The mad echoes.

Through the maze of twisting corridors and seemly infinite rooms, a high pitched scream penetrated the walls and the nerves of every living creature.

The scream crossed into the primitive places of the mind, the primordial fear centres of the brain man foolishly thought he had extracted.

At the origin of this scream a woman faced off against something that could not be from this world.

“Please, Milord. I beg you don’t.” Came the hysterical cry of what appeared to been a maid. Her uniform was as dirty as her knees, her face plan and uninteresting under the collective mass of worry lines. She looked to be terrified.

A wooden sword, polished and full of an eagerness to drink the woman’s blood was readied to swing, its purpose was not to wound but to finally put an end to this miserable creature’s existence.

The maid shrieked and raised her hands, “Nooooo.” she howled in protest and lunged for Sister Huebsch’s throat.

Not showing the hint of fear, the follower of the goddess Badb swung her bo-ken perfectly. Her stance, her defense, her swing, all of it polished through centuries of battle and ridding the world of pests.

The long wooden sword went through the maid’s body as if she were no more than a shadow, the undead weapon sank into what could have been the woman’s heart and drank greedily of her life force.

The maid did not stop her attack and tried in vain to touch the nun’s copperish toned skin.

In a flash Sister Huebsch dodged the maid’s wild attack and swung again, not aiming to pierce the the servant’s vital organs but to allow her starving sword to run across as much as her form as possible.

The moment the sword touched the maid’s ankle it began to digest what could be described as her blood, feasting it sucked the creature’s energy and grew.

As if Sister Huebsch was made of lightning itself she slashed seven times by the time the maid had passed her, each arch carving away at the maid’s body which looked as perfect as the day she had died.

The specter gave one last death wail before she disappeared from sight.

Huebsch waited for ten heart beats and when the ghost failed to appear stood up straight and closed her eyes, the hunt was not yet over.

Through centuries of training Sister Huebsch went from a warrior’s heightened sense to awareness to a calm meditative stance. Her heart beat slowed, her adrenaline dissipated, and the world simply floated away.

It was not an easy thing to go from the heat of a fight for survival into a state in which thoughts and fears did not exist, even for a Wood elf, who had been trained since birth in both the physical and mental arts, but Sister Huebsch did not get a reputation as the best ghost hunter by simply having a pretty face.

As she timed her breath the middle aged woman freed her mind and allowed her sub-consciousness to search and absorb the world as it was.

This was a temperamental time, she needed to not think but also to guide her external senses.

It was here, the wisp was in the room.

It was hungry and wounded, a combination that was far too dangerous to be left to its own devices. True it could no longer hurt those on the physical plane, but Sister Huebsch would not allow it to grow in strength again.

There.

With the precision and speed of a snake, Sister Huebsch thrust her bo-ken into the seemly empty spot, the only indication that she had hit something was the warm feeling that ran down the blade of her sword and into her hand.

Using her third eye Sister Huebsch felt the bodiless silently wither and thrash but was ultimately powerless to change its fate. No pity was given to it, it was an alien being that fed upon the suffering, the emotional distress of sentient creatures to gorge itself into a stronger hunter.

The wisp gone and the maid’s screams forever dead, the nun kept her eyes closed and sent her consciousness out to hunt more food for her sword.

Sister Huebsch’s senses touched the cries of nearly forty such spectral entities, sampled the screams of a great mass of suffering in what could be the mansion’s torture chamber, but this was only on the surface.

Deeper inside the very stone and wooden walls, just outside of her mental reach there was something that made her blood turn cold. Something she had never seen before.

She reached out with mental fingers to learn more about this thing that walked within this place, she could just make out…

It saw her.

The nun gasped as she hurried back to the waking world.

Using a set of shelves to keep herself on two feet, Sister Huebsch panted in fear. This place wasn’t haunted, it was infested.

“Stain.” She called out.

The door immediately opened and a young man, who to a human appeared to be no older than fifteen entered. “Yes Ma?”

“It’s Sister Huebsch while we’re on the job, boy.” Sister Huebsch scolded.

The boy repeatedly bowed his head, his cheeks glowing red from embarrassment, “Yes Sister Huebsch, sorry Sister Huebsch.”

The nun sighed, Stain was a good boy but he was really too eager for this type of thing.

She had told the convent that a previous battlefield and spying was not for a boy, but the head priestess had insisted that her son needed to get out of his books and into some real experience.

The priestess also stated that if there was any trouble there were a group of druids nearby on a commission. Just scourer the battlefield and destroy any wisp before it turned into a spectre, a simple job.

Sister Huebsch shook her head, the daft cow she thought when remembering her superior’s face and words. She handed over the wooden sword to her son, “Drain it boy.”

“Yes Sister.” Stain said and took the sword carefully in his hand.

His eyes closed the Wood Elf teenager could feel the pulse of dormant life within the stick, he still found it hard to believe that though the stick was not connected to its tree it had not withered but grown.

The thought of a twitching spider leg or a worm came to Stain, but he pushed it aside, it was time to go to work.

From out of his brown robe Stain pulled out an orb composed of what appeared to be a thicket of blackberry vines. Stain closed his eyes and concentrated.

The sword knew all too well what he intended to do and piercing thorns formed on the handle of the sword, puncturing the teenager’s skin and drawing blood.

Likewise, the ball of intertwining thorns and vines unravelled and ensnared Stain’s other hand, coiling around his forearm, begging to drink both blood and power.

Using himself as a bridge and a guiding hand, Strain milked the sword’s stolen meal and pumped the transformed biological energy into the the orb, both objects tearing into his skin at the same time.

Sister Huebsch watched on, her heart breaking as she heard each drop of her own son’s blood hit the floor. She knew it was necessary but duty was rarely easy.

Deep down the nun could hear the sword scream as it withered and shrank to its original shape and size.

A green glow throbbed within the wooden spear, its rhythm reminded her of a beating heart. She readied her bandages and salves, the price of service was always blood and tears.

As the flow of power from the blade turned from a stream to a trickle Stain finally dropped his mother’s weapon and instead focused his will on mentally soothing the orb to letting go of his arm.

“Easy.” he said soothingly, as if trying to calm a wild beast. “That’s good.”

The vines relented, taking themselves away from Stain’s wreaked arm. Unable to hold the weight Stain allowed the ball to hit the ground where it continued to glow hypnotically, digesting its stolen feast.

Quickly Huebsch wiped ointment on her son’s hands and sacrificed her own cellular energy into repairing the damage. “Are you okay? Can you hear me?”

Stain smiled weakly. “She called me Daddy, Ma.”

Ten minutes later a near exhausted mother and son stood.

I think perhaps I should call in your sisters.” The battle nun, sword of the goddess Badb had been subjected too many exorcisms before but never had she felt so many shades and specters in one place. “This bloody many of them, I wouldn’t be surprised to run into a poltergeist.”

This hell hole of a mansion may have looked grand and spectacular but inside it was rotted and driven mad. The wisps fed on the suffering and gorged on the murder that stank the corridors and room.

Everyone is busy.” Stain said. “Tublar is with the navy, cleansing the ghost ships and Rasda is trying to recruit from the newly awakened before the Seer’s Guild and Witch Union gobbles them up.”

Sister Huebsch wanted to tear her hair out. There were no reinforcements coming, even after a month since the travesty the convents and temples were in a state of chaos.

Everyone knew that there were terrible things out in the world, the monsters under the bed, the long winters, the war in all its bloody glory. She, like all of the survivors could do only what they could to keep the peace.

Sister Huebsch had been tasked to illicit help from the foreigners while also observing their activities. It was still unsure if these people from another world were saviors or monsters themselves, if the later Sister Huebsch would be there and she would not be swinging around a wooden sword.

In the other corridors solider were busy looting the O’Connells’ ancestral home.

The crown demanded the place be sacked and its foundations burned to the ground with cleansing fire, its grounds blessed to the point were the dirt could become an effective acid against those in the unholy planes.

When she heard this Sister Huebsch had been the first among those who waved against this action, the place may have been spoiled but there could be something salvageable within, the family had a habit of collecting precious relics.

However, the moment the battle nun stepped through the threshold she decided a change of heart was the best action, and so called dibs on being the first to piss on the ashes of this rancid place.

Her job was certain after this point, clear out the ghosts, protect the regular soldiers, and to buy a good set of dancing shoes for when they set the mansion a blaze.

At the dinning room the soldiers who were less honorable and particular about their tasks gathered as much silverware their sacks could hold.

How goes the hunt, Sister?” A guard looking over his group said and saluted the disciple of his goddess.

The nun returned a respective nod. “If I had my way I would boot you all out of here, tell you not to come within a league of this place and user in a regiment of battle nuns and achdruids.”

The solider lowered his head, “Thought so, Sister. My men have been seeing ghosts everywhere. The hell hounds in the kennels got one of my men. They were solid enough to rip his throat out.”

At her request the solider gave their account of their experience with the beasts.

They were unsure of the reason, whether as a attempt at security or for the fun of performing a blasphemous act but the O’Connells had anchored the mad consciousness of several loyal dogs to a group of wisps, creating a controlled wraith.

A high level practice necromancers indulge in to create undying guards and minions with the ability to phase through walls and physically wound enemies. An practice that could get a man a date with an arrow in the head.

The men knew better than to handle such a cursed object without protective gear. They were about to report the object to their superior when the ghost of one Gabrielle O’Connell snatched up the talisman then chased them out.

She said she was going fox hunting.” One of the Wood Elf scavenges said.

Sister Huebsch wanted nothing more than to set this wicked place on fire herself. The ghost of a demon possessed woman in command of the tormented existence of one or more hell hounds? There was only one thing for it. “I need a drink.”

Nobody argued over the cure over the depressing news.

The 500 year old woman let out a deep sigh but it did her nerves no good.
I’ll deal with it tomorrow. The sun is going down and I don’t want any of you here, seal the building and the surrounding grounds.” Her tone indicated that her order was not to be challenged.

The soldiers weren’t going to argue, despite their lack of gift they could feel that the house was uneasy. The place was too quiet, its secrets not for them to reveal.

Aye.” The leader of the group said eager to get out of here before a knife suddenly got the idea to fly for his head. “Me and my boy owe you a drink.”

Battle nuns chose not to drink such devil’s drink as they liked their wits sharper than their swords, but it had been a bloody long days. “Cherry wine. I won’t accept anything younger than a 150 vintage.”

The solders held their heads, they suspected that a princess was less expensive and demanding.

The leader’s face lost a bit of color as he recalled something. “But we’ve got a problem, Sister. Grey’s gone into the mansion, hoping to beat one of the vaults.”

If the man had told Huebsch that the sky was on fire she would not have been as shaken. “And who is this retard? Is he your dog or something?”

He’s a Tech, Ma’am.” One of the soldiers said and the nun’s heart dropped. “He came here when he heard the place was haunted. They don’t have ghosts where they came from and he wanted to go see one.”

Sister Huebsch face palmed herself, these foreigners would be the end of her. The whoreson had put them all in a bad place, a diplomatic nightmare and sure enough the nun would be the one who the fools kin will blame when this Grey was laying dead.

And where did you last saw this Grey?” She asked.

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