Metanoia

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Chapter Four

Here I was, sword in one hand, shield in other, sparring with the professor on a soaring rock slab in the middle of the colossal canyon of books and knowledge. The professor was most intimidating, since his calm and collected movements presented him in a fashion of great experience. We slowly circled the floating slab with grave caution, both of us waiting for the perfect chance to strike.

”What should you never do, when facing a shadow hound?” -The professor questioned me as I focused on my technique and his fast-paced questions.

“Never look at it in the eyes, sir.” I answered

I lunged at the professor with my sword, only for him to swiftly lift his, and counter strike my blade.

“What are the four main elements of The Vermilion Order?”

With a rapid swing, the professor struck, nearly slamming into my head.

“The Orb of Midnight, Talisman of Khun, Eye of the Red Sun and...”

The professor interrupted my answer as he struck my sword. The blow was so immense that the sword flew out of my hand.

Perplexed by the attack, the professor struck again with a rain-guard to the chest. I fell to the ground near the edge of the floating slab with a loud thump.

“And blood of a titan.”

The professor finished my sentence, pointing the sword at my neck from above.

“I knew that.” I replied arrogantly while moving the professor’s blade from my throat.

“Now, now, young Augustine. No need to defend your mistakes.” He uttered with a mischievous smile on his face.

“Now hurry, we are already late!”

The professor put on his long black tailcoat and calling out to a nearby shelf, hastily stepping onto it. He was quite different today, somewhat jubilant and ecstatic.

“What’s the occasion,” I asked.

“Patience, young Augustine. Soon you will see.”

We ventured into a part of the vast Athenaeum that I had not viewed before. As we came closer to our destination, we were met with an exquisite wooden house, sporting an anchor which dropped down into the abyss.

It was, in a sense, inexplicably cryptic. It had many architectural complexities that, in practice, should not even exist. The house resembled a bundle of houses stitched together and was rather a strange site.

As we came closer to the obscure structure, it felt as if our pace had accelerated.

“Sorry to ask, sir, but do you not think that we are going a bit fast?” I asked the professor with concern.

“Oh, don’t you worry, young Augustine. Everything is under control.”

The professor had answered a bit too quickly, as we had crashed into the entrance of this abstruse house. The professor wasn’t too disturbed to find that half his porch was demolished.

“Hurry, young Augustine. We might miss it!” The professor called out as he entered one of the six doors that graced the front of this inscrutable house.

The inside of this house was no less chaotic than the outside. There were staircases leading nowhere. Wooden pillars pierced through the floor and doors that revealed nothing but brick, walls caving in on upon one another. It was as if a hundred houses had warred against themselves. With a form of intrigue, caution I ventured deeper into the massive house, only to lose my path.

I hoped to hear the angered shouts of the professor calling out to me, but I heard nothing.

“Augustine!” A quiet, but angered voice had uttered behind me.

I anxiously jerked around only to be met with the oddly clothed professor. He seemed to be wearing a dark ocean blue robe, with golden embellishments.

“Shhh!”

He put his finger on my lips and guided me to a greater hall of the house.

As the professor and I approached this enormous empty hall, he stretched his arm in front of me and squatted.

“It’s here...” he muttered in an abrupt fashion.

Ferociously, he tapped his staff on the moldy wooden floor and stood up in front of me.

A humanoid white creature appeared in the middle of the hall, kneeling and screaming in pain whilst covering his ears.

“Pull the bloody lever!”

The professor hastily pointed at an old lever, covered in web. I quickly hastened to it, and with all my strength pulled down the lever.

A metal cage with sharp edges on the bottom if its bars, crashed on top of the white humanoid creature. Rejoicing, he approached the abominable creature with mocking gestures.

The creature, aggressive and combative, lunged at the metal bars. It stretched its arms out trying to take a hold of the professor.

“What is it?” I asked the professor in curious bewilderment.

“Don’t get too close to it, young Augustine!” The professor warned me. “It is a bugger, this one. It is a house lynch, creatures which intrude homes and palaces, morphing as your loved ones. Then suffocate you as you sleep.”

The professor pointed the staff at the creature and shouted.

“Sleep!”

The creature fell on the cold and wooden floor into a deep trance.

“So, what is it doing in this... thing? -,I asked the professor, puzzled

“This ‘thing’ was, and now, is my house.” -The professor answered as he lifted the cage and removed the rope around the creature’s leg.

“Many years ago, I traveled to the Scandinavian lands in search of an ancient herb, known as the herb of Odin. I usually travel with my house, since on hot days, I’m usually lazy.”

The professor explained this to me as he dragged the creature through the house, and out the door.

“And this foul creature decided that it would be a good idea to fester into my home. For many years I sought to be rid of it, and today is its reckoning.”

The professor then threw the house lynch off his porch and went back inside.

“The creature did all of this?” –

I pointed to the disarray of the house.

“What do you mean by ‘this?’’’ The professor asked.

“Well the house, sir. It is in complete disarray.”

“Disarray?”

The professor was perplexed, looking around his house.

“I find it quite comfortable.”

The professor then proceeded to sit on an old and dirty sofa, causing dust particles flying about.

“Well, what happened to it, sir?” -I asked, trying to comprehend the riddle of the professor’s house.

“Ah, young Augustine...“

The professor began to ramble as he lit a candle which stood on an old wooden desk, right next to the sofa and started scratching the scruff of his neck.

“In the days of my alchemy, I used to travel with my house, bestowing a peregrination crystal into it, so, I could venture anywhere I desired. Considering that the ventures were never safe. There were complications with many entities and artifacts, so, every time any form of damage happened to the house, it would simply heal itself, but it doesn’t really consecrate on the damage, more so just grows another house on top of it.”

The professor smirked. “But I don’t really mind.”

“Aha, and the outfit?”

“Outfit?”

The professor looked down at his peculiar garb, and suddenly, as if he was enlightened, responded.

“Ah, yes. We are going to China!”

I was baffled by his decision. Not knowing if I heard him right, I asked for reassurance. –

“China, sir?”

“Of course, young Augustine. Have you never visited the east?” The professor sarcastically uttered

I felt quite unexperienced, but I could not lie.

“No, I haven’t, sir.”

“First things first, quit calling me ‘sir.’ ” Makes me feel old. Second, hold on to your trousers”. The professor proceeded to a small wooden altar on which stood a white luminescent crystal. It seemed as though the altar was part of the house, alike it was aggressively grasping the crystal.

The professor approached the white luminescent crystal and took a hold of it. Turning back to his serious self, the professor closed his eyes and silently muttered. “East.”

Violent tremors and turbulence quivered the house. I was, to a certain extent, furious and irritated by the professor’s impulsive act. I was not prepared for such a journey.

Clinging onto a pillar which protruded through the ground, I felt nauseous. Vertigo seized my senses whilst my sight darkened.

Slowly I opened my eyes, only to be met with the oddly dressed professor, staring down at me as if he were examining a patient.

“This happens sometimes, especially to newcomers”. – The Professor said, as he went to get something out of a drawer.

My mind was in utter shambles. I could barely lift my head, for my body felt heavy and feeble.

“I need fresh air.”

I was barely able to form a sentence as my mind was incoherent.

Slowly I headed for the door and the professor hastily bolted toward me.

“Now wait there for a second, young Augustine”. The professor uttered as he ran behind me.

The light that blasted my eyes blinded me, and I regretted opening that door the moment I committed the act.

As my eyes adjusted and the professor finally came to my aid, I saw the divine and incomparable. Green and rich in nature, a breathtaking landscape of enchanting grandeur blessed my eyes. Rugged and pillar like mountains towered the region, and olive-green trees cloaked them with an impenetrable white mist shrouding in mystery the land that lay beneath. I was instantaneously cured of my discombobulated state.

“I meant to prepare you for that...” the professor uttered, but my ears had not received his words. My focus was completely mesmerized by land that lay before me.

“Where are we?” -I asked in awe, with my eyes transfixed on the mountains.

“China, now put this on!”

The professor tossed a robe toward me that was similar to his odd outfit.

“Why?” –I queried.

“It is a ceremonial robe. It will help you blend in”

The professor put on an eccentric hat and began his descent down the steep mountain. I took one last glance at the marvelous sight, before following in his wake.

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