Chapter 56.1 Game Game Game
When the crowd heard that the burly man’s fortunate friend was eaten, they couldn’t help but burst into laughter. Even Lin Zhaohe joined in, chuckling heartily. Mr. Li’s face darkened, and he sternly remarked that being eaten by him was a privilege. Would you like to be honored too?
The burly man, resembling a scolded child, immediately lowered his head, afraid to make a sound.
Mr. Li expressed his approval of the restaurant, particularly the way the food was served, which he found delightful.
In the midst of their conversation, several elegantly dressed servers approached, carrying trays. Both men and women were among these beautiful individuals, each exuding a refined and attractive aura. They were the very servers Mr. Li had mentioned earlier.
Lin Zhaohe initially believed that Mr. Li had an affinity for these attractive individuals. However, he noticed Mr. Li’s gaze fixed on them. Lin Zhaohe’s throat reflexively swallowed, realizing in an instant that Mr. Li was genuinely desiring their bodies in a literal sense.
“They are human-shaped beings crafted from the finest ingredients,” Mr. Li said, his heart-shaped eyes gleaming with delight. He struggled to contain his overwhelming appetite. He continued, “This is Shangling, the most delicious mushroom I have ever tasted. I have only had it once, but the flavor of the stew… just one bite, and you’ll realize that everything you’ve eaten before was nothing but slop!”
Confronted by Mr. Li’s predatory gaze, the seasoned ingredients remained unruffled, sporting unwavering smiles and composed expressions. However, when they turned away, Lin Zhaohe noticed a damp patch on their backs—despite the chilly day, it seemed Mr. Li had frightened them.
Reluctantly tearing his gaze away, Mr. Li gestured for the others to indulge in the appetizers.
Lin Zhaohe, with one foot propped on Zhuang Lao’s thigh and the other resting on the table, eagerly eyed the tantalizing food, saliva pooling in his mouth. Zhuang Lao asked, “Can dogs eat this?”
Mr. Li replied, “Give it a taste. It’ll all return to normal later anyway.”
Understanding the logic, Zhuang Lao picked up a morsel and offered it to Lin Zhaohe’s waiting mouth.
The appetizer appeared inconspicuous at first glance—a thin, glistening slice. Lin Zhaohe initially mistook it for some kind of meat but soon discovered it was actually bamboo shoots. Crispy and infused with the fresh fragrance of spring bamboo, they transported Lin Zhaohe to a bamboo grove after a gentle rain, where tender shoots emerged with delicate tips.
The group savored the delectable dish in silence, each taking their time to relish the flavors.
“Ingredients that forcibly manipulate one’s emotions after consumption are excessively flamboyant,” Mr. Li remarked, savoring each bite. “True culinary excellence lies in embracing simplicity, valuing quality and knife skills—a return to the roots.”
Lin Zhaohe didn’t grasp the deeper meaning behind Mr. Li’s words. All he knew was that the food was incredibly delicious. He chuckled mischievously, pleading, “Boss, could you please give me one more serving? Just a little more. Oh, please, I can still manage a bit more!”
Seeing the sparkling, damp eyes of his little dog, Zhuang Lao remained firm as iron, mercilessly refusing, “There are more dishes coming. You can’t eat too much.”
Lin Zhaohe’s eyes immediately welled up with tears, and his fluffy ears drooped down.
Zhuang Lao: “Crying won’t help either.”
Lin Zhaohe: “Waaah! I don’t want to be a little dog anymore.”
Soon, one delicious dish after another was brought to the table. Mr. Li indulged in them, eating with enraptured delight, almost gnawing on the plates. Amidst the meal, they chatted about the ongoing competition. The burly man mentioned that there had been quite a few participants in recent contests, and the ingredients from this realm had almost been fully collected. Everyone was eager to descend to the lower realm.
“Why not allow everyone to freely enter?” Lin Yan couldn’t understand. “Why organize a competition?”
Shaking his head, the burly man replied with a playful sway, “They don’t want all the food lovers to perish in the lower realm. Before, for every ten people who entered, only one could come out. If things keep going this way, everyone above will be wiped out completely.”
“But it doesn’t make sense to completely seal off the passage.”
The burly man said, “Strength speaks for itself. If you disagree, have the ability to challenge them yourself!”
Lin Yan had a good temper, so he smiled and didn’t mind. However, Mr. Li’s mood soured upon hearing those words. With a loud thud, he slammed the table and said coldly, “Do you think I dare not?”
The burly man laughed awkwardly, “Of course, Mr. Li dares… I was just joking.”
Lin Zhaohe didn’t pay attention to them and was still engaged in a serious struggle with Zhuang Lao. The meatballs were delicious, and the fried squid rolls were also tasty. The soup, made from unknown ingredients, was also incredibly flavorful. Although he only had a bit of each item, his already small stomach quickly became full, and he didn’t have a chance to eat any of the food that came later. No matter how cute he acted, Zhuang Lao remained unmoved. It was the burly man who couldn’t bear it anymore and said, “Why don’t you let the little puppy have a taste? Don’t let the cub go hungry.”
Zhuang Lao: “I have a sense of propriety.”
The burly man looked at Lin Zhaohe with a pitiful gaze, then glanced at Mr. Li, seemingly weighing something in his mind. In the end, he didn’t say anything and just shared in Lin Zhaohe’s disappointment.
After everyone had eaten their fill, the burly man called someone over when it was time to pay. The person who arrived was even taller and stronger than him, walking like a walking mountain. He stood in front of the burly man and spoke in a deep, booming voice, “I’m here.”
The burly man asked, “Where are the things you brought?”
The tall individual pulled out a stack of money from his pocket and placed it on the table. The burly man picked up the money to settle the bill, but the tall person’s gaze fell on Lin Zhaohe. It was an intense gaze, as if a starving wolf had spotted a raw piece of meat, longing to pounce and take a few bites of Lin Zhaohe.
Zhuang Lao raised an eyebrow and spoke displeasedly, “What are you looking at?”
“Stop staring, stop staring,” the burly man hastily patted the tall person. “That’s their puppy.”
“But it’s so cute,” the tall person felt a bit aggrieved after being patted and muttered, “Dad, I want to have a puppy like this.”
It turned out he was the burly man’s son. Like father, like son indeed. Faced with his son’s request, the burly man sighed, “Xiao Shan, didn’t I already catch one for you?”
Xiao Shan: “But Dad, I want one with this color.” He pointed at Lin Zhaohe, and his palm was already as big as Lin Zhaohe’s entire body.
The burly man, filled with world-weariness, said, “Xiao Shan, our family doesn’t have that kind of luck…”
Xiao Shan, a grown man, burst into tears. “I don’t want the one you found for me. I want a puppy like this.”
Lin Zhaohe had been thinking that this family seemed quite fragile. Weren’t all dogs similar? Dogs were all cute. Why be so picky? It was only when they stepped out of the restaurant and saw the dog tied up at the entrance that they understood.
Was that a dog? No, it looked like a three-headed hellhound. With three heads and not a single strand of fur, it was chained with a thick iron chain around its neck. Its sharp teeth were exposed, drooling, and occasionally it roared and barked at people, even spewing flames from its mouth…
In contrast, the soft and fluffy Lin Zhaohe, nestled in Zhuang Lao’s arms, instantly became an incredibly adorable mascot. It was no wonder the burly man’s son despised them so much.
When Xiao Shan approached to take the three-headed hellhound for a walk, he unfortunately got bitten hard. Judging by his expression, he seemed completely used to it. He wiped away the bloodstains, then cast a reluctant glance at Lin Zhaohe and whispered, “Where are the guests staying?”
The burly man looked at Mr. Li.
Mr. Li hadn’t had his fill yet. He still had room to eat more. He wanted to eat until his stomach burst and bankrupt the restaurant. “Let’s find a guesthouse to stay in.”
Lin Zhaohe was curious about how advanced this place was, to have such a complete chain of guesthouses.
“Why not?” Mr. Li said. “Although we are from the two-dimensional world, we were drawn by three-dimensional people. The basis of our fantasy is reality… So, nothing is surprising.”
By this time, it was getting late, and the street illuminated with lights. Along the roads, there were not only a variety of shops but also bustling barbecue stalls, fruit stands filled with colorful fruits, porcelain shops, and carts full of miscellaneous trinkets.
After the fusion, everyone lived in fear. In Lin Zhaohe’s memory, it had been a long time since they had seen a street filled with such a lively and earthly atmosphere. After the previous Min’an Street fell, the nighttime routine for people was to stay at home quietly and peacefully endure the long night. In the middle of the road, there were various cosplayers in all sorts of unique and colorful costumes.
There were animals wearing clothes, drivers in mechas, and giggling boys and girls with brightly colored hair. Just as Lin Zhaohe ran past, a giant snowman appeared, followed by a swarm of living colored bubbles. It was a strange yet harmonious scene that made Lin Zhaohe feel as if they were witnessing all the fantasies where humans fused together.
Mr. Li quickly got drawn to a barbecue stall on the roadside, drooling as he asked if they were hungry.
“Didn’t we just finish eating?”
Mr. Li wiped the corner of his mouth and said, “Finishing a meal and being full are two different things, my friend.”
It seemed like there was some truth to that.
Since they had nothing else to do, after securing their accommodations, everyone decided to find a barbecue stall and enjoy some nightlife. Mr. Li mentioned that the beer here was exceptionally delicious, brewed with a special type of hops that could only be found in the two-dimensional world. The only downside was its high alcohol content, which made it easy to get drunk.
Lin Zhaohe wondered to themselves if it was possible for two-dimensional alcohol to actually make someone drunk.
Lin Yan watched in astonishment as the barbecue stall owner carried a sheep into the kitchen. At first glance, the sheep appeared to be a regular one, but upon closer inspection, one would notice that it had neither eyes nor limbs. Instead, it resembled a massive clump of cotton.
“That’s a Cloud Sheep,” Mr. Li explained. “It grows in the sky, nourished by the wind and dew. It has very little gamey flavor and is perfect for stewing or grilling.”
As he spoke, the grilled lamb was served.
Lin Zhaohe’s portion had intentionally been left unsalted, but even so, it tasted exquisite. The meat was tender and succulent, lacking any gaminess. The combination of lean and fatty portions created a rich and flavorful experience. As Lin Zhaohe bit into it, they could feel the juices overflowing in his mouth. After a few bites, the meat effortlessly slid down his esophagus.
Compared to their previous world, Zhuang Lao and Lin Yan seemed to have relaxed significantly. The two of them enjoyed their drinks and engaged in casual conversations with Mr. Li.
Lin Zhaohe focused on eating the meat and soon became full, prompting Zhuang Lao to hold him in his arms as he let out a contented burp.
Lying on his back, Lin Zhaohe gazed up at the sky above.
There was a radiant moon in the sky, surrounded by colorful stars and clouds. Under the bright moonlight, various flying objects would occasionally soar through the air. There were little winged horses, witches riding brooms, and even an old man cracking a whip as he swiftly passed by on his reindeer.
“Are there any scary things here?” Lin Zhaohe asked Mr. Li, like ghosts or something similar.
“Yes,” Mr. Li replied. “We have all sorts of scary things, but we have a powerful character here who, once discovered, can directly move them to the lower realm. This place is divided into three realms, and the further down you go, the worse the situation becomes. Very few people have been to the third level. The surface level is where sentient beings with thoughts can coexist.”
The creations in the 2D world were diverse. Some integrate ld into collective life, while others were completely irrational. Humans were unable to handle them, but the 2D creatures could. This created a balance of power.
In Lin Zhaohe’s memory, fusion zones were always eerie and bizarre places. He never imagined that a fusion zone could foster harmonious coexistence.
Lin Yan seemed to have a low alcohol tolerance. The fair complexion of his cheeks had turned a deep shade of red. The gruesome wound on his face stood out prominently. One could only imagine how painful it must have been. He remained quiet for a while before managing to say, “The weather is really nice today.”
He wiped his eyes and whispered, “It’s been a long time since I’ve seen such beautiful weather.”
Lin Zhaohe comfortingly patted Lin Yan on the chest, leaving a few oily paw prints.
“This is good wine,” Zhuang Lao remarked.
“Indeed,” Mr. Li said. He squinted his eyes, appearing slightly intoxicated. “This wine is my favorite. You know, you’re called Lin Yan, right? Do you know, I’ve known you for a long time.”
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