Dill stumbled through the underground tunnels, wary for errant stones or tree roots snaking across his path. So far the walls had been mostly earth and rock, filled with dusty cobwebs and the occasional clump of rat droppings. He'd tried both and found the swollen spiders – almost white thanks to the time their species had lived here – to be far better tasting, once you got the hang of clearing the legs from between your teeth.
Eventually the walls changed to dressed stone, his fingers tracing out patterns of letters and skull motifs. Every hundred yards or so an arch held up the roof, decorated with dry bones from ancient graves. Pinpricks of light showed he was only forty feet or so below the surface. The passage widened, terminating in a vast space decorated on every surface with bones and skulls; a cathedral of art made over the course of two centuries or more. He had to look away from some of the skulls, the horns and elongated teeth suggesting many were of non-human origin.
There was a map carved in stone at the end of what would have been the nave. He was beneath Laverstone Royal Park, where a passage to the north-west would lead him to the manor house and another would lead to what he assumed was the museum. He sank into a seat composed of thigh and shoulder bones. It was cool here but not freezing; his thoughts leaping quickly from one hypothesis to the next.
He picked up a bone and studied it. What happened to zombies when they decayed past mobility? When muscles released their tenuous hold on bone and were left unable to contract and arm or a fist? Was there a further state of being that turned a zombie into a living skeleton? A wraith? A ghost?
He stood, the grey features of his undead face twisting into a lopsided smile. Not if he could help it. If he could work out how to harvest a spirit from one medium to another he could jump bodies for as long as he wanted to stay alive. He could truly master death.