IWOL Chapter 225: Hospital Life

The door to 304 could be opened, despite being burnt and deformed. With a light push from Cui Zuojing, the door panel fell down and hit the ground, raising a cloud of black ash.

Cui Zuojing stood at the door and looked around. The room was very badly burnt. All the furniture had turned into husk and only the walls and the outlines of a ceramic bathtub were left.

Finding clues would be hard if everything was like this…Thinking this, Cui Zuojing walked into the room, not letting go of any information that he might see.

He saw something in the round bathtub that was completely blackened by the fire and reached out to pick it up. It was a lighter. The rectangular shell had been deformed by the fire, but he could still see the two letters VC engraved on the lid.

Cui Zuojing immediately remembered the note he’d found tucked into the painting. Did this lighter belong to a person named Vincent Campbell? Who was he? What kind of role did he play in this?

After rubbing the lighter on his pants, Cui Zuojing slipped it into his pocket and turned to the last room, 305.

The door to Room 305 could also be opened. Cui Zuojing pushed the door open and saw that the condition of the room was much better. He searched the first two rooms and saw nothing useful. Finally, he turned his gaze to the closed bathroom door.

He pushed it open.

The bathroom was surprisingly tidy. Whether it was the clean tiled floor, the walls, the bath towels arranged neatly on the shelf, or the spotless sink, it was clear that it hadn’t experienced the fire.

It was as if the bathroom door was a barrier that perfectly kept the fire from encroaching inside.

The counter had some disposable sanitary utensils and there was even a lipstick that may have been dropped by the previous guest. The mirror was illogically covered with a layer of watery mist, which made it impossible for him to clearly see his reflection.

Cui Zuojing quite wanted to see if he looked like himself. He stretched out his hand and used his palm to wipe away the mist from the mirror.

The cold water rubbed against the palm of his hand, and the mirror became clear. However, it reflected the figure of a man who was also wiping the surface of the mirror.

Cui Zuojing was stunned to see Dong Zheng’s reflection in the mirror.

He immediately made a funny face, but the Dong Zheng in the mirror didn’t follow suit. He couldn’t help but laugh. He was certain that he didn’t look like Dong Zheng.

Finally, he could breathe a sigh of relief. He’d been worried about Dong Zheng. Now that he finally saw the other person, although they were in different spaces, it was better than not knowing anything.

This mirror should be a medium for two people in different spaces to communicate. Cui Zuojing saw Dong Zheng open his mouth to say something, but he couldn’t hear anything at all. He read Dong Zheng’s lips asking him whether he could hear or not, and so he shook his head.

The man in the mirror was dressed like a waitstaff. He wore a black suit with a meticulously knotted bowtie that perfectly complemented his tall and straight figure, giving him an aloof temperament. He was wearing white gloves and now he took one off to wipe the mirror.

Cui Zuojing noticed the engraved nameplate on Dong Zheng’s chest.

Vincent Campbell.

The slip of paper and the lighter with this name were related. Cui Zuojing immediately fished out the broken lighter from his pocket. Dong Zheng showed a slightly surprised look. He nodded and motioned that the lighter in Cui Zuojing’s hand was indeed his.

Neither of them wasted time on meaningless greetings. In this design, the box must require that they cooperate and work together to gather clues from both ends in order to break the game.

Cui Zuojing showed the piece of paper to Dong Zheng. Through the mirror, the letters Dong Zheng saw would be reversed. While he did so, Cui Zuojing also took the opportunity to think about the content of the paper.

He hadn’t been able to gather very many clues. First, he found a small note with the name of Dong Zheng’s current identity written on it. He obtained a mobile phone from Room 301 that revealed a dishonest love. The thing in Room 302 kept trying to knock down the door. He found a card in Room 303 that had garbled letters. He had Dong Zheng’s lighter that was found in Room 304, and he found Dong Zheng in the mirror in Room 305 that allowed them to communicate with each other.

The note and the lighter were all about Dong Zheng.

Cui Zuojing was certain that he’d searched carefully and he didn’t think there were any more clues. For example, ‌the information in the mobile phone revealed the plot, but what about the note and the card?

Vincent Campbell.

opr vvhmj ie ubpdp.

It should be a sentence, and the letters were probably English alphabets. Then, let’s also assume that the original encrypted text was also in English. The third word was composed of two letters. In a sentence or phrase, the two-letter word most often used were pronouns, copulas or prepositions such as is, am, of, an, in, it, he, on, or.

‌ According to the length of the letters before and after, ie should not be a preposition…As Cui Zuojing was thinking, Dong Zheng frowned, and his fingers slowly wrote the number 15 on the mirror.

15?

Cui Zuojing looked at the note card again, and suddenly found that these two strings were indeed composed of 15 letters.

Was it like this?!

There was a flash of inspiration, and suddenly Cui Zuojing had a general guess in his heart. He immediately picked up the lipstick on the counter. After pulling off the lid and twisting the lipstick, he began to write on the mirror.

Both strings of letters were 15, indicating that they correspond to each other. It was very likely that one string was a key while the other was a ciphertext. The alphabetical order on the card was messy and meaningless. If one were to separate the letters, it was obviously a ciphertext.

This kind of cipher reminded Cui Zuojing of Caesar encryption, which was an encryption method where the letters of the alphabet could be offset by moving backward or forward a fixed number of times and replacing the original letter with the offset value.

For example, if the offset value was 6‌, the letter G would replace A, and the letter H would replace B….

After that, Caesar encryption could also morph into various forms, similar to what Cui Zuojing was experiencing with. The total password contained three parts: the encrypted real text, the key, and the ciphertext.

Each letter in the key represented the starting point of the offset. For example, if the letter in the key began with V, then the count ‌would start at V and the alphabet became VWXYZA….In the original alphabet, O is the 15th letter. But offset by V, the 15th letter would correspond to T. If the count started from the letter I in the key, the alphabet would begin with IJKLMN…The P in the ciphertext is the 16th letter in the original alphabet and so the offset value of I would correspond to the 16th letter, which would be H.

And so on.

Cui Zuojing began writing the true text that corresponded to the ciphertext letter by letter.

He didn’t notice that the pounding in Room 302 had stopped. The coral lipstick steadily wrote on the mirror, gradually forming a sentence.

Dong Zheng had figured it out earlier than Cui Zuojing. With the computing power of his kernel, he was able to figure out the text almost instantly. He looked at the letters forming in the young man’s hand, and his gaze suddenly caught on a corner of the mirror, which had revealed a flash of shadow in the hallway.

His expression abruptly changed and he let out a shout for Cui Zuojing’s attention. He pressed both hands on the mirror, desperately wanting to let the young man know about the crisis behind him. But Cui Zuojing wasn’t paying attention. He was too busy muttering the order of the alphabet as he completed the remaining two letters to the FAL.

THE TRUTH IS FALSE.

On the opposite side of the mirror was a pale white, transparent humanoid figure with an oddly twisted body. It’s open mouth was so wide that it almost seemed to encapsulate its entire head. It’s arms waved and twisted in pain, as if struggling to escape the burning fire. It flew at Cui Zuojing.

Cui Zuojing made the last stroke. He didn’t look back, but directly raised his hand and pressed it against Dong Zheng’s hand in the mirror!

The moment their two palms touched each other, Cui Zuojing’s palm began to sink into the mirror. He leaned forward, and in the next moment, the mirror swallowed his whole body and he disappeared in an instant.

Everything disappeared from the mirror. There was no Dong Zheng, no Cui Zuojing, and no twisted evil spirit desperately trying to catch the young man back. The only thing left on the oblique mirror was the coral string of words: The truth is false.

——

When the young man flew into him, Dong Zheng jerked awake with unspeakable palpitations. He opened his eyes, breathing heavily. The nurse saw him opened his eyes and said, “You’re awake.”

“……”

Dong Zheng didn’t answer. He was in a hospital ward, and the morning light was streaming in through the window. Dressed in a hospital gown, he laid on a bed, hooked to an infusion bottle. The young man in the hospital bed next to him was reading a book with eyes focused. Between them was a bedside table with an exquisite dragon boat model displayed on it.

The vermilion-topped pavilions, the curved water path in the garden, the rotating fan blades on both sides, and the majestic dragon head statue on the bow were all so familiar.

It was the dragon boat he had boarded in the first scene!

The nurse watching Dong Zheng confirmed that he had finished the last point in the infusion bottle, withdrew the needle, and left the ward with the syringe and the bottle.

Dong Zheng pressed the needle prick on the back of his hand. Then he silently picked up the dragon boat and looked at it. But the young man in the next bed suddenly put down his book and said, “Did you know? After leaving Ms. Lois’s hotel, I met Mr. Godot and I realized that she was planning to kill me in order to steal the news about the location of the gold mine.”

This was…the second scene with the Western setting?

“Fortunately, I was smart and didn’t take the small bag of gold into the hotel. I went to Yorktown and bought some firearms, a good horse, and a vest in the latest style.” The young man laughed, then ignored Dong Zheng and continued reading his book.

Dong Zheng was puzzled. The nurse pushed the door open and entered while holding a bottle of medicine. “This is a new medicine prescribed according to your current condition. We’ll wait two days for observation.”

Dong Zheng took the medicine bottle and looked at the ingredient list.

Haloperidol, a typical, fairly effective antipsychotic psychiatric medicine.

In this setting, was he a mentally ill patient…? As Dong Zheng was thinking, the nurse walked away so he didn’t have to take the medicine under her gaze. But then, he saw a doctor entering the ward.

“How are you?” The doctor stood in front of the hospital bed, looking down at Dong Zheng who was sitting on the bedside. “You haven’t seen that lunatic asylum again?”

The lunatic asylum?

The thread was caught, and the memory hidden in the chaos untangled, becoming clear. Dong Zheng recalled the experience in the “dream”. He used Cui Zuojing’s vision to shuttle through the European lunatic asylum in the nineteenth century. He woke up and became Vincent Campbell, the waiter in the luxury hotel.

________

Xixi: I was so confused by the encryption method.  So I lined the V and the I in Vincent Campbell up with the alphabet, and it made sense.

Key: Vincent Campbell
Ciphertext: opr vvhmj ie ubpdp
Real Text: The Truth is False

V   W   X   Y   Z   A   B   C   D   E   F   G   H   I   J   K   L   M   N   O   P   Q   R   S   T   U
A    B   C   D  E    F   G  H    I    J    K   L   M  N O  P   Q  R    S     T   U   V   W  X   Y   Z

I    J   K   L   M   N   O   P   Q   R   S   T   U   V   W   X   Y   Z   A   B   C   D   E   F   G   H
A  B  C   D   E    F   G   H   I     J    K  L    M  N   O    P  Q   R   S   T   U   V  W  X    Y   Z


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Nabong_uwu
Nabong_uwu
3 years ago

Ay, this novel always makes my brain a mess and forces it to work, I still have the trauma of the riddles in Dong Zheng solved in the circus and now this one XD

Qi Qi
Qi Qi
2 years ago

Is the box’s setting ‘crazy unlimited challenge’…? @_@
Ohh, I saw that encryption method in college. I think in english that’s also called Caesar cipher? But I’m just too lazy to check it here~
Btw in a box, knowlegde is really precious. I wouldn’t last a few boxes if it was me ;-;

Last edited 2 years ago by Qi Qi
Mememe
Mememe
2 years ago

This reminds me of the movie Inception…Jesus the brain work

Moonlight
Moonlight
2 years ago

this is so confusing and messy NOT FUN AT ALL ;( bring back my wonton insurgency! bring back the thrilling, heartwarming sometimes funny adventures! i can’t enjoy these ‘infinite’ loop-killing each other’ box sigh…anyway i’m waiting

theeggmonger
theeggmonger
1 year ago

What is that called, maybe a Ceasarian Cipher? I can’t remember. They’re jumping all over wow
Thank you for the chapter!

thatonecat
thatonecat
1 year ago

Someone should have told the author that making puzzles way too difficult isn’t fun for anyone but them and makes readers just roll their eyes and start skipping them. If it was just the plain caesar offset then that’d be fine, and enjoyable. This is the kind of thing that would never make it into any puzzle or adventure game on Steam, because like .01% of people would enjoy it and the game would bomb.