An Astral Sojourn
- Page Ten -
A few flashes of gray and white, then she felt herself growing near to her destination. The sensation was like a deep tugging at her higher self along with a ghostly pain of her past. The weight of nostalgia and memory pressing through the astral realm began to drag at her feet, pulling her down. She began her descent through the billowing clouds toward the world-plane below. The clouds were far thicker in this place. The world below was cast in a depressing gray-blue light. In the distance, the echoing booms of thunder began to shatter the sky. She soon broke through a thick ceiling of cloud to gaze at the land below. She had arrived at the threshold of a dead land. The land that was once her home.
She continued to lower herself, wanting to press onward toward the earth, yet she hesitated. She remained aloft, but every few feet she allowed herself to slowly descend began to remind her of a game that she would play with Serranos when they were younger. In their house, the ruins of which existed far below her now — if it still existed at all, given the devastation she could barely see — they had a doorway to the catacombs beneath the city they lived in. It was a dark and forbidding place, providing access to the living members of the family so that they may consult with their ancestors. Maenthrai started the game one day, in her youth, as she stood in the doorway looking out into the darkness of the catacombs beyond.
Her mind would swim with horrors from her imagination in those times. Arisen skeletons clawing at her with bony fingers; Wraiths of the ancient dead revealing their deathmask-like faces through the darkness to utter curses and cryptic warnings; and the very real threat of the thaekkuz revenants that occasionally haunted and stalked her people when those that died returned to a shambling semblance of life due to some severe cowardice or regret they could not let go of upon death.
It had all started as her attempt to build up courage when she was younger after reading a great many passages concerning the art of necromancy that her mother collected as idle fancy in her studies as an oracle. She had read harrowing tales of those that consulted with the dead, or those that had to put them down should they come back to the world of the living. Those tales had given her nightmares all throughout her childhood, but she couldn't pull herself away from the darkly morbid books. So, there she would stand, staring into the darkness where the dead dwelled, pushing herself forward; step by shivering step. She did this every night for a few hours. That is until her younger brother Serranos woke up one evening and caught her.
After he had shown some interest in her tests of courage, Maenthrai and Serranos made a game of it together. Each of them pressed each other further and further into the darkness. Both, besting their mettle more and more, making creepy sounds to rattle each other; recalling the morbid tales that Maenthrai had learned in her younger years; Each playing off of each other's fears so as to push each other to get over them.
When the twins were old enough to walk and talk, Maenthrai and Serranos tried to get them to participate in the game as well. The twins weren't as fun, nothing seemed to phase them. They could stand in the dark for hours, staring with their creepy and wide eyes out into the realms of the dead. Both of them, with their stark white hair, pale features, and strange energies seemed to be well at home amongst the shades. The game lost its interest then, with both Maenthrai and Serranos coming to see the twins as truly otherworldly.
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