“And we’re done with this floor. Nearly all the spirits have hosts now, just a couple left,” Lindyss said as she exhaled and sat down on top of a sarcophagus. A ball of water materialized in her hand and she took a sip. “I need a break.”
“Thank you for doing this,” Tafel said and lowered her head. She raised it again and looked around. “This place was really expansive, wasn’t it? It makes you wonder how much time the humans have spent making it.”
Vur nodded as he sat down next to Lindyss. “There’s still another floor,” he said as he gazed at a stairwell in the corner. “How long have we been here? I’m getting sleepy.”
“About six hours,” Lindyss said. “Two hours per floor.” She stood up and stretched her arms above her head. “Let’s go take a peek at the fourth floor. Some of the epitaphs are really interesting.”
“You’ve been reading them?” Tafel asked and raised an eyebrow. She glanced at the plaque attached to the foot of the sarcophagus nearest to her. “Here lies Lady Poe, the first person to scale Mt. Berg. Passed away at 80 years old when she tripped over a chicken.” Tafel frowned. “Are these real?”
Lindyss chuckled. “They are,” she said. “You just chose one of the less heroic ones to read.”
“Here lies Mr. Ratsel,” Vur read aloud. “The only thing we know about him is his name, but he must have been important if I was asked to make a plaque for him. –Plaque Maker Josef.”
“Well the other four thousand were interesting, okay?” Lindyss said as she crossed her arms and marched towards the stairwell. Vur and Tafel glanced at each other before following after Lindyss. The trio descended down the stairs, leaving footprints in the dust. At the bottom was a pair of double doors with two armored statues standing at the sides, facing each other.
“This wasn’t here for the other floors,” Lindyss said and examined the lock on the door. She hummed as she rubbed her chin and fiddled with the runes surrounding the lock. She pointed at the keyhole and looked at Vur. “Vur. Key.”
Vur took a step forward and kicked the lock. Metal screeched as the doors were torn off their hinges. A plume of dust erupted as the door fell to the floor with a clang, causing the three to cover their faces. Lindyss waved her hand and a fireball materialized in the air in front of her, illuminating the void ahead. The room was tiny, with a single glass coffin resting upright in the center. A purple carpet lined the floor and words were inscribed around the walls, leaving no white space.
Lindyss let out a gasp as her body froze mid-step. Her eyes were locked on the figure in the coffin ahead. Vur tilted his head and looked at the young man’s preserved body through the glass. “Do you know him?”
Lindyss’ hands clenched into fists, but she didn’t respond. Her body trembled as she took a step forward, eyes never leaving the corpse. Vur frowned and reached for Lindyss’ arm, but Tafel grabbed his wrist and shook her head. She brought him to her side and put a finger to her lips as she watched Lindyss take slow steps towards the coffin.
Vur opened his mouth, but Tafel placed her finger on his lips without taking her eyes off Lindyss. She shook her head again. Vur sighed while turning away from Tafel. Lindyss placed her hand against the glass coffin as the duo stared at her back. A single tear rolled down her cheek and dropped to the floor. After a few minutes passed, she sighed and wiped her face as she turned around, displaying a slight smile that didn’t reach her eyes as she walked back towards Vur and Tafel.
“Let’s go,” Lindyss said and brushed past Vur. “We’ll dig up a few corpses in the cemetery outside and place the rest of the spirits in those.”
“You’re not going to reanimate him?” Vur asked, taking one last glance at the man in the coffin before he followed after Lindyss.
“No,” Lindyss said as she trekked up the stairs. The fireball flickered out of existence, returning the room to darkness. “He deserves to rest.” The trio remained silent as they returned to the third floor. Lindyss turned around and waved her arm, causing a wall of earth to seal off the stairwell.
“Who was he?” Tafel asked as the group made their way out of the mausoleum. She looked at her toes as she walked. “If you don’t mind me asking.”
Tafel squeezed Vur’s hand as Lindyss continued to walk in silence. A minute passed. “Here lies Vincent the Dragonslayer,” Lindyss said, her voice steady. “If any man deserved to join our ancestors in the afterlife, then it would be him. Unfortunately, he paid the greatest sacrifice for the sake of humanity.” Lindyss fell silent.
“Dragonslayer?” Vur asked.
“He didn’t actually slay any dragons,” Lindyss said and gritted her teeth. “He was the one that injured the patriarch and forced him to sleep.”
“With a sword.”
“What kind of sword?”
“He used an orichalcum sword to injure Grandpa?”
“Did he use magic?”
“Was he that strong?”
Lindyss snorted and didn’t reply. Tafel tugged Vur’s arm as he opened his mouth to ask another question. Vur frowned. “You’re acting strange, Auntie. Are you on your period?”
“Die.” Lindyss whirled around and threw a black lightning bolt at Vur’s face. “What do you know about periods, you brat? And call me Lindyss!”
A black aura enveloped Vur’s hand as he caught the lightning bolt. He beamed at Lindyss as the black lightning crackled before dispersing. “That’s better. A mad Auntie is better than a sad Auntie,” Vur said. “Maybe I should tell Grimmy that you were sad today.”
“If you tell Grimmy, I’ll kill you and feed your soul to a squirrel,” Lindyss said and ruffled Vur’s hair. She smiled with her eyes closed. “And then I’ll feed the squirrel to Tafel. Understand?”
Tafel’s face blanched. “He understands,” she said and covered Vur’s mouth with her hand.
“But seriously,” Vur said as he pulled Tafel’s hand away from his mouth. “How was he that strong?”
Lindyss sighed. “Resentment,” she said as she turned back around and headed towards the mausoleum’s exit.
Lindyss nodded. “If the human’s god is made up of spirits who must have certain qualifications, then what happens to the spirits who fail to join? Surely you don’t expect every commoner and villain to become a god. People would just kill themselves if that was the case,” she said. “That man chose to harbor all the spirits that failed to become god and gained immense power, but lost himself in the process.” Lindyss sighed as she pushed open the door leading outside. A sliver of sunlight shone on her face.
“Then where are all the spirits now?” Tafel asked.
Lindyss shrugged. “The humans probably sealed them away somewhere…” Her voice trailed off as Mr. Skelly’s words came back to her. She mumbled. “Weakening formation?”