Faith woke up in her room as she looked outside her window. It was early again. Lately, she had been waking up early which is weird for her. The shadow next to her mimicked her every move although it started to move towards the window and pointed outside.
The young woman looked where the shadow pointed and saw how bright it was outside. She couldn’t help but wince and then irritation followed. Whenever she woke up early, it was never a good sign. She got up and got dressed in her favorite sweater - the dark hoodie was worn and torn in some places but it was comfortable. Summer was on its way and the cooler days were soon to be behind her, but she didn’t want to leave her sweater behind.
From what her mother told her when she was young, the hoodie that she wore was her father’s. She knew her father worked in the university as a professor. She had seen pictures of him and he was very handsome. Her mother seemed extremely happy in the photos along with him whenever they went on trips together.
Well, when they had downtime during her mother’s missions, they always took photos and saved them to remember the happier times. Her mother gave Faith her father’s photos so she could at least remember his face when she imagined what he was like, what kind of father he would’ve been to her. Faith would only get sad whenever she saw her mother talk about her father’s memory.
It’s true that she loved him - there weren’t any doubts about that even now, she adored him. Her mother would grow melancholy and Faith would feel bad that she would put her mother through that pain all over again. She had learned to stop asking questions eventually.
The hoodie, Faith imagined, smelled like him. It had his scent. She would wear all four seasons and tried to remember to wash it with all her other clothes.
Once she finished getting dressed for the day, with her shadow’s insistence, she quickly brushed her multicolored hair - her bangs were dyed pink and blue and the rest of her hair was nearly black that was long as it was dark - and made her way outside her room.
Because her mother ended up working for the same university, Faith had decided to stay with her mother because it was closer and cheaper to do so. The home they lived in was the same home she had grown up in so she knew where everything was.
As expected, Faith saw her mother standing as she drank her coffee from her favorite coffee mugs. Her mother, now much older and much more mature, wore her glasses with her hair down. Her hair as wavy as it was light brown, almost the complete opposite of Faith’s.
“Hey, Mom.” Faith chirped as she walked into the kitchen. She gave her a cheerful smile despite her looks and her mother merely nodded. This wasn’t a bad sign; her mother wasn’t exactly a morning person either. Faith continued to get her own breakfast which included a small bowl of cereal and some milk.
The two kept quiet although Faith noticed her mother glared at her shadow as it helped her get breakfast ready.
“Where’s your pendant? You know you need to wear it before you leave for class today.”
“Can I eat breakfast first? I’ll get it before I leave.”
Her mother’s disgusted look never left as she ate her cereal.
Faith rolled her eyes. Her mother made her wear a pendant because she had managed to craft and get it enchanted for Faith’s protection against her own shadow. From the time she was able to understand, Faith had been “cursed” because of a demon her mother fought before she was forced to retire. The pendant was created as a charm to ensure that her own shadow didn’t suddenly gain its own free will and to kill Faith.
From what her mother told her, they both are witches but because her mother devoted her magic to her demon hunting, she had to get the pendant enchanted by a much more powerful witch. She barely remembered her.
When Faith underwent her own apprenticeship when she was 12 years old, her Witch Mother, Gail, taught her some defensive spells and was also disgusted by her shadow. Faith never truly understood why people were so disgusted. Though, she can understand their fear - it’s not that common for someone’s shadow to move on its own and to do things for her.
But even then, she couldn’t understand why people always assumed the worse. People get cursed by demons every day. People overcome their curses every day. And even if the shadow was a curse, it was still her shadow.
After she finished her breakfast, she tossed the bowl and spoon into the sink. Her mother had long since left; while she worked at the university, she didn’t have the education to become a full-fledged professor. She worked as an assistant for a professor - not as a teaching assistant, but as a personal assistant.
Faith never asked how her mother got the job but the pay must’ve been good since her mother had managed to pay their bills without too much worry. She was one who never questioned a good thing so she’d shrug it off.
Tempted to leave without her pendant, she almost stopped herself from going back to her room. Every day, she would have this mini-debate with herself - is this the day she’d go out without her pendant? She had never gone a day without it. Her mother always seemed to watch her so she could never try a day without it. On the other hand, could this be the day her shadow finally goes against her?
The shadow acted more as a pet cat than anything perceived to be dangerous. She was never scared of the shadow’s presence as long as she lived. The shadow always protected her from danger and any time someone would try to harm her, the shadow would envelop her in a shrouded curtain and, until she was out of danger, the shadow would keep her there.
However, she couldn’t risk it. It’s annoying to deal with her mother, for as long as she lived there and as long as she attended school, she had to follow her mother’s rules. She shrugged and walked back to her room and found the pendant.
The pendant was an old-style cross that had a huge jewel in the middle. Her mother wore a similar pendant although, as far as she knew, the pendant was not enchanted like hers. Still, she put it on and, as usual, the shadow didn’t react to it any differently than it would any other time.
Eventually, Faith got her books and supplies ready for her class. She had to leave fairly soon before she would get stuck in traffic.
Thankfully, Faith made to her class after a close shave of being late. She almost got held up by the other students but she made her way through just fine. She used her shadow to find the way to her class with as much ease as possible. Her mother, at first, forbade her to use her willful shadow for everyday things - like trying to avoid being late - but Faith would do it anyway. It was still her shadow much to her mother’s chagrin.
The morning was cool but the university was even colder. They already had the air conditioner in full-blast. The area they lived it did get cold in the morning, remnants of winter, but it did grow hot during the day as a warning for summer. Faith sighed as she was, once again, thankful, that she brought her hoodie. Even if she wasn’t hot or cold outside, she always brought with her. Or at least, her shadow brought it with her. She realized that she might as well accept bringing it everywhere with her.
She wore shorts with whatever shirt she wore underneath and her favorite thick boots. Her mother didn’t necessarily question her fashion sense but based on the photos Faith had on her, it wasn’t going to be clear that her mother would judge her anytime soon. Most of the other students didn’t seem to judge - or care - about her dress although those that were unfamiliar with her shadow usually had a comment or two.
The class itself wasn’t that exciting but it was one of the requirements for her major - demonology. She wanted to be a demon hunter like her mother once was. They were under the belief that her mother’s nemesis, Diara, had perished but Faith knew that she would have one herself eventually.
Her mother was surprised there was an actual degree for it but didn’t seem to agree with it for the most part since she went out and became one just by actually hunting.
Faith shrugged it off. By the time the actual class was over, she had a gap in time where she could relax and study for her next class, Fairy Lore. Her shadow kept her secluded from the rest of the student body but she didn’t mind the isolation as much as she thought she would. It was worse in high school. It was worse in middle school.
However, when a student came up, she could feel her shadow take a protective stance. Whenever it did that, the stranger in question usually had some magical blood in their system. She inwardly groaned at her shadow’s reaction.
The student in question was a girl who looked completely opposite of her in every way - she was blonde, had blue eyes, and fair skin. However, because of how her shadow reacted, Faith had a feeling that this girl must be some form of magical being.
“Hey Faith!” the young woman beamed. “Have you thought about my offer? I mean, I’m learning all about curses this semester anyway and I figured that you wanted to see if you’d want to be part of my thesis!”
Faith tried to remember about an offer and then it dawned on her. This woman had asked her earlier in the semester about becoming the subject of her thesis - how to lift born curses. Of course, Faith said she would think about it and since this young woman came up to her, she must really need an answer right away.
“Look, Dawn… I’m not sure I want to get rid of Ungras. She’s been my lifelong friend, you know? I really don’t think I can participate in your thesis.” Faith said as she gave out a long sigh. She surely couldn’t be the only one in the entire Oakwood University, especially with regards to the fact that her shadow seemingly having its own free will was the only thing she was actually cursed with. “I’m sure you can find someone else to participate though!”
Dawn, at first, seemed to be okay with it and then her face changed as Faith could see the girl’s power surround her. A clear sign that she didn’t like what she heard and something that Faith forgot about her - Dawn tended to use her powers to express herself in a way other witches didn’t - which can be bad if you were someone she considered an enemy.
Immediately, Faith grabbed her books and her shadow automatically protected her. Ungras was a name given by Faith’s mother on the “off-chance that thing becomes a full-fledged demon”. Faith wished she could’ve given it a prettier name but perhaps it’s for the best.
“Faith… I sort of promised my professor you would come. He’s also interested in Ungras!”
“No thanks to Mom, I bet…” Faith muttered under her breath. She let out yet another sigh. “Well, if you already made promises to him, I suppose I have no other choice, do I?” Faith couldn’t help but show her own annoyance as she relaxed. Dawn didn’t do anything to her but she also eventually relaxed and a genuine smile appeared on her perfectly painted lips.
Faith hadn’t really considered Dawn a ‘friend’ and more like study buddies if that. Dawn was a witch who wanted to become a Healer but she was also an activist in her group of her friends. Sometimes Dawn would try to invite Faith into stuff but, eventually, Faith would be pressured to show off Ungras one way or another to an acquaintance of Dawn’s. She was sure the other witch meant well, but Faith just didn’t want Ungras to be the in the center of attention. Ungras hated that. Ungras despised that. She was a shadow for a reason.
However, because Dawn already had quite a reputation amongst the professors, at least according to her mother, that she’s the top of her classes, Faith took that as a hint to at least utilize her to help her with her own studies.
And it would be in her best interest to give her use of Ungras as well.