Excerpt One

They were watching him again, he could feel it. Robert rolled his broad shoulders, and the great iron links that bound him to the earth grumbled metallically in complaint. They were always watching. He wasn’t sure exactly what they were. Certainly not ordinary human souls, for the wandering departed scattered like frightened quail every time he roused himself enough to draw their attention. Not animal spirits either, for they would stop in their tracks and stare at Robert expectantly as though he was supposed to do something. No, these things knew where Robert was, even when he was at his most relaxed. They tried to cluster just outside his field of vision like a pack of dogs vying for position against a remarkably large and unsympathetic wild boar.

Excerpt Two

“It is not impossible! In fact, I have been doing it all my afterlife! I have been doing it daily for three hundred years!” Aldus took a deep breath. “The core of your soul, the center, is the keystone of your spiritual existence and the foundation of your being. If that foundation ricocheted around inside you like a rubber ball then you would pop like a soap bubble.”

Excerpt Three

“This brings me back to the original question.”

“So it does. The short answer is faith. The doctrine of the Courts states that discorporation does not constitute some form of final death, an absolute dissolution into oblivion, or reincarnation back into the Living World. Instead, our souls enter into a deep state of slumber and we are hidden from the world in a manner similar to, yet more powerful than, that state which Earthbound Souls entertain. There we shall remain until the great trumpets blow the clarion call of Final Judgment and we are roused once more.”

“And the long answer?”

“Nobody knows how it is all going to end for a certainty. By their very nature, the different Realms have varying ideas when it comes to the ‘big finale.’ Naturally, that also means they need to come up with some explanation for discorporation that also fits their worldview. We have to come up with an explanation for everything, and those explanations need to make sense, or else the entire system will collapse like a house of cards. In the end you find that the long answer is faith, too.” Aldus swept the scroll clean with a wave of his hand, then stowed both scroll and pen where he had retrieved them.

Robert looked down at the table. “I kind of feel disappointed.”

“Try to look at it this way, son. If all the ultimate questions were already answered, then everything really would end at the moment you die. Those of us who were right at the beginning would be right forever, but what about everybody else? What about those who died never hearing of ‘The Right Way,’ let alone getting the chance to adhere to it? In poker terms, if all the cards are on the table then no one else can buy in. At least this way that girl has a fighting chance.”