Chapter 29 First Multiplayer Scenario 13
The surrounding army of monsters was like a low hanging cloud that was closing in on them. Since they could see it, they knew that tactics like running through them were unrealistic. A group of five level thirty players would have to pause before deciding to rush through this army, much less their group that had an average level of 6.6.
"Brother Feng… they're still moving in," Long Aomin reminded Feng Bujue, who appeared to be thinking.
"It's fine, let me think about it," Feng Bujue said. "Based on this situation, retreating into the door is the last option given to us by the game. There will be a hard boss to fight inside, and after winning it, we'll get a normal clear. Something like, 'even though the players have successfully escaped this space, Sam Montier continues to rule over the time-isolated city.'"
"That's fine. I don't want to die for no reason, but if the demons really charge at us, we should retreat behind the door," Long Aomin said.
Feng Bujue nodded. He sat down on the ground and closely studied the two keys in his hands. The army that was closing in did not seem to affect the man much. He placed his elbow on his leg and kept his head lowered. His fingers tapped his forehead lightly. Several seconds later, he slowly lifted his head, and his fingertip slid down his nose. Throughout this process, his gaze slowly moved upward until his eyes landed on the hazy moon in the sky. Suddenly, there was a glint in his eyes, and an idea appeared.
"Do you still remember what the system said before we started the scenario?" Feng Bujue said.
Wang Tanzhi looked at the army that was less than one hundred meters from them, and his breathing was getting frantic. "All it did was tell us that we're in a city, the time is night, and we're the sole survivors, didn't it?"
Feng Bujue thought back to it and said, "The second part of the introduction… Everything was normal until one night when the sun set and never rose again. The floating dark clouds covered the moon, which tried to cast its lonely light on this silent city."
He recited the statement without missing a word.
"What about it?" Long Aomin asked.
"The statement is not telling us that it is nighttime," Feng Bujue said. "It is pointing at the phenomenon of the 'cycle'. So far, have you seen any clock or machine that can tell the time?"
The mind of the four others were muddled. As the threat closed in, observable to the naked eye, they became more panicked. The closer the monsters were, the realer they became. So, it was impossible to expect them to be able to think calmly at a situation like this. Before even trying to think about it, Ms. Saddest grumbled, "Who would remember something like that‽ How is that related to our current situation?"
"The rhythm behind this scenario… the so-called cycle and the darkness… I understand it," Feng Bujue answered. "If we view the time inside this virtual world as a linear line, then the two ends of the line will extend endlessly. The line will never reach its end, and we will never be able to see its beginning.
"But for this city, the time is only a cut from an endless line. There is a definite end and beginning. The line stretches for about thirty minutes."
He stood up and gestured with his hands. "He pulled this line into a circle, connecting the beginning and the end. And this city only runs in this circle.
"Those creatures and ourselves, we don't belong to this world. We are inside the circle and not on the line. Therefore, Sam Montier cannot use his power to swallow us. He can only threaten us by pushing things on the line toward us."
Mr. Loneliest was baffled. He stared at Feng Bujue and said, "My brother! My dearest brother! I'm not good at math! Things like mathematics are three percent talent, seven percent hard work, and ninety percent destiny!"
"I'm not talking about geometry; I'm just using a circle to describe this concept." Feng Bujue continued to explain slowly.
"Brother Feng… No, Big Brother Jue! You don't need to explain this us. Really, we leave it to you to understand these things. Just tell us what we can do other than retreating behind the door!" Long Aomin became another person who referred to Feng Bujue as big brother… and he was four years older than Feng Bujue.
"Actually, there is nothing special that we need to do to recover the seal," Feng Bujue said and held the two keys in his hand. It was no different from what he had been doing earlier.
"So, you're telling us to wait?" Wang Tanzhi was almost screaming. The army was approaching; only several dozen meters were left.
"This is a test of bravery, to see if we have the guts to stand and wait until the last second." Feng Bujue even managed to laugh. "Ha ha… this system sure likes to come up with these kinds of plots that only allow you escape at the last minute."
"But we're not escaping! All you're doing is holding up the keys!" Mr. Loneliest yelled.
"At the police station, I said the puzzle of the Key of Fire is too easy. I take that back." Feng Bujue's thoughts started to jump again. "69185, it is actually another hint. If you combine it with the element of time, everything will be clear as day."
"Brother Jue… Is this really the time…"
Before Long Aomin finished, Feng Bujue cut him off. "The minute hand of the clock starts to turn clockwise from the number six, then it reaches nine; this is fifteen minutes. Then, from nine to one, that'll be twenty minutes. From one to eight is thirty-five minutes. Finally, from eight to five is forty-five minutes."
He kept the keys elevated. "Under the circumstance where the minute hand doesn't turn back or the time doesn't rewind, 69185, it takes 115 minutes overall, and we've been in the scenario for…"
He looked at the monsters that had their claws lashing and jaws open, but he said calmly, "If my calculation is not wrong, it is now, the time has come…"
The light from the keys interrupted him, shooting up into the sky. Even the air around them felt fresher. The two keys swirled around as they rose into the air. They stuck into the missing parts of the door, and the pattern on the seals lit up. The seals of Fire and Wood were reactivated. The pentagon reappeared, and the door started to slowly close.
The monsters reacted strangely, and they hissed like they were dying. Without waiting for a signal, they dispersed at a speed that was much faster than when they gathered. They charged away from the plaza, heedless of the direction.
"What… what is happening?" Long Aomin had already his shield raised. He was ready to start a war, but to his surprise, in a short amount of time, things had changed so completely. The other three's minds seemed to have short-circuited. They had been angered by the serenity Feng Bujue showed when they were pressed by the despair due to the army, but at that moment, they did not know what to say. Well, they could not be blamed, the joy from surviving certain death would need some time before it exploded.
"You need to bring the keys to the door, and at the 115th minute, the seal will reactivate. That's all," Feng Bujue explained. "Regarding the monsters, it's even simpler. The system purposely arranged for them to get as close to the door as possible before the time lined up, to force us to escape into the door. The fact that they were moving so slowly was obviously to create a dramatic effect, to create pressure."
"If collecting the keys is the trigger for the event of the monsters surrounding us," Wang Tanzhi asked, "then, what if we came sooner or later?"
"Completing that quest earlier than we did is very difficult. The scenario is arranged based on the team's overall ability. I believe we've done a wonderful job already; we were only several minutes off the time. Don't forget, we happened to enter the police station first before we found the quest. We were spared the need to retrace our steps; if we did not, the few minutes would have been used there. Then, we were held off for a while at the shopping complex.
"If we found the flashlights and crawled into the hole directly without going to search for weapons, we might be faster. But we took less than a minute to deal with the illusion, so we made up lost time then.
"In any case, with the gain and loss of time, the limit set by the system hasn't changed. If we reached here earlier with the two keys, the same event would happen, but if we were late… naturally we would have missed the time for the seal to activate, and in the end, we'd be forced to go through the door."
"Then, what happens now? We've cleared the mission?" Long Aomin said. "How come there's no system notification?"
"Current quest completed, main quest…" Right then, the system audio appeared, but to everyone's surprise, the system did not finish.
"Ants from another world, do you know what you've done?" This sentence entered the group's mind. It cut off the system, and the voice that spoke was the whispering that had appeared during the third darkness.
Feng Bujue opened the menu to look. Even though the system did not finish, there was a tick next to the quest who asked them to 'recover the seal', and a new quest had appeared—'Survive through Sam Montier's assault'.
"Do you see the new mission?" Feng Bujue sounded like he thought this was no biggie.
"The boss actually has a corporeal from?" Wang Tanzhi gasped.
"Based on my speculation, Sam Montier doesn't have a real form, or rather, based on his setting, his real existence persists in a much higher dimension, so if he wants to appear before us, he needs to adapt into a material that the dimension that we're in can perceive," Feng Bujue replied. "Just like how Galactus has the form of a purple uncle-like pervert, if Sam Montier wants to deal with us personally, he has to adapt a corporeal form. Only then will he be able to deal physical damage to us."
"Can you speak human please?" Wang Tanzhi sighed.
"Look, just like that…" Feng Bujue suddenly raised his finger to point at something around the plaza.
Right then, the cloud disappeared, and the moon showered its glorious glow down on the rocky surface of the plaza. The group followed his finger, and they saw, on the ground, a circular shadow around five meters in diameter. It was a shadow that was curiously thick. It looked more like an abyss that could even suck in the light.