Where Memory Lies
**Note: When writing this, my internet was down, so I was unable to do the research I usually do. The five parts of the soul, specifically the 'Keb" and the "Tha" are not the correct names. I may return and fix this later.**
"That's not..." Anna fumbled her words. She had heard this question before. Where? She barely noticed Nara Nakki's burnt and skeletal hands smooth the sides of her face. "You can't read the minds of the dead. There's no soul there."
"Can't?" Nara Nakki felt Anna's hands. "Or shouldn't?" Anna realized the Queen was pulling her gloves off. She jerked away and jumped backwards once she realized both gloves lay on the floor.
"Stop that! There's nothing to read! It would be like trying to talk to a leg of lamb! No soul no mind!"
"And what is the soul?" The Queen drew back her robe and knelt in front of the dead girl's body. Lifeless, yes. Soulless? "What does the heartbeat of the mind look like? You're a Heart Mage, Anna Goldeyes. You should know."
"It's...five parts. Akh, Ib, and Ka wrapped in the Tha and held with the Keb." Anna realized she was explaining the basics. "But I assume you already know this. Having so much experience with the Heart Magi yourself."
"Did Madeline Fallbringer not tell you?" Nara Nakki shrugged. "She will, I supose. After you escape."
"Now," the Queen said, ignoring outburst, "What are the three things a soul does?"
"Again, you already know."
"It sees outward. That is consiousness. It chooses. That is will. And it remembers things backward in time. That is memory."
"Of course, my plaything. Now, where do those qualities lie?" Anna furrowed her brow. "Come now, you've been trained in this. Where are the soul's eyes? It's strength? It's knowledge?" Again, Anna could not give an answer. "I see. You're merely a pawn after all. Fine, I shall educate you, only because I plan on keeping you."
"You'll do no such thing, Nara Nakki."
The queen waved it aside. "We'll discuss it later. The eyes of the soul are in the Tha. The Will IS the Ka, Ib, and Akh and their struggle with each other. That leaves..."
"...The Keb. The umbilical that connects our hearts to our soul."
Nara Nakki smiled. "Our brains, Plaything. The soul connects to our brains."
"No it doesn't. I've seen it. It connects to the heart."
Nara Nakki waved it away, then stopped in mid wave. Her eyes went wide and her insane smile returned. "You say you've SEEN it?" Her eyes rolled back in her head. "Oh, this is delicious."
"Look, none of this matters."
"It does to us, Anna Goldeyes. We would keep you. OH, we would keep you. Such a brain, fine and beautiful. Sharp as a blade. One we would have you cut yourself with." She shook her head and returned to the now. "To busyness. When the life leaves, so does the soul, but the soul lives longer than our breath. It severs from the brain by the Keb. That is what death truly is."
"And then what."
"Even we do not know. We have asked Mandra many times, but this secret should would not reveal. Reguardless, the Keb doesn't sever cleanly, Anna Goldeyes. There is something left." Queen Nara Nakki motioned to the child's forehead. "Have a look."
"This..." Anna frowned, then knelt before the child. "This won't do anything. It's just a body. There's nothing left to see." Nara Nakki pulled Anna's hands to the girls' head. "There's nothing there." Anna probed and poked with her mind. Trying to imagine if the girl was still alive. "Nothing is..."
"Shhh... Concentrate. Look deep, as if at the back of a cave."
Anna did so. She tried to imagine the girl was still alive, just asleep and cold. Cold. That was the right word for this mind. Cold like a cavern deep in the earth. Somewhere there was just something...
Anna screamed and pulled away. She shuffled backward again the closed iron doors of the Throne room. Eyes wild with pain, she found she was hyperventilating. Control? She lost control. How long she was like this, she didn't know. It was worse than the room full of dead children. Worse than looking through Duffworm's tombs of horror. It was worse than the first time she saw Beatrix for the first and second time. So much worse.
Queen Nara Nakki was laughing. "What did you see?" Her voice tumbled and mocked. "What did you see?!" She crawled closer to Anna. Tears of joy streamed down her face. "Tell your queen."
"You...You keep away from me!"
"Oh, Anna Goldeyes, I would keep you and teach you suck things like this."
"Because I have lived and lived longer than the world has ached, and I have never seen a mind like yours! Never anyone who's looked at what you've looked at!" Anna swung her chained hands hard, striking the Queen on the temple and throwing her across the room. She was laughing. Laughing still while her blood drizzled tot he dirt.
Must get away. Must get out of here. Anna fumbled with the chains, pulling at them and twisting her hands to get to the old latch that held them in place. "This is a trick. A reality of your will and I deny it." The latch broke away and one manicle came loose. "I DENY IT!"
"You've already taken the first step, my plaything." The Queen hadn't moved. She smiled playfully, chest heaving with mirth and giggles. "And we made a deal."
"I'll not deal with these LIES, Nara Nakki!" The last cuff came off. Anna threw the set at the Queen. "And I am not your plaything." While Nara Nakki picked up the chains, Anna was well on her way out, pulling the doors open wide.
As she twisted the heave wheel that pulled the crypt gate upward and open, she heard Nara Nakki in the back room. "I do not lie, Anna Goldeyes, and we made a deal!" Nara Nakki was in the doorway, holding the chains. The gate was open behind her. "Your submission for your safety."
"I'm a Red Guard, Nara Nakki."
"Look at your hands."
"What?" Anna did so. Her finger tips were burnt. Just like Gringill's. She looked up and Nara Nakki was holding her burned hands up. "What do you think I was before all this?" She waved outside. "What do you think any of us were?"
"Right." It was a sound of determination.
Anna planted a firm boot into Nara Nakki's skull, slamming her out of the doorway and into the wall behind. She gave the Queen a salute before bolting out of the crypt and taking in the surrounding. There were about 40 to 50 surprised looking Cemetery Girls. All dressed like Gravedust, pale in black with black veils worn in mockery of the White Maidens.
"GIRLS!" Cried Nara Nakki behind Anna. "NEEDLES!" The crown smiled and chuckled and squeeled. They all had long thin sheethes, as if for daggers, but drawn out was not a blade, but a thin and sharp looking needle. 40 to 50 needles. Anna wished she kept the chains, now.
The girls rushed forward and Anna heard Nara Nakki rush from behind. As the crowd lunged with there painful weapons, Anna turned, grabbed Nara Nakki by the rope, spun, and flung the Queen into the needles in front. Nara Nakki screamed as Anna ducked below eye level, and came back up, uppercutting on of the girls at the edge of the crowd, knocking her into the arms of another behind her. Anna sidestepped the group and tried to run around. Not far ahead was the gates out.
Passing a crypt, Anna saw the girl too late. She was hiding around the corner and stepped out just at the right time to plan her needle just below Anna's right shoulder. Anna turned with the movement and, doing her best to ignor the pain, pulled the girl forward on her way past and used that momentum to pick her up and throw her head first against the wall. All in all, the girl had done little to slow Anna down.
She pulled the needle out of her shoulder with a yell and stepped up to the Cemetery gates. They were locked. Of course they were locked. Nara Nakki didn't give the order to keep Madeline out, it was to keep Anna in. "Anna! Behind you!" It was Madeline, pointing.
Anna turned and saw the on coming crowd. One girl stepped in, aiming her needle at Anna's gut. Anna was out of the way too soon and pulled her needle back and into the girl's wrist. "Anyway you can help with the gate?" She asked Madeline. The crowd was nearly upon her.
"Idiot!" Madeline put her hands through the bars and grabed each other. "You don't go through, you go over!" Anna took the hint, put one boot on Madeline's hands, and was flung over the gate. The top was covered in blunt arrowheads that hurt as Anna strattled the edge. She leaned forward and rolled her body over to the otherside where Madeline caught her. The two quickly rolled back and away from the gate as pale hands and needled reached out to stab and grab the two.
Nara Nakki walked slowly behind the crowd of black things. "You cannot change what you saw, Anna Goldeyes!" Blood poured down Nara Nakki's nude body. She had been stabbed in the breast and one needle pierces her side through to her back. No mortal wound, but she looked like death, especially with her mad smile. "Now go and find us a Ripper! We want him next!"
"Let's get away before those things remember they have a key to that gate." Madeline was the first up. She pulled Anna along with her toward the docks, and into the light of day again.
A Marf doctor was wrapping Anna's Shoulder. "Don't know what got'cha, Lady, but it ain't that deep. Stop yer cry'n already." Marf made bad conversation, but great doctors.
"Anna." Madeline had found them a ship's doctor at one of the pubs. He was willing to help, but his crew crouded around them. Anna could barely hear Madeline over the murmur of the crew or the waves of the ocean. Once she sat down next to a window and felt the3 sun again, she took the time to collaps into sobs.
"Did ya' here?" the sailors told each other. "Says they came from the old cemetery." "Old Gods! Is she still sane?" "Ghosts must'a got to 'er. My mate Philben once went there and went mad." "What's that? The Docks Cemetery? HA! Ain't nutt'n there!"
The patch job was finished and the crowd of sailors disperse. Madeline ordered two heavy stouts and sat next to Anna, putting an arm around her. Anna leaned in and let it all out. The pain, the fear, and the visions. It wasn't just hers. She told Madeline of the last moments of that child's life. A child that was already used to pain, and more piled on. "She died like none of them, Maddy." Anna felt the beer in her hands, but couldn't stop talking long enough to drink. "It was crawling over her! The paint was cruel like nothing else! I thought it was the electricity of the flowers, but Maddy, it was..." Anna broke down again.
Madeline wasn't used to comforting people. She patted Anna on the shoulder and said "uh...there there. It'll be okay." In a flat voice. She wished a White Maiden, even Cherry, was around, but they tended to avoid the docks.
The head on Anna's beer Shrank by half by the time Anna was able to compose herself again. Little wimpers snuck through her as she tried to gather her mind in one peice. There was pain and there was fear and then there was what Nara Nakki had shown her. She drank the beer and wiped her mouth, eyes red and purple, puffed up from sea water pouring out. "That damn bitch, Nara Nakki."
"What ever it was, you can't trust it."
"That's just it, Madeline." Anna swallowed hard. "Nara Nakki doesn't lie. I saw it in that...That souless thing. That corpse."
"What are you talking about?" Madeline shook Anna by the shoulders. "Snap outta it! That's impossible and you know it."
Anna shrugged off the grip. "Shut up. I know where the murders took place, now." She looked hard at Madeline. "It's important you know that Nara Nakki knew what was going to happen. Her motives weren't clear, but she knew what I would see, she knew what I was going to do, and she planed for it." Anna wiped more snot from her nose. It still ran from the sobs. "And if she knows it or not, she's going to help me with a little problem I've been wrestling with."
"You're saying you saw...what? Into the mind of that little girl she brought you?" Madeline's next words were carefully pronounced so there could be no mistake as to their meaning. "Ibis shit."
"Madeline, is there a third branch to the church?" Madeline didn't answer. "One where the Magi go mad? One where they experiment with things we're told not to go through." Madeline looked into her empty mug. "Maybe they found a way to do something impossible. Andyway, it doesn't matter. I can't use the vissions dirrectly."
"Did you see who Lily Ripper was?"
"No, but Nara Nakki had." Anna held up her finger tips. "It burned this much just to get a glimpse. The womume must have looked over and over again into dead minds. You saw her hands?"
"I had wondered about that."
"But I can't use it, you see. I know where the killing happened, I know mostly how the killing is done, but I can't use any of it!"
Madeline waved down a beer. "Meh. Use it to find Lily Ripper and burn out his mind. That's what I'd do. Not sure why you're worried about it."
"That not how Drate and I do things. You see, we decided that if there must be proof, it must be something everyone can see. Physical. Simple. Enough that I could explain it to a child borc."
Madeline shrugged. "Burn his mind away, Justice is done. No problem."
"Is it justice if no one else knows? To be clean, there must be understanding by anyone. And evidence. This is how my research works. It's not like Heart Magic, Madeline. Everyone must agree to what they see as proof. Something, by the way, that could be presented to the City Council."
Madeline drank half her beer. "Alright." she said after wiping her lips. "Let's go."
"The Red Guard pulled the other out of her seat. "You said you saw where the murders happen. Let's go."