CR: Chapter 20 – Bloody Maple Leaf
After confirming the choice of the Hearts room, Xiao Lou asked the keeper, “3 of Hearts and 4 of Hearts are two secret rooms. Can clearing one be used to unlock the next stage or must both be cleared but the order can be freely chosen?”
A of Clubs explained, “Hearts, Diamonds, Spades, Clubs, clearing one C-grade room each and you can unlock the next stage, the B-grade rooms.” Then he cautioned. “However, I suggest you go to challenge all of them. It is because these C-grade secret rooms are relatively simple and it is easy to achieve the ‘perfect clearance’ and draw more good cards from the limited card pool.”
Xiao Lou had long known this.
His 2 of Hearts, 2 of Diamonds and 2 of Spades were all perfectly cleared. He drew the three cards Tao Yuanming, Compass and Zombie Leader. Each one was very strong. Based on Yu Hanjiang’s weapon and equipment card, the cards in this world were much richer than imagined.
The low-level secret rooms were relatively simple and perfectly clearing the instance allowed them to draw from a limited card pool. The probability of drawing good cards was very high and this was some of the Card World’s privileges for novices. Later, once they arrived at the team secret rooms, they would be lucky just to pass the instance and it would be hard to pass it perfectly.
Yu Hanjiang had the same idea as he looked at Xiao Lou and suggested, “If we can pass all of them then we shouldn’t skip any. We should take advantage of when the difficulty of the secret rooms is low to get more cards.”
Xiao Lou nodded in agreement. “Go to 3 of Hearts or 4 of Hearts. Group Leader Yu, you decide.”
Yu Hanjiang didn’t refuse and simply extended his hand to pull out the ‘3 of Hearts’ card.
The keeper stated, “The 3 of Hearts secret room, ‘Bloody Maple Leaf’ is being generated. The two of you, please be ready. The countdown is 10, 9, 8…”
The teenager’s voice gradually faded away in their ears and once he reached ‘5’, Xiao Lou’s vision became dark before it lit up again after a few seconds.
Xiao Lou squinted to adapt to the harsh light as quickly as possible. Then he looked around.
Where was Yu Hanjiang?
He was surprised to find that Group Leader Yu wasn’t around him.
According to the code of the contract, the two of them had already signed the contract and would be pulled into the same world. Therefore, it was impossible for him to come in and not Yu Hanjiang.
The only possibility was that the two of them were sent separately to different locations in the secret room.
Xiao Lou soon understood.
Different locations meant finding different clues. Since it was a secret room for two people, they should individually find some clues first and once the two people met up, they would combine the clues and analyze them.
This was similar to the traditional ‘escape room’ game. He used to play real escape room games where everyone had to look for clues. However, the previous escape rooms were indoor games where the space was limited. They could see each other when looking back and could hear everyone.
Now, the secret room world of 3 of Hearts was too big.
Xiao Lou looked up and found himself standing at the gates of a school.
The school gate was very grand and the right side of the wall was covered with many gold medals such as ‘City’s Key Middle School’, ‘Psychological Education Demonstration School’, ‘Advanced Youth League Organization’, Advanced Collective;…
At the top of the gate, written in elegant cursive—
Maple Forest High School.
Xiao Lou looked around. The campus was extremely quiet and he couldn’t see anyone.
Instead, he could see a large maple forest on one side of the school.
The time in this secret room world should be autumn. It was just after a light rain and the ground was still soaked by the rain, giving off a damp smell. A gust of wind blew and countless red maple leaves fell due to the wind, laying a thick red carpet on the ground. After the maple leaves were washed by the rain, the red was very fascinating as they floated in the air like blood.
Maple Forest High School, the name of this school was obviously related to the maple forest in the school.
Xiao Lou didn’t know if he should walk in or stand at the door and watch.
Bloody Maple Leaf, judging from the name, there should be a bloody case on this campus? Previously when he entered the secret room, he would receive a prompt but this time there were no hints at all. Even the most common checkpoints were invisible.
There was no way back and Xiao Lou had to walk through the school gate.
The moment he stepped into the school gate, the familiar floating box and text prompts finally appeared.
[Welcome Xiao Lou and Yu Hanjiang to the 3 of Hearts secret room, Bloody Maple Leaf.]
[1. This secret room is a plot suspense room and there is no time limit. Once the mystery is solved, you can go out. If you can’t solve the mystery then you will stay in the world of the secret room forever.]
[2. C-grade secret rooms no longer have the ‘clues collection’ prompt. The clearance score is related to the time of the puzzle. The shorter the time, the higher the score will be.]
[3. The time flow rate of the 3 of Hearts secret room is different from the Card World. Every day here is only 24 minutes in the Card World. Your body’s functions are working normally based on the time flow rate of the 3 of Hearts room. You will have a physiological reaction such as hunger and exhaustion. There is a snack counter inside the school. The gold coins obtained in the Clubs room can be used here without worrying about the outcome of ‘starving to death.’]
[4. Today is the weekend. There is no one attending classes of the two of you can enter the campus to explore on your own.]
[5. Note that you are an outsider. Once you are discovered by the security guards, you will be expelled from the school. Please be careful to avoid the security patrol and not to encounter the security guards of the school. If caught by the security guards, it will be a fail and you will be eliminated directly.]
[6. This is a cursed school. It is said that the maple leaves are so red because the maple trees absorbed too much blood.]
The text prompts ended and there was a ‘ding’ in his ears. “Received the secret room limited card. Please check the card pack.”
Xiao Lou immediately opened his card pack and found a new card lying inside.
[Equipment Card: Invisibility Cloak]
Description: A 3 of Hearts secret room limited card. After leaving the 3 of Hearts room, the card is automatically damaged.
Effect: Put on the stealth cloak and immediately enter the invisible state for 30 minutes. You will become a transparent person during the invisible state. People in the secret room world can’t see you and your partner can’t see you.
Restrictions: Can only be used once a day. Please pay attention to the timing.
Xiao Lou put the card away and looked at the text in the floating box again, trying to extract key information.
Previously in 2 of Hearts, he entered a house and collected clues, reasoning out the murderer at the crime scene. This was a static secret room where all the evidence was kept in place. As long as he was careful enough, he could always find the clues.
Meanwhile, the 3 of Hearts room was a dynamic plot secret room.
He had to enter the school as a bystander.
The mystery that he needed to solve hadn’t appeared yet.
It could be inferred from the tips that today being the weekend and no classes being on was to let him have this time to familiarize himself with the school environment. During this time, they must at least read the map of the school and find the location of each class and office.
On Monday, when school began, the case should happen.
They needed to conduct a quick investigation in the school and figure out the murderer without being discovered by the security guards. This difficulty was more than double the static secret room where only one person collected evidence.
However, the C-grade secret room wasn’t too difficult. After all, only the ‘security’ barrier was set up.
The rules said that if they were caught by the security guards, they would fail to clear the instance. It didn’t say they would be expelled from school if discovered by the teachers and students. Moreover, the secret room issued the ‘Invisibility Cloak’ limited card. If they were in danger, wearing the Invisibility Cloak could save their lives.
Xiao Lou understood this and immediately entered school, quickly observing the surrounding environment.
He soon found a brief introduction to the school and a bird’s eye view of the entire campus on a huge stone monument near the school gate.
Maple Forest High School was founded five years ago.
The architectural theme here was clearly related to the maple trees and were all painted red like the maple leaves.
The school’s teaching equipment was perfect, the teaching staff were strong and the hardware facilities were first-class. Not only was there a stadium, a running track, eight outdoor basketball courts, indoor gymnasiums and libraries. It was almost comparable to a small university.
As a key local high school, Maple Forest High School had more than 3,000 students and 300 teachers. Among them were 23 ‘first-class secondary level teachers.’ This was the information revealed on the brief of the stone tablet.
Xiao Lou himself was an associate professor at a university and was very familiar with the education system. For first-class high school teachers, the education bureau in each district would have a limit on the number of people and the quota would only be empty when old teachers retired. Moreover, it was evaluated that the first-class title had a working life requirement and only those with over 10 years of teaching would be eligible.
The school had 23 first-class teachers, making it worthy of being the city’s key high school. The strange thing was that this school wasn’t an old school. It was founded five years ago, indicating that most of the teachers transferred from elsewhere.
There were six buildings in the school.
The building facing the school gate was seven stories high and said ‘Hangzhi (knowing/aware) Building’, which was the administrative building.
There were three long strip buildings behind the administrative building, all of which were four stories high. Each building had air corridors connected to each other and the administrative building, forming a rectangular structure. The three buildings were called the Zhiyuan (conveying/devoting distance) Building, the Siqi (thinking simultaneously) Building and the Chongwen (sublime language) Building. Each name had a meaning and were the teaching buildings of grade 1, 2 and 3.
Later, there was a three-storey building called Shuxiang (literary reputation) Building and it was the school library and school data building.
The last building shaped like a maple leaf was marked with the word ‘Gymnasium.’
Behind these buildings was a wide playground.
The air after the rain was extraordinarily fresh. The quiet campus, the red rubber track, the green grass, the blue sky and the white clouds—the entire scene was like a beautiful landscape painting.
People couldn’t help recalling their student years.
Behind the playground was a beautiful maple forest. There were many wooden seats scattered around the playground and during the leisure time, students could rest here and enjoy the beautiful scenery of the maple leaves.
In addition to the maple trees, there was a flower bed under each school building and the environment was quite good.
This should be a day school since there wasn’t a dormitory building.
Xiao Lou took one turn around the school and quickly figured out the layout of the entire school.
He stood on the playground and still couldn’t find traces of Yu Hanjiang.
Where was Group Leader Yu?
In order for the two people to meet as soon as possible, Xiao Lou simply walked to a wooden seat next to the maple forest. The campus was so big that they would miss each other if they kept walking. Group Leader Yu would definitely come to see the maple forest and it was better to wait for him here.
Xiao Lou waited while arranging the layout of the school in his mind.
After a while, steady footsteps were heard behind him.
Xiao Lou turned back and met a pair of dark and deep eyes. He smiled at the other person, moved to the side and gestured to Yu Hanjiang to sit down. “Where were you? Where did you go?”
Yu Hanjiang sat down next to him. “I went to check the internal monitoring of the school!”
Xiao Lou, “…”
A policeman was really professional!
“The three teaching buildings have surveillance on every floor and there are surveillance cameras in every class. The monitoring centre of the entire school is the security room in the Hangzhi Building. I went to check and many of the cameras are bad.”
Yu Hanjiang took out a blank workbook and ballpoint pen, drawing on it while explaining to Xiao Lou, “The camera on the west side of the 1st, 2nd and 3rd floors of the Chongwen Building, the camera on the east side of the Siqi Building, and in the south of the Zhiyuan Building, classes 3, 6, 2, 1 and 7 all have their monitors black. I went to the teaching buildings to check and the cameras are really bad.”
Xiao Lou, “…”
A policeman truly wasn’t the same. In such a short period of time, he actually found the surveillance camera distribution of the three teaching buildings as well as all the broken cameras and monitoring dead ends!
Xiao Lou’s eyes lit up as he pointed to the distribution map. “The security room can see all the surveillance cameras in the school. Then once school starts on Monday, we should avoid these surveillance cameras, right?”
Yu Hanjiang nodded. “Yes, pick the monitoring blank spots and try to avoid being discovered by the security guards.”
Xiao Lou’s heart was full of admiration. If it wasn’t for Group Leader Yu, he wouldn’t have thought to check the monitoring of the teaching building and might’ve been discovered by the security guard during the course of his actions. Of course, the security guard couldn’t teleport to catch him. Even if he was found, he could find a way to get away when the security guard was rushing over. However, that was the next best policy. After all, it wasn’t a good thing to be chased by security guards and the cloak also had restrictions on its use.
Yu Hanjiang’s anti-reconnaissance ability was first-class. Since there was a big man by his side during this criminal investigation, Xiao Lou’s confidence suddenly doubled.
Yu Hanjiang asked, “What did you find?”
“I walked through the school and have a layout of the entire school. I’ll draw a picture for you.”
He took Yu Hanjiang’s book and pen and drew all the buildings quickly on the blank paper.
Xiao Lou’s memory was outstanding and he was very sensitive to graphics. His drawn floor plan might not be up to professional architectural standards but it clearly showed the shape, size and distance of each building.
Yu Hanjiang glanced at him with appreciation. “I entered this world on the first floor of a building and found a problem with the monitoring. I went to check the surveillance and didn’t have time to explore the entire school.
The two people checked inside the teaching buildings and had an overall layout of the school. Their mutual cooperation meant they soon touched on the situation of Maple Forest High School. The monitoring map and campus plan was drawn on the workbook and each of them had a copy in their pockets for personal use. This was in case they needed to be separated in the process so they didn’t go to the wrong place.
Xiao Lou pointed to the tall building facing the gate. “Did you explore the entire building?”
Yu Hanjiang shook his head. “I found the security office on the first floor and there was a security guard on duty. He was asleep and I came to you first. The above floors haven’t been checked.”
Xiao Lou thought about it and said, “The floating box reminded us that today is the weekend and there are no classes. It is to let us explore on our own. The security guard sleeping must be to let us know the layout of the school as soon as possible. Why don’t we go and see?”
Yu Hanjiang simply got up, “Let’s go.”