Matryoshka Off-Limits Chapter 35

Chapter 35 Big Factory

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Overseer Zhao lived on the fifth floor, while Jian Qingrong lived on the fourth floor.

Looking at their positions in the factory, people tried to win favor with Overseer Zhao, who had some minor power. On the other hand, Jian Qingrong held the title of ambassador of Beautiful Soul but was often picked on. It seemed better to pick Overseer Zhao.

But Wen Shi didn’t like making choices. After he saw Jian Qingrong’s subtle actions towards the factory manager during the day, he thought it was worth checking out the other person’s dorm. What made Wen Shi uncertain was how strong the teenager really was and if he could handle things on his own.

“Big Brother, I’m not a kid anymore.” The teenager acted like a boy in his rebellious phase. “I can choose my own roommate, right?”

He glanced at Overseer Zhao.

Overseer Zhao was so captivated that he couldn’t find his words, just nodding incessantly.

“Only children make choices,” the teenager said with a knowing expression.

He went ahead to check the situation above. As for the other person, the teenager subtly observed Jian Qingrong. He seemed out of place. He looked up and asked Overseer Zhao, “Is he a senior employee too?”

Overseer Zhao nodded, straightening his chest, projecting an air that he was far better than the other.

The teenager also nodded in contentment.

Whether a wolf or a sheep, having worn the mask of timidity for so long, it wouldn’t be taken off in a short while. Staying in Room 401 seemed safer overall.

Once Wen Shi’s safety was reasonably ensured, the teenager pointed upward. “I’ll go ahead.”

Wen Shi didn’t object.

A single glance from the teenager made Overseer Zhao obediently follow.

Wen Shi looked at Jian Qingrong. “Let’s go too, to your dorm.”

The two brothers, one by one, left the dormitory building’s entrance in silence.

A player who couldn’t bear it anymore pinched his brow and said, “Are they real brothers?”

The slightly raised, reddened corners of the eyes, the captivating gaze–it was uncannily identical.

His question remained unanswered. If not for the game specifying the number of participants from the beginning, they might have really thought that the teenager was just another player.

Tu Bianxi was naturally suspicious, pondering the possibility of veteran players sneaking through the instance without the game’s detection.

Understanding his thoughts, a member of the Seventh Commandment beside him shook his head. “People can’t just possess such captivating appearances.”

Everyone’s definition of beauty varied, and even in reality, someone very attractive had limited influence. That teenager carried an alluring aura, making it hard to look away, but only data could create such an effect.

“Still need to be cautious.” Tu Bianxi’s gaze turned sinister. “Instances wouldn’t include useless characters.”

Ironically, only Pei Wenwei had extra setting.

Tu Bianxi narrowed his eyes, a sudden realization lighting up his expression. “Have you ever thought that no matter how skilled Ji Yuanzhi is, his overall average might not instantly elevate newbies to an A+ level?”

At first, the members of the Seventh Commandment didn’t catch on, but after a moment, his expression shifted. “Do you think this instance has a connection with the upcoming special 3S instance?”

Tu Bianxi nodded. “As the initiator of the instance, Pei Wenwei has an innate advantage. So, whether it’s the interview process or family details, he’s in a favorable position.”

High-difficulty instances occasionally gave rise to several related prerequisite instances, though rare, they did exist.

With this realization, the puppet doll on Tu Bianxi’s shoulder trembled in excitement alongside its master, his gaze filled with anticipation.

“Seems like the value of this instance surpasses imagination.”


Dormitory doors below the third floor were all broken.

Dust-covered bedding was haphazardly piled on the beds. Pots and pans were scattered on the floor, and the tiles bore splattered bloodstains, silently telling the gruesome fate of the previous occupant.

Wen Shi reluctantly chose a bed with no blood stains, giving it a firm shake. He followed Jian Qingrong upstairs, preparing to make do for the night.

The dormitory supervisor emerged from the duty room, looking displeased at Wen Shi. “You again?”

Surprisingly, Jian Qingrong answered, “He’s staying with me tonight.”

The dormitory supervisor frowned, clearly unhappy, but he didn’t stop them. “Employees these days have no manners.”

Dorm room 401 had two beds, one in the inner room and one by the dining table.

Wen Shi quickly said, “Uncle doesn’t like outsiders disturbing him. I’ll sleep in the outer room.”

“Do as you wish.”

Jian Qingrong didn’t insist. He rolled up his own bedding and put it in the inner room.

With the previous dormitory comparisons in mind, looking at the dim and strange Room 401, Wen Shi felt a touch of freshness.

He simply lay down on the bed.

It was only eight o’clock now. Creatures with some professionalism should be active at night. He could catch some rest, but Wen Shi didn’t want to suddenly drop dead in the instance.

He set his phone to vibrate mode and set an alarm for 11:50 PM. He closed his eyes to rest.

When Jian Qingrong emerged from the inner room and saw Wen Shi asleep on the bed, he fell silent for a few seconds.

He stood by the bed, staring at the vulnerable neck below, lost in thought.

Wen Shi lay on the outer side, a shadow cast from above. He could keenly sense someone’s gaze on him. Just taking a short nap, he hadn’t relaxed enough to drift into unconsciousness. Facing that deep gaze, he maintained steady breaths, pretending to doze.

After a while, Wen Shi heard the sound of a drawer being opened. Jian Qingrong seemed to be writing something, the sound of the pen scratching continuously reaching his ears. Wen Shi carefully opened his eyes a crack and saw a thick notebook. Just then, Jian Qingrong’s pen paused, and Wen Shi quickly closed his eyes.

Jian Qingrong glanced towards the bed, then returned the notebook to the drawer. He switched off the desk lamp, plunging the room into darkness.

Wen Shi heard footsteps, likely Jian Qingrong returning to the inner room.

He felt a bit curious, wanting to see what was in that notebook. However, he also felt that Jian Qingrong’s behavior of writing a diary in front of him was somewhat reminiscent of the castle master luring the bride with paint, and finding an excuse to get rid of her. He started to weigh his options. No matter what, with such a thick notebook, its contents must be related to Big Factory to some extent. He didn’t know much about this unethical company right now, and the lack of information could affect a series of judgments later on.

The curtain was pulled tightly, blocking any light from outside.

With the faint glow of his phone screen, Wen Shi, not even wearing shoes, tiptoed towards the table. He frequently glanced back in the direction of the inner room.

Despite the short distance, he hesitated for almost a minute.

The dining table was worn out, with the paint even chipping off. The drawer handle was halfway out, let alone any decent locks.

Carefully and silently, Wen Shi slowly pulled out the drawer. Surprisingly, it held several notebooks with labeled covers. The bottom one was dated around the same time as Jian Qingrong’s burn. To get the latest information, Wen Shi decided to quickly flip through the top notebook.

It was a diary. This one didn’t have a lot of entries, starting from March of last year.

March 2nd, cloudy.

Kang Changming wasn’t feeling well, so I covered his night shift.

At three in the morning, Kang Changming came to the workshop to borrow money for buying Beautiful Soul Elixir. He must have been really desperate to come out of his dormitory building in the middle of the night.

I lent him the money.

March 5th, cloudy.

Kang Changming is dead.

At three in the morning, during my night shift patrol, I saw a figure resembling Kang Changming crouched over a metal bucket, eating something inside.

He lunged at me in an attack, but I managed to evade using the electric baton provided by the factory.

March 7th, clear.

After Kang Changming’s death, the newly assigned Wang Wei heard about the recent ghost rumors in the factory and was very frightened. He asked me to cover his night shift for a day. I refused, but he kept pleading. In the end, I agreed to accompany him for the shift.

At three in the morning, during our night shift patrol, the familiar figure was again crouched over the metal bucket, eating.

“Kang Changming,” I called out to him.

He lunged at us, attacking. The new guy, Wang Wei, accidentally injured his shoulder.

March 8th, cloudy turning clear.

Wang Wei fell ill. There was no one to look after him in the factory.

As the ambassador of Beautiful Soul, the factory manager asked me to take care of him and gave me a bottle of Beautiful Soul Elixir to give to Wang Wei. This was to showcase the good virtue of mutual assistance among factory employees. The next day, the factory newspaper registered this story.

March 12th, cloudy turning clear.

Wang Wei died.

He was covered in decay, infected by some unknown bacteria. The day before Wang Wei died, he suffered greatly, begging me to end his life.

I said, “I can’t kill anyone. You should end your own life.”

And so, he took his own life.

That night, I went to Wang Wei’s dorm to sort out his belongings, intending to send them back to his family. Unexpectedly, a figure drifted in through the door.

“Wang Wei,” I tried calling.

Wang Wei looked up, speaking with a bitterly resentful tone, “Dormitory… I want to change to a higher floor dormitory…”

“What are you doing?”

Wen Shi’s heart skipped a beat. He instinctively turned off his phone screen.

However, it was already too late. The scene of him sneaking a peek at the diary had been observed by Jian Qingrong, who stood by the door, his presence unnoticed.

As Jian Qingrong was about to approach, Wen Shi suddenly extended his arms, groping around him as if he couldn’t hear the questions. He imitated the movements of a zombie, hopping step by step.

Indeed, he was pretending to sleepwalk.

Wen Shi believed that borrowing lodging in the afternoon would be the most embarrassing performance of his life, but he shattered that record later in the evening.

He didn’t know what expression Jian Qingrong had at this moment, nor did he want to know. The current situation was that he was pretending to sleepwalk. Jian Qingrong knew he was pretending, Wen Shi knew that Jian Qingrong knew he was pretending–he just wanted to use this foolish act to buy some time.

Regardless, based on the current situation, Jian Qingrong was still a human, not an urgent killer monster.

He stood by the door, making it impossible for Wen Shi to escape.

Of course, Wen Shi hadn’t planned to escape either.

A cool breeze drifted from behind, an arm emerged from the darkness, wrapping around his slender neck. Soon after, Wen Shi felt an added weight on his back.

His Soul Purity began to decrease.

The weight on his back grew heavier. Mild chill made Wen Shi dizzy, everything around him becoming blurry.

Without rushing out the door, as he passed by Jian Qingrong, he suddenly lifted his outstretched arms horizontally, then bent them, forming a large heart shape with his hands.

Jian Qingrong: “?”

Taking advantage of the momentary distraction caused by this gesture, Wen Shi rushed into the inner room.

He turned on the flashlight on his phone.

The old man on the chair was gone. A dressing mirror was hung on the back of the wardrobe. Wen Shi finally saw what the extra weight on his back was.

——A dried-up corpse!

The corpse’s face was gaunt, sunken eye sockets, and the skin on its face was shriveled. Only a skeletal frame remained. Strangely, there were no insects on the body, and the smell of decay was faint. Wen Shi took a deep breath to regain his balance, steadied himself, and tentatively touched the edge of the skeleton. It was sticky, as if coated with some kind of liquid.


The corpse didn’t respond. The chilling white bones tightened around Wen Shi’s neck even more, as if preparing to strangle him.

Wen Shi, not one to back down, took a step forward. “My apologies, Uncle.”

Facing the mirror, he used his bare hands to lift the old man ghost’s eyelids.

Regardless, sharing a room with a set of bones, Jian Qingrong’s unique filial image was reinforced. A dutiful son shouldn’t commit murder in front of his father.

Wen Shi conveyed through actions: Your dad is watching you.

In the next moment, the shriveled grape-like eyeballs rolled out of the pitch-black eye sockets and fell to Wen Shi’s feet. Simultaneously, the old man ghost’s eyelids drooped down with a soft ‘thud’.

Wen Shi: “……”

“J-Jian Qingrong, your dad’s eyes closed again.”

Laughter suddenly echoed from outside the door.

Wen Shi hesitated for a moment. It was the first time he had heard Jian Qingrong laugh. It was a creepy, hollow laughter that sent shivers down his spine.

He couldn’t predict Jian Qingrong’s next move.

To be honest, Wen Shi still couldn’t confirm whether Jian Qingrong was a human or a ghost.

Jian Qingrong had a shadow, could eat and drink normally, and lived a life of being bullied.

Comparatively, the skeletal remains on his back weren’t a significant concern to Wen Shi. Before Jian Qingrong got close, he stopped pretending to act crazy or sleepwalking.

“Uncle, I genuinely consider your son my friend and came here to help you.”

He had barely spoken when his bones felt like they were freezing.

In an instant, the stench of decay grew stronger, but strangely, Wen Shi’s heartbeat slowed down. Not just his heartbeat, but his blood flow and even his breath seemed to freeze. He could barely hold onto his phone.

Jian Qingrong had already walked up behind him, his voice eerie, “My father seems to dislike you.”

Wen Shi fell silent for a moment. Jian Qingrong had mentioned that his father had mobility issues and no wheelchair in the room. A person with mobility issues would need to be carried everywhere, and the weakness of these skeletal remains should be in the leg bones.

Summoning the Wandering Corpse to attack the black-spotted area on the Old Man Ghost’s leg, he felt confident about dealing with the ghostly figure. But summoning the Wandering Corpse might trigger the death rule. Wen Shi paused for a moment. “Respecting elders and caring for the young, even though it’s impolite to reveal this, you were impolite first.”

“Your blood is quite delicious.”

The Old Man Ghost didn’t pay much heed to this threat. His intent was never to strangle his opponent to death. His grip was calculated to disrupt Wen Shi’s blood flow and breathing, making his brain fluid more enticing.

The terrifying skull drew nearer. The Old Man Ghost’s bony hand tightened, poised to strike at Wen Shi’s skull in the next moment.

Wen Shi reached into his pocket and produced the【Family Crest】.

Under the flashlight’s illumination, the emblem gleamed with a cold metallic sheen.

This emblem was Wen Shi’s absolute ace in the hole. Using it could call upon the castle master to intervene once, but he hesitated to employ it unless absolutely necessary.

The game had yet to retrieve the emblem for compensation. The castle master likely still existed. Using it to threaten a ghost who retained his sanity was an ideal situation.

As the【Family Crest】materialized, the room’s temperature dropped another degree. In this scenario, the emblem’s presence seemed even more potent than in other instances. Even Jian Qingrong, who had been leaning against the door watching the spectacle, paid more attention. If Wen Shi turned around at this moment, he would notice that this ‘filial son,’ faced with the ghost treading on the edge of oblivion, remained unmoved, even curious to witness what Wen Shi might summon.

“Look straight at me, you bastard,” Wen Shi’s tone changed from friendly to stern. Through the mirror, he fixed a determined gaze on the old man’s ghost on his back. “Or I’ll shake someone out and beat you to a pulp!”

The skeletal figure’s mid-air attack abruptly halted.

“I’ll count to ten. Ten, nine…”

Before he reached eight, the Old Man Ghost’s eyelids trembled and slowly lifted. The eye sockets, almost like black holes, were covered with a layer of white fluff resembling cobwebs, with desiccated eyeballs in the center.

Wen Shi’s smile turned amiable once again. “Who said your father doesn’t think highly of me? Look, he’s even giving me a proper stare.”

Pausing for a second, he suddenly shouted, “Roll off my back!”

The bone-chilling cold gradually receded, and Wen Shi’s spine finally eased its tension.

He glared and angrily slapped the armrest of the chair. “Sit up straight and talk to me!”

The skeletal figure emitted creaking and twisting sounds, immediately straightening itself up.

The flashlight’s beam cast an angled light from the chin, creating an eerie contrast on Wen Shi’s face. He still held the【Family Crest】in his hand, a necessary bridge to foster unity and friendship between them.

Wen Shi curved his lips into a gentle smile, repeating his earlier words, “Uncle, I sincerely consider your son as my friend, and I came here specifically to help you.”

A hoarse voice of an elderly ghost echoed, though the words were not directed at Wen Shi—

“Qingrong, how did you make such a friend? You, you’ve brought calamity upon us…”

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