Chapter 5 | Arc 1.
It was slightly past five o’clock in the afternoon. Xu Ziyue handed the newspapers that he had found to the other players to read. Although no one knew if the information was relevant, they all held a ‘better safe than sorry’ attitude and therefore, everyone gave the papers a glance through.
The group of players then decided to head to the canteen for dinner.
However, Sun Mo told Xu Ziyue that he wasn’t going.
“How can you not go, aren’t you going to eat dinner? If you miss it, the school won’t provide food anymore later, right?” Xu Ziyue felt a little confused.
But Sun Mo just ignored Xu Ziyue’s concerns and turned away, heading in the direction of the dormitories.
He didn’t even turn around when Xu Ziyue called after him. Behind them, the players who were watching the interaction between Xu Ziyue and Sun Mo displayed complicated expressions.
Zhang Jing creased his eyebrows in annoyance and asked with irritation, “Why do you keep dragging an NPC along wherever we go?”
“Because I like to.” Xu Ziyue replied back in the same irritated tone. Since the other’s temper was bad, Xu Ziyue didn’t want to subject himself to just taking it. But for now, he still had to figure out exactly what was going on in this game, so he needed to stay with the group a little longer and see what they were planning to do. He couldn’t just continue to appear like a fool in their eyes, right?
To keep being treated like an idiot was pretty sad.
At dinnertime, everyone sat together in the canteen. Xu Ziyue stared down at the dish of tomatoes and scrambled eggs on white rice that the canteen aunties had handed out and felt his stomach churn.
Red and white…..
Xu Ziyue closed his eyes and shook his head, trying to rid himself of those mental images. However, it didn’t have any effect. In the end, all he could do was close his eyes and restrain the psychological urge to vomit while he choked down the food. If he didn’t eat, then he would just be hungry later at night and the one to suffer would still be him. At this moment, he had already mentally prepared himself for the possibility that this world was dangerous.
Most of the other players had the same mentality. Even though the majority couldn’t stomach it, they still forced the food down. Otherwise, if they met with something dangerous later at night, they wouldn’t even have the energy to run away.
After he finished eating, Xu Ziyue packed another meal to go.
No wonder Sun Mo’s face was that pale – if he kept not eating like this, then how could he be healthy?
Back at the dormitories, the group saw a list on the bottom floor of the building assigning the players to their rooms. Xu Ziyue let out a breath of relief – it looked like he did indeed have accommodations. It’s just that he had no idea for sure until he saw the list, whereas the other players seemed to take it for granted that there was accommodations. Obviously there was something going on that he didn’t know about.
On the list, Xu Ziyue could only see the names of the 20 players – this meant that he had no idea where Sun Mo’s room was. But if Sun Mo comes and sees the list, then he would know where to find Xu Ziyue. Xu Ziyue could only hope that Sun Mo would take the initiative to come ands find him.
It’s just that he felt it was a little unlikely.
Xu Ziyue picked up his boxed takeout and followed the directions to room 301. There was a total of 20 players and all of them lived on the third floor. To the left, the male players inhabited rooms 301 to 306 while to the right, the female players lived in rooms 307 to 312. There was a staircase in the middle and by the girls’ rooms, there were also iron railings. At night time, it would probably be locked so that the people inside can’t come out, and the people outside can’t go in. Even more bizarre was the fact that the railings were painted a bright red….. it was rather scary to look at.
“I don’t want to go in…” a girl standing by the stairwell said hesitantly.
“I also don’t want to…. Can we all search together? We can look through either the boys’ or the girls’ quarters first.”
Zhang Jing let out a ‘Tch’ sound but as he thought of the fact that if the red iron railings really closed and locked, then something bad probably would happen, he agreed.
By the entrance, they didn’t see any housekeepers or security which was usually present in these kinds of buildings. They also didn’t see the other NPCs. And so, the players made the preparation to conduct a thorough search of the whole dormitory building…….,
Starting from the top floor, level 5.
“The roof is on top, but…. the door is locked.” Someone tried to get up to the sixth floor, but it was sealed shut by a barricaded door. The group had no way of seeing past it to what was on the other side. The player then tried to kick the door down, but the anti-theft door wouldn’t budge and just remained motionless.
“We’ll see if we can find the key later.” Zhang Jing stated after he glanced at the door. “There’s probably something important up there.”
Xu Ziyue still held the boxed takeaway in his hands. He didn’t trust putting it down in the dormitory, since after all, it wasn’t his real room.
The group then proceeded to search the entire building from top to bottom, not sparing even the slightest details.
Each bedroom appeared lived in, but there was no one inside. The campus was also eerily quiet, and it didn’t seem like anyone was returning to the dorms anytime soon. Everything seemed as if people were living there as normal, but suddenly disappeared one day. It also seemed like someone had made a point of giving them time to look around, and had purposefully kept all the students away.
Thinking about it carefully, it was all rather creepy.
After searching the fifth floor, they searched the forth floor, third floor… All had nothing of importance. And the most bizarre thing was that none of the other students had come back to rest yet.
The campus was also strangely quiet: there was no wind, and the sounds of cicadas and birds’ chirping were missing as well.
Xu Ziyue touched the goosebumps on his arms. “Are we still going to keep searching?”
Zhang Jing clenched his teeth, “Search!”
But in the end, they still had no result to show for all the hard work they did.
The group of players gathered together by the top of the stairs. “Since there was nothing on floors one to five, then there must be something important on the sixth floor.”
“Lets head to the office buildings and look for the key.” Zhang Jing directed with a frown.
Someone looked outside a window and exclaimed with surprise, “The students are coming back!”
Xu Ziyue looked outside and sure enough, there were people on their way back. It’s just, who knows where they all were before this.
Some players attempted to ask the student NPCs, but the only answer they got was that they’d stayed in the classroom to do homework. Whether the reply was truthful or not, no one knew.
By then, it was already 9 o’clock in the evening, and nearing 10 o’clock. The group decided to wait a little longer, and then head back to the lecture hall to explore some more.
The group of players, including Xu Ziyue, went back to the third floor but no one returned to their rooms. Instead, they all sat down in a circle by the stairwell.
Xu Ziyue swept a gaze around the circle of people and noticed that other than himself, everyone else was sitting closely in pairs.
Wait…… excluding himself, everyone was in pairs??
Xu Ziyue swallowed and hugged his boxed takeaway tightly. “Um, are we missing someone?”
Zhang Jing gave a start and then immediately started counting.
1 person was missing.
“Did anyone leave? Take a good look at the people around you, who’s missing? Does anyone remember?!” Zhang Jing stood up jerkily and demanded through clenched teeth.
“I have the seating chart! I ripped it off the table earlier. We can find out if we do a roll call,” A girl raised her hand and said. “I’ve highlighted all the names of the players.”
It seems that girls are indeed more attentive to the details, Xu Ziyue thought to himself. After the roll call, it was discovered that the missing is someone was called Li Guo. It was also him who had kicked the door to the sixth floor earlier.
“Did you guys see him when we were coming down from the fifth floor? Who was Li Guo with before?” Excluding Xu Ziyue the deviant who preferred the company of an NPC to his fellow humans, the rest of the players tended to travel together in groups of two or three.
“He was with me… But we were in a group of three. While we were searching through the rooms, we got separated. I thought he had gone with the others to search in another room.” Because everyone was acting separately, no one noticed immediately that something was wrong.
No one could be blamed for these kinds of things. The only thing they could do now was to try and fix the problem. Zhang Jing then informed everyone to remember the people around them, to know their full names and their looks, so that if anyone disappears again then their absence would be noticed immediately.
Xu Ziyue was once again ignored…
Everyone felt that if Xu Ziyue were to disappear, then they would definitely notice. Because Xu Ziyue was too different. Exhibit 1: The fact that he was still holding onto a boxed takeaway was enough evidence that he’s a bit special.
No one had the heart to try and understand Xu Ziyue, nor did anyone have the time.
After Li Guo disappeared, the group searched again from the first floor to the fifth floor, but nobody found anything. Everything seemed to point to disaster. However, the other players acted as if they were used to this, and didn’t waste the time or energy to keep searching.
Xu Ziyue pursed his lips, and then quietly whispered to his system, “Is this really a target-capture dating simulation love game?”
The system gave a speedy reply. “Yes.”
Xu Ziyue didn’t believe this at all. “But how can people die in a dating simulation game?”
“That’s because, Host, your game and their game happened to overlap.”
Xu Ziyue gave his system a dead fish glare. “What do you mean?”
“You’re all in the same map, but two different games are happening at once. Host can have peace of mind.”
“How can I play this game with a peace of mind!” Xu Ziyue’s guess was confirmed, but…….
The system fell silent again, leaving Xu Ziyue with an uneasy conscience.
Xu Ziyue couldn’t resist, and asked curiously, “Then… What kind of game are they playing?” Although he had suspicions that it was some kind of horror game, without an explicit answer there was no way he could have peace of mind.
“Their game has nothing to do with the Host’s game. The CLEAR conditions are different; the host’s goals and theirs have no intersection. Host, please feel rest assured and just enjoy the game.”
Xu Ziyue was so anxious he wanted to stomp his feet, but his system refused to say anything more. If he goes and asks Zhang Jing about this……. It’s not that Xu Ziyue was overly cautious, but these players really didn’t seem to be in a good mental state. If he draws attention to his own situation, then it’s very possible that he would attract jealousy or something. If they wanted to kill him for it, what would he do?
From Xu Ziyue’s observations, the number of players who were on the verge of mental insanity was definitely increasing.
So if he wanted to know more about the current situation, then he could only stay with the group and slowly gather more information.
Xu Ziyue felt like he was going undercover as a spy or something.
Though, he still let out a sigh of relief. This kind of situation was still way better than if the system had scammed him into playing some kind of horror game under the guise of a dating simulation game.
At 10:45pm, Zhang Jing quietly led the large group of players down the stairs and out of the dormitory. Since the door below locks at 11pm, they must leave the building before that time.
Xu Ziyue held onto the already cold boxed takeaway and walked at the very end of line, lamenting that Sun Mo hadn’t yet come to find him.
The outside was very quiet. The school hadn’t installed any street lamps, so it was dark enough that if one extended their arms out, they couldn’t even see their fingers. Fortunately, someone had found a flashlight earlier. However, with more than 10 people relying on one flashlight, it was still rather difficult. Furthermore, in order to save on power, they only dared to turn the flashlight bright enough that they could just barely see the outlines of the road ahead.
The moment he stepped out of the dormitory, Xu Ziyue felt a cold breeze blow across the back of his neck, and a voice sounded from behind. “So you were here ah.”
Xu Ziyue’s shoulders hunched in, and his whole body trembled for a second.
Then, with the help of the moonlight, Xu Ziyue finally saw the face of the person behind him. It was Sun Mo.
He breathed a sigh of relief, “Please don’t scare me ah, I’m actually very timid.” He stretched an arm out in front of Sun Mo’s face, “Look, I have goosebumps everywhere.” But then, Xu Ziyue lowered his head and found that he couldn’t see anything at all, and so he smiled awkwardly, “Oh, it’s too dark to see.”
But Sun Mo reached out a hand and touched Xu Ziyue’s arm. In the hot summer evening, his cold hand actually felt quite comfortable to Xu Ziyue. “I can feel it.”
In the dark, Xu Ziyue’s face turned red and he shoved the boxed takeaway into Sun Mo’s arms. “I brought you dinner. I didn’t see you earlier. Though, it’s probably cold by now and not very tasty anymore.”
Sun Mo took the meal in one hand and grasped one of Xu Ziyue’s hands with the other. “It’s too dark out, hold on to me.”
Xu Ziyue nodded, “Okay, sure.”
From the front, Zhang Jing called out, “Everybody, hold hands and then report your number. This way it’s easier to not get lost.”
The numbers sounded from 1 to 17; no one new disappeared.
The player that was second to last knew that Xu Ziyue was behind him. However, the darkness that weaved around him made him feel extremely suffocated, and so in order to take his mind off things, he complained, “Xu Ziyue, why is your hand so cold??”
Xu Ziyue looked up in confusion, but all that he could see was pitch darkness. “But I’m not holding your hand ah.”
Time for shit to get real
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