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Prophets of the Shadow by Darren Reid
SUMMARY: Prequel to the published novel "Lord of Darkness and Shadow" - Three associates are visited by a mysterious rider in the depths of a deserted forest.
"Prophets of the Shadow"
A Short story from the Chronicles of the Shadow
By Darren Reid
Had it not been for the light rain that had begun only a few moments before Alamin would have called the night more or less perfect. Even the light shower of rain coming down was not enough to altogether make the evening unpleasant, merely not perfect. Relaxing back on his haunches, in spite of the unpleasant turn the weather had taken, Alamin allowed his mind to drift over the nights preceding events. No, the haul had not been a particularly bad one tonight, and considering the problems they had had in the past; the all too recent past, it was better than he could have hoped. Absently Alamin began calculating the share to be split between himself and his two accomplices.
Accomplice was perhaps too good a word to use for the two women that were sitting on the damp grass at either side of him. Alamin preferred whore, although he would never call the girls that to their faces. And technically they didn't sleep with the men they swindled. But still, whore seemed quite good enough for him to use. Sitting to his left, Alieice allowed her head to lull back and embrace the gently falling rain which, in turn, caressed its self over her strangely pale skin and deep red lips. She was beautiful alright, but not in a conventional way. The way her nose, too prominent for her own good, seemed to meld seamlessly into her overly high cheek bones. Her long black hair which fell ruggedly away from her face as she leaned further back, bathing in the soft autumn shower. In her there was something...unique and evasive; utterly captivating.
To Alamin's other side he could hear Beth exhaling air in what he had no doubt was a pout. She hated the forest; could not see the necessity of escaping from the city after their weekly business trips. What was worse, in Alamin's eyes at least, was that she didn't get what it meant to be out here. Free of the twisted and hypocritical city life he was otherwise forced to live. The constant stench of over crowded streets, the mingling of human sweat and odours; even the thought made Alamin's stomach crawl.
The forest, if the small stretch of trees to the east of the Sapphire Coast could be called that, was not a great deal better than the city in many respects. There was not a single place on this whole dammed planet anyone could run to escape the always half present smell of old sulphur in the air. Even the light shower that was issuing down around Alamin and his party did little to relieve the ever-present smell. At the very least, Alamin no longer noticed the smell as much as he had when he first found himself on Enthura. Although he supposed he would never truly get used to it, certainly not in the same way those born on this planet seemed to. At least it was not mingling with the stench of the city, not out here.
To one side, Alamin's second accomplice Beth let out another long sigh, exaggerated and loud to be heard over the gentle shower that threatened, but never succeeded in moving Enthura's natural odour from Alamin's nostrils.