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3 Escape Room

    While studying each door carefully, leon was contemplating which door was least likely to lead to a terrible death. Considering the fact that he didn't know the first thing about magic he quickly ruled out the first door.

    That left him to choose between "The Trial of Martial Ability" and "The Trial of the Mind". Leon thought himself a fairly capable young man for his age, but he didn't delude himself. He had never learned any martial arts, or how to use any weapons. Though he gave it more thought than the first door, he eventually passed on the second door as well.

    That only left the third door, the so called "Trial of the Mind". Given the fact that he had no idea what a "Trial of the Mind" would entail, Leon didn't know what to expect. After weighing his options, Leon figured that he was most likely more adept at using his mind, than using magic, or weilding a sword. Leon stepped up to the third door, and reached out his hand. The second that his finger tips grazed the door he was immediately teleported to a new room.

    Leon found himself in a room, that was much smaller in comparison to the previous massive dome. Unlike the previous cavern the walls in this room were made out of metal rather than stone. The room was rather bare, and the only thing that stuck out was a singular metal door, which seemed to be of a much more reasonable size compared to the previous giant one that he had just come through, and a large bench, with a mountain of miscellaneous tools, and parts stacked on top of it.

    "Welcome to the first trial!" said a cheerful female, and yet somewhat inhuman voice out of nowhere.

    "Who... where are you?" asked a somewhat disgruntled Leon noting that there was nobody else in the room with him.

    "Hello candidate, you may call me Alexa! As to your second question I am a an artificial soul matrix that has been assigned to this trial." responded the mysterious voice.

    Looking around trying the figure out where the hell the voice was coming from Leon repeated his question again, "So where are you then?" He was somewhat confused as the voice seemed to be coming from every direction at once.

    "Well since my soul matrix was bound to this trial, you can say that I am the trial itself in a way." Alexa responded decidedly unhelpfully.

    That answer raised more questions than it answered, but Leon decided not to dwell on that. He was much more concerned with getting through this whole ordeal, preferably in one piece. "so what am I supposed to do then?" he asked the somewhat mysterious voice that called herself Alexa.

    "Oh that's simple, just figure out the mechanism to open the door. Feel free to ask me any questions, but understand that I can't tell you how to pass the test, so don't expect to rely on me." responded the voice.

    Leon turned his attention back towards the door. There seemed to be some sort of blue gem embedded into a panel in the center of the door, and three more red gems on the top of the door. Leon approached the door, and ran his fingers over the elegant grooves that had been ingrained throughout the entire door in complex, yet seemingly intentional patterns. Returning his attention back to the center of the door, Leon decided to take Alex up on her offer, and asked her about the gem, "So what's this blue thing in the middle?"

    "That is a mana Crystal" The voice responded after a moment. "A mana crystal is a special kind of crystal that can be activated by having mana directed into it, that's all I'm allowed to tell you.

    Leon had heard of mana crystals before, but this was his first time ever seeing one in person, and he couldn't help but notice at how fragile it appeared. From what he could tell this was a fairly large mana crystal, at least compared to the ones that were used in generic every-day tools. mana crystals were generally used as a power source that could hold mana so people who had never learned how to use magic, could perform basic spells without understanding the intricacies of magic.

    Unfortunately for Leon, this mana crystal seemed as if it had long since expended its charge. Leon grabbed a tool off of the workbench, and tried to pry the panel off the door, and after a few tries, he managed to pry it off with a satisfying pop.

    Behind the panel was an empty box. There were ports surrounding the perimeter of the box, and each of them seemed to connect to one of the grooves that were carved throughout the door. After inspecting the groves more closely, he noted  they spread out in an unpredictable pattern. The sheer amount of grooves was dizzying. Some of the grooves abruptly stopped, creating what seemed to be a dead end, while others crossed over each other, and continued on their own path.

    On the top of the door there were three red gems  arranged in a row that each had their own singular groove coming off of them. The grooves all quickly joined the jungle of other lines, spreading out like vines. Seeing all of this Leon decided to venture a guess, "Alexa, are these grooves used to transport mana from the mana crystal to these red gems?"

    "If you passed mana through them correctly, you could indeed achieve that." Alex answered him cautiously, avoiding giving out any unnecessary information.

    With something vaguely resembling a plan in mind, Leon turned his attention to the pile of junk on the desk. He started sorting through all of the stuff, looking for something that could act as a plug between the mana crystal and one of the many grooves in the door. After sorting through the pile meticulously for close to 10 minutes, Leon now had a much smaller pile of cables that could fit into the sockets on the panel, and in the box.

    Deciding that he might as well test his theory, Leon went over to the door grabbing one of the longer cables, and attached one end to the panel and the other to one of the ports in the box. Expectedly nothing happened. The mana crystal still seemed to be dormant, and likely wouldn't do anything until it was charged.

    Unfortunately, Leon had never been taught how to use mana, and since it was a fairly well known fact that trying to learn something like that on your own was a fruitless endeavor, Leon had never even tried. Now a faced with a dilemma, he decided he would use his resources, "Alex, how do you charge a mana crystal?"

    "That's Simple, you just direct the ambient mana in the environment through your body, and into the crystal." her response was like that of a textbook.

    Leons fears were justified. There was no way that he would be able to get out of this room until that crystal was charged, and that meant that he had to figure out some way to move mana into it from his surroundings.

    "Follow up question, how do I move mana from my surroundings into the crystal?" given how helpful Alexa had been so far, Leon decided to try his luck. He had nothing to lose, and he didn't think that he really had any other options at this point.

    "Just absorb the ambient mana in the environment, then collect it into your finger, and push it into the mana crystal." Alexa quickly answered, but considering that Leon barely new what mana was, it was only marginally helpful.

    'Geen thanks' Leon thought as he started coming to terms with his situation. He would be trapped in this room until he figured out how to move mana into the crystal. Having no better solution Leon leaned against a wall as he started trying to figure out how to absorb the ambient mana from his environment.

    ---

    Days later:

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    After leaning against the wall for what felt like days, Leon finally felt something. It was only for a moment, but his whole left hand felt as if it had been dipped into something tingly. He was sure that this must have been what he was looking for.

    He began focusing on this feeling, and tried to replicate it. After a few hours, Leon was finally able to replicate it at will, but only in his left hand. Regardless, that was all he needed. As Leon crept towards the mana crystal, he began to feel butterflies in his stomach as his anticipation grew. The moment of truth, Leon pushed as much mana as he could into the mana crystal, and as he did so the blue gem began to glow.

    After a tense moment, a blue light started flow through the various pathways like a river. Every time the light split off on another path it became a little bit dimmer, until it finally fizzled out before making it to wny of the three gems. When the light was finished spreading a roughly circular shape full of glowing blue cracks lingered for a moment. Although the mana didn't make it all the way to any of the three crystals at the top, Leon still took this as a win.

    Now that Leon knew how to power the structure he just needed to figure out how to provide mana to the three crystals at the top. Although Leon had a pile of several different cables, there were only 5 slots for them on the back of the panel that could provide power to the rest of the formation, which prevented him from just plugging in power to each of the ports on the door.

    The next step was for Leon to try adding a second cable. This time when he charged the mana crystal, the paths of the mana overlapped, and combined in strength. This caused a few of the paths to stretch out further than the others, and made Leon realise the true genius behind this system. Having only 5 cables he would have to figure out the perfect order to plug them in. Considering there were more than 50 places that Leon could plug in the cables, it seemed as if he was in for the long haul.

    Before he got down to it, Leon figured that he had earned a shot rest. He had been intensely focusing on his surroundings for days now trying to sense mana, and he hadn't slept or eaten anything since he started this trial. However, now that he decided to take a break, he noticed something odd. He was neither hungry, nor tired. Now that he thought about it, he should be dead considering how little he had eaten. Leon had no way to explain this, so he just wrote it off as some strange phenomenon of the dungeon.

    After realising that he wouldn't need to rest Leon got down to meticulously trying every possible combination of cables. After seeing how each one spread out, Leon decided to try the combinations with the ports that seemed to reach the closest to the red crystals first. After a while the work became mindless, and he just plugged in each of the cables on by one, in what seemed to be a rather mindless task.

    ---

    A few days later:

    On autopilot, Leon once again applied power to the mana crystal, but this time he used his right hand. After spending so long trying to find the right combination, Leon decided to distract himself by learning how to use his right hand to manipulate mana as well. After having having already learned to do it with his left hand, it came much more naturally this time.

    After what very well could have been the millionth try, he finally managed to light up all of the red crystals. The temperature in the room immediately began to rise, as the red crystals burst into extremely hot flames. Leon didn't know what he was expecting, but he hoped this was supposed to happen. The metal around the crystals began to melt, and after about 20 minutes the whole door had melted.

    "Congratulations on passing the first test, that was a fun warm up, huh?" said Alexa, whom Leon had admittedly forgotten about until now. "Please pass through the door, to begin the next test."

    Leon cautiously passed through the rectangular melted hole in the wall. Almost immediately after he passed through the threshold of the wall, the metal started melting in reverse, and in a matter of seconds a solid door had been rebuilt behind him. There was no going back now.
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