Jon lifted the battered leather cover of the giant book, and the pages fell open to the most worn page of them all. Jon tapped his finger on the page, gazing wistfully at the detail of the design.
"How could I have let you slip away?" he asked of the drawing. "I almost had you in my grip."
May entered the old study, coming up behind Jon with a smile and placing her hands on his shoulders where he sat at the table. "Still gazing at that key?" she asked.
"Yes," Jon said. "If Ron had realized how powerful the key really was, he would not have relied on Don to get it for him. Of course, if Don had gotten it, we may all have been doomed."
"Because he also has the button," May said.
Jon's eyebrows snapped together and he turned in his chair, letting May's hands slip from his shoulders. He gave her a close look. "How did you know about the button?" asked Jon curiously. A flicker of arrogant glee came to his eyes as he watched the expression of his beloved.
May smiled. "I was there," she said.
Jon frowned. "How were you there? They would have seen you."
May smiled again, and this time Jon couldn't help smiling along though he had no clue what secret was kept behind those shining eyes. "I was disguised," May said. "And besides, I was too quick for them to notice me until it was too late."
"I'd heard all I'd needed to hear. Don and Cynthia have the button but not the key."
Jon nodded. "Yes. So you heard them. But how did you know what the button does?"
She faltered a moment and then said, "I took a peek in your mighty book there." She pointed to the book on the table before Jon.
Jon gave her pleased look. "Well, you are a sly one. Any more secrets behind your innocent eyes?"
May smiled and let one graceful hand pass along the features of Jon's face. She shook her head as she moved in for a kiss.
Jon gave in and sought no more secrets from her.
Don and Cynthia walked the long aisle with shifty glares to either side. The animal masks were not at all lifeless. They gleamed, and glared, and smirked, and watched Don and Cynthia's every move.
Finally Don stopped. "Someone has been here in the past couple of days, I'm sure," he said.
Cynthia stooped down beside the footprints in the dust and nodded. "Yes," was all she said.
They soon left the aisle and passed now into a much different room. This one was painted a shining blue and was covered in the metallic gleam of weaponry. Don stared. Cynthia gasped.
The walls were covered in guns, artillery, and ammunition. A line of words went the length of the walls, repeating over and over in a circle around the room.
POWER FOR THE WAR. POWER FOR THE WAR. POWER FOR...
Don shivered. "If someone was here recently, I sure hope they haven't found their way back to the Realm."
Cynthia shivered. "Why would there even be such a room?"
Don didn't reply: he was walking towards the room beyond. Soon though, he did speak, and it was in the tones of wonder. "Cynthia, come look at this," he said.
The following room was covered in more writing, and on the far wall was a single door. The door was gleaming silver, shaped like a puzzle piece, and covered in etches and grooves like a metallic circuit board. It had no handle, but there was a single keyhole in its center.
Don paced towards the keyhole while Cynthia regarded the writing.
The final room is everywhere at once.
Who will sit the throne of observation first?
The war WILL be witnessed, but acted upon only by the righteous.
A final lock and a final key, they fight for it.
THE WAR IS A TEST.
THE TRAITOR WAS HERE.
The two soon found themselves standing together in the center of the room gazing at the writing with a growing fear.
"I don't like this place," Cynthia whispered.
Don put his arm around her though he was just as scared. "Don't be afraid. Come: let's go back to the animal room."
They returned to the animal room, but Cynthia remained fearful of the masks. She sat down and made eye-contact with one of the masks. Dread seeped into her.
Jon too had just made a dreadful eye-contact with a mask. This one was a red ant-eater mask, and the gun just below it was held in a steady grip.
"How did you get in here?" demanded Jon, holding the sacred book beneath the table.
The stranger did not respond but took a step closer. The head slanted to the side.
"The doors were locked!" cried Jon. "Did May let you in?"
The figure stopped. Then it nodded once.
"Because you're getting too close to solving the mystery," said May.