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Hello everyone, this is Asclepius, with the next instalment of this wonderful story by Draxenath. It is entitled “Interview with the Dragon Goddess”.
Background music by Smartsound
Part 13: The Ancient Library
Once we finished having our meal, Wallanime laid down and turned face down on the ground. Her clothes dissolved, white and grey fur started growing all over her body as it increased in size and acquired a canid shape. Her nose and jaws elongated, turning into a snout with a maw full of long, sharp teeth. Her ears grew and became pointy as her hair turned into a dark bluish mane. Her amber eyes became snowy blue. In a matter of seconds, she had taken the shape of an Inujin as large as a horse.
She sniffed on the floor, looking for tracks of The Goddess, then stood up straight on her hind legs and signaled me to follow her. She leaped on her four and followed the scent as in pursuit of prey. I tried to keep up with her pace, it was exhausting! She would stop every once in a while to allow me to catch up, to dart away as soon as I was a couple of steps from her. We soon arrived at a large crater in the center of the ruins. My dog friend was wagging her tail and panting happily as she waited for me.
– She came to the site of the battle, just as I thought. – said the Avatar. – It will get dangerous from here, follow me and be as silent as you can. – She shrunk to the size of a small dog and crawled stealthily, approaching the center of the crater, using the debris as cover. I followed her as best as I could. We came across numerous interesting pieces of technology, and she explained a bit of what they were. It all seemed like techno-babbling nonsense to me, and I had no time to take detailed notes that I could study later, the only word that stuck in my head was “Magitronics”, the magical manipulation of “electrons”, which are some kind of incredibly fine specks of dust that carry electricity around.
Wallanime stopped her advance. I noticed she was agitated and trembling. – Don’t move, don’t look, just listen carefully. – she said. For a moment, all I could hear was her panting, but then she closed her snout shut, and I could hear footsteps, they were approaching. At some point, the footsteps stopped, and I could hear a clear human-like yet oddly unnatural voice. “Intruder detected. Please, drop any weapons and stolen property and retreat in peace immediately. Non-compliance will result in hostile engagement.”
The Avatar grew in size again, grabbed me and put me on her back. – Hold on tight, we got to run! – she said as she darted. I looked behind and could see one of those humanoid constructs, clad in odd, glowing armor and wielding a sword with a blade made of light. It pointed at us with what looked vaguely like a firearm and shot bolts of light in our direction. – I thought it would attack only if we did not comply! – I commented. – These automaton guards take things literally, so “retreat immediately” means “disappear in this very instant”. Their behavior directives were not properly revised!
The automaton was pursuing us, and more of them joined the pursuit as we encountered them. Wallanime kept dodging the bolts of light, but one of them she could not react to and hit me on my left arm. It burned! I could not keep holding on to her and fell. I hit the ground and rolled until a wall stopped me. I was pretty beaten from the fall. I could smell the scorched flesh from my arm. My head was ringing, my sight was blurry. I saw a humanoid figure approaching, it pointed at me with its magitronic sword.
I thought that was my end, but then a black figure pounced and trampled at the automaton. Black wings spread and a tail swung, hitting at another automaton. A dozen more approached, bolts of light flew towards the black figure. A golden aura exploded from the black figure, dissolving the bolts, and suddenly I could see golden scales and feathers, it was a dragon! It picked me up and held me in an embrace that eased my pain. It turned black again. We flew around, evading the bolts from the guns. The dragon was wielding a magitronic sword with its right paw. It deflected the bolts and cleaved through the automatons as we flew by, destroying them along with their weapons.
The dragon gave me a concerned look and decided to land. The blade from the magitronic sword faded until it was completely gone, leaving only the hilt made of odd materials. The dragon’s golden aura returned, and my arm healed very quickly as it embraced me. I closed my eyes. I felt the dragon shrinking, I opened my eyes and it was Wallanime in her human form, she was trembling. – I thought we were going to die! Those automatons were not wielding ordinary armament! – She showed me the magitronic hilt. I could see there was an inscription, my eyes took a few seconds to adjust and read it: “Athaldar, may this sword help you put the past to rest and build a better future. With love from your mother.” It was the god-killing sword created by Humenalia and wielded by Athaldar in his last fight!
She was breathing very quickly. – My Mistress asked me to protect you while she was gone. I thought I would fail her again. You are alive, aren’t you? Are you still hurt? Oh, what a mess have I gotten us into! – she was looking around nervously and jumped at every minor noise. – I am fine, I will live! Are you alright? – I asked. She took deeper breaths, her golden aura slowly fading as she calmed down. She fell into a sitting position on the ground. – It has been about a thousand years since I did any fighting, I have been hiding and eluding conflict since the destruction of Curiosity. I was not feeling confident of my fighting skill… let’s keep looking for My Mistress.
I followed her to the center of the crater, this time we were not attacked. We found plenty of corpses from scavengers as we approached. We arrived at a pair of large doors leading to a small room with a pit, there was no floor, only walls. It was deep and there was a long cable of odd material going all the way down. The Avatar hugged me, black-feathered wings springing from her back as she jumped into the pit. We glided down until we hit the bottom, there was an opening on the wall.
A few steps before us stood Draxenath, and in front of her were some double doors. A picture hanging from the wall above the doors portrayed a very distinguished lady with auburn hair and brown eyes. Everything she was wearing was unusual. Her dress was made of bright, colorful materials and full of bright lights. Her gloves were quite odd, emitting light from the fingertips, the one on her left hand had tendrils going all the way from the tips to a glowing tablet with tiny bumps filled with what looked like letters, while the right glove had the same tendrils going to a wristband with glowing inscriptions. Her monocle was not ordinary either, it seemed to have a glowing inscription. The nameplate of the picture read “Humenalia, Goddess of Science and Magitronics”
Draxenath looked at us and smiled, then walked towards Wallanime and embraced her. – I saw the fight, and am proud of you. Welcome back, Avatar! – Wallanime sunk her face on The Goddess’ chest and hugged her back. They remained silent for a moment. As they let each other go from the hug, Draxenath showed us a sealed jar with a heart. Wallanime was about to speak, but The Goddess interrupted her. – Don’t blame yourself for failures that happened because I abandoned you, this one is on me. And your daughter’s misdeeds are not your own, they are hers!
Draxenath stored the jar in one of her pockets. – The place looks tidy, it may be intact if we are lucky enough! – she said as she opened the doors below the picture. Behind the doors was a very dark room. She pulled a lever on one of the walls, and the room was lit by electrical lights. The room was a massive library, there were towering bookshelves farther than my sight allowed me to see. An automaton was sitting behind a desk, it was not functioning.
On the desk rested a large slab, plus a couple smaller slabs, and a pair of gloves like the ones from the picture. The Goddess put the gloves on and touched the large slab. It lit up and displayed text. Draxenath drew some gestures on the screen and nodded for a few minutes. – The magitronic books are readable, they weren’t lost, and the physical book indexing and database are operational! – she said. – This library is filled with books of advanced science and technology the rest of the world has never seen. Amaxis probably kept this place intact in case he needed it and activated the defense drones to prevent anyone else from accessing it. If he finds out we were here, he will destroy the whole place.
There was an unconfortable silence for a minute, then Draxenath nodded a couple times. – Let’s go outside, hurry! – she said. Once we were outside and away from the crater, The Goddess closed her eyes and concentrated for a couple minutes. Then we heard a loud crashing and rumbling coming from the crater. The earth was sinking! Once everything settled, Draxenath opened a portal and invited us in. We were at her hiding place again, but there was something new, I spotted the double doors with the picture of Humenalia. The library was there!
– The library is safe and out of Amaxis’ reach now. We won’t have to worry about that for now. – Said Draxenath with a smile of satisfaction.
Echoes From the Caverns