A demented Professor, a few Nordic chants, a disembodied head? Was this all he was really faced with? Once arriving at his latest task, Andrew was disappointed to find such a boring setting. He was expecting something thrilling and mysterious, but instead, it seemed textbook. Mortals were doing what they always did. Stealing, taking credit, and trying to make money. The three amateur filmmakers took their sweet time wandering through the forest, searching for adventure. Amateur. Andrew scoffed at the notion. No, amateur implied that they had skill, that their work was valued but unfunded. These mortals were nothing more than mediocre, if that. As he looked over the pathetic scene that played out before him, he shook his non-head. Those bumbling mortals would take at least an hour to get out of the thick brush of trees that surrounded the premises. Even then, they would need guidance from his haunters. A good scare sounded pleasant and enjoyable at the moment, but he was aware of his duties. As Maugrim had told him once, not every mission is about the plasm. According to the Haunter Committee, there was a much bigger fish to fry: The Darkling. He had heard only rumors of such a creature, but apparently, one Ghost Master had previously attempted to free it. Andrew could never get a straight answer out of the other spirits about what happened in that case, but he wasn't worried. The Darkling was in his territory now, making it his responsibility. He wouldn't rush, however, as he knew there was another spirit to free.
First things first, however, he would have to organize his task force. As he surveyed key areas for haunts, Andrew plotted out access points and ways to help the mortals reach The Darkling. Though the thought of assisting a pathetic group of the living revolted him, he reasoned that it was his job. The property of this cabin in the middle of nowhere was impressively remote. A deep chasm separated it from the rest of the forest, which would be a problem when the mortals arrived. A bridge which would safely get the living towards the path to the chasm was destroyed. Though the thin river between the areas was small, he assumed that the humans would refuse to cross. Yet another problem he would have to fix. As he scanned the area once again, he felt a pulse from the middle of a lake which the property was built around. It was a familiar feeling, one that he could recognize anywhere: there was a spirit there. Upon further inspection, he found a small island of sorts in the center of the lake. A thick layer of trees secluded it from view, as well as fog. Nothing a few gusts of wind couldn't fix, Andrew noted, but it still made it difficult to find the entity. Once he eased through the obstacles, he found a - god, what was it? Though he intended to be unseen, the spirit whirled around quickly, sensing the presence. Andrew couldn't help but stare-this thing was nearly as bad as Terroreyes. Eyes and a tongue were the only real tissue left of it. The rest, only a skull and a severed spine. It floated calmly in midair, its large humanoid teeth visible as its mouth hung open. "And you are," Andrew paused in thought, "the Blair Wisp?"
The skull only continued to bob in the air, as if floating on a gust of wind. "Threeeee centuries hence, this foolish wisp cruelly wronged a powerful witch-my fate was seeeeaaled." It spoke very precisely, its voice somewhat high pitched and hypnotic. "I was cursed to the worst punishment a wisp can befaaaall, to never be seeeen by mortal eyeesss. Imprisoned within a ring of treees, I can only be freeed once the curse has been deeeenied."
Once it grew silent, Andrew blinked his non-eyes. "Uh-huh." On the job, he was pleased to find that he could refer to the handbook mentally. Being omnipresent had its perks, one of which being the availability of information. 'So let's see. A wisp.' He browsed through the pages within his mind, focusing on each description of spirits. 'Here we are: wisps. Wisps experience pleasurable sensation when gazed upon by mortals, and as such are very hard to sneak up on. They can, however, be incapacitated by a really hard stare.' Andrew gave thought to that notion-not being able to contain himself when looked at? Somehow, he considered that to be inconvenient. He turned his attention back to the Blair Wisp, who seemed uninterested in the presence before it. The disembodied head and spine just looked around blankly, tilting its head as it stared at the trees that blocked its view of the world. Did it even remember what other places looked like? "Don't worry, I'll get you out of here soon enough." He assured the spirit, but the wisp only stared at him for a moment, then back to its trees.
Wandering off, Andrew approached the cabin on the far North side of the property. He could sense another spirit, this one far more powerful than any other that he had encountered. He could feel a shudder making its way throughout his non-body, one which disturbed him thoroughly. As he eased through the home, he slipped beneath the top layer, ending up in the basement. The creature, which could only be described as a nightmare personified, was terrifying. It was horse-like in a way, with long thin limbs and a wide, long head. However, razor sharp claws covered the base of its hands, which displayed five long fingers. Its broad head could be easily forgotten when one stared at it's teeth, which looked like something out of a horror film. Its elongated legs perched the rest of its body upward, which gave it an arachnoid appearance. The creature had no skin, only muscle tissue, which occasionally seeped with unknown moisture. Veins and arteries could easily be seen upon its flesh, pulsing as if they would burst at any moment. The vision of the creature faded in and out continuously, bordering on the human and astral plane. The sheer power of the creature made Andrew woozy, the energy putting him in a nearly drunken stupor. He thought he would never feel fear again, as a spirit, and yet here he was-face to face with it. There was no doubt in his mind that this could be anything but The Darkling.
Sensing fear, a most delectable treat to it, the Darkling perked itself up. "Who approaches me?" Its voice boomed, deep and threatening, appropriate with its frightening form.
"A Ghost Master. I've come to free you." Andrew did his best not to stammer, as he didn't need another powerful spirit doubting him.
"A previous Ghost Master helped to surface me. Three souls were satisfying, but not nearly enough to restore me to my true power. Bring me more souls, more delicate morsels to safe the cyclopean appetite of The Darkling. Such tiny minds must be easy to herd. Upon reaching this place, they shall leave never more. Bring them to me, let darkness consume their pitiful existences. Dark destiny will not be denied this day! " It boomed, making Andrew want to crumble to pieces. Without so much as a goodbye, he drifted out of the area. He needed to get started, he could already sense the impending arrival of the mortals. He mentally sifted through the handbook again, this time focusing on which spirits to summon. As he calculated how to guide the mortals to the cabin, he predetermined a few in his mind. For the chasm, he would have to use nature as a bridge, literally. The large tree in front of the gap in the earth would make for a suitable bridge. To overturn it, he would need his most valuable Earth Elemental.
Type: Earth Elemental. Level: Wild.Fetter: Earth.
Epitaph: The spirit of Banzai has been nurtured for centuries by generations of Japanese gardeners. He is a philosophical elemental, undaunted by tasks of any size.
A logical choice, in Andrew's mind. For the destroyed bridge, he would have to make his own again. If distracted, the mortals would cross anything suitable, like ice. Both Knuckles and Terroreyes had abilities that could bring freezing temperatures. Perhaps if they were used together, they could provide a climate cold enough to freeze the river.
Type: Apparition. Level: Untrained. Fetter: Murder.
Epitaph: Mortal children play a gruesome game at Halloween, passing objects to one another blindfolded. Peeled grapes become a dead man's eyes. Well children, these ARE a dead man's eyes. After being used for experiments, Terroreyes was kept in a glass jar as a souvenir of sorts.
Type: Spectre. Level: Housebroken. Fetter: Violence.
Epitaph: Mobster ghosts are not exactly rare, but Knuckles presents a level of professionalism that's a cut above the rest. He doesn't put a severed horse's head in an enemy's bed-he uses his own.
Though murder and violence fetters weren't usually common to come across, Andrew had noticed some animal traps around the premises. Though the Professor who owned the property was sick and disturbed, at least he made Andrew's job much easier. He would need a spirit to guide mortals across, to lure them successfully. With one more animal trap left to bind to, the Ghost Master recruited another of his rescued spirits.
Type: Apparition. Level: Untrained. Fetter: Murder.
Epitaph: A fan of over-the-top cop movie heroes such as McClane and Riggs, Blue was disappointed to find that she died rather easily when shot with a lethal weapon.
As he sensed the mortals creeping closer to their first awaited task, Andrew felt the pressure to hurry. Who else would be needed in this task? Oh, the Blair Wisp would need to be freed, of course. A few gusts would clear up the fog that hid it, and Banzai could knock over a tree or two. A simple air elemental would do the trick, though he often found them unpleasant to work with. Oh well, they would only need to be bound to the area for a moment or two.
Type: Air Elemental. Level: Untrained. Fetter: Air, Outside.
Epitaph: Unlike many elementals, Whisperwind is a subtle spirit, forgoing ostentatious shows of power in favor of minor flights of fancy and small acts of mischief.
Andrew realized upon another review of the task at hand, that Weatherwitch would be necessary. He groaned, unhappy to work with such an unpleasant spirit for yet another time. Though she was irritating and unprofessional, she excelled in her ability to lure mortals with her call. Even so, Andrew was revolted to have to see her face again.
Type: Banshee. Level: Untrained. Fetter: Thoroughfare.
Epitaph: As owners come to resemble their pets, so do witches come to resemble their spells. Specializing in weather control, this unhinged banshee soon became controlled by the weather, and now her mood swings are as temperamental as the skies.
Since he would be unable to scare the mortals, plasm would be scarce—he would have to hurry if he wanted to avoid using the Time Gate. Recreational purposes were one thing, but using it out of necessity was frustrating to say the least. As the mortals wandered into view, Andrew sighed, looking down at them with a grimace. They seemed a little more pathetic this time, walking in circles and gripping their video cameras tightly. "Joshua! Joshua, I think we should turn back!" The only female of the trio called to another mortal. He shrugged off her comment, his male counterpart not so convinced. He was obviously very reluctant to trek only foreign territory, frightened of what they might encounter. "Joshua, please! This book probably doesn't even exist—it's nothing more than a legend!" The woman cried out again, more desperate.
The bravest of the mortals turned around to face her, shining his flashlight into her face. "You knew what you were getting into when you signed up. We're doing this for the money. And if it doesn't exist, how do you explain when Bruce, Marcy and Cambell disappeared?" Unwilling to wait for a response, Joshua turned back around and huffed angrily. "I swear, Jenny, sometimes you just don't think." He growled through gritted teeth. Offended but convinced for the moment, Jenny and the unidentified male followed behind their leader, nervous. As they neared a river, they shone the flashlight towards the left. "The bridge is broken. Looks too deep to cross, and I wouldn't want to risk damaging the cameras. We'll have to find another way across." The leader noted, following the small river towards a larger body of water. The ground shook powerfully, causing the unnamed man to trip and fall. He coughed and brushed himself off, carefully getting to his feet. Just as soon as the tremor had began, it ended. A thunderous crack was audible throughout the area, followed by another light tremble of the earth. The area grew still and silent, leaving the trio to glance around in wonder.
"What...was that?" The third male asked, his flashlight fumbling within his shaky hand.
"Just forget about it, Michael. Probably just an earthquake. Mild." The leader assured him bitterly, nearing the large body of water in the center of the property. The water was dark and murky, but didn't appear to be deep. Still, he had no urge to cross it. Just as the filmmakers began to wander off in the opposite direction, a quiet wail attracted their attention. They halted, turning back towards the lake once again. This time, a faint glow made them want to draw closer.
"Was...was that island there before?" Jenny asked, her words falling out of her mouth in a slurred manner. Before she knew it, she found herself drawn in by the glow, which appeared to be another person. Unable to control her body or mind, she and the other two men wadded through the murky water, nearing the tiny body of land within the lake. As they stepped up, they stared at the apparition before them, a holographic form of a man waving desperately. Entranced by this image, they hardly noticed that it was completely irrational and impossible. Before they could ask any questions, however, the glowing man disappeared. In his place was a floating skull, its spine delicately waving in the wind before it. A pause, a twitch, and three screams followed this brief interaction. The mortals fled, running as quickly as they could back to the safety of the mainland. They panted desperately, running around in circles like a group of brainless sheep. After a few minutes of terrified mumbles and whines, the leader drew them back together, reorganizing. "No, Joshua! What we saw, it wasn't human! I don't know what it was, it was—" She ranted, but was shushed immediately.
"Calm down. Obviously, the Professor put up a few images with a projector or something. He's just trying to scare off trespassers. It was a trick, nothing more!" He puffed out his chest confidently, then exhaled calmly. He blinked, however, when he noticed his warm breath was visible before him. "It's, uh, cold." He assessed blandly, surprised by the sudden shift of weather. Mid-summer, and yet it felt as if it were 20 below! He shivered slightly, his eyes widening when he noticed the grass beneath his feet had hardened. It crunched as he walked, coated with ice. It didn't make any sense, but he chose not to alert his coworkers. They were already paranoid, why freak them out by telling them it shouldn't be so freezing? He blinked again, feeling the hair on the back of his neck stand up. "I think we should cross the river." He said, entranced by some unseen force. Though reluctant, the other two followed him as he neared the small river. It had completely frozen over in mere minutes, but the leader didn't think about it. Driven by his newest obsession, he eased over the solid water, nearing a small animal trap across the way. Once the other two had joined him, he suddenly felt the control over his body disappear. He looked around in confusion, noting that the cold air had also vanished without a trace. The sound of running water alerted him to the fact that the iced river was no longer cross-able. "Weird." He muttered under his breath, but squinted off in the distance. "Look! It's the cabin—I see a light!" He called to the others, who looked relieved to be near the end of their journey. A cleverly-placed log allowed them to cross the other side of the river, closer and closer to their final destination.
Shining his flashlight, Michael looked out across the murky lake again. "We must be on the other side of it now." He noted quietly, but his counterparts ignored him completely. As they neared the light, they were forced to stop when confronted with a huge chasm. It was virtually uncrossable, the gap in the earth about fifteen feet wide. "Well, I guess we'd better get back now!" Michael said quickly, hoping to convince his partners. Just as he finished speaking, another earthquake rattled through the area. This time, it seemed to start right where they stood, forcing them to the ground. A sickening snap was followed by another monstrous thud. A huge elm tree had been torn from the ground, falling perfectly into place to form another bridge. "I think we should go." The skittish man told the group again, but they were amazed by their luck.
"Leave? After this tree fell to form our path? It must be a sign that we're meant to be here! Miraculous." Jenny swooned, the first to hop on the fallen tree and walk across it. Joshua was quick to follow, but not before forcing Michael to go ahead of him. Driven by greed, the leader would be damned if some freshman in their cinema class would stop him. As they approached the cabin, they grinned, pleased with their work thus far. Their pompous smiles turned into uncertain frowns, however, when they noticed the man lying on the ground before them. He twitched uncontrollably, his body crumpled and dirtied, as if he hadn't moved in hours. Jenny knelt down and gently shook him, attempting to wake him. "I...I think this is Bruce. He won't wake up." She said quietly, trying to fathom what could have put him in such a state.
Stepping forward, Joshua shone his flashlight on the missing student and snorted. "Looks like he was driven mad. His brain must have shut off all comprehensive movement; looks like he can't do more than breathe now." The filmmaker was remarkably insensitive to the mentally-absent colleague before them.
"I wonder what he was doing here." Michael piped in quietly, which earned him an angry glare from the leader.
"Are you kidding? Obviously, he was here for the same god-forsaken reason that we are. His team must have gotten selfish and did something to him. Maybe Bruce was planning to steal the finds for himself. Come on, let's finish what he started." Joshua snapped, then seemed to feel much better afterwords. Always the bully, he had never quite grown out of his need to boss people around. In time, he would learn from his mistakes, but he refused to believe that he was anything other than right. "Now come on, let's check out the underground area." He motioned to a staircase which led below the house, and eagerly motioned for his team to follow. The staircase was guarded by a door, but it had been carelessly thrown open, as if someone had been down there recently. Though unsure, the other two followed blindly, feeling rather paranoid as they entered the confined space. A large tape recorder, an old book and a few crates were the only things beneath the home—perfect for a summoning. Giggling to himself, Joshua picked up the book and thumbed through it. "Yes yes yes! This is it, this thing is going to make us rich! Hahaha, and it's all mine!" He was enthralled, his eyes gleaming with pride.
"You mean ours. It's all ours." Jenny corrected him, but he waved it off with a nod. "Now, let's just say the words and get out of here. I don't want to stick around for—" She began to speak again, but was cut off when someone cleared their throat behind her. All three students turned, surprised to see their Professor. They were even more surprised to see that he was holding them at gunpoint. Always rather mentally unhinged, the Professor waved the gun around at all three, demanding to know why they had come to his home. Speechless, the trio backed up slowly, staring down at the book.
The Professor was proud to admit that his reflexes were still intact in his golden years. He did his best to stay in shape, especially if he was going to achieve his lifelong dreams of being all-powerful. He was on the border of insanity, but he liked to think that he was clever and cunning. "You thought you could steal from me? Well, well you're wrong, that's what! You came here to just take it and run, but I'm afraid that's not going to be the case. I won't have you three freeing my prize! It's mine, I tell you, mine!" He shouted, pointing the gun a little more forcefully. "NO. It will be mine, but by my rules, you see. Can't have it freed just yet, no no no! Only two, only two." He grinned, tugging the only female close to him. He pointed the gun at her neck, then back at the two men. "You stay here, or I'll track you down and get rid of you!" He told them, leading Jenny up the stairs. He made sure to close the doors which blocked the staircase, locking them with a small padlock. He giggled madly and tugged at the back of Jenny's shirt, guiding her into the cabin. In her stupor, the young woman had assumed that she was the lucky one. She had convinced herself that the Professor would let her go—that for whatever he needed to do, she was not part of the plan. Instead, she found her entire world go fuzzy.
When she awoke, Jenny found herself tied down to a large table, incapable of movement. She screamed, then was approached by the Professor, who absently stroked her face. "Oh you. You're not quite what I expected, but you'll do. Was afraid I wouldn't have a woman this time." He cooed, brushing her blonde hair out of her eyes. "But you will do, yes, you will do just fine. Only if you stop screaming." He left her side for a moment, the entire room going black. Jenny fidgeted uncomfortably, frightened by the situation at hand. She had no idea what the Professor had in store for her, or where she was. She let out a startled yelp as a bright light was illuminated above her, blinding her temporarily. The Professor stood beside her, unfastening a small suitcase, which rattled as he moved it. Jenny's eyes widened in shock when she saw what was inside: various knives and weapons. She struggled with her binds desperately, but found her attempts to be rather ineffective. Inhaling deeply, the Professor lifted a large dagger from the suitcase, dragging it across the fabric of her shirt. It cut easily, exposing her stomach cleanly, a simple display of its power. Trembling, the woman's eyes flooded with tears, and she found herself unable to speak. "Your fear is," the Professor paused to inhale deeply, "intoxicating."
"Please, please don't do this to me." She whispered in terror, pleading him with her eyes. "I...I don't want to die."
"Oh, but you must! My prize needs sacrifices, and I couldn't have you getting away. No, no, three more souls is far too many! Two will do—it'll be mine, mine to control and to harness. And then my goals will become much easier. Yesss, much easier. You'll see—you'll live on within it! You will have died for the good of the world. For the good of my efforts. In a way, your death will be important, even with your insignificance." He stroked her face again with his free hand, dragging the dagger against the flesh of her upper-chest. She screamed again as it lightly cut through, leaving a thin trail of blood as it slid against her pale skin. "Now now, I won't deal with your screams." The Professor wagged a finger and tore off a bigger piece of her torn shirt. He forced it into her mouth, a makeshift gag for now. Soon, she would be incapable of screaming, and that was a time the crazed Professor would savor. Though the young woman before him was practically naked, the Professor had no intention of looking. No, he had deserted his affection for mortal bodies long ago. Now, they were used for two purposes: carrying souls and human sacrifices. Women were his favorite to cut up—he enjoyed the way they pleaded for mercy, the way they offered themselves in exchange for their deaths. Of course, the Professor would never succumb to such foolish requests. He had no need for such pointless temporary pleasures, he preferred working towards his future goals. For now, however, those goals would remain under wraps.
Jenny sobbed, her terrified groans muffled as she bit down onto her shirt. She could feel the blood from her chest drying, but it worried her to know that there was more to come. The elder man before her paced back and forth, examining her body carefully. "We don't want you dead quite yet, no no no, we need your body perfect for my prize. Not too fleshy, not too dry." He mumbled, not making any sense to the captured woman before him. Without a word, he grabbed her right wrist and forcefully cut, slicing across her veins cleanly. She attempted to scream, but it was almost-silenced by the fabric in her mouth. She sobbed and twisted, attempting to pull her wrist away. "No no no my dear, you can't drift off yet. The sacrifice is just beginning! Besides, this won't kill you." He examined her wrist for a moment, then smiled. "I see you haven't tried this before. Good! Pure humans are always more pleasant to sacrifice. Good thing I didn't let it have your soul, it might have gone free after all! And we certainly don't want that, do we? How many more people have to die before I get what I want?" He stroked her face, leaving a few swipes of her blood on her cheek. "Mmn, now look at that. So red and vibrant, isn't it? Feeling dizzy? Yes, that tends to happen. Unfortunately for you, this knife doesn't pierce very deep, but it leaves a very painful surface wound." He grabbed her wrist, roughly squeezing the sliced flesh. "See that? Yes, it's a good knife, a very good knife." He giggled, and went around to her other side.
Drained of both her energy and her blood, Jenny squinted, turning her head away from the light that seared into her face. The demented Professor surveyed her body once again, squinting when he noticed the tattoo on her ankle. "Disgusting. When you people pollute your body with imperfections—I...I will not stand for this!" He raised the knife again and dug it into her skin, burying it securely at the top of her tattoo. Slowly, he slid the blade down, painfully slicing off a portion of her skin. Soon, he had completely removed the thin layer of flesh, which displayed a few poorly-shaped stars. "I have cleansed you. But I must take precautions to make sure your body is pure enough." The Professor left the room again, leaving his 'patient' to groan and sob in pure agony. When he re-entered the room, he hid something in his palms, something Jenny couldn't see from her bound position. In any case, her vision was beginning to blur, making her relatively unaware of her surroundings. The Professor cackled quietly as he neared the cut ankle, making Jenny even more nervous. Within a few moments, she was screaming louder than she had before, cursing into the shirt fabric. Salt in a wound was unpleasant as it was, but salt in fileted skin was an entirely different story. For a moment, Jenny wished that the deluded Professor would have just cut off her ankle completely. The pain was unbearable, exhausting her body and spirit. Pleased with the results, the elder man paced back to her face for a moment, and gave it a final pet. "I'm afraid our time is just about done here. Your death will not be in vain, however—because of you, I'll be able to kill and control thousands, perhaps millions! Oh yes, it is your pathetic little life that is the difference between immortality and death. You can thank yourself for that." He grinned, staining her hair with the blood from his hands unintentionally. Crossing back to her legs, he pried them open, taking the dagger in his left hand. He carefully mapped out a specific area in her thigh and sliced roughly, deep this time.
An unrealistic amount of blood began to pour from her leg, and Jenny cried out again, wrenching in pain. The Professor returned to her side and leaned near her ear. "It's your femoral artery. It's amazing how many veins your thigh contains—you'll bleed to death in mere minutes." He watched her squirm like a fly in a spiders web, doing her best to resist. Her blood flooded the table, spilling out onto the floor. The Professor hardly seemed to mind though, and kept his eyes fixed on her face. After three minutes and twenty nine seconds, he saw all traces of life vanish from her face. The life in her blue eyes faded, leaving them dull and empty. Swiftly, the Professor returned to the basement, where the two men sat nervously on the ground. They looked up in terror when they noticed the blood covering the third party's clothes. "Get up!" The man demanded, and the two students stood instantly. "Now, recite the words. First page. NOW!" Even though he had forgotten his weapon, Michael and Joshua chose not to argue with the man. They reluctantly joined hands and squinted as they struggled to read the latin text.
"Dolor exerci blandit velit laoreet ex vero,
consectetuer ut, volutpat,
consequat vel aliquip amet
ipsum te dolore suscipit."
A flash of light erupted within the room, and Michael and Joshua shouted, feeling as if their bodies were being ripped apart. In all actuality, their souls were being forcefully separated from their human forms. The Darkling, unable to reject such morsels absorbed them immediately, feeling itself being shackled to the mortal realm. Before it could escape, however, the Professor flicked a switch on the wall. Iron conductors rose from the ground, emitting a dark green light, which caged the Darkling. The beast roared, but found that it was unable to escape the ectoplasm prison. Approaching the creature, the Professor marveled and fell to his knees. "My prize! Oh, how long I've waited to see it, to catch it! It's finally mine, all mine! With its powers, I'll control the world, the Universe, everything in existence!" He cackled loudly and exited the basement, leaving the soul-less bodies of his two former students behind. Unknowingly, he also left behind a Ghost Master, who was disappointed to find that he could not save the Darkling.
Andrew grumbled as he stared at the prison created for the powerful spirit. If IT couldn't break out, there was no way in Hell an inexperienced Ghost Master like himself could! Though he felt like a complete failure, he thought back to the Blair Wisp. Upon being seen, the spirit stretched out its spine and shook with excitement. "Ohhhhh! Aaaaaaah! Ah, to beeee seeeen. I had forgotten the pleeaasuuure. So...tingly! And now my curse is lifted, I am indebted to you." It disappeared in a flash of green light, waiting to be called upon in the future. Though he was originally pleased with his success in acquiring an old spirit, the failure with the Darkling discouraged him. How was he to know about the Professor? Though he had watched the murder, Andrew was surprised to discover that he was not disgusted. He had seen the aftermath of death, but his only problem was the actual murder of the girl. He noted that the Professor was insane, but very particular when he handled a body. He cut only in clean, perfect lines, and he valued innocent bodies. Virgins, those without piercings, and those without tattoos would be his favorite victims. Still, Andrew suspected that the paranoid old man would take the Darkling away somewhere, to hide it and continue his research. Unfortunately, he would have to save the powerful spirit another day, when the Haunter Committee revealed the location after investigation. Though reluctant to leave the imprisoned spirit, Andrew reasoned that he needed a strategy before he attempted anything stupid.
He calculated his gained plasm, and though it wasn't much, it would be a good addition to his collection. He had trained a few spirits, naturally Buck and Arclight were the first on his list, but he was still reluctant to use all of his plasm at once. He knew more powerful spirits would be in his possession soon, and he wanted to make sure any necessary training would be available. Drifting back to the other side, Andrew fidgeted as he felt his ears ringing. This was certainly new. He wobbled once he returned to his body, returning to the hallway he had left his body in previously. "S-stop! What the hell is—" he mumbled to his body, but was gripped by another Ghost Master.
"We have a meeting. Hurry up, you're gonna be late. That sick feeling you have is a Call. You get them from time to time." The Ghost Master of area 15 was as polite as he could be, but left his colleague out in the hallway as he hurried to the meeting. Though disoriented, Andrew quickly followed suit, easing into a room in East Corridor. A large group of Ghost Masters had been gathered, and Andrew chose to sit near the back of the room. After a few awkward moments of sitting by himself, Maugrim wandered in with another male. Confused, Andrew watched as the rest of the Ghost Masters nodded their heads respectfully. Surely they weren't addressing Maugrim, so he could only assume that this man accompanying him was very important.
"Hello everyone. Hopefully you're all doing well, but I'm sorry to say that this meeting isn't a check-in. As some of you may have heard, we have recently re-opened the Darkling case, and have been attempting to get it into our possession." Maugrim spoke with a friendly smile, but it quickly faded. "This is where our problem begins. This man," He slid a picture out of his file, which displayed the Professor from the cabin, "has kidnapped this poor spirit. Originally, we didn't consider him to be a threat, but he has been murdering frequently." The other Ghost Masters let out a general groan of disapproval, which Andrew didn't really understand, so he just grunted in unison. "As you know, when a mortal dies, they are sent to our realm to be sorted. Well, with these new slew of murders, we have been having problems with sorting. Many spirits have been forced to wait to move on, which is problematic in itself. Since the Haunter Committee has been busy dealing with these delays, they do not have the time to deal with this Professor. So, it will be your task to deal with this mortal if you come across him. He has disappeared with the Darkling, so enlist your haunters to search for them both. If you do find either one of them, alert me or my companion at once, and we will give you further instructions. It is very important that you do not go after the Professor or the Darkling on your own—this mortal is very powerful, and has been experimenting with ways to trap our kind. Now, as you know, you are normally exempt from such foolish attempts to harm spirits. In this case, however, we would like you to use extreme caution. Let us know. Now, I'll pass it over to Magistrate Tobias of the Haunter Committee." Maugrim bowed his head and stepped aside, allowing the other spirit plenty of room.
"Thank you, Maugrim. We appreciate your assistance in this situation. There is one more thing that we would like to alert you Ghost Masters of. This is very private, so we would appreciate it if you did not tell your haunters. Recently, there have been multiple problems in the mortal realm including demons. Now, there is nothing to be alarmed about, as our realm remains safe from their kind, but please keep a look-out for them during your haunts as well. If confronted by any, flee the area immediately. We cannot risk anymore spirits being attacked, lest we lose our defense system completely. You will sense their power, but keep in mind the fact that they normally look like regular mortals. Be careful, Ghost Masters, and don't let us down." The Magistrate bowed his head politely and strode out of the room, disappearing in a puff of white smoke. Though Andrew had never seen any spirit disappear like that, he decided not to question it. As the other Ghost Masters began to leave, the recently-deceased saw something moving quickly into the room. A woman? A ghost? Lady Rose, and she appeared to be on a mission. The room emptied save for the three of them, but the beautiful spirit didn't seem to notice.
With a swift motion, she slapped Maugrim across the face and pointed at him fiercely. "How dare you do this to me, Maugrim! I tried to be polite, to remain civil about this, but then you go and do this to me? You may have gotten here, but you sure as Hell need to move on. There's no sense acting like a child, so before you attempt to criticize my socialization again, I suggest you cover your tracks. What I do is none of your business anymore. Grow up." After a pause, she slapped him again and stormed out, holding the corners of her dress as she walked. Maugrim, whose face had grown paler than usual, only looked at Andrew for a moment before easing through the wall behind him.
Left alone in contemplation, the Ghost Master tried to consider everything that had just happened. Clearly, Lady Rose and Maugrim had a more detailed past than he originally thought, and he wanted to get to the bottom of it. As he thought, he saw someone walking past the door, and looked up. It was Arclight. "Why hello Ghost Master. Going to lunch again, care to join me?" The spirit waved his burnt lunch pail once again, raising an eyebrow curiously. With a slight nod, Andrew followed him out the door, crossing his arms over his chest.
"Arclight?" He asked quietly.
"Yes, Ghost Master?" The pleasant boiler technician replied politely.
"What do you know about Maugrim and Lady Rose?"
"Well, they're both very powerful spirits and—"
"That's not what I meant. It's obvious there's something going on between them. I know you're just about as new as I am, but surely you know more than I do?" Andrew looked over at his friend, who looked somewhat uncomfortable.
"Well, I have heard a few things from Ghastly. But uh, can we talk about it while we eat? I can't really think on an empty stomach. Though, that's probably what got me killed in the first place, isn't it?" He scratched at his cheek and laughed coldly, clearly having no problem talking about his death. Arclight, along with Static and Maxine Factor, had been poisoned by a sweet elderly woman. Though Arclight had once described her as pleasant and kindly, she clearly didn't want her company to ever leave her. Arclight had been sealed in the basement, Maxine locked in the attic and Static was stuck in the chimney. After some cooperation with a handyman and police men, all three spirits had been successfully freed.
"Of course. I could go for a drink, anyway." Andrew agreed, though he was itching to hear more about his caseworker. Though he had the Darkling and the Professor on his mind, there was nothing better to relieve the mind than juicy gossip.