Erik and Brinlad moved slowly through the forest. The eerie situation of two ghostly figures juxtaposed by the soft singing of birds in the tree tops, and the rustling of leaves in the wind while the sun showed through as moving pillars of white. A calm set over the forest, the wispy movement of the undead made no sound.
“We have some time before we reach the main road into town,” Erik’s hollow voice seemed to bend with the wind, muffled by the air, “so… what do you want to do until then?”
“You said you were in prison? Before you died?” Brin’s demeanor was cheery for a ghost, which either added to the eeriness or relieved it. Erik laughed lightly, he seemed to recall the years of prison with a fondness and a doubt, as one does remembering an embarrassing moment from their past. His smile and nod confirmed her question but no words escaped his mouth. He walked still for some time. The silence built and suddenly was broken by a soft sigh of Erik’s hollow breath.
“How about this, I will tell you my story, if you will tell me yours” He grinned hopefully at Brinlad who smiled cautiously back.
“I don’t know how much I could tell you…” She trailed off a little defeated.
About 10 years ago, I was part in a merry band of men, rogues, mercenaries, ex-soldiers, and the like. I remember sitting in a dimly lit, poorly kept diner each week, singing hearty shanties… off key… but reminiscing of old battles fought and friends made. We got mixed in to some pretty difficult times. Bad times. We didn’t do anything really bad, I mean, the situation was bad, and well… bad things happen you know? Anyways… things changed after that… The group grew grim grounded on grudges. Our lighthearted shanties turned to battlecries of rebellion; our jolly crew turned to morbid renegades. It took its toll on me. I was still young, and susceptible to nightmares in the dread of night. One dream kept haunting me in particular. A figure stood over each of us as we slept, and as he passed over each of our band, they would slip into death. I was assured each time I awoke with the bustling of my arising crew. However, one night my dreamed turned from fiction to reality. There were 30 of us… each one I knew by name, and I was the only one left. After that day, I stopped singing. I never dared again. I stopped sleeping, I spent the nights walking barren streets, with the comforting cobblestone under the lamplight.
My midnight walks grew in frequency as time went on. I was hungry, it was cold, wet, and uncomfortable. I guess I hadn’t slept in awhile and I saw… or kind of daydreamed I guess… at night… my crew under the lamps, I could see them singing, but all the sound was drowned out into nothingness. I ended up stealing bread that night after they faded away. I felt like I couldn’t hear anything. I started stealing more and more. Eventually I saw the errors of my ways and straightened out. It wasn’t too long after that, about a year or so, that King Wil’s previous adviser, a girl I had come to know, ratted me out to the old King and since I hadn’t continued my habits, he didn’t have real reason to kill me so he sent me to prison. That was 7 years ago. I met a man there who helped me become the Conservator I am now, taught me all about Earth. I told him my story, and he called me a fool, he said that I didn’t know that stopping to sing or live is like a sickness that grows and takes your life away. It captivates you. I didn’t fully realize what he meant until now. I eventually was the only one left. I became crazy… I would write on the prison walls in the morning and look at the walls at night as if I had never seen them, they were divine messages only for me. The words formed for me. I grew cautious and found that all that I spoke and all the words I read were just silent imaginings, echoes of the words themselves. King Wil was astonished I hadn’t died yet, and was getting weary, he transferred me to another cell where I came back to my senses, and had to, because every 3 days a new creature would appear bent upon my destruction. I stayed in that chamber for a year and a half… or so… until I happened upon Jomas, Admiral, and Alvar… or they happened upon me I suppose. I had a sense to survive in those halls, but never a sense of reason… That is why I stick around with you guys. I have a reason finally, although realized a little too late but hey, I have never really been as free as I am right now.”
The crack of a whip in the distance echoed clearly through the open trees. “Haha, I guess time to go find out what that was!” Erik smiled, a little relieved to be done with speaking, “Stealth mode activated.”