414 3 Shadows

    The flickering light casted 3 black shadows on the stone platform. One was Yu Chi's shadow and two others came from Gu Jun. One was normal and the other was tilted and cracked. Many assumptions crossed Gu Jun's mind but he first asked softly, "Captain Yu, do you see what I see?"

    'What?' Yu Chi followed his confused gaze and immediately his expression changed with a tighten of his jaw. "Yes, I do." They did not carry any weapon, they only had their own backpacks which contained archaeological and medical tools.

    "Captain Yu, hit it with the Ancient Seal!" Gu Jun suggested. Yu Chi moved to oblige. The seal slammed against Gu Jun's two shadows. One of them swayed as if blown by a heavy wind. Suddenly, a female laughter echoed around them, "Captain Yu, that is not the way to treat a woman."

    Hearing that voice, Gu Jun's heart immediately chilled. "It's that witch." When they were doing research, Gu Jun already briefed Yu Chi about the witch and Tourette Syndrome. He suspected the witch was Keziah Mason from the Massachusetts world.

    "The witch?" Yu Chi glared angrily. The witch was a force of darkness so how could it be here?

    "My dearest brother, haven't I already told you that I'll always be there for you..." The shadow flickered gently. Gu Jun's excitement dissipated, he felt engulfed by darkness. Moments before, he confirmed that he was at the right place and the mysterious signal came from good people but now everything was thrown into uncertainty again. Now he suspected his journey here was all part of the witch's plan.

    "Feeling confused? Could this place be a trap?" The shadow chuckled. "Or will you find the solution you're looking for here? I do wish to know as well. Little brother, the game is reaching its end but for now, looks like I'll be the final victor." Before they could react, Gu Jun felt something undulated within his body. The shadow departed from him and raced up the stone steps.

    "Keziah Mason!" Gu Jun shouted, "That's your name, right? The witch from Arkham!"

    There was no reply. The stone steps were empty, there was no trace of any shadow, only the weak light and the cold that permeated the two men's hearts.

    "Ah..." Yu Chi gripped his head tightly, "What does she want? What could be stored here? If we're just the keys and she has made use of us..."

    "Captain Yu, no matter what, we have to stop her." Gu Jun was disappointed in himself but he knew the importance of keeping a cool head. "If she's here to look for something, we need to stop her; if something is waiting for us here, she'll do everything to stop us." Therefore, like she said, the game had almost reached its end.

    Yu Chi shook his head to clear his mind. Feeling that was not enough, he gave himself a few heavy slaps, to snap his brain out of the state of inebriation. "Why did she choose to show up so soon? Was it voluntarily or otherwise? How did she manage to follow us?" Yu Chi voiced out the questions in his mind.

    The two moved up the stone stairs with extra alert. Gu Jun held the Carlot Scalpel while Yu Chi armed himself with a shovel. These were the most powerful weapons they had at the moment. Even though neither of them came from the Action Department, they received enough training to win in a street brawl with these seemingly inconvenient weapons. However, before the forces of darkness, the resistance they could put up would be puny.

    "I feel like she is something like us." Gu Jun pondered. "She knew about the different worlds earlier than we did but she worshipped darkness so she had access to greater power. However, even so she could not physically transmigrate between the different worlds. It was why she wanted to consume me earlier but now... I'm not sure anymore."

    "Captain Gu, didn't you say she scoffed at the Yith's culture and achievement?" Yu Chi asked, "So what could she have wanted from this place? The evidence of our failure?" If the Pnakotic Manuscript was the Yith's creation, then naturally Pnakotus would be a Yith city.

    "There is no telling when she is lying and when she is not." Gu Jun picked up his pace and he climbed up the long stairs. "We'll just have to be on our guard." From the earlier illusion, they had a sense of the enormity of this building. There were incalculable steps from the platform to the front door. They hurried for about 10 minutes but it seemed like they were moving on the same spot. This reminded Gu Jun of the stone steps underneath Rikers. The men were exhausted but they could not rest. They were racing against the witch. Furthermore, they feared that once they stopped, they would never be able to summon the energy to continue anymore.

    They already trekked through the desert for a day and their physical condition was less than optimum due to the heavy alcohol in their system. The climb proved not only to be a mental problem but also a physical problem. They were running on a determination. If they stopped, they would probably need days to recover. Should that happen, everything would be too late.

    Thankfully, when they almost lost their breaths and their knees were numb from pain, they finally saw the end. When they crossed the last step, they instantly fell on the relatively wide landing. They gasped hungrily and their skeletons felt like they were collapsing.

    "Captain Gu, in our state..." Yu Chi said between breaths. "We won't be able to take down even a gorilla."

    "Even in our normal state, we won't be able to take down a silver-back gorilla..." Gu Jun countered but he knew what Captain Yu meant. Now that the drive that propelled them had deserted their bodies, they found it difficult to even move a muscle. He worried that the witch would choose this moment to summon a group of kids like how she did back at the oak forest. Even if the girls were all less than 3 years old, being surrounded, the two men would still be beaten to death. Thankfully, they were not at the oak forest and the witch did not appear to be that powerful here.

    Gu Jun lifted his eyes to look around. This was a spacious stone corridor. There were some stone pillars before them and further away was an imposing door. Through it, Gu Jun could glimpse some large bookshelves. The shape of the corridor confirmed that the building had a domed ceiling.

    "We're here, Captain Yu..." Gu Jun wanted to climb up but his muscles refused to budge. "I've been here twice already."

    At that moment, Gu Jun saw a group of bat-like creatures rush towards them through the stone pillars like a surge of current. Each of them hissed dangerously through their sharp jaws.

    "You guys sure took your sweet time coming here. It's unwise to make a lady wait, you know?" The female voice said with a cackle.
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