Timeline: February 4, 2009
It was two days since the others left for Mythic City, Michael was in his shop late at night working on orders for customers. It was close to closing time, and while he was in the back room, Michael heard his front door open then close.
Stepping out of the back room, wiping his hands on a rag, Michael saw Ironclaw stepping toward his counter.
“Ironclaw,” Michael said with a little surprise, “what can I do for you? I hope that modification I did for you worked out.”
“She handled the weapon just fine,” Ironclaw stated. “Thanks.” But his businesslike expression brook no further small talk. “I understand you are dallying with the domain of the dead.”
“That’s one thing I like about you, straight the the point,” Michael said with a calm friendly smile. “But I wouldn’t say that I dally, it is one of the major aspects of what I can do as a Mage.
“Is there something that I have done, or may do that concerns you?” Michael asked.
“It attracts death spirits and we’ve had enough problems with them, and continue to have problems. If you dally with death and the dead, I’d like to ask you to do it elsewhere.”
“I don’t usually use it around town much, but I will take your concerns to heart,” Michael said. “If I have any major projects that involve my death magic, I will take it outside your territory. Would that be satisfactory?
“Yes, that would be fine.”
“Is there anything else I can do for you this evening?”, Michael asked. “Anymore modifications to weapons? Or, maybe give your rifle a tune up, to give it a better accuracy?”
“No. Thanks.” He turned to go, but then smiled in profile. “I appreciate you cooperating in this. The spirits are watching.” Ironclaw then left the store.
Michael left the store later and sought out Dark Sun at her cemetery. Now looking for a place to do his work with Michelle other than werewolf territory, he found a more sympathetic and interested mind in that of the jackal shape shifter. He found Dark Sun in a hollow that she’d claimed for herself and her small pack at the foot of a hill upon which part of a large, and very old, cemetery rested.
Dark Sun gave him permission to work and even found for him a place he could work in private. It was an old mausoleum. It had a central table where, in times past, the body of a deceased would be laid within their coffin at the time of burial. After visitation, these coffin were then put away in vaults and the table cleared for the next relative to use. The mausoleum hadn’t been used in decades, however, and the lock had rotted. With a bit of dusting, the table was certainly usable and they would probably not disturb the other dead while they worked.
Erin arrived as she had promised a couple days later. She’d brought with her a number of items, relics she’d picked up over the past couple years, that she thought could be helpful with their grisly task. They’d made some small talk after she arrived as he made her comfortable. They were just about to talk about their project when Michael heard someone ringing a bell at the front of his shop. When he made his way from the back room to the front counter and the gun cases, he noticed it was Gillian. She perused the holsters, of which he had several styles. Having seen him appear, she turned and closed the distance.
Gillian threw her arms around his neck and smiled at him. “Hey sexy. You busy?”
Michael wrapped his hands around her waist, pulling her in close as he kissed her. When he broke the kiss, he said, “Well beautiful, I hate to say this but I am in the middle of working on a project. A mentor of mine has come into town to help me with it. If you are willing I would like to introduce you to her.”
“A mentor?” There was a touch of suspicion in her eyes. “Sure, I’d be very interested to meet your other female friends,” she said. She abruptly flashed him a feral grin.
“Ok, come on back into the back room,” Michael said as he held her hand and lead her to the back.
Once in the back room, Gillian saw Erin sitting down on a stool. “Gillian I would like to introduce you to Erin Creighton, the mentor I was speaking about,” Michael said with a smile. “And Erin I would like to introduce Gillian, my girlfriend.”
Gillian beamed proudly at Erin who looked at her with a pleasant smile. He noticed a slight glimmering of magic as Erin used a spell to evaluate Gillian. The werewolf didn’t notice. She made an effort at social grace. “Hello Ms. Creighton.”
Erin nodded back, but raised an eyebrow at Michael. It was a safe bet she knew that Gillian was a werewolf at this point, but she didn’t say anything about it in front of the werewolf girl. “Nice to meet you.”
“Well shall we go and have dinner?,” Michael asked. “It’s my treat. And then we could continue with our discussion,” Michael said looking to Erin.
“Food!” Gillian appeared to be up for it. With her worn winter coat, jeans that just weren’t holding up very well, and a slim almost too thin body, she looked to Erin like a bit of a charity case. Certainly she was both poor and hungry, yet she was also a werewolf and his girlfriend. This was definitely a strange place, Erin decided.
“I don’t want to put you out, Michael,” Erin said. “You two could go have dinner while I unpack some things.”
“It’s not really a problem, but I’ll respect your wish not to go,” Michael said. Michael looked to his watch seeing that is was 6:30 pm, He then said, “How about meeting up at the house at 8, and we’ll continue with our talk.”
She wanted to make sure she knew where she was going and Michael explained the route she needed to take. Erin said she’d be able to find it after that.
Michael then escorted the women out of his shop, stopping to lock-up. Offering his arm to Gillian, Michael said to Erin, “I guess I’ll see you at 8 then.” Then started to walk off to the diner with Gillian.
Dinner was pleasant and Gillian seemed happy that he had been willing to stop and take some time with her. Satisfied she wasn’t going to lose him to an older woman, she told him that after dinner she was supposed to run with Rose tonight checking territorial boundaries to the south and wished him a productive evening with his teacher.
After Gillian’s delay Michael had a later start with Erin than he’d originally planned, but they nonetheless go to work discussing location and what would be needed to resurrect the dead to some likeness of life. They talked for hours until Michael felt more certain of what had to be done. At last, around two hours before midnight, Erin asked if they might get to work then. They would need to move the body and set up the ritual area in the cemetery, and if they worked diligently, they’d have time to speak with the ghost before raising her near dawn.
Michael and Erin first stopped by the gun shop to pick up the body of Michelle. Stepping down into the basement area, Michael uncovered the ice block that incased the body. Michael tapped into the matter that was the ice turned it into air.
Laying out a blanket, Michael wrapped up the body to transport it to the cemetery. After lifting the body, Michael said to Erin, “The sword and fan that Michelle’s ghost is anchored to is wrapped up in an old towel hidden under the stairs behind a box marked ‘packing material’. If you wouldn’t mind grabbing that for me while I carry the body up, we should be ready to head out of town.”
Erin retrieved the package and, under the cover of darkness, left town with the corpse and the ghost’s anchors. It was harrowing in the sense that neither really had a good explanation prepared should they be caught transporting the body of a murdered girl. At least Michael had been able to repair the terrible damage that Chaska’s werewolf teeth had done to the corpse; repairing the dead flesh was much like speckling a holed wall for his Matter Arcana.
Eventually they arrived at the cemetery with the mausoleum. The curious Dark Sun was in attendance, having decided she wanted to see what happened to the ghost when the revenant was raised. Michael and Erin then spent many hours working late into the night to make the preparations needed.
“I think we are about ready,” Michael said. “I was just going to go over things with Michelle, just to make sure I have the list of Passions we talked about before you arrived.
“If you like, I could open a gate to Twilight so we could both talk with her,” Michael asked.
Erin looked up at him through her protective goggles. She’d donned them in preparation of doing the spell since, as she informed Michael, failure could be… messy. “If that’s what you want, Michael.”
He cast his spell and saw that Michelle’s ghost was near — as he’d expected her to be. Dark Sun meanwhile looked on warily in case the ghost might get out of line. After all, young Miss Zhao was a member of her domain now, one of the dead. Dark Sun wasn’t going to allow any ghost to attack the living.
However, Michelle seemed calm as she looked back at Michael. “You did a good job preparing my body. Is everything ready?”
“Your welcome,” Michael said. “I wasn’t sure I could do it, due to all the damage that was done. I believe we are ready to go, I just wanted to go over the Passions that will drive you to continue on as a revenant.
“I know we talked about that you felt that you had things left unfinished. I just wanted to get them in more detail before we started.”
“I’m going to kill those crazy, misguided bastards who taught me lies,” Michelle Zhao told him. “And I’m going to keep killing them until they can no longer take young people like me who are just awakening and use them for their insane goals again.”
“I like your attitude,” Michael said. “But let me ask this, if you come across some that are new to that group, are not fully indoctrinated, and are willing to change. Will you let them live?
“I have an idea for those, like you, who didn’t really have their heart into what the Banishers stood for. I would like you to send those people to me. So that I could help find them the training they need, to continue on in the Arcane arts.”
“If they get in my way, I’m going to kill them, too,” Michelle replied. “If they don’t, fine. But if I start sending fledgling Banishers here, they’ll be tracked. You want them hunting you here, too?”
“I see your point, so we will forget the idea of sending them this way,” Michael said.
Michael then looked at his watch, then looked to the sky. Then he said, “It is twenty minutes till midnight.”
Looking to Erin, he said, “It looks like it is almost time to begin.”
Erin nodded and they went into the old mausolem where Zhao’s body was prepared. The magic they called upon drew upon the darkest forces of Death and Matter, causing the sky to tremble and thunder in consternation. They kept up their mystic barrage and Erin used enchantments to begin binding Michelle Zhao’s ghost to her prepared body. For hours this continued until it culminated in a thunderous conclusion that shattered the stone table upon which Michelle lay.
Silence followed as Michael and Erin stared at Michelle’s lifeless body lying upon the broken table and Michael began to feel disappointment.
“Wait,” Erin said. “Look.”
Bit by bit, Michelle’s body began to twitch and move. Slowly, she dragged herself to her feet, manipulating her limbs as if unused to moving them. Finally she stood before Erin and Michael, staring at them with dead eyes that yet burned with wrath.
She said no word of thanks; hers was a living hell of pain, hate, and torment now, one that she entered into willingly. Instead, Zhao simply said, “I have work to do.” And then she walked away.