It is a weird feeling, being particles of dust floating around in the air.

Even in a world where I am a ghost, a spirit left behind after my body evaporated into dust, it baffles me to an immense degree to fathom the fact that I am no longer a cohesive being in any form. My spirit exists in tiny dots all across this blank white room. After a while, perhaps, my particles will settle on the floor and I may reform back into more of a being, but it does not look to be anytime in the near future.

I am very much wondering why my sibling Rare did that.

Or why they are here inside this vault-like room sealed up and hidden away so well that, apparently, it took Miss M eighty years to open it.

“Why did you blast him…” Miss M whines. “I just got him here and you’re already getting violent.”

I would speak, but apparently I am not currently able to do so.

“I know what you must be thinking,” Rare tells me. “I’ve grown out my hair.”

Once again, I can’t respond to them. I don’t know why in the world they are making witty comments like that to me.

Their hair is much longer, though. And their skin has faded with the passing of time. No longer are they my kid sibling who went off to war with my brother Vince. They are refined and almost regal in a sense, sporting fashionable robes and sharp eyes.

Wait a minute… it’s been eighty-four years since I last saw Malia. Which means it’s been, well, eighty-four years since I died. That means Rare should be well over a hundred years old… right? Then why do they look, well, not ancient? Old sure, but their hair is still a light white-pink and their spirit is still youthful enough that they can easily cast a high level magic spell without blinking.

A North Spiran through and through with that level of power… but North Spirans are just like any other normal human when it comes to aging. That means… Rare has some sort of powers beyond what I can even dream of. Perhaps it has something to do with them being in this room, this realm, this whatever it may be?

“You are correct,” Rare says. “My powers have grown immensely as I trained here in this room. I can even read your mind. Or, rather, I can sense your aura. And that aura is what allows me to understand what you are thinking at any given time.”

Please. Why are they talking to me like this when I am unable to say anything…

“And I guess I should explain some other things, to shed more light and context,” they continue. “For instance, what this place is. I imagine that Miss M has neglected to inform you of much of anything. That is the most likely outcome of trusting someone as careless as her with a task as important as delivering my brother to me, but I foresaw it anyway.”

Miss M gives a hmph and folds her arms.

“This room is known as the Usurper’s Hall,” Rare says. “It is a place designed in all respects to mimic the setting and status effects of The Goddess’s own place of residence. It is a forgery meant to train one’s powers in the harshest and loneliest conditions possible. Every hour that passes in this room is like two weeks out in the real world. But your body feels all of that pain and strength of those two weeks all at once.”

Malia asks, “Shouldn’t we be leaving this room soon, then?”

“No need,” they say. “While the door is open, the effects are minimized. We should not feel much of any time difference so long as we do not make a day of it. Also, I believe Eryk is utilizing this room to his advantage, it seems.”

I have trouble momentarily figuring out what Rare means by that, until I look at myself again. The particles of dust that my ghostly form was transfigured into have already begun to reform. The outline of my non-body is already formed and assembling itself automatically. I can feel the magical energies coursing through me.

“Rare…” I can use my voice again, and finally I am able to say what I wish. “Rare, I missed you so much.”

They lower their head. They do not respond.

“So are we starting this plan or not?” Miss M asks. “I want to become a demon queen again. I miss my suit and tie and medium-sized breasts.”

“Don’t you worry your pretty little head,” Rare says. “You will have your power renewed soon enough. For this ‘ghost’ of my brother is exactly what I needed. We can finally awaken Eryk Solbourne once and for all.”

“No! If you wake him up, he’ll just disappear again and go back to Earth.”

“He’ll… what?”

“Rare, I was killed,” I say. “But The Goddess reincarnated me on a new planet. One with no system. No creatures other than humans and sometimes bears. My ghost here is the true anomaly here.”

They growl. “The Goddess… Her tyranny knows no bounds. She must have known what we were planning and made a move to curtail things as best as she could.”

“So we must act quickly,” Malia says. “No more waiting around for eighty years.”

“My training here in the Usurper’s Hall has given me incredible abilities, Rare says. “But it is still nothing compared to Eryk’s power once he wakes up. And I don’t mean some fake body on a different planet. I mean the true, real Eryk Solbourne, who lays hidden deep within North Spire even at this very moment.”

Malia gulps. “Rare, you can’t tell him—no, please… You told us to keep this from him. We did our best, but if you keep talking…”

“Silence,” they say. “Eryk, let’s go see your real body. The one that has been asleep in the Hero’s Chamber for one hundred years. Miss M, you know what to do. I will teleport us out once we are ready.”

“You got it, boss,” Miss M says.

I try to figure out what anyone is saying but—

I’m poofed into Miss M’s inventory once again.