Chapter 11: THE NECROMANCER'S CROWD
It was as Brynn feared. A town of several living people had to carry its fair share of spirits. As soon as she made her way out into the sunlight with Myron (the spirit) behind her, and the group of spirits that collected in the castle beyond them, the town erupted in activity. Not living activity, but rather Brynn saw several transparent figures with their glowing eyes peeking out from the corners of buildings, the dark doorways. She sighed, keeping her eyes down, pretending that the sun was hurting her vision, but trying not to let on that she could see them. It was of no use, though, as the spirits noticed the other spirits following her, and now every dead thing in Springborough’s curiosity was peaked.
Myron was apparently the owner of an establishment in Fortis called The Dry Mermaid, a drinking establishment that garnered its share of crooks and pirates, but mainly sailors. He talked of how the bar always had a dozen or so men inside, complete with stories of the sea, tales of the currents. He loved his bar, but a month ago, he left it to come to the town in order to restock some of his liquor. It was in Springborough he died, his body hidden in one of the huts close to the castle.
He simply wants Brynn to discover it, he said, and bury it. He knows he was murdered, but he was so discombobulated by dying that he doesn’t know by whom. He had an idea his pockets would be empty of the coins he brought to buy the rum and other bottles, and so he figured that he was killed for money, and would Brynn be kind enough to check if he was right?
“Don’t you want to know who killed you?” Brynn asked under her breath as Myron walked by her side, his arm around her shoulder, leading her. Although, she couldn’t feel his arm at all, she did feel a concentrated cold breeze around her back where his arm was. Like a cold current when standing in the ocean, it certainly wasn’t welcome, but she didn’t have the heart to tell him that. She simply kept on, and tried to send more blood to the parts of her body that were shivering internally while her skin baked in the sunlight.
“Sure, I would like to know who killed me, but who’s going to figure it out? You? You’re just a girl,” Myron responded, offending Brynn.
Just a girl, Brynn thought. Just a girl who can hunt for her own dinner, who can send an arrow through the heart of a squibbix from five hundred feet away. Just a girl who can commune with the dead, and help countless carry on with their after lives. Just a girl who saved a Princess yesterday from certain death, who, through her wit, helped squash the storm of evil spirits, and perhaps save everyone’s life in this town. Just a girl, Brynn thought. People should be afraid of such phrasing.
“It’s coming up here.”
“How long have you been dead?” Brynn asked.
“Just a day. Just yesterday during the storm.”
“Yesterday? And I’m helping you first?”
“It’s not my fault these spirits are used to being ignored. I’m a business owner. For me, time used to be money. You didn’t waste it. But now, time is eternity, and there’s no point waiting for it to start.”
Just as they were to make a turn deeper into the town, the ghost of a girl jumped out into Brynn’s way. The necromancer stopped, even though she could have walked straight through the apparition, and not let on that she could see the girl, but she stopped, and the girl’s eyes got wide with surprise and hope. Those eyes- those solid windows of emotion. No matter how many dead eyes Brynn saw, they seemed to always to creep her out. She got the heebie-jeebies with every bit of eye contact with any one of them.
“You can see me?” The girl, no older than ten, exclaimed in question.
“She can see all of us. Now, scram!” Myron growled, reaching for Brynn’s hand, and grasping right through it, but chilling it to the bone.
“Please, help me!”
“Wait your turn!” Myron kicked out at the girl, who dodged him. The spirits from the castle started to gather behind Brynn, equally annoyed that this girl beggar spirit would demand an audience with their necromancer before they themselves would be heard.
“Please…” The girl said, on the verge of spirit tears.
“I promised to help this man first,” Brynn told the girl, in what was perhaps the dead girl’s first conversation with a living being in who knows how long. “And then, I assume, I should help these spirits behind me. From there, we’ll try to work it out where I can help everyone. But, I am just one person, and this isn’t my home, so we’ll have to do this all quickly.”
“Do you know of anyone else like you?” The girl asked, as if their was a convention of people who commune with the dead. “Perhaps you can get some assistants.”
“Miriam!” A spirit cried, coming around the corner. Brynn realized, as her heart sank, that this new spirit was the little girl’s mother. She not only felt sadness thinking of her own mother, Jaklyn, who went North up the coast a couple months ago, but felt sad that this dead girl had a dead mother. She had experienced more loss than Brynn could ever imagine. “Miriam! Where are you going?”
“She can see us, mommy,” the girl said, pointing at Brynn, and before she had a second thought, Brynn locked eyes with the mother. Miriam’s mother knelt down at Brynn’s feet, sobbing.
“Bless you. Bless you for being here. We’ve waited so long for you!”
But now, the interruption was getting to be too much for the crowd behind Brynn and Myron, and the spirits began yelling at Miriam and her mother to leave them alone, to “wait their turn”, to “get in the back.” The yelling from the spirits brought more attention from spirits about the village, and pretty soon Brynn was standing in the middle of a dirty, dusty alleyway, surrounded by two story buildings that partially blocked out the sun, in the center of a crowd of glowing, misty spirits with their solid eyes either crying or furrowed in anger. She was only so conscious that if she looked hard enough through the spirits to the end of the alley, that live people, Springborough residents, were looking at her, this girl of fourteen spinning in circles, looking this way and that, and trying to calm down the anxieties of dozens of invisible souls.
“Please, stop. Stop fighting. We need to think of a way for this to work. Please, stop, or I swear I will not help any of you!” Brynn shouted, above their noise only she could hear.
“Blast it, help me! We’re almost there,” Myron demanded.
Brynn felt like she had to bring order to the crowd. After all, this was her fault in a way. She knew that if she was not there, and that if she did not have her ability, these spirits would be doing what they always have done- waiting for something new to happen. They were fighting over her, after her attention, and while she tried to get their attention, she also began taking a head count of just how many people she was going to have to help in Springborough to be able to consider her job done. One dozen, two dozen, three dozen- she counted by twos, estimating when she felt that some were moving and she might have counted them twice.
Something in the back caught her attention for a split second; something too smooth, a spirit that seemed less transparent, but she was in the middle of her head count and couldn’t go back just yet until she was done.
Fifty-two… Brynn came up with the number. Fifty-two. If I helped one a week, it’d be a whole year before I was done. If I helped four a day, it’d still take two weeks.
And that wasn’t even everyone as more spirits were showing up. It was almost enough to send her mad-
There it was again. The smooth head of one of the spirits. Not moving through them, like all of these spirits seemed to be doing. It would appear personal space is lost on the dead as when they pushed and clamored to the front, it was actually just a tide of dead faces coming toward Brynn. From what she could tell, spiritual bodies were like polar opposite magnets- they repelled each other. So when a new face came to the front by walking through another spirit, the second spirit would be repelled behind the first. And since all the spirits were trying to get an audience with Brynn, it was just a constant sea swell of faces and eyes. She’d focus on the closest ones, and pretty soon they would change out for a new row of beings. If Brynn focused hard enough, it was enough to make her nauseous.
Except for the one… The one that was getting closer.
The one, as Brynn could soon see, that was simply a skeleton. The skeleton of a young boy, no older than Brynn, still wearing his vest and pants, and clenched in his boney hand- a knife with blood on it.