Sunday, 12 August 2018

Shadow is back.

So, if you're visiting this site, you've most likely noticed that Shadow has had something of a soft-relaunch.  After almost three years of silence, Shadow is back with weekly episodes and the story of Ellis, Siren, the Former Baron and friends continues at last!

I didn't want to make a news post about it until I was sure I could get back into the rhythm of writing weekly episodes, but with three weeks of consecutive episodes behind me and with the landmark that is Episode CC under my belt, I feel confident to say that Shadow is well and truly back!

One of the main reasons I've finally returned to writing Shadow after all this time is that I've actually been struggling quite a bit in real life recently and I was advised to take advantage of creative outlets to relieve my anxiety and try to relax and feel normal.  It's a small part of a much larger treatment program, but, whatever the benefits, it does feel good to be writing again and I hope you're enjoying having Shadow back as much as I am.

Remember, you can always comment on any episode.  I love receiving feedback and answering questions.  Also, if you like Shadow, please remember to vote for it here every week, so that more people can find it more easily.

Until next week!

Episode CC - The Gates of Gihana

Ellis felt twitchy and restless as he and Siren made their way through the impossible city of the Ancients.  Partly this was because he expected the defences to come alive at any moment and force them into another race for their lives through the Escheresque streets, but mostly it was simply a symptom of the Slayer magick which had made him so suddenly powerful, and yet, ironically, had deprived him of anything to do with such power.

There was also the aspect of their search for their friends, which, despite having begun nearly an hour before, had borne no fruit whatsoever.  They had been relieved to find no evidence of Annabella and Nadiyya’s untimely demises near the entrance to the city, but that relief had quickly turned to puzzlement when there had turned out to be no clues as to what had actually become of them.  The only option remaining had been to explore the city and hope they stumbled upon a fresh lead.

And what an exploration it had become.  They had tried to be methodical, to make mental notes of the streets they turned down, doorways they passed through and ramps and steps they climbed, but there was no logic to the layout of the city – at least, there was no logic that they could discern – and Ellis quickly became lost.  He assumed that Siren had kept her bearings until she paused on a landing of one of the maze-like stairways and scratched her head.

“Oh, please don’t tell me that you’re lost, too!”

“No,” Siren replied, slightly evasively, “not lost so much, more just… a little turned around.”

“What do you mean, ‘turned around’?”

“Well… I’m not entirely sure if we’ve been here before.  All these junctions look the same!”

“So, do you have any idea how to get us back out of here?”

Siren paused then, “Uh… no.  Sorry.”

Sunday, 5 August 2018

Episode CXCIX - The Sentinels of Gihana

“Oh, I do so love a warm welcome,” Siren said before grabbing Ellis’ arm and yanking him sideways as the first of the impossible geometric defences hurtled towards their position.

Ellis let out an unmanly yelp as the defender – a monolith of stone or metal or crystal, constantly changing in configuration like some blocky Minecraft mecha – crunched down on the spot in which he had been standing mere nanoseconds before.

“How the hell are we-“ he began, before Siren pulled him towards her once more and another sheet of hefty death descended behind him like a lead shadow.  They ran then, ducking and diving, weaving through a living avalanche of crystalline forms.  Ellis held tight onto Siren’s hand and followed her lead, trusting her to navigate this slalom of destruction, though to what safety or shelter, he was having difficulty imagining.

There wasn’t a lot of opportunity to look around and it was fair to say that they hadn’t had much time to survey the layout of the city before the assault began, but from what Ellis could make out, it was fairly open and any shelter there might have been was designed for the former occupants and their defences, not for them.  He didn’t think taking shelter in an Ancient’s parlour would be much to their advantage, for example.

And as the defences slammed down all around them, Ellis realised that he had no idea what had become of Annabella and Nadiyya.  He could only hope they were able to hold their own, though he wasn’t sure how much longer any of them might last.

Sunday, 29 July 2018

Episode CXCVIII -The Light in the Darkness

            “A question I could well ask you, Ellis Graves,” Nadiyya replied, punctuating each syllable with little thrusting gestures from the knife in her right hand, “It has been a long time since you left me for dead in Shadedstreams, has it not?”

                “I… I actually don’t remember a lot about that, Nadiyya, I’m sorry,” he replied, shamefaced, “I was kind of in a daze for a long time afterwards.”

                “A convenient excuse, I’m sure.”

                “No, really,” Siren interjected, “it was all a kind of existential crisis, really, stemming from his discovery – thanks to your father, I believe – that he is, in fact, an hypostatick construct created by Doctor Rosetta Barkham of the Noble Society of Hypostatick Philisophers to recreate the Breakthrough.  Something like that, anyway.”

                “It’s more common than you’d think,” added Annabella with knowing grin.

                “What are you talking about?  And who are you two anyway?  And does any of it excuse the fact that I was left in the rubble of my father’s palace for days before they dug me out and by then you were all long gone, you and your ‘Former Baron’.”

                “I really am sorry, Nadiyya, but I honestly don’t remember anything for weeks after your father opened the way for Lakhma to come through.  I’m not even sure how we escaped.”

                “Is this why you followed us all the way here?” asked Siren.

Friday, 13 November 2015

Episode CXCVII - Noondeep

"Ellis, wake up.  I think we've arrived."

Siren's voice cut through a murky sea of dreamed half-logic and impossible continuities, dragging Ellis up to surface into hot, filtered daylight, a seatbelt strap cutting into his side and an ache in the small of his back.  He shifted into a more upright position, turned to face his fiancĂ©e and attempted a smile.  It felt lopsided and half-hearted, but Siren returned it with a glorious one of her own - a sunrise to his fading nightscape.

"It looks like you could have used a few hours more," she said, brushing a lock of hair away from his face, "but I think you'll do."  A quick kiss finished the magical resurrection and Ellis began to feel  human once more.

He peered out through the window of the sky-cab to see a vast, empty desert plain stretching off towards the horizon.  It was such a surreal sight on that world of endless streets that he had to do a double take.

"We're still on Shadow, right?" he asked, turning back to Siren.  Annabella, sitting opposite, let out a giggle.

Sunday, 4 October 2015

Episode CXCVI - No Hiding Place

"So what do we do now?" Gulliver asked in the silence of the library as he stared around at his companions.  Less than an hour had passed since the Stoneskin siege of the Colony had ended and the vast majority of the angry Colonists had returned to their homes.  There was a palpable sense of relief but also - Gulliver was sure he wasn't the only one feeling it - of anti-climax.

"Research!" declared the Former Baron with confidence and enthusiasm.  "Lots and lots of research!"

"Oh," Gulliver replied gloomily, "wonderful."

"I don't suppose there's anything else for it," Siren observed, "after all, we really don't know very much about these ancients at all."

"We know a little more than I let on, Siren, my dear."

All eyes turned to the old Philosopher.

Sunday, 20 September 2015

Episode CXCV - The Rock Cried Out

Sarah breathed a sigh of relief as the Former Baron began speaking, feeling the tension flood out of her so suddenly that, for just a moment, she was on the verge of tears.  She slid down until she was resting against the railing, swallowed hard and blinked away the burning sensation in her eyes.  Frostfire was staring at her.  He hadn't said a thing since she had begun talking to the crowd.

"Just who is this whose returning?" a voice from the crowd shouted.  Sarah didn't look to see who.  She was content enough to listen for the time being.  "Is it Lakhma, or something similar?"

"That's a very good question," Franck replied, "and I'm very glad you asked it, because it means you are at least partially ready to believe what I'm about to say."

Which is what all this has been about, hasn't it Franck? Sarah thought with just a hint of bitterness.

Friday, 11 September 2015

Episode CXCIV - Fire from Above

Sarah looked up the moment she realised that the noise had died down outside.  At first she wasn't sure what had happened, thought that maybe her prayers had been answered very directly indeed, but then she made out Siren's voice, reprimanding the crowd for their actions.

Is she defending me? she thought.

She closed her eyes again, uttered another prayer for guidance and understanding and then, suddenly, she realised what she had to do.

"I have to confront them," she said aloud, then, as the thought came to her, added, "but not on my own.  I still have work to do."