Dark Side of the Moon
by Eternal SailorM

Parts of an ancient wall were still intact around the ruin; the parts
that had fallen over the course of time had been replaced, and the
newer structures looked rather formidable. A bronze plaque hung near
the wrought-iron gate, bearing the simple inscription of "Go away!"

But none of that compared to the dollar signs in Lina Inverse's eyes.

It did, however, bother Amelia wil Tesla Saillune. "Are you sure
about this, Lina-san?" she whined.

"I want that treasure," the redheaded sorceress answered. "We've come
too far to just go home."

That much, at least, Amelia decided, was true. They had come a long
way to find this place, and all because Lina had overheard a couple
of bandits mention a priceless treasure, in a ruin from the World
Before, guarded by a vengeful spirit. Lina had heard the sounds of
money, and so they had set out across the known world, across lands
that hadn't been traveled in thousands of years, to find this place.
It was. . . Well, it was rather creepy, to be honest.

"There was another note," Zelgadiss reported, landing beside them.

"Well?"

"It's just another warning. It says: 'If you really want the spirit's
treasure, remember these things: first, don't make it angry. Second,
any man who enters must be especially careful; it doesn't like men.'"
He and Gourry exchanged a glance. "'And finally, and this is most
important of all, don't ig-'"

"Why'd you stop, Zelgadiss-san?" Amelia asked.

"The paper is ripped there, so I can't read it."

"Well, we'll just have to push on anyway," Lina stated.

The gate creaked and made horrible noises as they stepped through
it. "If this isn't the perfect set-up for a ghost story, I don't know
what is," Zel groaned.

Inside the ruin, a long-dead figure stared at them from an upstairs
window. If it was physical enough for facial expressions, its eyes
would have narrowed in anger. People again, coming into this house,
after so long. Hadn't they learned yet that this place was cursed?

********************************

"This place is really creepy," Amelia repeated yet again. It took a
lot of effort, but Lina managed not to smack her. You'd think the two-
year break from adventuring had ruined the girl; she almost wished
she'd brought Filia instead.

But she did have to admit: it was kind of creepy. Pitch black
darkness greeted them on the inside, without a candle or lantern in
sight.

As if something had read her mind, the small lever beside the door
clicked into an upright position and the room was flooded with light
that seemed to originate from what looked like a lantern on the
ceiling. "What the. . ." Lina began.

"Electricity," Zelgadiss answered. "If it's working in this room, it
should work in the rest of the house."

"So we'll have light to look," finished Amelia. A book hit her in the
back. "What?" she asked, turning to look behind her at Gourry and
Lina.

Gourry stared at her with wide eyes. "We didn't do it. It just flew
off the shelf on its own."

Amelia turned to Lina. "Did you do it, Lina-san?"

"Why would I throw a book at you, Amelia? I'm going to look around
upstairs."

She'd hardly left the room when everything went crazy. Everything
left whatever resting place it had previously possessed and threw
itself at them.

********************************

The upstairs seemed rather unremarkable, as far as upstairs went.
Bedroom followed bedroom followed bedroom, then came a room like
nothing she'd ever seen before. Okay, she recognized the mirror and
the larger basin seemed to be for bathing, but the rest of it was
lost on her. For the moment at least, she decided to let that mystery
lie and finish her exploring. There was one more door that she hadn't
checked yet, and when she opened it, it led up a set of stairs.

She'd almost put one foot inside the door when it slammed
closed. "Let me in!" she demanded. Silently it opened again, slowly,
as if something, whatever was opening it, was relunctant to
obey. "Thank you." She could have sworn she heard someone grumbling
about it not being fair. She slowly ascended the stairs, wary of
another of the spirit's temper tantrums.

It was another bedroom, done in colors that surely must have once
been pinks and whites and other such pastels. A huge bloodstain - no,
two of them - spread across the floor, turned black over time. A desk
with a large mirror sat to one side of a large bed. Cracking posters
covered the walls, most of them of odd contraptions that were vaguely
box-shaped and of a dark blond-haired man in a sort of uniform which
said "Formula One". At least she thought it was a man; it could have
been a woman. The others were of three men with long hair, the "Three
Lights," if the words were to be believed. On the bedside table was
another picture of the blond man, this time looking a bit more
feminine and standing beside a girl with long blonde hair. Behind it
was another picture of the blonde girl, a bit younger and with a dark-
haired man and the faintest image of a little girl with pink hair.
The bedsheet was blue with moons and rabbits on it. The whole room
was simply too cute for words.

So why didn't anyone clean up the blood? she wondered to herself,
sitting down at the desk. The rest of the house was immaculate, the
kind of perfectly clean that spoke of someone who had time to stay
around the house all day to keep it clean. Why would someone keep
such a perfect house, yet leave all that blood on the floor?

She turned on the seat and regarded herself in the mirror. Before her
glass reflection sat a hair brush, long golden strands of hair still
in it, the same shade of golden blonde as the young woman in the
pictures. With a sigh, she pulled out the hair and started to brush
out the tangles the long journey here had produced in her hair.
When she looked up a moment later, she froze, staring at the
reflection she no longer had. Instead she was looking into an
unfamiliar pair of blue eyes framed by blonde hair nearly double the
length of her own. The young woman slowly brushed out her hair, a
small smile on her face. There was a ringing sound behind her; she
turned but saw nothing that could be making such a sound; looking
back in the mirror, the girl had jumped up and crossed the room to
pick up the small rectangle-shaped object on the bedside table beside
the pictures and she appeared to be talking into it. With a nod, she
out it back on its cradle and returned to the desk, sitting exactly
where Lina was sitting herself. She sighed and rested her head on her
hand, clearly upset about something.

Without warning, the blonde disappeared and Lina blinked in surprise
to see herself again. What was that all about? "Oh, that's it," she
realized aloud. "This is your house, isn't it? You're not a spirit;
you're a ghost."

Around her, the room seemed to fairly hum with satisfaction.

"So why don't you want anyone to come here? I always heard ghosts
appreciated the company after being alone." The sense of happiness
fled, and it got very cold very quickly.

"Lina-san!" Amelia called out, bursting up the stairs. "Guess what we
found!" Her enthusiasm faded in the chilliness of the room. "It's so
cold in here!" Abruptly the temperature returned to normal as a
breeze ruffled by Amelia's hair and down the stairs.

"What did you find? The treasure?" Lina asked eagerly.

"No, a book. I can't read it, but Zelgadiss-san says it looks like
some sort of diary. It was written in something he called 'katakana.'
Do you think it could have a clue to the treasure, Lina-san?"

"It could. We may as well stay here the night; it's almost dark
outside and it's a two-hour walk to the nearest town."

"But . . . here? In this house? With the spirit?"

Lina cracked a small smile. "It's not a spirit. It's a ghost."