...I’m back in the dream.
Back on Mystix.
Back in my ghostly body.
Back in the cave, where two figures stand in front of me.
One is Miss M, hair short and height now perilously tall for someone I always knew as a pudgy runt.
“Hiya,” is all I can say.
It’s Malia, standing here before me just as I always knew her. Gorgeous in every way, radiating with her elven energy...
Kind of old looking now.
Her hair is gray. Her face is covered in wrinkles. She’s grown shorter over the years, and the fire in her spirit has faded more than a little bit.
Miss M looks down and refuses to make eye contact with me. She knows exactly how I am feeling right now, so she doesn’t need to say anything.
“Hello, Eryk,” Malia says. Her voice is now deeper and more crackly than it ever was before.
Even elves age, it seems like. I may be the first human to have ever lived the lifespan to see an elf age all the way into elder times.
“So, how long has it been?” I ask.
“Eighty-four years,” she answers. “It’s been eighty-four years.”
“And you still came for me.”
She nods slowly. “I came for my duty to you.”
“Your love, you mean.” I walk up to her and put my hand on her cheek—wait that doesn’t work because I’m a ghost. Damn.
Malia shakes her head. “Not for love, Eryk,” she says. “For duty. Truly, for duty.”
Miss M folds her arms. “We’ve been hiding something from you,” she says. “And it is the exact reason that I brought you here on my journey.”
“An eight-decade journey...”
“Yeah. It’s a bit of a big deal,” she says. “In fact... Let’s go down that hallway and take a look.”
We finally go together. After all these days (in my eyes), I’m finally going to discover what it is.
But at what cost?
Malia is now an elderly woman at nearly two hundred years of age. Miss M has had much of her demon queen powers restored. I’m a ghost with no physical form. So much has changed between us, and we don’t even have Borguk or Thalia by our side.
“Wait a minute...” I begin.
“Borguk and Thalia have long since passed away,” says Malia, knowing exactly what I was going to ask before I even opened my spectral mouth.
“Do they have ghosts, too?”
She shakes her head. “Eryk Solbourne, you’re a complete mystery, and you should know that. Nobody knows why you’re a ghost. Well... Not nobody.”
In front of us lies a massive door with red carpeting poking out from underneath. A grand hall lies before us, I can tell.
Miss M poofs out three items from her inventory. One is the trusty dragon sword that she kept accidentally mixing me up with during her solo adventures. Another is the Lost Book of the Four Trinities, and the third is the Yellowstone Rune. I hardly know a thing about any of these, but they seem important.
First, Miss M places the Yellowstone Rune into a slot on the door. Then she does the same with the sword. Lastly, she opens up the Lost Book of the Four Trinities and recites something in a demon tongue, something I can’t even begin to decipher.
Soon, the door activates many symbols and begins to shudder and shake. The whole room vibrates, though I cannot feel any of it. Malia and Miss M hold onto each other to keep balance.
The door opens.
There is indeed a red carpet on the floor, rolled out like it is here to welcome us in as heroes. But that’s all there is.
Quite literally, there is nothing in the room but this carpet. Everything else is blank and white. Pure white.
It’s almost like...
The Goddess’s room...?
Wait a minute, that’s—
“We’re here,” Miss M says to the figure who has suddenly appeared before us. “We brought him as soon as he was ready, just like you asked. But, as you can see, we’ve run into some major issues. Like, he died.”
“Death is nothing for a man like Eryk Solbourne,” the figure says. “I should know. He’s my brother, after all.”
This aged, white-haired person is none other than Rare Solbourne, my long-lost sibling.
I reach out my ghostly hand to greet them with as much a hug as I can give—but they blast me with a powerful spell—
My form dissipates into dust.