Chapter 4.1 Night of the Ancient Castle
“I’m the only one left.”
Wen Shi felt he had to prove himself, or else the woman and the monster chasing him would have died for nothing.
They sacrificed their lives for me, so I must live on for them.
Belief sustained his【1】HP. The game assured him that his injuries would be healed after each match. It seemed trustworthy enough.
In a nearly lifeless condition, Wen Shi couldn’t sense the passage of time. He didn’t know how long had elapsed—one minute, perhaps ten. When the game’s music played once more, Wen Shi felt it was like a heavenly sound.
【Healing from the trauma, 1%, 2%……”】
【Congratulations to player 460872 for completing the Advanced Skill Task.】
Matching skills that suited the player……】
As the dilated pupils regained their brightness, Wen Shi’s lips moved with difficulty. Having almost died once, what he needed was an extraordinary skill.
【We detected that the player never trusts anyone. This game advocates truth, goodness, and beauty. We have found the best solution for you.】
“Is this mocking my lack of virtue?”
【Congratulations to the player for awakening the ‘I Am Who I Am’ skill.”
According to the legend of the multiverse, there might exist another ‘self’ with entirely different destinies, but they are all independent and real individuals.”
I Am Who I Am: Spend one hundred points to summon another ‘me’ from a parallel world once.】
Wen Shi, who almost succumbed to a life-threatening illness, suddenly sat up in astonishment.
Trading two lives for this skill, was it worth the woman and the monster’s deaths?
He had certainly heard about parallel worlds, but unless the parallel version of himself was a ghost, summoning an ordinary person would be useless, even if the other person was a financial tycoon or a top-tier celebrity—they would still be wiped out.
The game didn’t respond to Wen Shi’s outcry.
The attribute panel updated quickly, adding a new skill section:
【Player ID: 460872
Skill: I Am Who I Am
Points: 100 (Initial points gifted for advanced matches).】
After a few more minutes passed, and his injuries fully healed, Wen Shi regained his strength and slowly got up from the ground.
He moved his weakened limbs a bit and mumbled to himself, “Actually, this skill isn’t entirely useless.”
In the moonlight, a slightly slender young man turned around to find an empty room to stay temporarily.
His injuries had already healed, but his hands and feet still felt a bit numb.
The monsters inside the wall left a psychological impact on him, so Wen Shi instinctively chose to walk in the center of the corridor.
The second floor had many vacant rooms, with some doors slightly ajar. Wen Shi pushed open the nearest one, revealing crimson walls similar to the dining hall. In contrast to the chaotic lines in the dining hall, the artistic oil paintings here were more in line with popular aesthetics.
Near the foot of the bed, less than a meter away, there was a dressing table with only a three-candle holder and a comb on its surface.
Wen Shi sequentially stepped out and opened the adjacent rooms, finding identical layouts. Some of these slightly ajar rooms were more or less in disarray. Upon closer inspection, he could see several red splatters on the walls, seemingly bloodstains.
The game had previously hinted that this match was the endgame, likely with eliminated players making up the majority.
Wen Shi carefully examined the room and noticed something strange: there was a dressing table but no accompanying mirror.
Checking the room’s gaps, Wen Shi encountered the first side quest.
【Side Quest One: Find out the identity of the woman chasing you tonight.
Who is she, where does she come from, and what experiences does she have?】
Wen Shi felt that this question was more fitting for himself.
Who am I, where do I come from, and what experiences will I have?
Lying down on the big bed with doubts, Wen Shi had to sit up due to the intense pain in his ankle, where a large bruise stood out prominently. The injuries from leveling up the skill had already healed, but this mark was left from being pulled by an unknown entity under the streetlight.
Since it didn’t affect his health points, Wen Shi ignored it. Fatigue slowly eroded his reason. After locking the door, he collapsed onto the bed and fell asleep.
The next day.
When he woke up, it was already bright outside.
Last night’s experience allowed Wen Shi to deduce some patterns in the game. Killing monsters also required triggering certain conditions, not indiscriminate slaughter.
A sudden sharp sound pierced his eardrums. It was the cuckoo clock in the dining hall, located at a distant spot, yet its sound was unexpectedly loud.
According to the clock, it was eight o’clock in the morning. After a simple wash, Wen Shi went downstairs.
Exiu was dining with the two other players. The castle’s owner was still seated at the head. He had changed into a black patterned tailcoat today, which, despite his gloomy eyes, perfectly outlined his slender figure with a punk style.
The moment Wen Shi appeared in the dining hall, all three players were startled, especially Exiu, who almost dropped his fork.
Except during his early days as a player, it had been a long time since he acted so clumsily.
The castle master also gave Wen Shi a meaningful look, surprised that he hadn’t died.
Wen Shi deliberately limped as he walked in and pulled up his pants to reveal the bruises on his ankle. “I accidentally twisted my ankle while sleepwalking last night. I might have to stay here a bit longer.”
In a situation where he didn’t know who he was and why he was here, Wen Shi had to come up with a reason to stay.
Of course, the main reason was to complete the side quest.
The castle master didn’t object.
Wen Shi calmly ate his breakfast.
Everyone thought he was finished, so today’s breakfast naturally consisted of edible food rather than yesterday’s attempt to entice people to drink wine. He copied the other players and settled for bread and grapefruit juice, avoiding the ham.
The meal proceeded in a curiously quiet manner.
In the ancient castle, everything revolved around the castle master’s priorities. Wen Shi had noticed this yesterday, so he deliberately waited until the owner left the dining hall before getting up, not even sparing a glance at the other people.
At the dining table, Exiu put down his knife and fork. “He ran towards the castle master’s room last night. There’s no way he survived.”
The female player didn’t respond.
The other player stood up, having other tasks to attend to.
After a few seconds, the female player spoke slowly, “I can help you, but not for free.”
After stating her conditions, Exiu furrowed his brow. It was an outrageous demand.
Knowing how important a funeral was to Exiu, the female player had long seen the outcome.
Exiu made his decision quickly, and the two of them signed a trade contract using props.
The female player shared her plan.
It was a clever layout, but Exiu still wasn’t entirely reassured and reminded her, “Be cautious when dealing with this newbie.”
Others didn’t know what his skill was, but Exiu understood that a newcomer who couldn’t be “tamed” would surely have a different mental state compared to ordinary people.
The female player found it amusing, thinking he was overly nervous.
“You don’t understand.” Exiu’s expression was serious. “In that newbie’s heart, there is no love.”
Wen Shi couldn’t find the white coat he had discarded yesterday, so from his attire, he seemed like a doctor.
To treat the castle master?
The owner could easily see through him. He didn’t appear to need any treatment.
“What about a mental illness?”
The more Wen Shi thought about it, the more he felt it was possible. A normal person wouldn’t be so obsessed with finding the perfect bride. As the idea of playing the role of a psychiatrist crossed his mind, he couldn’t help but nervously laugh, as if it were some huge joke.
Tired from laughing, Wen Shi walked and recalled the clue prompts:
“Blood pool, old coffin, trembling soul.”
“Incantation, prayers, and a safe house.”
“Dance, beauty and beast!”
Last night, he was too busy running for his life and didn’t have time to search for the picture frame. He decided to try it now. Perhaps it would help him complete the side quest.
“Lucky boy, hang in there,” he encouraged himself, and Wen Shi laughed again.
In a world where death lurked at every corner, there was no room for luck.
Sunlight slanted into the hall.
Wen Shi stopped in his tracks, hands in his pockets. He was currently wearing only a wrinkled T-shirt, stained with some blood.
Never before had Wen Shi felt that sunlight and fresh air were such luxuries. The warm rays filtered through the glass, dispelling the chill in the hall. He couldn’t help but sigh as he looked up.
The patterns on the dome came to life in the daylight, becoming vivid and full of vitality.
Wen Shi blinked.
After a moment, he blinked again, making sure he wasn’t mistaken.
Vaguely, he could see a picture of a beast gracefully dancing with a beauty above. Due to the height, the view wasn’t particularly clear.
Isn’t this the beauty and beast we were looking for?
“…Am I really a lucky boy?!” He looked incredulous.
The instance wouldn’t provide a complete dead end. Last night’s clues shouldn’t be too difficult. For example, “[dance, beauty and beast]” likely referred to the well-known fairy tale “Beauty and the Beast.” However, it was nearly impossible to collect all the clues amidst the relentless pursuit.
The prompt was simple indeed, but he couldn’t just fly up there to find the picture frame now.
As Wen Shi was contemplating whether to look for a ladder, he shook his head and muttered to himself, “No, that’s not it.”
In the dim environment of last night, noticing the dome was already challenging enough, let alone climbing up to retrieve it. It was almost a level of difficulty mirroring hell.
Wen Shi squinted and carefully examined the details in the painting again. Apart from the protagonists dancing, there was a teapot moving beside them, a candlestick twisting its body, similar to the ones in the room, all holding three candles. The dancing clock and ladle also contributed to the ambiance.
The candle flames, the clock’s hands, and the ladle all pointed in one direction.
Following the direction they indicated, Wen Shi realized they were pointing towards a bookcase.
If he remembered correctly, Belle from the Beauty and the Beast story also loved books.
The second floor was for sleeping quarters, the first floor had the dining hall and the living area. As Wen Shi considered whether to go to the third floor, he heard a voice behind him.
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