Victor was throwing Midnight into a wall when he felt the large fluctuation of chaos power.
Meow–!” The gray and white Cheshire cat screamed, spilling sporadic blood and changing into a Siamese cat. In the battlefield surrounding them, there were large amounts of blood belonging to both Victor and Midnight.
The deep claw wounds on Victor’s arms, waist, and stomach were healing rapidly, leaving intact flesh that looked exactly the same as before. Only the ragged state of his clothes were proof that he’d suffered countless injuries.
A ghost emerged from the shadow at Victor’s feet and tried to drag him into the ground. The leaf-shaped mark on Victor’s forehead flashed, and he picked up the vase next to him and slammed it into the ghost’s face.
The mark was a blessing Miss Deer had given him in the secret realm of the Labyrinth of Time. She’d been imprisoned in the Ghost Forest, and when she recognized Victor, who was still locked in the form of a cat at the time, she had placed a blessing on his forehead. At this moment, the imprint allowed anything that Victor touched to directly impact ghosts. Therefore, the ghost was completely flattened.
Midnight took this opportunity to take a breath and shift into a sphinx. The hairless cat’s bald body and wrinkled skin looked terrifying. His two azure eyes stared attentively at Victor, and he let out a mournful cry.
In an instant, countless cats emerged from the bushes. With their claws unsheathed, they pounced on Victor. Victor didn’t want to hurt these little creatures. For a while, he didn’t know how to deal with them and so he was quickly overwhelmed by the cats.
Midnight wanted to slip away. He already understood that he was no match for Victor, who had the power of body. He had wanted to use the war of attrition to exhaust Victor’s power of body and lock him in the form of a cat once more. But no matter what he did, he couldn’t cause any substantial damage. The second seal was now lifted, and as the Messenger of Body, Victor was a perpetually healing machine.
A beautiful short-haired cat was thrown over, directly hitting Midnight. The short-haired cat panicked. Its two round ears went flat against the top of its head, and it inadvertently knocked its head into Midnight’s head, nearly breaking his neck.
Victor couldn’t get rid of these little guys, and so he turned into a cat. The amber-eyed white cat successfully broke through the encirclement and rushed straight toward Midnight. Suddenly, these two cats were entangled, scratching and biting one another. Pure white hair and light brown hair fluttered in the air.
With the sudden explosion of chaos power, the terrifying, indescribable monster in the sky disappeared, expelled by time and space. The sun came out from behind the scattering clouds. In the middle of the battle, Victor raised his head just in time to see a figure slowly falling from the sky and disappearing into a corner of the maze not far away.
When Midnight bit his ear, Victor was furious and directly sank his teeth into Midnight’s tail.
Before, he’d felt a bit awkward dealing with Midnight as a human, like he was being cruel to a small animal. But now, he was a cat! Two cats fighting, how could it be called animal abuse?
Dong Linhai looked at the bushes that seemed exactly like the ones before, and he asked, “Have we already been here?”
“Seems like we haven’t.” Wang Que paid close attention to the messages her insects were conveying. The maze was really too neat, resulting in a lack of larger insects. Therefore, she’d had to rely on the tiny little insects that lived in the soil all year round, whose eyes had atrophied and who were limited in number.
Along the way, she was very fortunate not to have encountered a Queen’s heir, and soon after coming out of the teleportation room, she accidentally met Dong Linhai.
They were looking for a way out of the maze, when suddenly, a freezing rain broke through the sky. The rain felt too uncomfortable on their skin, and so they had to lean against the roots of a wall of bushes to hide away from the rain. They didn’t expect to witness Chang Hui killing the demon.
Although they didn’t know why this was happening, they were still shocked by it. In their impression, the giant, deformed creature hundreds of meters tall in the sky wasn’t something that should exist in the Pure White Realm.
But fortunately, everything quickly settled and Chang Hui fell to the ground. After determining that there was no more danger, they continued to move forward, looking for a way to enter the Queen’s back garden.
But this maze was far more complicated than they anticipated. Both Dong Linhai and Wang Que memorized that path they’d walked, but they soon realized that this wouldn’t work because the maze was “alive.” Just like the Labyrinth of Time that Dong Linhai had experienced, the bush-like wall would change when they weren’t paying attention. Or, to put it another way, it would directly change direction and location in front of them, but they were completely unaware due to some kind of wonderful force at work.
At first, Cui Zuojing hadn’t said it explicitly, but Dong Linhai, who had fully understood many aspects of the SCP Foundation, already knew that there was a kind of imperceptible power called “antimemetic,” which isolates its victims and makes them unrecognizable by the outside world.
When the two of them were at their wits end, a large figure suddenly appeared around the corner. Wang Que and Dong Linhai were alarmed and quickly prepared to fight. But when they saw the person’s appearance, they paused.
The man in front of them was about two meters tall, with bulging muscles straining against his black suit. His face was fleshy, and his smiling lips seemed to be stretched by red paints until the corners nearly reached the roots of his ears. Four-pointed red stars adorned his eyes and even his nose was painted red.
He had two crescent scimitars hanging at his waist. Looking at Wang Que’s surprised expression, the clown relaxed. His blood-red lips widened into a smile. “Finally found you.”
Dong Linhai was surprised. “Why are you here?”
“Luo Yan told me that you’re already in the back garden and ask me to help, so here I am.” The clown stroked the handle at his waist, laughing. “As a guide in the Pure White Realm, using the train that passed through the circus, I found this place quite easily.”
After the clown said this, he began to come closer to them, but Dong Linhai raised his hand to stop him. “Wait.”
Dong Linhai was full of vigilance. He looked the clown up and down and said, “How do you prove that you’re actually the clown?”
He clearly remembered that Cui Zuojing had said that the heir J was good at disguising. What if the person in front of him was J pretending to be the clown?
“You’re worried I might be Tang Ji?” The clown saw that Dong Linhai was wary, so he pointed to Wang Que and said, “When you came to the circus, Miss Wang Que was invited to the stage for a hypnosis performance. While you were hypnotized, you met Luo Yan, who told you about mine and the previous Queen’s past with Worm of Mystery and gave you a horse chess piece. Right?”
Wang Que pressed her hand to her chest. Underneath her clothes, there was indeed a chess horse pendant. This was something she’d never told the clown. The only person who knew was Luo Yan and the members of the Chaos Insurgency.
It seemed that Luo Yan did indeed went looking for him. Seeing that Dong Linhai still didn’t fully believe him, the clown said, “Back then, Ah’Zuo sneaked into the Pure White Realm and came to me. I helped him become a prisoner, but before I could clarify many things, you used the prisoner card to summon him. Victor was still with me, so I could only express ship him to your apartment.”
This time, Dong Linhai believed him. When they first came to the Pure White Realm, the Queen and her heirs shouldn’t have been paying attention to them yet. Therefore, they shouldn’t know much about this.
He relaxed and said, “Sorry, I was too cautious.”
“It’s nothing. You did good. You can never go wrong with caution.” The clown clearly knew the dilemma they were facing. “Are you lost? Come with me.”
Wang Que and Dong Linhai looked at each other and followed behind the clown. She asked, “How do you know where to go?”
The clown smiled at her. “This used to be my home.”
Before becoming a clown, he was the former Queen’s most trusted hand. This back garden had once been a home where he’d lived for a long time, until…a woman arrived, and she and her heirs drove him out.
The clown walked through the maze with ease, while speaking softly about what had happened. His strides were very wide, and although Dong Linhai was fine, Wang Que had to quicken her pace to keep up.
Seeing that Wang Que was nervously paying close attention to the slightest movements around them, the clown comforted, “Don’t worry too much. If we end up meeting an heir, I will protect you.”
[The Queen told Alice that she could serve as the White Queen’s pawn.]
The clown led them turn after turn. When they walked through a passage formed by walls of bushes, their field of vision suddenly widened, and they found themselves already out of the maze.
But they were not in front of the Queen’s back garden. The castle looked far away to the left. It turned out that they came out from the side of the maze, and what was in front of them was a platform.
There was a train stopped at the wooden platform, and it was deserted.
They boarded the platform that seemed out of place and walked into the endless train.
They sat near the window in an empty carriage. The doors closed and the train slowly began to move. The clown seemed to be caught in his memories as he silently gazed out the window.
After so many years, everything had become like this…It seemed like a lifetime ago.
Dong Linhai sat beside Wang Que. His hand, which was resting on the seat, moved quietly and covered her hand. Wang Que looked at him. Their gazes met, and they each couldn’t help but smile.
[The pawn crossed two squares in one move, and Alice quickly passed the third square by train.]
30 minutes later, the train started to slow down and finally came to a stop in front of another platform.
They walked off the train into an unfamiliar surrounding. The woods were crips and lush, stretching over a large swath of land. The castle was closer now. It seemed as if they had circled around and came to the back of the garden.
“Where are we?”
“I took you around the back. The Queen isn’t easy to kill, so you have to use some other means,” the clown said. “If you trust me, follow me. Let’s go together. After all…I’d once witnessed the fall of a queen.”
The location of the train station was very secretive. Wang Que and Dong Linhai followed the clown through a winding path.
In the middle of the path up ahead, there were two guards standing watch. They were huge, bulging like round balls. No matter their facial features or the shape of their bodies, they seemed carved out of the same mold. Only the clothes they wore differentiated them.
[In the fourth square, Alice met the twin brothers, Tweedledee and Tweedledun.]
“Do we need to kill them to get past? Or can we quietly go around?” Dong Linhai quietly asked.
The clown shook his head. “This path is the only way out of the forest. If we leave it, we’ll get lost.”