The 7 party members immediately gagged out of disgust and repulsion. The rotten stench stinks into the high heaven for goodness sake. Sachi and Shion should be congratulated for not fainting immediately. Even Wu Yan is pale from smelling this foul odor.
Wu Yan cursed.
He immediately turned off the smell sensation in his system. The others did the same thing as they couldn’t deal with this smell. They stopped hurling in disgust when they closed this setting.
“Where are we?…”
Sachi said with a slightly pale look on her face.
“What an awful place…”
This place was already creepy enough with the dim lights. The line of sight is also very terrible here. It’s hard to say where anyone’s heading under the poor lighting conditions. They were initially confused when they arrived because they thought the darkness is due to their uninitiated visual senses.
Wu Yan patted his chest and he swapped his casual clothes for his battle gear. He looked in front of him and he quickly gave up on that thought. He opened his map.
Wu Yan yelled out loud.
“There are no indicators on the map at all?”
“No indicators, that means…”
The others quickly verified that by looking at their own maps. They only saw a blank field of darkness.
“What’s going on?…”
Souta looked at his map.
“Are we in the labyrinth already?”
Excluding the case where the players are inside a maze, they can generally tell their locations by taking a look at the map outside of the labyrinths. Without indicators or legends, it would be hard to locate towns in such a large gaming environment.
“No, we aren’t in the maze…”
Wu Yan scanned his surroundings.
“You can’t teleport into the maze with crystals. We should still be somewhere outside in the fields.”
A maze is a place designed for players to explore on their own. If someone can teleport inside a specific area of the maze, that would defeat the purpose of exploring every nook and cranny.
Of course, one can still use escape crystal to run away from the maze. As long as they are not in an Anti-Crystal Zone, that is.
On that matter, Wu Yan brought out a teleport crystal. As expected, the use button is grayed out which means they can’t use crystals to teleport out of this place.
“An Anti-crystal zone…”
The other members’ expression darkened once more.
Sachi got closer to Wu Yan out of fear. Sachi thanked herself for bringing this quest up in front of Wu Yan. If she arrived at this kind of place with her guild without him…
Sachi started trembling when she thought about the worst-case scenario.
Wu Yan used his enhanced visual perception to determine their current location.
They are currently standing at the center of a crossroads, there are pathways in front, behind, and to his sides. The paths looked like they went on forever. The walls are dark and sticky with a black paint-like substance that emitted a foul-smelling stench of rotting objects. The nauseating smell must have been from the walls around them.
Sachi asked Wu Yan.
“What do we do now?”
They are inside an Anti-Crystal Zone, this also looked like a maze out in the fields where the map function failed to work. Moonlit Black Cats are woefully unprepared for this kind of operating situation.
“How… How do we get out from here? I don’t see any exits or anything…”
Shion looked around.
Wait, how do we get out?
Shion brought up a very important subject.
Crystals couldn’t be used, the map is blank, and there are only winding pathways around them, how do they escape from this place?
Sachi looked at Shion with a blank expression. She’s panicking deep inside. It’s bad enough they are stuck inside a death game. If someone told her they have to spend the rest of their days inside this empty dungeon without seeing the light of day, she’s definitely going to collapse from stress.
As she clenched her fists, she felt a hard sensation within one of her palms. She looked at the object and she cried out in shock.
“The teleportation crystal’s still here!”
They turned their attention towards the crystal in question.
“What is this crystal?”
Wu Yan expressed his confusion out loud.
“It didn’t disappear after one use and it can also transfer the whole party, with more of these crystals all the players will have a better time clearing this game…”
Sachi raised the crystal and she appeared flabbergasted.
“I can trade the teleportation crystal now…”
Wu Yan got it from the trading window Sachi offered to him and he clicked the gray “Use” button on the item window. Nothing happened.
A flash of inspiration hit Wu Yan.
“Let us out of here!”
The crystal didn’t respond…
“Pineapple and jackfruit!” (Apparently a song by Xie Na)
“Ma me Ma me Hong!” (Buddhist mantra)
“Little rabbit, please open the door pretty please…”
“Open up! I am gonna smash you if you don’t!”
Wu Yan tussled with the crystal. The other Black Cats watched him in a stunned state.
Is this the same guy that took down a floor boss on his own?
“We aren’t stuck here forever, right?…”
Shion awkwardly laughed. She voiced the same question on everyone’s mind.
“I don’t think so.”
Wu Yan put down the crystal and he stared at the dark walls surrounding them.
“There are no certain-kill settings inside SAO. I don’t think they would design a dungeon that players can’t escape from. There are roads here, see? We can just explore them…”
The guild members nodded because that’s the only option here.
Wu Yan hesitated when it came to choosing one of the four paths here. He chose the path in front of him and the others tagged along.
“Stay on your toes, there might be monsters lurking around here…”
Wu Yan reminded them. They nodded in affirmation. They are swimming in deep water now, they should listen to Wu Yan if they wanted to come out of this in one piece.
The seven of them stopped all idle chat. The mood was very tense and heavy. Shion and Sachi walked while holding hands, kinda like girls who are braving a haunted house. They looked very unsettled as if they are preparing themselves for a monster to pop out of nowhere to scare them.
It didn’t take them long to stumble upon another crossroads with three paths in front of them. Wu Yan chose the middle route and again, they found another crossroads. Wu Yan continued along with his pattern of choosing the middle path or the one in front of him.
The paths weren’t linear and the winding paths completely disoriented them. The weird forks and misleading routes started making them dizzy as a sense of unease started setting in.
Don’t me this goes on forever…
Fortunately for them, the path soon came to an end. However, there is no reason to celebrate because it’s a dead end.
“We… we aren’t going to be stuck in this hellhole, right?”
Shion started getting scared, Sachi hugged her to calm her down.
“Shion, just stop…”
Sachi is also afraid…
“I hope not…’
Souta and his other guild members gulped in unison. Wu Yan said nothing as he turned around to walk back where they came from. They continued fumbling around before they reached a crossroads. He stared at the crossroads in silence.
He lost track of where he came from…
“No monsters, no traps, only a confusing maze here…”
Wu Yan looked at the ceiling of the pathways here.
“We are in trouble now…”