This was the first sentence that came to Evan's mind after he opened his eyes.
Yeah, you shouldn't, but by the time you realized this, it was too late.
Another voice... maybe his own, maybe someone else's (or something else's) then continued in his head.
Yes, everything was too late.
Evan found himself in the room.
Of course, he wasn’t referring to his harsh but reassuring room in the mage's tower.
It was another "room," nestled in his imagination, a room located at the far end of the starry sky—a room that he had never thought of returning to after he had been frightened out of his wits by that bizarre visitor, and fled, disconcerted.
But obviously, the current Evan had no power over his comings and goings.
The visitor in the room forced Evan to come back here again in a mysterious way.
During the time when Evan had been away, his visitor (the guest who had always made tireless thudding noises) had not rested and had made some changes to Evan's room quite graciously.
To be precise, only a very small part of Evan's room managed to weakly retain its original appearance.
Evan saw the furnishings he had originally set up. His deceased former mentor's favorite hook was still embedded in the cold brick wall.
The knight novel on his bookshelf was still spread out on the page that Evan had left off.
However, the space that the rest of the room took up had become bizarrely twisted.
The wall was skewed, and the solid stone bricks melted like heated butter into a light gray slime, which continued to flow downward.
In the twisted gaps between the brick walls, something undulated regularly.
Evan glanced at the thing cautiously: the surface of the thing was covered with a thick layer of mucus, which made it almost impossible for others to see its color. However, he did not miss the densely undulating spots beneath that translucent mucus.
When Evan walked around, the dots moved with a certain rhythm, aiming straight at the weak mage apprentice in the room.
It was a dense patch of eyes.
Goosebumps rose on Evan’s skin from what he’d discovered, and he couldn't help but take a step back. However, it was precisely because of this that something wet and cold brushed past the back of his neck.
Evan nearly screamed, but when he turned around in shock, he found that there was nothing behind him.
Even the study room of his former mentor that he’d conjured in his mind had disappeared, replaced by a long corridor—Evan didn't even know when he had got here.
He was in a daze.
Rationally speaking, he felt as if he had only spent a moment to turn his head, but deep in his heart, there was always a voice whispering...
Was it true that only a moment had passed?
Time and memory had become a blurry, murky concept, like the darkness at the depths of the long corridor.
As Evan looked back from his position, all he could see was the scarlet carpet and stone wall extending infinitely into the darkness in the distance.
Evan only looked at it for a short while before he quickly withdrew his gaze. He always felt that in the depths of the darkness, there was something that he didn't dare to touch, or even think about, spying on him.
Red, yellow, murky light.
Panting, Evan held his forehead and staggered forward, although he didn't know where he could go.
After a while, the wall of the corridor changed.
Evan spotted the occasional picture frame.
There were also some specimen containers that seemed to be embedded in the wall.
They appeared in Evan's field of vision in a chaotic manner.
The colors of those photo frames were bright and weird, like the art of an extremely skilled but completely insane painter had devoted their all to draw.
Evan couldn't help pausing for a moment in front of one of the paintings. The scene on the canvas seemed familiar, and Evan felt that it could be the poor farmhouse where he had lived before his talent as a mage had been unearthed.
He recognized the messy fence, and porch in front of the cottage that was crooked from disrepair. In the shadow cast by the porch, a small dog squatted there with its tongue out and its eyes wide open.
Evan stared at the puppy, and murmured a word.
That was the dog's name—for Goddess of Magic's sake, that dog should have died when Evan was two or three, and he shouldn't have remembered the name of an insignificant puppy, but that word automatically jumped into Evan's mind.
And when Evan called out the puppy's name, the paint on the canvas seemed to squirm, and the dog's tail seemed to be shaking slightly. But when Evan took a closer look, the puppy was just two or three dots of paint scattered randomly on the rough canvas.
The feeling of dizziness emerged again.
Every spot of paint on the canvas seemed to be wriggling like some brightly colored mollusk.
Evan suddenly felt a strange shudder. He could feel the stare once more, but this time, it came not from the ends of the corridor, but from the canvas in front of him.
Next to the dark porch, the artist had drawn a long, skewed window. Only darkness could be seen within, save for two spots of dust that seemed to have fallen accidentally on the uneven surface of the paint.
It looked like a reflection in someone's eye.
Someone—something—was staring at Evan behind that window.
It looked very similar to Evan's former sea gnome roommate.
In a trance, Evan even heard a faint voice.
You would like it here...
Evan abruptly took two steps back. The painting returned to normal again.
He turned his head away without hesitation. Passing the painting by, he started to run forward wildly.
In the specimen containers inlaid on the stone walls on both sides, Evan also saw many things that had appeared in his life.
He saw a butterfly he had chased as a child—perched on a delicate flowering branch in a glass vessel.
It was the same pale blue color as his faint memories, but... something was twisted.
The butterfly's wings fluttered slightly, and twisted lines were reflected on the radiant scale powder.
Evan felt as if his heart was about to jump out of his throat in the next second, and even he himself couldn't explain why he was so terrified right now.
It was just a cursory glance, and Evan already had the answer in his heart. Those paintings—those specimens—should all be things he had encountered before, but similarly, they were also distorted and mutated in the same way.
Evan was so scared that he wanted to vomit.
The carpet laid on the floor had become thick, sticky, and wet at some point.
Before, it still vaguely felt like carpet, but Evan soon found himself unknowingly stepping on a patch of wet red moss instead.
Each step of his would cause the moss to release a squelching noise, and some translucent red liquid would ooze out.
Evan didn't know if he had gone completely mad, but he could still hear that suffocating and terrifying friction sound.
At the same time, the wall of the corridor undulated regularly.
Something resembling a tentacle... or rather a vine, hung down from the high dome.
They swayed softly like water plants in the windless corridor. Those damned tentacles were a sickeningly brilliant color, and the translucent surface looked like an oil film had been applied to it. The metallic smell in the air was so strong that Evan could hardly breathe.
Evan realized that his perception of time and space had been infinitely distorted.
He ran wildly in the corridor, but he didn't feel tired, and he didn't know how long he had been trapped here—it seemed to be mere moments, but it also seemed like hundreds of millions of years had passed.
The carpet was getting wetter and thick.
Occasionally, Evan felt that when he stepped on it, his skin was close to fusing with the wet and sticky moss.
Often times, Evan would be able to detect a rhythm, cold yet scorching, coming from a deep place under the ground.
Unknowingly, the corridor turned into a long and narrow circular tunnel.
The carpets and stone walls had completely disappeared, and even the weird paintings and specimens that pressurized him were gone.
Various markings emerged on the surface of the wet, cold, and dark-red tunnel walls, which resembled reptilian skin.
The edges of the black dots were inlaid with brilliant red and yellow stripes.
Evan didn't dare to look at them, because he always felt that the spots were staring at him.
The light became very dim... The tentacles hanging from the ceiling became denser, and they emitted dark green fluorescence like will-o'-the-wisps in a cemetery, while the tips of the soft tentacles branched out like corals as thin white tentacles grew.
When Evan passed by them, those tentacles gently stroked Evan's hair and cheeks like the fingers of dying men.
Some of them even stubbornly slithered past Evan’s ears and nostrils before slowly penetrating into his body.
The smell of metal now had an indescribably sweet aroma.
All this should have terrified Evan, but the reality was that he had no intention of resisting the tentacles that tried to penetrate his body.
Evan suspected that he currently looked like the drunks who were cast aside at the back of an alley. He staggered violently on his feet, and even basic balance eluded him, for what he had feared not too long ago (or too long ago) had come to pass — part of him seemed to have fused with the long corridors.
The rhythm that penetrated from the depths of the corridor unknowingly resonated with Evan's heartbeat.
After realizing that he had unconsciously stopped his steps, Evan finally broke down.
He hadn’t just stopped walking.
At some point in time, he had even unknowingly opened his arms wide, as if he wanted to hug something bizarre. Step by step, he walked towards the inner wall of the waterway.
The inner walls of this waterway had already become moist, soft, and dark red like the internal organs of an animal. Its surface was covered with tangled nerves and blood vessels, as well as some tumorous growths.
Evan stretched out his hand and directly tore off the translucent film covering the tumors, and he was not surprised to find eyeballs clustered together like grapes beneath them.
“He” had always been watching him.