Chapter 8

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There was something opulent about the room of darkness Irene stumbled upon. When walking in, she noticed how a myriad of golden, glittering objects glistening against the shadows of the walls created by the pulsing rays shooting out from the object in her cupped hands. The necklace, glowing in her hand, was among many of the treasures. 

It was made up of many small, twisted oval links plaited together in one direction. Weaved into the middle of the little, there was a pendant — this was a circular, purple gem with a glittering, golden rim engraved in a language Irene believed to be long forgotten. And rays of light blared against her eyes. 

"Wow," Irene muttered. "What a hunk of junk!" She tossed it behind her: she had no use for it. As far as she was concerned, anything that couldn't be used as a device for protection against the pirates was useless. A necklace would only increase their ire against her. 

"How rude." 

Irene whipped around to the shadows of the room, but she couldn't see anyone in the outlines of the vault. "What?" she called out, her quavering voice searching every inch of the vault. Please, she prayed, don't be pirates. Don't be pirates. "Who said—" Irene, squinting, spotted an airy figure in the dim light with shaggy layers of short, forest green hair. 

A scream shot out of her lungs. And she stumbled backward into a mound of gold coins. "Please, don't kill me. Don't kill me." 

"I have no intention of murdering anyone," the airy figure said. 

At first, Irene had no reply. She was too focused on the attire of the airy figure, who looked like the ringleader of a circus. The hem of a coat tightened around a wide waist, appearing to fit a curveless frame, but at the same time, it draped around a skirt checkered in red and black squares.

"You're not a pirate?" Irene took a step toward the figure who nodded. "Then, how are you here? I would've heard you. You seem like someone with loud footsteps." 

"I've been down here long before you." The figure walked towards Irene with fingers curled into claws.

"Nah." Irene blew at her fist, ready to send the airy figuring out of the vault. It wasn't the first time she had to use her knuckles to set someone straight — well, tried to do so, at least. "No buying this shit. What you say is impossible. I would've seen you." 

"You didn't have the necklace then." The figure pointed at the necklace Irene had thrown behind her moments earlier. 

Irene glanced at the necklace she dubbed a hunk of junk. "That?" she asked with a squint. She shook her head. "You're pulling my leg, aren't you?" She huffed with a snort. "Yeah, I definitely discovered a magical necklace that brings you alive. Ha!" She slapped her leg with another snort. "Are you going to g-g-grant me a wish and wait for the next idiot to stumble into this room and grab some pirate's loot?" 

"No." The figure crossed their arms. 

"Then what in the Netherworld do you claim to be?" Irene asked, crossing her arms with a smirk. Surely, she had this liar in her grasp. 

"Dead!" the figure began to shout. At these words, Irene swayed her head with a melody of boldness: keep talking that talk. "D-e-a-d. Deceased! Not living! Extinct! Defunct! Cadaverous! Done for! Dead!" Irene was about to retort at what the figure said. Her mouth was just about opened when, the airy figure continued, "I'm a ghost. I'm literally trapped down here."

Irene bubbled with laughter. "Oh my Sun," she said, fanning herself, "this is gold," and she sat down on a barrel. "I can do it too: I'm the Duchess of Westwind." She turned her cupped hand as if turning a lightbulb.  

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