Chapter 59: School of Death (11)
The world inside the tower, casino area
Before the projections of the School of Death mobile instance, the atmosphere between the various organizations was repeatedly at a deadlock.
Lin Qing gave everyone a day after saying those words, and there was no more noise on the scene. The people exchanged looks but did not talk or leave right away.
They appeared to have reached a subtle and momentary impasse. Xuanniao’s people brought a chair, and Lin Qing sat there silently while the eyes of the other organizations’ leaders met, the meaning in their eyes unclear.
Lin Qing merely sat, back straight, hands folded on his knees. His ink-black eyes narrowed as he looked up at the projections. He was neither a top player in another organization nor in charge of another. Additionally, Xuanniao wasn’t as powerful as before, yet sitting here like this, the other players were still tense.
That was not only the impact of Lin Qing’s record of climbing the tower but also the impression that Xuanniao brought to all the players who had stayed for a long time.
Even though the mysterious leader of Xuanniao had been missing for a long time — rumored to have died in a high-level instance — the legends, items, and experts accumulated during their peak period remained a thorn in the side of other organizations.
A scrawny camel was still bigger than a horse1.
Zhao Jingchen’s hood obscured his face, which made it difficult to read. But the only visible part of his face was tense, with his bottom lip tightened and his fists clenched.
He said in a low voice, “Does Lin Qing still believe that this is the time when Xuanniao had everything decided by one person’s word?!”
Beside him, other high-level players from Yuemang stepped forward and said quietly, “Why don’t we withdraw? Lin Qing has never failed to deliver his words. The boss said it, Xuanniao is a one-of-a-kind group of lunatics. If he’s not there2, we’d better avoid them if we can.”
Zhao Jingchen responded unwillingly, “If Yuemang can get the legendary item, the upcoming competition can bring Yuemang to a higher level. Now—”
His voice suddenly stopped.
—The projection screens suddenly changed.
In the casino, a non-first answer mode projection would be less detailed than a first answer mode projection. There were only different screens to observe and no information labeled for each person. It was also a large instance, with tens of hundreds of people entering the entire time. The projections were divided into numerous sections. The black and gray areas piled up together, and the players observing didn’t care.
Even if another black projection suddenly lit up, it wouldn’t be able to attract everyone’s attention.
But this time was different.
This time, six images lit up in a row!
These six images were all in the dormitory of Chenxi High School. The people had each other in their vision and the dorm room from different perspectives. The dorm was strange. There were many interlaced ropes hanging all around and multiple bells dangling on the ropes.
They were obviously together, and from their perspectives, they were Yu Feizhou, Lin Zhen, Yan Mingguang, Zhou Tian, Gao Ming, whom no one knew, and…
It was the Yan Wei who had been considered dead and a part of those gray projections!
In the perspective of the others’ projections, the young man had a hand in his pocket, leaning against the bed rail with a smile. He slowly retracted his gaze from the window and looked at the door. The brilliant yellow glow of the setting sun framed his delicate shape and scattered on his face but did not bring out his former docility.
The corners of his mouth hooked up slightly, and his eyes were full of disdain as he looked at the Yuemang player standing at the door.
There was an uproar before the projections.
Lin Qing, who had a vague expression at first, seemed to stiffen for a moment. He stared at the projections that suddenly appeared, his pupils suddenly shrinking.
His already folded hands slowly exerted force, and the blue veins on the back of his hands flared up. But such a lapse lasted only a moment, and he recollected his look. Still, with that profound face, his eyes stayed on the projections of Yan Mingguang and the others.
Before the projections, the tossed stone raised a thousand ripples3.
A high-level player like Zhao Jingchen understood it within seconds, gritted his teeth, and said, “Li Qing, this trash!”
“What’s going on? Didn’t a ghost push Yan Wei into the water in the projections of Li Qing and those people?!”
“You haven’t reacted yet? A stand-in doll!”
“Li Qing was tricked?!? Yan Wei, Yan Wei wasn’t, he wasn’t a waste dragging people down? Could it be he was pretending before??”
“This expression…why is he so calm? If everyone saw that his death was deliberate from the start, and now he’s standing with Yan, wouldn’t he have been scheming against Yuemang since he entered the instance?”
“No. All of us were schemed by Yan Wei in his first instance. We all thought he was just rubbish and had the preconceived notion that he was someone the best player Yan Mingguang was carrying along. Right now, it seems likely that the person carried along seized the best player. I’m afraid he has always relied on himself to win as the best player.'”
407 dormitory entrance.
Li Qing and others opened the dormitory door, and what they saw was the bell network sealing the door and Yan Wei standing behind the staggered ropes.
Everyone in Yuemang was stunned at the door.
They didn’t even notice the bells and ropes blocking the only two entrances to the room and looked straight at Yan Wei standing leisurely in the dormitory.
Li Qing froze for several seconds before saying, “Yan Wei?!? Aren’t you dead?”
Yan Wei furrowed slightly.
He didn’t speak, only slowly standing upright, moving forward, and stopping behind the bells and ropes behind the door.
“Isn’t it quite a surprise?”
Li Qing gritted his teeth. “…You used a stand-in doll?”
“It doesn’t seem like you’re an idiot. You’re just a bit rubbish.”
Yan Wei was relaxed, his amber-like eyes flashing a crafty quick-wittedness, a far cry from the timid and panic-stricken appearance he had previously displayed in the Yuemang team.
The same delicate and beautiful facial features were now full of confidence and carelessness. Yan Wei was wearing a brand new school uniform jacket, and underneath his unexperienced breath, the still snow of the sky hid a storm4.
He replied, “Yeah, me.”
Li Qing finally noticed the situation in the room.
After all, he was an eighteenth-floor seed player cultivated by Yuemang. Li Qing collected himself after the initial shock and unexpectedness. With a wave of his hand, the Yuemang players behind him immediately entered a tense state of readiness for battle.
“Lin Zhen? Yan? Gao Ming? You people…” He took a few deep breaths in anger, frowned, and looked at the network of bells and Yan Wei in front of him. A machete suddenly appeared in his hand. “What a brilliant covert strategy. I underestimated you, Yan Wei. What exactly are you doing? You don’t think that tugging on the ropes will stop me from crippling you, do you? I’m not that negotiable.”
“You’re wrong. I just wanted to see you unhappy. Yuemang has crossed us several times and used underhanded means to throw Gao Ming in. I’m not that negotiable either.”
As soon as Yan Wei finished talking, Lin Zhen, who sat on the upper bunk in the back with his legs dangling, sneered. “Li, garbage, Qing, do you want to see the situation first?”
At the same time, Yan Wei lifted his hand, and his slender fingers flicked the bell network in front of him.
A series of bells rang in succession.
Yan Wei’s methodical voice rang with the final sound of the bells. “Zhou Tian, how long until sunset?”
“Three minutes and forty-nine seconds.”
Li Qing’s face sank.
Yan Wei chuckled. “Understood? You should be familiar with this rope. For players with over ten floors, it takes four or five minutes to cut each rope with all their strength. As luck would have it, the first two casino floors were low-probability and high-yield. I took a handful of invitations I couldn’t use and exchanged them for a bunch of these ropes.”
Zhou Tian reminded, “Three minutes and twenty-five seconds.”
“You think you can cut your way through these ropes before sunset?”
As he spoke, he toyed with the ropes once more.
With the jingling of bells, Yan Wei went on. “Actually, given Yuemang’s power, you should be able to disassemble this net of ropes in about ten minutes, right? But what about three minutes after the sun goes down? Do you think the ‘Don’t make a sound’ rule will apply to all sounds created by players? For example, fiddling with the bells.”
Li Qing’s face suddenly turned pale.
He finally understood the function of the two nets blocking the door and the window.
He glared deathly at Yan Wei, his voice nearly grinding in his throat. “Yan Wei—! Good. Very good. I underestimated you. I didn’t expect you could bite.”
Yan Wei shrugged and smiled expectantly at Li Qing.
Last night, when Li Qing and Yue Wenxing were discussing a ghost-attracting array in Yan Mingguang’s dormitory, Yan Wei immediately came up with this plan.
No one could make noise after nightfall. That rule took precedence over all death triggers after entering the instance.
The conditions for making noise included sounds players made spontaneously.
So knocking on the bedboard, talking, or Yan Wei’s fiddling to make the bell sounds were all independent sounds triggering death.
And the ropes made of a particular material were usually weak — an ordinary item that can only take a few minutes of attack before breaking.
However, at sunset, when it was still two or three minutes before dark, Li Qing and the others had to break the net of ropes if they wanted to come in and return to 407. Two or three minutes was not enough to cut the rope net, but if Li Qing attacked the rope at night and made a sound, the Yuemang players would trigger the instance’s bottom line. They didn’t know how to resist the death trigger, which was undeniably fatal.
Yan Wei and the others were six people and could rest in 407 safely tonight.
But Yuemang had four people staying in that room, they didn’t have enough time to break through the ropes to 407, and it was impossible for them to sleep in the hallway for a night — wasn’t this a death sentence?
Yan Wei’s preparations made it possible to have an accident.
If Yuemang took longer to return then it took to destroy the rope net, or if Yuemang attacked the network of bells as soon as the door opened, there was still room for a game between Yan Wei and Li Qing.
It was a pity that Li Qing was hypocritical and headstrong, regarding Yan Wei’s death as a foregone conclusion. Early in the morning, he revealed all of Yuemang’s discovered information and plans to Yan Wei. He didn’t shy away from Yan Wei and let him know the assembly time they strictly followed. He did not think carefully about the situation and acted as soon as he saw Yan Wei. Li Qing had wasted the best opportunity at this point. Even if he reacted now, it would be too late to move the bells without moving the rope.
They could rush to other dorms in search of rooms where people had died during the day and their beds had been vacated, scatter the people, and hope for a safe night — but they’d have to do it at the moment of their return.
Now, it was too late to do anything. Even if Yuemang could find a room, it could take time for them to negotiate with other players or drive other players away. What kind of player would give a place to them without saying a word?
The moment Li Qing lost was not now but when Yuemang “caught” Yan Wei in the inner world of the tower.
He had reacted completely. Yuemang, including Yue Wenxing, all turned black, their faces unsightly.
“Yan Wei.” Zhou Tian looked at the expressions of Li Qing and the others from behind with her eyes slightly curved. She smiled and said, “Two minutes and fifty seconds.”
Yan Wei curled his lips: “Ah, it’s only a little over two minutes. Actually, this isn’t even an effective ploy of mine, ah, because now that we’re in your dormitory, our dormitory will be vacant. Can’t you solve it by going to 303?”
Yue Wenxing was furious. “You know that 303 has—!” He suddenly choked. Except for Yue Wenxing, only Yan Wei and Li Qing knew about the sinister thing they arranged to attract ghosts. The other Yuemang members were not aware of it.
Yan Wei pretended to be oblivious. “What? Li Qing, I advise you to think of a solution quickly, but in fact…” He prolonged his voice as if chatting with a friend and leisurely said, “There is another way, right?”
Li Qing gave him a fierce look. His rather feminine face was full of viciousness and fury.
Despite knowing it was pointless, he vented his rage by raising the machete in his hand and chopping at the rope net. The bells rang again as the machete rebounded strongly on the rope. The rope that Li Qing slashed at was barely worn.
Yue Wenxing’s pale complexion due to bloodletting was even more ugly. “Li-ge, what should we do?”
Yan Wei smiled as he stood behind the bell net and looked at them. Aware of the situation, he was like a spectator watching the clowns on stage with great interest.
Zhou Tian said “kindly,” “Two minutes and fourteen seconds.”
Outside, the endless stream of voices has gradually weakened. The players have returned to their dormitories.
Yan Wei spoke again and quietly said to Li Qing, “You still have a way. You know it, don’t you?”
Li Qing took a final look at Yan Wei and the others, and his eyes suddenly sank. He gritted his teeth and said to Yan Wei, “Okay, just wait and see. We’re leaving.”
As soon as he retracted his machete, he took Yuemang’s people and quickly left with an unknown method in mind. When they came back to the corridor, Li Qing, who was walking in front, suddenly turned around.
Yue Wenxing was stunned for a moment, walked to Li Qing’s side, and asked anxiously, “Li-ge, we’re now—”
His voice stopped abruptly.
Li Qing raised the blade in his hands and struck. The non-sharpened side of the machete slashed fiercely at the back of Yue Wenxing’s neck, instantly knocking him unconscious.
The rest of Yuemang were startled, grabbed the fainted Yue Wenxing, and said, “Li-ge… this?”
Li Qing’s face still had traces of anger that Yan Wei evoked, but his eyes became more gloomy. His voice was unclear. “406 is also Yuemang’s dormitory. You two are dragging Yue Wenxing. Let’s go to 406 and tell them we’ve solved the people in dorm 303. Yue Wenxing has consumed too much and fainted. Let them tell three people to take Yue Wenxing to rest in 303, and we’ll stay in 406.”
Li Qing glanced at Yue Wenxing and said in a low voice, “You’re useless anyway. I will help you get revenge.”
As soon as they left, Yan Mingguang threw the long whip out of his hand and closed the door of the 407 dormitory.
Yan Wei was still looking at him.
Behind him, Gao Ming asked, not quite understanding, “Yan Wei, Li Qing, and the others just gave up?”
“He didn’t give up,” Yan Wei explained, “On the contrary, not only did he not give up, but he chose the easiest way. Do you know what kind of person Li Qing is? He manages everything, supposedly with the people’s will in mind, but in actuality, he’s hypocritical and egotistical. Such a person never acknowledges others. It doesn’t matter if it’s Yuemang or the legendary item; his life is more important.”
There was a ghost formation in 303. Li Qing did not dare to go.
Except for Yuemang, other dormitories could not easily give up four beds within a minute or two right now.
There was another way. That is, to let those unknowing Yuemang members of 406 go to 303, and Li Qing himself lives in 406, allowing him to flawlessly escape the night.
The corners of Yan Wei’s mouth gradually lifted.
On the horizon, the last rays of the setting sun shone down.
Zhou Tian’s voice was like a wake-up call. “There are fifty-six seconds left. Everyone, go to bed. The night is arriving.”
Yu Feizhou stepped forward, patted Yan Wei’s shoulder, and said softly, “What are you doing there staring at a closed door? Yan Wei, it’s time to go to bed.”
Yan Wei looked at the intricate network of ropes in front of him, his eyes like the nightly stars.
He seemed to be talking to Yu Feizhou yet also muttering to himself, “…Say, when the rest of the group discovers that their leader is the most selfish one, will they still trust each other? No, they will only become each other’s greatest enemies in this instance.”
“Just wait. Yuemang’s people who entered will eventually die at their own hands.”
- Even after suffering a loss, a rich person is still better off than ordinary people; Xuanniao was still better off than average organizations
- The untranslated chapter gives no indication on who “he” is
- A word, act, or incident can cause great repercussions; the incident of the projections turning on may evoke great repercussions or turbulence
- A crisis