Jennie stumbled backwards, the flower pot making up her left shin shattering noisily. Her hastily-constructed body was a vessel for her disembodied spirit, not a tool for combat. In the far corners of her mind, she mused that it must have seemed quite a sight: an American girl battling what could only be described as a reproduction of herself made from stray gardening tools.

The Zaar sneered back at her. Jennie had never seen her own features so contorted with hatred and malice, and shuddered to think what that malevolent spirit might do if it possessed her body any longer. “I eliminated your feeble friends like babes in the woods, one by one, despite the limitations of this pitiful husk,” it snarled. “You think you can do better when you’re nothing but a mound of garbage?”

Jennie kept playing the simple melody on the tanbura she’d been given. Play the song, forgive the sin, reclaim the body…that was the mantra, after all. Hadn’t the Abdaar told her as much?

“Silence your pathetic stringing,” the Zaar continued. Jennie’s possessed hand reached out with a speed that she’d never have been able to muster and snatched the instrument from the garden-glove fingers that held it. With a motion worthy of the minor lagues, the Zaar smashed the tanbura onto the hard stone floor.

“No!” Jennie cried despairingly. She’d gotten the song out completely one and a half times, maybe two. Why wasn’t it working?

“I thought that disembodiment, and the rare opportunity to watch your body participate as my master ripped the soul out of every one of your ancestors back five generations, would be punishment enough for your meddling,” said the Zaar. “But to see you here attempting this Abdaar ritual…I think it will be much more convenient to simply snuff you out here and now.”

Jennie’s Zaar-possessed hands closed around the throat her disembodied life-essence had constructed out of an old garden hose, hefting the makeshift form into the air. Though it was essentially hands gripping trash that should have slid right through them, Jennie found herself unable to escape.

Play the song, forgive the sin, reclaim the body…” she rasped. Play the song, forgive the sin, reclaim the body

“Silence.” Her body’s eyes were glowing, literally glowing, as Jennie felt her spirit being torn to pieces. “Foolish girl. I shall make your soul an offering to my master.”

Play the song, forgive the sin, reclaim the body…” Jennie’s makeshift eyes widened. Of course…it wasn’t a single step, but rather two…could she summon the willpower needed to do it, even after all the Zaar had done?

Jennie’s garden-glove fingers flopped at her sides, rose, and encircled the Zaar. Not in a stranglehold, but an embrace. “I…I forgive you,” she whispered. “After all that you’ve done, all the people you’ve hurt…you’re still a hollow shell without a body or a friend in the world.”

“Quiet! You know nothing!”

“You’ve got nobody, not even your beloved master, in the entire world…while my friends and family will be with me forever, even if they die. I forgive you, and I feel sorry for you.”

The Zaan shrieked, Jennie’s possessed mouth loosing an inhuman sound into the world. But it was the sound of a mortally wounded beast.

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