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Arnold’s Halloween: Metier ruins his night (Dark Aether)

It was that time when children went around collecting treats, and he’d been told also the night for spirits to haunt the world at large.  He was still working at Emerson’s when a large group arrived outside and he could hear Metier chuckling back in the graveyard from the open window.  He sighed and put down the quill and went outside.

There was a large group of people there, Dr. Sonnerstein, Professor Lionheart, Gadget, Stormy, and some lady he’d never met, he approached them while Stormy was taking out some chalk of some kind from his pocket, “I imagine this will have to do.”

Professor Lionheart nodded to Arnold, who asked them, “What’s all this?”

Gadget yelled and pointed, “Bugger look! there ‘e is!”

Dr. Sonnerstein motions to Metier, and gave a quick answer, “He wished to see us.”

Arnold frowned…he wanted to see them?  This was reminding him too much of the last time he wanted to see them all, at the Bucket of Blood to discuss his terms.  That night had not gone very well in Arnold’s opinion now that he had time to look back on it.

Professor Lionheart turned towards the urchin, “Gadget, have you any chalk?”

Dr. Sonnerstein came up behind the professor and added, “Keep a distance from the graveyard, I don’t know his reason for wanting urchins nearby.”

“Make sure we get that hat!”  Gadget insisted, and then turned to the professor.  “…no sir, I do not…sorry.”

“Hello again!”  Metier called from the entrance of the graveyard, taking their attention and turning it to the apparition. 

Arnold began to growl softly and Dr. Sonnerstein fished a can of salt from out of his robes, offering it to Helio quickly while he said, “Hello, Metier.”

“Give the salt to someone else, I shall be aflame.”  The professor commanded and Dr. Sonnerstein held onto it for a moment and then gave it to Gadget and whispered into the boys ear.  Stormy was now clenching the chalk in his hand and was eyeing the ghost, while the woman just watched on silently.

“We simply must stop meeting like this!”  Metier chuckled and the doctor gave the ghost a light smirk.

“You’re the one who called us here.”  Dr. Sonnerstein replied. 

Professor Lionheart moved to the front of the group, and confronted the phantasm, “Metier, I believe you promised to leave town should the last Sinclaire be removed.”

“Oh, I was going to, but that can’t happen now.”  Henri explained.  “You see, I died and was supposed to go to some form of Hell, I hear.”

“Oh, you can be sure you will go to some form of it.”  Lionheart stated matter of factly.

Kristos turned his head to Helio. “There’s too many fighting over his soul…”

“Then let’s draw and quarter him.”  Helio retorted loudly, apparently ready to start cutting the man’s soul to pieces at this very moment.

“Oh that’s not going to happen now.”  Metier responded with unhidden glee.  “I already told Bookworm this earlier, but when I prayed to all gods and spirits, at seven different alters, using seven different relics, and saying the prayer in seven different languages, and cutting seven different parts of my body-“

Stormy narrowed his eyes, “So it was your blood on the altar at Dagon hall?”

Kristos Sonnerstein nodded to Stormy, “Likely…”

“Yes, but there was one thing I failed to do.  I failed to say it in seven different cities!  Babbage has the greatest claim to my soul, and it is winning!”  Henri Metier laughed, his mania still present beyond the grave…

Stormy quickly crouched and scribbled the protective symbols in his native language using the chalk, but Heliotrope chuckled, “On the contrary, you mortgaged yourself sevenfold.”

Henri Metier shook his head, “This is quite useless, simply follow me and I will show you why you are impotent.”  Metier walked off with another chuckle to himself while heading straight for the back of Bookworms home.  They followed him slowly, but kept a great distance from the shack. 

“I can’t go near there… one of those canisters is back there.”  Dr. Sonnerstein said as he hid behind the graves walls.

Heliotrope turned to the rest of them and said, “Stay back.”  He went open the door and then Lionheart tosses his mane and it ignites with faerie fire, spreading down his form allowing light to see inside and Gadget gasped.

“Bugger ‘es got one of them cannisters!”

“Oh no, come along everyone.  Go ahead, come closer.”  Henri said in a very amused voice.

Stormy drew yet another circle of protection around himself and Kristos, in the graveyard, though the grass did get in the way a little.  The doctor smiled to show he appreciated the effort, but turned back to Metier soon enough.

“You see, or perhaps you don’t see?”  Metier asked them from within and he giggled.

Heliotrope stepped forward, in a way in between worlds while Kristos called for him to be careful and Gadget to grab his hat.  Kristos shook his head to the boy, “The physical hat isn’t here, Gadget.”

Henri chuckled under his breath yet again, and then continued, “Babbage needs me right now, the reason is because I am performing a function that it needs and strongly desires.”

“What function?”  Heliotrope inquired, but made it sound a demand as he took another step forward.

“I am absorbing dark aether,”  Henri explained, “And disposing of some of it elsewhere.”

Dr. Sonnerstein frowned, and Arnold blinked, he was doing what?  How?  His mind raced with questions, but Professor Lionheart asked first, apparently having recovered from Henri’s claim faster than the rest of them.  “Where?”  The horse took yet another step forward.

“I could dispose some of it in you right now, if you really want to test me.”  Metier said with obvious amusement at Lionhearts approach.

“Thank you, no.”  Heliotrope said, sounding only slightly less intimidating than he had moments ago, and Henri laughed at them once again.  Heliotrope continued, “You can’t absorb it from every one of these, though.”

Dr. Sonnerstein looked over the wall and raised his voice, “Metier… If you’re depositing it in the spirit world, you’re only leading to the endangerment of both layers of reality…”

Henri dismissed that with a wave of his non-corporeal hand and a giggle, “I usually attach it to a train heading towards some place called ‘Bump’, in a crate of apples or something, the city doesn’t care where it goes so long as I get rid of some of it.”

“To Bump?!”  Dr. Sonnerstein cried.  “Good lord..”

Arnold had heard stories about Bump long before he’d heard Emerson’s tales…he had a feeling he didn’t want to know what that city would be like with Dark aether added to the mix…Stormy narrowed his eyes, unable to really see what was going on now.

“And that’s all I’m doing, but I’m only one little apparition.”  Henri claimed with a chuckle and then burst out laughing.  “It will still consume this city eventually!”

“Then why do this much?”  Heliotrope asked.

“Because he belongs to the city…and so it calls him to defend it…”

Lionheart turned his head a little to see the doctor out of the corner of his eye, “Metier, with his ego? I don’t think so.” 

After Metier finally stopped laughing, he responded, “Hardly Dr.  It called, but I could have ignored that call.  I choose to do this, as I choose to give you my hat.”

The group looked as confused as Arnold himself felt.  He was going to give them the means to send his soul on?  Why? 

Sonnerstein was the one to ask, “Why do you choose to do so?” 

“That’s for me to know then, isn’t it?”  Henri chuckled.

“Because he’s wicked, Kristos.”  Stormy whispered to the Doctor, loud enough for most of them to hear.

The woman Arnold had never met before nodded, “I said you could only be given the hat, not take it.” 

Heliotrope snorted, “I’m wicked. He’s merely demented.” 

“Hmm, Good point, so off to the after life with you!”  Stormy cried.

Henri chuckled once again, “If you want to send me away, knowing the function I perform, you now have it in your power.”  As soon as he said that the hat appeared to have materialized from the ground a short distance away from them on the cobbles.

“What are you gaining out of this?”  Dr. Sonnerstein frowned and might as well have been talking to himself.  Henri had walked off leaving them to their own devices, though Heliotrope and the rest of them all chased him after a few moments…unfortunately the apparition seemed to vanish into mist.

After he was gone Stormy shook his head, “Well, at least we know one thing.. the sending him off was a lie..”

“I don’t think we could do it just yet anyway…not until after the second…or by the evening of the second..this is the time when they are able to walk freely.  It is the second they are honored and ensured rest.”

Professor Lionheart shook his fiery mane and let it dissipate, “I think in order to truly be rid of him, we would have to desecrate each spot of his sacrifice, then reconsecrate them. He wasn’t lying, he was full of the darkness.”

Kristos Sonnerstein nods up to Helio. “Perhaps…”

“That includes, Dagon Hall…”  Stormy said after a few moments.

“Yes it does. At least the altar would have to be destroyed, Stormy.”  Heliotrope answered, and Stormy closed his eyes and sighed.  Arnold wondered vaguely how Underby would respond to his bar being destroyed…but he didn’t spare it much thought.  Arnold had been growling beneath his breath for some time, because another thought had occurred to him about Metier, now that the ghost had shown he was interested in the canisters…and especially now that he was claiming he was helping.  “Everyone…I’m…very concerned…about what he said…”

Sonnerstein looks to Arnold. “So am I…”

Arnold continued, “Because all I can think now is…they said don’t believe him….and future Jimmy never said who him was.”

Sonnerstein responded quickly, “Because of that we can’t be sure who, so it does us no good to jump to conclusions…”   To Arnold it felt that he was responding too quickly.  The same thought must have occurred to him…

The professor turned to the woman Arnold had never met, “Seer, did you see anything around him? In life he was being… influenced.” 

“He is, I fear, quite mad.” She stated, but that wasn’t exactly news to any of them even if it was still troubling.

Heliotrope mused for a moment, “His madness goes deep, if it remains after death.”

Arnold looked at Sonnerstein, not letting the train of thought go just yet.  Why had he given them the hat so easily, why had he told them any of that if it was true and then given them the means to send him away?  “What if the hat he’s been showing us is some sort of a lie?”

Stormy anwered, “I don’t think everything he said was untrue..”  Kristos nodded in agreement.

Heliotrope added, “It’s difficult to tell if he is lying about anything, or everything, or even if he believes he is lying.”

“He is jumbled. .that’s for sure..” Stormy muttered and Sonnerstein nibbled his lower lip.

“I believe he gave the hat, but gained something in exchange, and I fear his gain was taken from one here.”  The woman said.  “This much I feel most strongly of but no more, I am sorry.”

Heliotrope hrms, “Despite my bluster, there’s little I can do about haunts and apparitions. We don’t… occupy the same worlds.”

“If his gain was making us worry and fret about it, then it worked!”  Arnold yelled finally, his patience completely gone and he hissed.  Stormy and a few of the others looked at him, apparently most of them had never seen this much emotion from him before.

Gadget spoke up for the first time in awhile himself, “Tepic said the hat needs to be buried with an Urchin, could this be the answer?”

“To be buried in any place he pledged to would give that particular being more claim to him and a better chance for them to take his soul,” Kristos began.  “But to bury it with the urchin he killed…that could give the urchin’s spirit power over him…”  Dr. Sonnerstein smiled.  “Tepic’s a clever and aware little fox…”

Arnold turned around to collect the piece of clothing, and he stopped dead in his stance.  He then turned back to everyone else, “Uhhh…who has the hat?”  At the look of their blank faces he had a feeling he knew what had happened.  “…we didn’t pick it up again…did we?  And it’s gone again.”

There were several mutters and curses at this turn of events, and Arnold tried for a few moments to regain control over his anger, but in the end he let out a roar of frustration, once again sounding like a panther.  He then turned to all of them, “I’m going to bed now, and I’m going pretend tonight didn’t happen!”

“Rest well, Arnold…” Sonnerstein said quietly while Heliotrope peered at the cat for a few moments as he left to enter Emerson’s home and gather his wits and his things.  He could still hear them outside because he’d never closed the window, though they were close enough he would have probably heard them anyways with his ears from even farther.

“He seems troubled…”  Stormy said.

“Wouldn’t you be?  Metier’s been after him frequently.”  Sonnerstein replied. 

“If I didn’t know better,”  The professor said musingly, “I would say ‘possessed’.”

“No, but I would be wary of it happening,” the doctor agreed.

“Haunted cat.. what a concept.”  Stormy mused.

“So wot happened to the Hat?”  Gadget said, getting back on track to what Tepic had said needed finding most of all.

At that moment Arnold felt something in his head, a moment of clarity like when he had been dealing with Erehwon.  The only difference was he hated knowing more than anything and he screamed, “I!  HATE!  THIS!  CITY!

They had heard him outside, and he heard a few shuffling of feet before Heliotrope said, “Let me talk to him. You lot find that hat.”

Dr. Sonnerstein and the others went off, and they were musing aloud as the professors hooves could be heard making the round of the building, “I think Metier may be too proud to admit the city holds him here…compelling him to act on it’s behalf…” Dr. Sonnerstain said, which stopped the hoof steps for a moment.

“Mr.Metier must have been requesting the urchins presence for a reason I am thinking..”  The woman added.

“Metier is used to being compelled into action, perhaps he doesn’t notice now.”  Heliotrope said, his hooves going back to the conversation further back.

The conversation continued for some time, as did the search…but the search at least was in vain.

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  1. Mr. Arnold Mr. Arnold November 2, 2011

    Arnold entered the Gangplank pub sometime around nine o’clock, only a few hours after the encounter with Metier in which he hadn’t done anything else but try to calm down.  They exchanged hellos and then Arnold explained, “I wanted to sit down for awhile…I couldn’t sleep yet…Metier was in the graveyard behind Emersons tonight.  He spoke with Sonnerstein and a few others…and…I don’t know if I told you that we had seen him in town….at the moment he’s…an apparition.”

    Blackberry just nodded, “He came to see me at the cafe.”

    Giles Berithos entered the door and gave them a customary hello and, “Happy Halloween.”

    “Hello sir, same to you as well,” Harvey told him, but Arnold was still too frayed from his previous encounter.

    “There’s been NOTHING happy about tonight!”

    “Am I interrupting?”  Berithos asked, and Harvey shook his head.

    “We’re just catching up on news,”  Harvey then turned to Arnold, “He came to offer to kill me, then he told me to take a message to Dr. Sonnerstein.”

    “…he what?”  Arnold shouted, his control gone once again and the stared a low growl once again.

    “Yes, he offered to finish what he started, but then he gave me a message, and I went to Dr. Sonnerstein and then fetched Professor Lionheart.”

    “You mean finish killing you?  Wasn’t shooting you once enough?”

    “I’ve always thought it very rude for the dead to not stay dead.”  Berithos said, though Arnold couldn’t tell if he was kidding.

    “I don’t think Metier is sane enough to understand manners,”  Arnold replied either way.

    “Him?” Berithos asked.  “Good God. How many times must that man die?”

    “That’s not the Babbage way for the dead, apparently,” Blackberry murmured.  “I think he’s only dead the once so far, but yes.  Do you have any thoughts, Dr. Berithos?” 

    Berithos shakes his head. “Not really. I have no experience with the supernatural. Unless he was reanimating by scientific means.”

    “Oh I can assure you that science had nothing to do with this!”  Metier said as he stepped through the door at the Gangplank and called out, “Hello there!”

    Arnold hissed and took on a defensive posture again, and Giles looked startled to say the least, but Harvey stood his ground as best he could and said, “I delivered your message.”

    Henri chuckled, and Berithos edged to the door, “Yes…erm… well… I think I should be leaving. Good night, gentlemen.”  He left the Gangplank as quickly as he could, and Arnold didn’t blame him at all.

    “So I came to thank you for delivering the message.  Though if you hadn’t I would have been forced to come to you tonight and well…”  Henri chuckled, what he would have done was left unsaid.

    “I am a man of my word as I hope you are of yours.”  Blackberry told him.  “Call it hope against hope.”

    Metier laughed, almost joyfully instead of manically, “Oh Mr. Harvey, once again I think you do me a dis-service.  You didn’t take my threat too seriously I hope?”

    Arnold paused his growling and looked at the apparition confused, and Harvey said in way of explination after a few moments, “You tried to kill me once just for being someone’s friend. I have no idea what would be serious or not with you.”

    “It’s all hollows eve man! I was just trying to scare you!”  Henri laughed and then turned to leave through the door. “Get into the festive nature man!”

    Mr. Harvey didn’t relax much, “I’m sorry…meeting one’s now-dead attempted murderer face to face is unsettling…”

    For Arnold however he had come to something of a conclusion since he’d managed to overhear that, “The man must have been intentionally messing with us tonight…”  If he thought about it like that then the events at the graveyard made at least a little more sense to him…but if he was still doing the same thing tomorrow then he’d be just as confused as ever.

    “What’s he playing at?”  Mr. Harvey asked, and Arnold was forced to shrug. 

    “I have no idea.”  Arnold and Harvey both took a seat soon after and they started to talk, even when customers started to enter the establishment.

    “I think he’s just picking on me because he knows I’m afraid of him but no threat…”

    “I don’t know what to believe about what he told us.  He claimed Babbage has more claim to his soul now, more than anything else…”

    “Well, of course I am no expert, other than having been shot. But from what I know of him, I would believe no words from him at all.”  Harvey added, feeling at where he had once been shot for just a moment.

    Arnold nodded, and then he added, “And the old man did apparently say…don’t believe him.  If the old man didn’t come…is it possible we did?”  Before Harvey could say anything he added, “Admittedly…he is the first person I’ve heard of that’s claimed to be effective at all about the Dark Aether…it’s too good to be true….and maybe someone did listen to him if things seemed desperate enough…”

    “Against the dark aether, you say.”  Harvey asked.

    “He claimed that he could absorb it,”  Arnold explained.  “He seemed to know a lot more about how to handle it than us….now I think of it…”

    “Do you think he can absorb it all?”

    “He said he couldn’t and that it would still become too much eventually,” Arnold said.

    “Then if he offered that as an excuse to keep him around, it’s a bad one.”  Harvey said.  “If he can’t get rid of it all, it’s useless.”

    Arnold was far more worried he was doing something else with it and not disposing of it at all, but his chance to voice all these fears was undone due to one of their guests having fallen past the backery wall and Harvey had to go see to it. 

    After he returned they started again, “I think now, especially after what he said of his threats just being a prank for the night, that he was just trying to mess with our heads.  It just seems that a lot of what he did tonight was only meant to frustrate us. He offored us the hat that we couldn’t find afterwards, and he told us he was helping with the aether but it wouldn’t stop it from eventually consuming the city.”

    “He mentioned something about a hat earlier…what was that about?”

    “If we bury it properly, we might be able to be rid of him.”

    “Oh, then I’ll look for it too!”  Blackberry exclaimed, and then when he heard it had apparently gone into the ground once he shrugged, “I guess falling into the ground doesn’t count as burying?  These supernatural forces are very particular about their terms and conditions……”

    “I’m very concerned that he’s manipulating us.  That we’re doing something that helps him. I just don’t know how…”

    “Maybe he’s being a distraction…”  Harvey mused alongside him, and the two of them also wondered if his knowledge of the dark aether might come from working with them, not against them.

    “If people got desperate enough originally, and he suddenly presented a new ‘plan’…”

    “I’d be inclined to not believe anything he says and only pay attention to what he does.”

    “Nothings changed in that respect.  What he’s done then is torment people relentlessly.”

    “If he’s absorbing dark energy, I highly doubt that will make him suddenly a better person. If I were that crazy, I wouldn’t let death stop me from my… my old goal of revenge. What if he’s making it so that we all join him?”

    “I know…that’s why I’ve made…arangements…to send Maddox away for awhile.”

    “You have?”

    “Aranging it through Erehwon, for that new port or whatever the Mondragons have found.”

    Blackberry nods, “Well, I should try to get some rest. I think I’ll lock all the lifts and doors tonight.”

    Arnold stopped him and told him about where he could find the remaining protections Miss Hermit had given him, which were at the hospital, and he said he’d put two around his bed.  Arnold watched him go…but at the stroke of ten he felt very…odd…and Id was completely out by the time it struck the the bell hit the last note.  The black cat ran out into the night, intent on playing a few tricks.

    Arnold woke up the next morning in Dagon Hall and the statue he’d seen before was destroyed. He hoped he had nothing to do with that…it would be a long time till he recalled what the deacon and Lionheart had said last night…and even then Stormy said it had happened while they were searching for Metier…though he had reason to doubt everything Stormy said he had to recall he was there last night as was Gadget who were the only people there…so perhaps the deed had been done before they got there…he supposed he wouldn’t know for some time.

  2. Maddox Sinclaire Maddox Sinclaire November 2, 2011

    Perhaps I should leave… or maybe not. *gets a wicked smile and goes to look for her husband*

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