Episode 7: Busted Ghosts

“I’ve finally found you,” Rib proclaimed dramatically. His staff thrummed with magic as it glowed purple, coordinating handsomely with his outfit. “It was only a matter of time before I caught up with you. You may have been able to survive my previous traps, but you will not survive this time! In fact, I have just the thing-”

Creston smirked as he said, “After all these years, you still haven’t managed to get to the point. Still wordy as ever.”

Rib’s posture slumped as the wind left his sails. He had been preparing his introductory soliloquy for the last five minutes before he entered the club and now it was all for nothing. He frowned as he gripped his staff. “The master wants you dead, and I intend to see his will done.”

He raised his staff and shouted an ancient spell, which caused the air around him to chill as if death itself was near. A grey mist appeared around him and from it sprang five ghostly figures, incorporeal and very dead. Each one looked like they had just been woken up from a very long sleep and weren’t happy about it.

“Eww,” Creston exclaimed, stepping backward. He unsheathed his sword and uttered the spell to ignite the blade. “Okay, Riblet, let’s do it!”

Rib unleashed the spirits on his enemies. They flew around the room with impressive speed, knocking over furniture and people, before settling in on their targets.

Creston swung his sword around in the hopes of hitting the ghosts in their sleepy faces, but the fiery blade only sliced right through them with no effect. He grunted with each swing and grew more frustrated at his failure to puncture anything. He was out of his depth; he didn’t know what else to do but keep swinging. 

A ghost, a pale woman with thinning, greasy hair flew at Creston and shoved him to the floor.  He fell through a table, causing the pieces to fall at his sides. If he wasn’t awake already, he was now. He shook his head to get the stars out of his eyes and sat up. “That’s not fair!” he shouted at Rib.

Fox muttered a spell and his hands glowed a ghostly blue. He shot a blue beam at one of the ghosts and stunned him momentarily, causing him to float in midair for a moment before it resumed flying around. He zapped him a few more times, but with each subsequent hit, the spell didn’t last as long before becoming completely useless.

The ghost was fed up and swooped down upon Fox, landing a blow to his face, sending him flying over the bar counter next to Peg. 

“The hell!” Peg exclaimed, helping his friend up. “You’ve gotten rusty, haven’t ya?”

Fox ignored the observation and prepared to join the fray again. 

Peg watched as his friends did their best fight off the ghosts in vain. He observed how the ghosts seemed to be transparent until it went to attack, then it gained mass. Fox’s spell was able to stun them for a moment when they were incorporeal, but how would they react if they were stunned in their firm bodies? 

A list of ingredients compiled in Peg’s mind and he got to work creating a batch of ghoul paralyzing potion. Bottles of various liquids were found beneath the counter without so much as a glance. Since he was the only one allowed behind the bar, every bottle was where it was supposed to be every time. He had a system that only made sense to him and he would literally murder anyone who disturbed it. No joke. Dead.

Rib watched Peg with curious interest as his ghouls ravaged the club. What is he doing? This is not really the time to mix a drink. The man was brewing up a storm. He’d never seen someone move as quickly as Peg. His attention was brought back to the fight as a ghost flew past his face, followed by a fireball just close enough to singe his eyebrows. He saw Fox had turned his attention to him.

“Was that supposed to be directed at me?” Rib asked in a mocking tone. “You really need to work on your aim.” He sent a purple blast Fox’s way, which hit him square in the chest, sending him flying backward. “Tsk-tsk. You gotta be faster than that.”

Fox groaned as he sat up, gripping his smoking chest. The blast ate a hole in the shirt he wore and singed the hair beneath. 

“I’m going to send you back to your pitiful master in a trash bag,” Fox boasted.

“Bring it.”

Fox stood up and ignited his fists in flames once again. He ran toward Rib, skillfully dodging Creston as he flew by, and let his fiery fists do the talking. Rib looked bored as every punch missed him. The smug look on the sorcerer’s face only served as fuel for Fox’s fury. In a swift swing of the staff, Rib sent Fox soaring through the air, joining Creston in the corner near Peg’s bar.

“Enough!” Peg finished his potion and poured them into five glass vials. As the five ghosts moved in for the kill, Peg lobbed all of the vials at them just as their bodies firmed up for the attack. The vials shattered, spraying them with the sweet scented liquid. The ghosts howled as they became trapped in their bodies. “Get ‘em, lads!”

Creston lifted his sword with the little strength he had left and sliced through three of the ghosts in one go. Fox immolated the remaining two and watched as they turned to ash upon the floor.

“Fuck!” Rib muttered under his breath. He hadn’t planned for this to turn sour so quickly. He thought about creating more ghosts, but it would be a waste if he couldn’t incapacite the burly guy at the bar. The speed with which the potion was created spelled disaster for any further attacks. He would have to withdraw for now. 

He stood defeated, yet defiant as he opened his arms dramatically and shouted, “You may have bested me this time, but I will return, and next time I will be–”

“Just go,” Creston said, pointing his blade at the door. 

Rib immediately left the club, pouting and sputtering his disappointment at not being able to finish his monologue as he went. The door slammed shut and peace and silence returned. 

Fox and Creston returned to their seats at the bar and collapsed on the counter, surprised to have survived another encounter. 

“You’re welcome,” Peg said, patting Fox’s head. “Looks like you were right about that tracking spell.”

“Uh-huh,” Fox moaned.

“Can you help us break it?” Creston gazed hopefully into Peg’s eyes, silently pleading for help.

“Of course, I can! You came to the right place!” Peg’s cheerfulness provided some much needed levity as everyone slowly recovered from the shock of the last few minutes.  “I have everything I need right here!” He ducked beneath the counter and quickly scanned his bottles of ingredients. “Uh oh.”

“Uh oh? What uh oh?” Creston lifted his head from the counter and waited for Peg to reappear. When he did, the look on the potion master’s face confirmed what Creston was afraid of. “You don’t have everything.”

Peg shook his head and stroked his beard. “I’m afraid not. I need just one ingredient and I’m plum out of it.”

Creston shook his head and muttered, “No, no, no, no, no,” as the realization of what was to come came crashing down upon him.

“Elk Hoof Root, and there’s only one place I can get it.” Peg began packing his journey bag with his wallet and a few snacks. “We don’t have much time. We must go now.”

“Please, no,” Creston moaned. “Not a sidequest.”

Peg grabbed a tall, knotted walking stick from against the wall and tapped it softly on the floor. “Yes, Sir Crusty, a sidequest. Ceth! You’re in charge until I get back!” 

“Aye, sir!” called a man from the stage.

“We best be going now,” Peg said.

Creston couldn’t imagine this day getting any worse, but that was just because he lacked imagination.

***

Rib didn’t go far to lick his wounds. In fact, he only managed to go five feet before turning to face the club. He scowled as he replayed his defeat back in his mind. While he wasn’t exactly within reach of victory, it would have been a much less humiliating defeat if the potion guy hadn’t been there. How he hated him.

Then brilliance struck him. As he stood there, his love and master suffered from low energy. If the potion man could whip up something to give Calavera strength, then all would be well. Maybe he’d even forgive Rib for failing to kill the Fighters. Yes. This plan was brilliant. All he had to do was get his hands on that guy. That should be easy enough, right?

Author: Cameron D. Blackwell

Writer Ordinare!

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