“8 of Diamonds, A of Spaces, 9 of Spades, Q of Hearts, 2 of Hearts, 4 of Hearts, 7 of Diamonds…”
Cui Zuojing’s action paused when he reached the eighth card. Lin Hangzhi stood beside him. His forehead was already covered with cold sweat, and both legs could not stop shaking.
So far, six of the first seven cards were correct.
There were 54 playing cards in the deck, and the probability of correctly guessing the first card was 1/54. After the first guess, the probability of correctly guessing the second card is 1/53, and so on. By this analogy, the probability of having six consecutive correct guesses was probably as small as nearly zero. (1)
“It seems you are nervous.” Cui Zuojing looked sideways at him.
Lin Hangzhi’s voice was tight. “I feel like I’m going to die.”
Cui Zuojing chuckled and said, “No. Do you want to see the next card?”
Lin Hangzhi hesitated for a moment and nodded firmly. “See! Even if I die, I have to understand. I also want to know how much I can do.”
Cui Zuojing stood up, put the remaining three cards in his pocket, and put away the poker cards on the table. “Then I won’t read it. Okay, the test is done. Mr. Lin Hangzhi, you are excellent, whether it is you or your ability.”
Lin Hangzhi said, “Ah? There are three more cards…”
“Don’t worry about them. Just assume that they don’t exist.” Cui Zuojing stretched his lazy waist, snapped his fingers, and walked upstairs. “In the next few days, I suggest you keep Victor by your side and don’t go out unnecessarily. If your bad luck affects other people, I will feel guilty. After all, I asked you to do this experiment so it is my pot.”
“But the cards–”
“It just so happens that I also need to re-familiarize myself with my ability. Don’t be afraid. I will heal you,” Victor jumped onto the table, and said to Lin Hangzhi, who still wanted to know the results. He looped his tail around his wrist, saw that Lin Hangzhi’s fingers clearly had thin calluses left by holding a scalpel, and asked, “Are you a doctor?”
“Ah, I used to be.” Lin Hangzhi’s eyes dimmed. He concealed his clenched fists, hiding the calluses on his fingers, and shrugged. “But I was dismissed due to a medical accident. Everyone said I left gauze in the patient’s stomach, but it really wasn’t me.”
Victor was silent for a few seconds, rubbed Lin Hangzhi’s wrist again, and whispered, “I was also a doctor, working in the Northeast. That day I had a consultation that lasted the whole morning. I was about half an hour away from starting the afternoon consultation. I laid my head down on my desk for a moment and then I woke up here.”
Hearing this, Lin Hangzhi felt a sudden heat in his eyes. That kind of suffering, maybe only colleagues could understand it. He picked Victor up, pursed his lips, and finally said,
“I… was killed by a billboard on the way home after getting fired.”
Cui Zuojing pushed open the door to Dong Zheng’s room. The man was sitting at the table, holding the tablet in both hands and trying to do something with it using his ability.
After training for ten days, he was able to turn on the tablet to open the application software, but he was never able to enter the same state from the day of his awakening.
Fu Zhe taught him some methods of concentration, but it wasn’t enough. Dong Zheng didn’t know what the conditions or opportunities were for sinking into the kernel world.
“I have tested Lin Hangzhi’s ability.” Cui Zuojing took out the poker cards from his pocket and threw them on the table in front of Dong Zheng. Dong Zheng turned them over, frowned, and looked up at Cui Zuojing.
All three cards were blank.
Cui Zuojing leaned his back on the table with his arms crossed over his chest and said, “I didn’t dare to let him guess so much on purpose, but he guessed six of the other seven, and the moment he said the answer, the retribution acted on him, and also blew up Fu Zhe’s laboratory.”
Dong Zheng froze for a moment. Earlier, he’d been focusing too much internally and hadn’t heard the commotion downstairs. “The side effects are that strong?”
Cui Zuojing said, “It also proves that this is a very strong ability, doesn’t it?”
Dong Zheng nodded. “When we really need to unlock something that requires a password and there are no clues in sight, we can directly let Lin Hangzhi guess. It’s easy to use, but it also needs to be used with caution. We shouldn’t let him use his ability casually.”
“Yes, if we use his ability at the beginning of a box, then that bad luck may prove fatal.” Cui Zuojing sat down on the bedside, looked at the wall lamp on the ceiling, and whispered to himself, “There’s not much difference. If there’s a lock, then it’s also bad luck…Is there another way?”
Dong Zheng didn’t have an answer for him. Cui Zuojing rarely went back to the prisoner’s space when there was no trouble. The fact that it could freely satisfy any of his whims held no appeal to him. On the contrary, Cui Zuojing hated those kinds of innumerable illusions.
There was also loneliness.
But staying in the outside world for a long time also made him easily tired, just like now. Dong Zheng could feel that the youth was already a little tired.
He picked up three blank cards, which were thinner than the others. Cui Zuojing probably scraped the pattern off of them.
But they still had the original color and size.
Dong Zheng used a black marker to write joker and draw the smiling face of the clown, so that they became three little kings.
Now, it could be regarded as incorrect guesses.
Cui Zuojing didn’t know when he’d sunk into sleep and began to dream.
He didn’t want to fall asleep in Dong Zheng’s room, but no matter what he thought, when he became conscious again, he found himself sitting in a chair.
Cui Zuojing realized instantly that he was in a dream. His hands and feet were chain to the armrest and legs, unable to move. He didn’t panic and quickly looked around. Except for the circular area where he sat, the rest of the place was cloaked in a thick darkness.
This dangerous atmosphere was so familiar.
Cui Zuojing breathed evenly and waited patiently. A black fog curled around him, lightly stroking his cheek.
Shortly after, four more lights illuminated from above, lighting up the circular area and the other four people tied to the chair.
Seeing those faces that he hadn’t seen in a long time, Cui Zuojing was stunned and then he began to yell uncontrollably. “Victor, Fu Zhe, Luo Yan…Nana?”
A tall Russian man was sitting on Cui Zuojing’s left. He was about 40 years old, with deep purple eyes and short platinum hair. When he heard Cui Zuojing’s voice, he turned his head and his mouth opened in surprise but no sounds came out.
The young man with a tear mole under each eye sat on Cui Zuojing’s right, and the flute that he was never without was placed on the round table in the middle. On the other side of him, a 20 year old girl stared at Cui Zuojing and on her face was a tired and depressed smile.
The woman with her hand hanging down, her face blocked by her long hair, let out a painful moan. She finally raised her head. Those eyes that once burned with enthusiasm and vitality seemed to have faded, becoming dark and unfocused.
“Now that you are all here, it is time to start our game.”
The voice passed into Cui Zuojing’s ears. Then, the woman’s figure emerged from the black mist, revealing dazzling blond hair coiled up on top of her head, perched with a delicate crown. With bright eyes and bright teeth and wearing a white dress with silver glitter, she was like a princess walking out of a fairy tale.
Cui Zuojing abruptly clenched his fists and gritted his teeth to near breaking.
The queen sat down gracefully on the last vacant chair and looked up at Cui Zuojing, who was sitting directly opposite her. She didn’t care about the vicious look the youth was giving her, looking as if he wanted to swallow her alive. She smiled gently to everyone. “Congratulations to all of you for successfully passing the trials in order to face me. Accompany me for one final game, and then you can make any wish you desire.”
She waved her hand, breaking the chains that held everyone in bondage. A deck of cards appeared in the middle of the round table.
“Come and play a game, my favorite game. You each draw a card and the content of that card will be your destiny.”
No! Reject her!
Cui Zuojing roared desperately. But, it was a dream, and he couldn’t control his behavior. He could only watch helplessly as Victor reached out and drew a card into his hand. Then, Cheriyu Nana, Fu Zhe, Luo Yan, and he himself took one.
After looking down at the content of the card, Fu Zhe put the card face down on the table, as was his habit. Cheriyu Nana chewed her lower lip excitedly, trying to suppress her emotions. Luo Yan took a deep breath and shot Victor, who was sitting opposite her, a quick glance. But the joy between her brows and around the corners of her eyes could not be concealed.
Only Cui Zuojing felt an ice-cold chill pierce all the way to his bone marrow.
The queen looked at their expressions, and the smile at the corners of her plump lips deepened.
“It seems that the results are good.” She held out a hand draped in a gauzy sleeve and took the card at the top of the deck. Then, she smiled. “Now, it is my turn.”
She flipped the card.
Tears streaked down the clown’s face, confronted by a smiling clown on the opposite side. The moment that card was exposed to everyone, countless chains suddenly stabbed out of the darkness behind them and wrapped them tightly to their chair!
Their arms, legs, torso, and neck were all chained. No matter how they struggled, the cold iron chain only emitted fragments of rust. Cheriyu Nana’s card floated out of her hand and hovered in front of her. The image of flames on the surface of the card was extinguished and turned into ashes, and the word [Strength] became [Weak].
A sinister blindfold emerged from the darkness, and as Cheriyu Nana screamed, it tightly wrapped around her two eyes.
Blood immediately ran down her cheeks.
[Vitality] turned into [Barren].
An iron nail was forced into Victor’s mouth. The chains on either of his head left bleeding grooves on his cheeks as they fixed his head back and forced him to open his mouth impossibly wide.
Nails pierced through his cheeks. With every painful breath, bright red blood overflowed from the corners of his lips.
[Freedom] became [Captivity].
The chain strangled Fu Zhe’s neck, making him unable to move his head at all. Two high-speed drills appeared from both sides, approached slowly, and within the harsh rumble of the engines, drilled into Fu Zhe’s ears!
Blood spewed out.
Cui Zuojing desperately roared, but to no avail. This too real dream was like a giant hand in the abyss, holding him in the palm of its hand, and he could not break free no matter how hard he tried.
[Future] turned into [Illusion].
Numerous black giant worms crawled out of the ground, carrying a smelly liquid as they crawled along Luo Yan’s feet and all over her body. They creeped up onto her terrified face, and ruthlessly drilled into her nasal cavity.
No no no no!
Cui Zuojing’s card slowly floated up, and the word [Hope] slowly changed.
He struggled with all the strength in him, not realizing that at some point in the dream he’d regained control of his body.
The queen smiled gracefully. Her body was as white as a shining angel. As everyone cried and screamed, her eyes took in all the blood, converging all her favorite things.
The moment the card completely changed, the chair under Cui Zuojing suddenly shattered to his heartbroken roar.
He grabbed the burning card. With heavy chains still hanging on his limbs, he jumped on the table with the support of one hand and slammed the card in his other hand at the queen’s slender neck!
But one second before the enhanced weapon could cut into the delicate skin, the card completely burned out in his hand, leaving only a gray line on the side of the queen’s neck.
Chains jumped out of the darkness and bounded his hands before he could attack again. Cui Zuojing fell to his knees on the table, and angry tears burst from his eyes.
Victor, Fu Zhe, Luo Yan, Cheriyu Nana, with their bodies soaked in blood, they had all gone completely silent.
“It’s your turn.” The queen stood up gracefully and raised her hand to tip up Cui Zuojing’s chin. Her other hand pressed against his left chest, and she smiled with satisfaction. “A brave heart.”
Cui Zuojing suddenly opened his mouth and fiercely bit her hand. His canine teeth pierced through her skin and out came a bloody smell—
“You stained my clothes.” The queen stared at the bloody teeth mark on the back of her hand. A drop of blood fell onto her skirt and bloomed into a red rose.
Somberness finally replaced her brilliant smile, and she slapped Cui Zuojing again. Followed by another slap.
Blood slowly tricked from the corners of his lips, his nose, and his ears. Cui Zuojing coughed hard and spit out a bloody tooth.
Numerous hands stretched out from all directions, grabbed Cui Zuojing, and dug into his chest.
I still…haven’t lost yet!
Cui Zuojing clenched the tooth in his hand and directed it at the queen. The claws pierced his skin, punctured through his heart, and the agonizing pain of it blurred his vision.
But he continued to stare tenaciously at the woman in front of him.
A vague figure appeared behind the queen. In the next second, the tip of a knife burst through her chest, and blood bloomed like flowers on her white dress.
The queen’s eyes widened in disbelief. Her lips moved slightly, but in the end, she failed to make a single sound. Her beautiful and noble head was cut off with a long sword and it rolled down the table and fell to the ground.
Hot blood sprayed onto Cui Zuojing’s face.
He stared blankly at the blurry figure that had suddenly appeared out of nowhere. In that last moment, he heard Luo Yan’s voice ringing in his ears.
“You are all our last hope.”
Cui Zuojing’s eyes snapped open.
Dong Zheng was leaning over him with one hand on the bed and was looking down at him, leaning close. Seeing Cui Zuojing’s terror-stricken eyes, the man stopped suddenly, paused for two seconds, and straightened up with a frown.
“You suddenly started shouting.”
Dong Zheng stopped talking and pointed to his face. Cui Zuojing raised his hand blankly and realized that his face was full of tears.
Cui Zuojing took a deep breath and randomly wiped at his face with the back of his hand. Dong Zheng handed him a towel and asked, “Just had a nightmare?”
“Thanks.” Cui Zuojing took the towel to dry his face and noticed that Dong Zheng was watching him with strange eyes.
“What are you doing?”
Cui Zuojing’s black eyelashes were wet, and his eyes and nose were flushed from crying. The things in his dream had hit him so hard that he could not control his voice even now.
The youth’s appearance was so incredibly baffling to Dong Zheng that it made him want to comfort him no matter what method he needed to use.
Immediately, he didn’t know what he thought of. Silently laughing at himself in ridicule, he finally said, “This is the first time I saw this kind of expression on your face. It’s just…a little novel.”
(1) “The probability of correctly guessing the first card was 1/54…the second card was 1/53” — The probably of correctly guessing the first card in a 54 card deck is 1/54. Take out that card and the probably of correctly guessing the second card is 1/53. However, the probably of correctly guessing two consecutive cards in a row is much, much smaller, 1/54 X 1/53 = 1/2862, which is 0.0003. Then, do this 4 more times.