Bookworm hurried into the graveyard behind the Mechanix Arms, familiarity leading her quickly down the path to the eastern side. She paused, letting her eyes settle into a half-unfocused gaze that seemed to let her see the ghosts more clearly. “Mac? Daniel?” she called.
Those two, along with Sofie and Evie, drifted into view. “What is it, Miss Book?” asked Daniel. “You seem upset.”
“That I am,” she replied grimly. “That man, Metier, who created so much havoc this summer–his ghost is still here! I just saw it near my house. And…and he *threatened* me!”
“He did?” Mac asked sharply. “What did he say?”
“That he was going to find a way to ‘thank me properly’ for my attacks on him.”
“Well, that’s not necessarily a threat,” Mac replied.
“What else would it be?” Bookworm paced a little in agitation. “Even dead, he still finds ways to annoy! He’s still smug, insufferable, violent–“
Mac broke in. “He’s also standing behind you.”
Bookworm froze. Then, as she heard Metier’s chuckle, she slowly turned around. “If you can call it standing,” he said amiably. Bookworm swallowed audibly.
“I can see you didn’t respect me very much in life, Miss.”
“You killed innocent people!” she exclaimed. “How could I *possibly* respect that?”
Metier laughed. “And you never did?”
Bookworm sputtered. “Wha–I–I’ve never killed *anyone!*”
“Ahh, so I assume the times you shot me weren’t intentional?” He chuckled again.
“Yes, intentional. But I was trying to *stop* you, to protect the citizens of this city. And I wasn’t deliberately trying to kill you.”
“And I was trying to settle a blood feud, but you chased after me that day. Tsk. Though you weren’t the hand that landed the final blow, that was my first mortal wound that night. You know,” he mused, “I have you to thank–if you hadn’t almost shot me that day, I wouldn’t have decided to die!”
Bookworm blanched a little. Could it be–had her actions precipitated the man’s crazed rampage that night?
“Or maybe I would have either way, but it was actually my intention that night to die. And it was possibly the greatest night of my life!” He laughed as manically as ever.
Bookworm looked sick, and glanced back at the ghosts ranged behind her, wondering why they kept silent. “Can you not *do* anything about him?”
Mac shook his head, an unusually sober look on his face. “Should he attack you, we can protect you. But, considering what has a hold on him, there is nothing else we can do.”
Bookworm looked from Metier, back to Mac, and back to Metier. “A hold? Do you mean…Dr. Sonnerstein mentioned that deities were trying to determine where you should go. Is that it?”
“At seven alters, before seven different relics, I prayed to all spirits and gods, Miss Hienrichs. But I failed to do one thing. Can you guess?”
Bookworm shook her head, fascinated in spite of herself.
“I didn’t pray in seven different cities.” Metier threw back his head and laughed. “Babbage itself has the greatest claim to my soul–and it’s winning!”
“Wonderful,” Bookworm said, hiding her head in her hands.
“This city is alive, Miss Hienrichs,” he continued, and Bookworm looked up, startled. “And it’s in a spot of trouble. You could ask your friends for more information, but there’s rules about that.”
She glanced back at the ghosts again, then back to Metier, her face unsure.
“Anyway, goodbye for now, Miss Hienrichs! Just so you know, I really do want to find a way to thank you…Perhaps waking you up every morning with a morning wail would do! Like a periodic rooster!”
“Heh. Considering how little sleep I’ve been getting lately, I’d like as not be awake anyway,” she replied wryly.
“Well, perhaps something else, then,” he said, and laughed manically. “Good day!” And with that final shot, he disappeared.
Bookworm turned back to the ghosts, frustration plain on her face. “Did he make one of his ‘prayers’ here?” Mac nodded.
Anger boiled up inside her, but Daniel spoke up before she could say anything. “It wasn’t by our wish that he succeeded. Unfortunately, there are plenty of beings here who were ready to accept his desires.” He pointed to a grave. Bookworm walked over and saw, faintly, a pentagram in the soil. She turned away, feeling a shiver run down her spine.
“The city itself is giving him a measure of power that we don’t have,” Mac said. “We’ll do what we can to try to minimize his mischief against you, but…no guarantees.”
Bookworm nodded and sighed. “Do you think Miss Hermit could do something?”
“Possibly,” Daniel said. “It might be worth a try.”
“Then I’ll certainly send her a note as soon as possible.” She pondered for a moment. “I think I’d best find Dr. Sonnerstein and let him know what happened. Perhaps he can make more of what Metier said than I.” She hurried toward the eastern entrance of the graveyard, then paused and looked back. “I know you’ll do what you can. Thank you.” With that, she hurried toward the Port area.
Evie looked up at the three adult ghosts. “Can’t we–“
Daniel broke in gently. “No, Evie. We’ve tried and tried to think of a way, but we can’t. It’s all up to them.” He looked out in the direction Bookworm had gone, fear and hope mingling on his ghostly features.