Author's Note: Here is story number 2! Another folklore one, since im still dissatisfied with the number of fics out there. Come on guys! Pleeeeeeeeeeeeeeease...? Anyway this is going to be a multi-chaptered fic. Hopefully it'll turn out ok. There are a LOT of gaps in my knowledge about the whole concept of folklore, despite my finishing the game. Please bear with me.
In any case, enjoy the story! (Or try to... at least)
Disclaimer: Folklore would be a pretty cool thing to own... But I don't own it :(
"This is ridiculous…" Keats muttered as he tapped away furiously on his typewriter. He found his patience steadily growing thin as the ringing sound he was becoming far too familiar with, continued. Heaving a sigh, Keats relented and picked up the phone.
"…Sorry? Ah… Right… Okay then…"
After replacing the phone, Keats walked back to his desk and sat down, rubbing his temples. The sixth call in seven days. All of them were calls for help from denizens, faeries, and various other inhabitants of the Netherworld. Why everyone required his assistance all of a sudden was beyond him. Why, it wasn't even his job! Yes, after that last big incident involving the Netherworld core six months ago, he and his capabilities had definitely become famous but there was something strange about the abrupt increase in the frequency of the calls. A little while ago, he only received the occasional call from a fellow halflive, or even a desperate faery.
These days he barely had time to write his article for the latest issue of Unknown Realm.
Ring. Ring. Ring. Simply fantastic…
Groaning, Keats quickly snatched up the object of his frustration.
"…Eh? From HellRealm too, hmm? ...Yes, yes, I'll be there in a moment…"
Keats dropped the phone back onto the receiver with a sharp 'thunk', feeling a migraine coming on. He smiled grimly. He thought that humans were the only ones who got headaches. Living ones, that is. Suddenly craving that absurd flavoured tea that Ellen had brought him weeks ago, Keats strode toward his little kitchenette and started boiling some water. 'Addicted' might've been too strong a word to use in this case, but Keats had definitely taken a strong liking towards that particular kind of tea, though he was loathe to admit it – especially to Ellen.
Humming a tune that Ganconer liked to play often in the pub, Keats vaguely pondered the memory that went back nearly 4 months. She had bristled in that oddly endearing way when he scoffed at her after she told him her favourite type of tea and offered him some. Strawberry lemon flavour indeed… He thought with a chuckle.
The kettle whistled, and Keats quickly poured himself some strawberry-lemon tea, downing it in two gulps and wincing as the hot liquid burned his throat. Keats pulled on his long coat, distractedly wondering if Ellen was as busy as he was. After all, she was the Cloak's 'chosen one', and he was a mere guardian. How irksome it would be if she was living happily, wherever she was, while he was stuck here helping the entire population of every Realm in the Netherworld. Dismayed at the thought, Keats forcibly pushed it to the back of his mind. With a deep breath and one last wistful look at his unfinished article, Keats walked out of his office and through the door that now read "HellRealm" above it.
Keats twitched slightly, taking in the familiar sight of little streams of water, eerily glowing red crystals, and an over-abundance of rock and dust. Altogether, this formed the landscape of man's perception of an afterlife in Hell.
Which, Keats had commented to Belgae once before, wasn't as bad as he thought it would be. It was hot enough to cause discomfort, but the heat wasn't unbearable. In the distance Keats recognised the gleeful, mischievous cries of boggarts, not so far ahead. However, today Keats wasn't in the mood to exercise his folks, nor did he have the time. He needed to get to the Inquisition Bridge, find out who called him, and what exactly was going on. Keats stepped over to the glowing, myriad-hued, crystalline flower to access a doorway to another region in HellRealm. Search Crystal, Belgae had called it, if Keats remembered correctly.
Keats didn't expect the thing to be broken. Looking at it critically, Keats exhaled defeatedly. He would have to take the long way.
Running past various folks (including a particularly cranky Fomoire), Keats reached the Condemnation Tower in record time. Panting slightly, Keats fought his way up, without too much trouble. After reaching the top, Keats barely called out Killmoulis in time to stop a charging Durandal, engulfed in roaring flames. Staggering from the recoil, and stunned for a split second, Keats hastily recovered and froze the Durandal with Afanc before sprinting to the old gate leading to the Inquisition Bridge.
Running through the gateway, Keats released the breath he didn't know he was holding. Ah yes. He remembered he never really liked HellRealm.
Cautiously, Keats looked up and turned his head towards the sound of the voice. Upon seeing a hag-looking, cloak-wearing creature, he felt a wave of relief. Finally, not an enemy.
"Ay? You're that guy, ay? What was it… Pete or somefink? Yeah! The one that 'elped that girl!" The HellRealm inhabitant chattered excitedly.
"…Keats." Said guy muttered, already becoming irritated by the sound of the hag creature's voice. "I take it the you were the one who called-?"
"-So there's been all this weird stuff goin' on in the court and stuff," The HellRealm denizen interrupted. "What with the new judge makin' all these rules and the like, an' well, some'un like you could pro'lly sort all this stuff out, y'kno?"
"…Right. I don't suppose you could update me? It's been a while since I last visited," Keats replied dryly.
"Eh? Ah 'kay 'kay, I see, well, ever since you and Mistress Ellen both defeated Judge Yama, a new Judge has gotta be appoint'd a'ight? Always gotta have a judge, an' that's just the way it works round here, see-"
"And this new judge is…?"
"Well 'is name's Gazuk! Real nasty piece of work if you ask me…"
"And I suspect he's the one who deactivated the Search Crystals?"
"What? Oh yeah, those things! Told ya 'e was bonkas!" The denizen said earnestly.
"Right, yes, yes…" Keats said, impatience creeping into his voice. "But what do you want me to do about it?"
"Glad yer to the point Mr Wheat! So you see…" The hag creature lowered its head and turned away momentarily. "We've been tryin' to tell 'im that 'is trials aren't fair an' such, but he won' listen to a bunch o' decent guys like us. 'Sides that, he's might'y strong! Could pro'lly get rid of us in one blow! That's why I called ya – Gazuk'd listen to some'un like you."
Keats eyed the HellRealm denizen, the corners of his mouth tugging downwards in a frown. A short silence ensued, which the denizen took to be not such a good thing. With a sigh, Keats rose to his feet, brushing the dirt off his trousers. He began a slow walk towards the HellRealm Court, the denizen trailing along behind him.
"Yeah! I knew ya'd help us out! I knew it!" The denizen said cheerfully, falling into step beside him. "Name's Koop, by the way. Nice to meetcha Mr Sleets!"
"…My pleasure, really," Keats drawled. Koop, however, was seemingly oblivious to the dripping sarcasm in his voice.
Keats truly wondered when it was that he found a conscience.
Ellen liked simplicity. And so that was how she lived her life. She enjoyed watering her roses on a warm summer's day. She was happy when she was painting picturesque scenes of children playing in the park. She felt at peace while sitting outside drinking a cup of her favourite strawberry lemon tea while a gentle breeze teased the strands of her blonde hair.
Sadly, not every day was like this. As much as Ellen tried to lead a normal, quiet life; she knew full well that she simply couldn't. It had been half a year, but Ellen could still clearly recall the events of what happened in the Netherworld Core. And she knew it wasn't all a big, frighteningly detailed dream because she still made trips to the Netherworld today. And Ellen had long since found out that you didn't need to be in Doolin to be able to traverse the Netherworld Realms.
Whenever Ellen found someone troubled by the dead, she now only required an object of importance to that dead person, and she would be able to hear their voice without needing to offer to the Henge in Doolin. The object then became something of a teleporter, transporting her to the Netherworld Realm concerned when she wished. She wasn't completely sure she knew how the whole thing worked, but she did remember Keats explaining to her how it might've had something to do with absorbing the Seal of Baral and some other details she either didn't understand, or had forgotten.
Needless to say, Ellen's soul-saving/messenger duties went fairly smoothly, and she was always happy to help people in need, her compassion overruling her own desires.
One cloudy afternoon, as Ellen was walking home from the grocery store, a short, old lady hobbled over to her. Ellen gave her a small smile as she approached. The lady immediately thrust out her hand and grabbed Ellen's shoulder with an almost unreal agility, as soon as she was within range. Ellen gasped in surprise, nearly dropping her day's shopping.
"Excuse me for asking," she rasped in a trembling voice. "But they tell me you're the only one who can help me…"
"P-please, let go of me, ma'am," Ellen murmured, wincing as the lady's grip tightened.
"A medium! A medium!" The woman cried, desperation seeping into her voice like wine onto a cloth. "They say y-you can speak to the dead!"
"I beg your pardon?" Ellen asked shakily, but she had already heard enough to know where this was going.
"My granddaughter! She's gone! The police say she died in the fire but I know the truth - I saw them!" The lady sobbed, the words tumbling out of her mouth. Her voice lowered to a whisper and Ellen had to strain her ears to hear what she said next.
"The faeries took her."
Ellen's eyes widened in shock. No… It couldn't have been… Inhabitants of the Netherworld stayed in the Netherworld. Unless, they were halflives? Ellen shook her head. She definitely didn't know how to figure this one out on her own. Nevertheless her priority at the moment was to help out this woman who had lost her granddaughter.
"I think I can help…" Ellen said slowly.
The woman's sobs ceased abruptly and her grip on Ellen's shoulder loosened fractionally. Then, as quickly as they had gone, her tears returned, streaming down her face.
"Thank you… Thank you…"
"Sure…" Ellen said smiling uncertainly. She inhaled deeply and asked the question she was now rather well-acquainted with.
"Did she leave behind anything important?"
Ellen held the little clover-shaped locket in her hands turning it over to examine it, and every so often attempting to pry it open, to no avail. It was made of a type of green stone and had intricate golden patterns on it, gleaming in the light. Ellen placed the locket down onto her desk in defeat. She frowned, wondering how such a pretty little trinket could be so… difficult. She gazed at it momentarily before tearing her eyes away with a sigh.
Maybe the lady was lying. But then again, why would the woman give her the locket? It looked valuable, and was in good condition too. Was the woman crazy then? Because Ellen definitely could not hear the voice of her granddaughter.
"Think…" Ellen mumbled, closing her eyes in concentration. Ellen reopened her eyes to find that the locket was now glowing jade green and shook slightly. Ellen blinked in surprise, and then saw that the locket had returned to its lifeless state.
Strange… Ellen mused. Then, a thought occurred to her.
Wasn't she only able to hear voices of the dead? If this girl had really been taken by the "faeries", then there should be a possibility of her being alive.
In the Netherworld, Ellen thought, a worried look forming on her delicate features.
Even then, how in the Netherworld was she going to find the girl if she couldn't even hear her voice, let alone find the right Realm?
Feeling slightly dizzy from thinking so much, Ellen decided to retire for the night. She would figure this out in the morning. Right now there was only one person she knew, that might be able to help her. Ellen smiled. She hadn't seen him in a while.
So it was high time she paid him a visit.
Eh, first chapter finished! So how was it? Yeah... Search Crystals... *cough* does anyone know what they're ACTUALLY called?
EDITED: So they're portals! Ahaha I should've known... Thanks goes to Kyugan!
Review please! :] It gives me motivation to continue. Or if you don't like something about the story, do tell, and I'll do better next time, aye?