Reincarnated 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 completely 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 dragged 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 other’s 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 what for?” Aurelia asked.
“I think we should look for Sasha,” 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 door and stepped through, 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. Well, I figured already, since they weren’t in the office, and the main room was unlikely to contain them. There probably was some name for that room we learned in school, but whatever.
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, while waiting for my friends.
Huh, friends. I think that’s the first time I called them like 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 one 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 dozen’s of corpses he has hidden somewhere underground. I don’t know why, but he is planning an attack on the village. What I did, was only sort of acting as a test run, to see if the spell worked, how the undead behaved and most importantly to find a scapegoat for his doing to give the villagers a false sense of security.”
“That’s a hilariously terrible plan,” Shelly interrupted her.
“So, why did you do it? Help him?” I asked.
“Because he promised me safety from the attack. I’m a coward that’s all. Since my sister died I ... have been hyperaware of my own mortality and it’s sort of messing with me.”
I could relate to that sort of, and I somehow wanted to say something comforting to her, but–
“That’s ...” Shelly stepped forward and grabbed one of the bars, “Nothing to be ashamed of.”
Misha who most of the time was avoiding eye contact suddenly looked up.
“As a police officer I am constantly surrounded by death and at first it’s ... rough. But then you realize that there’s so much more to life, than just you and the fact that one day you’ll die. You realize that there’s other people and that living with other people helps you not think of the bad things in life. If that makes sense ...”
It did. It was something I’ve been thinking about a lot, but never consciously been aware of and especially not something I ever took at face value.
“What I wanted to say – there’s people out there who need you. Who need to know the truth. Truth that only you can provide. That needs to get out there, to save lives. So please, don’t hide. Help us.”
“Shelly ...” Aurelia and Raynard were impressed with that little speech. Me too, to be honest. It spoke to me, but most importantly she completely seemed to have changed her opinion about Misha.
“But, what can I do? I’m stuck in here,” she responded.
“That’s not a problem,” 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 as the sun.
“You are definitely an amazing mage ...”
Aurelia wasn’t quite sure how to respond.
“So, what’s next?” Raynard asked.
“We need to warn the villagers,” Misha said.
“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 one to warn the villagers, while the other’s 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.