Noir tried to get off the ground. But when he stood up, he couldn't breathe.
Out of the smoke, a body emerged from the black smoke. The dark, black creature hissed at him. Noir started to crawl away from it. Its eyes locked onto him.
What the hell was this thing? Noir had no point of reference for it, not based on his experience. It looked and smelled like a Ghost to him. A translucent thing of ectoplasm and memories.
Noir put up his hands to defend himself. The creature approached him slow, each of its seven legs clicking at they touched the ground. Its purple eyes seemed fixated on Noir. He felt like something cold was burrowing its way into his chest.
"What the hell are you, little thing?" Noir coughed. The smoke was still making it hard to breathe.
It hissed back at him.
Well, things were continuing to go as badly as they had before, hadn't they?
He focused on the creature. Noir felt a wall behind him, limiting how far he could go back. Noir could feel Xia shuddering near him as well. Something about this thing scared her so much she managed to trigger a reaction in her corpse.
Noir recognized part of that feeling from her. He could smell the smell of a soul in anguish, like a poltergeist reaching out in a temper tantrum. "It smells and looks like a ghost, but does that mean I can treat it like a ghost?"
"Spirit. Tainted. Dark." Xia robotically replied, so very little of her mind still there. Noir poured a bit of his own emotions into Xia's Corpse. He forced himself to feel confidence, and shared it with her, through the ephemeral correspondences they shared. She stopped shaking.
He turned his attention to the slow moving ectoplasmic creature. Noir decided to try something. "Stop, please."
"Crap. You walk with the ghosts, creature. I speak to them. I ask you, please, explain yourself."
A figure emerged from the black smoke behind the creature. The figure wore a ornate mask. It looked like the head of a chinese dragon, but golden runes, kanji and other symbols covered it. The figure stood, his arms bent and ready, his legs in a stance.
The figure caught the creature's attention, turning to face him. Noir could feel power weave between the two of them. Noir sensed fear from the creature, the smoke bellowing around it grew frightful. It was scared of this figure.
The dragon-masked figure pointed a finger at the creature. "Don't be surprised when you enter the home of a member of Neven unbidden, spirit. Plenty of warning."
Noir's eyes widened as he saw trees, vines, grasses and fungus flow through the wall of the house. Each hole, window or crack flowed with plant life, all following the direct control of the figure. Extensions of his will, forced to obey the Dragon-Masked man's commands.
Noir shook his head. Noir whispered. "Ask. Never take."
The young man helped his mentor out of the ruins of the house. The hurricane had taken it down. And it had killed most of the rest of the neighborhood.
"Why- why did they let this happen?"
His mentor, native of New Orleans and twenty years older than her apprentice, shook her head in sorrow. "Unwise decisions, boy. You can't change it now. Skin color and money. Tis the way of the world."
Tears filled the boy's eyes.
"We can bring them back, though, can't we? Can't we fix this?"
She shook her head again. "No."
"We speak to the dead, we can raise the dead, why can't we help them- why can we use them to teach them all a lesson?"
"Noir, what is our first law, boy?" Marie Samedi asked her apprentice.
"Ask. Never take." Noir closed his eyes. He whispered the question. When he opened his eyes, tears filled him. "Oh no. No, no no no."
Marie hugged Noir. She put her her head on his shoulder. "Yes. This is the sort of thing we can't change. Respect the dead or you make monsters. We have to ask, or we aren't any better than the people who let this happen."