[Labyrinth of Time, Zone IV. The number of participants is 2000/2000, the collection progress is 0/15000, the countdown is 3:59:59]
This line of small characters appeared in the upper right-hand corner of Dong Zheng and Dong Linhai’s field of vision. After a while, it gradually faded and disappeared out of sight.
Dong Zheng had seen this kind of prompting method in the handbook. He made a motion that he’d memorized by heart and the words reappeared.
Dong Linhai sat cross-legged on the ground and tried to master it. Half a minute later, he stood up and looked around curiously.
This was a typical maze with eye-catching walls about 4 meters tall, with unknown but normal-looking plants climbing over them. They were in a short, straight passage with a corner turn just ahead.
Dong Zheng took the lead in taking the first step. “Let’s go and find the fragments.”
Everyone had no objections. The group walked around the corner and could vaguely hear the voices of other people on the opposite side of the wall.
“Hey! Anyone!” Dong Linhai shouted.
His voice echoed, but there was no response.
“Don’t shout. They can’t hear.” Cui Zuojing walked beside Dong Zheng, turned his head to look at Dong Linhai, and said, “The Labyrinth of Time is not listed as a forbidden place for no reason. It has the power of time and space, which are overflowing and disorderly and have no regularity. You hear sounds and may think they are on the opposite side. But in fact, those people might be in an altogether different part of the maze.”
“And, the walls here will change without you even noticing it. There was a saying that it will change its direction and position right in front of your eyes, but you will forget under the power of time and simply think that they moved when you weren’t paying attention.”
“So terrible!” Dong Linhai quickly picked up pace to stand right behind Dong Zheng. “Wouldn’t it be easy to get lost?”
Cui Zuojing said, “Yes, and not only that, it’s also full of worm-holes. Maybe, in one second, I’ll be walking in front of you, but maybe in the next second, I’ll be walking behind you. However, with me here, time shouldn’t be so disorderly.”
Cui Zuojing had unintentionally, or perhaps deliberately, revealed some information that seemed meaningful. Dong Zheng glanced at him and vaguely felt that Cui Zuojing was tempting himself to explore. The more curious he felt toward Cui Zuojing, the easier it would be for Cui Zuojing to control him.
But Dong Zheng wouldn’t be so easy to hook.
He did promise Cui Zuojing some things, but that didn’t mean he intended to listen to him.
After all, this young man had too many secrets and doubts. They’d only known each other for three to four days and were completely unfamiliar with each other. At the beginning, Cui Zuojing even wanted to kill him and Linhai.
With the blood contract, Cui Zuojing wouldn’t be able to directly hurt him, but that didn’t mean he couldn’t deliberately guide him and Linhai in a calculative direction.
As newcomers, even if they were pitted, they probably wouldn’t even be aware of it.
Dong Zheng said, “This way, at least we won’t have to worry about a map. We merely have to wait until the countdown ends or until the collection has been completed and Karls sends us back.”
The Labyrinth of Time seemed to be at the tail end of summer, and the air was filled with a damp heat. Dong Zheng and Dong Linhai had been completely uncleared about the climate inside. As a result, like most people, they wore tactical suits designed to enter boxes. It was unknown what kind of black technology was used but the suits could automatically adjust the somatosensory temperature within a certain range.
Cui Zuojing was used to wearing white shirts and black pants, and he only wore a long-sleeved jacket over it, just like a normal high school boy.
The three people and one cat walked for about two hundred meters. Dong Zheng, who was at the forefront, suddenly stopped when a wall appeared in front of him without warning. The road ahead was blocked so close to him that he almost ran into it.
Now Dong Zheng and Dong Linhai fully understood Cui Zuojing’s explanation. Even so, he was still amazed in his heart. Did this wall really move right in front of his eyes, or did he forget everything he saw?
No one could ever know for sure.
Dong Zheng’s hand touched the wall, feeling the coolness of the leaves on the vines of the plant. The small thorns slightly pricked his hand, and suddenly behind a leaf, he bumped against a bulging object.
He moved quickly and shifted the leaf aside. Dong Linhai leaned over and asked, “What’s wrong?”
In order to give Dong Zheng and Dong Linhai the experience they deserved, Cui Zuojing told them at the very beginning that, unless it was a life-threatening situation, he and Victor would not easily help them.
They hoped that the two would learn not to rely too heavily on having a powerful prisoner and a summoning beast. After all, doing so would only eventually lead to a tragic death.
“I found this.”
It was a small, red button, the kind that could be turned on. It was made of rubber and written on it in white paint was the word “Press.”
“Try it?” Dong Linhai suggested.
Dong Zheng pressed down. The indicator light inside the button lit up, and then the outline of a door emerged on the wall, accompanied by a voice reminder that said “Identity detected.” After the reminder, the door on the wall shifted into a perfect fusion of colors before gradually fading into a cool white color commonly seen in laboratories. The door silently opened.
“Are there any book fragments in it?” Dong Linhai looked inside and saw many tightly-closed doors on both sides of the corridor. All of the doors were a cool white color with a swipe pad for access cards.
“There should be. Let’s take a look.” Dong Zheng took the lead, and everyone walked into the laboratory, whose location was unknown within time and space. Cui Zuojing entered last, and similar to how it was when it opened, the door quietly closed.
All the light indicators for the access controls were a forbidding red. At the far end of the hallway came the sound of voices, which seemed to be in a fierce quarrel. But, once they approached, the voices disappeared.
Dong Zheng said, “The fragment should be inside.”
Dong Linhai raised his hand and pressed the fingerprint reader. As expected, they didn’t have permission to enter. “But, how do we get in? Brother Octopus didn’t give us a pass or anything.”
Cui Zuojing couldn’t help raising the corners of his lips. “Truly, don’t call Karls with this nickname.”
Victor kindly reminded Dong Linhai, “Karls temper is not good. The last one who dared to directly call it an octopus was cemented into the library walls.”
Dong Linhai’s blood immediately ran cold. Cui Zuojing took advantage of the opportunity to stir up wind and frightened him even more. “No creature in the space-time library will die. So, even if you’re cemented in by Karls, you will forever have to indulge in the pain of suffocation. When we come to borrow books, you can listen in through the walls. Maybe we’ll be nice and beg Karls to let your mouth out so you can talk a few words.”
As Cui Zuojing was busy scaring Dong Linhai and Victor was watching the drama, only Dong Zheng was still thinking about the fragment. He studied the door for a while and then turned his head to say, “Let’s first find out if there’s an access card.”
“No way! You’re really bad. You’re just trying to scare me. But I have my brother,” Dong Linhai stubbornly maintained and moved closer to Dong Zheng for courage.
“Don’t make a fuss. Let’s hurry up and find the access card.” Dong Zheng began to have a faint headache. Cui Zuojing’s unabashed venom towards Linhai made him have no solutions. After getting along for several days, Dong Zheng could feel that Cui Zuojing fully believed in the supremacy of strength, and that weaknesses, in his eyes, was an original sin.
As if he himself had never been weak.
This little demon-like teenager was too frank and not at all pleasant. He often had a smile on his face, but his eyes were cold and emotionless. This often made Dong Zheng couldn’t help but think that, in Cui Zuojing’s eyes, was he and Linhai only tools to be used to achieve a certain purpose?
But at the moment, they still had no strength to fight Cui Zuojing. They really could only be good tools. If something should go wrong, Dong Zheng intended to immediately use the three mandatory orders in the blood contract to get rid of Cui Zuojing.
The corridor around the corner wasn’t as bright as when they came; only a few emergency lights gleamed faintly. The entire laboratory base was beyond imagination, and the paths intertwined like spider webs. Dong Zheng walked through more than a dozen paths that looked almost the same and finally saw the first person there.
A researcher who’d died.
He seemed to have lost the support of his spine and leaned against the wall in a rather terrifying posture, his head bowed. There was not a single speck of blood stains on his clean white coat.
Dong Zheng got the permit chip from his wristband but did not waste time investigating the cause of the researcher’s death. He returned at the fastest speed and opened the door where the sound was coming from. .
The sound of “drip” sounded softly, and the green color of “Entry Permitted” replaced the red light. Dong Zheng pushed the door open and saw the faint white awn. A translucent fragment slowly spun like a globe on the experimental platform.
This was the fragment of the classics that had been lost. Dong Zheng reached out and touched it. He immediately heard the argument that he’d heard earlier when he’d first entered this space.
“Stop all further research on JM-216. This is an order from the top command!”
“But the experiment is about to be completed! We have sacrificed so much manpower and material resources, and Dr. Downton lost his life because of this. How can we just give it up?!”
“Don’t you understand?! Downton said from the very beginning of the experiment that JM-216 may not bring hope, and his death was not an operation error at all. JM-216 was really—“
The argument came to an abrupt end.
The globe hadn’t yet entered Dong Zheng’s palm, when a few words came to his mind:
[Our new discovery may completely destroy the entire world. ——JM·Grey Doomsday】
Collection progress: 41/15000, countdown 3:47:53.
“Okay, next.” Dong Zheng simply turned around. Cui Zuojing opened the laboratory door, the corridor disappeared, and they quickly found themselves back in the labyrinth outside the door.
They’d returned to the maze again. The collection of fragments was not as difficult as Dong Zheng had expected. With the experience of the first fragment, the progress afterwards should be much faster.
“Not bad.” Cui Zuojing gave him a good comment.
“It also looks very easy.” Dong Linhai said, “I thought we would encounter weird things. Maybe it was because the fragment was in a friendly location?”
The time was urgent. With 15,000 shards, 2000 people need to find an average of 15 shards in their group. Only four hours were given. If they want to get tickets and other props here, they must speed up their progress.
Dong Zheng and Dong Linhai hurried on their way, looking for doors and lost objects that led to other spaces. Meanwhile, Cui Zuojing and Victor leisurely followed.
As the group of people walked, they suddenly heard the delight of a little girl behind them.