Chapter 17: Tears of a wraith.
In the simplest of terms, a wraith the spirit of one who has died once, losing their physical body and who is becoming a chlan, degrading from a person into a walking wound. The yellow eyes are the proof of this, as it is the mark of a corrupt existence.
There is exceptions, living people have on rare occasions become wraiths, but it takes a great dedication to wickedness to begin wraithfall while still in possession of a body. Spirits that have possessed their former body or some other thing while more resistant to becoming a wraith, are not immune.
Part of the reason for this baleful transformation is that spirit bodies are far more affected by will and action, and mostly everything than physical ones. You put your hand in fire and you burn, but as a spirit, you might instead take some aspect of burning yourself.
Spirits of the once dead fear the wraithfall, as it is said that unless a spirit descends to the Urlbris and takes part in the trials there, they will eventually turn into a wraith. Eventually in some cases turns out to be hundreds of years.
There is a few stages to the birthing of a wraith. The first is the yellowing of the eyes, at this stage, the spirit may be fully aware of what is happening. The second stage is when what is called the mask of shame grows, and in pace with the growth of the mask is the withering of the victim’s shadow.
The mask of shame grows slowly from the face, a grotesque face echoing the corruption of the spirit’s heart . The metal of the mass is one that people have trouble describing as anything other than ugly. Objects made with the metal of a wraith mask tend to either be great charms against chlan, or magnets for ill, misfortune and destruction.
Only when the mask fully covers the face can the unfortunate spirit be called a wraith. With the completion of the mask is also the loss of the shadow. It is at this point that most wraiths go mad, but not all do so. The time it takes for the mask to grow varies greatly, some spirits spend hundreds of years with their mask growing. It is at this point, before the mask is complete that wraiths are the easiest to cure of their corruption.
The third stage is corruption of form, the wraith’s body, be it physical or of spirit, warps and becomes monstrous, often in reflection of the corruption afflicting their heart. Oddly if the wraith is a spirit, this body it gains is a physical one. The other aspects of the third stage is the loss of the chest and the opening of the maw of ache.
The wraith’s chest becomes pressed in, hollow, this is the result of the spirit losing their regular emotions. The maw of ache is the true finale of a wraith’s degradation. A mouth begins to form at the spirit’s neck, or closest equivalent. This mouth eventually grows wider until it circles the neck.
When the mouth completely severs the head from the body, the head bursts into yellow flame, and is consumed. All that remains of the head is the mask that floats above the neck.
This is when the person who’s spirit has become so corrupted, dies the second death. What is left behind is called an unredeemed wraith, an Ur-wraith. A chlan in full.
A walking wound and ill to the entire world.
Ur-wraiths are particularly dangerous and in general the longer a wraith is around, the more deadly its powers become.
Interestingly a redeemed wraith, a being called a hithraw, is gifted with a beautiful mask, and an uncorrupted version of the powers it had as a wraith.
There is tales of wraiths able to hide their mask and yellow eyes and slip among other spirits and people, but many people do not wish to believe that wraiths might lurk among their number.
As frightening as wraiths are, their weaknesses are many, light, pure water, salt and so on. These things prepared correctly can even kill a wraith.
Indeed, most wraiths, that have not become Ur-wraiths are not particularly hard to kill.
It is far more difficult to redeem a wraith. Few know the methods, and fewer have the will or strength to do such an act. After all, many believe wraiths deserve nothing less than destruction. Hithraw often face discrimination for their time spent as a wraith.
The wraith before Aira, Bab-Lin and Phule had not yet begun to open the maw of ache.
Bab-Lin was desperately fending off the wraith’s snakes, not even his more forceful blows seemed to cause the misshapen diamond snakes much harm, but on closer examination, Bab-Lin was doing his best to conserve his strength.
“Ahh, Aira, good can you help me with this? If I attacked on my own it’d tear me apart!”
Bab-Lin swatted down some stone spikes that the wraith had spat out, the ground that these spikes struck turned to stone. No wonder he was not keen on attacking it on his own.
Aira moved forward to join Bab-Lin, but paused. She realised that she did not want to kill this wraith.
She knew who it was. She knew why the wraith’s form in the dream was familiar. She had seen it in a vision. The wraith was Yullris. She had survived all this time, and had not become an Ur-wraith, Aira could see that tears leaked from the chlan eyes of the wraith.
She didn’t want the end of Yullris’ story to be dying as a wraith. Perhaps it was selfishness, perhaps it would be better to put her out of her misery.
She didn’t want to accept that ending however, it seemed wrong to her.
“Could we bind it?” Aira asked, she had no illusions of their chances of being able to redeem Yullris.
Bab-Lin narrowly avoided being speared by a stone spike such was his shock at hearing Aira’s request.
“Are you out of your mind!?” he yelled.
Phule was likewise unsure “Phule not thinkings that very safe”
“Not safe?” Bab-Lin spluttered “More like quite likely to be fatal!”
“I know but…”
Bab-Lin spat flame over Yullris in a mostly vain attempt to get her to back off.
“Look, if you can think of a way to stop her, I’ll go for it, but if you can’t it is her or us!”
Aira considered the problem, and in short order, she came to a conclusion.
“Bab-Lin, the gift from Fram, if we call him we can move Yullris out of time!”
Bab-Lin slid about, keeping Yullris from Aira and Phule.
“That’s… actually a good idea, one problem with it though, I’m the one with the trinket”
Aira rushed forward at Yullris.
“I’ll cover you!” She called out as her pincer arm snapped open and she pelted Yullris with bolts of shadow.
Bab-Lin backed away pushing off the snakes as they tried harder to find an opening in Bab-Lin’s superior defence.
Phule had served her part in waking Aira, she was not a great combatant for this manner of foe, sneaking being her skill, and she had no weapon.
Aira flashed a blade of shadow into the side of Yullris. The wraith was now on the defensive, shying away from the cut of Aira’s shadowblade. Yullris hissed and wailed, it seemed she was in possession of less of her senses outside of dream. Aira pressed her advantage, stinging Yullris with the bite of her weapon, and firing bolts of shadow at the spikes of stone that Yullris tried to sneak past her.
Bab-Lin found the golden spinning top like object in short order, and tossed it into the air. If anything it began to spin with greater ferocity when it ascended. At the peak of Bab-Lin’s toss the top hung in the air, and an ethereal ruby clockface appeared. The hands of which quickly begun to spin around.
It seemed that Yullris could tell the trinket was something dangerous to her, as she directed a torrent of stone spikes at it. Aira did her best to sweep the things from the air, and Bab-Lin caught the rest.
Yullris howled in fury and it was all Aira and Bab-Lin could do to keep the wraith at bay.
Then, there was a popping sound and the trinket collapsed in on itself, the ruby clockface crumbling. A crash of thunder and scarlet lightning and then Fram was there.
He was about to make some bombastic announcement, when he spotted the wraith.
He was then about to take action when Aira shouted out to him.
“Fram, please, take her out of time!”
Fram simply nodded and red lightning flashed from his hands even as a pair of ruby gears spun into existence either side of him.
He cast out power, crimson lightning crawling over Yullris, then his gears flew at her, rushing around her, keeping her pinned down. Still, Yullris fought ferociously, straining at Fram’s binding.
It was to no avail. A great red grandfather clock began to construct itself around Yullris. Fram seemed to be exerting some effort, wounds appearing on his hands, and his ruby gears cracking and splintering. Finally the clock was complete.
It bonged three times, and then shatter, revealing Yullris, devoid of colour, separated from the flow of time. Fram took a moment to admire his handiwork, there would be no mistakes like what he had made with Bab-Lin.
“So, then… mind telling me what this was all about?” Fram questioned, quite curious.