Chapter 19: THE RELUCTANT NECROMANCER
With the people outside viewing the closing of great big doors, the necromancer in the Great Hall still had the same problem she had before when she was being attacked by a skeleton outside. She was still surrounded by almost half a hundred angry souls who all wanted her to do their bidding. She felt bad for the soul of Myron who was so close to getting what he wanted before Brynn was attacked, and now he was stuck at her side some more. She felt bad, she thought, until Myron then became as nasty as the rest and really started bemoaning Brynn the fact that she had yet to fulfill her promise.
The poor girl. It seemed nobody would understand her frustrations with the whole mess, and all she wanted to do was turn it off, turn off the ability to see them. It had worked so well on the cliffs when she was so lonely without her family, and Jimmy seemed to appear to her as a sort of friend, an imaginary friend, she believed, until he told her a wide variety of facts she would have never known, facts that checked out, not just lies she might have been telling herself. And now she was here, being bombarded by demands. Jimmy had proven himself a real spirit when she, one day, closed her eyes and stepped into the woods, allowing Jimmy to direct her with his voice, keeping her from walking into any of the trees or stepping over fallen logs and branches.
That felt like a long time ago.
Brynn decided the best method might be to just pretend that she didn’t hear them. They didn’t know whether or not she really could, and if she just pretended to be like everyone else in the room, and ignore the fact they were there, and not see them, and not react to them (even when they shouted how much they were beginning to hate her), then they would soon get the picture that this girl had lost her ability and go back to sulking in whatever corner of the room they had come from.
But, this also hurt Brynn’s heart. She was a kind girl, and she would love to help everyone out, but not all at the same time, and she also felt she owed it to Jimmy to help him first. Jimmy and Myron, at least, now because she had a deal with Myron. All the other ones could wait their turn.
As the souls shouted at her, she didn’t feel like they were going to give up on this so easily. Brynn could ignore JJ for five minutes, before her younger brother would give up and move along. If the spirits had been dead a century, she knew it was going to be a long while before they stopped shouting at her. If they had the ability to pick up objects, Brynn knew she would be dodging tomatoes and chairs. The spirit mob was growing restless, their presence one big ebb and flow of souls rotating around the room. They could only shout, and their inability to do much else increased their shouting, which began to really grate on Brynn’s nerves.
She felt a stinging behind her eyes, and knew emotions were welling up in her, emotions she tried to bury deep inside, and would be embarrassed to show now. She couldn’t remember the last time someone was so angry with her, and she knew for a fact this was the first time a crowd was rather upset with her decisions.
She knew if she let them get to her, if she let the voices in, she would cry. Her eyes would well up, and a tear would escape down her face. So, she sang loudly in her head (and in her head, is the only place she could sing on key) and she chewed the inside of her cheek, and she focused her eyesight on Kyrstin standing on the, what Brynn called “a stage with chairs” and she tried to focus on what everyone was saying in the room.
“Quiet!” A voice bellowed right next to Kyrstin. “For the Heavens sakes, shut your traps!”
It was the Queen! Or the Ex-Queen, Brynn corrected herself, because if it was Queen Jenniffer, a lot more problems would have been solved, but no, this was Queen Grace, the spirit, the dead Queen whose murder had started everything. The matriarch who ruled Springborough for a generation and then retired to a cottage in the woods to escape the pressures of being a royal. She ended up dying in the woods, and by the look on her face, she was exasperated that she had still not, even in death, escaped the pains of royals life.
“What good is it going to do to shout at this poor girl? You all sound like a bunch of babies, of children whining and crying that you haven’t gotten your way.”
To Brynn’s amazement, the room did quiet down. The spirits listened to their ghost Queen, probably as obediently as they had listened to her when all of them were alive. Brynn, breaking out of her trance at trying to pretend like she couldn’t hear everyone, chanced a look around at all of them, and all of them were looking at the ground. And now, of course, because it seemed that being a good person also meant being on an emotional roller coaster, the necromancer felt bad for them, a complication of emotions since she felt she had now gotten them in trouble by forcing them to feel like they had to yell at her to get her attention.
“You haven’t been seen by a living being in quite some time, and so when you do, you all lose your manners and force her to pretend like she can’t hear you. You made this girl, who can talk with the dead, not want to talk with the dead anymore! How shameful. How shameful you make her hate her gift for seeing you, and in such a short amount of time. For shame.”
Brynn was only so aware that the living people in the room were going on without her with their own conversations and plans-making. She felt stuck in the middle between the dead and the living. The living would go on without her, the dead had been without her, and so now she belonged nowhere. Jimmy, Myron, and the Queen- Brynn had begun to make a list in her head of the spirits she needed to help first and foremost, and she felt that it wasn’t going to be uncommon that the spirits that made it to the top of her list were also going to be the ones most kind to her.
“Your majesty, if I may,” Myron began, sheepishly, like when Brynn first met him. His mustache slightly bushy, those steel blue eyes still piercing. “The young girl and I had a deal, and I was just trying to make sure she honored it.”
“I don’t recognize you,” the Queen responded. “Who are you?”
“Myron. Myron Blacksmith. I ran The Dry Mermaid down at the Docks of Cornwall Waters. I had just come into town yesterday for supplies,” Myron said, but on the word supplies, Brynn noticed he looked away. As if that was only a half-truth. But the man continued on, “when I was killed. I would just like my bones to be laid underneath the docks. That is all I seek.”
“You died yesterday? Yesterday?!” The Queen began.
And just like that, the incredulousness in her voice gave rise to the other spirits in the room, and the Great Hall erupted in arguments and echoes. Myron, knowing that the animosity was now geared toward him, retreated back into his collarbone shell, and hung his head to look at the ground. In a way, he was right, but in so many others ways- it was wrong for him to try to put himself at the front of the line. Brynn, for her part, stood back and watched everything unfold. She had felt so alone just moments before, and now she realized that if there was one person who hated being in charge of so much, who just wanted moments to herself to breathe and relax, it was Queen Grace.
It is nice to have a partner in the annoyance, Brynn thought. Doesn’t make me feel so bad.
“Pardon me for saying this, Myron Blacksmith of The Dry Mermaid, but perhaps you should wait in line. There are spirits in this room that I remember their deaths happening when I was just a girl. I do recognize most of you,” the Queen said, and her voice carried across the room, and it was amazing to Brynn just how much more noticeable the transparent figures had become to her over the living shapes of the royal children, her brother, and the guards. “I recognize you, and I am so ashamed that I could have ruled Springborough; that I could have focused on trying to achieve a better kingdom for the living, and not recognized there were all of you with your own plights being grossly ignored. If I am happy about anything with my death, it is the fact that I am now able to see you again. And I’m grateful that we have this young girl, Brynn of Quakenfalls, to be here to help us.
But, she’s not going to help us if you scare her off. Well, let’s be honest, you won’t scare this one off. Why, the first time I saw her, I jumped out at her in the middle of the woods, and she sent an arrow flying through my chest where my heart was. Brynn is a very brave, and agile, young girl. Smart as a whip, too. I have no doubt she can help us all, but the fact remains-… I retired to the cottage because I was tired of people, people like yourselves, coming into my home and shouting demands at me. Asking me to put more effort into their lives than they were doing. And, so I would not fault Brynn if she were to tell you to all go stick your heads in the mud, because she wasn’t going to help anyone.
“And the fact remains, let me remind you, that we are all prisoners of our remains, and that we all don’t have a stone of weight to inflict any damage if we wanted to. All Brynn would have to do is walk the required amount of steps away from this castle, and this kingdom, and she would be untouchable, unaccessible to all of us. So, perhaps we should treat her with a modicum of appreciation, a touch of respect, and as much patience as she might need in order for her to do our bidding. Am I right, Brynn?”
Brynn, now being directly addressed by the Queen, and with all the other eyes of the spirits on her, stood in the middle of the Great Hall. For what it was worth, Brynn couldn’t figure out her next move. It all seemed to her that life changed very quickly, but never her goals. Her main thought was finding her parents, and staying in Springborough was getting her no closer to that specific task. She could see herself helping out everyone in the room, but what good was that going to do her? The minute she helped out a spirit, they were going to disappear, leaving her with less than when she started. Was this what being unselfish was? Where was the reward?
She did not like thinking of rewards for good behavior, but she also did not like thinking there was no reward for good behavior.
“I do not know the future,” Brynn began, hating the fact that she started off so predictably, “but I can see my abilities can help out a great number of you. So, let me be clear. I have one goal, and that is to find my parents. Through happenstance and circumstance, I found myself in the company of all of you, and I would like this to all work out in the end. So, as long as you know my goal, I will be open to hearing yours.”
The spirits began to smile, and mumble to each other, and the room was beginning to get out of hand again.
“Silence!” Brynn shouted, taking a cue from the dead Queen. In her peripheral vision, she saw Princess Kyrstin jump at her sudden shout. Brynn was not finished with her speech, and she needed them to know that as well. “I realize the plight of the living is lost on the dead. You do not have to fear mortality anymore. But, there is a great number of things happening to Springborough. I need you all to open your eyes to this. Attacking skeletons, storms, dead Queens, missing parents. So, you help out the living, and I will employ the living to help out the dead, and then you won’t have to wait so long for what you want.”
The spirits looked at her, and she looked back. They then looked at the Queen, which made sense, for Brynn was still just a girl. And as the spirits looked at the Queen, the necromancer looked at the royal children, who looked back at her.
“How many spirits do you see?” Kyrstin asked.
And as the Queen nodded, holding her hand to her heart, and dismissing them all, Brynn sighed a sigh of happiness. The situation was under control, it seemed.
“Myron, stay,” Brynn said, realizing the spirit was hanging his head as he had just been so close, so close to heavenly eternity, and now he was sent back into a sort of line.
“Myron?” said Jage’s first mate, the sailor known as Juba. Myron looked at the sailor, recognizing the clothes, but not necessarily the man.
Brynn turned to Kyrstin, and sighed again, trying to show the fact that she was in a tight situation, but that she was also handling it.
“Enough,” Brynn replied, not really understanding why that was her answer. “I see enough spirits.”