Re'Kha woke up with a start, feeling a chill creep up her body. She looked around, unable to see anything, flailing her hands without result, unable to catch hold of anything.
"Re'Kha! ...Re'Kha…Re…" She heard her master's voice turn fainter and fainter, unable to pinpoint the direction of the source. It seemed to resound from all around her, like an echo in a valley. The voice lost its vigour with every echo, soon becoming a wheezing gasp.
"Master!" Re'Kha sat up with a fright, finding herself seated on a ground carpeted by fallen leaves. A boulder was positioned to the forward on her left, dripping with blood. The carcass of a lady lay over it, her head smashed into a pulp.
Re'Kha tried to move but found her legs were stuck in the mud. Something seemed to hold her from within the muddy, sludge-filled ground, trying to pull her deeper. She flailed her hands, trying to grab anything of support to climb out.
More than 10 figures appeared before her, slowly nearing her, with every step they took plunging her closer towards death. Black mist swirled around their bodies, condensing into a tentacle-eyed cloud that stared at her in anger, expressing its hatred. The next moment, tens of eyes opened on its body, all staring at her.
"Ahhh!" Re'Kha sat up in fright, wincing in pain due to the abrupt action. She then felt the intense thumping of her heartbeat, the sound resounding in her ears while her body was drenched with sweat. Something soft seemed to be tugging at her right hand while her surroundings were pitch black.
"Right, I am blind now." After a couple of deep breaths, she realised her state, activating her Wind Qi perception. The grey sand world materialised around her, showcasing the room that was no different from before, save for one thing.
Re'Kha glanced at her right arm, noticing one end of the cloth banner curled around it. When she moved her hand, she noticed that the ends of the cloth banner were stuck to her, moving in accordance with her movements.
Re'Kha winced in pain a bit as she left the bed and stood on the floor, watching most of the cloth banner remain on the floor in the same way she had folded it before. She deactivated her Wind Qi perception, took in a deep breath before condensing blue radiance in her left hand.
"Take this!" With a shout, she slammed her palm projection on the cloth banner, hearing the shrill scream of a child resound immediately. She noticed blank space escape from the cloth banner like a smoke of some sort, vanishing after a breath.
The ends of the cloth banner slipped from her right hand and fell to the floor. Re'Kha stared at it for some time, "So you were feeding on my nightmares to grow stronger."
"I should have known better," She facepalmed, "Of course, there is the possibility that the items in the Withered Courtyard could also be a Sha."
Sha, it was the name pertaining to a denizen of nightmares. Anyplace with a lot of accumulated fear would create a Sha. They were usually created in battlefields where death and the fear of death existed everywhere.
A Sha was a spiritual being formed through the negative emotions of an individual or a group of individuals. Among the negative emotions, fear was its building block. Based on the type of negative emotions and the mode it was generated from, the form of the Sha varied accordingly.
A Sha resided in an object that was the source or target of a type of fear, a shell it used to survive and recover from damage. The object was also its medium to infect people and absorb their negative emotions to grow. Moreover, as they were denizens of the night, sunlight was their bane. The shells were what protected them during the day; it was also their mode of transportation.
After all, Sha were beings created through the negative emotions that originated from a place. They would be created within an object and would be rooted to the place unless the object was moved somewhere through natural means.
A Sha grew by feeding on fear, growing until it could create a spiritual body. That was why they were attracted towards sources of fear. Re'Kha recalled all the information related to them, gazing at the cloth banner, "So, you're a Sha that had just been formed. You were drawn to my fears and wished to grow by absorbing them?"
There wasn't any reply. Re'Kha folded the cloth banner and brought it towards the entrance, carefully opening the door after scouting the area through her Wind Qi perception. She noticed that it had begun raining once again, judging by the sea of blank space before her, the sounds she heard, and the scent of the rain she smelled.
She tossed the cloth banner into the rain, hearing a meek cry that subsided immediately. She then closed the door, taking a couple of steps to the back while panting, feeling her head throb. Taking a couple of deep breaths, she relaxed, recalling the details of a Sha.
An object after birthing a Sha would absorb fear and eventually condense some Fear Qi in it. When the Fear Qi had accumulated to a certain extent, it would be converted into Ghost Qi as the Sha would materialise with a spiritual form.
Based on the amount of Ghost Qi it retains, its power would vary. It would then behave based on the essence of the fear composing it, seeking to accumulate the desired form of fear to grow further. From a passive state, it would actively cause fear in the populace and enter a beneficial cycle of growth.
And, even if its spiritual form was destroyed, as long as its shell, the object it was formed from remained intact, it would condense eventually.
As all elements conflicted with one another, she had slammed the cloth banner with her palm projection immediately upon notice. She used her Water Qi to dissipate the Fear Qi the cloth banner had stored.
"But, most Sha are limited in growth due to the size of the object they reside in. But," She shuddered, thinking about the Withered Courtyard, "If that was actually a Sha's shell, this entire region is doomed."