75 Through the Looking Glass

 The Syndicate Hideout


After walking for a few hundred feet, Link and his comrades arrived back at the same hall where they first discovered the cursed magic formation.

"We are back here again. We will be trapped in here forever." Fear and desperation were written all over Captain Jacques' face.

After arriving back at the same hall for the third time, Jacques, the most emotionally volatile of the group, was already on the verge of collapse. The rest also felt discouraged, perturbed by their current situation.

"Let's not jump to conclusions and take a rest." Link's voice was as calm as ever.

Link walked towards a rattan chair in the corner of the hall and sat down. A beam of light was then released from his wand, illuminating the table in front of him. When the blinding light dissipated, bread and water had appeared on the table top.

Naturally, this was taken from his dimensional pendant, however, in order to boost the morale of the squad, Link pretended to be able to create food out of thin air, "Do not worry! Even if we are trapped, we will not starve, we have ample time to figure out a plan."

The amount of food in the dimensional pendant could last six of them for at least half a month. Link was confident that he could find a way out of this maze in that time. Even if the food ran out, he could still use Elemental Healing magic to replenish the energy of the squad.

In fact, there were spells that allowed Magicians to create food and water, except that Link did not bother to learn those superfluous spells. If needed, a Magician could stay alive simply by casting Elemental Healing on himself in replacement for food.

In other words, as long as Link had Mana, the six of them would not die of starvation or thirst.

Link was therefore calm.

Link's words and the presence of food relieved the tension and negativity that was in the hall. After all, the lack of food and water was the greatest problem if they were going to be trapped. Everyone heaved a sigh of relief.

The fact that Link could create food and water with magic also went uncontested. In any case, magic could do almost anything, creating food and water was nothing unusual.

Jacker immediately sat down and took a bite of the bread. After chewing for a few moments, he exclaimed, "This bread tastes exactly like the ones John made! Delicious!

Link smiled. It was made by John.

The rest soon formed a circle to satisfy their growling stomachs after their long walk.

After a hearty meal, everyone was feeling a lot more enthusiastic. Even Jacques looked ready to continue despite his pale demeanor.

Link observed his surroundings.

This was indeed the hall where the cursed magic formation lay, marks of its destruction could still be seen clearly on the ground. However, if you continued walking straight after passing through the exit, you would end up walking back to this hall.

As for the exit that lead back to the canyon, it was nowhere to be found.

This was preposterous. It was understandable that Captain Jacques would be terrified. In fact, Jacker, Anderson, Lucy, and Gildern were also out of ideas and waited for Link to give instructions.

Link did not manage to find any clues. After some rest, he suggested, "Let's try it once more but at a slower pace this time."

The rest trudged their bodies along and followed Link.

Link carefully observed the changes in the corridors as they passed. When they reached the exit that was supposed to lead them out of the cave, Link stopped and set his sights on the path ahead of him.

It seemed normal enough, but there was something strange. Link was perplexed, he could not explain this eeriness. In fact, it was familiarity he was feeling.

Link stayed stationary for a long time, carefully observing the path ahead of him. He compared its details with all those that he painstakingly memorized on their way here.

Link had discovered the trick.

The path ahead of them was, in fact, a mirror image of the current path they were on!

A certain person or spell had placed a theoretical mirror in the location that was supposed to lead them out of the cave. You could walk through this mirror, and that caused them to walk in circles.

Previously, Link and his comrades had been walking again and again into the mirror and back to the hall.

This mirror magic was perfectly cast, even the gaps had been meticulously patched up. You couldn't see any peculiarities in the walls of the cave or the contours of the ground-it looked natural.

It was lucky that Link was observant enough.

He immediately thought of a spell: Dimensional Mirror.

Dimensional Mirror

Level-11 Legendary spell

Effect: Creates a dimension and links it to the real world, forming a closed dimensional loop.

(Note: This spell is a staple in creating an ultimate maze!)

When he was playing the game, this was Link's favorite spell to use after he reached the rank of Legendary. He loved to trick his opponent with it and subsequently controlled their movements. For a moment, he was revered as the Demon King of Mazes.

However, it was much easier to see the loopholes in the spell when playing the game. In this world, the Dimensional Mirror was almost perfect, definitely capable of trapping a person in this loop infinitely.

Link was troubled yet again. This was a Legendary spell and there was no way he could dispel it. They had two options: the first was to clear a path from the gap where the mirror was connected to the cave walls, digging a tunnel that linked them to the outside world.

However, this was extremely risky. The exit that they created could once again be sabotaged by the same magic.

The second option was to continue walking to the deepest parts of the corridor to see if there were any new discoveries.

This was also dangerous, albeit less so than the former. Link thought for a moment and chose the second option.

"My lord, did you find anything significant?" Jacker asked.

Link nodded and said, "We are now caught in a loop by an extremely powerful magic and I am not strong enough to dispel it. However, we have a chance of escaping. Let's walk back to the deepest part of this cave and we may find something we need."

The presence of a Legendary spell meant that there was a Legendary spellcaster nearby, and the only one that fitted the criteria was none other than the leader of the Syndicate, Morpheus.

However, Link was convinced that Morpheus was not in this cave. If Morpheus desired, he could have defeated them easily with one or two spells; there was no need to set up a Dimensional Mirror spell.

Link thus inferred that because Morpheus's real self was not present, his sacrificial altar was nearby instead, allowing him to extend a part of his power to create the Dimensional Mirror.

Link was also convinced that Morpheus could not extend much of his power as the Dimensional Mirror was not a Mana consuming spell. The crucial part of this spell was the user's familiarity with the space. If Morpheus had a stronger outreach, he could also have easily captured them due to the vast difference in their powers.

After thinking it through, Link felt that he had a chance.

As the exit was sealed, the only other option was to go deeper into the cave. All though the rest were not willing to, they followed suit.

Jacques trailed timidly behind as he was afraid to be alone.

The other exit in the hall lead to the deepest part of the cave. It was also the direction the undead were heading towards.

Similar to what they did previously, Jacker raised his shield and took on the role of a front scout while Link cast his Illumination spell. Everyone else surrounded Link to protect him.

Along the way, they saw many rooms made out of stone.

Some of these rooms were used for storage, some to house weapons, and the more luxuriously decorated ones should be the living quarters of the Syndicate leaders.

At that moment, Syndicate bandits sprung out of nowhere. However, they were merely Level-1 and Level-2 bandits and were no match for the squad.

Link and his comrades had a rather smooth journey and killed around 30 Syndicate bandits on the way. The only eerie thing that happened was the resurrection of the lifeless bandits and their suspicious actions of running straight towards the deepest part of the cave, despite the severity of their injuries.

They came back to life even after they were beheaded.

This was getting too much even for Link to handle. "Chop off their limbs! Do not let them revive!" he shouted. He felt that there was more to this than what met the eye!

Everyone else was also terrified of the indiscriminate resurrection. They became a lot crueler and dismembered the bodies of the bandits, hoping that this would stop the resurrection process.

"Damn it, they are still reviving and moving!" Jacques hollered.

A dismembered body without limbs was crawling its way deeper into the cave like a giant slug. His severed limbs flung around on the ground desperately trying to head deeper into the cave as well. This was way too traumatizing to look at.

"Burn them all!" This was also Link's first time seeing such a horrific scene, it was usually censored when he played the game.

The separate body parts were still struggling even when they were getting toasted by the fire. Despite the boiling blisters, they continued to move towards their goal and only stopped in their tracks after becoming completely charred.

Everyone was speechless. Just what exactly was lying in wait for them in the deepest part of the cave?