Chapter 16 Night of the Ancient Castle
Player 460872, once again, Player 460872!
A newbie in the endgame managed to stay alive until the very end.
It seemed ridiculous, like a young child winning a marathon against grown-ups.
The city, silent for a while, became lively as discussions started to grow, resembling a pot of boiling water suddenly heating up.
“Peng Lu passed away,” said a member of the Seventh Commandment. “It’s a shame. The boss had plans to recruit him.”
If you could earn a compliment from the boss, it meant you truly had potential.
The teammate looked indifferent. “Why pity? If they died, it meant they weren’t strong enough. We should only recruit those worth it and absorb new, beneficial talents by eliminating the weak ones.”
The area around the projection screen was crowded with people, but not many were near them. Players moving in that region were extraordinary, yet they didn’t dare to get too close to the members of the top ten guilds.
“Let’s go to the exit of the 1332 instance,” said one of the members from the Seventh Commandment in a cold tone. “With only one person left, the newbie should clear it quickly.”
Wen Shi also felt that he would be coming out soon.
The medical records mentioned that the real bride was an artwork created by the castle master, and the monsters in the castle were related to the painting. Both the real bride and the blood bride could control blood, but the former was more proficient. He speculated that the real bride might also be a painting.
Now, he only needed to find the painting.
With a direction and the advantage of being in a solo game, Wen Shi woke up the next day in a good mood until he saw a figure with long flowing hair sitting by the window, scaring him almost to the point of losing his soul.
The person who came was Xie Tangyan. Her powers had returned to normal for the new day.
Wen Shi sat up and patted his chest. “Big Sister, you scared me.”
Xie Tangyan replied, “Sorry, I just arrived.”
Wen Shi looked at her and suddenly came up with a bold guess.
On the first night, the castle master didn’t show any special interest in him, but later, he mentioned that Wen Shi’s scent was peculiar, emphasizing it more last night. If something happened in between, it could only be the successful activation of his skill and the recent summoning of Xie Tangyan.
Could the captivating aura the castle master mentioned be referring to Xie Tangyan?
He shared this guess with Xie Tangyan.
“I don’t use any scented powder, and I haven’t been in contact with you for a long time. Even if he’s a dog, he wouldn’t be able to smell anything,” Xie Tangyan calmly analyzed, “But when that unfamiliar voice suppressed my power, it sounded righteous, saying that if not suppressed, the burden on you would exceed the limit.”
Wen Shi fell into contemplation. Similar to how the blood bride was attached to the paper, summoning his parallel self also required a certain medium. After thinking it over, only the broken safety button could serve that purpose.
Could it be that the safety button retained some of the other person’s aura?
Xie Tangyan handed him a few wild fruits, and Wen Shi quickly took a few bites after washing up. He could eat in the hospital, indicating no rules prevented him from eating outside food.
Inside the dining hall, the darn cuckoo bird continued to make sharp calls. Today’s calls sounded somewhat different. Wen Shi frowned. “I’ll go downstairs and check.”
The long table was empty.
No plates were set, no food was present. The castle master sat coldly in the main seat, his gaze fixed on Wen Shi after he entered, sending chills down his spine.
Wen Shi asked tentatively, “Today, are we eating air?”
After asking, he felt the question was a bit silly.
Both the plates and the food were not properly prepared, a negligence of the butler and the chef. Wen Shi suddenly thought of something, feeling quite embarrassed as he stood still.
It couldn’t be…
God, please don’t let it be…
A mournful howl came from a distance away from the dining hall, the sound diminishing as it spread, but the heart-wrenching feeling was still evident.
It was another different voice, yet it carried the same tremor.
The scenes of him secretly taking the cutlery to help the chef yesterday and having a few exchanges with the butler were vivid in his mind.
Wen Shi lowered his head, forcing a calm tone, “Is someone sick? Maybe they should take a day off.”
The castle master sneered.
Wen Shi: “…There should be annual leave here, right?”
The castle master suddenly and without warning slapped the table, causing Wen Shi to instinctively stand even straighter, with his head still lowered.
The fact that the usually elegant Earl resorted to table-slapping showed that his patience was truly reaching its limit.
The air fell into a terrifying silence.
Wen Shi couldn’t help but divert his thoughts, imagining that the other person must have a vast wardrobe with no repeated outfits. Yesterday’s expensive-looking attire was replaced with a dark brown trench coat. The castle master had black leather boots on his feet and carried his deadly weapon, the staff, openly.
After a long while, the castle master finally responded to his previous suggestion, “Breakfast and dinner are a must.”
These six words seemed to squeeze out from between his teeth, concealing deep-seated grudges.
Wen Shi knew the underlying reason behind it. The food contained the rule of death, and without food, that rule would become void.
But now that things had come to this point, who could he blame?
If only there were a few more people eating in the castle. With just one chef, they wouldn’t have this trouble.
Despite his thoughts, he feigned concern and said, “I’ll go and check it out.”
Continuing without stopping, Wen Shi walked to the kitchen. The chef was lying on the ground in agony, clutching his stomach. The plates were shattered all over the floor. The butler lay diagonally opposite, transforming from miserable screams to pitiful whimpers like a puppy.
Wen Shi carefully stepped around the broken pieces.
Hearing footsteps, the chef struggled to open one eye. In his hand, there was a freshly bloodied lamb leg, and the pungent smell made him seem like a butcher. The chef enjoyed handling raw meat and creating “allergens” that he would add to the food according to a specific pattern.
Whenever a diner accidentally encountered the allergen and writhed in pain before dying, he would gleefully dance around.
It was the chef’s self-amusing little game.
Unfortunately, he couldn’t find joy in it now.
Early in the morning, the chef felt a bloating sensation in his stomach, which not only didn’t subside but intensified as time passed. He could even sense a strange fragrance emanating from his skin.
“Help me… up,” the chef struggled to speak, “I can still cook.”
Despite the condition he was in, he continued to harm others. Wen Shi gave him a thumbs-up and praised, “A resolute and persistent young man.”
Supporting the chef, Wen Shi noticed he couldn’t stand up due to the pain in his waist, just as he tried to pick up a knife.
The trembling chef threw the lamb leg directly into the pot, “Water…”
Wen Shi fetched the water and also helped the butler up from the ground. “Are you alright?”
The butler grabbed his sleeve and asked, “Is it… you?”
After the encounter with the doctor yesterday, the master said he became dirty.
“It’s not me. Don’t make baseless accusations.” Wen Shi reflexively pushed the person back to the ground.
It was clearly the mutated pomegranate flower’s fault.
Calming down, he realized his reaction was too extreme and comforted the butler again, “Hang on.”
Wen Shi took a basin of water and poured it into the pot to help the chef stew the meat. As he skimmed off the blood foam, he said, “If you want to find the responsible party, you’ll have to go to the pomegranate flowers in the cursed flower field.”
Adding an appropriate amount of warm water, Wen Shi put the deodorized ingredients into the pot and stewed them together.
The pitiful butler couldn’t find the real culprit and had to fulfill his duties. Trembling, he pointed to something in the corner and said, “Thank you for catching the wretched thief.”
It was an elegant palace-style small lamp. Originally, it was meant to be personally handed over to Wen Shi, but he couldn’t hold it anymore.
“Recently, the castle has had occasional, inexplicable power outages… You can take this with you when you go.”
【Small Lamp: A fuel-free lighting tool that can continuously stay lit.】
The butler sighed and said concisely, “Why are these damned thieves fixated on the art studio?”
Wen Shi immediately became vigilant, realizing that the crucial clue he had been waiting for had finally arrived. He had been specifically reminded to communicate with the butler upon completing the side quest. He quickly followed up with his questions, “Were there any other things stolen from the art studio?”
“A few years ago… Ah—”
The butler couldn’t endure the abdominal pain, unable to articulate everything he wanted to say.
Wen Shi suddenly felt NPCs were quite pitiable, unable to control their own wills, enduring pain like this while sticking to the storyline.
Just thinking that he didn’t do his job well today made the butler’s eyes moisten, “Master.”
Wen Shi: “This is a work-related injury. The Earl will take responsibility.”
The hopeful butler: “Really?”
Wen Shi: “……”
The maid brought two pain relievers.
After taking them, the butler eased slightly and rested for a moment before continuing, “A few years ago, the master poured his heart into painting a portrait of a woman. She was said to be unbelievably beautiful. The master loved that painting dearly and claimed he would use it as a standard to find the most perfect bride in the future.”
Speaking up to this point, the butler let out a heavy sigh, “After that, many strange things started happening in the castle. Weird noises often occurred at night, and things neatly arranged one day would be in disarray the next, disrupting everyone’s rest. Eventually, the master had us all move out to live outside. Not long after, the painting inexplicably disappeared. If we can find that painting, the master might no longer be fixated on the wedding.”
Finding the painting would be equivalent to finding the real bride, wouldn’t it?
“Do you remember anything specific about that painting?”
In order to stay alive, Wen Shi had to quickly figure out the real bride’s weakness.
“Specific?” The butler seemed puzzled by his question. “Do you mean exceptionally beautiful?”
The butler emphasized again the beauty of the woman in the painting. “Originally, the master wanted to frame the painting, but he couldn’t find a suitable frame. He spent a lot of effort searching for materials and even hired the most skilled craftsmen to create a frame that could match the beauty of the painting.”
Wen Shi’s mind stirred, realizing that the key to controlling the monsters also lay in the picture frame. It made sense to extend that to the real bride.
“Is the frame still there?”
“It’s locked in the attic.”
Wen Shi: “I’d like to see that frame.”
The butler: “Help me up, and I’ll take you there.”
Passing by Peng Lu and Luo Xiao’s rooms, the butler seemed to ignore the pungent smell of blood and continued complaining, “Young people these days lack manners. They leave without even saying goodbye and leave their rooms in a mess.”
Wen Shi cautiously asked, “The red liquid on the walls…”
“It’s a prank. It’s happened before,” the butler said calmly. “Ungrateful strangers stole blood from the kitchen and splashed it everywhere.”
The attic was located on the top floor of the castle.
Despite saying he would help, Wen Shi practically carried the butler all the way up.
The butler used an ancient bronze key to unlock the door.
The attic had only a small window, through which sunlight sparsely streamed.
“Here, all of these are the master’s cherished collections.”
Not a single item in the collection was a conventional artwork. On the three-tiered iron shelf directly in front, each compartment displayed torture instruments. Some had mottled colors, with dark red areas that were hard to distinguish between bloodstains and rust.
The butler endured the returning pain and pointed to the wall at an angle.
If it hadn’t been specifically pointed out, Wen Shi probably wouldn’t have regarded it as a picture frame.
Above the square picture frame, there was an additional angled edge, polished to be sharp and gleaming, resembling a falling guillotine.
Wen Shi approached and realized the frame was indeed very heavy, made of a material somewhere between stone and blunt iron, weighing at least a few dozen kilograms. The picture frame in the book at that time would already hurt the hands. Luo Xiao had relied on props and the blood pool to succeed. This “true appearance” of the frame was probably even more terrifying.
As the pain relief medicine wore off, the butler suddenly clutched his abdomen and looked towards the door, excitedly calling out, “Mas-“
Wen Shi belatedly realized that the castle master had arrived. The position and angle of the person’s standing were cunningly chosen to ensure he remained in the shadow of the iron shelf, indicating their aversion to sunlight.
“Mas— cough—” The butler vomited. Unlike the blood bride, he lacked the ability to ripen seeds and had a weaker constitution. After struggling to explain so much earlier, he had now clarified everything. The burden on his mind lifted, and his physical discomfort became more apparent.
The butler persisted in trying to speak, “Mas— cough—”
Wen Shi calmly said, “Master.”
His clear voice carried a hint of sensuality due to specific words, surprising the butler as he turned his head.
Wen Shi: “I’ve already called for help, no need to thank me.”
He really didn’t want to face a pile of vomit again.
The castle master’s expression turned cold and terrifying. “Leave.”
The butler covered his mouth and rushed out.
Upon seeing the picture frame, the castle master’s icy expression softened slightly. He didn’t mention the butler’s rudeness and gazed at the frame for a moment before saying, “Doctor, I deeply miss the lost artwork. Those useless strangers have all left, so I entrust you to help me find the new bride.”
Wen Shi was quite proactive and asked, “How can I assist?”
“Bring her to the attic, I’ll be waiting here.”
Wen Shi exaggeratedly said, “Forgive my frankness, but your power is unmatched by ordinary people. If you personally…”
The castle master interrupted, “I love her free spirit.”
“……” Then just let her be free!
Wen Shi wouldn’t say he wanted to die. He had already received a notification sound:
【Main quest has been generated]
【Main quest: Find the new bride
As a doctor, you have been left behind to help. Please make the castle master’s wish come true as soon as possible and leave the castle. Frank Hospital needs you!
Hint: The new bride is sentimental and occasionally recalls the past】
“I will do my utmost to fulfill your wish,” Wen Shi made a promise.
The castle master nodded indifferently, still looking at the picture frame. His gaze seemed to be stuck on the area resembling a ‘guillotine’ above it. After a while, he slowly said, “That would be best.”
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