"How exactly do you know," the feathered beast inquired, "that lead will kill them? Many charms were long thought to be foolproof, even the vampires carried quicksilver vials until last year."
"I saw it happen." All eyes (arranged in ones and twos and sixes among other arrangements) turned to the tattered spirit, a mixture of disbelief and interest growing in the crowd. "I saw a human die."
"That's impossible, they can't," piped up a young fae. Her 70 years of experience were nothing to sneeze at, but she'd hardly left the mushroom ring in decades.
The ghost held up a calm hand, and continued. "I was up in the wind, just after sunrise, and two blurs were in the forest. I was too high above to see much detail, and if I went any lower-- you know they're violent creatures-- so I stared from a good few hundred feet up in the air, and just when I thought there wouldn't be any danger, that it would be safe to get closer... there was this sudden and horrible sound.
"It was like a werewolf's joints all snapping into place at once, or a big tree being struck by heavenfire, a terrible, terrible sound-- and then I saw it!
"For the briefest moment, I saw a brother-- a ghost-- claw upwards. It was wild in the eyes, drenched in fury, with an ego so solid, a silhouette so sharp-- I swear its incorporial shoes had laces.
"It it flew upwards, past me, vibrating with anger, before changing direction as if to hawk-dive it's own corpse. It could not re-enter, obviously. It's aura screamed ash and embers, irradiating a swath of the spirit plane with outspilling betrayal and incomprehensibly agonizing defeat, it was like standing a foot from a shipwreck-wraith! Need I remind you, this phantom was less than a minute old?
"Thankfully, the sun drove my new sibling to hide, while the living human simply walked away. After the living and dead had left, I investigated.
"The body was warm, but quickly cooling. It wore clothes similar to a dread whisperer.
"I know you're all holding your breath, waiting to hear if there was some burn on its skin, some banishing object laid on its palm, but I found something else entirely." The spirit manifested an arm, before reaching to pluck a memory-image from within itself. Bleeding into a slightly more solid shape, its vague hand held up a twisted shard of metal.
"This," the ghost gestured towards the fragment, "is shrapnel. It was inside the human's skull."
The crowd remained motionless, those with blood had gone pale, those without had simply stared. It was as if the revelation had turned the meeting-goers into stone. The only sound now was an odd, half-echoed crunch of leaves. Growing louder, it was joined by the sound of wind whisling around gasping lungs, not solid enough to work properly. Then, like a tidal wave, came a cacophany of words.
Each sound was warped, twisted, strained, but the sentiments were easy enough to understand. Prayers, confusion, questions, plans. By the time the presence had reached the hilltop, it was faced with attention from every nightmare known on Earth.
It bled. Not like an animal, like a god. It bled in sound.
It parted the sea of fantastical creatures, and walked brokenly towards the center of the scene. A hand too-real, too detailed, silently reached towards the scrap that had been held like a trophy just minutes earlier. As callused fingertips brushed hazy outlines, the older ghost was nearly knocked back with sudden force. Understanding. Memory.
["This one is yours."]
[This one is mine.]
[This is mine.]
[This is me.]
It let the new spirit take the scrap image.
Raising the glinting shard, the phantom pressed it into the back of its own head. The scrap was gone. The echoing sounds were silenced. The bleeding, however metaphorical it was, had been stemmed. The ghost believed itself to be complete.
By a fraction of a degree, details were blunted as the form finally relaxed. The jacket zipper's teeth, a tattoo, a scar, all melting out of existance. The rolling tidal waves of emotion retreated, coiling like a spool of thread. A single line. Personality. That which could not easily be changed, and would not easily be lost. Bookmarked just a few pages in, after the false beginning, to show that it had not really ended with a piece of lead.
Because you could not kill a human.
As if seeing for the first time, it scanned the crowd, and motioned the other spirit to be seated. With the floor to itself, it finally spoke, with a voice steady and clear despite its softness, although much younger than the body seemed to be. "I'm not sure if this is Hell or not," it said. "But you seem like nice enough people."
A collective exhale among the breathing beasts.