Mok Shing Tsit Aquila

Tales from the Mogao Grottoes

It was one peaceful morning at the British museum, the relics retrieval team was discussing inside the pantry, Karl heard from the curator that the Mogao caves were poorly damaged by bombs after the World War III, so are the dinosaur fossil spots sites nearby. Karl was an experienced explorer and dinosaur bone collector, he travelled across the globe and managed to escape the worst chaos including WW3. His eyes immediately lit up as the manager said they needed to send volunteers over to save the sites promptly. Karl was determined to go and strongly believed that the bombs dropped during the war might have revealed a fossil or two. Mogao caves? Why does that name sound so familiar? That's it! His childhood friend’s grandfather who studied the history of those caves, what was the name again? Chang Li, that’s it! Chang Li happened to be a descendant of the “Guardians of the Mogao Caves”. He knew Chang Li was the only person he needed. When the two finally met again, both knew they were destined to fulfil this mission. In two days, the team was all primed and ready to set out. The expedition team travelled for months, by train, by sea and by camels, just like the ancient traders. Along the way, Karl and Chang Li had lots to catch up, they talked about their good old times and had endless debates on who was the worst teacher, which club was the most popular, what was the best school lunch, who was the most popular old boy and what was the cruellest way to prank the matron.

The two finally arrived, the magnificence of the caves and the abundances of artwork made their jaws drop. The curator was not lying, lots of caves had survived the bombs. To Karl’s delight, there were also dinosaur remains. As they explored the caves one by one, there were countless artwork depicting gods from all religions, made by thousands upon thousands of men, which took centuries to build. They first walked into Cave 285, one of the earliest built caves. There were 3 partially damaged Buddha statues in meditating posts and a skeleton inside a nearby chamber; who might have been a monk that passed away while meditating or a deceased body from the war. Karl examined the caves one by one as Li admired countless paintings engraved on both sides of the endless corridors. All of a sudden, a spectral voice spoke to them that made their hair stand up. Karl froze for a second but Li was confused as he found that voice familiar. Karl snapped him back as they headed to the next cave. Soon they entered Cave 158, they found a gigantic Buddha statue laying sideways on a long bed of rock. There was also another Buddha statue in a regular standing posture, the remaining walls were filled with different drawings of the Buddha.

Chang Li was desperate to find Cave 17, the library cave and hopefully reveal secrets within it. However, meandering through the boundless historical site itself was a challenge, due to extreme weathers in the middle of the desert. The two felt hopeless after months of exploration until one day, Chang’s grandmother, Shana appeared in his dream and showed him a hint of where to find the Library Cave. This time, they nailed it. Karl picked up a random scroll on the floor and opened it up. He was shocked to find out that it was the first book ever printed in history. The marvellous place was filled with artifacts and scripts written in many languages. The pair filled their backpacks as much as they could. All of a sudden, they felt a severe ground movement, the walls and ceilings were torn apart, the only ray of light inside the cave was blocked by shattered rocks. The boys starved for 3 days and felt almost hopeless because there was just no way of getting out. Suddenly, a voice spoke to Li, he immediately knew his grandmother Shana and great grandfather Shu Hong were trying to save their lives one more time. Along the way, they picked up historic artifacts which were extremely valuable as the war had destroyed most traces of humanity. The expedition was a great success, the pair only brought back treasures in quantity of the tip of an iceberg and still made a fortune. Several months later, the final batch of fossils that Karl retrieved were delivered to the museum. Karl was delighted to learn that his fossils belonged to a new species, he was proud to name it Exelnoomoosoraus. Years later, Li and Karl were catching up at a local coffee shop, even though it had been years, they still could not hide the grin on their faces. They could never get enough of the Mogao and hungered for more treasures. After a long debate, the two decided that the best way to preserve the caves was to leave them untouched and let history uncover itself. They nodded with gratification and continued to take sips of their coffee, as they lie in tranquillity knowing that the mythical Mogao Caves will forever remain safe.

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