So I don’t know if it’s clear here or not, but rather than just trying to do a job and screwing it up, Gravedust and E-Merl are “working” these ghosts a little bit, playing Good Cop and Dangerously Stupid Cop. That’s why E-Merl smirks in panel 2 and reveals he had a spell prepared to put out the fire in the last frame. “My associate set this tomb on fire. How unexpected. Soon we will have to flee this place– this is your last chance– you are running out of time– SPEAK NOW, I DON’T KNOW HOW LONG I CAN KEEP MY PARTNER HERE FROM CONSIGNING YOUR MEMORIES TO OBLIVION, HE’S A MADMAN, HE’S OFF THE CHAIN.”

Of course, what Gravedust has trouble grasping is that the Cultists kinda like oblivion.

Thinking that his efforts have led to failure when they may not have failed at all is, of course, very very E-Merl. What exactly Gravedust learned that will be useful later is a bit vague; it’s more a general understanding than a specific spur to his next action. But as Phil and I would eventually figure out, GD’s battle with Cultism and what it represents is just ramping up.