((This is the fourth piece my friend and I have written for SSaSD, featuring our OCs Awllynn Daeira and Pathadora Alden. This time Pewdiepie and Ken make an appearance. Go visit my friend’s quotev! Quotev.com/TheBlackroseNor))
Despite the fact Lynn was an information broker first and foremost, she still owned a bookstore and still had to run a (somewhat) legitimate business. This was part of the reason she had chosen to hire help, because she not only had to buy and sell information, but she had to order, organize, price, and label books for her store. However, though the bookstore came second, Lynn had still managed to become rather fond of the whole thing. She liked being surrounded by books, any of which she could read whenever she felt the need or the want.
But when a snot-nosed, arrogant, trouble-making brat decided the store was too peaceful and organized, she and her employee were left to clean up his mess after he ran out with a shit-eating grin. While Alden seemed simply frustrated, Lynn on the other hand had a black cloud of anger hanging over her. Several times she wanted to chase the down the kid and make him pay in whatever way wouldn’t get her in trouble, but the store was a mess and she couldn’t leave Alden all by herself. Unfortunately, she also couldn’t stay in the same room or else she would take out her anger on the short girl.
So Lynn could be found on the second floor, glowering darkly at the shelves around her as she picked up the strewn books. If they didn’t have extensive damage, they were placed back on the shelves they came from. But if a page was torn out or the binding was broken or anything else deemed the book unsellable, it was put aside to be fixed later. Luckily the kid had been smaller than Alden, which meant all the books came from the lower shelves. Well, it would’ve been lucky, if Lynn hadn’t grown to be so tall. Instead she was crouching on the floor, her ankles dimly aching as she replaced books.
Finally, when it seemed every book was either put back or set aside, she stood up with a sigh and stretched out her legs. Her mood wasn’t so bad now, so she figured she would go see if Alden needed her help Lynn turned to head back down the stairs, but stopped when she heard a thunk from the back corner. Unless it was her employee messing with her in cat form, that sound could have only been a book falling from its shelf. With a groan, she moved to the back of the room and found the offending book, lying innocently on the floor.
“Hmph. Must have been teetering on the edge,” Lynn spoke to herself, bending down to pick it up. However, upon standing back up, she noticed the book hadn’t come from the lower shelves but instead from one of the higher shelves. Or, at least higher than the kid could have reached. Confused, but a little too tired to bother thinking about it, Lynn just reached up to slide the book back in place. With that satisfied, she turned once more to head back toward the stairs, but was stopped mid-step.
This time, it wasn’t a book falling. In the opposite corner staring at Lynn was a pale, blueish-white figure with the most expressionless face she had ever seen. Her first instinct wanted it to be nothing more than a customer, a mage even, but logic told her otherwise. The way the room’s temperature suddenly dropped a few degrees, and the way the shelves behind it were visible through its body, told her something she really did not want to think about. Lynn’s blood ran cold, and she tried to very cautiously inch her way toward the stairs. But the minute she moved, the figure’s face distorted into what looked like pleading horror and it suddenly rushed toward toward the broker.
With no time to react, she just stood there, frozen with wide-eyes as the figure reached her and just passed right through, leaving in its wake the horrid feelings of fingers on her spine. Lynn, to say the least, was unnerved and forced herself out of her stiff stance. Waisting no time, she rushed through the aisles, down the stairs, and out the door, ignoring a surprised Alden. Once outside, she let herself shiver violently, anxiety jumping in with her disturbed feeling as she paced the streets. But Lynn couldn’t shake it. There was a ghost in her store, and it unnerved her to no end.
Alden followed a minute later with a confused expression. “…Lynn?” She asked hesitantly, “Are you okay?”
Lynn looked up at her employee, eyes still wide. “No. I am not alright,” was her blunt response as she continued to pace the ground in her restlessness.
“What’s wrong?! Every year, every goddamn year one of these piece of shit ghosts takes up residence in my store! Why won’t they leave me alone?!” If anything, Lynn seemed to be moving faster, and her constant pacing was starting to make Alden nervous. Feeling kinda ill watching the older woman, she moved forward to plant her hands hard on the taller girl’s shoulder, stopped her in her tracks. Mentally she sighed in relief, glad that it had worked despite the height difference between the girls.
“A ghost? You’re freaking out over a ghost?”
“You make it sound like its normal around here!”
“Well… It kinda is. I mean, the supernatural appear here all the time, so much that no one’s really that surprised when it appears. Victubia is kinda a hotspot for ghost hunters,” Alden commented. In all honestly, she was actually kind of amused at her boss’s response to the ghost. She could face thugs twice her size with no fear, make a deal with Victubia’s royalty without batting an eye, but the minute a ghost appeared she was out the door clearly uncomfortable with the whole situation. Alden on the other hand had no qualms with the ‘strange’ and ‘spooky’.
“Well whoop-dee-doo! Good for you!” Lynn responded, clearly growing more and more agitated the more Alden seemed to be laughing at her. “If you don’t recall I’m not from around here. Ghosts are… Anything paranormal is just plain unnatural! Now are you going to help me get rid of it or not?!”
“Why?” Alden really saw no reason for them to remove the ghost. She didn’t mind him/her/it, nor did she see any citizen of Victubia minding either. Strange things were always happening around here. The other day a monster had been sighted in the nearby woods, and there had been nothing but interest had been shown.
“Why, she asks,” Lynn grumbled under her breath before throwing her hands up in exasperation. “Alright you useless shrimp! if you won’t help then I’ll just get a professional. Take the rest of the day off, for all I care. Business is closed until further notice!” With that, she turned and stormed off down the streets, her expression dark and serious. She couldn’t stand ghosts, let alone anything paranormal or supernatural. If Lynn wanted to be comfortable in her own home, she needed someone who could get the freaky thing out. Luckily, she didn’t really have to wonder who she would get. There were enough rumors floating around. Now all she needed was to pull the right strings.
Alden, on the other hand, was left standing in the street, glaring after her employer with the memory of the insult. She was sensitive enough about her height, but Lynn payed her and she had no business getting angry at the taller woman. With a huff, she went back into the store to close up. In her restlessness Lynn had left the store unlocked and unattended, which meant to was her job to lock down the store. Well, at least she was given the rest of the day off.
“Hmm…” She hummed quietly to herself, looking around at the books. For a minute, she considered trying to find the ghost that had Lynn all worked up, but personally she didn’t want to waste a minute of her freedom. “Maybe I could hang out at the bar. A drink never hurt anyone…” Unable to stop the small smile, Alden rifled through the books and picked out one that seemed interesting to her. She stopped by the back to make sure she had everything, turned out any lights, and stepped out of the store. As she did, she flipped the sign on the door and locked it behind her.
The next morning, Alden found Lynn pacing right in front of the store, her arms crossed and an irritated expression on her face. As she got closer she could hear her employer grumbling under her breath, “Where is he? He’s late. He should be here by now. I swear if if he doesn’t show I’m gonna strangle him, lord or not.”
“Lynn?” Alden asked, a little bit put off by the air she was giving off.
“What?” The older woman snapped, before forcing herself to take a deep breath. Lynn really had to stop taking out her anger on her employee. She didn’t deserve it for any reason, except for perhaps the mocking. “Sorry, Alden. I managed to get the best paranormal investigator for the job, but it appears he’s running a little late,” As she spoke, she stopped her pacing to glance down the road either way.
“Oh? Who did you get?”
Lynn turned her attention back to Alden and grinned, her expression full of pride. “I’m glad you asked. I had to call in a favor or two, and pull a few strings, but I managed to get Lord Pewdiepie himself.” She was expecting a big reaction, something akin to shock or excitement. At the least she expected to be the girl to be surprised. Unfortunately, she was severely disappointed.
The name meant nothing to the younger girl, and she just looked at Lynn with a confused expression. “Who?” She asked, digging through her memory to see if she could recall ever hearing the name before. The taller woman’s expression to that of disbelief, completely surprised that her employee had never heard of the man before. To be fair, though, it was Lynn’s job to know who people were, especially people of importance. Alden, on the other hand, had no such excuse. “No serious Lynn, who is he?”
“Well, from what I gathered, he’s an excellent paranormal investigator, as well as the main breeder of the carrier ducks. He’s married to a Lady Marzia, but that doesn’t stop him from having a lot of fans around town. You must listen to the radio very often either, because he runs a show on Friday night about his past paranormal encounter.” She responded, her pride deflating at she rattled off the info. As she did so, the sound of horses’ hooves on stone caught their attention. Turning to look down the road they saw a carriage coming toward them, two magnificent horses pulling it along at a steady pace. The vehicle was something neither of them were really used to seeing as it was so nice. Anyone could tell it belonged to a noble of some kind.
The carriage was large and ornate, brown-black in color with gold accents under the windows and around the doors. The windows were covered with bright red curtains, and the two women could see the silhouettes of at least two people inside. The carriage came to stop in front of them and Lynn stepped forward to greet whoever came out. Alden just stood there curious while Lynn was glad with the idea that the ghost would be removed from her store.
The coachman, a dapper-looking young man, jumped down from his place at the front and came around to open the door for his lord. Out first stepped who could only be the Lord Pewdiepie: tall in stature with blonde hair, blue eyes, and a subtle stubble on his chin. He thanked the young man as he stepped down from the coach, looking around at his surroundings. After him came a man dressed in mostly red with darker hair than the first, a man Lynn recognized to be Lord Ken from the Toasty News. The only reason she recognized him was from the rare times she had dropped off anonymous tips to the newspaper, information she had deemed worthless.
Either way, she was confused as to why he was here. She had only asked for Pewdiepie, as she recalled. But he seemed nice enough and probably here just for the story he would get out of it. Lynn would tolerate it, so long as the ghost was removed by the end of this. Watching them, she plastered on her ‘business’ smile, trying to look pleased.
“Ah, this place,” Lord Ken spoke first as he recognized the store. All the while the other lord was still glancing around, taking in the scenery around them. “I think we did an article here when it first opened.” As he spoke, he turned his gaze to Lynn and grinned. “You must be the owner! I heard you had a ghost problem from Pewds here and figured it make a good article.”
“Oh, so he invited you?” She asked, understanding somewhat. Still, reporters made her cautious.
This time, it was Lord Pewdiepie who answered, coming over to the two, “Yes, I hope you don’t mind. Ken here is a good friend and always in search of a good story.” Lynn wasn’t given a chance to respond, for he continued after a very brief pause, “So you have a ghost problem? Just one? Psh, sounds easy. Any investigator worth his salt could’ve fixed this.”
“Well yes, but—”
He turned and signaled the the coachman, effectively cutting off the broker. There was a flash of annoyance, put she pushed it down before she could offend the lord. The coachman bowed and stepped into the carriage only to come out with sophisticated piece of equipment. Pewdiepie took it and went straight for the store, Ken following close behind with a tape recorder at the ready.
Alden came up next to Lynn, who was glaring lightly after the two lords. She glanced up at her boss, silent for a moment. “So that’s the famous Lord Pewdiepie?” Lynn didn’t answer, just released a heavy breath. Alden turned her gaze toward the two men. “I like him,” She said bluntly, chuckling to herself. The man already seemed entertaining, blowing off the broker like that. He had his own kind of arrogance instead of the usual that came with high status.
Lynn considered her words for a few moments, and decided on a response that would help lighten the mood for her. “Like you like Lord Cryoatic?” She finally said, taking her chance to tease her employee.
Embarrassed, Alden whipped her head around to snap at the older woman. “Wha—! Hey!” Her expression fell into a glare, to which Lynn just responded with a grin and headed into the store ahead of her worker. Begrudgingly, she followed the woman close behind.
As the two of them entered, Alden brooding while Lynn anxious, Pewdiepie turned to Lynn and asked, “So where’s this ghost of yours?”
“The second floor. My employee Alden here will show you where it is,” was the immediate response. As she spoke, Lynn’s earlier smile returned and she placed a heavy hand on the shorter girl’s shoulder.
This was news to Alden. She looked up at Lynn and glared, trying to shrug off the hand to no avail. “Since when did I agree to that? Go show him yourself.” The response had been her stubbornness talking, automatically disliking being told what to do despite the fact it was coming from Awllynn.
But her employer’s smile fell as she returned the glare. “Like hell I’m going up there. Its bad enough I’m in the store. If you’re so unafraid of the freaky thing, you go.”
The two of them just stood there, glaring at each other for a moment, before Alden huffed and stepped forward. “Alright, fine. Right this way, if you please,” She grumbled, gesturing for the Duck Lord to follow her. The two of them headed down the aisles toward the stairs that would lead them to the second floor. As they walked, Pewdiepie kept turning and glancing through the books along the shelves. He even pulled a few out, only to leave them wherever was convenient. Watching them go, Lynn realized she was alone with the news reporter in the front of the store. The situation suddenly had her on edge.
But the silence didn’t last long, for he turned to the broker with a smile on his face and his tape recorder in hand. “So, how long has it been since the store opened? Four or five years?” Lynn nodded hesitantly, and he continued, “This is the first time I’ve heard of a ghost appearing here. You seem very eager to remove it.”
“Ah, well. Actually I’ve been having this problem since I opened. Every year something takes up residence in my store, and every year I have to hire someone else to chase it out. They keep coming back, though…”
“You sound like you don’t like things like the paranormal very much. Any reason why?”
“Any reas— If you don’t recall,” She began, her tone turning sharp without her thinking, “I’m not from Victubia. I moved here a few months before I opened my store. I am aware that strange things such as demons and monsters and ghosts appear all the time around here and people are used to all of this. But they are nothing less than unsettling and disturbing to me.” Lord Ken put his hands up in a placating gesture and apologized, but not without a note of laughter in his voice. Lynn suppressed a glare and instead moved forward to busy herself with the books Pewdiepie had pulled out.
The conversation didn’t end, though, as he spoke up again, “If you’ve hired other people in the past, why did you hire Pewds this time? Surely it would have been easier to get someone else?”
“It would have been, yes. But I’ve gotten really tired of something always taking residence in my store, and it might be because of incompetence. Maybe whatever he does will keep them from coming back for good instead of just a year.”
“Okay. Makes sense. Just one more question.”
“Yeah?” There was a reason she avoided people like him.
“How’d you manage to contact Pewds?”
Oh. That. “Well, I have a few friends.”
“Wow. I didn’t know selling books got you such good friends,” Though the words seemed innocent enough, Lynn had enough experience to hear the underlying suggestion to them. It was the same for his smile as well. Lord Ken seemed to be well-meaning, but people like him were always sniffing out secrets. She just stared at the reporter, to smart to say anything else with that recorder in her face. She had people to protect after all. Precious clients and contacts she would putting in danger.
The tension between them grew rapidly as the silence stretched until a loud thud, an angry shout, and a burst of laughter cut through it. Lynn was grateful for the disturbance as it gave her an excuse to get away. She, with the lord hot on her heels, moved through the aisles toward the stairs. “Alden?!” She shouted up once she reached her destination, “What’s going on?” All she got in response was laughter still, Alden’s to be exact.
“Don’t worry, ma’am!” Lord Pewdiepie’s voice called down. “I’ve got this!” But his words were followed by another loud thud, and the broker ha a bad feeling that the sound was books falling. She wouldn’t dare go upstairs to check though, for fear of running into the ghost. Lord Ken, however, rushed up the stairs with an excited expression. Lynn was left staring up anxiously, quelling the urge to pace once more.
On the other hand Alden was having the time of her life. Lord Pewdiepie was running through the aisles of the second floor, crashing into the shelves and tables as he chased the offending ghost with his sophisticated equipment failing about. On top of it all he was shouting the most random things at the top of his lungs. She couldn’t remember the last time she had this much fun, and as a result was left clutching her aching sides and propping herself up on the nearest shelf she was laughing so much. Then Lord Ken appeared and did nothing but add to the chaos. Now both of the nobles were following the thing around, neither of them having much luck.
In the midst of it all there came a very loud, unintelligible scream from downstairs. Alden looked up through watery eyes to catch the two lords rushing down stairs. It took a moment to register, but as soon as she realized it had been Lynn who screamed, she collapsed onto the floor in a fit of uncontrollable laughter. But the comedy was being taken elsewhere, and she wanted to see it through to the end. Forcing herself up on her feet as she wiped away the tears, she rushed downstairs to follow the crazy antics of the nobles.
At the bottom of the steps stood Lynn, white as a sheet and completely frozen. Alden stopped to try and get her attention, but she was completely out of it. The ghost coming down must of been a big enough of a shock to catch the usually composed woman off guard. Normally, the younger of the two would have stayed to help her, but she wanted to see the rest of the ghost-catching. So, with an unsympathetic apology, Alden rushed toward the front of the store to see Lord Pewdiepie chase it outside and Lord Ken rapidly narrating the whole scene into his tape recorder.
Once it was outside, the chase ended rather quickly to the young woman’s disappointment. The ghost seemed adverse to the bright sunlight and stiffened at the exposure, making it easy for the paranormal investigator to subdue it. He laughed manically as he pulled out a white bottle and splashed its contents on the figure. Alden had a feeling it was holy water based on the harsh hiss that occurred on contact. He then switched to his equipment, gears turning as it whirred to life. She couldn’t even begin to comprehend what he was doing, but before long, there was silence as he held up a corked glass bottle. Upon closer inspection, it was clear that he had managed to trap the ghost inside the bottle. Lord Pewdiepie stood there looking triumphant as he congratulated himself. Lord Ken came over to inspect the bottle, offering his own words of encouragement for his friend.
“Is it over? Is the damned thing gone?” Lynn’s voice called from the entrance of the store, catching the attention of the other three. Her expression was a mix of anxiety, irritation, and vindication. She was nothing but glad at the idea that the ghost was gone from her store, and so quickly at that. What she wasn’t looking forward to was the mess that was surely the upstairs.
Pewdiepie looked over from where he stood triumphantly with the ghost bottle and grinned. “I got it! Just took some skills and persistence to get this bastard. He won’t be bothering you anymore. Just give me my money and we’ll be on our way.”
“Thank god,” She breathed, stepping outside. From her pocket Lynn produced a coin purse and began counting out his payment, moving toward him as she did so. “Here,” she said as she finished. “Will this be enough?”
He considered it a moment, seemingly about to demand more, before nodding and taking the money. “This is fine.” The noble was about the turn away back toward his carriage before he seemed to remember something. He gestured to his coachman, who stepped into the vehicle and came out with some slips of paper in his hands. Lord Pewdiepie took them and turned to hand them to Lynn. “Here, take these.”
“What are they?”
“Wards. They’ll keep paranormal crap from coming back for a while. Use them when you feel insecure.” With that, he and the news reporter hopped into the carriage. The two of them called out goodbyes as the horses began moving, pulling them further and further away from the bookstore. Alden and Lynn were left standing in front of the store, staring after them.
Lynn was first to speak and did so in a somewhat confused tone, “Those two are lords?”
Alden didn’t look up and just kept staring ahead. Even so, she responded with, “Those two are lord.”
The silence hung between them for a few more minutes until the carriage had turned a corner and left their vision. Lynn then sighed and heading back into the store. As she did she called for her employee to follow. “Come on then. We’ve got a mess to clean up.” In the chaos of the ghost-hunting, both of them had forgotten about the state of disarray the second floor was sure to be in. And now neither of them were looking forward to the clean up. But business was business, and Lynn was just glad to have her own store back.