The nature of the sword





The Paragon University offered its population a curriculum both specific and adapted to its growing population. Center stage, in a city known for super natural occurrences of various genres, its academia was sought after all around the world, as far as break through discoveries were concerned. One of its departments, the academy of arcane magic and studies, became famous in the last few months through a major find concerning the historical dating of Orebanga. At the head of that said department, sat Professor Mary Jenkins, one of the most well versed figure on magical knowledge and its practical applications.



Since early morning, her team of specialists had been analysing the sword left behind by the now infamous leader of the Ghost army, Ghost Starr, after his disappearance a little before the dawn that followed the massacre of Kings Row. Nether Spirit had been sent along with the sword, on a reluctant guard duty. He had been watching them debate and analyse the nature of the sword for quite some time now, and found their argument quite redundant.



“A sword’s nature is to draw blood, it brings pain to the one wielding it, the one at the receiving end of it, and to the families of the ones fighting.” He said with exasperation in the voice. The academicians all raised their heads and looked at him perplexed to find cold and merciless eyes staring back at them. Nether knew of death, pain and suffering, in an intimate way. This body he was occupying was nothing but a shell. His essence, his very presence came from beyond the grave, from the realm through which the river Styx flowed.



Earlier today, when he had walked into Jenkins’s laboratory, magic crystals had begun to glow fiercely all across the shelves cluttered with various artefacts. Jenkins, taken aback in finding out that Nether Spirit was indeed a magic manifestation on earth’s plane, had asked him to remain seated in the corner of the study. She had then proceeded to scatter blue ashes around his position, as a safety ward, to prevent any accidents during their evaluation of the mystic blade. Annoyed, but compliant, Nether had been sitting on a stool, in the corner of the room, for five hours straight. When they broke for lunch, he remained there still, rarely feeling the need to ingest food or drink, he maintained his guard duty over the sword.



While Jenkins and her team were gone, he decided that it was time to snoop around a little, get a feel for the place. The first thing he noticed, as he stepped across the blue ash line, was a tingling sensation all across his host’s body. Intrigued, but not disturbed, he started to walk around the room, looking here and there at some odd things and animals in jars, intricate charms and items cluttering shelves. Some symbols he recognized easily, others were unknown, and of course, some had a familiar look to them. Nothing out of the ordinary was here, for such a place.



Walking up to the table where the sword was resting, he took a moment to look at it more closely, and admire the beauty and simplicity of it. The magic energy emanating from it, gave him a basking sensation of dark and forgotten realms, where even one such as he, had never set foot into. What a strange sensation it was, mingled with fear and desire, to feel it pulsate so close to him. With a hand, he softly touched the hilt, sliding his fingers along the blade, like he would along a woman’s spine. The sounds of a thousand painful screams bolted across his mind as he did so, and he jerked back from the sword. Indeed, a very powerful blade it was, a soul drinker. Jarred by this event, he looked around the room, letting his animal instincts reassure him that all was well. A picture on a desk got his attention, but why he couldn’t tell. Mary Jenkins, and a man with dark skin, were holding a baby and smiling to the camera. Something about it was familiar, but what he couldn’t tell, but his eyes remained glues to it for a few seconds.



When he heard Jenkins’s team laughing and walking in the corridor, coming back from lunch, he walked back to the corner of the room, stepping across the blue dust once more, he resumed his position. The six scientists entered the room, threw a look over at Nether Spirit, nodding to him in silence, and went back to their duty. Mary Jenkins followed in, a few minutes later, and stopped as soon as she was in the room, looking at him. Shaking her head in disapproval, she said:



“Could I see you in my office please.”



She then turned her back to him, and walked towards a side door, where her name was written on the glass frame in bold letters. She opened the door, waiting for Nether Spirit to stand and come to her. He did so, but was unable to walk another step passed the blue dust on the floor.



“As I suspected, you moved from the ward while we were gone.” She then said



“What trick is this, professor Jenkins?” Asked Nether Spirit, unable to identify the nature of the spell that was holding him back.



“Since you are of a magical nature, I had to make sure your presence didn’t trigger any of the artefacts present here. The blue ashes I had put there, were to prevent you from leaving. Somehow, you have managed to step across them and return to your seat, but the damage is done. One, or many or the relics here, became aware of your presence and are now seeking to know more about you. The blue ashes are protecting you from them.” As she spoke those words, she walked slowly towards him, her eyes carving deep into his.



“So, in other words, I am trapped until you remove these items from the room?” He asked her, remembering well that she was a trustee of Apocalypse and as such presented no threat to him. In a funny way, she carried the blessing of Turbo Starr with her, allowing her free passage in the most sensitive areas of the Academy of Heroism, where she thought students about the arcane.



“I have invited a friend to come over, and help us.” She replied, instead of answering his question. “He should arrive shortly. Do not be alarmed by his presence, he is… Different.”



“You did not answer my question, am I trapped in here?”



“Until sun down, you are.” She smiled warmly to him, inspiring trust right away. Grumbling, he sat back on the stool and watched them work for two hours, without a word. Then he felt it, creeping up his spine, an old, very old sensation. One his essence hadn’t felt in millennia, a kindred and yet not, almost the same as he and yet not. Jenkins went on:



“The ward itself will dissipate when the moon rises, and I am certain that until then, I will find out which of these artefacts is trying to consume you.”



The door opened, but the person remained at the entrance. Dressed in a black cloak, hiding his features under a hood, his presence nevertheless told of powerful shoulders and a muscular build.



“You may enter.” Spoke solemnly Jenkins, bowing her head in unison with her students.



The dark figure stepped into the study, searching the room with hidden eyes, it came to rest upon Nether Spirit.



“You.” The dark shape spoke.



Nether Spirit was visited by a vision, flashing at the speed of light in his mind’s eye. A picture of dark deeds, of long forgotten rituals and of times well before humanity came to be. He saw the images of the Nameless Ones and of the Spirit People, the countless battles between them and the price his kin paid for it. He saw the dark river, at the bottomless pit of hell, where this being came from, saw the vision of innocents wailing in despair, trapped in it. All this, he saw in the fraction of a second, all this and much more. Such images, that his host’s body couldn’t help but throw up there and then. The dark figure stood there motionless, eyes beginning to blaze as he looked at this ancient enemy, from the times before time. Then, it removed its hood, and showed its face to Nether Spirit, he spoke in a tongue only a handful few could understand on earth.



“My name is Ghost Starr to these people, what be yours?”
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