3 – Geist

Bonnie Mercadi had seen manors before. She was never rich, but she’d seen them. In pictures, in places, in person. The last was rare, but she’d seen them before.

Manors were too big. Unless multiple families lived under their roofs, they would always be too big, and most were owned by those who would rather live alone with empty rooms they would never enter than deign to share with a single soul they did not claim and control through blood. And when such individuals succumbed to the inevitabilities of time and mortality, their manors remained, and those who would take ownership of such estates had learned well to call on the Hunters to check on such buildings before any real decisions were made.

Which was why Bonnie had a key to the manor, so she could enter naturally instead of kicking the door in. Estate types tended to get annoyed by property damage, though they knew what they were getting into by hiring a Hunter.

The interior was untouched by those who would claim the estate. An abandoned house that had not yet been picked through. No sheets nor plastic covered the furniture to preserve them from dust and grime, though every vase on its podium in the foyer looked entirely untouched by age. The carpets bore no stains, the curtains hung without tears, and the chandelier up above glimmered with lit flames. From all indications, the manor was still lived in.

And that meant nothing.

Many greedy souls wanted to keep their abodes as they held them in life. Most weren’t strong enough to hold it together though. Decay set in, sooner or later. Dust, at the very least, and mold was certainly stronger than ghosts unless they had genuine power backing them up. As such, the more intact their abode was, the more of a threat the spirit was.

Bonnie moved with caution, keeping her rifle in hand and her eyes narrowed. She had been on ghost hunts before. Most were whitish things, bluish in some lights, wreathed in their histories and chained in their regrets. Others were scarlet, and their chains were barbed. Lust for vengeance turned regrets to rage, though greed made the monsters bleed gold. Gilded spirits, bloated with avarice, sifting with eyes to covet or hands to capture.

Hands over the eyes, hands around the throat, hands to hold and to choke, hands concealing features of humanity, hands bruising and clinging, hands digging in, hands grasping, not beating but intent on keeping and often harming with that avaricious intention.

Room by room, Bonnie moved, until she stepped out onto a paved road leading away from her house. She walked with a smile, her dark hair held down by a flower print headband, her skirts swishing over her boots. A basket in hand, she strolled, waving to neighbors a dim part of her mind recognized she had not seen in decades. Some of whom were long dead.

She walked along, underneath the warm sun, the birds chirping and the light shining. There was no ache in her jaw, no heat beneath her skin, and her hands were free of calluses and scars. 

She was happy.

It wasn’t a long journey before she met her darling. And in one swift motion, she drew her revolver and shot the bastard invading her memories in the head.

Mirrored glass shattered, shards flying past her head as Bonnie felt the past melt away. She turned from the broken mirror to the four-postered bed in the master bedroom. In it laid a withered body, desiccated past the point that age could have been a factor, yet its eyes were still open. All three of them.

It was said that sorcerers carved open an eye straight from their forehead to their mind so they may perceive the mysteries of reality. A mark of their mastery and monstrosity, more so than the pallid blue the withered caster’s cadaver had been leeched to. 

It was only logical then to fire straight into that third eye and splatter it across the bed.

There was a snap in the air, enchantments breaking all at once. She heard noises from downstairs, startled sounds as people found themselves freed from mirror prisons, yet her focus was more on the screech of rage from the glass she had shattered. The shards shifted and gathered, not quite fusing but forming a monstrosity all their own, a beast that screeched with the sound of shattering glass scraping against itself. A quadrupedal thing, glass horns forming as more mirrors shattered, then windows and vases, glass and ceramic gathering as Bonnie ran.

Her boots pounded into the stained carpets as she shouted, an unusual activity for her. She needed the civilians to move though, to escape. A Hunter hunted, but they also protected, and she drew the beast towards her as more and more glass flew through the air, shattering further and stabbing at her.

Every construct had a core. A heart of some type. Crystal or glass, the monster had something beating in its chest. Bullets had a hard time finding it though.

There was a large window. Bonnie ran for it and dove as it shattered, the glass pulled toward the monstrosity behind her as it lunged, changing after its fleeing prey. It was a tricky move, relying on knowing where exactly the glass was going as it gathered, but soon Bonnie was in the air with the beast right behind her, its scraping cry cutting out as it left the bounds of the manor.

She landed roughly, but the beast crashed, shattering to pieces in the dirt. Unfortunately, that would lower the property values. 

Such were the risks of a Hunter’s inspection.

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