Lurking in the Mists   
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Introduction. Following the invitation of a good old friend Lord Myraec of Caedwyn finds out that what he considered to be a vacation soon would be tainted by an unexpected turn of events. A shadow from the past is suddenly cast over the present as his host confronts him with an unexpected revelation. Only a good old friend can fulfill the task he has adamantly set his mind on, a task that would bring mankind a step forward, however at the cost of a life. And it's a task that would make Lord Myraec's blood curdle and let his hair stand on end...


'm so glad that you've come, Myraec!"

Lord Myraec of Caedwyn nodded silently in the wing chair he was sitting on. He felt comfortable and content in the here and now for a change, and enjoyed it quite a bit. Ah, how he had missed these quiet hours away from any hustle and bustle the town life inevitably brought with it! Besides, the evening promised not only relaxation and good wine, but also a chat with someone he hadn't seen for ages. One couldn't ask for more.

"What are friends for, after all, Raeis?" he replied to his host. "I needed a couple of days off anyway from business in Denring, so the pleasure is entirely mine. You know, it's an outright shame. For when the cat's away, the mice will play. Point in case: As far as the management of shipments along the Vandrina is concerned, whoever I hired to do the job for me, chose to drop a clanger, not once, but trice actually, pinning his own shortcomings on unforeseeable circumstances like bad weather, staff shortage, even local quarantines he dug up as an excuse for his lazyness! Too bad for him that I had to send him away. Into a future he'll enjoy, well, elsewhere. Hmm... maybe it's at least sunnier there?"

His host smiled at the remark.

Lory Myraec rubbed his nose. "Frankly, as far as I'm concerned helping him to make plans elsewhere was quite a foreseeable reaction from my part. Oh dear! Decisions, decisions, and they all fall back at me... But now that things have been settled, I needed that break, badly." The corners of Myraec's mouth pulled up and suggested a slight, satisfied grin.

The other man nodded, but ignored Myraec's detailed account when he spoke himself. Instead he simply repeated: "Believe me, it means the world to me that you've come!"

"Anyway, I'm sorry to bother you with a merchant's daily troubles, Raeis, and make you listen to such rants," Myraec continued. "Or should I rather say 'Sage Raeis', now that you've received your official title? Well earned, and a toast to that." He raised his glass. "'Sage Raeis' - sounds noble, I have to admit. Finally proof that the time you put in your research paid off!"

Raies took the carafe on the coffee table nearby, topped up his glass and followed his friend by raising his glass as well: "To research!" he produced with a hoarse voice.

"To research, yes indeed," Lord Myraec joined in the toast and took a sip of the Bard's Own. "Ah... delicious!" he commented, then leaned forward. "Well, if you want my humble opinion: The good thing about being a researcher on behalf of the New-Santhalan Library is that you can stay clear from all things commercial. Saves you a lot of chagrin, I tell you." He let out a loud, bellowing laugh. "After all, for you there's no need to worry that your promised shipments won't arrive in time and disappointed customers will threaten you, hit you with sticks, even tear up contracts fuming with rage - ah, it has all happened to me. I could tell you stories, my friend, stories you wouldn't believe..."

He paused for a moment, waiting for his host to finally talk, yet the latter just continued sipping his wine while listening.

"But enough about me now..." Lord Myraec concluded his ramblings impatiently. "I'm doing all the talking, and you haven't even told me how life has treated you since we last met, Raeis!"

Sage Raeis sat up and cleared his throat. "There are indeed things I have to tell you," he then said. Important things."

"Well, what's evident is that you bought yourself this new mansion, or rather: a pretty old one by the looks of it", Myraec suggested. "May I assume you're planning to renovate it anytime soon? If you need any help with that, I'm sure I can recommend you a bunch of decent people who can assist you with that effort."

"Myraec, listen: I'm dying."

"W... What...?"

All of a sudden silence descended over the room like a pitch-black blanket that sank down from the ceiling to cover and quieten everything beneath. It lasted a long, painful while before another word was spoken. The ominous revelation had come so unexpectedly and its shocking effect had hit Lord Myraec like an unforeseeable blow from behind. He was still gathering his thoughts as Raeis added:

"It will be over soon, very soon. Actually, you might be the last person I ever speak to," he said in a tone laden with finality. "And that's why you're here, Myraec." He paused. "Thank you for coming," he repeated for a third time, but by now the simple expression of gratitude had dramatically gained in weight.

Lord Myraec looked at his old friend as if he had turned into a stranger. He recalled that the maid had led him into the sitting room, where Raeis was already sitting by the fireside. While he had seen the face of his host lighten up briefly upon entering, his friend hadn't got up, probably due to the condition he must have been suffering from all along. If he only had known!

Myraec looked at Raeis once again. Now that the news had been broken his perception of the person in front of him was bound to change. Indeed, the scholar appeared older, thinner and more frail in general than the many years ago he had last seen him, so much was certain. Well, at any rate, it had been a while. The outlines of his host's skull were clearly visible beneath flesh and skin that covered the face. Or rather it seemed that way after all Raeis was sitting in his wing chair next to the fireside in an otherwise almost dark room and the fight of the crackling flames with the murkiness around them cast weird dancing shadows on him, bathing his features in an eerie, unnatural light.

A moment ago Myraec had thought of it as a cozy scene, the fire exuding comfort and warmth. Now he only saw shadows everywhere, shadows that engulfed them completely and whose oppression more and more began to dominate the room. A dark sentiment took hold of him and wouldn't let go a harbinger, a premonition of their own mortality. It was almost as if it weren't the flames that challenged the shadows, rather that the shadows chose to play with the light. There was no doubt that the flames would eventually have to resign in this uneven contest and be consumed by its counterpart, the endless night, once and for all.

"How... how do you know? What makes you so... so... certain?" Lord Myraec stammered.

"It is terminal," Raeis confirmed. "I should know."

"But... " Myraec struggled desperately for answers. "But... what is it you're suffering from, Raeis? Consumption? It must be... You've always had a weak lung!"

"Don't worry about the details. You will learn more soon enough, don't concern yourself with it now. There are other things we have to discuss now."

"Raeis, there must be someone who can find a remedy, or whatever you need to make it through, by the Twelve! I know so many people healers, Nehtorian Whitecoats, well respected mindsmoothers not only here in the province, but throughout the whole kingdom... Let me know how I can help, and I'll gladly move heaven and earth to save an old friend! If there is any possibility we'll grasp it!"

Raeis coughed, but waved the proposal aside instantly. "I appreciate the offer..." A smile flashed over his face. "It is well meant. However, I beg you to respect my wish: I've settled my affairs here, my dear friend, and I've given all aspects of the matter long consideration. I've never felt more confident in my whole life than about this decision: I've accepted it. I will die."

"And I tell you: You can't be serious!" Lord Myraec replied agitatedly. "Look, in all..."

"Myraec... Listen!"

"If only I knew what you're..."

"Myraec!" The sage's hand shot up in rejection. It was a quick, determined movement, accompanied by a harsh command that cut the air like a knife: "Don't."

The gesture was as brutal as the message that had given reason for making Lord Myraec's heart race with anxiety a few moments ago. Almost intimidated by the strictness of the display of refusal from his friend he fell silent, only managed a helpless look to the other side, his eyes quietly pleading to allow reason to prevail.

But finally he shook his head as there was no further reaction from the other chair aside from the still held up flat hand.

"Why then..." Lord Myraec finally began. "Why then did you want me to come if you've given up on life already so easily?"

The sage slowly retracted his hand, let it sink in his lap. "Because maybe I can make you understand."

"Understand? That you are committed to just end it there, not even having considered all options? Make me understand why it makes perfect sense not to try? How can you even think that I'd agree with you?" Lord Myraec was furious.

"I hardly seem to recognize you when you say things like that. Tell me: Are we merely born to die? Is that what you believe in your heart? That once the Gods confront us with adversity we let Queprur whet her scythe, so that Her harvest is going to be richer by one more soul She'll reap? Is that what you want to say? Aren't man, and elf and dwarf, and all the other created races for that matter meant for some higher purpose? A purpose that transcends the hardships of their humble existence, and that it is thus our duty against all odds at least to try whenever we are confronted with a challenge?"

The sage nodded. He pulled the blanket that he had spread over his knees a tad higher before he replied.

"Well then, let me explain," he offered. "Like you and you can take my word for it I believe in the foresight of the Twelve, actually I put all my trust in it, I live by that. Even though as a mortal I'm also aware that our insights can only be limited, and that our actions need be guided by that knowledge. It is the Gods who know the whys, we're merely here to follow the path they set out for us. But we need to try to understand, that's what we're here for."

Raeis sighed. "See, back then I accepted that it was the Gods' will when Bredda died of the black fever during childbirth. Not that I understood, but it was what the Gods chose for me, and it must have happened for a reason. While I struggled for years to overcome my melancholy, this stroke of fate Seyella knows I'm not lying taught me also more than anything else to be humble and thankful, to be content yet ambitious in whatever I did as long as the opportunity was offered to me. I was shaped by it, was pushed in new directions I otherwise would never have headed for, not even tried to. Today I know that."

His friend listened attentively. He was about to object something, but then reconsidered and let the sage finish first.

"Not only perhaps, but for certain, this tragedy made me love Vanya, the only child Bredda bore me, more and more even more than her mother... Ah, I was so proud when she was coming of age and beginning to dabble herself in research, just as I did back then in my own youth. She so much wanted to be like her father! Butterflies were her great first passion, then she set out to hunt for beetles all day... Meticulously she studied, read up, made drawings, described and catalogued all those tiny little creatures and helped to enrich the Santharian bestiary with her work. Oh, Vanya! She adored the beauty, the uniqueness every single one of these little miracles had to offer, and even enjoyed working with spiders and snakes, which the others so shunned..." He sighed and paused for a while, collecting his thoughts.

"It must be painful remembering her now. She was..." Lord Myraec began, but couldn't finish his sentence. Ancient memories crept back into his mind and sent shivers down his spine.
Raeis' eyes seemed to glow from their sockets in the darkness. Tears ran down his cheeks. "Alas, it wasn't meant to be."

Shadows of the past
Image description. Shadows of the past keep haunting Sage Raeis... Picture drawn by Quellion.

Lord Myraec sank back in his chair, breathing deeply. "If only she hadn't ventured into those ruins... It were ancient ruins where it happened, wasn't it?"

"She was looking for a very rare spider, and then fate hit again," Raeis said and stared for a while completely motionless into the darkness before he continued. His voice sounded distant and forlorn, almost like an echo of the past reverberating in the present.

"You know, we often talked about her work," he whispered, "and she once said to me: 'The ugliest creature, the fiercest monster only appears ugly or horrible to us, father. A common spider does no harm whatsoever to humans, yet people run away shrieking when they see one, because it has eight legs and scuttles in a way that it makes one's hair stand on end. But you only need to look at their webs: Spiders create the most amazing things, a trap for other insects, but a work of art no human could ever produce...' Ah, she was so sincere when she said that..."

Sage Raies wiped away a tear. "'Every such creature has purpose and meaning in itself,' she used to say. 'Only we don't always understand their actions. But we should strive to, because living beings all have a soul.' Ah, it is as if she said those words just yesterday. I can still hear them ringing in my ears..."

His friend's memories touched Lord Myraec profoundly. He had known Vanya all her life and still remembered the last moments he had spoken to her about the endeavour she was about to undertake. "Raeis, let's not reawaken your grief. You must have felt very bitter when she died, and about the way she died as well... She spoke lovely words, and I appreciate her thoughts, but it was her wrong conviction, her naivity that caused her demise..."

"Naivity perhaps," Raeis conceded, "wrong conviction, no," he countered adamantly, shaking his head with fervour.

"What do you mean? She was warned beforehand that the place might hold more than just the odd insect? I remember that clearly, because I was with you then over there in the 'Limping Quagga' inn in Linfill when she prepared to set out on that doomed last journey. Travellers who tried to spend the night there warned her that the place was haunted and evil!"

Lord Myraec shook his head. "Raeis, it was naive to go given such advice, and she did it nevertheless, unflinching, even against your very own doubts! And it was her fatally wrong conviction that whatever was out there would do her no harm if she only approached it the right way. It was her conviction that killed her, her conviction that she was immortal due to a mere intuition, a feeling, not actual knowledge. It's like walking into a dragon's lair with the confidence that you might stand a chance talking the beast out of exterminating you. For all the wrong reasons! Even if you think there must be more to the creature than its lust to destroy you for destruction's sake, it won't save you, and neither did it save Vanya. Raeis, we've been through all this before!"

Sage Raeis let his head droop. "She didn't know what horror she'd encounter there. But this doesn't mean that her ideas were all wrong," he said defiantly, "only that her juvenility made her jump to conclusions rash, bad conclusions for which she paid with her life." Raeis looked sad but stern into his visitor's eyes. "She just wasn't prepared for this... She was still so young..."

"I'm sorry that I have brought this up at all," Lord Myraec added. "But the mystran didn't care about fancy ideas of researchers. Let's face it: A creature like this is malevolent, pure evil, this has been proven again and again. Its sole intention is to kill for killing's sake, and nothing but. Whenever it has the opportunity, it will do so, without mercy. It is one of the most horrendous netherworldly demons that devours its prey inside out first the soul, then the body. One should never venture in its vicinity! Never! Even to this day no one knows how to actually kill it. Wherever it lurks, the place is doomed."

"You don't know anything about the mystran," Raeis retorted. "It's a spirit unlike any other. However, you treat it like a spider that one finds abhorrent for being itself, for being what the Gods created it to be, and all you are thinking about is how to eliminate it."

"It possesses, it feasts on souls, it kills!"

"We make it to!"

"What are you trying to say? That the mystran killed Vanya because it's in his nature to fend for his territory? That you therefore have decided to forgive this abominable creature?"

Myraec shook his head once more, then almost out of desperation remarked: "It is useless discussing about it. Why are we having this discussion anyway given the sad news about your illness?"

"The mystran didn't lure her into its home, it didn't hunt for humans. This is not what a mystran is about," Raeis said stubbornly. "A mystran is a creature of the darkness that lurks in the shadows for ages and ages if need be. It has no shape, it is a pure spirit, a consciousness if you so want, a phantom. When it kills it acts like a living veil that dazes the senses, and it defends itself by possessing intruders that come too close to it. Vanya's curiosity made her a victim, while others who spent the night there a few days before her sensed its presence, but remained unscathed."

Raeis sighed. "No, Myraec, it was I who failed, it was I who served him his prey to feast on. Believe me, no day has passed by since Vanya's death that I haven't regretted that I didn't try to prevent her from undertaking this expedition. But her life musn't have been in vain. She must have died for a reason."

"What reason is that, Raeis? What could it be? You still fail to accept the truth. You're chasing shadows so many years after it happened!"

Raeis voice was strained, but it grew louder as it tried to make a point: "Yet you talk yourself about the Gods, Myraec, about the challenges they confront us with, and how we should overcome them."

"I do, and I'm sticking to it."

"And I accept to build on what the Gods have handed to me, as incomprehensible as their gifts may seem with two deaths that weigh heavily on my life. But I must face that challenge, heed the gifts, pay tribute."

"You're talking in circles." Lord Myraec vehemently shook his head. "I tried, but I fear I cannot follow you, Raeis, I'm sorry. You speak so fervently of the past, of Bredda and Vanya, and their memories clearly live on in you. You remember how both of them died right before your eyes, how helpless, how desperate you were that you couldn't save their lives. And yet whatever happened you insist that it was all part of the Gods' will to guide you, that you accept it only as such. But towards what did the Gods guide you if you now give up on the challenge to save your life when you say you are dying? Raeis, come to your senses!"

"My mind has never been as clear as today, Myraec," Raeis replied. "You only need to listen."

"I hear you, my friend. But with all due respect, you're not succeeding in convincing me." Lord Myraec decided to pour himself another glass of wine, this time not out of enjoyment, but frustration.

"I haven't finished yet," Sage Raeis said without batting an eye. "Now see my desk over there?" He pointed towards a spot in the other corner of the room.

Lord Myraec turned around and found that he had difficulties seeing in the dark. The light of the fireplace hardly reached further than the two chairs they were sitting on, especially now that the evening sun had set and the only window the room had to offer had turned into a black slab. He waited until his eyes adjusted to the darkness, then rose to his feet.

"There are some papers on top of the desk. You should have a look at those."

"As you wish..."

Myraec returned with a large bulky folder, in size almost as thick as two or three weighty tomes. At the request of his friend he opened the strings that held it all together, spread some sheets on the coffee table nearby and began to study the first pages.

"Why, they are texts on demons, spirits, spectres. Investigations in cases of possessions, accounts of sightings, comparisons, theories, essays, that sort of thing. Hmm... Many of these sheets bear your handwriting. Looks like serious research papers, but it's not your regular field. Interesting... is this indeed your own work, Raeis?"

"Yes, it is," Sage Raeis answered. "The papers deal specifically with the creature you labeled 'malevolent and pure evil', because that's what you were told. The phenomenon commonly known as... the 'mystran'." Lord Myraec looked up from one of the papers he held in hand and raised an eyebrow. "I've spent several years accumulating these resources, making notes, considering ideas, possibilities, suggesting assumptions, drawing definitive conclusions. I've learned a lot, more than you could ever imagine without seeing it for yourself. My work is now almost done."

"So... You've delved further into the matter, Raeis, I see. Well, this explains at least your unique views, which I haven't heard expressed anywhere else..." Myraec nodded in appreciation as he flipped through the vast amount of material in front of him. "I guess it was all done in order to support Vanya's notion that we should try to understand creatures for what they are before judging them from a human point of view. Is that what you've been trying to achieve with this work? Any substantial success beyond your hypotheses?"

"I owed it to Vanya, and I needed to pay tribute to her. I've worked on this over a dozen years. And yes, there are successes."

"Well, I've only got glimpses of your opinion on the subject as of yet, but I trust there's more to be found herein to support what you've been trying to convey in our discussion. The New-Santhalan Library will be very proud to integrate your work, and so would Vanya if she could only see what her father has been up to in order to honour her memory..." Lord Myraec raised his glass and at the same time bowed to his friend.

"There's one more thing," Raeis brought up with sudden trepidation clearly audible in his voice. "It concerns my death."

Lord Myraec instantly put his glass back on the table. The moment of celebration had passed as unexpectedly as it had arrived.

"And it is about why it was so important to me that you have come."

"Go on then, I'm listening..."

"When Vanya died," Raeis explained, "her remnants were found at the doorstep of an abandoned building where she was looking for insects to study. Instead she met her fate there as we all know. It was only her mortal shell that was discovered days later, and one could barely recognize her." The sage pointed towards the door. "That happened just a few peds away from here. On that doorstep of this very manor."

"What...?" Myraec gasped. Whatever thoughts shot through his head and wanted to get out, the words remained stuck in his throat.

"I bought the house about a year ago. It's the same old manor, nothing has been changed since, and nothing has been changed since Vanya's death either. That's why it still looks like an old crumbling ruin, at least from the outside."

"You couldn't possibly have..."

"I have, Myraec," Raeis said cooly in the hoarse voice of his. "I have." The constantly shifting light thrown at him from the flames at the fireplace made his face appear more and more ominous and forbidding. "It was the right thing to do."

A sudden loud crackling of the burning wood almost made Myraec jump. He anxiously changed position in his seat. "What..." His voice trailed away and he had to begin again. "What... about the mystran?" he finally managed to produce with a trembling that had gripped him. "How did you get rid of it?" he then almost shouted.

"I've studied this spectre, this demon, this spirit if you so want for years, Myraec," the sage tried to assure him with a calm that came across more as a disquieting threat. "Whatever you might call it, there was no point in getting rid of it."

Myraec couldn't believe his ears. "You mean... The mystran is still... existing?" The surrounding darkness now seemed to close in on him. Then he uttered the word that made his blood chill even more now that he spoke it out aloud: "Here?"

"Myraec, for whatever Bredda's and Vanya's death are worth: They both led me to where I am at this moment, and I have to fulfill my part. Bredda died for Vanya and Vanya died for a conviction she couldn't prove to anyone. It is my turn now to do just that and bring her ideas to fruition. It was bound to happen," the sage said thoughtfully. "True knowledge - knowledge that goes beyond what we can put together by collecting and comparing the accounts and ideas of others - such true knowledge needs to be experienced. It only comes through sacrifice, Myraec, as those in doubt need proof, the proof they can build on, the proof that only one of their own can deliver to the others who doubt."

"What in the Twelves' names are you talking about, Raeis?" Myraec snorted nervously and jumped up. His legs were suddenly shaking with terror and he had to grab the arm rest of his chair in order not to lose control of his legs. Beads of sweat formed almost instantly on his forehead as a dark and foreboding notion entered his mind.

Sage Raeis however remained seated. Despite his friend's agitation he didn't move at all. "It's been with us all along," he said calmly, "and I've recorded the mystran's behaviour for many months now to be sure that you are safe from it. Do not fear what it is, Myraec, it was I who has been touched by it, it is I who will have to give his soul as that's what I promised." He paused for a moment, then added as he saw Myraec's disquieting expression intensifying: "Have trust in me, stay where you are. Do not threaten and challenge what you don't know..."

Lord Myraec felt dread and disdain, accompanied by a dizzying sensation that completely overwhelmed him. He staggered back as apprehension finally dawned on him. His eyes darted here and there, expecting any moment that the lurking spectre might emerge from the darkness, devour him from the inside out and scatter his bones and innards like toys around its shadowy form...

But for now nothing happened.

"The mystran is a beautiful creature," sage Raeis continued unshaken by his friend's reaction. "Something unlike anything else we've ever known, a creature that can connect with your inner self, your being, that, what constitutes a person's essence, the soul if you only want to let it happen, allow it to.

I've gone through long preparations before I finally decided to take that last step, but it was all worth it: Merging your being with a mystran takes yourself to places you could never experience in corporeal form. I know, because there were several occasions in the past months when I allowed the mystran to enter my mind, and I entered its in mutual understanding." Raeis voice sounded firm, presenting his cause with enthusiasm and determination.

"Yet I've retreated from the creature again, as was my wish, and you find me unscathed by its touch. While you are convinced that the mystran is intent on killing, I can assure you this is not the case. Curiosity is its form of existing, it senses and draws on feelings to relive them again and again, as it has none of its own. Believe me or not, but I've felt something of Vanya in and around me in the brief instances when our consciousnesses overlapped, and it felt like heavenly bliss descending on me..."

The smile that had formed on Raeis's face momentarily changed to a frown when he added: "Of course, there is no doubt that the mystran feasts on strong feelings like fear, but it extinguishes only if its presence is rejected. If you are open for it, you are safe."

Myraec was still on his feet, mouth agape. The scholar's accounts seemed so fantastic, and yet so shockingly real and close when his friend talked about his experiences, that the only way to handle this discrepancy in perception was to just stand there and stare in disbelief.

After a long silence, Raeis spoke again. "It's all in these notes, Myraec," he said and pointed to the folder that contained his researches. "Take them with you when you leave, show them to the staff of the New-Santhalan Library, so that the world will finally begin to reevaluate creatures they've failed to understand so thoroughly. May they look again and learn."

"Raeis..." Lord Myraec began pleadingly, but he knew that it was already too late, too late to change a mind that had just arrived at the point it had set out to reach years ago.

His friend just went on: "As for me: I will now conclude my experiments and abandon the body you associated with Raeis Canthwin, and head off to whatever awaits me there on the other side of what we know as the mystery that is the 'mystran'. I want you to be my witness when it happens as I've always admired and trusted you, Myraec. Let it be known that I went by my own volition for Bredda, and for Vanya, and in order to give my life as a researcher its purpose and meaning." He nodded for a last time, then closed his eyes, not expecting an answer anymore. "Farwell, Myraec, take care."

Myraec knew there was no possibility to escape the horrific position his friend had tricked him into. Even though every fibre of his body resented what was going to happen, he followed the given advice and tried to keep his emotions in check.

He stayed where he was, transfixed. Having no choice he simply whispered "Goodbye!" to Raeis and waited for whatever would follow.

It lasted only a few moments until he sensed a shift in the darkness around him. It was not that something could be made out clearly, something one could pinpoint, something that one could observe as moving from here to there, nothing like that. Rather the light of the flames in the fireplace and around Raeis' wing chair were briefly suppressed by an intensifying, almost palpable darkness. Instances later the spook retreated again, as if the blackness had been breathing for a blink, then everything returned to the way it had been before. The wood in the fireplace kept on crackling unperturbed, but something had changed.

Lord Myraec gazed at his friend. Raeis' eyes were tightly closed and he had put his hands in his lap in wait for the creature the ghost, the spectre, the spirit, whatever it was to enter his being and merge with his self. Myraec stared intensely at his friend, and the longer he did so and the longer he couldn't notice anything different he more and more began to doubt the words he had just heard him speak. Maybe it was just an illusion after all he had seen when there was an unexplainable shift in the darkness around him, a whim of his all too vivid imagination. Maybe Raeis was delusional and his sick mind had made him draw conclusions where there wasn't anything to find. Maybe someone had even sold him this old manor which might not even be the actual place where Vanya died, simply because he knew that the old stubborn fellow could be fooled and one could get some profit out of that fact. Maybe...

Lord Myraec had almost convinced himself that he had been right all along. Self-assured, he finally stepped forward.

"Raeis?" he asked tentatively. He was about to lay his hand on his friend's shoulder in order to awaken him from years and years of self-deception, a nightmare he must have been following for so long.

But as he approached he saw something unusual. There was a sparkle in the old man's face. At first he thought it to be a tear, but as he got closer Myraec suddenly had difficulties recognizing the features of the man...

Then he froze.

He was struck by realization. What he had seen was not a tear on the trusted face, but a button on the backrest of the wing chair, right there where he had looked Raeis into the eye only a few moments ago... What ?

Myraec almost forgot to breathe as he tried to make sense of what he was looking at. There was no doubt: Raeis was still there, he could positively discern the outlines of his face, and yet only barely. However, through the face's skin the skull was clearly shining through, and now even the bone he was looking at retreated more and into nothingness, as if taken over by an invisible entity. The sage's existence as he had known it was being swallowed up completely right in front of his eyes: As the features of his friend disappearing entirely only the backrest of the wing chair remained...

Myraec tumbled back in shock as an agonizing moaning noise suddenly emerged from the scene he had been watching. Then the already scarcely recognizable shape of his friend turned into a blur, and the next moment the blury figure became the blackest of shadows he had ever seen. Suddenly what once was Raeis seemed to rise from his chair and as the shadowy thing did so it emitted an ear-splitting shriek, before whatever was left of Raeis slumped violently to the floor. A lifeless corpse remained, barely resembling a human, wrapped in torn clothes.
The black shape in form of a human however had been absorbed entirely by the darkness of the room, leaving Lord Myraec alone with himself and a bulky folder full of notes. A folder about a misunderstood creature as some claim, otherwise known as: the 'mystran'.

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 Date of last edit 14th Passing Clouds 1674 a.S.

Ghost story written by by Artimidor Federkiel View Profile