Chapter 103 “Tomb of the Unknown King”
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The bell rang three more times before Vanna arrived at the main cathedral, where she was promptly met by Old Bishop Valentine.
The old priest wore his status’s black wardrobe and silently prayed to the Storm Goddess Gomona’s statue.
“Inquisitor Vanna,” Valentine said in a deep voice, “the Cathedral of Storms has sent an order to summon the listeners.”
“Sent directly from the Storm Cathedral!” Taken aback, Vanna hurried over to the statue and immersed herself in the lamp’s glow, “Isn’t the bell ring for a discovery of a new anomaly or vision”
“If it was a new discovery, the bell would not have rang three times in a row.” Valentine shook his head, “It was the gravekeeper on the other side of the ‘Tomb’ who sent us the news.
There’s movement from the unknown king.
Although it was unclear what message he was trying to convey, it appears though… the existing list is changing.”
As he spoke, the old bishop turned his head and quietly stared into Vanna’s eyes.
“This time, we need to send a listener into the tomb to get direct instruction from the unknown king.
The current rotation is with us, which means the Storm Church will be providing the candidate among the faithful.
It’s not decided who will enter yet, but you and I are on the waiting list.”
Vanna fixed her mind and asked calmly, “When do we leave”
“Now,” Valentine nodded, motioning for the lady to follow.
They headed behind the statue, where a door with sacred symbols was already open and waiting.
Inside revealed a deep and long passage.
“The psionic passage is ready.”
Vanna first bowed to the statue, then followed the old bishop forward.
The two devout followers passed through flickering lights in this long passageway until they eventually arrived at their destination.
Here, a special secret room has been erected.
Unlike the cement and brick structure of the main body of the cathedral, this small chamber was made entirely of stone piled up together to form the wall and the roof.
At the center was a sunken fire pit that burned with a crackling flame.
However, there was no fuel to speak of, only a flame that seemed to be conjured up from thin air.
There was no furniture to speak of either, only the subtle sound of running water from nowhere.
Every wall around them seemed to be wet to emphasize this detail, and even the floor had tiny streams of water flowing along the stone cracks.
This gave the impression that this chamber was not some room in the cathedral, but rather… a waterlogged cave at the bottom of the sea.
This would not be the first time that Vanna had come here.
As an “inquisitor” of the city-state with a status equal to the bishop, she also has the right to use the “psionic passage” here.
This seemingly inconspicuous room was the “portal” that connects the psionic channel.
In every city-state’s central cathedral, similar facilities are hidden away during their construction.
Every recognized religion in this world had something similar.
In this case, the priests of the Storm Goddess called this chamber the “flooded caves”.
Of course, there are other names out there too.
For the death priests that worship the God of Death and Life, they built something called the “burial chambers” with a more gloomy and oppressive atmosphere.
Regardless of the naming and style though, they all served one purpose: to send the occupant’s spirit into an extensive interconnecting network of the soul.
This way, no matter how far or wide one was from the other, they could still communicate through the Boundless Sea.
A miracle blessed by the gods.
If not for this ability to communicate across vast stretches of water, the world as they knew it might not be here today.
Back then, sailing across the sea wasn’t so easy, and ships would often sink or lose their way.
The door of the secret chamber slowly closed, and the dark and heavy metal barrier made a dull and heavy sound as the intricate runes intermingled and meshed together to form a seal.
No living creatures could leave or enter after the seal completes.
Vanna and Valentine stood together by the fire pit in the center.
They bowed their heads, gazing at the leaping holy flame as they chanted the Storm Goddess’s name.
The illusory sound of water continued to come from all sides at first, then it grew, and grew, until droplets became waves, and waves became tsunamis!
At the same time, mists had overtaken the entire chamber following the flame’s increased ferocity.
There was no visibility to speak of anymore, only plain white of churning gas and water.
Vanna closed her eyes knowing the next step – she needed to allow herself to be submerged in this water.
The cold touch quickly dissipated as her consciousness receded.
By the time she opened those eyes again, she was no longer inside that watery cave but in a vast square that was cordoned off by crumbling stone pillars.
She could see beyond the square of course, but all there was were muddled, chaotic sparks in the horizon.
As to what they represented, who knows.
At least Vanna didn’t have a clue.
Focusing her mind after the brief distraction, Vanna saw that there were already many figures standing in the square.
All of them were black phantoms with only silhouettes visible.
Despite not seeing their faces, the familiar aura coming from each figure confirmed to the lady they were devout saints of the Storm Goddess.
People like her who wielded great power over in the other city-states.
Some were even stationed in the constantly moving main Storm Cathedral out on the Boundless Sea!
“It seems that we are the latest to arrive,” a dark phantom approached flickeringly.
Vanna didn’t need to wait for the shadow to introduce to know its Valentine.
“I was also the last to arrive during the last meeting….”
“Do the saints of the other city-states live in the secret chamber…” Vanna muttered, “Every time the news of the summoning comes out, they would always somehow get here minutes before us…”
“Ever since Saint-Folsson wrote ‘first’ in the register of the assembly hall twenty years ago, they have all begun to compete in arriving early.” Valentine shook his head, “Seriously, it’s incomprehensible… The goddess will not drop special attention to the individual because of this anyway.”
Vanna couldn’t agree more with Valentine’s logic.
Then out of the blue, a sudden boom came from the end of the crowd, interrupting everyone’s thoughts and conversation.
Vanna and Valentine looked up simultaneously and were surprised to find the ground at the square center rising.
The broken old stone brick was rippling like a wave of water.
Within the layers of ripples, behemoths were growing rapidly upwards.
First it was the pale spires, followed by sloping stone walls and quaint columns.
Almost instantly, the object was completed before Vanna’s vision—a huge building made of pale boulder blocks.
It was a dull “palace”, an ancient building constructed during the lost eras.
It had a pyramid as the main body with several obelisks and towers around it.
No other city-state in the world was of this style, and its low and oppressive atmosphere did not at all resemble a building for the living.
It wasn’t so much a palace but a mausoleum.
In fact, it was indeed a mausoleum—a mausoleum belonging to some ancient and powerful civilization.
Like everyone else, Vanna’s gaze involuntarily fell on the bottom of the huge pyramid.
Under the gaze of countless eyes, the mausoleum’s door finally slowly opened.
The heavy pale stone gate retreated to the sides, and an extremely tall figure slowly walked out of the mausoleum.
It was the gravekeeper of the tomb for the unknown king.
In Vanna’s view, it was difficult to say that “he” was still a living human.
The gravekeeper’s body was wrapped in layers of bandaged fabric, half charred a pitch black and the other half hanging with chains of runic shackles.
Some of the shackles had even penetrated into the flesh to become one with the gravekeeper, effectively becoming bones and nerve endings.
This ancient being was like a terrifying mummy from ancient Egypt, but more warped and cursed in appearance.
Although it was not the first time seeing this important “gravekeeper”, Vanna still subconsciously took a second to inhale deeply to get her muscles to ease up.
Then she saw the “gravekeeper” walking straight towards her.
The candidate has been chosen.
Without hesitation, the being passed everyone in the square until he stopped in front of Vanna.
Through the black bandages and runic chains, the lady could tell the gravekeeper was watching her with that single exposed red eye.
“You, can enter the tomb.” The gravekeeper spoke, his voice hoarse as if coming from a corpse.
Then he raised his right hand, which seemed to be charred by fire, and grasped onto a quill that flew out of the tomb with a parchment in tow.
“Make a note of what you hear.” The gravekeeper commanded succinctly.