To the Isle of the Dead

The room he led them to was surprising, to say the least.

It was gotten up like a Victorian-era opium den, with velvet and scroll-work. He caught the looks of bewilderment and explained. “Got to make the spirits feel at home, don’t I? It ain’t decor, it’s a blasted temple.”

Dr. Wu pulled went to a cabinet and opened it to reveal a basic medical station. “Sit down, one to a mat, and I’ll come around and get your vitals. I need to know if you’re currently on any substance, if you have any medicine allergies that you know of, and whatever medications you’re taking. Please don’t try to hide anything. I have to measure your dose accordingly.”

He shooed them towards the mats and pulled out the tools to start his rounds.

Meanwhile, Doc Pleasant stood at the end of the room, hands folded behind his back, and he cleared his throat, like a professor about to begin a lecture.

“I’m told you lot’ve got spirit potential, so what we’re being here tonight for’s to figure out what sort of soul you got, an’ help you learn to use that soul, channel it for some useful purpose, mind.”

“Now, to that end, you’s gonna be visiting the shadow land, the place what spirits pass to that ain’t ready to move on, yet. The Chinese call it the Di-yu, them Catholics call it Purgatory, and the Indians what lived here called it the Isle of the Dead. They were thinkin’ it was a literal, physical place.”

“But see, what we be thinkin’ of as reality? It’s only real ‘cause we done thought it, you understand. The world’s shaped by what the peoples in it think, what they believe. So here, we got lots of beliefs. Them Indians first, they made the Island. Everything else after that done built on it. What you be expectin’ when you travel there, that be what you see, you understand?”

“You lot are applyin’ to be guardians, though, an’ so for that, we got to go to the land what was here first. Tonight, we’ll be visitin’ the Isle of the Dead. Spiritually, mind, though it’ll be feelin’ like you’re there in body.”

“Now,” he continued, “visitin’ the shadow lands, well, it’s complicated. There’s some as what can get there on their own. There be places where the worlds meet an’ you can step over without even realizin’ it. But the fastest way to get there, an’ to really be there, so’s you can interact, is to walk hand an’ hand with Death.”

He walked over to another cupboard, opening it to reveal a stash of opium pipes and related paraphenalia. “That be where the poppy smoke comes into play, eh? When you walkin’ with the poppy, you walkin’ with Death, whether you realize it or not. Now, you ain’t gonna die, so don’t worry. You ain’t even gonna be close. That be what the good doc here be for. You ain’t never going to be in any danger, so rest easy.”

“Now, ‘fore we start our trip, you be tellin’ the doctor what he’s askin’ for, and if you got questions, now’s the time to be askin’.”