Chapter 01 - The Left Hand Awakens

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Vile darklings of the Night will call on the dread Left Hand of Light.

— Bellamy Clayhaus Martin, Prophet of the Light, aged 8, Port Angel Institution for the Mentally Deranged

From forgotten depths within the young shaman's soul surged her divine purpose, and she found herself surprised as it rose so suddenly and so passionately. Though she had known it slumbered there since the beginning, it startled her to feel this gentle yet fervent leviathan erupting to the surface of her life to breathe in deeply the sweet air for which it longed.

She stared out the portal of her bako, a comfortable living quarters made of thatched branches, braided reeds, and palm fronds, into the coming evening.

Outside, the fading light haunted the surface of the lagoon above which her village rested, scattering the reflection of the setting sun into silver faeries playing across the wind-rippled water.

She took a long breath and as she released it, so went a little of the anguish she'd held so long inside her belly. In time, she wiped a tear from her cheek and took up her pen. She touched it to paper and let the words come, slowly at first, dripping from her fingers in smeared blots, then faster and faster until a tidal wave of emotion collided against the back of her eyes, threatening to drown her vision until she let go completely and unloosened everything she'd been holding inside her.

When she finally submitted to her calling and abandoned all her lingering secret fears, she invoked her memories—everything she had witnessed in this world and the other, and everything he had revealed to her, deliberately or no—and this is the story she bore:

Where the waves rush into the arms of the patient land there is passion, uncontainable and turbulent, but there is no peace. The two are tethered together for a time, like a soul to its body, folding and unfolding, eroding, until there is a new land and a new sea, both forever changed by their liaison.

This is the way it has always been.

It is said that when a man's soul awakens—truly awakens—he becomes like unto a god. The truth is this: Gods, for all their power to coax our destinies, live vicariously through us and so become like us. It becomes difficult to tell which takes the shape of the other, the land or the sea, mortal or immortal.

Michael's eyes flew open. He gasped, clutching his throat. He had sensed them at the edge of consciousness, on that tight wire edge just the other side of sleep. He felt their filthy claws around his neck, cutting off his breath.

Awake and breathing hard, he stared up at the ceiling of his dim bed chamber. The moon shone through the window, pinning him with a heartless grin. Michael could hear the grandfather clock in the hallway outside, each tick detonating the incremental passage of time.

Damned shadows. Damned, relentless shadows.

They circled around the bed, darting here and there like dark fish in a still pond. This much Michael knew: Shadows were mostly mindless things, acting on whatever instincts the underworld provided them. They sought fear, pain, loss. These emotions attracted shadows like jackals to carrion, and they fed on human light.

Michael's lover and their unborn child had died three months earlier.

This nest of shadows had metastasized in the house long ago, outside any ordinary perception. At first, they were mere distractions, quick glimpses of motion caught in the corners of his eyes. Later, they became more mischievous, sowing fright from dark corners, invading dreams. They were hunters. As his shock wore off and the agony of losing his family set in, the shadows became bolder, more aggressive.

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