It happened to be 4 o’clock in the afternoon when they left 9 of Hearts and returned to the main city. The afternoon sun of the City of the Moon shone into the living room through the French windows, coating it in a layer of warmth.
The scene before them changed as they left the private space. Everyone appeared back in the living room. Ye Qi saw the familiar faces of his team members and couldn’t help sighing in relief. “Finally, the Hearts secret room is over. There is no need to deal with a perverted murderer! Next, shall we continue to clear the Diamonds room or take a rest?”
The others turned their eyes to Xiao Lou and Yu Hanjiang, waiting for instructions.
Xiao Lou and Yu Hanjiang seriously discussed it. “Continue with the Diamonds room? Normally the time spent in this room isn’t too long. It is now four in the afternoon. We can finish the Diamonds room and come back to rest. Perhaps we will even make it back in time for dinner tonight.”
In any case, there was Xiao Lou, the problem solving master and Old Mo, the designer with a strong sense of space. In addition, Ye Qi and Liu Qiao had strong problem-solving skills. The other team members only needed to cooperate with them and clearing the room shouldn’t be a problem.
Yu Hanjiang thought up to here and simply said, “Continue to the next level. We have to hurry and clear the A-grade secret rooms.”
The team members naturally had no problem with the decision. Yu Hanjiang walked to the Card Wall and directly drew 9 of Diamonds. The familiar red vortex appeared in the centre of the playing card and everyone appeared in a strange secret room.
It was strange because in the previous Diamonds rooms, everyone was separated when entering the room. For example, the last Shangyuan Lantern Festival where the eight members were divided into four groups and each group appeared on a certain road in the lantern maze. They needed to find a way to meet their teammates.
Today it was different. All eight people were in the same closed room. This room was square and each side was 3 metres. The light in the room was extremely dim. Only four kerosene lamps hung on four corners and the temperature in the room was low, giving people a gloomy feeling. It was as if they had entered a mysterious basement.
Everyone saw their teammates around them and checked that no one was missing.
Xiao Lou immediately opened his mouth. “Don’t move around yet. Be careful of mechanisms on the ground or on the wall!”
Hearing this, the team members who wanted to walk around hurriedly stopped and waited quietly for the next hint.
Soon, a little girl’s clear and lovely voice rang out in the secret room. “Welcome to 9 of Diamonds, the Music Labyrinth. This is a labyrinth of clues with music as the theme. The entire labyrinth has only one correct path to escape. The time limit of the labyrinth is one hour. If you walk out of the labyrinth within the given time then you will win the challenge. If time is up and you are still trapped inside then you will need to go to the Nightmare Room to be punished.”
This was obviously the voice of A of Diamonds. Ye Qi’s eyes lit up when he heard the ‘music’ theme and he spoke in an excited manner, “Music labyrinth? I heard of this theme when I used to play escape rooms.”
Xiao Lou was an experienced player and naturally knew this type of themed escape room.
A of Diamonds continued, “This time, there will be more punishments in the secret room. For example, if you enter the wrong password or enter a punishment room by mistake, the punishment will be triggered. The specific punishment method won’t be announced for the sake of mystery.”
The group members looked at each other. Not announcing it was even more terrible. Who knew how this keeper would torture everyone?
A of Diamonds’s voice echoed in the dark, cold space and it sounded a bit strange. She laughed and told them, “The reward method of this secret room is also related to the mechanisms you unlock. If there are punishment rooms then there will naturally be reward rooms. If you unlock the mechanisms of reward rooms then you can get rare cards.”
She paused for a moment. “The countdown is about to begin. Good luck.’
A of Diamonds’ voice disappeared and the floating boxes in front of everyone showed a red timer counting down. The timer showed 1:00:00. There was a time limit of one hour and the countdown had begun. Everyone immediately took a closer look at the surrounding walls, ceilings and floors.
Yu Hanjiang had a keen eye and he soon found a hidden grid under a kerosene lamp in a corner.
He spoke with a serious expression, “Since this is a clues maze, there should be clues in the dark grid over there. Maybe it is a code lock.” He glanced at Xiao Lou with questioning eyes. “Shall I grab it and took a look?”
Xiao Lou answered, “There is one hour so there is no need to rush. I would like to tell you some precautions first.”
Xiao Lou looked around at his teammates and sighed. “Perhaps some of you have never played this type of clues maze before. The code lock and mechanism of this type of maze isn’t directly placed in eye-catching places like the rooms we have experienced previously where the question is placed and the answer can be obtained as long as we solve it correctly. For a clues type maze, many code locks require reasoning and solving puzzles.”
Ye Qi watched Xiao Lou seriously. “Is this a linked Hearts and Diamonds room? Solve puzzles, search for code locks and infer the correct password according to clues? Open one room, continue to the next room and look for new clues.”
Xiao Lou nodded. “That’s right. We all need to keep our eyes open and check carefully for clues in the secret room. Observe any suspicious places carefully. After you find it, don’t rashly touch it with your hands. There might be some mechanisms behind the clues such as water sprays, poison and other traps. Everyone should be careful.”
They heard this and nodded to show they understood. They wouldn’t do things like pitting their teammates and touching the mechanisms.
Yu Hanjiang suggested, “Everyone, take out the Night Pearl so we can see what is on this dark grid.
The kerosene lamps in the secret room were too dim, as if they were going to go out at any second. The floors and walls were all black so it was hard to see what was on them. They heard Yu Hanjiang’s instructions and immediately took out the Night Pearl.
The Night Pearls illuminated the entire secret room. To everyone’s surprise, there were many bloody handprints on the walls! The dense bloody handprints almost covered the entire wall and looked shocking.
Qu Wanyue was startled by these bloody handprints and wanted to step back. Then she remembered Xiao Lou’s instructions and immediately stopped in case she accidentally stepped on a trap. Seeing her ugly expression, Long Sen took her hand gently. “It might be a suspense maze but there shouldn’t be a murderer. Don’t worry too much.”
Qu Wanyue murmured, “Throwing us directly into a crime scene? There are so many bloody handprints. Is the person who left them dead or alive?”
The next moment, she heard Yu Hanjiang calmly say, “This is indeed a suspense labyrinth. I found a box.”
He opened the dark compartment under the kerosene lamp and took out a box. It was an old sandalwood box with exquisite European-style carvings and a golden lock. Unfortunately, due to age, this lock had deteriorated. It needed a seven digit password.
Yu Hanjiang took the box to Xiao Lou and asked, “What will the password be?”
Xiao Lou thought for a moment before ordering his teammates, “Teacher Qu, Long Sen, please check your feet carefully to determine if there is anything under the floor tiles. Xiao Ye, Liu Qiao, check the walls on all sides to see if there are any other hidden panels. Chief Shao, check the ceiling with me. Group Leader Yu will look at the other kerosene lamps.”
The hidden grid that Yu Hanjiang found was relatively easy to see.
The brick under the kerosene lamp was slightly recessed and clearly looked different from the surrounding wall. After Yu Hanjiang took out the brick, he found a hole in the wall with this locked box. Other than that, no obvious clues were found in the room for the time being.
The team members acted quickly according to Xiao Lou’s division of labor. Ye Qi and Liu Qiao checked the left, right, front and rear walls before giving an answer. “The walls are all flat. We knocked on the bricks but there is no other hidden compartment.”
Long Sen and Qu Wanyue were in charge of inspecting the floor and also spoke quickly. “The floor doesn’t move.”
Xiao Lou frowned slightly. He raised the Night Pearl and closely examined the ceiling. There were no clues on the ceiling.
Xiao Lou touched his chin thoughtfully. “This is weird. We are only given a locked box and there is nothing on the ceilings, walls and floor. How do we crack this code?”
Yu Hanjiang stated, “It is very likely that something has been missed. Please double check.”
Everyone checked the area they were responsible for again. Three minutes passed and they came to the same conclusion. “There are no other clues.”
Xiao Lou looked closely at the bloody handprints on the wall. The bloody handprints were very messy and couldn’t form any figures related to numbers or words. The arrangement could be called irregular and the number was relatively high. It was roughly in the hundreds.
Xiao Lou thought carefully. “There are no clues in the room for the seven digit code. Then the clue must be in the sentence that A of Hearts told us. This is a labyrinth with a music theme.”
Ye Qi’s eyes lit up. “The password is musical notes. The only ones that can be used as musical notes are do, re, mi, fa, so, la, ti, that is, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7. There are exactly seven numbers!”
Xiao Lou nodded. “Then how should these seven numbers be arranged?”
1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7. These seven numbers could form countless combinations.
If a piece of music was played in the secret room then Ye Qi could hear the specific sequence of notes based on the melody of the music. However, it was extremely quiet in the secret room and only the nervous breathing of the team members could be heard.
What clue was hidden in A of Diamonds’ words? Or was there a clue in this room that everyone ignored?
Xiao Lou was silent for a moment before suggesting, “We should take a closer look at these bloody handprints. See if we can use them to connect with clues related to music.”
Proofreader: Fictional Reality