|Author: Mad Flower||Original Source: SFACG||Word Count: 2008 characters|
|Translator: Keissen||English Source: Re:Library||Word Count: 1161 words|
That day, a wave of frustration and anger swept across the global player community, leaving many feeling ready to burst. The cause? The disappearance of their underground maze! Players who had risked their lives sneaking into the Royal Palace, or bribed their way in, all faced the same bewildering sight: the iconic black rockery was nowhere to be found. The ground was smooth and level, as though it had never existed. Had they not seen the broadcast from Linhnan server, they might have believed the black rockery had been nothing more than a collective hallucination. But the evidence was undeniable. The black rockery and the underground maze were real.
Attention soon focused on Cathay’s Linhnan server. A hypothesis began to circulate: could this be a unique game mechanic? Perhaps when a player in a particular server conquered the maze or met some specific criteria, all the other mazes would vanish, ensuring exclusivity. Many players found this idea convincing; it seemed the only logical explanation. Sure enough, the official game website, now swamped with players, confirmed it: the underground maze was exclusive. It could exist only in one server and could be activated only by fulfilling special conditions.
The announcement triggered a worldwide uproar. Players were shocked, envious, or jealous. In Linhnan server, the players at the center of this storm of resentment could do nothing but bemoan their fate. They were the true losers of this episode. They had not only failed but had also lost significant experience and equipment. Their venture into the underground maze had been fruitless.
Some had fared even worse, managing to reach the High-grade areas only to be obliterated by a flash of silver light and dying instantly. After learning that the Emperor had done this, their frustration found a new outlet on the forums. All they could do was vent their spleen, hurling curses at Richard and his lineage. These frustrated gamers became the epitome of keyboard warriors!
On the forums, amid the flood of vitriolic posts, conversations also turned to Black-hearted Princess. Several threads gained popularity, especially one titled, “Shocking! Black-hearted Princess is in bed with the succubus. She actually did this to the players!” Despite the sensational headline, the content was rather mundane. The post’s essence boiled down to a simple accusation: “Black-hearted Princess colluded with the succubus and killed us.”
Nevertheless, the information managed to shock many readers. Now that the Jade Empire was ardently hunting the succubus across its lands, if they reported the fact that Black-hearted Princess was working with her…
[White Cloud]: Report Black-hearted Princess, we’ll be rich!
— was the first comment to appear on the page.
The subsequent comments were filled with scorn and skepticism from other anonymous players.
[**]: Stupid. How can you believe that so easily?
[***]: It’s blatantly fake news. If Black-hearted Princess had any connection to the succubus, she’d be a fugitive by now!
[***]: This must be a trap for gullible people like you!
[***]: Even if it’s true, wouldn’t it be wiser to keep it to yourself and report her quietly? You didn’t even hide your name. Are you looking to get killed?
[***]: Exactly, Black-hearted Princess is known to hold grudges!
[***]: Black-hearted Princess is in cahoots with the seventh princess. If you report her, the seventh princess will come after you. Think about the consequences.
[***]: Aren’t you putting your life on the line for this?
[***]: You’re practically asking for trouble.
[***]: I have proof that it’s true!
[***]: Me too. Here’s a video of Black-hearted Princess’s little demon, [Mahou Shoujo Yunuen], attacking us!
[***]: I can back it up as well!
The mixture of derision, fear, and intrigue played out in the comments, painting a complex picture of the players’ sentiments regarding Black-hearted Princess and the swirling rumors surrounding her.
The release of the two video recordings sent shockwaves through the online thread, causing the number of comments to skyrocket. Any hateful rants were soon buried as the thread took on a life of its own, rapidly becoming the most popular topic. By noon, hundreds of posts concerning Black-hearted Princess had already cropped up.
Some users questioned the validity of the footage, arguing that no one had witnessed Black-hearted Princess entering the maze. Others were adamant that the evidence was genuine. Speculation ran rampant, with some pondering whether Black-hearted Princess was perhaps the true victor of the underground maze, while others offered different theories.
In no time at all, Yaeger, or Black-hearted Princess, became the center of attention. Players from both domestic and international servers were fixated on her. Piecing together various clues and information from the forums, it became increasingly clear to the community that she was the one who had conquered the underground maze. The mystery of what lay within the maze and what rewards she might have obtained fueled the curiosity, with players worldwide longing for the implementation of cross-server battles so they could hunt her down and seize her treasures.
Meanwhile, in a luxurious apartment in Huadu, S.K.Y. was deep in slumber, ensnared in a peculiar dream.
Darkness pervaded his dream world. It was an abyss of blackness, devoid of light. He reached out with small, baby-like hands, grasping at nothingness. Slowly, the world started to illuminate, but the light was eerie and unnatural. A shade of purple filled the sky, and the earth was a somber black. An unsettling unreality settled over everything.
“My child,” an aged, hollow, and otherworldly voice called to him.
He looked up to find a middle-aged man adorned in black armor, crowned with thorns. Yet, the term “man” seemed misplaced, for no human had such a strikingly blue skin, faintly glowing. Glancing at his own hands, he found them blue, though brighter than the man’s.
“My child,” the middle-aged figure repeated, lifting him up and staring out over the dark plains. The wind from the south rustled his gray hair and carried with it the scent of death – the very winds of demise.
“Behold. Everything you can see and everything else you can’t are mine. I am its ruler!” the man declared, excitement in his voice. Then, his tone shifted. “But! Someday, my life will reach the sea of ending, and I’ll return to the abyss. And you, shall be crowned as the King!” As he spoke, his eyes ignited with pitch-black flames.
The flames quickly engulfed his entire body, yet the child remained untouched. The black fire reduced the man to a white skeleton, while S.K.Y. continued to stare, transfixed. An unsettling smile, one that should never grace the face of someone his age, spread across his lips.
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