Sunlight strands spread in through the opening of a cavern. The grey sky was turning dark, the humid air becoming even more wet, misting the grass and bog. Delias and his new crew sat within the mouth of a cavern. One in which they climbed into of the not so nearest stalagmites they could find. Delias had done this as a safety precaution, isolating them from the rest of the students. The most dangerous existence right now are people.
A dull pounding hit Delias’s temples, telling him to take a break. He pried his eyes from the book in his hands, the same book he had taken from the library back in Olato City. He had barely read a word, before the tiredness of the day’s journey took hold.
Delias peered over towards the other side. The young averati who looked to be the same age as Delias’s new body sat across from him. He looked outside, not moving his sight from the sun. The rays of light shined, gleaming off his red and black eyes. His visage did not bother Delias. It was the mood he represented. The calmness.
Thinking back, Delias recalled how the guy had introduced himself,
Five hours ago.
“You want to join us?” Delias asked, a tinge of shock in his voice. He looked up and down the student that followed after him as he plopped out of the barrier.1
“Yes, I do.” The averati just looked at Delias with a strange calmness. A calmness that seemed to eclipse the take everything in stride mood he read from Daniel Price that seemed to follow his brother to the very hip.
“Why?” Delias looked towards the other students. By now a few were glancing his way. They all seemed to have noticed the two who had gone through the barrier first. Delias was not thinking of the ramifications of his accidental encounter with the Stalagmite Realm’s entrance before, but now that more and more looks were on him and the guy with red eyes, it was now hitting him. Accidental or not. Even though some surpassed me and reached the resting area first, the fact that I went ahead and came to the trial before everyone put me in their sights!
“Fine! Let’s go. We got to get out of here.” After a moment’s hesitation, Delias decided to accept him. He did not bother with the guy’s answer to his question as there was no need for it. Even if Delias liked the answer how would he know he was telling the truth? Furthermore, he was wary of the two brothers, as if one decided to turn on him, he would end up with two enemies. Taking on the young averati before him would enable a more balance of power.
Cotter grabbed Delias’s arm. Delias was flinched at first, not yet recognizing any form of familiarity with the boy, but he quickly cooled his mind as he realized that Cotter meant no harm.
“You can’t bring him in.” Cotter whispered, his eyes darting back and forth between Delias and the red-eyed youth. But his whisper was loud, so clearly the other two could here as well.
“Why can’t I bring him in? Delias asked, coolly. He did not bother to mask his impatience. He could see that the others were almost done forming groups and were heading out. He wanted to head out as well to find a place while other were doing so. If they found a place, then the options of hiding or making a nice temporary base would not only dwindle, but the chances of someone following his group to track their movements were higher.
“He’s half demon. Their kind cannot be trusted.” Cotter looked horrified at the prospect joining hands with a half demon, but Delias smiled wryly. Us humans don’t even differentiate you averati from demons. We think all your kind is a plague to a better life, and yet, here I am allowing you to join me. Acting cordial…
Delias grimaced. He did not care for such a thing, and at the beginning, he could not allow any of the group members dictate his decisions. Though no one was a leader, per say, but they wanted to join him, not the other way around. He needed to put his foot down and make sure his decisions were not questioned so easily. “If you are going to join me, then join me. Don’t question about the decisions I make unless you have a valid reason against it. I don’t care what you feel about the demon race, but he’s now a member of our team. You don’t like it, then screw off!” Delias did not care if the three followed him. If they did, they did. If they did not. They did not. Even though being alone would be extremely difficult, it would not be any different from his initial plans to begin with.
Cotter’s face looked pale. Some of the others around him seemed overheard Delias, and seemed interested in the conversation. A look of bewilderment or a thoughtful look was plastered across their faces.
But eventually, Delias could hear the three following from behind. The half-demon walked up next to Delias’s side. By now groups were separating to different areas, over a hundred of them, consisting anywhere between one to twelve individuals. “What’s your name?”
Delias glanced to his right and back. “Shouldn’t you introduce yourself first? It’s only proper.”
The half-demon did not speak for a while. “My name is Skylar. I have no clan. What’s your name?”
“Skylar, huh? Well, I have no clan as well. My name is Delias. Nice to meet you. So why me of out of everyone?”
Skylar’s eyes seemed to bore into Delias, but Delias just shrugged it off. He was pissed at everything he had to go to. Ever since he met those two star pupil-ed freaks, he had gone through trial after trial. Thankfully, he never braced death, just came near it from time to time. Even though he was knocked out for a while, he was not sure for how long. Should have asked hunter. This is not good. I can’t be wasting my time. Ten years is not a lot.
“You do not look at me the way the others do.”
“Oh? How do they look at you?”
“Full of fear.” Delias started at that. He’s part demon, but why are they so scared of him? Is it more than just hatred. I don’t know anything about averati. Not their culture or their history. I don’t even know what makes demons different from averati. Before this, I thought they were the same things. I lived far from the frontier. Not something I needed to know.
Delias grunted. The four went took to the grass. They never crossed the river, there were bridges. Delias did not want to cross it just yet. He wanted to make sure that he understood the layout of the each area before he moved onto the next.
After hours of travel, they found a cavern on a nearby stalagmite to form a temporary base, bringing them back to their current situation.
Once the four found a base, the sun was low. Night was approaching. There is no time to do any scouting. Can’t see much in the dark, and I have to wait and see what the elder was warning us about.
And as thoughts rummaged in Delias’s head, the sun fell. Night came. It was dark, The green streaks along the dark stalagmite glowed. An eerie light spread across the land. The mist spread, and the land grew silent. It was so silent that Delias’s flesh crawled.
Delias stood up. It was not just him. The others stood up, peering out. They could see some other groups in caverns. They stood at the mouth on stalagmites opposite to them. Everyone was quiet. Everyone was waiting for something to happen.
But nothing did. Two minutes. Three minutes passed. Just as they felt that everything was fine, a loud wail resounded across the realm. More and more wails popped up. Like creatures, fuzzy dark green arms reached from out of the ground, a black, wafty smoke building up.
“What the hell is that?” Cotter screeched.
“AAaahh!” A hollow wail echoed within deep parts of the cavern. The heads of the four swirled around faster than a flea could jump from one dog to the next.
“They’re in here too?!” Cotter despaired.
“Shh.” Daniel forced his hand on his brother.
The calm one of the two.
The four backed up, trapped between whatever was in the cavern to the rising creatures coming from the ground below.
“They’re wraiths. Must be the body and desolate souls trapped within the land of those who died after each trial.” Skylar said. His voice was cool, but there was fear in his eyes.
Delias was scared too. He searched around, not sure of what to do. Screams came from here and there. Groups were getting slaughtered by the wraiths that had risen. It seemed as if there were no safe place. They roamed across the land, the green glow of the stalagmites like a pulsing fuel, breathing life into their ghastly, ghostly forms.
“Let’s go!” Delias made a decision. He would not stay in the cavern for much longer. The wraiths outside their place seemed to not have fully risen yet. I need to capitalize on this now.
The cavern was about a story high. He climbed down, reaching ten feet off the ground, then launched himself to a land. Skylar followed suit. But Daniel was having trouble pulling his brother down.
“Cotter! How is it that you got the recommendation letter and your too scared shitless to get moving!” He roared. It was too loud, and some of the rising wraiths seemed to pull their attention towards the four.
Delias was nervous. His mind was screaming to just leave the two fools. But a part of him told him that that would be a bad idea. If he left like that, how would Skylar trust him if it were just them two, knowing that Delias would abandon him in a heartbeat. But that was just a tad worry. Even though Delias rationalized that that was why he would wait for the Price brothers, he knew better. He was just too soft. But I will definitely run if those things come.
Daniel shouted. But Cotter seemed paralyzed. He pulled Cotter, practically dragging him down. When Daniel slipped, catching himself quickly before he fell, Cotter finally got himself out from his fear. He followed Danield down. These two will be the end of me.
The four ran left, around the stalagmite, finding a shallow small cave. This way there was a higher possibility that there was nothing behind them
A loud hollow wail came from above. A figure fell below, crashing down into the ground, the dust rising up. It was a black, whispy creature, the dark mist congealing at the center. The face was like a black mask, glowing a golden green from behind. Its eyes like melanite, a circular dark shifting pupil shrouded in crystal.
It stood outside the cave, glaring at them. It was silent, staring.
It was then that it began to move.