"And what is your greatest fear, Aldrest Wilcaust?" the fumes produced by the candle wrapped around my face as I stood before the shaman reading my soul. His eyes were half opened revealing only a white retina, his nose was large, and his lips were dried and chapped. "Soul Readers" had no eyes and were usually blind; legend says that they sold their ability to visualize the real world in order to gain a view from the invisible world.
I pondered over his questions; it probably was useless to lie to this man. "Failure, I guess?" I answered.
Silence met me as the shaman mused on my answer. "Good answer, please proceed."
I stepped around the shaman and glanced over my shoulder, the rest of my companions were still being questioned and some of the hunters had already entered the city. Candravar smiled at me and gave me an encouraging nod.
I ran inside the city, through battered-looking buildings and broken glasses. I remembered Candravar words, he had asked me to destroy the scroll if anything happened to him but he had not revealed anything more. Why would he destroy the scroll so precious to him? That scroll was the beginning of the black soul hunters.
This challenge was pretty easy; it was just a walk toward the mountain and nothing more. I sniffed a couple of times before my eyes became unfocused and my sight hazy. I stopped and leaned against the wall catching uneven breaths, what was going on? For some minutes my head was spinning and I found myself holding it between my hands, trying to regain focus and consciousness of my actions.
I squinted through the waves of pain and saw a tall figure coming toward me. I moved my eyes and my heart skipped a beat. Beads of perspiration formed in my forehead as I recognized the haggard face of the figure. Everything works slower, even on a psychological level; my motor responses were sluggish as I got to my feet.
"Father..." I said to myself, my lips were trembling and my eyes seem to be bursting out of their socket. "Father, how could you...?"
"Be here, son?" the figure of Arum Wilcast stepped close to me, a smile of contempt drawn on his gaunt and sharp face. His black hair matched his dark eyes; he was brandishing an oversize scimitar sword. "Isn't this a great surprise?"
This has to be an illusion, I thought stepping back, away from him. He died five years ago.
"Fight me, Aldrest," he seethed, "demonstrate you are not the image of your deceased grandfather or the failure he was."
"He was not a failure, you were!" I snarled. Before I realized it, his hand was powerfully closed around my throat making breathing hard. He lifted me to meet his gaze, a mocking grin on his face.
"I won't repeat it again, fight me," he thrust me with great force and I hit the ground painfully. "You always wanted to fight me, now this is your opportunity." He sauntered to me; the sunlight struck his sharp blade. The scimitar from my father was sharp from both sides of the blade, making his attacks more lethal. Because of the curved blade, his father most of the time entered close in contact with his opponents, therefore his blows and slashes were deeper and fatal.
"I won't fight an illusion," I said vehemently, getting to my feet, "you are not real," I spat. Words failed me as I saw him charged toward me, his moves and stances were well known by me. His pose was bending down, his scimitar to his side ready to slash me across my chest, furnished with a dark blue aura. Despite what I said about him being an illusion, I found myself reaching for the hilt of my swords and take them out ready to block his attack.
His scimitar connected with my swords, my feet were sliding backwards trying desperately to keep my balance. "I am real now?" he sneered, his knees connected with my stomach.
I arched due to the blow, in the air his fist hit underneath my chin and send me flying to the air. He jumped up and pirouetted in the sky before launching his leg on my abdomen. I hit the ground, leaving it highly dented, my body ached. I was not coming out of this alive if I didn’t fight him. I scrambled to my feet, holding my swords.
“I see you still keep your grandfather’s swords,” he derided, approaching me again. “It was good that bastard died, doesn’t it?”
“You have no right to talk about him like that!” I growled, furnishing my own swords with spiritual energy. “You were a disappointment to him but he still loved you.”
“I see he infected your mind as well,” Arum sprinted toward me, his scimitar just across his face. I deflected his attack with the sword in my left, and then with the right slashed him across the chest. It left his a deep graze in the chest, fuming blue out of it. “Reverse-blade swords, pathetic,” he whispered before striking again. “Am I what you most fear Aldrest?”
Energy failed me as I heard that sentence, allowing him to pin me down on the ground. The curved tip of his scimitar was painfully making its way through my leg. I screamed in pain as blood trickled out of my leg. My eyeballs were quavering with fear, was what my grandfather felt when he died in the hands of my father?
“You’ve become weak, Aldrest,” he said, enjoying my suffering, “you’ve become like your grandfather. He couldn’t stop his son from murdering and you cannot stop your father from taking your life. How will you be able to protect those around you if you fail?”
Faces flashed through my mind, all the people I’ve known and learn to care for. “I won’t let you succeed,” I told him. My hand turned the blades upside-down ready to kill.