Shadows and Bonds

She placed her new tan fingers against the wall and slipped across it, her warm skin turning to the flat dark of shadow. The pressure of the air and the weight of the ground vanished. It was freeing in many ways, the neutral ‘nothing’ of true form allowed her passage almost anywhere. It was also ‘nothing’ and odd after feeling sun on skin or the dirty, rough texture everything had when you could touch it.  Also taste worked differently when you had a tongue.

Normally she spent her time letting her new body soak in sun pools atop roof tiles or smell the various aromas and stenches of the market. Bodies were nice for many things, and some could sneak better than others. Her’s was very adept as it was small and strong limbed. And young, which people here mostly ignored. But true form was better than the even small flexible flesh for tasks like today’s.

If she wanted to keep the tan tactile skin and quick strong fingers the bond had to be protected. This was sometimes difficult as the human was young and attracted trouble and things causing it, rather like the fish stalls beckoned the screaming gulls dockside. She’d considered telling him to stop. However, she’d yet to grasp most of the strange habits humans used to interact with each other and the young human was mostly oblivious.

She moved across the walls, slinking through grates and into corners. There were more humans here than most places, and unlike her bond some were very perceptive. This was a hub city, with lots of them crowded into the warrens and mazes that made most of it.  Following him was easy; assuming no one else saw the extra shadow.

It was not a bad morning, she liked the leisurely pursuit made challenging as the sun rose high and the places to hide retreated. It was not until the sun sunk down to the ocean that she realized her vigil was lax.

Three people followed the boy. Adults, young sailors dressed in cloaks with cudgels at their hips. They’re faces were familiar, people from the ship that’d brought her to the city. She did not trust the way they moved or talked, like hunting dogs yipping quietly at each other before pulling prey apart.

She skulked at one corner and darted to the next, keeping pace with the boy’s pursuit. He’d noticed them now; she could feel his fear like a cool zephyr from the sea. Should the dogs find him… she shook the thought away. The bond must be protected.

The boy broke into a run, so did the sailors, so did she. The long shadows moved as she did, swaying to grow and stretch as she leapt from each to the other, never more than a hairs breath behind her marks.

The hunters whooped, calling for each other to grab the boy as they ran, pushing each other. Down a street, scrambling her bond broke from the alley and into the market. The dogs growled and flew after, reaching towards the opening.

She struck. The shadows closed. Darkness flooded the alley and the sailors twisted around, trapped. They swore and reached for their weapons. Such things were useless against the dark and she tasted the first ripples of their fear strengthen her limbs. She smiled and pounced.

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