Xing Ye and the mirror returned to their residence. It was around 9 in the morning, when the sun was shining brightly above them. Xing Ye took the wooden logs that served as window covers in the dilapidated old house so the light could stream in, lighting up the interior.
This time, Xing Ye carefully surveyed the area and found there were many shops near his house.
From the building layout, he should be living in the downtown commercial area. However, the location was strange and the building itself was also very small. The door looked beat-up and didn’t have a signboard or anything, making it look more like a warehouse.
The area in front of his house was completely empty, with no customers walking near it.
With the mirror’s help, Xing Ye arduously brought everything inside the house outside.
Now he seemed even more like a junk collector. The room was filled with all kinds of parts: hands, eyes, etc., but they were all worn out and needed to be replaced. There were even a bunch of iron sheet puppets that were very heavy and took up a lot of space.
They rummaged through everything until the afternoon. They had to stop several times to rewind their springs before continuing to tidy up the house. Xing Ye used some planks, nails, and a hammer he found in the junkpile to build a simple shelf, organizing the different types of items by shelf. Large things like the old puppet bodies were placed on the very bottom shelf, fixing it in place.
After organizing everything, all the objects became obvious at a glance.
“There’s a lot of the newer iron sheet puppet parts as well as some tools and cloth materials.” Xing Ye said as he held his chin up, “It looks like the original owner of the body was a puppet that had a very strong desire to become a new generation puppet. He didn’t have money, so he picked up other people’s junk everywhere, thirsting for the day he could collect enough to get a new body.”
When he looked at his current body, Xing Ye completely understood the original’s thoughts. This body was simply too old.
“The original probably found the copper mirror puppet while he was collecting scrap materials. We just don’t know where he found it. If we did, it might give us clues about Master Benedict.”
Without a neck, the mirror couldn’t nod his head and instead struck his stomach to show his approval.
“It’s too bad there’s no pen or paper here. The original didn’t have a diary, so we don’t know where he found the copper mirror puppet.”
The trail broke off here.
Xing Ye gave the mirror’s body another one over. This time, he found algae in a small chink of the mirror’s armour.
“You were probably fished up from the river,” Xing Ye said. “There’s a net here. It looks like the original often goes to the nearby river to fish up rubbish… throwing parts into the water would probably pollute it, wouldn’t it? Even if puppets don’t need to drink water, it’s not a good habit. Although Master Benedict can make puppets, it doesn’t seem like he knows much about the environment.”
Xing Ye analyzed Master Benedict’s personality from the trails he currently had in hopes of finding him in the town.
The mirror was especially upset. He had already been trying his best to ignore how ugly he was, but now he found out he was actually fished up from the river, rusted and filthy and gross with even algae growing on him. This was the first time he had ever been so miserable.
In the last world, even though he was just a cosmetic mirror, Xing Ye always helped him clean his body after every shower.
Apart from the river, the original probably also collected junk from the repair shop and engine oil shop since he seemed to have good relations with the shopkeepers.
After analyzing this, Xing Ye decided to probe the neighboring engine oil store.
In the morning, he and the mirror were trying their best to avoid being seen by the engine oil shopkeeper. They stealthily hid by the thin wooden walls and listened in, so they never formally revealed their faces inside the shop. This time, it seemed they needed to go straight in.
It was getting late and the sky would soon turn dark. If they didn’t go now, it’d be too dark to see anything later.
Xing Ye went and wandered by the engine oil shopkeeper’s door. When the shopkeeper saw him, he immediately said, “I got another discarded part for you. Earlier, a customer dropped it while topping up his engine oil and didn’t want it. There’s still some not yet expired engine oil in there, so you can use it to top up.”
He sounded very friendly, a complete change from how he acted to the customer earlier.
Xing Ye accepted the package. The shopkeeper continued, “You should give up on trying to replace your body. Master Benedict’s already dead, so nobody can help wooden puppets switch their bodies now. Old Nect from the repair shop can’t do it either, he can only fix things.”
Master Benedict’s already dead? It seemed like the puppets in the city had no idea Master Benedict was still alive. That means he should be acting like an ordinary puppet hiding in the city, watching the puppets he had personally created.
The engine oil shopkeeper took out a book and wrote a few words before showing it to Xing Ye. “Here, sign the bill. Second hand goods still cost primary ore. I’ll put it on your account, but you can’t not pay up.”
Xing Ye flipped through the account book, which showed the debts he accumulated to the shopkeeper in the past twenty years. There were times he returned a few, but as time went on, he owed more and more to the shopkeeper. Together with the part and old engine oil, he owned the other 24 pieces of primary ore.
It was really a huge sum of money.
There wasn’t a place to sign, only a place for your handprint. Xing Ye directly pressed his hand down.
At this moment, a long haired female puppet wearing a beautiful dress walked into the shop. The engine oil shopkeeper immediately started to simp, “Miss Linda, would you like to change your engine oil?”
“I’m taking my little sister to fix her arm at Uncle Nect’s place, so I decided to get my engine oil purified along the way.” The puppet Linda flung her hair, a well-made wig.
Younger sister, repairing an arm, Uncle Nect… it all sounded very much like Cao Qian.
It wasn’t a coincidence. Such a thing was normal considering how close the repair and engine oil shops were to each other.
Xing Ye observed Cao Qian’s sister, Linda. He couldn’t see how the puppet was good looking, but Linda’s body really was exquisitely made. Her finger joints were very nimble and her eyelids even had lashes.
Linda extended her hand and the engine oil shopkeeper politely took it, leading her inside before finding a female employee to help her purify her engine oil.
The engine oil shopkeeper noticed Xing Ye staring at Linda. “What are you looking at! She’s not somebody you can think about. The city lord’s son pursued Miss Linda for thirty years, but Miss Linda wouldn’t even spare him a glance. You? Hmpth! Just go and continue asking Old Nect for scraps!”
30 years… did the inhabitants of Puppet City all count time in units of 10 years?
With no way to see what was happening inside, Xing Ye could only leave with the bag of scraps on his back.
Just now, the engine oil shopkeeper pointed southeast when he mentioned Old Nect, subconsciously pointing out where the repair shop was.
He had a good pre-text and seeing Cao Qian would be helpful. Maybe he could find more clues there.
Xing Ye walked two steps and saw the mirror still dazedly looking at the engine oil shop. He consoled him, “Wait until I get money, then I’ll take you to get your engine oil purified too.”
He felt like a poor little boy making an empty promise.
“Not that,” The big mirror whispered, “I feel like Linda’s fake. Earlier, when the engine oil shopkeeper pulled her hand, her lashes trembled two millimeters and she seemed very unwilling. The way she tossed her hair was also very… hm… how do you say it? Like she wasn’t used to having that hair length. Her bearing isn’t very graceful either, like… she’s not supposed to have long hair, and finds it inconvenient. The differences are very subtle, so I can’t describe it clearly. According to my Truth Eye, I think she’s a player with short hair on her original body.”