Data.120 – Old Bowman, Mansion of Blood
There was an area in the Ghost Float called Dark Night Street, that had a distinctively Japanese style.
And in a corner of that area, was a samurai residence. This was the Bloodwind Sarayashiki, where the second stamp was located.
Sarayashiki…was an old yokai story.
Over time, many versions of the story came to be, but to put it simply, a woman named Okiku broke one of ten important plates, and was killed after being thrown into a well. Once she was a ghost, she would count the plates, ‘one…two…’ but would never be able to count to ten.
But if you heard her count up to nine, then you would go mad or die or be attacked…
All kinds of bad things would happen to you.
In other words, it was an instant death attack…!
I had a gamer’s brain, where I had to compare everything to games.
Now, we had gotten rid of all the player killers who continued to attack us, and reached our destination. It really was atmospheric…this mansion.
It was surrounded by black walls, and you needed to go through a gate and courtyard in order to enter the building.
As both the land and building were small compared to the previous mansion, exploration should be a lot easier. On the other hand, I wasn’t sure if I would be able to make any use of my Range.
I would try and not allow myself to be taken by surprise if enemies and ninjas jump out of the walls and floor…
With a loud creak, the gate opened.
Once Anne, Garbow and I were inside, the doors closed automatically.
At the same time, the large, bright moon in the sky was covered by clouds, and the area became a lot darker.
This place…was similar to a dungeon.
So it was unlikely that any other players were here.
Exploring a terrifying, closed off area with a few people. That was how these places worked, I guess.
Indeed, it would ruin the sense of horror if there were many players here battling it out.
I took out the very bright torch that I had used before.
The pale flames shone brightly through the shadows of the night, and seemed to give me courage.
“What!? That torch is so bright! It’s so much brighter than the normal torch that I use!”
“I’ll be in charge of the torch then. This torch is too hot to have Garbow carry it. So you should be the advance guard like before.”
Anne fought with a two-handed weapon, so carrying a torch would get in the way when she was fighting.
Yokai and ghosts were likely to appear here, so things would probably go smoother if the nun did the majority of the fighting.
And I would have Garbow guard my back.
As the enemies here were monsters and not players, he would alert me to the appearance of enemies with his cry.
And if it was necessary, I could use the heat of the torch and Eyes of the Beast King to stagger any weak enemies.
Intimidation type skills were not very effective on players, but there would be no problem when against monsters.
“So, where should we start? The courtyard is quite big and I think it will be worth exploring the whole thing.”
“I suppose you’re right…”
As this was the Sarayashiki, we should check any wells.
And wells were made outside.
So we should probably explore the area outside of the mansion first…
And so we walked through the garden, which was covered in pebbles, and made our way towards the back of the mansion.
With every step, the light shone on the trees and stones as they appeared from the darkness.
A few times I nearly flinched, thinking that they were enemies, but managed to hold it back.
There was no sign of any enemies here.
The only thing that I could hear was the cold wind…
The voice rang as if someone had whispered into my ear, and I jumped up.
However, Anne had the same reaction.
She wrapped her arms around herself as she shook.
She was a fan of the occult, but was easily scared…?
“Ar-are you alright?”
“Ye-yes…! I’m just so…happy…!”
“I visit a lot of haunted places…! Of course, only where I’m allowed to enter, as I don’t want to break the law… But I’ve never experienced anything like this…! I know that it’s not real, and it’s not the least bit scary…! But being able to hear something that I shouldn’t be able to hear…even if it’s in a game…it’s so wonderful! So…occultic!”
Hmm. She was further into it than I thought.
Occultic…she said it like it meant romantic.
In any case, I was glad that she wasn’t scared.
I didn’t even like such places within games, so it was great to be with someone like her…!
The countdown continued.
As the voice was right by my ear, I couldn’t tell where it was actually coming from. But it must be close by.
I doubted the sounds were just to create an atmosphere. We needed to find it quickly…!
I started to run as we went to the back of the mansion, and then I found a well that was built under a maple tree.
And right next to it, was a semi-transparent woman.
She was sitting on the ground and counting plates.
It was difficult to attack someone who looked so sad…
Uh, was she even an enemy?
Garbow didn’t react, and I couldn’t see an HP gauge.
Perhaps there was some kind of gimmick here…
The voice became more emotional…
Maybe this really was dangerous.
However, if she wasn’t an enemy, something bad might happen if we attacked her.
“Mr. Kyuji, what should we do!”
“Just…leave this to me.”
In the first place, in some versions of the story, you just had to wait for her to reach 9 and then shout ‘10!’ and she would be satisfied and disappear.
And so I wanted to test it here.
If it didn’t work…that just meant we probably had to fight a powerful enemy.
And that wasn’t really a bad thing!
Her voice grew louder.
Now, come on, ‘nine’!
She was really going for that dramatic pause…!
Or was she just catching her breath…?
Now, just wait a few seconds and then…
Did we harmonize?
Since she counted to ten as well…did that mean she hadn’t lost any to begin with!?
Even though it was an old yokai story, I didn’t expect them to change it this much…
“I have all ten…”
The ten plates were lined up on the ground.
Uh, Miss Okiku. Those aren’t plates.
Still, she continued to insist that she had ten plates.
Even though they were clearly a different shape…
“Uh… Can we borrow those sta…plates? I’ll return them immediately…”
“These sta…plates are important to my master. I cannot let you borrow them…”
She knew they were stamps!
Hmm, this made things even more troublesome…
“However, I may let you borrow one if you bring me another plate… A replacement plate is hidden somewhere in this mansion… I will now unlock the front door for you…”
I see. So our goal this time was to find the 10th plate.
So had we not talked to her here, the mansion door would have been locked, and we would not have been able to go inside.
We would have wasted some time had it not been for Anne’s suggestion.
“I have unlocked the door… The plate has a large ‘+’ sign written on it, so you will recognize it at a glance… If you bring it to me, I will let you borrow the stamp…”
So she wasn’t even pretending now…
Well, it was a good thing that we knew the location of the stamp, and the requirement for getting it.
“There are countless evil spirits haunting the mansion… Please be careful…that you don’t share their fate…”
And then Okiku faded away.
She must have returned to the well.
“Anne, Garbow. Let’s keep our guard up and go.”
“Yes! Ah, evil ghosts haunting a samurai mansion that is rich with historic detail… How very occultic!”
Anne’s excitement right now gave me more comfort than any weapon could.
I couldn’t help but think this as I hesitantly stepped foot into the mansion.