CH 42

Chapter 42 “Book’s Knowledge”

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The curfew imposed by the city was not suitable for exploring so Duncan stayed in the antique shop all night—the excitement of stepping on land drove him to explore the entire building tirelessly.

There’s no question the original owner of this body was a cultist, but he’s also an ordinary person. He required communication with others, interaction with civilized society, and sustenance to survive. In short, he needed to interact with the rest of the city.

Interaction meant clues, and clues meant Duncan could vaguely deduce what’s needed to survive here in Pland. Like the general level of technology used by the citizens in their daily lives, that’s something he needed to keep in mind.

Eventually, through the memories he absorbed, Duncan found a small amount of cash in the hidden compartment behind the counter on the first floor. This included a handful of coins of varying denominations, which were common in most city-states since they were jointly certified and issued by the governing body of the government and the Chamber of Commerce of the Boundless Sea.

These coins are called “Sora”, and there are over two hundred of these, enough for a family of three to live for a month in the lower sector of town.

It seems that even if the business is dismal, the original owner still managed to maintain his standard of living despite donating most of his wealth to the cult. At the very least, there’s a stable stream of customers to support the revenue.

After inspecting everything, from the rooms to the warehouse in the back, Duncan eventually returned to the master bedroom on the second floor. There’s a picture frame here, and inside… was a black and white photo of a family of three. It’s a young couple in plain clothes and a little girl around four to five years old, and they’re smiling at the camera with an artificial background behind them.

Duncan came before the thing and picked it up. Through careful examination, vague clues soon surfaced from his memory.

The original owner of this body… is not in the photo. Does this mean they’re close relatives of this body? They must be very dear to him…

As he gazed at the young couple some more, Duncan seemed to feel a faint sense of longing emerging from the depths of his memory.

However, the rest of the information about these people was a blur to him. It appears everything else regarding this family had faded away following the original owner’s death.

Putting the black and white picture down, he pondered what an item like this would cost for a commoner until his eyes fell onto the neatly made bed. That’s when uncertainty flooded into his heart.

Would a cultist, who has completely fallen into the belief of the sun, have time to tidy up and clean on the weekend?

The storefronts on the first floor have obviously been neglected, so how can the beds up here be so clean and meticulous?

Coming out again, he went over to the smaller room across the stairs. Here, the bed and desk were equally as clean.

Sorting through the memories some more, Duncan’s sure the original owner of this body had never returned during the past few days. In other words, someone else had come here during that period.

Someone else lives here? A loved one?

Duncan frowned slightly, and as he searched for clues, he eventually came to the desk and checked the items. There are pens and papers here, but also a book with beautiful floral letters written as its title – The Art of Steam and Gear: General Textbook III

This made Duncan frown because it’s no longer a suspicion that someone else also lived here. Then, out of curiosity, he picked up the textbook and flipped it open. Immediately, he was greeted by an illustrated inner page detailing the art of engineering and steam mechanics. The book owner also left many notes on the pages as reminders, a must for any academic student.

Also, since the letters are so slender and beautiful, Duncan could assume it’s from a young maiden because he sure as hell wouldn’t write this neatly despite being a teacher himself.

This discovery was causing his forehead to throb from overthinking. Still, as he dived deeper into the cold and lonely colors of those fragmented memories, Duncan eventually came upon a glimpse of what he wanted. It’s a girl with dark brown hair standing in a warm, colorful background, someone whom Ron supposedly cared a lot about in this world.

Duncan quickly shook off the discomfort and continued reading. He didn’t care about the technical details written and instead looked for the editor’s introduction and conceptual discussion regarding each chapter.

Eventually, he caught a line that he’s been looking for:

“…… Flames, or more strictly, flames released by burning oils and mineral crystals from the deep sea, are the cornerstones that supported and protected our society and civilization…”

“The prosperity and order of modern civilization is based on fire and steam … Clean and convenient electricity cannot replace the exorcism effect of fire, nor can it make large machines run stably for a long period of time… Experiments have shown that steam is the most stable form of power when affected by deep space…”

“In this section, we will discuss three typical architectures of the steam core and explain the mechanical principles and design ideas in them…”

Duncan’s eyes slightly froze as he recalled the various forms of lighting in the sewers and streets.

So is this the reason behind the “weird” situation? It’s so they can resist or fend off whatever danger is lurking in the darkness?

Duncan’s heart flooded with inexplicable emotions as he continued to read the complex drawings and notes left behind by the owner’s handwriting.

It was a machine he couldn’t understand at all, and it was definitely not the “steam engine” he knew in his previous life.

The delicate gears, the extremely complex cylinders, and the pipes and valves between the various components are far beyond the concept of the steam engine, which was more like some kind of equipment that jumped out of a fantasy book. It’s both contradictory and grotesquely beautiful.

This is the “heart” that supports the progress of the world’s civilization today…

During his contemplation, Duncan slowly placed the book back in its original position.

As an earthling, even if he had been a teacher, he couldn’t understand what the steam-powered mechanisms in this book were. It’s been developed to the extreme, centuries ahead of whatever the Earth had concocted.

But even so, a vague enlightenment emerged in his heart: the development of civilization in this world seems to have taken a very different route than what he had perceived.

In order to survive in a world surrounded by crises, the mortal kingdom has also taken on a bizarre posture. But no matter how strange the world was, as long as it could still be called “civilization”, it would have its own developmental structure and logic.

The gas lamps that burn in the sewers, the electric lights that are lit in the shops, the steam organs depicted in books and condensed by the wisdom of an unknown number of people all vaguely revealed a kind of… sturdiness.

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