Pumpkin King

Chapter 8

Erk groaned. He couldn't remember anything, but he could tell that he was sitting somewhere cold. He tried to sit up, but found his hands tied to a beam behind him. His eyes shot open in panic as he struggled to break free. For a second, he started hyperventilating. But then he managed to calm himself down. He closed his eyes and took a deep breath.

Then it all came rushing back to him.

He and Dante had been holding off the zombies while Julio was staring into his lacrima. But no matter what they did, the corpses would just get right back up. Dante's earth gauntlets gave him some protection, but Erk wasn't so lucky. He had to be careful when he hit someone or else they'd latch on to him. Yet careful as he was he still ended up with scratches and bruises after every hit.

They were starting to tire when Julio shouted, "Found her!"

"Are you sure?" Erk asked, taking a quick glance back.

"Yeah. She's the only person around here that doesn't look dead."

"Well where is she?" Dante asked with a grunt. A zombie tried jumping on him, but he threw his arm back and sent its head rolling. Literally. Its head popped off its shoulders and rolled onto the ground. The body went rigid before it fell to the ground in a heap. That seemed to say something to the zombies. They all started backing off, leaving their defeated comrade lying on the ground.

"On a hill just south of here." Julio answered.

Dante nodded, wiping sweat off his brow with an arm. In the distance, he could see the outlines of the zombies as they regrouped. Then he said, "What are you waiting for, Erk? Get going."

Erk raised an eyebrow in surprise. "Me?"

Julio smirked and played a few notes, causing his flock of birds to circle above them. "Yeah, you. You're the fastest one here so you have a better chance of catching her before she leaves. Plus, this is your job so you're going to finish it."

Erk stared at the two and a grin slowly spread on his face. "You got it." He got into a sprinter's position and the familiar sound of a train whistles sounded. "Steam Engine!" He shot off in the direction Julio showed him. He saw a wall of zombies blocking his path but he just picked up speed and rammed straight through them. After that he didn't find any obstacles.

It didn't take long for the hill Julio mentioned to come into view. And on top of it, he saw a girl wearing black clothes. The only problem was she was staring right at him. He tried putting on the brakes, but before he could he felt a tugging sensation in his gut. Then he blacked out.

Erk opened his eyes. The girl must have done something and brought him here. In truth, he was more embarrassed than scared. His first job and he already messed up.

"Hello?" He called out. "Is anyone there?" There was no answer. Well this is going to be fun. He thought flatly. I'm sure Julio and Dante will find me soon. I just need to focus on staying alive till then.

He was snapped out of his thoughts as a clacking noise came from the other side of the door. Erk held his breath anxiously until finally, the door swung open, revealing the girl he'd seen on the hill. She looked to be around nineteen with long, dull scarlet hair and her skin was pale, giving her a frail look. She wore nothing more than a small, black mini-skirt with bright red heels along with a very revealing, black sleeveless shirt. He could only wonder how she didn't freeze in the cold mountain air.

"Finally awake, huh?" She asked in a low, husky voice. "It's about time dumbass. Its morning all already and I was getting bored of waiting for you."

Erk managed to roll his eyes. "Then you should have dumped water on me or something. That usually gets the job done."

The girl walked into the room and with every step Erk grew more and more interested in her, which had nothing to do with her revealing clothing. His only thought was that Julio would kill for his view.

"I can see up your skirt, you now. You should wear something less revealing." He said with a straight face.

"Shut up." She said with a glare. "Only perverts look up a girl's skirt." She crouched down and started poking him.

"Well I'm tied to the ground and there is no possible way to look at anything else." Erk replied, trying to ignore her poking. "And if you think I'm a perv, you should meet," he cut off his sentence and shouted, "Why are you doing that?"

The girl stopped poking him and looked him up and down. "I'm trying to figure out why you're still alive."

"Obviously it's because I'm that awesome."

"No you're not, idiot." She shot back. "I sealed you up in another dimension for ten minutes without any oxygen. Usually, when I do that to people they die. But you didn't."

"I repeat, I'm that awesome. I have magic like you've never seen." Erk said. Truthfully, he had no idea why he was alive. But maybe he'd be able to bluff his way out of this.

"No you don't." She replied flatly. "If you did, I wouldn't have been able to catch you so easily."

Erk sweat he coughed and said, "So what's your name? I want to at least know the name of the girl that's holding me."

She looked at him suspiciously. Then she said, "My name's Tamashi." She saw Erk about to say something and cut him off. "And don't think I'm being nice. I just like my servants to know who I am." Before Erk could say anything, there was a flash of light and she had a knife to his throat. "I like it when my servants were wizards." She purred. "You'll be very useful."

Erk repressed the urge to swallow. "W-Why would I be useful? I can't use magic if I'm dead." He was grasping at straws. Hopefully he could say something that would stop her cutting him open.

Tamashi smiled evilly. "Impure Resurrection." She informed him. "I'll use your corpse as a puppet. And if you happen to know magic, well that's even better. Your body will remember what to do." Her eyes brightened. "We'll have a great time together. We'll have tea parties and dances, it'll be so much fun!" Then her eyes darkened and she pressed the knife closer to his neck. "I just need you to die first."

Erk got an offended look on his face. "I don't think so." He said defiantly. "You might have my mind you won't be able to use my magic. Besides," he quickly kicked up with his legs and pushed Tamashi away. But the knife lurched with the kick, causing it to cut him slightly, "you can't expect me to go out with a fight." The guild wizard winced as a small trickle of blood started running down his neck.

Tamashi fell backwards and gave Erk a look of pure hatred. "You'll pay for that. I was going to make it quick and painless. But now I'm going to make it very slow and painful." She raised the knife to strike, but before she could, the entire room shook.

Both of them looked up as dust fell from the ceiling.

Erk gulped. "Please tell me that's you."

Tamashi shook her head. The she closed her eyes and scowled. After a few moments, her scowl deepened and her eyes snapped open. "Your friends are attacking my poor servants!" She eyed him angrily. "How did they track you here?"

Erk smirked and shrugged as the ceiling shook again. He could faintly here someone shouting above him. He hoped the ceiling wouldn't collapse on them. "Hell if I know. Those two always have some kind trick up their sleeves." This time they heard a booming noise. Erk eyed the ceiling skeptically.

Both of them practically jumped as the room shook again and they heard a creaking noise. The looked up just in time to see something punch a hole through the roof. Tamashi jumped away, behind Erk, and Erk could only close his eyes and hope nothing landed on him.

When everything settled, Erk slowly opened his eyes to find a pile of rubble right in front of him. He looked up to see a large, stone figure looking down at him. On its shoulder sat Dante, who looked a lot angrier than usual.

"You have our guild mate." He said darkly. "We've come to get him back."

Tamashi stared at him in disbelief. Then she glared at him. "You haven't beaten me yet!" She looked around frantically, but she turned around as someone whistled at her.

"Looking for this?" Julio asked from the door, waving the knife at her. Perched on his arm was one of the white birds from the graveyard. "Sorry, hot stuff. No more stabbing for you."

Tamashi glared first at him then at Dante. Then she went to her knees in defeat. "No fair! How did you find me?"

Julio took the lacrima from his pocket. "I've been watching you since last night. All we had to do was follow you."

Dante didn't wait for Tamashi to say anything before he had his golem reach down and grabbed her. Only her head stuck out from its stone fist.

Julio walked over to Erk with a confident stride and used the knife to cut him free.

Erk rubbed his sore wrists and winced. "So." He said hesitantly. "Not too good for my first job, huh?"

Dante jumped off his golem's shoulder and landed in the basement with a solid thump. "I don't know." He said, his light attitude returning. "On one hand, you got kidnapped by our target. On the other hand, you managed to survive the entire thing with only a little cut on your neck." He and Julio shared a look. "So I'd say that it was a job well done."

Erk looked confused. "Huh?"

Dante smiled a big grin. "Completely a job isn't about doing everything right. It's about getting the job done without anyone getting hurt. Old man Rivet is going to be happy and even though you messed up, you didn't wet yourself like Julio did on his first mission."

"Hey!" Julio shouted angrily.

Dante ignored him and extended a hand to Erk. "Come on. Let's get you cleaned up."

Erk took the hand and pulled himself up. He looked up through the hole and passed the struggling Tamashi to see that Dante had crashed through two different floors before he reached the cellar. There were bodies scattered everywhere.

"No fair." He said. "You got the fun part."

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