Xing Ye: “...”
The little mirror really was silly. How could a bone protrude out from his waist?
But then who would’ve expected the little mirror to check between his legs and exclaim, alarmed, “It’s not there! Is it growing on your waist now?”
He jerked, and another series of crashes sounded. He really wondered what body he had switched into, it almost even resembled a broken gong.
“Opposing fate players really have bad luck, huh. Crossdressing, fine, but now even your… that thing is gone? Or is it growing on your waist now? And you don’t have a right hand either. Could you be a deformed child?”
“Calm down, calm down.” Even with something growing on his waist, Xing Ye could still console the little mirror. “Don’t be anxious. Can you feel the protruding thing and see if it’s really… that?”
In fact, Xing Ye was also a little worried. He couldn’t really be that unlucky, right?
“I’m a bit scared…” The little mirror said.
“Don’t be scared,” Xing Ye continued to comfort him, “I don’t think my current body is human. I have a few ideas, but I’m not completely sure. Try twisting the thing on my waist.”
The little mirror slowly reached out to twist it, “My movements are really clumsy and it’s hard to move my fingers. It’s almost like my bones turned rusty.”
Although he was very slow, he finally managed to twist the thing on Xing Ye’s waist. A series of clunking noises sounded, just like winding up a toy.
With the rhythm of the coils, Xing Ye felt his body recovering strength.
It looks like his idea was right. He was no longer a human.
When the system was giving the introduction, Xing Ye already started to have his doubts. From start to finish, the words person or human were never mentioned. The terms used were all like ‘resident’, ‘resident that speaks the truth’, ‘ordinary citizen’, ‘resident’s wish’. Why was it ‘resident’ and not ‘person’? The word choice was very unsettling.
Now he understood. It was because he wasn’t a person.
The little mirror twisted the thing on his waist until it could no longer turn. Xing Ye raised his left hand. The sluggish feeling had disappeared and the clattering sounds were quieter.
Xing Ye remembered when he wanted to move his right hand and heard a clanging sound, like something had fallen.
Once he could move, he immediately felt around the place he remembered it had fallen and found… half an arm.
There was still a black and white wristband around the arm. When Xing Ye picked up the arm, it released a faint glow.
“That should be the winder,” Xing Ye said as he rubbed the thing on his waist, “And I’m a human puppet- or rather, a toy human.”
The mirror could be considered an experienced player and didn’t panic at Xing Ye’s words. He patted his stomach, creating a loud clang like beating on a gong. “That’s good, that’s good. You almost scared me to death earlier.”
“Why are you always worried about the most unimportant things?” Xing Ye smiled, “I’ve even crossdressed, how could I still be scared of becoming a puppet?”
Right now, Xing Ye urgently needed to know more about the mission and their current situation. He had the mirror help him hold his right arm while he used his left arm to tap the black and white wristband to see the mission details.
Because this wasn’t a world with phones, the mission details were spoken by the narrator just like in the magic mirror world. The long-lost narrator’s voice echoed by Xing Ye’s ear. “The puppet master Benedict’s dream was to create a kingdom. He bought land, and on his territory, he established a secret fairytale town. There were no humans amongst the residents of the town. They were all puppets personally created by Master Benedict, 80% of which were wooden puppets.
Master Benedict’s dream was very beautiful. He wanted the puppet city he built to turn into an everlasting wonderland. Here, there would be no sorrow, no death, and no deception. It was an utopia that could only exist in others' imagination.
But in the last few moments of his life, watching the mechanical movements of the puppets, Master Benedict made an order that he would regret for the rest of his life. He gave the puppets human nature.
With human nature, the puppets all started deceiving one another. Soon, there was nobody that spoke the truth in Puppet City. Every day, they told each other lies they were all well aware of. a
Master Benedict wanted to stop the puppet city from being polluted by human nature, but he was too old and couldn’t continue to work. In the end, he created a puppet and put his own heart in it so he could continue his will, helping Puppet City speak the truth.
In the city, there was only one person who could speak the truth and can only speak the truth. Can you find him? Can you guess his true wish? Can you help him?
Friendly Reminder: Although all the puppets lie, they’re not the obvious type of lies like ‘the sun rises from the west’, which can be seen through with a glance. Lies are everywhere and impossible to guard against. Lies that are seven parts true and three parts fake often seem even more true than the truth. Search for the truth in the lies and you’ll find that the truth often seems more of a lie than an actual lie.
After hearing that, he repeated the contents to the little mirror.
“So right now, you’re a wooden puppet? Am I a… human puppet?” The mirror asked.
“You could be a human puppet with a mirror, or a bronze mirror.” Xing Ye knocked the little mirror’s body, making booming noises.
“Ah! Why did you grope my stomach?” The little mirror said bashfully.
Xing Ye: “...”
“Then does that mean we just have to find the puppet with Master Benedict’s heart and help him cleanse the puppet city of lies to win?” The little mirror asked.
“It shouldn’t be that simple,” Xing Ye pondered, “The narrator never said Benedict was the only resident who could speak the truth. To be exact, I don’t think a puppet with a human heart could not say lies. The narrator mentioned Puppet City fell down to the mortal world because Benedict gave the puppets human nature. So, the puppet with Benedict’s heart is probably the biggest liar in the city.”
“It’s like that?” The little mirror was surprised, “But why do we have to find a puppet that doesn’t lie when it’s clearly Master Benedict’s wish?”
“I don’t know, there’s probably a big story involved that we have to uncover.” Xing Ye said, “There are too little clues. We need to enter the city, meet the puppets, and also find the other players. There are 5 following fate players and three opposing fate players. Cao Qian is one, and Guan Ling might be one of the following fate players… we need to think of a way to eliminate a following fate player.”
The sudden turn in the conversation made the little mirror jump, “W-why?”
“For you, of course.” Xing Ye knocked the little mirror’s hard body, “When you were a mirror prop, even if you got discovered, I could just say you’re a special prop with the ability to help me memorize QR codes. But now that you’ve changed bodies and became a… I can’t see what kind of puppet you are in the dark, but now, you can only pretend to be a player to hide your identity.”
But if the little mirror claimed he was a player, there would be a total of nine players, which was clearly different from what the system said. If he wanted to protect the mirror, he had to do it to the very end. He needed to eliminate a solo following fate player.
“There’s no need to be so ruthless, right?” The little mirror said. His voice sounded very pure, “Didn’t you say you needed to protect your bottom line and wouldn’t take the initiative to hurt others? Before, you even said it was good you didn’t end up beating me back then, or you would’ve gone on the wrong path.”
“But then how would we protect you?” Xing Ye said.
He said he would stand by his bottom line, but when it’s for important people, his bottom line could be pushed back bit by bit.
“You could say I’m a resident of Puppet City,” The mirror pulled Xing Ye’s left hand, “A friend of yours, like Boys A and C from the previous world.”
Xing Ye fell in a daze.
“Can’t you lie in this world? I just have to tell others that we knew each other since we were small… or well, grew up together after being manufactured… or friends who would play together until we ran out of energy and then wind each other back up. We all have our own identities in the game world and we can use the residents in this world to hide our own identities. We can pretend to be ordinary residents. Since the number of players is already set, they would be even less likely to suspect my identity.” The mirror happily waved his finger and turned his hips. Even though he was a puppet, at least he had a body now!
Xing Ye knocked his own wooden head with a bitter smile, “Did the lack of sleep tire me out that much? I couldn’t even think of such a simple thing.”
Instead, he even needed the little mirror to remind him.
Oh, he should be called big mirror now. Xing Ye used his left hand to approximately measure the mirror’s body and found it was bigger than his own wooden puppet body.
The big mirror said, “People need to balance work and rest. Sleeping at a good time can also protect your skin. You can’t not sleep, or it’ll make the people who care about you worried.”
People who cared about me… was there anybody left? Would there ever be anybody? Xing Ye secretly thought.
“What should we do next?” The big mirror asked.
“We’ll go out when it’s daytime.” Xing Ye said.
Big mirror: “Huh? It’s night time right now?”
Xing Ye analyzed, “My body is powered by wind-up coils, which means this world doesn’t have electricity. It’s probably a medieval or steampunk setting. In such eras, kerosene lights are normally used for lighting. However, wooden puppets are very flammable, so there’s no way a house would dare to light fires. It’d be very normal to have no lights.
“With this time period’s standard of architecture, there would definitely be light shining through if it was daytime. The reason why it’s so dark is probably because it’s nighttime, and the pitchblack kind without moonlight too.
“Of course, this house of ours might also be very crude, with stacks of clutter everywhere. We’ll have to wait to explore it further.”
“If it’s like that, let’s try to sleep. It’s night right now, so we can’t move either.” The big mirror suggested.
“Can you fall asleep?” Xing Ye asked.
The big mirror closed his eyes silently for a while before shaking his head, “I can’t sleep. I can’t even close my eyes, I don’t have any eyelids.”
“Same here.” Xing Ye tried blinking and heard more clattering every time he tried to move his eyes.
“Then what do we do now?”
“Let’s examine each other’s winders and wind them up then. No matter what, we can’t let ourselves run out of energy again. When there’s light tomorrow, I’ll think of a way to reattach my arm.”
“Alright, I found my winder. I think it’s on the back of my head, try winding it up for me.” The big mirror lowered his head, loud crashes of metal sounding as he moved.
The two puppets who didn’t even know their own appearances, one without his right hand and the other without eyelids, arduously helped each other in the darkness.
To help y'all imagine it
Xing Ye's wooden wind-up toy
Lu Minghao's puppet is probably similar, only bulkier and bronzer, with the wind up at the back of his head