Chapter 11:


A Snowed Abode

They went down the stairs, and what they found was a bit of a surprise to them... some sort of holding, with a stream running past on the side, but what was a surprise mostly to Pax and Clemens, was who also was there... actually animated people (as opposed to the somewhat static creatures from before, their lives we were not even sure of, since for all anyone knew they were holograms, or robots who happen to disappear as soon as a certain condition is fulfilled, or creatures from millions of years ago who somehow slipped past time and for some reason decided to hole up in some strange castle with odd inscriptions). Then again, there was something strange still about them... they were quite small, for instance, and... Pax was not certain, but there seemed to be another oddity...Bookmark here

"Currently locked..." Pax confirmed upon checking the gates which had these people inside, "perhaps the possibility for unlocking is nearby, maybe?" Where, though? There was not much space around here... no switches or keys could be in water, likely, and behind these rooms there was a short, concrete passageway, some of which seemed cracked...Bookmark here

From behind the gates' bars Pax could talk with them, but what they said was even stranger...
"We were there, once, then suddenly... where were we? Who are we?" I think the common denominator here is the letter 'w', but besides that... how could one both not know where and who they are? At least one of the two would be a known quantity, one would reckon... unless it's total amnesia? Like, perhaps an asteroid crushed into the ground and it turned out to be a spaceship? Pax would not be surprised if they were aliens from outer space... but even if they were, why would they effectively be inside a prison guarded, bizarrely, by three crystals which in turn do not turn off unless some strange, organic-looking green people have accepted that whoever found certain concepts written in some pamphlets, guarded respectively by a giant beetle and a manic clown? One has got to admit, it is the stuff of utter fiction, but here the two are now, below the staircase and face-to-face with some other strange lives (that at least we could presumably confirm are indeed alive, unless now dead creatures can walk around too? I suppose zombies do that, but they do not look like those at all... also much shorter...)Bookmark here

"Who...? Twice over? Am I seeing double here, Pax?" Clemens asked, because the second strange thing about them was... they walked in two. As in, they seemed to walk synchronously... they did not seem to be conjoined twins or such, in that sense they were separated physically, but they still walks absolutely in sync, somehow...Bookmark here

"Not quite, I see them too... and... eight others here? I can not understand what happened exactly, besides who they are... and what the monarch seems to have done for all of these (people?) - to end up here... seems confusing." One could say, especially since they were not any people, but ones (or twos?) - that somehow do not walk around separately. Perhaps that is the reason why they are here? Only speculating here, but that seems to be the common factor...Bookmark here

"Indeed... hey... misters? Can you tell us anything more?" Clemens asked them in turn. Misters, one supposes, is a bit of a filler here, an awkward address in lieu of any other kind of knowledge about them, but I guess if the synchronous two were called Tom we could call them that.Bookmark here

"We seemed to have lived so distinctly... this concrete, this disease... not us, we are not, at all..." They replied in turn, which I suppose was not quite a lot of information, and not actually very distinct from all the other symbolic statements we recently encountered, but still not as much perhaps, and it did provide a slight bit more information about this specific conundrum the two were wondering about, with concrete likely referring to the flooring and walls, but disease was not quite as obvious as to its reference... also, how one lives distinctly, one is not positive...Bookmark here

"I still do not understand how or why they ended up here, but we seem like we could help them... as soon as we find out where they were..." Clemens said in response, which I assume is epistemologically correct, as one indeed can not exactly help if it is unknown as to how to help, and where they live? I mean, has anyone ever seen somewhere full of people walking in sync, anywhere? Which is what makes them being here even stranger... than even a giant beetle.Bookmark here

"Why, where, what? We would want..." This is all they said thereafter, which is clearly where they display their preference from the alphabet, although why would that matter here?Bookmark here

There was, actually, a table in the middle of this room with these four other squares which had the four... I mean, eight, others here... presumably the two noticed it as they came, and would have checked it out were it not for a more distracting fact... at any rate, it had a quill, like the one from the room before, and a pamphlet, this time with...Bookmark here

"We are not to be, for if we were we would be not. We, then, choose." This did not necessarily enlighten anyone as to its meaning, but Pax assumed it was a statement of some sort, presumably written not by those inside here, despite 'w' being the majority starter letter too for some reason... never mind such trivial issues, though. Was this, even more nefariously, some sort of a declaration as to why they were inside, perhaps? As in, they choose this option, as otherwise they could not exist? The monarch possibly, fearing for the demise of the institution? But why would they need to be here at all for that? Let us try to free them first, then, to know...Bookmark here

The other two down below could also be reached from behind, so Pax tried to talk with them to further possibly understand the murky situation here...
"We were at once in our households, but suddenly, oh so sudden... we are not sure, for what would this be?" Hey, we do not know either what some big bug or clownish maniac could be, nor were we sure of the very existence of those two at the end of that sullen floor, but here we are, trying to somehow make sense of this dreary, confusing, and sometimes foggy world... but suddenly, really? How does anyone suddenly disappear from their own home, and... presumably end up here? Such strange happenings, truly...Bookmark here

"Suddenly what? Taken by the monarch's forces?" Exactly what I was thinking of, Clemens, perhaps you can read my mind yet... or maybe it is the conclusion everyone would come to...Bookmark here

"Spontaneously... we are not sure... how, how?" No use asking us, we did not even know you existed before some time ago... and how someone could be in sync without being physically connected or have everything choreographed before... we do not know, either...Bookmark here

"Spontaneously? Could they have been... teleported? Like those crystals did with us?" Good point you make, Pax, at this point this is the most likely candidate for an explanation, but still the question remains... why? Based on the pamphlet this served a function, and was not done for absolutely no reason... but it is still not clear what. Could it perhaps be related to archetypes?Bookmark here

"That seems possible... I am, though, still confused over who they are... I am sad to say I had never heard of them before, or any description..." Clemens stated, making it clear that it was not just any individual who had not heard of these people before... not that Nix has many people...Bookmark here

"I did not, either... but then again, it is a big world that we mostly have not explored..." Exactly, Pax, very much stating the obvious here, also no one explored outer space too! Imagine how much more of the universe you still need to learn!Bookmark here

"What is this existence...?" Is all these two said thereafter, which makes one feel sad enough to try to see what could get them all out of this state, and so the two went back, beyond canal water, to check if anything could... and, indeed, a crack in the wall seemed to click something into existence, sufficient to open the doors wide apart.Bookmark here

There was another crack nearer to the first set of squares, which also unlocked them... why anyone would have this one is not sure, for it seems to paint incompetency, at the very least, but then I suppose crystals cannot exactly be exactly be exactly check for nooks and crannies and fix architecture, so whose fault is it? Clearly someone has been preoccupied with something else...Bookmark here

There were four jars in the room, besides these now freed people, with one of them having a potion, although one wonders who left it there... either way, Pax and Clemens went to talk with the other two as well (two of two, makes sense), to try to see if they could glimpse any other information from them, while also wondering if they could just walk straight out the castle with them... or perhaps the beetle and clown will finally try to murder them? They hoped not...Bookmark here

"We were... making a drink... when..." The one at the bottom left started by saying, hesitantly...Bookmark here

"Must have been traumatic? Do you have any idea why this happened?" Pax replied.Bookmark here

"Our technology? Perhaps?" This is a new theory, I wonder...Bookmark here

"What kind of technology? Does the monarchy lack it?" Pax inquired further, with the fervency of a neo-noir investigator (or so he hoped...)Bookmark here

"We are not sure... we do much..." Clearly it will not be easy to extract much from these fellows...Bookmark here

"When will we wake up in our comfortable home again..." Oh, how comfortable are we talking here? Sofas? Bean bags? Hopefully more comfort than Nix could ever provide... ugh, that cold desert, I swear, it freezes one's consciousness. In fact, I barely had these many background thoughts when I was there for a bit, such a frigid paralysis...Bookmark here

Pax and Clemens, then, thought of trying to talk to the last remaining couple of people in the northern section of this floor, with barely any hope remaining that anything could be found...Bookmark here

"We were working on this prototype, you see... and then, out of the blue, the blue skies descended upon us!" Oh, this one can possibly say more, I see... prototype? I wonder what of. Must be a technology of some sort, as that is the one new word we could get from the previous two. Who knows, though?Bookmark here

"That is quite the picture... how did they come from the skies?" Clemens asked, clearly more distracted and intrigued with the cinematic vision, but not quite concentrating on the more crucial aspect of the story, here...Bookmark here

"They had an airship of some sort, we were not even sure what it was, for it seemed rather primitive technology, you see..." Now this is certainly more information than we ever got from the other three... I mean, six... twos. If that makes any grammatical sense. Clemens, try to concentrate and ask about the relevant prototype! Read my thoughts!Bookmark here

"Airships are primitive? Are they not, like, standard these days? Who... are you, anyway?" There we go, then, positive proof that they cannot read anything... although, I admit, how can they ever say airships are primitive? Every adventure has one in them! Sure, they might malfunction and go down in a blazing ball of fire... but then so can anyone else. Spontaneous combustion exists! So, let us not blame these big, horizontal balloons, even if we might be ambushed by dragons, I swear, we should certainly not blame the balloons themselves!Bookmark here

"We shall tell you as soon as we are out of here... can you find a way, please?" Ah, I guess even if Clemens asked about the prototype that would likely be their answer, anyway... curiously ignoring both the question about airships and identity. These two were the most enlightened so far, though, so good prospects I reckon if we manage to go past any maniac clowns...Bookmark here

"I would rather prefer if I can get back to my research if at all possible..." So that is what he did... if so, these two might be the very ones working on the prototype? Let us try to get out of here, then, to then get some answers...Bookmark here

Need not to worry, though, about avoiding anyone or anything specifically, that is. For as soon as Pax and Clemens tries to go back out... the crystals were back there, for some reason, but instead of transporting them anywhere else in the castle (they never did before, anyway, they merely blocked the entrance downstairs, and then vanished into thin air)... they were entirely gone from this place, away from ever meeting this supposed monarch, back into the cold air of ice and loneliness, but this time these eight people, also seemed to follow them, back where...Bookmark here

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