Noir Entry ii

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“Don’t let the light shine on me.
I am the demon that waits inside you.”
-Gary Numan

Death Academy
Summer, 2975

Vincent Noir was lifted from his feet by an unseen force, and the young man slammed into the stone floor hard enough to take his breath away…again. As his vision cleared, the instructor appeared above him, looking down at him with a sneer on her lips. “Are you even trying?” she asked derisively. He frowned but picked himself up, not rising to the bait. He resumed his stance, staring intently at the shadows in the corners of the room and trying to imagine drawing them into himself. It seemed a fruitless exercise, and he had assumed it was all some sort of metaphor for the various types of combat meditations practiced by weaponmasters. Then a thought occurred to him – what if it wasn’t? What if the trainers here at the “Death Academy” were talking about a literal connection to the shadows?

His eyes narrowed as he considered this possibility, even though he didn’t know what it might mean – let alone how to make it happen. Whisper seemed content to proceed with beating him down until he learned whatever it was she was trying to get him to figure out. She expressed this once more by appearing from nowhere and tossing him to the floor with the same unseen force. He could swear she wasn’t touching him, but how could that be true? Hadn’t he been brought here to learn superior weapon techniques? If that were so, wouldn’t they need to use weapons?

He picked himself up from the floor again and tried something different. This time, he looked down at his own shadow. Perhaps its proximity would make connecting easier than the far corners of the dim training chamber. Connect to the shadows? Draw strength from them? How in the hell was he supposed to do that? He regulated his breathing, focusing his attention on the shadow his arm made on his torso. He could feel sweat beading on his forehead from the effort, and just when he was about to give up with frustration, he felt an icy twinge. Then he was tossed to the floor again.

No words of encouragement, no kid gloves. Vincent picked himself up again and immediately sank into the breathing pattern while concentrating on his shadow. He thought he had felt…something that last time. If only he could – there! He felt a wave of cold wash over him. He blinked and watched as his shadow rippled down his body though he hadn’t moved his body at all. He watched, fascinated, as he felt it wafting like a flag in a breeze, though he could not feel the air stirring across his skin.

Mentally reaching out to his shadow, he got the sense that it turned to regard him curiously. Vincent rejoiced silently, certain he was on the right track to figuring out what his instructors were attempting to teach him. In this moment of distraction, Whisper took him down again. He sprang to his feet more quickly this time, reestablishing contact with his shadow within half a minute. He imagined reaching out through the darkness, seeking his unseen trainer. He got a vague impression that he thought might be someone standing in the shadows just beyond his line of sight. He tried to firm up the sensation, beseeching the shadow to give him more information about what he couldn’t see.

Suddenly, he got an urgent sensation pulling him to the left. He followed the instinct and Whisper’s blow only caught him in the shoulder rather than center mass as it had on every other occasion. “Shit,” he heard his instructor say, though she sounded more amused than annoyed. “That’s twenty gold I owe. I didn’t think you would Link in the first season of training. At this rate, I’m going to have to put you into the field by Fall. Well done, recruit.”

Vincent Noir picked himself up once more and nodded once to his instructor. He could sense his shadow’s awareness now, and he felt it seeking its boundaries. It was a strange sensation, and he asked the question on his mind. “How is this possible?”

Whisper’s voice took on a lecturing tone, “All shadow has roots in Vorgard. Some few have the potential to reach through ‘their’ shadows and tap into the power contained in that dark echo of the world.” She snorted, interrupting her own explanation. “Darker, I guess I should say, considering the state of things.” Vincent looked through the window at the Moon visible in the skies, blocking the Sun’s light from shining down on Falamor.

“And I have this potential,” Vincent reasoned.

“So it would seem,” purred his instructor.

“What does that mean?” he asked.

Whisper smiled wickedly. “We shall see.”

Noir Entry ii

Night Reign: Revelations zero