Xing Ye was only thinking and never had any intentions to attack. However, Linda took the initiative to say her ability could block attacks to prevent any sudden sneak attacks.
She seemed to be a very passive player.
“What’s your goal?” Xing Ye asked.
To understand someone, the most important element to analyze is their motives and what they want to do. It’s very hard to establish trust without understanding the motives behind the other person’s actions.
There’s always a reason behind everything. For example, if Mr. Ding’s friendliness was to set up a foundation for his betrayal, what was the reason behind Linda’s isolationist policy?
The little mirror walked up with heavy steps, using his two meter body to stand behind Xing Ye, showing his support.
Linda saw her reflection in the mirror’s body and awkwardly turned her head to avoid seeing it again. As a woman who cared greatly about her own appearance, the way she looked as a puppet really didn’t align with her own aesthetics.
“Your problems are also my problems.” Linda explained, “We’re all just trying to do the mission, so why fight with other players?”
Why? Xing Ye joined the game in order to investigate the truth behind his brother’s death. After meeting the mirror in the first world, he thought that Xing Shuo might’ve not died and turned into a prop, waiting in the game world for Xing Ye to save him. Later, after finding out the chance his brother was still alive were very low, Xing Ye had lost his will to fight.
However, after seeing the mirror in the game world again, his fighting spirit was reignited.
Even if Xing Shuo had truly passed away, he still wanted to know what Xing Shuo experienced in the game worlds and exact justice on the one who had invited his little brother. Was it the system, or some player who fooled his little brother into entering the game?
At the same time, Xing Ye also wanted to save the mirror. He didn’t want the family, who had helped him when he needed it most, to experience the same pain of losing a family member as he did. It was too painful, a hundred times more painful than welding the nucleus threads together.
“I have a reason to become a high-level player and investigate the secrets behind the system.” Xing Ye replied simply.
Linda replied with an incredibly bored tone. “Wow, good luck, your aspirations sure are big. However, I’m happy with just being a potato. No big fighting spirit like you guys here.”
Xing Ye didn’t understand. “You don’t want to leave the game?”
Linda’s face was also puzzled, “Why would I want to leave? I don’t know what your life is in the real world, but there’s not one good thing in my real life. I’m short, fat, have short hair, and no money. I’m just a very mediocre girl.
“And in the game world? The system will always give following fate players a great experience.
I can be the princess of some nation, a femme fatale that triggers a war, a wealthy woman with the money to raise 4-5 pretty boys- even in this puppet world, I’m still the prettiest puppet.
In the real world, nobody would love me that much and treat me unconditionally well. Every day, I get so much stress from work and then even when I buy fruits, they end up being all mushy. For somebody as unlucky as me to suddenly get a ‘Game of Challenging Fate’ pop up on my phone, letting me become a person blessed by fate, wouldn’t you say it’s something to celebrate about?”
Xing Ye didn’t understand her way of thinking. “Don’t you think the game would influence your normal life in reality? Don’t you want to finish the missions as quickly as possible? Don’t you want to become a high level player to exchange points for money? Aren’t you interested in the generous rewards the system mentioned for beating the game?”
Linda really didn’t seem interested at all. “That’s for people like you, with ambitions and strength. I just pass through every world without a care. Instead of racking your brains to think, why not just enjoy life?
“Besides, time in reality doesn’t pass while I’m in the game world, so I can just treat it like a beautiful dream. I can have fun and take a break from the busy real world without spending money, isn’t it great?
“It’s very easy for following fate players to get points. I just have to keep my points above 500 and I’ll be able to continue living in the game world. What’s so bad about that?”
After saying that, Linda no longer paid attention to Xing Ye and the mirror. She truly wasn’t interested in anything.
Xing Ye didn’t understand, but he knew there were people like that in the real world. They passed every day aimlessly, doing things they didn’t like under society’s pressure, their individuality grinding away until they fit society’s mold.
Linda took the game as a refuge from all that. She didn’t hinder other people from completing their missions, nor did she actively try to complete the missions. She lived just like in the real world, drifting with the waves and going with the flow.
Such a person couldn’t become a teammate, but they also wouldn’t be a foe.
“Alright, I understand.” Xing Ye said calmly, “I hope you won’t tell me and your sister’s identity to other players. If I find that you leaked it, I’ll make your life worse than death.”
Linda didn’t care about his threat at all. “I wouldn’t do anything so troublesome. Besides, I’m a puppet, how would you give me a life worse than death?”
Xing Ye’s voice was solemn, “If my teammate or I get injured, I’ll break apart your body and tear out your nucleus threads, taking you apart piece by piece to use to repair ourselves. I know you’re not afraid of death and your goal is to enjoy the pleasure the game brings you, so I trust that you won’t want your pleasant dream to turn into a nightmare. There’s a limit to how much the human mind can bear- I can use this world to drive you insane.”
Linda’s entire body straightened, making her puppet body look like it was trembling with fear.
The barely one meter tall puppet in front of her suddenly gave her an unprecedented sense of pressure, like a large mountain was weighing down on her heart.
Linda looked into his black bean eyes and knew he was serious. She couldn’t help but nod. “I won’t.”
“Good.” Xing Ye said, “You should also help cover up my teammate’s identity.”
He pointed at the maintenance room. With the most popular female puppet in the city covering for her, Cao Qian should be much safer.
“I won’t speak, but why, why should I, I…” Linda took a step back.
“Because I’ll put her safety on you.” Xing Ye said placidly.
Linda looked at the fear on her face in the mirror’s body and reluctantly nodded. “I, I’ll try… to help.”
“Great.” Xing Ye leaned on the mirror’s big copper belly and used a lofty stance to suppress Linda.
For unambitious people like Linda, you had to guard against them in case they sell you out to others to survive. However, such people were also very easy to control. After beating them up, they’re generally much more obedient.
“How are you going to explain to your family when she comes home as an iron puppet? What about when your sister leaves the city and doesn’t come back for a long time?”
Linda used her not-very-high IQ to think with all her might before finally saying, “I helped vouch for my sister, letting her get the operation on credit at Old Nect’s place. She wants to help pay Old Nect back tomorrow, so she won’t be home for a few days. Even if the lies get discovered, it’s fine. After all, everyone knows that all puppets lie.”
“Not a bad excuse. Also, don’t say tomorrow, just say tonight.” Xing Ye said, “You can go home now and tell your family that you little sister won’t be back for a while.”
Linda immediately ran away after agreeing. The sky was turning dark and it wouldn’t be safe for such a beautiful puppet like her to be out on the streets at night.
After successfully sending away Linda, Xing Ye and the mirror patiently waited for Cao Qian.
Three hours later, Cao Qian walked out, looking completely new.
Every wooden stick on her body was welded with iron. Old Nect replaced her sockets with new metal balls, making her arms much more agile.
Cao Qian happily gave two kicks in the air. Wind blew from each kick, seeming strong enough to break a frail wooden puppet in pieces. Old Nect seemed a bit afraid, ducking behind his son’s back.
But even so, Cao Qian’s head was still a matchstick, which would easily ignite if met with friction. After all, she couldn’t exactly get iron welded there. However, it would be fine as long as Cao Qian kept her head wet. Anything was solvable as long as her body wasn’t so frail.
Xing Ye was a bit baffled. Old Nect was clearly unwilling, so he thought that Old Nect would just do the procedure half-heartedly. He hadn’t expected the results to be so good.
Little Nect spoke up, “Dad, I’ll send the matchstick puppet home, okay? It’s not safe for a girl to be out at night.”
Old Nect mumbled, “You couldn’t have really fallen for that matchstick puppet, right? I won’t agree to a daughter-in-law like her… whatever, whatever, just come back soon.”
After the four puppets walked out of the repair shop, Old Nect shut the door.
The sky was dark and all the puppets were at home, resting. The streets were already empty.
Little Nect suddenly spoke excitedly, “Cao Qian, you’re Cao Qian, right? That kick just now looked so cool, it has the exact same power as the kick that sent me all the way down from the third floor to the second floor in the previous world!”
Xing Ye: “...”
Cao Qian: “...”
It was actually Guan Ling. No wonder he took the initiative to help them.
In the last world, Guan Ling wanted to join Xing Ye’s team. Xing Ye said they weren’t familiar and it would depend on how he behaved in later worlds, so Guan Ling wished to be in the same next world as Xing Ye. He didn’t expect it to actually succeed.
Guan Ling was even given the role of the only mechanic in Puppet City’s son, a newer model iron puppet. Plus, as soon as he entered the world, he was given a plotline to explore the illegal mines.
The luck following fate players had were really… Whatever, no point being jealous.
“If you’re Cao Qian…” Guan Ling looked at Xing Ye, who was even shorter than the matchstick puppet by 5 cm, and his exceptionally well-crafted face revealed a shocked expression. “Don’t tell me you’re the big boss?”
He peeked at the work he did with Xing Ye’s arms and his eyebrows creeped up. Xing Ye… Xing Ye and Cao Qian had no eyebrows. Since Cao Qian was a girl, she got two pieces of cloth just barely enough to serve as hair, while Xing Ye was straight-up bald.
“Yeah, I’m Xing Ye.” Since he was found out, Xing Ye assumed a dignified stance.
Even though he was just a meter tall, his imposing manner made him look two meters taller.
“Huh? Who’s Xing Ye? Aren’t you my good friend, lil’ wooden puppet?” The big mirror acted according to plan, acting stupid whenever it was about players.
“Be obedient, it doesn’t involve you.” Xing Ye also pretended to half-heartedly hide it.
Cao Qian looked at the mirror suspiciously and whispered, “Is he the puppet that never lies? He looks so foolish and innocent! Before, he almost even sold himself to vouch for me. Apart from the mission target, how could such a simple and honest puppet exist in this city?”
There was obviously no way the little mirror could be the mission target. After all, he was just using the mirror puppet’s body.
Xing Ye asked, “Do you think an opposing fate player like me would be lucky enough to get the mission target as my good friend?”
“Probably not.” Cao Qian said.
“Mirror,” Xing Ye said, “If somebody asks if I’m a player or not, what would you say?”
To prove he can lie, the mirror said, “If you tell me no, I’ll say no. I’ll listen to whatever you say.”
“Understand?” Xing Ye told Cao Qian, “Just because somebody’s kind doesn’t mean they wouldn’t lie. We can’t just believe the mission target is the kindest puppet in the city, or think that there're no kind puppets in Puppet City. Benedict dreamed for the city to be a Neverland utopia, where nobody grew old or sick, but in my eyes, this isn’t a Neverland at all.
Neverland as in Peter Pan’s Neverland.
Hearing this, Cao Qian knew Xing Ye thought of something new about this world’s mission with today’s events.
The three walked into Xing Ye’s house and closed the door. Guan Ling also pricked his ears to hear Xing Ye’s analysis.
Considering his earlier performance, Xing Ye and Cao Qian decided to temporarily let him join the group. After all, if it wasn’t for Cao Qian, they would both still be disabled.
But the shadow Guan Ling gave Xing Ye while repairing his arm earlier was too big. Even now, he could still feel the pain in his soul and made Guan Ling sit in the corner, further away from them.
Guan Ling looked at the distance between him and his teammates, feeling aggrieved. The mirror quietly sat by Xing Ye and Cao Qian also straightened up, all looking like they were preparing for a lecture.
They were just missing pen and paper. Otherwise, they would’ve really started taking down notes.
Xing Ye was dumbfounded, but listening seriously was a good thing, so he just continued to speak. “When I heard the system narrate the mission background, the scene that emerged in my mind wasn’t a forever happy world like in fairy tales or a beautiful story like Peter Pan and protecting children. Instead, it reminded me about the legend of how God created and destroyed the world.”
Y’all I found this chapter absolutely hilarious when you remember their puppet bodies hahaha. Like imagine, with their little clockwork wooden puppet bodies and faces. Also, I can’t believe I only just thought of how this arc kinda references pinocchio, a puppet that can’t lie.