Chapter 32: Ankang Ancient Town (11)
Yan Mingguang didn’t evade.
Yan Wei’s movements were swift, and in a flash, the dagger penetrated Yan Mingguang’s lower abdomen.
The instant the dagger completely sunk into Yan Mingguang’s abdomen, the surrounding chaos stagnated, and the downpour came to a halt.
It was like something had engulfed the sound of rain and voices.
Everything was silent.
Behind the crowd, the girl’s gentle and touching smile slowly vanished.
She began to weep.
The ghost on her back unexpectedly withdrew its ferocious expression and revealed a smile.
Yan Mingguang’s lower abdomen did not shed a single drop of blood.
The next moment, the prompt sound of the tower chimed in their minds.
【Congratulations to the player for successfully resolving the ghost’s regret, and obtaining the reward: Sensory Stat 1, Points 1.】
An additional prompt rang in Yan Wei’s mind: 【Congratulations to the player for obtaining the dropped item: Flower ball.
A permanent item.
Available in all instances.
The flower ball woven with red silk and satin embodies the last beautiful gift left by the girl’s wedding.
It can heal all injuries that do not result in instantaneous death.
Limited to two uses per instance.】
A strange scene flashed in front of the two again.
When everything returned to a state of calmness, Yan Wei and Yan Mingguang opened their eyes to the familiar underground cave.
There was only faint light and a cool breeze from the underground cave.
The area where Yan Wei stabbed Yan Mingguang was unscathed.
Yan Wei held a gleaming dagger in one hand and used his other to grab the whip looping around his wrist.
–They were out of the retrospective illusion.
Beside them, Lin Zhen and Yu Feizhou were still there.
However, both stood there with their eyes closed, their hands occasionally moving, evidently still in the illusion.
Yan Wei recalled the scene and said in secret, “Sure enough.”
During the wedding ceremony, he and Yan Mingguang were substituted into the role of the bride — that is, the girl before her death — and the role of the groom.
When they walked out with the red satin, Yan Wei felt something was amiss.
It took two people to repeat a fragment of the ghost’s life.
If Yan Wei did not get through this hurdle, and when he arrived at the scene of death, he would experience the same death method as the girl, which is expected, but what about Yan Mingguang
Logically, the two of them did not crack the illusion, and both of them would die of skinning and bone removal, but Yan Mingguang’s role was the girl’s new husband.
The young lady’s retrospective illusion will not drag a person into an insignificant character role.
Like the townspeople, the unimportant characters will be created in the fantasy and will only repeat what the girl had seen before her death.
The newly married husband must be related to breaking out of the situation, so two people were pulled in.
From this point of view, it seems that the solution is obvious — continue completing the wedding despite the obstruction of the townspeople and the matron’s desire to bring the girl back to the temple.
Yan Wei had this idea when they stuffed a flower ball into his hands, and he discovered that he was going to finish the wedding with Yan Mingguang.
But when the two appeared, rain poured down, and the tragedy began.
Yan Wei gradually understood the role of the “newly married husband.” Most of all, it was when the townspeople gathered around to seize him that he was sure of his conjecture.
Regardless of what the townspeople expressed, their attitude towards Yan Wei, or the matron’s response, in their eyes, the “young lady” — who at that time was Yan Wei — was an offering for the mountain god.
The only hurdle was that the girl was unwilling.
From beginning to the end, there was no mention of the “young lady’s” husband in the shouts of criticism.
An 18-year-old newly married girl was about to become an offering for a stone because of a sudden downpour.
Her reaction at the time was unwillingness.
If she did not wish to die, it was unlikely she’d obediently follow the matron to the mountain temple.
She must have endeavored to escape.
Then, she turned to her newly-wedded husband for help.
But the townspeople and the matron didn’t see the man at all.
Because her husband… didn’t help her.
Perhaps he didn’t just refuse to help her but even assisted the others, personally carrying the girl to a rack meant for torture so that the girl could innocently accept her fate of being skinned and boned.
That is the reason why the beautiful young woman was constantly smiling while the skinless ghost, who symbolized the girl’s appearance after her death, was ferocious.
She had been staring at them the entire time.
Prior to her death, she looked forward to the wedding with a smile.
After her demise, she saw Yan Wei, who portrayed her before her death, and Yan Mingguang, who represented her newly married husband.
She was vicious and desired to tear the red silk that linked them together.
Her regret was not that she didn’t survive or finish the wedding, but that the husband who pushed her onto the rack didn’t die altogether.
Combining the secrets learned from the illusion, the strange things related to Ankang Ancient Town, and the reason for the umbrellas’ existence, there exists a logical chain.
After Yan Wei conveyed these things briefly through the whip, they heard no prompt from the building.
This clue must have had, at the very least, one point, which was related to Ankang’s bloody tradition that has lasted for many years.
There may even be more than one first answer point.
But even though they viewed the scene on-site and interacted with each other through the whip, the first answer prompt still didn’t sound.
Yet early in the morning, Yan Wei informed Yan Mingguang with the whip.
Yan Mingguang then removed the bedboard of the dead player, and they both scored a first answer point.
Yan Wei had an idea in his mind.
The calculation of the first answer points should require some practical actions — say it out loud, or do it.
As long as you speak or take action, if two or three people work together, or only one person does one of the two, everyone will acquire a first answer point.
However, if everyone who knows the clue is only aware of it but doesn’t express it, the tower won’t judge that they obtained the point, and it will remain unclaimed.
The first answer point was still there.
As long as Yan Wei or Yan Mingguang could speak of all of the inferences just a moment ago, they could obtain a point anytime.
But Yan Wei didn’t do it.
【I’ll keep this first answer point.
Teacher Yan, do you have any way to drag these two out directly】Yan Wei glanced at Lin Zhen and Yu Feizhou.
【With their strength, it’s only a matter of time before they end the scene.
I don’t want them to get the point first…】
【I will try to wake them up.
It will be much easier to decipher the retrospective illusion from the outside.】
As soon as Yan Mingguang picked up a stone, intending to hit Lin Zhen on the forehead, Lin Zhen suddenly opened his eyes and said his unfinished words in the illusion.
“…Hey, you turned off the projection perspective, right I turned it off, too.
Hurry up and kiss.
Tsk, can’t this illusion be a bit more violent and bloody What’s the fun of a peaceful wedding–“
His voice abruptly stopped.
Lin Zhen blinked and confirmed the scene before him.
Yu Feizhou also opened his eyes.
The two were kicked out of the retrospective illusion.
“Yan Wei Yan Mingguang” Yu Feizhou frowned slightly.
“I’ve just received a notice that this retrospective illusion has been completely cracked and disappeared.
Both Lin Zhen and I were ejected.
Did you guys crack it”
Lin Zhen raised his eyebrows.
“We’re out What a waste of all the psychological buildup I’ve done.
How did you two come out Want to come and explain it to us”
Yan Wei also planned to keep this part’s first answer point.
He opened his mouth and told a lie.
“What’s the retrospective illusion We don’t know why when we got to the old town, a group of people asked us to have a wedding, and a female ghost kept staring at us.
In the end, I kissed Yan Mingguang, and we came back.”
His light brown eyes flashed with sincerity, looking both adorable and clever.
Lin Zhen frowned.
“You kissed Yan Mingguang Why was I assigned to the bride while you played the role of the bridegroom”
On the side, Yan Mingguang raised his eyes slightly and glanced at Yan Wei, but did not expose Yan Wei’s words that reversed their two roles.
Yu Feizhou smiled.
“Well, it seems you may have broken the retrospective illusion of regret by accident.” He assumed that Yan Wei and Yan Mingguang didn’t understand and briefly introduced the existence of the retrospective illusion.
Yan Wei pretended to listen with seriousness as if hearing it for the first time.
After they exited the illusion, they continued walking inside in silence.
Yan Wei paid special attention.
A while back, Lin Zhen and Yu Feizhou may have been trying to get through the scene of the groom kissing the bride.
They didn’t want the other players to witness it, so they turned off the projection perspective of the casino.
After that, the two didn’t touch the black ring, which meant they must not have reopened the projection again.
In other words, except for the four of them, no other players in the inner world knows what happened at the bottom of the well.
This character of Lin Zhen is eager to see others get beaten.
There is no hidden danger.
Yu Feizhou… at first, he and Yan Mingguang could not see through this person, but now it seems that Yu Feizhou was too strong to think about crafty plots, machinations, mutual deception, and those sort of things — exactly as Lin Zhen said, too naive and has a Holy Mother heart.
It was not that they couldn’t see through him but that there was nothing to see through.
Yan Wei concluded that there would be no problems with the three people below the well.
He knew clearly in his mind that he would need to step in once he found the matron.
The projections for all four were off, so he didn’t need to pretend.
They did not encounter any danger after breaking the illusion, but more and more forks in the road emerged.
Even with Lin Zhen’s arrows, there were too many deep passages, and their short-range probing wasn’t enough.
Yan Wei grabbed a flashlight and shone it ahead.
The path had several divergences.
“I can’t do it,” remarked Lin Zhen, spreading his hands out.
“The arrows’ echoes are almost the same.”
Yan Wei bumped Lin Zhen with his elbow.
“Use the invitation to exchange for some insect repellent and insect attractant from the mall.”
“Why do you want me to make an exchange for your mysophobia Go to your Yan Mingguang.”
“I’m not a germaphobe.” Yan Wei chuckled lightly.
“I’m here to find the path.
We’ll come up with ideas.
Shouldn’t you have some invitations”
“Oh, you have a plan Let’s hear it.”
Before Lin Zhen could finish speaking, Yu Feizhou had already stretched out his hand and handed out two tins of power to Yan Wei.
“If you have an idea, give it a try.
I exchanged it just now, and it doesn’t cost any invitations.
It doesn’t matter if it’s useless.
Don’t take it to heart when Lin Zhen speaks openly.”
Yan Wei took the tins of power.
Without delay, he put on a new pair of gloves, hung the flashlight on top of the pocket of his windbreaker, squatted down, and began to work.
Lin Zhen eyed Yu Feizhou.
“Aren’t you quite accommodating”
“I just think that Yan Wei is cute, and he’s not stupid.” Even in such a deep and treacherous environment, the voice of Yu Feizhou was still clear and gentle. “Let him try.
If he fails, a few invitations are nothing to me.
Yan Wei is not very strong.
We can try our best to protect him.”
Lin Zhen: “…”
He withdrew his bow and crossed his arms.
“Not very strong”
“What are you trying to say” Yu Feizhou was taken aback for a moment.
Lin Zhen just smiled playfully.
Yan Wei had already sprinkled the insect-attracting powder on several diverging paths.
He slowly arose and said, “Because the bottom of the well is damp, we’re underground, the many scattered bits of insects we’ve seen, and the rock crevices more insects must be hiding in, there must be a large number of insect nests here.
I sprinkled insect-attracting powder at each fork.
After a while, a large number of insects will come out from all directions.”
As he spoke, he opened a tin of insect repellent and sprinkled some on Yan Mingguang first.
The other party didn’t move, letting him scatter the powder.
After he finished dispersing the power on Yan Mingguang, Yan Wei began sprinkling it onto himself with disgust and resignation, adding, “Once they’re attracted, they will feel the insect repellent powder on us and disperse.
We’ll be able to see the tracks of their return to their nests.”
Lin Zhen also sprinkled some on himself with doubt.
“Drawing them in and then driving them away.
Are you playing with insects”
“…” Yan Wei gave the insect-repelling powder to Yu Feizhou.
“When they leave, they’ll instinctively return to their nests, and we can roughly tell which fork has the least amount of insects – that place should have the fewest insect holes hidden in it.
There’s nothing evil about the insects here.
They’re just ordinary little insects afraid of people.
If the matron often goes back and forth at the bottom of the well, then the insects must have built their nests away from places where people often travel.”
The powder sprinkled on the ground had already attracted several different types of insects.
The four of them had already seen ghosts.
Such insects that are unable to harm people won’t scare them.
Sure enough, as Yan Wei said, after the surrounding insects crawled out in groups, they were driven back by the insect repellant.
Yan Mingguang pulled out a few matches, lit them, and chucked them at the spot sprinkled with the insect-attracting powder, destroying it.
The surrounding insects instinctively scattered, and there was only one path where there were the least amount of bugs visible to the naked eye.
Yan Wei and Yan Mingguang silently walked forward with the whip.
Yu Feizhou’s expression constantly kept changing.
In the beginning, he allowed Yan Wei to try it as he wished.
Later, Yu Feizhou was astonished to find that the path actually appeared.
Finally, he smiled.
“You really are bright.
Why don’t we go ahead If something happens, we can protect you.”
Before Yan Wei could speak, Yan Mingguang, who walked in front, seemed to be dragging the whip faster.
Yan Wei had to quicken his pace and move forward.
They met several divergences in the path again, and Yan Wei repeatedly used this method to determine the way.
The footsteps of the four people intertwined and echoed slightly in the narrow cave, but for a moment, a low and hoarse voice came from the front.
“The stars are shining, the moon is hanging…”
“This is a mountain and river bestowed by God, this is a fertile field, this is a blessing from heaven…”
“It’s raining, it’s raining, the crops are going to grow…”
“Let’s hold up our umbrellas…”
“The stars are shining, the moon is hanging…”
–It was the voice of the matron.
Yan Wei and the others didn’t need to communicate.
They all subconsciously lightened their footsteps and quickly moved ahead.
This time, they didn’t have to travel far.
The matron’s singing loudened.
They saw that the path ahead grew wider and wider before finally stopping in front of a large cave.
Yan Wei stood behind Yan Mingguang and witnessed the situation ahead.
It appears that below the well, this was the innermost section of the cave.
There were no other paths besides theirs, and at the end of the road was where the matron stood.
The large cave was decorated like a house, with a few candles around, but perhaps for fear of lack of oxygen, hardly any candles were lit.
The candlelight swayed slightly in the underground breeze.
The matron stood in the middle of the cave.
In front of her was a desk with cutting tools and various instruments of different sizes neatly arranged beside the table.
At the center of the table…
–Was evenly spread out human skin.
Blood remained stained on the bones.
“The stars are shining, the moon is hanging…”
“Let’s hold up our umbrellas…”
The matron sang the song dedicated to the mountain god with a solemn face.
In her hand was some object.
She appeared to be handling the human skin.
【She’s making an umbrella.
It looks like she didn’t just go down to drag the umbrellas out again.】Yan Wei clutched the whip and said to Yan Mingguang in his mind, 【She still goes down to make umbrellas.
The skin and bones… should belong to the player who died yesterday.】
【What are you going to do】Yan Mingguang asked him.
After going down the well, although the two didn’t say anything, Yan Mingguang’s trust in Yan Wei had clearly increased.
He seemed to be very at ease with Yan Wei’s actions, and he believed without a doubt that Yan Wei had a plan in mind.
Yan Wei did have a plan.
He started planning from the moment he knew about the emergence of the first answer mode.
On the other side, Lin Zhen observed the matron, his dark red pupils full of curiosity — he looked interested in the process of making an umbrella.
Like Yan Wei, Yu Feizhou hid behind a rock wall.
He watched Yan Wei and Yan Mingguang.
Even though he didn’t speak, his eyes were asking Yan Mingguang whether to fight or not.
【Teacher Yan, I need the matron alive.
We have two of the girls’ phalanges.
Even if there’s a death trigger, we can resist an umbrella once or twice.】Yan Wei raised the corners of his mouth slightly.
【Go ahead, let’s tie up the matron.】
The next moment, the whip tied to Yan Wei’s wrist shook, and the tail of the whip retracted.
Yan Mingguang grabbed the whip handle, raised his foot, and turned around.
He jumped up and swung the whip!
In the rustling of the weapon, the whip accurately flung away the tool in the matron’s hand.
“Yan, why did you take action so quickly What if there’s a death trigger” Yu Feizhou immediately ran out.
“Yan Wei, you hide in the back first.
Lin Zhen and I will help Yan Mingguang—”
His movements jerked to a halt.
The young man he allowed to hide stepped forward without hesitation and brought out a thick hemp rope from who knows where.
After Yan Mingguang knocked the matron down, Yan Wei ran towards the matron and tied her nimbly with the rope.
The candles’ flames swayed even more from their action-induced airflow, but the matron merely stared at them in panic.
The old body did not have a high capability of resisting, so Yan Wei effortlessly restrained the matron.
Seeing that matron was about to open her mouth, Yan Wei was worried that the old fool would expose a first answer point.
He grabbed something at the edge of the table, crumpled it, and stuffed the object into the matron’s mouth.
The matron was gagged, unable to speak.
It became clear to Yan Wei that the object he crumpled up was the blood-stained skin on the table.
Yan Wei: “…”
Fortunately, he was wearing gloves.
Yu Feizhou gawked at Yan Wei, his voice filled with shock.
“Yan Wei, you… how did you…”
Lin Zhen appeared to have no intention of attacking from the start.
He folded his arms leisurely and looked down at the tools on the table.
“You’re too rude to the elderly.
You don’t respect the old and cherish the young at all.
Aiya, it’s a pity that you interrupted the matron.
I won’t be able to learn how to make an umbrella using skin and bone.
It looks fun…”
Yan Wei didn’t bother to converse with the mental case.
He tightened the rope and pulled the matron, whose mouth was stuffed with human skin, up from the ground.
The docile look on his face completely faded away.
His eyes were deep, and he spoke with decisiveness.
“We’ve all finished exploring the bottom of the well.
To be honest, there are some clues under this well that I’ve already speculated.
I also know the origin of the skin and bone umbrellas.
This matron should know of all the details I have made conjectures on and even more.
The umbrellas, the well, and the ancient town of Ankang are all worth at least three first answer points…”
He looked at Yu Feizhou and Lin Zhen and vividly portrayed having a fallout.
“Gentlemen, a straightforward person does not resort to insinuations.
I’ll not only take the matron up, but after I go up, I also need you to help me do one thing with the matron — I’ll take the initiative to deal with Jiang Xiu.
You accept, and you can have a share of the three points.
However, if we can’t come to an agreement right now…”
Yan Wei casually picked up a sharp blade on the table and pointed the tip at the matron’s carotid artery.
He smiled and said, “If we can agree, the four of us will have three points.
If we can’t agree, I will kill the matron, and Yan Mingguang and I will take all the points.”
Yu Feizhou: “”
Yu Feizhou was entirely dumbfounded.
His gentle face was now dull, and his empty eyes fell on Yan Wei, astonished and bewildered.
Lin Zhen, who had long expected this scene, picked up a tool and fiddled with it while faintly gloating at his misfortune.
Yu Feizhou: “…”
“Not very strong”
Lin Zhen put down the cutting tool and glanced at Yan Wei, who was dragging the goddess, and Yan Mingguang, who was guarding him.
He looked at Yu Feizhou’s expression, gave a deep sigh, and smiled once more, saying, “Seeing your reaction, my mind has reached a psychological balance, and I’m very happy.”