“Are you leaving?” Luo Yan asked.
Chang Hui nodded. “Mmn, I’m not suitable for staying here.”
They were sitting on two benches on the platform, separated by a distance. Luo Yan’s hair was twisted into a loose braid that hung down to her waist. She still wore a dark blue loose dress dotted with bright yellow broken stars, like an enchantress living in the world. She looked exactly like she did while in countless dreams. The only difference was that now, she was able to exist outside of dreams.
And Chang Hui’s face was no longer bloodlessly pale. She still looked 13-14 years old, was thin and slender, and was still dressed as a student of the Republic of China. The paper umbrella that usually never left her body was now closed, resting by her hand. Her white dog Dophie squatted at her feet. Her silver bracelet that said “Hundred Years Longevity” slid out from under her sleeve to hang at her wrist as she bent down to grab Dophie and put him on her lap.
They were silent for a while. Queen Anna was killed and Wang Que was now the new Queen. Tang Ji, Cheriyu Nana, and Midnight had died. Kether was destroyed. The former Dead Sea Scrolls that became Worm of Mystery could not be destroyed, so Fu Zhe created a confined space and threw it inside.
Just as the meme Murphy was imprisoned by the Red Queen, the Worm of Mystery that had stolen Murphy’s power was imprisoned by Fu Zhe. It lay on the cold ground, waiting and waiting for the day someone would break in and take it out, just like how Dong Zheng had taken Murphy out.
The Queen’s corpse disappeared shortly after her death. So far, the only previous ruling team left was Chang Hui, the one heir who took part in the game of chess to overthrow the Queen.
They didn’t wait too long. The train faintly appeared within their line of sight, approaching the platform. Soon, the whistle blared out and the train gradually slowed down.
Chang Hui stood up, holding the paper umbrella. The sun’s ray was on her face, causing her to squint her eyes slightly. This was the warmth that she had been missing for decades. From now on, she would no longer be trapped by the lingering, freezing rain.
The endless train stopped in front of the platform. The door opened automatically, and Chang Hui took a step forward, only to hear Luo Yan’s voice behind her.
“From now on, live as an ordinary girl.”
Chang Hui’s cheeks rose as she smiled. She didn’t answer Luo Yan’s words, but said instead, “See you later.”
Under Luo Yan’s gaze, she got on the train.
Carrying its only passenger, the endless train quickly started. Chang Hui sat down by the window, and Dophie jumped to her side. She raised her hand and gently stroked the white dog’s head, feeling it affectionately licking her hands.
The white paper umbrella lay horizontally on the table. This umbrella was made out of her parents’ own flesh and blood, protecting her for more than 30 years. Now, they could finally rest.
She had been in the Pure White Realm for so many years and had not had time to take a good look at the world. But now, she would have plenty of time to do what she wanted to do.
Where should she go first?
The train gradually disappeared from the horizon, and Luo Yan got up from the bench. The revenge that she had planned for several years had finally came to fruition.
That year, in that final battle, she was trapped by Kether and then cursed by the Queen before she could manage to escape. At the last moment, the power of dream chose her, and so she was trapped in the dream world, unable to form any contact with reality.
She shuttled through countless dreams, talking to dreamers, and creating brand-new dreams. But as soon as the dreamers wake up, most would forget her. As for the few who do remember her, their impression of her would slowly fade with time.
Cui Zuojing and Victor had left the Pure White Realm, while Fu Zhe and Cheriyu Nana were trapped in places she could not reach. Her loneliness was so overwhelming that she often created dreams to draw people in. She would have a moment of excitement, only to feel even more lonely when the dreamer woke up from the dream.
She couldn’t continue like this.
She once gave up her life so easily, but the Pure White Realm had given her the opportunity to continue living. She must cherish it, and she must not give up even the slightest bit of hope.
Luo Yan began to explore ways to overcome her predicament. She spent a lot of time exploring the things reflected in the dreamworld, such as the subconscious mind and the dreamer’s memory.
In this way, she noticed Chang Hui.
When she entered Chang Hui’s dream for the first time, Luo Yan didn’t know that this dream belonged to an heir. She was shocked by the sight of the deformed demon covering the sky and the downpour of cold rain. It was like a falling flood, and the heir, who had been her enemy, stood under an umbrella in the rain. She had nowhere to hide and could only huddle under that umbrella.
Luo Yan left a mark in the dream and quietly entered every night. Gradually, she fumbled out the shocking memories hidden behind Chang Hui’s terrifying dream.
Luo Yan realized that the opportunity she had been waiting for had appeared.
Chang Hui wasn’t loyal to the queen. What she cared most about as an heir was not the status and power that her identity brought her, but rather the opportunity to gain more power. She needed a powerful force, one strong enough to kill the evil demon that entangled her all the time. Other than that, nothing else was important.
What’s more, the existence of the cold rain prevented the Queen from giving her the mark of an heir. She could be an excellent partner, and so Luo Yan decided to take a gamble.
She met Chang Hui for the first time in the dreamworld and invited her former enemy to cooperate with her.
Chang Hui was silent in the rain. In the end, she only asked one question, “Can you guarantee that your plan will succeed?”
“I can’t guarantee it. This plan only came into existence because I believe in them and in others. You must be the same as me, looking for a way out of your predicament. If you succeed, you will be able to fulfill your wish. If you fail, you won’t be exposed in front of the Queen.”
Luo Yan was certain that Cui Zuojing and Victor would definitely return to the Pure White Realm. That boy had never been resigned to the whims of fate. He would return to change everything, to lift his curse, and to save his teammates.
As long as Chang Hui was willing to help her implement her plan, after they managed to successfully kill the Queen and lift their seals, they could lend Chang Hui the original power of the Pure White Realm to help her kill the evil demon.
Chang Hui finally agreed.
She had wandered her own world for six years, pursuing desires, drawing on the power of her status to make trades and collect souls. But she soon realized that she couldn’t rely on that power alone to contend with the evil thing chasing her.
So Chang Hui used the strength she had painstakingly accumulated over the past six years to tear up the fabric of space and time and forcibly smuggled her way into the Pure White Realm. Although the ensuing injuries made her already weak body weaker, she had succeeded.
She had come at a good time, when the pilgrim Anna had just killed the former Queen and needed capable helpers to consolidate her authority. Chang Hui plotted and schemed her way into becoming one of the Queen’s heirs.
So she wandered the Pure White Realm, following the scent of desire so as to make a trade with the people, collecting as much power as she could. She didn’t care about the situation of the Pure White Realm. From beginning to end, she only cared about herself.
This also gave Luo Yan’s alliance with her more assurance. Later, it took Luo Yan a long time to find the clown in dreamland. He was once the Red Queen’s most trusted person as well as an old friend of the Afternoon Tea Party.
Of course, the clown was willing to help her. Finally, the chessboard was secretly laid out, hidden in dreamland, without any hint of it brewing.
They didn’t have to wait too long for Cui Zuojing. A year later, he took Victor and smuggled into the Pure White Realm through the dreams of an infant. With the help of the clown, he became a prisoner and was summoned on the spot.
A newbie named Dong Zheng, who had received his mother’s black-gold prisoner card from Chang Hui, was the one who’d summoned him. Luo Yan didn’t know if this was a coincidence or if it was something that Chang Hui had planned with precision. After all, at that time, they hadn’t yet reached a point of mutual trust and were more like chess players working toward the same goal.
Was there anything special about Dong Zheng? Or did Chang Hui see something from his mother back then? Luo Yan didn’t know.
Later, Fu Zhe took the initiative to contact Cui Zuojing, and Luo Yan finally got news of another companion. Only Cheriyu Nana was still missing. It was at this time that Chang Hui told her that the Queen had a new heir.
The chessboard continued to expand. As both the player and the chess piece, Luo Yan learned the secrets of the Queen’s inheritance from the clown. Every new Queen was always given an opportunity to make a wish the moment she succeeded. One of Anna’s wishes was that she would never grow old and die.
That was impossible, so her wish changed into her being difficult to kill. The only one who could kill her was the next Queen.
And the next Queen…Who would she be?
Luo Yan didn’t know.
But they needed to make a suitable choice, and in the end, Luo Yan chose Wang Que.
The plan nearly failed, but fortunately, Cui Zuojing made the same decision as Luo Yan at that critical moment. He sent Dong Zheng back in time to save them.
They succeeded. Just as expected, the Queen was killed, and the chosen Wang Que passed the council’s vote to become the new Queen.
Maybe Wang Que hated her at that moment, Luo Yan thought. But she knew that Wang Que would soon understand that, because she had died on the spot in the real world, even if she did not become Queen, she would never be able to return to the real world.
This was the best choice.
Luo Yan returned to the garden. The rest of the team had finished exploring the Queen’s castle and had gone to rest. Victor was with Wang Que, and only Fu Zhe was waiting for her. Luo Yan noticed that, in the far corner, Cerberus was silently waiting for Fu Zhe.
“Will we ever be able to meet them again?” Luo Yan asked him softly.
“Yes,” Fu Zhe answered. “The power of space can create a connection between the two worlds. Once they have settled in, they can come back briefly through dreams.”
“Great.” Lup Yan breathed a sigh of relief. Although he hadn’t experimented yet, just like everyone else in the Afternoon Tea Party, she had an almost instinctive trust in Fu Zhe.
“Chang Hui is gone, and some of your space power is still with her. When do you plan on getting it back?”
“I’m not in a hurry. After everything is settled, I can go and find her,” Fu Zhe said as they walked back toward the Queen’s castle.
11 years of imprisonment, seven of which were full of conspiracy and planning. She never gave up the hope of making this day a reality. Even if they were imprisoned, even if they had died, they could still continue to live in this post-death world, living to witness more magnificent miracles.
And looking forward to the day when they would all meet again.