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Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6
Chapter 7
Chapter 8
Chapter 9
Chapter 10
Chapter 11
Chapter 12
Chapter 13
Chapter 14
Chapter 15
Chapter 16
Chapter 17
Chapter 18
Chapter 19
Chapter 20
Chapter 21

The Cast of Shadows - REVIEW THIS STORY

Written by NicoPony
Last updated: 04/17/2007 12:31:02 AM

Chapter 9

Scott ran his hands through his hair again, causing it to stand on end. He paced nervously back and forth across his room. Madelyne sat on the bed, watching him anxiously as he walked.

Scott sighed. "Did he---your boyfriend.were you ever--- incapacitated.when you were with him?"

Madelyne shook her head. "No, not that I know of. But then, I could have been, uhm, incapacitated, and not have remembered. Which is a possibility. My memories arenít so good. Not since the plane crash."

Scott looked pained. "Then what is this? An act of God?"

Madelyne gave him an angry look. "Well, I donít know Scott. I just donít know!"

He approached her and knelt beside the bed. "Iím sorry, sorry," he said, putting his hands over hers. "Itís just frustrating."

"As if I donít know," she said glumly.

"How long have you known? Do you know how far along you are?"

"Iíve known only a short while. I donít know how long Iíve been.this way. Maybe five, six months?"

Scottís eyes widened in shock and exasperation. "What? That long? How could you not have known? Didnít you know when you missed.uh, your uhm. Yíknow?" He concluded lamely, his face growing flushed.

"My period?" she finished for him, the corner of her mouth tightening. "And yes, of course thereís that. But I have to tell you something. Iím not.Iím not normal. There are things about me you donít know."

He looked at her hard. Scott was almost ready to burst. Me too! he wanted to cry. Are you a mutant? he longed to ask. Instead, he held back, waiting for her to continue.

"I have all these problems," she began, looking upward, her eyes soft and wet. "Allergies, allergies to everything. Iím epileptic. I black out. I have a hard time remembering things. Iím so messed up," she began to cry.

Scott sat beside her on the bed and put his arms around her consolingly. So that could be the explanation for her pregnancy. His stomach turned sour as he thought about her boyfriend taking advantage of her while she was unconscious. Did he have no compassion, no soul?

Madelyne took a deep breath, trying to steady her sobs. "It wasnít unusual for me to be late, or miss a month," she explained. "But then it was so long, and I was getting sick all the time."

"But you missed before," Scott interrupted hopefully. "Are you positive youíre pregnant?"

Madelyne put her hands to her stomach. "Itís moving, Scott," she said finally.

Scott found himself blinking rapidly. He realized he was light- headed. Donít pass out you moron, he thought dully before putting his face in his hands. Geez, youíd think you were the father! he scolded himself. Scott did feel responsible for Madelyneís welfare, however. She had come to him, confessed this horrible thing to him. She was relying on him. He never questioned her dependence on him, it just seemed natural.

"Okay," Scott said after a few moments. "This is what weíre going to do. Tomorrow morning, weíll go talk to Mr. McCoy. Heís our resident doctor. You can explain whatís going on to him."

"Scott," Madelyne said softly, "I canít do that. Iíll get you in trouble. Iím not supposed to be here."

He shook his head. "It doesnít matter. You need help, and that is what is most important. But before you meet Mr. McCoy, thereís something I need to tell you." He smiled at her shyly. "Now itís my turn. Thereís something you donít know about me."

She didnít respond, but continued to look at him with hopeful yet puzzled eyes.

"Iím a mutant. Everyone here in this school, weíre all mutants." He paused to take a breath, thankful she didnít interrupt. "We have evolved special powers that make us different from other people. For example, I have to wear these special glasses to control the beams that would otherwise blast out of control. Mr. McCoyís powers make him look, well, different. So I donít want you to be frightened when you meet him tomorrow."

For awhile, Madelyne said nothing. She looked down at her lap, then stared blankly forward. Madelyne stood and walked around the room.

"Madelyne," Scott said softly. "Could you say something?"

She stopped pacing and turned to stare out the dark window. Madelyne stared at her reflection in the glass. "I donít know what to say, Scott," she finally said. "What am I supposed to think about this? Am I supposed to change how I feel about you?"

"I---I donít know," Scott replied. "Itís been a secret for so long.it feel strange to tell someone, someone who isnít a mutant."

"It seems rather incredible, doesnít it?" she asked. "Itís as if Iíve found out that Iíve been abducted by aliens, or introduced to Bigfoot."

Scott instantly pictured himself introducing Maddie to Beast, and felt his face turn red. "Everyone here is a mutant?" Maddie asked. "Alex, too?"

Scott nodded.

"I see," Madelyne said, turning to face him. "So you fire beams from your eyes. Maybe my situation isnít as weird as I thought."

"No, itís definitely weird, no mistaking that," Scott said. To his surprise, Madelyne laughed. He gave her an abashed smile. She came over and sat on the bed beside him.

"Okay, so now what?" she asked.

"Nothing. Weíll worry about that tomorrow. All right?"

She nodded. "All right."

Charles Xavier returned to his school by late afternoon. A taxi dropped him and his companion, Moira, off at the front door. Moira held Emma, who hung limply in the womanís arms. She pet the girlís blond hair absently and looked up at the large estate. Charles Xavier stared blankly at the Institute as he concentrated on mentally announcing his presence to the mansionís inhabitants.

"Itís lovely," Moira said as she looked around the grounds and gave a weak smile.

"Letís go inside. I am excited to introduce you to my students," Charles told her after he had received no reply to his call.

Moira looked nervous. "Iíve called ahead to let them know when to expect me," Xavier continued as he turned his wheelchair up the ramp to the front landing. As he leaned forward to turn the doorknob, he was surprised when the door was yanked open. Behind the door was Ororo, looking rather flustered.

"Charles," she said. "Youíre home." She pulled the door open wider to allow him entrance.

"Is something the matter, Ororo?" he asked. Stormís blue eyes darted to Moira, then back at him.

"There have been several.incidents.since your departure," she said.

Xavier gave her a questioning look, but Ororo broke away from the conversation to look at Moira. "Hello, Ms. McTaggert," Ororo said with some formality. "It is a pleasure to meet you. My name is Ororo Munroe. You may call me Ororo. Charles has informed me that you and your young charge will be staying with us. I will call Henry to inform him of your arrival. He has prepared a room for Emma in our medical facility." With that, she turned and walked away.

Xavier watched her leave, a growing sense of trepidation welling inside him.

"Iím sorry if Iíve inconvenienced you, Charles," Moira said.

He shook his head to dissuade her. "No, Moira, it is no trouble. Emma needs our help. Helping other mutants is our purpose here. Let us continue to the medical lab. Iíll speak with Ororo after youíve settled in."

"Itís kind of you to take me along with Emma," Moira said.

"In Emmaís best interest, I believe itís best for you to be by her side when she revives. She will need a familiar face," Xavier said. The smile he gave her suggested a less clinical reason behind inviting the other woman to stay at his school. She returned his warm look with a small smile of her own. Xavier broke off their gaze when he sensed Henry McCoyís approach.

"Charles," the blue-furred mutant said as he turned the corner and came into view. He was slightly out of breath. "Sorry I didnít come right away." He came to a halt several paces away from where Charles and Moira stood. At first, another matter had been occupying his thoughts, and he had not given thought to his appearance. This was something that did not often happen around strangers. Now, however, Xavier could sense Hankís growing feelings of self-consciousness. Apparently, Moira could sense this as well, for she leaned forward without hesitation and offered Beast her hand as she held Emma against her shoulder with the other.

"Nice to meet you, Mr. McCoy. Charles has told me about you," Moira said.

Hank nodded at her and gestured to Emma. "May I?" he asked as he opened his arms to take the child. "Iíve made up a bed for Emma, where we can monitor her more closely."

Moira gently left the girl in Hankís large arms. "Would you like to see our facilities, Moira?" Hank asked. "Or would you prefer to rest after your trip?"

Moira wiped a hand over her weary face. "Iíd like to tend tíEmma first, thank ye."

"Iíll show you downstairs then," Hank said with a glance at Xavier that seemed to ask permission. Xavier nodded.

"Moira," Xavier said. "If you donít mind, there is something I need to do before I join you downstairs. Afterwards I would be happy to show you around."

"Thatís fine, Charles," Moira said. "You have a school to mind. Go on ahead."

He smiled at her before she turned and followed Hank down the hall. Xavier then headed toward his office to where he knew Ororo was waiting for him. He entered his room where he asked without preamble: "Ororo, what is wrong?"

She turned away from the window. "Charles, there has been an accident."

His blood chilled. "Have one of the students been injured?"

"No," she said, "Not exactly. Remy is doing better now."

"What happened?" Xavier asked as he began towards her.

"It seems Gambit temporarily lost control over his powers. The Danger Room is in serious disrepair and we were forced to detain Remy in the MedLab for awhile."

"Where is he now?" Xavier asked as he attempted to do a scan of the mansion. He found no trace of the boy.

"In his room, I believe," Storm replied. "Iíve had to ground him. And Rogue.and Scott."

Xavier began to ask her reasons when she continued on a different topic. "Logan is gone as well," she said. "He was angry when I saw him last. Still, I think it is unusual that he would depart on one of his outings while you were gone."

Xavier nodded his understanding. "And the grounded students?" He specifically wanted to know what Scott could have gotten into. Of all the students, he was the least likely to have gotten in trouble.

"There has been an unauthorized guest," Ororo said. "I am not sure if I have acted in the best manner in your absence," she said, her eyes downcast. "I have sent him to his room, pending your return and your decision on what to do."

"This guest? Who?" Xavier said, momentarily bewildered by Scottís behavior.

"A girl," Ororo said stiffly. "Her name is Madelyne. Scott met her at the university. She knows everything."

"What?" Xavier said incredulously. "Everything?"

She sighed. "She knows about us. She is down in MedLab 1 right now."

Xavier opened and closed his mouth, uncertain what to say. "Is she ill, or injured, or are we.holding her?"

"That is for your discretion," Ororo said, somewhat sharply. "The girl is pregnant."

"Good Lord!" Xavier exclaimed. "Not by Scott!"

Ororo shook her head. "No, not by Scott. By some other means. Upon Scottís request, Henry has examined her, and her claims seem to be true."

Xavier was torn between wanting to heave a sigh of relief, and stare in bewilderment. "What do you mean? What other means are there? And where---where are her parents?"

Ororo shrugged, an unfamiliar gesture for her. "The girl appears to be a virgin. As for her parents, I do not know. She does not wish to contact her foster family. She tells us that she has burdened them enough. Madelyne is a runaway." She paused, looking as close to frustration and panic as Xavier had ever seen her come. "What are we to do about this?"

Xavier shook his head. "I will talk with Scott first, then the girl. Madelyne you say her name is? Very well." He sighed, as he sorted through his thoughts. "Iíll see to the Danger Room afterwards. Call a meeting for the students in the living room in two hours time. Weíll sort things out from there."

Ororo nodded, her look guarded as if she believed that things were beyond sorting. "I am sorry about this Charles," she said.

"There is nothing to be sorry for," Xavier replied. "Things happened that were simply beyond your control."

"That is exactly the problem," she said then pursed her lips. "I have failed you entirely."

"Ororo---," Xavier began, but she had all ready passed through the door. He waited until he was certain she had gone, giving her time to be on her own. Then there was nothing to do but see to Scott and his mystery guest.

Rogue was lying on her bed, fully clothed and staring up at the ceiling. She had placed an open book across her stomach in the pretense of reading it. Rogue had been sentenced to confinement in her room except for at mealtime. She was mostly certain that Ororo really didnít know how to punish her for her after-hour excursion to Gambitís room. Storm was compassionate and caring, almost motherly. But when it came to punishment, she left it to Professor Xavier to decide what would happen.

The door opened, but Rogue didnít move to see who had entered. Kitty leaned over her, entering Rogueís line of vision.

"Yeah?" Rogue asked, her eyes flicking to Kittyís face.

"The professor has called a meeting downstairs," Kitty replied. "And you can bet it isnít about us going to the theme park."

Rogue sat up. "Why, whatís up?"

"Youíre not the only one whose been busted," Kitty said. "Scott is totally in trouble. All I can say is Iím glad itís not me this time."

"Scott?" Rogue breathed, a slow smile creeping over her face. "Really? What did he do?"

Kitty leaned close and whispered. "He had a girl in his room.all night."

Rogue felt her eyes widen. "Jean? But I thought they were on the outs?"

"No, not Jean," Kitty said, nearly giddy with the excitement of prolonging her revelation. "A girl he met at college. A girl who isnít a mutant."

"Youíre kidding!" Rogue gasped. Thatís twice as worse as me being in Gambitís room for a few minutes, she thought. Theyíre bound to forget all about me and Remy.

"Címon," Kitty said, pulling Rogue by the arm until she stood on her feet. Kitty looked around the doorjamb to peer out into the hallway. "Here comes Remy. Letís go."

Kitty pulled Rogue out the door and practically threw her right into Remy. He shot them both a dirty look. "Watch where youíre going," he muttered.

"In a pleasant mood as usual," Rogue said to him. "Nice to see you, too."

"Canít say youíve been gone long enough for me tímiss you. Donít see why I got tíbe in trouble for sometíing you did," he told Rogue as they continued down the hall. "Youíre de one who came inta my room."

Rogue huffed angrily at him, and since Kitty seemed to be listening so keenly to their conversation, she added loudly: "Ah donít see why the after-hours rule should apply to me anyways! Itís not like we were fooling around." She added: "Since Ah canít touch anyone after all."

Remy smiled at her. "There are plenty of things we couldíve gotten up to with our clothes still on. If you use your imagination."

"Pervert," Rogue muttered, but she was startled when he took her hand. She looked down at their clasped hands, then up at his face. He wasnít looking at her though, he seemed to think nothing was out of the ordinary. They all walked down the stairs towards the living room where they usually met as a group. Kitty was the first to approach the door, but she came to an abrupt halt. Scott and the professor were all ready inside. Rogue, Gambit, and Kitty backed up a few paces and pressed themselves against the wall with Kitty closest to the door.

"Scott, I donít think you understand the risk involved---," the professor was saying.

"Of course I do, Professor Xavier," Scott interrupted. "Donít you think I thought about that the second I took interest in her? That she would find out about us, and might react badly? I took a chance on her, but I know it was the right choice! Isnít that why you founded this school? So in the future humans and mutants can peacefully coexist?"

"Weíve discussed this before. You canít let your feelings for this girl color your decisions."

"Whatís the difference between Madelyne and the woman you brought with you?" Scott challenged.

Kitty slapped a hand over her mouth to keep from gasping. Rogueís jaw dropped open in shock. Scott must be out of his mind, she thought, heís never talked to the professor like that before!

"Whoís Madelyne?" Remy whispered.

"A girl he met," Kitty whispered back. "She has red hair. And sheís fat." She held out her arms to demonstrate and puffed out her cheeks.

"Thatís mean," Rogue said and pushed Kitty playfully. Kitty looked abashed for a second, then giggled.

"What are you guys doing?" asked a loud voice. The three eavesdroppers turned to see Lorna, and as one made to shush her by putting their fingers to their lips.

"Shh!" Rogue hissed. "Shut up!"

"What?" Lorna continued loudly. "Is something going on?" She stood on her toes to try to see over the trio and into the room beyond. Both Scott and the professor had fallen silent.

Then the professor cleared his throat and announced loudly: "Shall we start this meeting?"

They reluctantly entered and stood awkwardly in a group. "Please, have a seat," Professor Xavier told them. "Once Storm and Jean arrive we will begin."

Storm entered through an adjacent door that led from the library. She seemed almost as reluctant as the students had been. Kitty and Rogue took their usual seat beside each other and Remy sat with them. Lorna took her seat next to Scott on the couch. For a moment everyone was silent. The professor glanced at his watch, then up at the door. His lips pressed together, then relaxed as Jean finally wandered in from the hall.

"Sorry Iím late," she said in an airy voice. She looked around the room. "Whereís Logan?"

"He is unavailable," the professor said. His voice was a little hard. "Letís begin, shall we? I understand there has been some problems in my absence. I will speak with you all individually about this later. Jean, please take your seat."

Jean had been hovering at the door, realizing the only seat left was the one beside Lorna. Lorna was blatantly ignoring Jeanís presence. After a momentís pause, Jean approached and sat on the edge of the sofa.

"How was your trip? Is the little girl better?" Lorna asked the professor.

"All did not go as smoothly as planned," the professor answered. "That is what I would like to talk to you about. Both Emma and her caretaker Moira will be staying with us for a time."

"What?" Jean said, suddenly alert. "What was her name?"

"Moira," Professor Xavier said. "Iíll make introductions later over dinner."

"No, the girl," Jean said, shaking her head.

"Emma," he replied and continued: "Now, we have a third visitor, Madelyne. I want you to make them feel welcome here---Jean, what is the matter?"

"Can I see her?" she asked. She looked almost panicked.

"Madelyne?" Professor asked, looking confused.

"No! Emma!" Jean said as she jumped to her feet.

The professor blinked. "Of-of course," he replied finally. "Actually, I was hoping you would assist me with her treatments....Where are you going? Jean?"

Jean had started for the door and was on her way out. She didnít bother with a reply and slammed the door after herself. Everyone stared at where Jean had been before turning to see what the professor would do next.

"Sheís nuts!" Lorna exclaimed. "Professor, I donít mean to steer the conversation away from whatís most important, or even say this in front of everybody.but I want to request a room change. Jean and I are not getting along. Iíve been sleeping in the rec room." To everyoneís surprise, she burst into tears. Scott instantly put his hand on her shoulder and she sniffled. "Sorry," she said. "Thatís the exhaustion talking. Iím sorry." Lorna stood and left the room.

"Iíll talk with her," Ororo said softly. "If you will excuse me."

"Yes, thank you Storm," the professor said quietly, just as shocked as everyone else. He cleared his throat nervously. "Well, I suppose that is all we need to discuss for now. Scott, Kitty, you are dismissed. Iíd like to speak to Remy and Rogue privately."

Kitty cast Rogue a sympathetic sidelong glance before standing. Rogue gave her a minute shrug, as if to say: Whatís done is done.

When both Scott and Kitty had departed, the professor turned to the two remaining students. "So," he began with a small smile as he leaned his chin upon his knuckles, "what is this about after-hours rule breaking?"

"Síall her fault," Remy said, then winced as Rogue elbowed him.

"Ah was only seeing if Remy was all right," Rogue replied giving Remy a pointed glare.

"Are we in big trouble?" Remy asked. "Cause I donít tíink I can stay in my room for much longer."

"Well, you could be using this extra time to recuperate from your accident," the professor told him and raised his eyebrows expectantly. Remy sighed unhappily and the professor smiled as he raised his hand to indicate he wasnít finished. "The two of you are free to leave your rooms, provided that you both prepare dinner, as well as clean up afterwards. Does that sound fair?"

Neither answered the question, but Remy said: "I hope you like your food hot."

Jean hurried down the hallway towards the elevator. She chewed anxiously on her lip as she waited for the elevator car to arrive. It couldnít be the Emma I know, Jean thought. A different little girl named Emma, maybe. The elevator arrived and chimed softly as the doors opened. She had not given a second thought to leaving the professorís meeting abruptly. Once she saw to Emma, and proved to herself that it was a different girl than the one she knew from the Astral Plane, then she would apologize to the professor. The elevator let her off on the medical floor and she hurried towards the room that she had seen Hank preparing earlier that day.

She found Hank and another woman sitting just inside the observation room. They were talking softly and drinking coffee. Beast looked surprised to see her.

"Jean, hello," he began as he stood. "May I introduce Ms. Moira McTaggert?" He gestured to the woman.

Jean gave her a brief glance before continuing on into the lab. She heard him stammer: "Uhm, and that was Jean. Jean, is something wrong?"

She had frozen before the bed where Emma lay unconscious. The little girl was pale and small on the large white bed. This Emma was weak and quiet, the complete opposite of the cheerful and vivacious Emma from the Astral Plane. But Jean knew they were one in the same.

"Emma," she breathed softly. "Oh no."

Something was very wrong. How could Emma be laying so lifeless in the real world when I had only just seen her looking so alive on the Astral Plane? But there she was in the medical lab, white and thin with tubes coming from her nose and more going into her arms. I had to go find her; the real her that was missing from her body.

I left Hank and the woman in the lab with Emma and ran to Cerebro. He could help me, and in a short time, I knew that Emma would be just fine. I lowered the helmet over my head before I had even sat down. Access occurred simultaneously and I was back in my own mind in the world I had created.

I looked around to survey my surroundings. I felt that I had almost finished my work here. I had cordonned off what I felt was my fair share of the Astral Plane with an enormous wall of golden red brick. There was a forest and a lake, all in shimmering truer-than-life colors. At the center of a brilliant green meadow was a palace, a sort of fairy-tale concoction with turreted towers and stained glass windows. It seemed all very frivolous now that I knew that Emma was sick.

I cupped my hands around my mouth and called out: "Emma!" I began walking towards the palace. Emma was fond of playing here, finding my creations more interesting to explore than the ones she had made herself. Even though this was my personal place, I let her stay. I crossed the drawbridge, my footsteps ringing out hollow against the wood boards. I was about to call Emmaís name again when I heard a small whimper just inside the courtyard. I was stunned by what I saw. Emma was kneeling before the fountain weeping. Crumpet, that foolish little unicorn sheíd made, was lying dead in the grass. Its pink tongue was lolling out of its mouth, its eyes blank and staring.

I ran to her. "Emma, what happened?" I fell beside her to touch her pet. His skin was stiff and cold. Emma looked up at me with red eyes and a tear streaked face.

"Crumpetís dead," she said miserably. "He killed him."

"What?" I asked, leaning forward to embrace her. "Who killed Crumpet?" The creeping sensation I felt at the back of my neck told me I all ready knew.

I saw his shadow first. I looked up to the gabled roof of the palaceís main entryway. The sun glancing off of the rosette window momentarily blinded me. As I blinked away the dazzling light, I could make out his form standing up on the roof. He leapt, soaring over Emma and I. I quickly turned to see him as he landed on the cobblestones behind me. He turned to look over his shoulder at me and wagged his tail slowly. His tongue lolled out to lick his bloody muzzle. Emma began to cry in earnest. She was very afraid.

"Why did you do this?" I cried, pointing down at the fallen animal, as if Shadow were a dog to be reprimanded for peeing on the carpet.

A hoarse sound came from his throat, which might have been a laugh. I advanced towards him. My foot caught and I almost tripped. When I looked down to see what had caused me to stumble, the toe of my boot nudged a rusted chain. I realized I had automatically changed my Astral projection back to my X-Men uniform. My eyes went from my boot to follow the chain to where it was fastened around Shadowís neck. His manacles were missing. There was only the rusted chain between him and me.

Shadowís lip curled, showing his sinister fangs. I wondered how I had ever found him beautiful.

"Why did you do this?" I asked him again quietly. "Answer me!"

Shadow lunged, but I was ready. I quickly dodged his advance and he hit the pavement behind me. He charged a second time, running around me in a semicircle. I formed a blade in my hand, it was long and thin and glowed silver. I swung it at him, testing the reach and heft of my weapon. The sword swished through the air, but missed. He scampered just out of reach.

"Why did you do this to Emma?" I cried. "Sheís just a kid!" I swung again and turned as he continued to run around me. I followed his path, keeping the weapon between the two of us. I was about to lunge, he was almost in range, when he suddenly jumped away. That was when I realized he had been wrapping his chains around my feet. As he sped away, the loops of chains pulled tight around my legs and I fell. My sword flew from my hand and spun away. Then it disappeared.

"Emma!" I called. "Run away!" Shadow leapt upon me and I struggled to push his monstrous face away. The chains lay heavy over me and I pulled with all my strength. "Get off!" I screamed and tried to kick at his stomach with my bound legs. Shadowís breath was hot in my face, his jaws almost clamping down on my neck. I heard Emma scream, and then my own panicked cry. My legs were suddenly free. Rusted iron chain links bounced across the cobblestones. One broken circlet rolled towards me, spinning like a quarter on the pavement just beside my face. A feeling of dread overwhelmed me. Shadowís weight came away and he leapt back.

"Free!" he cried hoarsely, his voice raw from disuse. "Youíve done well, Jean Grey."

I struggled to my feet, summoning my sword to my hand once again. But the weapon was so pale, light shown through it like glass. He gave me a little mock bow.

"What do you want?" I asked him.

"Why, you of course," he replied. "And now you are mine."

I began towards him with my sword, but he laughed. "Now, my pet, do not do anything foolish, lest I destroy you in your own world."

"You canít," I challenged. "This is my place, and I control it!"

Behind him, the drawbridge began to creak, then rise. I had not commanded it to do so.

"What is the matter Jean?" Shadow said snidely. "Youíve your palace and your dear little friend. You almost seemed to prefer this world to the other. Iím sure youíll be very happy here." Shadow was beginning to fade. A darkness spread out from his dissolving form, rising up into the sky like smoke. The golden light from the sunset shown on the cobblestones, turning dirty as it passed through his body.

"Emma!" I called, turning towards her. "Come here quickly!" I held my hand out to her beckoning her to come. When she faltered I screamed: "Now!"

She darted towards me and I swept her up in my arms and bolted towards the closing drawbridge. She was too big to be carried and her toes banged against my thighs as I ran. The incline of the drawbridge was growing steeper by the moment.

"Can you swim?" I asked Emma.

"Y-yes!" she answered.

I did not hesitate, I threw her into the moat. She shrieked and landed with a splash. I leapt off of the side of the drawbridge and dove in after her. I found her splashing form nearby and pulled her towards my shoulders. She grabbed at me ferverently, nearly pushing me under several times. I struggled towards the shore and dragged us up onto dry ground just as the drawbridge closed with an ominous clang. There was no sign of Shadow. Emma was coughing and sobbing on the beach. I turned over onto my back and watched as the light faded from the sky. I watched until the clouds turned pale blue against a darker purple sky. I knew the colors because I had made them. But now it was unfamiliar and frightening. My body felt solid and real, sore and bruised. I built my world well, the walls were thick and impenetrable. I was trapped. I could not leave the Astral Plane.


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