Chapter 1: The Servant
Mirrabelle quests are often misleading. It could go from something as simple as finding a lost child into battling ancient spirits, or it could be the opposite, rumors of cults and demons turning out to be an urban myth or a prank. Regardless, to my Master, Jack Crystal, they are his favorite pastime, right up there with sleeping and watching other Envoys having duels near the banks and auction houses. Not that he gets a lot of free time, though.
So, when he accepted a Mirrabelle quest to investigate an abandoned mansion, I naturally followed. Not that I like abandoned mansions, in fact I am a bit of a scaredy-cat compared to other Eidolons, but letting Master walking into a place of creepiness and mystery, where looters and adventurers did not come back out all by himself is close to being unacceptable.
"Freya, I'll be fine. There's no need for you to go with me."-Master reassured, but I was having none of that.
"Master, it's not safe. Those men came in and did not come out. Please, let me go with you. I could be of help."
"…"-Jac-I mean Master frowned at me, but eventually he sighed-"I guess I…can't expect to be unprepared. Having you along would be wise, yeah."
I don't really know why, but Master tends to shield us Eidolons from harm. Granted, me and Merilee are both supportive Eidolons, but we can take care of ourselves! At least, with him front-lining.
With Jack relenting and both of us ready, Mirabelle teleported us to some distance away from the mansion.
Looking around, the mansion was a bit further up the road, but looking around, I find that we are surrounded by trees.
"A secluded mansion? Well that isn't a good idea."-Jack spoke as he walked forward-"Come on Freya. Let's see what's there."
Following Master, we reached the mansion gate, but we found that there was a strong spell that sealed the door shut.
"…It's not budging. Freya, do you have any magic to open this?"
"No, I'm afraid not, Master."-Whatever spell or enchantment that sealed this door, it is incredibly strong and intricate. It would take an expert hours to get it open.
Jack tinkered with the gate a little bit more, but he gave up soon after, mentioning something off-hand about Victoria and undoing spells.
"Let's look around the wall. Maybe I'll just climb in."
"If there's no barrier, I can fly us through, Master."-Or maybe, create a stair for us to walk past, whichever works.
"Well, the story goes that people got inside, so there should be another-"-Master stopped talking, looking ahead.
Confused, I followed his eye line.
A section of the wall has crumbled there, an entry wide open for us.
"Hm. Doesn't seem like it's patched up. No barriers as well. Let's get inside."-Jack seemed awfully nonchalant about entering a creepy abandoned estate, but if I were to be honest, that is often one of his charms.
We entered the estate through the front yard, and while I find things rather normal, Master pointed out the unnerving part.
"The garden…It's not completely decayed. Grasses are weeded out, and flower beds tended to. There's still a walking trail, even."
It sends a bit of chill down my spine.
"Calm down, it's probably a free-loader or something. Someone tended to these, so that's the most logical answer."
"But what if that's not the case?"-I voiced in concern. Not that I think Master's deductions aren't logical, it's just…something eerily creepy has taken over my senses.
"We're here to find out if it is or not."-Master continued deeper.
At around the broken down fountain in front of the mansion door, we both saw something that can't be missed.
A trail of dragging marks and blood painted the road, going to the side and into the backyard.
"Rather recent. Blood has dried, but not fully. Come on. Let's check the backyard."
Gulping, I nod and followed, hoping that whatever we find in there, that would be all there is to this place.
A metal gate stood in our way, but it was unlocked, and with a push from Jack, the gate let out a creepy metal creaking sound as it opens.
We started hearing a noise as we stepped in. It was the noise of shovel meeting dirt. The sound of digging.
"…"-Jack inhaled and winced.-"Ugh…"
I did the same and almost wanted to throw up.
There was a heavy smell in the air. Smell of rot, of death.
Turning the corner, Jack and I were met with a graveyard.
Mounds of dirt formed a few rows, shallow graves with no tombstones filled the backyard.
I took a step back, almost in horror, even using Master as a shield as I covered my mouth and look away, trying desperately to not throw up.
Master understood my fear, but he subtly reached back towards me, as if gaining my attention. With a soft "Look", he turned his head forward.
Peeking over his form, I watched as a tall, tall man, must be 2m2 or something, wearing a dark brown clergy robe, digging a new grave, a dead body at his feet, his back towards us.
Master's demeanor tenses and stiffens, entering a combat state, as he pulled out a break-action revolver, a non-Envoy weapon that he carries around for ranged attack.
I held his shoulders tightly, almost ready to dig my clean and short nails into him, but soon as Jack took a step forward, I immediately let go. I visibly stiffen, braving up and summons my harp. I'm his Eidolon, so I can't afford to be a shivering mess that slows him down.
As Jack approached closer, the grave digger stopped his shovel. Master quickly raised his firearm.
"You. Turn around and show your face."-He audibly cocked his gun as a warning.
The mysterious robed man did not change his stand. He still seems relaxed, unchanging, but he slowly turned around and pulled back his hood as he turned towards Jack.
My initial reaction was 'Is that even a man?'
He had no face. In detail, he still has his lower lip and his ears, but the rest of his face looked like someone sew a patch of skin over it and using steel rings to hold it there.
That had both me and Jack frozen up for a good few seconds.
The…thing started walking towards Jack, his shovel held like an axe.
That snapped master out of his state, and he took a step back.
"Stop right there."-Jack spoke, but the thing did not even care, raising its shovel to strike.
In quick reaction, Master pulled the trigger twice, hitting the creepy…thing in the chest, the high caliber round sent it reeling, falling on its back and stopped moving.
Did he get it?
I floated in wait, my fingertips trembling next to the harp strings as I was ready to let loose an attack at any moment.
Jack approached the presumed-dead creature, gun still ready to fire, and looked at the dead body at its feet. A looter, most likely, judging from his appearance and lack of equipment and weapons.
It's been nearly a minute now, and I find myself relaxing just a bit, as Jack stepped on the shovel to prevent an unexpected swing of that rusty and bent tool. I decided to move a little bit closer, as I have been keeping quite a distance between me and Master.
As I approaches, Jack was kicking the shovel away from the nightmarish creature, but it suddenly sprung to life again, ignoring the next two shots Jack fired into it, and got up so fast its hand shot up and grabbed Jack's neck, swatting the gun out of Master's hand in the process, and stood up tall, towering as he lifts Jack up, choking him.
"Master!"-I quickly conjure up an attack, and bombarded the monster, the thing staggering lightly, it's faceless head turned towards me, loosening its grip on Jack.
That was the opening Master needed, as he pulled out the Tachi held on his back, and ran the blade right through the abomination.
Yet, the thing remained unmoving, almost indifferent towards the lengthy blade driven through its torso, as it tosses Jack to the side, skidding and landing over on some graves and walked towards me in a rather agitated pace.
I continued to shot magic attacks it's way, but besides staggering the abomination, it did not slow the thing down by much, it's shovel raised high and ready to slam down on me.
Being able to float, I quickly dodged the slam, but unexpectedly, a magic shockwave erupted from where the shovel hit, and knocked me off balance quite a bit as I fell on the dirty ground.
As the monster slowly turned and step towards me, towering over my form, blade in its chest and shovel in hand ready again, in a blink of an eye, Master appeared with his Katars ready, carving the creature open in a Blitz Assassination, stunning it.
Whirling around, Jack got me on my feet again, before getting me to move back to a safe distance.
"Get back, Freya!"-He warned quickly.
As the faceless thing returned to its senses, Jack grabbed on to the Tachi that's stuck to its chest and pulled it out, doing a whirl to bring the blade around to strike the monster, and that was the first time it staggered heavily, taking a few steps back and used the shovel to support itself.
I quickly supported Jack with a song, just as the monster got to its feet again and moved towards us.
This time, Jack with his blades ready blocked the shovel swing, although it was clear that the thing possess much greater brute force as even though he blocked it, Jack still got pushed back and staggered lightly.
What…is this thing?
"Freya, watch it!"-Master turned around and moved, yanking me back a step to get me out of another swing.
Snapping out of my thoughts, I quickly thanked him as I regained my focus to fighting the thing.
Blade meets shovel a couple more times, Jack began to get his attack and dodge patterns down, and started dealing damage to it.
At least, I think that we are dealing damage. The monster seems to treat its wounds with indifference and silence as it continues to attack, flailing the shovel with great force without so much as a grunt.
But, as we are starting to get the patterns down, unexpectedly, the faceless thing did an unexpected swing, an upward angled attack that Jack wasn't ready for, and the heavy rusty shovel hits him in the shoulder.
My blood ran cold as Jack let out a pained cry, the monster struck him in his left Katar arm, and there was so much force that Master was thrown to the side, hitting his head on a rock by the graves.
"I'm okay! Huhg?!"-A strained noise came out from him."
I looked over, and was in absolute horror.
From the grave, a rotting, decomposing arm protruded out, grabbing a hold on Jack and not letting go.
Several graves also started bursting as corpses came to life, restraining him.
For a second, I have no idea what was happening. But as the faceless thing approaches, I quickly snapped out.
I quickly floated back and away from the faceless monster, and pulled my harp string, firing a magic arrow, hitting the reanimated corpse that was holding Master down.
Within a mere second, a Dark Tusk Raid skewered the undead, and once again, stabbing the faceless monster.
This time, Master pinned it down on the ground, the blade anchored down into the dirt, before he wrestled the shovel out of the abomination's hand and beat the thing with it.
The first hit let out a gut wrenching noise of skull cracking and…things splattering.
Without even checking, Jack raise the shovel to strike again, letting out an animal-like cry.
I have never seen Master that livid. No, he wasn't just livid. He was animalistic. He smashed the faceless's head until it caved in, then I stopped looking, but he didn't stop. I only imagined from the sound of the shovel striking changing that there's no longer a head for him to hit anymore.
As Master finally stopped, I can hear is pained and ragged heavy breathing as he got up from his position, and turned around to see him tossing the shovel aside.
I tried my best to not look at the mess that he made of that creature, and from the looks of things, all the reanimated dead have stopped moving too. That's probably a good sign, that the thing is dead now.
"Your arm. Let me have a look at it!"-I quickly offered, pulling him back to see me.
"Yeah, I'm…"-Master let out a pained grunt, unable to hide his pain.-"I think besides getting a gash, it dislocated my shoulder."
"…I'll have to pop it back in place before healing you."
"Yeah, do it."-He urged with a wince.
With a wince of my own, I popped the arm back into it's supposed location, and along with that disturbing sound was a pained cry from Jack, but it quickly turned into a relaxing sigh.
"I think we're done here, Master. That thing was the one that killed all the people that came in."-I spoke as I played a healing song for him.
"No. This isn't finished yet. This thing…it's like a guard. A mere servant. What is it protecting in this mansion?"-Jack got up, didn't even bothered cleaning the blood that trickled down from his forehead, and went to retrieve his tachi and revolver.
"Even if there is something to this mansion, you are heavily injured, Master. A couple of HP potion and a heal spell from me isn't enough to fully get you back into it."-I tried to reason, knowing full well the answer.
"Still, can't back out from this until it's finished. I hate leaving things halfway."-Jack opened the gun chamber and reloaded his revolver.
"We've come this far. Shouldn't just leave it."-Pulling his sword out of the dead faceless, Master looked around-"Seem like the back door isn't locked. Let's go."
"…Okay Master. Just…please be careful. Your wounds can get worse."
"Mn."-He nodded, but something tells me it's that kind of promise he'll disregard at pretty much any opportunity.