“You said that you have died before.”
The two warriors jogged, weapons at the ready, through a series of tunnels. Their pursuers followed doggedly. Their ungainly bodies were unable to match the Myrmidon and the Monk in speed, but more of them poured out of each opening and side tunnel that the runners passed.
“I did,” acknowledged Base, who kept his eyes forward as they ran. He had doused and stowed the lantern-end of his staff, but a weak light continued to bleed from reddish veins within the cavern walls. It did not seem to be enough to see by, but the monk never missed a step. One, who navigated as much by scent and heat signature as he did by eyesight, did not suffer for the darkness.
“What is the manner of your existence in this place, then? You do not appear dead to me.”
The darkness did not reveal the monk’s thin-lipped smile.
“Perhaps your understanding of the nature of death requires augmentation.”
The myrmidon did not answer, and after a few breaths, the monk continued. “Consider the nature of your own existence for a moment. How did you come to be, and how have you reached this place, inaccessible to most creatures that walk, swim, or fly through the world?”
One considered this. “I died, aeons ago. The queen brought me back from the end of the path, restored my form and function. She was attacked. I left her side to journey through time, seeking a weapon with which to challenge the Mad God and deliver her from peril. You have said that you knew her as well. Is your goal the same?”
The nature of the cavern around them was changing. The walls and floor had been formed of a substance that might have been organic, a dull red that was solid but slightly yielding, occasionally marked by puddles or rivulets of crimson liquid. Now, as they ran, the reddish color gave way to a darker, more rock-like hue and texture.
“One, in your prior experience, does that which has died come back to life? Does the universe allow for such things?”
If the myrmidon had possessed a brow capable of knitting in confusion, it would have done so then. “We both are here. Is that not proof that such things are possible?”
“Here. What do you believe that ‘here’ is, exactly?”
The tunnel opened up into a vast crystalline cavern.