The supernatural haunts all the men, women, and children of the Great Lacuna, whether Hengliss or Espanyo. The peoples of both cultures believe only a thin membrane separates the physical world in which humans an animals live from the vastness of the Other World. Northerners believe the dead pass to a place not unlike the world of the living, only much more comfortable, where they are reunited with their loved ones and continue in bliss through eternity. Southerners divide the afterworld into heaven, hell, and burgatorio: a hallway of penance and testing.
Whatever they imagine comes after death, people of both sides are convinced that ghosts and spirits infest the earthly plane.
Tavio Ombertín, like most other Espanyos, believes in isburdos de noche: “night ghosts” that come after a person in the dark and, with an icy touch, beckon their victims into the other world. Haunted by the real screams of his mother and sisters, who were raped and slaughtered in front of him, he is convinced that their night ghosts are nearby, and that they want to take him with them into the realm of Death.
This is not a light thing. Because everyone accepts the reality of ghosts, demons, and spirits, trouble — or at least a considerable hassle — could arise if Tavi’s fear spreads among the other chachos and to the Hengliss men. Kaybrel, in his capacity as kubna and therefore as his followers’ religious leader, understands that if Tavi’s near-hysteria gets back to the high chieftain, Lhored, they will all have to put up with an elaborate exorcism ceremony. And Kay is never in the mood for one of those.
Privately a skeptic and an apostate, Kay has little patience for Tavi’s superstitions. After a frightening incident leads Tavi to tell Kay’s trusted sidekick Fallon about the isburdos, Kay has to hustle up some fast damage control. Later, highly peeved, he tells the boy to keep his belief in spooks to himself. This elicits open rebellion from Tavio, who stalks off into the night — ghosts or no.
Tavi’s ghosts populate Book IV of the Fire-Rider saga, as Kay’s will haunt the upcoming Book V. Book IV, Ghosts, just went live on Amazon. Don’t miss it!