Part 25: Did you kill her?
This is important, I take it.
I need to ask you something. Did you...
Do you remember Meenya?
Is that it?
Something remarkable must have been on the floor, because Duran fixated on it with pupils wide. His face looked paler than Fana's on one of her off days.
Yumil. What's this about?
He wants to know if you-
NO. I have to do this myself.
Ask or go, then. I have work to do.
Did you kill her?
I...I'm just saying, I saw you leaving their house that night. You didn't notice me, but...
N-no, never mind. I shouldn't have said that. I was-
We will discuss this in the back room.
You may go, Yumil. This is between me and Duran.
They took their leave, my lungs ignited, and I realised I'd been holding my breath.
I chastised myself for that. Why get tense? I knew Gustav didn't do it. Duran was in for the scolding of his life, but at least the matter was settled. My work was...
...not done. Not done. Oh god. I should have listened.
What are you doing?!
I told you to leave.
Duran, are you alright? What did he say?
He answered in blood and saliva. I grasped his arm, tried to help him stand and he jerked away as though my hands carried lightning. He curled in on himself like a newborn child, biting down on his glove to stifle his pain, still not daring to look at Gustav. At his father.
If you mean to stay then do me a favour. Take him out of my sight.
Oh my god. My god. He's telling the truth, isn't he? You killed them.
Is that why you did this to him? To shut him up? Were you going to kill him too?
This is none of your business!
It is now. I want an answer. You're not going to beat me quiet. I want an answer.
Do you know there's a ghost in town? The little girl who died? She somewhere crying her eyes out right now because she thinks nobody cares about her anymore. She doesn't know what she is.
If you made that happen, you're going to pay. So help me god, you will. Did you do it? Did you? Did you kill her?
How dare you?! How dare either of you?! Those people were my closest friends! I tried to protect them!
Well you didn't make a good job of it!
Who did it then, if it wasn't you? What were you doing there?
I don't know who. I only know why.
The father was a Kaleilan diplomat, the one negotiating peace with Waisen. And there were those who didn't want that peace.
He sent word, invited me to stay with him, but...
They were dead when I arrived. If Duran saw me, that's when. If I ran, it was to chase their killers.
I would give anything to have that day again. To save their lives. And now you accuse me of taking them. My own son.
Duran. You are done here. Do not set foot in this hall ever again.
...just get out.
Tilt your head back.
No, you're supposed to tilt it back. Aren't you?
Forward. I'd know.
Do you think he's telling the truth?
You said you were there when it happened, right? Why didn't you see him do it, then? How come you only saw him leave?
...I was hiding. I heard the screaming and I just...I ran into the closet and hid.
That's me. Son of Gustav the great. Cowering in a closet while some vicious bastard sticks a knife in a girl's throat. Happy birthday, Meenya.
You'd be dead too if you hadn't.
Go on. Say it. Waste your breath.
It's not your fault.
Any wonder he's not proud of me.
What was all that about a ghost?
Ever since I got the book, I've been seeing Meenya's ghost around town. And no, I'm not mad. The book just lets me see these things. Nobody else can.
She has orange pigtails tied with red ribbons and she's really good at I-Spy. In case you don't believe me.
I do now.
Yeah. The problem is, she doesn't know she's a ghost. She doesn't understand why I'm the only one paying attention to her. It's upsetting her a lot.
Why don't you tell her?
Because I...I don't know.
What if that just makes it worse? Even if she knows, it won't help her. She'll still be lonely.
She didn't go peacefully either. I don't want to remind her of...whatever it was she went through. If she suffered, if she saw her family die. I don't want her to remember that. She's too young.
I don't know what to do.
Do you know where she is now?
I can look for her.
Give her this. Say it's from Duran.
Even if I can't see her, I still think about her. Every day. Tell her that.
Thankfully, she was easy to find that night. I only had to follow the wailing.
Meenya! Why are you crying? What's wrong?
My brother won't...he wouldn't...he looked right at me today and I thought he'd...he'd...
He hates me. Everyone hates me.
Don't be silly. Nobody hates you.
They do! They do, they do! It's been so long now and nobody's said anything to me except you!
Can't you use your book?
To make someone talk to me. I don't care who it is. I just want...I just...
Words gave way to more tears. On any other day I'd have remained stoic, but that night, I wanted nothing more than to join her.
Meenya, the book can't-
Your name wouldn't happen to be Meenya, would it?
Yeah. How'd you know?
Are you kidding? Everyone in town talks about you. I had to see if you were as smart and well-behaved as people say you are.
I think there's someone else who wanted to meet you as well!
You're the boy from before. The one who was hiding.
Yeah, I was...I was being stupid. Sorry.
No, it's okay. It's okay to be shy.
Are you his mummy?
I'm Mieli, and this is my son Rempo. It's-
(Hello, noisy larva.)
...and this is Neaki. It's lovely to meet you.