As said before, spices were part and parcel of the people's lives in this world. Spices were not only a living necessity but also used in religion, customs and etiquette. Different types of spices for separate occasions. Some for worshiping the gods, some for cleansing themselves, and some for the christening of newborns. The small jar that Bonia took out was filled with some greyish white powder, which she made by herself, baked with various herbs and magic. Hao Ren took some of this powder. A strong licorice-like smell drifted into his nostrils. He took the MDT out. "Analyze it," he said.
"A small amount could affect the development of the brain's nerves, influence the early development of the brain, reduce the ability of creative," the MDT said, flying a circle around Bonia to scan the physiological details of human of this world, "independent and critical thinking. But it does not affect intellectual and genetic factors. In short, this is something that makes people 'obedient', but if applied in high dosage to everyone, it could almost guarantee the stagnation of the entire civilization. Of course, it is not enough to have this drug; it also needs a complete education system. I believe the tribes here have already done it."
Hao Ren's brows knit together. "Is this a protective measure?"
"It would be a crime if this happened in the normal world. But here, it is a kind of protection." The MDT hovered up and down. "This underground space is not rich in resources, and the entire planet has no sources of energy. There is no sun. The planet has a limited energy reserve. You should know how fast the highly developed human society consumes the planet, so the human civilization here is stagnant, and the purpose should be to extend the life of the ecosystem."
"Did the Goddess teach you to make this?" Hao Ren pointed to the small jar. Bonia quickly looked at Vivian and nodded her head a few times. Vivian groaned inwardly and said, "...just assume I did."
Hao Ren thought for a moment, put the spices aside and continued to read the diaries of Beatrice. The witch was a scholar with a spirit of exploration. She was very different from her peers who only knew the game of power struggle and antiquities in her time. The record she left behind told the many findings of her research in this world. She even left behind drawings, which depicted the history of the Fire tribe and the Mountain tribe drew on slates. Beatrice believed that these things should not be buried. She had also mentioned some adventure plans he had yet to carry out:
"... There should be many more relics in the earth. I found some abnormal cracks around the Pillars of Eternity. These fissures leading to the underground seem like tunnels that were left behind deliberately. But the Pillars of Eternity are a miracle of the world. The locals think that these pillars are the arms of the giants, going to the roots of them will disturb the giants and cause the sky to collapse. So I have no choice but give up...
"Fire tribe seems to be called Erbisius, a magical race in the ancient times. They were good at making flame-driven machines and magical devices. I have restored some of those things recorded in their lithographs. The drawings are at..."
Many latter parchments contained the archaeological discoveries of Beatrice. She also mentioned some of the ancient relics that the tribal people retained until today. As Hao Ren randomly flipped through the records, Bonia was dozing off next to him, snoring like a bear while her body swung around like a kite. The round pendant hanging from her neck glowed in gold as it reflected the light of the phlogistic lamp. The oval pendant had caught Hessiana's eyes. She woke Bonia up. "Hey, little girl. Could I see your pendant?" she asked.
The little saintess quickly untied the pendant on her neck and handed it to Hessiana.
Hessiana first thought it was a decorative metal pendant, but when she held it in her hand, it felt like a very sophisticated item. The perfectly round pendant was roughly the size of a pocket watch. The surface had a complex and delicate pattern as if it were laser-etched. There were beautiful inlaid crystals on the patterns, but some had worn out. While Hessiana fiddled with the pendant, she accidentally pressed a button on the side, and the pendant popped open, revealing the delicate structure and wiring inside, and engraved symbols and text on the inside of the cover. Vivian poked her head to take a gander and let the translation plug-in do its job.
"National Grand Library—Erbisius Archives Administrator Key—Transferable Universal Identity Card"
"This is an anciently sacred object," Bonia wiped the snivel off her nose and said with a poker face. "The saintesses handed it down from generation to generation. It is the embodiment of the spirit of knowledge and the will of the Goddess."
"A delicate alchemy prop, a hybrid of principles of mechanics and magic," Hessiana said as she gently stroked the lines inside the old key with her finger. The internal was perfectly fine, but the exterior had worn. "Is there any other relic with it?"
Meanwhile, Hao Ren had flipped to the last few manuscripts, and that were pretty much all the records of Beatrice. She left behind these things in the final year of her life when she was suffering from strange illnesses. She realized that she had not much time left, and felt death was approaching as she wrote the last few manuscripts.
"...I don't have much time. The more I use magic and herbs to suppress the pain, the more intense it becomes. My body couldn't adapt to the many elements in this world. Now the accumulated 'toxins' are catching up with me. I have already said goodbye to Mobeka (the tribal saintess back then), but she could not accept it. Life is uncertain, but death is inevitable; who can go against it?
"... Interestingly, when I am nearing my death, I begin to miss my hometown. It feels miserable to die alone in a distant, foreign land though I know back home, the world is still in its most challenging period where witches and wizards are suffering from indescribable horrifying pressure. I have recently recalled things and acquaintances in my hometown in my mind so frequently so that it has stalled my work of deciphering the ancient documents. I may have become vulnerable, but in the last days of my life, no one would expect a dying witch to remain strong…
"...Baptiste, please forgive me for only mentioning your name during my final moment. But I miss you; I miss you so much that I don't even dare to write your name down in any place or tell anyone about you, because every time I hear your name, I would be conscious of how far apart we are. Maybe you are still looking for me, how I wish I could see you now. But the only one thing I want to tell you right now is—stay away from this place.
"There is no hope here. There is nothing here. This world is a chaotic dimension of no return. The knowledge that you have taught me is far from enough to deal with the danger here. So please don't come for me."
That was the end of the manuscript.
In the last few chapters of the parchment, Beatrice's words seemed a little disorganized, even a bit of disoriented. She did not write these words in just one go but spent a year of looking back on her experiences for the past ten years. So the last few parchments should reflect the worst state of Beatrice's mind. No matter how disoriented her words were its meaning was clear:
Beatrice was the reason Baptiste coming to the second level of Inferno at all costs.
At this time, the sound of footsteps came from outside the temple. A tribal warrior with red paint on his face came in. "Goddess, Saintess, the sentinel caught a stranger in the wilderness."