Chapter Four: Amongst Darkness, Gathering Strength
Darkness, dust, cinders swirled around in complex patterns on the
gentle breeze. The grass was long and swayed lightly back and forth with
the wind. Nature's rhythm seemed to surround him. It was a faint, distant
melody that drifted upon the air. Gradually, the moon's light began to draw
back the curtain of blackness on the world. He was lying on a hill,
overlooking the forest. He didn't know how he got there, he simply enjoyed
the peace of the night. Trees swayed softly as the air rushed through their
Amongst the trees shadows began to form, people began to slowly come
out of the night towards him. Their eyes were sunken-in, their mouths gaped
wide with thirst and their lips were cracked.
He looked closer, gazing at them and trying to feel who they were,
what they were, and what they wanted. He had learned long ago to calm his
soul and to gaze upon others to see who they really were inside. After a
while his mind's eye would slowly open wide and his soul would be a mirror.
He could see them inside himself, he could feel who they were, he could see
the reflection of the energies of their soul. As he gazed at these people
who seemed weak of thirst, he slowly began to see who they really were.
The world around him began to disintegrate before his eyes. The
moisture inside of leaves of the trees and the grass all around him was
sucked away, the plants crumbled and blew away like dust in the wind. The
trees also were sucked dry, crumbling and collapsing into sand that fell to
the ground in swirling clouds.
He leapt to his feet, and began to back away from the people slowly.
His eyes grew wide, and tears filled them his face a mask of inexpressible
pain and horror. Their souls had been stricken with drought, they were as
dry inside as they were on the outside! And there was nothing he could do,
he could not help them. He saw those who he loved, or had once known among
these people, suffering their plight. He shook his head in disbelief, tear
streaming down his cheeks as the people closed in all around him, gnarled
hands outstretched and grasping at him. He turned to flee, but they were
all around him now, hands clutching at him, pulling him down.
He tried to cry out, but his voice would not answer his mind's calls.
They began to suck the water out of him, but were unable to quench their
thirst. They turned and slowly began to walk away. He looked down at his
hands, they were bony and his skin was as sandstone. He felt his dry mouth,
and ran his hands over his cracked lips. He looked into himself in dismay
and saw that he was as dry as they were now. He tried to weep, but only
shed tears of dust. They had sucked him dry, nothing was better now! Why
did they do this to each other, why had they done this to him? It meant
nothing, it was only more suffering! Always suffering, everywhere, forever!
Wraith's body convulsed violently and he sat bolt upright, his body
glistening with sweat. Nightmares again. Always he saw his fears during the
night, he didn't know why. It only happened every now and then, normally he
slept soundly. Sleep was a blessing for him, it meant a release from the
daylight and all of the torments contained therein. Only sometimes it
wasn't a release, it was just another torment. He hated those nights.
"Everything was so horribly dry, even people's hearts," he murmured.
Where was he, what time was it? His head swam as thoughts began to blossom
in his mind. Then, slowly, his memories began to return along with an
awareness of his surroundings. He sat in the cave with one of the girl's
blankets wrapped around him. The moon was higher in the sky then it had
been when. When he had fought that foul demon, that Death Crier. So, it had
been at least a day since that. He still felt weary, though. Something
moved in the corner, he instinctively reached for his sword. His hand
brushed the wound the demon had made in his side, and he gasped in pain.
Melan, who had been sleeping in a corner of the cave, was startled
awake, seeing that Wraith was sitting up, she rushed over to him and gently
grasped his shoulders. Concern in her eyes, she asked, "Are you all right?
He groaned slightly, gesturing to the wound in his side.
Melan looked confused for a brief moment, and then understanding
shimmered behind her eyes, "Oh dear, we should take care of that."
Shaking his head, Wraith sunk back down to lay down on the cave floor
again. He winced, lifted his head, and rubbed the back of it with his hand.
He felt a large cut crusted over with dried blood the came off upon his
hand. Wincing again, he wiped his hand off on his pants and looked over at
"How long was I. asleep?" He asked her in a quiet voice.
With a concerned look in her eyes, she answered "Almost an entire
day. It's getting dark. I was worried whether or not you were going to wake
He reached into one of the many pouches along his belt and pulled out
a needle and some thread. Weakly, he gestured for her to come closer. She
inched herself up next to him, and listened intently.
"I don't think I would be able to retrieve any firewood even if you
helped me walk. Do you think that you would be able to go and gather some?"
He spoke as if a deep weariness had been laid across his soul while he
slept, and frustration with his inability to move about freely seemed to
echo in his voice.
She nodded, slightly nervous. In a quavering voice she asked, "What if
one of those. things comes back?"
Giving the girl a grin that was at once both menacing and comforting,
"It is not very likely for us to find two such demons so close to each
other, and all of those fell animals are long gone. Do you know what that
She shook her head.
"It was a demon that had been trapped in a place similar to Hell for
hundreds of thousands of years. Once released by unknown forces, such
beings wreak utter havoc when they step into the domains of men. This
particular breed of demon sings, and when it opens its ghastly mouth, all
of the pain and suffering, all of the hatred and malice, all of its
horrible and twisted feelings from those many years it was caged are all
unleashed in a horrendous song of destruction. Trees are shattered,
hillsides swept clean, after such a melody the land would have been bare
for miles. Had it actually begun to sing, we would surely have been
destroyed. The stronger demons of that type actually have the power to open
portals to the places where they suffer and often take their victims back
with them. Such beings roam alone, and fortunately are not normally
unleashed upon this earth. We are very lucky to be alive."
The girl's eyes had grown very wide and her mouth had fallen open.
"How do you know such things?!" She exclaimed after a moment to gather her
"When you have wandered about this world as much as I have, you tend
to learn a few things here and there," he said with a grin, "I have heard
many stories over the years and many have proved to be, at least partially,
true. So, do you think that you are comfortable fetching some firewood? If
you are, then perhaps in the morning you could help me find some water," as
he resumed speaking of the matters at hand, his face grew calm and grave.
She nodded emphatically, her face stern. "I can go off to get the
firewood right now," she said.
"Here, take this with you," he said as he gently removed his sword
belt. As he removed the belt and held it for a moment he murmured something
to the sword, then fastened it around the girl's waist.
"He is called Thanatos, take care of him and treat him with respect
and he will protect and serve you. Just make sure that you don't drop him.
If you need to actually fell some trees for wood, cut them down sparingly.
I'd prefer it if you tried to gather all the wood you can from the forest
floor. If you must, put your hand on Thanatos' hilt and he can guide you to
whatever it is you are looking for," Wraith instructed. Melan nodded, her
eyes growing wide.
"This must really be some sword!" she remarked with awe.
"He is truly a great blade," Wraith said with a pleased tone to his
voice, the sword seemed to give off a slight ringing sound in response.
"Now, you should probably hurry before it gets any darker," he coaxed
her gently, leaning back against the cave wall with a sigh.
"Okay," she said and hurried off into the night.
As he watched her disappear into the darkness, a shadow seemed to pass
over his eyes and a darkness fell across his soul like a sinister veil. His
eyes glowed softly and he drew out a long hunting knife, a whetstone and
began to sharpen it. Slowly, methodically, sparks flew off of the blade and
the stone as their ringing tone filled the air. The sparks began to float
upwards on the air and slowly began to fill the cavern with their eerie
End Chapter Four