“How does The Chronicles explain it?”
“It says that the city’s authorities and the higher clergy were so corrupt and mired in sins that such behavior enraged God, and he sent his angels here. The angels came and brought their devastating power with them. The Chronicles calls this power the Darkness of Beasts.”
“It sounds like these beasts are the imps who served the angels.”
Bronson’s reappearance interrupted their conversation.
“I brought the laser saw, the bigger flashlights, and some other tools.”
“We need to have a look at what’s behind this wall,” Julian said, grabbing the saw from the engineer’s hand.
Julian had never been an adventurous person, Bella thought. She wasn’t sure she recognized him. Julian progressed very quickly with the saw. He seemed excited and impatient. Bella had never seen him being like this before.
“Ready?” Julian asked, kicking down part of the wall where he’d cut with the saw.
A piece of unknown metal fell down, and the wall opened up into a huge tunnel. Surprisingly, the air didn’t smell of damp and mold. It seemed much fresher and cooler. The same strange grayish mucus covered the walls, however. The tunnel had a ceiling so high that they barely could see it in the unstable light of the flashlights. The roof was supported by some sort of curved beams.
“Something is not right here, guys. I feel it.” Bronson looked scared.
“I can’t believe you’re afraid,” Julian grinned. “We’re on the threshold of a great archaeological discovery, my friend. When was the last time anything exciting happen in the archaeological world? Do you remember?”
“When the bones of Richard III were found under a car park?”
“Exactly. It was ages ago. Now, we’ve discovered a whole building under the church. This,” he gestured to the walls, “is more valuable than a couple of boring, crooked bones.”
Julian continued his way into the darkness of the tunnel. Bella followed him, still surprised by the unexpected change in his demeanor.
The tunnel seemed endless, with a few smaller corridors shooting off on either side. The group decided to follow the main corridor.
Finally, the tunnel widened, and they found themselves in front of a gigantic door. It was covered in what looked like some strange writing. Julian switched on his scanner again. “The door is constructed from the same metal as the previous wall.”
“And again this symbol, the double rose.” Bronson pointed to the middle of the door, where a schematic image of the rose, some five meters across sealed it as though it were a lock. “Actually, it’s not a rose.”
He came very close, touching the petals. “It’s…”
He hadn’t finished his thought, when the door slid open quickly and almost soundlessly.
An enormous hall appeared in front of them. It was twice, if not three times, bigger than the church above. Two endless rows of thin columns on high pedestals formed lancet arches that divided the hall into three parts. The center looked like the nave of a Gothic church; the two smaller arcades were barely visible in the light of torches.
“It is much taller than any other Gothic building I’ve ever been in.” Bella tilted back her head, trying to see the ceiling. But the arches went higher than the light of her flashlight could reach.
Julian made a determined step forward. “The scan can’t even detect the approximate era when this was constructed.”
“If your scan isn’t broken, do you know what it means?” Bronson asked.
“It means that the church was built much earlier than we thought.”
“It also means that all the documents, all the medieval texts, everything: It’s just one big fake.”
“It also means that the Gothic period in Europe had started significantly earlier,” Julian nodded.
“I’d rather finish our research for today and come back on Monday morning,” Bronson repeated. “Who do you think you are, Indiana Jones?”
“I found something,” Bella cried.
They found her standing on a round platform in the middle of the nave. The platform was covered in unknown hieroglyphs, similar to the ones they had seen on the hall’s door. Again, they found the double rose symbol in the center of the platform.
Julian took a few photos of the hall and the platform. Bella bent down, trying to get a closer look at the writing. She must have pressed some hidden button, as in the next moment, the whole platform lit up, and a 3-D hologram filled the hall with its dull, bluish light.
“I didn’t touch anything,” Bella said, jumping off in shock.
The stars, the planets, the suns of other galaxies, fiery and frozen…The hologram in the shape of the double rose moved, unfolding its petals.
“This is the galaxy, where they came from. This rose is a map. Their map,” Bella nodded at the hologram.
“What? Who’s map?” Bronson asked.
“It looks like I may have to start believing in the The Imp’s Chronicles,” Julian said, walking into the hologram, trying to take a photo.
Their conversation was interrupted by a sudden scream. Julian dropped his camera, and they turned, peering into the darkness. Bella felt panic rise and she saw Bronson’s whole body start to shake.
The bleak light of the flashlights caught some movement in the right arcade. It looked like a cocoon. It was about two meters long and a meter wide, covered in sticky flagella. A dark liquid trickled out of it. On the top of the cocoon, dark crystals grew. The low scream repeated again. No doubt now–it was coming out of the cocoon.
“What the hell?” Bronson gasped.
The cocoon ripped open, and a creature, screaming and spilling dark liquid, emerged.
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