Mankind has long known that we are not alone in this world. Descended from heaven, risen from the ground, present all around us are spirits. These beings often go unseen, but when they choose to interact with us, the effect is usually profound. But what are these beings? Are they people who have died? Are they servants created at the beginning of the world by the Great Dragon? Are they something else entirely? Or are they all of the above?
In my research I have managed to find and communicate with a number of them. I contacted some through priests or relatives, when it was a spirit returned from the dead. But other encounters were much stranger.
One encounter brought vividly to mind was deep in a mine along the ridges near the Land of Howling Spirits. I was searching for a spirit I had seen the previous day, a spirit of moss and fungus that dwelt in this abandoned mine. Years earlier the mines were so prosperous that several communities depended on them for their livelihood, but collapses, fires, and unexplained disappearances in the mines led people to become more and more fearful of them. A local monk ventured in one night after hearing a disturbance, and he was never seen again. Thereafter, miners repeatedly reported hearing screams in the deepest tunnels in the voice of that young monk.
The folktales surrounding the disappearance of the monk did not disturb me. The mines had been inactive for a century or more, and the surrounding villages had long since decayed. Any spirit that fed upon humans or human emotion or pain would have left in search of easier prey. Or so I had thought.
As I searched for the moss spirit that had brought me to the depths of that mine, I began to wonder if the legends were true after all. If the spirit or whatever it was that had driven away the miners could reside there still. In my mind, I began to hear the whispers in the dark and the screams and cries of those who lost their lives ages ago.
It is said in the journals of the lost monks of the Jinzhi sect that there are spirits of every desire. By summoning that desire within themselves, men can commune with the spirit, summoning it to them. I can't imagine what kind of spirit must have been summoned in the dank of that mine. Darkness on all sides, only the slight flickering of that lamp. A great unknowable fear welled up within me. Those ancient monks knew too much, I think. They communed with their own dark desires too often. In that place, I, too, faced my fears. The circumstance and research that led me to that point scarcely prepared me for what I faced. The Dweller in the Depths spoke to me.
It is clear to me now what manner of creatures these spirits are, and it is also clear what their goals are. For all that their lies portray them to be, the Celestial Bureaucracy is nothing more than the subjugation of man by the eternal beings of that court. The Dweller has shown me many things, many dark and terrible truths I could not have seen before, but which are clear to me now.
When I return, I know what they will say. The Emperor, the one closest to heaven, is their tool, their puppet. I know they will send him against me, fearing the power of my knowledge. Oh yes, I know. They will burn my works, but I must make copies, as the Dweller said, spreading my dark knowledge far enough that it will never be destroyed.
Remember this, reader: To a spirit, any spirit, the life of a human is worthless. We are tools and toys for their amusement alone.