The group of ghosts and living stood at the trail head of a path that wended through old growth oaks draped in curtains of Spanish moss. That it was mid-day, and the sun was blazing in a cloudless sky, did not take away from the eerie atmosphere of the woods.
A representative of a faction of banished spirits recently made contact with Goodwood Duxford, the hereditary caretaker and ghost wrangler of Gramberly Cemetery, the graveyard where the spirits had once resided. The banished spirit requested, or demanded, reclamation with the graveyard and their original final resting places.
“I don’t understand,” said Frankie, Goody’s girlfriend and only other living person in the group. “If Marcel was the one who challenged Egbert, why doesn’t he remember about the gate?”
“He said he nearly died from his efforts battling Egbert,” Lilith said. “The townspeople were able to seal Egbert in the Duxford family crypt with some kind of layman binding, could they have also put an amateur glamour on the gate?”
“From experience, I can tell you, your memory can be trashed after a trauma,” Zeb said. “The surviving miners hurt in the accident that killed me couldn’t remember anything about the cave-in or about random things that happened before.”
“Maybe that’s why Marcel didn’t remember the gate,” Frankie said. “What with his injuries, all that amateur conjuring could have affected his memories.”
Marcel wasn’t listening, He instead focused on the banished spirit.
Goody broke away from the group, leaving them to speculate on how so much about the Wraith War and Egbert was forgotten.
“Pops?” Goody stood beside his grandfather who was staring down the forest path where the spirit disappeared. “After that battle, what can you remember? It’s important.”
Marcel shook his head as if trying to shake loose cobwebs.
“It’s all so murky,” Marcel said. “I remember facing Egbert, I remember him lying lifeless in the street and the spirits he summoned turning away from the town.”
“After that?” Goody prodded.
“Next thing I remember, I was waking up in the caretaker’s cabin,” Marcel said. “your grandmother, Iris, was there. She told me I had been unconscious for almost a week.”
“Egbert was gone? The gate was gone?” Goody said. “The ghosts?”
“I was told Egbert was entombed, but there was nothing said about the gate. Since I didn’t remember, I didn’t ask,” Marcel said. “When I was strong enough, I put more bindings on Egbert’s crypt. After that, no one ever talked about what happened to the ghosts. It must have been a bewildered crossing for them, being exiled from Gramberly.”
“Did you ever wonder why none of them were wandering spirits?” Goody said.
“No, I assumed they chose not to because of how Egbert used them,” Marcel said. “That made sense to me. After awhile, I never thought about it.”
“I’m assuming the glamour on the gate and on them has worn off,” Goody said. “I don’t know if the spirits are looking are reconciliation or revenge. We have to proceed carefully.”
The rest of their group had gathered around Goody and Marcel, listening to their conversation.
“We’re going after the spirit?” Frankie said. “Is that wise, without knowing more about what they really want?”
The group debated a while longer trying to decide their next step. Marcel and Zeb both offered to investigate alone to not risk the others. Goody said he should go as the presiding ghost wrangling, prompting Frankie to offer to join him as the other living team member. Jon and the Chamber brothers claimed to have the only fighting experience so they should go.
“We’re not going to fall victim to that tired ghost story cliché of splitting up are we?” Lilith said, then pointed to Marcel and Zeb. “And there will be no solo investigations. There’s strength in numbers.”
In the end, they decided to proceed together, falling back into their double-file line. They didn’t have to travel far down the path until it opened out into a wide field surrounded by scrub pines and overgrown wild laurel bushes.
In the center of the field, looking as if it was built recently was a huge pile of cast-off bricks.
“A cairn,” Goody said, his voice a mixture of anger and disgust. “They were reburied in a mass grave, then covered in demolition debris like they were trash. No wonder they’re pissed.”