Heinrich, the president of Heimdall, was a Swiss, and the West considered these things especially taboo. Therefore, in Heimdall, whether it was the number of stairs or the number of members or props, the number 13 would never appear. But at this moment, the stairs Cui Zuojing had stepped on had suddenly become the 13th step.
13, the 6th prime number, the 11th deficient number, the 8th odd number, the 7th Fibonacci number…This number had many meanings, but none of them could match those in legends: In the Last Supper, the 13th participant, Judas, betrayed Jesus for 30 pieces of silver, while in Norse mythology, the 13th guest, Loki, crashed a banquet and killed Baldr, who was beloved by the gods.
“I noticed.” Dong Zheng grabbed Cui Zuojing’s hand, and the young man clearly felt the sweat on the man’s palm. Both Dong Zheng and Cui Zuojing had heard of this kind of campus tale. According to legends, there was something dirty at a school. On the 15th night every month, the school doors would lock, the eyes of the portraits would move, all the teaching building would lose power, the stairs would change from 12 steps to 13 steps, the water in the laboratory would run red, and anyone who entered the bathroom at the end of the hallway on the first floor would never be able to come out again.
When he first heard this story, Cui Zuojing had just entered junior high school and so he was quite frightened by it. His family home was in the north, and every winter afternoon, when the sky began to darken early, he would leave school as fast as he could. And now, after such a long absence, he once again experienced this creepy sensation.
What was he thinking about?! This fearful mentality had just emerged when Cui Zuojing smashed it back with a hammer. He was Cui Zuojing! He was not afraid of anything, certainly not more afraid than Dong Zheng! In these circumstances, he needed to be more like a man than him!
Cui Zuojing immediately took a big step forward to stand next to Dong Zheng, and said firmly in a low voice, “Don’t be afraid. I will protect you.”
Dong Zheng looked at the foot of the wall that was glowing a bright green from the security exit sign. Feeling that the bell on his chest seemed to be heating up again, he took a deep breath and replied into the communication channel. “I’m fine.”
They continued to move up with the lantern held between them. They had yet to encounter any ghosts, but they didn’t know how long this would last. They could keenly sense that in the dark corners where the light couldn’t reach, there were countless pairs of eyes quietly watching them.
They reached the second floor and turned to the other side of the stairs. There was a cat squatting on the window sill at the junction between the second and third floor.
Behind it, the blood-colored full moon had fully broken into pieces. Trapped by the window frame, it could only cast a dark red silhouette around the cat’s tabby-colored body. The tabby cat squatted gracefully, with its tail in a circle behind it. Looking at the two people quietly coming up from below, the pupils in its amber eyes narrowed into slits.
“Midnight?” Cui Zuojing asked in a low voice.
The cat didn’t answer. It stood up. It’s tail swayed slightly, and then its figure faded and gradually disappeared in place.
Only the amber stone eyes remained there, like the smile left by the Cheshire Cat in Alice’s Wonderland.
“Was that him?” Dong Zheng asked.
Cui Zuojing shook his head. It was not Midnight, but it was obviously not an ordinary cat either.
“Let’s get the props.” The anxiety in their hearts increased. They could no longer hear the screams of the other people being purged. Since these were pilgrims who could reach the Top-of-the-Giant-Tree, almost all deaths happened in boxes, and so there shouldn’t be many people with insufficient points.
Looking at it this way, Midnight should be done soon.
Dong Zheng nodded and continued to move upward. The light of the lantern was blocked by his body. At this moment, a puppet suddenly fell from the ceiling and smashed in front of Cui Zuojing.
The puppet’s head knocked on the steps and fell apart in an instant. Cui Zuojing subconsciously stepped aside and leaned back to avoid the unknown object that almost fell on his face, and this action caused him to be almost completely shrouded in Dong Zheng’s shadow.
In this place where the light of the lantern couldn’t illuminate, countless black hands instantly stretched out from Dong Zheng’s shadow. They grabbed Cui Zuojing’s arms, legs and feet, and covered his mouth and nose, until they were almost wrapped around him like a black cocoon.
It happened so fast that Cui Zuojing didn’t even have time to let out a sound before the solid ground under his feet suddenly disappeared. Those black hands immediately dragged him fully into Dong Zheng’s shadow.
But the communication channel was still there. Right before he disappeared, the bell trembled violently. The moment it happened, Dong Zheng heard Cui Zuojing shout, but he didn’t call for help. Instead, what Dong Zheng heard was an energetic “Fuck!”
He whipped around and the only thing he saw was two black hands quickly retracting into his shadow. The hands were extremely long and slender, completely not in proportion with something a human would have.
The communication channel was abruptly silenced. Dong Zheng couldn’t even detect Cui Zuojing’s presence through his kernel, which meant that the young man had completely disappeared.
Ah’Zuo was…swallowed by his shadow?
Dong Zheng had never seen something like this before. He knelt down and touched his own shadow that was projected on the ground. What he touched with his palm was the roughness of the ground, and there were no other abnormalities.
Dong Zheng stood up. His lips were pressed into a thin line. He almost understood the cause of the matter.
Any place not illuminated by the lantern was absolutely dangerous.
In an instant, Cui Zuojing had disappeared without a trace. After briefly freaking out, Dong Zheng forced himself to quickly calm down. In this situation, his thinking was very clear. Cui Zuojing was swallowed up by his shadow, and at present, he had no idea how to find him. The safest thing was to find a spiritual weapon.
Now that he and Cui Zuojing had separated, in order to deal with him, Midnight would likely do something to hinder his usage of the lantern. Unlike Cui Zuojing, he had no experience fighting against Midnight. If he failed to get a spiritual weapon before Midnight acted, he would be at a complete disadvantage. There was only one way.
Dong Zheng rushed to the third floor and ran to the props showroom. Under the absolutely rational decision-making control of his kernel, he followed the most perfect strategy in every move. But he could not suppress the perceptual thinking in his heart. The intense worry turned his breathing and heartbeat into a mess.
Was Ah’Zuo okay?
In a place invisible behind him, a Siamese cat leaped lightly onto the handrail of the stairs. The sound of the man’s footsteps echoed in the silent hallway as clear as day. The Siamese’s blue eyes slightly narrowed, and the whiskers on his cheeks quivered.
As he followed the sound, the tip of his tail drew a graceful arc in the air.
Surrounded by a sticky, liquid darkness that tightly blocked his eyes, ears, nose, and mouth, Cui Zuojing lost his perception of the outside world.
The biting chill invaded his body from every corner, seeming to engulf his skin, blood and bones.
Cui Zuojing struggled to curl up his right arm. His wrist touched his chest, and the three seals engraved on the inside of his wrist all lit up in an instant. The time power of one seal, and the space power temporarily stored in the other two seals broke out, and the shackles of the ghosts shattered in an instant.
Under these elemental powers, the darkness was like a slug sprinkled with a large amount of salt, quickly losing water and melting. Cui Zuojing fell to the ground. He coughed a few times before turning over and sitting on the ground.
The outbreak just now made all the ghosts disappear. Although the power of time and space were powerful, they could only be used once in a long while, because they were not meant to be used this way.
Cui Zuojing looked around. He was still there, but Dong Zheng was nowhere to be seen.
He should have been drawn into Dong Zheng’s shadow just now, so this place…was it a different dimension?
Cui Zuojing looked at the palm of his hand. The space power of Morality was still with him, so maybe he could use it to his advantage.
The young man stood up. He took a deep breath, closed his eyes, and gently pressed his left hand over the seals.
The prop display door was not a barrier for Dong Zheng. He went straight to the area where the instruments he needed were located. He remembered very clearly what kind of props Heimdall had and he found something that was very fitting for him at this moment.
Dong Zheng stopped in front of the compartment where a porcelain bottle was stored. The small white bottle was placed in a transparent cover, and the label on it was [Bright Holy Water].
As a member of the organization, renting still required points as collateral. But now Dong Zheng was really penniless, so he completely disregarded all the rules and regulations. His kernel invaded the security system and, after a few seconds, the cover automatically opened.
Dong Zheng had privately and carefully studied Heimdall’s security system in the past, and now the entire organization was stripped bare to him, unable to defend itself.
He stretched out his hand to take out the bottle. He uncorked it and dipped his arrowheads in the water. After soaking all eight arrowheads that he had on his body, Dong Zheng put the bottle in his pocket. Now, he had more confidence in his attack power.
Now, he finally had the ability to fight back.
As for the problem of stealing spiritual tools…Dong Zheng closed the cover and turned back. He’ll talk to Heinrich in the morning. It shouldn’t be a problem.
He picked up the lantern that he had set aside earlier and was about to retrace his steps to find Cui Zupjing, when he suddenly saw the shadow of a cat on the wall.
Dong Zheng paused and said in a low voice, “Midnight?”
The Siamese cat came out from behind the self with light and elegant steps. When he was ten meters away from Dong Zheng, he squatted down and gazed at the man with blue eyes. With a meow, he said, “Mmn, it’s me. I didn’t expect that we’ll meet for the first time like this.”
“Neither did I,” Dong Zheng replied. He had an arrow in one hand and the lantern in the other other.
“Don’t be so nervous.” Midnight smiled. “I actually saw you a long time ago, but you just didn’t know it. Do you remember? In the Doll’s House box, you were once put in prison. It was raining outside, and the little black goat went out alone for a while.”
Dong Zheng remembered, because on that day, the young man came back completely drenched. Shivering, he squeezed beside Dong Zheng, wanting to get warm. As a result, he was squeezed into the corner by Cui Zuojing, and their bodies were pressed closely together. The moment his arm touched the young man’s waist, he felt his heartbeat suddenly accelerate.
“At that time, did he go out to see you?”
“To be precise, he met with Chang Hui. Between the two of them, there are some little secrets that others don’t know.” Midnight flicked his tail lightly and continued to meow, “Do you know why that little demon is so persistent in making a deal with him?”
“I don’t know, and I don’t want to know.” Dong Zheng didn’t continue to give Midnight the opportunities to sow discord. “Where is he?”
“This is our first meeting. Why are you so stiff?” Midnight sighed, and his blue eyes turned greenish. “It seems that you don’t want to continue talking to me. It just so happens that I should start working too.”
Before Midnight’s words completely fell, a black hand stretched out from the shadow behind Dong Zheng, curved around his shoulder, and tried to snatch the lantern from his hand!