By: Lime Green Giraffe Social Director, Emily D.  

I kept myself hidden from Reglin the rest of the night, purposefully avoiding him. I fell asleep slowly that night but when I did my dreams were about Reglin. The next day, I awoke discovered that we had camped in a shadowy clearing near the summit of the Mountain of Whispers. I was the first awake. Therefore, I chose to collect firewood for the rest of the trip. Our mules were nowhere to be found, so I wrote a quick note to Reglin letting him know that I’d gone exploring and I’d be back soon. I headed off into the dark woods. 
Brambles tugged at the hem of my dress. My bare scalp was frigid from the cold. My sleeves somehow managed to repeatedly get themselves snagged on every branch within a 12-inch radius. But, I kept walking. It seemed as if there were blood red eyes around every turn, staring at me, watching me. 
At last, I came to a small cave, hidden by several pounds of moss. I hefted a stick, moved the curtain and stepped inside. Instantly, I lost nearly all of my senses. The cave was colder than ice and darker than tar. I couldn't see a thing! It reeked of death and rot and I didn’t dare lick the walls, for fear of my own death. I stumbled along the cave, hitting my face on the walls many times. I stifled a scream. 
A pair of large, red eyes glared down at me from their perch. A smile, an evil, twisted smile, was very close below them. Suddenly, the cave was flooded with light. Torches lined the walls, and the cave was littered with bones. Human bones. 
I could finally see the creature in front of me. It was a man, with a cruel, handsome face. He had pale odd looking skin. His hair was a sandy brown color. His nose was roman-style, with freckles dotting the surface of it. His eyes were red and without pupils. He scared the living daylights out of me and rather unfortunately, he was gliding toward me. He stuck a finger beneath my chin, stroking my face as if I were an animal. 
“My Princess,” he purred. “I am Jok. Now, what are you doing without your bodyguards?” he asked, clearly enjoying this. Instead of answering, I spat at his feet. 
“Never mind that, Princess. I would conserve my water if I were you. It gets dry in here. Tell me, what do you think of ‘Reglin?’” he asked me.  
Reglin is a good man. Don’t you even think of harming him!” I cried, reaching out and grabbing his wrist.  
“Aha! Now I get you to speak!” he cried, a new evil glint forming in his eyes. 
“Of course I speak,” I shot back. “I am much more eloquently refined than a mere vermin such as you,” I said, pretending with hopes of escape. 
“Now, now, Princess,” he crooned. “Let's not get ourselves riled up now, shall we? Your mother doesn’t want to deal with any more trauma. I’m sure it would kill her.” He shifted, and for the first time in a few weeks, I could see my mother. She was tied to a chair, with Suniron, the strongest bonds to ever be forged. Her face was thin and gaunt. Her arms and legs were covered in scrapes and bruises. 
“Darling,” she croaked. “Stay away from him. He is evil!” 
“I know, Mama,” I replied, tears springing to my eyes. I turned back towards Jok. “How could you do this to her!” I cried. Jok only smirked in response. Then, without warning, he shoved me to the ground. 
“I command thine body and soul to obey my every command, even if I only think it. To not bow down to thine own will. To become a loyal servant, without knowing any different. At last, when I finish, thou shalt change form and become a simple brown-haired woman, my wife. No matter what, Princess Sombra Hope Levesque is to follow me.” He chanted. His eyes swirled in front of me, shifting from red to a sweet amber. His features changed drastically. What was once evil and cruel was now handsome and adorable. His hair grew shorter and his angles grew softer until he slightly resembled a man I once knew. All at once, a calm sense of peace washed over me. He was my husband, the man I loved. I smiled up into his amazing, handsome face as I stood back up. 
“Darling,” he began. “There is a cave I want you to go to. It is called the Cave of Whispers. You are the only one who can enter. Inside the cave, sitting on a crystal pedestal, is the Staff of Legends. I want you to get it for me and bring it back to this very spot.” I nodded along until he finished. I must find this cave! I must give my husband the staff! I turned and left the cave. I climbed up to the very peak of the mountain. There, half-hidden by the rocks, was another cave. I could feel magic drawing me inside. I stumbled over what I thought were pebbles, until I fell and realized they were bones. 
Ooooh!” I giggled. “Spooky!” I kept walking until I was finally inside the enormous cavern. My body was barely halfway to the ceiling. Bats dangled from even the tiniest crevice or curve. The cave walls were made of silver, a glimmering, sparkling, silver that seemed to move and be alive. And in the very center of the cave was a multicolored crystal pedestal. It shimmered with the light of a thousand suns. Sitting atop the pedestal though, was my reason for coming. It was a staff, about as tall as I was. It was created out of Suniron, with many small markings on it. “Etchings from the past,” I guessed. Perched at the end of the staff was a large crystal. It was made from the same crystal as the cave. The Staff of Legends. I reverently reached out toward the staff and poked it with my index finger. 
“Wow!” I giggled. I picked it up gently with one fist. The shimmering rainbow of light intensified. I held up the staff. At once, an explosion of light hit me full on, nearly blinding me. I stumbled out of the cave, tripping over the rocks I couldn’t see. 
My sweet husband was waiting for me as I left the cave. 
“Darling,” he crooned. “You brought it to me! You will get a kiss for you hard work.” He leaned down and pecked me on the cheek. “Now, hand me the staff.”  
Just as I was about to hand it over, a shape barreled out of the woods toward us. It knocked my husband off his feet. It was Reglin! Immediately, I knew I didn’t really love “my husband.” I despised him. I really was in love with Reglin! “No Jok. I will NOT give you the staff!” I exclaimed. Then, the staff exploded. Or at least, I thought so. The light was so bright I really couldn’t see anything but white. When my vision cleared, Reglin was gone. Standing in his place was Fate. “You!” I screeched, launching myself at the figure. I punched, kicked, clawed, and whacked in a fury. Finally, Fate couldn’t stand it. He calmly stood up. 
Sombra, enough. You are mad at me, but I helped you. You realized your true strength. Besides the one incident with the river, were you ever truly ill on this journey? No! Because ‘she will be strong when it matters.” You were strong when it mattered. And besides, I love you too.” And with that heart-wrenching speech, Reglin/Fate kissed me. But, Jok was still there. Reglin/Fate did stun him, but only for the few seconds of our exchange. And he was MAD.  

**Chapter 5: Princess of the Shadows **

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