Shadows - Paul Collins
|| We've all heard the real Cinderella story.
Now this is the Quentaran version...
When a dreadful curse descends on Quentaris Tamaika uncovers an ancient
book that bestows magical powers on the finder. She transforms into
the mythical Princess of Shadows, but is she strong enough to control
such power? And will Tamaika be able to lift the curse that turns
citizens into stone?
A dizzying height above the cobbled streets of Quentaris, the wind
hissed like a living thing, twisting tortuously around chimney and
gable, seething about the ancient ornate stonework that sculpted the
city's skyline. Wind and darkness overtook the city. Ragged clouds
whipped across the moon's face, making shadows leap and race over
the sleepy rooftops.
But not all the shadows were insubstantial. Some creaked and groaned,
unfolding slabs of darkness; limbs stretched with the grinding sound
of granite. Eyes snapped open, globes of red in the night, glaring
about ferociously. And voices could be heard, though none like these
had ever been heard by those sleeping in the dark houses below. They
were the voices of stone and canyon, like a slow churn of gravel,
or the ponderous flow of lava.
The glowing eyes blinked, waking from a lung sleep. But there was
no satisfaction at this awakening. Rather a grim sadness.
A dozen of these shadowy figures gathered, murmuring together, then
moved, swiftly despite their heavy bulk, melting into the shadows,
becoming deeper chunks of shadow. They swept across rooftops, climbed
down walls, invaded houses. Where they found humans sleeping, or those
still awake, they touched them with cold hands before their victims
could scream or snap out of their frozen horror.
With a sound like the freezing of water speeded up a thousand times,
the humans turned instantly to stone.
The shadowy creatures did not tarry. They left the standing or reclining
statues that once were human and sought out others, leaving behind
a trail of incredible destruction, the kind that earthquakes bequeath,
or that left by the rush of a mighty boulder down a mountainside.