“Still the same…”
An Fei murmured, standing before the first corridor to the left of the throne room. Her fingers stroking the crystalline walls, the girl focused at the indistinct symbol above the door, hoping for some change after she had read the passage from the book.
However, all that responded was a still door, the symbol enclosed by a hazy mist. Whenever she attempted to focus her gaze upon it, all that resulted was a piercing headache and bouts of dizziness.
She raised her right arm to rest her fingers against the door’s surface, preparing to open to greet the seemingly infinite corridor. After contemplating for a minute, she decided to try the other declared ‘Gates of Truth and Falsehood’.
“Eight Gates of Truth and Falsehood…what exactly is contained within each one?” An Fei wondered as she stood before the adjacent gateway.
“Same appearance, and the sensation is no different…so how am I supposed to differentiate?”
Which gate was of Truth, and which was of Falsehood?
Pressing her index finger against the door of the second gateway, she marveled at how the gate opened with the slightest application of force. On the other side was a short hallway, with only three doors visible at sight.
Though An Fei was relieved that the corridor was not infinite, her worries were not lessened by much.
Hugging the aged tome to her chest, she stepped forward with trepidation, hesitation mottled on her countenance. Biting her lip, An Fei forcefully strode forth, her body completely entering the corridor.
Turning around, she was just in time to observe the gate shutting without a sound and disappearing instantly afterwards.
Her body lurching forth by instinct as a rush of fear and panic swamped her mind, An Fei thrust both arms before her in an attempt to stabilize herself. Her right arm tightly pressed against the wall, whereas her right landed in the middle of where the gateway had once existed.
Opening her eyes to discover that her right arm was halfway jutting into the crystal throne room, the girl released a sigh of relief before pulling her body back into the corridor.
Her gaze returning to the corridor’s depth, An Fei noticed that two doors existed on the left wall, and only one was on the right.
Curious to as why they were asymmetrically placed compared to the first gateway she had already explored several times, the girl slowly made her path towards the closest door.
Her body’s physical strength not having changed much, perhaps regressing a little due to her excessive inactivity, it took several minutes for An Fei to cross the dozen meter distance to rest her right palm against the door handle.
“Please don’t contain nothing…”
Making a small wish in her heart for nothing terrible like the frightful medicine garden that she had previously suffered from, the girl applied strength as she turned the handle, involuntarily squeezing her eyes shut and raising her arms at the release of brilliant, multicolored light.
Only when she had felt no danger after the time to boil tea, did she lower her arms and open her eyes – to be greeted by an astonishing sight.
What was displayed before her was a massive array of weapons of countless varieties, sizes, and aura. Some were sheathed and others were not, and there were a few weapons with serrated edges, producing a menacing appearance and aura.
From her conservative estimate, the room seemed to be thirteen meters wide and five meters long.
The jian, dao, khanjali, and tanto were the mere few she could recognize amongst the collection before her, and yet that was nothing more than a drop in an ocean.
The array was akin to a mental tsunami, causing An Fei to come to a standstill as she dazedly took in the sights.
An armory was additionally present within the first gateway, but not of this magnitude of assortment, nor the sea of lights bathing the room.
Just like the plants and herbs she had discovered in each medicine garden, each and every single weapon was radiating a brilliant light.
When waving her arm in the air, the girl discovered that certain rays of light revealed a cold sensation, and others warm, and each was of a unique color.
Curious of what the mysterious light entailed as the medicinal plants possessed a similar phenomenon, An Fei rested her hand against her bosom, slightly hesitant as the feeling of being ground against a whetstone arose within her.
Taking tiny steps towards a relatively unassuming pair of butterfly swords emitting a pale blue light, the girl slowly extended a finger towards the sheathed swords.
Just as she neared within three meters of the sword, the blue light flashed, sharply increasing in intensity and blinding her vision.
Retreating backwards due to the pain in her eyes, An Fei stumbled to the ground after backpedaling for several meters, a searing sensation embroiling her right index finger’s tip.
Forcibly opening her eyes and rapidly blinking, she noticed a thin red line spanning across the soft pad of her slender fingertip, appearing no more than a typical paper cut one obtained on accident after hastily flipping through a book.
However, the intense pain concentrated on the small wound was more than sufficient for An Fei to rush out of the armory, slamming the door shut and only relaxing when the last vestiges of the multicolored bath of light had completely dissipated.
“Hah…it really hurts…”
Blowing on her finger until the pain had significantly receded, An Fei reclined against the wall next to the armory’s entrance as she took the time to properly relax her body.
Calming herself down by taking deep several breaths and blinking the tears out of her eyes, the girl staggered to her feet, before quickly resuming her exploration.
Without further delay, she half-stumbled-half-walked towards the solitary entrance on the rightmost wall, turning the handle and squeezing her eyes shut after experiencing it multiple times already.
One that seemed to contain the knowledge of the world, a collection of bookshelves spanning to a height she could not even see even after craning her head upwards to the farthest limit.
There were at least a few dozen platforms extending several meters from the wall, demarcating the bookshelves into regions of an acceptable height.
The entire library was illuminated by the light radiating from the crystal underneath her feet, and An Fei could see a lectern just a meter away.
Slowly walking towards it, she could see a massive ledger placed in the center of the lectern, and she flipped to a random page out of curiosity.
“<Mathematics>, third floor. <Comprehensive History>, fifth floor. <Languages (Mortal)>, seventh floor…is this a catalogue?” An Fei remarked as she scanned the pages.
“Why is there a sub-description of ‘Mortal’…what does that mean?”
Exploring the contents of the opened ledger, the girl read a list of a vast catalogue pertaining to the topics of information in the world. The list was long enough to bring a halt to her mind, and she had not yet comprehended what some of the contents even entailed.
“…<Alchemy>, <Spiritual Cultivation>, <Martial Arts>…” she mumbled in a daze. “<Spiritual Cultivation>… Like the mystical dramas and fantasy novels children used to read? The ones where people aspired to become immortal?”
To advocate that something she’d watched and heard about several times as a child becoming a reality…seemed far too absurd and laughable.
However, An Fei couldn’t muster the courage to dare laugh, given the passing of recent events, the prime example being the crystal throne room itself.
“<Spiritual Cultivation>… Does it also pertain to this book?” An Fei wondered, holding the tome before her eyes.
“<Spiritual Cultivation>… seventeenth floor. So…how do I get up there?”
Stroking the ledger with her fingertip, the girl’s gaze roamed across the bottommost layer of the library, searching for any method of ascending to one of the platforms jutting out from above her head.
Near one of the exposed corners of the wall, An Fei noticed an extending ladder, the sight of which causing her beautiful countenance to heavily blanch in apprehension.
Nonetheless, the girl began to arduous journey of climbing up the rungs with exhaustion just for the purpose of sating her curiosity.
Whether she would even get to the desired height, An Fei didn’t know nor dare to think about it.