When you die, your spirit wakes in the frozen north, in the City of the Dead, and waits there until someone comes along to Send you to the next world by telling you a simple and heartfelt “Goodbye.”
This single word, spoken by someone who loves you, releases your soul from this world and lets you finish your journey to the next life.
The City of the Dead is difficult, dangerous, and expensive to reach. You must join the steady stream of mourners who pour north at all times to Send their loved ones, unwilling to let their dead wander forever through the cold.
THE YOUNG ORPHAN
Sophie was twelve years old when her parents died. Three days later, she sat on a hill overlooking her town’s cemetery and watched the gravediggers chip away at the hard winter ground for the better part of the day.
Sophie watched as the sun began to set and two holes appeared in the ground, large enough to fit her parents’ bodies. When she saw the small procession of mourners carry two cheap wooden caskets out of the funeral hall and down the crooked path to the cemetery, she stood up on that hill and walked the other way.
Though they had taught Sophie about the pilgrimage north to the City of the Dead, and though they told their daughter she would have to Send them one day, her parents had died suddenly and never fully prepared her for the realities of life, death, and the journey that lay ahead of her.
In her innocence, she didn’t understand the full weight of her parents’ death. It was just another problem to solve, and as she walked away from the cemetery, back into town and towards her grandmother’s house, she settled on the single obvious solution to her parents’ passing. She would take the pilgrimage north, yet, while the other mourners would travel to say “Goodbye” to their loved ones, Sophie would implement a different plan. She would find her parents’ spirits in the City of the Dead, remind them where they belonged, and return them back home to be with her once more.
Sophie had never heard of the dead coming back from the north, but that didn’t stop her from dreaming of returning to life what death had claimed from her.