The library was housed in an old mausoleum way back in a swamp. Various colored eyes watched as Joe and Krys walked to the door. A rickety sign hung from the roof it read: The Den of Knowledge and Musty Scrolls. Krys motioned for Joe to follow. They entered the tomb. Inside was rows upon rows of dusty scrolls and books.
“What are you looking for?”
Joe shrugged. “Man, I don’t know. Anything that details how to end a specter.”
Krys grinned, and in the darkness Joe shivered. The rows of glistening teeth did nothing to assuage his fear. Joe knew he was deep in the pit of manure. Still, his only chance to be returned to his home 950 years in the past- was if he removed The Whispering One.
Joe got busy. He pulled out tomes, scrolls, and could find nothing useful. His hope fled when he had pulled everything from the shelves. Joe stood amid the mess with his hands on his hips. His lips quivered at the thought of his flesh being torn off by rows of teeth, instead of them glistening they were now bloody.
Then, in the back he noticed a chest. It was barely recognizable, but he walked over to it. A large lock secured it.
“Hey, Krys. Come ‘ere a second.” Heavy footsteps resounded throughout the mausoleum. Krys appeared out of the shadows.
“Where are the keys for this chest?”
Krys laughed. “Keys? There are no keys on Xi-Lung. That’s a rune lock.”
“A what now?”
“A rune lock. No one can open this chest but the person who spoke the words.”
“So, who spoke the words? Must I go find the person who spoke the words and bring them here to open it?”
“They don’t have to be here to open it. They must speak the words. In the same exact tone as they said it to lock it.”
“Great.” Joe sat on the floor. “I don’t suppose you know who locked this chest. Or where they could be found.”
“Ashati Xander,” Joe mumbled. Upon the utterance of the words, the chest shook. A mouth formed on the lid, and two eyes opened.
“Oh my, I have company. I feared as much. Who spoke the words?”
Krys scowled at the chest, Joe was stunned into a state of shock. The chest blinked.
“You, the dumb one, are you the one who said the words in a state of despair?” Joe nodded.
“Yeah, I figured. Snap out of it dummy. What do you want?”
“You are a chest, but you have spoken. How is that even possible?” The chest sighed and closed its eyes.
“I spoke the words and placed a tiny reversal on the lock. Someone, in this instance you, had to match my tone when I said the words to wake me. So, once again, what do you want?”
“But you are a chest.”
“I was not always a chest, dummy. Once upon a time, I was brought here to defeat The Whispering One. I tried my best, but I was outmatched. I spent months poring over strategies, tomes, anything I thought would bolster my chances of victory. Nothing came of it. I fought bravely, and The Whispering One noticed. Instead of killing me, it reverted me to this chest, and then banished me to this corner.”
“Let us start simple, simpleton. What do you seek? What is your name? I am Tiberius Poindexter, the last knight of the Round Table. I hailed from Camelot.”
“No way. I am Joe from Mississippi.”
“What is a Joe or a Mississippi?”
“Joe is my name. Mississippi is where I am from.”
“Hmm. Mississippi does not sound magical or fabled. I must go there when I am returned to my former self and set forth the wrongs of this land.”
“Um, first off, I was brought here to defeat The Whispering One. You fought it. Can it be slain?”
“No. It cannot be slain. If it could have been, I surely would have destroyed it when we battled. I had cut it to ribbons, but it grew stronger as I grew weaker.”
“So, it is hopeless.”
“Oh, buck up Joe. There must be a way to defeat the old nag. We only need to find it. With our combined knowledge, we are sure to find a way. Inside me, or should I say the chest, there are documents we can use to broaden our knowledge of the beast.” Joe raised the lid, and sure enough, there were scrolls and other documents inside. He began to peruse the notes.
“Hey, Joe from an unfabled land, put the lid down.”
“No, that will not do at all. It is Tiberius Poindexter, last knight of the Round Table. You say it all, or nothing. I earned my title, squire.”
“Okay what, you daft imbecile?”
“Okay, Tiberius Poindexter, last knight of the Round Table.”
“There. Was that so hard?”
Joe shook his head and walked to a corner of the mausoleum that had better light. Scribbled on a part of a scroll were these words: Upon my honor as the last knight of the Round Table, I swear an oath to destroy this wretched specter known as The Whispering One. On my love for the beautiful Celtic Princess Ashati Xander, I pledge this to be true.”
“You loved a princess?”
“Yes, imbecile. I loved Ashati with my whole heart, nay, my whole being.”
“Tell me about this princess of yours. Do not leave out any detail.”
“I would tell you of her blond hair and sparkling blue eyes. Of her laugh that rang through the valleys as we rode together on horses. Words cannot convey the passion of which she burned. Or the passion that I burned with for her.”
“It sounds of an ageless love.”
“Yes, it would have been. Expect for my failure to have conquered this foul demon.”
Joe sat on the floor and began to read the tomes. “There must be something in this that gives us some clue as to defeat this specter and return us to our separate timelines.”
Tiberius Poindexter, last knight of the Round Table, remained silent as Joe spent the day reading. He thought of Ashati. He thought of their love, and the tragedy that had befallen them.
“It all went awry when her father found out she loved me. He stripped her of her title and sent her to live with a swine farmer. Oh, Ashati. What I would not give to hold you one more time.”
Joe sat on the floor and pondered what to do next. Killing a specter was nigh impossible. So far, nothing in the pile of papers provided him an inkling of hope concerning the defeat of The Whispering One. Joe reached for another tome. This one was dusty; the pages were bent and yellow. The words were faded, Joe could barely make out what was written.
“The Whispering One, specter of Bog Hollow, is one of a kind. None are certain of its origin, although, many have speculated that the creature is the product of a curse.” Joe scratched at his chin after reading. “If the specter is cursed, then the curse could be lifted-but how?” He continued to read. “First, one must be prepared to die. Lifting a curse should not be attempted by a faithless individual. More often than not, the curse cannot be lifted. A person of strong faith may succeed, whereas a person of weak faith could curse themselves in the process.”
Sir Tiberius Poindexter cleared his throat. Joe looked up from the tome and walked to where the chest was. “What do you need, Sir Tiberius Poindexter?” The chest locked eyes with Joe. “Have you found anything during your reading spell?”
“No. Although, there is something in this tome about the specter being cursed.”
“Aye. I thought I would be able to lift it. I was wrong.”
“The tome mentioned it would require a person of ‘strong faith.’ My faith is shot.”
“You are entirely too young to be so jaded.”
“Thanks, I think.”
“What has caused you to be so bitter?”
“Life and all its happenings.”
“Continue your research. Krys will come back and expect a report. You do not want them to rip your flesh off with their teeth.”