The rift home had brought them to the Restorium. Hunter had to be seen for several nasty looking stab wounds in his chest and arms and a deflated lung. Nothing life threatening though. He is presently laying in a bed, recovering. He’s doing so quickly though. Magic has it’s benefits.
The crystal Kaji had recovered is a light blue-grey color which Hunter had said was wrong. It should be purest sapphire. Possibly something having to do with the fact that it was connected to that ghost-amalgam monster has tainted it. It’s… probably a bad idea to run a current though that before it’s purified.
Speaking of purification, Kaji might also need some. He did absorb a number of confused, angry ghosts… and they’re still there.
Thank goodness for a quick egress! The instant transfer from a derelict spacecraft to fresher air and the more familiar surroundings of the Restorium was dizzying, and hadn’t helped for Kaji’s feeling nauseated, although that might have to do with the fact that he’s suddenly absorbed an undefined number of souls, all of them disturbed and none of it pleasant.
His knees still ache, probably bruise from when he’d fallen to them, but aside from that the only obvious injury is the slash that had gotten through his sleeve. But in general the young necromancer looks pale and dazed. His arm’s been treated rather easily, and he’s sitting for the moment although he’s not entirely sure when that happened, his coat draped over the back of his chair since he’d had to remove it to get his arm checked.
In his hands he turns the crystal they’d found. He’s not sure what sort of crystal it is, or if it’s even safe, but it’s ended up in his possession for some reason. Even if that reason was that a giant ghost bug tried to kill them.
Ardul had kept a watchful eye over the two, keeping to herself more that anything. Her words, when they came, were short and succinct, though the concern she exhibited was genuine.
Still clad in her armour which shows signs of their battle, ichor stains and scratches marring the surface, the blonde stands attentively by the bed that Hunter reclines on while she waits for the doctors to check on the young necromancer.
“And how does one … cleanse a crystal?” she’s asking quietly. The use of magic to heal has left her on edge. She’d much prefer the RMK’s they use generally, but it’s the Restorium, so it is what it is.
“Well… given that it was haunted, I’d say you pull the ghosts out of it.” Hunter murmurs, sitting up in his bed. “Trouble is I don’t know how many there are or what will happen when you do but… you’re a necromancer, right? You do dead things.”
Hunter is not a necromancer, and that statement makes it obvious. His eyes go back to Ardul. “Relax. I’m okay. Take your armor off and clean it. Are you sure you don’t want to let the psychics examine you for trauma?” Additional trauma that is, Ardul already has some.
Kaji wrinkles his nose, tuning back into the present. “I think dealing with ghosts is more an exorcist thing, or a cleric,” he says, casting around his thoughts for useful information and coming up with, as per usual, media-related references. “If this thing wasn’t previously some crazy mutant praying mantis, I’d say it was a philosopher’s stone, and the way to release the souls from it would be to expend its energy.”
He sags back against the chair, looking over at Hunter and Ardul before nodding at the Wolfen’s suggestion to the Valkyr. “That thing was messing with us pretty bad, Ardul. You okay..?”
Ardul has no idea about dealing with hauntings or possessions. Her approach is a lot more direct, usually. Diplomatic but direct. Hunters words though have the blonde nodding and she starts to remove the pieces, stacking them neatly so she can clean. He just gave her a command, after all. “Yes, my Lord.”
She’s slipped again, back to the programming the nanites had instilled before they managed to neutralise them.
“What is a philospher’s stone, Kaji?” That’s not a term she’s heard before. Her grey eyes meet his at his question “I … will be … OK.” But she’s probably not at the moment. “I am better than either of you two, I took little physical harm. And when I am assured you and my Lord are well, I will see the … psychics, perhaps.”
“Hunter, Ardul, Hunter.” The grey furred wolfen murmurs quietly. “I’m not sure what one of those is either.” He looks to Kaji for an explanation. Why would philosophy have anything to do with ghosts.
The crystal in Kaji’s hands pulses dully. It does that periodically when he touches it but not when he doesn’t. It reacts to him somehow. Then, from the bottom, a mist starts leaking out, grey and cold. It curls down to the floor and starts to creep toward Ardul.
For the moment, Kaji doesn’t seem to notice. He’s glad for any distraction aside from something dozen-hundred-whatever uninvited guests that have decided to move in.
“It’s…more related to alchemy. I guess the most renowned thing from stories about the philosopher’s stone is that it can turn lead into gold or something. Fictional renditions suggested that it could basically make the impossible happen, like bring back the dead, but making one ended up requiring a huge sacrifice of souls…”
He’s not going to argue against Ardul. In a way, she’s right. She hadn’t gotten gutted or soul-sloshed. But still… “Well, okay…” Kaji says slowly, his attention drifting back to the crystal in hand. “…huh?” He rubs at his eyes, looking down at the crystal again to make sure he’s not seeing things. “Wait, what’re you doing now??”
Ardul’s grey eyes look at Hunter for a very long moment and she blinks slowly. “My apologies, Lo– Hunter.” she sighs softly, turning to the pieces of armour that she’s stacked and starting to clean a piece with a bandage she’s taken from the pile. Listening as Kaji explains to them both.
She doesn’t see the mist, cold and grey, as it starts to creep towards her but clearly she feels something – her wings flex slightly as she shivers. “Did it just get cold in here?”
The mist curls around Ardul’s ankle and starts to wind up her leg. It’s almost solid. Almost but not quite. It can pull away but it quickly reforms itself. More and more of it dumps out of the crystal. It’s probably making Kaji’s hand quite cold as well.
“I did get a little chilly in here Ar-” Kaji’s exclamation gets a frown and he glances down. “Uh…”
By this point it’s covered most of the floor and it’s definitely starting to whisper. If one stares at it, faces can be seen. Faces in agony, or fear. Briefly they surface before vanishing again.
“Gah!” Kaji yelps, jerking his hand back as his fingers loosen around the crystal to drop it to the floor. He’s still staring after the mist that seems to have a life of its own. His eyes widen as he hears it, the whispers, the faces emerging in it.
“Oh gosh what was that? How much more’s in this thing…?” After that he’s a bit hesitant to pick the thing back up, although he might just topple off the chair for how unsteady he looks in leaning over to look.
As the mist touches her ankle, the Valkyr’s leg twitches and she glances to Hunter wondering why he touched her like that. “Lo– Hunter?” It’s his frown that has her looking down and she jerks her leg away, though the mist seems to stretch and go with it.
“Get them away from me …” she actually sounds … frightened. Both of her companions might wonder who’s faces she’s seeing there “… I did what I could to save us all …”
The mist starts to pile up. It’s three or four inches thick on the floor now, but a huge column is arising in the center of the room. It’s just big pile of semi solid mist for a moment but slowly it forms into something with a much more distinct figure. Feminine. Wings. Long hair. The features become defined. Iyesgarthian, but no one Hunter recognizes. A woman with regal features is all he can see.
Ardul… Ardul knows that face very well though.
“You… left me…” The winged mist creature focuses entirely on Ardul.
“It’s reformed!” Hunter says in alarm. “Kaji can you…” He doesn’t have his weapon but he’s already hitting the alert button.
“Ardul??” Kaji’s never heard her like this and it’s scaring him. He gasps as the mists begin to gather and form up, his movement upsetting his already precarious balance and the chair he sits upon, both falling on the floor. Staring up at the figure that forms, the necromancer nearly jumps at Hunter’s shout.
“Do what?!” He’s not even sure what the thing does, but he waves his hands around at the mists until he can find the crystal again. Bracing himself for its chill, he grabs it. Great, then what?? Is it a soul? What’s this thing trying to do? Maybe he can pull the mists back into the thing…
Ardul backs up as the mist piles up and the faces churn. What or who is it she’s seeing? Clearly someone, or someones, from her past and it worries her. Her wings flare, knocking equipment askew as they do and she fumbles at her hip for her cylinder – which isn’t there and that’s probably a good thing.
As the Iyesgarthian forms, the blonde shudders and she lets out a distressed sound. “I did not, your Highness. I sent you to safety and drew them off… I … ” her head bows and her shoulders shakes “… failed you. Just as I failed the others …”
“You pulled it apart the first time.” The thing is solidifying, taking on this form and it’s appearance. Even now it looks like flesh and blood not the mist it currently is. “Do it again!”
The winged woman lunges for Ardul, hands outstretched like talons. Hunter grabs her by the wing with his cybernetic arm and throws her back into the opposite wall.
The crystal pulses rapidly when Kaji brings it up. There’s something about the crystal that is connected both to death and to the thoughts of those around it. It’s focused on Ardul’s regrets and given them form. There has to be a way to counteract it, and it probably involves interacting with the crystal itself.
“Ardul snap out of it!” Nina lunges for Hunter this time. Her hands are caught by his but she is very strong and as the mist on the floor ‘sucks’ into her form she’s only getting stronger.
As if his eyes couldn’t get any wider, Kaji’s left gaping as the form begins to look more and more corporeal by the second. “Crap!” His fingers tighten around the crystal, and now he can feel it pulsing. Did it do that before?
Still on the floor, he concentrates on the cold crystal in his hands. The mist thing came out of it, so for some reason the thing’s doing it. Is there anything more to pull from it? “Quit it..!” he says between his teeth as he tries to get a handle on whatever power was reacting within the thing.
For the moment, Ardul’s lost in the memories of the past and, despite the work the nanites have done on her, her guilt for failing the one she’d been sworn to protect. “I submit myself to your judgement, Princep…” The cruel mist talons reach for her and she doesn’t shrink away. What might they do, if they actually touched her? If they pierced her skin?
It’s the figure being hauled away from her and Hunters command that brings her back, she sweeps her energy blade from the pile at her feet and the thing hums to life. “What … what is it? Is it a Wraith?”
“Yes! Little help!” Hunter says as he slowly loses the wrestling match and the taloned hands force slowly closer to his throat. Whether she chokes the life out of him or just rips his throat open, it’s going to be bad for the wolfen.
There is a sentience in the crystal. It’s confused though. Pained. Angry. It’s also dead. Kaji knows this because it reacts to his power. It’s not an actual ghost though. More an echo. Hunter had said the crystals were used by psychic warriors so they are probably reactive to the ‘death thoughts’ and emotions of the beings near them. This one absorbed a lot. So much that it’s formed a sort of… pseudo ghost and is creating it out of some kind of ectoplasm. If he just… pulls the jumbled up consciousnesses apart, the construct both inside the crystal and outside should lose coherence.
At least Ardul seems to snap out of it, thanks to Hunter’s efforts. Of course, there’s still a thing attacking the Wolfen. Kaji closes his eyes as he gets a better sense of the crystal.
It’s okay, he tries to coax it. I don’t know what you’ve been through, but you don’t have to do this.
Would it listen? He doesn’t want to just force it, not if it’d just potentially act up again. As he tries to address it, he attempts to feel his way around the crystal’s conscious or whatever it is, ease away whatever its clinging to like trying to remove the overly insistent hands of a child.
The energy blade hums in Ardul’s handle as she wields it with precision, slicing the Iyesgarthian’s wings from its back. When they start to reform, the blade extinguishes and she leaps, wrapping her arm around the Wraith’s neck and squeezing tight, falling back as she does.
Hopefully her strength and her weight – don’t call her heavy – gives Hunter room to move. Though it’s probably a good idea if he doesn’t try to shoot it.
“Kaji. Quickly. Before she harms my Lord…”
The wraith doesn’t need to breathe, strictly speaking, but it acts like it does. Her hands go to Ardul’s arm and she tries to claw and pry the golden haired woman off. Hunter now switches from pushing to pulling, trying to drag the wraith off balance.
The energy in the crystal is reluctant but as Kaji soothes it it starts to calm… and then starts to just… dissipate. The state of agitation was the thing holding it to the physical structure. With that gone, there’s no more anchor, and the crystal begins to ‘clear’ going from blue-grey to bright, clear blue.
‘Nina’ weakens and then starts to ‘melt’. Smoke comes off her back as the mist simply dissipates into thin air. With no more will to hold the ectoplasm in place it just evaporates.
Hunter pants and lays back on the bed. “Ow…”
Kaji can feel it, the subtle shift, the fading chill that had clung to the crystal making it more of an ice cube than rock. He doesn’t crack an eye open until the temperature in the room seems to settle back to normal and he hears Hunter flop on the bed again.
“…phew,” he sighs when finally lets his concentration lapse, peering around. He’s still sitting on the floor, which he’s perfectly fine with since he’s sure he’d probably just end up back on it if he tried to do anything else. “You guys okay..?”
His eyes drift down to the crystal in his hand, his palm upturning so it lays there where he can better see it. Brows lifting, he breathes another sigh, smiling tiredly. “…thank you.”
So much for not being marred physically by this excursion. Ardul’s arm is now a bloodied mess. ‘Nina’s’ talons were sharp and strong, despite that she was made of mist and the blood wells and drips lazily to the ground.
“Lord… Hunter…” The blonde pants a little and moves to the bed where he lays back. He’s going to have to put up with her checking him over and ignoring her own wounds for the moment.
“Kaji, are you ok? You … did well. Whatever it was you did.” It’s almost an after thought as she examines the Wolfen for more injuries “Is your crystal alright?”
The crystal is clear blue and most importantly there’s no sense of a mind or a ghost about it. Or in it. “I think we can count that as purified,” Hunter mutters. “I’m fine, Ardul, I’m fine. Go get your arm stitched up before you get blood all over my hospital shirt.” Gown. Whatever it’s called. They have no backs. Fortunately Hunter has pants on.
“And when we’ve all had a nap… Kaji can put his sword together.”
He’s half expecting the little Asian to squee.
He’d squee better if he was able to stay on his feet and had a mug of Gran’s chocolatey drink and three slices of cake. As it is, Kaji just looks relieved that they’ve got that part out of the way and can actually get to work. …later.
“Looks all right to me,” he says, smiling crookedly at Ardul. “Hunter’s right though. Go get yourself checked up on, Ardul. And I am all for a nap right now. I could sleep right here.” Because his legs don’t want to move right now.
It’s probably good they’re in the Restorium, Kaji will find a bed to lay down on. It’s another order that Hunter issues the Valkyr and it gets an immediate response. She stops fussing, bending a concerned look on him, before nodding to both men and heading out to find an orderly or a doctor.
If the nanites had been allowed to complete their work, she might even have insisted there be stitches – but now, at least, the command can be … tempered.
“Sleep, Kaji. You too, my L– Hunter. We will finish the blade when we’re refreshed.” And then she’s gone. Carrying out Hunters orders.
It's not much of a respite from their harrowing trip as Kaji's focus crystal starts making trouble for Ardul in the Restorium.
April 12, 2411