Fear The Dawn: Chapter 18

He hadn't seen either Line nor that brown-furred woman since that night. It didn't really concern him, in the end, they were all fools, and the less they bothered him, the better. Banshee had come back the following evening, but she had been acting even more strangely than ever, she would just sit at the bottom of the ladder with her tail dipped in the water most nights now. Several times he had gone over to the railing to yell at her, but as usual she paid no attention to him. At least she was out of the way. No one had joined him for these last few mornings, and as such he had dispatched the strangers easily, as he always did when working alone. He paced up and down the deck of his ship, feeling a bit restless. He wanted it to be morning already so he could fight someone else, waiting around at night had become tiresome. Unfortunately, he had only just returned tonight and it would be a while before the sun came up again.

Without anything else to keep him occupied, his mind wandered back to the night when Line had left.
A monster?”, he scoffed derisively at Line's accusation. “Monsters survive in this world. Those who go soft just fade away.” He'd tell Line that when he came back to beg for his forgiveness. Perhaps after a few close calls with the strangers he would learn some common sense. That woman was something else entirely. He didn't see how anyone could be so carefree and clueless in this world, she might even be a match for Banshee. Line had been right about her, at least. He still didn't understand why Line had become so upset after that, surely it couldn't have been her pathetic crying. Strangers cried all the time, when they were beaten, it signalled their resignation to their weakness and defeat. There was scarce little he enjoyed more than to watch a stranger drop to their knees and cry in front of him, then to bite into their neck, taste their blood, and tear out their throat, all while they were too scared to even resist. Those who give up earn only a painful death, and he would happily give it to them. Just thinking about it made him a bit excited, it had been far too long since he'd had a chance to really hurt someone. He could almost hear their pathetic wailing even now...

His fantasy was interrupted by a splashing sound from the side of the ship. He rushed over to see what it was, and saw Banshee flopping about in the water below.
What are you doing?” he demanded of her. She just flailed about in the water below, making a terrible racket.
Surely she doesn't expect me to come and get her”, he thought. He watched her, gasping and sputtering for air, never quite seeming to grab the ladder. He slapped his forehead with his paw and started climbing down. At the bottom, he reached out and grabbed her paw and pulled it onto the ladder, then started to climb back up without bothering to check if she was following him. Eventually, she pulled herself out of the water and climbed onto the deck, falling down onto all fours and making ridiculous, high-pitched wheezing sounds. She looked completely ridiculous, her long, wispy fur all hung straight down, as if it was about to fall off.
He shook his head and dropped a black towel down towards her, but she didn't take it. Instead, she slowly stood up and faced him, her blue eyes drooping down towards the floor just like her fur.
Don't blame me”, he said, “you were the one who fell in the water”.
She looked up at him with a sad look in her oversized eyes, then she did something he really didn't expect, she threw her paws around him and squeezed him tightly, rubbing her head against his chest. She was still dripping wet, and she was getting his fur soaked, too, which felt cold and uncomfortable.
What are you doing?” he demanded, trying to wriggle free from her, but she just squeezed him tighter. She had never done something like this before, and he was caught completely off guard. “Let go of me!”, he snapped, striking her in the side of the face with his paw. Her grip loosed instantly, and she looked up at him in shock for a moment as he stared back at her crossly, still annoyed. She trembled and ran off, disappearing below deck, and once again he found himself alone on the deck of his ship. He picked up the towel to dry himself off, then looked out over the ocean, which was completely empty as far as the eye could see.

Why am I doing this?”, he wondered to himself as he headed down below deck to find her. He very rarely came down here, it was dank and dusty, but his eyes were well-adjusted to dark places and he could find his way about well enough. He looked into one room, where a lone chair sat facing the wall. There was also a small table and a window that was covered in dust, but otherwise it didn't seem to have been disturbed in a long time. He kept moving down the hallway, past a few other rooms he barely recognized, until he came to a big one at the end. There was a small light on in this room, and he saw Banshee, staring out a window. She sensed him coming in and quickly turned to look at him, apprehensively placing her paws against the wall behind her.
...I didn't mean to hit you”, he mumbled, his head slightly drooped. She didn't move or acknowledge his apology. He took a step towards her, and she quickly darted away, towards the back of the room, placing a long chair between them.
He sighed, walking around the obstacle to reach her. She backed away, but she didn't run this time. For some reason, that bothered him. Perhaps he was just too used to her acting aloof towards him, but it didn't feel good to see her like this.
Look, you can hug me if you really want to.” He raised his arms, and she flinched instinctively, expecting him to hit her again. Instead, he gently put his arms around her. She seemed very surprised, but eventually she hugged him back and buried her face in his chest. Her face still hadn't dried off, but he tried to put up with it.


The next thing he knew he found himself in a dark room. At first, he just wondered if Banshee had slipped away and taken the light without him noticing, but he quickly realized that morning had come again and he was no longer in his ship. For one thing, the walls here were made of stone instead of wood, and when he held his hands up to his face, he could see right through them. He floated over to a nearby wall and listened intently for the sound of the stranger, and in the distance, he heard someone softly crying.

Already?” he wondered to himself, but his excitement quickly faded as he looked through his spectral hands. “It figures, I've got a real wimpy stranger here, but tonight I can't even lay a finger on him”.
He sighed and floated through the wall. It was pitch black inside, but it was easy enough to follow the sound, and it saved him the difficulty of navigating this place. Dark, gloomy places like were usually full of dead ends or corridors that somehow looped back on themselves, and more than once he had gotten terribly lost. Being a ghost did offer some advantages. As he glided through the black space, the crying sound gradually turned into a persistent wail.

He came out of the wall and found himself in a corridor. The sound was quite loud now, obviously very close, so he decided he probably shouldn't try to head through the dark space again lest he come out right on top of the stranger. Instead, he flew up to the ceiling, hiding most of his body inside the wall for concealment, and surveyed his surroundings. This corridor was more brightly lit than the previous one, with torches in metal holders adorning the walls at constant intervals. They cast long, finger-like shadows across the corridor. “I can use that”, he grinned to himself, rubbing his hands through each other. The path curved down and to the left, and the sound was clearly coming from below, so he carefully rounded the path, staying just out of sight. He needn't have worried, though, the crying person wasn't paying the slightest attention to their surroundings, they were just sitting on the ground with their hands in their face, letting out the most terrible sound. They wore white tattered rags and had long hair, but he could make out little else. He positioned his spectral body in front of a nearby torch, casting a great shadow over the poor fool, and stretched his body, coiling around them like a snake. Still the crier remained oblivious, so he extended his neck and dropped his head right above theirs, and let out a terrible ghostly shriek.
The poor woman jumped so high that she nearly hit the ceiling, and landed back down in a heap, a long mess of tangled hair strewn across her crumpled body.
Banshee?!”, he asked, incredulously. Somehow, it did seem to be her.
You terrified me!”, she exclaimed, still wide-eyed.
What were you doing making that terrible racket?! What if the stranger got you?!”
Her lip started to tremble. “What difference would that make? He's... he's gone!”
The stranger?”, he asked, confused.
No”, she insisted, her voice choked up now. “Our friend. He's gone.”
Oh, please”, he said, rolling his eyes. “He'll be back.”
No”, she said, actually crying now. “he won't. I can't hear, but when I put my tail in the water and close my eyes... I can feel the other ships in the sea. But his ship is gone now. I tried to convince him not to, but... I'm so sorry!”. She started bawling uncontrollably again.
Stop it!”, he demanded, scanning the corridor anxiously for the stranger. “He was an idiot. He let his heart grow soft, and that was the end of him. We'll be better off without him getting in the way. But you have to be quiet, or who knows what'll happen to us!”

Mercifully, she stopped crying. He was just about to speak when he noticed the sword sticking out of her chest. Banshee let out a soft gurgle and slumped forward onto the floor. He quickly flew up to the ceiling as the stranger retrieved his bloodied sword from her lifeless body. He was a knight, clad in metal armour, holding a sword and a lantern. The stranger had already spotted him, and he shone the lantern upwards. He swooped down towards the stranger, shrieking terribly, but the stranger held his ground, and cast the light upon him, blinding him. He felt himself growing weak under the light, and he dove right through the ground to the blissful darkness below. Unfortunately, there was no time to rest, if the stranger escaped, they were done for.

What can I do to him?!”, he thought angrily. “This body can't fight! Once the surprise has been given away, it's useless!”
And then there was Banshee. He had often wished she would be out of his way, but not like this. He could still see the stranger's sword thrust through her body, and the horrible glazed look in her eyes as she collapsed to the floor, her blood staining her white rags and hair crimson. The stranger would pay, but how? There was nothing he could do like this. Banshee had a physical body, but he had nothing...

An idea came to him. It was crazy, but it was his only chance. He quickly moved back to the part of the corridor where he had first emerged, and flew up to one of the torches along the wall. He took a deep breath, and blew as hard as he could. The torch's flame went out with a puff of smoke, leaving the room a little darker than before.
This is it”, he thought, steeling himself.
Taking in as much air as he could, he flew down the corridor in a flash, blowing out all of the torches. The stranger tried to follow him with his lantern, but he wasn't fast enough, he had already disappeared back below the floor.
You'll pay...” he said, in a creaky voice, sticking his head out of the ground underneath Banshee's body. “You'll pay for what you did to me...”
The stranger's eyes widened, and he crept towards her, holding out the light.
I was no threat to you, but you killed me... I'll haunt you... I'll haunt you forever and ever...”
The stranger leaned in close to investigate, and that was when he made his move. He burst forward from her body, screaming and spreading his arms as far as he could to be as menacing as possible. The stranger reared back, dropping the lantern, which shattered as it hit the ground, leaving the room in complete darkness.
You're in my world now”, the hunter said, menacingly, swirling around him. “I could be anywhere, and you will NEVER escape from me.”
The stranger tried to run, but he crashed into a wall, knocking himself down. Dazed, he searched all around for the ghost, but it was too late. The hunter was already upon him, and in the dark, he enveloped the stranger and choked the life out of him until he took his final breath.
You're lucky I can't do any worse to you”, he snarled menacingly, but the stranger had already faded away. He looked down at his hands, they were starting to re-materialize, black paws and arms slowly replacing his ghostly appendages. It was over. He hurried over to Banshee. She had regained her true form, and the wound in her back was gone, but her life had not returned. She lay there motionless, long white fur strewn about the ground, shining faintly amid the darkness. He lifted her limp body into his arms and left the building through the end of the corridor.

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