Shadow Seed (A short story by Ruthanne Reid)

Shadow Seed

Here is a fun piece of trivia about those born of the Darkness: we cannot reproduce among our own.

Oh, there are male and female Shadows, complete with complementary parts and able to cavort in any gendered configuration. No, no: the problem is a simple one of substance.

Of all the seven Peoples of the earth, only two have trouble maintaining substance: the people of the Dream and the People of the Darkness. I, of course, am of the Darkness – but you knew that when you came here.

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We collapse upon our deaths into simple Dark essence, returning to the earth the energy we borrowed during our short lives. Until that time, we are solid enough, as you have… personally observed.

But where was I?

Yes: regarding the question of reproduction, we require those who, when they die, remain – the Fey to stone, the Ever-Dying humans to mulch, the Guardians to dust, etcetera. It’s always been this way. We aren’t suffering from a curse, or the sad result of some demented and hubris-filled experiment. We are of the Darkness, and that is the way it is.

Don’t look so nervous, lover. I would hardly consider procreating with you.

I haven’t chosen anyone yet to bear my offspring. It’s such a process. The choosing, the capturing, the convincing, the housing….

After all, aren’t you grateful it isn’t you? When we’re done here, you’re allowed to leave.

My choice must be careful. My contribution must genetically override whatever I have chosen, for only those offspring who show themselves to be purely of the Darkness are our own. We are not Kin, not some mixed breed. Anything not one of us is not of us. And I’d rather any child I sire actually be my child. Otherwise, it’s a great waste of everyone’s time.

If you’ve ever wondered, this is also why we can never reproduce with people of the Sun. It turns out… poorly.

No, I haven’t chosen yet, but I’ve seen a few likely candidates. Last year, I even proposed to one.

She didn’t take it well. Incidentally, that would be how I lost my favorite taxidermy collection.

But never mind all that. You aren’t here for that. You’re here to enjoy the liqueur, the rare eternal night, sensuous absence of light and all its folly. You’re here to lose yourself in the pleasures which I provide and am provided. I think we’ve done that well.

I also think your visit is coming to a close soon, don’t you?

Here’s a funny aside: I still think about that woman who managed to burn all my pretty stuffed birds. She’s Kin, which normally I wouldn’t even look at, but with such a bloodline! She’s descended from Merlin, did I mention? Yes, the Myrddin, the one and only, who defeated both Fey courts a thousand years ago, who rebuffed prince Silverlust’s invasion and then taught him a lesson by stealing all his prize plants! That is one of my favorite stories. He is remarkable, whatever he is, and in my opinion gives a good name to the Kin people. Any child of his is clearly remarkable, as well.

Perhaps after we’re done here, I’ll pay her a visit – without anything in tow that she or her companions might accidentally set on fire.

Yes, your visit is done. I hope you enjoyed your time; I did, but it’s hardly worth a repeat. Fare thee well, simple lover. May your next pasture enjoy you more than I.

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