Niko saw his first Shadow the moment he set foot in Aldemyr.
He followed the other passengers off the steamship gangplank onto the harbor landing and there it was, a grey filmy thing scuttling beneath a heavy cart.
"Out of the way." His little sister, Sandy, shoved him from behind.
"All right, all right." Niko gripped his bags and walked up the crowded sidewalk, keeping pace with the cart, his eyes riveted on the thing as it rippled along the street.
At first, he'd thought it was part of the cart's own shadow; he could see the cobblestones through it. But then it jumped forward and danced beneath the horse's clopping feet, darting between each hoof that hit the ground. Niko shivered in the summer air.
Sandy dragged her bags over beside him, her short plump legs kicking at her long skirts, while Mama scanned the area for their escort.
"What is it?" Sandy followed his gaze. "I don't see anything."
Niko shook his head. "I don't know."
As the cart drew near, the thing leapt into the shade of the gutter, just inches away. Niko jumped back, his heart pounding, but the creature only hovered a moment, a puff of dark smoke. Niko had the feeling it was staring at him, though he could make out no face, or even a discernable head. Then it skittered up the street and vanished around a corner. No one else on the crowded sidewalk gave it any notice.
"Look, there's another one!" Niko leant down to his sister's level and pointed toward a nebulous blob behind the horse. "Under the cart! It's some kind of Shadow Creature!"
Sandy frowned and scrunched up her eyes, trying to focus on what her brother was pointing at. "There's no such thing as Shadow Creatures; that's a lot of horseshit."
Turned out she was right. It was.
Opening: Laurie A. May.....Continuation: Anon.