The beast breaks another window and tries to slash at us. I take a few back steps and extend my tendrils. The burning wood I carry hit its furry arm. My sudden counter-attack makes it flinch and the nearby huntsmen hit its arm with their large torches. " Away! Away!" A huntsman shouts while swinging his torch wildly. The monster angrily swats him aside and Flora manages to impale a burning wood into its pinky and drives it berserk. I spot an open in its movement and slash at its wrist attery with my Reiterpallasch. It's a direct hit and showers me with blood. We retreat to the other side of the house, and after a few more blindly swipes, the beast lets out an angry growl and retreats back to the darkness.
" Une réflexion rapide, mademoiselle Luna." Says Dante, who is painfully standing up and holding a large torch. " And you too, miss blood saint."
" I'm sure that it won't easy for him to remove the splinters" Jack adds and we burst out into a small laugh.
But before we can revel, the Abhorrent Beast attempts to attack again from our behind. It knocks off a large chunk of stone wall and its snapping jaws send us a chill down our spines. The size of the beast is uncanny. Each of its razor-sharp teeth is as large as a scimitar and its head is like half a chariot. We have to run to the other side of the house and rely on our firearms to fend off the fiendish creature. One of the Blood Saints throws a Molotov on its head and once again, the beast retreats back to the darkness.
" I can't believe it. It's bigger than a Church Giant " Jack, one of the surviving Yahar'gul hunters exclaims. " It won't give up. We just merely enraged it."
A huntsman sorrowful exclaims " It is a curse! This is a damn curse."
"We all know who's at fault. We know precisely who it is." the other one joins him. The second huntsman then lowers his voice, to the point, it is nothing but inhuman grunts and murmurs. But I can pick up something such as " By master Willem..."
The monster seems to have stopped and Jack gathers tries to liven up the group's spirit and gathers everyone by the fire. The lustful Blood Saint introduces herself as Loriel and the other is Flora. The two surviving huntsmen don't offer much in way of conversation due to their transformation.
We talk about many things until three hours past since the beast's last failed attempt to grab one of us. The big fire inside keeps it away but we have burned most of the furniture on the farm. Dante suggests dividing us into three shifts, each will last two hours. The two huntsmen take the first shift. Dante is crippled and needs some rest now so we demand that he takes the second shift with Flora. The last shift consists of me, Loriel and Jack.
" There isn't much but ration for a day" I take out the salted fish and divide amongst the group." We need to eat to maintain our strength."
" You are pretty practical when it comes to food, right?" Dante jokingly says and Jack giggles" No, don't take it as an offence. I appreciate the food and we can't fight with empty bellies, after all."
I cackle while gathering as much straw as I can and lay my back on the dirty floor. Loriel the Blood Saint soon joins me and gently rubs my back. In Sophia's diary, she noted that the church would choose a group of chaste clerics to serve as Blood Saints. These women's blood is said to have the blood of highest quality and favourable. They were first received treatment by the Church to cultivate worthy blood. The success rate is scarce, the most notable include Saint Adeline, Saint Donna, Saint Cadeau, to name a few. I am not really comfortable with her lustful attitude so I swat her hand aside when she reaches my inner thigh.
" Don't take me wrong.Your body is really interesting. I wonder how these lumen flowers grow on your head. Oh, look at these scales, you look like a tree trunk. And these tendrils are amazing as well. Remind me of those who attend at the Holy Communion Can you speak to the Great Ones? My, I would love to have a few pieces of you for my study." Loriel says, much to my uneasiness. But, to think, Sophia would do the same if she was here. After all, researchers like them seek answers for many questions and their hunger for eldritch knowledge can never be sated.
After a few more minutes of creepy touching and rubbing and treating me like an experimental sample, she asks " So was it true?"
" Was what true?" I reply with a question, still close my eyes
" That you were Luna Brisé," Says Loriel, " They said you died weeks ago. Burned to ashes. So the dead can come back to join the hunt? Are all ghost look like Kins? I'm really curious! You know, before I was a Blood saint, I was a White Church Doctor, too. There are rumours that many hunters disappeared. And that drunk with blood, chasing after beasts, they would pass on to the Nightmare, every last one of them."
" Just go to sleep, lady. Blood drunk or no, we all go there when we die. That's the curse of Yharnam." Dante interrupts Loriel and stares at a small, rusty bell " I have witnessed with my own eyes many times before when beckoned, the old hunters materialised from thin air. I was always amazed whenever Aaron did that. Last time we beckoned a tomb prospector in the catacombs. He helped us slay an Abhorrent Beast, but smaller than this"
" Aaron said that resonating bell was a gift from a woman who dressed like a crow. In turn, he told me that the old hunters, who have long passed from the dream but could not forget the feeling of the hunt, relied upon the little ones, inhabitants of the dream to relay their thoughts." Jack recalls. " And when the night and the nightmare are long and unending, as long as tonight, ring the bell to beckon the old hunters."
" Can we ring it again?" I ask. " Perhaps there are more who willing to help, those who blood thirst needed to be sated."
" Only Aaron could ring this uncanny bell. And now he's dead. Go to sleep. The night is long" Dante urges. On the outside, the large beast is still lurking about and growling. I suddenly think of Lizzie. I wonder what she is doing now. But now I'm stuck here...
" Wake up, ladies. It's our turn!" I am awaked by Jack. I let out a tiring yawn and stretch my back. It's still dark outside. To my horror, the fire has significantly weakened. Dante and Flora seem to aware of the fire condition so they sit down and don't dare to sleep.
The worst scenario now is that the beast could use its wind whirl attack to blow out the fire like a candle. If I am killed here in the waking world, could mother Kos be able to bring me back? Could Lizzie survive in the nightmare? I was away for a while, she must have been worry by now.
" Jack, were there any beckoned hunters that got killed during the hunt?" I ask.
" Yes, a lot. And in the next hunt, they always came back, unharmed." Jack replies
So I would likely to be sent back to my original realm rather than a permanent dead if I die here in the waking world. But what about them? If I die, there's no guarantee they could be able to beckon me again.
" There must be Incense here somewhere," Says Loriel " Come to think of it... These farmers must have incense somewhere. They couldn't manage to live in this remote area without some incense."
The incense is used through out Yharnam to ward off beast. When I first came here, I thought it was just for spiritual purposes. But after staying in Yharnam for a while, I have known that the Incense, which made from human remains can ward off beasts. The abbundant amount of incense in the Cathedral Ward suggesting that the Church anticipated much larger inhuman beasts.
" The farm was just a cover. Harvesting Ritual Blood was the real deal. There are some reports that a heretic group still practice this dark act in Old Yharnam." Says Flora. " I wonder why Djura and his mad Powderkegs let them pass so easily. Or perhaps there were secret routes that lead to Old Yharnam?"
" Ritual Blood? What do you know about this? Can you tell me what do they do with it?" I quickly ask. These women must be high ranking members of the church, not just mere Blood Saints.
" You'd better ask the gentlemen here" Flora turns to face Jack and Dante.
" It matters not now. Let's discuss how to get the incense." They quickly sheer my questions off.
" Let me go." I volunteer. " Even if I die, I can come back if one of you beckon me."
" It's no use. I said earlier, Aaron was dead. None of us can ring that bell." Jack says." He said you must be insightful or be a member of the Choir to be able to ring this bell."
" I can ring the Old Hunter Bell," Flora says, much to our surprise " My father was amongst those who discovered it in the catacombs that carved below Yharnam. And as a scholar myself, I know things that you hunters don't."
" Very well. Then I shall go. You help me distract the beast." I quickly conclude the conversation before anyone changes their mind.
And so, while others keep the beast busy, I silently creep into the barn to search for some incense urns. The stench of death and decay hit my nose and I soon find myself in a middle of a pile of beast corpses. Most of them are blood-starved beasts. Their back is all flayed and they are all as pale as a body drained of blood. Under the moonlight, I can see the maggots and vermins of all sort are burying into the bodies that have begun to putrify. I uncomfortably search where the rottenness is at its least. And luckily, there are two incense urns.
" Oh, a kin from the Choir, are ya? And a hunter. What a strange thing to see." Says a woman voice.
" Who's there?"I worry cast my gaze around. " I'm not sided with the Choir."
" You are bringing these urns to the group that stuck in that farmhouse, aren't ya? What's wrong? A group of hunters, unnerved by a few beasts?" The voice says again. " Heh heh... No matter, without fear in our hearts, we're little different from the beasts themselves."
" I'm not fear for myself," I mutter.
" Too many have gone mad tonight. That thing is my prey. Turn back to your comrades. This is my score to settle." The voice says again, now behind me. I quickly turn around to see a woman dress like a crow. She must be a plague doctor...No, she must be the one who gave Aaron the Old Hunter Bell. Before I can ask anything, she leaps into the ceiling and through the window, she jumps outside. No doubt, with this skill and reflex, she is a hunter of hunters. Then, that Abhorrent Beast was once a hunter, too.
I quickly follow her and see her brandishing her knives. Like a hurricane, she lunges at the enormous beast and slashes it multiple times. She is fast but the monster is fast as well. It slams the ground near her with such force that it creates a small whirlwind where it strikes and from whence blue sparks emerge. The crow woman is sent flying to the nearby wall.
The two huntsmen from my group strike its back with their axes but they are shocked by the blue sparks the beast creates. Before it can finish the paralyzed duo, Jack and Dante intervenes and strike it with their torch to distract the beast. With a careful aim, I slightly rub my Blacksky Eye and an arcane rock tumbles and soars. The meteor deafening explodes on the beast left ear. It angrily swipes at Dante, sends him a few feets away and its enormous feet tramble Jack. It rapidly stomps on the poor fellow. I shoot another arcane rock at it and the enraged beast charges at me.
I wait until it has put up some distance between itself and the hunters so I can freely A Call Beyond without friendly fire. Dug the white slug out from my garb, I hold it firmly above my head and chant. The rite creates a small exploding star and sends multiple silver lights piercing the beast. Despite the numerous wound inflicted by my arcane rite, it jumps next to me and swipes me with its deadly claws. I barely dodge the attack and somehow still be able to maintain my balance. It second swipes, however, tears open my legs and I collapse. and the beast quickly grabs me. I try to stab its hand with my rapier but I can not escape its steely grasp. It quickly runs and carries me into the darkness.
" Strike its blood veins." Shouts the crow woman. She tries to get on her feet while shooting at the beast with her hunter pistol.
I aim at its neck and extend my hand for a slash. As my rapier slashes through its skin, the beast painfully whines and throw me to the ground. I don't know from when, but the crow woman has caught up with the monster and jumped on its back. From behind, she drives her knives into its eye holes. The monster screams woefully and swats her aside. Still, she manages to throw her bolas at its feet and the monster collapse. Bounded and wounded, the abhorrent beast whines and sorely tries to remove the knives. I painfully walk to the monster and hold my rapier defensively. It whines and blood streams from its eyes like tears.
" Kill the beast, Kin. Before its wounds heal." The crow woman says between coughs.
"You hunter are beasts, nothing less! Drunk with blood and slaying anyone who you dub beasts, you are no better than me..."For the first time, the monster says, in a distort voice. " You hypocrite, plaster saints..."
For a moment, I recall what Djura said to us " The things we hunted. They are no beast, they are people." And I recall the beast girl that haunted me earlier. The beast, they were human, too.
"Luna! Coupe de grâce" The shout from the blood saint, who has recently caught up with us wakes me from the thinking. I say a short prayer and drive my Reiterpallasch to its right ear, then I pull the trigger. The Abhorrent beast stops whining and it draws it last breathe. Now the rest of the group has shown up.
" You have my thank, Luna the Kin" The crow woman stands up, with the help of Flora " I'm Eileen the Crow. Oh, your time is up, I guess."
I look at my arms and see my body dissolves into blue smoke. I wave a goodbye to the survivors and everything turns black.
And when I open my eyes, I'm at my house door. The door springs open and before I, stands an amazed Lizzie. " Luna? You look pretty done up. What has happened? And where have you been lately?"
I hug her and smile " I guess I missed my cheese and salt this time."
She scratches her hair and hugs me back. After a few more embracing, I suddenly hear someone singing in the house. Lizzie must have seen my reaction as she says " Well, um... When you were away, I found her digging our crop... Well, um... She's desperate and pretty harmless so I took her in. I guess you would do the same. There she is"
On a worn chair, sits the mad healing church hunter with her dead beastly child. She is singing an inhuman lullaby and cuddling her infant. After the first encounter, I was wondering if she could ever survive in this chaotic nightmare. Now she is here, I smile to Lizzie, who has settled herself on the opposite chair and cutting parsley." Yeah, I would do the same."
I lay down my backpack, hopefully, the daylilies I harvested earlier haven't gone bad. That night, we have a pleasant meal with meagre daylilies soup and some homemade slices of bread made of cornmeal. The bread is pretty hard to chew, perhaps since we failed to make sourdough. Still, it's a very pleasant dinner and I tell Lizzie about my previous adventure, of course, with a little exaggeration.