Creative Writing

Runescape Storytime: The Restless Ghost (Part 2: The Haunting Of Lumbridge)

Continuing on with the long-form writing of a Runescape adventure, we pick up on The Restless Ghost, the second quest in my order of questing, mainly because it’s also a beginner-level quest in Lumbridge and it makes sense to continue doing that by starting with novice quests. It was also released with the start of the game along with Cook’s Assistant so that helps.

Chapter 2: The Restless Ghost

Cassie sighed a huge sigh of relief as she handed over the last ball of wool to Fred the Farmer.

“Aye, that looks just about right,” said Fred. “Here, have that cash I promised you. You’ve done an excellent job for a newcomer. Almost as good as my farmhands would have been. And if you ever want to shear my sheep, you’re welcome.”

 

She had been out all morning shearing sheep in Fred’s field and it was now past noon. After the cook had finished giving her brief cooking lesson, she had asked him where the best place to find work for starter cash was and he had pointed her in the direction of Fred.

Fortunately, Cassie was quickly able to find her way to the farm, which dealt in sheep, chicken and cabbages, she remembered it from venturing out to the mill earlier in the day. Fred seemed to own the largest expanse of land, and the closest to town, just north of Lumbridge on the west side of the river although he was by no means alone in the farming business out this way. The Millers aside, a large contingent of farms dotted the countryside all the way up the Lum towards the northern edge of Misthalin. Though they would become sparser as the climate cooled, they were certainly still there. As Fred kept telling Cassie when reiterating Misthalin’s strong farming tradition.
“I may be one of the leaders in farming in Misthalin but I’m not alone,” he had said. “I’m a proud member of the community of farmers and I’ve even got contacts in the G.A.G group. That’s something to do with gardening. Upstarts they mostly are but they do share my love of agriculture. They’re also paranoid, like me.”

“You admit yourself that you’re paranoid?” Cassie asked, curiously.

“Been diagnosed haven’t I,” Fred said. “The therapist says I’m crazy. But there really is something out in that field of sheep. Some sort of Thing, a dastardly shape-shifter. Watch out while you’re cutting the sheep. Definitely watch out.”

Cassie dutifully kept an eye out but saw nothing more than sheep grazing and butterflies dancing in the wind. After cutting the wool she had made a trip back to the castle to spin it. Fred required spun wool but did not have a spinning wheel himself, claiming it was superstitious to have one in his home.

“But do none of the other farmers have spinning wheels?” Cassie had asked, desperately trying to save herself the walk.

“They figure the Duke is the only one of them with the moral fortitude to keep a spinning wheel in his home and not be cursed by it.” Fred replied, sounding deadly serious.

Cassie made the trip back.

Spinning the wool itself was hard work. Again, she had never used a spinning wheel before and found the prospect daunting. The worry that she would somehow slip and cut herself on the fast spinning threads was in her mind as she threaded each piece of wool onto the spinning wheel, but to her surprise, the wheel only resisted her briefly on the first piece and every subsequent piece got easier until by the end the wool was flying out of her hands and depositing itself into a tightly wound ball at the end of it.

This was not what Cassie had expected. She didn’t know if the farmers were right about their superstitions, but she certainly understood them a little more. The wheel felt like it contained magic.

 

Now though, she had money, and it was a substantial amount for what had been a good few hours of work. She wandered back into Lumbridge after bidding Fred farewell. The sun was still warm and there was a good portion of the the day left before sundown, but it was too far to walk to another town before night hit. And Cassie suspected that there were still tasks that she could complete in Lumbridge.  The town seemed too important to merely be useful for a cook’s errands and shearing a farmer’s sheep.
As she walked through town her eyes were immediately drawn towards the church, situated close to the river just below the bridge she had initially crossed that morning. Other than being the biggest building in Lumbridge besides the castle, it was visually impressive in its own right, stained glass in all of the windows and made from smooth grey stone, a trait it shared only with the castle on the other side of town. The buildings in between these two and beyond the castle to the north, mostly residential buildings, were all made of reinforced wood with thatched roofs. The church stood out.

Cassie had almost visited here when she first arrived in Lumbridge that morning. The southern entrance of town passed by the church and the graveyard attached to it and like now, she had been interested in what lay inside. But seeing the castle above the other buildings, she had guessed the castle would be a better place to start. Now though, she wanted to see if there was anything worth doing with the church.

Churches were something of a novelty to Cassie. In Ashdale, very little was talked about the gods. In fact, while Cassie knew that gods existed, she could not recall any of their names, save Marimbo, the ape god, for her parents would curse her any time a storm or misfortune delayed one of the shipments to the island, for her lands, the Ape Atoll, lay not far from Ashdale. The church on Ashdale she had rarely visited, it was a small building, little more than a chapel, and the services she had been to extolled the virtues of harmony and did not promote the teachings of any gods, for fear of disrupting the peaceful isle – above all, Ashdale was meant as a place for all humans to live in peace.
Walking inside the church, she saw a priest sitting in the first pew looking up at the grand altar at the front of the church.
“Oh Saradomin, please save me,” he pleaded. “Please lift this curse Zamorak has brought upon us and send away the demon that terrorises our graveyard.”

“Please, I beg of you.”

The altar remained stonily silent.

Cassie was wondering whether to go up and ask if he needed help when the priest turned around and saw her. An old, balding man with a wine glass in his hand, he went wide-eyed when he saw Cassie standing in the church doorway, bathed in the afternoon light with her dark hair framing her swarthy face.

“I have never seen you before,” he gasped. “Could it be that you have been sent by Saradomin to aid my troubles?”

Cassie looked confused. “Saradomin? What… no… what troubles?” She was not prepared for such a forthright plea for help just from walking in the church.

“You know who Saradomin is,” the priest replied incredulously. “Surely you don’t mean to say that you are so ignorant you do not know of the great god of goodness and purity.”
“Oh Saradomin,” Cassie said, attempting to laugh it off. The name did seem familiar now she heard it but she could not say where from, but she did not wish to upset the priest. “Of course I know of him. I might be behind on what he’s up to these days. But most importantly, what are your troubles? I’m an adventurer, or at least trying to become one. I can help.”

She tried her best to look responsible and reliable as she said this.

“Well,” the priest began slowly, “The problem is that there is a ghost haunting our graveyard. A real one, mind you, not something from a peasant’s hearsay. I saw it with my own eyes last night. I don’t know what it intends to plot but I need someone to get rid of it.”

“Are you not a holy man?” Cassie asked. “Can’t you just, sprinkle some holy water on it and it’ll go away?” In her mind, this was what priests did, drive out unnatural creatures and keep the lands safe from the supernatural.

“Holy water?” the priest said incredulously. “This church hasn’t needed Salve water for generations. I have none. And with those goblins, the road is blocked to Varrock. It would take weeks to get a message out and who knows what havoc could be caused if the ghost is malevolent.”
“No, no,” he continued. “What I need is for someone to exorcise the ghost and stop it from bringing forth more Zamorakian filth and rest in peace.”

Cassie did not follow completely, the words Salve and Zamorak were strange to her but she decided not to pursue it.

“So what can I do?” she asked.

“You, you, you,” the priest said. “You can take a message to my old friend Father Urhney. He’s chosen the life of a hermit in the service of our lord.” He traced the outline of the star above the altar as he said this. “But he knows a lot about ghosts specifically. He studied ghosts intensely for years, called them interesting phenomena. I’d go but I’m old and weak and he lives in the depths of the Lumbridge swamp. Too dangerous for old Aereck to go wandering through. You look young and strong though. You’ll manage no problem. Yes, go to Urhney and tell him Aereck sent you about a ghost. He’ll figure out the rest.”

“Okay,” Cassie said. “That sounds like something I can do. Don’t you worry Father, we’ll sort out your ghost problem.”

She left the church, flexing her muscles for the journey through the swamp. There was still enough light, she thought, to be in and out of the swamp before dark. Not that it had looked particularly dangerous, just incredibly dank.

Cassie looked over to the graveyard as she passed it. Sure enough, she could make out a transparent figure moving around the headstones, making ‘woo’ noises almost incessantly. There were a few citizens about and they were keeping their distance from the lonesome ghost.

“So that’s the target,” Cassie said. “Let’s go see what Father Urhney has to say.”

 

“So very interesting,” Urhney said as Cassie told him about the ghost. “Well, it doesn’t seem a particularly difficult problem, we’ll have Aereck sorted in no time I can tell you. Except there is one obstacle.”
“And what would that be?” Cassie asked, sounding as exhausted as she felt. The path through the swamp had been hard to find and she had been almost ready to give up before seeing the light of a small hut ahead, where sure enough, she had found the hermit-priest.

“I have sworn myself in solitude to Saradomin,” the priest replied. “I can talk to visitors, but I cannot leave this swamp for a full two years. Aereck knows this as well. If I were to scamper back to town for every little spirit that wanders his graveyard then I’d never get any rest.”

“So you’ll have to do the actual task of ridding the town of the ghost,” he continued.

“Me? I have no idea what I’m doing, I’ve barely even prayed before.” Cassie was surprised.

“That’s no problem. Notice I didn’t say exorcising. That’s a bit drastic. Aereck is one of my best friends, but even I say he’s very dedicated to making sure his flock is clean of heresy. No, most ghosts can be dealt with very easily, there’s something they need completed by a mortal, something that was left uncompleted in a past life. So they can pass on. I don’t know what it is, but the ghost came from Lumbridge, so I’m sure it can’t be too taxing a complaint.”

He turned around to his desk and pulled out a drawer. Many amulets lay inside, made with old string and with a small ghost sign on the pendant. He pulled one out.

“I learned how to make these while studying at Patronus. They are incredibly useful little tools. The enchanted amulet allows you to understand what those who have passed on are saying. It’s far more useful than you’d think in a world like this where Saradomin allows the supernatural to affect us with surprising regularity. Take one.”

Cassie gingerly took the amulet.
“Now, wear this around your neck,” Urhney said. “And you’ll have no trouble understanding what the ghost wants.”

Cassie looked sceptical. This sounded like magic.

“I don’t know if this will work…” she began.

“Oh it will. Go on, get to sorting out the ghost,” Urhney said, motioning towards the door. He seemed in a hurry to get back to his solitude. “Remember, just wear it and you’ll understand perfectly.”

The journey back through the swamp was as uneventful as the journey out, although dusk was starting to creep up on the day and the light was fading. A few giant rats, a common inhabitant of the dank and wet places of the world, fearsome looking but not particularly strong, watched as Cassie walked out of the sodden path and onto the dry land that ran along the coast. It was only a short walk before she could see the graveyard again.

The figure was still roaming around one part of the graveyard, the same part she had seen it in earlier. Walking purposefully up to the ghost, Cassie opened her mouth to speak, but stopped as the ghost floated straight through her body, his incorporeal matter wafting straight through her chest.

“What did you do that for?” she exclaimed, outraged, forgetting for a minute who she was talking to.

“You were approaching me so I thought it’d be funny,” replied the ghost.

“Don’t… do… it again,” Cassie gasped. “I don’t like being approached so sudde… wait, I guess this amulet is working!”

“You can understand me?!” the ghost asked. “Seriously?”
“Actually I’m just messing with you, I’m giving exactly the right answers such that it sounds like I can understand you,” Cassie said teasingly.

“Oh,” the ghost said. “That’s a real shame… wait. You can understand me.”

“How did you guess?” Cassie smirked.

“It’s that thing on your neck, I can tell because it’s got a bit of radiance emanating from it.”

“What?”

“Ghost powers. You wouldn’t understand.”

“I see,” Cassie said. “Now see here, ghosty, is there anything that you are feeling unfulfilled about? Anything I can help you with to let you pass on from this world? I’m sure it can’t be much fun trapped as a ghost.”

“I’m completely sure on what’s keeping me here,” the ghost said. “And it is dire being a ghost, especially when everyone is scared of you and you can’t even talk to them to get them to calm down.”

“That aside, what is keeping me is the simple fact that my head was stolen.”
Cassie looked at him blankly. Though intangible, his head was very much visible.

“Well, I suppose more accurately, you could call it my skull,” the ghost clarified. “My skeleton is in one of these graves but it has no skull.”
“And do you know who stole it?”

“I heard it was stolen by a warlock, a magic user. I died in a mining accident in the Lumbridge mine south of the city. The last thing I remember is getting hit by a large rock. When I came to, as a ghost, you understand, only my body was being retrieved. My head had been lost in the rubble and though I floated back to where the accident happened, I never saw my head. That would be the place to start looking, the mine. If not though, wizards are close to warlocks, and it’s possible that the Wizard’s Tower would know who the villain was. They do keep tabs on all the dark wizards in the land, or so my mother used to say, I don’t know if that was just to comfort me, I was quite scared of Zamorak’s wizards in life. It’s natural, they wield magic after all and I didn’t know how to fire a bow or fight with anything except my pickaxe. I have been floated around the world for a bit but I figured no one was going to find or release my skull naturally so I came back to where I was buried and made as much commotion as possible to get that priest to notice. Looks like that worked.”

“And that’s your life story, is it?” Cassie asked, head askew.

“Just a small part,” the ghost said. “If you want to hear more, I could…”

“So the skull was at the mine,” Cassie cut him off, quickly walking off into the quickening gloom. “I’ll have a good look.”
“But miss,” called the ghost, “It’s starting to get really dark. You should be careful out there.”

 

There was a small lantern burning at the bronze mine. So called because it provided Lumbridge with copper and tin, it would have been busy during the day with former colleagues of the ghost undertaking backbreaking work to haul up vital materials.

Now though, there was nothing but deathly silence.

“This does feel a bit scary,” she muttered to herself.

She moved up above the mine to get a better view and lay down next to a moss-covered rock, holding the lantern up over the mine.

“Maybe I should have listened and waited until morning. It’s not like I’m on a time limit. I’ve just got to finish something I’ve start…”

She stopped talking as a creak of something moving filled the quiet night air. It had come from behind her.

And I have no weapons or any way to fight, she thought to herself. Help.

Thankfully, she had been blessed with enough instincts to hear the swish of a blade moving through the air and jumped to the side, spinning on the spot as she did so.

A skeletal figure stood in front of her, holding a bladed staff. And as Cassie swung the lantern towards its face, she could see, out of the corner of her eye, just below the rock she had been lying beside, another bone-white object shining in the light of the lantern.

That could be the skull. I need to grab it without being sliced by this monster.

As she was thinking the skeleton raised its staff and swung it towards her again. This time Cassie barely managed to dodge, just to the side. As the staff swung past her, she reached out her arms and tried to grab it, dropping the lantern, which went out, plunging the area into darkness. She missed, but managed to grab one of the skeleton’s arms instead. Ducking, she pulled on the arm as she could while reaching with her other arm towards where she thought the skull was below the rock.

The skeleton made an unearthly noise and moved its other hand to Cassie’s to try and free its trapped hand. In doing so it clearly dropped the staff, which noisily rolled down the hill.

No longer threatened by a lethal weapon, Cassie’s confidence returned and she continued pulling. In her left hand she closed her fingers around the skull and brought it up.
She stopped pulling on the arm and gave an almighty push, then immediately ran as fast as she could.

A crash of bones came from behind her but she would not have stopped to look even if she had had light. Cradling the skull, she kept speeding back towards Lumbridge and safety.

 

Cassie held the skull up in the light of the graveyard torches with the ghost watching her.

“Yes, that is definitely my head,” said the ghost.
“How do you know?” Cassie asked, heart still beating fast.
“I don’t. But most skulls look the same and if you put this with my body and I disappear, then it was the right one. This was at my old mining place.”
“Yes, and I even got attacked by a skeleton for the trouble,” Cassie nearly shouted. “I can’t fight. I was lucky to survive.”

“A creature guarding my skull,” the ghost pondered. “I wonder why. Maybe the warlock who killed me was merciless and wanted my soul to wander, though I can’t think why.”
“That’s not important right now,” Cassie said. “Where’s your coffin?”

“It’s still above ground. An open casket,” the ghost said. “I’m a recent death so it’s waiting to be buried under the headstone. Just over there.”
He followed Cassie to the coffin, standing on a pedestal towards the back of the cemetery with a few other recent burials. The graveyard looked like it could do with an expansion, there had seemed very little room in the rest of it for headstones and these coffins just exacerbated the problem. Cassie opened up the coffin that the ghost pointed to and sure enough, the skeleton inside was missing its head.

Slightly gingerly, lest this skeleton also come to life once she fit the skull on, Cassie put the skull in the coffin in the head position and closed the lid.

She turned to look at the ghost and her jaw dropped open, then returned to her mouth as she smiled.

Even in the middle of the night, the restless ghost was bathed in a bright white light. He turned to Cassie and waved, smiling as he did so.

Growing ever brighter, he moved out of the graveyard, over the fence and down towards the River Lum, where eventually the white light faded and Cassie could see him no more.

Turning for the church, she yawned. She would sleep on one of the pews tonight. Father Aereck owed her that.


Skills gained: 9 Prayer, 3 Crafting

Next quest: The Blood Pact

 

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