**Continued from Part VIII**
The Necropolis was the most crowded city Rowan had ever been in. Had it been a painting, the artist would have had to use their smallest brushes to painstakingly assemble each bit of black, gray, indigo, and green. Some parts seem to glow with a light that she could not identify the source of, while others were lost in shadows. She had to give up wondering where the shadows came from if there was no light for the buildings to block. This was the world of the dead, after all, and things were not likely to make sense to her.
The place seemed impossibly ancient. People had been dying since time immemorial, she knew. The buildings looked as old as civilization, each layer built upon an older one, newer bricks set in with older, more worn, bricks. Some of them were think with moss– or at least some sort of green slime– other precariously balanced. They hardly even seemed like the sort of places that a being could dwell in, no matter how much the place looked like a crowded castle town from the Dark Ages.
“Peter…” Rowan began as they got to the bottom or a narrow, steep set of stairs.
He paused and turned around to look at her; she was still three stairs up. “You have questions.”
She nodded, wanting to utter the words ‘of course,’ but refusing to risk showing disrespect. “What… what is the purpose of this place?”
“This street?” he asked her. “Or the entire city?”
Rowan shrugged, moving slowly down the last few stairs. “All of it,” she said, her voice breaking. She was starting to feel cold; colder than what made sense for a place without any wind or snow. “Is this supposed to be Limbo?”
Peter scoffed. “Heaven, Hell, Limbo. They’re all wrong.”
“Well, I that’s what I thought,” Rowan said. “I mean, I had always felt lied to when I heard all the promises and warnings…”
He shook his head, then took her arm; it was ice cold. “You have to keep moving. We can talk while we walk.” Once they were moving again, Peter told her, “They’re not lies so much as misunderstandings. Even ideas like Hades, Yomi, Duat, and Hel aren’t exactly accurate.”
Rowan thought for a while as they kept walking along a narrow street, where the cobbles were worn and somewhat uneven. “But this clearly isn’t Elysium or Tir Na Nog either.”
“Look,” Peter said after a while of thinking, “this place is none of those things and all of them. It even has a few things in common with Purgatory. Still, I don’t even know if this is what there actually is after we die, of if it’s just something that my mind is constructing out of what it senses.”
“But your brain is–”
“I didn’t say ‘brain,’ did I?” he corrected her. Then he pulled her away from a puddle just before her foot came down into it. “Watch out for those. They’re nastier than you think.”
“Ummm, thanks,” she said, her mind working too hard for her to think of better words.
They walked on for a while before Peter spoke again. “There are some things that show up in a lot of cultures and belief systems; they’re all here in the Necropolis… somewhere or other. Rivers, gardens, layers that descend ever-deeper. There are spirits– or whatever they want to be called– in charge of something or other. If your friend hasn’t moved on to be reborn yet, we’ll find someone who can tell us where she is.”
**Continued on Part X**