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A Grave Undertaking: Henri’s test (Dark aether related)

When Henri had first shown them the hat it hadn’t been for any reason whatsoever except to playfully show he had a presence here without having to appear in any way.  But when they found the hat that shrunken doctor requested his presence and he didn’t see the harm in a little conversation.  It was after the conversation, in which he’d revealed nothing of real importance, that he first heard the doctor suggest that they should bury the hat to be rid of him.  Since the hat had only been a manifestation of the now ruined thing that wasn’t possible, but it did give Henri an idea and he decided he would lead them to the real hat.

At the graveyard meeting they had prepared Henri could barely contain his excitment, partly because he could get to attend his own burial, and partly because he had thought of a test to show Babbage what it’s ‘defenders’ would do.  He hadn’t been going to reveal that he had close ties to anything involving the dark aether at all, but he told them that he was helping the city and that it wanted him here as part of the test he had devised and which he already had a prepared audience to witness their choices since so many were already watching his soul.

“This ain’t got nuffing to do with them machines though, it’s between us urchins an im….”  With that statement alone Henri had gotten what he wanted.  They had proven to the city that, even if they did believe he was helping the city and even if it did want him there, that they would still put themselves over it’s pain.  They had chosen themselves, the urchins as a whole, as more important than the city itself and the suffering that the dark aether was creating.  Henri giggled at their lack of wisdom, their words had trapped them because they in fact had a large audience including the city itself.

It was the ones protecting the spirit of ‘Rifty’, the prefered nickname of the urchin he killed as he’d learned only after he died, that tried to tell them that it was over and that they had failed the test Henri had created and to not disturb the boy.

They didn’t appear to hear the voices anymore than they could see those creatures for what they truly were at all times, unlike Henri who saw the truth, and to them it was nothing but a growing wind.  Or perhaps on some level some of them did hear it, but couldn’t understand it, or perhaps they had made themselves deaf through their own assurance that what they were doing was ‘right’.  Henri didn’t really care why it was happening since it was getting funnier by the moment.

They continued their dig and the spirits grew more insistent, but to them it was only more wind picking up, and in the end they sent Rifty himself to stop them from dragging his soul to be with Metier forever, especially since they knew things about Henri that those digging did not.

Henri laughed uncontrollably, and he told them they’d almost cursed the boy to an eternity with him, or at least that’s what he wanted to say but it came out wrong due to his mirth.  They didn’t believe him when he told them they’d made a mistake and chosen themselves before Babbage, but what they thought didn’t really matter in the end.

He left them, laughing, to continue his real mission now that his fun was over and then heard the young fox shouting.  He came back to see what they’d tried now, and could only chuckle.  It was true the hat was the last remaining part of him he’d had when he died that hadn’t long washed out to sea lost forever, but he had made stronger pacts that were far more binding and he went off unhindered once again.

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