As Mastermind explored the book, I decided to explore the place. There were so many boulders here. I reckoned many of them had fallen from atop the mountain. I picked up a small rock and held it to the sunlight. The morning sunlight felt good in my skin as I observed the rock.
Even now, I found it hard to believe that I was in a game world. The rock, which felt real as a rock in the real world, had been created by humans. So had been the mountain itself, and the river and the sky and everything. Even the body that I was presently in. Everything had been created by humans in this world. It was pretty amazing how technology had advanced for us to do these amazing things. A thousand years ago, who would have thought that something like this would be possible? This wasn’t magic, but science. But then, science was magic, wasn’t it?
People thought that a detailed explanation of a process or an event robbed the magic out of it. But it wasn’t really so. The rock I held in my hands had been created by magic.
I threw the rock away and observed Mastermind, absorbed in the book. I thought it was more than a coincidence that the Raks should come seeking the book, the very day we found it ourselves. I put this question forward to Mastermind.
“Yeah,” he said, “I thought that is strange too. They came mere moments after we found the book. It doesn’t help that I believe that the book might have appeared in the library only today. I mean, I recall checking the same shelf many times earlier but the book hadn’t been there, I swear.”
I had a wild thought.
“You think AI was the one who created the book? And then when the gang members came to know about it they came as fast as they could.”
“That’s a wild possibility,” Mastermind remarked.
“Where do you think the artefact is though,” I asked, “what does the book say?”
“It seems that the artefact is not just one, but it is a combination of several artefacts. It seems well have to find the smaller artefacts and then join them together to get the powerful artefact that can be used to destroy Death13.”
“And I assume it won’t be easy finding the artefact, would it?” I said.
“Nope. This book only seems to point to the first artefact*. And it is located in a place far north at the very edge of Rakshasha land that borders Dinoland. There lives an old man in that place apparently who can lead us to the artefact. But the book also tells us to be wary of the old man himself. The book says we might have to fight a monster, or several monsters, just to acquire the first artefact. This is going to be very hard, Rohan. If you don’t want to do it, I can help you return to Kapilpura with the help of Pero.”
I thought about this for a moment. I would miss Lovebird and the other friends I had met in Kapilpura. But I had told Mastermind that I would help him. There was no turning back now. I had also seen how destructive Death13 was. I recalled Daddy1 and his destroyed birthstone and gritted my teeth. No, I would have to take a stance against this, regardless of whether it ended in a positive note or not. Prithvi was a unique world and I wanted to preserve it as one. There needn’t be any junk codes going around deleting people.
“I told you earlier that I would help you,” I said to Mastermind, looking him in the eye, “I would help you no matter what losses I must suffer. Even if we have to face dangerous monsters, we would. But we need to destroy Death13.”
“Thanks,” Mastermind said. He closed the book and kept it inside his bag.
Just then I received a message from Grimguy.
“Hey, where are you man?” he said.
“Not far. Just a couple of thousand kilometres away from Kapilpura,” I replied.
He seemed to take a while to understand what I had said.
“Really?” he finally messaged back.
“Did you use a portal?” he asked.
“Yes, there’s one in the land of the Raks. You can find it in your map too. It’s in the village the location of which is shown by the darkest red spot in the map.”
“The Raks didn’t kill you?”
“Yeah… They almost did. But that was because I forgot the name of the place where I had to go.” I hadn’t forgotten the name of the place. I hadn’t known the name of the place. “You just need to pay them a good amount of gold.”
“But where are you exactly? And why did you go so far away for? Is it some kind of quest?”
“Remember Mastermind? Came here to help him.”
“Has it got something to do with Death13?”
“Yeah. There seems to be an artefact that can be used to destroy Death13. We now need to find the pieces of the artefact and put it together.”
“Hmm… Why didn’t you ask me to go along with you?”|
“You were too busy with the puzzle.”
“Nah. I have given up on it. It was screwing my brain. It’s just not worth it.”
“Hey, you completed half of it. Why give up now?”
“The half I completed was the easier part. Plus, I seem to have lost some of the pieces. Anyway, listen, I want to go along with you too. I want to help Mastermind in every way possible.”
I relayed what Grimguy had said to me to Mastermind. Mastermind scratched his cheek in thought.
“Tell him to wait for some time. Tell him to be ever ready. Anytime we will call him and he should come,” Mastermind told me. I told this to Grimguy.
“Cool,” he said. “Call me whenever you need me. If you want, I can go and live with the Raks.”
“Haha. You don’t need to do that. Just go to them when we ask you to use the portal. Beware though, the portal costs thousands of gold.”
“I can manage that,” Grimguy said.
I ended the conversation with Grimguy. Only then did I see a message that Lovebird had sent me yesterday night, but I seem to have missed it earlier.
“Are you all right? Was worried for you since you left so suddenly.”
She was presently offline but I messaged her anyway telling her that I was okay, but it would be some time (possibly a long time) before the two of us would be able to meet again.
“The ruins of Drabund are a long way away,” Mastermind said, jumping down from the boulder. “I guess, I will summon Pero again.”
So it happened that Mastermind summoned his pet. The two of us climbed the pterodactyl. Pero flapped his massive wings and off to the air we took. I knew at that moment that in the next few days I would travel large distances of the world of Prithvi. I was scared, but I was also excited. I was happy that I was at least taking the stance of the good side in the fight.