There was light at the end of the tunnel. A blueish cool light. As we hesitantly walked towards it we passed through a large archway leading into an expansive room dimly lit by Crystal Lights. Chills ran down my spine when I realised what we were looking at. In silence we walked between the frozen bodies layed out on stone tables. Although they were all covered by a sheer cloth, we could see that they were not human. Not human at all.
The Frozen Necropolis is the largest Ealdorian cemetery in the world. It is also the only known location where corpses were layed out on stone tables and covered with a sheer cloth. In later generations sky burials became popular, leaving nothing but bones. The corpses in the Frozen Necropolis however all remained intact due to the cold environment they were stored in. And possibly because of preservation methods we do not know of. This makes them invaluable to scholars and researchers worldwide.
In the year 1978 a group of dire bear hunters from Ishdal found themselves caught in a sudden snowstorm. Desperately seeking shelter, they stumbled upon the entrance to what they assumed was a cave. As they ventured deeper inside, they discovered a vast underground necropolis frozen in time. It was clear to the hunters that the deceased were not human. Realizing the importance of their discovery, they notified their council upon their return to Ishdal. Since then the Frozen Necropolis has become one of the most researched Ealdorian sites worldwide.
They did not look like corpses who had been exposed to the cold for a long period of time. Instead, they looked timeless. As if they were sleeping. It was so unsettling that we did not dare touch anything. We went back to the tunnel to wait for the storm to subside. Every time I close my eyes though, I still see them stretched out on their tables. As if they are waiting for something. Something beyond our comprehension.
For thousands of years the entrance to the necropolis has been guarded by two stone doors approximately three meters high. When the hunters stumbled upon this entrance, one door was standing ajar, allowing them to slip inside. Because of the heavy snowstorm they found themselves in, they did not realise at first they had just stepped through a doorway. Behind these doors a 111 meter long tunnel leads down to a tall and wide archway. Ancient script is cut into the sides of this archway. Since this script has yet to be deciphered, there is no way to know what exactly it says. Scholars assume it is a text relating to the burial rites of this civilization.
Hall of Pillars
Past the archway is a room of immense proportions. Throughout the room are wide pillars who support the ceiling of this underground structure. Around these pillars crystal lights are placed which give the place an eerie feel because their lights are much dimmer than normal. Throughout this room 11,111 solid stone tables are placed in, what seems, an unorganised way around one empty table in the middle. On each table a corpse lies on its back, covered by a sheer cloth. At the foot of each table, old Ealdorian runes can be found. Possibly they depict the name and perhaps year of dead of the person who lies on the table. Without a means to translate we can only guess.
The Empty Table
In the very center of the room the empty table speaks to the imagination. It's significance is unknown, but some scholars do speculate it might represent a space for their god. The table is no different from any of the others, except for the amount of script present on every surface of the table. Perhaps they are prayers or rites written down for their god, or perhaps the table was meant for someone of great importance. Or perhaps, some obscurists say, there once was a corpse on that table, which for unknown reasons disappeared out of the necropolis. They point to the state the dire bear hunters from long ago found the necropolis in, it's main doors ajar, as an important clue a corpse could have gone missing throughout the ages.
Something else which puzzles scientists and obscurists alike is the fact, although the corpses all wear jewelery and remarkably intact clothing, nothing has ever been taken. The site is believed to be at least 20,000 years old. It seems unlikely that no one else found it before the hunters of Ishdal did. Some believe its remote and inhospitable location is to blame for that. Yet for almost fifteen centuries scholars from all over the world visited the place. Why has no one ever taken anything from this place? Why is no one today willing to? Even those who visited the place can not explain it. It is as though some higher power keeps watch over this frozen necropolis.
The Ealdorians, also known as the Forgotten, were a species of humanoids who lived thousands of years before the first humans. They were an advanced civilization capable of constructing buildings and items which can not be damaged. This means a lot of what they once created is still around and in perfect condition. Although this means much is known about them, it has also led to a lot of mystery surrounding their civilization.
Remnants of the Past
Since its discovery people have come to believe the Frozen Necropolis is haunted. Stories about veiled translucent figures briefly appearing in the distance are very common among the scholars and historians who study the underground necropolis. Many also experience a chilling sensation when crossing the archway leading into the necropolis. As if some guardian of the place is registering their presence. This has piqued the interest of obscurists who now study the less mainstream phenomenon at the site.
One ghost in particular does not hesitate to come close to me. She is much taller than me, yet I am not afraid. Her gown is blue like a cloudless sky, and she does not wear a veil like the others. Her beautiful otherworthly face uncovered as she watches me work. She brings me peace. Keeps me company during these long hours. So I named her. Oni, after a fictional character who traveled to the lands of the death. She seems to like that name. If she was not translucent I would believe her to be alive. Yet she is nothing but a lingering presence of a past long forgotten.