Talking to a Shadow

Our recent arrival, the winged being known as Lucis Mundi, concerns me. Thus far, I have not been entirely sure what she is, and after the conversation I had the other night, I am even less sure.

I was sitting by the fire in the tavern, having a quiet drink and catching up on the diary when she walked in and took the other fireside seat. I greeted her absently and ordered some cider for her, which I recalled had been her tipple of choice last time we had met. She responded civilly enough, but told me there was no need to address her by that name. Lucis could still hear me, but I was currently talking to one called Umbra, who somehow seemed to be borrowing Lucis’ body.

This sort of thing was not outwith my experience, so I greeted Umbra instead, remarking that the name had something to do with shadows. I asked why she was borrowing Lucis’ body and if she had any specific business with me, or was just passing through. She seemed amused by my questions. She was variously known as ‘the darkness’ or ‘killer of angels’, she told me, but preferred Umbra as it was nearer to the names of others of the earthly realm. Lucis was still there, inside the form she was currently occupying, but was struggling and in pain because of the possession. Somehow, she seemed quite pleased with this last bit. I wasn’t entirely sure I agreed with her on this being the earthly realm, but I was too intrigued by other things to start that debate. She was here because she liked the fire and the drinks, she said.

I commented that killing angels was quite a feat, since I had always regarded them as immortals. I didn’t particularly like the idea of her vessel being in pain, but it wasn’t really my business and I hadn’t formed any attachment to the one called Lucis that might otherwise compel me to interfere. She apologised for disturbing me, but I said I was taking a break from my research, so was already disturbed. She wanted to know what I was researching and offered to teach me anything I needed to know, from her realm anyway, since she did not fully understand this one yet. I seem to have a surfeit of people wishing to teach me at the moment, but I wasn’t entirely keen on this offer, since I had no idea what, or who, this Umbra was. I told her that I could not comment upon the usefulness of her teaching, not knowing what her realm was about, and I was not at liberty to discuss my research.

Gwyn turned up, slipping into the tavern unheard until she kissed me on the back of the head. I kissed her back, asking after her day and introduced Umbra, as the one currently occupying the body of Lucis. Umbra seemed amused by my introduction. She and Lucis came from a realm where magic was scarce, she told us, where mankind dominated. She had seen mankind rise and fall and progress from clubs to weapons to steam engines. She, and others like her, had to conceal their true nature. She was a killer of angels, she said, because they tried to kill her. She did not choose that name.

She offered Gwyn her seat, but Gwyn was quite happy to park herself on my lap; which was fine with me. She claimed it was the best seat in the house. She told me her day had been the same as many other days, largely taken up with the census. What she really craved now was a cheeseburger. Umbra claimed that Lucis was there still, but this form was weak. If she could learn how that form had arrived here, she could come to her full form. She could build us a kingdom, she said, with the energies here, and protect us from the wyld and from the thing with the horn. I wasn’t sure what she meant by that last remark; did she mean a horned being, or was she referring to the Huntsman with his horn? Gwyn was not overly impressed with the offer and suggested we should go find our friend who would be able to supply the cheeseburger. I was equally unimpressed, and told Umbra that I had all the kingdom I needed right here in my lap. With that, I stood and agreed with Gwyn that we should indeed go find our friend and seek out the blessed cheeseburger. We left our new acquaintance to the warmth of the fire. We did not find Valene, as she was unavailable, but, by then, it didn’t matter, as we found other ways to occupy ourselves.

 Talking to a Shadow, by the Swim


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