Pavel: Wait… How do we get through that crowd? It’ll take hours…
Vanna: We don’t! Garth showed me a side gate once-- Said we could use it in an emergency if we needed to.
On one side of the mountain, the mourners gather, a luminous crowd piled on the front steps of the shrine. Over the jungle tree tops, far from the gathered crowds, is a much narrower staircase, lit by lights embedded in the steps and dim lanterns hanging from tree branches crowded close to the small doorway built into the mountain wall.
Vanna: Shrine Islands have so many secret doors… Maybe too many… Luckily, they’re mostly used for deliveries… But I always wondered if they’re used for other things…
The pair stand in the doorway and look down into the cavernous inside of the island. They walk through the space, past a waterfall and up more luminescent steps.
Pavel: ...Like MURDERS?
They come out onto a well lit floor, grass sprouting along walls carved with overlapping patterns. Pavel looks up at the arched ceilings of the shrine’s entry hall. The space is in tumult.
Voice: No, no… She asked for SILK. Not linen, SILK!
Blue flames light the tops of columns standing on either side of the door. A lotus patterned window rests atop the great entryway- now barricaded with heavy boards, put into place by shrine workers on ladders. The overlapping patterns, like feathers, cover the walls. The ceiling seems to be made of glass, like a greenhouse, and mosses and grasses grow where the walls meet the glass panes, draped down over the arching doorways. A waterfall and palm trees sprout beside the archways. A balding man in blue and black robes with feathers tucked behind his ears and bright red eyeglasses perched on his nose stands in the middle of it all- a roll of white fabric in one hand and the other pointing after shrine workers as they carry materials to and fro.
Voice: Bring the incense into the sanctuary, all of it. Yes, yes. Good. More candles! Keep working on the barricades -- NO ONE gets in! You’re all doing so well. Don’t stop! Keep moving! GO GO GO!
Vanna: Gath? Hey-o, GARTH!
Vanna steps forward, cupping her hand around her mouth to help the sound carry. The man, Garth, turns to face her, holding a hand to his head and looking worn to the bone.
Garth: Wha-? Who’s calling me? Gods, I’m too tired to tell all of you apart.
Vanna waves and Pavel, standing at her side, raises a hand in tandem.
Vanna: Hi Garth! Sorry to bother. We snuck in to offer support, if you need it. Wow. You DO look tired.
Garth’s eyes go wide, thoughts racing.
Garth (internal): Doctor Morena? And… and her SON?!