From almost the beginning of the instance, all the actors knew that there were many tarot cards hidden in the movie apart from the 56 minor arcana cards. Xie Chi kept wondering how many tarot cards there really were in this movie.
The emergence of the tarot cards kept expanding this number. As of the time when the hermit mentioned the Devil card, 15 major arcana cards had appeared in the instance. There were nine identity cards, one Hermit card to help the players, the three cards of the Tower, the Devil and Death to help the wizard and two astronomical cards.
For the major arcana, there were 22 cards in total and the remaining cards appeared less and less over time. There were only seven left.
Previously, Xie Chi had talked about the classification of the tarot cards with Ren Ze and Ye Xiaoxiao. Among the seven cards that hadn’t appeared, there happened to be four abstract cards that he divided into one category. They were the Chariot, Strength, Justice, Temperance and the celestial Sun card. This meant the more complicated ones were the Judgement and World cards.
If he were bold, he would answer the question of ‘how many tarot cards are in the movie?’ with 21 or 22. This meant that all major arcana cards existed and everything had an answer. The remaining seven tarot cards existed but were still hidden in the instance. It just so happened that there were four grooves on the stone door. The moment the number four appeared, Xie Chi had a faint premonition in his heart.
Over time, this hunch grew stronger and stronger.
The support of the wizard who chose to reincarnate was the Tower card, the Death card and the Devil card. The goal was to collect sacrifices. It was already known that the power on the player side was the Hermit card. Then they should also have a goal.
Finding the four hidden abstract tarot cards and opening the stone door seemed close to the game goal that hadn’t been found by the players.
Once the wizard reached the goal of the game and killed all the sacrifices, he could win the game and be successfully reincarnated. Using an analogy, the players had to find the Chariot, Strength, Justice and Temperance cards to open the stone door. Then they would be successful in the final judgement and find the so-called World card. The World card meant a successful and perfect end.
This was a complete game. It was just that all the rules of the game were hidden. It just so happened that the choice of reincarnating represented evil, killing, sin and selfishness. This was the road to death, harming others out of self-interest. It stood on the back of the Justice card and was favored by the three negative cards, the Tower, Death and the Devil.
This road was based on the death of players. The successful one would replace the wizard and become the new tarot wizard. They would get rid of the identity of the living dead, gain a new life, regain the identity of an actor and leave the movie smoothly.
However, this road was dark and narrow. Only one person could gain victory because in the tarot reincarnation method, there could only be one successful reincarnation. During the trial, the other actors would be the petri dishes for their reincarnation energy source.
The other path was full of vitality. It was possible to achieve a win-win situation. As long as people voluntarily die, they would have four qualities at the same time.
The willpower represented by the Chariot and the strength of the Strength card were the easiest to find. Meanwhile, the Justice card required the actor to give up on reincarnation. The most difficult one was the Temperance card.
Since only one person could walk on the path of life, it wanted this one person to have the qualities represented by four cards at the same time. The extra players who became the living dead had no way to go and could only choose the path of reincarnation where many people could walk. This path was too narrow and it was destined that only one person could win. The players who lost would stay in the instance forever after the game was over.
It was because they lost their actor identity and didn’t succeed in reincarnating to regain their identity. Ye Xiaoxiao was currently ‘dead’ but she died with an actor’s identity. As long as he won the trial, Ye Xiaoxiao would be reborn with the identity of an actor.
This was what the Temperance card wanted to convey. It was only by showing restraint and giving up at the right time that he could achieve a win-win situation. The road to life, there was a slight possibility of… all the actors leaving the game unharmed as long as they didn’t enter the living dead state.
On the contrary, competition and suppression would lead people on a narrow road to death. Sacrifice and trust would lead people to the spacious path to live. This was the ultimate theme of this Tarot Game movie.
Dying and then resurrecting—it wasn’t just some players entering the living death state after they died. It was the remaining players voluntarily giving up the comfortable and invincible state after becoming a living dead. Death and life were never separated. They could transform into each other.
Most of the living dead died from selfishness. The strongest of them would reach the peak of loneliness and lose everything except for loneliness. To the dead who died but lived due to their sacrifice, they could truly achieve the perfection that the World card wanted to express.
Xie Chi believed that behind the stone door were the coffins and this was the game’s trial area. It was because there were many black coffins on the Judgment card. The sky on the Judgment card was vast and the judgment angel hung in the sky, spreading its huge wings. All sins couldn’t be hidden in front of it. At that time, the path that everyone chose would lead them to a completely different ending.
Xie Xinglan also figured it out and immediately said, “Go, we will go back to the secret path.”
If Temperance was available then he should be able to open all four of the grooves on the stone door now. Jiang Shuo was powerful and killed very quickly, leaving them little time.
Xie Chi was stunned and responded a bit late.
“What’s going on?” Xie Xinglan was keenly aware of Xie Chi’s strangeness and asked warmly.
Xie Chi pursed his lips. “Brother, I think something is missing. Open the stone door and then it’s over…?”
Xie Chi’s eyes were a bit dazed. He instinctively felt that the instance wasn’t complete enough. What about after opening the stone door? What should he do? Lie in a coffin? Communicate with himself in the dead state? He didn’t know.
Xie Chi decisively said, “Let’s go back to the secret path first.”
Xie Xinglan headed to the secret path as fast as possible.
[??? He saw her dying and didn’t save her??]
[This personality is too bad. He was clearly capable… emmm.]
[Ye Xiaoxiao was too warm and virtuous. Although I knew Xie Chi was selfish but it is really chilling to actually see him do so.]
[Saving Ye Xiaoxiao will just add a burden. It is understandable from Xie Chi’s point of view.]
[How can you Xie fans whitewash him now? Every day, you talk about the character of the movie emperor. What about your family now?]
[Hiss, the movie emperor found Liang Zhen… Liang Zhen is done.]
The moment he returned to the room of the beautiful maid, Xie Chi heard Liang Zhen’s scream in the corridor.
His heart sank. It was the fourth one in just a few minutes. Jiang Shuo killed Ye Xiaoxiao and Liang Zhen one after another and offered two sacrifices to the heavens and earth. His progress was already equal to the wizard.
According to the death order, the fifth sacrifice was Jiang Shuo. Since he had already committed suicide and became the living dead, his death was automatically skipped. Now in the instance, only four actors were still ‘alive.’ They were Ren Ze, the couple and Gu Yu.
Xie Chi pressed his lips tightly together. According to Jiang Shuo’s current speed, there would be no living people in 20 minutes at most. In addition, it wasn’t Jiang Shuo killing alone. There was also the wizard.
Based on the app’s tricky nature, once Jiang Shuo killed all the offerings, the time of the movie should accelerate. It wasn’t impossible for the progress to jump directly to the last night.
Xie Xinglan kicked off the plank and entered the secret path again. The wizard was busy competing with Jiang Shuo to kill all the sacrifices. He definitely had no time to guard the secret path now. After all, Jiang Shuo was the biggest danger. The secret path was insignificant compared to that.
In a way, Jiang Shuo’s behavior helped Xie Chi.
Xie Xinglan looked at his watch while running. He soon arrived at the stone door again. Just like last time, he inserted his hand in the first to third grooves. The shaking of the stone door was becoming more and more intense.
Xie Chi’s heart was tense as he pressed the fourth groove and waited. There was a sudden scorching pain. At the same time, the stone door started to tremble. The entire secret room shook, rubble rolled down and blood was surging in the thin blood pool.
Xie Chi sensed the efforts being made by the people behind the stone door. Behind the stone door, the sound of knocking on the coffin lid was becoming louder and louder, as if it was encouragement. It was urging him and signaling him.
On the stone gate, the blood solidified and melted. Then a strange and beautiful white flower opened in the blood. However, it was disappointing that the stone door didn’t open. It stopped trembling, suggesting a failure.
The bewilderment in Xie Chi’s heart actually scattered when he saw this result. They had found the Temperance represented by the last groove but the door wasn’t open to them. Something was missing. This coincided with his feelings.
Xie Xinglan tried to hit the door but there was no movement. The sound of the banging was becoming faster and more complicated, suggesting that more actors were entering the dead state. They probably also realized that the movie was approaching its end and were urging him to hurry up.
Xie Chi glanced at his watch again. Five minutes had passed. He listened carefully. There were six different knocking sounds. Based on the order of death, Jiang Shuo was ranked fifth and Ren Ze was sixth. There were six knocks so Ren Ze was killed by Jiang Shuo.
There were only three people left. It would be easy for Jiang Shuo to kill the last Gu Yu because Gu Yu was completely defenseless in Jiang Shuo’s hands. Only the couple was left.
Xie Chi remained calm. He had experienced many things along the way and nothing could make him lose control of his emotions. He wandered around the secret room and found nothing. Then he turned around and his eyes fell on the strange white flower blooming in the blood.
Xie Chi was startled and his heart moved slightly. He walked to the white flower, lowered his head to touch it and sniffed it again. There were thorns on the green roots of the white flower. The fragrance was fragrant and elegant. It looked like a rose but a white one. A white rose was blooming in the blood.
Xie Chi remembered that out of the 22 major arcana cards, the first Fool card had a young man in colorful clothes. There was an abyss in front of him but he swaggered and ignored it. His expression was carefree as he walked forward, ignorant, fearless and foolish.
The Fool card represented adventure, recklessness, intuition, ignorance, enthusiasm, courage and purity. In the Fool’s left hand was a white rose. This white rose represented the purity and enthusiasm of the Fool.
After collecting four tarot cards, such a significant white rose appeared to guide him. Was it trying to imply that Liang Wen was the Fool?
Xie Chi frowned slightly. Wrong. He couldn’t think of a connection between Liang Wen and the white rose. In addition, Liang Wen was dead. Was there a secret on Liang Wen’s body? Then why use the white rose to imply it? Wouldn’t it be better to use the Fool directly?
The four grooves were all tarot cards with positive meaning. According to the previous thinking the white rose really couldn’t be linked to Liang Wen’s corpse. Wait—
Xie Chi’s heart shook suddenly. The white rose of the Fool’s card represented the purity of the heart. Perhaps it was… the heart. The Fool was the first card among the 22 major arcana cards and could represent… the beginning, the beginning of everything.
Xie Chi’s expression changed suddenly and his hands trembled. He closed his eyes and went through everything that had happened from the beginning to the present. Once he opened his eyes again, he was deeply shocked.
There was one point he had subconsciously ignored for a long time because he couldn’t find the corresponding point. Not long after the instance started, they were introduced to the castle. The servants picked out strange rotten meat from golden bottles to feed the crows.
Xie Chi stared at his hand for a while and slowly placed his hand on his heart. There was a sudden jump. It was smooth, rhythmic, real and warm.
Xie Chi smiled slowly with helplessness and relief. This was it. The white rose was suggesting for him to go back to the beginning and think about the problem. The beginning of the movie wasn’t entering the castle, meeting the maid who led the way or discovering the lobster and ibis feather. It was… waking up in the black forest.
This was the beginning of the movie—the group of actors waking up in the black forest. Xie Chi remembered very clearly. He had participated in so many movies but he had never woken up dizzy. This time, they woke up and found themselves lying on the ground.
Before seeing the white rose, he just regarded it as the request of the storyline and didn’t think too deeply. Yet now, an extremely important question formed in his mind. At what time did this tarot game start?
Was it the maid explaining the rules of the game, the crows dancing, the maid in black swallowing the key or perhaps earlier? Perhaps… the game quietly started from the moment they woke up. No, the game started before they woke up?
Xie Chi clearly remembered that when the maid introduced the rules of the game, she said ‘the game has started. Let me introduce you to some of the game rules’, not ‘the game will start after the introduction.’ It had already… started.
The reason why they woke up from an unconscious state was the crux of all the problems.
“Brother, dig out your left chest,” Xie Chi ordered calmly. He was now a living dead and immortal. Digging out his chest wouldn’t kill him. He needed verification.
Xie Xinglan understood. He found a sharpened bone to the side and cut at where his heart was. Severe pain struck his brain. Xie Xinglan gritted his teeth, his hands dripping blood and his eyes dizzy. He put his hand that was uncontrollably trembling into his left chest and fumbled for a while.
His expression changed completely. The position of his heart in his chest was empty. The real and reassuring heat beat was nothing more than an illusion. His heart had long been lost.
All the players had no hearts. They didn’t have the pure heart symbolized by the white rose. Thus, he couldn’t open the stone door because his pure and passionate heart was lost at the very beginning. The pure white rose blossomed on rotting and foul blood.
Xie Chi closed his eyes and quickly recalled everything that happened from the beginning of the movie to the present. Once he opened them, his eyes were clearer than ever. “Brother, the actors’ lost hearts are in the body of their corresponding crows. They could temporarily become human because they stole the actors’ hearts under the rules of the game.”
Xie Chi recalled that the moment he opened his eyes in the black forest, he didn’t only see eight stars in the sky. He also saw… the crow on the treetop. This was the beginning. There were only stars and crows around. The stars represented the celestial phenomena and the crows represented the heart thieves. At that time, he didn’t know anything but his heart was already inside the crow.
“The rotting flesh that the crows ate is their hearts.”
Xie Chi remembered very well that when the servants fed the crows, the crows were only allowed to eat the meat of one golden bottle. If a crow wanted to eat the meat of another bottle, it would be sternly driven back by the servants.
In each small golden bottle was the lost heart of the former players. Due to the passage of time, they had long rotted and exuded a stench. The previous players didn’t find their lost hearts and could only eat their rotten hearts at the beginning of the next game, degenerating into the wizard’s servants. The rotten meat was a symbol of their failure and eternal loss.
The new players were the successors of the previous players and their hearts were in the crows’ bodies. If they failed then their already rotting hearts would be fed to them at the beginning of the next game. It was because the hearts were useless.
The way to get everything back was to get back their own heart. After all, the actors came to participate in this evil game due to the temptation of money. This was the most important thing to open the stone door.
He needed to find the corresponding crow, cut out the actor’s heart from the crow’s chest, open the stone door and stuff the found heart into the actor’s chest in the coffin. This way, they could live anew in the trial.
Xie Xinglan also figured out the consequences.
Xie Chi immediately instructed, “Brother, we must go find my heart and Ye Xiaoxiao and Ren Ze’s hearts.”
TL: A small summary these confused about the beginning part, since I was initially as well. There is actually no need to take Xie Chi’s current path in the movie. The simplest method to pass the movie for an actor is to accept the reincarnation after dying, kill more sacrifices in the right order than anyone else and succeed in reincarnation. They will become the witch/wizard but can still leave the movie because they gained back the identity of an actor after succeeding in the reincarnation. Of course, this means that normally, only one actor will survive the movie. It is simple and the movie will probably stay the same quality.
Xie Chi’s path is one that explodes the hidden parts of the movie, leading the plot to be fuller and probably to an upgrade in quality once the movie is over.