More and more sifting figures popped out of tree canopy, descending from the sky. They circled Delias once; twice before they stopped.
“This one is odd” One said, it’s voice a silky whisper.
“Very Odd.” Another complemented. Some continued to circle Delias, looking at him as if he were some new species.
Delias’s eyes widened, and his heart shook. They can talk!
This was completely outside his expectations. Other than that variant wraith he saw that night he escaped the white creature, he hadn’t seen any of its like, and definitely not one that could talk. That was until them. These wraiths all seemed like variants! It was simply shocking. Did this mean the other one could talk as well? What did this mean? If they could talk and display such intellect. Then that, with their given capabilities, made them utterly terrifying.
As Delias looked up, the movement getting easier with time, he could see that some were large, some were small, and some had black swirling symbols on their mask like faces.
The wraith that had first appeared had yet to speak. It drew closer to Delias until he could feel its wispy black body brush against him like a silk curtain. It felt tangible and yet not. It was as if he could reach out and grab it, only knowing that it would just slip through his grasp. And yet, even then, with the wraith so close, Delias did not try to move much.
“He is like us, but not like us.” Said another wraith at the side. “Very odd.”
“I say we eat him. Human flesh is so good.” Said the fourth and final wraith that had appeared.
Delias’s hand had moved into his bag the moment he heard the wraiths’ wail. But as he heard them talk about him as prey, his hand tensed. It took all the power within him to hold himself back from what he had planned.
He took a deep ragged breath and tried to calm himself.
Delias was still looking up, glaring at the sifting figure with his head still. And even though he did not move, keeping in such a position was harder than the initial raising of his head.
“Would you really eat the dead? His body is not human. There is no life… but-
“Blasphemy.” A deep echoing sound erupted from one of the wraiths. It was from the first wraith. It had watched Delias closely, only to glide backward. It looked at him with menacing eyes, and spoke with words dripping of scorn. “He’s like that thing the others bow and worship. Dead but seeking life.”
“Dead but seeking life?” The second wraith asked.
“Can’t you sense it. Look closer.”
The wraiths crowded Delias more. They all glared down upon him with cold black jewel-like eyes. Delias felt like every inch of him was unveiled in front of them. Bare in body and in soul.
“There’s a fire within. It’s… It’s faint, but I can sense it.”
Another wraith agreed. “Very faint, but such a menacing power. A single touch could burn a descendent of an immortal!”
“So can’t you see? This human is just like that white thing those low-borns follow. How can we eat this? How can we let it live?! In fact. If this one is taken by them, I can’t imagine how powerful, how complete that thing will be! It must die!!”
Delias felt colder and colder. It was an odd feeling having others judge your fate. It wasn’t something knew. Everyone has had their fate in someone else’s hands at some point since the day they were born. But the haunting memory, which drew his anger and hatred came from one event. And that was the day he lost everything. His body. His family. His woman. That was the day he met ‘him’. And now with these strange wraiths doing the same thing that person did so many years ago, a pure killing intent burned within.
Suddenly, another wraith came from the forest. There was hardly a sound, but the entire area grew colder. Even the ground which had sucked in the sun all day, and was warm only minutes ago, and would not grow cold for hours, was suddenly devoid of heat. The cold was so striking so startling that even the anger with Delias, that had been swelling to the brim only a second ago, nearly dissipated, leaving him simply empty and shivering. Another one?
“Crasus!” The first wraith roared.
The newcomer chuckled as it drifted over. It took one quick glance down at Delias, and then turned to the other wraiths. “Low-borns? You treat those other wraiths as low-borns and that is why they scrape and praise that man-made creature. They seek revolution, even if they must conspire with the living to do so. And that creature they have made is now more powerful than you or I. Now it’s too late to regret; too late to change anything. It searches for a body and will obtain a flame of life. Even if it does not obtain this one, it will obtain another.”
“Is there a suggestion there somewhere? Are you planning to keep this thing alive, Crasus?” The wraith asked, glancing at Delias.
Crasus,too, looked back at Delias. And delias looked into its black eyes. The wraith looked exactly like any other, and not like a variant at all. But looking closely, Delias could feel as if there was a spark, something that he could not see, only feel as he gazed into those eyes.
“No. Kill him. But… What you have done, allowing the others to slowly pick and feed off the humans as usual have gotten the council furious. You think they haven’t noticed? Not a single one of the humans have been able to escape this realm nor appear to have tried to. Not one. Furthermore, none have yet to kill any of our own. It is believed that they can’t kill us. So they have sent me bearing an order… You must kill all the humans. And you must do it now. The creature has awakened, and it’s headed our way. Do not face it, and do not allow a single human to live. We cannot allow that white creature obtain a body of another realm. Once it does, we will not survive.”
The first wraith was silent for a long while. The other wraiths were too. There was no indication to what they were thinking. And then… The first wraith nodded. Crasus turned around and left, sparing not a single glance at Delias, the land gradually regaining a semblance of warmth.
It was then that the first wraith looked upon him again. Delias shivered. “Kill him.”
The three other wraiths pounced. They were fast, and within seconds they were upon him. But Delias was faster. The moment he saw the first wraith look his way, he knew what was going to happen next. He withdrew his hand from his satchel, bringing out a crystal. The light crystal pulsed within its grip, spilling out an ethereal glow across the small clearing.
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Suddenly the wraiths screeched. Some reeled back, but one stayed there. It inched forward trying to swipe at Delias. Even the first wraith from afar roared and charge forward.
Seeing this, Delias squeezed even harder on the crystal. He was hurt and tense, but he still tried to move. He refused to die this day. But as he squeezed the light grew more intense. And the intensity was so blinding that even the other two wraiths that were seemingly more powerful, wailed and shifted back. But none left the area.
Delias thrusted his hand out and clenched as hard as he could. He could feel his hardened skin begin to rip at his palms, and once his blood seeped out onto the crystal surface, the light turned a blinding white. The white was thick and exuded a presence.
Immediately the wraiths flew away, unable to bear the pain any further. But Delias kept the light on. He roared, holding it there for a few more seconds, wanting to carry on to ensure that he was safe, but… The light waned and dissipated. All that remained was Delias in the dark. He could see nothing as his eyes were blinded. And his body felt exhausted.
As his eyes slowly adjusted, he pried his fingers off the crystal. The crystal was dead. Its time of use nowhere near the hours he had used it from before. So the harder I press, the more light it gives off. But the more light it gives off, the faster it is used up.
Delias sighed. It was only luck that he gripped so hard. He looked at his hand which was in pain, and he gasped. It was as if his flesh was burned. He looked at the dead crystal more closely, and under the moonlight, he could see slight vapors wafting from it. The light can harm even me!
It was then that all the things the wraiths had said came back to Delias. He had used the crystals before. He had used them on other creatures, only for those creatures to come out unharmed. But now, seeing this, and remember as to what the wraiths spoke of, it finally dawned on him. The crystals fend off creatures of the afterlife.
“So I am dead.”
It was then that all the weird things that was happening before, like how he crossed boundaries and arrays in Olato City which no one else could, or how he could bypass some wraiths, was due to this aspect. And so arrays or boundaries that looked for specific signatures, such as life essence, could not detect him. After all, in certain places, creatures of the underworld are rare, and there would be no point in having to guard against them. As for the wraiths, they pounced on the living. So as they felt him devoid of any life signatures, they did not bother. All of that was even more evidence that his body was not a living body. Which meant that the Koplas were not of the living but were creatures of the dead, or more accurately, creatures from the afterlife.
“AAAHH!!’ Delias roared and slammed his fisht down. “Just what the hell did you do to me?!”
He was furious. He got a new body as he had asked. The green-robed man had done his part, even though it had come at a high cost. But now? The plans he had for a new future?To obtain revenge. To obtain back what he lost. And to rise to prominence. But If his body was of the afterlife then how could he have children and build a family? How would he be approachable to ‘her’ as this thing? Life could not come from death. But… That fire they spoke of. They said I had a spark of life. It was then that Delias grabbed onto the only hope that he could find. And that he was not truly of the ethereal. That he was not truly a creature of the afterlife. As long as he had this spark of life, he would be able to carry on.