Mo Yi’s brows furrowed as he scrutinized carefully at the foggy photographs, but his line of thinking seemed as if they were enveloped in the same foggy mist that haunted these pictures. He can’t seem to think of a reasoning for it.
It was at this moment, Yu Li’s uncertain voice resounded from the back: “Eh? That’s strange, the pictures just now weren’t like this.”
Mo Yi’s heart tightened and he turned his head to face her: “What was it supposed to be like?”
His eyes darkened and then he stared each person unblinkingly, giving an impression to the person as if they’re facing the shape edge of a blade.
As if Mo Yi’s stare had put them at unease, Yu Li subconsciously shifted away from his sight, leaning her head from one side to another, then she answered back with some uncertainty:
“Before it used to be……a scene of a corridor and such, probably something like that?”
Mo Yi was stunned, then switched his gaze to Jiang Yuanbai: “Do you have a watch?”
Jiang Yuanbai did not understand why he asked for it but he nodded his head: “Ng, I have. Why?”
“Check it, is it currently the time when school has ended?” Mo Yi said one word at a time, enunciating each word accurately and clearly.
“It is.” Shen Lei, who was at the side, suddenly spoke up looking thoughtfully at Mo Yi.
Mo Yi nodded, then looked at Yu Li again: “You said at the time when you saw these pictures, nothing about them had changed at the time……right? Then can you recall when was the last time you saw them?”
Yu Li furrowed her brows and thought about it carefully, then she replied: “Probably before when those pictures started to move? I’m not quite sure.”
Mo Yi’s eyes brightened: “The pictures were alerted because I and Jiang Yuanbai came in, and so when we came in, they started to move. That said, before we entered this illusion, were the scenery in all these pictures still about stairways?”
“It should be like that.” Yu Li nodded.
Mo Yi continued on:
“Then as I and Jiang Yuanbai came into this illusion just in time as the bell that signalled the end of class rang, and outside the illusion the after-class bell started to ring……”
“……then the fog appeared!” Jiang Yuanbai was shocked still after connecting the dots and couldn’t help but shout out loudly.
Shen Lei was unable to restrain himself from moving a single step forward, his brightly shining eyes peering at Mo Yi:
“What you mean to say, is that these pictures that pull people into them will later transform into a……window? In other words, right now the scenery inside this picture is actually the appearance of the area outside of the illusion?"
Mo Yi nodded, then shook his head tentatively: “There are not enough clues, this is only one of my guesses.”
“But……”, he changed the subject and carried on to say: “If my guess if correct, then this is good news. The time inside the illusion and the time outside of it is the same. We should be able to complete the game by staying here for five hours.
Everyone’s eyes couldn’t help but brighten at the prospect of a chance for survival.
Shen Lei suddenly asked: “Then what’s the bad news?”
The light-hearted atmosphere prior had instantly turned heavy, and several people had simultaneously oriented their sight towards Mo Yi.
The cold hateful eyes of the photograph that had its arm amputated flashed through his mind; Mo Yi hesitated for a bit then replied:
“Since after a person was killed, the photograph had transformed in a window that can link up reality and the illusion. Then……where did the figure that was in the photograph go?”
Although his voice wasn’t particularly loud, what he said had given people the feeling as if they had dropped into a freezer, their whole bodies gone cold.
That’s right, where did they go? Did they just simply disappear?
No one was able to convince themselves to accept this easy reasoning. After all, in this survival-escape game world, even ordinary things could be deadly, let alone this obscure dubious photograph.
Everyone then contemplated deeply.
——Mo Yi did the same.
However, he was thinking about one other matter.
Mo Yi unknowingly stroked the notebook and the folder in his hand, his fingers gradually tightening their grip on them, and their icy edges rubbed harshly against the palm of his hand, the rough sensation made it almost impossible for him to ignore.
Now that……we’re inside this illusion, as long as we stay in this dead space that was void of those photographs and pass the time, then we can complete the game.
Then so, would it still be necessary for him to continue exploring further?
Suddenly, Jiang Yuanbai’s excited voice resounded from the side of his ear: “Quickly look!”
Mo Yi withdrew from his thoughts, lifted his head and looked at direction where Jiang Yuanbai’s finger was pointing. Only to be greeted with the sight of those floating pictures, the view inside of them slowly changed and in a few seconds the white fog that was there had instantly dispersed to reveal a new set of staircases.
Shen Lei turned to look at him, his tone wavering between relief and a mix of complicated emotions: “……It seems that your guess is correct, these photos have indeed become windows that form a link between reality and the illusion. It seems that we are saved.”
It has been a long time since the atmosphere was this relaxed.
Mo Yi looked at everyone, smiling ear to ear, and quickly decided to make up his mind. He lowered his head and opened up the folder.
He was doomed to be unable to become a pure optimist.
Because he never believed in luck or coincidence.
His fingertips gently stroke the rough surface of the folder, the files clipped in it must not have seen sunshine for an entire year as a moist air effused from them, and surprisingly the papers were spotlessly white as if they were brand new, as if they were preserved outside of time.
Mo Yi sat down cross-legged, immersing himself in the thin pages of the document. He had already read through the majority of its contents. He briefly scanned through one at a time to make sure that he had not missed out on anything. He then managed find out where he had last left off and continue to flip through from there.
Unexpectedly, only one last page was left.
It was empty except for a single line:
“Year 1995, November, 14, archive sealed.”
Mo Yi’s eyebrows knitted together slowly, he already calculated roughly that 204 days before the 1996 National College Entrance Examination was November 14th 1995. ——So that is to say, that the day the archive was sealed was also coincidentally the same day where that classroom became stagnant.
Teh: The National College Entrance Examination is also known as Gaokao and it’s China’s main standardized exam that tests whether you’re eligible for higher education or not.
In that case, then what was the significance of the archive being sealed? Was it because of Zhao Qiulan’s death?
——Wait a minute.
Mo Yi realised that something was off and hurriedly turned back a page.
That page was no different from the last time he turned it over, a whole page densely packed with small red words that ended with the emboldened date of September 1st 1994 that marked the date for a first-degree disciplinary punishment.
This one page ended with September of ’94, and the next page immediately jumped to November of ’95! For this one-year period nothing else was recorded for the archive!
Even if there was no disciplinary record, there should other recorded data such as results and so on.
He turned to the next page again, his fingertips slowly brushing across the gap between the two pages, and he felt a bumpy sensation. There were supposed to be a number of pages here but someone had taken them away.
No wonder he felt that this folder was alarmingly thin, and that was because the file itself was incomplete in the first place!
Nine three three, Yan no foot, seven one two, nameless fog.
Within this prompt, there was one last clue “Yan no foot” that had no leads thus far. What if that hint and those missing pages have something to do with each other?
Mo Yi’s forehead wrinkled and his deep dark eyes became heavily layered with mist.
Suddenly, a hand lightly patted Mo Yi’s shoulder and Shen Lei spoke next to his ear: “What are you looking at?”
Mo Yi pulled away from his train of thought, glanced at Shen Lei and answered: “I was looking at the file I took from the second floor. I thought it would be helpful for us.”
Shen Lei leaned in a bit and lowered his head to look at the page in his hand. He stretched out his own hand to take out the last page, starred at it and his brows knitted together: “Maybe.”
As he said that he put the paper back into the folder in Mo Yi’s hands, his right hand’s fingertips lightly tapped on the paper’s surface and he spoke in a low voice:
“However, our main purpose is to stay here and pass the time so we can escape. Also didn’t you say that the figures in those photographs are a threat? Instead of researching this, it is better to be more vigilant of your surroundings.”
Mo Yi’s line of sight involuntarily fell onto his knuckles.
Shen Lei’s fingers were lanky and the joints were distinct, but it was obvious that he had a long history of smoking as his index finger and middle finger were yellowed due to tobacco smoke.
He subtly moved his gaze away, then reached out to close the folder. He raised his head and looked at Shen Lei, his eyes were sincere as he said: “You’re right, this is not the right time to be doing this. I was wasting time on an unimportant issue.”
He paused and continued: “What’s more important is that Yu Li is still so badly injured……why don’t you go take of her first, I and Jiang Yuanbai will take watch then we will switch after a while.”
Shen Lei hesitated for a bit, then finally nodded and walked over to Yu Li.
Seeing that Shen Lei walked over to Yu Li’s side, Mo Yi tried several times to get up but without any success. He turned his head towards Jiang Yuanbai with a little frustration and stretch out his hand quickly: “Give me a hand and pull me up, my legs are a little numb.”
His palm hung in the air, his fingers long and slender and the skin that wrapped around his scrawny wrist were so thin that single touch could cause it to break.
Jiang Yuanbai helplessly chuckled, then he walked over obediently to tug him up.
As the duo’s shoulders meet, in that instance he heard Mo Yi deliberately lowering his voice and speaking into his ear:
“——Be careful, Shen Lei is a fake.”
Teh: Hi, I’ll be translating this for I think another three more chapters. For anyone thinking about picking this up, you are in for one hell of a ride. Comment down on any mistakes I’ve made and I’ll be sure to correct them ASAP.