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Ghostly encounter

(Friday early morning, immediately after seeing the hat)

Dr. Sonnerstein and Arnold stared down at the hat, and a fog came over them wafting in from the water nearby…or perhaps from some other source.  Arnold couldn’t tell, but Sonnerstein looked about and spoke up, “Metier. Will you speak with me?

“You called?” Metier asked, appearing at the entrance to the graveyard, and Arnold jumped back onto all fours and hissed.

Kristos rested a hand on Arnold’s shoulder, which he was able to accomplish thanks to his height, “Why do you linger here?”

Metier replied quite calmly, though he did sound amused, “Because they can’t sort out where to put me!”

Dr. Sonnerstein frowned, “Your remains are still unburied?”  After a moment he added, “What little was found, I mean…”

“No, but truthfully the problem with all the gods having an equal claim to you is none of them can agree who gets me!”  Metier laughed at the situation he found himself in, and Arnold still wanted to do something…but he had no idea what he could do considering the man was dead already.

“Ah, I see…” Sonnerstein’s frown deepened even more.  “And so you linger not because of unfinished business, but because those you pledged yourself to are unfinished with you…You have my sympathies…Despite your actions in life.”

“Could be a few centuries before they settle it all out,”  Henri claimed, and Arnold let his eyesbrows rise and his jaw to drop angrily and flabergasted.  Henri Metier had been dead for months, and he could have been grinning if he had a face from the sound of it, to Arnold at least.

“There were seven, yes?” Sonnerstein asked.

“Seven alters,”  Metier corrected, which apparently wasn’t the same thing.  “Ah well, I’m fine with it either way! I spend most my time at the theaters and in graveyards. Truthfully it’s quite fun.”

Fun?  FUN?!  And here he’d thought the man had been burning in Perdition for all eternity and he was having FUN?!?!

Dr. Sonnerstein smirked, “Theatres, hm? That’s uncommon… But I suppose a good passtime for a spirit..”

“I do have quite a good bond to this particular location though, this was the spot where the first church I used had stood for awhile.”

“So the entity you pledged to here offers you some solace…”  Sonnerstein pondered.

“I wouldn’t say that, but I must admit the company has been greatly amusing!” Metier turned and looked straight at Emerson’s home and then at Bookworms, which made Arnold growl and he did nothing to hide it.

Dr. Kristos chuckled and the gave Arnold’s shoulder another reassuring squeeze, “What manner of god did the church here serve?  When gods and such entities quarrel over your soul it can sometimes be just as difficult a suffering as any hell…”

Henri just laughed at them again, “Well, allow me to get back to my suffering then!”

He turned and departed, leaving the two of them, and a man who had wandered into the fog alone as it slowly disipated.

“..apparently some relish their suffering.” The newcommer said as he stared at the scene he’d wandered into, though he didn’t stay long.

“I think it’s quite obvious he’s not hurting at all,” Arnold said through clenched teeth.

“His soul has gotten off quite easy for what he did…”  Kristos agreed.  “Too many beings quarreling over where he winds up…He pledged himself at seven different altars to see out a blood feud to the end. Seems they actually took up his offer…or that enough of them did…all seven?” Kristos mused at the possibilities.  “If they manage to stop debating and start trying to simply take…but then you can seldom predict the behavior of such entities…”

Sonnerstein tilted his head back down to the hat, and then to the graves, “Something else though…these graves are indeed all the same man…I’d be very interested to ask Mr. Lighthouse about that when he returns…”

“Petharic?” Arnold asked staring at the name.  He knew he’d heard it before, he was sure it was that night in Ahab’s….  “This graveyard seems almost dedicated to men who die and won’t stay dead then…”  Arnold waits a moment and then looks at the Dr, “Should we be worried about this?”

“I don’t think Metier’s spirit will harm you… But he does bear watching…” Sonnerstein said.

“What about Maddox?”

“I don’t think he’ll be after her either…”  Kristos said as he rubbed his chin in thought.  “He seems almost… freer and relaxed, doesn’t he…?”

Arnold was forced to admit he was right, “He does seem calm for someone who I imagined in Perdition.”

“Spirits aren’t in the habit of being anything dishonest… I think it’s genuine…”

“I still don’t think we can trust him though.  And you also said we should keep an eye on him. The question then is…”  Arnold paused for a moment, “What do I tell Miss Maddox?”

“The truth,”  Kristos said simply.  “His spirit is wandering about, taking in shows and wandering graveyards.”

“I don’t know how she will take that news,”  Arnold said honestly, though he had a good idea. “Poorly probably.”

“Would you rather I break it to her?”

“I think we both should, tonight or tomorrow,”  Arnold said, and then added, “After we tell her about Erehwon too, I suppose.”

Kristos Sonnerstein nodded, “It’s rather interesting he has the energy to spare on manifesting his hat like that…” 

Arnold had noticed his spirit still wore the hat, and yet here it was, and that made little sense to him.

“Perhaps those gods or spirits are fueling him a bit…gods for lack of a better term, mind you…”

Arnold stared at the hat for a moment, and then he wondered aloud, “…did he manifest that hat? Or did it simply fly off and he found it recently? When he died, I mean.”

“It’s possible he simply found it. But it takes a good bit of energy to move a solid object as well.”  Kristos said.

Arnold frowned, “Perhaps I should bury the cursed thing.”

“Burying it wouldn’t hurt. In fact it might even help the gods to settle their quarrel, depending on where you bury it.”

Arnold looked up at the doctor, wondering what difference it would make, “I don’t know how that would work, but I suppose it won’t hurt. Where do you suggest?”  Definitely not here, in a graveyard that kept resurrecting a man.

“It will give one in particular a little more stake in him, so it depends on where you’d rather see his soul go.”

Arnold decided to be wary and not be too cruel with his choice, “If I bury it at sea then he could go to the…where?”

“A few possibilities there…Davey Jones’ locker… Poseidon, Dagon… any mer gods…”

“That wouldn’t help at all then,”  Arnold frowned.

“It may only add to who would fight over him. I’d say bury it in a place dedicated to one of those he pledged to.”

Arnold nodded and looked down and saw the hat disappearing into the earth itself.  He stared at it a few more moments, and then did his best to contain his frustration as he said as simply and as calmly as he could, “The hat’s gone.”  He then added, “…did you see where it went?”

“No, I didn’t.” Sonnerstein said and they both sighed.

“Well, I don’t know what to say. I have even more reason to be done with this area, but I’m glad the canisters weren’t just causing me to hallucinate.”

“Mm…so much lately seems to be bringing me back to my childhood…”  Kristos said, he’d once explained that he’d learned the trick with the earths and the graves as a young boy.

“I think I understand the feeling.”  Arnold said, as he recalled all the things forcing him to remember his ancestors and his own past…. “So doctor…can I sumarize our problems for the both of us quickly.”

“You’re suffering from Stormization, we have a dead man haunting the area, a madman who owns an asylum and would like to disect us, Erehwon’s succumb to her djinn nature, and I’m…trying to keep up even though I had only wanted to remain away from it all.  Oh, and Emerson Lighthouse has made a bet with someone else about a year of my service.  Speaking of which I want to talk to Victor and find out what he would have gotten if he wins…oh and I don’t know about you, but I can’t believe I forgot to add, The book saying we’re all going to die, the Dark Aether, and the cannisters.”

Dr. Sonnerstein grinned faintly, “Sounds about right..”

Arnold grabbed his head for a moment, and shook it, “…After this sabatical, I’m going on sabatical.”

***

They had moved on towards their homes a little when Sonnerstein asked him a question that Arnold thought was aimed at Sonnerstein as much as it was the feline, “Do you ever miss your family, Arnold?”

“…”  Arnold paused for a few moments and then finally shrugged.  “I have to go back to them.  It’s one of the major things I’ve really been thinking about.”

Dr. Sonnerstein nodded softly.

“I can’t know what’s wrong with us, and leave them ignorant.”

“I would think you would have already gone by now…”

“I can’t go yet. Not till I understand who and what I am now.”  Arnold explained as he stared out at the Piermont.  “I wanted…needed to understand that first.  That’s the main reason why I went on sabatical.  To calm down, think, and learn at my own pace.  When I’m done I’ll have to go show them.”

“I understand,”  Sonnersteing told him.  “Well… I should be going back home…If Metier starts acting suspicious, let me know.”

Arnold bid him good night and re-entered Emerson’s home, and didn’t hear any laughter or footsteps the rest of the night…which was odd on a Thursday night since it was still a bar night and he’d gotten used to Macbain’s peg leg stomping this way late in the morning…then again the sun was about to rise.  Must have just missed her.

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