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In Her Name by Anthony DiBiase
SUMMARY: Evan Shadowleaf discovers the banality of heartlessness, and finds love once more--all the while searching for revenge.
It is an interesting property of light, perhaps one of it's strongest and most beautiful of the seemingly commonplace qualities of the familiar emission, that it repels darkness, such that the very presence of a flickering candle can banish the most oppressive darkness, if but for a while. This light, though temporary--for, truly, as soon as the source disappears, the darkness returns, as looming and silent as it was before--forms the reality of existence as we can comprehend it, the existence in which we all live. Without the light, there is nothing--all descends into a sightless void--darkness, then is beyond the light that forms reality, it is the surrounding nothingness that threatens us so, the shadow, infinite in myriad and fearsome visages, omnipresent and yet still unknown to us all. It is from the fleeting glimpses of this darkness, this nonbeing surrounding our very life, that we draw all stories, for the dark is the catalyst of identity, as we search to confirm ourselves against the infinite void--and it is at this darkness that we find ourselves now, at the tale of a gentleman whose light had grown quite still, who had almost lost the bare, wan luminescence of the good within him. We now may hear, alas, but a chapter of the long and winding story of a tortured soul, only a small part of the epic tale of the life of Evan Shadowleaf. Let us, then, begin.
As twilight reached an end and the brilliant sun collapsed into the stormy and treacherous mass of the ocean, when the grayness of dusk yielded to the reign of shadow, the time of the dark began. As the last traces of light disappeared beneath the horizon, Evan rose from his perch overlooking the crowded streets of North Vendak and prepared himself for the night's business. Careful to not awaken his slumbering companions--especially the snotty nosed, do-gooder cleric--he gathered a few possessions, the odd wand, staff, and scroll, and crept our of the door, his light elven footfalls barely making a noise, even on the creaking an nigh ancient wooden floor of the old inn. Evan descended the stairs quickly, his obsidian robes brushing lightly against the wall, and proceeded to the door. Although many of the bawdy and obviously drunken patrons of the Whispering Monkey, a cheap and convenient hostel straight in the center of the city that his companions had selected to make their next venture, jeered and roared with glee at the delicate, thin, short elf wearing dark robes and looking almost amusing with intense gray eyes, Evan proceeded on, refusing to grant any of the fools the fight they so obviously deserved. Evan was not stopped, nor even slowed, by the boorish jeering, and so continued out into the street.
As he walked out of the door, the glories and vices of the city of his birth, the Eminent and Free City-State of North Vendak, confronted him at once, as they did always upon seeing the massive city. The elegant and lofty towers, the abodes of the haughty and imperious nobility, seemed to dominate and overwhelm the slums of the many poor citizens, who outnumbered the well-off in a startlingly high ratio.