The possessed armor laid in pieces at our feet. I have to admit our misfit group did a pretty good job defeating it. Well, minus the elf in the blue onesie who started the fight to begin with. With the armor dead, we explore this third floor of this creepy mansion. We each take a different path. Vyke and the elf–who won’t tell us his name–head off to the right. Bree checks the door straight ahead and I go to the door to the far end of the hall on the left.
I find a nursemaid suite which makes this haunted house feel a whole lot sadder. There’s blankets and toys laid on the floor. Bottles and books lining the furniture. A creepy looking mirror to my left. The end of the room houses a balcony window. A rocking chair looks out it and chills shiver my skin. The rocking chair is moving.
I gingerly step into the room to see who occupies the furniture and my lip curls at the sight of a young maiden. From her garb, she’s definitely the nursemaid, but her pale skin, dead eyes, and wispy hair tell me she far from alive.
A floorboard creaks under my steps and the nursemaid turns her head a sickening 360 degrees to look at me. Her eyes sharpen like daggers. “Where are Rose and Thorn?” She asks. The room grows colder when she speaks.
I shake my head. I don’t want to provoke her. She just a spirit unable to pass on. Likely her unfinished business involves Rose and Thorn and I can only assume those are the children from the family painting downstairs. “I don’t know of who you speak.”
She stands up and her body snaps around to reline with her head. Her mouth stretches likes a banshee’s scream. “Liar!”
The nursemaid lunges at me. I draw my morning star and cut it across my arm so my blood magic can ignite the spikes with fire. I swing, but she disappears in a cloud of mist and reappears right behind me. The nursemaid latches onto my shoulders and her sucking breath drains my lifeforce. I hate ghosts.
I can’t shake her off. So, I throw back my head and howl to alert the others. I hear a shout and the next thing I know, Vayne charges into the room with rage in her eyes. Her reptilian hands enlarge to dragon claws and she takes a swipe at the nursemaid. The stupid thing screams right in my ear and when it lunges at Vayne, it knocks me to the ground. I try to get up, but my head is spinning from the energy drain.
When I finally back on my feet, I turn to the nursemaid to find Vyke’s sword running it through. I don’t know when he came into the room, but I’m grateful. The nursemaid shrieks, but her cries fade away as her body dissolves. Bree and the elf enter the room.
“What happened?” Vyke looks at me as he dispells his sword.
“I walked in and she attacked.” I shrug. “I’m guessing her unfinished business keeping her hear was the children.”
“I’m getting more bad vibes about this place.” Vayne takes a breath to calm down. Her claws return to normal size. “It’s like something awful happened here.”
“The only way to find out is to keep going.” I glance around the room. Nothing appears out of place. “Did you guys find anything in the other rooms?”
Bree pipes up. “I saw skeletons hanging from a tree outside the bathroom window.” I frown. It’s just another reason for me to not like this place.
Vyke opens his mouth to say something, but an excited “Ooooh” cuts him off. Blue Onesie is standing by the creepy mirror. He looks back at us with a big, ol’ grin and when he moves the mirror out of the way, a secret door in the wall is revealed. “There’s stairs behind it leading up,” he declares.
I glance at the others. “I guess we go that way.”
The stairs grow narrower as we climb and they lead to a dusty, attic-like space with more doors leading off of it. I pick the one in the middle this time and find a storage space full of bodices and boxes. There’s a trunk at the far end that catches my eye. This is a fancy house and I just about got killed by a ghost. Maybe there’s something valuable in that trunk to make this all worth it? I break the lock off and when I open it up, I about gag at the rotten stench coming from within. Something dead is definitely in here. White bed sheets stained with blood wrap up whatever it is. I find the corpse’s head and scowl. It’s the nursemaid. She’s been stabbed multiple times. There’s no blood anywhere else in the room so her body was put in this trunk and moved here.
“What’d you find?” I turn around at Vyke’s voice. He’s scanning the room.
“It’s the nursemaid.” I close the trunk to spare my nose. “Her body at least. Whoever killed her put her up here.”
“What do you think happened?”
I shake my head. “I’m not sure, but the longer we’re here, the more I worry about the children of this family.”
He nods in agreement and we leave the storage room to meet up with the others, but we spot Vayne backing out of a different room. Her scales are rippling.
“Vayne, what’s wrong?” Vyke asks.
Vayne’s tail won’t stop flicking. “We…we found the children.” As much as I want to feel relieved, the wariness on her face plants graveness in my gut. “Bree’s with them, but…I don’t think they’re alive.”
Vyke and I head into the room. It’s a children’s nursery. Toys are all laid about. The walls are nicely decorated. And, the two children are standing in the middle of the room. An older girl and her younger brother. Rose and Thorn, I presume. The graveness in my gut opens to a pit of dismay. Their skin is pale. Their eyes are blank. And, the smell in the air? They’re definitely not alive.
After what happened with the nursemaid, I grip my weapon.
Vyke grabs my wrist to keep me from drawing my morning star. Anger sparks in his red eyes. “They’re children!” he whispers harshly.
I look him in the eye. “They’re not alive.”
“Well, they’re not attacking us either.”
“They said they were told to hide in here.” Bree eyes me suspiciously. “Their parents, Elizabeth and Gustov, ushered them in here and locked them in. They don’t know where their parents went, but they were told to wait for them.”
That must be their unfinished business then. I frown sadly at the children. They’re waiting for parents that are likely as dead as they are.
“We need to find their bodies.” Vyke speaks softly to Bree and I. He points at me. “I’m going to go take another look around. You don’t harm these kids.”
“I’ll be watching her.” Bree nods curtly.
I roll my eyes and raise my hands to show them weapon free. I don’t like what’s going on in this house anymore than they do, but someone has to err on the side of caution. Vyke leaves the room and I look back at the kids. Thorn is holding a teddy bear. “Is that your favorite toy?” I ask him.
I step forward and crouch beside him–Bree eyeing me the entire time. “May I see your toy?” I ask.
He nods and hands the teddy bear over. It’s a cute little teddy bear with a red bow. It reminded me of the stuffed wolf I played with as a child. I hold the bear up to my nose and breath in the scents upon it. Since Thorn was playing with it, there wasn’t much dust on it, and I could detect the scent of his living person. I lower the teddy bear and take a few whiffs around the room to follow that scent. His body definitely isn’t in here.
I look back at Thorn and hold up the teddy bear. “May I take this for a moment? I’ll be right back with it.” Thorn nods. I turn to leave the room and catch sight of the look on Bree’s face. She’s staring at me like I’ve gone mad. It’s a look I’m all too familiar with. I ignore her and follow the scent trail.
Blue Onesie is coming from the opposite end of the attic space. There must be nothing down there because he’s playing with a doll as he approaches. As much as he reeks, I dip my head into the teddy bear again to focus on Thorn’s scent. His trail leads back into the storage room. Vyke and Vayne are already in there picking apart the crates and other things to find the kid’s bodies. Bree and Blue Onesie follow after me and they all fill Blue Onesie in on what he missed with the children. Bree’s still giving me the side-eye.
There’s no doubt in my mind. The scent trail of Thorn leads right to a wall. Wooden planks block my path, but scent a draft behind them. I run my hand along the wall, along every edge of the wood, and I’m thinking I might just have to break through it when my finger clicks a latch. The wall slides open.
“Hey, guys.” I holler back to the others. The secret passage descended down a dark spiral staircase. “We’ll find the kids’ bodies this way.”
They come over. Vyke gives me a puzzled look. “How did you…” I hold up the teddy bear, but that only cause them to give me more confused looks.
I sigh. “I’m going to give this back to Thorn. Wait for me.”
“I’ll come with you.” Blue Onesie holds up his doll. “I can give this to Rose.”
We head back into the children’s room, but Rose and Thorn are gone.