IWOL Chapter 145: The Top of the Giant Tree

On November 12th, when the Pure White Realm had completely entered winter, everyone arrived at the train station bundled up in thick clothes.

Among the many pilgrims with large and small luggages, their lack of luggages made them undoubtedly conspicuous.

Dong Zheng distributed the four tickets he’d bought to everyone. Cui Zuojing was in his prisoner space, so that Dong Zheng would only need to redeem one ticket, thus saving 200 points.

After they left Snow Parasite Trail, Fu Zhe told them that he had received news that the Hell Circus’ next tour was scheduled to be at the top of the giant tree. After losing Allen, their points were just enough to purchase four tickets.

After a thorough discussion, they all agreed that it was time to leave.

But before leaving, they went to the proprietress to inform her of Allen’s death and to bid her farewell.

Dong Zheng didn’t want to recall that scene. What made it more unbearable was that, instead of breaking down in tears, Kazama Eri had shown stalwart forbearance. She invited them to eat their last meal at her shop. Wearing the four-leaf clover bracelet Allen had gifted her on her wrist, she bid them farewell.

She’d died in a box three years ago and was chosen by Kether to become a manager. As a result, she’d opened a hot spring tavern in District XII.

She’d met all kinds of people. But, inevitably, after a short period of contact, they would disappear forever from her world, either due to having died in a box or leaving District XII.

Allen had also told her from the beginning that once the team accumulated enough points, they would be moving on to the next district. After a brief period of broken-heartedness, she found relief in the thought that they would at least able to make some beautiful memories together. This was enough.

They didn’t need to know each other’s ending. After loving and parting, instead of holding on to the ugliness, it was better to leave behind the best self in each other’s memories.

But now Allen was dead.

Dong Zheng didn’t tell her how Allen died. Knowing would only make her sadder.

The train still hadn’t arrived yet.  They went to the platform and was stopped at the gate by a huge, two-headed monster.

“Ticket inspection.”

“We’re going to the top of the giant tree.”

The monster looked at their tickets one by one and tore off the ticket stub, the sound ripping out like muffled thunder. “You should know the rules. If you want to enter the platform, you must pass my test.”

Everyone knew that the closer they got to the Queen’s Palace, the stricter the inspection would become. The ticket would only allow them the chance to participate in the test. If they should fail to pass, they would need to buy more tickets until the guard was willing to let them leave.

Dong Zheng said, “We’re ready.”

The guard hummed with satisfaction, then without warning, he fished out a box of mahjong tiles from behind his body and placed it on his tea table. “Come play mahjong with me. If you win, I’ll let you pass.”

Everyone was stunned. After a long time, Dong Linhai asked in a daze, “Mahjong?”

The guard had already cleared the table and was taking the tiles out from the box. “Yes. There aren’t very many people who can win against me. You should be careful.”

Dong Linhai was speechless. “…You must be a Sichuanese in the past.”

“Who knows. I don’t remember the things from my previous life.” The monster sat in the position of the dealer and took out a dice from his pocket. He opened two sleepy-looking eyes and pointed at the three empty chairs. “Come on. Don’t waste time.”

Everyone except Wang Que sat. She opted to stand aside and watch.

Lin Hangzhi whispered, “I don’t remember the last time I played mahjong…”

He used to be very busy with work. Aside from sleeping and eating, he had no other pastime.

Dong Linhai said, “Me too…”

Dong Zheng didn’t speak, but his unpracticed way of handling the tiles said everything.

Cui Zuojing looked on from the prisoner space. He sat on the bed and said, “It’s okay. I’m pretty good at it. I’ll guide you.”

Everyone didn’t have much confidence. In fact, they’d been expecting the guard to test their strength or perhaps their ability to strategize. However…they didn’t expect that it would be playing mahjong!

What a magical test!

After setting out the mahjong tiles, the guard rolled the dice. Everyone began to take their tiles. Dong Zheng’s expression was calm, but Cui Zuojing thought that he was probably somewhat nervous.

After all, they weren’t very good at playing mahjong. Since the guard was using this as a test, he ought to be very skilled.

After drawing all his mahjong tiles, Lin Hangzhi froze. Just when the guard, who was also playing as the banker, was going to ask for a tile, Lin Hangzhi cleared his throat and said, “That…”

The guard’s large eyes immediately turned to look at him. “?”

Lin Hangzhi swallowed nervously. He took a deep breath, flipped over his row of tiles with both hands, and said, “All in the same suit. A Heavenly Hand.” (1)

Everyone:………….

**************

The train came to a stop at their destination, the top of the giant tree.

Lin Hangzhi covered his head as he walked through the train car and still ended up knocking into the door frame as he got off the train.

There weren’t many people at the train station. The first thing Dong Zheng did was to go and apply for a place to live. Meanwhile, Cui Zuojing was released. As he waited, he sized up the train station.

After so many years had gone by, he was here once again. This place looked like it hadn’t changed much.

After completing the application for housing, they inspected their assigned apartment and found that it also had a rooftop.

As he stood on the rooftop, Dong Linhai recalled the time when he was emotionally entangled about Dong Zheng’s deception during the US-Soviet competition, and Allen had ran up to comfort him in the middle of the night. He shook his head and forced the scene out of his mind, not wanting to wallow in grief.

He missed Allen so much. Everyone felt the same. But, he shouldn’t sink too deeply into that pit.

Back at Fu Zhe’s castle, Lillian had already prepared lunch and was waiting for them. After so long, this woman who had become Wang Que’s prisoner had completely adapted to a life of taking care of everyone in the castle, and she had no complaints.

She was rescued at her most desperate time and was now living a comfortable life. What was there to be unsatisfied about?

Since they’d just arrived at the top of the giant tree, they had no important tasks for the time being. Cui Zuojing, Victor, and Fu Zhe sat together and talked about Hell Circus.

“I need to ask the clown about dissolving the blood contract. Although Dong Zheng won’t die easily now and we can cooperate well through the prisoner link, me putting my life in his hand isn’t a long-term solution.”

Fu Zhe sighed and said, “I can also feel that one of my soul fragments is in this area. He gave me a very strong feeling. When the time is right, I should be able to pinpoint which box he is in. I’ll need your help at that time.”

Victor said, “Of course. Not only did we meet J in the Snow Parasite Trail, we also suffered difficulties from Kether. We must unseal our powers as soon as possible.”

Speaking of this, Victor remembered something he’d wondered about. He asked Cui Zuojing, “By the way, A’Zuo, in the Institute of Biochemistry’s control room, don’t you think the button setting was a bit strange?”

Cui Zuojing nodded, “I’d experienced so many boxes. That was the first time I’d seen this kind of box that relied on luck to complete the final level. I personally think that it was Kether’s way of testing our abilities. After all, in that box, all of us had demonstrated our abilities. It was only Hangzhi who always seemed like an ordinary pilgrim who hadn’t awakened his ability.”

Victor sighed. “As I thought. In that case, the Queen ought to have a general understanding of all our abilities now.”

Cui Zuojing said, “On the bright side, at least they’ll be restricted by the world’s rules. Outside the box, they can’t directly do anything to us. Moreover, Kether also can’t violate the rules of the box too much and must maintain the box’s conventional setting. These rules are already very favorable to us…As for her knowing our abilities, what can we do? Aren’t we familiar with their abilities too?”

Fu Zhe said, “Chang Hui shouldn’t have any malicious intention at the moment. Otherwise, the energy she put into Dong Zheng’s body would have killed him long ago. Midnight Cat is the weakest and isn’t to be feared. The only people we need to be cautious about are J and Worm of Mystery. One of them is good at disguising himself, and the other can manipulate people’s minds. If we’re not careful–”

Fu Zhe stopped midsentence. He watched as Wang Que walked downstairs. She held a huge framed painting, and although her expression looked calm, her eyes were filled with unspeakable sadness.

She walked to the living room, nodded to the people who had been talking there, and went to the fireplace. She looked at a blank section on the wall and asked Fu Zhe, “Can I hang a painting here?”

Fu Zhe said, “Please feel free.”

Dong Linhai came out of the bathroom and saw Wang Que holding the painting. He hurried over to help her. While he stood on a chair to adjust the position of the painting, Wang Que stood from a distance, making sure that it was correctly positioned. Finally, she nodded. “It’s good.”

Dong Linhai jumped off the chair and moved it back to its original place. Cui Zuojing looked at the painting. On the one meter by one meter framed painting was a young man with red hair and blue eyes. He was squatting down with one hand stretched out to scratch Victor’s chin. The white cat was lying on the ground, his head tilted up and his amber eyes narrowing with enjoyment.

Behind them, the fireplace burned quietly, giving everything a warm glow.

For a moment, no one said anything. Wang Que inspected it carefully and said, “I painted it pretty well, right?”

“Extremely well,” Cui Zuojing said softly. Wang Que had painted it from the heart, and it gave him the sense that Allen was still here with them.

Later, Dong Zheng placed the snow globe that was the box for Snow Parasite Trail in his bedroom where he could see. He hoped that it would remind him not to lose any more companions.

Meanwhile, Victor lay on the sofa and looked at the painting on the wall for a whole day, occasionally licking his paws. Finally, Cui Zuojing came downstairs and gathered him up in his arms. The other team members also came down until the entire Wonton Insurgency team, including Fu Zhe, were all gathered in the living room.

“What I want to talk to you about today is something that I’m sure everyone has already guessed. It’s regarding mine, Victor, and Fu Zhe’s past.” Cui Zuojing was speaking slowly but, seeing that everyone was listening carefully, he suddenly didn’t want to keep them in them in the dark one minute longer.

They went through life and death so many times together. Why hide it from them?

So he said, “Actually, there’s not much to say. The three of us originally belonged to a team called the Afternoon Tea Party. You all should have heard about our team from the bonus information we received the first time we bought intelligence. There were a total of five people in our team, which was considered one of the strongest teams that year.”

“When we finally reached the end of our pilgrimage, we directly went to meet the Queen. We were selected by the five powers of the realm and endured the Queen’s curse. In the end, only Victor and I were able to escape. Fu Zhe became trapped in this old castle, Luo Yan could only wander in dreams, and Nana went missing.”

“And so, this Spring, knowing that Victor’s cat body was running out of time, I brought him back. I wanted to save our former teammates and lift the curse on him. Then, I was summoned by Dong Zheng and became his prisoner.”

Cui Zuojing paused and said, “Okay, so this is the situation. We plan to not only lift our curses but to also overthrow the Queen’s rule. This is because this so-called pilgrimage to leave the Pure White Realm is a scam from beginning to end.”

After receiving so much information at once, everyone except Dong Zheng were stunned. Cui Zuojing sat on the sofa, took a sip of the water Dong Zheng had handed over, and said, “Do you have any questions?”

—————————

Translation Notes:

(1) Heavenly Hand — a winning hand in mahjong where a player wins the round on the first turn. This is apparently incredibly hard to accomplish.



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Anonymous
Anonymous
2 years ago

Thank you for the chapter~

Lin Hangzhi's luck is on a roll XD And yay, now everyone will finally be on the same page! They'll definitely be much stronger together than not. And their grief for Allen is so realistically portrayed >.< I'm glad it isn't just brought out at convenient times to make us sympathize with them. It seems so natural, somehow.

Nabong_uwu
Nabong_uwu
2 years ago

Hahah, Cui Zuojing just dropped all the information like that XD He should have left them some time to digest it XD

Axvii
Axvii
2 years ago

I cried a lot again when wang que painted allen and framed it on the wall… I'll miss that clown :"((((

Dreamer
Dreamer
2 years ago

*ugly sobbing* stop… Just stop… Don’t mention Allen anymore… How can I move on… Mention him once more when he’s back

Lin Hangzhi OTKing that monster… *Thumbs up* Though it looked like he didn’t intentionally use his ability and it just happened without him wishing it

Eyyyyyy CZJ finally explains the truth and how serious their predicament is. Now that Domingo is crossed out from the new heir candidate… I think it may be Nana? She’s missing. And the pre-existing heirs also don’t know who exactly the new heir is. Plus there’s Luo Yan’s warning to CZJ to be careful of his friends. Among the people in the Afternoon Tea Party, CZJ mentions Nana a lot and seems very close with her. They might also bonded a lot since they’re both the attackers of the group.

Qi Qi
Qi Qi
2 years ago

I knew they could count on Hangzhi’s luck! XD
Oh no, the painting scene, I can’t ;-;

Psyx
Psyx
2 years ago

*imagines a future where NPC!Eri meets NPC!Allen and they could be together again*

Mememe
Mememe
2 years ago

The fact that I thought his death didn’t affect me that much and ended up crying this chapter…But to be honest it was never the death. It was the memories he left behind.

nico
nico
1 year ago

i try to forget what happened, but the author keeps putting salt in the wound 😀 sobbing

ki2chi
ki2chi
1 year ago

the painting 🙁

Nezunezu
Nezunezu
1 year ago

I’m still crying over Allen’s departure…😭