“I apologize for the mess, Mr. Branner,” the doctor said.
I can’t respond. This is insane! I need to calm down. Somehow, Doctor Maladar is completely unresponsive to this madness, as if… as if this has been happening for a long time.
“Is there something wrong? You do know how to handle something like this don’t you?”
His voice is cool, as unemotive as when he greeted me outside. He slowly paces around the hall as he speaks.
“I would hate to think I wasted the funds to bring you here. You declared yourself the expert. So please, enlighten me.”
I take a deep breath. I’ve dealt with worse.
He’s testing you, I realize.
He purposefully put on the fancy display outside, had us walk in without any explanation, and has been suffering from this haunting for an extended period of time. He wants to see if I really can help him.
“Of course. Excuse me but a moment, I need to verify what is happening here.”
I step aside, walking up to one of the walls. The servants were cleaning what they could, but there seemed to be an unending flow of blood. I take a handkerchief from my pocket and wipe some away. Underneath is another layer, only darker, drier, and crusted.
“Doctor,” I call, “This blood has been here for some time, hasn’t it? I’d estimate a few days at least.”
Robert seemed taken aback, for only a moment. He quickly regains his composure and replies.
“About three days, to be a little more specific. No matter how much the maids clean, more and more comes back. It is as if the walls themselves bleed.”
“Yes…” I say to no one in particular. I’m too busy calculating how much strength I’ll need. They should be fairly weak.
“This won’t take long,” my mind back in the moment.
Back in the center of the hall, I set my bag down, rifling through it for a small octagonal talisman and a piece of chalk. There aren’t many places clear enough, so I can only hope not being in the precise center of the beasts doesn’t leave any alive.
I find a bit of floor space the size I need with no blood and set to work. I use the chalk to draw an octagon on the floor, comparing to the disc in my hand to ensure a congruent shape. My work complete, I stand in the center of the drawing, hold the talisman in my hand and focus.
Energy pours from my being into the talisman. From there it pushes out, stopping where I drew the chalk shape. At this moment, something material happens. A brightness illuminates the room, as the white octagon on the ground becomes engulfed in light. The crew around me stop scrubbing and quickly move to one side of the hall.
The power increases my senses and I can feel them. I feel their squirming on the walls, their mindless intent just creating more and more of this blood. But I could also feel their strength, and knew not even the one furthest away would survive.
“The darkness prevails.
But exposed to the light
Falls before the veil
And bends to its might!”
My chant rings out with the pulsating energy flowing from the talisman. The octagonal ring flashes brighter than the daylight, blinding us all.
As the maids and the doctor rub their eyes to regain their sight, you hear it. The splash and splosh of the creatures as they fall to the floor. Nasty buggers.
My own vision comes into focus and they are as I expected. They appear like giant red maggots, and just looking at them makes you feel wrong. The surprised look on the everyone’s eyes tell me it’s time to explain.
“They’re the servants of Dämon des Blutes.”
I cross over to one and hold it up to better illustrate. The maids all recoil in horror at the closer look.
“They produce blood in almost unlimited quantities. They’re very low spirits, unable to be seen or touched by mortals while alive. It was understandable you would think the blood came from the walls themselves.”
“Astounding…” Dr. Maladar was looking intently at the newly visible creatures. “And what was that light?”
“This small stone talisman I have here has been blessed to attack demons.” I pull it from my pocket, holding it up for all to see.
“I’ve found that by adjusting its focus with the chalk, I can destroy weaker beasts all at once.”
I toss the maggot onto the ground, hitting with a gross thud.
“Their bodies should fade back into the spirit realm soon enough, but in the meantime, you may want to remove them from the premises.”
The doctor looks around the hall, realizing the kind of work this will take. He straightens up and turns to one of the maids. She must have been in charge. He gives her a very pointed look, and the young lady immediately begins organizing the rest of the staff there to get these creatures out of the house. One of them is sent off to get the groundskeeper and his tools to make the work easier. His people are very impressive.
“You’ve inspired some hope in me, Mr. Branner,” the doctor says as he strides past me. He exits through the door on the other end of the hall.
I rush back to my bag, replacing the talisman and chalk inside, then hurry to follow Maladar. As I finally enter the house proper, the scale of this estate finally hits me. The grandiose architecture and massive size has me wondering if the doctor inherited this place, or had it designed himself. It felt very off for the reserved quiet man employing me.
“One of my servants will take you to your room. When you are prepared, we can discuss the incidents affecting my home.” He gestures to another young woman to take me up the stairs.
Oh, Branner. What have you gotten yourself into?