Her one childhood friend, Collin, was always sure to bring the lovely, quiet farm girl of the village a scarlet, speckled bloom whenever they were in season. They grew in fallow fields, so when the tiny farming village was allowing the earth to heal, the blooms would creep up and help to rejuvenate the field.
Miranda’s smile, as a little girl, was as bright as any little girl’s.
Now Miranda’s world had been in a thirty-year war with someone named The Tyrant. Tyrant, too, had the ability to manipulate shadows and bend them to his will. And with the general assumptions that shadows were evil solidified by The Tyrant, Miranda was viewed differently when suddenly shadows started creeping into the air whenever one of the boys pulled her ponytail, or when she was scared of an adult, or in any way agitated. Her parents tried to ignore it, they really did, but when Miranda complained of shadows that were too “loud inside my head” they couldn’t pass it off. Miranda was going to be a mage, that was a good thing, few would have the opportunities that came along with possessing magic, especially anyone from such a small, small farming village, but shadow magic… shadow magic was the stuff of monsters.
For two years, people tried to ignore it, for two years everyone hoped that it was just a phase, and the socially anxious Miranda would eventually develop “normal” magical powers. However, when she was ten one person made her too uncomfortable and the gentle, quiet, caring Miranda watched as her out-of-control shadow magic ripped open the man’s chest in a spray of “yelling” shadows and thick red blood. The man lived, but Miranda’s situation grew infinitely worse.
Miranda couldn’t tell, usually, whether it was her fellow villagers that were whispering such things about her, or the shadows- the heinous shadows that throbbed incessantly inside her skull, in her mind. But she knew that both did whisper such things, and her weak soul eventually accepted those whispers as true.
She was a monster.
But that didn’t mean hearing such things made her any less agitated. And when she was agitated, those loud, pounding shadows could feed off of her, feed off of her emotions as energy and rise up, take over, and reach out to destroy.
Three years she lived in that village as an outcast, and the thirteen year old girl only wanted someone to hold her again, to tell her it was alright, and that she would be safe. Her only consolation was in The Creator, or God, and the fact that He loved her, even when his creations didn’t.
But God’s ways are not our own, and while Miranda did not understand why, another turn for the worse hit her head on. At thirteen, Collin, who had abandoned her after he pulled her pigtails one day and a shadow had risen up in the shape of a raving wolf, told Miranda that it would be better for everyone if she just died. She didn’t have a whole lot of leftover emotions for her childhood friend, but hearing that-from anyone- was enough to rip open her already wounded and agitated soul.
Collin died at the claws of a ghoulish shadow that Miranda had no control over.
Miranda hated herself for it. If only she knew how to stop these shadows! If only she could somehow control them, like mages were supposed to be able to! If only… if only… things were different. Collin was loved by most of the village, and the quiet, outcasted Miranda was not. So naturally, the villagers did not forgive the little girl who had no control, they only saw what they wanted to see. Even Miranda’s parents, the ones that said they would love her forever, wept and turned their backs on her.
Shadows crept up around the weeping, frightened little girl of Ivory and Ebony. The villagers cried out in fear alongside Miranda at the sight of them, and started screaming “Kill her! Kill the monster!” Miranda’s emotions were NOT calmed by such outcries, and the loud, pounding, throbbing, pulsing shadows only grew, feeding off of more and more agitated emotions from the little girl.
Two more villagers died that day. Two people Miranda knew, and honestly liked despite their whispered hatred when they thought her back was turned. Two more lives were lost, two more bodies joined Collin on the ground. Miranda’s tears flowed freely as her mind desperately wrestled with the screaming whispers of the shadows, and she lost. Her screams were wretched, and eventually she just ran. She ran and ran and ran and ran and ran until her legs gave out underneath her and even then she crawled a few feet before finally collapsing in a heap of ragged breath and tears. The shadows around her still whispered, but out alone in that forest, they weren’t as loud, they weren’t as awful. Some shadows were louder than others, and the louder the shadow, the nastier its whispers were. Miranda laid crying, contemplating this. But none of the shadows here were as loud as the shadows back in her village. Maybe… maybe she could just… cry here and… sleep…
Miranda’s life was not a happy one after that, although her battered soul did try to make it an okay one. She pressed on, at the tender age of thirteen, and made a life as a traveler. Some kind soul would often let her sleep at their home and eat in exchange for menial house chores or perhaps some bigger project, but Miranda could never call anyplace home. If she stayed too long anywhere, someone inevitably made fun of her, or asked prying questions that made her severely uncomfortable, or tried to touch her where she didn’t want it, or did really anything to get her easily-agitated mind into a flurry. And always-always- when she grew upset the shadows would rise up, the loud ones, and they would coil about her and frighten the other humans- or dwarves, elves, gnomes, and once even a small fairy village- and their fear would only make Miranda feel worse, which the loud shadows would feed on, and she would grow scared of them, which made them even more powerful, and she would have to run away or else her uncontrollable powers would kill more people. She learned that if she ran far away enough, she got out of range, in a way, and the shadows were forced to return to the positions that the light cast them into. She grew to be quite the runner: enduring and very, very fast.
Her soul was too timid, too frail, too broken and beaten and frightened, for her to do much. But she somehow stood on her own two feet and kept herself alive. Four years passed with her going from one town to another, typically human settlements or small cities with many walks of life (She avoided large cities for social anxiety reasons). Four years, and the seventeen year old girl finally came to accept that she would never settle down. But she had met merchants and other travelers, and they were happy people. So why couldn’t she be happy too?
Because word spreads, that’s why. Because she had powerful, yet uncontrolled powers, that’s why. Because in one way or another, talk of a shadow mage with no guidance reached the ears of the Tyrant, that’s why. And because he decided that he would take the magic- the evil magic, not shadow magic, although that was a key part to his evil magic- and use it to turn the quiet, timid Miranda into his puppet, and sent out his forces to kidnap her. That’s why.