It was difficult to escape the colour red this time of year. And not the red that the ghostly figure that sat perched upon a roof entertained with vigour. Lanterns and banners hung from every surface possible, all adorning gold painted characters of well wishes and good tidings. It almost made the wraith gag. Almost; being dead and all. The delightful squeal of a terrified swine snapped her out of her dramatised misery, and she watched with mild interest as the latest victim of the Lunar Revel begun his journey to the feast.
Morgana closed her eyes, and for a moment she could almost remember the taste of pork. She can’t remember how many cycles ago it was, but it was a multiple of twelve. That much she had narrowed down. If anyone asked, she’d choke it up to things getting hazy as the centuries waned on.
Resting her cheek in her palm, her eerie glazed eyes lazily scanned the street below her perch. Children running past with kites, adults fretting over their in-laws sleeping arrangements, and elderly just pleased that their families had invited them over in the first place. A deep bitterness flittered in her chest, and her mind had begun to conjure up a thousand ways to stomp the joy out of the occasion, just to numb the ache for a little while.
“You do this every year.”
Morgana slowly closed her eyes in annoyance as her fellow wraith materialised behind her.
“And you have come to bother me, as you do every year” said Morgana with resignation, thoughts of death and destruction temporarily retreating to the corners of her mind.
It had become a tradition that Caitlyn, a You Hun Ye Gui - Wandering Ghost, would find Morgana haunting her home town. Not that the elder wraith invited her. If she had it her way, she would torture herself by watching families celebrate the new year.
“It isn’t healthy for you to haunt this place. For you and for the people here,” the armed wraith said with a shake of her head. “Don’t think too harshly when I say it, but these are not the people who-“
“I don’t want your lectures again,” Morgana spat, her rage flaring. "I know that those who destroyed me are long gone, but their descendants are still here. Perhaps if I taint their souls, it blackens the whole line? Maybe then those who wronged me could feel my suffering, and finally pay for what they did!”
Caitlyn stood unfazed as Morgana went on her spiel. It took very little to ignite her fury, and it was just fortunate that Morgana was monologuing rather than inflicting her wrath on the town below them.
“Are you finished?” Caitlyn asked, seating herself and placing her faithful rifle to the side.
“I will never be finished. You know that I will never be free,” Morgana said, her anger easing into grief. “You still have time to right what has been wronged to you. That chance for me has passed.”
Caitlyn spared her a pitying look, careful not to let Morgana catch her doing so. The elder wraith, so desperate to maintain her fearsome reputation, hated nothing more than to be pitied. Caitlyn was also a wraith haunted by tragedy, but she was still young in the world of the dead. As Morgana reminded her, she still had the opportunity to bring those who destroyed her family to justice. For Morgana, time claimed her killers before she could.
“I assume you’ve heard that another has joined our brethren,” Caitlyn said after a lengthy pause.
“The chained one?” Morgana said, surprising Caitlyn that she was engaging in small talk.
“I’ve been told that he’s very proficient in the mystical arts. You should have lots to talk about. Or at least put you in a good mood for once,” Caitlyn said slyly. Morgana’s eyes narrowed and Caitlyn spied a small serpentine dragon manifest before her eyes. The little fork tongue flickered dangerously close to her face, daring her to continue speaking. Caitlyn hissed at it before batting it away, causing the dragon to glare at her with very Morgana-like sneer before fading away.
“Don’t you have somewhere else to be?” Morgana said exasperatedly.
“My former neighbours try to out-orchestrate each other’s fireworks display every year and that’s entertaining, but it was necessary to ensure you weren’t going to burn this place to the ground,” Caitlyn confessed. Morgana was quiet for some time, the silence almost suffocating. Caitlyn’s fear mounted as she watched tendrils of magic slowly gather around the elder wraith, unable to see the mental battle being fought within her fellow. Morgana spoke, her voice uncharacteristically hollow and empty before vanishing.
“I’m not too late.”
“She is like you. A Yuan Gui,” the pink-haired wraith explained to the recently departed.
“What brought her untimely demise?” Sylas asked, pacing back and forth, his heavy chains clinking against the ground.
“Her sister,” Caitlyn said softly. “Both of them come from ancestry of the arcane arts, and both had different views on how it should be used. Her sister was on a warpath to smite down any who she deemed evil, and Morgana tried to stop her. Her sister convinced everyone that Morgana was a traitor, and executed her.”
“And she still haunts that town?”
“She has no hope of moving on. She is bound to that place,” Caitlyn explained.
Sylas ceased his pacing in thought. In his short time as a wraith, he knew that he would be driven to avenge his own death to the point of madness. Even now there was the drive to seek out the masters that betrayed him, and damn them to the underworld for their transgressions. He could not imagine that feeling never going away.
"She has always been apathetically cruel, but she frightened me today. And very little frightens me anymore,” Caitlyn said, clutching her rifle a little closer to her chest.
“She is starting to break. She has always spoken in favour of damning her town, but it was always venting frustrations. I have never heard her speak with such surety. That she has accepted her fate and no longer cares for the rules we are governed by,” said Caitlyn, not sure how else she could convey her concern to the new wraith. Hunting down your enemies from a past life is one thing. Burning towns to the ground is out of the question. It would doom them all.
“Why are you telling me this? I cannot stop her,” Sylas asked.
“You two are the same. Maybe you can’t set her free, but maybe you can make her change her mind.”
Morgana spat at the statue that resembled her traitorous sister. She stood among the graves of those long dead, and angrily resented the fact that she wished she was down there with them. At least she was truly dead then. Her sister’s tomb was adorned with offerings, and the descendants would ensure that the final resting place was forever blessed. It sickened her, that she had failed in killing Kayle while she was still alive. Instead her sister had lived a full life while Morgana was silenced and restrained by the magic that she once had perfect command of. Now she had nothing holding her back. Darkness was hers to control, and her sister’s tomb would be the first victim to her rage.
“Desecrating graves won’t make it go away,” a voice unknown to her said from behind. Why did they always intervene when she was on the cusp of letting go.
“Go away,” Morgana snarled.
“And let you raze this town to the ground, setting every hunter on this land after us? Not likely,” the chained wraith said. Morgana groaned before turning to face the stranger. His eyes were mirrors to hers, pained and haunted. In that moment he shared his corrupted soul. Showed her his life, from his triumphs to his death. She could feel the same urgency for revenge within him, and in a twisted way it soothed her.
“You are the new one?” She asked.
“Caitlyn sent me,” Sylas nodded.
“She likes to meddle,” Morgana sighed defeatedly. Caitlyn was persistent if anything. Sylas smiled apologetically.
“Never met the woman in my life and she’s recruited me to sort this out,” Sylas said.
For the first time in years Morgana smiled without malice. She knew Caitlyn hated asking for help, and she still did it for her.
“Or maybe she didn’t want to miss the fireworks,” Morgana changed the subject.
“Had I been any later, the show would’ve been here,” Sylas said with a smirk, ignoring her infamous sneer. “She’s expecting us, and I’d hate to find out what being shot by a ghost gun feels like.”
Morgana and Sylas exchanged faux-looks of horror, before dissipating into the night as the first coloured explosion decorated the sky.