A peasant for his daughter
Excerpt from an interview
After this interviewed, Gretsor decided to debrief with me. "So, Nal'. What did you think of that? — I couldn't really say, doctor. I mean, the peasant looked innocent to me. Why would he burn his own house? — He didn't sound a bit odd to you, then? And, what did you think of this 'genie' story? — Can't really tell, doctor." I stratched my head. "I mean, folks over here are superstitious. He could very well have imagined this, I suppose. Or, it could be one of the local minor gnats, don't you think? — So to you, the whole genie episode just played out in the peasant's head? What about what he said about his daughter gets better?" I shrugged: "A bout of luck, I suppose? Maybe the fever was curable?" Gretsor seemed unsatisfied with my answer. They started sorting through some files to show me something. Suddenly, they noted something from my paper and stopped: "Wait a minute, Nal'. Who did you draw next to the peasant? — Why, the person next to him of course! His daughter, I suppose. What do you mean? — You mean you saw his daughter sitting next to him? — Well, I..." Gretsor silenced me with a wave of their wing. Frowning, they took out the folder we had gathered on the subject of the fire. "Read that. It's information we gathered on the fire, mostly from the village's herbalist." I looked at the document. According to the document, the villagers didn't come to extinguish the fire: they were accompanying the herbalist who came to check on the peasant's daughter, Berry. As they got close to the house, they saw the flames and hastened their pace. The peasant came out of the house just as they came in, with what they thought was his daughter. He hid her in the bush nearby, and they quickly formed a chain from the well to calm the fire. According to the herbalist, as the villagers came in to check on the damages, they discovered something horrible. In the bed was the partly burned corpse of a young girl. "Wait, I said. Why didn't the peasant mention the corpse? And whose was it? — That's what should be bugging you, Gretsor said. Now keep reading." According to the herbalist, determining what had happened to the corpse was hard. I suppose it always is, after a burn. However, one thing was, in fact, certain. Whoever they were, they had actually been dead for a few days: the corpse didn't show any initial mark of bleeding or burn blisters. "So wait. Did the peasant have two children? I asked, more and more confused. — Apparently, he didn't. And he didn't have any guest, either. It isn't always easy to say with a burn victim, but the corpse was almost certainly his daughter." Suddenly, I was much more disturbed by the innocent, brave-looking peasant we had just questionned. "So you mean to tell me the peasant lied about everything... But he looked so honest, when speaking! And, and what about the child that was sitting next to him then?" Gretsor looked back at me, with a look of concern. "See Nal', here's the issue. There was no kid in the prison. Only the three of us." That pause, and the gravity in my master's tone hit me like a brick. Was that an hallucination? That kid seemed perfectly real to me, perfectly normal. I was even able to draw it decently. Is that what a mental parasite is capable of? Grestsor started again: " According to the herbalist's notes, they confronted the peasant about the corpse. However, they say he just didn't understand. 'What do you mean? he asked. There's no corpse! And certainly not Berry's! Berry is right there!' As he pointed next to him, a small silhouette walked from behind him. Berry. She was dressed in the exact same way as the poor child in the bed. — Then... Who-What did we see? I asked. — I didn't see anything because I armoured my mind beforehand. You, however, most likely saw the same thing as the villagers: the result of the so-called genie. — So, this story was true? — To some extent, it probably was. That artificial darkness he mentionned at the beginning was a pretty good indication: it is not uncommon for predatory mental entities to surround an area with Ghostpowder, and make it so that people partly lose their sense of sight from going there: makes them afraid, and a scared mind is even easier to take control of. — The genie lied, though. It didn't heal Berry. — It didn't indeed. To be honest, it was unlikely that it could. There are very few entities that have actual general healing abilities, and they are not the type to trade with a random person for it. However, the entity probably could make it look like the daughter was alive, and that's what it did. It installed itself in the peasant's head, took some of his memory. Then, it created a lively hallucination. Something simple, just a nice little entity that would look, speak, maybe act, like Berry. — I think I understand, I said. Through the hallucination, the genie probably made the peasant forget about his actual daughter. He didn't notice when she died." I shrugged with disgust. "There's still something I don't quite get. Why did it do that? Why would such a nasty, powerful go out of its way to trick a peasant into not dealing with the grief of his loved daughter? — You tell me that, Nal", Gretsor replied. I closed my eyes for a bit, thinking about the answer. I rubbed my forehead. As I opened my eyes, I noticed a small child in a night gown, peering from the side of the door. I looked back at Gretsor: "Because... it wanted to spread."
This document was part of a folder found in Gretsor Barren's office. The document was written by one of Gretsor's students during an expedition to the Middish Plains conducted in 5538. The expedition was one of the last conducted by the specialist, as it was concluded by the death of an unusually high number of students. As for most documents owned by Gretsor and their director Glowstick Bluebottom, some fractions of the documents were lost during the unexplained destruction of their office.