The Cathedral of Silence.
Not so silent anymore, what with the rhythmic clatter of distant hammers, mingling with the soft droning murmurs of the supplicants.
The old temple of Grenth was being rebuilt. Not very quickly –most of the money, resources and workforce available going to the everlasting War Machine up North, not to mention the chaos caused by Balthazar and his followers years prior– but steadily. The main chamber of the temple was completely restored now.
There were still a few dead barnacles and coral branches jutting from the walls here and there. One would think they’d want to remove all traces of the Cataclysm and Zhaitan’s stain from them, but apparently the people in charge of reconstructing the temple seemed to like the aesthetics.
The people gathered in front of the altar were mostly human: followers from the Church of Grenth, necromancers on pilgrimage, and the odd tourist avid for morbid scenery, without the threat of the Risen.
And what of the Risen?
Gone. From the surface, that is. The sylvari in charge of infusing life back into the dead soil of Orr and the adventurers plundering its lost treasures saw to that.
However it was a long, tedious process. And there was still a small chance of stumbling into an undiscovered pocket of isolated undead. Usually deep underground, or inside an undisturbed sepulchre.
But right now, people stuck to the surface, and to the temples.
The smell of brine was tenacious, but at least in this room it was drowned by the incense and sacrificial blood.
Fiel did not participate in the ceremony. Why would he? If the tales were to be believed, the Gods left Tyria. For good, this time. Grenth was gone. But, just like the Undead Dragon before him, his powers lingered, and the norn still felt the need to stop by, and pay distant respect to the shadow of his absentee patron.
He turned to Eloise, perched silently on his shoulder. She did not croak when he scratched under her feathery neck. She clearly was the more respectful of the two.
Raven was his patron, now. Or rather, he always had been. And, more importantly, he was here. Fighting. Guiding. Observing.
If anyone there was truly deserving of respect, it was Him.
Fiel quietly turned away, and wandered towards the neglected tunnels, those still ignored by the workers’ tools.
* * *
The place was… home.
Strangely enough, the necromancer felt like he belonged here more than in the snows of Hoelbrak, more than in the misty swamp of his youth, more than in the golden temple and its waterfalls.
And it was weird. To think that this dead place, this putrid ruin with its inescapable stench of rot and dead fish felt… homely.
And yet here he was, trekking through the dark, labyrinthian catacombs, feeling his way along the shell-encrusted walls with the same blissful abandon as a content farmer letting his hand run through a row of healthy, golden wheat.
Romantic melancholy, maybe. After all, you got to be inclined to love that kind of stuff to be in that type of profession.
Fiel had been wandering the tunnels for two solid days now. Encountering many dead ends, empty rooms, and looted tombs. But he wasn’t too upset about it. At least he was still enjoying his trip.
He notched the way he came from at another intersection, and turned into a new corridor. He was probably near the water now. The air was damper, brinier.
And just then, a groan.
“Miii…see…ryyyy…”, a raspy voice exhaled in a half-murmur.
Fiel’s heart leapt with surprise and excitement. He froze and listened, holding his breath.
There was a crumbling wall to his left. The voice came from the room on the other side of it. The norn held his staff at the ready, and let out a short whistle.
Beyond that wall the groan intensified, followed by a few more growls and the sound of shuffling, the owners of the voices clearly inconvenienced by this interruption of their eternal, water-logged moping.
The trip was not going to be a waste after all.
* * *
Fiel washed his hand with his canteen before he pulled out his tools and set them on top of the sarcophagus. He glanced down at the pile at his feet next to him. One, two… eight Risen corpses in total. More than enough.
He lit up several candles and placed them around the room, to give himself as much light as possible.
He placed the asura-made box on the ground, and pushed a button on the remote. A large, flat surface made of solid light appeared in mid-air above it. Fiel fiddled with the remote some more, and the surface widened to fill almost half the room.
On it, he placed a few bones he had brought from his collection: claws, horns, and more importantly, a large toothy skull. Next to it he placed several large gems, a couple spools of silver thread, and bits of forged metal.
With a satisfied sigh, he unfurled the large scroll he had drawn days prior over the table, and held it open with bits of the broken wall.
The necromancer removed his coat, put on his protective visor and grabbed the saw. In times of self-doubt, existential dread, and crippling uncertainty, crafting was the only thing to truly bring him peace.