Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Dead Man Stew 5

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Noir and Bert drove around for the better part of four hours.  Noir didn't find any answers, just more questions from what they'd seen.  He found the echoes of more ghosts.  Those few ghosts he did find couldn't talk, or at least be, understandable to him.

"I had hoped at least one would've learned how to communicate to me.  Its like all of them were drowned, and that's making it hard to get clues from them."  Noir shook his head.

"At least we knew all them were killed the same way."  Bert patted him on the back as they started to prepare dinner for the Inn.  "Besides, you might be a little dependent on your abilities, you know?"

Noir didn't respond.  He was already throwing something onto the stovetop.  "I... Maybe you're right.  But I think I need more clues about what's going on here.  I need to see more of the dead... maybe if I get one of them to possess me again-"

Bert grunted in irritation.  "That sounds dangerous, boss."

Noir didn't respond to that either.  Instead he ignored Bert for awhile, and the two of them went into motion working.
During dinner, Noir didn't see any sign of Vickie, making him wonder where she'd gotten off too.  He also didn't see Jesha.

He wondered why he cared about where they were.  And why he didn't focus on one over the other.  It seemed so... chauvinistic of a instinct.

Noir spent most of his evening trying to figure out how to best deal with the ghosts.  It was outside his normal fields, really, dealing with ghosts this exclusively.  Especially without a body.

The Necromancer decided to wait until that evening.  He decided to see if more ghosts would appear, following the appearance of the first one.  If that was true, then the Inn itself might be central to what was going on.

Around midnight Noir opened his eyes, awaking with a start at the gut feeling he had.  The same gut feeling he had when something dead was near.  He got up from the chair he had been watching from, to a sight that both excited and scared him.

Ten ghosts were floating and moaning about the Inn's lobby.  More of the drowned shades meant more ectoplasmic salt water on the floor.  Noir nearly slipped onto his face when he first moved toward them.  The floor was slick with the ghostly salt water, and it almost was up to his ankles.

Each ghost floated in the air, as if floating in the water.  They stank of fish.  Seaweed covered them like it had the first ghost.  Their ectoplasmic flesh looked sickly pale.  It had become puckered.  Wrinkled too much, from being in the water for too long.  Their translucent flesh dripped watery blood.  Their eyes had gone black.  Their moaning and voices were too monotone to be intelligible anymore.

"I'm Noir.  I can help, if you-"

They reacted to Noir's movement.  Noir didn't like that.

Like rabid animals they stared at him.  They were quiet, following his every step.  Noir got the feeling they were waiting for a moment of weakness.

"Feral.  You've gone feral, haven't you?"

Some of them turned their heads.  One hissed, ectoplasmic blood spittle spraying as it did so.

A woman's voice yelled at him. "Head's UP!"

Noir turned his head just in time to not avoid the blow his skull.  A salt shaker bounced off Noir's head.  It twirled in the air behind.  The necromancer hit the ground, falling into ectoplasm.  "The ghosts... Damn it Noir!  Stupid stupid stupid!"

Noir felt the nearest ghost wrap ectoplasmic tentacles around his neck.  Something flowed into his throat, salty.  He choked, trying to cough it out.

He saw a monster.  Or was it a monster?  It giggled like a woman as it tore into the flesh of his neck... not his neck.  No, not his neck.  Noir was feeling the ghost's lonely memories flow into him.  Stronger than before.  Much stronger.

The ghost was going to drive Noir insane.

That was when the second salt shaker broke beside him.  Noir felt salt grains cover him.  The ectoplasm recoiled, the salt driving it away like ice melting in the presence of fire.

Noir coughed up the ectoplasm.  "I can't... see... breath... can't..."

A strong arm lifted him onto his feet.  "Don't worry about that yet.  C'mon.  Get behind me."

"Jesha?"  Noir recognized the voice, but he couldn't see her.  Salt blinded him.  He tried to rub it out.  He watched the scene play out through a watery, tear-stricken left eye.

Jesha stood in front of him, her dress covered in ectoplasm.  She held up another jar of salt in one hand.  In the other she had... Silver?  She dangled the silver wolfhead pendant in front of her.  The presence of the pendant drove the ghosts away.  It seemed to pain them.

"Go on!  BACK!"  Jesha swung the salt shaker, splattering it against one ghost.  It screamed, evaporating in a blaze that consumed it.  "You ain't getting this one tonight!  Understand me?"

Jesha held up the wolf head pendant, chanting.  Noir blinked, stumbling into a chair.  He watched as Jesha chanted a simple spell, powering up the pendant.  So simple she didn't realize it was a necrokinetic spell, Noir decided.  She wanted it to drive them off, so it did.

"I serve the Darkness.  His throne will rise again, as the moon rises in the sky.  His howl is salvation.  I serve the Darkness!  Lupus dei!  Lupus dei!"

The ghosts left at the sound of that chant.  The spell drove them away.  They glared begrudging at Noir as they left.

Noir felt his heart beat harder.  Was it the Inn that attracted the ghosts or him?  These feral shades, were they bidden by Noir being here or was the Inn the reason behind it.  He tried to suppress the guilt in him.

"Oh.  No, not that..."  Noir shivered.

Jesha turned to him.  Her eyes glittered in the dim light of the room.  She flipped her blue, black and red dreadlocks over her shoulder.  Without her star-shaped sunglasses, Noir could see her eyes.  They were blue, so very dark.

"Its okay, you'll be okay Noir.  Nasty things."  Jesha gave him a warm smile, pulling a chair up to him.  "Dangerous out here at night with the likes of those."

"I... don't..."  Noir shook his head.  "They shouldn't have been able to come in, at least not without-"

Jesha pointed to the decorative sign next to the door.  All Travelers Welcome, it said.


"I think I don't understand why you were down here by yourself, Noir."  Jesha pulled out a flask and took a swig from it.  "At least I don't understand what a lonely cook would be doing here by himself, and not in his room.  At least turn on the lights, you know?"

Noir didn't answer.  He tried to think of how to get out of this.  He really didn't feel like explaining himself to this person he barely knew.

Jesha continued.  "We both know I lied about myself earlier.  I could tell you read through it, but you didn't say anything.  You acted cool, real cool.  Like you've done a bit of lying to people to get things done.  Important things you only sense under the skin, you know?"

Noir stared at her.  He tried to keep a straight face.  Who was this Jesha?  Could she be the monster?

"Salt evaporates ectoplasm."  Noir observed.  "Even ghosts bathed in saltwater can't stand salt itself.  Thats a conundrum, isn't it?"

"Is it?"  Jesha replied.  "Death isn't a ending, or so I was taught.  You know these things, don't you?"

"I don't know... these ones in particular."  That sounded better in Noir's head, truth be told.

Jesha shook her head.  "Noir, I know these things too.  Don't do the fake cover with me.  I've told people what I do, and something they believe me, other times they hear what they want to.  Other times, I need a lie.  For my cover.  You?  You don't need to lie."

Noir shifted.  He wasn't sure how to respond.  "What do you think I am, Jesha?"

"Some of the old spirits call you people Deathwalkers.  Back in the middle ages your kind would talk to the dead, helping them find release.  For a special few, you'd reveal the secrets of death.  Revenants some call those, the walking dead you would make.  Sometimes that would end well, giving people closure."

Jesha grabbed a pair of glasses, pouring some of her flask into each.  She continued.  "Other times, though, they misjudge.  Dead body comes to life, and it turned into a monster.  Eats people.  Some people had to put it down.  That me.  I'm the one who puts down the messes, Necromancer."

"Necrokinetic," Noir corrected, "I prefer Necrokinetic."