Their tendrils of shadow snake over you, twisting, turning, grabbing, stretching.
The room is stark bright, but these entities, whatever they are, absorb it all.
Arms of shadow hold your hands tight; two more, your legs. You hang in midair, slowly rotating, spinning. You can’t move.
You don’t want to admit it to yourself. You’re tough. The toughest of tough. You have the big burly muscles, the threatening stance, the piercing gaze…
But you’re scared.
You’re scared of these ice-cold shadows that snake themselves over you, which hold you so tight, even despite your most powerful struggles.
Minutes or hours ago, you were overflowing with power, and now, you have none. As effortlessly as they absorb light, these shadows absorb all of your power, and soon, you are afraid, they’ll absorb you too.
What would it be like to be eaten by a shadow?
The largest of the shadows looms closer, its darkness infecting the very air, thickening it to where you can barely breathe – or is it your lungs, so heavy from fear?
It surrounds you, slowly, a bank of pitch-black fog in an otherwise bright room, and then–
Through the shadow, a voice.
It is not a strong voice. It’s the timid, fearful voice of a crying girl, chilling in the empathy it triggers as it is in the words it speaks.
“It is time,” she cries, “for the evil monologue.”
Suddenly, you can’t breathe. You spasm, but can’t get free. The more you struggle, the more you fade…
You don’t understand: how will you hear the evil monologue if you aren’t alive?
And just as suddenly, it stops. You gasp for breath.
“Vulnerability. Helplessness. Defenselessness. Powerlessness. That’s what you are. That’s who I am.”
Who she is?
That rings a bell. A very bad bell.
“Yes,” says the phoenix; you can hear her tears, but for her, you have no sympathy. You hate Phoenixes. Always have, always will.
“But there’s nothing you can do about it, is there?”
And then she whispers: “And nothing I can do, either.”