Chapter 34: Di Kuang
The school made it convenient for the third years by reserving the first and second floor of the dormitory building for them. Bai Xu lived in the first floor dorm.
Zeng Jingrou had just said that Liu Muqing was stronger than Lin Jingxue in terms of grades, sports, and arts. However, she didn’t get a chance to play piano because of her impoverished family background. Therefore, she was a bit weaker in music than Li Jingxue. In other words, Liu Muqing had top-notch art skills.
Liu Muqing was a first year student two years ago. Her dorm was on the fourth floor. She died in between the third and fourth floor. Her head was left on the third floor within another space. There was no reason for her to go to the first and second floor. With that, it should be fairly safe to search the two floors.
However, the dormitory nanny on the first floor never dared to leave her room at night. The door was tightly locked and even if someone screamed at the top of their lungs outside, she wouldn’t open it. This meant that the first and second floors were very dangerous. The existence inside may not be able to suppress Liu Muqing. At the very least, their powers were evenly matched, and neither party could infringe upon one another.
From Lin Jingxue’s perspective, she viewed Liu Muqing as her opponent and believed that the latter always beat her down. But from other people’s perspectives, Liu Muqing lacked money. This was a fatal weakness. Outsiders would still think Lin Jingxue was the more outstanding one, and her million-dollar watch only made her all the more enviable.
Bai Xu was Lin Jingxue’s good friend. If she was truly jealous, then all her hate would be directed towards the eye-catching Lin Jingxue. There was no reason for her to hate Liu Muqing unless there was some particular incident that made her hate both of them.
Based on the Mona Lisa campus legend and the clues they’ve collected so far, Xing Ye could determine that Bai Xu had some animosity with Liu Muqing and it should have something to do with the painting.
Of course, all of this could just be explained as a coincidence. However, Xing Ye never believed in coincidences. Everything that happened by chance would always have a multitude of interconnected factors behind it.
So after confirming “Mona Lisa’s Slight Smile” was a copy of the painting Bai Xu submitted to the competition, Xing Ye believed there was a 70% chance that the actual painting would be on the first floor of the special mission space.
Cao Qian after hearing Xing Ye’s explanation: “...”
Were we really playing the same game? From start to finish, did we ever really do anything together? Do I even have a brain? Cao Qian secretly started to doubt herself.
Di Kuang was still somehow able to formulate a reply. “Zeng Jingrou said Bai Xu was still in school and treated her very kindly- I find that strange. The headmaster also knew about the man in Room 404, meaning he also knows what happened that day. Both people involved in the incident died. Although it’s possible that the headmaster might’ve chosen to hide the truth to protect the school’s reputation, there’s no way he would allow a troublemaker like Bai Xu to stay in the school. If it were me, I would’ve used the video to threaten Bai Xu into transferring away.”
After the call, they went to find Di Kuang and the group had another meeting on the rooftops to discuss the truth. Lin Jingxue continued to follow Xing Ye, but only he could see her.
When she heard Di Kuang wanted Bai Xu expelled, Lin Jingxue patted his shoulder in satisfaction with a smile that seemed to say ‘you have hope’.
Di Kuang looked back, baffled. “Who patted my shoulder just now?”
Cao Qian, who was sitting beside him: “...”
Xing Ye, who knew everything, stayed silent. Right now, it was better not to divulge too much.
“There’s nobody behind me? Could it be that shoulder patting campus legend?” Di Kuang spectated, “So the reason why you always choose to meet here is because it triggers the shoulder tapping event?”
“You’re overthinking,” Xing Ye said, “Cao Qian patted you just now. She was just too fast for you to notice.”
Cao Qian didn’t deny it, tacitly agreeing.
Di Kuang looked at the two suspiciously, but Cao Qian’s face was as blank as ever and Xing Ye’s acting was just too good. He couldn’t see the ghost either, so all he could do was just suspiciously set it aside in his memory.
“So tonight, we’re going to explore the first and second floors of the girls dormitory to find that painting?” Di Kuang asked.
“I don’t think it’s possible to enter the special mission space from the first or second floor stairs. Liu Muqing died on the stairs between the third and the fourth. The reason why we were unexpectedly able to enter was probably due to Wu Yu’s good luck.” Xing Ye stared at Di Kuang. He was the only one who came to the rooftops. The other three Following Fate players were not here.
“That’s reasonable, but if we enter the mission space from the staircase to the fourth floor, we’ll definitely have to pass through the third floor to go to the first or second floors. The third floor has that human head… it looks like we have to find the human head to pass the third floor first before we can move onto the first and second floors.” Di Kuang said.
“Are your other teammates searching for the human head right now?” Xing Ye deliberately asked.
“Following fate players have good luck, so it’s better to assign them for tasks like searching. When it comes to things that need a brain, it’s better if I just do it.” Di Kuang said.
Xing Ye smiled slightly, “I just realized it’s pretty good for opposing fate players to work with the following fate players. They have enough luck for the opposing fate players to just leech off them.”
Di Kuang’s expression darkened as a storm started to brew in his eyes.
Xing Ye wasn’t afraid of him at all as he drawled, “Manipulating somebody seems difficult, but under the right circumstances, brainwashing somebody is actually very easy. When they’re in a desperate situation, all you have to do is show your crushing superiority. Whether that superiority is real or fake, it’ll implant a deep-rooted belief in their subconsciousness: I was about to die, but that person can save me. If I listen to him, I’ll be able to live.
“If you continue to reinforce this idea over time, they form a sense of psychological dependence on you and believe that they can’t do anything on their own. It’ll only work if they listen to that person.
“It’s actually a very simple form of manipulation and makes up the core of many cults and multi-level marketing schemes.”
Di Kuang picked up his phone and without another word, Cao Qian aimed her gun at his head.
Di Kuang sneered when he felt the cold sensation at the back of his head. “Aren’t you also manipulating her?”
“He didn’t,” Cao Qian said, “I know what it feels like to be controlled. It is when I clearly know it’s not right. I feel stifled, but I can’t escape because I think there’s no way I could leave him and make it through by myself.”
But Xing Ye never gave Cao Qian a feeling like that. He always told her to think for herself and worked in a way so that she would become stronger as well.
“Don’t do anything. He won’t kill me yet since we’re still working together. There’s still two campus legends left. Di Kuang is a very logical person, so there’s no way he would tear down the bridge before crossing the river.” Xing Ye said.
Logic was often synonymous with caution and caution was just another word for timid. A cautious person wouldn’t do anything until they were 100% sure.
Xing Ye told Di Kuang, “I understand your way of thinking. With the Opposing Fate Camp’s bad luck, it’s hard for them to win. Fortunately, you can freely team up in melee type worlds and melee worlds can’t be won by completely relying on luck. Finding a chance to attack when they’re psychologically weak to control the following fate players and take advantage of their luck is a pretty good idea.”
Just as he said that, somebody climbed up on the rooftops. It was Guan Ling.
Guan Ling was a player Xing Ye had yet to directly interact with. He took out three sheets of paper and turned to Di Kuang, “Di Bro, I found three QR codes, one each in the library, music room, and boys dormitory.”
Di Kuang had yet to accept them when Cao Qian kicked Guan Ling’s arm, causing the QR codes to drop on the rooftops.
Xing Ye didn’t move, just staring at the QR codes while saying to Cao Qian, “Don’t act without thinking, we aren’t here to fight for QR codes.”
Di Kuang instantly turned anxious when he saw the QR codes flying everywhere. Many pairs of hands suddenly grew from his body, two of which he used to restrain Cao Qian while the other hands reached to collect the QR codes.
Cao Qian was very strong and quickly threw him off. She also didn’t have the intent to fight for the QR codes.
After collecting all the QR codes, Di Kuang asked angrily: “What were you trying to do?”
“Just checking our new teammate’s strength and reaction time, that’s all.” Xing Ye said leisurely, “Although we’re cooperating, you also know that it’ll only last until the night of the full moon. By then, we’ll definitely be enemies. What’s the problem with trying to sound you out a little before that? Don’t tell me you don’t want to try and probe me out too? Would you really be at ease if I keep acting all polite and courteous?”
The three questions one after another dispelled Di Kuang’s anger a little. He swiftly scanned the three QR codes with his phone, releasing a sigh of relief when he saw the pages disappear, before turning to look at Xing Ye. “Don’t think of playing any tricks, or I’ll just get rid of you guys now.”
“Is that so?” Xing Ye looked at Guan Ling, “Did you give the memory card you dug out from the cafeteria garden to Di Kuang?”
Di Kuang looked at Guan Ling suspiciously, “What memory card? Wasn’t the memory card with Xing Ye?” <.<
Guan Ling’s face suddenly turned ashen. Xing Ye stood up, “Di Bro, I’ve always believed that creating teammates through pressure would only result in one of two outcomes: either they become mindless puppets, or they’re all harboring their own sinister motives. A team will only grow stronger under continuous competition.
“Although we might not necessarily be able to enter the special mission space tonight, we should at least try. Let’s assemble in the girls dormitory at 11:30. It’s currently 6 o’clock in the afternoon, so there’s still five hours time. I’m going to go rest, the past few days have tired me out a little.”
Di Kuang seemed like he wanted to do something, but ultimately decided to restrain his anger. Xing Ye’s display today was too strong and he still suspected there was important information Xing Ye hadn’t said yet. He couldn’t kill him yet.
“Go back and tell Mr. Deng and Wu Yu to avoid Xing Ye as much as possible.” Di Kuang ordered Guan Ling as he watched Xing Ye leave, his stare dark.
On the other side, after climbing down from the rooftops, Xing Ye and Cao Qian ran straight back to their classroom. It was mealtime so the classroom was void of people. Xing Ye had Cao Qian guard the door while he sat in his seat, closing his eyes to ponder.
Around half an hour later, students began returning to the class for self-study. Xing Ye opened his eyes and told Cao Qian, “I remember now. For the rest of the time, go back to your room and rest. Save your strength. At night, help open the second floor window for us.”
“We aren’t going to go find the human head? Tomorrow’s the deadline.” Cao Qian asked.
“We can leave that for after we search around the second floor.” Xing Ye said, “Furthermore, we need rest. Trying to squeeze everything in will only make us nervous. After we see the youth with the human head tomorrow, we might have to fight a big battle. We have to stay in good condition.”
“Alright.” Cao Qian nodded before swiftly returning to her dorm.
Xing Ye also returned to his single person unit and had a bath. Afterwards, he took the mirror and washed him up before using a soft towel to pat him dry.
He laid on the bed and opened up the mirror, who immediately started shouting loudly, “Since you think I’m so useless, don’t even think about using my special abilities! Hmpth!”
Xing Ye saw their intimacy points dropping at a level visible to the naked eye, going straight from 15 to 10.
“I was joking,” He consoled him, “You’re not useless. I just didn’t want to reveal you to other people, not even Cao Qian. You’re my trump card, so unless it’s extremely important, I won’t ask you for help. It’s just like how in movies, the hero only acts at the very end.”
“Hmph, at least you have a smooth tongue.” The mirror bounced on the bed.
Xing Ye saw their intimacy level rise to 15 and then stop. It looked like the reason it wouldn’t go higher was him, not the mirror.
The mirror’s anger came quickly and left quickly. It just took a few coaxing words from Xing Ye for him to calm down. He arduously wiggled towards Xing Ye’s body and asked, “Why did you infuriate Di Kuang? What if he attacked you? You can’t beat him, so you would’ve just died with your points taken.”
The mirror really didn’t hold grudges. Xing Ye was a little amazed- how did his family raise the mirror to have such a temperament?
According to him, he was extremely beautiful, something that even the game admitted in his starting skills. So he was good-looking and lived generously but wasn’t arrogant or willful. He would frankly express his own emotions and could also accept the sincere apologies of others. He was optimistic and didn’t give up even after becoming a mirror. Even as a mirror, he was cuter than people were.
Furthermore, from start to finish, he had always kept his self-confidence. Well, self-confidence in his looks.
Apart from being a little conceited, you could say he was a person filled with merits.
Or maybe it was because he still hadn’t matured and his family protected him too well. A little bit of teaching combined with his special abilities would make him outstanding.
When the mirror was confused, Xing Ye was never stingy in his explanations. “I wanted to take the risk to see if he dared to do anything or not. Special QR codes are very important props, so if I revealed my intention to fight for it, it’d be difficult for ordinary people to resist fighting back.”
The mirror understood. “So that means he’s very good at controlling himself?”
“No, it’s a little strange.” Xing Ye shook his head, “It didn’t seem like he was suppressing the following fate players, but then how did he get three following fate players to give him all their QR codes?”
“Yeah. The QR codes I find all belong to me.” The mirror said in agreement, “I won’t give it to other people, even if it’s just lending it.”
“Lend? Then would the other person give it back?” Xing Ye didn’t believe it.
He didn’t expect the mirror’s reply to actually be: “They do! My dad’s always said fortune favors fools and that although it seems like I don’t understand anything, I have a good eye for people. I’d never make friends with a bad person. If they’re ill-natured, I get a bad feeling as soon as I look at them. No matter how they try to cozy up to me, I won’t get close to them.”
How unexpected. No wonder the system gave him a cosmetic see through… cough, no, the Truth Seeing Eye ability.
The real world did have people like the mirror. They’re clearly foolish and naive, with a low EQ, but have a good eye for people. It’s probably a natural gift.
There were people who had a naturally good eye for people as well as those who fostered that ability through experience. Xing Ye was the latter.
He was once… also tricked into desperate straits. It was only after suffering did he learn what “rats leave a sinking ship” meant.
The mirror grew worried when he noticed Xing Ye falling silent. “What happened? Are you sad?”
“So it turns out you can really tell,” Xing Ye rubbed his face, “I already mastered not showing my feelings on my face, but how can you always see through when I’m feeling unwell?”
“Hehehe, I’ve been reading my father’s face since I was a child.” The mirror laughed in embarrassment, “My father was just like you. No matter what happened, his face would always be like stone. It was almost like he was scared of losing something if somebody saw through his mood. I’ve always adored my father so I’d always work hard on studying his expression. Too bad I sucked at studying, but at least now I know how to see through him.”
His voice turned excited at the mere mention of his father.
Xing Ye felt his heart turn soft, “Mirror, how long has it been since you were turned into a prop?”
“I don’t know,” The mirror turned dejected, “I just muddled through, unknowing of how much time had passed. I don’t know how my body in the real world is, if I died, or if it’s been cremated, or… sob, sob…”
He suddenly started crying. For a moment, Xing Ye was helpless. Xing Shuo had always been very obedient and basically never cried. He never had to comfort a crying person before.
Although his training had made his subordinates cry before.
“You can tell me your name and I’ll check how your body’s doing in the real world, alright?” This was the best form of comfort Xing Ye could think of.
The mirror instantly turned black. Not even his weeping could be heard.
Alright, looks like he couldn’t ask until their intimacy points were at least twenty.
It wasn’t the mirror’s fault. Xing Ye just couldn’t like the mirror- in the depths of his heart, he still didn’t trust him.
He believed the mirror wouldn’t trick him. He was just worried that the mirror was like him, being exploited by the system. If he invested too many feelings, then losing him would be terrible. Xing Ye had already lost his entire family. He didn’t want to experience such feelings ever again.
If he never received anything, there’d be nothing to lose. Since he didn’t have anything, there was nothing to fear.
Why did Xing Ye understand Di Kuang’s cautious and cowardly attitude? It was because they were the same type of people.
They used a strong outer shell to conceal their fragile little hearts, too scared to ever venture out.
Xing Ye thought back to how the mirror never tried to hide his intimacy points and rubbed him with a little smile, “You’re stronger than me.”