Chapter 22:

Chapter 22 – Misha’s Truth

OmniGrim: Reincarnation with an Omniscient Grimoire

“The Grimoire led us to a dead end, great!”

[Push the upper stone in the middle of the wall.]

Obviously, the tunnel wouldn’t just end in a door leading to the church, that would be too easy.

I stood on my toes and tried pushing the heavy stone through the wall. Of course, the one injured person had to do the handiwork.

“Wait, let me do this,” Aurelia, who was a bit taller than me offered, not waiting for a response.

“Okay, that’s it, I can’t reach deeper,” she said, after a short while.

“Give me a leg-up,” I told her, and she helped me reach inside the hole in the wall, where I fully pushed the stone through the wall.

Finally, I crawled through the narrow shaft and peaked outside. It was like a small office, only ... I’d say more religious, but what do I know about religion in this world. The furnishment seemed pretty expensive though.

I made sure no-one was near, and just pulled myself into the room.

I took a bit of time to get my breathing back under control and then looked around.

It was what you’d expect from a priest’s office. A desk with two chairs on each side, papers lying around, books, probably some sort of religious scriptures locked behind glass doors inside a cabinet.

I stepped towards the door and looked through the keyhole. On the other side I spotted an altar, but interestingly there weren’t any benches in front of it. The opposite wall also had another door. The building appeared to be empty, and I was just about to tell the others that the coast was clear, when I noticed Shelly climbing through the hole, as well as Aurelia and Raynard standing behind me.

“So?” Aurelia asked.

“We’re actually inside the church ...” Raynard muttered.

“It seems we’re alone, which means we should be able to snoop around for a couple of minutes,” I replied.

“Any idea, where to look? And for what?” Aurelia asked.

“I think we should look for Misha,” I answered. “If she’s with the pastor, we might still get some useful information from her.”

“What makes you think, she would answer any question?” Shelly challenged.

“Look, she tried to bring her sister back, but I hope she ... sort of ... snapped back, after seeing what her spell actually did.”

“What if the pastor has some kind of leverage against her?” Shelly asked.

“What kind of leverage would he have?” I retorted.

“Yeah, I mean if he had any leverage on her at all, it was probably the prospect of bringing her sister back,” Raynard backed up. “I mean, in that case it would make sense for him to lock her up.”

Shelly scratched the bridge of her nose in thought, but after thinking about it for a bit replied, “Alright. Guess the only way to find out, is to actually talk to her.”

“So, does anyone know, where the jail could be?” I asked.

The other’s looked at each other and then answered: “The basement.”

“Hm,” I simply answered with an affirming expression. I turned around and opened the office door. I quickly crossed over to the other side of the room and stepped through another door, only then realizing that the others weren’t following me at all.

I threw my hands in the air to basically say, what the fuck, why aren’t you coming? They jogged over the empty choir shortly after.

The door led to some sort of storage room, the contents of which we, or rather I simply ignored. The Grimoire showed me the layout of the church, so I sort of knew where to go, though the rooms themselves weren’t named on the map.

However, the basement map showed three square shaped rooms of exactly the same size, and I figured they must be cells. All we needed to do was find the stairs leading downwards.

According to the map they were in this room. It took me some strained looks between the map and the floor of this room before I spotted a hatch on the floor. I staggered towards it, and threw it open, before climbing a ladder downwards.

A ladder, no stairs, huh? So, the pastor got all the good furniture, but the architects couldn’t afford fucking stairs. Whatever.

I slid down, skipping most rungs. Not that the basement was that far underground.

I landed on both of my feet and stumbled backwards against a wall after impact, resting against the cold stone, waiting for my friends.

Huh, friends. I think that’s the first time I called them that. Not out loud, but we might get there some time.

Aurelia, Raynard and lastly Shelly followed me, in that order. Seems like we already had our distinct way, of going through narrow passageways where only one person at a time fits in.

“Hooo, the air is bad,” Raynard commented and stepped aside to make room for Shelly.

I said nothing in response. That’s kinda what I’ve been doing lately. Man, I’m pretty useless.

I let Shelly take the lead, trailing behind the group as we took a few steps into the room, where we were confronted with three cells, just like the map told me. A singular torch illuminated the room scantily.

In the room furthest from the ladder was ...

“Misha ...” someone called out and I realized it was me.

She laid in a pallet in the corner of her cell, but jumped onto her knees when she heard us.

“Wha- What are you doing here? The pastor didn’t let you see me, did he?” she asked, obviously very confused.

“No, we kinda broke into the church,” I replied deadpan. No need to hide it.

“You- What?” She looked at Shelly who just shrugged in response. “You ... haha, I can’t believe you, haha ... ha” Her shallow laugh turned sad very quick. “What do you want?” And her voice very icy.

“Answers, mostly,” I replied. “Money, food, sleep and eternal happiness would be nice also.”

Misha flat out ignored that last part.

“I believe you mostly know your answers.”

“Mostly,” Raynard repeated.

“That’s the point,” I said.

“Look, I don’t know what I’m supposed to tell you. I wanted Sasha back and that’s basically it.”

Aurelia suppressed a few amused curses and then responded, “You know how convincing you sound, right? Like, not at all?”

“I know, but what’s the point? You won’t be able to do anything, anyway.”

“Do anything against what?” Shelly questioned.

Misha looked at our group, her expression growing more tired. She massaged her temples and answered, “Against an undead army.”

Various questions formed on our lips but none of them actually were spoken out loud, so Misha just elaborated further.

“Look, you should have been gone by now, and I advise you do so, after I tell you what I know. That spell I used on that corpse – who for the record I’m pretty sure wasn’t my sister – the pastor is planning to use it on dozens of corpses he has hidden somewhere underground. I don’t know why, but he is planning an attack on the village. I’m only acting as a scapegoat for him since he’s been failing to cover up his tracks. No-one was supposed to notice the missing corpses in the first place.”

“That’s a hilariously terrible plan,” Shelly interrupted her.

“It is!”

“So, why did you do it? Helping him?” I asked because I didn’t want to believe they were in cahoots together.

“At first, he lured me in with the possibility of actually bringing Sasha back. But the spell would only produce those monsters. So, I told him I wouldn’t help him anymore, after which he revealed his plan to attack the village. He promised me and my mom safety from the attack. I’m a coward, that’s all. Since my sister died I ... I wouldn’t bear losing my mom too. I’d rather have her think I’m a monster, than be alone forever. I’m such an idiot …”

I somehow wanted to say something comforting to her, but–

“That’s ...” Shelly stepped forward and grabbed one of the bars, “I understand what you’re feeling.”

Misha, who most of the time was avoiding eye contact suddenly looked up.

“As a police officer I have seen a lot of death and at first, it’s ... rough. But after a while it made me cherish the time I had. Most of all, the time I had with others. If that makes sense ...”

It did. Becoming attached to the few people you had in your life …

“What I wanted to say – I learned to cherish my time with others, so I would protect that, whatever it may cost. But your mother, she’s not the only person that matters in your life. This entire village you, and your sister grew up in … you’ve always been protecting that, even if it was only from forest fires. Could you give that up now?”

“Shelly ...” Aurelia and Raynard were impressed with that little speech. It made me aware of the things I wish I had … Something worth protecting …

“But what can I do? I’m stuck in here. And the pastor and his army are too powerful …” she responded.

“We can help with that,” Raynard and I said in unison and stepped to the side to make room for Aurelia, who already took a step forward.

She grabbed the metal bars two at a time, and slowly squeezed them together, bending them in the process. I thought my vision had gone awry because the bars started changing colors. It appeared she was actually melting the bars with her mere hands.

When she let go, she had formed a passage large enough for Misha to fit through. It got darker in the room again, the melting metal bars having lit up the room a bit.

Misha stepped through the bars, trying not to touch them as they were probably still hot like the sun.

“You are definitely an amazing mage ...”

Aurelia wasn’t quite sure how to respond. So, Shelly stepped in. Putting a hand on Aurelia’s shoulder, she said, “And so are you. Even if we can’t stop this undead army, we can still at least save the villagers.”

“So, what’s next?” Raynard asked.

“We need to warn everyone,” Misha said, hope and determination dwelling up in her eyes all of a sudden.

“We also should look for the undead army,” Shelly said.

“When the pastor told me about his plan, he actually led me through this passage,” Misha answered, pointing at a wall that was a not very well-hidden door. The lever next to it was pretty much a dead giveaway.

“It’s quite the labyrinth in there, only the pastor knows the way.”

“Well, actually,” I said.

“The kids will manage this,” Shelly assured her. “I think we should be the ones to warn the villagers, while the others try to stop the army, before they can march out,” she said with two questioning nods directed first at Misha, then at us.

“The pastor should still be outside. I would have noticed if he opened the passageway. You should hurry nonetheless, who knows when he puts his plan into action, but be careful not to let him find you.”

“He’s a terrific mage, I take it?” I asked.

“He managed to bring back the dead. No one before him has done something like this to that extent,” Shelly said, and it was enough of an answer.

“In that case we should be going,” Raynard said, Aurelia and I nodded simultaneously.

“Good, take care,” Shelly confirmed, and then took off towards the ladder.

Raynard, Aurelia, and I stepped towards the wall, and Aurelia pulled the lever. The stone wall pushed itself inside and against the right wall, like a gigantic door. Over the years it had left marks on the floor, although it did not make a single sound.

Well, magic, am I right?

We looked at the black passageway in front of us and then took off.

Time was running short.

Dave Mania