I finally flew past the high wall. Before me stretched the broad sky and a…. forest.
White domes stood among the forest, looking like buildings hidden in the forest yet also like the abundant forest had buried an entire city.
The flying vehicle couldn’t leave the ground so I began to descend down the other side of the wall.
“This was once a city of books.” Ice Dragon introduced the city to me with a smile, like a tour guide. “It has a beautiful name, Raffles City...” Ice Dragon extended his right hand as though he was reciting a poem.
I was stunned. “What? Raffles City?”
“That’s right. Raffles is the God of Wisdom in this world. Hence, this city was named after him. Before the end of the world, all the ancient books and authentic words were kept here. That’s why, Raffles told you to come here to look for data chips.”
As Ice Dragon spoke, we arrived in the thick forest. The towering trees covered the pathways. I shuttled through the tree branches, a suspension bridge under me.
The bridge was severely damaged and shattered stones poked out of the water under the bridge. There was water underneath! The entire city was built above water.
I slowly advanced. These trees were trees in a radiation zone; their genes were mutated and likely to be aggressive.
Even when Harry was safely in an anti-radiation cabin, he could still only enter level six radiation zones. Just like back then, when I had been searching in Kro.
However, as this wasn’t the center of the radiation zone, the miniature robots from Noah City had come here for investigation before and had drawn a map. They hadn’t discovered any threats as of now.
According to Harry’s experience, if the trees were aggressive, as long as we didn’t offend them, they wouldn’t take the initiative to attack us. Hence, I began to fly slowly and tried not to touch them while advancing.
“That is the famous garden library in front of you,” Ice Dragon said softly.
“Luo Bing, are you reaching the garden library?” Raffles and Harry’s images cut in again. Raffles was extremely excited. “I really want to go there and take a look personally!”
Raffles would say that on every single trip we headed out on.
“I heard that the garden library is very beautiful. The entire library had merged into one with the plants. People could read while surrounded by the fragrance of flowers…” Raffles closed his eyes, immersed in his imagination.
“I am not interested in reading. I shall walk around and see if there’s any great discovery. Keep in touch,” Harry said. He then turned off his image.
Raffles was still indulging in his imagination.
A tall flower-like building appeared before me. Layers of balconies opened up like flower petals blossoming. I could vaguely see the exquisite bookshelves embellished on the balcony walls.
“Although it is an information society, taking in the scent of the ink while reading a physical book is like smelling the scent of history…” Raffles held his hands up as though he was holding a book, then he took a deep breath. He really likes reading.
My flying vehicle gradually got closer to the huge building. When I’d reached the end, I realized that the building was far bigger than what I had been able to see.
It whirled downward towards the ground, where a huge round pillar underneath the building extended into the water. The building was like a wild rose that had sprouted from the water.
The entrance before me was shaped like a flower petal.
I parked my flying vehicle and got off. Out of habit, I pulled my mask up and stepped onto the ground.
*Pak.* I accidentally stepped on a withered branch and broke it. Lowering my head, I saw flower vines sprawled all over the ground. Like a spiderweb that had spread across the ground and into the garden library in front of me.
As I began to walk forward, I saw Raffles’s disappointed expression on my monocle. “They are all dead. It’s a pity… Such a pity…”
The entire wall of the library was covered in withered flower vines. Even the flowerpots by the side of the walkway had only been left with dried soil. There was not even a withered branch to be seen.
There were so many plants in the surrounding but only the plants in the library had not been able to survive. Was it because the plants in the library had been carefully taken care of previously? That was why they had been fragile, like flowers in a greenhouse. When the end of the world had descended, they hadn’t been able to survive.
On the contrary, the wildflowers and trees in the surrounding had survived and flourished. They had continuously mutated and evolved along with the environment.
*Kacha. Kacha.* I continued to walk forward as I stepped on the withered vines. It was a miserable sight.
*Rustle.* A bird seemed to be flying in the sky above. But as the sky was covered by the dense tree crown, I could only see the rays of light that filtered down through the shadows.
I continued to walk inside. When I entered the door, I was completely astounded by the sight!
The petal-like building had no roof. Before me stood an extremely magnificent and broad palace. The pillars were lined up in a circle, with a white stone bench in between each pillar.
In the middle of the palace, there was an indoor garden. Although the garden had withered, leaving only dried soil, I could imagine how beautiful the library must have once been...
The library extended outward, layer by layer. There was no roof above, only a transparent dome that allowed sunlight to pour in.
There was also a hole in the dome that wasn’t covered by any trees, through which I could see the gloomy sky above.
A dark cloud was rolling past in the gloomy sky. Then came the sound of muffled thunder.
*Splash.* The water droplets showered down and formed a rain curtain in front of me. The rainwater happened to fall on the indoor garden.
I walked along around the rain curtain, and saw the exquisite receptacles on the pillars. It was obvious that these had once been full of flowers.
In between the pillars were the long white benches. I could almost see long-gone ancestors sitting on the benches as they read, enjoying the flowers’ fragrance.
Beside the spiral stairs, the surrounding space of the palace was filled with books.
The books were neatly organized on the walls behind a protective layer sealed against dust, which at first glance seemed similar to display cabinets.
I studied the transparent seal. It looked like someone regularly cleaned this place. There was no dust at all in here.
No, not just here, but also the benches.
I glanced at those benches. The benches were clean of dust too.
What’s going on?
I swiped an experimental finger across the surface of a bench, only to come away with no dust at all.
Touching the seal again, I couldn’t see any opening or lock. However, if it couldn’t be opened, how had the people in the past been able to read?
Walking along the bookshelves, I spotted display pads by the side of every bookshelf. When I touched one, it suddenly lit up. A female librarian appeared!
I was surprised. Because at the end of the world where many places had no energy sources left, the library was still operating.
“May I ask, which book are you looking for?” she smiled and asked.
I exclaimed, “Raffles! Did you see that?!”
Raffles was confused. “Raffles City should be out of energy sources. Could this library be powered by solar energy?”
“I’m sorry. There’s no book named, Raffles! Did you see that?!” The librarian replied with a smile.
I was stunned. The system here was perfectly intact and was actually still working!
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