Chapter 20: Underground city
“My lady shall we enter the mansion,” Katarina inquired.
Sophie was unsure of what direction to travel so she confidently gestured for her bodyguards to lead the way. Jack nodded and walked towards the shack in the distance with Sophie following swiftly behind him.
The shack’s outer appearance was very unassuming and seemed to be made of plain wooden planks arranged in the style of a simple hut. The trio then entered the main entrance and a blinding green light swept over them.
“Scanning three biological lifeforms,” a robotic voice sounded out.
“Recognised…. Jack Napier level two personnel”
“Recognised…. Katarina Suersa level two personnel”
“Recognised…. Sophie Peterlor alpha level personnel”
“Transport to inner level granted!”
The room inside the hut began to shake violently and Sophie held on to the side of the walls, trying desperately not to throw up. Katarina and Jack just sat down cross legged and cycled their qi to use a movement technique to lock their feet in place.
With a loud hissing noise, three holes opened up in the floor and Jack stepped into one and promptly disappeared. Sophie stared wide eyed in shock as Katarina smiled at her and did the same with a small wink before she vanished.
“Do I enter as well?” Sophie muttered.
She had always been slightly claustrophobic, and the thought was squeezing into this small underground hole seemed like a daunting task.
Taking a couple of deep breaths, she closed her eyes and stepped into the last hole.
Sophie had her eyes closed and had the sensation of falling down a slide, there were twists and turns constantly present which made her stomach feel quite upset but she managed to avoid hurling in the tunnel.
With a dull thud, her feet landed on solid ground and Sophie reluctantly opened her eyes and was amazed at the sight before her.
It was a complete underground city!
Tall buildings reached for the heavens with small hover cars zipping between them just like the structures in the capitol. Despite being underground, there were artificial lights everywhere which covered her body warmly with a gently glow.
She quickly found her bodyguards next to the hole she had exited from and held Katarina’s hand tightly as they wandered around this strange place. Sophie could not tear herself away from looking at the city around them but soon noticed something strange.
“Where are all the people?” she asked.
There were plenty of signs of life, but Sophie had yet to meet a single person on the street, the busy hover cars were carrying packages in their backseat but no drivers could be seen.
“Ah my lady, we have actually expanded the number of biological workers to about two hundred recently, but they mainly stay in the manor. All the grunt work is done by robots and artificial intelligence drones,” Jack explained.
Sophie nodded in understanding but sighed slightly in her heart.
No wonder life was so tough for ordinary people in these times. If you did not have the cultivation talent to fight in the army, you were essentially useless. Most of the jobs were fully automated and the artificial intelligence could have a much high production rate than what humans were capable of producing.
It was an eerie experience to walk through a busy city, but it seemed hollow and empty at the same time. Fortunately, they arrived at the entrance of a sixty-floor tall skyscraper which was the tallest building in the city after only ten minutes of walking.
Sophie walked through the entrance and was greeted by a large group of men and women in uniform bowing down to her.
“Welcome back my lady!”
An elderly man with a friendly look approached them and spoke,
“The duke has requested your presence in the study immediately upon your arrival. Allow me to escort you there young miss.”
The two bodyguards motioned to follow Sophie, but a stern glint appeared in the old man’s eye which halted their tracks.
“The lord has requested the meeting to be private.”
“Yes, head butler,” Katarina dutifully replied.
Sophie saw them off with a small wave and followed the head butler to the study room. The study room was the private place of the duke to relax and was located on the thirtieth floor.
There was fortunately a glass elevator at the end of the reception room, so Sophie quietly stood in the elevator while travelling upward.
The head butler had not said a word since they had left the first floor and quietly gestured to Sophie to follow him into the corridor once the elevator arrived. The thirtieth floor was just one long corridor leading to a single room at the end.
Portraits of the ancestors of the Peterlor family lined the walls giving the floor an air of solemnity. The head butler knocked on the door three times before a gruff voice sounded from within,
The head butler bowed and gestured for Sophie to enter and then quickly disappeared to an unknown place. Sophie strolled into the room and was comforted by the smell of old books. The study was not extravagant or big but was rather quite humble.
The walls were surrounded by bookshelf containing numerous rows of titles that Sophie had never seen before. In fact, many of the books appeared not to be in languages she had learnt.
“My dear daughter… am I not as interesting as some dusty old books?” a grumpy voice sounded out from the man before her.
Sophie looked up to see a very handsome middle- aged man trying hard to suppress his laughter and froze up. This was the first time she had seen the original host’s dad, so she scanned her mind for the proper etiquette and gave a half bow.
“I greet the Duke of Peterlor,” she spoke softly.
“Very good! You have indeed remembered the appropriate greeting for introducing yourself to a high noble… but you seem to have forgotten one important detail,” the duke said with a smile.
Sophie looked through her memories but could not recall remembering any part of the protocol she missed.
“Forgive me Lord Peterlor… my training is still lacking I do not know how to improve.”
The duke wore a somber look of disappointment which caused anxiety to swell up in Sophie but just as she was about to apologise again, he spoke.
“That was the perfect curtsy and tone to take when talking to a Duke…. but your old man doesn’t care about all that!”
Before she could react, her father scooped her up and began to twirl around the room with happy laughter bursting out of his chest.
“I missed you my precious princess.”