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Chapter 39 - Character Maze (Beginning)
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Chapter 39 - Character Maze (Beginning)

The two people opened their eyes and found that it was still dark until a flashlight automatically appeared in their hands.

However, the two people weren’t together. They were separated by the secret room.

Xiao Lou turned on the flashlight and looked around. He was in a narrow, straight passage with a length of approximately 50 metres. The floor was covered with bluestone and the walls on both sides were the original red brick.

The temperature here was very low and the air was damp and cold. It was just like coming to a dark basement.

Should he look for the mechanisms first or Group Leader Yu?

Xiao Lou decided to choose the latter.

After all, he wasn’t sure if there were any traps in the secret room and it was better for two people to act together.

Xiao Lou walked to the end of the passage with a flashlight. He had reached around half the distance when he found a forked road. Xiao Lou stood at the fork in the road. The front had a wall at the end and there was obviously no way. He had to go down the forked road.

He had gone halfway when another fork in the road was found.

Just then he found a ray of light that was also from a flashlight.

Xiao Lou’s heart was happy and he called out, “Group Leader Yu.”

Yu Hanjiang’s voice was soon heard. “Yes, I’m here.”

The two people met at the fork in the road and Yu Hanjiang frowned. “I looked in the passage behind me and didn’t find any mechanisms. It seems to be a small maze?”

Xiao Lou looked at the straight passage in front and behind him thoughtfully.

There was no doubt that this was a maze but the area wasn’t large. The longest passage was around 50 metres. They would soon reach the end and there weren’t many forks.

Xiao Lou quickly took a card out of his pack: the Four-way Arrow.

This was a reward he previously received in the 2 of Diamonds room and it was useful when dealing with maze-like maps.

He told Yu Hanjiang, “Group Leader Yu, do you also have the Four-way Arrow card? We should split up, taking this direction in front of me as north. North, south, left west, right east. Use the Four-way Arrow to mark the forks as soon as possible. I want to know the plan of the maze.”

Yu Hanjiang nodded. “Okay.”

This method was very smart. In a maze, it was easy to walk and lose one’s bearings. By selecting a positive north and marking it with an ‘upward’ arrow, a left arrow representing west, a right arrow east and a down arrow south, all the forks were marked with a direction and even a road fool couldn’t go wrong.

The two men split up and quickly placed arrows on the walls of the fork.

They gathered again. Xiao Lou had probably analyzed the location of the arrows and quickly concluded. “This maze isn’t difficult. The floor plan is the ‘正’ character.”

Yu Hanjiang thought about it carefully. It was true!

Xiao Lou could so quickly form a floor plan of the three-dimensional maze in his maze, causing Yu Hanjiang to feel admiration. He glanced at Xiao Lou, “What’s next? How can I help?”

“Group Leader Yu, you are responsible for finding the mechanisms in the west and south. I will be responsible for the east and north. Call me if you find a mechanism. Pay attention to the wall, the ground and the ceiling.”

Yu Hanjiang nodded and quickly turned away.

He had just walked to the lower left corner of the ‘正’ character maze when he heard Xiao Lou’s voice in his ear. “I found it!” He had just finished speaking when a message popped up on the floating box. [Mechanism number one has been cracked.]

Yu Hanjiang, “......”

It was only a few seconds. Wasn’t this too fast?

Was the mechanism encountered by Xiao Lou that simple?

Then he remembered how Xiao Lou had cracked four numerical mechanisms in 58 seconds and refreshed the world record of the 2 of Diamonds room. The speed at which this person cracked the mechanism couldn’t be understood with common sense.

Yu Hanjiang immediately accelerated and looked around with a flashlight. He found a 4x4 square on the wall at the end of the furthest fork.

This square was like a chessboard, where the first grid of the first row, the second grid of the second row, the third grid of the third row and the fourth grid of the fourth row were marked in red and filled with a wooden square. The other grids were blue and empty.

Underneath the square was a box with many random wooden characters.

Was this mechanism to fill in the empty grids?

He had done these types of crossword puzzles when he was young but there were usually many hints, just like Sudoku. However, there were no hints in this 4×4 board in front of him. Only four red blocks without words were filled.

After all, Yu Hanjiang had rarely played secret room escape games and hadn’t seen this type of crossword-type puzzle before. He didn’t know what the four red blocks meant and simply gave up thinking, directly calling for Xiao Lou.

Xiao Lou quickly heard the sound.

Yu Hanjiang was currently located at the end of a passage to the left side of the ‘正’ character.

Xiao Lou knew the maze map by heart so he quickly came to the side of Group Leader Yu from the upper right corner. Once he saw the squares on the wall, he knew this was a character patchwork mechanism which fit with the ‘Character Puzzle’ theme of the 3 of Diamonds room.

The four squares with red wooden blocks formed a diagonal line from the upper left to the lower right corner. The rest of the vacant squares needed to be filled with other characters. Xiao Lou poured out all the characters in the box and quickly read them.

He closed his eyes and thought about it. Then he picked up the character blocks and filled in the square one by one.

Justice, not, give up, awe-inspiring, attend, evil, honor, right, return, speech, work...

Many random characters filled the 4×4 square at an extremely fast rate. He was calm and once he filled in the square, Yu Hanjiang standing next to him finally understood. “Is it four idioms?”

Xiao Lou smiled. “Yes, the red of this wooden piece represents the character of the maze 正 (positive).”

Yu Hanjiang looked at the square filled out by Xiao Lou.

口 justice, with dignity and honour

Right口 speech

Not attend 口 work

Give up evil and return to 口

From the upper left to the bottom right corner, these four red ‘wordless squares’ formed a diagonal line. If the four red squares were replaced with the 正, weren’t they just four idioms?

Awe-inspiring, justice, with dignity and honor.

Righteous speech.

Not attend to one’s proper work.

Give up evil and return to good.

That’s it!

Yu Hanjiang had seen a bunch of random characters in the box and only thought of it as a crossword puzzle. He didn’t have any clues about the specific space because one character had been removed from each line.

Xiao Lou saw the characters once and not only did he immediately interpret the red wooden block, he filled in the character squares within 20 seconds. As he filled in the squares, the ‘正’ character filled in the wooden block and flashed brightly.

[Mechanism number two has been cracked.]

Just then, a loud rumbling sound was heard in the ears of the two men. Xiao Lou was shocked and immediately pulled back with Yu Hanjiang. He thought there would be a boulder rolling from behind the wall.

As a result, the two people returned to the fork and found that the wall on which the character square was placed had turned 90 degrees and a closed small chamber appeared behind the wall. It was empty and contained no traps.

Yu Hanjiang stared at the empty room before asking, “Is it the third mechanism? I just walked through the west and south and only saw the second mechanism.

Xiao Lou often played puzzle games. He had seen many occasions where cracking the last mechanism would open the next one. Yu Hanjiang’s words were reasonable. They only found the first and second mechanisms in the maze so this secret room should be the third one.

Xiao Lou used his flashlight to examine the room. He found no obvious traps on the ground and went inside.

In the middle of the room was another checkerboard but this time the difficulty had increased. It was a 7×7 square.

As before, each line had a grid replaced with a ‘no word block.’ The difference was that the red blocks formed a diagonal line from the upper right corner to the lower left corner. This was the opposite direction of the previous one.

Yu Hanjiang looked at the chessboard before asking, “Seven words, is it a poem this time?”

Xiao Lou nodded. “We must first reason out the character that was removed.”

The two people laid all the characters in the box next to the wall. There was a total of 42 pieces.

Xiao Lou first picked out a familiar verse. He saw the words ‘willow’ and ‘dark’ and his eyes immediately swept over all the characters. He really did find the characters ‘bright’, ‘again’, ‘one’ and ‘village.’

Xiao Lou’s eyes lit up. “The character that has been removed should be 花 (flower).”

The fifth line had the third grid filled with a red wordless wooden block. This could be seen as ‘dense willow trees, gorgeous X, a village.’ The word removed was ‘flower’ than all other blocks must have the shared ‘花’ character as well.

Xiao Lou stood in front of the wall and spoke quickly. “Group Leader Yu, I’ll say the verses and you help me find them. This will save time.”

Yu Hanjiang nodded. “Okay.”

He wasn’t sensitive to numbers, poems and idioms but he was happy to find the square pieces.

Xiao Lou filled in the fifth line ‘Amidst dense willow trees and gorgeous flowers, a village appears’. Then he stepped back and looked at the entire 7×7 square board and the scattered wooden blocks. “The first line ‘Dreamt of falling flowers late last night’.”

“The fourth line, ‘when the mountain flowers are in full bloom’.”

“The third line...”

Xiao Lou spoke very quickly and Yu Hanjiang found the characters fast enough.

The two people tacitly cooperated to fill out the lines of the poems. In an instance, the 7×7 square was filled in.

昨夜闲潭梦落口 – Dreamt of falling 口 late last night

千树万树梨口开 – Bringing thousands upon thousands of pear trees into 口.

东风桃李口开日 – When the spring Breeze blows, peach and plum 口 will bloom

待到山口烂漫时 – When the mountain 口 are in full bloom

柳暗口明又一村 -Amidst dense willow trees and gorgeous 口, a village appears

春口秋月何时了- When will the endless cycle of spring 口 and autumn moons end

口自飘零水自流 – Let the 口 wither and water by itself drift

TL: I copied the Chinese characters to show where the 口 is missing, since it is hard to show in the translated version. Each line is one line from a famous poem. If you want the full line of the poems without the missing word, check the bottom. Thanks to Zryuu for helping me with these poems)

From the upper right corner to the lower left corner, the diagonally block blank character was replaced with the word flower’, forming precisely seven lines from a poem.

Yu Hanjiang turned to Xiao Lou. “Do you know so many poems?”

Yu Hanjiang naturally knew common verses such as ‘when will the endless cycle of spring flowers and autumn moons end’ but to so quickly think of the words from 42 mixed up characters and to spell out seven sentences in one minute, Xiao Lou was truly a school master.

[Three mechanisms have been unlocked and the instance clearance conditions have been met. Do you want to leave the 3 of DIamonds secret room?]

Xiao Lou certainly wouldn’t leave.

In order to achieve a perfect clearance, all mechanisms had to be solved. This secret room also had a secret mechanism.

However, the two men walked around the entire maze and found no other clues or hidden secret rooms.

Yu Hanjiang frowned and asked, “Where is the hidden mechanism?”

Xiao Lou thought about it before looking down at his flashlight.

In addition to the usual ON/OFF button, there was a small blue button. He pressed the button and the light from the flashlight turned blue.

Since the flashlight in his hand had been turned on when entering the secret room, this detail hadn’t been noticed by Yu Hanjiang. Once the flashlight turned blue, fluorescent words and a password space appeared on the wall of the secret room.

Xiao Lou explained, “This is a blue light flashlight. It is a commonly used prop for secret room games. The clues seen with the white light and the blue light are different.”

He went to the wall and Yu Hanjiang immediately followed.

He saw on the wall:

39=1,468=3,7898=5

17896 = ?

24568 = ?

88888 = ?

Yu Hanjiang’s temple throbbed. Last time, he spent too long in the 2 of Diamonds room and now he had a headache when seeing these numbers.

What did this mean?

39 = 1? Using addition, subtraction, multiplication or division, how did they calculate it as 1? How did 468 become 3?

Yu Hanjiang was still pondering on the problem when Xiao Lou smiled and took a step forward. He took out four numerical blocks from the box and filled in the password space below.

4310.

[Congratulations to challengers Xiao Lou and Yu Hanjiang for perfectly clearing the 3 of Diamonds secret room, Character Puzzle, in 8 minutes and 05 seconds, refreshing the 3 of Diamonds’ world record!]

Yu Hanjiang, “.........”

The furthest distance in the world isn’t that I am in the north and you are in the south.

It is that I am still reviewing the question while you’ve already filled in the answer.

Full lines from the poem:

Dreamt of falling flowers late last night

Bringing thousands upon thousands of pear trees into bloom.

When the spring breeze blows, peach and plum blossoms will bloom

When the mountain flowers are in full bloom

Amidst dense willow trees and gorgeous flowers, a village appears (TL: usually used to mean there will always be a light at the end of the tunnel)

When will the endless cycle of spring flowers and autumn moons end

Let the flowers wither and water by itself drift

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