Arcana X 1st Assignment: Gunslinger Swordsman Ch.5 Pt.3!!

Arcana X title

Suddenly, Larissa feels her chest tighten. The pain intensified as the woman slowly drags her fingers back up. It felt as if her lungs are expanding. The pain moved with the woman’s fingers and a lump forms in her throat. The woman touches her fingers to Larissa’s lips and when she lifts them up, blue spectral energy began to flow from Larissa’s open mouth. The woman gazes at Larissa and licks her lips.

“My, what a strong life force you have,” she says. Then with a flick of a finger, Larissa’s life force is taken in by the woman.

Larissa watches in horror at her own life being drained from her body. She can feel her body grow colder with each passing second. Her youthful features begin to fade. Wrinkles form around her mouth, nose and eyes. In a few seconds, she has aged forty years and continues to grow older. Her hair turns stark white and her impressive bosom loses its luster. Her skin begins to shrivel as her body deteriorates further, becoming nothing but a shadow of her former beauty. Soon the last of Larissa’s life force is taken in. The woman moans with satisfaction and licks her lips.

“See, that wasn’t much, was it?” she says with a wicked grin. Larissa stares back with sunken eyes and a mouth open in a silent scream. The woman turns and casually exits the chamber. The winged creatures follow her out, shutting the door behind them.

Aerith steps from the shadow of the recess in the wall. She steps toward Larissa, dragging her feet. Fear has numbed her body. She had watched the entire incident from its horrible start to its gruesome finish. It took every ounce of her will, of her strength to not cry out in fear. Slowly, she draws closer to the table. Her mind still hasn’t processed what she just witnessed. A strange woman has drained her friend of her life force. Aerith saw it happen with her own eyes yet she still cannot comprehend it. She stands at the foot of the table. Looking at Larissa, she now knows the fate the other people suffered. This woman, whoever—whatever—she is, has drained each of them of their life force, leaving them as lifeless husks. Aerith steps away from the table and walks over toward the wall. She leans against it. Then she drops to her knees and vomits. She could no longer fight back the bile building in her throat. Aerith collects herself enough to look back at the table with Larissa’s withered body. Her hope of coming back for Larissa has changed. She will return for her friend and give her a proper burial. Aerith sees a small shaft next to her. She pries the grate off with some effort and crawls into it. She comes back momentarily to grab the rod before continuing forward.

Aerith reaches what can only be the end of the shaft. She cannot see much from behind the grate but she can tell that she is no longer in that chamber of horrors. The red curly haired woman manages to turn around in the tight space to press her feet against the grate and push it out gently. She slides it to the side and exits. The shaft has led her to a bedroom. From the furniture covered with sheets and undisturbed bedding, it appears the no one has occupied this room for some time. From this, she is able to deduce that she is in a house of some kind. The window is barred shut so she will not be able to see what she is exactly. Aerith tries the door, hoping that it is not locked or her escape will end here. It clicks open. She opens to door slightly and takes a peek. A couple painting on the opposite wall are visible and she also sees a rug on the floor. Aerith steps out, keeping as quiet as possible. She is indeed in a house.

The hall she is in is beautifully designed in Victorian fashion. Elaborate candle holders lined either side of the hallway. At either end of the hall sat two marble statues. Aerith could not make out exactly who the statues depict. There is not time for that; she had to find a way out. Closing the door back silently, she begins her search. In a house of this size, this hall should lead her to the main staircase which should lead to the front foyer and then the front door. At least that is how she heard of it from her father who has built such places. Aerith occasionally looks over her shoulder, making sure no one is following her. She stops abruptly and stares at the statues ahead of her. Did they move, she thought. A moment passes before she writes this off as her mind playing tricks on her. She soon reaches the main staircase. She is glad that her father was right but the celebration cannot begin until she is out of house and on her way back to Tulpaar. Aerith catches something just above her eye level. She holds back a scream as she laid eyes upon a statue above the archway of the main foyer. It resembles the same winged creatures she saw flanking the woman who killed Larissa. However, this creature is a statue. It cannot harm her. Even so, she ill needs to spend any more time in this place. After giving the hallway one final scan, Aerith hurries down the staircase and to the door of the house. She gives one last look to the staircase, to the large room to her right, to the dining hall to her left and back at the staircase. No one has followed her. With a sigh of relief, she opens the door.

Then, in that instant, her heart drops. Aerith could not believe what has happened. Her hopes of returning home were at a high and grew even higher when she found the front door to the large house. Those hopes have been torn from her soul and replaced with soul crushing despair. Her eyes dart back and forth, to the withered bodies, to the torturous tables, to the wicked instruments, and to the large pit of hellfire bathing everything in its radiance. Her mind tries to process what is happening. Why is she back here? Why is she back in the torture chamber? Rattled with disbelief, Aerith slowly backs away from the wicked instruments, away from the torture tables, away from the withered bodies, away from the hellfire pit, away from her dead friend screaming silently in agony.

“I thought there was a mouse loose in my house,” the sultry voice came from behind her. Aerith slowly turns around. Her eyes widen they settle upon the woman who drained Larissa of her life force, rendering her a withered corpse. At her flanks are the winged creatures from before. Getting a closer look at them, Aerith now realizes that the statues at either end of the hall and the one above the archway to the main foyer were in fact these creatures. Her despair deepens. There is nothing she can do. Her instincts tell her to run but where would she go. Even if she made it past the woman and her creatures, what’s to prevent her from being whisked back to this chamber?

Seeing the fear in her eyes, the woman reaches out and rubs her cheek gently with her cold touch. “Don’t be afraid my dear; I just need something from you,” the woman says and then smiles with a soft wicked cackle.

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