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They’re breaking through the Veil!
We can’t hold them back much longer!
Get the villagers cleared out now!
“Run, Raven! You can’t fight the Shadows! Run!” Raven’s feet froze to the floor as she watched the Shadow drain the life from her father. When his body hit the ground, she ran across the main room and scrambled through the window. Breath coming in gasps, tears streaming at the memory of her parents succumbing to the Shadow’s touch. In her haste, she tripped and fell to her knees, a whimper escaping her lips. Recalling her father’s last words, she regained her feet and bolted toward the workshop.
Inside she hurried to the far wall where the scarred workbench stood. Hands trembling, her fingers seeking two knots under the edge and pressed them. A wooden panel slid aside; she ducked under the bench and crawled through. A few yards away the forest waited. She swiped the tears from her cheeks, stood, and found herself face to face with a Shadow. Quick as a snake. the creature’s shadowy entered her chest, enveloping her heart. Intense pain spread through her chest; muscles tightened and breathing became difficult. Cold replaced the pain and her vision darkened. The creature withdrew its limb from the young woman; her body crumpled to the ground.
Screams and shouts filled the air ahead of the advancing army of Shadows. Mundane weapons and prayers did nothing to halt the advance of the creatures from the Other Side.
Morgan Byrne watched in silence from a tree overlooking the village. She shivered at the heaviness pressing on her spirit. The raven ring she wore on her right hand gave off a faint glow that throbbed in time with her heartbeat. Something besides the Shadows crossed to this world, and it will bring greater grief and destruction than the lesser Shadows. Cail—her raven companion—perched nearby, preening his feathers. A sharp whistle and thunk captured Morgan’s attention. An arrow quivered in the trunk near her hand.
“Fools. They will kill more of their own and not stop the Shadows.” She pulled the arrow free, studying the fletching. “Brendan Grignarson is still alive. Strange, I didn’t see him anywhere, and he’s the one taking charge when there’s trouble.”
“Last time there was trouble here; many villagers blamed Brendan for the attack by the slavers.” The bird yawned.
She nodded. “I know after that raid he had a new set of armor and a new sword. Something he couldn’t afford before then.” I hope he isn’t involved with this. He’s been a good friend over the years.
“Is it possible he’s working with the Shadows? Or whoever controls them?” Cail ruffled his feathers, settling them in place. “What now?”
“Lady Raven instructed us to wait and watch. She hopes I will find recruits for the Raven Council.” Another arrow flew past, and she ducked. “It’s time we move to another position.”
Cail flew off while Morgan slid down the rope secured to the branch.
Morgan passed through the trees, around the bodies of villagers. A quick look at their white faces told her they were beyond help. She circled the village, the shouts and screams faded, leaving the sound of crows and the crackle of flames filling the air. A few homes burned, the village enshrouded with smoke and cinders. It won’t be long before nothing but ashes are left. Behind a barn, a body near a once-hidden door caught her eye. She knelt by the young woman, her ring sensing a faint spark of life. She held her hand over the body, a silvery glow radiated from the ring on her right hand, expanding to envelope the body.
*Cail, come here. I’ve found one.* Aloud, “Hold on, youngster. I will help if you let me.”
On silent wings, Cail arrived. “I will keep watch while you cross. This area is free of Shadows.”
Morgan closed her eyes, sweat beading her forehead. She followed the link the raven ring formed between her and the half-living young woman. Passing through the Veil, she stood before the white stone arch that led to the world of the living, aglow with a bright silver light. Across the way stood an archway made of black polished stone filled with a dark silvery glow that led to the world of the dead.
The Shade of the young woman stood nearby looking around with wide eyes. “Where am I? Who are you?