Chapter 104 “Notes”
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Looking at the quill and parchment handed to her by the gravekeeper, Vanna took a small breath to allow her emotions to settle down.
“How long can I go in for?” She raised her head and asked the gravekeeper with firm eyes.
The mummy-like figure lowered his head slightly and gave off an air of something that was neither dead nor alive. “A moment, or eternity….” The icy cold voice says.
This answer implies that the message to be conveyed from the tomb was short and singular. At the same time, it could also be very dangerous and cause the listener’s death.
Vanna nodded lightly and withdrew her gaze from the gravekeeper. There’s no need to hesitate now that it’s come to this. The lady marched towards the huge mausoleum with only the decaying rattling of chains behind her to signal the gravekeeper’s following.
In front of the large slab of stone representing the entrance, Vanna stopped and gazed upwards to take in the desolate atmosphere. It was not the first time she had seen the tomb during a psionic assembly, but this would be the first time she had the privilege of seeing it up close as a listener.
Vision 004, “Mausoleum of the Unknown King”. This ancient tomb located in a strange gap between time and space was not a vision controlled by the Storm Church, but rather an ancient thing that’s guarded and shared by the various Orthodox Church in rotation. From outside appearances alone, it was a mausoleum styled after the ancient kingdom of Crete. The available evidence from multiple texts also supports this theory; however, no one knows exactly who was responsible for building this place.
What was known by the people though was that the owner would occasionally convey messages to the outside world through this ritual. As seen here, the ritual would begin by sending a gravekeeper out to pick a listener. If there wasn’t a suitable candidate present in the square, a random person would then be brought in from the outside world at will.
In the age when Vision 004 had not yet been tamed, such “random callings” had taken the lives of hundreds, if not thousands. That was until a saint appeared a thousand years ago…. The brave soul not only broke the terrible cycle of death, he also returned alive to announce the first gift of the unknown king: the original ranking list of anomalies and visions.
Then through repeated attempts and failures, the various churches finally figured out the sequential pattern Vision 004 uses. After that, this once-lethal phenomenon had become something of an asset, a relatively safe means to gain intel that would otherwise be impossible to get without huge sacrifices.
“Enter the mausoleum and prepare to listen.” The low, hoarse voice of the gravekeeper came from behind her, pushing Vanna forward out of her stupor.
The sound of the stone door gradually closed behind the inquisitor, and the aura of the gravekeper dissipated as well and reintegrated into the tomb. Vanna’s alone now. Whatever happens, it’s up to her to figure out.
Pale flames burned on both sides of the corridor leading into the tomb. As Vanna walked along the illuminated path, her gaze swept across the walls and could vaguely make out the words that were clearly carved through fingernails.
“Go straight forward, cannot turn back.”
“Do not ask the gravekeeper for the identity and name of the tomb owner.”
“Do not run, do not shout, do not pray to any god.”
“Be humble and reverent, but do not bow down.”
“After entering the tomb, do not speak.”
These were records left by the countless past “listeners” over the years. In ancient times, the vast majority of those who entered this graveyard would die, with only one percent living long enough to leave behind these messages. Vanna knew every single line by heart for they are something every saint of the church must learn. Precious gifts from her predecessors.
But then Vanna suddenly came down with a curious question after reading these lines. She’s heard of the warnings, but what about the other messages by those who have fallen into despair? They must’ve left something behind as well in desperation, right?
Human nature is a complex thing. Before the major churches successfully controlled Vision 004, the gravekeepers brought hundreds of people here, if not thousands, without the world’s knowledge. Among them were mere commoners without training. There’s no way an ordinary citizen could withstand the cursed madness of being trapped inside a vision.
Yet, she only saw the messages of those with a noble and resolute soul.
Vanna was a little confused in her heart, but in the end, she did not call the gravekeeper to divulge her doubts.
In theory, she could talk to the gravekeeper if she dared to, which does not violate the “rules” of the mausoleum. However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t risks involved. As the number rule in this world, never assume predictability regarding the supernatural.
Heaving a long sigh to settle her mood, the lady marched forward until she was at the end of the corridor. A wide and quaint burial chamber appeared in her eyes.
In the huge pyramid-like room, the pale stone walls sloping on all sides are carved with indistinct patterns. Two rows of black-brown metal braziers are also distributed on both sides of the entrance, each burning with pale white flames that gave off a hazy grey smoke. However, there weren’t any coffins like one would expect of a tomb, only a throne made of stone with its owner sitting on it.
It was a headless body, which seemed to be a tall male based on the figure size. His limbs were firmly bound by chains, his arms and chest covered with thick black hair like that of animals, and his feet were deformed and twisted. There are also black scorched marks, indicating the body had suffered some sort of severe burn during the years.
The body sat quietly on the throne, seemingly unresponsive to Vanna’s visit.
Remembering what she had studied, the lady quickly took out her parchment and quill the moment she saw the “unknown king”. Part of her was getting ready to record what she was going to hear, and the other part concentrated on repelling whatever mental pollution that might–
Then Vanna jerked open her eyes again.
She didn’t know why or how, but she’s currently outside the tomb on her back and staring upwards. There’s the familiar crumbling pillars, the chaotic sky, and the gathered group of shadows of her peers in the distance coming over.
“You’re awake, leave now.”
The hoarse and deep voice of the gravekeeper suddenly came from the side, causing Vanna to swing her eyes over to see what was happening. The tall mummy-like figure started to walk inside the tomb again, followed promptly by the loud sound of the mausoleum sinking back into the ground.
Before Vanna could even begin comprehending, several of her peers had already made it to her side. The most obvious was Bishop Valentine, who helped the lady up by the waist: “Vanna, are you all right? I saw you come out of the mausoleum and directly faint at the entrance…”
“I…” Vanna stammered as she stumbled to hold herself upright. The feeling of having her body drained of strength remained, but life was quickly returning so it didn’t take long for the mind to clear up. “How long have I been in there?”
“Only an instant,” said one of the shadows of another saint, “you entered the tomb, then the gate closed shut, and you came out again immediately.”
Vanna appeared startled and looked to Bishop Valentine for confirmation, which was reaffirmed by the old man’s question: “What about the parchment? Did you write down what you heard?”
“Oh yes, parchment!” Vanna was now fully awake and quickly realized she was still holding onto the parchment. But the next second later, her expression froze as she read the content.
The original piece of parchment now only had a corner left due to being shredded – about a few centimeters long – and there’s only a few words scrawled on it: “Anomaly 099 – puppet doll.”