Adam and Heinrich ran as fast as they could to cave’s exit. Towards the end, they saw torches ahead with a pair of Silver Saviors carefully making their way towards them. They looked relieved when Adam and Heinrich came into view: “Boss, what happened? We saw an odd torrent of golden light rush out from the ground!”
“That was a Dragon’s death! Help Adam get George and Jenn back to camp. I need to get back to camp and organize hunting parties.”
“A Dragon!? And… Hunting parties, sir?”
Heinrich gave a grim nod: “That golden light you saw can make Ghuls!”
The man paled: “A clump swept through Terry! He began to feel ill when we left the others back at the entrance!”
Heinrich placed George and Jenn down before taking one of the men’s torch and ran out of the cave faster than any of them could follow! The two men numbly stared after Heinrich as Adam made to help Jenn.
“Come on, we don’t have time to stand around!”
By the time they exited the cave, Heinrich had already passed by. What he left behind, were two headless corpses and a depressed group of trackers.
“Terry! And… was that Lewis?”
One of the trackers nodded; “Lewis was watching over Terry when he… turned. We were too late to prevent Terry from infecting Lewis.”
Carefully, Adam and the others placed George and Jenn down. They were finally starting to move, but their minds were still groggy.
“We need to prepare a fire to burn their bodies. We can’t risk further Ghul corruption by moving them…”
Adam looked at the dead bodies filled with a torrent of frenzied Earth Essence. He looked around and asked: “Should some of us head back? Boss said we would need to send hunting parties out. It’ll be hard for them to track anything with most of us here…”
Someone agreed: “I agree, some of us should head back.”
Adam formed a small group that would head back to camp while the rest stayed to finish Terry and Lewis’s cremation.
The camp was a buzz of activity when Adam and the others got there. Squads were forming up and heading out. At the edge of the camp, there were Silver Saviors with their weapons drawn and pressed against the throats of unconscious men and dogs!
Adam noticed that each of them had raging Earth Essence in their bodies! Among the three men and seven dogs, Adam spotted Silber!
Adam ran over in a panic: Silber!”
The Silver Saviors guarding these bodies stopped Adam: “Stay back! They could turn at any moment! We’ve already had three Ghuls in camp!”
Adam could only stare at Silber’s unmoving figure, whispering: “I can’t believe this…”
Adam quickly ran through everything he learned about Ghuls in SIH. There was no cure for the condition, so it had to be stopped before they turned! Wounds infected with Ghul blood would eventually cause people to become Ghuls themselves. Purifying salt could be easily used to cleanse the wounds.
‘But Silber isn’t wounded! He’s infected by a massive amount of Earth Essence, not Ghul’s blood!”
There was only one more thing that came to mind. There were Spirit Reserves throughout the world. Places where Spirit Essence pooled. Similar to the cave where the Dragon resided. Animals and even people who stay too long in such a place become infected with Spirit Essence. Most of these animals will either be warped by the Spirit Essence raging in their body and turn into Ghuls! An extreme few, however, adapt and take control of the Spirit Essence raging in their bodies to become something more! They become what is called a Geisttier or Spirit Animal in the tongue of the First Era.
Ghuls are rampaging creatures that seek to kill anything not themselves, whereas Geisttier are protectors. They protect their Spirit Reserve and any of their kind that they find. They are peaceful animals until you threaten their ward. Then you will find their strength is greater than any single Ghul’s!
Adam looked at the raging Earth Essence in Silber’s body and his soul, which was being attacked. It was so very similar to the Dragon!
Adam brought his flute out. Instead of creating chaos, as he had done with the Dragon, Adam was going to try and organize the Earth Essence to work with Silber’s soul!
Adam already knew a song to subvert Earth Essence, but he needed more than that. He needed to make it work with Silber’s soul, instead of attacking it. After that… Adam wasn’t sure but it was all he had to work with!
Adam began playing a tune to the quizzical looks of those around him. The moment Heinrich heard the music, he walked over. Deciding not to disturb Adam, he only spoke the Silver Saviors pressing their blades to the unconscious bodies: “Don’t disturb Adam. He might be able to help them.”
The moment Adam began playing the tune, he noticed an immediate reaction in Silber and the others! But each had a different reaction! It was then that Adam finally thought of the others. Silber wasn’t the only one suffering… but he could only help one! Each of them had differing amount of Spirit Essence in their bodies and none of their souls were alike! Adam could adapt his song, but only to one of them.
But… who should he be helping first? He knew Silber, he had cared for him for two years! But the three Silver Saviors were human and had actual lives… Shouldn’t he be helping them first?
Adam faltered as he looked at each of them in turn. The raging Earth Essence in their bodies wasn’t stopping and he had to make a decision fast! But there was a tangible difference between them; Adam wasn’t familiar with the Silver Savior’s souls! He could barely see them through the raging Earth Essence. He knew Silber and could more easily see Silber’s soul. The decision had been made for him.
A part of Adam was relieved, though he still felt bad. Silber was the one he had the best chance of helping… Hopefully, there would be enough time to help the others.
Adam continued playing his tune. Doing his best to prevent the Earth Essence in Silber’s body from attacking his soul. Adam continued playing, trying to find a way forward for Silber. The minutes slowly passed by until a full hour had disappeared! During this time, the Silver Saviors and the dogs lying unconscious had begun to turn! one by one, they each became a Ghul and were run through by the Silver Saviors watching over them until only Silber was left.
Adam was growing tired. The deaths of the others. his desperation in trying to save Silber. the effort required to control the Earth Essence. Each wore on Adam but he had to keep playing while hoping for a miracle. Hoping that Silber would pull through.
Another hour passed and then another. The Silver Saviors watched as Adam continued trying to save Silber. They were disappointed Adam didn’t save the three Silver Saviors, but they were considered lost before Adam had walked into camp. They had simply hoped Adam could give them a miracle that would never happen. There has never been a documented report where a human became a Geisttier. For whatever reason, humans can only become Ghuls!
Eventually, Adam had to stop. He was too tired to continue playing. If he did, he was likely to make mistakes which would only make Silber’s situation worse!
Isley was next to Adam with a flask of water and some food: “Here, you should eat and drink… how’s Silber?”
Adam shook his head: “I don’t know. I’ve delayed it but… I don’t know if I’ve actually done anything to help him…”
“… Well, you’ve helped him live longer. That’s better than what he could have had. He’d have turned long ago like the others.”
“Have the search parties found any Ghuls?”
Isley nodded: “A few. Richard’s group found a Ghul Squirrel of all things! Luckily, most the wildlife fled the area a few days ago. There are only a few creatures left here that can be turned into Ghuls. Otherwise, we might be knee deep in corpses!”
Adam shook his head and cast his gaze back on Silber. The Earth Essence in his body was no longer raging in Silber’s body, but it was still there. Silber’s soul was no longer being attacked. In fact, as Adam watched, Silber’s soul was reaching out to the Earth Essence!
Adam breathed out a sigh: “Of course, Silber is the one that needs to control the Earth Essence. I haven’t let him do that at all!”
Isley was surprised by this outburst: “Does that mean-”
Adam enthusiastically nodded: “I think he’s pulling through!”
Adam stayed by Silber’s side, watching over him. Whenever Silber’s soul started to tire, Adam began to play his flute again to prevent the Earth Essence from raging and cutting loose what little control Silber had gained over it. When he looked stronger, Adam would stop playing to let Silber continue on his own.
Adam kept this up well on into the night until… he fell asleep. He couldn’t help it, he was just so tired.
Adam awoke with a start as something warm liked his face! Adam laughed at the familiar feeling: “Silber, stop!”
And then he realized what that meant! Adam’s arms quickly found themselves around the wolf.
Silber responded with a happy bark. Adam then looked at him. Silber was… glowing! The Earth Essence in Silber’s body was no longer raging and was instead flowing through his body almost like blood! What Adam couldn’t see was Silber’s actual physical form. Silber’s fur shined like liquid silver and radiated a faint bronze light!
“You did it! Oh buddy, I’m so happy you made it!”