Disclaimer: I don't own Don't Starve or any of the characters
She had told them. Repeatedly, she'd gone to great lengths when describing her sister. She'd done it so many times, and yet Wilson had never actually believed the words to be true. He'd smile. He'd nod. He'd agree with her, because what else was there to do? Explain that her dead sibling wasn't ever coming back? It was a good thing he hadn't tried to or he'd look even more ridiculous than he did right now.
When the wind finally stopped blowing, silence had moved in to take its place. Nobody dared to speak a single word for fear of destabilizing what little bonds of reality were still in place after this impossible summoning.
Wilson's mind was torn in half. The scientist in him rebelled against the very notion of what he was seeing.
It couldn't happen! Ghosts didn't rise from the dead after a blood sacrifice! Sure the flower had been floating, but that could be explained. Perhaps it had been pieced together around a small mechanical motor that simulated a hovercraft. Or maybe it had somehow entered a state of flux in which its mass would rapidly switch back and forth between being heavy and light, giving the illusion of remaining suspended in the air.
Even as that part of him dug its heels into the ground, refusing to budge another inch, the inventor in him was beyond fascinated. He'd always been interested in knowing the unknown, even if it challenged what he'd often thought sacred. Few things broke the laws of nature as thoroughly as this did.
Floating in front of Wendy was a translucent figure, emitting an eerie white light. When it remained still, the being would form into a recognizable image. It, no, she looked to be the blonde girl's mirror image in almost every way. They had the same figure, the same skin and hair color, even the same clothing. However, as he looked closer, he spotted some small differences.
Where Wendy's features were soft and rounded, Abigail's looked much sharper. Her cheeks were gaunt and her body thin. The clothing that inexplicably (though thankfully) covered her hung heavily on her form, giving the implication of a spindly frame. It was as though her death had robbed her of whatever body mass she had accumulated in life.
Her eyes were also significantly different.
After spending so much time around Wendy, Wilson had grown used to the near-emotionless stare she had. Abigail couldn't have been more different if she tried. Despite having no physical form, her eyes showed a depth of feeling that communicated her thoughts as clearly as if she had just spoken them. Right now they were showing both excitement at being summoned, as well as curiosity towards the strangers that were staring in silent awe at her.
This entire evaluation took approximately five seconds. As soon as Abigail regained her bearings she started moving, an action that blurred her image into a single shapeless mass of white. The only defining features she had while in motion were her eyes, and the flower that rested weightlessly on the top of her head.
"Er… hello there…" Willow greeted as the phantom floated closer to her. From the looks of things, she was struggling to resist the urge to start sprinting in the other direction. An urge that was not being handled quite so well by Wolfgang, if the whimpering noises he was making were any indication.
The ghost responded with a strange echoing whisper sound. It was impossible to tell what was being said, but from the slight tilt of her indistinct head, it almost looked like a question of some kind.
"I-I-I don't… I mean, I-I'm not sure…" Willow's stuttering was cut off as Wendy stepped forwards.
"These are my new friends Abigail." She said warmly, standing beside the apparition. "The ones I told you about, remember? This is Willow, the man behind the rock is Wolfgang, and that's Wilson. I've been staying with them for a while now."
Hearing his name mentioned finally snapped Wilson out of the daze he'd been stuck in since the ghost girl's appearance.
"This is Abigail…?" It was more of a statement than a question, but Wendy nodded regardless.
"You believed that I was lying to you?"
"No! Of course not!" He assured reflexively. One look at her face made him regret that. She knew full well that he'd dismissed her earlier descriptions of her sister as childish hopefulness. Despite being young, she was far more mature than her appearance let on.
"Eh, well… I wasn't expecting this, that's for sure." He conceded, seeing that there was no use in trying to mask his initial actions from her. "How is this possible? Is there some technique to bringing her back that you learned somewhere? I've heard that there are supposedly some tribal doctors that claim to bring back the dead, but I never met anyone who could actually do it."
Now that he could see it was possible, his insatiable need for answers and explanations demanded he found out how she did it. This could be one of the greatest scientific breakthroughs in history! He could publish a scholarly article detailing raising the souls of the departed that would be referred to for centuries! Why, all he needed was-
Wendy shrugged. Such a simple gesture, and yet it caused the scientist's hopes and dreams to come crashing down around his head in an instant.
"I don't know how it works." She explained honestly. "I've always carried around her flower, and when I got here it started behaving very strangely. I found out about the blood sacrifice when a toad grabbed it from my hands. I chopped the vile creature up and suddenly Abigail was here."
As if to give credence to her words, the specter floated around the girl in a soft circle. The way the two sisters acted around one another might have been touching were it not so disturbing.
"Wolfgang, you can come out now." Willow said, trying to coax the large man out from his attempted hiding spot. "I don't think she's going to hurt us. You don't want to be rude, now do you?"
The strongman slowly crept out from behind the rock. It was clear that he was utterly mortified at the idea of being anywhere near Abigail, but to his credit he didn't flee from what was undoubtedly a terrifying experience.
"I-I-I-Is g-g-good to m-m-m-meet y-you." He offered, standing mostly out from behind his cover. Seeming to understand the nature of his concerns, Abigail stopped moving and allowed her form to slowly solidify into the transparent image of a young girl. She still looked fairly creepy, but it was enough to at least keep him from having a heart attack on the spot.
"Great. See? She's not that scary after all, is she?" Willow questioned. She seemed to have recovered quite quickly after their new guest's appearance. "Now how about we start cooking up some dinner? We went through a heck of a lot of trouble to get this honey, so I say we enjoy it."
An hour later, things had settled down somewhat from the dramatic encounter. Even Wolfgang was regaining some of his lost confidence as Wendy detailed some of her sister's exploits over their meal. As promised, Wilson had cooked up a nice batch of honey glazed rabbit bits. The sweet meat, mixed with assorted berries and carrots, made for a welcome change in flavor from the dry assortment they'd been making due with.
All except for the scientist himself at least. While the others enjoyed their tiny feast and listened to Wendy's stories, he turned his mind away from Abigail and towards more practical things. He knew if he kept thinking about her he'd likely go mad, so instead he decided to focus on the plans he had for expanding their campsite. After losing almost all of his recorded notes, he'd re-purposed the notepad into a sketchbook for detailing the blueprints of his future endeavors.
Right now, their home was a modest affair. A semi-large area had been cleared of grass, and a stone circled fireplace had been installed in the center. The ground had been flattened out to make for a more comfortable living area. This was where they stood during the day, sat during the evening, and slept during the night. While it wasn't the most comfortable of accommodations, Wendy had put her skills in weaving to good use creating straw mats that were much softer than the hard packed earth.
Despite this, there was still one major problem that had shown itself early on. The campsite had no protection from the rain. Each time the heavens opened up their floodgates, the four survivors, now with an added companion, would be left to fend for themselves. In addition to causing Willow to go into a near-hysterical fit each time, it made it exceedingly difficult to get a fire going.
Especially at night.
A near encounter in their first week had taught Wilson just how dangerous the dark could be. Wolfgang had stepped outside the lighted area of the fire for only a few moments to retrieve his pack which had been dropped. He'd stumbled back into the safety of the campfire clutching a heavily bleeding gash on his arm.
Something was out there. And to make matters worse, it was hunting them. None of them had any idea what it was, but neither were they foolish enough to try and find out. From that point forwards, they'd all made absolutely sure to never venture into the darkness without a source of light.
Which brought him back to the initial problem. If it was raining when night approached, things got very dangerous for them. This was why Wilson had spent almost all of his free time looking at ways to improve their current living conditions.
Shelter was the first and foremost issue in his mind. They needed something to protect them from the elements, and to bunker down in should more hounds or anything else decide to try attacking them. This was something woven grass couldn't do. They'd need to gather something much stronger.
Wood. And lots of it.
This held its own problems. The forest was a long ways away, and dragging heavy logs back to their camp as a tall order even with Wolfgang's formidable strength. Not to mention how difficult it would be to chop the trees down in the first place. Makeshift axes crafted from sticks and sharp rocks could fell the smaller ones, but it would be impractical for them to bring down a fully grown tree.
Still, they had to start somewhere. Sooner or later the group would need to venture back to the forest in order to gather the necessary resources. Regardless of how much Willow hated the place it was the only source of harvestable wood that they knew of.
In addition to the shelter, there was one other thing Wilson knew he needed to create. His workshop.
Though nobody said it out loud, they all knew they couldn't simply stay here forever. Everyone wanted to get home and there was only one man who could send them back.
The scientist needed a dedicated work-space where he could spend his time to finding out more about their sinister host. He knew that if he devoted enough effort to the problem, he'd be able to crack whatever mysterious forces were at work. He'd already had several ideas for projects to work on, but currently lacked the resources and time to try completing them.
Shaking his head, Wilson decided to put those ideas into the back of his mind for the moment. It had been a very strange day and from the looks of things, nothing else was going to be done before night fell.
"-at least a dozen bat-like creatures burst from the ground." Wendy's words brought him out of his thoughts and back to the present. She was detailing an encounter she'd had while Abigail sat (and he used the word loosely) next to her. "They were wicked things, trying to bite me and emitting a horrid screeching call."
Both Willow and Wolfgang were listening in rapt attention, nobody seeming to notice that Wilson had been missing most of the story.
"Abigail swooped in like a bird of prey." She said, waving a stick in a downward pattern to demonstrate her point. "I took cover behind a nearby tree, and watched the fight unfold. Had I not dropped my ax earlier I would have helped her, but as it was the only thing I could do was stay back."
"What then?" Wolfgang questioned, looking for all the world like an eager child being read a bedtime story.
"It was difficult to see past the wall of wings and fur, but with each passing moment another of the beasts fell from the sky." Wendy detailed. While her enlarged vocabulary seemed strange in the mouth of a child, it certainly worked well for telling stories.
"Before too long the remaining bats either fled or came crashing down. Sadly, Abigail didn't make it out unscathed." At this the girl raised her arm in a sort of half-hug gesture, placing the limb as close to her ghostly sister as possible without actually touching her. "Her form was fading quickly, disappearing long before I reached her. I'd never been more frightened in my life. Thankfully, when I reached her fallen flower I could still feel her presence and knew she would be able to return."
"That's sweet." Willow said, a small smile on her face. "In a really creepy way. Do you know if there's a limit to how many times she can do that, or is it just a matter of waiting long enough for her to come back?"
It was fairly clear what she was getting at. If Abigail was even half as combat ready as her sister's stories claimed, she would no doubt be doing a lot of fighting on their behalf.
"I don't think there is a limit…" Wendy said, turning her head to the side in a rare display of being unsure. "She's only disappeared once before, but it took a long time for her to come back. Did it feel like you could get stuck on the other side?" She asked, turning to Abigail.
The phantom shrugged, causing her entire form to ripple like a pond in the breeze.
"It shouldn't be a problem." Wilson said, adding his input for the first time since they sat down to eat. "The best way to win a fight is by avoiding it in the first place. We're not going to be going around looking for trouble so we'll never have to find out how many times she can come back."
"That's a good point." Willow said, nodding her agreement. "Besides, between her and Wolfgang I doubt any monsters will be stupid enough to get in our way."
The strongman struck his fist forwards at the mention of his name, apparently having overcome his earlier fear of the ghost.
"I will fight them!" He declared. "I will protect little people! I am the mightiest!"
Wilson couldn't help but chuckle a bit when comparing his current attitude to the earlier fear. He was no doubt a very powerful, if somewhat unreliable, asset to their group.
Leaning back, the scientist finished off his meal.
That night, as Wilson took his shift to look after the fire he started making a few mental plans for how they could go about gathering enough lumber to build with. It wouldn't be easy, but few things in this world were. He would conquer this challenge in the same way he did all the others. With science.
Already the gears of his mind were turning, creating and discarding idea after idea. A cart would take too much time to build, and wouldn't have the carrying capacity they needed. Hauling the logs by hand was out of the question. There was no river flowing past their campsite, so they couldn't float them down.
He cast a contemplative gaze over at Abigail's indistinct form. She didn't need to sleep so instead she had taken it upon herself to patrol the borders of their camp. It was a surprisingly comforting notion to know they had a sentry now.
Perhaps she could help with the logs as well. A ghost wouldn't be limited by things like hunger or fatigue so she would be ideal for such a strenuous task. The only problem was that she was also unable to interact with the physical world outside of draining the life forces of living objects, something Wendy had demonstrated with a handful of flower petals. Not Abigail's flower of course. Just a few wildflowers that happened to be growing nearby.
Still, if she could be harmed by bat creatures it meant that she had at least some corporeal presence. If he could find a way to harness that in such a way that it allowed her to aid them, he had no doubt that she'd be an incredible benefit.
With a steady stream of thoughts and plans buzzing through his mind, Wilson let his eyes settle in the middle of the fire. One way or another, he'd figure this out.
It was just a matter of time.