Fat Otaku looked at Dong Zheng in surprise and with incredible suspicion. Dong Zheng also looked back at him.
Since he was a regular player, the real ghost must be No. 2 Fat Otaku, whom he thought contained Chen Jianguo’s soul.
So…did he lose?
The blood in his body seemed to chill instantly. If he failed to win this competition, he wouldn’t be able to make a wish for the administrator to lift the blood contract between Cui Zuojing and himself.
Dong Zheng looked at bell butler, full of strong unwillingness. The bell butler looked back at him silently, as if he had no intention of saying anything.
Suddenly, Dong Zheng realized something.
“I see,” he murmured in a voice so low that only he could hear.
Ding Zheng stood up and said, “I already know everyone’s identity and who the ‘ghost’ is.”
“The soul of No. 1 is in the body of No. 4. The soul of No. 2 is in the body of No. 3. The soul of No. 3 is me, in the body of No. 5. The soul of No. 5 is in the body of No. 1, and the soul of No. 4,” Dong Zheng looked at the butler wearing a black suit with his gray hair neatly combed and said slowly, “is in Mr. Deeds’ body.”
“The real Mr. Deeds, as the ‘ghost,’ is hidden in No. 2’s body.”
[Translator Reminder: No. 1 is Female Doctor, No. 2 is Fat Otaku, No. 3 is Fake Dong Zheng, No. 4 is Old Man a.k.a. Chen Jianguo, No. 5 is Bamboo Pole.]
After Dong Zheng said this, he didn’t bother looking at Fat Otaku and the bell butler’s expressions. Instead, he picked up the chair the eliminated Fake Dong Zheng had been sitting on and went to the mirror in front, which clearly and faithfully reflected his furrowed brows and tight lips.
He swung his arms, and with a loud crash, the mirror instantly shattered into sharp pieces and fell to the ground.
Behind the mirror was a huge space with a flight of stairs connecting one half circular floor to another. Each floor was about 20 meters tall, filled with countless seats. In the center of the venue protruded four huge screens that formed a stand.
The stage where the five pilgrims with their bodies swapped and the bell butler stood.
There was not a single person to be seen in the entire auditorium.
Dong Zheng looked out at the vast auditorium in front of him and slowly released his grip, allowing the chair to fall to the ground with a dull thud.
But no one took note of this.
The light hit his face, and the tall bridge of his nose cast a small shadow over his face. Dong Zheng looked around for a while, took a deep breath, and raised his voice:
“Dear audience, I am Contestant No. 5. You can call me Mr. Toaster. This game is very important to me. I want to win, so please vote for me.”
Dong Zheng’s voice echoed through the seats. He looked at the emptiness and waited blankly.
Only he himself knew how nervous he was.
A few seconds later, sparse applause sounded from the corner. The applause seemed to resemble the spark of a prairie fire, quickly igniting the entire empty auditorium, and they shot forward like a deafening wave!
Dong Zheng watched these viewers who he could not see and bowed deeply. Then he took a step back and turned to look at the bell butler and Fat Otaku.
But Fat Otaku was gone, and in his place stood the old man with white hair—Chen Jianguo—and Mr. Deeds, who had returned into his bell butler body.
Dong Zheng saw his original appearance reflected in the side mirror, and his brows finally smoothed.
“According to the vote, I announced that No. 5, Mr. Dong Zheng, is the winner of this assessment,” Mr. Deed read the results in his hand and then showed the piece of paper to the audience. On the paper was the number of each player, followed by the audience’s supportive rating of said character.
The names of player 1, 3, and 4 had turned gray, while the number under player 5 had reached 100%.
“The recording of this show has ended. Please leave the auditorium in an orderly manner. I’ll invite the guests to go backstage,” Mr. Deed’s voice echoed in the hall.
Chen Jianguo smiled and congratulated Dong Zheng, while Dong Zheng, a friend who he’d met before, smiled and nodded. He followed the bell butler and left the stage surrounded by mirrors.
Back in the corridor again, Dong Zheng’s tense heart finally relaxed.
This selection was a carefully disguised scheme from the very beginning.
At the beginning, the one thing that could be determined first according to the rules was this: The souls of all the people present were not in their own bodies.
After the initial introduction, there was a problem with what the bell butler had said. He said, “Introduce yourself first” and “so that more people can remember.” The five people in the room were all brain developers. How could they not remember who they were competing with? So who was this “more people can remember” for?
According to standard practice, when five people were brainstorming and eliminating each other, it was better to be face to face for the purpose of better communication and observation. Therefore, everyone should be sitting around a round table. Instead, they sat side by side on one side of a long table, using the three mirrors to observe each other.
Because of this, Dong Zheng became suspicious on the first round. Moreover, if they only needed five mutual votes, there was no need to engage in a knowledge contest. This was more in line with performing for spectators. Then there was Mr. Deed’s three-minute pause as he drew the order of the player to be questioned. Now that Dong Zheng thought about it, it was more likely that he was waiting for the invisible audience to vote. The player with the highest number of votes would be “drawn” and become the first to start.
In the subsequent voting of the ghost, the results were not based on their notes at all. Mr. Deed’s three minutes delay was for the sole purpose of allowing the audience enough time to submit their votes.
They voted for No. 1 Female Doctor, who had the most unremarkable performance, asking her to leave the stage.
After that, Mr. Deeds said, “The ghost is still among us.”
It was “among us,” not “among you.”
In the second voting period, based on the topic selection of the first round and the things reflected in the scene of the second round, Dong Zheng determined that Bamboo Pole’s soul was residing in No. 1 Female Doctor’s body, Chen Jianguo’s soul was residing in Fat Otaku’s body, Fat Otaku’s soul was residing in No. 3 Fake Dong Zheng’s body, and the Female Doctor’s soul was residing in No. 4 Chen Jianguo’s body.
Therefore, he said something related to [Good Neighbor], completely determining that Fat Otaku was Chen Jianguo. But there was no way for him to know whether he was a ghost.
At the end of this voting period, there was another three-minute pause and an innocent player was eliminated.
Before leaving, Female Doctor in Chen Jianguo’s body looked deeply at the mirror in front of her. She had already realized something at this time, and even though she had lost, she didn’t share this information with her competitors.
But Dong Zheng saw her expression.
The scope of the ghost had shrunk again. But this time, Dong Zheng’s suspicion regarding this selection process had reached its peak. He began to wonder whether this so-called voting was just a cover.
Then he knocked out Fake Dong Zheng and voted with Fat Otaku, whose identity he had confirmed. On the surface, it seemed as if he wanted to vote out the unconscious No. 3 with Fat Otaku, but only Dong Zheng and Mr. Deeds knew that what he wrote on the note was not 3.
It was the number of Fat Otaku, No. 2.
Fat Otaku would definitely not write his own number and eliminate himself. In this case, there should be the situation where everyone had one vote, but the bell butler still announced that No. 3 was voted out.
At this time, Dong Zheng determined that the voting was indeed a cover, but he hadn’t thought that the mirror room was just a reality show stage.
At that point, there was only one normal player on the stage. Since he wasn’t a ghost, Fat Otaku must be. According to the rules, Chen Jianguo, who was hidden in Fat Otaku’s body, had already won.
But the selection still wasn’t over quite yet. Mr. Deeds still said that the “ghost is still among us.”
No, not only just two people. There was still another person in this room who’d completely been overlooked–Mr. Deeds, the bell butler.
Of the candidates who participated in the body exchange, who said that there were only five of them?
If the bell butler who presided over the process was played by a pilgrim from the very beginning, then the real Mr. Deeds must be pretending to be a contestant. At this moment, the only one in the room happened to be an ordinary player and a ghost.
As for the communications between Fat Otaku and him…As a person from the library, it wasn’t surprising that Mr. Deeds would know things related to Chen Jianguo in advance.
So Dong Zheng made a bold decision.
Facts proved that he was correct. With his strategy and courage, he successfully became the final winner of this reality show.
Moreover, one good explanation for why he wasn’t punished when he knocked out No. 3 and interrupted the normal programming schedule was because he provided the audience with an unexpected excitement. As long as things were interesting enough, as long as the audience liked it, there was no problem.
In the end, Dong Zheng broke the mirror, shattered the “fourth wall,” and saw the real world outside. The auditorium was full of spectators he couldn’t see, the arbiters who truly controlled his fate.
Dong Zheng let out a long sigh of relief as he and Chen Jianguo were taken to a separate reading room.
“Sure enough, I knew you would win.” Unbeknownst to him, Karls had quietly appeared behind him. Dong Zheng looked back at him, and though Karls mouth was covered by countless tentacles, he seemed to see a smile on his face.
“But this doesn’t make a bit of difference,” Mr. Deeds said. “You must know that my dear xiao shidi doesn’t want to stay in the library.”
Dong Zheng immediately turned his head to look at Mr. Deeds, the bell butler, who laughed.
Was Mr. Deeds Ren Heming? Dong Zheng was a little flummoxed, but this also verified his initial guess that Ren Heming was a library staff whose purpose was to confuse him.
“So that’s why you placed your bet on him.” Karls nodded at Chen Jianguo. “You can call me Karls. I’m the administrator of the library.”
Mr. Deeds told Dong Zheng, “As the final winner of the assessment, you are supposed to stay behind as a library employee. But obviously, you have no such wish, so I found a good replacement. From a certain point of view, Mr. Chen is more suitable for working here.”
Dong Zheng nodded. His hands were fisted by his sides, his palms full of sweat. “Yes, I came to the library to find a way to release my blood contract.”
“Don’t be nervous,” Karls said. “This happens a lot. Not everyone wants to stay here. The library is a humanized organization. I won’t force anyone. As for the method of dissolving the blood contract, I can provide it to you as a reward for winning.”
Dong Zheng heaved a sigh of relief and said sincerely, “Then, thank you very much.”
He looked at Chen Jianguo. “Has Mr. Chen made up his mind? If he stays in the library as a staff member, wouldn’t it be for a lifetime?”
Xiao Shidi = Little junior brother