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- - - - - umbra new story open

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It was late, and the boy knew better than to be dreaming of a warm, comfy bed. He would not have it tonight, for he was too busy tending to his flock of sheep. The night was winding down, and many of his sheep had laid down for bed. A few still idly grazed. The boy watched them contemplatively, as he lightly strummed upon his gyark. The notes of his instrument seemed to please the sheep, some of which lightly baaaa'd during the pauses in between his playing.


The boy's faithful guard dog sat next to him as well, constantly on alert for predators that might threaten the flock. The hound was in an alert position, eyes constantly scanning the horizon. Together, boy and dog, master and hound, were sitting underneath a tall willow tree. The temperature was brisk, and dropping fast. This was not an easy life, but as the youngest son, it was the boy's duty to Shepard the sheep, wandering the back country. How long would he be estranged from his loved ones back home? How long would he be away from his warm bed?


"Zhalit," a calm female voice spoke softly, from behind.


The boy nearly jumped out of his skin at the sound of his sister. He rose to his feet at once, trying to formally present himself as he dusted off the dirt and grass he wore upon his person. What was she doing here!? It had been many weeks since the boy had seen his sister. A great joy filled his entire being. When he saw her standing beside the willow tree, he at once dropped all pretense of formality, and swept in to hug her.


As she welcomed his embrace, the boy's eyes caught sight of another figure behind her. He recognized this figure -- it was Kojack, a worker from his father's estate.


"Father needs you to come home at once," his sister revealed as the hug ended. "Kojack will tend to the flock."


"Is... Is everything okay?" the boy asked.


"Yes," his sister revealed, "There is good news waiting at home. Come quickly, Zhalit. Oh, you must," his sister replied, lightly tugging upon his hand.


"V... Very well," the boy replied, a storm of emotion building up inside him.


The boy turned to his faithful canine companion, patting him on the head and glaring at him with sad eyes. The dog looked up to Zhalit, seeming to sense that he would be leaving soon. He lightly licked at the boy's leg, as if he was saying, "It's okay, master. Go. I will be here doing my job."


The boy gave the dog a smile, and turned to Kojack. He began to explain the particularities of the sheep, and to express any information the worker would need to Sheppard the flock. The boy could hardly contain his excitement. Here he had been, dreaming of returning home, and what fate! He was to receive his wish. Or so he thought...


A cold wind blew upon the pasture on this backwoods planet. From a nearby hill, a cloaked figure watched the scene, peering through the darkness with glowing blue eyes, light as frost. He wore a serious expression upon his face. It did not seem as if the party below had noticed him, standing here, watching this scene play out.


He spoke to someone not obviously present -- someone hiding even further in the shadows. "No... I don't think he's ready. The beginning is nigh. However; this may not be the one we are seeking."


A pause.


"Another game, you say? The last one did not turn out so well."




"Very well. I say, that should we give him an adventure, he shall fail. He is a simple Sheppard who has never known magic, nor any advanced science. All he knows is his sheep."




"I accept your wager."


A new journey was soon to begin.


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