No matter whether he was speaking the truth, Xing Ye and Cao Qian had no way of attacking Mr. Ding. Now, they could only take the opportunity to get information out of him.
“What did you guys discover in the gym last night?” Xing Ye asked.
“Di Kuang said we couldn’t completely trust you and that there was no way somebody would really give important info to their enemy. While he was mingling with you, he had Guan Ling and Wu Yu search for special QR codes and clues. Whether it was the video or the painting, everything pointed to Bai Xu. As such, Di Kuang went to meet Bai Xu. “
Under Mr. Ding’s narration, Xing Ye and Cao Qian learned about the plot from their side.
Bai Xu seemed nowhere near as vicious as Xing Ye had described. When Di Kuang directly pointed out what happened back then, Bai Xu immediately started crying and said she was being forced.
She said Lin Jingxue was afraid of leaving evidence and gave her the key, forcing her to frame Liu Muqing. That day on the stairs, she had personally watched Lin Jingxue push Liu Muqing down and even made her father break the school’s monitoring cameras.
Bai Xu hadn’t lied, the monitoring cameras really were broken by somebody Lin Jingxue’s father found. She even recorded the phone call between Lin Jingxue and her father.
Back then, Lin Jingxue had personally watched Liu Muqing die. Her mental condition had completely deteriorated, making her speech basically incoherent. In the recording, she was crying, “Liu Muqing died, sob, sob…” and her father had decisively said, “Don’t worry, I’ll deal with the monitoring cameras.”
The recording successfully dispelled Di Kuang’s doubts. He was confident in the evidence he himself had found and thought Xing Ye was trying to misguide him.
Bai Xu’s skill at distorting the truth really made her sound credible. If Xing Ye and Cao Qian hadn’t personally witnessed the two girls’ souls and the monstrous appearance Bai Xu had at night, they might have also been fooled.
“Too shameless.” Cao Qian shook her head. She never thought somebody could be so evil.
Xing Ye had already been prepared. If she didn’t have such ability, how would she have been able to set up the plotline and push all the blame on Lin Jingxue?
“If you hadn’t started investigating with the piano, we might’ve also been fooled.” Cao Qian said.
“No, even if I heard ‘Who Killed Cock Robin’ and Lin Jingxue’s spirit followed behind me, Bai Xu still could’ve inverted the truth. Bai Xu could say Liu Muqing was the robin, Lin Jingxue was the sparrow, and she was the fly who witnessed everything. The reason Lin Jingxue followed me was because her hatred was very strong and could choke me to death. Under such circumstances, would you rather believe in an evil spirit that can’t talk or move and wants to choke you, or the beautiful and kindhearted daytime Bai Xu?” Xing Ye said.
Cao Qian fell silent. If it was her, she would definitely believe Bai Xu’s excuse.
“What did you guys discover in the gym?” Xing Ye asked Mr. Ding.
“We found Liu Muqing’s cousin, Zhang Feiming. He’s actually a second-year student here. Wu Yu noticed that he runs out of the dorm every night to hide something in the gym. Yesterday, they searched for it behind my back but didn’t seem to find anything, so they told me to continue searching today.” Mr. Ding didn’t hide anything.
A second-year. He could still be called a teenager.
He also had the same surname as Aunty Zhang, meaning Zhang Feiqing was Liu Muqing’s uncle’s child. Two years ago, he was only in his third year of middle school and still hadn’t entered the school.
Xing Ye’s mind spun. He was also in the second year but he never heard of Zhang Feiqing’s name. “Tell me about Zhang Feiqing in detail.”
“He’s in year two, class nine. Class one and two are honours classes, class three to eight are average students, and students in class nine and above are speciality classes. Zhang Feiqing is extremely outstanding in calligraphy, painting, and sculpting.”
Painting… another specialty of his.
“Have you guys investigated the relationship between Bai Xu and Zhang Feiming?”
“Huh? What relationship do they have?” Mr. Ding was startled. He never thought about that.
“Liu Muqing, Bai Xu, Zhang Feiming all studied painting. With such a coincidence, there’s no way they aren’t connected. Furthermore, I think that Liu Muqing’s missing head has something to do with Zhang Feiming.”
In Cock Robin, the fish used his dish to catch the robin’s blood. The whole time, Xing Ye had been trying to find who the fish was, who could’ve done that.
And now, it seemed Zhang Feiming filled those requirements.
Liu Muqing was an only daughter. Zhang Feiming was her very close little cousin, so it was very possible that he could’ve seen her soul.
“Why would they trust you to find the item here alone?” Xing Ye asked, “There’s no way they completely trust you.”
Mr. Ding was different from Guan Ling and Wu Yu. Those two had been cooperating with Di Kuang for a long time and joined the world as a team. Mr. Ding came afterwards, so it was only normal to not trust him.
Perhaps Di Kuang already found some crucial clues but chose not to tell Mr. Ding.
“Sigh, you think it’s easy for me?” Mr. Ding sighed, “With these starting abilities, who would be willing to team up with me? It’s just a good skill for escaping with my life, so most people wouldn’t be able to kill me. I just need a teammate. It doesn’t matter if they really trust me or if the information they share with me is true. As long as I betray them, I can save my life. As such, I need to have teammates and can’t let them see my starting abilities.”
Xing Ye: “You said you entered the game by scanning a QR code somebody shared with you. You were clearly the one being betrayed, so how did you get the skill ‘Selling Friends for Glory’?”
“I stole his graduation plan, so he hated me ever since. When we met that day, I thought he already forgot our previous differences, but who would’ve known… that might’ve been why I got these two starting abilities when I entered the game.”
It was truly reaping what he had sown.
Mr. Ding could only struggle between betraying others and being abandoned. He would never be able to clear the game and would be trapped here forever.
“I’ll give you a word of advice,” Xing Ye said. “If I were you and wanted to turn over to a new leaf and find true teammates, then I would find some people that seem very kindhearted and naive. Show them your starting abilities at the very beginning. Although they won’t trust you, as long as you act a little pitiful, they’ll at least take you in. Then find a chance to let the opponent kill you so your teammates will know that you won’t betray them even if you have to die. If you move them enough, they’ll look at you as a true teammate.”
“Huh?” Mr. Ding said awkwardly, “But dying feels very real, I…”
“It’s up to you.”
There were some people who, even if they knew what to do, would never do so. It was just their nature.
Xing Ye ordered Cao Qian to watch over Mr. Ding while he went to look around the equipment room.
Mr. Ding was a following fate player. If he chose to search through the equipment room, there had to be clues here.
Xing Ye took out the mirror from his pocket and opened it with a whisper. “Help me.”
Mirror: “Hmpth, I knew you needed my help.”
After he finished feeling smug, Xing Ye moved the mirror around the room slowly. When they got to a certain spot, the mirror suddenly spoke up. “Try searching there, I have a feeling.”
It was a box of tennis balls. Xing Ye poured the balls out and at the bottom was a QR code.
“You’re amazing!” Xing Ye praised.
He and Cao Qian had been wandering around campus for days yet never found a QR code. It was just as the mirror said- even though he had turned into a prop, his luck was still unmatched.
“Hmph!” If he had a body, the mirror would definitely be raising his chin proudly.
After thanking the mirror again, Xing Ye put him back in his pocket and called Cao Qian, who had been waiting outside. “Come in.”
Xing Ye didn’t scan the QR code, giving it to Cao Qian instead.
Cao Qian, who had once said that if she had a QR code, she would never give it to anybody: “...”
Xing Ye: “Don’t look at me like that. Compared to me, you need QR codes more. You know my starting ability and I need you to protect me in order to put it to full use. Besides, I’ve already memorized this QR code.”
How annoying. It was like he was saying “I’m too rich, I don’t need it”.
Cao Qian roasted him in her mind before swiftly taking out her phone and scanning the code.
After being scanned by the phone, the QR code’s description popped up: Bouncy table tennis balls. These can train reaction time and make for very good exercise.
The two couldn’t tell what exactly it did through the item’s description, but with Cao Qian’s skill, having a QR code is like adding wings to a tiger. Nobody could activate a QR code faster than she could.
They made another loop around the equipment room but still found nothing.
Xing Ye once again used the power of money to hire an informer to tail Wu Yu and report his whereabouts at all times. He also had someone to spy on Wu Yu. The two informers understood Xing Ye well- even when they were using the bathroom, there would be someone watching.
Cao Qian used affection as an excuse for her friends to tail Di Kuang and Bai Xu. Her friends were afraid that the two would use time between classes to find a little corner and start making out, so they helped Cao Qian keep them on very tight watch.
Although they had less people and were at a disadvantage, with money and willfulness, they could take advantage of their environment to tenaciously suppress their opponents.
And now, with the other team being monitored by four people far from the gymnasium, Xing Ye had plenty of time to search.
He pondered before sending a group message: I suspect year two class nine’s Zhang Feiming wants to fight me for my girlfriend, Zeng Jingrou. Help me secretly keep an eye on him and you’ll be heavily rewarded.
The group went crazy, thanking their gold master and promising Xing Ye they’d work like an ox.
Cao Qian was taking advantage of the convenience of money, but still couldn’t help but feel a little sour. “You still have money left? You’ve probably dropped a million in the past few days, right?”
Xing Ye glanced at her before sending Father Xing a text: Dad, I ran out of money.
Father Xing: I’m Director Xing’s assistant. He’s at a meeting right now. I only have the privileges to send up to a million. I’ve already transferred it to your account. If it’s still not enough, I can notify Director Xing later.
Xing Ye: It’s fine for now.
Cao Qian: “...”
God, she hated the rich!
Xing Ye looked at Mr. Ding. “We can’t attack or use our starting abilities or QR codes, but knocking him out is fine, right?”
Cao Qian: “Just looking at him makes my limbs feel heavy. It’ll be hard to knock him out.”
“Same here, but we can use props.”
Xing Ye took out two tasers from his bag and handed one to Cao Qian. “I bought these from the school guard so it doesn’t count as a player item. Check if you can use it.”
“No, no, no!” Mr. Ding started to struggle frantically.
Seeing that they could use it, Xing Ye looked at Mr. Ding. “Knocking you out is for your own good. You still have to continue blending in with Di Kuang’s group and this would show your determination and loyalty, even at the risk of your own life. Your phone’s destroyed and you were knocked out, yet you still didn’t leak out any information. This way, you can strengthen your relationship with them. Do it!”
The last sentence was meant for Cao Qian. She tasered him then nodded in satisfaction. “This is pretty good. It’ll be useful when we fight.”
Starting abilities and QR codes could all be used to restrain other’s abilities, but had no effect on items in the game world. The game environment was also an element they could use to restrain the enemy.
The two rummaged through the gymnasium. Cao Qian even pulled out the badminton net and basketball rack but still didn’t find anything.
Xing Ye was focused on studying the photo Cao Qian sent him. He noted how Guan Ling and Wu Yu were both picking up basketballs and that Di Kuang was also playing basketball at lunch.
“Let’s try looking at the basketballs individually.” Xing Ye said.
The two pushed over the cart of basketballs and inspected them one by one.
When he picked up a certain basketball, Xing Ye suddenly paused. “This one’s weight is different.”
Cao Qian picked it up. It was too light, almost like a feather. There was hardly any difference between the basketball and the feather.
Xing Ye held the basketball and frowned. He had a fruit knife in his bag, which he had bought from the store. The assortment of items Xing Ye had prepared was very thorough.
With his strength, the fruit knife wouldn’t be able to pierce through the basketball. However, Cao Qian was different. With a forceful stab, the fruit knife cut through the basketball. With a little more strength, a strand of black hair fell out.
Cao Qian became more careful as she slowly pried the basketball open. Inside the basketball was a human head with Liu Muqing’s face.
“How is this possible?” Cao Qian was incredulous.
Xing Ye pinched it. “It’s not a real human head but it’s made very life-like.”
Cao Qian looked at it closely and found that it really was fake. However, the hair was real, carefully threaded in one by one by somebody. It was also unclear what the skin was made of. Perhaps, it could even be real skin.
“Could it be that Di Kuang’s group thinks this is the head Liu Muqing wanted?” Cao Qian asked.
Xing Ye: “In her current state, Liu Muqing might also think that. You should remember how confused and easy to fool she was before I used Peaceful Spirit’s Tune. She only became a little more normal after seeing Lin Jingxue. Besides, although her hopping head had a face, Liu Muqing never said it was hers. She’s probably just a ghost that can only stay in the mission space.”
Cao Qian: “If we didn’t see Lin Jingxue and Liu Muqing’s relationship and rashly gave her this head, what would’ve happened?”
Xing Ye’s voice was solemn. “With the kindhearted Bai Xu’s help, the players would find the human head and help Liu Muqing pass on, completing part of the Campus Search quest. Then, they would assist Bai Xu and Zhang Feiming in eliminating the ghost Lin Jingxue, smoothly finishing the quest.”
Like that, the real truth would forever be buried. Lin Jingxue’s soul would be scattered and Liu Muqing would forever be stuck in a muddled daze, never to waken. The monstrous Bai Xu on the second floor of the girls dormitory would escape unpunished.
If Liu Muqing passed on, then without her daughter’s help in the painting, Aunty Zhang would no longer be able to fend off the monstrous Bai Xu’s attacks. Then, just like the previous dormitory nannies, she would be driven insane or be killed.
Then a few days later would be university exams. With Liu Muqing’s intelligence and talent, Bai Xu would take the exam and smoothly graduate school, enter university, then society, becoming a monster nobody could subdue.
The ending Di Kuang’s group arrived at looked perfect on the surface.
But the actual truth was spine chilling.
Cao Qian rubbed her arms and asked, “Why is this world so complicated? Can’t we just simply clear the quest?”
“It’s because reality is just that complex. What you see at first glance might not necessarily be the truth. You have to search for it carefully.” Xing Ye said.
The youth running around with the human head on the night of the new moon must be Zhang Feiming, who also made this head.
But would he do that? Liu Muqing was his cousin, so why would he help Bai Xu?
There were still three hours before dusk. They had to find Zhang Feiming before that.
They had to hurry. Xing Ye didn’t care about his image on campus- in any case, it had long been destroyed.
He texted some boys in year two class nine and told them to block Zhang Feiming in the first floor’s boys bathroom. He also had them hang a maintenance sign in front of the door.
“Come on, let’s go bully our classmate.” Xing Ye said, cracking his knuckles.
Cao Qian: “Why do I feel like you’re a little excited?”
“Is that so?” Xing Ye took out the mirror from his pocket and looked at his face. Sure enough, there was a youthful, malicious smile.
Cao Qian: “...”
She rubbed her eyes, thinking she was hallucinating.
Xing Ye: tall, masculine, with an IQ high enough to crush ordinary people. He, who always looked down at the world like an emperor, suddenly pulled out a cosmetic mirror out of his pocket? It was even the cutesy type, embroidered with beautiful flowers.
“M-Mirror?” Cao Qian pointed at the mirror and asked.
Xing Ye’s face was expressionless as he put the little mirror back into his pocket and warned Cao Qian. “Don’t see what you shouldn’t see and don’t ask what you shouldn’t ask.”
Cao Qian: “Oh.”