After leaving the secret realm and seeing the maze wall full of vines, Allen subconsciously felt wary. It seemed as if they would launch an attack at any moment, similar to the hospital
“The secret realm just now was very strange. The fragment reminder is actually After Life, which gives me a bad feeling.”
While looking at the door, Dong Zheng said, “It should be more than a feeling. According to the clues and the hints found inside, what we saw was just the outer layer.”
Allen mindfully said, “What is it?”
“The name of the fragment is After Life, which is already the biggest reminder. Wen Baoshan said that he started understanding the jasmine’s words after the eight day. This was a sign that he’d begun to gradually transform into a plant and began to yearn for the sun. Do you still remember the fragment reminder?”
“After becoming our friend, you will never be lonely again, just like seven days of melting sunshine within a dream—”
Allen repeated the words from memory. His mouth suddenly snapped shut and he said, a little scared by the speculation, “You mean…Wen Baoshan had already died on the seventh day and everything after his death was nothing but a dream?”
Dong Zheng hummed in agreement. “I wasn’t quite sure at first, but just now, I suddenly realized that the mortuary cabinet where I first appeared in the hospital was labelled. The name on it was partially contaminated with blood stains. I could only see that the first character has a water character in it and the middle of the third character has a single stroke. The font was very simple. At that time, I didn’t care about it and just took a quick glance. Now that I think about it again, it should be Wen Baoshan’s name.”
“And, Wen Baoshan said that since his hospitalization, his child had never visited. It stood to reason that even if he was busy at work, he would still take the time to go and see his father if his father was seriously ill. So it was very likely that before his child arrived, Wen Baoshan was already dead. He didn’t see what happened so he felt that the child never visited.”
“The corpse locker belonging to Wen Baoshan should be marked as “August, something day, cremated”, and the date written should be the end of September. This could be inferred based on either the doctor’s ward record or the safe password code.”
“So everything was just an illusion created by the girl who gave him the flower?” Allen said thoughtfully, touching his chin. “No, then what about that plant who gave up the treasure chest just now. If Wen Baoshan was cremated, how could it say greet to us?”
Dong Zheng said, “I don’t know, but such a guess is indeed the most likely.”
Allen was silent for a moment, then he let out a sigh. “Hey… I suddenly started missing my parents a little. I don’t know what they’re doing now. But this son is also really bad. Just work and work. Can work be more important than my own father?”
Cui Zuojing, who had not spoken until now, unexpectedly said, “You mustn’t allow the plot in the box to affect your emotions too much. Or else, sooner or later, you will go crazy.”
Allen looked down at him. “What do you mean?”
Cui Zuojing said, “You have also experienced several boxes, right? How do you feel about the plot and the development of things inside the box?”
“At that time, I was full of fear and the need to escape. But no matter what was felt at the time, after leaving the box, you just wanted to cry. You see, just like in Hamelin. The flute player sealed the harmful rats. But because the people wouldn’t keep their promise, in a fit of anger, he took revenge by carrying away all the children. But, to achieve customs clearance, we had to defeat the flute player and release all the rats. From a certain point of view, it can be regarded as a good person having a miserable ending. This isn’t very much like a children’s fairy tale, eh.”
Cui Zuojing did not comment, but asked Allen, “What did you do for a living?”
Allen cleared his throat, raised his head, straightened his chest and said, “I’m a glorious people’s teacher.”
Even Dong Zheng looked at him now. Allen scratched his hair in embarrassment, and said with a smile, “Actually a kindergarten teacher. I work at a kindergarten in Beijing.”
Cui Zuojing nodded and said mercilessly, “No wonder you’re so emotional.”
Allen said, “…What do you mean?”
“In the Pure White Realm, the one thing you don’t need is empathy. Never put yourself in the perspective of an npc or the perspective of others within any plot point. Any negative emotions that you produce will be collected and provided as an energy source to some other existence. This is like putting your life in her hands and allowing her to tighten the noose.”
Dong Zheng grabbed the main point at once. “Some other existence?”
Cui Zuojing made a be quiet gesture at him. “This is the Labyrinth of Time and so it’s out of her jurisdiction. I can talk about it quietly. But, once we leave this place, don’t mention it anywhere else. Her eyes and ears are everywhere.”
Dong Zheng and Allen both nodded.
“No one knows her real name. People in the Pure White Realm now call her the queen. At present, she is the supreme being in the Pure White Realm.”
After saying this, Cui Zuojing nodded pointedly to Dong Zheng’s chest. Then, he looked him in the eyes and said solemnly, “And the power of her survival is the despair and desperation that people give out while struggling inside the box.”
“So, no matter what, please control your emotions. Otherwise one day, when you’re lucky enough to finish your pilgrimage and stand before her to make your last wish, all you will find is endless despair.”
Allen said, “Ah? No wonder you’ve been so calm. So this is the case!”
Dong Zheng wrinkled his brows. He obviously thought of something but didn’t say it. Instead, he asked, “What about the light that entered my body when we were inside the secret realm?”
Cui Zuojing answered honestly, “I don’t know.”
“Don’t you know?” Dong Zheng raised an eyebrow.
“Please, although I know a lot of things, that doesn’t mean I know everything. Aren’t we now two grasshoppers on the same rope? If it’s something bad, why would I hide it from you?” Cui Zuojing was dissatisfied.
“But I know the person who set this trap, the girl mentioned by Wen Baoshan. In simple terms, she is like a legendary demon. She must rely on continuous transactions to prolong her life. But, when it comes to pure strength, we’re still not strong enough.”
Cui Zuojing raised his hand and placed it on Dong Zheng’s forehead to carefully check again. He still didn’t notice any abnormality. “Mmn…I may not have enough ability now. After we find Fu Zhe, we will check you together.”
Dong Zheng, who’d lowered his head slightly so that Cui Zuojing could touch him, asked, “You asked Wen Baoshan what the girl took from him. Could it be his life?”
Cui Zuojing shook his head. “Not necessarily. As long as Wen Baoshan still exists in a certain form, he’s not considered dead. So it’s meaningless to think about this question. How much time is left to find fragments?”
Dong Zheng checked the upper right corner of his field of vision. “1 hour and 07 minutes.”
“OK, you two continue to search for fragments. I’m going back to rest.” Cui Zuojing stretched his lazy waist, revealing an unexpected fatigue between his brows and eyes.
He lightly touched the back of Dong Zheng’s left hand, and his figure gradually became transparent. The small weed shaped coat of arms flashed. “If it’s not dangerous enough to kill you, then don’t disturb me.”
After Cui Zuojing’s figure disappeared before his eyes, Allen came over, patted Dong Zheng on the shoulder and sighed. “Wow, brother, your prisoner has personality, ah. Is he always like this?”
Although he didn’t have one himself, Allen had seen other owners and prisoners in other boxes. In the Pure White Realm, prisoners had no human rights, and they were like props for the owners. Many people would directly push the prisoners as dead ghosts in dangerous situations.
“I haven’t known him very long, but his attitude has always been like this.” Dong Zheng sighed quietly. Cui Zuojing’s strength was reflected in these last two boxes. Although he didn’t doubt his strength, that didn’t mean that they were a good fit.
However, it was also fortunate that his temper wasn’t too bad. He knew how to be patient and to make concessions when needed. If only Cui Zuojing and Linhai would get along more peacefully. But, they’d already fallen out from the very beginning.
“There is still an hour left. Let’s hurry up and collect more fragments to earn points.”
Although Allen seemed to be in a good mood all the time, he turned out to be really reliable. With him, the speed of collecting fragments was even faster than when Dong Zheng was with Dong Linhai. The two came out of the third fragment space with the last 19 minutes remaining.
[When the world goes against entropy. —Procedure error]
Dong Zheng checked the fragments that had been collected. “I have nine. What about you?”
Aside from the seven that he’d collected, two were collected by Cui Zuojing when he was being chased by the executioner and so Dong Zheng should be able to officially claim them. And, the hospital fragment also belonged to Dong Zheng.
Allen counted his own. “I have seven.”
“There should be some on Dong Linhai. If the final points are given according to the number of fragments, we won’t have to worry about points for the time being.”
After they came upon the same scene for the third time, Dong Zheng stopped walking, lowered his voice, and said with a frown, “We’ve already walked here.”
“See that.” Allen pointed to the chocolate wrapper by the labyrinth wall, “I left it here after eating but it’s still there. This kind of spatial repetition is very common in a maze.”
“Something’s not right.” Dong Zheng signaled for him to stay silent and listened carefully for a while, then he took one step back. “Do you hear any sounds?”
“Sounds? No—wait, I hear it!”
It was the rustling sound of a roughly textured, coarse robe rubbing together. The moment Allen’s voice fell, it was as if the source of the noises realized it had been discovered. It appeared in front of them in an instant.
It was covered in a black robe all the way down to its feet. The robe’s wide hood covered most of its face, leaving only the pale chin exposed, along with a white, skeletal hand holding a short wand.
There was no greeting or hesitation. The moment it’s figure was reflected in Dong Zheng and Allen’s retina, it waved the wand. Two dark purple lights shot out from the top of the wand and directly hit them!
Pain! It hurted so much!
Dong Zheng couldn’t even muster up an ounce of resistance. He crumbled the ground on his knees in agonizing pain, feeling as if every bone and nerve within his body had been drawn out. He heard the overwhelming sound of his bones clicking and groaning. Next to him, Allen screamed.
The extreme pain slowed his ability to think but his endurance had been tempered earlier by being overdrafted by Cui Zuojing. Before the black robe wizard could raise its wand again, Dong Zheng devoted every ounce of his strength to shout, “Karls!”
The moment Dong Zheng called that name, a tentacle broke through the void and appeared directly out of the blue sky of the Labyrinth of Time. The tentacle slammed into the wizard’s head!
The head flew out like a ball.
The light at the top of the wand gradually dimmed, and a headless corpse stood rigidly in place. A few seconds later, it slowly fell back, crashed to the ground, and the bones scattered.
Dong Zheng struggled to get up. He covered his stomach with one hand and supported himself on the wall with the other hand. He looked up at the tentacle that was retreating back to the library. As he gasped in pain, he sank into a deep suspicion.
—The people struggling to survive in the Pure White Realm, do they really have enough power to fight against these monsters?
Just like Cui Zuojing.