Remember The Name - Chapter 71
Seeing a drawing there, at the deepest end of the cave where no light reached, was surprising and amazing all at once. As soon as he saw it, Lucid knew that this drawing was a depiction of the tallest peak of the Great Mountains as seen from the top of the rocky mountain, to the west. The more surprising part was that this was no child’s drawing either. Someone with considerable skill had taken the time to draw this, and it looked truly like a panorama. And it was in color, too!
The greenish portion depicted the evergreens growing on the mountains, while the uncolored parts, with the natural red hue of the cave walls showing through, were the leaves that had changed color with the coming of fall. The everpresent mist of the mountains was made with what appeared to be ground up rocks, based on the grainy texture of the material and the large specks mixed in, but the stark white color truly gave it the appearance of mist, so much so that Lucid could almost feel the moisture from it.
Still, the most breathtaking part was the sky. It was literally the color of the sky, though Lucid didn’t know how they had managed to capture it so well. It used all the right colors, from the redness of the setting sun to the blue tinge of the coming night. It was realistic, and it was vivid.
The painting itself was as big as Lucid’s two stretched out hands, but it was enough to give off the feeling of a true masterpiece. It was humbling, in a way. Someone had managed to capture all the beauty and might of nature into one, small painting, and they had done it on a bumpy cave wall, to boot. The sheer skill and handiwork that went into such a piece of art was unfathomable.
Who could have done this, and why?
Lucid was sure that it was a who, rather than a what, as there was a distinct human touch to the painting. But who could have possibly climbed this ridiculous rock of a mountain, found this cave, and come all the way to the end of it just to draw this painting? Why had this been drawn? Why had it been left here?
Upon closer inspection, he could make an educated guess about the time of the year the painting was meant to show. There were blotches of green splattered here and there to show the evergreen forests, but the mountain was mostly covered in reddish leaves. The sky was also streaked with red, meant to show the sun setting behind the peaks.
[The Great Mountains in Autumn] seemed to be a fitting title for the piece.
Lucid felt a sudden jolt, as if electricity had just passed from his toes all the way to the top of his head.
People have painted since ancient times, for various reasons, and among those painters, those who focused on portraits or landscapes must have done so because they wanted to engrave and treasure a special moment for a long time. Was this painting the same? Had someone wanted to remember this moment? Was that why they had painted this scenery on the cave wall? Had they wanted to freeze this scene in time, so that it may last forever?
Lucid remembered his encounter at the marshes.
When he had met eyes with the strange bird, he had felt like time had stopped for a moment. In that one moment, even the stench of the marshes hadn’t bothered him. Everything he could see had stopped, and it felt like he was looking into a moment of time itself. All the colors around him had been vivid and real, but everything had just looked like a picture of a landscape.
Another memory crossed his mind.
He had looked at the Great Mountains after climbing the rocky mountain. The sunset had turned the sky purple, and he had wanted to keep that moment in his memory for as long as he could, that moment when the sun disappeared behind the mountains, leaving behind only a darkening sky with a smattering of purples and reds. Yes, the reds that, though the sun was long gone, seemed to rebel against the setting darkness of the night, stretching over the sky as far as they could.
Whoever had painted it had taken the sunset over the Great Mountains out of its time and frozen it upon these cave walls. Lucid could feel the painter’s motives, their wishes, their hopes. They had wanted this moment for themselves. They had wanted this moment to last forever, to remain here, with them, forever. In other words, they had wanted to…
Stop time itself.
Lucid closed his eyes.
Night gave way to morning, and morning gave way to night.
Lucid still didn’t open his eyes.
Lucid realized that he was standing somewhere he didn’t know. He wasn’t even sure he was actually standing. Was he floating? Were his feet on the ground? How could he know? No matter which direction he looked, be it up or down or left or right, all he could see was darkness. His eyes were open, but it was no different from when he closed his eyes. It was as though all his senses had turned off, paralyzed.
He had been exploring the cave. How had he ended up here?
“Hello?” he asked tentatively.
He realized he could speak, and he could hear. He raised his hand in front of him and saw his arm. He could see, and he could move.
He walked forward. He could walk, and he was sure he was walking. However, he couldn’t tell whether he was making any progress, or just walking in place. Still, he now knew he could walk, so he did.
Lucid stopped. He had walked for so long that he lost track of what he was doing, but still he was in the same darkness as before. If it was so dark, how could he see his own arm? There were too many oddities, too many strange things going on.
He tried to conjure a light sphere right away, but nothing happened. He tried fire and he tried friction, but none of his magic worked.
How much time had passed? He didn’t know. He simply walked and walked, then he crouched down, then he walked again. But still, nothing changed. He couldn’t use magic, and he couldn’t go anywhere. Here, in this empty darkness, Lucid was alone.
So he ran. He would run and run, and stop once it became too hard to breathe. But he ran and ran until he got bored of running itself, and still, his breathing was normal. He wasn’t panting, he wasn’t sweating, and his legs didn’t hurt. Thinking of it, he wasn’t hungry, either. Everything here was odd, and nothing here was as it should be.
Even more time passed, and Lucid was still alone. He was lonely. Looking back, he had been lonely ever since the townspeople had disappeared. Having lost his home and someone to rely on, he had turned to books as his only solace.
He remembered when he first came across new knowledge. It had been fascinating and surprising and fun, so much so that he had forgotten all about his loneliness or fear or despair. Math had been the most fun out of everything he had learned.
Logical operations and precise calculations always yielded exact answers. In a time when everything in his life had been uncertain and unexplainable, math had been the one thing that behaved the way Lucid had wanted it to, giving answers in situations under his control. Indeed, math was the only field in which Lucid had any control whatsoever.
“One plus one is two. Two plus two is four. Four plus four is eight… 16384 plus 16384 is 32768…”
Lucid continued to add numbers as they crossed his mind, until the calculation became too complicated to do in his head. Wasn’t there anything he could write on? He looked around just in case, but just as he expected, he saw nothing but complete darkness. With a short sigh, Lucid stubbornly decided to test his abilities and see how far he could get with doing additions in his head.
It was a game of sorts. He would call out numbers and continue adding and adding. The rule was that he had to start over from the beginning if he tripped up or took too long to answer.
At first, he struggled with five or six digit numbers, but the more he repeated them out loud, he began to simply memorize them, and he had figured out some tricks as well.
“1,073,741,824 plus 1,073,741,824 is… 2,147,483,648.”
He was now memorizing numbers well into the millions, but Lucid showed no signs of stopping. Why should he? He wasn’t hungry and he wasn’t tired. There was no way to escape this space, and there was nothing else to do but think and think with his head. So he focused on his additions, as if that was the only thing allowed in this space.
Lucid was able to add numbers over twenty digits now. This game was boring. It was just simple addition, and it was much too simple. Could he complicate it a bit?
“One times one is one, two times two is four. Four times four is sixteen… 65,536 times 65,536 is…”
What was it? He couldn’t figure out the answer, which proved that his mental math skills were skill lacking. This excited him. He now knew what he was weak at, and he could work to improve. It gave him something else to do. Until now, he was just doing it to pass the time. Now, he’d do something he needed to do. He was entertained.
More time passed, though it was impossible to tell how long it had been since he arrived.
“18,446,744,073,709,551,616 times 18,446,744,073,709,551,616 is… 34,028,236,682,093,846,343,374,607,431,768,211,456.”
The only indicator of time was how far he had gotten with his multiplications, and he had now reached 2 to the power of 128. He had repeated this hundreds if not thousands or even millions or billions of times to get to this point where he could recite these numbers without even blinking an eye. That’s how long this game had gone on, and now he wanted to play a new game. He wanted to know how much more he could do.
How much time had passed since Lucid started playing with numbers? Going by his numbers game, enough time had passed for him to master the four arithmetic operations to the point of reaching the answer faster than a calculator. Frankly, he wasn’t even sure he was doing any calculations at all. He was simply memorizing the answers and repeating them out loud over and over again. That was how much time had passed. He had multiplied all the numbers he could, and he had divided all the numbers that he could. There were answers that had over thirty decimal places, and answers that went on and on despite reaching over a hundred decimal places.
But was there anything other than arithmetics?
He thought of sequences. He made rules and applied them to group together sets of numbers. Some sets increased infinitely, and some decreased just as much,
He thought of arithmetic progressions. He could keep adding and adding forever, or he could stop at any integer he liked.
Of course, Lucid had never learned about sequences or arithmetic progressions. The concepts just came to him as he continued to play with numbers. Of course, he also had no idea what the technical terms were, such as integers or sets. But none of that mattered. He didn’t need to know technical terms to think of numbers. So think of numbers he did, over and over, and he enjoyed himself every time.
He began to play with every possible imaginable number, with all possible calculations and combinations, until…
His head began to hurt, and a groan escaped his mouth before he could stop it. It hurt so much that tears welled in his eyes. He grit his teeth and steadied his breath, but there was nothing he could do to alleviate the pain. He covered his head with his arms and rolled on the supposed ground. His breath escaped his lungs, and he suddenly couldn’t breathe anymore. It felt like this pain would last forever, for as long as he had spent in this space. He was terrified.
That’s when he woke up.
The first thing he saw when he opened his eyes was, once again, darkness. However, this time he was lying down, and there was no doubt in his mind that he was on solid ground. He blinked a few times and realized his mind was clear. His intolerable headache was also gone.
He sat up slowly and found himself in an oddly familiar place. He tried to use his magic, just to test it out, and was pleased to see his light sphere floating above his head. Just as he had thought, he was in the cave, right in front of the painting he had been admiring. As he tried to stand, the strength left his legs, and he ended up plopping down on the ground. He was starving. He felt himself going crazy from hunger.
Lucid opened his rucksack and began to eat any and everything he could get his hands on. He couldn’t afford to ration, not right now. He stuffed his face with all the food he had, and he gulped down every last drop of water. Once he had filled his stomach, he finally felt a bit better.
As he laid down to sleep, he thought about what had happened.
“What was that?”
lt;Adventure (5)gt; End.