Fear gripped him, a creeping, shifting goo that held him down. He felt heavy. And as he looked into those melanite eyes, he felt like his soul was being trapped within. He was in a daze. There was something drawing at him. It called, beckoning him over. It was like loved one, a dream. It twisted and hammered at his mind, a sweet whisper, a tasty kiss. His mouth twitched.
What is this… power? But within moments that influence on him faded. As if his mind were getting used to it. Suddenly a shadow appeared at Delias’s side, shocking him from his paralysis. Daniel had stepped forward, his steps slow and rocky. He was resisting the power. His mouth was clenched tight. His body trembling with every creaky movement.
Delias moved. He grabbed the back of Daniel’s shirt, pulling him back.
The wraith swerved to Delias.It seemed as if its entire focus was set on him. Its eyes bore into Delias, but the power it once held was now no more than a minor itch. Delias backed up, holding tight to Daniel. The wraith just inclined its head as if it were confused. It did not enter the cave. It did not edge closer.
At that moment the three finally snapped out of it. They screamed and jumped back. Cotter and Daniel brought out their knives. The ones given to everyone in the toolkit. And not knowing when he did, but Delias too, held a knife in his hand, his grip so hard his knuckles and fingertips almost turned white.
The wraith screamed. It’s wail reaching a high octave. The wretched noise rang in their ears. Delias felt as if his mind was going to collapse. His began to bleed. And then it stopped. The wraith vanished into the misty gloom.
Screams and wails continued outside.
Delias slumped down. He was shaking. Why didn’t it come in to kill us?
Then another shadow past. Delis bounced, but the wraith just looked at them, circling the cave and then left. By now, Delias and the other three did not look the wraiths in the eye, and it seemed as if the wraith refused to enter the cave. So if they did not leave, and the wraith did not enter, they were safe.
Delias could see from the other stalagmites that there were some groups within caves, looking out. Some members left the stalagmite, and came out and were devoured, their flesh ripped from the gaping maw that broke the mask as it feated. It seems they were entranced by the wraiths too.
Skylar sighed. Delias heard it. The sigh was just not in character to how he portrayed Skylar to be. But they had just approached death. It was a good way to see how someone truly is when they near death’s embrace.
“That thing. How are we supposed to fight that?” Daniel spoke up. He was shaking, clearly his mind was still haunted of the possibility that could have happened if Delias did not stop him. “Thank you, Delias. You saved my life!”
“It is nothing that none of you three would have done for me in a similar situation.” Delias said, staring out into the open mist. Delias could feel the looks of the others on him, like the rise of a hair on the nape of his neck. Of course what he said was bull. But it was bull that could pull them all in to work together. Delias had saved Daniel instinctively. But looking back, he would have done it voluntarily as well. He needed his team. All of them. For now, at least.
“No. You do not know that.” Daniel continued.
“Maybe. But we are a team now. Not just some group of random people, and we need to start acting like it.” Delias stood up. His legs were shaky. But they stood firm with time. “For some reason those ‘wraiths’, Skylar called them, do not enter the caves, but use some kind of mind thing that could drag us out. This will be our base for the time being until we can find a better one across the river.”
Delias looked at everyone. “I do not know if we are safe here. I only know that we aren’t dead yet. And I like it that way. If what that elder said is true, then we can assume that these things only come out at night. That means we stay here at night, and go out and scout during the day. Finding those keys are our only chance to get out of here. Our only chance to live… We need each other to do all of this. None of us can die here!”
Then Delias went deep into the cave where the darkness consumed him.”Get some rest, all of you. We have a lot of work to do in the morning.”
Cotter breathed in deep. The entire time he was holding his breath, as if by breathing the wraith would come back and tear him limb from limb. He looked towards the dark place that Delias disappeared to. He wanted to go in and sleep. Sleep and wake up to a world where wraiths and half-demons were no longer. But he knew better.
He looked at his hands. They were shaking. He looked to his brother. His brother seemed shaky as well.
Skylar walked past Cotter and went deeper into the shallow cave. He was cool, but his walk was crooked. None of them used their remaining crystals to light the inside. Cotter knew that they could not afford to use it. Even though he wanted to turn one on right now, a part of him was afraid the light would attract the wraiths.
A shadow passed by the entrance. Cotter jumped. He jumped at every shadow, and those shadows came frequently. He did not entirely believe that the wraiths would just leave them be if they were inside the cave as Delias had said. But so far they haven’t come in. That gave him some relief.
Cotter gazed again towards the back of the cave. He knew the half-demon was in the back with Delias, which made him hesitant about going in, but now thinking about it, between the half-demon and the wraiths, he would choose the half-demon. He just needed to sleep with one eye open.
“His ears bled.”
Just as Cotter was about to go in, Daniel uttered something. It was slight, almost a mumble, but Cotter heard it clearly. He looked towards his brother.
“Yeah. He bled. So?”
“It’s strange. It seemed as if he had some sort of resistance to the wraith’s power, but his body is so weak. To bleed from a screech like that. It was only minorly painful. Even for someone as weak as we are.”
Cotter thought a bit, and then nodded his head. “It is weird. But he saved your life. . The species of the averati are mainly ten, but there are a few clans with rare kinds and mix breeds. Someone like him is not unseen. Besides, he could just be sickly… And we are now a team. We have to trust each other if we are to survive this place.”
“A team in which he does not care that we have a half-demon in. A team in which he is from a clan whom we know nothing about… Cotter. He saved my life, but he may be even more dangerous than that half-demon. We must be careful!”
Cotter looked upon his brother. “You are always so overly cautious.”
“You are not cautious enough! You were invited by that Elder Lu, and I told you not to go. Now look at the mess we’re in.”
“You did not have to follow me.”
“I only followed you because you were so insistent on going. You are my brother. We have to look out for each other. If I don’t do it, then who will?.”
“You think I wanted to come to such a dangerous place? I did it to get prospects in life. How can I raise a family by being weak? How can I get the things I want with no power or money?”
Daniel snorted. “You only came here because of Shaline. She goaded you. She spoke some sweet words and you used up one of your spots on her to get her in. Your lust is unbridled. She swindled you!”
“No she did not!”
“And you still defend her! She abandoned you for another team. Ni Da even went with her, like the slobbering pup he is, yet to know that loyalty among friends is worth more than chasing after the swaying hips of a girl he barely knows!”
Daniel breathed in deep. His brother was deluded. He was fragile and deluded. But he loved him. He just could not stop worrying over his younger brother. Daniel shook his head. He went in, lying down far away from the entrance, but also not close to Delias or Skylar.
His brother followed suit, eventually falling asleep.
Hours went by.
Delias was up. It was hard falling asleep, worried the wraiths would come in. He gingerly, walked up to the entrance, where a slither of light, glowing from the various stalagmites’ surface shined through. Delias could see some of the entrances of the caverns from the nearby stalagmites. Shadows moved within. So those places are filled with wraiths. It seems that at night the caverns begin to light up, and those are the ones that the wraiths are in. But I cannot be for certain. The dark holes could have some too that I just can’t see. But why won’t the wraiths enter some of the caves?
Delias peered out. Shadows moved through the mist. But no wraith came up to him, only passing by to glare. But when Delias refused to meet its eye, it just moved on.
Delias sighed. He was tired, but could not sleep. So, he did the next best thing. Digging into his satchel, he brought out his book.
This book may have more information on this new body of mine. I can’t stay in the dark forever.
And at that, Delias opened to the a certain page.