Valtina and Demetri sat silently under the willow tree, anxiously awaiting Ladaya’s return. They’d stopped trying to guess how much time had passed since Ladaya returned to The Afterlife; they were now marking the time by the number of wraiths Demetri had slaughtered. So far, the warrior had eliminated five of the monsters. Valtina had known that their sanctuary had been breached, but it hadn’t seemed real until she saw the first black hooded creature emerge from the dense grey fog. As time passed, Valtina became more and more nervous; she knew that in this situation, no news was not good news.
Demetri stiffened, and Valtina followed his gaze. Another wraith was approaching from the fog. As the warrior rose to confront the monster, the tip of a silver dagger broke through its chest, and it evaporated where it stood. Ladaya and a spirit Valtina didn’t recognize stood before them.
“Ladaya!” Valtina exclaimed, “I was starting to worry!”
“Hello, August.” Demetri nodded to the other spirit. August nodded in reply. Demetri continued. “Valtina, this is August, my General. I take it no one is traveling alone now?” he asked, turning to the Generals.
“It’s nice to meet you, Valtina. I’ve heard wonderful things,” August began. He turned to Demetri. “No, we’ve all been instructed to travel with a partner. The wraiths are flooding Middle World, and we believe they’re looking for a way in to The Afterlife.”
Ladaya watched panic spread over Valtina’s face. “Don’t worry child,” she assured her. “We’ve learned of a way to defeat them. There’s lore of a weapon, a sword forged in the fires of the Underworld that will destroy the wraith army. If the Queen is decapitated with the sword, the entire army will evaporate. They’re all connected, you see…” Ladaya trailed off.
“Are we sure the weapon exists?” Demetri asked with an air of doubt. “I mean, lore isn’t always reliable.”
“We’re pretty confident,” August answered. “The rest of the lore regarding wraiths has proved true. We have no reason to think the sword is any different.”
“So, do you know where it is?” Valtina asked. “Let us help, we can search with the other spirits.”
Ladaya smiled. “Once again, I appreciate your offer, and your dedication… but we all have specific jobs to do, and your next mission is the most important to date. Other spirits, whose gifts are suited to the mission, are searching for the sword.”
“Ladaya, speaking of weapons…” Valtina began, but was interrupted by her General.
“I know, Valtina,” Ladaya sighed. “You want a weapon. As well you should, knowing that Morgonda is targeting you. And at this point, I’d give you a dagger if I could. But I don’t believe it would do you much good.”
“Why not?” Valtina asked.
“Demetri,” Ladaya turned to the warrior, “would you be so kind as to let Valtina hold your dagger for a moment?”
Nodding in confusion, Demetri held his dagger out to Valtina. The moment she touched the weapon, her hand burned in pain. Gasping, she pulled away.
“Ouch!” she cried. “I can’t even touch it?!”
“No,” Ladaya sighed, “Valtina, your spirit is composed of pure love. The weapon, and its purpose, is in direct conflict with your spirit force, making it impossible for you to hold it.”
Valtina was disappointed; she also wished Ladaya had told her that the first time she’d asked for a weapon. It would have saved her a lot of frustration. But the fog continued to grow denser, and Valtina knew that she must stay focused on her mission. “Ok, so I can’t protect myself. Where are we going next?” she asked with a slight tone of defeat.
“Las Vegas,” Ladaya answered. “We’ve learned of a dire situation there. I’m sending you to a young woman named Penelope. Her father was a non-denominational minister who worked to help the souls of Sin City. Six years ago, the preacher made a drastic change in his ministry and began preaching vehemently against ‘sins of the flesh’. He brainwashed his congregation to believe that even marital sex can bring evil into the home, and should only be indulged in for the purpose of procreation. The result of these ministries has been a sharp decrease in the number of soul-mates pairing up. They believe that their natural sexual attraction goes against God, and that the person they belong with is the person they are LEAST physically attracted to.”