From the information they knew so far, Xing Ye speculated two possible causes behind his brother’s death.
The first, was the possibility that he chose the following fate camp. Xing Ye believed that his brother would definitely be capable enough to reach the final level, where he could’ve been turned into a prop like the little mirror and be destroyed in someone else’s hands.
The second possibility was that he ended up like the city lord’s son, becoming the victim of a special prop. Furthermore, it might be a prop that a following fate player was turned into.
As a following fate player, even if they led the way and proactively cleared the worlds, they could only end up as a prop.
Those lucky enough would be like the little mirror, meeting a kindhearted player that wouldn’t use them to kill or harm them.
Those unlucky would end up like that pocket watch, becoming a tool to kill others.
Although the system was filled with violence towards players, it was still controlled and never harmed a player’s life. It was always humans who chose to kill others.
Of course, Xing Ye could’ve just overthought everything and none of that was true. The pocket watch could just be a special prop and the city lord’s son might’ve not really died.
For proof, they needed to get an answer from Randy.
However, with all Xing Ye knew so far, he was 80% confident in his guess unless new clues suddenly showed up.
Xing Ye pondered. He needed to continue thinking and confirming his ideas, then maybe he could find a trace of hope through all the despair. However, the more he thought, the more he understood he had no choice but to wake up and face the cruel truth.
He was too smart, so smart that he couldn’t even pretend to be confused.
The mirror directly wrapped his arms around the frail wooden puppet, pulling him into a hug. Right now, that was all he could do.
Thank goodness he had a body in this world. Otherwise, he could only watch Xing Ye sadly with no way to comfort him.
It was unknown how long they stayed like that until the puppet’s voice broke the silence, “During my time here, I’ve slowly confirmed a hidden rule to this Game of Challenging Fate: no matter how harsh the conditions are, the game won’t purposely kill players. It’ll give players despair, but it’ll always leave a trace of hope within it all. That’s why I believe, as long as you’re still alive, there’ll definitely be a way to leave the game and return to your original body.
“Right now, I still don’t know how, but as long as we continue and keep on winning, there’ll definitely be a day I can restore you to normal.”
“I…” The little mirror wanted to ask, why are you doing so much for me? You never forced me to do anything, and you always did your best to protect me so I wouldn’t get hurt. When you returned to the real world, you helped me check up on my family and the state of my body. And now, you’re even trying to help me leave the game and restore my body.
The mirror didn’t speak, but Xing Ye could guess his unspoken words and took the initiative to respond. “Don’t feel pressured. I’m not doing this only for you, it’s also for myself. It’s not just you who wants to leave the game, I do too. I can’t let myself be limited by the game and be stuck going between game worlds forever.
“On our way to the final level, we’ll find a lot of information. Among them, there has to be a way to get you back to normal. It’s like a bonus question on a test, and I’ve never shied away from a challenge.”
Furthermore, Xing Ye didn’t know how Xing Shuo died in the game world. What’s done was done and Xing Ye couldn’t turn back time. He was utterly helpless. But at the very least, the mirror was still alive.
Even under such difficult and painful circumstances, the mirror was still able to keep his sense of self and continue living on, strong and hopeful.
Lu Mingze hadn’t given up, so Xing Ye wouldn’t give up on him either.
At least he could save one person.
Xing Ye felt like something was clutching his head, throbbing painfully. It was a blunt pain, dull to where if he didn’t think about it, he wouldn’t have noticed it.
He put his hand on his chest and didn’t feel it pulse; he put his hand by his eyes and didn’t feel any cold tears.
Puppets didn’t have tears. They had no water in their bodies, so even if he felt even worse, he still wouldn’t be able to cry.
In a world like this, Xing Ye could be as weak as he wanted. In any case, his expression wouldn’t change and others wouldn’t discover his feelings.
It was only the mirror with his Truth Eye ability, who, despite having his own hardships, could see through it and still hug him tightly in the darkness.
The sky slowly brightened. Xing Ye stood up and spoke to the mirror, “Let’s get repaired today. After paying back all our debts, I’ll get you fixed up and you can become the prettiest mirror in Puppet City.”
“Yes!” The mirror acted like nothing happened last night and gripped Xing Ye’s hand tightly.
Two puppets, one tall, one short, dressed in sacks with a bag of scraps over their backs, walked out under the sun towards Old Nect’s repair shop.
Xing Ye glanced at the mirror. Under the sun’s glow, rays of light were reflected back into Xing Ye’s eyes, leaving him momentarily blinded.
The mirror was truly too bright, Xing Ye secretly thought.
The repair shop hadn’t opened yet. Guan Ling led Xing Ye and the mirror in through the back door, to where Old Nect was waiting for them.
Old Nect immediately started questioning them when he saw Xing Ye arrive, “What did you see in the mines? This stupid son of mine said he was too afraid to go in and just told you to come back with a sack of ore. Did you… see anything special inside?”
Guan Ling was afraid he wouldn’t be able to figure out Old Nect’s true aim, so he didn’t dare to say anything and waited for Xing Ye to settle it.
Xing Ye calmly opened the sack on the table and counted out five big chunks of primary ore before speaking to Old Nect, “This should be enough to cover what the matchstick puppet and I owe you.”
“That’s not important, the important thing is what you saw in the mines!” Old Nect was so angry that steam started rising out of his nose, blowing his beard up.
Xing Ye suddenly sat on the chair and turned to Guan Ling, “Help your dad wind up his springs, his energy consumption’s too high.”
Guan Ling choked back a smile and went behind Old Nect to wind up his springs.
Old Nect angrily pushed him away before taking a gun and cocking it at Xing Ye, “Are you playing with me?”
Old Nect thought that was enough to threaten Xing Ye, but didn’t expect a short little figure to flash in front of him. The next moment, the gun had disappeared from his hands, now in the iron plated matchstick puppet’s hands.
“How did a matchstick puppet like you steal the gun from me? When I checked your body yesterday, it wasn’t this strong. You also shouldn’t be that fast. Did somebody remodel you yesterday?” Old Nect’s focus suddenly shifted to Cao Qian, fixing his stare on her. “Who did you meet in the mines?”
Cao Qian didn’t speak, and neither did Xing Ye. They were waiting to observe Old Nect’s attitude.
“Who else but Master Benedict could help a matchstick puppet break free from their natural limits?” Old Nect excitedly hugged Cao Qian’s skinny arms, “Tell me, did you see Master or not? Did Master help you remodel your body?”
He didn’t seem to be hostile to Benedict.
Old Nect’s name was taken from Benedict. He had always serviced everybody in the city following the identity his master set for him, even after so many years.
Xing Ye pondered before saying, “We saw a group with an insignia like this on them.”
He gestured at Old Nect for a pen before drawing the insignia of the puppet corpses.
They were the puppets the city lord sent.