1284 Hail Weaver
Sunny found himself unable to move for a few moments. Encountering the ketch just when they desperately needed shelter was already shocking enough. Finding a corpse that looked eerily similar to the nameless prisoner of the hidden dungeon beneath the ruined cathedral inside the ketch… it sent him into a fugue state.
All kinds of wild thoughts rushed through his mind.
For a split second, Sunny even imagined that it was his own corpse, brought here from the future by some strange anomaly of the mystical river. But, no… the proportions were all wrong. He was not a tall man, but the mysterious person was even smaller. They were practically tiny.
In fact, now that Sunny had taken a good look at the corpse, he realized that it was different from the prisoner of the ruined cathedral, as well. The dark mantle and the mask were the same, but the body hidden beneath them was not. Even with its features obfuscated, he could tell the difference.
Still… what was the meaning of this? How could there be another Weaver's Mask? Who were these two people, and how could they be so similar despite the great divide between the Dark City and the Tomb of Ariel?
Nephis seemed startled, as well, albeit for a different reason than Sunny. She did notice his strong reaction, though.
"Sunny? What is it?"
She must have noticed that the mask the corpse was wearing was the same mask Mongrel wore. She also knew that it was a Divine Memory of the Seventh Tier, even if Sunny had never told her where Weaver's Mask came from.
He took a deep breath.
"That corpse… it's just like the one I found in the Dark City, beneath the cathedral. That was where I got the mask."
Sunny had found the Spawn of the Vile Thieving Bird by pure coincidence — even if that coincidence might not have happened without the influence of [Fated]. Everything that followed after absorbing the drop of ichor that contained Blood Weave, however, was the result of logic and reason. It was the consequence of that first chance encounter.
Guided by the ability to see the radiance of divinity, which Blood Weave granted him, he explored the cathedral of the Dark City and received Weaver's Mask. Guided by Weaver's Mask, he dove into the Sky Below, reached the Ebony Tower, and discovered Weaver's severed arm, thus acquiring Bone Weave.
What was the cause of this situation, then? Was it a coincidence or the result of his choices?
As Sunny was spacing out, consumed by these thoughts, Nephis looked at him with a frown.
"...Corpse? What do you mean?"
Could she not see the hunched figure sitting on the helmsman's bench?
He took a step forward and pointed with a hurried motion.
"T-that… don't you see that corpse?"
Nephis seemed both wary and slightly confused.
"Of course, I see that person. It's just that… why do you keep calling them a corpse? That person is alive."
Sunny eyes widened.
…And in the next moment, the corpse moved.
With a deep sigh, its hanging head rose, and two dark chasms carved into the fearsome mask stared at Sunny with an ineffable emotion.
Then, the corpse slowly, arduously stood up.
No, not the corpse… the person. The wearer of Weaver's Mask was, indeed, alive.
Sunny watched silently, unable to move. Only his hand stretched out a little, ready to summon a weapon.
Once the owner of the ketch rose to their feet, he realized that they were indeed very small. The figure shrouded by the dark mantle was extremely thin, seeming weak and frail. The person's back was hunched, and their hands seemed to be shaking slightly.
It was no surprise that Sunny had mistaken the wearer of the mask for a corpse. With the person remaining utterly motionless and his perception painted by the encounter in the dungeon of the ruined cathedral, it would have been strange for him to assume that they were alive.
The hunched stranger froze, looking at them through the lightless pits of the black lacquered mask's eyes. Sunny and Nephis weren't moving, either, not knowing what to do.
They had just unceremoniously climbed into this person's boat… so, what was there to do? Ask politely to be saved? Or attack them out of fear?
Sunny secretly shifted his gaze, trying to determine whether the wearer of the mask was a human or a Nightmare Creature. However, just like with the corpse beneath the cathedral, the dark mantle and the mask were impenetrable. Beyond them lay an unknowable abyss.
An icy chill crept up his spine.
Then, the owner of the ketch slowly raised their hands, which were wrapped in black gloves. The thin fingers touched the edges of the black lacquered mask and slowly pulled it down.
lightsΝοvεl ƈοmThe face that was revealed belonged to a human. She was an old, extremely old woman. Sunny had never seen anyone who looked so ancient. He couldn't quite believe that someone that aged could still be alive.
Her tan skin was covered in a spiderweb of deep, cavernous wrinkles and clung to her emaciated face like fragile paper. Her long hair was entirely white and thin, revealing glimpses of the brown parchment of her scalp. Her eyes, which had been piercing once, were now dull and obscured by milky cataracts.
The old woman's small, hunched body was frail and thin, as if ready to collapse from the smallest gale. The dark mantle hung listlessly from it, a few sizes too big.
Nevertheless, she was emanating a feeling of unimpeachable dignity, willpower, and… sanctity, even.
The black mask fell to the deck of the ketch with a wooden clack.
The old woman was looking at Sunny and Nephis silently, one moment passing after another.
And then, she moved.
Bending down, she groaned and slowly kneeled. Sunny was startled, but most of all, he felt a strong urge to jump forward and stop her. It felt incredibly wrong, to see such an old woman prostrating herself… let alone in front of him.
He noticed Neph's back growing stiff, as she felt the same. The corner of her eye twitched.
But neither of them moved.
Finally, the old woman's knees touched the deck. Placing both hands in front of her, she took a shaky breath, and then kowtowed deeply.
Her quiet voice sounded like a scraping quill. Hearing it, Sunny flinched.
"Hail… Weaver… Demon of Fate…"
In the silence that followed, he hesitated for a while, and then answered:
"...Firstborn of the Unknown."
The old woman remained motionless for a few moments, and then let out a long sigh.
Lowering her head even closer to the deck, she spoke with reverence:
"Ananke greets the Children of Weaver..."
Erdiul's Note: Ah... These are my favourite type of chapters, the lore drops. Super excited to see what she has to tell about the Weaver. What do you guys think she meant with ''Children of Weaver''. Could be Neph and Sunny alone or it could be everyone connected to the spell. Who knows, who knows....