Read Shadows Book 1 in the World of Shadows Online

Authors: Cheree Alsop

Tags: #romance, #love, #fantasy, #battle, #young adult, #danger, #epic, #teen, #desert, #fight, #quest, #sword

Shadows Book 1 in the World of Shadows

BOOK: Shadows Book 1 in the World of Shadows
7.83Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub



Book 1 in the World of Shadows


By Cheree L. Alsop



Copyright © 2011 by Cheree L. Alsop
All rights reserved. This book or any portion thereof may not be
reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express
written permission of the author except for the use of brief
quotations in a book review. This ebook is licensed for your
personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given
away to other people. If you would like to share this book with
another person, please purchase an additional copy for each
recipient. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or
it was not purchased for your use only, then please return to and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting
the hard work of this author.

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places,
and incidents are a product of the author’s imagination. Any
resemblance to actual persons, events, or locales is entirely


Smashwords Edition


Cover Design by Stephanie Godwin


To my husband, Michael Alsop,

for priceless input and helping me

to never settle when a scene could be better.


To my family for their endless support of my


I love you!



Chapter 1


I crept along the cavern, careful to keep my
chain coiled so it wouldn't hit against the rocks. I neared the
hole and crouched. Light flickered off the red rock walls from the
torches below, casting shadows like dancing demons along my tiny
crawlspace. The slender Luminos gathered in the cavern beneath me
had to crouch in order to avoid bumping their heads. The fire that
burned on the floor a few feet away sent up a thin stream of black
smoke that trailed along the ceiling to find escape in my tunnel. I
lowered slowly to my stomach and listened.

We need to leave, Sir
Axon,” a voice said in an anxious tone.

It's pertinent that we
have time for negotiations,” another agreed levelly.

Someone threw a log on the fire and sparks
flew up to my hiding place.

It isn't safe here,” a man
pointed out.

Safer than out there,” Sir
Axon’s calm, commanding voice replied. “This is an excellent
opportunity to learn the effect the Sathen have had on our

But you put your life in
danger every day that you prolong our stay,” the second voice

And our presence here is
resented,” the first continued. “Who knows how long they will
tolerate us?”

They're not going to kill
us in our sleep,” Sir Axon said, a slight smile in his

You never know,” the first
voice muttered.

Sir Axon sighed. “Regardless, we’ll leave
first thing in the morning. We have outstayed our welcome and I
have things to discuss with Father. I can only pray negotiations
will go smoothly and we'll be on our way back to Lumini before the
week is out.”

We hope so, Sir,” the
level voice replied.

The logs on the fire settled, sending up
another cloud of sparks to my hole. One spark landed on my brown
cloak. A squeak escaped my lips as I smothered it.

What was that?” a voice

I froze.

I'll check it out,” Sir
Axon said. He stood and poked his head in the hole before the
others could stop him.

Axon look down the way opposite from me,
then turned and met my eyes. Firelight from below showed pale blue
eyes the exact color of the ice from the bottom cavern. He stared
at me and a smile tugged at the corner of his lips. He winked and
ducked out of the hole. “No one's up there; must have been a tunnel

I hate those nasty tunnel
rats,” the anxious man grumbled. “They stole one of my good

The men started to laugh.

Well, they did!” he
replied haughtily. “Stole it right off my foot when I was sleeping.
Big, hairy rodents.”

Why were you sleeping with
your shoes on, anyway?” one of the men pressed.

To keep the rats away from
my toes,” he replied.

The men laughed harder.

I crept back out of the tunnel cloaked by
their noise. I wondered why Sir Axon hadn't ratted me out. Our eyes
met and he had even winked. No one winked at a Duskie.

If Axon told the leaders of the Caves he had
seen me, I would be evicted, or worse, killed; although punishment
by eviction was the same as death because the Sathen would find me
and tear me apart anyway. A shudder ran through my skin and I felt
the bite of serrated teeth, a shadow of memory that sent chills
along my spine. I ducked through another tunnel and walked faster,
anxious to reach my room.

I didn’t trust him; my stomach clenched in a
knot as I gathered my chain and carried the heavy links back to the
stone chamber that made up my quarters. A fine layer of red dust, a
result of the never-ending mining, covered the stone pad that
served as my bed. The sound of metal on stone echoed through the
shafts, and when I put my hand on the cool wall, it vibrated
slightly under my touch.

I swept the pad off the best I could and
settled down to catch the last few minutes of sleep before my
shift; but a moment after my eyes closed, the gears that opened my
stone door began to grind. I sat up. The door slid open to reveal
Chaxa, the Luminos head guard. He smiled and my heart slowed. I
stood up reluctantly.

Been out of your quarters
between shifts, number six?”

I shook my head, but knew better than to

He motioned with a sigh and I turned around
to face the wall. “You know the rules, yet you insist on breaking

Easier to break them if I
know what they are,” I mumbled.

What was that?” Chaxa

I heard the soft hiss of leather on stone
and didn’t answer. Instead, my fingers found the impressions in the
wall made by hundreds of such occurrences. The grooves gave me
strength when the first lash bit into my back.

Twelve lashes for leaving
your chamber between shifts, and five more for talking back to a
superior,” Chaxa said in a satisfied tone.

I bit my lip at the sting of another lash
and regretted that I had worn my newest shirt. By the time Chaxa
was finished, it wouldn’t be more than rags, though it really
wasn’t more than rags to begin with. The whip hissed through the
air and caught me low in the back. I gritted my teeth to keep from
crying out. I never gave Chaxa the satisfaction of hearing my pain,
and took comfort in the fact that I knew the Caves far better than
he could imagine.

The grooves in the wall were the only thing
that kept me standing when he finally wound up his whip, gave a
slight chuckle, then left through the rock door. “Your shift’s
started. Don’t make me whip you again for being late,” he said
before the door slid shut.

I fell to my knees and pressed my forehead
against the cool rock floor. The red dust that covered it felt soft
to my fingers that had been rubbed raw from the rough wall. I
breathed in and took strength in the earthy, familiar cinnamon and
mineral scent of the stone. I put a hand on the wall and rose
unsteadily to my feet, then stumbled to the rocky ledge that served
as both dresser and shelf and picked up the second to last shirt I
owned. I sighed at the thought of explaining to the steward why I
was going to need another one soon.

I gingerly pulled off my shredded shirt and
spread it on the shelf. Seventeen tears lined the back, some of
which were already damp with blood. Chaxa was as good as his word.
I could have taken off my shirt, but I would never debase myself in
front of Chaxa, and the cloth helped to soften some of the blows. I
shook my head and crumpled the shirt into a ball.

I took a careful sip of the water in my
rations cup, then carried the cup to the corner and mixed the rest
of the contents with the red rock sand I kept there. When the dirt
had turned to a thick paste, I spread it as gently as I could over
the lash wounds. It would keep the infection out and stop the
bleeding enough so they could clot, but the fresh wounds stung and
I bit my lower lip between my teeth while I waited for the mud to
dry enough so I could put on my somewhat clean extra shirt.

I hesitated, glanced at the door, then knelt
and lifted a small stone in the corner by my bed. The groves were
nearly seamless, and I felt a faint swelling of pride at the hole
beneath, the result of careful, quiet carving during precious hours
when I should have been sleeping. I took out the object hidden
inside and held it reverently in my hand.

I knew every line and shade of the brittle
leaf that still held the green of summer from distant lands beyond
the desert; it gave me hope that I would somehow get out of the
Caves and away from Chaxa for good. I closed my eyes and took a
gentle breath; the strange, foreign scent it once held that told of
sunshine and green plants far different from the twisted, spiny
shrubs of the desert had long since vanished, replaced by the
ever-present cinnamon scent of the Caves, but I held the smell in
memory. I wanted to see the plants and feel the sunshine so
strongly my chest ached.

I had found the leaf long ago before the
traders stopped braving the Sathen to cross the desert, and before
the Sathen became fearless and attacked armed caravans, leaving us
abandoned as we mined the Caves in a vain attempt to find the
Reathe that had long ago been exhausted. The leaf fell from a
trader’s pack, a forgotten remnant clinging to the canvas without
the knowledge of the hope it gave to a lowly Duskie, alone and
wishing for change above all else.

A low gong rang out, signaling that I was
late. I sighed and set the leaf gently back in the hole, then slid
the rock on top and dusted sand over the seam so Chaxa wouldn’t
find it. I eased my shirt gingerly over my head, then gathered up
my chains and pulled the lever by the door. The gears ground
moodily and the door slid open to reveal the dimly lit rock hallway
beyond. It was easily to tell when it was day because the Luminos
needed light to maneuver the tunnels. The Nathos could see in the
dark, a trait we inherited, making the low burning torches
unnecessary at night.

I took the shortest path to the entrance,
lowering my eyes obediently whenever a Luminos walked by. The brief
glimpses I did catch of their faces showed them to be worn and
exhausted. Their dark gray skin had an unhealthy pallor and their
light hair was slick with sweat. It must have been a hard day of

Not that I cared. I gritted my teeth and let
the chain uncoil behind me, keeping to the side of the cave so I
didn’t trip any of the mighty Luminos. Heaven forbid I create any
sort of encumbrance along their path. I dropped the last of the
chains by the northeast entrance to the cave and took up the spear
and shield left by Norse at dawn. Kamis, another of the twelve
Duskies who inhabited Firen Caves, nodded at me, then turned back
to her post on the far side of the entrance. We settled down for
the eight hour shift.

Luminos, self-proclaimed Lords of the
Daylight, absorbed their powers from the sun and lost them when the
sun set. Nathos, Guardians of Night, were the opposite, gaining
their powers from the moon and losing them at daybreak.
Unfortunately, this left a gap of about two hours between dusk and
dawn when neither party was at full strength. This wasn’t a problem
in the years before I was born, but since the outbreak of the
Sathen, the two groups had been forced to band together in order to

The mines used to be the main source of
Reathe, the rust-red dust that gave Luminos and Nathos the ability
to stay up during the hours when they were normally weak, but the
Caves' resources had depleted, and now the inhabitants struggled
just to survive in the arid desert. The Nathos hunted the desert
creatures at night while the Luminos gathered the unforgiving
plants and roots during the day. It was a stale existence, and the
peace between the two races was shaky at best.

Insert us, the Duskies. Cast off children
from forbidden relations between Luminos and Nathos, we weren’t as
strong as either race at their full power, but we also didn’t lose
our strength at the odd hours between morning and evening. This
made us convenient guards but untrustworthy living companions,
hence the chains and whips. The numbers of Duskies who had once
been necessary to mine the Reathe had been cut down when the Reathe
disappeared, and only the twelve of us were now kept for defense
from the Sathen. We never questioned what had been done with the
multitude of Duskies who used to slave within the lower tunnels,
but the Sathen provided a swift resolution to such problems, so it
was better to keep to one's self and not ask too many

BOOK: Shadows Book 1 in the World of Shadows
7.83Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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