His long arduous journey was only overshadowed by the burden of his curse. How long until he had rid the Shadow Isles completely of this dark vile mist. Yorick plunged his spade deep into the ground. Strike after strike he moved more earth from below.
After what would seem like an eternity to anyone else yet a moment to Yorick, the pile of scorched earth lay heaped beside him. “_Why do you persist?_” the familiar shrill voice whispered to him.
“Because I must…” Yorick uttered.
He was tired, the decades had drained his moral, now only spurned on by his absolute resolve. The vial around his neck swung from side to side and with every slam of his spade, deeper and deeper Yorick dug. The eyes of those around him were fixated on the vial, daring to touch it, to feel it’s warmth but he payed no attention to the spectres around him.
Clunk… The sound of the spade connecting with a hollow wood. The eyes turned to the sound, as did Yorick's attention. After a brief silence the echoed voice called to him once more.
“Give in Yorick, we are stronger together.” The Maiden was clearer than ever.
Yorick drove his spade into the ground and fell to his knees, ignoring the maidens goading, he clawed the dirt away from the chest and heaved it out from the land below. It was a moderate mass of wood and metal. There were no inscriptions or clues to what this was; only a magical lock in the shape of a dragonfly that glistened as if it were from an angel’s inventory. The Maiden questioned Yorick.
“_You are wasted.. join us, why must you waste your efforts?_”
Yorick had long spend time learning to ignore what seemed like his subconscious doubt. He knew that the connection he had with the maiden was both burden and comfort. Without her he would be free of her tarnished words and consistent attempts at draining his soul from his very existence but with her, he would never be truly alone. She, as it seemed, was an entity in herself. Her voice had a strange charm to it; a softness under her veil of morbid horror. He had grown accustom to her whispers. They in themselves were a reason to carry on.
He removed the vile from around his neck, and the arms of the dead began to clutch at his feet. His very souls beginning to leave his body. More and more the limbs began to emerge slowly from the ground, reaching up. Had Yorick finally given in? Was this to be his journeys end? He unplugged the cork from the vial and carefully, a single drop was bestowed unto the magical lock.
A Crack, a whirring, a great bellow from the Shadow Isles as the lock turned and twisted its shimmering gold mechanisms to unlock itself. It hovered for a while before springing into life and flying into the dark mist, illuminating its trial as it danced into the distance. Once more did the maiden call.
“You have lost your way, let the Isles become what they must. We are to be as one.”
The clutches of the dead had begun to make movement difficult. His actions were laboured but he placed his hands either side of the chest and promptly opened it. Suddenly the Maiden had stopped whispering. A deep hollow droning was heard echoing through the empty plains. The out reaching arms made a hasty retreat as Yorick slung the vial back around his neck. He stood under a dishevelled, bare tree. The chest looked up at him. He took a step back and within a few seconds his view was filled with the Maiden gliding slowly towards the chest. Her ghostly, shredded veil flowed behind her. For the first time, the Maiden’s focus was not on Yorick’s vial, but on what lied within the chest.
“You, as you once were.” Yorick said.
The Maiden was slow with her movements, she looked at the items in the chest. A diary with old photographs. One of which depicted a family, happy together. A small plush bear, filthy from the soiled earth and a frayed and an emerald green ribbon. The Maiden let the ribbon fall through her ghastly fingers. Yorick spoke to her from behind.
“Your family have moved on. They may not talk to you, but they all talk – to me.”
The Maiden’s whispers turned to a weep. The echoed cries of a woman were becoming clearer and clearer. The Maiden embraced the chest, a mother who had lost so much, had left behind what she could in the vain hope to reclaim it in another life. The smiles of her children brought memories of who she once was back. Yorick’s deep voice was heard;
“Ask me, once more… Maiden.”
“_Why do you persist?_”
“Because I must… Not for me - but for you, for them. For all of them.”
The Maidens claws shortened, her ghastly cloak turned into dark long flowing hair, her green eyes shone into view, her pretty round face softly came to light. A more human spectre once again, Yorick had made a promise to shepherd every soul, even hers. She grasped the ribbon in her now fair hand. She walked gracefully over to Yorick. Her aura, although still a cold blue was calm and beautiful. Yorick spoke to her directly;
“Be free, fair Maiden … And be with them once more.”
The Maiden faded into the mist, now free from her grasp. For her at least, Yorick had come through with his promise. Her whispers were gone. A satisfying sadness fell on him. Alone. His long arduous journey was only overshadowed by the burden of his curse, nay; his gift.