IWOL Chapter 78: American-Soviet Competition

So the Soviet team led by Victor, with Cui Zuojing and Fu Zhe as its members, had its first confrontation with the American team led by Allen.

After half an hour, everyone was ready. They all gathered in the living room, and everyone got their respective key that Fu Zhe had especially prepared for them

“Let’s start.”

Following Fu Zhe’s order, they used their keys to open the doors of different rooms and walked in.

Cui Zuojing held Victor and watched as the back of the last person disappeared. He stood up, rolled his wrists, and smiled. “I’m going to start work.”

“Go.” Fu Zhe sat down in front of the table. He closed his eyes tightly, sensing the changing spaces in the castle. In this test, he needed to create a variety of environmental terrains. Therefore, his work was the most arduous.

As he stepped through the door, Dong Zheng saw the scene blur in front of him. He wasn’t surprised when the scene in front of him completely changed.

At this moment, the originally bright castle was dim and the never-used candlesticks on the wall were filled with candles, some of which were extinguished while others were lit, burning quietly and throwing his shadow shakingly against the wall.

This was a long hallway with many doors on both sides. The dark blue door panels were tightly closed, with house numbers hanging in disarray on them. Dong Zheng had never seen this in the castle before.

He touched his pocket and found a lighter inside.

Anyway, this was just an illusion Fu Zhe had created. Or, perhaps, he had twisted the space with his power. Dong Zheng didn’t spend too much time lingering in the issue. He slowly walked along the corridor, trying to push open any door he’d passed.

He made his way to the end of the hallway but found that no door could be opened. They were all locked.

He stopped, turned around, and stood silently at the end of the hallway, looking back the way he came.

Except for the 47 doors on both sides, this 50-meter-long hallway was a completely enclosed space. There was a huge oil painting hanging on both ends of the hallway, painted with tones so dark that he could not make out any details at all.

A puzzle?

Dong Zheng observed the hallway once again, noting how empty it was. Aside from the doors and the numbered plates, there were the burning candles on both sides, which seemed to contain some information.

If he started counting from where he entered, the numbers of lit candlesticks were 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 8, 11, 13, 16, 18, 26, 28, 36, and 38, forming a series of numbers. There should be a certain relationship between them.

Dong Zheng thought for a few minutes, then he walked to the 47th candlestick and lit the candle.

A few seconds later, the door numbered B476 opened silently behind him.

Dong Zheng took down the two unburnt candles from the candlestick next to him and put them in his pocket just in case. Afterward, he turned and walked inside the door.

It was indeed a regular sequence of numbers. Except for the 1, 2 of the first two numbers, each of the following numbers was larger than the previous one and could represent the smallest, unique sum of the previous two numbers. For example, the fifth sum was 8. It couldn’t be 7 because 7 was the sum of both 1 and 6 or the sum of 3 and 4, which would not conform to the rule. (t/n: Basically, it was wrong because, using the integers that came before, one could use different ways to make the sum 7, while 8 could only be made once by adding 6 and 2.)

This wasn’t something Dong Zheng figured out himself. This sequence was called the Ulam Sequence, which was very famous in the mathematics circle. Thus far, the problem of sequence density had yet to be solved.

Behind the opened door was another hallway, with some candles lit and others extinguished. Dong Zheng walked through it again and determined that it was also a sequence puzzle.

The only difference was that the painting at the end of the hallway seemed to be a little different now; it had become clearer.

Three minutes later, Dong Zheng entered the door numbered A182.

After passing through six such hallways one after another, the situation finally changed. The candles in this hallway were all extinguished, and there was no door in sight.

Dong Zheng:……….

It was pitched black.

Fortunately, he brought along some unlit candles and so he was able to light a candle. He had a bad feeling. This time, he moved much slower. With one step at a time, he soundlessly walked on the dark velvet carpet all the way to the end of the hallway.

But now, the portrait hanging there was vivid and clear. The portrait was of a young girl, with soft facial features and long black hair loosely tied into a knot that hung softly behind her. She wore a dark blue dress, with her hands resting on the chair, and her body leaning slightly forward. As if, she was listening attentively to the painter’s words. As if, she wanted to talk to the person who was outside, viewing the painting.

Dong Zheng stood doubtfully in front of her. Fu Zhe created this place so this girl must be someone he knew. At the very least, Fu Zhe must have seen her before so that he could simulate her well enough to make her look so realistic.

He carefully looked at the girl in the painting, and suddenly felt that she seemed to blink.

Dong Zheng immediately looked into her eyes. This time, he clearly saw the girl’s brows wrinkled slightly, and then she smiled.

“You don’t seem to dream often. It’s not easy to catch you,” the girl whispered. “This is not a good thing for adults. If you lose even the most basic dreaming ability, life will be much less interesting.”

Dong Zheng couldn’t tell where the sound was coming from. He frowned and took two steps back, while focusing on the kernel to check whether his firewall had been invaded.

The girl seemed to be able to see him. With an aggrieved expression, she said, “Why hide from me? Am I so terrible?”

The firewall that rose up to the sky stood quietly. There was no gap in its shield and no indication of an invasion.

If this really was an illusion Fu Zhe created, then his strength was really unfathomable.

When Dong Zheng didn’t speak or made any other movements, the girl sighed. She stood up from the chair and walked a few steps forward. She only stopped when it seemed as if she was on the verge of walking out of the frame.

She stretched out her hand to Dong Zheng. “Come with me. I will take you back to your dreams. Otherwise, it will be too troublesome.”

Dong Zheng took a step back.

The girl: ……………………

Still unable to find anything wrong with his inner core, Dong Zheng doubtfully shifted the candle to his left hand and asked, “Who are you?”

The girl’s eyes lit up, as if she’d long anticipated Dong Zheng’s question. She stretched out her hand again and said, as if talking to a lost child, “Follow me, and I’ll tell you.”

Dong Zheng looked at her in silence. Across the thick canvas, he saw a deep blue in the girl’s black eyes, reflecting the moon and stars.

Under this stalemate, Dong Zheng finally slowly stretched out his hand and gently touched the girl’s palm through the canvas.

The moment he felt the rough texture of the canvas at his fingertips, the candle in his hand went out. Everything sank into darkness, and a force came from the painting, pulling Dong Zheng into it.

The girl’s skin was warm and soft as she held his hand. As they floated into another dimension, he heard her voice coming from the darkness in front of him.

“My name is Luo Yun. From now on, I will give you the right to dream again.”

Dong Zheng suddenly opened his eyes.

The candle was still burning, silently dripping tears of wax. He was lying next to the half-opened door that was marked E812. It was the last door he’d entered.

The picture at the end of the hallway was completely visible, showing a long table covered with red tablecloths and a dazzling array of food. There was no girl in sight.

Everything just now seemed to be a dream.

Dong Zheng stood up, rubbing his temple and frowning. He hadn’t had such a vivid and realistic dream in a long time.

No. In the Doll’s House, he’d dreamed of the transaction between his mother and Chang Hui.

The girl in the dream called herself Luo Yan. He knew that she was one of Cui Zuojing’s teammates and ended up becoming the Master of Dreams. So, the dream in the Doll’s House, and everything that happened just now, were these clues from Luo Yan?

What did she want to tell him?

Dong Zheng put these thoughts from his mind and planned to discuss them with Cui Zuojing in detail once the assessment was over. Right now, the more important thing at hand was to pass the assessment.

He adjusted his condition, looked at the plate number again, and stepped forward.

************

Allen heard the strange sound again.

He raised his ears, but there was no pause in his footsteps. He continued to walk down the spiral staircase one step at a time.

Just like in a tall tower in a fairy tale, the stairs seem to have no end, as if leading down to hell itself. A small round window opened high on the wall every three meters, which roughly represented the height of the first floor.

Allen looked down the stairs, only to see the bottomless darkness. This gave him a wild sense of anxiety. He took a deep breath and repeatedly reminded himself that this terrain and environment was simulated by Fu Zhe. There should be nothing fatal.

After these 20 days of special training, his physical strength had greatly improved. Now, he could walk for nearly 20 minutes without feeling the slightest bit out of breath.

But, he couldn’t keep going on like this.

As Allen was thinking this, he suddenly heard a low laugh coming from behind him, as if whatever was making that laugh was close enough to touch the back of his head.

Fuck!

Even before his brain could react, his body had already responded. Allen ran. He ran down the circular staircase, until he was a couple circles below. When he finally looked up in panic, he found that there was nothing there.

A hallucination?

Allen noticed that something wasn’t quite right. He gradually stopped moving and regained his ability to think.

It seemed that, as he gradually descended, the frequency of the sound would increase, coming closer and closer and sounding more and more strange.

Could it be that the more he descended the stair, the closer he was moving toward a trap?

Allen didn’t dare to doubt Fu Zhe’s ability. At this stage, no one in their team had the ability to win a confrontation against Fu Zhe and Cui Zuojing. Due to his cat’s body, Victor’s aggression initially wasn’t a major concern, thus making him an easier opponent. However, one of the seals that hampered his physical ability was now unlocked. Currently, no one knew how strong he was.

He decided to stop descending.

Before meeting Dong Zheng and Dong Linhai, Allen had gone through two boxes alone. He didn’t have to think long before he cast his eyes to the side window.

*************

Lin Hangzhi cautiously came out from behind the tall pile of books. He had just thrown Victor off the labyrinthine corridor, and then he’d panicked and relied on instinct to casually enter a door. This was an extremely large room, filled with all kinds of books. Each stack was about seven or eight meters tall and would cause a massive chain reaction if he accidentally knocked one over.

This should be the space Fu Zhe created with his study… Lin Hangzhi walked through the pile of books, looking for an exit to the next location.

He’d been searching for five or six minutes, when he suddenly heard the sound of glass shattering from above his head, followed by a familiar voice that cheered, “I’m a hero!”

Lin Hangzhi looked up in horror. He saw that the sounds were coming from a window positioned high on a tall wall. And, there was Allen, who was in free fall. Right down toward where Lin Hangzhi was standing.

At the same moment, Allen also saw Lin Hangzhi standing on his landing spot. They both screamed at the same time.

“Ah—!”

“Ah!!!”

 


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Dreamer
Dreamer
2 years ago

I couldn’t figure out the answer to the sequence… So sad

Also that sudden “I’m a hero” that came out of nowhere had me laughing. Imagine being stealthy and quiet in the dark when suddenly a loud masculine yell saying something so childish resounded AHAHAHA

Sword
Sword
1 year ago

Lol 😂😂😂, I guess this is the bad luck acting up on LH and Allen clowning as a “Hero” is simply hilarious

Neo
Neo
1 year ago

Cool puzzle