Mr. Jennings Must Die: Part Four
Necromancy was not encouraged amongst magic using people. There was something unnatural and unsettling about the practices. Neopia Central had a sizable collection of wizards studying in the depths of the National Neopian Museum, but few of them would have even dabbled in the dark arts. They were men of science, but there were some questions that most thought shouldn't be asked – just in case you didn't like the answers you got.
Nevertheless, a few of the museum's wizards simply couldn't be discouraged, and practiced their strangeness in the deepest corners of the department. Black was directed there by the old Moehog who worked, if you could use that term for sleeping all day, at the department's reception.
The Necromancy Division, as the name on the dusty door called it, was a small office in the very depths of the wizard dungeons. Black knocked once, drawing back a fair amount of cobwebs with his hand, and entered.
The room was not a traditional office in that there was only one desk and most of the room's furniture and walls were either black or purple, with shelves lining the somewhat circular room filled to the brim with evil looking paraphernalia. The sight of a grey Wocky in a dark cloak that had clearly seen better days greeted Mr. Black. He was busy chanting something in a strange dialect from beneath a thin pointy beard, while etching out a circle on the ground with a lump of chalk. He stopped abruptly when Black coughed to announce himself.
"I'm looking for the Necromancy division," Black explained.
"And you found us, intrepid explorer!" the Wocky declared extravagantly.
"Us?" Black asked, seeing only the Wocky in the room.
"Of course, us!" the Wocky insisted. "I am Doctor Manzazuu, current head of division. This is Viktor, Viktor Sartre - our Senior Researcher."
He gestured towards a Moehog skull on one of the office's many dark shelves. It sprang to life and began to talk.
"Pleasure to meet you, whoever you are!" it declared. "I'd shake your hand if mine wasn't buried several miles away."
"And our third member of staff is our intern Junior Researcher, Rasputin Escarl," Manzazuu continued. "He's normally about here somewhere... Rasputin! Rasputin!"
A ghost Zafara drifted through the wall at the sound of his voice.
"We have a visitor, Rasputin," Manzazuu announced.
"Thrilling," the Zafara said rather sadly.
"Rasputin has only been with us a few months, since his... accident," Manzazuu explained.
"I accidentally evaporated myself while experimenting into the effects of fungus on the tridimensional magical field of hyper-magically charged particles," Rasputin explained sadly. "Ghosts get transferred to Necromancy as a matter of museum policy."
"Enough about that," Manzazuu said. "What can we help you with?"
"Have you heard about the assault?" Black asked them.
"You mean the two Defenders?" Viktor, the skull on the shelves asked.
When Black nodded, Manzazuu rounded on him.
"How do you know about that?" he demanded.
"I like to keep abreast of current events," the skull answered.
"You haven't been out of the office in five hundred years, since we lost your legs!" Manzazuu shouted. "You've been doing divination into the Neopian Times office again, haven't you?"
"So what if I have?"
"You have a restraining order!" Manzazuu shouted.
"Evil wizards don't care about restraining orders!" Viktor protested.
"You haven't been an evil wizard in near enough a millennium," Manzazuu told him. "Now you're just a mildly annoying trinket at best. In this department, we follow the law... in a fashion."
"Lombardo wouldn't have cared about restraining orders," Viktor muttered.
"Lombardo didn't care about much," the Wocky snapped. "That's why they sacked him, after all. Now we do things my way. And before you start, I don't care how much more experience in evil wizardry you have – I'm the one with the qualifications."
Rasputin drifted over to Black and whispered, "PhD in uselessness, if you ask me."
"Enough!" Manzazuu shouted. "Sorry, Mr..."
"Mr. Black," Manzazuu nodded. "So there have been attacks. What can we do for you? Immortality?"
"No," Black said firmly. "I just need to question them."
Manzazuu stared at him, "They are in the hospital, yes? Why not ask them there? Or are you seeking directions?"
"They are still unconscious," Black supplied. "I was hoping you'd be able to give me something to talk to them. A potion or something?"
"Well..." Manzazuu considered. "There is something we could do. It's dangerous, of course, and not strictly according to museum policy..."
"A séance!" Viktor shouted excitedly. "It's been years since we last did a good one of those. We'll be needing hair from each of the victims, three drops of Faerie blood, something each of them holds dear, and..."
"We do not need any of that," Manzazuu stated firmly. "All the magic really needs is a circle of chalk and a vase. And the vase is only because Rasputin is here."
"You never let me have any fun!" Viktor protested.
"We'll use the vase with the skulls on the base, happy?" Manzazuu bargained.
Viktor bounced up and down on his shelf, attempting to nod.
"I thought séances only worked for dead people?" Black questioned.
"Well, strictly speaking, they only work properly for dead persons..." Manzazuu admitted. "But the basic magic can summon up an impression, or echo, of the person that will be able to answer basic questions."
Manzazuu located the vase he was looking for on the shelves and placed it on the floor in the corner, if the circular room could be said to have corners, and stared plainly at Rasputin. The ghost sighed slightly, before drifting forwards and entering the vase. His ethereal body contorted and shrank until it filled the vase, the clear glass showing his two red eyes gazing out at them.
"This sort of Necromancy can mess with a ghost's ectoplasm," Manzazuu explained. "If he's in the vase, he should be safe."
"I want to do the ceremony!" Viktor demanded.
Manzazuu gave a little exasperated sigh before relenting and scooping the Moehog Skull off the shelf. Standing in the middle of the floor's chalk circle, Viktor began to chant.
"Spirits of the Netherworld!" he practically screamed to the room at large. "This night we summon you forth from your ethereal realm! We bind you here in this mortal plane, tethered to this time and this place! Come to us now!"
"Do get on with it!" Manzazuu hissed.
Viktor faltered slightly, "Err... and... We command you spirits, calling you by name! Err... name?"
"Name?" Manzazuu questioned.
"Name!" Viktor repeated.
"Oh!" Manzazuu realised, turning to Black. "We need the names of the two that we are summoning."
"Oh, Jumbleberryman and the Unending Stench," Black supplied.
Manzazuu turned back to the skull in his hand, "Jumbleberry-"
"I heard!" Viktor shrieked. "Jumbleberryman and the Unending Stench! We summon you! Step forth from the Void!"
Manzazuu darted backwards out of the circle in a rather dramatic fashion as two ghostly forms appeared within it. They were much paler than Rasputin, being only the merest outlines of their solid selves. They weren't proper ghosts, not in any sense of the word, but Black could clearly see the forms of the Tuskaninny and the Grundo.
Black stepped forwards hesitantly, not sure what someone should say to someone who wasn't really there.
"Ask your questions," Manzazuu instructed. "Don't bother with pleasantries – these aren't souls, but memories. They only exist to answer to us."
"Right..." Black answered. "Hello. I want to ask you a few questions about the night you were attacked."
The spirits drifted there, still waiting for a question.
"What were you doing on Tuckly Road?" Black asked. "Why did you leave your posts on Friars Road the night it happened?"
"We weren't on Tuckly Road," the spectre of the Grundo answered.
"But that's where you were found," Black pointed out.
"We weren't on Tuckly Road," the Tuskaninny repeated.
"You were moved," Black guessed. "Afterwards. Then where were you when you were attacked?"
"Friars Road," the Grundo answered.
"We were watching the art gallery," the Tuskaninny added. "I heard a noise behind me, and then someone hit me on the back of my head."
"Did you see who it was?" Black asked.
"No," the Tuskaninny shook its ghostly head.
"I did," the Grundo spoke up. "When the Unending Stench fell, I turned and saw who it was. It was dark, but their silhouette showed up against the moon. He ran at me, forced me to the floor, hit me with something."
"The moon?" Black asked. "It was raining the night you were found."
The spirits remained silent.
"Unless you were attacked the night before," Black thought aloud. "After Greenfern left his gallery... then you were stored somewhere until the following night, when you were dumped on Tuckly Road. Did you get a good look at him, the person that ran at you?"
"It was dark, but their silhouette showed up against the moon," the Grundo repeated.
"Could you say which species it was?" Black asked.
"Yes," the Grundo answered.
Black sighed, "Which species was it?"
"A Quiggle," the Grundo told him. "Tall, but a Quiggle."
Black smiled. Not a Krawk. Jennings was in the clear – it was only a pity that the Defenders didn't accept the words of spirits as evidence.
Black thought for a while before asking his next question.
"Have you ever seen an Acara dressed in robes, like they come from the Lost Desert?"
Both spirits answered at once, "Yes."
"Earlier that day," the Tuskaninny answered. "He was coming out of the tailor's shop next to the art gallery we were assigned to watch."
"Did he talk to you?" Black asked.
"No, but he smiled at us," the Grundo told him.
Black nodded as he digested the information, but the ghosts just looked through him as if he wasn't there, only able to answer questions.
Black turned to Manzazuu.
"That's all I need, thank you."
"Excellent!" Viktor shouted from Manzazuu's hand. "Now we can begin the dismissal ceremony!"
"We've had quite enough of your ceremonies for today," Manzazuu snapped. "We're going to dismiss them the modern way."
He put one foot forward and smudged the chalk circle, breaking it. The two spirits immediately faded from view. Placing the grumbling skull that was Viktor back on the shelf, he made his way over to the vase and let Rasputin out.
"Is there anything else we can help you with?" Manzazuu asked.
"Could you direct me to Moriarty Bungle?" Black replied. "I need to ask him a few questions."
"You think the Professor is involved?" Manzazuu gasped.
"A skilled wizard is always involved in eeeeeevil, mwahahaha!" Viktor added from the shelf.
"Quiet, you!" Manzazuu snapped, grabbing a silk handkerchief from his pocket and draping it over the skull.
"No," Black explained. "Not involved in the attack, at least. I just need him to confirm something for me."
To be continued...