The Flight of The Draykes
I fell for what seemed to be hours and yet seconds. At one point, I felt the air solidify around me before it popped like a bubble and then I was in an unfamiliar landscape.
A landscape of misery.
Red fire burst through the cracks on the ground. Ghostly forms wandered around aimlessly. The air was difficult to breathe and seared my lungs. The wails from all around me had me clutching my ears in torment.
Breathing in shallow breaths to adjust myself, I found to my pleasant surprise that the scent was one of coziness. Of a warm fire in a cold month while sipping on tisane. That kind of smell.
I stayed in the position where I landed for a long while as I brought myself to my optimum state where the sounds were manageable and the air breathable, if barely.
Looking around, I couldn’t understand where I had to go as the place where I had landed was a perfect square on all sides.
Apart from the ghostly forms, there didn’t seem to be anything that I could see of interest.
Steeling myself, I cautiously approached one of the ghostly forms, who turned around and stared at me blankly.
Then recognition seemed to dawn in the being’s eyes, and his face came into focus.
Gulping, I swallowed the fear that was rising in me as I saw the face of the man.
He was unremarkable, except for his thuggish face and his eyes twisted in hate as he stared at me.
He was the first soldier who had sliced open my cheek in the unsuccessful assassination before.
He was also the first one to die at Deianira’s hands as she executed the hapless soldiers.
Roaring, he stumbled at me, and panicking, I staggered back and gasped as his incorporeal form passed through me.
Icy fire seemed to spread inside my body and the more I tried to ignore it and run, the more it seemed to chill me.
Looking back as I fled, I saw that the soldier’s ghost was standing right where he had attacked me, looking lost and befuddled.
Then his features slowly faded back into a blank look and he reverted to his faceless, ghostly form.
Meanwhile, inside my body, I could feel frantic emotions of hate, unwillingness, regret, and anger raging together in a maelstrom that threatened to consume me.
Hastily seating myself cross-legged, I tried to meditate and calm myself.
But thoughts of the soldier kept flashing in front of my eyes.
The look in his eyes of despair as Deianira callously stabbed her sword through his throat. The unwillingness as the light of life vanished from his eyes. The hate that must have coursed through his veins at me and Deianira, the evil people from his perspective. But regret... what did he regret?
Did he regret not being able to kill me?
But this regret is filled with such sadness.
Besides, I know this regret.
Where have I felt it?
I clutched my heart, which began paining terribly and panting; I doubled over before the pain spiked suddenly and I fell over to my side.
Crawling, my eyes unfocussed, I made contact with another ghostly form who looked at me confused, before forming into yet another one of the soldiers in the assassination.
But he didn’t roar as the previous one did.
He instead reached out a hand and tried to lift me up. Only to fail.
The pain within me increased further, and I screamed out loud, causing the ghost to have a worried expression.
The ghost backed off before miming at me and pointing at his lips as he spoke.
In a daze from the pain, I read, “I - a-m - sor-ry”
Sorry. He says he’s sorry. Why?
I couldn’t think, but a part of me was thinking.
That part of me suddenly showed me scenes of when I was desperately fighting to stay alive against Deianira. The images that had run through me then. The faces of my parents, my family, my friends, my loved ones.
The regret that I would have should I die and leave them behind. The regret that drove me to fight back.
Suddenly, I understood the first soldier's regret. He regretted that he failed. He regretted the people he was leaving behind. He regretted it deeply.
Suddenly, the icy feeling turned into a smoldering heat that began consuming my insides.
Yelling out at the sheer pain, I curled up before I realized that the pain was receding.
Coughing out and wiping away the mucus and spit that had come out, I forced myself into a sitting position and I tried to empty my mind while embracing the fire.
And the fire embraced me.
Unknown to me, my body was shining between shades of white and black before settling on a deep red color.
The second soldier’s ghost watched me with worry in his eyes that receded as I finally opened my eyes after a long time.
Meeting the ghost’s eyes, I raised my eyebrows and asked, “Why are you worried. I caused your death.”
Shaking his head, the ghost smiled bitterly and pointed to himself, and then his lips moved, though no words came out.
Carefully looking, I made out the words, “I - trie-to-kill-yo... I-am-t-blam”
Parsing it together, I looked at him for a long while before I reached out a hand. Hesitantly, the soldier’s ghost reached out his own hand and placed it palm to palm with mine before he pushed it through my hand.
Head jerking back, I howled as another stream of emotions flowed into me.
There was sadness, pain, grief, regret, and... happiness. I could understand all the emotions perfectly, but happiness? He was happy that I wasn’t killed?
Recovering faster this time, I looked at the ghost and asked, “why?”
Looking sadly at me, he pointed to himself and mimed carrying a baby before looking at me and raising a hand and holding it slightly above my head.
He had a son or a daughter the same size as me. Suddenly, my vision became blurry with tears as I realized I didn’t understand his sadness, pain, grief, and regret at all.
He didn’t feel those emotions because he failed to kill me. He felt those emotions because he was leaving his child behind.
Again, with tears flowing, I asked him, “Why did you do it then?”
He shrugged and pointed to himself before slapping his head.
“I made a mistake.” I translated.
That led to his death, his child being left alone, and almost to my death.
I didn’t know what to say.
I looked at the soldier’s ghost, who smiled sadly at me before he walked toward me and bowed.
Shocked, I bowed back and then watched as he lifted his face and spoke wordlessly the words, “Good luck,” before he faded away and scattered into a mist that stayed for a moment before a gout of fire broke free from the ground in front of me and obliterated it.
Looking thoughtfully at the departed soldier’s location, I turned and walked toward the first soldier and bowed to him while I recalled all his emotions.
In a thick voice, I said, “I lived. You died. You tried to kill me, so you deserve it. That’s what I should be saying. But the ones you left behind and your will - I will carry it on and I will live on!”
As though it heard me, the ghostly form flickered before it too vanished in a burst of mist - consumed by fire.
Looking around, I counted the number of ghostly forms, and then mentally I went through the images of the people that had fallen at my hands, directly or indirectly.
There were exactly as many ghostly forms as the number I reached.
Understanding now, I walked with purpose towards another ghostly form whose features came into existence and confirmed my conjecture.
These were the fallen.
They became the fallen because of me.
I have the duty to lay them to peace.
So I did.
I went to every single one of the ghosts and, with gritted teeth; I absorbed the torrent of emotion that they possessed. Some of them recognized me, some didn’t.
Some tried to attack me. I stood there pale-faced with sweat running down until the ghost's energy ran out and they faded away.
One thing that did not change was that I bowed in respect to each one of the ghosts as they disappeared.
They fought for a cause that they thought was right.
I fought for a cause that I thought was right.
Who was right and who was wrong cannot be answered, for the river of time is shaped only by the living and the living may not always be right.
But they can try to make things right as much as they can and that’s all that matters.
The moment this thought appeared in my head, I felt as though something that had been shackling me was broken.
With a crashing sound, an immense pillar of flame rose underneath my feet and consumed me, and everything went black.
Please log in to leave a comment.