“Chloe! Chloe!” Riffen yelled out.
“Chloe! Where are you Chloe!” Juniper’s yells could be heard from about 50 feet away.
The group of five adventurers had left The Copper Pot, the store in town, to wander The Modern Graveyard on the north end of Augendale in order to track down Christine’s daughter Chloe. The Modern Graveyard was a large district in town where people used to live during Augendale’s boom. Now that the mines had dried up, The Modern Graveyard was just a large district of abandoned, run down homes. A place where bandits could hang out or monsters and animals could hide without being spotted. There was a large military present inside the town, but even out here, the group didn’t see anyone else walking around.
“Chloe! Chloe come out!” Sigthyme yelled.
He was also about 50 feet away from Riffen.
The group decided that even though this place was abandoned, there still could be trouble, so they didn’t drift too far from one another. They spread out to cover more ground, but were all in eyesight. Riffen was in the middle of the group with Sigthyme and Tak on his left and Juniper and Grace on his right. They just walked down each street and yelled into the abandoned houses. A lot of them were poorly built and falling apart, but as the group proceeded to the North-West part of the town, the houses were bigger and fared a little better. This was probably the richer part of the town.
There was a yell from the left side of the group.
“Tak!” Sigthyme yelled and ran towards the sound.
“Come on, I think Tak found something,” Riffen yelled out to Juniper and Grace and then proceeded to chase after Sigthyme.
Even though Sigthyme was initiallly closer to Tak, Riffen’s longer legs helped him catch up as they both arrived to Tak’s position at the same time.
“Tak! What’s wrong?” Sigthyme asked.
Tak turned around pointing at a splatter of blood and guts in the dirt in front of him.
“Killed large rat with hammer!” He said with a large smile.
Both Riffen and Sigthyme sighed.
“Tak! We thought you were in danger. You yelled,” Sigthyme said.
“Victory yell,” Tak said.
Juniper and Grace ran up to the three men.
“What’s wrong? Did Tak find something?” Juniper asked.
“Just a large rat which he smashed,” Riffen said.
“Ewh…” Grace said peering around Juniper.
“Great hunter,” Tak smiled raising up his war hammer.
“Good job, Tak,” Sigthyme said shaking his head. “You really showed that rat.”
“Come on, Tak. We can’t mess around. We need to find that little girl. She’s probably out there scared or worse,” Juniper said.
She reached out to try and cover Grace’s ears.
Grace quickly shooed them away.
“I’m not a little girl, ok? You don’t need to do that,” Grace said.
“Fine, fine,” Juniper said. “We still need to hurry and find Chloe.
“I say we keep on heading in the direction we were going. There are a lot of larger mansions in this area. She has to be in one of them,” Riffen said.
“Christine did mention the Widowstalker Mansion would be a good place to look,” Grace said.
“I was really hoping we wouldn’t have to go to the child murder mansion,” Sigthyme said.
Grace glared at Sigthyme.
Juniper looked up into the sky. Large, black storm clouds were starting to gather up above them.
“We better hurry,” Juniper said. “It looks like it’s about to storm.”
They all nodded and began to make their way towards the Widowstalker Manor.
All five of them continued to shout of Chloe’s name as they walked past the large, abandoned houses. Tak saw some more rats, but Sigthyme convinced him to stay on task and not get distracted.
“The rats will be here when we get back,” Sigthyme said.
Soon after that, large droplets of water started to fall. Juniper felt the first raindrop and it was only a matter of seconds before they heard thunder. The large boom drowned out their shouts as the rain came down. Lightning flashed upon the sky and the rain started coming down in sheets.
The group ran fast through the muddy streets. Lightning flashed and the thunder rung their eardrops.
Up in front they say the large manor which sat on a hill.
“There!” Juniper pointed towards it. “That must be it!”
The whole group picked up their pace as they made their way towards the front door. There was a small porch area with marble columns and then a set of large, wooden, double doors. Juniper tried to open the door but it seemed to be jammed.
“Tak, door!” Sigthyme pointed towards it.
Juniper took a step back and Tak lowered his shoulder. Tak slammed his shoulder into the door and busted down one. He stumbled into the manor and the rest of the group followed.
“Thanks, buddy,” Sigthyme patted Tak’s arm.
The whole group stood in the main foyer of this large mansion. In front of them were two staircases, but it seemed like one of them was partially collapsed. The whole place was dark and damp with some sections badly damaged and falling a part.
“Now what?” Riffen looked around.
“I don’t think we should yell, just in case someone else is here,” Juniper looked around as well.
“Do we want to spread out and look?” Grace asked.
“You want to split up inside the murder mansion?” Sigthyme asked with large eyes.
Grace folded her arms.
“You’re not seriously afraid of ghosts, are you?” She asked.
“Maybe I am,” Sigthyme tried straitening up his wet clothes. “That’s a perfectly reasonable fear.”
“Not afraid of anything,” Tak said.
“Well you’re also like three times bigger than me,” Sigthyme said. “Good luck trying to punch a ghost.”
Tak looked at his fist.
“I could totally punch ghost,” He said.
“Let’s just explore the downstairs and then we’ll head upstairs if we dont’ find anything. Stay semi close,” Juniper said.
“What’s the groups?” Riffen asked.
“Riffen and Grace, come with me,” Juniper said. “Tak and Sigthyme explore the front of the building and we’ll check the back.”
“Fine,” Sigthyme said. “But for the record, I think this is a bad idea.”
“You have a healing potion, right?” Juniper asked him.
Sigthyme patted the bag on his belt.
“Right here,” He said.
“Great, I have the other one. So we should be alright,” Juniper said with a nod.
Then the group split into two. Sigthyme and Tak turned left into one of the front rooms while Juniper, Riffen, and Grace walked past the staircases and towards the back of the manor.
Sigthyme and Tak entered through a partially destroyed door frame into what looked like a living room or family room. There were old pieces of furniture that were damp with water, a bar area covered in shattered glass, and an old fireplace that looks like it’s been cold for several years. As they entered the room, a few rats scurried across the floor underneath the old furniture and into a large pile of debris. Tak chased after but lost the rats among the piles of wood and stone.
“It looks like this place has really fallen into disrepair,” Sigthyme said looking up at the ceiling. “The top floor has partially collapsed and now I can see upstairs from here.”
Tak stood beside him and looked up.
“Hole in house,” Tak mumbled.
“Exactly,” Sigthyme said. “Not a place for children to play.”
“Oh, look, Siggy! Fire!”
Sigthyme followed Tak’s finger towards the fireplace. Before it looked completely dark but now there was a small glow coming from the fireplace.
“Woah. There can’t still be a fire burning,” Sigthyme took a step closer.
The glowing got larger and Sigthyme narrowed his glance. It wasn’t fire coming from the ash at the bottom of the fireplace, but two orbs of light. The orbs started to rise out of the fireplace and into the air.
“Fire in air,” Tak said pulling out his warhammer.
Sigthyme stumbled back into Tak.
“What the heck are those?” Sigthyme asked.
The room began filling with the sounds of children laughing and playing as well as a crackling fire. It was a soft ambiance of a party or some kind of gathering.
Sigthyme took another step back.
“Woah, stay back whatever you are,” Sigthyme said.
“Smash fire!” Tak yelled swinging down his hammer.
The two balls of light separated quickly and Tak’s hammer smashed down into the rotting wood below, missing the spheres of light. Then they suddenly vanished draining the room of any light and the sounds of children.
“Now what did you do, Tak?”
“Fire hurts,” Tak growled.
“They weren’t balls of fire,” Sigthyme said. “I’m pretty sure those were the spirits of the children. You know, the ones who got murdered here.”
The two orbs appeared behind Tak and floated in the air.
“Tak watch out,” Sigthyme pointed.
However it was too late. The two orbs let out a flash of light followed by wispy lightning which struck Tak in the back.
“Ow! That hurt!”
Tak then turned and swung at the lights again with his warhammer but again, the balls of light scattered before his hammer could hit the target.
“Let me try, big guy,” Sigthyme said.
He stepped forward and unsheathed his rapier. He swung at the balls of light but they just floated out of the way of the blade.
They floated away unleashing another bolt of lightning. The lightning went over the head of Sigthyme and struck the floor creating a small black spot on the wood.
Tak charged forward and swung with both hands on the warhammer. This time the balls of light weren’t fast enough. The hammer struck one of the wisps which shattered its essence. The other ball started to glow red as the first ball reformed.
“I’m not sure that was the best plan, Tak,” Sigthyme said. “We didn’t come here to hurt ghost children.”
“They shock!” Tak swung again. This time the hammer slammed into the wall putting a hole into it.
The two balls vanished and reappeared behind Sigthyme.
Two more bolts of lightning came at Sigthyme, but he was able to get out of the way.
“Hey, ghost kids! We’re not here to hurt you. I promise. We’re just looking for a little girl. She’s lost and we need to find her,” Sigthyme yelled.
The two balls hovered there for a second returning to their normal shades of pale white light. The sound of children playing filled the room again.
Tak approached wielding the war hammer, but Sigthyme held out his hand to stop him.
He turned back towards the floating balls of light.
“Yes, yes. A little girl. Just like…like you…or your sisters maybe. I don’t really know all the details,” Sigthyme said with a slight smile.
The balls flickered and their forms morphed. Standing in front of Sigthyme and Tak were now ghostly spirits of two children. Two human girls both wearing children pajamas.
“You must be the children of Nibbo Willowstalker, right?”
They stared ahead, not moving and not speaking, but the sound of a party grew louder.
“Is there a little girl here? Maybe hiding out from the storm?” Sigthyme asked.
The two girls stared upwards towards the hole in the ceiling.
“Is she upstairs?”
The sound swelled once again and Sigthyme picked up on several children laughing.
“Ok we’re going to go get here and then we’re going to get out of here,” Sigthyme did his best to explain. “We don’t mean you any harm.”
At that moment, he heard a scream coming from somewhere else in the house.
The sound immediatley stopped and the girls flickered revealing two floating balls of light again. The two balls of light then disappeared leaving Sigthyme and Tak in the dark room.
“Trouble,” Tak said looking around.
“I think that was Juniper, let’s hurry!” Sigthyme said as they both ran after the origin of the scream.
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