Short Story: The Shredded Note [Shadow Walkers]

It’s been a while since any new Shadow Walkers content. The RPG game I’m building continues slowly as I test it, tweak it, add things, etc. And today I’d like to introduce you to something entirely new, created for the game. It’s a bard, but not as you know it…

The Shredded Note

Taryna slumped to the ground as the whirlwind died down. She listened to the patter and occasional thump of objects falling across the courtyard, safe in her own circle of protection. When she opened her eyes, she saw the practice ground in chaos.

An angry snarl came from behind her, “Child, do you have any idea what it has cost our order to bring you into being? The time! The lives! Generations of breeding and manpulation! Of ensuring we got one tiny step closer each time, no matter the cost! And this is what we wind up with! A child who can’t do anything but destroy.”

Taryna seethed quietly at Amaya. How could she understand? She who used words as a stick to beat Taryna with. Taryna, who couldn’t speak for fear of shredding everything and everyone around her.

Taryna clenched her fists and closed her eyes, listening the music pounding in her head, as it did every second of every day. How could anyone ever understand? She barely understood it herself.

Elvii watched Taryna and Amaya from the door of a low-slung stone building. The child had been through almost everyone in the order, as each attempted to teach her. Most that remained alive refused to stay near her. Now the Order consisted of just 5 women, and one of those had to survive, if only to ensure the next generation of breeding could continue if this one failed to master her ablities. Taryna’s flesh and blood could be used to speed up the process, but it would still require many generations to create the exact situation required to birth a new Void Touched infant.

Elvii thought back to Taryna’s birth. Her first cry, even muffled by the panicked hand of the midwife, had caused grevious injury to the few present, despite their protection. Her mother’s mind had simply melted, blood and grey matter leaking from every hole in her head as her skull was crushed. The midwife’s hand was flayed, and she died in agony over the following days, her flesh slowly dying and shedding itself until the body could take no more. The assistant nurse was the luckiest, the cry had propelled her at high speed towards the wall, sending her through it with a crash, causing instant death.

Teaching a baby not to make a sound had cost the lives of most of the women in the Order, at that point over two hundred strong. It required the infant to recognise that its cries did harm. It required knowledge. and teaching it guilt, and showing it what happened to the world and the people around it when it cried. Elvii had assumed this would be the hardest part of the training.

Unfortunately it seemed Taryna had other ideas. She refused the meditations that would allow her to focus and control her gifts and this caused her to lash out in training, rather than channel and direct. Elvii was beginning to doubt any of them would survive her teenage years, when her uncontrolled power would be given a boost from her maturing body. If control was not learned, they would all die, and an uncontrolled Void Touched would be set free upon the world.

Elvii shook her head. That could not be countenanced. If the child did not begin to show progress soon, then the her life would be ended and the process begun again.

Cam rubbed his eyes and looked up from the diaries of Elvii. He knew what happened next. Elvii, at the end of her wits, had indeed killed the Void Touched child, but not without her destroying what remained of the Order and the surrounding grounds, and a large portion of the forest in which they hid.

He knew more, however. On hearing this, the scattered members of the Order, those who had seen this ending approaching and left, came togther again, began the process again. And by the reports coming in via Lana, the Shadow Walker’s chief researcher as well as his beloved wife, a new Void Touched had been born.

This one, it seemed, had progressed in control of her abilities, at least enough to pass into her 20s. Cam turned to the email received the day before, the letter that had sent him digging for those long-forgotten, dusty diaries of the last known leader of the Order of the Shredded Note. The new Void Touched wanted to enter the world, and the Order wanted Cam’s help – the Shadow Walker’s help – in finding her a purpose, and finding a way to focus her powers further.

He sighed softly as Lana entered, bearing the books he had asked for from their library.

“Is it possible?” she asked. “Can one one of those Void Touched learn to focus their powers and speak without killing everyone in earshot?”

“According to the letter, this one has learned to channel their power through specific objects in order to strengthen and alter its effects, and she’s learned to dampen it – to a point. So…hell I don’t know. Maybe. Or maybe we’ll be crushed into a crater.”

“But you’re determined to find out.”

Cam smiled, “A new challenge? Always.”

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