A small candle threw looming shadows against the walls while outside the last bands of sunlight clung to the horizon. They sat in a loose circle, waiting for Revenge to start. His was the last story. He was patient and he waited for the perfect moment. A small breeze whispered outside, rattling against the old window. Whispers were always a good place to begin. Revenge caught hold of the moment. He was a good storyteller – maybe the best among them – and the others leaned in to catch his soft, enticing voice. He made eye contact with each one, pulling them into his story while his fingers plucked at their shadows – only a handful to begin with – and wove them together into a pattern none of them could have described before it was finished.

Revenge smiled – a small, mysterious turning of his lips – as he took a thread of Fear’s shadow into the story. Fear didn’t even notice, but they all felt the resonance. He saw their eyes grow just a little wider and their shoulders hunch protectively. This was his favorite part, when the details were still unclear, but the heart of his story pulsed with drive and energy.

He took a piece of Despair and some Desperation and wove in a setback. This was always delicate and Revenge’s jaw clenched as he concentrated. The story hung on the edge of dissolving, but that too was part of the plan, part of what kept them all hanging on every twist and turn. Just as it seemed that even his nimble fingers wouldn’t be able to hold everything together, the pattern came back into focus and they all sighed as they saw what Revenge had made.

Revenge felt a thrill of decision approaching. He let them all rest for a moment, giving them the satisfaction of discovering some hint of the larger design. Outside an owl screeched in triumph at a successful hunt and Revenge took hold of the sound, letting the essence of a hunter flow through his fingertips. Around the edges he placed a sliver of Conscience, but in the center he wove a bloody tableau of Anger, Determination, and Pain with highlights of Satisfaction and Remorse. Everyone gasped as Revenge tied the last unexpected knots and dozens of shadowy threads – more than most of them could have held together – flowed into a perfect, unified design.

The story hung for a moment as the echoes of Revenge’s voice gave the shadowy construct form, and in that moment they all hung suspended with the story. But like all stories it blew away, evaporating as it dissolved into memory. Revenge’s shoulders relaxed and he smiled at the congratulations. They all agreed it had been the best story of the day, and in groups of two or three they retold their favorite parts as they left the old room. Revenge was the last to leave, the final storyteller always lingered. It had been a good story. Before he left, Revenge leaned down and blew out the guttering candle.


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