Let’s see… Portal does not work. Return… doesn’t work. That was the biggest cheat of all. Return will take me into a dungeon, but won’t take me out of a dungeon? This was absolutely the biggest rip-off ever. Whoever wrote this world’s instruction manual needed a good thrashing.
I was mostly just angry at my own failings. I had used Return without thinking about such things. Had I been in a party with the girls, this wouldn’t even be that bad of a situation. Although we still had a way to go before we reached the mansion, I had no doubt that as long as we were together, we could fight our way out. However, this wasn’t that situation. I was in here all alone, and while I could see ghosts and had the skill to slice them, the high-level spirits we were against were beyond my paygrade.
My strength lay in my status ups and ability to heal. Although I had Basic Swordsmanship, it was not at a level where I could fight my way through a dungeon. Why was this a dungeon anyway? We had the impression that the dungeon was under the mansion. That was only conjecture though. No one had been in the mansion since it started spreading ghosts. Therefore, no one knew that the mansion itself had been turned into a dungeon.
On that note, a dungeon was created by a curse, unfulfilled lore. Usually, that lore flowed freely until it met the right conditions and implanted itself into the earth. However, this lore seemed to be spawned directly from the mansion itself. Where the lore was created was where the dungeon formed. How did I know this to be the case? Well, that was simple. The name of this dungeon was Karr’s Dungeon, which I recalled was also the name of the nobles who had lived here.
Whatever happened, something in this mansion led to the downfall of Old Chalm. I couldn’t say I wasn’t curious. I’d love to find some murals that explained this mansion’s history. However, at the moment, my life was considerably more important. Walking to one of the windows at the end of the hall, I could see only darkness outside the window. It wasn’t the color of dirt, as if I was underground. Rather, it was blackness like an infinite abyss. I even created a light and held it to the window, and there was just nothing beyond.
Although dungeons were usually seen as some kind of underground anomaly, they were often spoken about as if they were alive. Some people said that they were a completely different realm of existence. Once a dungeon’s lore was destroyed, everyone was expelled from the dungeon. It wasn’t like it slowly collapsed in on itself. Rather, it was like it just ceased to be. That was why there wasn’t massive cave-ins or anything like that. The dungeon technically existed in a different realm. So, why did Return take me here?
A sound came from behind me. I immediately spun around. I quickly looked for ghosts and found nothing. I was just about to take an easy breath when a voice whispered right next to my ear.
I let out a scream that wasn’t manly at all and immediately ran down the hallway, turning the corner. Right in front of me was a ghost. Except, he wasn’t like the disembodied ghosts outside. Rather, he was fully formed into the shape of a knight. He was even wearing armor. He immediately lowered his spear towards me and started approaching with his shield protecting him. He looked like a trained soldier who knew what he was doing. How many levels higher did a ghost need to be to both have weapons, form the shape of a human, and also apparently retain intelligence!
“Crap!” I pulled out my sword and swung it.
He moved way faster and the sword was knocked from my hand with ease. He also had a strong physical presence! Most stronger ghosts could do physical attacks, but they always felt weak and unless they could get a direct hit on my skin, they never caused damage. This guy struck away my sword with ease! Level-wise, he was much stronger than anything I had ever faced before. His spear flashed out and I leaped back to avoid it.
Even with my jump, my leather was gashed. His blade hadn’t struck me. It was the sheer force through the air that had caused this damage. I was totally screwed! Jumping back and still getting hit, I was thrown off balance. Stumbling back, I landed on my butt. The ghost knight didn’t wait for me. He took a few more steps forward, raised his spear, and then aimed it directly at my neck!
The blade fell down in slow motion… is what I wanted to say. However, the blade was entirely too fast! He struck down at me, and just as the blade was about to reach my throat he exploded into a mess. Circles of wind shot through him, one cutting his ethereal spear in half just before it touched my neck. More wind followed, and he was cut to pieces until he finally disappeared in a cloud of smoke. The source of that wind was behind me.
I quickly stood up and spun around. Standing before me was a pretty girl. She had her hands together covering her chest. Her breasts were large, around a D, bigger than Lydia by far. Her hair was pink and seemed to sparkle in the light as if it was covered in glitter. She had a small heart-shaped face, ears that came to a slight point, pale white skin, and a very charming body. She seemed incredibly light on her feet too, moving with a strange grace like she was floating just a centimeter above the ground. She had an angry expression on her face which was directed immediately at me.
“I said… get out! Don’t run into that guy! He’s always grouchy!” She said in a tiny light voice which sounded exasperated. “Ah… he’s definitely going to tell Master when he comes back.”
I blinked. “Um… sorry?”
“No sorries! Just leave!” She made a shooing noise. “You shouldn’t disturb Master.”
“Master? We’re in a dungeon, you mean the dungeon boss?”
“A dungeon? Nonsense! This is Master’s house, and you stormed in.” She responded in a huff, “Now, kindly leave… before you get hurt.”
That last part came out really lightly. She was looking over her shoulder like she was expecting her Master to show up any second and personally punish the both of them. She seemed oddly jittery and nervous like she wasn’t used to talking to people.
“Um… this Master of yours… would it be Master Karr?”
The girl nodded, “Yes, Master goes by that name. Please… go now before he finds you here.”
“I figured he’d be on the bottom floor, does he ever come up here?”
The girl tilted her head, my question seeming to catch her off guard. “Actually, now that you mention it, Master had remained down in his study for a long time now. I can’t remember the last time he’s come up to greet people.”
I smiled. “Exactly, so in that case, there is no problem, right?”
She was shaking her head. “No, no… all the others abandoned master. Only I stayed behind. I must look after Master. His last order to me was that he’s not taking on guests…”
As she spoke, she was moving back and forth… and sometimes her feet didn’t move right like she was hovering for a second. She also was keeping her distance from me, avoiding even the chance of contact. I wasn’t a complete fool. I was in a haunted mansion where no life remained. This girl was some kind of elf servant. She had died, and her spirit somehow retained some memory. Perhaps she was endlessly protecting her Master’s last orders, but I had no doubt that she was a ghost!
The reason I was listening to her was simple. She had saved my life. Second, she was very strong, able to wipe out that monster in a few hits. At the moment, this confused ghost was my best bet for getting out of this place alive, and I planned to do whatever was necessary to survive. However, she was still muttering to herself though. It was clear this ghost wasn’t completely stable. She seemed easily distracted and a bit dim-witted.
“Um… what’s your name?” I asked.
“My name is Celeste,” Her eyes widened as if she was surprised she answered and then she glared at me, crossing her arms and causing her bosom to shake. “Will you leave already?”
I shrugged helplessly, “I’m sorry. I’d like to get out of here. I forgot the way. If you take me to the entrance, I will leave right away!”
Her eyes narrowed suspiciously and she floated over to me before landing on her feet. “Will you really?”
“I promise.” I held up my hands. “I want nothing more than to leave this place.”
“F-f-fine!” Celeste spun around, “Follow me…. A-and no funny business!”
I let out a breath. My life was now dependent on a confused ghost. I was just praying I could leave the dungeon before she recalled that this really was a dungeon and that we were likely enemies. If that happened, then I would assuredly die.
I followed the strange elf girl as she walked through the corridors. She mumbled to herself a lot, once again giving me a feeling like she wasn’t all there in the head. Every once in a while, she’d look back, notice me, jump, and then pick up the pace, almost like she forgot I was following her until my appearance reminded her of her current task. Perhaps, following a ghost was not the best decision I made.
The only good news was that ghosts seemed almost afraid of her. I used life sense, since ghosts were considered an entity, not an undead, and it seemed to work for some reason. I was able to detect plenty of ghosts around the mansion. However, they seemed to scatter whenever this crazy elf walked down the same hallway as them. Whatever curse seemed to affect the mansion, I felt like this ghost had some part to play in it.
Finally, she stopped. I wasn’t paying attention and kept walking. A second later she was right in front of me. I let out a gasp and put out my hand, she spun around and saw my hand going for her head. She ducked back, looking up, but still, my hand went straight through where her forehead should have been as if there was nothing there. I stared for a second. She really was incorporeal.
She jumped back several feet, covering herself. “N-no touching!”
“Ahh… I stumbled, my bad.”
“Y-you saw?” She said confusingly.
“Saw what? Hahaha…” I laughed nervously. “Aren’t you taking me to the entrance?”
“We’re here!” She responded, a pouty expression on her face.
I turned to the only thing in front of us. It was a stairway down, leading deeper into the dungeon.
“This is a stairway down. Are you really screwing with me?” I demanded angrily.
“Eh?” She spun back around, looking genuinely surprised. “But I swear, the door was right… wait…”
Suddenly, she put on a confused expression, like her brain wasn’t working right.
“How many levels are we down anyway?” I demanded.
“Down… levels… stairway…” She grabbed her head for a moment. “Where… no, we’re in Master’s Mansion. I must protect Master’s Mansion!
“Oi… calm down a moment!” I held up my hands. “Clearly, this is a level to a dungeon. Calm down a moment.”
The girl seemed to be growing more upset by the second, and telling her to calm down was remarkably not the thing she wanted to hear.
“You… you’re trying to trick me!” She suddenly screamed. “You want to make Master punish me!”
“Calm down… I just want to leave, okay? Take me to the entrance to the dungeon, okay?”
“It’s not a dungeon!” She shouted. “This is Master’s home! This is my home! I’m Master’s Slave. I’ve always been Master’s Slave. No one will take him away. Not you! Not her! No one!”
Her body rose up in the air, starting to glow with some scary looking light. Ah, crap, I triggered the ghost! The knight that completely schooled me was torn to shreds by this elf! Was I seriously going to die now?
She raised her hands up and a powerful blade of wind shot out. I couldn’t see it clearly, but I could see enough to know I needed to leap out of the way.
“Die!” She screeched. “You won’t keep me from Master!”
“St-stop!” I cried out, “You saved me earlier, remember?”
“Th-that was a mistake!” She looked uncertain for a second but then shook her head. “Enough of this! It’s time for you to leave this mansion! If you won’t walk out the door, then you’ll leave in pieces!”
She raised her hands up again. I was completely clueless about what I could do to stop this. This slave girl ghost had gone from helpful to murderous with only a few words! Was there anything I could do?