Chapter 7:

The 100 Year Old Book

Face of Eternity : The Star and the Rose

Morning hit in the blink of an eye! We did some more exploring of the house, this time on the upper floor.

This house was pretty big, not quite as big as a mansion, but not small by any means. Indena and I both noticed that almost every door in this place was unlocked, except one room upstairs. It was a room next to a children's bedroom.

The door was a cream colour, as opposed to the orange brown of all the other wooden doors. It would have blended into the wall pretty well if we weren't paying attention.

We both assumed there had to have been some sort of key around to get it open. What started as a quick search of the house turned into about an hour of digging around baskets, overturning lamps, and looking under seat cushions for the key that might open this door. I found two Pier Tokens under the couch cushions. Now I have three of these coins.

There was a ring of keys we found hidden in a medicine cabinet, but none of those keys worked on the door.

*Knock knock knock*

"Hmm…" Indena knocked on the door a few times.

"I don't think anyone's going to answer." I said.

"No, you dolt." She frowned. "I'm testing how strong the door is. Maybe we can break it down."

Hold up, that wasn't a good idea.

If there was something valuable on the other side, we could damage it by doing that. I tried to convince her that we were better off finding another way.

"Whatever…" she rolled her eyes. "But if you don’t know how to pick locks…"

Her gaze rolled onto a painting adjacent to the door. It was crooked. Her lips folded at the discovery.

She stepped in front of the painting and tried to adjust it, but her quick and jerky motions caused the painting to fall onto a table under it.

"Now look at what you did!" I pointed to the fallen painting.

"Ay, shut up!" She picked up the painting and dusted off the back. "Crooked stuff drives me crazy. Besides, I think I found something."

A hole in the wall was revealed. We both saw a tiny key inside of it.

Bingo! That had to be what would unlock the door! But the kicker was that it was too small a hole for either of us to reach into.

"Let's break open the wall and snatch the key up," she said, eagerly reeling back her fist.

There had to be a less violent, maybe we could use magnets to reach it? I could magnetize my hands, so if I could strengthen that, maybe that'd pull in the key?

Actually, I don't think that would work too well. That key was probably made of brass, which wasn't magnetic. I could tell because of the composition of the door knob, and the other keys as well.

"That's it, I'm breaking down the wall."

Why was she so heck-bent on destruction? This wasn't a good idea!

Samael was getting restless on my head, I tried petting him to calm him down, but he was slithering all over my hair.

"Samael, what's wrong?"

Finally he slithered down my arm and zipped right into the hole before Indena punched it.

I'm not sure what he was doing. Was he going for the key?

As his head peeked out, he had the key in his mouth. Oh wow, I didn't know he was so intelligent! I knew he was smart, but this was on a whole new level.

Come to think of it, he did also bring me that crystal heart he found...he was like a snake retriever or something!

"Huh, look at that." Indena laughed. "Your pet's pretty handy."

"Yeah." I pet him on the head, then took the key from him. He was getting something special for that. Since this house was old, maybe we'd find a mouse? He loved mice.

Eew…wait…this house better not have mice! Yuck!

Anyways, now that we had the key, Samael slithered back up into my hair and we unlocked the door.


A blast of dust puffed out of the now open door!

Cough cough!

This was awful. The room was so dusty that it felt like we were in a stuffy sauna.

Cough cough!

It was cold out, but we had to open a window and air out the dust. It was so bad.

"Why isn't…" cough cough, "why isn't the rest of this house so dusty? I asked.

This place wasn’t untouched by dust, but it wasn’t this bad.

Indena had a theory that magic had something to do with it. Despite this house being so old, it seemed like it was pretty well preserved. Maybe she was right, since the food was alright to eat. God only knows how old it was.

Once all the dust cleared out…actually a lot of it just got blown into the hallway by the wind...but once the room was cleared, we went in and inspected it.

This room was tiny, probably a little bigger than a small bathroom. Indena figured it was a private study.

Books were sprawled all over the table, one looked like it had scribbles all over it.

I opened it up, seeing someone's signature written down in a language called Euron. That was actually the language we all spoke, and all my systems were translated into this as well. They called it the language of business! So it was very common on the surface world.

The name written here was Bartholomew Engels Charlton III. Fancy. The date the book was apparently signatured was 396/10/25.

"That book's over a hundred years old." Indena commented. "So, the house must be the same."

She was right. The current year was 516 ED. ED stood for Elkhearts Dominion, which was the name of the ruling family of the Civil World. Whoever controls the World has the era named after their family. I got that from Uncle's history lessons.

The technology around here wasn't too bad for being 100 years old. I wonder if anyone else has come through here since then and renovated. Maybe they should fix the sagging roof.

Back to the old book, it felt like it was going to fall apart at the seams, but I knew how to handle old books. So long as the grabby Indena didn't mess with it, I'd keep it together.

"Let me see it." Indena reached over my head to snatch up the book.

"No." I hovered my body over the book. "Let me take care of it."


"The oils in your skin will destroy the old paper. I don't have to worry about that.” My skin doesn't produce oil, since I’m not an organic based life form. “Plus the book is really delicate!"

Books are precious. They convey to us a world in our imagination, real or fictional. And when something is in our mind, it becomes real through our thoughts. Daddy told me that to get me reading a long time ago!

So technically, any fantasy world I've read about, I've actually been to in my head. Pretty neat, right? I think these portals to another world are well worth protecting from people who don’t understand that.

"You can't read. You’re a five year old kid."

"I'm seven!" I argued. "And I can read better than you!"

I bet she hasn't read the dictionary cover to cover! I have! Yet, I still struggle to get words right…

"Whatever. Stupid Shrimp."

Since she wasn't able to hold the book, she leaned on my head and looked down at it. Samael didn't like that, so they both started hissing at each other. Boy, a good night's sleep made her so childish.

"Quiet, you two!" Why did I feel like the mature one here? "Let me read…"

To those who may read this cursed writing, I give fair warning. This valley is one of darkness, second to the seven plagues mentioned in scriptures.

Be weary of the hellish ghouls that rampage through the night. Listen for the harbinger sirens. They seek out the unfaithful and blasphemers to eat their souls.

Those must have been referring to the monsters…right?

Heed my warnings, don't stay, Run far away! okl soan hsgans haamsur…! Beware the Reaper! Gggjakda…ha ha!

That was the end of his coherent words, the rest of the book was filled with scribbles and drawings that looked like ghosts and skeletons. One page had a detailed picture of a bug called a locust. I don’t know if that last written part was in another language, but it really gave me a bad feeling.

"Did the guy have a stroke in that last sentence?" Indena leaned closer to the page. "What the heck happened?"

"I don't know…"

He mentioned a few things that I think were important. The first was that the valley was of great darkness, and that was comparable to the seven plagues in scripture…

Dad never let me read a holy book, so I don't exactly know what this was referring to.

"Seven plagues…" Indena mumbled, "didn't Deus do something to a place in Arba? He like, made this angel of death get people sick or something. Then bugs ate their crops."

I don't know what exactly she was referring to, but that might have been it. An angel of death could probably equate to some kind of Grim Reaper, which brings me to one of the last things he mentioned...beware the Reaper.

That didn't sound good at all. I was shivering a little, because something about that seemed consistent with the carvings we’d seen before.

“Indena, remember what we saw on that obsidian before?” I asked.

“Oh crap, yeah. You don’t think…”

It was just a hunch for now, but we had to consider it.

And what was this about seeking unfaithful and blasphemers? A siren would somehow signal the coming of monsters to eat their souls…this was really creeping me out!

“I wanna go home…” My arms closed in and I shrank up into a protective position.

Indena kneeled down behind me and put a hand on my back, trying to be comforting.

“Look, we made it a few nights without any problems. Maybe this thing is long gone. A hundred years is a long time.”

In movies I watched, ghosts would haunt places for generations. Maybe even thousands of years. Those were horror movies Uncle said I shouldn’t be watching, but I did anyway. I couldn’t sleep for days.

I’d be lucky if I could sleep now. If the Grim Reaper was after me, we wouldn’t be able to stop him.

Suddenly, I heard rattling outside! That was the Grim Reaper!

“EEEEEHHHHH!” I screamed! “I don’t wanna die!”

“Take it easy!” Indena ordered.

What if the Grim Reaper was peeking into the room right now from the hallway?! Oh no, I couldn’t look!

“I said take it easy!” She shook me up. “You’re not gonna die. We’ll be fine.”

“SSSsssss.” Samael hissed out. I think that was him being encouraging too.

I opened my eyes, then turned back to see nothing was going on in the hallway.

“Shrimp, don’t get spooked just ‘cause you read a scary book. We don’t know what’s going on yet.”

“Yeah, but we need to be careful or he’ll take our souls.”

Dad always told me that if something seems off, it probably was. In this case, the feeling that some reaper of souls was near made me feel super icky. I don’t know how you prepare for something like that, but at any rate it needs to be done right.

“We’ll need more information on what this thing is. I’ll do some research here.”

Indena was more than happy to let me do all the reading. There were a lot of books here. This guy really wrote a lot…

I couldn't find much about the plagues thing, but I learned that he painted lambs blood over the front doorway to keep out the Grim Reaper. He seemed awfully paranoid.

His earlier writing was almost scholarly. Plenty of essays mainly focused on defining different moral principles. Even criticizing practices and propaganda from local churches and governments as being either outdated, or blatantly oppressive.

As I climbed the proverbial ladder of books, his writings started to get more poetic, maybe spiritual if I had to nail it down. It felt like what I expected a monk of some kind to write like.

He went from a scholarly philosopher to an amateur priest.

However, these documents confirmed two things for me. One was that civilization wasn’t too far, since all the stuff he was criticizing was local in a city called, Urnan. And the second thing was that this guy must have been intelligent, but driven mad over time by this reaper guy.

I was going to tell Indena what my findings were, but by the time I went downstairs, it was already well past midnight and she was sleeping. Dang, how long was I reading up there? I think I got through a couple dozen books too.

One thing’s for sure, I was tired, so some rest might get my mind back in shape.


The next morning came, or at least, I could tell by it being slightly brighter outside. It was still overcast, with occasional flurries of snow falling down.

None of the snow was sticking until a blizzard hit mid morning.

"Great, snow." Indena growled out in anger. "I hate snow."

"You hate a lot of things."

"Yeah, I especially hate little know-it-all's who point that out." She flicked my forhead, not enough to actually hurt me though. Samael hissed at her in response. "Oh shut up, snake."

I thought she liked Samael, but maybe that was just her anger talking. She was really hard to get along with.

"Why do you hate the snow?"

"Because it's cold." She had her arms folded as she glared daggers out the window.

Something was telling me she was too stubborn to elaborate further on that. Oh well. Maybe I just had to accept her answer and move on. Or, maybe I had to make the first move.

"Well, I like snow because it makes me think of Christmas."

"Christmas, eh?" She turned her eyes to me. "They still celebrate that?"

Why wouldn't they? I thought everyone around the World celebrated Santa coming down the chimney and giving presents to kids.

"Yeah. Santa works all year to make presents and stuff. Doesn't he visit you?"

She smirked and chuckled, turning back out the window.

"Again with that Santa stuff? Santa, presents, elves, reindeer…must be nice to be a kid. That holiday doesn't really mean the same thing to me as it does to you."

But, Christmas was a time for family and gifts. Didn't she want those things? Maybe her family wasn't very nice to her.

"Do you not like it?"

"Not really, especially since it represents bad times for people like me."

Her tone was so depressing, something about this was really eating at her.

"I don't understand, what do you mean?"

"Christmas ain't about presents and joy all over the World...for me, anyways. For people like you, it celebrates a future where someone will come down from the sky and get rid of people like me. The Eighth Star seal will be broken." She mumbled that last part.

Huh? I was really lost. Was Santa always putting her family on the naughty list or something and nobody wanted them around? That maybe made sense, since she was always so angry all the time.

And what was up with these eight stars? Were those like the star you put on the top of trees? Christmas trees were supposed to be crowned with seven star shapes in a circle. Right in the middle of those seven stars you’d put a, really bright blue one. Were those things connected?

"Listen, don't worry about it, kay?" She sighed. "Just forget I said anything for now."

I didn't like that order, so I didn't accept it. I guess I could do that if the circumstances were right. Although, even though I denied the order, a sudden urge to keep quiet took my feelings.

Since it was breakfast, we had to eat something. Indena heated up more of that stew, and also saved some left over raw meat for Samael. He wolfed it down quickly.

To combat the house getting colder, Indena lit a fire in the chimney and used her body heat to warm up things around her too. The house got pretty cozy quickly.

I did some exploring around while she was trying to figure out what we'd do for food once the stew ran out. Unfortunately, all our fish was gone when we ran from the wolves.

I found a hallway that led to some sort of shed. It had an electric generator, but it looked super old. If I tinkered with it for a little while, maybe I could get it working.

"My hands should be able to figure out what's wrong with it."

I used my hand scanners to diagnose the generator. It actually looked to be in good condition even though it was old. The only thing that it needed was some sort of mana crystal to generate electricity.

So this must have actually been a convertor for elemental lightning magic. These were really archaic machines that took in mana crystals and converted their power into usable electricity.

The Hive ran off of mana power that was converted into a similar form, but it used pure mana, not elemental lighting mana.

Since it seemed like this would probably be worth getting started, I went searching the house for any lightning crystals.

Indena was too busy cooking something stinky to ask what I was doing, but she did peek over her shoulder every now and again when I walked through the room.

I found myself exploring one of the bedrooms, the kids room to be exact. I'd noticed something was glowing inside one of the drawers. I didn't see it before, maybe this was a lightning crystal? Boy, wouldn't that be convenient.

The drawer was locked. I checked around the room but didn't find anything.

"Hmmm...where could a key for this drawer be?"

"Hsssss…" Samael hissed.

Suddenly I remembered about the one key he'd gotten for us, then I remembered the keys strung up on the wall in a cabinet. One of those might have worked here.

"Is that what you were trying to tell me, Samael?"


That must have been a yes, I guess? I wasn't proficient in Par-----ngue.

Anyways, I snatched up all the keys, but none of them worked. It was worth a shot.

"Darn…" I balled up my fist and tapped it down on the drawer.

I heard a clicking sound inside, but nothing else. I slammed my fist down again, and a second click happened.

The drawer shot open! What a weird mechanism. Maybe Indena was onto something by wanting to hit things so much…

There was a small lantern inside the drawer. It was on and glowing brightly. I pulled it out and looked at why it was on.

It had a lightning crystal in it, and a small light bulb too. The light bulb looked like one of those old timey bulbs that last forever. Had it been on this whole time? That was incredible. These really were efficient.

Not only was I impressed with the bulb, but the lightning crystal must have been really efficient too if it was powering this the whole 100 years. It didn't show any signs of losing much of its energy. Granted, it was just powering a tiny light bulb.

I almost felt bad taking out the crystal, but it would be better used in the generator for us.

There was a note that I almost missed inside of the drawer. I picked it up and read it outloud.

"Martha, Robin, this lantern will keep away all the nightmares while you sleep. -Papa"

This must have been the man's kids. He left this here for them.

To be honest, there weren't many other signs that children actually lived here. The beds were pretty messy though, they had ash and dust all over them.

I took the lantern back to Indena, and explained that I would use its battery to power the generator in the shed.

"So that's what kept you busy," she nodded. "Glad you made yourself useful."

I'd been useful up to now, right? I might not have made food, but I did other things. So did Samael too, and we were a package deal.

"I'm useful!" I stood proud, giving her a pouty glare.

"No, I meant you're more useful than me." She pointed to the stinky pot of food. "Christ, I think I made new life in this pot."

My scanners didn't find anything living in there, but all the bubbles and movements made me think something was swimming around in there…

"Hope you like slop, 'cause that's what we're eating."

Yuck. Not to be mean, but her cooking skills were getting progressively worse the more she used them. I think she'd make a better alchemist at this point.

"I've eaten rocks before, so maybe this isn't too bad."

That was me being nice. I'd take one of Uncle's patented Vitamin Rocks any day over this.

Her stew before wasn't the greatest, but it was edible. You know what? At least she was nice enough to try and make food for us. I was grateful for that.

"Yeah, sure you’ve eaten rocks." She put a lid on the pot. "Let's let that sit for a while. Preferably forever, if we can find anything else to eat."

After that, we went and put the lightning crystal into the generator. It powered on, then all the lights in the house turned on too.

There weren't many lights, but a few lamps made all the difference.


I was sitting by the window, watching the snow fall, board as heck. Anxiety churned my stomach thinking about eating the amino acid soup that Indena concocted up.


Just at peek boredom, I heard a little tap on the window.


What was that…?

The sound was coming from the bottom of the window sill outside. I looked, but I didn't see anything.

Then I heard a woosh, and something blue raced past the window.

I thought it was a ghost, but it was actually a little bird!

It landed on another window, and started tapping at it again.


I think it wanted to come in, but I shouldn't let a bird fly in. He was better off out there.

He looked a little weird though, like he was transparent. He was also glowing...what on earth was that all about? That deer from before had that same thing going on.

Maybe he was a spirit bird? I needed to find out for sure.

I opened the window and let him in. He definitely had mana energy radiating off of him, so I think my theory was correct.

Upon closer inspection, he was transparent, glowing with a hazy form of mana energy. Otherwise his ghastly appearance, he acted like a real bird.

Samael looked like he was ready to jump at it for food, but I stopped him. It was too big for him to eat. Plus, you can't eat mana! I'd have to train him to behave around animals that made him hungry.

The bird curiously looked up at me, then hopped forward a few inches. It's head cocked as it absently stared at me.

"Hello," I said. "You're cute."

"Peep!" He replied.

I think I must have been an animal whisperer, because they always replied to me when I spoke.

His peep was pretty loud, so it caught Indena's attention.

"Oy, Shrimp!" She came into the living room. "Close that window, it's freezing out!"

As soon as she came in, the bird flew out the window and left.

"Aww…" I grumbled, sad to see him leave.

"Was that a bird? Don't let birds in."

Then she walked back into the kitchen, grumbling about how she hated birds.

Well, I probably should have scanned the bird well I had the chance, just to find out what he was. I could tell he wasn't a monster. Was he an animal though?

Oh well. Who knows what he was. At least I got to see something interesting.

Mario Nakano 64
Taylor J
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