Chapter 63: Son
“This is…” Old Nect inspected the drawing.
Xing Ye watched his face and gave up trying to understand the other’s moods from slight changes in his expressions. Puppets just didn’t have those.
Puppets have always loved to lie, and they didn’t have any microexpressions or small habits either. Although this greatly raised the difficulty of the game, it didn’t mean there was no way to get truthful information.
It just needed a little technique.
Xing Ye didn’t mention the city lord’s troops had already died and only mentioned he had seen them.
Sure enough, Old Nect questioned them emotionally, “They… were the puppets you saw also going to the illegal mine?”
Xing Ye said, “This… Uncle Nect, let’s clear our debts first. You should know that for me, the most important thing is to pay you back. It doesn’t feel good being in debt. We can talk about other things afterwards.”
During negotiations, the more sly, the more shrewd and mysterious, the harder it was to see through the other’s goal, the more calm he would be. He couldn’t lose himself to panic, only then could he gain the upper hand and force the other to reveal a weak point.
Fortunately, puppets weren’t good at negotiating and scheming. Although they didn’t have many expressions, most puppets were simple minded and it was easy to find flaws in their words.
The most important thing was to tell whether they were lying or saying the truth.
Even if the tone, face, eyes, facial muscles can not be used as a basis for judgment, you could still use their speed of speech and repeated questioning with different details after the event to judge whether it was true or not.
No matter how realistic a lie seems, it can always be punctured through.
Sure enough, Old Nect turned anxious. His voice sped up as his wooden lips opened and closed with clack clack clack sounds, “Debts, debts, all you know are debts! As long as you tell me everything you saw in the mines, I’ll clear off all of both of your debts!”
He was already impatient? He really was an irritable puppet.
Xing Ye spoke calmly, “Then take out the bills first. Me and the matchstick puppet’s hand prints are there, after all.”
“Tell me first, did those puppets with that insignia go into the mine or not!” Old Nect slammed the table.
“They did, and even had weapons. They left one person outside to guard the door. We saw everything from beginning to end. If you’re curious, take out the bills and write a receipt for us.”
Old Nect angrily returned to his room to write up a receipt for them. Cao Qian walked over and gave Xing Ye a high five.
It sure felt good, making Old Nect reveal his true intentions while getting their debt written off for free.
Guan Ling watched at the side, dumbstruck. He imagined what would happen if he was the one Xing Ye had been talking to and found that he probably would’ve spilled every embarrassing incident from when he was a child until now.
After Old Nect cleared their debts, Xing Ye said, “You know we only had three guns, so we didn’t dare to get too close. However, if you tell us about those people, I might know what happened to them.”
“You…” If it weren’t for the fact Cao Qian had his gun, Old Nect really wanted to kill him.
“Right!” Xing Ye knocked his head, “I remember now, I think I heard them say that no matter what, they had to kill the person inside the mine.”
“How dare they!” Old Nect shouted angrily, finally unable to hold back.
“Oh,” Xing Ye suddenly said, “Uncle Nect, could it be that you think that Master Benedict’s inside the mine and don’t want him to die? You seem to respect Master Benedict very much.”
“Of course I respect him!” Old Nect said, “The entire city was created by Master Benedict. I was the very first puppet he created. At the start, my job was just to hand over tools to Master. Later, he needed an assistant so he slowly started to remodel me, until I’ve become what I am now. Master is the one I admire most.”
He was sincere, but apart from respect, there still seemed to be something else. He needed to verify it.
“I also deeply respect Master, but I don’t really like or feel grateful to him.” Xing Ye said probingly.
“Why?!” Old Nect was very unhappy, his beard starting to fly up again.
After last night’s experience, Xing Ye felt like puppets with human nature would never be able to feel thankful towards Benedict.
They had a human’s feelings of sorrow and grief, yet couldn’t cry. When they were happy, they could only reveal a preset fake smile. They knew clearly that they weren’t humans, just playthings produced by somebody. They had human emotions, but could never become human. How could such puppets feel thankful towards Master Benedict?
Furthermore, ordinary wooden puppets were forced to be a class lower when they were created. If they knew their status was because of somebody else’s whims, forever doomed to be inferior to other puppets, how could they be happy?
Xing Ye believed that most of the puppets in the city had complicated feelings towards Benedict. They held a child’s admiration towards the man who created them, but also hated that their lives weren’t fair. They could sample some of the joys and sorrows of life, but could never become truly human.
He needed to ascertain Old Nect’s feelings towards Benedict. If Old Nect was hostile to him like the city lord, there was no need to continue speaking.
“Uncle Nect, do you truly not feel even a hint of bitterness towards Master?” Xing Ye asked, “Every time I look at my body, I can’t help but hatred.”
“Master is only a creator, he can’t be completely fair. The puppets he gifted with human nature need to learn how to live by themselves!” Old Nect argued with Xing Ye passionately, “Not all humans are born equal, but do they blame God for it? I’ve personally watched Master Benedict work his heart and soul into every one of us puppets, carefully fusing every nucleus with our bodies and staring at each of us with eyes full of love. Although there’s discrepancies between all the puppets’ bodies, it’s only because of how his skill improved over time. Master Benedict created countless puppets throughout many, many years, but treats every one of us like his own child!”
Good, Old Nect is grateful to Benedict. They could continue.
Xing Ye countered, “But there’s still puppets who wish to kill Master Benedict, such as the ones at the mine.”
“What do they understand, they don’t even know who they’re searching for!” Old Nect said, “Only a few people know Master Benedict’s still alive and his whereabouts are a mystery. I investigated for years before finally finding that illegal mine outside the city and thought it was possible Benedict was residing there. The puppets you saw earlier were the city lord’s private soldiers. The city lord became corrupted by human nature and wants to become the sole ruler of Puppet City. He doesn’t want anybody to have a higher status than himself, so he’s trying to secretly kill Master. Tell me, how is Master doing?”
Xing Ye spoke solemnly, “Uncle Nect, can you make an oath? Swear that you won’t say any lies when it comes to Master Benedict. If you lie, you’ll forget all the years you accompanied the Master forever. As long as you swear, I’ll tell you everything I saw in the mines. I’m not lying, I truly saw something very important in the mines.”
After hearing the other out, Xing Ye felt like Old Nect could be trusted and they could probably find an important plot point here. However, he needed a guarantee.
By swearing with the most important thing, Old Nect wouldn’t dare to lie as he pleased.
Old Nect hesitated for a moment but ultimately decided to take the oath. He truly did care about Benedict’s wellbeing and wanted to know what the important thing Xing Ye found was.
He used his nucleus to swear by Xing Ye’s words, instantly turning dejected. It looked like just saying he would forget hurt Old Nect’s spirit.
Seeing this, Xing Ye spoke, “Don’t worry, nothing happened to your master. Those soldiers were all killed. There’s countless high purity primary ore inside the mine, as well as mechanical puppets crafted with much greater skill than you and I. The mechanical puppets were completely made out of metal, meant to be weapons. They didn’t have human nature and only listened to orders. They were very strong and killed all the puppets by destroying their nucleuses. However, they didn’t attack the puppets outside the door, so only the one standing guard outside was able to return.”
“Master, he… why would he create a puppet without consciousness? Has he changed? He clearly said before that he wanted to give every puppet a soul…” Old Nect muttered in a daze. He couldn’t believe Benedict would view puppets as mere tools.
“I think it may have something to do with what I saw inside.” Xing Ye said, “In the deepest part of the mine, we saw a young heart in a glass chamber. It’s too small to be an adult’s heart. If its owner was still alive, they would be around ten years old.”
After Xing Ye’s little brother died, he studied the heart intensively and roughly understood how the heart grew with age.
So when he saw the heart on the projector, he never thought it could Benedict’s heart. An adult couldn’t have the heart of a ten year old.
“Ten years…” Old Nect sat on a chair and pondered, “Could it be Master’s son?”
Son? So there really were important clues at Old Nect’s. Xing Ye asked, “Can you tell me about Master’s son?”
Old Nect nodded, “Actually, a lot of people in Puppet City know about it. The whole reason why Master Benedict built the city was for his son.
“Master’s son had been sickly since birth and couldn’t play together with the other children. Master used to be an artisan, but he studied how to create puppets for his son and created a puppet that could move independently for his son to play with.
“He treated the puppet as his son’s friend and meticulously crafted them with great care. His son also liked the puppets very much.
However, his son’s illness grew worse and worse. He died at ten years old. Master Benedict grew depressed for more than a year before dispersing his wealth and buying a plot of land where Puppet City now lays.
He started creating puppet after puppet, wanting to create a fully autonomous town for his deceased son to play in. He hoped for the town to be his child’s wonderland.”
“You mean Master Benedict also turned his son into a puppet?”
Old Nect shook his head, “No, I’ve never seen Master’s son as a puppet. Master originally wanted to build Puppet City for his son to live there. However, after giving the puppets human nature, Master was disappointed and said his kind, pure-hearted son couldn’t live in a city like this.
“Master wanted to fix the city, but no matter what he tried, none of it worked. Throughout this time, I’ve always been by Master’s side. Then, one day, Master told me he was going to search for a way to purify the city and wanted me to remain here to repair the puppets. After saying that, he left.
“I never saw Master again.”