The tree shook, causing black birds to fly in the air.
Delias punched over and over, his fists flying faster and faster. Each one landed on the furry beast that stood before him, it’s back pressed against the trunk of a tree. It howled and wailed with ever hit, but Delias was relentless. That light feeling he had when he ran, the same feeling he had when he was a child- the one he had when he ran from King Fisher’s goons and from that white creature under the stalagmites in the lava pool, pervaded his every core.
After a good three seconds that spark, that feeling, waned, and the creature slid down the tree, slumping down on the ground. Its mouth, which could naturally split open and bare its sharp teeth that circled its mouth was now bashed bloody. Its head was cracked; its chest dented. But its body was tough. It still breathed, left to die slowly with each draw of ragged breath.
Delias inhaled deep, filling his lungs of moist air. He could hear the roaring tide of the river nearby. He had crossed the bridge and had longed since then passed it. The river itself was narrow. But although it was narrow, it was deep as well. The entire time, he chose to stay near the river as he went further towards the other side. It was safer that way. Better to keep his bearing. And even though he hadn’t found a key yet, he chose to ignore the idea of it for now.
“I have been chasing the other students for a while now. There were no tracks at first, but i’m starting to find some.” Delias spoke out loud to no one. He was contemplating. “It was good for me to follow the river.” He found traces of fish here and there. It took a lot to capture them from such a river, but there were opportune moments. Moments that other groups were bound to have seen and want to capitalize on like he had been doing for the past day. And doing so freely without those Damn bloody wraiths about. That being the case, it was likely that most of them were following the river as well. And soon, he would catch up. From there, he could attempt to find Daniel and Skylar and attempt to find Cotter as well.
Suddenly, a branch cracked. Delias jerked up and looked. Coming from the bushes, a red furry creature came out. Its eyes glowed with a menacing black light that was even stark with the sunlight waning in the sky as night approached. It growled. Its head turned to the blue creature that Delias had just maimed and it started howling. It’s sound brought shivers down his spine.
For some reason Delias felt as if he could understand it. His whole body shuddering, a spark of danger ringing in his head. Its summoning more of his kind. Delias slowly picked up his things nearby, not keeping his eyes off the creature. He felt that if he let his guard down for a second, the creature would pounce on him. He had used almost all his energy on the last one- a creature he had run into as he was traveling, and was not about to bother face another. Although, at the time, he did not have much of a choice. The moment it had come to view, with one look, it’s drool had dribbled down its chin and it had launched itself at him.
Delias fought and fought hard. He had not bothered to run as he wanted to test the limits of his body. It had changed while he was in the lava pool. He did not know to what extent, but that did not change the fact that it did. So far, his strength could match what he saw of the other students when it flared, but… His strength was not long-lasting. If he was fighting, it would last only a few seconds. But if he was running, it would last longer as it had when he ran from the white creature.
The underbrush at the side ruffled. A deep green beast, big and similar looking to the red and blue one creeped through. He could hear more and more sounds coming. So it did call for more, and they’re already here. But… Delias’s face twitched. He looked at the size of the creature, and his mouth began to drop.
His mind reflected back to the furry blue creature he had punched to near death. It’s shoulders were slumped, and even as it walked on two feet, it was as tall as he was. Even the red one, glaring at him a ways away, was just a tad taller. But compared to the creature that came out just now, they were three-fourths the size.
More and more creatures came, their heads showing how tall they were. Most were green, some were red; others violet.
Delias’s stomach dropped. He had his bag, and taking a quick turn that used a small technique he learned in the army, he bolted.
There was no time at all before he heard the creatures launch themselves after him. Their speed was simply frightening. And even with Delias’s experience in running on flat, valleyed, and even rocky land, his insights were incomparable to what creatures who were born living in such environment had.
Jumping logs, and skirting bushes, Delias pumped his arms. His legs began to burn as he pushed himself. Luckily for him, the creatures had yet to surround him. They even came from the area where most of the stalagmites were located, allowing Delias to still run towards the side where he could exit.
“Stalagmites! That’s it!” Delias turned and ran farther. His mind reeled. The sun was low, and nearing its fall.
Even though he was on the other side of the bridge, and the number of stalagmites were low, there were still some. If I remember correctly… Ah.
Delias could see a stalagmite towering through the gaps in the canopy. Trees were sparse enough in the realm, even in a small forest. If Delias wasn’t so tired, he would laugh.
Minutes passed, and he could feel the hot breath of one of the creatures on his neck, and a shiver ran down his spine.
Delias was tired. His lungs burned and his eyes watered as wind blew in them. Why am I always running? Why am I so weak?! “Damn it!” Delias roared, and then he stumbled. Not a trip; not a fall. But the stumble was all the creatures needed.
One of them launched forth and rammed its head into Delias’s back. He pitched forward, slamming down into the ground and sliding forward for meters with the creature still on his back. Rearing its head up, the creature roared. It slammed its fist down on Delias, crushing him into the ground.
Blood dribbled down the side of Delias’s mouth, his teeth clenched.
The creature went on and on for a few seconds before it opened its maw. It’s stout mouth split open, revealing its teeth. Its long tongue licked around its lips and was just about to bite down when…
The last vestiges of sunlight disappeared liked a snuffed out flame.
The creature’s eyes widened as a wail broke the air. Green lights spilled from the stalagmites.
By now the other creatures had caught up, but they were silent as they listened to the wails. The stalagmites grew in flurry and shadows spilled out like a torrent. The amount was surely incomparable to the ones Delias had seen from before he crossed the bridge, but it was enough. The wail was enough.
As the creatures saw the shadows spill out and some even head their way, some turned back, running through the underbrush. And as some left, more followed until there was only the green and red creature that Delias first saw after he badly beat the blue one.
The creature growled. It looked at Delias and bit down hard on his neck.
Delias screamed, but soon those screams of his came out as only whimpers as he throat was being crushed, the air in his lungs growing faint.
Delias’s body had become tough after the green-robed man did what he did on him. So even though he was weaker than many averati, he would not die so quickly from a creature clearly built for speed and not strength- their way of hunt to swarm their prey in numbers to bring them down rather than single combat.
But even though the creature was not built for strength, they were strong still. And Delias could feel his life whisking away.
But then, another wail echoed forth. It not only resounded throughout the area, but it was clearly close by. The fur on the green creature bristled.
After a quick moment, the red one growled, and the green one let go. It stepped back and dashed behind back into the forest.
Delias just laid there staring at the tree trunk a ways away. He could barely move, only blinking with the occasional cough here and there as he took a ragged breath. He did not hear anything more, but he felt a chill. It was as if the whole area grew cold, colder than it had been when the sun had gone from the sky.
Delias shifted his eyes up. His neck hurt so much as he tried to look up, blood dripping from the wounds.
Hovering over him was a phantom- a black wispy creature. Its face like a black sheen and its melanite eyes boring down like a king does upon the world.
It looked down on Delias. And there was a glitter in its eye.
Damn Bloody Wraiths.