423 Big Library

    The long stone staircase appeared to extend into the sky. Gu Jun and Yu Chi rested for some time before they made their way upwards. They paid close attention to their physical and mental state. Compared to the 'first time' they climbed this stone staircase, they took a much longer time this time. When they arrived at the top, their breaths were even but their knees were slightly dull with pain.

    "Captain Gu, did you notice anything out of place?" Yu Chi asked as he stared admiringly at the stone pillars and arches before him.

    "No, everything's normal." Gu Jun was responsible to cover their backs. He would occasionally steal a few glances behind him but Yu Chi was too absorbed in their surroundings to notice. Gu Jun also kept his eyes on the shadow of the witch. The old hag did not appear, perhaps she could not, or perhaps this was another conspiracy of hers. Along the way, many thoughts crossed his mind but they were like a ball of twine that he was unable to untangle.

    "There's an entrance there." Yu Chi commented, "I can see some bookshelves through it... Captain Gu, I believe this is the place you've been to in your illusions."

    "I think so too. Let's keep on moving." Gu Jun said as they maintained the same tactical posture. The duo slowly crossed the spacious lobby towards the door. When they passed the stone pillars, they could not help but admire the exquisite carving, patterns and inscriptions on them. These things impacted the limits of their imagination and broadened their mind to a higher and deeper perspective. But unlike the stone statuettes from the R'yleh Cult or Land of Mu which would cause mental corruption, they were still sober, if anything, they felt mentally refreshed. This experience was reminded of their interaction with the Ancient Seal. They came from the same family, the Pnakotic technology.

    When they reached the door, Yu Chi looked carefully around. He did not spot any trace of seal or ward. He used his shovel to poke ahead and it easily crossed the threshold of the door. "Captain Gu, I'll go in first. You decide on your action depending on the situation." Gu Jun nodded. His heart gripped with tension because this was already beyond the mark he had experienced in the previous two timelines. For all he knew, Captain Yu might be sliced into pieces by a web of laser beams once he stepped through the door.

    "Captain Yu, why don't you lead by extending only your hand first?"

    "You have a point..." Yu Chi understood the caution. His beard tensed as he slowly reached out his left hand into the door... Yu Chi sighed in relief. Nothing happened. He took a careful step into the inner room. Still nothing happened. Looking around, all he could see was imposing bookshelves. The bookshelves were made from some kind of black wood. They lined up row after row. Some reached straight to the domed ceiling, they appeared to act as additional architectural support. Giant books arranged the bookshelves, the spines were printed with unique hieroglyphs. Combine that with the inscriptions on the outside pillars, this was a civilization which had an advanced hieroglyphic language.

    "Ah..." Yu Chi gasped in excitement. If not for his strength of will, he'd die from excitement. This place was the fatal attraction for any archaeologist. Money and beauty paled immeasurably before it. He shook with barely contained excitement as he considered the amount of information he might locate among these tomes.

    "Captain Yu, what's wrong?" Gu Jun asked as he heard that pained groan. He was quite shocked.

    "It's nothing, I am just too thrilled to be here..."

    Gu Jun observed a while longer to make sure everything was fine with Yu Chi before he joined him. Even with Yu Chi leading the way, Gu Jun was still careful. He paid special attention to the shadow behind him. Once he crossed the door, he noticed the shadows on the hexagonal tiles disappear. His, Yu Chi's and the witch's all vanished. Was this... an effect of the bright light? As a doctor, he was familiar with the function of shadeless lamps.

    Gu Jun looked around and he spotted big crystal globes on giant platforms. The light that they cast did not form any shadow. But Gu Jun knew that the inability to see the shadow did not mean that they had disappeared. 'Could the witch follow us in here?'

    "Every single one of these books is heavy enough to crush us with their pure weight..." Yu Chi groused anxiously, "How is one supposed to read them?"

    The books were studied using conventional methods. One had to read them page by page. That conclusion was drawn from the presence of reading tables as well writing accoutrements like paper and pens that left on some of the large platforms. However, there was nothing that resembled a chair. For such a large reading table, the creature that utilized them had to be at least 3 to 4 metres tall.

    The members of this civilization probably abandoned this place in a hurry. Not every table was neatly packed away before they left. Gu Jun believed they evacuated and were not killed because there was no sign of struggle. Then again this was just a speculation, there was no telling what kind of logic worked here.

    "Captain Yu, I cannot see our shadows anymore." Gu Jun prompted carefully, "Mind turning around to check?"

    Once he pointed that out, it immediately got Yu Chi's attention. This anomaly caused the man to get even more tense. These books were such a treasure and there had to be a trap guarding these treasures. On the other hand, Gu Jun sighed in relief because the witch did not announce herself. Yu Chi could not see her, but Gu Jun still could not tell whether it was a good idea to bring that up or not.

    After a quick discussion, they decided not to touch anything around the library for now. The bookshelves, platforms, tomes were off limits. Instead they would work to find the location where Gu Jun had visited in his previous illusions. In that illusion, he was between two bookshelves and before him was a large podium. The duo headed into the room and realized that the place was impossibly large. Even the largest human building was nothing compared to this. They walked for half an hour and found themselves still treading along the same black wood bookshelf. The size of this library was beyond the concept of human measurement of size.

    After another trekking, Gu Jun's eyes suddenly focused. He saw the similar podium from his illusion. On top of this podium sat several machines made up from glass tubes, metallic pipes and unknown materials. In spite of its strange design, it looked like a shuttle, albeit a very giant one. It would feel large even for the tallest man, but it would fit snuggly with the creatures who utilized this giant library.

    "I feel like we're coming to the spot..." Gu Jun said heavily, "This place feels familiar, I was just standing a few metres in front of us..." This was a very strange feeling. Gu Jun had no idea whether this was the first time he was here or not. He could not tell whether the timeline he was in was supposed to be the past, the present or the future.

    "What about those machines?" Yu Chi asked with fervor. Both the tomes and the machines presented a wealth of archaeological knowledge to the man. Could they still move? What fuelled their life force? What was their purpose?

    Both Yu Chi and Gu Jun felt that the mysterious signal had them come to Pnakotus because they were destined to make use of these machines.

    "Captain Yu, how about I take the lead this time?" Gu Jun said as he moved forward towards the first podium. "If anything goes wrong, shout to warn me."

    Yu Chi took up the guard post. Gu Jun moved closer and closer to his destination. Perhaps it was his psychology acting up, his brain suddenly numbed with pain. Way back then, the blurry shadow appeared in this library, right next to that podium...

    He remembered the elongated length of the shadow. He could not tell its actual size. But he knew now no shadow could be casted within this library...
Previous Index Next