Chapter 49.1 The danger of straddling multiple boats
Lin Zhaohe didn’t respond to A’Yao, who commented, “You look really pale, are you feeling sick?”
Feeling unwell, Lin Zhaohe stayed silent. As the elevator arrived at the seventeenth floor, he finally spoke up, “Did anything happen to you this morning…?”
A’Yao asked, “What’s wrong?”
Lin Zhaohe: “Did something happen this morning? Maybe in your family?”
A’Yao didn’t react at all to Lin Zhaohe’s question and had a confused and innocent expression. “What happened? I left early this morning.”
Lin Zhaohe: If you left, then who was brutally killed? Could it be your twin brother?
Considering this possibility, he asked A’Yao if he had a twin brother. When he received a denial, Lin Zhaohe started doubting if he was experiencing another hallucination.
“Then I’ll go back now. You should go home and rest quickly,” A’Yao said with care. “You look really unwell.”
Lin Zhaohe: Can my face look worse than that of a dead person?
He entered his house and confirmed with the Little Red Square that what happened in the morning was not an illusion, which made him even more confused.
“I saw him alive again,” Lin Zhaohe said. “Could this person be someone who can’t die, like a character from an animated show?”
The Little Red Square, wearing glasses and a serious expression, analyzed, “It’s possible. Let’s keep our distance from him.”
They had no choice but to do that.
However, while they didn’t intend to bother their neighbor, their neighbor seemed to take an interest in them.
In the evening, someone knocked on Lin Zhaohe’s door. When he opened it, he saw the neighbor A’Yao holding a basket of bread, smiling while saying, “My friend just baked some bread, and it’s still warm. I brought you a basket.”
Lin Zhaohe was pleasantly surprised and took the basket of bread. Then he noticed the woman standing next to A’Yao, and his expression froze. He asked, “Is this… your girlfriend?”
This woman was the same girl he had seen with a knife outside A’Yao’s door that day. Now, she was dressed differently, standing next to A’Yao with an innocent smile, like a sweet little lamb.
“No,” A’Yao said calmly. “I’m single.”
Lin Zhaohe couldn’t be sure if he imagined it, but when A’Yao mentioned being single, there was a momentary pause in the air, quickly returning to normal.
Lin Zhaohe didn’t say a word and accepted the bread, thanking A’Yao.
“By the way, my friend made a lot of food, and the two of us won’t be able to finish it. Since we’re neighbors, it would be convenient if you could come and join us,” A’Yao, a genuinely warm-hearted person, invited Lin Zhaohe.
Lin Zhaohe initially wanted to decline, but he noticed the girl’s gaze fixed on him, which terrified him. He even worried that if he dared to refuse, he might meet the same fate as A’Yao’s body that morning. Helpless, Lin Zhaohe reluctantly agreed.
Dinner was scheduled for six o’clock. The girl smiled and said she would come to get Lin Zhaohe. He closed the door and hugged Little Red Square, crying and expressing his fear, not wanting to go.
The Little Red Square suggested bringing Gu Xuyu along to join them for a free meal, but they found out Gu Xuyu wasn’t in the apartment. They didn’t know where he had gone, perhaps for Gu Jue’s military training.
With no other options, Lin Zhaohe made a firm decision. He decided to bring a gun for self-defense when going for dinner.
The Little Red Square assured him, claiming to be invincible to blades and bullets. It promised to be Lin Zhaohe’s strongest shield. But when Lin Zhaohe touched its head, he remarked that plastic could be easily scratched by a knife.
Little Red Square: “……” It wasn’t actually made of plastic.
As the clock struck six, Lin Zhaohe felt a sense of impending danger. They waited for a while but the girl never came to knock on their door. Looking through the peephole, Lin Zhaohe saw the neighbor’s door wide open, and loud, unsettling music pouring out from inside.
After waiting for some time, Lin Zhaohe began to suspect that something was wrong. They tried to resist but couldn’t hold back, finally opening the door and calling out, “Is anyone there?”
“Help, help!” Suddenly, A’Yao’s desperate cries for help echoed from inside the house.
Lin Zhaohe quickly grabbed the gun and rushed to the neighbor’s room with Little Red Square, only to be shocked by what they saw.
Inside the room stood five women, and A’Yao lay in the center, covered in blood and barely alive. However, the women showed no empathy as they faced his imminent death. The girl who cooked for A’Yao threw herself onto him, crying and pleading, “Don’t die, please don’t die…” Her cries were so heartrending that Lin Zhaohe almost forgot about her terrifying appearance when she held a knife at the door.
The other women held knives in their hands, blood dripping from the blades. They stared at A’Yao, and one of them smiled and said, “Step aside quickly. Don’t you want to spare A’Yao from further suffering?”
“You demons, terrifying demons!” the girl cried. “Why are you so cruel? Couldn’t you let A’Yao eat the food I cooked… before killing him?”
Lin Zhaohe: “?”
“Why should we wait for him to eat your food before killing him?” scoffed the girl who had been listening to music with A’Yao in the room. “You didn’t even let me come over last night. I need to hurry and kill him. Why should I let him eat your food?”
“You!” The girl glared angrily, her eyes locked with Lin Zhaohe’s. “Just you wait!”
“Oh, so you still want to kill me? Come on, make your move. I can’t wait any longer,” another girl chuckled, completely fearless and confident.
Hearing their exchange, the others didn’t hesitate. They proceeded to deliver the final blow to the already gasping A’Yao.
Lin Zhaohe didn’t dare to intervene. By now, they had realized that the people before them were characters from a two-dimensional world. Getting involved recklessly might entangle them in something dangerous.
With the killing done, the girls casually discarded their weapons, clapped their hands, and turned to leave, not sparing a glance at Lin Zhaohe.
The only girl who hadn’t participated in the violence, but cried instead, was also the most sorrowful. She slowly got up, choking back tears, and said, “I’m sorry, there’s no dinner to eat.”
Lin Zhaohe: “…” Who could have an appetite after all this?
The girl choked on her words, “How about you come for lunch tomorrow during the day?”
Lin Zhaohe quickly waved his hand, “No, no. I have to work tomorrow, busy schedule, no time to participate in your group activities.”
“Then dinner would only be the one that b*tch made,” the girl, seemingly recalling something, lost a significant portion of her gentle expression. It reminded Lin Zhaohe of her appearance holding a knife at the door that night. “You won’t give her face, will you?”
Although Lin Zhaohe repeatedly said no, he had no intention of giving anyone face. In his heart, he knew this would be the last time he ever set foot in this house. He quickly found an excuse and slipped away, returning home with Little Red Square, feeling disheartened.
With the situation at hand, calling the police was futile. They wouldn’t bother with the life or death of two-dimensional beings. No matter how human-like their appearances might be, once their two-dimensional identity was established, their lives were no longer protected by the law in this world. It was a matter of life and death for them to bear alone.
Upon returning home, Lin Zhaohe inquired in the company chat if anyone knew of a romance fiction with a protagonist whose name contained the character “Yao”… Well, it could also be a thriller instead of a romance.
After asking around, nobody had seen or read anything fitting the description. Lin Zhaohe came back empty-handed. However, Zhuang Lao, who had been absent for a few days, suddenly reappeared and asked what Lin Zhaohe was looking for, wondering if something had happened.
Lin Zhaohe decided to share his experience in the company chat.
“Isn’t this clearly a harem game?” one well-informed otaku in the company recognized, “You know, the type where the protagonist can pursue multiple girls, but if they all get involved, things escalate into a big mess.”
Lin Zhaohe: “Is there really such a thing? Do you know the specific title?”
“I don’t know,” a colleague replied, “Can you at least tell us the name of the female lead? Maybe if I hear it, it will jog my memory.”
Lin Zhaohe: How could I dare to ask them for the names? It’s not like I’m a 2D character who can be stabbed and still crawl back home the next day to continue dating.
“If you really want to find it, you can come to my place,” Zhuang Lao offered. “I might have what you’re looking for.”
Lin Zhaohe blushed and shyly replied, “That wouldn’t be appropriate, Boss…”
Zhuang Lao: “I’m not at home, you can go by yourself.”
Upon hearing this, Lin Zhaohe was somewhat disappointed, but pretended to be happy and thanked his boss. The next day, he found some time to visit Zhuang Lao’s house.
Upon arriving at Zhuang Lao’s house, Lin Zhaohe discovered that every room in the large mansion, except for the guest room on the second floor, was filled with an extensive collection of gaming and novel books. Zhuang Lao even had a dedicated server to store those banned online novels. It was truly a paradise for otaku.
Guided by the butler, Lin Zhaohe was led to a room on the fourth floor. The butler explained that the room was filled with dating games and instructed Lin Zhaohe to search at his own pace. If he needed anything, he could simply call the butler. Lin Zhaohe awkwardly replied with a “thank you” and entered the room, ready to dive into a thorough search.
Characteristics: The male protagonist’s name contained the character “Yao,” and there were a total of five characters that could be pursued, each with distinctive hairstyles. After rummaging through the room, Lin Zhaohe actually stumbled upon a CD in a corner. The appearances of the characters on the disc seemed oddly familiar, exactly like the ones he had seen the day before.
Lin Zhaohe inserted the disc into the game console and quickly went through the storyline. However, the more he played, the more something felt off. Frowning, he asked his otaku colleague, “Why did I die again? Is this a dating game or a survival game?”
In other dating games, if the affection level was not high enough, at most the player’s attempts to pursue a character would fail. But in this game, if the affection level was not high enough, the player was directly killed. Lin Zhaohe trembled in fear, realizing that he only wanted to know if the characters in the game were aggressive and posed a threat to him. However, he inadvertently ended up witnessing ten thousand ways for the male protagonist to die.
Lin Zhaohe’s otaku colleague asked for the title of the work and chuckled. “This game is quite famous, not for its gameplay or character designs, but for its malicious intent towards the players.” It felt less like a romance and more like an extreme survival challenge.
“Dying all the time isn’t a solution,” Lin Zhaohe remarked. “What should I do if I pursue all five of them?”
The otaku suggested, “Should we divide them up and each take one?”
Lin Zhaohe was speechless. The male protagonist in the game was indeed quite despicable, flirting with numerous girls and shamelessly claiming that one of them was just his sister when confronted by the girls’ inquiries.
“If they were to come into reality, they wouldn’t attack people around them, right?” Lin Zhaohe dreaded this possibility, as he didn’t want to move.
“I don’t think so,” the otaku replied. “Unless you also want to date them…”
Lin Zhaohe raised an eyebrow. He never had such a strange thought.
After bidding farewell to his colleague and planning to take the disc back home to play and explore different endings, Lin Zhaohe passed through the mansion’s living room. On the tea table, he noticed a novel with a cover that seemed strikingly familiar. Lin Zhaohe’s gaze fixated on the font on the cover, involuntarily slowing his footsteps.
The butler noticed and kindly asked, “Would Mr. Lin like to read that book?”
“Ah, no,” Lin Zhaohe shook his head. “It’s nothing… I just didn’t expect the boss to enjoy reading this type of novel.”
“The master delves into various genres of novels,” the butler smiled. “This is the master’s favorite book.”
Lin Zhaohe was taken aback.
“The master has read it many times,” the butler continued, “Do you also like it, Mr. Lin?”
Lin Zhaohe vaguely brushed it off, neither expressing liking nor disliking, and quickly slipped away.
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