I hope you are all enjoying the tour so far. If you have missed any of it, you can find links to everything on the Pro-Blitz Tour lineup post. Today I have an excerpt for you from Shadow Stalker: The Delohi-Saqu’s Fate. Don’t forget to preorder your copy on Kindle and other online book retailers.
Shadow Stalker: The Delohi-Saqu’s Fate – An Excerpt
By Renee Scattergood
When I opened my eyes again, the trickle of the stream sounded loud in my left ear. I laid next to the stream, though I had no idea how I got here. The fire in my leg was no longer there, so I sat up tentatively and probed at it with my fingers. Everything seemed normal. I didn’t even feel any pain.
There was no answer. Had he really been down there with me or did I imagine the whole thing? This dark pit of doom was getting to me. If I didn’t get out soon, I’d be completely insane. I wasn’t even sure if I had actually broken my leg or if I had dreamed the whole thing. I don’t ever remember experiencing that much pain in dreams before, but I supposed anything was possible. It made more sense than having travelled to the shadow world without knowing how, being thrown by a demon, and breaking my leg. Then having some animal straighten it and some mysterious person, possibly Kado, appear and heal me in an instant.
If all of that did happen, which I wasn’t sure I was ready to believe, then that meant there was another way in and out of this place. I’d be willing to believe that craziness if it also meant I would be able to escape my torment. Kado certainly wasn’t doing anything to help. Or was he? When I was in the shadow world, I swore I thought I heard him talking to me. Perhaps he was trying to help me with that demon. He might have been the reason I got away from it in the first place. Of course, that also resulted in my broken leg, but what if he was the one to heal it?
My throat ached and the sound of the flowing water was making me so thirsty, so I gulped some down. Not only did it quench my thirst, but it soothed my throat as well. When it started sloshing in my belly, I knew I had enough. I laid down on the rock again and noticed that the cavern seemed warmer, and the green glow was back. Well it definitely wasn’t my imagination. The shadow world was swallowing me once again, and I realized that somehow it had to be connected to the water.
As the mist surrounded me a new thought came to mind. What if I found Kado in the shadow world? He had told me once that we existed in here as well as in the physical world. If that was true, then he had to be here. There might even be a chance that we’d be able to talk to one another.
Kado. I took a quick glance around me, making sure I didn’t attract unwanted attention.
He didn’t answer, and the other shadow people seemed oblivious to my presence.
Kado, please. How do I get out of this hole?
There is only one way out and it’s not the way you came in. Kado’s voice resonated in my mind.
I don’t understand. There is no other way out. He didn’t answer again, and my temper flared. Moments later a roar sounded in the distance.
You need to calm down, Auren. Kado warned.
A few of the larger shadows approached me now.
Now, he ordered.
I took a deep breath and thought about my camping trip with him the previous year. We had gone white water rafting down the Samarc River on Luten Isle. It was the most fun I had ever remembered having with my foster father.
The demons are attracted to anger and fear. Like many animals, they interpret it as aggression, Kado said, interrupting my moment of nostalgia.
All of a sudden one of the shadows stood out from the others. His face wasn’t clear, but I knew it was Kado. I could tell by his height and build. I just want to get out of here.
His form stopped right in front of me. You have to find your own way out.
But how? I’ve already looked everywhere down here. There’s no way out.
Auren, look around you. Where are you right now?
In that hole you left me in, I said pushing away the hurt and anger, so that the demon wouldn’t come after me again.
I looked around and had to admit that the space seemed much too large to be the small cavern I had been in moments ago. I couldn’t hear the water either. So when I enter the shadow world, I leave the hole as well?
Are you in the hole now?
I swiveled my head, taking another glance around me. No.
Then you’ve answered your own question. I didn’t put you down there to explore the underground.
Then why am I down here? It was difficult to keep my frustration from overwhelming me again.
Isn’t it obvious?
I shrugged then realized he was likely incapable of seeing the movement. To learn about the shadow world?
And as you do you will find the way out.
Why can’t you just show me? I wished that Kado saw desperation in my expression.
It’s not something I am able to teach you. As I’ve explained before, shadow stalkers get their abilities through the shadow world, but most of it can only be learned by discovering it on your own. It is my job to guide you in the right direction.
And you couldn’t explain this before putting me in the hole because…
Because it would have scared you, and it would have been difficult for me to get you to climb down there willingly.
He had a point. It would have terrified me if I was aware of what waited for me down there, but still. Why couldn’t I just learn to get to the shadow world from your hut or something?
Kado didn’t answer again.
I will starve to death before I figure all this out. One of the demons started snarling, so I closed my eyes and forced myself to relax.
I promise you that won’t happen. He started to fade as he turned away.
Kado, don’t leave.
You’ll figure it out. You’re a bright girl.
As Kado left me, the surrounding light began dimming as well. Soon I sat on the cold hard ground in the dark. It would have upset me, except that the experience left me completely drained and exhausted, as though I hadn’t slept in days. Despite my discomfort, as I laid down on the jagged surface, it didn’t take long for me to drift off.
It didn’t seem to matter how many times I woke in the darkness, it still disoriented me. It was impossible to tell if it had been days or weeks now since I had come down into the hole, and I was no closer to finding a way out. My animal companion was there every time I woke, but I had already figured out that he meant me no harm. In fact, I began to believe he was there to help me. His help often bordered on being painful, but at least he kept me company. But it frustrated me that he seemed to find his way in and out of the place so effortlessly.
Now that I was aware that my only way out was through the shadow world, I had been spending every waking moment there. After drinking more water, the green mist surrounded me signifying my entry into the world of the shadow people. I hadn’t seen Kado since—I don’t know how long it had been—and no one else in the shadow world had spoken to me. Well, couple of them tried to, but they used that strange language that Kado and Cathnor did on my first day on the Dark Isle.
It was strange, but I almost felt like I should understand what they said. Kado told me it was the language of the shadow people. If our power came from the shadow world, it stood to reason that learning the language was essential in some way. If I could speak to the shadow people, maybe it would be possible to learn how to get out of the hole. At the very least, I would learn more about what it meant to be a shadow stalker.
With that in mind, I approached a group of shadow people and listened. It had been difficult at first. Unless they directed their awareness on me, their voices were only whispers. When they did focus on me, it was too overwhelming. It wasn’t like talking to, or trying to communicate with a normal person. It was like having dozens of people in my mind all at once. But compared to the pressure I would feel in my head when they became frustrated with me, it was nothing.
One day I ran into a shadow person who seemed more powerful than some of the others. He seemed more solid and less like a shadow than the shadow people. It was as though he was aware of who and what he was, whereas they seemed to be content just to exist. As soon as I entered the shadow world, he stood before me. I felt him enter my mind. He was the only one who had ever made contact with me first.
Delohi-saqu, he said.
This immediately put my hackles up. Drevin and his subjects were the only ones who referred to me by this title and I hated it. He was wrong about me, so why would this shadow person call me that? I am not the delohi-saqu.
You cannot change your fate. Only the Foramar has the power to do that.
I would have commented on the fact that he spoke my language if what he said hadn’t left me dumbfounded. I don’t know what you mean. My father—
Only the Foramar can change your fate.
But he is the Foramar. It felt as though something poked and prodded the inside for a moment.
You wish to learn the language of the shadow people. I will teach you.
I wasn’t sure I wanted to trust this guy. Who are you?
Do you wish to learn?
I…well yes, but—
Then I will teach you.
These shadow people were so one-track minded. It was apparent that talking to them would be as easy as talking to a wall. They didn’t waste time either. I suddenly felt as though something tore my mind open and poured a bucket load of information into it all at once.
Now you will speak as we do, he said in the language of the shadow people.
Once I was able to make my head stop spinning, I realized could understand him. It was amazing. Who are you?
I was once the Foramar of the shadow stalkers.
A Foramar? Would you help me get out of here?
You may leave the shadow world at any time.
I groaned in exasperation. How could I explain this to him? I mean I’m stuck in an underground cavern, and I need to get back to the surface.
This is a test for you. I cannot help, delohi-saqu.
I’m not the delohi-saqu.
He started to fade, and I sensed him slipping out of my mind.
You cannot change your fate. Find the one who can, he said and disappeared.
Well that didn’t go well. If he wasn’t able to tell me how to get out, I doubted any of the other shadow people could. At least now I would be able to understand what they said to me. I noticed that there were two distinct groups of shadow people in this part of the shadow world. The spirits of those who had died tended to speak in small groups, and they never seemed to stop conversing. Then there were the ones I assumed were the spirits of the living. They almost always just stood around appearing vacant, and they never spoke to any of the others.
I moved closer to one of the groups and listened. I hoped to learn something from them, but they didn’t seem to be speaking about anything important. I moved around to a few different groups and it was the same. They talked about nothing, something I thought was an impossibility until now. These beings had to have had access to so much universal knowledge, and this group discussed the sound of light. Somehow I found that so completely disillusioning, but something distracted me from my disappointing encounter. Voices that sounded louder and more focused than those of the other shadow people filled my mind.
Have you found the Foramar? a man asked.
Not yet. I’m not even sure if he’s here. He may be at any number of reconciliation centers, a young girl replied.
Do not take any more risks. Do not contact me again until you are safe and away from that place. The first voice sounded familiar now.
The voices went silent. One of them sounded like Kado, but I didn’t recognize the other. It didn’t matter. They had been talking about my father. Whoever that girl was, she was looking for him. It relieved me in part, but I couldn’t help feeling that it should have been me out there, especially after what that former Foramar told me.
It was clear that Kado had been in the shadow world. He might still be here and I wanted to speak with him. I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to find him, but I focused on the sound of his voice. Somehow it helped me to feel like I was closer to him. Excitement filled me when the silhouette of a man who looked like Kado stood in front of me. My enthusiasm faded, however, when I saw his vacant expression. He may have been in the shadow world moments ago, but he wasn’t any longer. I had no way of knowing if this was even Kado. He didn’t look as clear as he did when I spoke to him before, so it was hard to tell. But something in my gut told me it was him.
I tried to get a closer look, and I managed to bring his face into focus. It was Kado. It was strange looking at him this way. He didn’t look alive, but he looked peaceful. Moving closer was difficult, but I wanted to see if I might get his attention and draw him back into the shadow world. It felt like trying to push against a brick wall, but it worked. I was able to see him more clearly. He stood next to a table, and there was a door behind him. The lighting seemed different all of a sudden. It was the light of a fire rather than the green mist of the shadow world.
I pushed further, even though it had become nearly impossible. Now I saw Kado as clearly as if I had been with him in the physical world. He wasn’t standing next to the table. He sat in a chair with sandwich on the table in front of him. There was a small fire in the fireplace. Someone knocked at the door. I heard it open, but he waved whoever it was away and looked right at me.
It hit me that what I saw was happening right at that moment. Somehow I found the way out. All I had to do was to get through the barrier that held me back. I couldn’t understand why it was so difficult. Entering the shadow world wasn’t hard. Even getting back into the hole was effortless. It seemed to just happen when the effects of the water wore off, but this was like trying to squeeze a mountain through a pin hole.
I gazed at Kado and reached my hand out toward him. I tried asking for his help, but speaking took too much effort. Every time I tried, Kado’s hut would start fading, and I would have to try to push my way through again. I was getting too tired to keep pushing. Then everything started going dark. I gave up. It was just too difficult. My eyes closed by the time I hit the cold, hard ground. It seemed odd, as I lay there losing consciousness, that the only thing I was aware of was that the floor seemed too flat.