Xie Chi was about to step forward when Gu Yu, who was closest to the feather, bent down and picked it up. He naturally handed the feather to Jiang Shuo. Jiang Shuo didn’t intend to share it with the other actors and just whispered to Gu Yu. The other actors were a bit uncomfortable with Gu Yu’s selfish behavior but they didn’t dare to speak up.
Xie Chi had previously glanced at it roughly. It was a red feather that wasn’t very big or long. It was soft and downy.
Ye Xiaoxiao thought about the huge movement made by something unknown before and whispered, “Is it the feather of an ibis?”
Xie Chi replied, “It should be.”
They could now be sure that the ‘Star’ card was the dominant timing. On the only tree in the ‘Star’ card, there was a bird with red feathers resting. It was an ibis. The ibis was a type of protected animal with a long beak and a crown. It had white and red feathers and its body was slender and elegant. Of course in the tarot card, the ibis had a different feeling. The patron saint of time in ancient Egypt was Thoth. According to unreliable data, Thoth was an ibis. Thoth was the guardian of the Akashic Records, the legendary book of cosmic life.
Ren Ze felt a bit dizzy. “What is this trying to imply?”
Xie Chi raised an eyebrow. “Let’s go in first.”
He looked at Jiang Shuo. Jiang Shuo’s expression was tense. He obviously hadn’t gained anything.
The group followed the path to the castle and the person who came out to greet them was dressed as a maid. The maid was dressed in a black robe made of unknown velvet. It felt extremely warm looking. She had no colors other than black and this made her look solemn and ominous.
“Hello, how did we get here?” Gu Yu pretended to be suspicious and asked according to the initial settings of the character and the story.
The maid opened her mouth but didn’t make any sound. Everyone thought she was mute. Then upon taking a closer look, they found that the maid didn’t have a tongue in her mouth! Her tongue was removed cleanly with no residue. Her mouth was empty and moist, like a dark, bottomless hole.
Ren Ze whispered, “How does she eat…?”
It wasn’t just because of the teeth that people could chew food and swallow. The tongue also played a major role. Without a tongue, eating was a big problem.
Xie Chi said nothing. He was obviously thinking about it. Pulling out the tongue… did the maid know something that someone didn’t want them to know? Xie Chi stared up at the castle that was close by. Currently, things might be a bit complicated.
The maid’s eyes were hollow and numb. She didn’t pay attention to them anymore. She just took out a pitch-black keychain from her pocket and unlocked the outer gate of the castle. Once everyone entered, she directly locked the gate. Then in front of everyone’s shocked eyes, she stuffed the key… into her mouth. Her throat moved twice. He didn’t know if it was an illusion but Xie Chi could hear the clear sound of the key falling into her stomach and hitting the lining.
A few cannon fodder felt numb. Ren Ze felt a chill in his heart. Was this still a human?
The gate behind him was two meters tall. It was pitch-black and sharp as a sword. Once the door was locked, it was impossible for ordinary people to escape. In other words, they were going to spend the next seven nights in this terrifying castle.
The maid didn’t let them enter the main entrance of the castle. Instead, she took them around the castle in a small half circle and came to the side entrance of the castle.
Xie Chi took the opportunity to look at the castle. The castle was no different from the one on the poster but that was at a distance. Now he was looking from up close. Xie Chi found several locations on the walls of the ancient castle with traces of black burn marks, especially on the spire of the castle. The ball on the spire of the castle was similar to the white ball on top of Santa’s hat but it was now charred black. He didn’t know what had happened to the castle.
Xie Chi only came to his senses once they reached the destination. In front of them were three people in the same outfit as the maid feeding crows. They were men and women and should be servants of this old castle.
“So the crows outside the forest are fed here?”
Ye Xiaoxiao asked casually only to hear Xie Chi say after a moment, “They eat very well.”
Ye Xiaoxiao turned to look at him in a puzzled manner. “What?”
Xie Chi didn’t answer. He just pointed to a dozen palm-sized gold bottles held in the arms of the three servants. There were no tweezers. The servants used the slender claws of the lobsters in the black forest to grab a piece of meat from the extravagant narrow-mouthed golden bottle. The meat was thinly sliced. There was no wind blowing but it swayed and shook naturally. The crows were lured to jump up and eat it. The servants’ lips moved like they wanted to say something to the crows but they had no tongue in their mouths.
Xie Chi thought, ‘Sure enough, someone pulled out all the servants’ tongues.’
He approached slightly and saw the meat. It was raw meat but it didn’t have the clear texture of ordinary meat. It was rotten. It looked like the skin had been rubbed hard against the gravel ground because the flesh was torn open. There were large pores on it, purple-red like lips that had been frozen for a long time.
“What meat is it?” Ren Ze came over.
Xie Chi shook his head and told the truth. “I can’t tell.”
Xie Chi covered his nose with his hands. After his body continued to be strengthened, his sense of smell improved a lot and the meat seemed a bit rotten.
The servants were very particular about feeding. A crow could only eat the meat of one golden bottle and it couldn’t be mixed. If a crow tried to take the meat that didn’t belong to it, servants would drive them away with sticks tied with straw.
Xie Chi counted. There were countless crows outside the castle but there were only 11 crows inside the castle. They had small red marks on their dark claws.
Xie Chi tilted his head. “Did you notice any marks on the crows outside?”
Ren Ze and Ye Xiaoxiao were trying to remember when the mature woman not far from them glanced over and directly answered him, “No.”
Xie Chi glanced at her with surprise and nodded slightly. “Thank you.”
The woman seemed unwilling to talk and she cherished words like they were gold. “It is just a small effort.”
Xie Chi was thoughtful. So these 11 crows were carefully raised by humans while the ones outside were wild. 11 crows. There happened to be 11 people.
The moment all the crows finished eating their meat, the heavy side door of the castle opened with a creak.
Several servants came out and those feeding the crows in the yard also stood up and joined the line of servants. They lined up, stood at the side entrance and bowed respectfully to everyone, seemingly welcoming their arrival. Xie Chi counted again. They happened to be 11 servants.
Then a strange scene appeared. 11 servants lined up and walked toward a crow in the yard. They each bent over and picked up a crow. These crows had always been raised by others and weren’t afraid of people. They were very cooperative when being caught and had no idea of struggling. Soon, 11 servants held crows in their hands.
Ren Ze was confused and couldn’t help muttering, “What are they doing?”
This madness made him feel a bit eerie. To be honest, he didn’t understand it even until now. The servants holding the crows once again formed the original line. They were in a row and stood facing an actor.
The one who had swallowed the key before, the leading maid walked out of the line, took a piece of paper from her pocket and walked straight to Jiang Shuo. A slight strangeness appeared in Xie Chi’s heart. The maid seemed to distinguish who they were?
The maid over there gave Jiang Shuo a paper. Jiang Shuo looked up and ordered. “All of you come here.”
The group gathered around and Jiang Shuo passed the paper to everyone. The paper said: In order to welcome you, please enjoy the crow show. Please stand in a line, each one opposite a servant with your hands flat and suspended in the air. After the crow show, we will welcome you to formally enter the castle.
Xie Chi couldn’t see anything at the moment so he acted decisively and picked a spot. Everyone did it one by one. The 11 actors quickly lined up and stood facing one of the 11 servants.
“A crow show, isn’t this moldy enough?” Ren Ze’s lips curled.
“…You can speak less words.”
The moment the servants released their hands, the crows started to dance. They were like wild geese in groups of three to five. Once in a while, one was alone, two kissed while another two fought.
Xie Chi’s mouth twitched. This was probably the most ghostly animal show he had ever seen.
[It might have a special meaning but it is stupid and cute.]
After the crows finished dancing, they didn’t return to the servants’ hands. Instead, they flew to the actors and landed randomly on their hands. Some time passed and every actor had a crow on their hand. Ren Ze was next to him and Xie Chi paid special attention. The mark on the leg of the crow on Ren Ze’s hand was no different from the one on his own hand.
Xie Chi met the crow’s black eyes and felt slightly uncomfortable.
The crows’ performance ended and the servants stepped aside to welcome everyone into the castle. The door behind them closed tightly and everyone’s eyes fell on the huge disk in the center of the castle’s hall. This thing was too big and too eye-catching.
Ye Xiaoxiao was a bit nervous. “It is the ‘Wheel of Fortune’.”
This round disc was very iconic. Among the 22 major arcana cards, only the ‘Wheel of Fortune’ matched. The actors also thought of this and had different expressions.
Behind them, the main maid gestured to the other servants. The servants understood and went to do their own thing. The maid herself went to the disc and waved to everyone. The group immediately got closer and saw the disc clearly.
It was a round disc made of wood and with a smooth surface. On it, some symbols and arrows were painted with ink. The left side of the disc had a lifelike snake while the right was a strange creature with a human body and a dog face. There was also a Sphinx on top of the wheel. The upper left, upper right, bottom left and bottom right had yellow stone statues. Roughly speaking, they were animals.
The maid took out a piece of paper and quickly wrote on it. A few minutes later, she handed the paper to Jiang Shuo. Jiang Shuo knew what she met and was too impatient to pass the words on to each person. He directly stuffed the paper into Gu Yu’s hand.
Gu Yu glanced at it and read the content on the paper aloud. “What we promised will be realized once you successfully complete the game. The game has started. Let me introduce you to some of the game rules first and then I will take you to meet my master.”
Xie Chi pursed his lips.
The maid didn’t say ‘the game will start after the introduction’ but ‘the game has started. Let me introduce you to some of the game rules’. This meant that the game had already started while they knew nothing about the rules. He just didn’t know what node the game started at. Was it the weird crow dancing just now? In addition, she mentioned introducing ‘some rules’ rather than ‘all rules’. In other words, they would enter the game with insufficient information?
Xie Chi was worried in his heart.
Gu Yu continued to read. “First, there is no day in the old castle, only eternal night. However, the night is divided into two different celestial phenomena, the ‘stars’ and the ‘moon’. You can roughly interpret the stars as daytime and the moon as nighttime.”
“Once the moon appears, there is a high probability that something bad will happen. Of course, you aren’t completely safe when the stars appear, please know this.”
Everyone’s expressions tensed and they listened with pricked ears.
“Secondly, the game time is seven nights and the results will only appear on the seventh night of the game. During this period, you must not leave the castle at all or the consequences will be at your own risk.”
Actors knew that the consequences mostly referred to ‘death’.
“Third, don’t enter any room with a lock on the door without authorization or we won’t be responsible for what happens.”
“Fourth, the Wheel of Fortune decides whether the stars or the moon dominates the sky. Every six hours, you will send someone to turn the Wheel of Fortune. If the arrow of the Wheel of Fortune stops on the half with the snake, it is the dangerous moon time. If it stops on the right half with Anubis, it is the safe star time.”
Xie Chi frowned. So the so-called seven nights didn’t mean 7×12=84 hours. It was referring to… the opportunity to spin the Wheel of Fortune seven times. One spin was every six hours so the exact game time was 6×7=42 hours. This was less than two days.
The group was clearly aware of this and looked a bit nervous. The shorter the time, the faster the pace and the more intense the danger. It also left them with less time to sort out the clues and find a way to live. They had been too happy before. They didn’t expect seven nights to actually be like this.
Gu Yu was probably also thinking about the meaning. He only continued after some time, “In addition to the celestial phenomenon, the Wheel of Fortune might give guidance. Players should explore this point by themselves.”
Regarding the Wheel of Fortune, Xie Chi had checked the details before. The Wheel of Fortune was named after fortune and the meaning was self-evidence. The Wheel of Fortune never stopped turning. Things might get better or worse but change was certain and things couldn’t stop.
On the left side of the Wheel of Fortune, a snake was drawn. This snake represented Set, the god of darkness in Egyptian legends. It represented disputes, decay and death. It constantly tried to reduce order in the universe and make everything worse. So turning to the side of the snake to represent the dangerous ‘moon’ was actually appropriate.
Correspondingly, the other side representing ‘stars’ was a monster with the human body and dog face. From the maid’s words, this was Anubis. It might be ugly but it was a good symbol. According to Egyptian legends, Anubis was the mentor of dead souls and the beginning of a new life. Anubis provided shelter and helped people move from death to rebirth, finding new opportunities through change.
Anubis represented vitality, new life and opportunity. So in the game, it corresponded with the safe ‘stars’. So far, the rules were very reasonable.
Gu Yu read the last part. “Now I will take you in and lead you to see my master. The first night will be stars by default. Six hours later, you will send one person to spin the Wheel of Fortune. If no one comes down in time, the matter will be carried out by us.”