Limp. Swaying from the rafter that supported his mud and straw-thatched roof.
He could hear the cord stretch and groan from his weight as his eyes became heavy.
Back and forth.
His eyes began to close as the cord tightened and choked off his life wind. Choking his hope. His will to live. His resilience.
He hadn’t the will to raise his arms and save himself. He could have he supposed. But he refused. He felt a calming peace blanketing him as his life energy fell through the soles of his feet, leaving his body forever.
Finally he would be free of this torment.
Finally he would have peace.
Peace from this Wahrlog of the Darkness.
The Darkness. A darkness so consuming, so debilitating, that each day was a struggle. A struggle to rise each morning. A struggle to tend to his fields. A struggle to continue life. A life coated with apathy.
He had hid it well from his fellow villagers. Masked it behind his toiling in the fields. Masked it behind his inward solitude. Disguised it with the will to be alone. To remain undiscovered and unbranded with the Stigma.
He knew others who had been discovered. Who had been branded on their forehead with the seal of their affliction – their illness. He remembered seeing the searing iron hissing as it sunk into their flesh. Leaving a soft cloud of smoke as it pushed deeper into them.
And their screams.
They were forever labeled in society by those they knew. Those they loved. Those they had children with. Their families. Their neighbors.
Some, like himself, afflicted with the darkness – the deep, dark, debilitating depression he knew since he was a child.
Others, afflicted with the fear – remnants of some past traumatic stressing life event that had ripped their soul in half, and forced them to relive their past horrors. Manifest in the forms of flashbacks and tortured by the night harpies of terror. He could hear their screams at night.
In the darkness.
Others, afflicted with the rage – elevated, hyper levels of anxiousness brought on by some outside trigger. Issuing in a brain pandemonium of paranoia and irritability. Lashing out at those whom they held closest as they wandered through their personal fog of war.
Through his closing vision, Catharsis could faintly make out the Specter emerging from the darkness. Moving closer. Stretching his pale white claws from his cloak, his talons scratching the walls of Catharsis’ mud home. Digging into the hardened clay and leaving deep cuts as chunks of adobe were ripped away. In and out of his slumber, Catharsis thought how they resembled his fields that he had just returned from. Their perfect rows whose cast shadows aligned harmoniously in the setting sun.
This was his last thought of peacefulness as Catharsis’ eyes closed.
And Specter’s grip closed around his throat.
* * *
At the instant the beast secured his grip to claim his prize, a magnificent burst of white light flooded the room.
Specter shrieked like a hung pig being bled dry and lurched back from the blazon firestorm that enshrouded the hanging body.
Two forms took their place next to the body of Catharsis. On either side, like stark angelic sentries sent to protect him from the Wahrlog. They raised their hands and in a fluid motion brought them down, lances appearing and striking the mud floor.
Specter hissed and the sentries lowered their weapons, tips pointed at its open throat.
A sentry stepped forward a crouched in the dirt, bracing itself with its weapon. Slowly and deliberately it scratched a line across the floor, fire following in a steady trail.
It retracted and regained its position.
“Though shall not pass” the two sentries whispered.
Specter lurched through the flame and in one swift movement was impaled on their spears. Instantaneously, Specter disintegrated into the light, taking with him his shadows and his darkness.
* * *
As one sentry held fast the body of Catharsis, the other swiftly swung its lance at the noose, cutting him free.