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The Garden of Shadows

Lisa left the village, humming to herself, and hurried to meet her three friends at the gate of the Garden of Shadows, occasionally twirling or skipping to the side. Everyone said that they should never go to the Garden because it was so dangerous. It had been Via's idea to go and Lisa hadn’t been sure about it at first but Via had pointed out: “If the Garden is so dangerous then why do we live so close to it?” She had had a good point there so Lisa hadn’t argued further, besides it’d be fun.
“Lisa! You’re here, I was beginning to think that you changed your mind about coming.” Via said when she arrived.
“What do you mean, not coming? I’m right on time and Micheal isn’t here either. ” Lisa pointed out, bouncing on her toes. Tanik was already here. “And can you remember a time that I haven’t come but Tanik has?”
"Hey!" Tanik exclaimed, "I'm right here!"
“Good points,” Via conceded, ignoring Tanik “but there will never be a time when Michael doesn't come. I’ve been waiting for twenty minutes already.”
“Isn’t that a bit extreme?” Lisa asked with a grin.
Via groaned “Uggh, now you sound like Tanik.”
“I only asked one question.” Lisa folded her arms with a frown.
She giggled when Michael finally appeared saying “I’m not scared!” as soon as he arrived.
“I didn’t even ask yet.” Via remarked “Tanik, do you have the key?”
Tanik fished the iron skeleton key, that he had stolen from the little chest in his father's room earlier that day, out of his pocket and weighed it in his hand. “Are we sure we want to do this?” he asked. He always liked to stay on the safe side since his dad was the village leader.
“Of course we do,” Via said as if it was obvious. “Just think of how cool we’ll be when we go back home. Don’t you want to see if the stories are true? My mom used to say that in the center of the Garden of Shadows are hidden the Pillars of Creation and whoever touches them gets their power! Don’t you want to at least see them?” Via had become an urchin a few years back when her mother died, and she was obsessed with her mother's old stories about the Garden.
Tanik shrugged, “If the Pillars really did grant powers then why doesn’t anyone at home have powers? Why is it that whoever goes in that Garden never comes back out?”
“We’ll be fine, Tanik, and according to Via's stories. Our village is here to prepare the heroes that will enter the Garden. Besides, you’ll never know the answer to your questions if you don’t come.” Micheal said, “Now can you just unlock the gate?”
Tanik shrugged again as they all turned to face the iron gate that barred their way. It was set into the old, vine-covered, brick wall that surrounded the Garden. Even though it was only early afternoon, the Garden was dark and silent, the shadows that stretched out from the wall seemed to be reaching for them. Tanik put the key in the lock and twisted. The gates swung open as soon as the lock clicked and the four friends entered the Garden. The gate swung shut again with an echoing clang that did not quite mask the sound of the lock clicking shut.
"Do you still have the key? " Lisa asked, lowering her voice to a mere whisper.
Tanik nodded as they looked around the Garden. Everything was shrouded in shadows. Tall, dark trees and bushes grew in abundance, vines crawling over them, dotted with the occasional gem-like flower that emitted a dull glow in shades of lavender, cerulean and magenta. They stood on a pale path that wound through the trees and disappeared. It was completely silent except for the whispering of the mists. A vague wispy humanoid shape rose out of the mist in front of them and held out a hand as if to ward them away.
Lisa skipped back with a gasp of surprise before realizing that it wasn't trying to touch her. She glanced towards her friends, who were staring at the mist person in ---. She looked back at it, intending to ask what it wanted. But she stopped as it, once again, dispersed into formless mist.
“I’m not scared.” Michael announced after a few moments “Let’s explore.”
“You don’t have to say that you’re not scared every time you want to say something, Michael,” Via commented.
He grinned at her. “I’ve got a reputation to live up to...and I’m not scared in case you were wondering.”
“I wasn't, now let’s go, if we stay on the path maybe it will lead us to the Pillars.”
They wandered down the path. The scenery didn't change but the shadows grew deeper. Other mist people formed in front of them, making warding motions before they faded back into the mist. The air grew colder and they were surrounded by shadows, mist people and a deafening silence that only grew as they walked on.
Lisa found that she didn’t mind the silence so much as she hummed, skipping down the path with the occasional twirl. She enjoyed the way that the mists moved around her when she did. She tried to ignore her trepidation. Lisa stifled a small gasp, skipping to the side when she saw the statue of a man laying on the ground, desperately reaching for the path. "Who would make a statue like that?" She whispered horrified. None of her friends had an answer other than a disturbed silence.
“Why are we doing this again?” Tanik asked, breaking the silence. When nobody answered him, he continued, “What if we all went home? We’ve gone in the Garden and if we turn back now we’ll still be the coolest kids around, why don’t we go back?”
“Are you scared?” Michael asked, “I’m-”
“Not scared?” Lisa finished for him “That was predictable.” She told his astonished face and skipped away, laughing. Her laughter trailed off though when she saw other statues in the Garden. Many of them had expressions of terror and were poised to run or hide. Lisa wondered what type of person would do such a thing. She cut ahead of Via, twirling, as she did she saw that Via looked surprised too and rolled her eyes. Lisa stopped when she broke through the mist and stumbled into a large clearing, in which stood seven pillars in a circle.
There was a pillar of fire, a pillar of water, a pillar of earth, of plants, of wind, of animal bodies and bones.
The mist people did not seem to be able to come into the clearing but the shadows were still everywhere. Lisa moved aside to let her friends see “I think we found the Pillars of Creation.” She murmured.
They entered the clearing and wandered around the Pillars of Creation with awed expressions but none of them dared to touch. Lisa circled the pillar of bones, becoming more and more disgusted as she studied the intricate weaving of the bones. Who would be so awful as to make a pillar of bones! Then she paused, in the weave, she thought she saw a globe encasing a dancer. For a reason that she couldn’t explain, she found herself longing to touch it and revolted at the same time. She reached out a trembling hand...
“Hey, Lisa! Come over here!” Via called, Lisa started, pulling her hand away like she had been caught doing something wrong and turned away from the skeletal pillar to see that her friends were in the center of the Pillars. Lisa joined them quickly.
“What is it?” She asked.
Via gave her an incredulous look “What is it? It’s the Pillars of Creation, What power do you want?”

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Author
Hir i-Chorvath
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6 min read
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587
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