Chapter 35: Friendship
Chatting with the mirror always made Xing Ye’s mood better. Xing Ye noticed that their intimacy points were now at 18, still a little away from 20. There was a prompt reminding Xing Ye that every time the rules were violated, the mirror would be sealed away for a short period of time. It also warned that if he tried to breach the rules three more times, the mirror would be redistributed to another game world by the system.
The first time, Xing Ye had just asked casually and the system didn’t warn him. Now, it seemed to be telling him that the mirror’s life or death depended on him.
Furthermore, the system never mentioned what he could or could not ask, nor did it say how many intimacy points were required before he could ask certain things.
However, there were still some clues they could infer from. For example, how the mirror suddenly discovered he could tell Xing Ye his starting skills and took the initiative to show him them.
That means that he could only know if the mirror could say it. If the mirror didn’t want to or he couldn’t, Xing Ye couldn’t continue asking.
It sounded like everything followed the mirror’s whims and he held all the control, but in fact, Xing Ye held complete power over the mirror’s life. If there was ever a day where he grew disgusted with the mirror, all he had to do was ask three things he wasn’t allowed to and the mirror’s fate would be passed along to be controlled by some other master.
They seemed to hold an overwhelming superiority when they were really just being manipulated by others. Was this the conclusion for the following fate players?
From now on, he couldn’t just continue to negligently ask things. If the mirror wanted to say it, he would and if not, it’s up to him.
“I’m sorry, I got you sealed away again.” Xing Ye tapped the mirror, not sure whether he could hear him. “I promise I won’t let this happen again.”
The mirror’s surface was still black, without any reflection.
Xing Ye held the mirror as he slept, an unsettling feeling lingering in his heart.
To Xing Ye, the mirror’s fate was equivalent to Xing Shuo’s fate.
Xing Shuo already died. Xing Ye even had the forensic scientist dissect his body. Although it was stitched back up afterwards, could he really still come back to life? The chance was exceedingly slim, just like the opposing fate camp’s 1% luck stat. It’d only be possible if a miracle happened.
The more he thought like that, the better Xing Ye wanted to treat the mirror. Sometimes, he would naively think that with how good he treats the mirror, then if his little brother turned into a prop, there would be somebody who treats him just as kindly.
Logic told Xing Ye that such thinking was complete nonsense, a mere pipe dream. There was no such thing as karma in the real world. Kindness would usually only be met with endless demands.
Even knowing that, he still wanted to cling onto that 1% miracle. Otherwise, he wouldn’t know what he worked hard for anymore.
When he woke up at 11, the mirror had lit up again. “I know” glowed on his surface. He had evidently heard Xing Ye’s apology, but he was still a little angry for being shut up in that little black room again.
The mirror didn’t seem to understand that if it happened three more times, he would be sent off drifting through the game worlds again.
“I’m going to go fight with Di Kuang’s team now. Sleep well, I’ll chat with you when I come back.”
After pacifying the mirror, he changed into a set of athletic wear and stuffed some paper into his pockets before going to the girls dormitory.
Di Kuang and Guan Ling were already waiting downstairs. Xing Ye raised a brow- Guan Ling was the one coming?
“What about the other two?” Xing Ye asked.
“They’re searching for the human head. There might be new clues around campus at night.” Di Kuang answered.
“You’ve been searching for so many days yet all you know is that “Mona Lisa’s Slight Smile” was a copy of the painting Bai Xu sent into a competition and lost?” Xing Ye had to stop himself from directly calling them useless.
Di Kuang was calmer than at the rooftops yesterday and didn’t get angry. “Let’s go in.”
When the clock struck 11:30, at the agreed upon time, Cao Qian opened the second floor bathroom’s windows and hung the bed sheets so they could climb up.
Xing Ye was quick and barely used the bedsheets, stepping on the wall and propelling himself onto the second floor with a quick pull of the bedsheets. Guan Ling and Di Kuang were more like ordinary boys, slowly climbing up.
“Is that abnormally strong leg strength your starting ability?” Di Kuang asked, “It doesn’t seem all that great.”
“Aren’t all opposing fate starting skills like that?” Xing Ye said, “That ability you revealed on the rooftops the other day where you grew six arms like the thousand armed Guanyin was a QR code ability, right?”
Di Kuang’s expression told Xing Ye he was right.
Opposing fate players would always have starting abilities that were built off their own physical traits, such as extraordinary strength or agility. Following fate players usually had skills that reflected their own experiences. For example, Ms. Li probably studied perfume.
Why were Xing Ye’s starting abilities different?
Xing Ye thought there were two possibilities: first, his brain could be considered one of his physical traits, so his ability made his brain even stronger. Or second, it was because his way of entering the game was unconventional.
There were two ways of entering the game- either being invited by somebody and scanning their QR code, or, like the little mirror, being directly invited by the system.
Xing Ye had wanted to invite Xing Ye, but never really did it. Xing Ye didn’t scan the QR code from Xing Shuo’s phone, but rather, relied on his memory to redraw that QR code.
Strictly speaking, Xing Ye’s way of entering the game was illegal.
Were my special starting abilities meant to reward me for how I entered the game? It’s a possibility.
He pondered as he watched the first and second floors of the girls dormitory. According to Cao Qian’s investigation, Bai Xu lived in room 103.
After 11:30, the whole dormitory turned strangely silent. Di Kuang experimentally knocked on the door to room 103 and the nanny’s room. Nobody responded.
“Either she can’t hear anything or she was put into sleep by some sort of power.” Di Kuang analyzed.
Xing Ye asked Cao Qian, “On the night we went to search the girls dormitory, were your roommates asleep when you went out?”
“They were all asleep, and in a very deep one at that.” Cao Qian recalled, “Everybody went to sleep at 11:30. Nobody stayed up. At that time, I was even thinking about how disciplined private school kids were- there was actually nobody staying up.”
Di Kuang: “So there’s a power making everybody sleep but doesn’t affect players. The dormitory nanny seems to know some inside story but doesn’t dare to say it.”
Cao Qian almost thought the one speaking was Xing Ye. She didn’t expect Di Kuang’s analysis to be so clear and logical.
When the clock turned midnight, the four walked back and forth between the stairs from the first-second and second-third floors, but didn’t find themselves sucked into the mission space.
“It looks like we can only explore it tomorrow.” Di Kuang was very disappointed. “I hope the youth with the human head on the full moon is enough to solve all our riddles.”
“Let’s go back and rest, then.” Xing Ye said, “There’ll be a big fight tomorrow, so we need to preserve our strength.”
The three climbed back down the bedsheets and returned to the boys dormitory.
Xing Ye looked down from his window and saw Di Kuang and Guan Ling going out again, not even five minutes after they returned to the dorms. However, the direction they were walking in wasn’t to the girls dormitory, but the gymnasium.
That meant there’s probably some clues in the gymnasium.
Xing Ye watched them go a bit further away before also leaving the dormitory. He ran to the girls dorm and texted Cao Qian so she could let him in again.
“Why’d you come back? Wouldn’t meeting that human head girl before finding the missing head be very dangerous?” Cao Qian asked.
“Not necessarily. Besides, we agreed on three days, so three days it is. A ghost shouldn’t break a promise.” Xing Ye said.
Cao Qian: “...”
This was the first time she heard a ghost that would never break a promise with a human.
“Just joking,” Xing Ye pointed at himself, “It’ll be different this time. We have strong assistance now.”
After all, Lin Jingxue’s ghost was still silently following behind him, even when he was showering and using the bathroom… oh, wait, at that time, she was waiting outside. It looks like that ghost still had some honor.
Cao Qian knew Lin Jingxue was following behind Xing Ye and found that her rusted brain had finally begun to work again.
She looked at the area behind Xing Ye. “Lin Jingxue, do you want to see Liu Muqing?”
Xing Ye: “... I’m glad you’ve learned how to put two and two together, but Lin Jingxue is already standing on the staircase to the fourth floor.”
A ghost was standing at the spot Xing Ye had just told Cao Qian, staring at the staircase in a daze, as if she were recalling something.
“Let’s go,” Xing Ye told Lin Jingxue, “It’s time for everything to be settled.”
The ghost nodded and patted Xing Ye’s shoulder before tightly winding around his back like an octopus until it was difficult for him to breathe.
She was so scared of not being able to enter the mission space that she’d actually do that? No wonder people described sleep paralysis as a ghost binding you on bed.
Translator’s note: Sleep paralysis in Chinese (鬼压床) literally means ghost pushing you on bed (so you can’t move).
It was one am in the morning and everybody in the dormitory was still asleep, so they should still be able to enter the mission space. Xing Ye nodded to Cao Qian and the two stepped on the 13th step together.
Xing Ye could clearly feel that he wasn’t stepping on a hard staircase, but a soft body.
The mission space was dark. Xing Ye turned on the flashlight and the two walked to the third floor.
“Oh, I see Lin Jingxue.” Cao Qian said, startled. It looked like the mission space let her see ghosts.
“You really are gorgeous.” Cao Qian said, staring at Lin Jingxue.
“Many people say that- huh? I can talk now.” Lin Jingxue looked at her hands in astonishment. She slammed herself forcefully against the wall and felt her head go dizzy. “I, I have a physical body?”
She really was a straightforward girl, acting first and thinking second. Such a personality made her easy to exploit.
“Let’s go.” Xing Ye walked to the third floor.
Now, the bloodstains on the third floor were no longer just wetting their shoes. It had already turned into a small stream of blood, going up to their ankles.
Lin Jingxue was wearing the school uniform. She stood in the third floor corridor, her white shoes submerged in blood, as she lightly called out: “Liu Muqing.”
The human head spun over, floating in the pool of blood. Her current appearance was completely different from the foolish and agreeable appearance she had earlier. She seemed enraged, a vicious expression on her face as she screeched at Lin Jingxue. “Why did you report me, why! I said it wasn't me, why didn’t you believe me!”
Lin Jingxue was clearly a ghost, but she seemed to be suppressed in Liu Muqing’s domain. She let the human head bite on to her hair, swinging back and forth.
“Why, why?” Despite having a mouth full of hair, the human head didn’t stop her questioning.
Lin Jingxue covered her hair, “Because I hoped it was you who stole it! You were always better than me in everything! If you stole it, I’d be able to win without a fight. Even though it was my father who reported you, I always could’ve just told the police that I accidentally put it into the wrong locker, but I didn’t! At that time, I thought, regardless of if you really stole it or not, as long as you left the school, there would no longer be anybody who could beat me! I wouldn’t have to be scolded by my father anymore. I’m a coward, I-”
She crouched down, sobbing. She didn’t try to fight anymore, just letting the human head bite her hair, “I was disgusting. I knew I’d never be able to beat you in school and I knew my father had an illegitimate child outside. I was scared that if I continued to be second, he would bring that child back. I was scared that even if I studied with all my strength, I’d still lose to you in the next exam. That’s why, even though I thought it was suspicious, I just ignored everything and let it unfold. You died because of me.”
The human head stopped and didn’t continue biting. She just hopped in front of Lin Jingxue’s face, using her jumping to stare at her eye to eye. However, she couldn’t last long before growing tired.
Cao Qian ran over to hold Liu Muqing’s head, letting her make eye contact with Lin Jingxue.
Xing Ye was a little surprised.
After Lin Jingxue admitted her guilt, Liu Muqing calmed down. She levelled her stare at Lin Jingxue with Cao Qian’s assistance and spoke. “When I saw your watch that day, I really was envious. You were beautiful, and the way you looked, playing the piano at the school opening ceremony, was absolutely stunning. I had truly admired you, hoping that one day, I could become a girl like you. You were my idol.”
As she said that, tears started falling from her eyes. Cao Qian took out a napkin, wiping her tears.
Lin Jingxue also spoke. “I admired how you were able to achieve such high grades even at such a difficult school. Your parents, they were willing to set aside their pride to plead for you. It… really made me jealous.”
She was also crying. Cao Qian directly stuffed the packet of tissues into Lin Jingxue’s hand. “You two should wipe your tears yourselves.”
She stuffed both the tissues and Liu Muqing’s head in Lin Jingxue’s arms.
The human head said, “In the police station, I heard you saying to the police officer that we were both students and the watch wasn’t really taken, so you didn’t want to file a case. However, that scary man beside you refused, saying the amount of money involved was too big. He insisted the case couldn’t be decided by an underage girl and to take charge of the case as your guardian.”
“No, I could’ve not told him anything. I thought it’d make him think you don’t deserve to be my rival and wouldn’t demand me to surpass you anymore. I-” Lin Jingxue didn’t know how to convey her emotions.
These negative feelings like envy, hate, disgust, resentment… Who could say they never had them when they were growing up? Lin Jingxue was blaming herself too much.
Xing Ye pondered and took out his phone, finding the only QR code he had. The description stated: “This QR code was found in the music room’s shabby piano. It may be related to music, or it may also be able to change into a piano to crush people to death. Who knows? Perhaps it might even be neither.”
You couldn’t tell what category the QR code was in at all, but it was something from the piano Lin Jingxue played right before she died. Hopefully, it wasn’t totally useless.
Perhaps doing this would be completely useless, or the code had no purpose to begin with, but right now, Xing Ye chose to believe in humanity.
He scanned the QR code and a grand piano dropped down from the sky. It fell heavily onto the floor, shaking up the whole building. If this wasn’t the mission space, Xing Ye guessed it probably would’ve crashed right through the floor.
If used as a physical attack, it’d be very strong. Furthermore, it could be a good surprise attack. Too bad it was just a one-time use prop...
Wait, that’s wrong. With Cao Qian’s strength, it could keep being used until the piano breaks.
But could pianos be weapons? Were there really such unique weapons?
Xing Ye thought as he gestured to Lin Jingxue, “I’ll give you this.”
“It’s my piano.” Lin Jingxue stared at the piano, “When I enrolled in the school, my father gifted the school a batch of instruments. This one was specifically for me.”
“It’s also the piano you played during the school opening ceremony.” Human head Liu Muqing said.
“I’ll play it for you.” Lin Jingxue said.
The bloody river swelled up, forming a red chair. Lin Jingxue wasn’t afraid at all as she sat down. She placed the human head on the piano and lightly tapped out a gentle tune.
It was a very comforting piece, a tune portraying friendship.
As the last note fell, Lin Jingxue told Liu Muqing. “If we could start all over again, we should be best friends. You’re the only rival I acknowledge.”
The human head agreed. “Same. You’re the only person I’ve admired.”
The two shared a smile. The sentiments between the two girls had now turned into friendship.
As she smiled, Lin Jingxue and the piano slowly began to turn transparent, before finally dissipating into nothingness.
The system beep sounded in Xing Ye’s ear: “Player Xing Ye successfully helped Lin Jingxue find peace and pass away, accomplishing the side story mission. He is rewarded with 5000 points and the special QR code ‘Peaceful Spirit’s Tune’.
Friendly reminder: Apart from strong props and being able to find the truth, to be strong, you sometimes have to be a little bit gentle. The player has done very well.”
A transparent card floated down in front of Xing Ye where Lin Jingxue had disappeared. Xing Ye absorbed it with his phone.
This was the first time Xing Ye sensed a trace of kindness within the entire Game of Challenging Fate’s malice.