The flame emblazoned door opened to show yet another circular room made into an open study area, bookcases lining the rounded sides, surrounding three lonely desks which seemed ominous in their abandonment. It was not exactly the kind of place Johnny had imagined when told he was to be out looking for hidden secrets. Above them another upper level could be seen, ringing around the circle. A doorway on their left led to a stairwell which looked as if it could take them to that upper level. It was then that Johnny noticed something that could change his opinion. Lying at the foot of the stairs was a large dog.
It was not a breed of dog Johnny had ever encountered before. It appeared to be completely hairless, something which only helped accentuate its strange orange skin. Every time it heaved in a breath of air smoke would bellow out as it exhaled, something for which Johnny even had trouble fathoming a reason why. Whatever breed the dog was it was at least asleep, something which Johnny was supremely thankful for. He was both relieved and disturbed to discover that Caleb was considering the creature with just the same level of severity that he was, staying as still as he could, deciding on their next move. The dog snorted, making both of the men jump despite of themselves.
"I hate hell hounds..." Caleb stated under his breath, feeling unable to let that go without comment. Such an ominous handle did little to revive Johnny's laggard spirits. After what seemed like an eternity Caleb finally came up with a plan of action, slowly inching his way along the wall towards the stairwell. Johnny unwillingly followed, his heart beating in what seemed to him to be an unnervingly loud fashion as they passed. The hell hound reflectively sniffed the air as they slid their way by, but whatever awareness it might have had of its new visitors was somehow lost in dreamland. It was presently consumed in hunting down and slaughtering imagined hell hands, devouring them one by one as it went.
Upon reaching the top of the stairs and taking one last nervous glance behind them, Caleb finally relaxed and started to actually walk again. "Just stay quiet..." he whispered to Johnny before moving to take charge of the new area before them. Even more bookshelves were arranged in neat rows, forming yet another labyrinth of paper and wood. Caleb started to take a much greater interest in these shelves, satisfied by the precautions that they had to previously overcome that these books might actually contain some of the knowledge that he sought. Johnny himself noticed that these tomes looked far older than the ones they had seen before, and took that as a sign that they were indeed moving in the right direction.
Caleb's eyes flashed as he spotted one of the more promising candidates, grabbing the ancient volume roughly in his greedy hands. He then threw it away just as carelessly, groaning irritably. "Mere trivia..." he muttered to himself, just as the book hit the ground hard and became lost to the dust. Johnny glanced over at what was left of the cover; the book promised to inform the reader on the proper incantations needed to awaken the dead. He wondered to himself why corpses were not raised more often if the phrasings contained in the tome were really so elementary. Caleb kept scanning the titles, pawing through them with a strange contempt.
Once again it was Johnny that spotted what Caleb had missed. In one of the bookcases was another metal switch, which when pressed opened up an enclosed compartment made up of bookshelves and wooden panelling. Inside was the key for the moon door they had spotted earlier, as well as a large book that was kept separate from the others. Upon further investigation it turned out to be a directory of all the Cabal held property in the region, including an inventory on what important artifacts were being held at each site. It was exactly the kind of thing Caleb was looking for. He scanned the pages for word of his scroll, and in among all the the other numerous entries, including the ones that listed all of the books that he may have just destroyed, he found it.
"The castle is extremely large and ancient, but within its walls lies a gateway to the otherworld" Caleb read out load, going through the entry that outlined where his scroll was supposed to be held. Johnny absently wondered where their noise prohibition had gone. "Here also is to be kept a scroll capable of upsetting the balance of power in the otherworld, overcoming both life and death itself." That last part was written in fresh ink, likely the work of some hooded bookkeeper only a few hours prior to the duo's arrival. Caleb knew that this must be where the gargoyles had taken the scroll. He merely had to find this castle, and claim that which was rightfully his. It was within his grasp again. He could almost feel it.
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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.