Vur, Tafel, and Lindyss stood in front of a one-story building. Its walls were smooth and painted white. The door was made of a light-blue metal that reflected the moon in the sky above them. Tombstones were propped up around them, marking the end of a person’s journey.
“Do you have the key?” Lindyss asked.
Vur shook his head. “Keys are unnecessary,” he said and pushed on the door. The wall next to the doorknob cracked and shattered as the mithril-plated door swung open. Tafel sighed as pieces of the wall fell to the ground. The trio stepped inside the dark room. A light flashed and a golden spirit appeared.
“Intruders will be—,” the spirit’s voice trailed off. It opened its mouth and a trembling male voice came out. “What are you doing here, Your Majesty? Only members of the clergy may proceed beyond this point.”
“Says who?” Vur asked and tilted his head. The spirit took a step backwards and gulped.
“It was decreed long ago by us,” the male spirit said. “All the bodies preserved in this mausoleum may not be defiled. Each person entombed here had the qualifications to join us as god.”
“It’s not like you need your bodies anymore,” Lindyss said with a smile. “Is it just your pride speaking? Nothing is eternal. Thinking you can preserve your bodies forever, so naïve.” Lindyss shook her head.
The spirit glared at Lindyss and crossed his arms. “What do you intend on doing here?” he asked and narrowed his eyes. “An elf doesn’t have the qualifications to be in the cemetery, much less the mausoleum.” It turned towards Tafel. “A demon has even less of a right to be here.”
“They’re with me,” Vur said and took a step forward.
“You also do not belong!” the spirit said with a shout. He thumped his arm across his chest and a golden tower shield materialized in his hand. “I, Sir Magnus, am the designated guardian of this place! Do not underestimate me. While I was alive, I was able to deflect the attacks of a phoenix. Now that I’m dead, I’m even stronger with the help of my comrades. The others may call you god eater, but I’m not afraid.” His knees knocked together as he trembled.
Lindyss snorted. “So tell me,” she said as the air around her crackled, “how strong am I compared to a phoenix?”
“Come!” Sir Magnus shouted and slammed his shield against the ground. A web of golden light spread out from the shield and enveloped the room.
Lindyss closed her eyes and spread her arms out to the side. Rumbling sounds filled the air as a vortex of wind surrounded the mausoleum. Red clouds formed in the sky, crackling with black electricity. Dust rained down from the ceiling as the walls shook. Sir Magnus gritted his teeth as goosebumps formed along his body.
Vur tugged on Lindyss’ arm and the vortex stuttered. “I thought the corpses had to be intact,” Vur said. “Why are you trying to destroy them too?”
Lindyss’ eyes opened and the red clouds began to disperse. “Oh. I forgot,” Lindyss said and scratched her head. “I think I’m still a little grumpy since someone interrupted my nap.”
Magnus cleared his throat. “So, you’re leaving?” he asked, still bracing his shield. “Please?”
“Hmm? Of course not,” Lindyss said as she pulled a bat skeleton out of her pocket. “I wonder how strong this minion will be if I use a spirit that was qualified to be a god.” A shadowy tendril shot out of the bat skeleton and wrapped around Sir Magnus.
“What is this?” Magnus said as he tried to grab the tendril. “Necromancy!? You’re the corrupted one!”
Lindyss smiled. “I’ll be using your spirit to reanimate a corpse,” she said as the tendril dragged Magnus towards the bat skeleton.
“This is impossible! I’m a god!” Magnus said as he dug his shield into the ground, attempting to break away from the tendril. “You can’t do this!”
“Sure I can,” Lindyss said as the bat skeleton opened its mouth and sucked Magnus inside, shield and all. “The living will always be stronger than the dead.” The skeleton flew on top of Lindyss’ head and buried itself in her hair.
Tafel tilted her head. “Do you always carry a bat skeleton around with you?”
“Of course. You don’t?”
“N-no,” Tafel said and shook her head. “I’ve never found myself in a situation where I thought, ‘I could really use a bat skeleton right now.’”
“Then you haven’t been in too many situations,” Lindyss said as she pulled another bat skeleton out of her pocket. “You can have this one. You never know, it may save your life one day.”
Tafel raised an eyebrow. “Thanks, I guess?”
“I don’t get one?” Vur asked.
“No. I doubt you’d ever be in a situation where your life was threatened,” Lindyss said as she walked deeper into the mausoleum. “There’s a stairwell going downwards. I’ll use the spirits around Tafel to reanimate the corpses as we go.”
“They won’t try to kill me?” Tafel asked as she held Vur’s hand and followed after Lindyss. A single torch illuminated the spiral staircase.
Lindyss shook her head. “They’ll be under my control,” she said. She pointed at the skeleton in her hair. “See how obedient this bat is?”
“This place is massive,” Tafel said as she gripped Vur’s hand tighter. Rows upon rows of sarcophaguses surrounded them on a marble floor. Each sarcophagus had a crystalline cover that revealed a pristine corpse resting on red silk within. Plaques with epitaphs hung on the foot of each sarcophagus.
Lindyss nodded. “According to that spirit from earlier, there should be corpses from before the humans landed on this continent,” Lindyss said as she placed her hand on a sarcophagus and gazed at the corpse within. “I wonder how long it took Charon to transport all of this over here.”
The group walked in a spiral pattern, reanimating each corpse along the way. They laid unmoving with their eyes open. An hour passed in this manner, but they had only reanimated half the corpses.
“It’s fine if we just leave them here and have them pretend they’re dead,” Lindyss said. “There must’ve been a thousand bodies, but I still can’t get an accurate sense on the number of spirits haunting you.”
Lindyss frowned. “Is there another floor?” she asked and poked the skeleton on her head. It chirped and nodded. “Well, we still haven’t fully gone through this floor. We’ll hit the way down eventually.”
Gale’s eyes shot open as he sat up in bed. Sweat soaked the back of his shirt. “What is this feeling?” he asked to himself as he shivered and looked around his room. He had moved into the previous pope’s living quarters in the temple after he was promoted.
He got out of bed and lit a torch while equipping himself with his staff. The halls were silent; the only sounds were his padded footsteps and ragged breathing. He muttered to himself. “The basement?”
He made his way to the bottom of the temple, finding nothing amiss along the way. He stopped in front of a mithril door. He gulped as he retrieved a key from his necklace and unlocked the door. The door screeched as he pushed it open. A baleful aura washed over him, causing his knees to tremble and his teeth to chatter.
“The formation?” he asked. “How? What’s happening?”
The once white runes that were engraved on the floor were cracked with black spots dotting them. Wisps of dark smoke rose out of the cracks, condensing into a ball at the center of the room. Gale slammed the door shut and dashed down the hall. “I need to get to the vault. This can’t be good.”