Delias’s breath puffed clouds with every exhale. The cold was stark and cruel. The wind unrelenting as it burst forth, winding around him as it blew into the cave.
Delias shivered. Almost every part of him ached to go deeper inside. To shield himself from the cold. But Delias did not. Could not. The book, as he would read on, listed things he needed to know. Things about himself that could save his life. And he could not read anything subjected to the dark.
Delias’s eyes came across the single line on the first page. It was of the same three words that he had read in the library. Immortality is Death. The words were like a riddle in a way, puzzling him. When he had read the line before, the feeling was different. But now, it was like more as if it were a forgotten memory, a connection to the words, that if he had some recollection on just a tiny bit of it, the rest would come rushing in. Delias racked his brain, trying to recall anything. It was on the tip of his tongue. But no matter how long he thought, it remained there.
Delias had read the words over and over again, his mouth moving as the reading in the mind turned to audible mutterings. The sound was washed away by the noise of the wraiths and the wind blowing in, so Delias was not worried about disturbing the others.
He shook his head.
From the time he went into the library to the time he woke up in that temporary house complex, most of it was a blur. He just remembered some of the haunting memories that plagued him, each one a fragment of his past. Some were so sweet that it made his heartache from just the knowing of what he lost. But most were wretched…
Delias took a deep breath The frigid air burned at his lungs. But his mind calmed.
Placing it to the back of his mind, Delias turned to the table of contents. He had already spent a huge portion of his time trying to recall or figure out what he thought was odd, but he had no more time to waste on the issue. He was tiring fast, and would eventually need sleep. He glanced at the inside of the cave. We should have set shifts to watch. But they did not, and Delias was not going to stay up the entire night, nor did he want to see what would happen if he were to wake a grumpy averati. It should be fine. It’s almost morning.
After Delias reminded himself of where the information on the Koplas was, he flipped to that page. He read the passage over and over again, but he seemed to have already learned everything that he could. There was no more information on the Koplas. Whether if it was directly or indirectly related.
Delias sighed. I guess I can’t learn much from this. He clenched his fist. He stared at the cave floor and then thud! His fist made a short hollow sound as it slammed against the limestone. The knuckles or skin did not break. His fist did not even hurt. And the cave floor did not break, but the sheer sound of the thud was enough for Delias to believe how much stronger his body had become over the average human. But that caused him to frown. Even with such a strong body, I still can’t contend with the averati constitution. How do the people of the frontier deal with them?
As Delias glared at his slightly throbbing fist, his hair drooped over his shoulders, covering a few words on the page as the book sat in his lap. Delias pulled at his hair and looked at it. Even though it’s dark, and the only light stems from green glow of the stalagmites, I can tell that the red in my hair has become exceedingly dull.
He wiped his hand down his hair and brought it up to look at. Tinges of red were smeared on his palm and fingers. Its coming off. Whatever that skunk did, it will be gone soon. I need to dye my hair, but more importantly, I can’t have it so long anymore. The longer it is, the more others will be able to tell that my hair is not naturally red with the color constantly turning to a darker shade.
Pulling out the toolkit to retrieve his pocket knife, Delias pulled his hair back, brought the cool, sharp steel blade to the strands, and cut. Dark, red hair scattered across the cave floor around him. The wind blew again, carrying some of the strands off.
Now Delias’s hair was sort, but not too short. It’s almost morning. I need sleep. I can’t be like this. After cutting, he picked himself up and was about to go to sleep when he had an idea. The book has details on forbidden creatures. What about wraiths? Are they forbidden?
Delias opened the book back up, flipped through the course pages, reading through the table of contents. And there it was, the word wraith. Delias got excited. It was possible that this book could detail the weaknesses of the wraith or at least explain the intricacies of the apparent rules they follow. Like why don’t they enter the cave, but they enter the caverns? And why do they only appear at night? But when Delias reached the section for the section he thought were on wraiths, the title read: Wraith Imperator. Or basically wraith general.
As Delias read those two words, his body grew cold. He read on.
The Wraith Imperator is a general among wraiths. It rules them with cruelty and strength. Created from the consummation of other wraiths, it becomes powerful, but fractured, as the many souls within it fight vigorously to escape. The Wraith Imperator is but a general, and can never be a lord. It is bound to serve a higher and more sinister being.
Not much is known on this creature on how it relates to the afterlife, but no one can deny there is a connection. Many who have ever neared it have died quickly, but for the very few that have managed to escape an encounter, they have all suffered excruciatingly, their minds in disarray, incapable differentiating the real from the unreal as their bodies melt from the inside.
The Wraith Imperator is a forbidden creature. It is not only it that is forbidden, but the conscious act of hoarding thousands of wraiths in a confined space, allowing for its potential birth.
This creature is forbidden because once it’s born it will enact on the orders of those in higher planes that seek nothing but death and destruction. It will follow its commands, wiping out lands with a point of a ghostly finger, leading a wraith army by the thousands.
As more people die by the wraiths, more wraiths are born. It is known that ten percent of the people who are killed contribute to the wraith population. A population of wraiths that has gone awry, can break the barriers between worlds and summon the higher lords of higher planes, dragging them into this one. In the past, nations and empires have fallen quite easily as a result.
As Delias read on, he was shocked. Wasn’t this a realm filled with thousands of wraiths. Does this mean there is a Wraith Imperator here? Or a chance it can be born?.. I need to get out of here and fast!
He searched and searched for something to stop wraiths. And then he actually found it.
Although it is said that a wraith’s ethereal body will congeal and can be harmed by living crystals, not only are living crystals hard to come by, but they are not known to affect the Wraith Imperator.
Method to killing a Wraith Imperator: Unknown.
Delias sighed. The book finally told him something. A wraith can be harmed from a living crystal… What the hell is a living crystal?
After re-reading the passage, Delias got up, went deeper into the cave, where it was warmer, though damp, and fell asleep.
Daniel woke up with a start. He looked around. He had no wish to have fallen asleep so deeply, but he did. The wraith wails that kept him awake and frightened, gradually became not enough to thwart the call of sleep.
Daniel got up. He rubbed the rheum from his eyes, stretched, and walked to the entrance of the cave. He glanced around, and seeing that it was light outside, he popped his head out. There was no sun, only endless grey clouds; and so there was no way telling what time it was. But he could, at least, tell it was day.
The wraiths were gone. Disappeared as if they had never come, but the aftermath was clearly visible. Bodies laid on the grass, some with half of them submerged underground, others torn apart, limbs seeping in nearby bog water, or hanging from a tree.
There was no one out at this time. At least from the perspective Daniel had from what he could see. Maybe it was because the sun had just risen, and the other groups were either too scared to come out; or they were simply just too tired to get up. Daniel felt rested though. From the state of his body, he had had at least four and a half hours of sleep. That was the usual amount of time he was allowed he was a military student before he followed his brother here. Daniel looked back. The others were still sleeping. He thought a bit, and then decided he would wake them.
After all, isn’t this the best time to go scouting?