IWOL Chapter 116: The Past

“If Domingo comes back now, I will definitely be able to beat him.” Cui Zuojing was full of confidence. The feeling that his body was full of power was undoubtedly enjoyable, making him feel intoxicated. Last night’s drunkenness still hadn’t completely faded, but he was becoming intoxicated again.

Dong Zheng hummed in agreement. Then, he took a deep breath, suppressed the urge to seize the opportunity to do something, and said, “Let’s go and wake everyone up. We have a training mission today, and it won’t be good if we return late and delay business.”

Cui Zuojing nodded. He turned, climbed back onto the platform, and entered the private room with Dong Zheng to wake everyone up.

After greeting Kazama Eri and thanking her for her generous hospitality, the group of people who had, aside from Wang Que, yet to sober up found a secret place, took out Fu Zhe’s key, and opened a door at random to return to the castle.

Right now, Cui Zuojing, Victor, and Fu Zhe had separately and truly lifted their first seals.

As a result, they incorporated the use of time, space, and physical power into the space Fu Zhe had created for training. Whether it bore fruit, only they knew.

After a short period of adaptation, the intensity of training returned to the level similar to the American-Soviet Competition for hegemony. Everyone had added three more ability points and also gained experience and much exercise from Dusk Island. As a result, they weren’t too drained.

Except for Wang Que.

For some reason, in the past few day, the young woman was always in a daze. She was tired all the time, and her training result lagged far behind the others.

As the chief instructor, Cui Zuojing observed all of this. He asked twice if Wang Que hadn’t been sleeping well, but he received a negative answer.

Wang Que was also very confused. She slept very soundly and deeply at night. But not long after waking up, she would begin to feel sleepy and tired again and would want to find a place to go back to sleep.

Victor checked her body but couldn’t find any problems.

That day, shooting practice was in full swing. After Wang Que shot a hundred bullets with her hand gun, she rolled her wrist, put the gun down, and moved to the side to take a break.

She watched Dong Linhai concentrate on shooting. Although he didn’t have shooting experience and a good starting foundation like Allen and Dong Zheng, Dong Linhai learned these things very quickly, and now he could shoot as well as Allen.

As she watched him, she felt her eyelids growing heavier and heavier. Thinking that she would just close her eyes and rest for two minutes, Wang Que leaned on the back of the sofa, afraid to adjust into a fully comfortable position for fear of actually falling asleep. She closed her eyes.

Half a minute later, she fell into a dark sleep amid deafening gunfires.

“…Wang Que.”

Someone seemed to be calling her.

“Wang Que.”

Wang Que opened her eyes and raised her head. The light of the setting sun streamed in through the classroom window, scattering across the floor and the blackboard full of math problems. She squinted her eyes.

“Why did you fall asleep? Didn’t you rest well last night?”

The girl’s familiar face was full of worries. Wang Que raised her hand and rubbed her forehead, feeling as if her brain had turned into a cloud of mud.

For a moment, she felt as if she’d forgotten many important things and why she shouldn’t be sitting here right now.

….Why?

“Have I slept for a long time?”

“Yes, for the greater part of the class. The teacher didn’t want to wake you, and now everyone is gone.”

Tan Qiuyu recalled how the always stern math teacher had looked at the second row and discovered Wang Que with her head down. But, instead of waking her up, she simply treated it as if she hadn’t seen it. Acid water filled Tan Qiuyu’s heart, and she pretended to joke, “Quickly confess, did you stay up late last night to secretly study without telling me?”

“No, maybe I’m just too tired during this time period. It’ll be fine once I’ve passed the entrance exam.” Wang Que packed her schoolbag as quickly as possible, got up, and smiled at Tan Qiuyu. “Let’s go back.”

The school had opened a special cultural training class for art students. Today was the last day.  They could go home to rest for one day before having to rush to another place for art training.

Wang Que and Tan Qiuyu’s family did not live in the same city. The two waited for the bus together at the bus stop. Wang Que’s bus arrived first. She said goodbye to Tan Qiuyu and got on the bus to go home.

The training school was very close to the starting station, and apart from her, there was only the driver in the bus. Wang Que chose a position by the window and sat down. She took off her school bag and placed it on her lap, then unzipped it and pulled out her paint book from within.

She looked at the week’s exercises one by one. In the warm light of the setting sun and through the slight bumps of the traveling bus, she perused them for details that might not work well.

After flipping through all the thick papers, she suddenly realized that one seemed to be missing.

Her book was actually a hard-cover folder, which contained all her completed and unfinished paints that week, making it very convenient to take out.

The missing painting had impressed her greatly. It was a watercolor she had painted in the studio three days ago. She’d painted the classroom from a bird’s-eye view. The light and shadow and the perspective and color were all very well done. Even the teacher was full of praises.

Wang Que couldn’t help but become anxious. Art was sometimes spontaneous. Even an original author couldn’t exactly replicate an excellent work in the same way. That painting was her most satisfying recent work, and she wouldn’t just throw it away without good reason.

She rummaged through her school bag but was unable to find the painting. She had no idea where it could have gone. She frowned slightly, comforting herself that perhaps she’d inadvertently left it in the classroom?

So, she sent a text message to her parents, saying that she’d left something at school and wanted to retrieve it. She would return home later than usual and for them not to worry. She got off the train at the next station, walked to the platform on the other side of the street, got in the bus heading in the opposite direction, and returned to school.

20 minutes later, Wang Que was back at school. She had the key to the classroom and opened the door. She went to her seat and looked around, but she couldn’t find the missing painting.

Was it really lost?

As she sat on her chair, Wang Que felt her hands and feet grow numb. She was sad enough to cry.

Such a painting was hard to come by.

She took a deep breath and told herself not to panic. Holding onto one last hope, she clicked on the chat interface with Tang Qiuyu and asked: Qiuyu, I have a painting that has gone missing. It’s the one with the overview of the classroom. Have you seen it?

The sun gradually sank below the horizon, and the sky turned dark. Wang Que was a little scared sitting alone in the empty classroom. She waited patiently. Finally, the phone vibrated.

Tan Qiuyu: Ah, I wanted to take a look at that painting. You were sleeping at the time, so I didn’t tell you. 

Seeing this sentence, Wang Que felt as if there was something blocking her chest, and she couldn’t breathe.

She felt an uncontrollable anger and grievance. Tears that she had been holding back dropped onto the phone screen, reflecting the chaotic color on the screen.

Tan Qiuyu: I really like your use of light and shadow. I took it because I wanted to study it and learn from it. After you woke up, you were in such a hurry to go home that I forgot to tell you. Sorry. I hope I haven’t delayed you.”

[Next time, please tell me before taking my things away. Don’t you know that I’ve been looking for it?] Wang Que typed this line into the text box, took a deep breath, wiped away her tears, and suddenly felt that she was being a bit too hypocritical.

It was obviously a good thing that she was able to find the painting. Qiuyu had also apologized and said that she’d forgotten to tell her. Wasn’t she being a little too harsh?

She deleted the words one by one and re-entered: It’s okay. I couldn’t find it just now and was worried. Since you have it, I feel reassured. Don’t worry. You can bring it to me when you come to the studio the day after tomorrow.

Without waiting for Tan Qiuyu’s response, Wang Que put her phone into her bag and left the darkened school. She waited at the station in the cold and windy December night for about five minutes before boarding the bus for home.

Once she got home, she set up her painting board and continued to paint well into the night, until she was too sleepy to hold the brush. Finally, she went to wash up and headed to for bed.

The entrance examination was next week, and she had to work harder than ever.

Last month, when she went to Beijing for training, she met a teacher from the Central Academy of Fine Arts who was a very famous oil painter. The teacher liked her very much and even said that she was the most gifted student he had seen in the past two years.

The teacher determined that, with Wang Que’s high level, she would be able to pass the entrance examination and school exam. As long as she passed her culture class and entered the Central Academy of Fine Arts, he would choose her as his student.

No, at that time, there were a lot of teachers who wanted to take Wang Que under their wings. She still remembered an old gray-haired artist sitting on a chair and telling her with a smile, “The knowledge that old guy can bring you is definitely not as good as me. You must find me first.”

On the day of the training in the studio, Wang Que was the first to arrive. As the earliest student to arrive and the last student to leave, she had the key to the studio.

Not long after Wang Que sat down, a boy came in with his tools on his back. He sat down in front of his canvas next to her. She was studying the works of the previous few days as usual and only heard the sounds of things being unpacked. The sound seemed more flustered today than before.

She turned her head to look and met the boy’s nervous gaze.

Wang Que smiled at him when she saw him stand up and walked up to her.

This boy and she were not in the same school, but they studied in the same studio. They’d known each other for nearly a year, and their relationship was quite good.

“Wang Que, there’s something I want to tell you.” The boy looked back at the door of the studio to make sure that no one was coming in. He took a deep breath and put his hands behind his back.

Wang Que looked at him, put down the paintbrush in her hand, and smiled blankly but politely.

In the next moment, she heard the boy in front of her said with false calmness, “The entrance examination is coming soon. Although the time isn’t right, I still wanted to tell you–I like you.”

“When the college entrance examination is over, if we end up going to the Central Academy of Fine Arts, will you give me a chance to be with you?”

Wang Que was stunned.

She’d never thought of being confessed to, particularly by the boy in front of her.

A month ago, Tan Qiuyu had told her that she had a secret crush on the boy.

At that time, Wang Que wanted to help her and gave her some advice, hoping to make the boy realize how good Tan Qiuyu was.

Why was it like this?

Wang Que was silent for a long time. As she faced the boy’s anxious gaze, she saw the passage of time trickling minute by minute. Knowing that someone would come in soon, she could only whisper, “Sorry, I have no plans to fall in love for the time being. If the opportunity arises, after I reach adulthood, maybe we can talk about this again?”

The boy clearly understood her unspoken implication and became dejected. He knew that Wang Que was tactfully refusing him because she didn’t want to fall in love and was simply giving him face. He raised his hand and rubbed his nose in embarrassment. “Okay…I’m sorry. I was too abrupt.”

“It’s okay.” Wang Que breathed a sigh of relief. She picked up the paintbrush again and stared at the canvas for a while, unable to concentrate.

When Tan Qiuyu told her that she liked this boy, Wang Que was briefly surprised but she could understand in her heart.

He was very gentle and meticulous, with a height of 1.8 meters. Although he wasn’t extremely handsome, his delicate facial features were well worth a second look. According to Wang Que’s understanding, his grades in cultural classes were average, but in the studio, his art grades were second to hers, keeping pace with Tan Qiuyu.

Wang Que originally thought that the two of them were a good match.

For a while, the atmosphere in the studio was a little awkward, but fortunately, it didn’t take long for someone to come in again. That person was Tan Qiuyu.

The girl with short, pear blossom hair went straight to Wang Que, took out the painting from her bag, and smiled. “Thank you, Wang Que. You paint really well. Yesterday, I tried to copy it, but I couldn’t capture the same perception you did.”

Wang Que took the painting and put it in her folder. She looked at Tan Qiuyu’s smiling face, thought of the boy’s confession, and felt that she’d somehow betrayed her friend. Not knowing how to face her, she could only force a smile and said, “I was just lucky to think of that perception and managed to paint it like that.”

Out of Wang Que’s sight, Tan Qiuyu’s hands were tightly, tightly twisted behind her back, pulling her index finger into a terrifying curve. Her knuckles were pale, seemingly full of resentment.

 



Subscribe
Notify of
guest
4 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Anonymous
Anonymous
3 years ago

Thank you for the chapter~

I guess we're finally going to see Wang Que's source of trauma? O.O And yikes, her friend is so full of suppressed resentment it makes me uneasy >.< Maybe she's that girl with the bunny headgear. I wonder whether this has something to do with Wang Que's constant sleepiness…

Lylyth
Lylyth
3 years ago
Reply to  Anonymous

Haha whoops she definitely heard the confession probably

Dreamer
Dreamer
3 years ago

Yaaaaas finally Wang Que flashback! I’ve always wanted to know how she died and what made her so troubled.

This is me imagining far off into the future once everyone escaped from the Pure White Realm. Obviously, Wang Que comes back to life, and she would still want to pursue painting. I like the idea that her future paintings are the things she saw and encountered in the Pure White Realm. Since, there are plenty of fascinating objects, creatures, and places in the post death realm. A part of me also wants her to be known for creating horror/disturbing paintings because that’s the most abundant thing in the PWR.

Then she’ll get over her snake-like friend. And maybe… Maybe… Get together with Linhai. *Sniff* please let it be like this

yel
yel
2 years ago

oh damn, are we going to witness a snake friend??