Under the tutelage of Fuuki, "Fisherman Extraordinaire," Ema and I have recently been trying our hands at fishing in Windurst Walls.
The fish in this area were quick to bite, even at our amateur attempts at casting a line.
"Pipira trump sardines any day," exclaimed Ema.
Despite her profession of white mage, Ema ignored the mind-reducing effects of eating the ornery freshwater inhabitant and munched away happily.
She even slipped a few pipira from Fuuki's bucket after completely devouring her own stock.
"It's beastly-weastly hot today."
Fuuki fiddled with the collar of his heavy robe, trying to find some relief from the heat. Refusing to wear anything lighter, he insisted that black mages must learn to bear the "official raiment" under any conditions.
This was Fuuki's first trip to the mines. The mining operation had been abandoned after the richest ore veins had been plundered, but I had been here once before with Jet and the others in the hopes of stumbling across a few chunks of darksteel or gold.
There was one thing you were guaranteed to find in this place, though—ghosts!
The souls of the unfortunate people who had died in a cave-in still wandered here, unable to find their way to Paradise.
"This place gives me the heebie-jeebies."
My skin crawled with the feeling of being watched, and faint noises brushed by my ears like ghostly sighs. Ema forged ahead, seemingly oblivious, while Fuuki and I trailed behind her, glancing nervously in every direction.
"Was that a Hume child sitting on the stairs over there…?"
"I could have sworn I saw a man hanging from the ceiling justaru now…"
"What's with these green flames floaty-woating in the air?"
I was doing my best to ignore feelings of dread, but Fuuki's constant reports on supernatural phenomena kept bringing back to the edge of panic.
A siren suddenly echoed throughout the tunnels.
"It's show time!" Ema cried, gleefully.
A horrid apparition slowly materialized above the pond to which Ema had led us. I don't know if it was white mages in general, or just Ema's warped personality, but she showed absolutely no fear of the undead.
I lent my blade to the ensuing battle, but was overshadowed by the staggering damage of my cheerful companion's Banish, Holy, and Cure spells. Combined with Fuuki's devastating black magic, the ghost was dispatched without incident.
"These guys always drop cotton cloth."
According to Ema, there were six ponds in the Gusgen Mines, each haunted by a specific ghost. They appeared every night, and she made a point of defeating them whenever she was in the area.
Deciding to see what the other ponds held in store, we began retracing our steps…
"Wasn't this door open when we came in?"
The three doors in the Gusgen Mines were designed in such a way that if one was opened, another would close. The lever to operate the door was on the other side from where we were standing.
As I talked with Fuuki about using Escape to solve our current predicament, we noticed Ema beckoning us towards a hole in the floor. Apparently we could use it to descend to a lower level.
Ema dropped through the hole, but barely a second had passed before we were jolted by her piercing screams. I scrambled in after her to land face-to-face with an evil weapon I had never seen before.
I hastily provoked the creature away from Ema, and was immediately put on the defensive by its powerful blows.
By the time we had defeated the malevolent being, morning had risen on the world above and we had had our fill of ghosts and ghouls.
We returned to Windurst, exhausted. Fuuki later made a trip to the Optistery library and discovered that Juggler Hecatomb was the most notorious villain in the Gusgen Mines. There was a story that claimed Hecatomb was responsible for the cave-in that caused the deaths of so many people—not just miners, but their visiting children as well.
While it was true that we had defeated the monster with our own hands, the old tale still sent a chill down my spine. Evil creatures like Juggler Hecatomb were not so easily destroyed. It would be back—of that I was certain.
The chilling horror of Gusgen Mines was not exactly the cool change I was looking for…