Capture – Twilight Kingdoms
“I’m looking for Ja Dathi,” the newcomer said. She was trying to keep her voice steady, but the one so named heard that little quiver of fear. It was a sensible thing for her to feel.
She had come to one of the cities of the Twilight Kingdom, cities made as much of shadow as stone. She had chosen to step into the very edges of the city when the sun was at an apex in the sky, but still the city was painted darkness. Even those without access to the Mor Wrai knew how to slip between shadows, and it was clear the newcomer knew this.
Ja Dathi did have access to the Mor Wrai. She brought shadows with her, was embraced in their cool skin so that none could see her or mark her passage. So when she stepped in front of the newcomer the newcomer did nothing, not feeling the touch of skin, not hearing the whispered promise.
The Wraith took her time to study the newcomer. She green eyes, the color of the grasslands that her people took their name from. Stubble covered the sides of her head, meaning that she had been rushing too long to tend to her people’s customs, and she clutched at a charm bracelet like it might defend her.
For a moment, Ja Dathi was tempted to take the charm from her. She wanted to know what the Nomad would do once her protection – imagined though it was – vanished. A greater curiosity stayed her hand, though, and she considered whether to feed it or let it pass.
A decision was made.
She circled around behind the Nomad, trapping the newcomer between herself and the city of shadows she was peering into. She straightened her clothes, smiled a soft smile, and let the dark fall away from her skin, her voice, her scent.
“That name is mine,” Ja Dathi said, watching the Nomad start and turn, watching the wide eyes and shallow breathing of the newcomer. “What brings you to me?”
“An Emperor of Sand and Stars asked me to bring you this,” the Nomad said, reaching behind her and pulling a scroll from one of her legging’s pockets. The Nomad held it aloft, clearly expecting Ja Dathi to come and take it, but Ja Dathi kept her place and smiled.
“You have come all this way, Nomad,” Ja Dathi said. “Will you stop now, so close to your goal?” The Nomad shuffled in place, looking behind her, trying to determine from where the threat might come. Ja Dathi said nothing, letting her suffer through her terrors until she took the six steps that had stood between them.
Slowly, slowly, Ja Dathi unfurled the scroll.
Ja Dathi, the scroll read, if ambition drives you now as it did in our youth, it may interest you to know that our lives have been blessed with a second Wonderworks. I have a game in mind that would benefit us both, should you be interested. You know how to give an answer.
Ja Dathi smiled, folding the scroll and placing it in her jacket. She took the Nomad’s hand.
“You plan on going back to the Empire of Sand and Stars, yes?” Ja Dathi said, already knowing the answer. “I will go with you, the two of us together. We will leave just after dark tonight.” The Nomad swallowed and nodded, accepting, knowing better than to ask for payment.
She fell back into the Mor Wrai then, slipping into the shadows of the city, humming to herself and knowing no one would hear her. She heard the Nomad running out of the city’s edges but knew the Nomad would not flee too far, that the Nomad would wait for her. No one could outrun a Shadow.
Ja Dathi returned to the place she had claimed for herself, collecting the few things she cared about, and left. A practical people, those hailing from the Twilight Kingdom.
They had to be.
STORY AND CONCEPT BY AARON GOLDEN. PICTURE TAKEN FROM PIXABAY, AND YOU CAN FIND IT AND A HOST OF OTHER IMAGES LIKE IT BY CLICKING HERE. CAPTURE UPDATES EVERY TUESDAY AND THURSDAY, AND YOU CAN READ THE VERY FIRST CHAPTER BY CLICKING HERE, THE PREVIOUS CHAPTER CLICKING HERE, OR THE NEXT CHAPTER BY CLICKING HERE.