The moment she saw Dong Linhai, she was stunned. Thousands of emotions flitted across her eyes, making the rims of her eyes wet and red. But in the end, she only took a deep breath, raised a smile, and said, “Hello.”
Dong Linhai thought that she looked very familiar. Something stirred within the back of his mind, but when he carefully looked for it, he only saw a blank scene, such as the image of the maze that he couldn’t get out of his mind, which made him confused.
“Hello.” Dong Linhai looked around awkwardly and asked, “Is this God’s Back Garden?”
“Yes. Please come and take a seat.” The girl pointed to the chair next to her. The cat jumped off her lap, turned, and ran away. Even now, Dong Linhai still wasn’t sure whether this was just an ordinary white cat.
Dong Linhai walked over, and as he got closer, he saw her more clearly. The girl looked about 17 to 18 years old. She wasn’t tall, and she had delicate, beautiful eyebrows. He didn’t know why she looked so familiar to him. She wore a drop-shaped sapphire pendant on a silver string around her neck. If he remembered correctly, this pendant used to belong to Xia Qiongyun.
Why did she have Xia Qiongyun’s pendant?
His heart was beating so hard that Dong Linhai suspected that the girl could hear it too. He sat down opposite her and didn’t know where to put his hands or feet. The girl saw his awkwardness and couldn’t help laughing. She stood up and poured him a cup of tea.
The fragrance of the tea was so familiar, so too was the jasmine and rose floating on the water. Dong Linhai took in the scent of tea dried out by Xia Qiongyun. After they left, these things were left behind in Fu Zhe’s castle.
What was the relationship between her and Fu Zhe?
Cui Zuojuing said that since they killed the Queen, the Pure White Realm needed a new Queen. Just like how the Queen was once a pilgrim who became queen after killing the previous Queen. Dong Linhai’s doubts grew. He tightened his grip on the teacup and asked, “Are you the new queen?”
“Yes.” She gazed at him with a look in her eyes that Dong Linhai could not read. It made him uneasy for some reason, that fragile colored gleam. “But you can call me by my name, which is Wang Que.”
Wang Que. Wang Que. [T/N: The first Wang Que is 汪雀 = pond sparrow. The second Wang Que is 忘却 = To forget.]
The name sounded so familiar. Those dust-covered memories at last rushed out from the frozen ground, only to spew out into…nothingness.
What was it?
He couldn’t remember.
It was baffling. He had no choice but to hold back his doubts and said, “My name is Dong Linhai.”
“I know.” Seeing Dong Linhai’s eyes brightened, Wang Que paused and continued, “You’re one of the pilgrims who was able to successfully leave.”
“Oh.” The light in Dong Linhai’s eyes dimmed. He felt a little strange. His performance just now was as if he was trying to get some answer, and now he felt like a disappointed child. What did he want to hear from Wang Que?
Dong Linhai was silent for a moment, not wanting to say anything to make the atmosphere more awkward. Finally, he said, “Is the current Pure White Realm the same as before?”
The new Queen was sitting across from him, but he didn’t feel much fear. Perhaps it was because she looked like an ordinary girl.
“There’s no big difference. The pilgrimage still continues, but no one can go out anymore. Since everyone came here after death, they shouldn’t be resurrected to disrupt the order of life and death. Now, the only motivation for people to continue their pilgrimage is the desire for survival.”
“This is also good.” Dong Linhai nodded. Although he was someone who’d successfully left, he still liked Wang Que’s words. “What about the boxes?”
Wang Que thought for a moment and said, “The despair that the former Queen wanted from the boxes was to solidify her own strength. And now, although there would still be misfortunes and disasters, it isn’t mandatory for every box to have a tragic ending to produce despair. Pilgrims can rely on their own efforts to produce positive changes.”
“That’s very good.” Dong Linhai breathed a sigh of relief. The Pure White Realm left with him with the most unforgettable memories of his life. He very much hoped that this place would become better. After returning to reality, Dong Zheng told him the truth of the Pure White Realm. Every small box was like a small world, and they must be “digested” for the Pure White Realm to survive. This was something that could not be changed. But the fact that the boxes weren’t deliberately producing more despair and tragedy, and that there were no more lies, was already the best outcome.
They gradually relaxed as they chatted. Dong Linhai was very curious about Wang Que’s life experience. How did she become the Queen? At the last moment of their pilgrimage, after they killed the previous Queen, did Wang Que succeed to the throne at that time? Was it possible that, besides them, there was another group of people who also reached God’s Back Garden?
But Wang Que didn’t answer these questions. She only said that she died on the spot in the real world and that, even if she succeeded in her pilgrimage, she wouldn’t be able to return to the real world anyway. So she was secretly elected and was able to pass the Supreme Council’s vote to become the new Queen.
“So that’s what happened.” Dong Linhai couldn’t tell her that he felt regretful. He and Wang Que had just met for the first time, but there was always a voice in his heart, telling him: All along, she was the destiny he’d been waiting for.
He wanted to know more, but the scene in front of him suddenly blurred for a moment. Dong Linhai was very familiar with this feeling. He was about to wake up.
Today, why so early?! Dong Linhai stood up in a panic. Before she could say anything else, he hurriedly said, “Can I come back to look for you again?”
His vision became increasingly more blurred, and the garden, the long table, the castle, and the trees, along with Wang Que’s figure, became less and less clear. In the end, the only sound that echoed in his ear was a gratifying sigh.
“I’ll wait for you.”
Dong Linhai opened his eyes.
The morning light spilled through the curtains onto his face, waking him up.
Everything in the dream was so clear, as if he’d actually experienced it. He stared at the ceiling for a long time, dazed. His mind was still full of the appearance of the new Queen and the words she’d said.
She was exactly his ideal type, and even though he’d just woken up, he wanted to go back into the garden and see her once more.
Dong Linhai closed his eyes and pulled his bed cover over his chest, wanting to enter his dream again. But no matter how much he wanted to go back to sleep, he couldn’t sleep anymore.
Ten minutes later, he irritably lifted the bed cover. Grabbing his phone, he dialed Dong Zheng’s number.
Cui Zuojing answered the phone.
Cui Zuojing didn’t wait for him to speak but directly scolded him for waking him up. Dong Zheng quickly took the phone from him and asked Dong Zheng what was wrong in a sleepy voice.
Dong Linhai looked at the clock on the wall, which showed that it was 6:10 in the morning. He shrank back his neck, feeling guilty.
Since then, Dong Linhai often dreamed. In his dreams, he walked in a maze, but he was no longer lost. He would soon find the exit, take the train waiting for him, cross the forest and stream, circle the castle, and meet Wang Que at that table under the tree in the garden.
The more he saw her, the more he felt that he and Wang Que had known each other for a long time. After the initial nervousness and uncontrollable heartbeat had passed, he also began to notice the familiarity and tacit understanding that Wang Que would inadvertently display toward him.
He’d seen her before. But why couldn’t he remember?
Dong Linhai asked Dong Zheng and Cui Zuojing, but neither of them would give him a clear answer. From this, Dong Linhai was certain that there must be something hidden from him.
Since they wouldn’t say, then he would investigate it by himself.
This kind of dreaming lasted for half a year. It was amazing that after he’d left the Pure White Realm, he would meet a girl that likes there.
Wang Que would sometimes set up a painting canvas under the tree. Under her brush, appeared a girl clutching a teddy bear, crying inside a dim bedroom; the twin towers in a vast snow field with a huge cocoon hanging in the center, like a miracle left in ancient times; a cruise ship broken by countless tentacles; the devil crawling out from the ground, its wings stretching out to cover the sky; a red and black train leaving the platform on Top-of-the-Giant-Tree; security bacteriophages, the sky-high firewall, and data flowing along the information superhighway… Every image was so familiar. Even now, these things in Dong Linhai’s memory still had not faded. Had Wang Que also experienced these? Was she part of the Wonton Insurgency? But why couldn’t he remember?
Dong Linhai went over his memories again and again; he must have forgotten some very important things.
That day, Dong Linhai couldn’t hold back anymore and asked Wang Que if she knew the others in the Pure White Realm. According to Dong Zheng, Cui Zuoiing gave his power of time to Allen and Chang Hui, the former heir, became the Master of Chaos. Because Fu Zhe didn’t have his complete soul, he could not leave, while Luo Yan and Victor chose to stay behind.
As if waiting for his words, Wang Que put down the paintbrush and looked at him with a smile. She said, “They are all doing well. Do you want to see them?”
Dong Linhai didn’t understand what she meant, until he was led to the door of the castle, where he had not yet stepped foot in before.
“Let’s go in and have a look,” Wang Que whispered softly.
Dong Linhai pushed open the closed door of the castle, and the place he had never set foot in was slowly exposed in front of him.
Noisy sounds gradually came into his ears. There was a long table in the spacious hall, and everyone was sitting around the table, chatting and laughing. Their familiar faces stunned Dong Linhai on the spot.
Victor, Fu Zhe, Luo Yan, Allen, Dong Zheng, Cui Zuojing, Lin Hangzhi, and Xia Qiongyun… Suddenly, Dong Linhai had returned to Fu Zhe’s castle.
Cui Zuojing put down the playing tile, raised his eyes, and saw Linhai at the door. He yelled out to him with a laugh, “Finally, you’re here!”
Luo Yan’s index finger shifted slightly, and more dream power attached to Dong Linhai’s body, making him more solid, so that he wouldn’t wake up without any interference from the outside world. Victor’s violet eyes were filled with relief. After all, he’d witnessed Dong Linhai’s transformation from a bear kid who didn’t understand anything to what he was now.
Allen was amused by Dong Linhai’s expression of wonder. “What? Are you surprised? Are you surprised?”
Xia Qiongyun took the fruit plate from Lillian, placed it on the table, and strategically stuffed a strawberry into Lin Hangzhi’s mouth that was starting to open.
“You…” Dong Linhai said in shock.
Dong Zheng pulled out the chair beside him and smiled slightly. “Come and sit.”
Fu Zhe, who was sitting at the head of the table, just like every time after they’d come back from the box, closed the book in his hand and stood. He smiled at Dong Linhai and said: