“Hark, I ha’e found an Edmund,” Seoc declared, brushing the dust off of a cracked stone tomb.
“Is it a mage, though?”
“There’s no rose an’ pentagram,” Seoc said with a shrug. “But that does no’ necessarily mean he wasnae a mage. It’s yer family, Simon. Surely you know the names o’ some o’ yer magical ancestors.”
“It has never exactly been a point of pride,” Simon replied, “for mages to appear in a line of noble blood. Up until a few centuries ago, had it been discovered that magic ran in the Edmund family, we would have been accused of Lowryn-worship and lost our land. We covered up the existence of Edmund mages remarkably well, and there are few—if any—records of their names. So no, I wouldn’t know any of them by name if they happened to be buried here.”
“What was the point o’ comin’ doon here then, if no’ ta find the remains o’ an Edmund mage?”
Seymour winced and covered his ears as Seoc’s raised voice echoed around the chamber. “Could you not shout, please? My head hurts.”
“Sorry, Sey.” Seoc sighed heavily and kicked at the base of the deteriorating marble sarcophagus.
“Does it really matter whether or not the talisman pertained to a mage?” Simon asked.
“I thought we agreed that it did,” Seoc snapped back at him. “Or else it willna function properly.”
“Have you ever heard of the placebo effect? Remember, this is Henry we’re talking about—he’s weak because he thinks he’s weak. As long as he believes the talisman will work, the talisman will work.”
Seoc was unconvinced. “But Moriba said—!”
“Anything Moriba says ought to be taken with a grain of salt,” Seymour said, cutting him off. “I think Simon might be right, little fish. Let’s just take what we came for and get out of here.”
Seoc took one look at Seymour’s face, which looked exceptionally pale and drained in the torchlight, and relented with a shrug. “Fine.”
The three of them gathered around the tomb, hooked their fingers beneath the lip of the stone lid, and lifted. With effort, they managed to slide it back far enough to see inside. Simon and Seoc stood panting and pressing their stone-scuffed palms into their knees while Seymour stumbled away and sat down on the dusty floor, dazed from exertion.
Inside the sarcophagus there lay a skeleton, clothed in scraps of decayed fabric and clutching a rusted sword. Cautiously, Seoc reached into the open sepulcher and plucked out a vertebra that had at one point been a part of the man’s neck.
“This should suffice.”