The next floor was, once again, unexpected. Everything was silent, calm, immobile, as if awaiting. It was a museum. The walls were painted in a neutral red. Here and there, paintings were hung. In the middle of each room, marble sculptures were displayed. The glass ceiling showed a starry night.
Melissa exhaled a breath she had been holding without noticing. They advanced, being careful not to make a noise.
The first thing Melissa noticed, was that all of the paintings and sculptures were of people. Wether they were busts, full length detailed bodies, scenes with lots of people, or abstract paintings where only the idea of a human body was reflected, all of them were people
The second thing Jhin noticed, was that none of the works were preexisting ones. They had a bit of knowledge of art, but they couldn't recognize any of these. The paintings also did not have cards with the author and the name of the works on them.
And, lastly, none of these made sense. Very interpretative works were displayed next to extremely detailed and classic rural scenes, blocks of marble with only very few bits removed to give a shadow of a body were standing next to sculptures so detailed you had to look closely to see that it wasn't a real body.
Finding the elevator was no trouble. But in front of it, a large magic circle had been painted in red on the ground. Hovering above it, a paintbrush and a chisel were talking together.
"So, last time it didn't work because this part of the circle was wrong" said the chisel, hovering over some of the runes. "It's supposed to be what puts the soul in the body, but this doesn't have a way to indicate the location of the body."
"Yes, because then we'd have to change the circle for each body shape. Instead i make use of a heart, and put the soul near it, using this heart finder fonction."
"I see, but heart finder requires emotions to be felt during transplant. That's the- Hold on. We have a visitor." The chisel turned to face Melissa and Jhin.
"Ah, so did one of the protoypes function ? Maybe the soul needed more time to bind to the material." remarked the paintbrush. It started to hover around the duo.
"No, wait. I don't remember these two sculptures. Are they from above ? new arrivants ?"
"Uhm." thoughtfully said Jhin, "We are from the surface, yes. What's... this ?" he said, pointing to the circle behind.
"Ah, from the surface. Well maybe we could use their-" started the chisel, disregarding Jhin's question.
"Don't even think about it !" cut the brush, "We were doing that to find a human, and finally we have not one but two of them. And, maybe theyll cooperate more than the five from before."
"Five from before ? do you mean A team ?" asked Melissa.
"Well anyway it doesn't hurt to ask." continued the chisel, again ignoring Melissa.
"You two, could you make us a favor ?" asked the brush. "You probably know about the boss, yes ? Of course you do. Well, in any case, the boss made this place to trap humans, and take their humanity away.
"You probably also know about the tribes. Humans, who were not created by the Argillacreantis, hold a lot more potential than any other tribe.
"The boss fears them for that reason, but they found that by removing the humanity from humans, and thus 'recreating' them into another tribe would limit their potential.
"Which, well worked. All of the locals you've encountered were previous humans. They still hold some power, and it even awoke it in some, but that power is limited.
"You however" it pointed to Melissa, "have done nothing but accrue your power. It's clear that the effect of the mall has no power over you.
"So we ask you this : please stop the boss in their plan."
Team B took some time to think about all that. It did explain a lot, but they were not sure how much they believed it. At least some part of it was true, at least, that they were sure of.
"It is, after all, why we came to this mall." answered Melissa.
"Good, good." Silently, the chisel and the paintbrush stepped aside. "At long last we can simply stop and wait for the end." They dropped to the ground, lifeless.
Jhin and Melissa opened the elevator door.
But inside, they didn't find the usual elevator. Instead, a blinding golden light shot out of the doors before they even finished opening. Almost instantly, the ground, the floor and the ceiling were covered in black and white stripes, similar to the fringe of wings.
A strong, awe abiding voice commanded, "YOU WHO GO AGAINST THE HOLY ORDER, REPENT OR DISAPPEAR TO OBLIVION"
The light subsided, or rather enveloped the whole room, emanating from every surface. Where previously was the elevator, a voluminous eye nested in a spiral was embedded within the wall itself.
"TO FOLLOWERS OUR HANDS BRING JOY, TO SINNERS OUR HANDS BRING MISERY", the angel declared, "THE SUM OF YOUR ACTION LEADS NO DOUBT AS TO THE NATURE OF YOUR GIFT"
Jhin and Melissa took a combative stance. They attacked, with all their might, but the angel was too strong. In a single flashing light, in a single ray of gold, they were sent flying back.
Suddenly, a large tremor was heard, shaking the room. Then another, and another. And suddenly the wall opposite to the angel exploded.
Coming from it was the cashier. Colorful circular constructs surrounded them. "It seems I'm here just in time." They flung another construct toward the angel and it burst in a colorful explosion.
The angel fled.