Underworld Playerchapter 83: inferring from observation

The drawings had clearly been made by childish hands, so all of them showed signs of naivety.

In other words, they were all wildly different. The twisting, naive strokes made by children invariably made each drawing unique to the child who made it, so trying to find one that "stood out" was quite a challenge.

However, the artwork Daoloth had identified featured some wild scribbles on the wall that resembled a small figure standing on a stool and leaning slightly on the windowsill, looking out the window.

It was all quite abstract.

"Now what?" As he listened to Daoloth describe the drawing in her hand, Bai Zhi contemplated the scene before him and said into the walkie-talkie, after some thought, "Hmm, I think... Try erasing the stool at the wall."

In a few seconds, he watched as the 2-dimensional stool returned to a 3-dimensional state, then nodded to himself as he casually kicked it aside.

"Okay, go ahead and erase the human figure on the wall now."

Moments later, Temperance Gentleheart found herself without any footing, and with a yelp of surprise, crashed onto the ground, where she groaned painfully.

Bai Zhi paid her no heed, and proceeded to respond to Traveler, who was asking about what just happened over the walkie-talkie. He picked up the stool and sat down as he recounted the recent events as simply as he could.

"So you guys somehow walked into a drawing? ...Understood. Please carry on. Over," said Traveler over the walkie-talkie, sounding thoughtful as he ended the communication.

"...How did you figure it out?"

Temperance Gentleheart vengefully eyed the stool currently occupied by Bai Zhi's boorish ass as she massaged her shoulder.

"I can see how you worked out that we were in a picture, but how did you know specifically that it would be one of the children's artworks on the first floor, and not some photograph, or some skilled artist's painting?"

"Easy." Bai Zhi turned to look at Temperance Gentleheart like it was only too obvious. "I only looked away from you for a few seconds, which was all it took to turn you into a picture on the wall. The ability to render you as a painting on a wall at that speed is obviously only compatible with the naive strokes of a childish doodle. After all, to a child, a few simple strokes are enough to represent a person... Plus, when we were on the first floor, I noted the whole floor plan, and it was just a matter of inferring from observation.

Temperance Gentleheart gave Bai Zhi a look like she had no idea what he was talking about, but was very impressed anyway.

Getting to her feet with a grimace, she then said, with great annoyance, "Okay, even then, you didn't have to let me fall, did you? You even kicked the stool away and sat on it! Not even trying to catch me... Why're you looking at me like that?"

"No reason, just thinking that dumb people really have dumb luck..." replied Bai Zhi. "The gods are fair indeed, granting you a surplus of luck with one hand while leaving you starving for wisdom with the other.

With a smirk, he sent the stool skidding toward her with another kick and made his way toward the sixth floor.

"I'm not Mustachio, so don't expect me to coddle and comfort you even after you make a mistake. With your reckless, trial-and-error attitude, if I didn't knock some sense into you, how long do you think you'll survive out there? Even that scaredy-cat, Late Night Kitty, was more competent..."

Looking after Bai Zhi's retreating figure in astonishment, Temperance Gentleheart gaped like a fish as she struggled to say something, but finally closed her mouth and silently packed the stool back into her Inventory, then hurried to catch up with Bai Zhi.

Meanwhile, on the first floor, Daoloth had set fire to the whole pile of drawings, freeing Bai Zhi and Temperance from the prison of the infinitely-looping staircase.

The moment the fire caught, a notification screen popped up before each Player.

[ One secret source of strange activity neutralized ]

Traveler, who was in a corridor on the third floor, read the notification with furrowed brows.

"What's up?"

As she noticed the change in her partner's expression, the tall, prim girl turned toward him.

"Did you see? The notification only said 'one secret source of strange activity neutralized, but didn't give any more information."

Traveler's tone was low and serious as he gave the gold-rimmed glasses on his face a nudge.

"Objective 2 was to seek out six sources of strange activity, but does that mean there are only six sources in the orphanage? I've been wondering about that this whole time. However, with this notification, I can pretty much work it out..."

"You're saying there are at least six secret sources of strange activity inside the orphanage, but possibly even more than that, right?" said Viridescent as she gazed at Traveler, a sword in her hand.

Before them stretched a seemingly interminable corridor with doors to either side of it, all tightly shut. Above them, lights flickered on and off.

Behind them, too, the corridor stretched on with no end in sight.

It had not been long after the two of them stepped foot on the third floor that they found themselves caught in this perfectly straight, endless corridor, much like how Bai Zhi and Temperance had been caught in the drawing.

However, for the past three minutes, they had been holding their position as they monitored the presence ahead of them.

The darkness and poor lighting made it impossible to see clearly, but there was definitely a shadowy shape standing a few hundred meters further along the endless corridor, apparently hitting the wall with one hand. It had been pounding away for three minutes straight, and showed no intent to move. The regular thumping sound echoed faintly along the corridor.

"Yes, there are definitely more than six sources of strange activity in this orphanage, but what I can't wrap my head around is, with so much strange activity in this place, how any normies managed to survive in here?"

Traveler's brows creased furiously as he contemplated the single-minded figure before them.

"Getting the normies out of here was specifically marked as a quest objective, which means there are definitely survivors somewhere in here, but the problem is...

"Where the hell are the survivors?"