We arrived in the Shadow District, a place that I desperately wanted to avoid. But unless you’re already on the supernatural side, you have to go through the dimensions in order. And in order to get to Gahenna, you have to journey through all seven dimensions, as a way to prove yourself.
As we traveled through the Shadow District, I kept a tight rein on my emotions, and Wraith was just as stoic as when I first met him. Emotions draw shadows like flies, and with my dad on high alert for any suspicious activity, he would have found us immediately and locked me in the castle for a very long time and sent Wraith who knows where.
“So is there anything specific we have to do?” I asked Wraith, my black boots padding noiselessly against the grey ground. I still hadn’t mastered the hovering-walk that most Eidolons are capable of.
He shrugged, his skin again regaining its translucency after return to the supernatural side. “I do not know,” he confessed, running his hand through his now messy ponytail. “The ability to walk through Gahenna unscathed and unchained is only gained by those who show extreme self-worth. There may be a time when I am no longer able to accompany thee, and thy journey will have to be continued alone.
I suppressed a shudder and looked over my shoulder again at the thick line of black, scraggly trees. “Have you seen anything from your mom about what that could be?”
He shook his head. “I have yet to see anything. But know this, Nikki,” he said, fixing his empty black gaze on me. “Whatever trial thou must face, it will force thee to look thy worst fears in the face and to show them that they do not hold sway over thee. Many people break under such pressure.”
I look down at my feet. “So you’re saying that I’ll break under the stress?”
A small smile ghosts across his face. “Nay, tis not what I meant at all. Rather that since I have known thee, thou hast shown such amazing strength and resilience under many stressful situations. It is character like that which will give thee strength to carry on.”
I nod and readjust the straps of my backpack. “Tell me about your brother,” I say suddenly, startling myself with the abruptness of the question.
“Daemon?” he asks with a puzzled look. “Why dost thou wish to know about Daemon?”
I shrug. “I had a few memories of him, but they were really fuzzy. Honestly, I didn’t even believe he was your brother until I saw him with Fallon.”
“Daemon always enjoyed spending time with mother more, especially after our father was kidnapped. He took over the role of head of household and helped provide for us after…”
I nod as his voice trails off. “What did he look like?”
“Daemon looked very similar to our mother. He had her grey eyes and dimples when he smiled. For an Eidolon, he smiled often. But his smiles never boded well for the receiver. Of our family, Daemon was the only one who fully embraced the ghost side. He was dark and enjoyed torturing others. The last time I saw him was before our mother began her journey to Gahenna. As far as I know, he now spends his time haunting places on Earth and possessing people.”
“Oh,” I said simply. Of all the family stories to hear, I didn’t think that this one was going to be so dark.
“Whilst on this journey, thou will discover that the lives and existences of those that are involved with thy family’s are usually unhappy. Such is Kendra’s legacy.”
I remained mute and plodded along next to him, ignoring the sudden tension I felt build up behind me. If my grandmother truly had ruined so many lives, then she deserved to be stopped.
“Why hasn’t anyone tried to stop Kendra before?” I asked.
Wraith chuckled. “Many have tried, and just as many have failed. Kendra is extremely skilled at how she retains her power. For all those who come against her, regardless of their means, she simply absorbs their energy and they cease to exist.”
“She can do that?” I ask, appalled. Any form of murder, even of someone already dead, is unthinkable for me.
“She can do that and much more. She has had a millennia for her strength to grow. She is one of the Old Ones,” he replied, referring to the fifteen original spirits that came into being as the Earth and supernatural side were formed and separated.
“I thought that the fifteen had all returned back to their home dimensions and were enjoying retirement,” I said, checking over my shoulder for the third time.
If Wraith noticed, he didn’t say anything. “Originally, they all did. Kendra, Riley, Geist, and Fawne all returned back to Gahenna. But after having a taste of what control was like, Kendra began to make plans to establish the Shadow Castle in Gahenna and rule from there. Riley and Fawne confronted her, and she killed them. Geist fled to the Shadow Castle and became the head of thy mother’s guard. After the American Revolution, our world was flooded with spirits of soldiers who still wished to fight. Geist trained them in secret, then took them to meet Kendra at the gates of Gahenna. No one is still sure how she knew of the attack, but Kendra had assembled a force of her own, a force of the damned that were exiled to Gahenna. While Geist and his men were more, he underestimated Kendra’s fury and the bloodlust of her own soldiers. Every single one of those that went with Geist were killed.”
“Did Geist die, too?” I interrupted, the story fully grabbing my attention.
Wraith nodded. “As the last of his men fell, Kendra came upon Geist and inhaled his essence. When she was done, there was nothing left.”
“If no one survived, then how do you know what happened?”
“Thy mother scryed Gahenna and watched. It was already known that a human spirit could remain in any dimension for as long as he or she wished, and it was Geist’s defeat that made her realize she had to find someone else to rule.”
“So my mom just left after Kendra had taken out her army? Left her castle and the entire supernatural side open to another attack from her?” I asked, facing him. We’d stopped walking when I found out that Kendra was one of the Old Ones.
He shook his head. “She left my parents in charge.”
“And they just gave up the throne when she and my dad came back?” For someone who grew up in a human world, two people just giving up unimaginable power like that was extremely hard to comprehend.
“Aye. My parents had no ambition for the throne. My mother was one of the first Eidolons created, and she wished to return to Earth so she could raise her family without the turmoil and violence.”
I snorted at that. “I’m pretty sure ‘turmoil and violence’ are synonymous with ‘humanity.’”
Wraith smiled and shook his head. “My father just wished for my mother’s happiness. Her father had taken her to be raised in the supernatural side after her mother had died of the black plague. It broke her heart to leave behind the human world.”
“But couldn’t she have just lived here with your grandmother? The dead all journey through here, and when there’s a family member to greet them, they don’t turn into Shadows. They stay spirits and can live peacefully here,” I pointed out.
“There was no family member to greet my grandmother after she passed. Kendra had still placed wards around the portals in the Shadow District to prevent human spirits from leaving, and to keep their loved ones from coming to save them.”
Oh, right. I forgot that Kendra hates humans. I’m about to ask Wraith why when that feeling of being followed gets even stronger. My instincts kick in and I grab my stiletto from my pocket and spin down into a crouch. I may have been a pretty human girl, but my dad always made sure that I could take care of myself.
There’s a small gathering of Shadows behind us