Camilla: You, sir, should unmask.
Cassilda: Indeed, it’s time. We all have laid aside disguise but you.
Stranger: I wear no mask.
Camilla: (Terrified, aside to Cassilda) No mask? No mask!
–The King in Yellow, Act 1, Scene 2
Inside the quiet conference room, Gu Jun read through the book quietly. He did not jump to the last chapter immediately but started from the first, The Repairer of Reputation. He encountered a Mr. Wang Erde in this chapter, a wicked gnome who cooperated with the main character to bring down America, to build a King of Yellow’s kingdom in its place. Hastur’s direct descendent would be made king… These narrations, the King of Yellow, The Yellow Sign, Hastur, they reminded Gu Jun heavily of the Yellow Brotherhood…
The second chapter The Mask, started with the snippet quoted above. Even though this was an English novel, Gu Jun read at a speed that his English level should not have allowed. Strangely enough, he found the meaning accessible despite the words being mostly unintelligible. The mask had different main characters but there was one similarity with the first chapter. All the main characters lost their mind due to their pursuit of a cursed tome, the King in Yellow. Reading through the pages, for some reason, Gu Jun could not help but take a deep breath as his head pounded.
“Jim…” Noting how stressed out his friend was, Sanders advised, “That’s enough for now. You better rest for a few more days first…”
“I’m fine.” Gu Jun said firmly. His brain pulsed with pain but compared to when he was inside the altar and his many experiences in the past, this pain was nothing, it was like mosquito bite. Messy thoughts bounced in his mind, some kind of force must be behind this. When he was still inside the sickroom, he noticed a situation, the ball of chaos in his mind had disappeared. And now… this book had such close relation to the King in Yellow. But of course, this could be another trickery by Nyarlathotep. Just like how it had mocked the Yith, it was now mocking him. During the final war, Phecda and Mysterium summoned Byakee while he and Yu Chi summoned nightgaunt. The Seven Cryptical Book of Hsan and the Nine Mysterium Arts sourced their power from the King in Yellow… And now he was stuck in this state, reading a book entitled the King in Yellow, Gu Jun refused to believe this was a coincidence.
‘So did we win or lose that last battle… Dirty-minded Yu, Yu Chi, Zixuan, Monitor, Ah Mei, Uncle Dan, Elder Tong, everyone, are they still alive?’
Gu Jun flipped through the other chapters before he finally arrived at the last chapter, Plague Doctor. This chapter dominated most of the book, ratio-wise it was incredibly imbalanced, it was about ¾ of the whole book. He noticed this chapter was the only one which had sub-chapters: Mutated Banyan, Mutated Dream, Mutated Cough, Mutated Scale, Mutated Locust.
Reading these, memories rushed through Gu Jun’s mind. He knew what these nouns represent. His finger caressed the paper, they felt rough under his touch. He studied the names of the sub-chapters but could not bring himself to continue. Inside his heart, a strange unknown prevented him from moving forward.
“Who is this Robert W. Chambers?” Gu Jun asked. That was the book’s author.
“An unknown writer.” Sanders answered. “This book has been published for years already but only about 1000 copies of it were sold. You borrowed a copy from Miskatonic University’s library. You were surprised how close this chapter mirrors your life. You shared that discovery with your family and friends but they thought this was just another reading interest of yours, no one thought you’d be stuck so deep inside it… Jim, you have to understand that this is just a work of fiction. It is not real. The things that are described inside are not real but you are real.”
Gu Jun stared at the name Robert W. Chambers, he couldn’t find the author’s picture printed on the book jacket but he hoped that if there was a chance, he would like to meet this man in person… Then again perhaps this was another one of Nyarlathotep’s disguises.
After a pause, finally, Gu Jun opened the Mutated Banyan chapter and started to read.
How important is money in a human’s life? Whenever this topic came up, Gu Jun would wield the same opinion, money, well, it is very, very important. “Let me tell you something. There’s only one true illness in this world, and that’s poverty.”….
Gu Jun’s breathing became labored. His furrowed brows did not relax. Reading through the lines, the past surged at him. The book did not record every single detail but the ‘Gu Jun’ definitely lived his life and his experience… He read through 10 pages and the pounding in his head turned heavier. His heart numbed with pain, his energy was slipping away.
The author of this book could be Nyarlathotep or it could be the Yith. As long as the observer had the ability to travel through time, they could easily record down everything in narrative form and came up with this book, it was not impossible…
So did Gu Jun get pulled out from the book?
Or this was Gu Jun from one parallel world reading the adventure of another Gu Jun in another parallel world?
Or the other Gu Jun did not really exist and this was all just a story…
“Jim, it’s time to stop!” Sanders urged nervously, “Your face is too pale. You shouldn’t force yourself like this. It’s not good for you.”
“Shush…” Gu Jun growled at the man. He mumbled, “I’ve told you many times, I’m fine. I’m not crazy.”
He turned to the last page of the Mutated Banyan chapter, it ended with, “I know what I have done.” Gu Jun straightened up in his seat. He told him in the sincerest tone he could muster, “I am a doctor, and I acted to save people. I am not crazy.”
Gu Jun’s head was gripped by pain. He remembered this scene clearly. His S Value at the time was only a mere 51. He was interrogated by the reviewers. They wanted to ascertain whether he had lost his mind by blowing up the channel to the banyan space…
He shook his head to clear his mind. He continued to flip the page until he reached the end of the Mutated Dream chapter, “Wish everyone have a sweet dream.”
The statements from the past slammed heavily at Gu Jun’s heart. His mind started to wave…
He flipped through the book crazily. He tried to make himself calm down and slow down but he soon reached the end of the book. At the last few pages, a line of prayer jumped out at him. “Iä! Shub-Niggurath! The Black Goat of the Woods with a Thousand Young!”
And then, and then what happened?!
Gu Jun breathed heavily. His fingers rubbed the pages of the book. There were only a few pages left. He had no idea what they would say and he couldn’t even tell if they were real or not. But at least the book would offer an ending to this chapter.
Gu Jun slowly turned the page over and continued to read.