Chapter 35: Ankang Ancient Town (14)
It seemed to be raining lighter.
There was a sudden burst of wind outside the room the moment Jiang Xiu pushed Zheng Mao down.
In the roaring wind, the dilapidated windows of the mountain temple were blown open, creating the clattering sound of woodblocks colliding. The wind extinguished the candlelight, and only the sudden faint lightning illuminated the room.
As the lightning flashed, Jiang Xiu, who was standing, and Zheng Mao, who Jiang Xiu shoved to the ground, opened their eyes in synchrony.
–In front of the statue of the mountain god, among the scattered offerings, stood a skinless and boneless being.
It appeared to have no bones in its legs, standing there like a lump of soft meat on the ground. A mutilated face looked at them savagely, stinking blood trickling down the skinless flesh.
Zheng Mao’s face turned white. He staggered up and rushed in the opposite direction.
But before he could run a few feet, the humanoid figure suddenly appeared in front of him. It emerged so abruptly that he didn’t have time to react and bumped into it.
Zheng Mao took a step back and found that blood covered his hands and clothing.
In front of him, there was unexpectedly a skinless female ghost!
There was another bolt of lightning.
All around the mall hall were four skinless women!
Jiang Xiu did not expect the death trigger to come so soon. Although he used Zheng Mao to attract ghosts, he still felt panic in his mind. He did not know why he always felt the gaze of death.
He hurriedly turned away and left the hall.
Zheng Mao could no longer care about Jiang Xiu. As he watched the skinless ghost approach him, dragging along its boneless and bloody legs, he hastily pulled out his accumulated life-saving items.
He used the items to avoid the attacks of the skinless female ghost in front of him. But before Zheng Mao could escape, the skinless woman suddenly appeared behind him and instantly ripped a part of his arm.
Blood splattered, and the pain of the broken arm tore at his sensory nerves. He cried bitterly, his forehead dripping with sweat.
His intense desire to survive left him still struggling to escape in severe pain, and he had exhausted his few items. Blood ran from the base of his broken arm. The skin on his back was torn off along with his clothes.
Under intense pain, Zheng Mao rushed out of the temple.
As rain washed through his wounds, he ran for an unknown time. But finally, under the combined weight of the injuries and physical strength, he could no longer run, falling onto the mountain road.
He looked back but caught sight of no ghosts.
…No ghosts came after him? Why weren’t any ghosts chasing him?
There was a burst of ecstasy in Zheng Mao’s heart — did he escape??
He gasped for breath. Yet when he was about to rejoice, some people’s voices suddenly came from afar.
It seemed to be the voices of people from the town.
“Recently, my brother has been in poor health. I thought about taking advantage of the heavy rain on the mountain and the blessing of the mountain gods. I’ll quickly find some herbs for him.”
“But I haven’t seen anything for so long.”
At the moment, turbidity filled Zheng Mao’s mind, and he just wanted to live. Even if he could exchange medicine for ordinary wounds in the mall, he couldn’t move right now, but if someone saved him, he would survive.
He shouted weakly with all his strength: “Help me… help! Help…”
The two townspeople heard his cry for help and slowly approached.
“Huh? There’s someone here!”
“He seems to be injured… Come and look!”
“Eh, this guy is a bit familiar. Isn’t this the outsider who helped that dispirited woman during the day?”
“It’s him. The mountain god is punishing him and has made him appear before us. The meaning is obvious.”
Zheng Mao’s breathing stagnated.
Before joy could appear in his eyes, he saw the two townspeople lift a huge stone.
He had forgotten… he had the townspeople’s hatred debuff on him!!
It dawned on him that even without this debuff, sooner or later, he would have died at the hands of the townspeople. How can a skinless ghost, born of a grievance from being sacrificed, kill someone who damaged the offerings?
Triggered death by destroying the offerings and will be killed by the townspeople…
The moment the stone hit Zheng Mao’s head, in the last second of his life, Zheng Mao looked ahead with an empty gaze, his mind in chaos.
…Why did he promise Jiang Xiu to make trouble for Yan in this instance?
Then, the rock smashed his head. Blood and pieces of brain flowed out, gradually getting washed away by the rain.
At the other end, Jiang Xiu turned and exited the main hall.
He was mentally relieved and planned to return to his room and figure out how to close the three-point gap tomorrow. This time Zheng Mao helped him attract ghosts. Jiang Xiu even preserved his life-saving items.
There was a narrow corridor with several turns between the main hall and the guest rooms. Jiang Xiu walked a few steps when he saw a figure ahead standing in front of the corridor.
The young man stood leisurely, with one hand in a pocket and the other tossing a coin. It appeared he heard Jiang Xiu’s footsteps and turned around, looking over.
“Yan Wei? Why are you here?” Jiang Xiu sneered, “It’s dark outside. You should be careful of ghost attacks.”
Yan Wei raised his hand and grabbed the coin in mid-air.
He raised his hand unhurriedly and pointed behind Jiang Xiu. “Yes. You should be careful.”
Jiang Xiu’s sensory stat suddenly took effect, and he felt a heavy chill coming from his back. He turned his head and saw two skinless female ghosts standing not far behind.
Jiang Xiu was startled. He turned around and was about to step forward, but when he looked ahead, he saw two skinless female ghosts suddenly standing in front of him!
Four skinless women… They were clearly the four ghosts who had just been in the main hall. And the four skinless ghosts stared closely at him, seemingly no Yan Wei in their eyes.
What’s going on? Shouldn’t these skinless ghosts kill Zheng Mao and leave? Zheng Mao triggered the death condition and should be the ghosts’ only target tonight…
Being blocked by ghosts front and back, Jiang Xiu forced himself to calm down. He took a deep breath and prepared to take out his items.
The young man not far away laughed softly.
His voice was clear and warm, with some lively jumps. But on such a rainy night, with ghosts standing in front and behind, his voice seemed to flow from hell. “Aren’t you strange? According to your character, you must have dragged Zheng Mao so he could block disasters for you.”
Yan Wei placed both his hands in his pockets and walked towards Jiang Xiu relaxedly. He passed a skinless woman, but the woman kept staring at Jiang Xiu and seemed to move forward slowly.
Jiang Xiu gritted his teeth. “Why didn’t they attack you?”
“Guess?” Yan Wei raised his eyebrows, walked in front of Yan Wei, and said with a smile, “You definitely can’t guess. Oh yes, you asked me why I was here. Of course, I’m here to provide you with a journey.”
His confident and leisurely manner at the moment was completely different from the trashy and sloppy appearance he had shown before.
Jiang Xiu’s pupils dilated slightly.
The skinless ghost approached again, and Yan Wei said, “Let me guess what you just did. You don’t want to die, but I suddenly opened the gap between you by three points. Unless you find a big clue, the ghosts will definitely besiege you tonight. But there are two ways to survive. Since you can’t acquire points, it must be to let someone trigger the death condition. You must’ve first found a way to turn off both projections and then secretly caused Zheng Mao to set off the death condition, right? Unfortunately, your plan failed. Now the primary target of ghosts’ attack… is still you.”
“How do you–“
“Because I am Yan.”
Yan Wei interrupted Jiang Xiu’s words.
He noticed that the skinless female ghosts were about to begin and took a step back in a very gentlemanly manner, leaving enough room for these ghosts.
Jiang Xiu’s eyes widened, and he looked at Yan Wei with a pale countenance.
Yan Wei repeated it. “You didn’t hear? I said, I, am, Yan.”
“I’ve planned this point from the beginning when you entered the instance. You want me to die. I want you to die. You want me to be the lowest scorer. I also want you to be the lowest scorer. You failed. I succeeded.”
“This is all inspiration you gave me and the methods you taught me. If you didn’t plan to do it at first, I naturally wouldn’t learn it. It turns out that it still works. Now, it’s you who’s going to die, right?”
The skinless ghosts made a move.
They completely ignored Yan Wei, who stood by, and their bloody hands headed for Jiang Xiu.
Jiang Xiu hurriedly threw out the items, relying on his tenth-floor stats to dodge.
But those were four ghosts.
This was a seventh-floor instance with a second difficulty upgrade — the difficulty had long surpassed the ten-floor where Jiang Xiu originally was.
On the first night, a single ghost consumed the most powerful exorcism item in Jiang Xiu’s hand. Now, four ghosts surrounded him, and he instantly spent his life-saving items.
Jiang Xiu only felt the feeling of death enveloping him for a moment.
His eyes were bloodshot, and his eye sockets were about to burst as he stared at Yan Wei. He took out his final item — an ordinary dagger.
He knew he couldn’t live.
“I’m going to die anyway. The rules of the tower are useless to me! I’ll drag you to hell with me!!”
He suddenly thrust the dagger toward Yan Wei’s heart!
But Yan Wei just stood in place and gently hooked the corner of his mouth the second Jiang Xiu approached.
The next moment, the dagger, which was about to reach Yan Wei’s heart, met an unknown resistance. It didn’t advance an inch but instead bounced back.
Then, Jiang Xiu rebounded into the center of the skinless girls.
A ghost’s hand quickly pressed on his shoulder.
Jiang Xiu felt a dense cold air envelop him. He wanted to move, but he was entirely frozen — he suddenly understood how the deceased player died on the first night.
“What a pity. You can’t drag me to hell before midnight.”
A girl’s ethereal singing arrived from afar — another song that symbolized the mountain god and rain.
The voice came from the wind and mixed with Jiang Xiu’s screams.
The pain of skin tearing swept through his entire body, and blood flowed across Jiang Xiu’s eyes. He shouted uncontrollably, staring in Yan Wei’s direction through the blood.
The young man, who was harmless to humans and animals in the day, only stood aside casually. He looked at everything that was happening in front of him with an uninterested expression.
The code name of the best player who appeared at the end of the super-difficult first-floor instance.
It was not Yan Mingguang, who was so indifferent as if he didn’t care about anything, but this Yan Wei who was pretending to be trash the whole time. Yan Wei was never Yan Mingguang’s burden, but Yan Mingguang’s most powerful teammate in the dark, hiding.
Why did Yan Wei hide behind Yan Mingguang?
If he had known this in the first place, would he not have taken it lightly? Yan Wei accurately calculated all of his plans, and he finally suffered the consequences.
He shouldn’t have entered this seventh-floor instance.
He couldn’t… fight against Yan Wei at all.
Jiang Xiu couldn’t think anymore.
He felt his bones being pulled out alive, the flesh being torn apart, and the pain spreading through his body. He could only scream at the top of his lungs in agony.
–In the end, he couldn’t even scream.
Yan Wei watched the skinless girls peel Jiang Xiu’s skin and bones. After seeing the unwillingness and remorse left on his face at the last moment of his life, Yan Wei immediately turned his head away.
It was one thing to let Jiang Xiu die without closing his eyes1. It was another to look at this man after he died.
It was not easy for him to see this moment as a person with mysophobia.
When the sound of peeling skin and bones finally stopped, Yan Wei turned around and took a look at the body of flesh and blood.
The skinless female ghosts had no target, and all stared at him with their pupils covered with blood.
Yan Wei immediately took out the girl’s phalanx from the black ring — an item in the instance that could resist attacks related to the skin and bone umbrella and the skinless girl to a certain extent. As soon as the phalanx came out of the black ring, Yan Wei felt the sense of crisis hanging over him was eliminated.
The skinless girls stopped staring at him.
The ethereal singing gradually stopped.
He stepped forward, crouched down in front of Jiang Xiu’s skinless corpse, put on gloves, and picked up the ordinary deceased’s phalanx under the attention of the skinless girls, placing it into the black ring.
Zheng Mao died from having the lowest score and triggering the death condition.
Jiang Xiu died from having the lowest score, and he was unaware of the phalanx on his body.
Yan Wei held a girl’s phalanx in his hand, and sure enough, he didn’t receive the skinless girls’ attacks. Now that Jiang Xiu had solved this menace, he clutched the phalanx, bypassed the skinless girls, and briskly walked back.
As soon as he entered the room, the man’s voice entered his ears. “Dead?”
“Thoroughly dead.” Yan Wei closed the door, his expression not so relaxed. “I also concluded that, sure enough, having a girl’s phalanx on your hand can block the skinless girls and the umbrellas to a certain extent. If the phalanx of the deceased is displayed, the ghosts will attack and kill. The tower is still a tower, and the positive effect of the girl’s phalanx is explained in the item description. The purpose of the dead phalanx, an item that can kill if used alone, is unknown. Anyone who thinks it may be similar to a girl’s phalanx will die.”
Yan Mingguang’s eyes shifted slightly, and he said in a low voice, “Used alone.”
Yan Wei’s eyes lit up. “You also found out? Whether it’s the girls’ phalanges or the common victims’ phalanges, I think these effects only occurred when used alone. There are so many of them that even if you forget the girls’ finger bones, they can be interpreted as having a certain life-saving function for different players. But if there are at least a few hundred phalanges of ordinary victims, the benefit can’t come from players using them alone, right?”
“Ning Yi found a method of dealing with the umbrellas.”
“Yes.” Yan Wei nodded. “At present, only this aspect may be related to the phalanges… I suspect we will have to confront Ning Yi.”
This was why he didn’t breathe a sigh of relief after Jiang Xiu’s death.
The matron was tied up and threatened with telling everything she knew. The mystery of the bottom of the well was revealed, along with the secret of the ancient town. However, the staircase hasn’t appeared.
The only thing they didn’t do was likely collect all the phalanges. But if the phalanges are not only used individually, it means that even if they gather the phalanges, they still have not reached the final step.
It means that they not only have a high possibility of interacting with Ning Yi but also…
They haven’t found a clue about where the staircase lies in this ancient town with its ugly vices.
Yan Wei and Yan Mingguang looked at each other at the same time.
They both heard footsteps outside the door.
The footsteps were like a hobbling person dragging something slowly, stopping at the door of each room and gently setting down an object.
The sound came to a sudden stop at the door of their room. After a few moments, the footsteps that staggered on the wooden floor sounded again and slowly pulled away.
A chill arose, and Yan Wei grasped the swallow coin.
This movement… was identical to the first night when the matron came to place the skin and bone umbrellas.
However, the matron has been stunned by their direct medication and tied to an empty room in the temple.
—Then who was the one holding the umbrella…?