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Contractbound 47 A Spirit's Gratitude

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Graham arrived back at his apartment building at two in the afternoon. Previously, he had stopped by a hardware store to buy lighter fluid and also got some lunch. He had gone to a pizza restaurant near the hardware store and eaten a whole pizza since he hadn't had breakfast today.

Inside the apartment building, he didn't go home yet but rather, went to the fourth floor to meet with the female lingering spirit again. He walked slowly because the floorboards creaked with every step, even though he was wearing light loafers with soft soles. One step, two steps. It took him many steps to reach the fourth floor of that old apartment building, whose wall paints had begun to peel, and whose floor smelled strongly of old wood.

The fourth floor of that building was similar to the others in terms of decoration and condition, but it felt strangely quiet. The corridor that was wide enough for three people to walk side by side felt suffocating, although it was daytime. The cloud blocking the warm sun wasn't helping either.

Creak...

The sound of the floor resounded in the whole long corridor. The doors on each side felt like they were peeking at the person walking outside. However, it didn't bother Graham at all, since he had seen actual ghosts. He kept on walking until he reached the thick wooden door with the number 48 on it. The door had signs of recent use, which were caused by him when he entered it earlier that day.

He reached out to the handle and it felt cold even though he was wearing gloves. He twisted it and pushed the door open, and the door swung open to the inside with slight resistance, most likely caused by the hinges. He closed it behind him and there was the click sound that came from the latch bolt being released back to its slot.

The living room was still in the same condition as before: messy and dusty. He ignored the room and made his way to the bedroom where he had made contact with the ghost earlier. In the dark apartment, he would have some trouble seeing, but since he had refilled his lighter fluid, he could use it leisurely now. The bedroom still gave off a stench of old stuff and the musty smell of stagnant air when he entered it.

Graham sat on the bed with his right hand holding his lighter, since he didn't need the table to hold a candle now. The bed sank when the weight of his body fell on it. The springs were all worn out and had lost their bounce. The dust on the sheet flew away when his bottom touched the sheet. Someone with dust allergy would have been coughing violently in that room.

He stared at the flame, watching the soothing blaze intently. The blue base, along with the orange flame seemed to be dancing gently before his eyes in that dark room. He then started chanting the name of his Deity to start communication with the female lingering spirit that resided there.

"I, in the name of the Deity of the Tongue, request communication with the spirit that inhabits this place."


"If you can hear me, please use this flame as a medium and talk to me," he spoke in a calm manner, his voice sounded somewhat ethereal as if it had been carried over to another realm.

Whoos.h.!.+

A gentle breeze swept over the room. From the flame, the pitiful image of a transparent figure appeared. It was the same ghost that had asked Graham a favor before. Her expression was still that of great sorrow, but it was somewhat strange because of her transparent face. Her eyes showed a look of expectation and hope, but at the same time of regret and gloom. She opened her mouth to speak.

"Did you... find my daughter...?" she spoke gently, but her voice was excruciatingly painful, like that of two ceramic pieces being rubbed against each other.

Graham's corner of the eyes twitched when he heard her voice, but he quickly controlled her expression. "Yes. I've pa.s.sed on your message to her." Graham said kindly.

Her doleful expression slowly became that of relief and salvation. Her eyes no longer projected sadness, but solace and ease. It felt like a very heavy weight had just been lifted off her shoulders.

"Thank you..." she said with a smile. Her voice sounded otherworldly, but still unpleasant to the ears.

Shortly after saying that, her ghostly body burst into flames, consuming her whole being. However, she didn't look like she was in pain, but rather, welcomed the flames as if they were her Messiah. She looked at Graham and smiled warmly in grat.i.tude in her last moment, and after that, her whole body disappeared without leaving any ashes.

Once she had disappeared completely, the image in Graham's flame also disappeared. He stood up from the bed and noticed that there was something on the floor that hadn't been there before. It was a round, clear object that looked like a small crystal ball, only the size of a big marble. It made him wonder why all supernatural objects were round.

Graham picked up the sphere that could have been left behind by the lingering spirit that no longer had any reason to linger around since her worldly affair had been resolved. The small object felt cold to touch through his gloves like he was touching a piece of ice. It was very light, almost weightless. He brought it closer to his face to inspect and looked at it intently. Looking straight into the crystal ball made him feel lightheaded and cold. He then put the thing inside his pocket and a.n.a.lyzed the situation.

"I think I can kind of theorized how lingering spirits come into existence. They most likely are souls who still have a strong tie with the material world. In that female ghost's case, the regret of not being able to say her love to her daughter. Once the tie is severed, the spirits can then pa.s.s on to the next world, leaving this object behind," he spoke with an a.n.a.lytical tone.

Graham then stared back at his lighter flame that was still burning. He concentrated on the orange blaze and repeated a question in his mind.

'What is the round thing that the lingering spirit left behind?'

With that question, the room became darker than it already was. The flame before his eyes burned brighter and he could see an image being projected from it. It showed a book that looked like an official guidebook. The words were neatly typed with a typewriter and were arranged carefully for ease of reading. Graham read the entry scrupulously.

'Wraiths and lingering spirits will leave behind something when they are either banished or purified, which is called an Essence. The Essences they leave behind are highly valued ritual materials that are required as a sacrifice by certain Deities. They can also be fitted into a piece of jewelry with the help of a Trans.m.u.ter to give it an effect depending on the wraiths or spirits that leave them behind.'

Suddenly, a hand closed the book and Graham senses a great danger from the other side, so he stopped his divination and put out the fire. He then quickly lied down in bed. He hadn't tried it before, but he knew he had to risk it and had no time to think it through. He chanted rapidly.

"I, in the name of the Deity of the Tongue, order myself to fall asleep right away!"

He then felt inexplicably sleepy and lost consciousness within seconds. Valentine woke up not long after, and knowing the danger, he got into action right away. He took out his knife and slit his palm and without waiting, started chanting his own Deity's name.

"I, in the name of the Deity of Secrets, offer this blood as a medium,"

"For I declare this place under the Shroud of Secrecy hereafter!"

He dropped his blood to the floor and the surrounding area became silent for a split second. It felt like an invisible yellowish mist had spread to the surrounding area and shrouded it in mystery. Only after he was done could he a.s.sess the situation calmly.

"I think your divination was directed at the wrong target this time. Someone was trying to backtrack the divination to the source here. We're lucky I'm fast enough to place anti-divination."

Valentine then thought about the book that he had seen through Graham's eyes. "The book looked official. Probably it belongs to the Police or another official body that deals with Contractbounds. The person who closed the book must be very dangerous if even I felt it while you were active."

Valentine then got up from the bed, the part where his body had been stayed sunken without bouncing back up. He cleaned the dust from his clothes and went out of the bedroom. Since he didn't have anything to do at home, he decided to look for either Luuk or Jacco to divulge some more secrets in order to please his Deity.

He walked past the dirty furniture in the living room without any interest in them. Valentine grabbed the door handle and twisted it swiftly and got out of the apartment, and didn't forget to close the door behind him. He then walked down the old-looking corridor and arrived at the staircase not long after. The floorboards creaked much less when Valentine was walking on them, somehow.

He walked down all the way to the first floor, skipping the second-floor corridor. Since it was Monday, Luuk should be at university at this hour, so Valentine didn't bother checking at all. His best bet would be Jacco who should still be working at the restaurant right now. He went out to the street and stopped a public motor carriage.

He opened the pa.s.senger door and got into the back seat of the black motor carriage. The interior was big enough for two people, or even three if one was willing to share. Valentine sat comfortably on the red seat and spoke to the driver that was separated by a gla.s.s panel.

"Take me to Moeders on Grotemarktstraat."

"Roger that," said the bald driver in full spirit.

The trip from Tuinstraat to Grotemarktstraat didn't take long, so Valentine didn't have too much chance to sightsee. The trip was smooth because the road condition in the republic was always great. It was one of the things that made people like living there. There was very rarely any pothole, and even if there was one, it would be patched immediately by the government.

The motor carriage that he took arrived at the restaurant called 'Moeders' soon after. Valentine paid the driver and entered the medium-sized restaurant. Its concept was homecooked meals, so they sold various dishes that could be found at home, such as beef curry, omelet, roast chicken, and more. The moment he entered the restaurant, the pleasant aroma of braised beef entered his nose and made him hungry, so he sat at a table and waited for a waiter to come and serve him.

Valentine looked around the restaurant and on the wall, there were photos of various people, most likely their patrons who were famous. He recognized one of them; he was a famous comedian in Tulp who often appeared on TV, Charlie Wehn. Besides the photo, there were different kinds of wall decoration there too, which gave the restaurant a feeling of being in someone's grandmother's living room.

The restaurant at that time didn't have many customers, so the waiter could come and serve him quickly. Valentine ordered a portion of beef curry and bread and a cup of green tea. Before the young waiter left, he asked,

"Is Jacco van Wert here?"

"Uhm... Chef Jacco? Yes, he is," said the waiter unsurely. He seemed not to know Jacco's full name.

"Yes, it should be the same Jacco. Can you tell him his detective friend is here to see him?"

"Okay," said the waiter while nodding and then left his table.

Valentine waited there patiently while drinking the gla.s.s of water that the waiter had brought him. It was nice and warm inside the restaurant, unlike the cold and breeze outside. On top of that, pleasant smells kept coming from the kitchen.

After waiting for some time, Jacco came out with his food personally. He was wearing a relatively clean ap.r.o.n, considering the fact that he was the Chef. He must be a very careful cook.

"You looking for me?" asked Jacco curiously while serving the food on the table.

Valentine looked at the food on his table without answering him. The brown curry was still hot, and it looked very appetizing. He took a piece of bread and dipped it in the curry sauce, making sure he got some meat along with the sauce. He put it in his mouth and the beautiful mix of spices in the sauce ma.s.saged his palate gently. The bread mellowed down the strong taste of the sauce and the beef melted in his mouth. He was impressed by the food.

"Did you cook this?" asked Valentine seriously.

"Yes, why is that?" Jacco answered with his loud ba.s.sy voice.

"This is very good. I'm amazed,"

Valentine's words put a smile on his face. He laughed proudly and said, "That's Chef Jacco for you!"

"Anyway, I'm not here just for the food. Do you want to know more information related to Contractbounds?" he looked at Jacco in the eyes and spoke in an enticing manner.

Jacco thought about it for a while. He was indeed interested in the new information, but knowing the person in front of him, it couldn't just be free.

"What's the price?" he then asked carefully.

"Just my meal," Valentine said shortly.

Jacco's eyes opened wide. It was a very cheap price considering the importance of the information he might be getting, so without thinking twice, he said, "Deal!"

With Jacco agreeing, Valentine then started telling him about the wraiths and lingering spirits and the Essence they left behind, especially about the lingering spirits. He also told him his theory of how they came to be and how to make them leave this world, based on his recent encounter. He made sure to speak quietly to prevent anyone from eavesdropping, although there were not a lot of people there at the time. Valentine also gave only the essential information, without divulging more than what Jacco needed to know.

Jacco was listening intently the whole time, while occasionally nodding. He had encountered wraiths before during their last mission, so he could understand easily. However, it was still felt unreal to him that ghosts actually existed. He had thought of the wraiths as some kind of monster, so it was easier to believe in. The lingering spirits, on the other hand, sounded too close to ghost stories he used to hear when he was a child.

"So that's that," said Valentine at the end of his speech.

"Wow. I don't know what to say," said Jacco. His expression was that of someone whose world view had been changed.

"Do what you like with the information I just gave you. Now if you'll excuse me, I have a curry to finish," Valentine spoke politely and then started eating his delicious curry again.


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Contractbound 47 A Spirit's Gratitude summary

You're reading Contractbound. This manga has been translated by Updating. Author(s): Grymes. Already has 38 views.

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