Chapter 25:

A Special Case

Red is the Color of You

      With a new oversized shirt and Wraith’s cleaned and elongated robe to boot, Izumi delightfully fell asleep in Wraith’s arms that night, the fluffy warm bed only adding to his immense comfort. He felt as if it was the best he’s ever slept in years. Not even the slightest bit of discomfort or tension tainted him, as if the thick canopy enclosed and secluded them from the world. This, however, was eventually disturbed from within.

Come morning Wraith began to rustle and groan, his expression visibly distressed, which woke Izumi. The temperature in the room seemed to steadily increase, and especially notably, Wraith’s red mantle. It seemed almost as shaken as Wraith was, as the fabric grew coarse and stiff, completely opposite to its usual silky cotton and flow.

An increasingly worried Izumi shuddered Wraith’s shoulders in an attempt to wake him up, shouting, “Wraith! Wraith! Wake up!”

Nothing. If anything, he only rose in agitation and disquiet. Suddenly, with a thunderous burst the large doors flung open, a familiar group of three running through, Dahlia closing the door behind them.


“Neio!” Leaping out of the bed Izumi ran across the room to the trio who were by the couches. “Wraith-”

“He’s having a nightmare.” Dahlia spoke, a hint of concern in their voice. Izumi looked between the three of them, evidently having no clue what that meant, so Neio took it upon himself to explain with a worried and frustrated sigh.

“When boss first made the gang, he used to get these reaaaaally awful nightmares. He never said about what, but they fucked up the place BADDDD. The building is held up by his magic so if anything happens to him, the building goes down with it.”

It took no time for Faelan to realize that this too applied to Wraith’s cloak and he hastily attempted to remove the robe from Izumi with his teeth. “Izumi take off-”

The robe began to sizzle and spark, steadily burning Izumi’s skin and pain seeping into his face. Immediately he threw the nearly hardened fabric aside and it clanked against the stone, sparking into flames.

Reading his distress, Dahlia responded to his clear question. “I closed the door and you’re wearing his shirt, so I doubt anyone will smell you. And his robe will be fine. Nothing could destroy it. We aren’t really even sure what it is.”

“In terms of the boss though, usually what we learned to do is try and attack him, as weird as that sounds. He’s got a strong survival instinct so that would always wake him u-”

The estate trembled and quaked in response to Wraith’s groans which were nearly at the point of screams, ushering them to pick up the pace. World spinning in circles, Izumi nearly falls to his knees until Neio catches him and perches him on one of his broad shoulders.

“Then can someone wake him up!” It was becoming unbearable to hear Wraith yell in such agony, both for the building and for Izumi’s well-being.

“It’s not that easy! Whoever wakes him up is bound to get splattered on the wall!” Neio shouts over the earthquake.

“Which I’d imagine would only get worse the more you guys wait here and bicker! Just someone do it!”

“I’ll wake him up.” Faelan tried to sound as confident as possible, but in reality he was scared. Dahlia and Neio were much more suited to the job, considering they were stronger than him and also more familiar with Wraith. Still, Wraith put a roof over his head, and to him, it was only right that he repaid him in some way.

     The other two wanted to suggest the same, at least in terms of Faelan stepping aside, but they had their share of nightmares from centuries ago. Consider it a rite of passage, they thought. Faelan cautiously approached the large bed where Wraith tossed and turned, unsure how to go about attacking him; ultimately he decided the best method would be to attack from a distance to avoid Wraith countering. 

Alas, this plan didn’t work in the slightest. One of Faelan’s metallic tails zipped forward in an attempt to stab Wraith, who immediately awoke and caught the tail in midair, using it to heave Faelan towards him and impel a fierce kick into his bone jaw, fracturing it and slamming him against the wall. 

There was a clear power difference between the specter and his followers, as not even Dahlia, who tried to catch Faelan’s fall, was able to stop the momentum, so both lay dazed against the fissured stone wall. The unconscious, reflexive nature of Wraith’s counterattack made it apparent that he had a long history of war and strife. 

Coming to his senses, Wraith, rather than checking on Faelan and Dahlia who took the brunt of his blow, he rushed over to Izumi, panic strewn across his face, while the estate quelled to silence and the crimson fabric returned to normal with its master’s return. It was up to Dahlia to heal the both of them, since Wraith didn’t seem to notice his actions. On the other hand, the damaged wall repaired itself, being made by magic.

“Are you alright?!”

A little confused by the fact he completely ignored the obviously more injured ones, Izumi didn’t vocalize a response, only nodding as he shifted his eyes between Faelan and Dahlia across the room and Wraith. The others were even more baffled than Izumi was, as they’ve never seen Wraith so concerned about someone else to the point of disregarding others, especially his generals.

Neio set down Izumi and immediately Wraith began patting him down, making sure he wasn’t hurt. There were spots of a light pink on his skin, primarily his arms, and upon touch Izumi would wince in pain.

“Ah- it’s fine, just the robe burned me a little. It doesn’t hurt too bad, I’m sure it’ll go away.”

Wraith pressed his lips together, a bit vexed and dejected, studying the light wounds. Then, delicately he held Izumi’s hand and kissed the back, trailing up his arm, the faint burns vanishing in the process. Openly staring, Neio and the rest couldn’t believe the affection and care that Wraith gave to Izumi. There was only one person that he ever showed the same tenderness to, and that was Lavina, the specter he dated centuries ago.

Wraith, still not recognizing the presence of the others, or at least choosing not to care about them, sighed and held his wavy strands in distress. “Do you think you’ll be alright with them?”

“Dahlia and the rest? Yea, I’ll be fine, where are you going though?”

“I...need to take care of some things. I’ll be back as soon as I can, but I can’t guarantee if it’ll be before you head to bed. You can keep this though.” 

Dusting the robe off, Wraith removed it from the floor and situated it onto Izumi’s shoulders, lifting the hood over his head, while the sleeves of the cloth faded into two black patterned bracelets which wrapped around Wraith’s wrists. 

Ruffling his hair, Wraith smiled. “You look like a gothic red riding hood.” Izumi had opened his mouth to bite back, but Wraith sealed them with a peck and a smirk, the hood luckily hiding his flustered cheeks. “You three take care of him.”

Once Wraith had left the room, Neio seized his chance to interrogate Izumi, shouting in his usual overt tone, “What was that!!!! I thought you said you two weren’t a thing???”

Izumi slapped the pink off his cheeks and plopped onto the couch before answering. “We aren’t!”

Already exhausted, Faelan trotted over and collapsed beside the couch, Dahlia and Neio resting on it beside him. “He didn’t even look at me and he nearly cracked my head open.”

“Well he clearly cares about you, which is a first. Last person he was that over protective with was-”


     The feminine voice was new to Izumi and Faelan, but extremely familiar to Neio and Dahlia. They knew her for as long as they’ve known Wraith, since they had once come in a joint package. 

Through the doors emerged an elegant woman whose long brown hair flowed as much as her snow white dress. Black framed glasses on her face and shawl almost off her shoulders, the specter of knowledge made her presence known–heels clacking against the dark stone, echoing throughout the discolored bedroom. Typically, spirits only bow to their leading specter, but Wraith’s faction was different. Every spirit under him was not only ordered to show respect to Wraith, but to Lavina as well. Immediately, Dahlia signaling for Faelan to follow, the three spirits rose and respectfully lowered their heads until she gestured for them to sit back down.

“I was surprised his royal majesty didn’t notice me enter the estate. Now, I see why. He was so absorbed with you.” Lavina lifted her glasses and bent over before Izumi, studying him closely, as if seeing through his soul. The first thing that Izumi noticed was her sizable chest and Izumi’s lack thereof, since it was hanging in front of his face as much as he tried to look away.

“What’s your name? Since that detestable man couldn’t even spare me that.”


“Your full name.”

“Izumi Mitsue.”

In all honesty, he was a bit intimidated by her. He could hardly believe that Wraith once dated a woman so strong and assertive, which completely juxtaposed Izumi’s timid and unconfident personality. They didn’t need to have an extensive interaction for him to see how different Wraith was from her and how their relationship fell apart.

“Hmph.” Lavina lights her smoking pipe and sits next to Izumi on the opposite end of the couch, where Wraith typically sits. A cloud of smoke floats from her pursed lips, inhaling to speak once more. “Then he’s treating you well I take it?”

“Y-yes.” Sweat started to saturate Izumi’s palms.

“That’s good to hear. I actually came today to ask him about you, per our agreement, which he seems to have forgotten.” She taps some of the embers out of her pipe.

“W-what agreement?”

“I had told him that if he updated me on his situation with you, I’d give him the information he wished for regarding mediums, yet he never stopped by to talk after that. I knew that would happen, hence why I came to force him to talk to me, but here he isn’t. And instead, here you are. So? Has anything notable happened?”

Izumi searched through the files of his mind and memory, ultimately, only a few instances came to his mind. Still, they didn’t show Lavina anything that she didn’t already know.

“Not really…”

“Not this?” Lavina pointed to the vermillion hooded cape with her pipe. “The only person to ever even lay hands on that other than Wraith was myself.”

“H-he just gave it to me to cover my scent.”

“Is what he says.” Another puff of smoke leaves her chest. “It’s much more than that. From his bedroom it’s unlikely that anyone will smell you unless they had a nose as good as Wraith. You’re wearing his shirt as well. If I were to take a gander, I’d say he gave it to you for an extra layer of defense, in the case you are unlikely attacked and even more unlikely they get past his three best fighters. Like I said, overprotective.”

“Was he not like that with you?”

“Yes and no. Naturally he is when he cares about something or someone.”

“Lavina is a specter though.” Neio explains, to which Lavina nods in approval of the statement. “She can handle herself, and it’s not like anyone would threaten her anyways. Spirits and specters don’t bother her since she’s pretty respected.”

“Really? That’s weird. I mean- no offense sorry.”

“None taken.”

“It’s just...Wraith always talks about how everyone hates him so-”

“It’s because she’s completely neutral: no faction, no followers, doesn’t really eat, doesn’t fight, unbiased and neutral everything. Boss though, complete 180 compared to her, you know.”

“So, you don’t have any enemies or anything..?”


“Don’t people know about you and Wraith though?”

“Yes, but as Neio stated, I’m impartial, so they know that I won’t take his side by default.”

Their differences in experiences and character intrigue Izumi, tickling his curiosity about Wraith’s past self.

“What was your relationship like then?”

“In simple terms, we were very different back then. Believe it or not, he used to have a childlike innocence to him.”

For confirmation of this fact, Izumi turns to Dahlia and Neio, who knew Wraith in the past and confirm with a nod.

“He was still pretty egotistical and everything, but definitely lived under a rock or something. Didn’t really know much about the world.” Neio comments.

“How though? I thought he was super old or something?”

“He is, but before he had encountered any of us, he was alone. Did he tell you anything about his past by the way?”

“That he changed his appearance or something after he met you?”


“He was kind of forced to in a way…”

Lavina looks like she wants to ask for further details, but she decides not to and continues with her previous thought. “At least before he changed, he was by himself. Never conversed with anyone, never did anything but fight. Battle was all he knew. Didn’t even know how to read or write. I ended up being the one who taught him, grew a fondness for books because of it.”

Izumi’s mind drifted off, So THAT’S why he still appreciates her. I wonder what made him like that and how he turned into who he is now…

“If you’d like, I could show you the library I own.”

With starry eyes, Izumi leapt from the couch, taking any opportunity to learn more about Wraith’s world: the world of the paranormal. “Please!”