Chapter 290: The Second Stage Begins
“If you could help me open this door then I would be most thankful,” Sophie replied back in a polite tone.
“Just give me a moment!” the kind elderly voice yelled.
Sophie waited patiently and heard what sounded like someone or rather something crashing against metal pots and pans.
The cold breeze underground caused goosebumps to appear on her arm, but Sophie could deal with this chill.
“Are you still there?” the creature behind the door asked.
“Yes, I am still here,” Sophie responded.
Two minutes passed by uneventfully and then for a second time, the mysterious voice asked Sophie the same question.
“Are you still there?” the creature asked in the same tone and inflection.
Now this was just ridiculous.
How far could she have possibly walked in just the span of just a few minutes?
Sophie had to hide the traces of frustration flashing across her face but still managed to reply,
“Yes…I haven’t moved…”
Another two minutes passed and soon a familiar cycle began to repeat itself.
“Are you still here?”
“I have not taken a single step for at least ten minutes now.”
“Are you still here?”
“What’s the point of asking such a pointless question?”
“Are you still here?”
“I promise that I won’t move… I AM STILL HERE!”
“Are you still here?”
“Yes…. I am….”
The elderly voice repeated the question for the tenth time but Sophie at this point had given up on any chance of assistance and was now searching the surrounding area for clues.
Apparently, whatever was behind the door noticed the lack of response and did not speak again.
According to the aliens in the stone pod chamber room, this was a trial to determine who was worthy to survive.
Clearly there must be a way to break or unlock the golden chain attached to the handle of the wooden door.
Sophie walked away from the door and carefully inspected every inch of stone and rubble for any hint or clue.
The crimson glow of the crystals protruding from the walls lit up the passageway in an eerie light that made Sophie feel uncomfortable.
The light was soft but somehow it felt as though the gentle glow from the crystals were like the harsh rays of the sun beating down on her body.
“So, help me God… don’t let me enter that door or I swear I will beat whoever is behind that voice into a bloody pulp,” Sophie quietly muttered as she wiped away the beads of sweat forming on her brow.
After thirty minutes of fruitless searching, Sophie realised that there were truly no leads to be found.
Everything appeared to be perfectly normal.
This environment minus the mysterious crystals…
Looked exactly like a normal cave or tunnel deep underground.
Sophie sighed heavily and walked back up to the door where she was greeted with the same voice that now seemed like a nightmare.
“Do you need some help lass?” the same kind elderly voice repeated.
Sophie took a deep breath and then replied, “Yes please.”
“Just give me a moment!”
The conversation repeated exactly the same as before, but this time Sophie decided to try something new.
“No!” she yelled.
There was an awkward silence from the other end and this time Sophie could not hear the metallic clanging noise.
“Is there a problem lass?” the voice finally spoke but this time the kind elderly voice had been replaced by a deep husky baritone.
“I want to know how to break the golden chain binding the handle,” Sophie boldly spoke.
“And what can you offer in exchange?” the deep voice chuckled, and Sophie could feel a pair of malicious eyes watching her from the dark.
“What is the valuable thing that you own?”
Sophie frowned as this simple question had numerous implications.
Right now, she was at a disadvantage when faced with the creature behind the door due to a lack of information.
Whoever was behind the door wanted something in exchange, but the problem was that she had no idea what to say next.
Putting forward an item of her choosing for the exchange was risky because she had no idea if what she had in her storage device was enough for the creature.
But asking what the creature wanted might be even risker as it would be the one to set the price and that would place it a higher position during this negotiation.
Sophie reached into her storage bag and pulled out a tiny vial containing a greenish-yellow liquid that was bubbling.
“I can offer a vial of Wolf’rean poison capable of killing an entire city by placing one single drop in the water supply.”
“And what else can you give?” the husky voice asked impatiently.
Sophie pulled out most of the contents of her storage device but still left her food supply and a few select vials of poison and weapons.
The contents of her storage device were enough to form a small hill of goods to appear in the narrow passageway.
There were originally a lot of goods inside her storage device before the trip to the royal palace and when combined with all the items Sophie had stolen since arriving in the Unova Syndicate…
It was a fortune.
“Anything else?” the voice demanded.
“No…that’s all I am willing to offer,” Sophie firmly responded.
There was another brief silence but soon a mechanical buzzing noise could be heard coming from the ground.
Sophie grabbed the nearest wall to steady her body as the room began to shake uncontrollably from side to side.
“IS YOUR LIFE ONLY WORTH THAT PALTRY SUM!” the deep voice bellowed with a frightening snarl.
“No, it isn’t,” Sophie hung on to the nearest wall for dear life but still managed to grit her teeth and reply.
The room instantly stopped shaking and this change in momentum caused Sophie to be flung onto the floor where she landed with a dull thump.
“So… are you going to bring out an item that is worth your life?” the voice asked in a sneering tone.
Sophie stuck her bladed appendages into the floor and waited for the world to stop spinning.
The voice behind the door was unusually patient and it seemed as though it was prepared to wait until Sophie gave another offer.
This gave her time to consider what else she had to give in order to enter the wooden door.
Did the creature have some way of knowing that there were still some items left in her storage device?
Wait… what if nothing she had was enough for the voice?
No… something was wrong.
Sophie pressed her fingers against her temple and started to think.
Was this stage of the trial akin to a pay to win?
Was this test simply the candidate having the most wealth would advance? Or was there some hidden meaning in the question.
What was the most valuable thing she owned?
Her vials of poison?
Her sums of money?
Or was… it…
Sophie’s eye lit up as a thought took root in her mind that she could not ignore. The answer to the question was staring her right in the face.
“I can’t offer you anything from my storage device,” Sophie stared at the door and spoke with a strong tone of conviction.
“Because my life is priceless to the people important to me. I have nothing on my person than is more valuable than myself”
“The most valuable thing is me!”
No sooner had the words left her lips did Sophie see the floating green text suddenly appear in the air above the wooden door.
[Stage 2- Trial Completed]
The golden chain vibrated and then suddenly shattered into tiny pieces that vanished as soon as they hit the ground.