“Rose, your family work at that shrine right? Well did you hear about that haunted house? Apparently there is a ghost that haunts some big building in the north parts of town. How do I know about this? One in the Organization of Light always knows where those of darkness lay. I checked it out yesterday. I’m not saying I ran away from the ghost, but I think you should take care of it. I’m sure you can make some money off of it.”

It was rare for them to take it upon themselves to solve a problem like this. Usually people come to the shrine and ask for spirits to be exterminated. In most cases they went through with the motions even if there was nothing to give them peace of mind. Taking something upon themselves usually meant something serious was being ignored. Spirits that could affect humans were dangerous unchecked. As a result, even hearing about something like this mobilized the shrine maidens. Since the only free day they had was Saturday Rose decided to invite Hitomi to see what an extermination looked like. While she certainly stood out next to the weaponized maidens she had no fear interacting with spirits. “Why are we going on foot?” Hitomi asked as they walked through town. It was clear the reason as soon as she asked.

“It’s to show we are the ones who took care of the problem. We can at least take this opportunity to advertise.” Morgan answered with a smile on her face. Missing them walking by was impossible. Both Rose and Morgan were dressed in the traditional garb, but what stood out most was the two swords they had. Morgan had a longsword at her waist that look straight out of a story of knighthood. Rose meanwhile had a much shorter sword on her back. A shortsword that matched her mother’s. Such weapons had long since been banned in the public but they were allowed on the grounds that they were using them for business. Rose was having trouble keeping up with the two of them as the extra weight of the sword was amplified by her weakness. Yet despite her stamina draining her energy and smile didn’t let up one bit. This was her chance to show off what she could do. Not only that but she was the one to bring this information to her mother. If there really was a spirit haunting this house than she helped her with her job.

“I’m surprised you are able to keep up Rose.”

“One hundred perfect power!” This was more of a rally for herself to continue moving forward than a response. “I can do this. I’m not that weak.”

“I would carry that sword for you, but I’m pretty sure I’d be arrested as soon as I take it.” Hitomi offered the best assistance she could.

“Rose can do it. It’s not that far away if the map she gave me is correct.”

“It should be right. Ken might be weird but he’s not a liar. Probably.”

“I doubt he’d lie about this. After all, he basically prides himself on his ability to sense ghosts.”

“I see, so he’s sensitive to spirits. Given what I know about this boy that probably doesn’t help with how he acts. Well, if he actually sensed the ghost himself it gives some validity to this. Rose, take these.” Morgan took a set of six talismans and place it in her daughter's hands. “One on each cardinal direction. One on the front step, one on the roof.”

“Concentrated Containment Barrier?”

“Correct. Spirits that act as ghosts tend to try to escape as soon as they come into contact with someone with enough power to get rid of them. A tight barrier around the house will help in trapping it.”

“Ghosts like to run away, so use a tight barrier. Got it.” Rose nodded her head as she rand over the talismans with her fingers. She repeated this over and over in her head until they reached the alleged haunted house. “Hitomi, can you help me out?”

“Sure.” With no hesitation Hitomi took one of the talismans and began looking for a way to get onto the roof.

“Alright, I can’t let Hitomi beat me!” Rose placed the front step talisman and positioned herself where the sun was rising from to place the east one. From there she placed the west one. Getting the northern and southern ones were basically guessing, but as long as it was close the barrier would form. Once all five were down she returned to her mother’s side. She was watching over the two of them as they preformed. Once Rose returned, Morgan took the blade out of its sheath. Hitomi was already waiting for her to return so she took the loss.

“I only had to place one. There was no way you’d be able to run back and forth and beat me.”

“I know, but I thought if I ran I could.”

“It’s alright, as long as they are placed it doesn’t matter who was done first. Rose, do you remember the incantation to activate this particular barrier?”

“Nope!” Rose answered honestly. Lying would be found out immediately. While she could remember the names of the techniques she learn, the processes were very complicated most of the time.

“I suppose that’s fine. Listen up, it’s fairly long.” Morgan took a deep breath and released it. “Oh light of heaven, follow the path of radiance. From the northern mountains to the eastern sun. Cross the river in the south to the ocean in the west. Let none stop your travel. The lanterns of the faithful guide your path. Pray that your journey last until the heavens call you back.” She spoke in a almost song like tone. It was plain english otherwise. The effect was minimal, but clear. A thin blue seemed to surround the house. “You two did well, the barrier is up. Let’s head inside. Hitomi, don’t leave either of our sides.”

“Of course. I’m not very good with scary things.”

“Don’t worry, this isn’t like one of those haunted houses they do near Halloween. In fact, your curse may serve to help us. Ghosts are slippery, but you don’t need to use your sight to see them.”

“I’ll do what I can.”

“Rose, if you find it without me, please yell. Use a smaller barrier to trap it. Leave the extermination to me.”

“No problem!” Rose gave a thumbs up and walked inside the building. Hitomi followed right behind her, matching her step perfectly. “For someone who said you’ll do what you can, you really are scared huh?”

“I can’t help it. Maybe I should stick with Mrs. Edith instead.”

“I’m right here. You guys walked three steps.” Morgan laughed, looking around the halls that extended forward for the ghost. “This place is huge. Does anyone live here?”

“I don’t think so. But there is furniture. Maybe someone does live here but they are scared?”

“I can understand that. I wouldn’t sleep in this house if you paid me. I don’t hear anything nearby. We’ll probably have to search.”

“As expected. Let’s start the search. I’ll handle the first floor. Rose, take Hitomi and search the second floor.”

“Alright. We’ll start of the other side of the house.”

“Smart girl. Get going.” Morgan patted rose on the head and began searching the first room she saw. After basking in the praise for a second, Rose got serious and began moving towards to the end of the initial corridor.

“Who lives in a place this big? A family of thirteen?” Rose looked back at Hitomi, who was hiding behind her.

“Probably just someone who is rich. People have useless rooms all the time just to have a bigger house.”

“I would just put a bunch of secret rooms and mazes in a house this big.” Hitomi took a second to imagine the kind of house Rose described. She did her best not to laugh at her idea but Rose knew by now how Hitomi stopped her laughter. “Come on, who wouldn’t want a house like that?!”

“I suppose you are right. It’s just, this situation and that remark. They are so different I couldn’t help but laugh. I’m back to being scared don’t you worry.”

“Don’t worry, I’ll protect you. I might be small, but I practice every day for just this.”

“I trust in you. Doesn’t help much with the whole scary haunted house, but it’s nice to know.”

“Then let’s finish this quickly. Mom will take care of this ghost!” Rose ran up the stairs, looking around the top of the staircase but not noticing anything out of place. The second floor seems even more lifeless than the first floor. The furniture that lined the hall was covered with a thick sheet of dust. The air was stagnate. Hitomi seemed to inch closer to Rose as her fear increased. “Do you hear anything?”

“No. Nothing.”

“Tell me when you hear the faintest noise. Since spirits can move through walls we’ll have to jump at every chance.”

“Understood. Just don’t move far away from me.”

“I won’t. I might be here to catch the spirit, but making sure you are ok is my priority. I’ll tell you this as many times as I need to!” Rose slapped her hand to her mouth, then hit her head with said hand. “Stupid. I can’t yell.” She laughed in embarrassment before starting to walk forward. It was a slow walk with the intent to not make noise. They managed to get half way down the hall before Hitomi spoke up.

“Third room to the right. It’s faint from here so I might be a room off, but that’s my best guess.”

“Got it. Stay behind me ok? Who knows- wait you do.”

“It seems scared, but I’m too far away to hear anything clearly. If we get any closer it might hear us.”

“I’m going to rush it. Is my mom in range?”

“I already told her where it was.”

“You are the best. Alright here goes!” Rose ran forward sword in hand. Despite the rush she seemed to be in, she took the time to open the door normally. “Freeze- ah wait!” Before she could even process the situation she saw the spirit dip beneath the floor. “I forgot to seal the room. Rose…” Hitomi tapped her shoulder, reminding her that she wasn’t alone. “Right. Sorry, I shouldn’t look that pathetic in front of you. Come on, I’m sure mom caught the ghost already!” With her energy refilled she ran down the stairs and into the room beneath the one they were just in. On the front of the door was nine talismans. “A two layered, one way barrier. She really wasn’t taking any risks.” The pattern looked a lot like a large H, with four talismans in two rows with a single one in the middle. Rose only knew such things were possible. Creating something like this was far beyond her level.

“It’s a good thing I used a one way field. You should check such a thing before you open the door in case that would break the seal.”

“Ahahaha… sorry. I was just-”

“No need to beat yourself up over it. I know you better than you’d probably like to admit. Takes this as a prime example as to why you might want to spend the extra effort to use directional barriers. If you have to worry about someone breaking the seal by breaking the seal somehow it’s best to make sure you define where so that nothing can break it.” Morgan took her time explaining things. Rose nodded her head in understanding at each word. All negativity washed away from her mind. “That smile suits you more than anything else. Come, let’s deal with that spirit.”

“Yeah!”

“Not to ruin this nice family moment but this spirit seems to be quite scared.”

“As scared as you?”

“I would like if you didn’t make that comparison. I’m scared because this place is scary. This ghost is scared-”

“Because it fears it’s death, correct?” Morgan finished her sentence. Hitomi nodded. “I will give you a chance to air your grievances. Take your true form.” As commanded, the hazy spirit took a human form before them. It was a man not much older than Morgan, dressed in a suit and tie like any normal office worker.

“It seems my time has come. I knew it had to happen being so close to a shrine. Forgive me for running, I’ll accept my fate if you listen to me.”

“Very well. Rose, prepare a judgement.”

“Yes!” This being her final chance to do something, Rose jumped on the chance. It was a complicated procedure that was reserved for spirits that weren’t hostile. It was the merciful option of taking out a spirit. Rose began in earnest as he began.

“I was killed here around two years ago during an attempted break in. I was able to put up a fight but I wasn’t prepared for the small knife he had. Ever since my passing this house has been empty. I was quite rich, so my family must be still paying for this house since no one seems to come by. They cleaned up the mess of the invasion but other than that the occasional person.”

“I’m not here to hear your life story, please be concise.”

“Forgive me. It’s been a long time since I had the chance to talk to someone. I don’t know how I ended up like this, but I have a guess. My daughter. She was the jewel in my life. To think that she is suffering out there is too much. She never came back here after I was killed. Before I go, can I get your word to make sure my family is ok?”

“Mrs. Edith. I can handle that.” Hitomi spoke up, which gave the okay that she had gathered all of the information they needed.

“We shall respect your wish. Rose, are you ready?”

“Ummm, I think so? Probably!” Rose rose from the ground with both hands. She had placed clean talismans around the ghost and spent most of the time given to her making sure they were in the right spots. “I wish for the best mister.” Rose took out her shortsword and stabbed it through the nearest talisman. “O great judge of hell hear my plea. Forgive this soul for avoiding your judgement. As a disciple of the god of luck I vouch on his soul to be judged as if it had died in peace.” There was a flash of light in the room that blinded the three within it. When their eyes adjusted to the darkness the spirit was gone and the talismans had been filled in. Rose took out her sword from the talisman and read it outloud. “Accepted. That’s good.”

“He had his life stolen from him. He will be judged fairly I’m sure. Hitomi.”

“Yes. His daughter’s name is Yuuna Yamashita. She should be around 17. Sorry, I don’t have much else. It was like all he had was what was keeping him here.”

“Spirits tend to only be aware of why they aren’t dead, and nothing else. I’m just glad that you could find that much out. Rose, let’s clean up.”

“This house is pretty big. I don’t think we could clean it in a day.”

“I meant the talismans. You two can handle the ones here. I’ll get the ones outside.”

“Leave it to us.” Rose gave her mother a thumbs up before she left. “Well?! Wasn’t that cool!?”

“Indeed. I’m impressed you remember such a chant.”

“Hehehe~ It’s one of the basics so I practiced it almost every night.”

“What were the other talismans for?”

“They have the other decisions. It’s a way to show whether it was successful or not. See, this one says ‘Denied Judgement’. The other two say ‘Consideration’ and ‘Ascended’. Usually a spirit is either accepted or denied. I think. That’s all I’ve ever seen.”

“So you don’t need them if you don’t care what you get?”

“I guess. Actually, you might still need one. I have to stab one of them for sure.”

“That makes sense? I don’t know. Can we turn the lights on now? It’s still really creepy in here.”

“But we are just going to take off the talismans and then leave?”

“I guess me talking without helping isn’t helping my case huh?”

“Hmm… yeah that seems right. It’s ok, it doesn’t take long. I already got these four. Let’s get the door ones and get out so you can be happy again!” Rose ran to the door and began taking off the nine talismans. Hitomi followed her out, making sure the door was closed when Rose was done. As she said, Rose did everything quickly. Thanks to how close they were to the entrance they were able to leave within seconds. “There we go. No more scary house.”

“I wasn’t that scared.”

“Liar.”

“Maybe. So now what? You took care of the ghost, do you go collect something?”

“Well since we took this job on our own, we leave something to say we did it, let the people see that it really is gone, and get more customers for it.”

“And you’ll walk back like we walked here? Makes sense. It must be tough to always try to be in the spotlight to increase business.”

“I like it. People are so nice. They always say I do a good job.”

“Oh, now that I think about it, what does all of that look like to someone who can’t sense spirits?”

“As silly as you probably think it does. They can’t hear it, can’t see it, and most spirits can’t interact with the physical world so even if they tried to do something they couldn’t. Still, if people believe we are doing something it’s the same as if they could see it.” Morgan answered as she returned with the six talismans from around the house. “I would say it’s tough but it really isn’t. There hasn’t been a real threat in years.”

“What would be a real threat? Like a kaiju?”

“That would be interesting. Let’s see… something the size of a building or two would be quite hard to fight. The destruction would be huge as well. Yeah, I’d call that a real threat. Rose could handle it I’m sure. At that point being an adult or a child wouldn’t be that different.”

“I can’t take on something that big. I’m not strong like you are.”

“Maybe, but you have something I don’t. You ability is incredible, don’t cut it short.”

“She’s right. You could probably take on any threat.”

“Hmmm.. If you say so. I still need to train to make sure I can.”

“Your diligence is admirable. Come, let’s return home. You were the one to get rid of the ghost, so feel free to take the lead.”

“Really?! Ok. I’ll take the lead!” Rose stood up as straight as she could, walking in a very awkward, stiff way. The other two couldn’t find it in themselves to tell her as compared to how dull Rose seemed to be throughout the day right now she was glowing.

“I feel like she is putting too much pressure on herself. Make sure she doesn’t implode on herself.”

“We can agree on that. She’ll be fine, she’s strong. It’s because I was here that she felt like every mistake she made was so much bigger than it was. Next time I’m sure she’ll be normal.”

“It’s frustrating knowing you know my daughter better than I do.”

“Even if I do, there is only so much I can do. You’ll do what you can, I do what I can.”

“Just make sure you don’t throw away your youth. You only get to be young once.”

“Believe me I try my best. Rose, you are about to trip-” Before she could finish her sentence the girl fell to the ground.

“How did you know I would fall?!” Rose got up without a scratch on her. “Actually don’t answer that. I see the small ledge right there. No matter, no small fall can stop me! Forward.”

“Forward.” Hitomi mimicked her and began to walk beside her. “Rose, should we go to the high school next?”

“That’s probably the most likely place huh? We’d have to go during the school day.”

“Let’s skip school.”

“Eh?!” The suggestion was ludacris, yet she knew Hitomi was serious. Rose struggled to justify skipping school, but in the end she nodded. “A-A new experience?” It was her best justification. Hitomi nodded her head in agreement. Even though she wasn’t fully sure that it was a good idea, she knew that if she left everything to Hitomi everything would be ok.