leave me? What do you mean you have to leave me?" I asked. My emotions ran rampant, surging through him. I could have probably stopped it, but I didn't want to. "You're leaving?" I asked again. "How can you leave me?" I was nearly hysterical. My day at school had been bad enough, and now this? Uncle Kent drove up the long dirt and gravel driveway that led to our house. He stopped at the top of the curve that wound around to our home. He shifted into park, but didn't stop the engine. He was serious! I hadn't paid much attention to the bags in the bed of the truck. I plunged into his mind like a dagger. "Stop!" he shouted at me. He sounded angrier than I had ever heard him. He had never spoken to me this way, and it hurt. "All of the bills are paid and everything is taken care of. It isn't like we are going to be gone forever. We'll be back when you need us, Ty," he said, looking into his lap. "I need you now!" I yelled. "Please don't go!" I begged, my eyes brimming with tears. "Get out of the truck." Kent said, with no emotion. What in the hell was going on? I looked into his eyes for some clue, but found nothing. I grabbed my backpack from the floor and opened the door. I climbed out and let my backpack fall to the ground with a thud. Kent honked the horn and moments later Mark came through the side door of our home. I left my bag sitting beside the truck and ran to him. He pulled me into a hug. "Please don't leave me here alone. Uncle Mark!" I begged. He gave me a tight squeeze and released me. "If you can stop us, then we might stay," he whispered. I could sense his mixed emotions. Mark moved past me and to the truck. He pulled open the door and climbed in. “Arawn, grant me your favor!" I yelled, raising my arms to the sky. The wind picked up and pressed against my skin. Dark clouds filled the sky above us. Giant gray billowing clouds pushed away the red and gold of sunset. More and more clouds filled the sky as I concentrated. They coalesced and lightning built between them, echoing rumbles of thunder. I'd never attempted to invoke such power before, but I had never wanted anything so badly either. Four bolts of lightning blazed down to the earth behind our truck creating a deep furrow in the ground. The smell of ozone and the deafening claps of thunder filled the air. The crashing noise broke my concentration and another bolt of lightning tore downward and struck the gravel road in front of our house. The impact sent rocks and dirt flying in all directions. The winds blew harder, making it difficult to stand. "Control your storm, Ty!" Mark yelled. I raised my head and took back control of the storm. Thunder and lightning were flashing between the clouds and I was afraid the next bolt might land where I was standing or even worse, on our truck! "Thank you, Arawn, be at peace," I yelled, slowly bringing my arms back to my side. The storm calmed and dissipated as fast as it had come. I looked at Kent. "Will you please stay?" I said. "Ty, we love you, but you have to learn this on your own. You must learn control. If the 'Circle' were to find out that you possess this power, they would take you from us. We didn't push you like we should have in the past, and now you must make up for our mistake," Kent said, and then turned off the ignition and stepped out of the truck. I ran to him and we hugged. It felt like I was saying goodbye forever. "Do you have to go?" I asked. "Yes, but we'll be here when you need us. Now, please listen to me carefully. You can't let the students in your school flood you with emotion. You are going to have to learn to close yourself off for your own sake. You can't talk to people as though you have known them their entire lives. They aren't Druid, you know this!" Kent said, giving me another tight squeeze before releasing me. "Go hug your uncle goodbye and be careful," Kent said as a tear rolled down his cheek. I ran around the front of the truck and into Mark's arms for one final hug. "You lied to me," I said. "No, Ty, I didn't lie. I told you we might stay, and we would have if you hadn't been able to call higher power. Practice every chance you get and don't let your fear control you. I love you," Mark said with a sniff and released me. "I love you too, Uncle Mark," I said as I wiped away my tears. My uncles got back in the truck and started it up again. They pulled forward and did a U turn through the yard and stopped. It didn't occur to me to place the lightning strikes in front of the truck. "And fix the driveway!" Kent yelled, giving me a final wave. The truck started moving again and I watched as their tail lights traced the way down our driveway and onto the road. The sound of the rumbling engine of the old truck faded into the distance as they drove away. I walked to the old rusted metal shed beside the house and got the shovel. I filled in the holes in the driveway and patted them down as best I could. I listened to the cicada as they called the night with their shrill song. The sun had finally set, and the cold damp air sent a small shiver through my body. My mind was numb and my body tired. It had been a long day. I put the shovel back into the shed and shut the rickety door with a creak. The harvest moon had passed, and the local farmers had all but finished gathering their crops. The sweet smell of corn and damp earth seemed to permeate the air as the wind pressed against me. We had some hills in this rural area of Illinois, but it was mostly flatland. You could see for miles. There seemed to be a constant blast of wind on our hilltop, and I was glad. The hottest days of summer seemed to push away the breeze that now chilled me. I entered the house through the side door, letting the weathered wood-framed screen door slam behind me. I had barely kicked off my sandals on the landing before I heard Shadow's nails clicking against the tiled kitchen floor. She ran up to me and bounced against my legs. I bent over and gathered her in my arms and carried her through the kitchen and into the living room while she covered me with doggy kisses. I sat on our old couch and gave her a tight squeeze before laying back. I rested my head against the arm of the couch and ran my fingers through her soft grey curly hair. We had gotten her from the pound when I was twelve. I had begged and begged for a dog, and had driven Kent and Mark nearly insane before they finally relented. We went to the local humane society in Galesburg on a Saturday morning. I remember looking at each and every dog as they hoped for their freedom. I overheard two of the veterinary technicians talking about the poor cockapoo puppy that had contracted Parvo, and would probably not make it through the night. I walked behind the techs and into a small dark room that had a single metal cage. The tiny curly grey haired puppy had been isolated from the others, to stop the spread of the killer virus. She was just lying there asleep in her cage. I had tapped on its edge to wake her, but she barely moved. Her little grey blue puppy eyes opened. "Heya Shadow," I whispered. This was definitely my dog. I felt her sickness and wrapped her in as much love as I could muster. Her tiny tail gave a weak wag as I opened the cage door. I ran my finger across the top of her head before picking her up and cradled her against my chest. She was so weak. The techs had heard the creaking of the metal hinges, and had come into the room. They explained to me that she was very ill, and wasn't going to make it. They tried to take her from me but I had started yelling for my uncles. She was mine, and that's all there was to it. The veterinarian on duty came in with my uncles and reached to take her from me. Shadow gave the tiniest little growl in protest, before settling her head back against me. The veterinarian couldn't believe the sudden infusion of life this little puppy now possessed. An hour later we were home and I lay on my bed with her on my chest. It was the best sleep I had ever had, as I felt her warm little body against my heart. We slept together and by morning she was up and about, licking my face. She has grown a lot since then. I've snuck her too much people food over the last few years, and she has fattened up to almost twenty five pounds. She was a little overweight, but not by much. Shadow was spoiled in every way, and I loved her with all my heart. I felt her nuzzle her cold wet nose against my chin as I ran my fingers through the soft fur of her back. "I know, I know," I said as I yawned. "Let's get ready for bed." Shadow hopped to the floor with a thump, before shaking her body from head to toe. "At least I still have you," I said, rising from the couch. Our back porch had been sealed in to make it part of the house, and it was now my personal garden. I had spent a lot of time in that room over the years, tending to my many herbs. I walked through the house, listening to the old wooden floor creaking beneath my feet, with Shadow close behind me. I entered my garden through the heavy wooden door. I flipped on the light in my make shift greenhouse and checked the soil of my nearby aloe plant for moisture. Watering them could wait until tomorrow. I flipped off the light and shut the door behind me. I had almost forgotten to lock the door. It had become are cent and difficult to remember habit of ours. I made my way across the living room and into the kitchen and locked the side door and then, finally, the back door that we almost never used. It was still locked from the days before. The damp air, blowing through the windows, promised a chilly morning. I went through the house, in my nightly ritual, and shut and locked them all. Finally, Shadow and I went upstairs. I passed the now empty bedroom that usually held my uncles. I entered the bathroom, stripped down, and took a long hot shower. After drying off, I gathered up my clothes and traipsed down the hall and into my bedroom. The drying moisture on my body gave me a slight chill as the wind tossed the thin white curtains around my window. The light from the hallway stretched across my bedroom floor, and made the curtains look like fingers clawing in and out of darkness. Rain had started while I was in the shower, and I closed my windows all but the last inch. I loved the rain. It seemed to bring the scent of nature to the wind. I turned on the alarm of the small clock radio that sat beside my futon bed on the floor. Shadow had already climbed onto the futon and was waiting for me to join her. If lipped off the light in the hallway and slowly knelt down onto the futon. I crawled across it and pulled the covers down. I slipped under them and bunched them against the pillow beside my head. That was Shadow's spot. She tugged at them with her paws for a few moments, before finally fluffing them to her liking and settling down to sleep. The alarm blasted me from sleep. I was dreaming and all I could remember was the earth cracking beneath my feet. I couldn't remember the image so much as the sound. It was like someone had taken a giant tree and broken it in half, right beside me. I sat up in bed and reached through the darkness to find the switch to turn off the alarm. It had already begun to annoy me. I normally woke up at this time anyway and I resented having to be placed on some kind of timer to make sure I could go to 'public' school. I wanted to bash the plastic thing into pieces, but resisted the urge. It was chilly and I pulled the covers around my shoulders as I sat half awake on my bed. I stretched my jaws in a yawn, waiting for sleep to leave me. That ever present silvery feeling made me stand and pull the covers with me toward the door to my room. I chuckled, seeing Shadow sliding across the floor after me, unwilling to leave her spot. I couldn't blame her; I didn't want to get up either. I reached behind the door and grabbed the robe from the hook. I let the covers fall from my naked body and quickly wrapped the cold damn terrycloth around me. Now, I really had to pee. "Shadow, come on!" I called to her as I slipped on my house shoes. I was half way down the stairs before I heard the familiar thud-thud of her following me. I trudged through the kitchen and to the side door of the house. After I unlocked and opened the heavy wooden door, Shadow nuzzled open the screen door and went trotting out before me. I followed her out and pissed in the back yard. I went back inside, started the coffee, and clicked on the furnace, while she finished her morning ritual. I could feel the cold creeping up from the tile floor, through the cotton of my now damp house shoes as I sat at the kitchen table. I got up when I heard the familiar scrapes against the screen door that told me Shadow was ready to come in. I let her in, and then shut the side door to keep out the cold. The kitchen was strangely silent this morning. Usually the uncles were already awake and the smell of almost-sausage and coffee filled the air. This morning, only the quiet damp cold greeted me. Almost-Sausage was what I called the vegetarian soy substitute we ate as part of our breakfast. I was reminded time and time again how fortunate we were, that the modern world could now provide. We didn't eat meat, eggs, or fish. It just wasn't our way. I threw a couple of slices of bread into the toaster and pulled the margarine from the refrigerator. The house had finally begun to warm up, and I thought that maybe I would leave the heat on tonight. It was only going to get colder, and it would certainly help me wake up in the morning. I liked it cold when I slept, but I didn't like the fact that my nose had been colder than Shadow's this morning. I would leave the thermostat at 60 from now on. It was my first executive decision. I liked the feel of it. The toaster startled me as it popped up my newly browned bread. I threw in two more slices and buttered the ones I had placed on the counter. I slathered the first two slices with a thin layer of peanut butter, while the second two slices toasted. I had barely finished when the next two popped up. I buttered them and then let them sit so that it would melt. I carried our plates to the table and cut Shadow's toast into small pieces after sitting down. She did love toast, and I hated to eat in front of her. It just didn't seem right. One peanut butter and one butter for each of us. I got up, realizing I had forgotten my coffee, and poured me a cup and adding sugar. I didn't care for it black like the uncles. I sat Shadow's plate on the floor and we both scarf fed down our breakfast. The rain had stopped early in the night, and the rising sun was doing its best to burn off the remaining raindrops. It peeked through the windows, almost blinding me. I took our plate to the sink and rinsed them off. The round white clock on the wall behind the kitchen table told me it was 6:30 and that I had an hour to get ready for 'public' school. I filled the green plastic watering can with water from the kitchen faucet and lugged it to my herb garden. I watered my plants and then returned to the kitchen and placed it at the side of the kitchen sink. It was time to assess the chaos of my hair and get ready for the day. I bounded up the stairs to the bathroom beside my room and looked at the brown mess of my shoulder length hair. It looked as though I had been struck by lightning. It was always like this when I woke. Clumps of brown stuck out, defying gravity, while in other spots it smashed to my head. I brushed my teeth and got dressed, finally shedding my robe and returning it to the hook on the back of my bedroom door. I ran downstairs and washed my slightly curly brown hair in the kitchen sink hoping it would dry before I got to school. I reminded Shadow to be good, and left her trapped in the house for the time I was away at school. I waited at the end of our driveway before finally seeing the bus come to collect me. It was 7:30. I would have to remember that for the future, so I could better plan my mornings. I climbed the steps to the bus. It was packed with kids and I didn't see anywhere to sit. I was only a mile from town, and it seemed I was their last stop. "Sit down, please," John, the bus driver, told me. I glanced at him and then back to the faces that seemed to dared me to even look at them. I felt their hate, but I wouldn't acknowledge it. Still, I was confused as to what to do. "You can sit with me," a quiet voice said. I followed the sound to find Brian six seats back, sitting alone in the ugly green bench seat. I moved through the aisle and plopped down beside him. "Thanks," I almost whispered. "No problem," he answered, and stared back out the window his shoulder rested against. The bus lurched forward and soon we were in front of the high school, preparing to get off. "We're in all the same classes," Brian said, staring at the floor. "Oh?" I answered. "I'll show you around if you want. Help you to class and all that," Brian offered. "That would be great," I answered. "Thanks!" We got off the bus and prepared for a brand new day. The group of jocks that leaned against the flagpole didn'tinspire me, and I knew there was going to be trouble.