Chapter 4: Episode 17- "Deep Water"
“Thank you for saving our lives.” Felix turned to see the voice had come from a young child, no older than five years of age. The little girl looked up at Felix, who knelt on the ground where he had brought down his flail only moments before. How had the little one gotten so close without him noticing? Felix smiled at the girl with smudges of dirt on her face. This little one would no longer have to fear for her life living among the Shade in a ghost town. She was free to grow up and live into a beautiful woman with a family of her own.
Felix smiled for her future. He reached out to touch the little girl’s face when a knife glided inches from his ear and struck the little girl in the stomach. Felix was too shocked to respond. He flashed his head around to see who had throw the knife and was stunned to see Khali with her arm extended as one did after a knife throw.
Unable to speak from shock, Felix slowly turned his head, twitching involuntarily. Dumbfounded that Khali would just kill this child without reason, Felix look back at the young girl to see what he could do to help. Maybe he could at least her pain in passing from this life to the next. But when Felix looked back at where the little girl was supposed to have been standing, it was not an innocent, fair-faced child he saw. The child, once struck with Khali’s magical knife shrugged off its deceptive form, the flesh of a human form melted off of a creature of the depths.
“It was a Siphon…” Felix sated, bewildered and embarrassed at having been fooled by such a sick and cheap trick.
“Indeed.” Khali moved closer to her brother, ever alert of an incoming attack or new kind of devilry afoot. Rangers were suspicious by nature, but Khali had been stabbed in the back too many times and was paranoid of danger. This had saved her life countless times. “Foul things able to take on the appearance of another creature they have siphoned the life-force from…” Khali spat in disgust.
“How did you know?” Felix clenched a fist where he knelt in the sand, angry with himself and trying to get a grip back on his calm. He grit his teeth in concentration, steeling his emotions. A weak warrior was often a dead one.
Khali came and laid a hand on Felix’s shoulder reassuringly. “I sensed its presence after the Shade disappeared.” Khali said softly. Felix made no sudden moves, but felt something off in the air. Something was still not right, there was a foul presence nearby. Slowly he looked around and attempted to calm himself internally as Master Toyo had taught him to do: still your soul and sense the movement of the spiritual world around you. Felix did just that and all of the sudden he felt the presence of evil right upon him.
“Khali,” Felix said quietly. “We should be on our way now or we’ll never make Jong Kabur by nightfall.”
“You’re right. It’s still a distance to the Capitol. We should head ou-” Khali’s response was cut short by a knife in her throat, but this time it was Felix’s knife, and as he discovered a second later, the person with a hand on his shoulder was not Khali: it wasn’t even a person. The Siphon with Khali’s image stumbled back as the human form melted off of the creature. Felix did not withdraw his knife and forced the Siphon back onto the ground. “We were not heading to Jong Kabur, you filth. Where is my sister?” Felix screamed at the creature which scratched at its bleeding neck in an effort of futility. “Where is she, you useless beast!” Felix ordered, the ferocity in his voice caused the Siphon to flinch and for a second its dull eyes glanced off to the north: a side street that went further into the city. Felix closed his eyes and focused, calming his inner self. He could sense the trail of the Siphons who had taken Khali, like a bloodhound he narrowed in on their essence.
Opening his eyes with a snap, Felix stood, whipping the knife out of the neck of the Siphon, the dark creature faded away into ash as its life extinguished. The knife dripped black, gooey slime, the blood of the foul thing. An otherworldly light shone in Felix’s eyes, a paranormal bloodlust filled him as he felt his soul be transported to the spirit world. As a demon hunter, Felix was trained to transfer his soul, his living essence in and out of his mortal body to live in the spirit world as a walking wraith of a human, or and empowered human in possession of spiritual strength. Felix had trained so hard that it was almost natural and fluid to lapse into the spirit world.
Everything sparked black and shadowy as Felix’s soul walked through the spirit world. A dark, murky glooming, glowing world of spirit flashes and sparks in the shadows. The physical world was a faded, colorless figment around Felix: the way it appeared to those in the spirit world: strangely dim and dull. Felix was wearing all black, and his clothes warped around him as if hit with an unseen wind; whipping and lashing around his body slowly with cackling cracks and flashes so that one could never quite tell where the spikey, morphing from of his black garb ended. It was as if his attire was made of rags and strips of cloth tied around his arms, torso and legs rather than solid, skin-tight clothing: the spirit world’s way of reconciling non-spiritual elements with spiritual souls of human. Felix clothes appeared to be shredding and reforming instantaneously as the spirit world sought to dispel them from their world, but repaired them as being closely related to the heat signature within Felix.
Felix, carrying the dripping knife in one hand, letting the slimy blood of the Siphon drip on the ground, as if to emphasis his disinterest in the creature’s life, and the ease it took to slay it. He cared about nothing but Khali; and were it not for her, he truly cared about nothing. Harm done to her was the only thing that could cause his spirit to come alive and rage against his peaceful nature. And protecting her, in this moment, was his sole reason for existence. His mind focused hard upon the object of his desire: Khali and Khali alone was his one care and concern. Forget what may befall him. Forget what harm or trouble he may incur, what expense or cost it may toll upon his body or mind. Felix would sell back his soul to God if it meant getting Khali back.
He wasn’t sure when this mental shift had taken place, when he’d started to care about another. Maybe it had always been there… he’d just been away so long that the feelings he truly felt had been hidden, covered over by years of suppressed emotions and forgetfulness. She was his sister, he loved her, he would fight for her: give his life to protect her… Where was she?
Breathing deep, though it felt painfully slow and shallow in his lungs, Felix closed his eyes as a cat before a lapsing sleep. His mind concentrated as his body stood in the middle of a dirty street in the midst of a crowd of dead corpses. Two story buildings looked down upon him from both sides of the narrow thoroughfare as windswept dust blew across their wooden faces. The squalid warm air pressed heavy on the tense scene, but in the spirit world everything was cold and clammy. Instead of yellow and warm, with wooden faced buildings and a crowd of corpses, there was white, stark cold that burned. The spiritual creatures of the Shade lurked in the darkness of the dark, the shadow of shadows in the back of Felix’s blind vision. And he saw it. As clearly as if it had been Khali herself: the strand of her essence. It was a violet ribbon in an otherwise colorless spirit world. But though the spirits of dark and light were black and white, the soul of Khali was alive and vibrant, full of spark and color. Felix followed the ribbon of Khali’s soul, knowing it would lead him to her. Praying to all that was good in the world that he would not be too late.