Chapter 50.1 School Festival
Lin Zhaohe and Zhuang Lao fell silent. They had expected a heartwarming story, but the unfolding events took an unexpected turn.
“What happened next?” Jiang Guan inquired. “If that’s the case, why are you still assisting as an accomplice to the 2D?”
“I had no choice,” Lu Pingping confessed. “If I refused to help him, what other options did I have? Moreover, once you’ve taken that first step, it’s not easy to extricate yourself.” He let out a wry smile. “I had no choice but to continue down that path.”
“Have you ever met him?” Zhuang Lao asked. “What does he aim to gain by involving you in these activities?”
Lu Pingping shook his head. “I honestly don’t know.”
Zhuang Lao: “I find it hard to believe that you have no idea.”
Lu Pingping pressed his lips together, displaying unease. Zhuang Lao spoke, “Does he want something from the Fusion Zone? Like… Joseph’s mask?”
Lu Pingping’s pupils quivered, caught off guard by Zhuang Lao’s straightforward words.
“Correct guess,” Zhuang Lao stated. “But then, out of the blue, someone powerful appeared and snatched away what he wanted. Have you ever seen him?”
Lu Pingping: “I saw him once…”
Zhuang Lao: “What was he like?”
Lu Pingping: “Just an ordinary person, someone who effortlessly blends into the crowd. Nothing remarkable about him.” A faint look of confusion appeared on his face. “I’ve almost forgotten what he looks like.”
Zhuang Lao: “When was the last time he contacted you?”
Lu Pingping forced a wry smile. “Could you help me stop the bleeding first? I feel like I’m on the verge of death.”
Blood streamed onto the floor from his thigh, and Lu Pingping’s complexion grew increasingly grim. Jiang Guan snorted and pulled out the knife. She retrieved a round object of unknown material from her bag and firmly pressed it onto Lu Pingping’s leg wound. The bleeding promptly ceased.
Lu Pingping breathed a sigh of relief.
“Continue,” Jiang Guan urged, lighting her second cigarette.
“It was a few days ago,” Lu Pingping recounted. “He became interested in another Fusion Zone…”
“Which work is it?” Lin Zhaohe asked. “It’s not another game, is it?”
“Not a game,” Lu Pingping sighed. “I wish it were a game. At least games have walkthroughs. Novels and movies, on the other hand, require personal exploration. It’s… a well-known horror novel called ‘The Twisted Path.'”
Lin Zhaohe: “Why do you always find things of this nature…”
Lu Pingping shrugged, expressing his helplessness.
‘The Twisted Path’ was indeed famous, but its fame stemmed not from the work itself, but from the phenomena it brought forth.
It was rumored that this novel was cursed. During its creation, the author encountered numerous unfortunate incidents. First, those close to him passed away one by one. Within six months of the novel’s serialization, his parents, spouse, and closest friends all died under mysterious circumstances. The author’s mental state deteriorated significantly. He claimed that he was cursed and urged everyone not to read the novel.
However, the author did not anticipate that his words would only fuel the novel’s popularity. People became curious about the novel with such an impact. Simultaneously, rumors began circulating on the internet, suggesting deliberate hype and that the author’s claims of accidents were all lies. Just when the discussions reached their peak, the author suddenly ceased updates and disappeared without a trace.
Subsequently, the website released news that the author’s editor died in a car accident while searching for the author. With that, it seemed like everyone associated with the novel had vanished. Despite the public’s search efforts, they were left with no answers. The fervor gradually subsided, and the novel became nothing more than an urban legend.
However, this was not the end of the story.
Three years later, a fearless director purchased the rights to the novel from the website and decided to adapt it into a film.
Three days after the commencement ceremony, a sudden and devastating fire disrupted all plans. The director perished in the inferno, while the lead actor sustained severe injuries. The process of bringing the novel to the screen came to an abrupt halt.
At this time, some individuals specifically sought out information about the author. They discovered that all the accidents he had mentioned were true. Apart from the author himself, who went missing with an unknown fate, all his loved ones perished under bizarre circumstances during the serialization of the novel.
If coincidences continued to occur, they ceased to be mere coincidences. Thus, the mysterious events surrounding this novel spread, and it could be said that anyone who surfed the internet hds heard something about it. Thanks to these events, the novel’s reputation grew.
Lin Zhaohe had read this novel, but the plot and writing were average, leaving no impression on him. However, he vividly remembered the urban legends surrounding it. “Does this novel also involve the Fusion Zone?”
“To some extent, it has gained quite a bit of popularity,” Jiang Guan replied. “There are quite a few people who enjoy this novel.”
Lin Zhaohe: “Did the author really die?”
“He disappeared,” Jiang Guan explained. “The events that occurred within his family were all real.”
It was not a rumor or an exaggeration. Every tragic event happened to the author himself. No one could bear such cruel changes in such a short period. As an ordinary person, the author inevitably developed mental issues and suddenly vanished.
Zhuang Lao didn’t entirely believe Lu Pingping’s words and wanted to confirm certain things. “What are the email account and password you used to contact him?”
Lu Pingping obediently recited a series of numbers.
Zhuang Lao logged into the email account and indeed found records of communication between Lu Pingping and that person called Oedipus. He quickly skimmed through the content and made a new discovery. “He arranged to meet you within ‘The Twisted Path,’ right?”
Lu Pingping nodded, “That’s correct…”
Zhuang Lao: “Three days from now, at midnight, in Building 13, Classroom 4-11.”
Lu Pingping nodded in agreement.
However, Jiang Guan felt something was amiss and questioned, “Since you’re entering a horror novel, how do you plan to deceive those children?”
Lu Pingping awkwardly smiled and replied, “It’s a long story.”
Jiang Guan:”You can take your time and explain.”
When under the same roof, one had no choice but to lower their head. Facing the scrutinizing gaze of Jiang Guan, Lu Pingping, whose complexion had slightly improved, decided to confess honestly. “Actually, ‘The Twisted Path’ is not just a standalone Fusion Zone. It has fused with that game, ‘School Festival.'”
Lin Zhaohe: “What is this ‘School Festival’?”
Lu Pingping: “It’s a fun little game where you can pursue romantic relationships with various girls.”
Upon hearing this, Lin Zhaohe immediately recalled the gruesome death of his neighbor. His expression darkened. “Can’t the children nowadays focus on their studies instead of playing all sorts of chaotic games?”
Lu Pingping: “Oh, ignorant virg¡n.”
Lin Zhaohe: “???” He cursed Qi Ming for making the whole world know he was a virg¡n.
According to Lu Pingping, this game called “School Festival” used to be extremely popular, a dating simulation game with over a hundred girls available for players to pursue. It had a sweet atmosphere, cozy environment, and was a must-have for otaku. But, by some twist of fate, it merged with “The Twisted Path.” So, what exactly was the situation inside? Lu Pingping couldn’t say for sure.
Lin Zhaohe: “If you’re not sure, why did you bring people inside?”
Lu Pingping straightened up, trying to appear confident. “Well, I can’t die anyway.”
Lin Zhaohe: You’re really inviting trouble, my friend.
With the time and location determined and all the necessary questions asked, Lu Pingping had served his purpose. Zhuang Lao had no immediate plans to kill him, so he called someone in to bandage his wounds and temporarily detain him.
Jiang Guan extinguished the cigarette and asked Zhuang Lao if he intended to go inside.
“Hmm,” Zhuang Lao responded, “I’ll go meet that person.”
Jiang Guan: “Do you want me to come along?”
“No,” Zhuang Lao said, “You’ve never been in a romantic relationship.”
Both of them had a moment of internal struggle, visibly affected by Zhuang Lao’s remark.
With three days remaining until they entered, Zhuang Lao assigned Lin Zhaohe a task—to familiarize himself with “School Festival.” Lin Zhaohe was puzzled as to why Zhuang Lao didn’t mention “The Twisted Path.” Zhuang Lao habitually patted Lin Zhaohe’s head, as if soothing a puppy, and said, “I think ‘School Festival’ would be a bit more challenging for you.”
Lin Zhaohe: “????”
Confronted with Zhuang Lao’s skepticism, Lin Zhaohe, consumed by anger, decided to prove himself. He vowed to spend the next two days without eating, drinking, sleeping, or resting until he successfully pursued all the female characters in “School Festival.”
On the first day, Little Red Square brought him breakfast and curiously asked if he was playing a fighting game because he kept getting beaten.
Lin Zhaohe’s eyes turned red with fury as he exclaimed, “You don’t understand anything! I’m in a romantic relationship with her!” Before he could finish his sentence, the female character slapped him. Little Red Square looked confused and innocently commented, “Humans have such strange ways of being in love. Is hitting someone the same as loving them?”
Lin Zhaohe, with red-rimmed eyes, stubbornly argued, “Why does she only hit me and not others? It’s because she likes me!”
Little Red Square: “……”
It was a complete failure, an utter defeat. Lin Zhaohe, who had never been in a romantic relationship, fared poorly in the game, constantly choosing the wrong options among countless possibilities. After a day of failures, he ended up with no girlfriend but gained a few enemies. Frustrated, he sought out Gu Xuyu and asked for his insights on the game.
To Lin Zhaohe’s dismay, Gu Xuyu showed no interest in such games. He furrowed his brows and expressed his disapproval, stating that indulging in romance would shake one’s virtuous heart. He advised Lin Zhaohe to steer clear of romantic entanglements, emphasizing that avoiding both female and male allure would be for the best. Gu Jueyu, in particular, served as a prime example of the negative consequences.
Gu Jueyu, already exuding an ethereal aura due to Gu Xuyu’s influence, sat on the nearby sofa, gripping a game controller. He sighed softly and said, “Men are nothing but trouble.”
“Look,” Gu Xuyu proudly declared, “he is starting to comprehend.”
Lin Zhaohe: “……” Are they teaming up to become monks?
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