Johnny watched in quiet awe as Caleb threw open the large steel gate that presented the only admissible entrance to the massive structure that laid before them. This was no quiet small town regional library tucked into the middle of nowhere, but a massive complex that promised to hold thousands of books. A large brick pathway led up to an intimidating set of steps lined with two stone gargoyles on either side. Caleb gave these a long suspicious glance before proceeding forward, as if he suspected that at least one of them would come alive at any moment. Johnny felt as if he were ascending the steps of a great temple as the two of them made their way to the door.
It was firmly locked shut, just as they had both suspected it would be. Caleb had come prepared for such an eventuality however, and out of his pocket he extracted some lock-picks that he had pilfered from one of the dozier shopkeepers they had encountered earlier that day. For a man who claimed to be an expert in security he had sure not been all that observant of their actual theft. After a few tedious moments the lock finally gave, and Caleb led Johnny inside the library's hallowed walls. A similarly impressive hallway lead into a rotunda wherein a circular librarian's desk sat vacant, an eerie stillness gripping the place, there being no one around to shush them for their noise.
Instead of checking themselves in at reception, Caleb moved Johnny down a separate hallway that was right adjacent to the entrance to the rotunda, a route which took them up a staircase and through two more levels of the massive building. As they ascended Johnny could see the reception area becoming smaller before them, while from the top of the stairs he could then see the third level of the dome, its curved walls lined with books and bookshelves, a rail running in and around the hole in the floor that allowed them yet another glimpse of reception. Caleb also observed a locked door to their right, one with what looked to be a flame symbol emblazoned on either side of it that looked as if it bore some special significance. Caleb went ahead and tried the door, but found it to be locked.
"You going to try and pick it again?" Johnny inquired, sensing his companion's growing frustration at these repeating impediments.
"Not on this one. We are going to have to find the key." Caleb absolutely despised key hunts. The pair headed back down the stairway and stopped again when they reached the reception area, trying their best to get their bearings. There was another door to their right which had a curious looking eye symbol above it, something Johnny took to mean that it contained yet another lock that for whatever reason could not be picked by them. The two then walked forward past the curved reception desk down another hall that took them to a large room that held in front of them yet another door with symbols on either side, this time of a crescent moon.
"I'm getting sick of this..." Caleb muttered angrily to himself. To their left was a bench and several bookcases, as well as a door that led to to the manager's office. This door bore no strange symbols except for the helpful "MANAGER" label at its top, but it still refused to open despite Caleb's exertions. "Ah, its stuck!" he complained, the place now definitely beginning to set off his temper. Seeing nothing else for it but to turn around, the duo this time headed right past several more large bookcases before then hitting a right angle bend that took them to an open study area with several tables and two more bookshelves embedded in the right hand walls.
On the other side was yet more examples of the strange artwork that could be found in abundance in this place, while back on the right hand side a large switch could be seen embedded in the wall between the two bookcases. This immediately drew Caleb's interest, and he walked over and started feeling for it, eventually triggering something that opened a small wooden section of the wall at the far end of the room beside yet another bookcase. Caleb and Johnny promptly rushed forward and walked through the recently discovered opening only to find themselves in yet another maze of books and wood. All these tomes, and yet none of them were the ones they wanted. Caleb and Johnny pressed on through the strange labyrinth.
Then, seeming larger than life, a key could be seen in-between two of the shelves that enclosed all around them. On its handle a large eye could be seen, explaining which door it could be used to operate. Without giving it a second thought Caleb walked over and collected it, right before both he and Johnny started backtracking all the way back from whence they came, eventually ending up back before the rotunda again. Caleb shoved the key into the lock of the door marked with an eye, which to their relief allowed itself to open without incident. There they saw yet more bookcases, and started to search awkwardly for another key.
It was actually Johnny that discovered the room's secret first. In one of the corners a bookshelf lay prone on its back, seemingly knocked over. While Caleb went to examine a rather handsome looking skull he spotted resting behind a desk at the opposite side of the room, Johnny instead examined the overturned bookcase, eventually discovering on one of its edges another large metal switch. He pressed it, causing a bookcase on his left to slide back and reveal another hidden entrance that this time led into the manager's office. Inside, on the manager's desk, Caleb and Johnny finally found what it was they were looking for: a key with a flame symbol emblazoned on it.
The two wasted no time in going back out of the office, through the rotunda, and up the large flight of stairs, finding themselves facing the flame emblazoned door once again. Johnny had no idea what it was about this room that made Caleb attach such a large significance to it, but whatever it was that was waiting for them behind it, it would hopefully give them the answers they needed to carry on with their journey. Before sticking it in the lock, Caleb gave one last tired glance at the key that he now held in his gnarled hands. "Let's never do that again" he stated, right before the flame door started to slowly open in front of them.
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Some might recall that I had previously made mention as part of the Blood Wiki's sixth anniversary that I had plans to once again invest some of my time in an area of Blood fandom that I had formerly been quite involved in. To that end I present Scroll, a story I originally began in the summer of 2008 as a kind of retelling of the story behind Cryptic Passage in an attempt to bring it further in line with the main Blood canon. Designed to be published in multiple parts, I shall endeavour to release a new instalment of Scroll every Sunday from March 9th on until the story is complete.