In the depths of the guild hall, tucked away in a small corner, the serene silence is broken with a fit of hoarse, gnarled coughing. A horrid relching follows as a figure turns over the side of his bed, heaving a sample of rather chunky red viscera. The man pants, sheets covering his lower half, shark white hair cascading messily over his head and down his back. He slowly wipes his mouth, panting and grunting as he collects himself, turning to sit on the edge of his slightly blood stained sheeted bed.

Argus takes deep long breaths, looking out the open archway that lead to the water, as the sun rose and the glittering of the caverns make the waters appear as liquid gold. He takes a handkerchief from his bedside table, wiping the heavy sweat from his brow before dabbing his mouth of the blood. “Bloody mornings… cant stand them…”

He wraps the sheets around his waist, moving to the mirror, a sight non in the guild have been given the leave to fully see since the incident. His left arm atrophied and shriveled, the runes adorning it pressed nearly to his bones. A side effect of putting a great deal of his power into that little stunt, though not nearly the most painful result. He looks down to his abdomen, blackened bruises spread all across his abs, along the sides, and even over his chest. He runs a hand over it tenderly, wincing and hissing before moving it away, a scowl befalling his face. “This heroic work is going to get me killed, I was safer as a crimelord…or a spy..”

He rubs his face, heading out to the waters, letting the sheet fall as he takes a moment to sink into the cool waters of the cavern. His trusty bathing implements nearby, he started with his hair, which with the recent injuries, lifting his arms up to wash had become a challenge. He bathed slowly and carefully, getting out and drying off before getting dressed for the day. His usual attired included an extra layer of thick leather padding, helpful to avoid stabbings and small arms fire. He adorns his rather elegant dress-wear, layered with the necessary fixings for his power and comfort, an added bonus that no one could see his injuries.

He readied his boat, making sure to leave early enough as to not draw the eye or ire of his comrades, for he had business outside today.

From small boat, to teleport spot, to Divinities reach, with all the technological advancements present in the guild hall, he couldn’t be sure teleports in and out were monitored since the Novovoid infestation. He takes a deep breath of the city air, the familiar scents, and almost comforting noises of the early city morning. But his business was not in the city today, but just outside, where it all began.

He slips through the gate, following the winding path to the Shaemore cemetery on a nearby cresting hill. The walk was the easy part, but just like everywhere else in his life…stairs. He makes his way to the top of the hill, standing in front of an empty tomb, the occupants had been moved decades ago, but there were kind enough to share their resting place with him for a time.

“Well well, I didn’t think you were fool enough to come back…little ghost.” A gruff voice calls out from behind him.

An assembly of around 10 men and women, dressed in dirty leathers and hiding their faces with bandanas, each brandishing a weapons or two. He hadn’t bothered with his mask this day, but had it on hand, taking it from his bag and holding it behind his back as he turned to face them. “Chester, I’m surprised you’re alive…”

“Well who’s fault is that Ghosty, you didn’t bother tracking all of us down, took me years to find the scraps again, but the White Rats are back, and were taking back what’s ours!”

“Ten of you, I’ll admit, that’s seven more than I expected, still wont be enough.”

A few of the bandits waiver, looking between each other as this single, well dressed man stares back at them without a hint of fear, and almost…excitement.

“Don’t buy into his tough guy act, I’ve known this punk since he was a kid!” Chester stamps his hammer on the ground to get their attention “He’s a little thief, nothing more, killed our whole crew with poisons and tricks, but this time I’m the one with the advantage!” The group slowly move in closer.

Argus sighs, moving his mask up to his face, letting the mechanism hiss and click into place, leaving only his eerie glowing green eyes visible. “You went after one of my shipments, medicine heading here to divinity’s reach, to help heal the poor and sick.” He lets out a low growl, drawing his pistol, and flicking out his right hand, a tri pointed blade slipping out into his grip.

The group laughs, getting ever closer, spreading to bottle him in. “That’s right, a lucky break for us, always wanted a way to get back at you little Ghost!”

“Phantom.”

The group pauses, the name sending a chill up a few spines, Chester tilting his head. “What did you say?”

 

“I said… my title…is the Phantom of the Bloodtide Coast.”

Darkness burst out from him, clouding their sight, three rushing into the cloud Chester motioning the others to fall back.

*Shink* *Gasp* *BANG*

The three unlucky first contenders flop to the ground just outside the dark of the tomb, the sun not yet cresting over the high hill of the graveyard. Stepping out of the mist, the pale white mask of a devil just peeking out, before rushing forward. Chester swings his hammer, the form slips just under it, touching his chest and sending a deathly chill through his body. Another raises their rifle to fire, only to feel it kick up as the figure turns its body, kicking strait into the air, pistol leveled at their chest. *BANG*.

““Four“”

Two of the bandits move to either side, rushing with axes and swords drawn, swinging at his body. The figures hand reaches toward the third, desperately trying to unjam her blunderbuss, a spectral hand wraps around their neck, pulling them in sharply.

*Crunch* *squelch* *shink*

The bandits stare in horror as he had pulled their comrade into the line of their swings, leaving them open. *BANG* *BANG*

““Seven“”

The last two take up defensive positions with Chester, watching in rage and fear as their comrades bodies seem to wither away in front of them. Argus stands up strait, turning toward them slowly. He takes a deep breath, his body becoming flooded with shadows, only his eyes remained distinctive as the black mass rushes the pair. The form glades across the floor, its elbow indenting into the gut of the woman to the left, before turning and uppercuting the man to the right. Before they could recover his hands held out to both of them, and a blast of raw death magic floods over their bodies, drawing away their vitality, until they too, fall to the side.

Chester, fumbles back, trying desperately to find a way out, almost dropping his hammer. The shadows coil around his feet as he perform several midair flips, only to land right where Chester was running to. Chester stops, shaking in fear raising his hammer to deliver a instinctive blow, and it finding purchase. He inks his eyes open, having clamped them shut in fear, thinking he had finally done it, only to look in horror as his hammer struck the headstone.

“Here lies Arcturos Ebonhold, buried with his parents, Jon, and Amelia. Age five.”

“You know something funny, Chester?” A voice calls from the near dawn darkness.

“My real life began here, in this graveyard, all of five years old, curled up in the tomb of my loving parents.”

Chester shakes and drops the hammer, falling to his knees, praying to any god that might listen.

“Oh, silly Chester…” A ghastly shriveled hand wraps around Chester’s throat, slowly draining his vitality and energy. “Its not dawn yet, Not even the Gods get up before the sun..”

As Chester’s life ebbs away, the last words drifting to his ears ring his final moments with dread. The light of his eyes fades, as the sun crests the hill.

“Only Ghosts can hear you in the dark…”

A few hours pass, And Argus stands before the mirror once again. He set aside his gear, it would need to be cleaned, blood was simple enough to remove at this point. He looked at his body, taking a deep breath. The bruising had decreased, and his organs felt more intact, he sighed and pull on a simple cloth shirt. “Not the most savory way to recover, but it at least mitigated some of the backlash from the fight…”

He cleaned up as best he could, changing and heading off with a little more pep to get breakfast. A new skull adorning his staff as he uses it to help him walk, an Ascalonian rune carved into its forehead.

It reads. “Rat.”

Author Scond
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