While they were clearing the stack of firewood above the cellar door as fast as they can, Sword Demon, who was moving the logs, said, “No one has moved them. I remember how it looked when we first stacked them.”
Gu Fei stared at him. “We’ve only left not too long ago…”
“Can’t afford to be careless,” Sword Demon answered earnestly.
“Okay. Unlock it!” There was nothing wrong with being earnest, so Gu Fei did not say anything more. All he did was gesture for Svelte Dancer to begin her work with the lock.
It was time for the lockpicker, Svelte Dancer, that had come all the way over to show off her skill, to get to work. Her hand shot out and pushed Gu Fei to the side as she proudly said, “Make way. I’ll get it open.” That air of confidence she was showing made it seem as if she was here to defuse a timed bomb instead of picking the lock.
Gu Fei and Sword Demon respectfully stood to either side respectively as they leaned slightly forward, ready to admire the wondrousness of the Lockpicking skill in action. In the end, the process they witnessed was simple; Svelte Dancer reached into her dimensional pocket and pulled out a key, which looked like a tool for opening a can of luncheon meat, and fit it right into the keyhole of the rusted iron lock. Following this, they heard the lock unlatching and getting opened.
“Amazing!” Gu Fei and Sword Demon stuck out their thumbs toward the lady, even as they came forward in hopes of having a look at that magical can-opener key.
“What are the either of you looking at me for?! It’s useless if you don’t have the skill.” Svelte Dancer rolled her eyes at the two men.
The two men coughed. Sword Demon went ahead and pulled open the cellar trap door with great effort.
“D*mn, yet another underground passage…” Gu Fei saw the stairs leading down and the murky darkness beyond with a glance and was instantly reminded of that secret passageway he had uncovered back in Oolong Cave as the two looked similar.
“I wonder what’s inside?” Svelte Dancer was a little excited.
“Could this be a way to enter the Government City Hall?” Gu Fei wondered aloud. If this was truly the case, that would really be rather disappointing.
“Perhaps it’s a way out of the backyard?” Sword Demon suggested something even more disappointing.
“Let’s hurry and take a look,” Svelte Dancer urged.
Thus, Gu Fei searched through his pocket and took out a torch. Sword Demon and Svelte Dancer stared at him incredulously as he did so, for even though it was a very common item, not many people would have it in their possession.
“It’s the common practice in this area,” Gu Fei quickly explained. He was given this torch after joining their gang of nine from before.
With the torch lit, Gu Fei peered into the cellar. It was not particularly deep, so he began climbing down the stairs with Svelte Dancer and Sword Demon in tow.
The passageway was extremely humid, giving off a revolting smell, which caused the three to cover their noses even as they forged ahead.
“Looks like it’s sloping downward,” Sword Demon said.
“Mmhmmm…” Gu Fei and Svelte Dancer hummed in agreement, not wishing to remove their hands or open their mouths.
The passageway slowly grew wider as they went on, seemingly spiraling down. Finally, Gu Fei saw a light ahead, just like what he would see in a distant exit. However, with how deep below the ground this potential exit was, it seemed that this passageway was neither leading them into the Government City Hall or out of the courtyard. This was probably where a secret was hidden.
“An exit! It’s an exit!” Svelte Dancer had no wish to open her mouth, so she made use of the messaging system and tugging at Gu Fei’s clothes to pay attention to it.
“Mmhmm!” Gu Fei nodded his head vigorously, increasing their pace toward the light.
The three soon reached the exit, and they stepped ahead into the light. They found themselves in a cavernous space, a secret room that was hidden deep underground. What they saw before them left the three dumbfounded, and not one of them said a word for the longest time.
“What… What is this?” In the end, Gu Fei was the first person to speak. He turned to Sword Demon, hoping that this MMO veteran with them could give him an answer.
Sword Demon knitted his eyebrows, appearing to be deep in thought, and circle around twice before gravely shaking his head, “I don’t know.”
“It’s a little gross…” Svelte Dancer commented.
Right before the three was a hunk of a strangely shaped object. It did not look like a rock, nor could it be called a crystal formation even as it emanated a certain glow – its light pulsing at a steady rate. There seemed to be something within the object that was constantly moving and flowing, as veins and threads of something were visible on its surface, which was why Svelte Dancer’s comment about it being gross was not exaggerated.
“Can we touch it?” Gu Fei took two steps closer to the object and carefully reached his hand out when he felt nothing strange happening to him.
“I don’t know.” The other two shook their heads, even as they encouraged Gu Fei to reach out and touch it with the look they were giving.
Gu Fei boldly touched the object lightly. It felt cold to the touch, but aside from the chilling sensation, nothing else happened to him. He began to move his hand to touch those veins and threads covering the surface of the object leading upward. Upon closer examination, he realized something. “These are tree roots!”
“Tree roots?” The two were stunned as they ran forward to where Gu Fei was standing.
“Look. This looks to be where a tree’s roots have grown past the surface of the soil and eventually wrapped around this object,” Gu Fei explained.
“With such thick roots, wouldn’t the tree itself be huge?” Svelte Dancer asked.
“I don’t recall seeing any abnormally over-sized tree in the backyard,” Sword Demon added.
Gu Fei carefully followed the tree roots to their source and discovered that those roots growing away from the object twisted into knots as they burrowed through the earth on the ceiling.
“This might not belong to a single tree. Perhaps it is a group of plants that coalesced into these roots we see and grew around this object’s surface,” Gu Fei supposed.
“So what exactly is this object?” The three were perplexed. They looked and prodded, but the system did not give any prompt or hint.
“Let’s look around the room!” Gu Fei suggested. It was not precisely accurate to call this a room, for it was really just an underground chamber.
As the three searched around them, Svelte Dancer suddenly shouted, “OVER HERE!”
Gu Fei and Sword Demon quickly dashed over. Svelte Dancer used her hands to scrape off the soil upon the wall, slowly revealing a copper plate right before their eyes. Words were etched on it. The three hurriedly brushed off the remaining soil a few times before reading what was written aloud, “Dehumidifier?!”
“Does it lower the humidity in the air?” Sword Demon repeated the key term stated.
“Does that mean that this is used to clear the fog?” Gu Fei asked.
“This machine right here must be why the city hall’s courtyard has no fog present,” Sword Demon said.
“Oh, yeah! There’s actually no fog here.” Svelte Dancer was just like how Gu Fei had initially reacted when he had first come here; she also did not immediately realize the different weather conditions of the courtyard and the rest of the city.
Gu Fei did not reply to any of this because he suddenly recalled something from the Andrew Su’s Diary. He quickly took the item out and flipped to the third page, referring to a short passage: ‘What a heavy fog. In such an environment, it is extremely easy to strike and slip away. Looks like the mission this time will be smooth sailing.’
Was this perhaps a hint? Was it hinting to the player that in order to assassinate Giordano, they must take advantage of the abnormal weather of Xiawu City? The courtyard not having any fog present was probably why that Sleeping Assassin’s feet were pointing toward this secret passage leading to the dehumidifier.
It must be the case! Gu Fei felt that everything could be perfectly explained this way. The Shadowmist Assassin’s diary essentially acted as a compass, with various hints hidden within the text, on how to accomplish the assassination mission. To kill Giordano, they would have to sabotage this dehumidifier and revert the weather here to its natural state first.
Gu Fei explained his hypothesis to Sword Demon and Svelte Dancer, and the two Thieves agreed with his assessment.
“So, how do we sabotage it?” Gu Fei asked.
“Attack it?” That was the most straightforward guess.
“But the problem is we’re all here. We have no idea what sort of effect it might result!” Gu Fei said.
“Then, let me head up to the shed and take a look; you two try that method!” Sword Demon suggested.
Gu Fei nodded. Sword Demon then departed from the underground chamber and made his way up to the firewood shed.
“Okay. You may begin,” Sword Demon said.
“Twin Incineration! Incinerate!” Gu Fei did not hesitate and immediately dished out his surekill spell. The rock-like object was an inanimate object, so the full extent of his attack connected with it completely.
“How is it?” Gu Fei immediately asked Sword Demon.
“It might take some time for the fog to accumulate, right? I’ll keep on observing,” Sword Demon answered.
As Sword Demon kept watch, Svelte Dancer also joined in and plunged her dagger into the object many times. The object barely had a scratch, which made Gu Fei feel that directly attacking the object was not how to go about this.
Sure enough, Sword Demon replied that he had not observed any visible change.
“The roots here converge over to this thing, before they burrow through the ground above us. What do you think will happen if we cut these?” Svelte Dancer suggested.
“I’ll give that a try!” Gu Fei said as he Blinked up to where the rock-like object was suspended and slashed his sword to where the tree roots had knotted together. In the end, it was unknown if those roots and the rock-like object had been bonding for too long that they had developed some sort of symbiotic relationship, for even the roots remained unharmed from the attack with not a scratch in sight. As Gu Fei dejectedly leaped off the object, he heard Svelte Dancer yell, “Ah! Look here; there’s more written on this copper plate!”
Gu Fei quickly made his way over. It turned out that the copper plate did not just contain the object’s name, but also the manual for its use. The three of them had only seen what was recorded on the left portion of the plate and neglected the right portion. Svelte Dancer, who had gone back to check the copper plate after Gu Fei had Blinked up the roots, realized that something was strange about its right side.
[The dehumidifier is capable of clearing the moisture in the air at the given range for 1 minute and 22 seconds.
The dehumidifier will automatically start absorbing the moisture in the air after 3 minutes.
By turning off the dehumidifier, a large quantity of moisture will be released in the air and an extremely dense fog will cover the area within 35 seconds.]
“Ha ha! So there’s actually a switch!” After reading the three lines etched on the right portion of the copper plate, Svelte Dancer discovered that next to it was a switch. She happily lifted her hand and was about to turn it off, but—
“Wait a minute!” Gu Fei hurriedly grabbed a hold of her hand to stop her. “Timing! We need to calculate the timing!”
This was yet another hint that the Shadowmist Assassin had mentioned in his diary: ‘An Assassin that actually can’t recall what date it is? To us, forgetting a minute or even a second is already enough to result in death.’
That’s a hint about the timing! Gu Fei thought to himself. Had they not discovered the rest of the content of the copper plate and only forcibly shut the dehumidifier down, it would really have caused their death because of the wrong timing.
“We need to calculate,” Gu Fei reiterated.
“What are we calculating?”
“The fog will not affect the building interior, so we will have to wait for Giordano to begin his routine inspection in the courtyard before we act. We need to calculate the timing properly!” Gu Fei said.