“Learn to accept the Shadow, Liana,” Toran said, gazing up at the starless sky. The soft breeze tousled his jet-black hair as he sat crossed-legged with his sister. “It will always be in control. It has dominated the Light forever, and there is nothing we can do against it.”
Liana looked away. The Shadow had always been in control. She was weary of the perpetual umbra that hovered over Tenebrae Kingdom. It swirled around in a maelstrom of black and violet in the sky, threatening destruction. Everyone except her had bent under its rule. Even her dear older brother Toran.
“Liana,” Toran said, taking her chin. “You must learn, or face the wrath of the Shadow. You will never know when it will strike, so you must accept it.”
Liana shrugged away from him. “No. I will not learn, nor will I ever.”
Toran’s eyes widened in terror, and he cast a glance up at the sky. “Don’t ever say that, Liana! The Shadow might ….”
“I know!” Liana said. “But I’m tired of this darkness threatening us every hour, every moment of our lives! I’m ready for change.” Liana pushed herself to her feet. “So I will go find it, with or without you, brother.” She turned and stalked away.
“No, Liana!” Toran scrambled up and grabbed her arm. “The Light will harm you! It will burn you!”
Liana tore her arm from her brother’s grip. “You have no power over me. The Shadow has no power over me. I will search for the Light!” She’d shouted the last part, not caring if the Shadow had heard her. She was through with the Shadow. It may have consumed Toran beyond redemption, with his paranoia of even uttering dislike for the Shadow, but she refused to accept that fate for herself. Toran acted as though the Shadow’s gaze was drilling into his back, waiting for an excuse to unleash its fury at the slightest retaliation against its power. Maybe it was, with all those swirling, ominous threads of darkness like clouds threatening a storm is coming.
Toran stumbled away from Liana as though she’d struck him. She used that opportunity to turn on her heel and dart away. Her feet guided her toward the kingdom’s wall as Toran’s shouts faded into background noise. She would break an opening in the wall that enclosed Tenebrae and allow the Light in. Somehow.
Her legs pumped, and her muscles ached, but she could see the wall up ahead.
“Liana, look out!” Toran screamed, his voice closer. He must have been following her.
The ground started to tremble, then turned to violent shaking. Liana tripped and flew forwards, landing on the rocky dirt with a grunt. Casting a glance over her shoulder, she caught a glimpse of the Shadow pouring down from the sky like a tornado and rushing at her in a torrent of foul, dark filth. She flipped around and scuttled backwards on her hands, trying desperately to escape.
Liana screamed as the Shadow whooshed in and circled around her like a whirlwind of darkness. She was trapped. Cornered. Imprisoned.
Liana curled into a ball, praying that it would be over quickly as she sobbed. She would never again see Toran, never have a chance to bring him to the Light. She would never again get a chance to see joy on his face, after so many years of paranoia. She would never get to the wall and let in the Light. She’d failed.
Liana opened her eyes, and her crying stopped. No, I will not let the darkness consume me.
She pushed herself to her feet and stood boldly within the Shadow’s maelstrom. Determination and passion burned wildly in her soul like a wildfire, hardening her features as she planted her feet firmly into the ground and firmly into her decision.
Two yellow-slitted eyes formed directly in front of her as the darkness swirled and twisted around her. “Foolish girl!” the Shadow hissed in a vile, guttural voice. “You cannot win. No matter the intensity of the Light, the Shadow will always exist in the darkest corners. The Shadow will always strike where you are most vulnerable.”
“You’re wrong!” Liana shouted, her golden hair whipping around her face. “You cannot add darkness to an illuminated room, but you can make it shine brighter with more light.”
“Fiendish, crass language you utter!” the Shadow shrieked. “Repulsive! Blasphemous!”
Liana slowly raised her arms until her fingers met together in a point above her head. A golden glow sparked and grew where her fingers touched and spread down to her hands and palms. With a cry of determination, Liana swiftly brought her arms down to the ground, ending in a crouch as a voice filled her ears and boomed across existence itself.
“Luceat lux vestra!”
A wonderful, beautiful light exploded through the darkness, sending the Shadow screaming away. The light illuminated all the crevices where Shadow tried to hide, driving it out and leaving it with no place to go. The Light was in control now. Only He, and no one else.
The Shadow’s power was annihilated.
Liana’s arm outstretched, the brilliant, soothing light filtering through her fingers. Closing her eyes, she breathed in. It was more beautiful than she’d ever imagined.
A bone-chilling shriek sounded next to her, forcing her eyes open as she whipped around. Toran was next to her, shriveling away from the brightness and screaming, the sound curdling Liana’s blood.
“It burns!” Toran shrieked, clawing at his hair, his face twisting in pain. “Get it away!”
But Liana stepped forward, arm still extended, toward the source of the Light. It was comforting, terrifying, gentle, mighty, and good.
“Liana, my sister, don’t!” Toran begged, dragging himself forwards to keep up with her. He grabbed her ankle in a last appeal. “It will lure you in, leaving you stripped and bare, with nowhere to go!”
“Toran,” Liana said softly, without averting her gaze from the light. “That is what you’ve been taught about the Light, and it is wrong. It’s good. The Light is good.” What do I do? I love him, but what if he won’t abandon his ways?
“Your brother can be saved.”
It was the same voice she’d heard amidst the Shadow.
Liana’s eyes widened. Sweet relief flooded her being as she turned toward the pathetic figure of her brother curled up on the floor. Liana held out a hand to him. “This can change, Toran. You can change.”
Toran peered up at her, his face pained and creased. “I — I … can be changed?” He squinted at the light, looking wary. “Will the Light threaten me if I don’t change my ways?”
Liana didn’t know. Looking back at the Light, she said, “I don’t believe so.” The Light emanated an aura of trust that Liana didn’t exactly know how to explain.
Toran took his sister’s hand, and she pulled him up. He wrapped an arm around Liana’s shoulders to steady himself as the Light stretched out over the kingdom of Tenebrae. It washed all the remnants of the Shadow out and cast it away, leaving Tenebrae cleansed and new.
The umbra was lifted.