After our conversation with the Moirai concluded, we enter a deeper level of the Underworld, where the challenges of the third floor begins. A new quest title appears at the top of the screen, just as the melodic tune of a lyre floats along the icy wind of the Underworld: ‘Help Orpheus find Eurydice.’
Even though I know I should be putting all my concentration towards this new quest, the Moirai’s final words to me weigh heavily on my mind. Why would the Enchanter watch over me? Is it only because I carry the Book of Fate? It’s nothing more than a history book. There’s no real value in it aside from learning more about the game’s lore. What use is a book about game’s flora and fauna to me?
“What do you think Lachesis meant when she said Mai’s heart has been touched by darkness?” Serafina asks, bringing attention to the topic I hoped we could avoid.
“Perhaps the answer is obvious,” Mist replies, glancing at me suspiciously. “She tried to kill Braeden. I know everyone thinks Mai wouldn’t go that far, but we all saw the look in her eyes. She’s capable, just like everyone else here. It should serve as a stark reminder that we’re all killers so long as we’re alive.”
Braeden chuckles, rubbing the back of his neck nervously. “Let’s all relax. Doubting each other will only keep us from the real task at hand. We need to stick together and try to reach the ending in one piece,” he says, trying to dissolve some of the tension. “Look at us. We’re only on the fourth floor. How many people can say they’re in the Asphodel Meadows?”
“Only you would scoff in the face of danger,” Mist says. “Is exploration all you can think of?”
“Would you expect any less from me?” Braeden answers with a smirk.
The Moirai stand behind us idly, already returning their attention to the returned missing thread. It’s common in video games for NPCs to revert to their original state, but there’s still a chance to interact with them if we choose. However, no doubt the developers keep them programmed to the same lines upon conclusion of their quests.
A wooden door appears in front of us, leading to the next floor. I find it interesting that the Asphodel Meadows is considered a floor, but perhaps that may be because it’s another level of the Underworld. Still, it’s an interesting choice by the writers of the story.
On the door, there are detailed carvings of a man with a lyre playing to a woman whose back faces him as she runs into the distance. Before I can question it further, I notice the Book of Fate glowing in my inventory. Its glow grows stronger by the second and I can no longer resist its call, so I wait until everyone but Yumi steps through the gate.
Yumi notices me hesitating and asks, “Are you coming, Mai?”
“I need a moment, but I’ll be there in a second,” I reply, not looking up from my inventory.
“I hope you don’t let what Mist said get to you. He means well, I think he just has difficulty expressing his thoughts. We all trust you and are happy to fight alongside you. These are just confusing times,” she tries to explain. I can hear the desperation in her voice. She’s worried about me because she’s the only person who has a good idea of what I have to go through in reality.
I glance up to meet her concerned gaze, doing my best to give her a reassuring smile. “Don’t worry. I’m fine. A few harsh words won’t get me down. You’ve met my mom, haven’t you?”
Yumi narrows her eyes at me, as if seeing through my lie. However, it doesn’t make me feel guilty. It’s only partly a lie. The truth is, it did bother me, but not enough for it to destroy my resolve. “Alright, but you know I’m here for you. I’ll go see what our plan is, but don’t take too long. Braeden might come after you if you’re here too long,” she says before stepping through the door.
Once the watchful eyes disappear, I pull the Book of Fate out of my inventory. A single page glows that has a spell I’ve never seen before. Upon closer inspection, I discover it’s a healing spell that has the power to boost me back to full health: percuro. The spell equips itself and I see it next to the basic ice spell and general attack options. At first, I’m confused because it’s not common for an offensive mage to have the ability to heal. Only bards have that right. Then, I begin to wonder if it’s part of the deluxe package the advertisers mentioned. But if that was the case, wouldn’t other people mention it?
I wrestle with the idea of whether I should tell the others, but ultimately decide not to. As long as we have Serafina, there’s no need to use it.
Tucking the Book of Fate safely in my inventory once more, I join the others, where I see a dark tunnel with a new NPC with blonde hair, his eyes closed. The name ‘Orpheus’ hovers over his head as he thrums his lyre like we’re not there. My basic understanding of the Greek Myth is that he married a nymph, Eurydice, who died from a snake bite after falling into a snake’s nest. Like all souls that died in Ancient Greece, their souls ended up in a designated area of the Underworld. Eurydice wasn’t an evil person and judging by the light at the end of the tunnel, she’s either in the Elysian Fields or the Asphodel Meadows.
Orpheus’ song carries on the wind:
By this Place of Rebirth, I beseech you to release my beloved Eurydice.
A few years is all I ask, it's hardly a steep price.
Won’t you give us an opportunity to bask in our happiness?
Once her hair has grayed and her heartbeat has halted, she shall return to you forevermore.
If the Fates refuse to grant my wish, I shall play for eternity.
This body may break down, but my corpse will remain.
Won’t you show your divine benevolence?