After Agatha left, the crowd dispersed and went back to do their own things. Dong Zheng went back to the bar to pay for the alcohol and picked up Victor, who’d licked a whole glass worth of vodka and was now lying drunkenly on his stomach on top of the bar. They intended to find a safe place to discuss the next step.
As they walked on the street, they kept an eye out for places such as a hotel. Dong Zheng once again had the feeling of being watched. He quietly turned around and led everyone into a deserted alley.
More than ten meters away, the black-robed figure that had been following behind them hesitated when he saw this. He pulled his hood uneasily, making sure to cover his entire face, but still followed after them.
The team in front didn’t seem to notice him at all. The red-haired young man put the drunken white cat into the arms of the taller youth and said something to him. The alley was very narrow and there was nowhere to hide. As a result, the figure in the black robe dared not follow too closely. He could only wait until they turned to the other side of the alley and disappeared behind the wall before hurriedly chasing after them.
The black-robed figure had just reached the middle of the alley when he saw the man who’d been leading the way suddenly reappeared in front of the alley. He stood there and quietly looked at him.
The black-robed figure had a bad feeling and abruptly turned around to run, only to see that a youth had somehow snuck up behind him and was blocking the way with his hands in his pockets. The youth smiled and said, “You followed us all the way here. What do you want?”
The black-robed figure had no choice but to stop and stand still.
A large boy holding the white cat in his arms poked his head out from behind the man and said in amazement, “My God, it turns out that someone really is following us. Brother, I thought you were just playing us.”
Dong Zheng stepped forward and said in a deep voice, “Since we’re all pilgrims and have to clear the box, why are you sneaking after us instead of just coming directly to us?”
Knowing that he was outnumbered and unable to escape, the black-robed figure subconsciously retreated a few steps, took a deep back, and raised his hand to lift the wide hood.
Long, curly flaxen fair spilled out of the hood and hung softly on her chest. The dark blue strands of hair were incredibly eye-catching.
Dong Linhai was so startled that he almost jumped up–It was her! That super-large doll he’d seen in the doll’s house!
She was unexpectedly only pretending!
She also looked extremely pretty!
“There are too many of you. I’m a little scared, so I can only use this method.” The girl wore a red and white fox mask, showing only the tip of her nose, her lips, and white chin. Her voice was very soft, and behind her back, her fingers were twisted together, such that everyone could see her tension.
It was true. All five of them were men. Even the cat was male. A pretty, little girl wouldn’t rush over without understanding the possible danger.
Cui Zuojing silently walked up behind her, placed one hand on her shoulder, and said, “Since the girl is so good-looking, then don’t hide it.”
The girl was frightened by Cui Zuojing. She hesitated slightly, and finally took off her mask.
She was indeed the girl they’d seen in the doll’s house.
“My name is Wang Que, and I came here a little bit ahead of you.”
Dong Zheng nodded and motioned for her to put the mask back on. He said, “It’s not very convenient here. Let’s find a place to talk.”
He paused and added, “Don’t worry. We won’t hurt you.”
There was no difference whether those words were said or went unsaid. Wang Que became even more nervous.
Cui Zuojing couldn’t help but laughed. He walked past Wang Que, picked up Victor, who was curled up in Dong Linhai’s arms, and held him in front of Wang Que.
“You can hold the cat. Ok?”
The fluffy white cat was still knocked out and didn’t look the least bit threatening. He was so cute that people wanted to bury their face in his fur. Wang Que’s eyes brightened, but she still looked at Victor with vigilance. She awkwardly took him and held him like a baby.
Victor drunkenly murmured a word in Russian that no one understood, shook the tip of his tail, quietly nestled in Wang Que’s arms, and continued to sleep.
There were traces of nail art on Wang Que’s nails. She scratched Victor’s belly carefully and moved towards Dong Zheng, who looked the most reliable and upright in the whole team.
The group found a small hotel. There weren’t many buttons left, just enough for the cost of a room. Dong Zheng opened a double room and the six people sat on the bed and had an impromptu meeting.
Wang Que introduced herself first. She was seventeen years old and was a high school student in the real world. She’d been in the Pure White Realm for half a year but had only experienced four boxes. She obviously didn’t like the Pure White Realm at all and would only enter a box when her points were close to running out, thus making her eligible to be cleared during the Blood Night.
“I entered this box alone. At the beginning, I was in an abandoned classroom upstairs in the school. There were two other men with me. We worked together to solve the mystery of the secret room. Later, we encountered some things and one of them died. The other person and I went to the equipment room and finally found a key.”
Wang Que took a deep breath and spoke faster, as if she didn’t want to recall the upcoming incident. “Later, that person wanted to do something bad to me. I tricked him and ran away, temporarily leaving him behind in the woods. Have you met him?”
It was obvious what that “something bad” that Wang Que mentioned was. In the Pure White Realm, the universal morality and laws of China were no longer applicable. People couldn’t even protect themselves, so how could they speak for justice?
Strength was the only weapon strong enough to protect oneself.
“No, we haven’t met anyone other than you.”
Wang Que nodded and became silent. That person…had likely died in the woods.
After she finished speaking, Cuo Zuojing thought that it was a bit interesting. How was a young girl who looked so soft and weak able to run away and leave an adult man in the woods? Because of gender, there was a huge difference in the physical strength between men and women. Even an adult man like Lin Hangzhi, who didn’t have much exercise, would be able to hold Wang Que down with one hand.
After coming to District XII, Wang Que should have awakened her ability. So, what was it?
It was inconvenient to ask more questions. After all, they were all just temporarily traveling together in order to clear the box, and they also needed to pay attention to many things. This girl seemed very clever and should have left a lot of things unsaid.
Dong Zheng was also aware of the same problem, but he didn’t care very much about it. It wasn’t due to having too much trust. Rather, it was because Wang Que was a girl and, against five of them, even if she had crooked thoughts, she would absolutely not succeed.
After all, they were also not people who could be easily trifled with.
Dong Zheng told Wang Que about the clues they found in the school and what the inferred background of the story was, adding, “Agatha is the owner of Paradise. The dolls created this place in order to protect her, and so they guarded it for her. The task shouldn’t start until the catastrophe the dolls mentioned begins. Before that, we need to get in touch with Agatha. The possibility of the six of us successfully protecting such a large place by ourselves is very low.”
Allen said, “But we have to. How can we even see her when the dolls in the town are so hostile to us?”
“I think…maybe this hatred varies from person to person?” Wang Que tentatively joined the discussion. “I wasn’t wearing a mask or a robe, but the dolls who saw me didn’t react much. Someone even gave me something to eat. Is it possible that you were rejected because you are all men?”
Lin Hangzhi nodded. “It’s possible. In school, it was the boys who bullied Agatha the worst so it’s normal for her to hate men.”
Dong Linhai didn’t say a word. He’d been surreptitiously watching Wang Que until now. She had replaced the dress they’d seen on her in the doll’s house. After removing the black robe, she only wore ordinary gray sportswear. However, even if a good-looking person puts a sack on her body, she would still be very eye-catching.
In fact, Wang Que hadn’t dared to raise her eyes very much. Although Dong Zheng tried his best to be affable, he still exuded a kind of direct, just, and no-nonsense temperament, making her feel as if she was speaking to someone like the Dean of Education or an examiner.
In fact, she was more nervous now than during an art examination.
She stared down at her legs, where Victor was lying on her knees, and said, “The task of contacting Agatha can be entrusted to me. It should be fine.”
Cui Zuojing said, “You can take Victor with you. Uncle will help you.”
Huh? Wang Que didn’t understand what he meant and looked up at him blankly.
“Victor is him.” Dong Linhai finally found a chance to speak. He pointed to the white cat. Somehow, his words started to become a bit hot, “He is my summoned beast and can speak. Agatha shouldn’t be afraid of a cat. His full name is Victor Vladimir Morozov. He is from Russia and he’s older than us. You can call him Victor or you can call him Uncle like me.”
Lin Hangzhi and Allen looked at each other and saw the surprise in each other’s eyes. Then, they lowered their heads, and even though they bit back their smiles, their shoulders began to shake.
Wang Que was a little dumbfounded. She stared at Victor in amazement before looking at Dong Linhai in disbelief. “He once…couldn’t have been a human?”
“I like smart little girls.” Victor had woken up a while ago and was finally willing to open his eyes. He stretched out and looked at Wang Que, giving her the first cat smile she’d ever seen in her life.
“Huh? Did you wake up so soon? I thought you were going to be drunk for a while.”
“It’s just a glass of vodka. How could it possibly take down a Russian?” Victor was actually a little unstable and nearly fell off of Wang Que’s lap. He shook his ears and said, “I’ll go with you. If anything happens, I can help.”
So the next plan was temporarily formed. Wang Que and Victor left together to contact Agatha in order to try their best to convince her to allow them to help defend Paradise. Meanwhile, the remaining five people continued to gather intelligence.
Soon after Wang Que and Victor left, Dong Zheng, Dong Linhai, Allen, Lin Hangzhi, and Cui Zuojing, who’d been taking it easy, put on their masks and wandered the town, talking to the dolls and trying to collect relevant information.
All the dolls were worried about the catastrophe soon to come. As they circled the street, they heard a lot of people talking about it. Dong Zheng extracted two of the most important news: This place that was called Paradise, was established by all the dolls after great pains. Agatha spent most of the time in her small castle and rarely came out. The previous small disasters were all concealed by the dolls, and Agatha didn’t know what happened.
But this catastrophe was unprecedented. Ever since the astrologers foresaw the matter, they were considering whether to tell Agatha or not. They had not yet made a decision.
They talked in low voices. Nearby, a duck was taking her children shopping. At this moment, a lantern on the second floor unexpectedly fell down without warning and was about to hit the little duckling walking below on the head.
It happened too quickly. Before his brain could react, Allen’s body moved. He activated his ability in an instant, moved to the duckling who was still laughing and playing, and pulled it aside.
The little duck screamed. Its wings flapped in panic and suddenly brushed against Allen’s V for Vendetta mask, knocking it to the ground.
All of the dolls that had turned around to spectate saw Allen’s face.
The lantern fell to the ground and splintered into many pieces.
The street grew silent.