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What Lies Beneath [Quest]

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#1Tomoe Tanaka 

What Lies Beneath [Quest] Empty on Fri Jan 08, 2021 2:11 am

Tomoe Tanaka
Disguised as Argo:
What Lies Beneath [Quest] BGopPpt

A man dressed in a pinstripe suit, eyes burning like bright rubies and contrasted by the dark circles around his eyes, walked calmly towards Oakland Church. He seemed to have some kind of objective in mind, but at least for the moment wasn't dressed as if he were ready for anything serious. He wore the attire of a businessman more than he did any kind of mage, but perhaps that was a result of the confidence he exuded in his step. Anybody who thought they'd seen the man before would be incorrect, because he was somebody who hadn't really been seen in public before. One might ask themselves how that could be possible, and even the man himself knew it sounded absurd. Yet, well and truly, that was how it was.

His name was Argo, and he was somebody that felt incomplete - not just in the sense of having gone through life feeling unfulfilled, but something about his life just felt... fake to him, somewhat. He had no way of explaining it, but all throughout his life, he's felt as if he's been trapped in a constant haze that he can't escape from.

And that haze is the very thing I must break free from., he would think as he stood in front of Oakland Church, looking up at its brilliance and magnificence. A testament to the righteous. Craftsmanship of the pious. It's a brilliant glimmer, and yet there's something missing., he would ponder.

In truth, he wished to break free of the life that has bothered him up until this point and see the world beyond the haze. To that end, though, he needed money. Moreover, this particular job intrigued him, as it involved dealing with evil spirits. Those that couldn't move on needed to be pushed into such - that was the way it was described to him, although his own knowledge on the matter was limited. He could appreciate architecture and symbolism, but matters of the soul were beyond him, and had been his whole life.

Argo didn't know whether money interested him to the point he would risk his life freely, but Tomoe had assured him that this would come with quite the nice price tag for completion. The suited scowler would look upon the moon above, as if expecting some kind of heavenly response. When none came, he looked back to the church before him, its doors mere meters away for him to enter through.

I suppose it's time to get going.

And with that, he would enter Oakland Church to, for a single night, become this town's exorcist.

WC: 433/2,500

#2Tomoe Tanaka 

What Lies Beneath [Quest] Empty on Fri Jan 08, 2021 3:22 am

Tomoe Tanaka
"Wait, it's dangerous!", a voice would call out from behind Argo just before entering. The man would turn around to the origin point of the voice, and see a woman in priest garb about a meter away. "You can't, because you'll die if you go in there. The spirits have grown strong in the time that they've been left to fester, and...", the woman would pause and look down towards the ground, crestfallen. "...and you wouldn't be the first who's been hired to remove them."

The information left Argo as stone-faced and stalwart as he always was, but it did cause him to stop his advancement towards the church and turn away from the task at hand if even for a moment, so he judged that there must be something to this woman. He looked her up and down, noting her to probably be in her 30's and wielding neither a weapon nor armor. Her presence here could almost be considered suicidal, and the sheer arrogance she exuded by assuming she was someone that could stay here with no means of defense would've been reprehensible to the suited scowler if not for the respect he also had to grant her for it.

Argo put a hand to his chin, in thought for a moment, contemplating a response for a half-beat before realizing he already knew his reply. "I'm more than qualified to subdue some spirits. Allow me to do what I was hired for, and then I will be on my way. With due respect, I consider myself above the others that have attempted to purify this place.", the ruby-eyed man would state before starting to turn around to head into the church - however, he felt a tug on his left sleeve just as he was about to exit the conversation.

Turning back around, Argo saw the priest girl from before, looking at him with a more determined expression now. "Then allow me to accompany you. If a spirit curses you, I can at least exorcise them. You were just a hired mage, so you don't have that kind of expertise to the extent of a true priest, do you?", the woman responded, and Argo's eyes narrowed at her perceptiveness; he made no mention of being a mage or his experience with exorcisms, and yet she was able to tell somehow? At the very least, it would be better to keep her around instead of losing sight of her, if she was someone that had been observing him for a while.

"Very well, then. Argo the Brave will be at your service. Let us be off and away into the church together, Miss...?", he inquired with an unchanging expression of neutrality.

"Chloe. You can call me Chloe.", the priest would respond.

With that, the duo would enter Oakland Church.

WC: 902/2,500

#3Tomoe Tanaka 

What Lies Beneath [Quest] Empty on Fri Jan 08, 2021 4:58 am

Tomoe Tanaka
The first of the senses to trigger from the pair when they first entered the holy grounds of this grand structure, was that of scent. The place smelled like an 80-year old man had had a few too many pineapples and too much whiskey and pissed all over the hardwood floor that creaked as they walked. It was a sweet smell, yet so rotten at the same time, as if fresh air hadn't graced this place in many months. The next thing that became apparent was sight. The place was dusty as all hell, and there were colorless stains all over the main chapel room they found themselves in. The pews were lined up meticulously, but they seemed worse off than a regular church, being scratched and chipped.

Moonlight was pouring in through the windows, casting its milky silver glow inside. Chloe seemed to have problems seeing despite it, reaching over to light a candle, but Argo could see without issue the entire time. He was simply gifted, what else could he say? He was born with some supernatural ability to see perfectly in the dark, and it had served him well many times throughout his prosperous and lengthy career. He wasn't a vampire or any kind of other supernatural creature of the night, he simply had a gift for it, and it was a gift he had not squandered.

The last notable thing was the sound. The chapel in its entirety was dead quiet. There wasn't a single sound to be heard other than the creaking of the floorboards as Argo took step after step. He'd been briefed by Tomoe in the past about what this usually meant. It means you could be seconds from death, because complete silence in all ways ain't a good time.

Just as Tomoe's voice echoed through Argo's head, reminding him of one of the lessons his mentor had taught him, he finally heard a noise that wasn't from him. To his left, about 2 meters away, the sound of scratching could be heard. The silver mage turned his head and saw some kind of bestial, phantasmal creature start to float towards him, but stopped short and vanished into a puff of smoke with a gut-wrenching scream mere inches from Argo's face. The man's eyes widened in surprise for a brief moment, catching himself after a slight stumble backwards.

"That was only one such spirit among many that dwell further beneath, in the catacombs. They're weaker up here, though. It will only get worse when we descend. The spirits have already overtaken this chapel up above, so it will be far worse further down. Are you still sure about this, Mr. Argo?"

Chloe's voice rang out, and Argo turned to meet her concerned yet stern gaze, questioning his composure. After another half-beat, Argo had adjusted himself mentally and was back to his stoic expression. "Yes, I am. There was never a need to worry about me, you know. I'm quite capable of this even on my own. The thing would have drawn first blood, but I would have responded with greater force than it could muster."

The priest was silent in response, then finally sighed after contemplating his words a second longer. She only saw a cat puffing its fur up to appear larger, and nothing more. "Fine, then. Let's proceed to the catacombs. That was most certainly the only spirit that had reached this far up."

Argo couldn't say he was fully convinced, unsure of how the woman knew such a thing so easily when even he couldn't, but passed it off as perhaps a difference of skill in a single field. No matter, she was still a mere follower in the end. Nothing would change that, with the rogue mage having far more experience in both combat and with matters of sorcery than a random priest in some corner of Fiore. He knew this, and the thought calmed the quickening heartbeat he was holding back out of adrenaline towards the situation.

"Alright. Let's head for the catacombs then.", he stated in an authoritative tone, causing Chloe to silently deliver a sour expression and stick her tongue out when he turned his back to advance.

WC: 1,604/2,500

#4Tomoe Tanaka 

What Lies Beneath [Quest] Empty on Fri Jan 08, 2021 5:45 am

Tomoe Tanaka
Argo descended the stairs first, with Chloe following closely behind. The path down was dark, and barely a thing could be seen; for Chloe, anyway. Argo could see every speck of dirt on either wall as they walked down the steps towards the catacombs. Chloe clung to her torch, ready at a moment's notice to exorcise another spirit. However, they reached the end of the staircase without conflict or issue, and entered into a dingy section underneath the church. If the chapel upstairs could be called unnerving and musty, this place was bone-chilling and ancient. How frequently did they clean this place, anyway? Argo brought a hand to cover his mouth and nose, his eyes squinting as he moved a bit farther into the tunnel-like catacombs.

"The presence of so many spirits is turning this place. Aging it rapidly. If we don't break the curse, this church will no longer be standing within the month.", Chloe explained, moving past her so-called exorcist partner and further in to continue inspecting the catacombs. Torch in hand she advanced, Argo trailing behind for a bit while adjusting to the horrible air condition and dreadful scenery.

"Are you so sure? The place is a wreck. Surely mere spirits couldn't reduce it to this level so quickly.", Argo spoke after a while of walking, insisting upon some kind of belief that there could be no such thing as a spirit powerful enough to accelerate time, or even a cluster of spirits.

Chloe sighed and turned on her heel to look back at him, which Argo used as time to walk past her and take back the lead, her eyes trailing him with frustration the entire time. She stamped her foot down to block his advance, causing him to halt before she could have the satisfaction of tripping him. "You know what? I'm getting fed up with you, asshole! Do you even want my help? I've been a devout for so long, and here you are coming in here questioning my knowledge on these matters without a single idea how these entities work? Where do you get off?!"

The priest couldn't hold her annoyance in anymore, and Argo's eyes narrowed after she had finished. She had the glare of a woman scorned, certainly. He had seen that hateful look from many people in the past for some reason, but he could never understand why. Tomoe was the only one who never looked at him that way. That was part of the reason he started following Tomoe in the first place, listening to him blab on about some dark goddess that could bring peace. Argo couldn't care less about the goddess side, but was intrigued by Tomoe's lack of disdain and hatred for him. He thought that by joining and learning magic and combat from that man, Argo would in turn become less scorned by the world and receive that look less. Perhaps not.

"I was simply trying to gauge your own knowledge on the subject, there was nothing else I was implying. I'm just-"

"My knowledge? So you're looking down on me then? And what would your reason for that be, hm, Mr. Argo?!"

As the two continued clashing, the resulting negative emotions between the two and the raw noise within deadly silent catacombs brought something else out from the darkness. It stared at them from just out of view, and only once a smile in the darkness formed did the duo finally acknowledge its presence.

"We'll settle this matter later. I'll take over from here.", Argo said, breaking eye contact from the priest to look over towards the phantom that seemed to hunger for something immaterial.

WC: 2,215/2,500

#5Tomoe Tanaka 

What Lies Beneath [Quest] Empty on Fri Jan 08, 2021 6:36 am

Tomoe Tanaka
With a flash of golden light, Argo would bolt backwards as if commanded by the will of a star. Tomoe had taught him the basics of Heavenly Body Magic, so it was simply up to Argo now to make proper use of it to the best of his ability. After drawing the hungry phantom away from Chloe, the beast moving right past her to barrel towards the shiny and retreating Argo, a better view of it could finally be gotten.

It was a mass of pus and screaming faces that phased in and out of existence. Whatever it once was, it was now a culmination of angry spirits. Unsatisfied with life, they merged together to create a being made out of pure curses. There was little that could match the hatred that was felt by this being, this monstrosity, this thing that should never have been. It was the result of an unknown number of afterlives combined into one for the purpose of destruction, haunting Oakland Church's catacombs and putting the lives of the people at risk.

"I can't claim to know your rage, because I wasn't born among the peasantry.", Argo started as he continued retreating backwards while carried by the golden light, a new light appearing in his left hand. His eyes narrowed and his focus intensified. His expression which was normally neutral, for a brief moment, became one of frustration. "But you aren't a creature that should exist here anymore. I was paid to take you out, so I will."

The light in Argo's left hand vanished, and in its place was a golden bow - the bow of Rama of the Nine Heroes. Without delay for even a moment longer, Argo took aim and let loose an arrow of scalding hot magma towards the phantom. It flew and landed true, impaling itself into the entity and spreading flames all across its body. The weaker spirits fell off immediately, melting into agonized wisps of magic before vanishing.

The stronger grudges stayed, however, enduring the suffering to push on. One of the melting spirits grabbed onto Argo's legs as he attempted to retreat, holding him in place with a massive, shadowy hand. A dark mist spread up Argo's body from the ankles, and slowly started cracking his skin as it made contact. "Ah... fine, then. I won't need to deal with you so much if you have a new target, right? Your struggles were all in vain. Find a new target and cling to it, monster. It's all you're good for."

Argo would let loose a second arrow before the curses could spread further across him, the arrow expanding into a gigantic meteor that immediately carved a chunk out of the heap of souls and send it spinning backwards. Its pathetic mass would sputter to a stop next to Chloe, who was following but caught off guard. The mutant spirit would start latching itself onto her ankles, attempting to spread its curses to a new recipient. Before she could react in either horror or with a counterattack, the spirit growing enraged and intending to fully consume her to regain its energy, a third and final arrow sunk into it from behind.

Slowly, Argo would make his way over. The spirit would crumble away into dust, leaving just him and the priest girl left. Wordlessly, he made his way towards the catacombs' exit after confirming with a single look from Chloe that there were no more evil spirits present.

After exiting the building and breathing the fresh air once again, Argo looked at Chloe. "I'll be around in town for a while if a problem like this arises again. If that happens, my employer will know how to get in contact with me. Until then, the pleasure was all yours."

Chloe seemed downtrodden, her expression one of gloom. She said nothing other than squeak out a brief, "Okay.", before allowing the conversation to well and truly drop. Their argument having gone unresolved and having not reached a proper conclusion to it, Argo seemed to remain unbothered by it. He didn't even bother to bring up the fact that the leg where the defeated spirit had grasped her, had left a mark that was not going away.

Simply put? He'd done his job, and the aftermath of it was none of his problem.

WC: 2,500/2,500

- EXIT -

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