“What’s that?” Cao Qian looked at the transparent card fading on Xing Ye’s phone.
“The system rewarded me with a special QR code and 5000 points for finishing the side quest.”
“Wha?” Cao Qian was so startled she couldn’t speak.
“You’ve never seen it before? Or have you never seen an opposing fate player do it before?” Xing Ye was very curious. The little mirror had once said that he won 5000 points just by giving a flower to a little girl. Li Hong also had 30,000 points. It looked like getting points was very easy for following fate players.
“Do you know how difficult it is to get 5000 points?” Cao Qian was evidently a little stirred up, “I was already shocked when I got 2000 points for giving Zeng Jingrou the sheet music earlier. How could points be so easy to get? If it was, why would players kill each other and work so hard to complete missions? You can only get 1000 points at most for killing a player, yet it was so easy earlier, just giving somebody a piece of sheet music.
“Our game progress is 25.7%, so in total, we can obtain 14,000 points. It’s a significant sum even split between the two of us. It does look a bit easy. If we continue like this, it’ll only take a few game worlds to get 50000 points and become a high level player. Furthermore, if points can be converted at a 1:100 ratio with RMB, you would’ve gotten 200,000 RMB just like that. For ordinary people, it’s a pretty good profit.”
There was a problem, a very big problem.
Xing Ye opened his phone as he spoke and looked at “Peaceful Spirit’s Tune”, the QR code he had just obtained. There was a completely different description on the phone from earlier: “‘Peaceful Spirit’s Tune’ has a mystifying effect on NPCs and ghost-type QR codes. The duration is 30 minutes. This is a rare QR code and can be superimposed on ordinary QR codes.”
A rare QR code- it was kind of similar to a gacha game. The effect was also pretty strong and could be superimposed with other codes. Its effect also wasn’t hidden and had a detailed explanation, breaking his former understanding of QR codes.
“Did… you guys… forget… I’m still here?” While Xing Ye and Cao Qian were puzzling over the QR code and points, Miss Human Head Liu Muqing had finally gotten enough of being ignored. She jumped up, splashing the two with blood.
Xing Ye: “...”
The human head had been so well-behaved earlier that he even thought she had been subdued. Don’t tell him that she’d only be gentle in front of Lin Jingxue? He rubbed his face, “Liu Muqing, the three-day deadline isn’t up and we can’t find any leads. If you fell to death, your corpse should be intact, but what happened to your head?”
The current Liu Muqing didn’t seem as vicious as she was a few days ago, but that only seemed to apply with Lin Jingxue. Evil ghosts might be able to talk well with each other, but the same didn’t necessarily apply to talking to humans. She probably viewed humans differently from herself.
“That’s none of your business, just find me my head! Otherwise, I’ll bite you to death!” Liu Muqing snarled, showing her sharp white teeth.
What a quick falling-out, Xing Ye thought. He swiftly tapped his phone and activated his starting skill- Redrawing Pen.
He had two skills, impression eye and redrawing pen. Impression Eye could let him forcefully memorize 50% of something he had seen. This ability was basically useless for Xing Ye, since he could memorize 100% of the things even without the skill.
However, Redrawing Pen was a powerful skill. It could let him redraw whatever he had seen before and allowed him to use it at half efficacy.
Earlier, he only had a pitiful 200 points. Just using his ability twice would have him sent straight back to the novice world. The 500 points he got later also wasn’t much, but now that he got 5000, he had pretty much struck it rich overnight and had plenty to spare for his special abilities.
The first thing he decided to use Redrawing Pen on was the special QR code he had just seen, Peaceful Spirit’s Tune.
After being deducted 50 points for the skill, a transparent pen appeared in Xing Ye’s hand. Using his memory, he drew the QR code in the air.
The instant he grasped the pen, Xing Ye could sense the hidden details of the skill. These were things that the system didn’t tell Xing Ye and could only be understood when the skill was activated.
First, the Redrawing Pen’s replica could be used with ½ the efficacy, but it only applied to 2D objects. For example, if Xing Ye used the skill to replicate a famous painting, he could sell it for half the original price in the game world. However, if he drew a table, it’d just be a picture of a table and wouldn’t have any real use.
Second, the QR code drawn by the skill can only be used after it appears. After successfully drawing it in the air, the QR code will materialize and has to be scanned with the phone to be activated immediately. It could not be stored. In other words, if Xing Ye wanted to use Redrawing Pen in battle, he would have to find time in the battle to draw. While the skill was active, he wouldn’t be able to move. If the opponent was fast enough, he could die before even drawing a stroke.
Third, Redrawing Pen was classified as a starting skill, meaning it could be superimposed on other QR codes with prolonged effects. This was because, after all, the QR codes Xing Ye drew were just fakes and not real QR codes. For example, Ms. Li couldn’t use other QR codes while she was using her mood-influencing ability, that limit didn’t apply to the Redrawing Pen. As long as he had enough points and could draw fast enough, if his opponent gave Xing Ye enough time, he would technically be able to use an unlimited number of special QR codes at once.
The three explanations of the ability were both a tribute and a challenge to Xing Ye’s illegal way of entering the game.
Redrawing Pen meant Xing Ye needed to completely trust his teammates. Only then could he completely focus on using his starting skill during a battle. If it was interrupted midway, all his work would be wasted. His points would be deducted and the QR code would be consumed.
“So it’s actually like this.” Xing Ye said upon understanding.
The system acknowledged his strengths, but could also see through his weak points.
It was as if the Game of Challenging Fate revealed an evil smile. It asked Xing Ye, can you trust others? Can you put your life into your teammates’ hands? Can a person like you, who values strength and control so completely, let yourself be both weak and strong?
Strong enough to decide the outcome of the battle, but weak enough to be killed with a single move from a teammate.
The system wanted Xing Ye, somebody who simply couldn’t trust other people, to put his life completely in his teammates’ hands. If he didn’t, he would never be able to use his ability to the fullest.
After a QR code was finally successfully drawn, a QR code appeared with a flash of golden light. It turned into music notes as a reduced form of Peaceful Spirit’s Tune echoed through the third floor.
The effect would last for 15 minutes.
“What ability is that?”
Cao Qian found that ever since she met Xing Ye, everything he did seem to challenge her own common sense.
“What ability?” Xing Ye said coldly, “An ability that could both help me and destroy me.”
Miss Human Head turned very calm under the Peaceful Spirit’s Tune relaxing melody. Xing Ye asked through the music, “Liu Muqing, how did you lose your head?”
All the malevolence on Liu Muqing’s face had disappeared, replaced by a gentle smile. “Thank you for bringing Lin Jingxue to me. One of my biggest regrets has already been solved. However, I still had another regret before I died. I know Lin Jingxue wouldn’t harm me, but I want to know who did.
“Lin Jingxue didn’t know how I fell down, but I know. That day, somebody put oil on my shoes.
“I was in the middle of packing my things, so I wasn’t in the mood to care much about it. Furthermore, it’s normal for the soles of shoes to get dirty. As long as I was a bit more careful, it wouldn’t matter.
“However, when I was going downstairs, I just so happened to see Lin Jingxue and Bai Xu going up the stairs with their arms linked together. Lin Jingxue looked like she wanted to say something, but stopped when Bai Xu pulled her. When we brushed past, Bai Xu’s foot slipped and she stepped on Lin Jingxue’s shoelaces, causing her to bump into me. At that time, my shoes were still very slippery, making me lose my step and fall down.
“The instigator probably didn’t expect for me to end up breaking my neck when I fell. She most likely just wanted to throw stones with me while I was down and make me look more miserable by falling.
“In her trance, Lin Jingxue didn’t notice Bai Xu’s abnormal actions. After all, everything happened in an instant. She just thought that she wasn’t careful and bumped into me.
“It caused her to develop clinical depression. She blamed herself and started to believe she accidentally killed me.
“The monitors were never broken to begin with. Lin Jingxue’s dad bribed the headmaster to destroy the proof. The monitoring camera was behind us so all that could be seen was Lin Jingxue’s bumping into me. Purposely hurting somebody would destroy her reputation and she herself also said she wasn’t sure how she had walked unsteadily so in the end, that was the plan her father hatched up with.”
So there was actually such a layer to the truth. When all was said and done, Zeng Jingrou was an outsider in the incident. Two years ago, she was just a child and her family wouldn’t tell her such things. She had always thought her sister never touched Liu Muqing and Liu Muqing had just fallen by herself.
Bai Xu… was truly ruthless.
“I’m still not finished.” The human head spoke up again, “Lin Jingxue suffered from depression, but she hadn’t reached the point of killing herself yet. Somebody by her side instigated her to commit suicide. Bai Xu didn’t expect me to die, so she was afraid that if Lin Jingxue recovered, Lin Jingxue would remember what actually happened. The two were best friends, so she would just keep texting her, hinting for Lin Jingxue to kill herself.
“For example: nobody in this world understands you; there’s nothing worth staying for in this stupid school; your parents are too much, they don’t care about you at all. If they had a boy, they probably long would’ve given up on you; the teachers and classmates are all staring at you like you’re a murderer, but you didn’t do it on purpose, your foot just slipped; good thing the monitoring cameras were broken, or it’d be really bad; I know you bumped into her, but I won’t tell anyone since we’re friends.
“By saying stuff like that under the guise of concern, Lin Jingxue’s mental health reached a very dark spot.”
“Too cruel.” Cao Qian said.
Nobody discovered this high school girl’s evil ministrations. Even if they reported it to the police, without enough proof, there was no way to punish her.
Fifteen minutes still hadn’t passed. Liu Muqing continued, “Nobody could do such heartless things and not feel anything at all. Bai Xu was also under a lot of pressure. Her act of envy killed two people. During the day, she would brainwash herself, saying everything was worth it. However, at night, she would start sleepwalking.
“Every night, she would walk out of the classroom, taking out the painting she had lost the competition with and hanging it in the corridor, just like she was displaying her artwork.
“That year, she lost to me in the contest. It was for a country-wide art exhibition by high school seniors, and winning would grant you 20 bonus points on the college exams. Each school could only send in one art piece. She spent three months to painstakingly replicate “Mona Lisa’s Slight Smile”, but the teacher assessed it to be lacking in spirit and uniqueness, losing to my ink and wash painting. My painting was taken to the exhibit and won. Since then, she started to hold a grudge.
“When nobody was looking, Bai Xu bit her fingers and smeared her own blood on the oil painting, making it seem like Mona Lisa was crying tears of blood.”
“So you’re saying Bai Xu went mad? She would forcefully brainwash herself so she would forget everything she did during the day, but at night, she would walk to the corridor and go crazy?” Xing Ye asked.
“If it was just going mad, how would she have made the whole girls’ dormitory fall asleep? I don’t know what exactly Bai Xu is right now, but she’s definitely not human. My head also got taken away somehow by her…” Liu Muqing shook her head, “I’ve been searching for it this whole time, but I can only move around the third floor and can’t go down to the second.”
Cao Qian took a step down the stairs and nodded at Xing Ye. “We can go down.”
“Whose head are you using now?” Xing Ye didn’t immediately go down, “Your face isn’t much different from your original one.”
“I think what she took wasn’t my head, but my brain.” Miss Human Head suddenly said, “Weird, why would I think I lost my head? It’s clearly my brain…”
While she was speaking, a thin stitch was revealed on her forehead. Xing Ye directly pushed her forehead open. Inside was filled with blood, but after pouring out the blood, it was completely empty.
Cao Qian: “...”
She was about to barf.
Xing Ye readjusted Liu Muqing forehead. The fake Peaceful Spirit’s Tune was about to lose its effect. Xing Ye pondered and decided to use Redrawing Pen again to wake her up a little.
Because Liu Muqing had lost her brain, her memory was controlled and in a muddled state. He had to use the QR code from the piano to help Lin Jingxue pass on in order to get Peaceful Spirit’s Tune and recover Liu Muqing’s memory so she could say the truth.
However, helping Lin Jingxue pass on was just a side quest and shouldn’t influence the main quest route. What did that mean?
Xing Ye frowned, thinking for a moment before realizing the plot had already gone a different route under his manipulation.
The game’s original plot was just a campus scavenger hunt. Nobody asked him to find the truth.
But since Xing Ye decided to pursue the truth, the plot and narrative began to change. The mission and points also changed accordingly.
It was just like fate. If you chose a different path, the ending as well as the harvests along the way would be entirely different.
“I might’ve raised the game difficulty.” Xing Ye talked with Cao Qian as he walked down the stairs, “In simple mode, after getting the mission to find her head, all we would probably have to do is take the head from the youth running around holding the head and give it to Liu Muqing. Under her controlled state, she would just accept the head and disappear in a daze, completing one search mission. The other missions probably have different ways of solving. Room 404 was the clue the headmaster gave me after I destroyed the piano. However, from a different perspective, we could think of Zeng Jingrou’s dorm room. Her room was also 404 but her room number was forcibly changed to 405. Following that plotline, we wouldn’t have been able to discover Bai Xu’s deeds and might’ve obtained a different ending.”
“What ending?” Cao Qian asked.
“What it would look like on the surface. Liu Muqing made Bai Xu lose the art competition through despicable ways. The loss made Bai Xu fall into a trance, so every night, she would sleepwalk and hang her painting in the corridor. Liu Muqing and Lin Jingxue would fight each other, ending in mutual destruction while Bai Xu acted as an innocent by-stander. We would use the means she provided to make the two pass on and frame Zeng Jingrou, burying the truth forever. Bai Xu’s illness would then be cured, making her the ultimate victor.”
“How could it be like that?” Cao Qian didn’t understand, “Why would a game be so complicated?”
“You still think this is just a game?” Xing Ye’s voice was solemn, “We’re playing the Game of Challenging Fate. These… are all real fates and every decision the players make decides the world’s future.”