The group finally gathered in the kitchen.
As everyone had a meal together, Dong Linhai kept sneaking glances at Dong Zheng and Cui Zuojing. He found that the two of them had no signs of quarreling; instead…they seemed more intimate than before.
Dong Zheng put a peeled shrimp into Cui Zuojing’s bowl. Cui Zuojing didn’t even look at him. He simply picked up the shrimp, dipped it in vinegar, and put it in his mouth.
Dong Linhai thought that his brother was probably apologizing to Cui Zuojing.
Cui Zuojing ate with his head lowered. He didn’t even need to move his chopsticks. As long as he took a look at a dish, Dong Zheng would pick it up for him without saying anything. That was the best part.
Although he didn’t say a word, he couldn’t help but curl his lips up. Only by lowering his head would he not be seen by Dong Zheng.
It was too great to be served by someone. No wonder those beautiful girls enjoy the taste of being pursued and why they collect countless fallback guys. If he had such capital, he would be willing too.
As Wang Que was being fed dog food, she began to doubt her life. What happened? How could it suddenly be full of amorousness?
And judging by her keen intuition as a girl… between these two people, they couldn’t truly be in that kind of special relationship yet.
Then, was Brother Dong chasing Brother Cui?
Wang Que immediately made up a series of 800,000-character dramas. She tried several times but failed to suppress her thoughts as usual. At this time, Cui Zuojing ate a piece of fat he didn’t like and bit it lightly. He frowned and put the intact piece of meat with only one tooth mark on Dong Zheng’s plate.
Dong Zheng ate it without minding.
She covered her chest and was almost gone on the spot.
Lin Hangzhi also felt something was odd, but these two were both people he didn’t want to provoke.
He didn’t dare ask, nor did he dare say anything.
Only Dong Linhai was simpleminded and felt that the relationship between the two had recovered as before. In fact, it was even better now.
This meal was really enjoyable for both Dong Zheng and Cui Zuojing. Since they got over their fight, Dong Zheng began serving the little ancestor. Since he understood that Cui Zuojing was going to give him a chance, he felt quite satisfied.
After the meal, Dong Zheng called Heinrich on the phone and took everyone back to the castle.
The assessment time was set on the third day. Before that, everyone had never experienced a single-player box except Wang Que, who joined the team later. They couldn’t help but feel a little nervous when they thought about it.
Dong Zheng originally planned to let everyone enter the single player box for a bit of experience, but there were two problems. The first problem was that there would be no teammates to take care of each other. He was more than a bit afraid that someone would have an accident and never come back. The other problem was that they were unable to find a suitable single-player box.
It now appeared that these boxes had been collected by major organizations for the training and assessment of its members.
But no matter how worried he was, this day would eventually come. After all, there was no guarantee that everyone could complete the box together.
Once they were ready, they all went to Heimdall once again. Tao Ji, who was in charge of the assessment, was already waiting for them in the warehouse. He greeted everyone and led them into the warehouse where the single-player boxes were stored.
“These are single-player boxes used for assessment. The difficulty ranges from two to three-and-a-half stars. You can choose the one you want, find a free lounge, and enter there.”
There were various boxes placed on the shelves in the order of difficulty. Some were marked with names, while the labels for others were blank.
Dong Zheng looked at them one by one. After thinking it over, he finally chose a three stars black box.
The name of the box was not written on the label.
The only mark on the box indicated that it was a puzzle exploration type of box.
Cui Zuojing folded his arms and looked at Dong Zheng, understanding that Dong Zheng wanted to utilize his specialty.
“So you’ve decided on this?”
Dong Zheng nodded. Everyone except Lin Hangzhi had already selected a box. He told them, “I’ll go for the assessment first. You must pay attention to safety first in the box. The rating is secondary. You must ensure that you come back alive.”
“Don’t worry.” Dong Linhai was full of confidence, “I definitely will.”
Wang Que also nodded. Since the end of Snow Parasite Trail, she finally realized her potential and had become more confident. The translucent insects that appeared in her mind were like a part of her body, and she shouldn’t feel sick or repelled by them.
Lin Hangzhi was entangled for a long time before finally selecting a two-star difficulty box. He had no effective means to save his life. He always suffered from bad luck, and he now had no teammates to cooperate with. If he rashly entered a difficult box, the probability of death would be too great.
Dong Zheng found a lounge. Cui Zuojing went in and closed the door. He saw Dong Zheng standing in the center of the room studying the pattern on the box, and said, “I’ll first say that since this is your assessment, throughout the whole process, I won’t help.”
“I can do it without you.” Dong Zheng looked at him and smiled slightly. “This is a good opportunity to prove to you that my combat power is far above five.”
“You just have to have this awareness.” Cui Zuojing sat on the sofa. He thought about whether he should wait outside, and finally said, “Forget it. I’ll go into the prisoner space to accompany you. In case there is another accident, you won’t lose your life.”
“As long as there are no strange people making trouble, I should be fine.” Although Dong Zheng said this, he still allowed Cui Zuojing to enter the prisoner space. He worried that, similar to Snow Parasite Trail, if an heir entered the box or if Kether deliberately changed the box’s difficulty, it would be hard for him to resist.
He was the only one left in the room. Dong Zheng glanced at the closed door, took a deep breath, sat on the sofa, and opened the lid of the black box.
Dong Zheng opened his eyes and saw that it was dark. Sparse lights came in from outside through the gaps in the curtains, casting a shadow of the window lattices on the ceiling.
[Your name is John Bayer. You used to be a rich man. Three months ago, because of an accident, your company went on the verge of bankruptcy. In order to pay off the debt, you sold the company and had nowhere to go.]
[You contacted all your friends. Those friends who were enthusiastic about you when you’re successful had various reasons to refuse you. You became desperate and had no choice but to contact a close childhood friend you hadn’t seen in a long time with the mentality of trying.]
[You hadn’t spoken to your childhood friend since college, but he unexpectedly still welcomed you twenty years later. You temporarily moved into your childhood friend, Ficks’, house on Wisteria Steet.]
As the voice sounded, Dong Zheng became sleepy. He couldn’t help but close his eyes and soon became lost in the dream of the story.
[You thought of your past glory and your present downfall, the warmth of human relationships, and the impermanence of the world, and you had mixed feelings in your heart. The first night passed safely like this.]
When Dong Zheng woke up again, the sky was completely bright. There was an old-fashioned clock on the wall opposite the bed, with the clock hands pointing to 6:45.
Dong Zheng pulled back the comforter and sat up. Judging from the layout of the room, the style of the windows, the lamp on the bedside table, and all the decorations on the wall, he speculated that the background of this box was probably in the Western countries in the 1990s.
The door was tightly closed, and there was a calendar hanging at the back of the door. Dong Zheng got out of bed and found that Mr. Bayer’s clothes were scattered all over the end of the bed. He picked it up and put it on. While adjusting the collar, he walked over to the calendar behind the door.
There was a red circle on October 12, 1994, and the word “Welcome” was written in it.
Dong Zheng guessed that this was probably the day he moved in. This meant that today was October 13, 1994.
He took out a red pen from the small bag and crossed it out the 12th.
After searching the room, Dong Zheng only found John’s cell phone in his pocket. There were many call records and text messages with a fixed number in the cell phone. He surmised that the number belonged to the house’s owner and John’s childhood friend, Mr. Ficks.
There seemed to be no other clues. Dong Zheng opened the curtains and looked out. Rows of exquisite houses stood under the morning sky, and the plants in the garden were lush. Dong Zheng stretched out his hand and touched the outside of the window sill. The wall was still a bit damp. He thought it had rained not long ago.
Dong Zheng opened the door and immediately smelled a tangy aroma. He followed the smell and walked to the kitchen. A man of medium build was cooking. Seeing Dong Zheng come out, he warmly greeted, “You’re awake. I just made it. Let’s have some together.”
Ficks was nearly 1.8 meters tall, in his forties, and had signs of going bald. At this moment, he had a kind smile on his face. Dong Zheng responded without knowing the way John and Ficks usually got along, but he immediately realized that the two hadn’t seen each other for 20 years. Even if their relationship was good before, it was normal for them to be somewhat like strangers now.
Ficks brought up a pot of soup, a plate of toasted toast, and two bowls. He said, “I’m usually used to eating this way, I don’t know if you like it or not.”
“It’s fine, it’s fine.” Dong Zheng hurriedly stopped Ficks who wanted to serve him soup, and said, “I’ll do it myself.”
There was a layer of oil floating on the surface of the soup. Early in the morning, seeing such a pot of soup, Dong Zheng still smelled the meat. He wasn’t hungry at all, so he only put a little in his bowl.
The two of them ate their breakfast without speaking. It was very quiet outside, without the usual noise that a neighbor ought to have.
After the meal, Dong Zheng took over the task of washing the dishes. Ficks yawned and said, “I’ll go back to sleep for a while. I may not get up at noon, so you can make something for yourself.”
Dong Zheng responded with an “mmn”, and Ficks said, “It’s not safe outside these days. Don’t go out casually. Just treat this as your own home. Don’t be restrained, but don’t enter the basement.”
After watching Ficks disappear behind the door of the master bedroom, Dong Zheng turned his head and looked at the leftovers on the table. Because he hadn’t eaten much, there was still quite a bit of soup left. The meat had sunk to the bottom of the bowl. He didn’t know how Ficks cooked, but the meat tasted neither like pork nor like beef.
He cleaned the tableware and tidied away. Then, he thought of Ficks’ words: “I’ll go back to sleep for a while, and I may not get up at noon.”
Sleeping so late. Did he not come back last night?
As Dong Zheng thought this, he went to take a look at the entrance hall. He really did find traces of wet mud on a pair of sneakers in the shoe cabinet, and there was a portable flashlight in the drawer next to it.
The coat on the hanger had been worn for a long time. The cuffs and elbows were worn out, and the front was somewhat dirty. There was a dirty palm print on the wall of the hallway. It was easy to imagine the owner’s movements when he comes home and changes shoes every day. .
The house was full of traces of the life of a single man. Dong Zheng saw rectangle outlines on the wall in more than one place. He imagined that Ficks had picture frames hung there at some point, but for some reason, he’d recently taken them all down.