(From the desk of your EM on Sonoma: A Bio) Daniel Ravens I see the shadows. They follow me; they lead me; they are one with me. I do not remember the first time the shadow moved me, guided me. I have walked the darkness for aeons both in the past and in the future. Well gather around and I will tell you that which I still remember. My parents walked me to the park when I was young. I was not Ravens then though I have long since forgotten who I was. They thought the swings and climbing things would amuse me. Indeed they were right. By the time I was two years old I could climb higher and faster than any other child. That was never enough. I had to do it more quietly and unnoticed. Mum and Da thought it was a game. It was no game. They watched from the side of the trees or under the benches. My parents never saw them. My parents would "play" along; ask if they should make lunch for my "invisible" friends. I left them cookies. Everyone likes cookies. A few years would pass and School was to start. I loathed the idea of being with all the lovely small insignificant children. My Uniform was a blue shirt with a lace up collar and grey leather shorts. I left for my first day. The other children thought I was strange. A large boy pushed and shoved me. Soon all the kids were pointing and laughing. When they were done my shirt was no longer blue. It had mud and blood splattered all over it. I was never going back. I could already read, print and make change at the Chandler shop. I wanted more. I needed more. I walked to the corner, fixed my chin up and decided what I would tell my parents. That was when I saw my shadow. Oh, not the one cast by my body blocking the bright rays of the sun. Oh! No! The one I would soon call master teacher. It flickered at the side of my vision near the wall of the old brewery. He was following me, playing a game, or testing me. So I kept him just in my vision, never stepping to far ahead or too slowly. Always the same distance. When the chance arose I would double back and catch him. I had it all figured out. There was a bridge in the middle of the town over a small pond. I knew it had a loose rail that would hold my weight. I would slip over it and under the bridge. I had done it many times to fool my parents and other children when playing Hide and seek. I got under the bridge as quickly and stealthily as I could. I would jump out at the shadow and find out who or what he was! I crouched. My heart skipped a beat and I jumped with a start when it said "hello boy, bin waitin' for ye! What's this with yer chemise boy?" "Naught fer ye t'care." "Oh! Aye! D'n't say I be carin'" It studied me. I felt like it was crawling under my skin. If it asked again I knew I would blurt out my whole miserable morning. The scrutiny was unbearable. What did he know of me? "Ye need to go to school boy. Lots of learnin' t' be done." I told him I did not need school. I was smarter than the teacher anyway. "Oh! *nod* Aye. An' d' the teacher get hisself all bloody too?" I felt like crying but I would not give it the satisfaction. "Why did you let that happen?" I shouted! "He was bigger an' stronger and he had all the others on his side." "Oh! Aye! But aren't ye the smart one? The fast one? The clever one?" He turned and pulled at a stone in the wall. I had never noticed before that the hideaway was there. I will leave your assignments in here boy. Come get them every day then go to school an' learn. I think you shall be known as Ravens from now on. Learn I did. My first lesson was never to get beat again and I didn't. I learned that life was not always fair. Some people who looked kind were not and some who looked wretched merely suffered sever battle wounds. Wounds they got dedicating their life to the service of others. I learned to observe people, learned their weaknesses and strengths. I learned how to manipulate. I learned to judge people after I watched them, searched into their soul and to never believe my first impression. By the time I was finished my prep schooling I had learned to trust no one. "I am proud of ye boy." Stated my shadow, "Now you must decide what you are." Not who you are or what you will do for an occupation. What I was! "Follow me Raven and your life will be changed forever. Stay and be filled with ennui always." The choice was clear. I never saw my parents again. People look upon us as evil. We do what others won't. Yet they come to us. They need a favour but don't tell. They have a job they can't dirty their hands. They need an elixir for health, love or hate and harm. Yeah these good denizens live among you. They wear their fancy clothes and ride their high horses. They look so pretty when you meet them at the Luna bank. They are merchants, Paladins, Noblemen. We are the scum. Remember no good coffee was ever made that did not produce dregs.