This story can be read alone, or as the 17th section of the wanderer story.
You can read the first story here: The Wanderer, Part 1
or the latest story here: The Wanderer, Part 16
Tas woke up on a table in the middle of Fei’s chamber, his stomach was in agony and he could barely move except to go deeper into the fetal position. He realized suddenly that Yao was chanting above him, locked in concentration. The pain was slowly leaving his body and Yao was holding something, Tas had to put his head back down to cope with the massive waves a pain from his gut. He felt like he was dry heaving, but without any result except the contraction in his abdomen.
Yao began to chant a bit more loudly now, and Tas managed to look up and see the black wyrm wriggling in his hand, nearly dried up of its dark liquid and covered in a mucky slime that seemed to partially disappear into vapor before hitting the ground. The Tas was slowly feeling the pain leave, he could breathe again and the tears stopped streaming from his eyes. Yao’s voice was steady in the background, he had never been so grateful for the old man in his life. Fei began to help Tas to drink some water as the waves of pain faded more and more. After a minute of recovering, Tas could see that Yao was still locked in concentration, eye fixed on the wyrm in his hand.
Yao continued for the next 5 minutes, then stopped once the wyrm was motionless for a few minutes. He threw the carcass into the fireplace for Fei to burn later in the afternoon.
Once Tas could breath normally, he asked, “Melkar said it was from the north and so was he. What does that mean?”
“It means they have both died,” Yao said, careless, as usual. “And come back with the power of the shadows.”
Fei looked at Yao disapprovingly, as if he had ruined a surprise or something of the sort. After a quick gruff, he spoke, “The North is a place without as much light, Tas. Darker things thrive there and people who have spent extended periods of time there come back different than when they left.” Fei turned to Paj, “My theory, or hypothesis excuse me, is that Melkar’s remains were taken into the north by Grethatch, sometime after Melkar’s first death.” Fei looked at Yao now, who was picking dirt from under his fingernails.
After a moment, Yao realized they were waiting for him and gave a shrug, “what do you want me to say? I killed that bastard, tore his head from his shoulders with a morning star.” He looked at Tas now, “it was quite the swing,” winked, and returned to picking his fingernails. Fei looked deeply disturbed for a moment, then resumed his normal smile.
Paj spoke now, “Tas, you have been entangled in something older than your self, as we all are when we are born into this world. Your dream, rather, nightmare last night was no accident. Melkar knows you now and so does Grethatch for that matter,” He looked alternately at Fei and Yao now.
Yao spoke now, “there is no use terrifying the boy.”
“Wait,” Tas copied the way Yao spoke on occasion, heightening his voice then softening it to get the others to listen. “What is happening to me?”
Yao laughed now, “Your mind was under attack by a shadow wyrm, or something along those lines, no one can know what Melkar has been creating in the shadow. Without my extraction, you would have entered into a permanent nightmare. And in the process, become Melkar’s slave.” He looked more seriously at Tas now, “You must be careful for the next few days. It may take up to a week for your body to process and get rid of the shadow.”
Fei nodded, “meditation will help.” He looked at the others, “But we must be careful now. There is no telling how much control Melkar might have over the boy.”
Yao locked eyes with Fei, “I disagree. The boy is resilient and powerful. We should continue his training.”
Fei’s eyes now darkened, in a way that Tas hadn’t seen before, “You would fling his life around like a plaything, teaching him that which can kill him, harm him, put him in the way of death?”
“Do you suddenly believe in accidents Fei? This is the boy’s destiny. He has chosen to walk the path towards god, he said so himself! Who are we not only to stand in his way of his path, where-ever he is being led.”
Fei sighed, “your way is so detached. Do you have no compassion for him?”
“I do, that is why I wish to arm him with all of the skills necessary to defend himself.” Yao was resolute, Tas could feel it, not only from looking at his eyes.
Paj remained silent as Fei scanned the room for support. Tas finally got up the courage to speak, “Do you think he will come back?”
“Do wolves give up their hunt? How about when they smell blood? He smells a soul to reap, he will be back sure as the sun rises.”
“Then I have no choice.” Tas said, knowing his mind was made. “We should train starting tomorrow.”
Paj sighed, shook his head, then spoke, “I am sad to say it. But we should certainly. Your life will not be an easy one Tas. This is only the beginning of the terrible darkness that a black reaper can bring.” He looked at Fei and Yao to make sure they understood. “His warlock friend is also a nuisance, but I will teach you how to shield your mind against both of them. You will sleep soundly within the week.” He said it jauntily, but Tas wasn’t so excited for a week of sleepless nights.
Fei spoke now, “I will put the best resources the temple can provide. You will be ready to defend yourself when the time is right, Tas.”
Yao just sat, but Tas would wait. Finally, he spoke, harshly and barely audible, “Wake up before the sun. Meet me in the central grounds, that’s when we start your physical training.”
Tas was surprised with himself, but he was excited to train with Yao again, more than anything else.
“After morning ceremony, meet me on the balcony,” Fei said with a smile.
Paj took Tas by the hand and led him away, “For now, you can rest. We will talk some more when you wake up. Be careful; do not forget about what was inside of you this morning…”
Tas nodded, nearly asleep again and let himself be led back to his room, when he fell onto the mattress and let himself fade into the dark of sleep.