Candleman Festival (1)
Ye Chang looked calmly at Chi Nan. “Rest assured, I am also unlucky.”
Chi Nan was calmer than him. “I’ve never drawn a prize before.”
“Does the person with the highest number get the right to be pardoned?” Chi Nan asked the system again.
[Two sleepwalkers, please roll the dice first. We will announce the rules for the right to be pardoned later.]
The system answered without a hitch. At the same time, a staff member had already brought a dice cup and tray.
Everyone, “……” Fairness was a joke, right? This sounded like an inside job.
Ye Chang looked at Chi Nan. “Then I will go first?”
Chi Nan nodded.
Ye Chang shook the dice cup with a calm expression. Based on the monotonous sound of the shaking, it could be judged that there was only one die in the dice cup.
Several sleepwalkers watched Ye Chang’s movements and were so nervous they instinctively held their breaths. In particular, Hei Cha’s forehead was already soaked in sweat.
In less than five seconds, Ye Chang stopped the movement of his hand and the sound of the die hitting something stopped.
“Open it?” He sought Chi Nan’s opinion.
Ye Chang opened the dice cup and smiled. “It is 6.”
Hei Cha’s eyes almost darkened when he heard this number and he thought it was finished.
According to ordinary rules, the one with the highest number must have the right to be pardoned. He rationally didn’t want Ye Chang to be in trouble but the other person was Chi Nan, who he treated as a younger brother. He was a bit selfish…
Chi Nan took the dice cup, shook it twice casually and then opened it. “Number 1.”
The voice of the system was heard. [As decided by the dream maker, the death immunity will be given to the person with the lowest points.]
The group, “……?” This result was unexpected, as if the system was watching people play chopsticks.
Ye Chang shrugged. “I told you that I’m unlucky. Congratulations, Brother Nan.”
Chi Nan didn’t feel happy or lucky. He was silent for a moment before saying, “I feel that this system isn’t very serious.”
System: [……] It was controlled by the dream maker and had nothing to say.
Hei Cha suddenly asked urgently, “I have a lot of favorability and I’m not so anxious to realize my wish. Can I transfer some of my favorability to them? What should Ye Chang do with a 90% probability of death?”
The woman with a big chest sighed. “There is no exchange of favorability in the Nightmare World.
“What can I do about this…?”
Unlike Hei Cha, the person affected was so calm that it was incomprehensible. Ye Chang told them, “It’s fine. 90% isn’t 100%. Maybe I will be lucky enough.”
Chi Nan glanced at him. “Didn’t you say that you are unlucky?”
Ye Chang was stunned before smiling. “Isn’t there still Brother Nana? I’ll freeload off you.”
Ye Chang said, “I have a hunch that we will be together in the next nightmare instance.”
“I’m not lucky but I have good hunches.”
Chi Nan lowered his gaze and pondered on it for a moment. I… will try my best.”
He seemed to have never tried to make promises to others.
The favorability calculation was completed. No one exchanged it for wishes this time so the group was quickly sent to the four major cities to wait for the next instance.
Only Ye Chang was sent to Zi City along with Chi Nan and Hei Cha.
Hei Cha had recovered from the indignation and worry just now. He believed that as long as Chi Nan was there, the people around him would always overcome danger. Currently, his mood was relaxed. “We are all in Zi City and we can eat and drink together before the new instance arrives.”
It was the same tattered-looking train that moved forward through the darkness.
Along the way, Hei Cha kept chattering about topics while Chi Nan slept peacefully on the sleeper bed.
Ye Chang was like Chi Nan when he took this train for the first time. He sat by the sat and looked into the dark wilderness for a long time.
The train corridor was dimly lit and the window glass reflected the sleeping Chi Nan.
“The sky will never light up in this ghostly place and people are prone to depression if they stay here for a long time.” Hei Cha rested his chin on his hand and muttered thoughtfully.
Ye Chang’s lips curved up. “I really like the night.”
“Huh? If you stay long enough, you won’t feel that way.” Hei Cha said it like it was obvious.
“Maybe.” Ye Chang pushed up his glasses. “I’m easily sleepy during the day.”
“I used to think I was a night owl. Then I got to the Nightmare World and realized how much I missed the day.” Hei Cha sighed.
Ye Chang smiled and didn’t speak. He naturally took out an exercise book from his bag…
Hei Cha looked at top student Ye with surprise and swallowed back the rambling nonsense in his mind. It was just that he was so bored that he could only shut up for 10 minutes. He eventually opened his mouth. “By the way, I haven’t asked you what district of Zi City that you live in. Let’s get off the train and eat hot pot together.”
Ye Chang took out his residence permit from his pocket and glanced at it. “North Third District, Building 57, No. 206.”
Hei Cha’s eyes lit up and he said excitedly, “F*k, what a coincidence! You are our neighbor. I am Building 57, 205… eh? Wait a minute, what building?”
“Building 57, 206,” Ye Chang repeated again.
Hei Cha scratched his head in disbelief. “No. 206 is Chi Nan’s room… is there something wrong?”
Ye Chang showed his residence permit. “I don’t know. It is just written like this.”
Hei Cha saw the address on the residence permit and was even more confused. “This is so strange…”
“Is it possible that there isn’t enough room? Therefore, Brother Nan and I are going to squeeze into an apartment?”
“F*k, the thing this city has the least of is people. Most of the buildings around us have empty apartments.”
“Then… there is probably a bug in the system that is binding me to Brother Nan.”
Ye Chang glanced at the sleeping Chi Nan and said softly. There were no doubts in his tone and Hei Cha even sensed a trace of happiness from the eyes hidden behind the glasses.
He still remembered that when he first met Ye Chang and exchanged introductions, Ye Chang said he was bent…
Then after all the things he showed on the cruise ship and the happiness inadvertently revealed at this moment… Hei Cha reasonably suspected that this high school student was a bit interested in Chi Nan.
“Student Ye, let’s gossip. What type of boy do you like?” Hei Cha asked.
Ye Chang didn’t even think about it and blurted out, “Good-looking.”
Hei Cha instinctively looked at Chi Nan, who was very beautiful. Then he continued. “What else?”
Ye Chang thought about it for a moment. “There are teardrop moles.”
“Huh?” Hei Cha glanced at the two teardrop moles under Chi Nan’s eyes and became more certain of his guess. “Then… what about personality? It can’t just be appearance.”
Ye Chang smiled. “Probably similar to me.”
He paused and added, “Actually, the appearance is the same. I am quite narcissistic.”
Hei Cha heard this sentence and was in a cloud of confusion. A straight man like him naturally couldn’t empathize with a gay person’s feelings but… in his opinion, Ye Chang was reliable and gentle. It would be a good thing if Chi Nan also liked this type.
Later when Chi Nan woke up, he heard that Ye Chang was staying in the same house as him and just faintly hummed.
“Do you mind?” Ye Chang had a bright and clear smile on his face that he was too lazy to hide when he asked this.
Chi Nan had a blank expression but his lips pursed inadvertently. “I don’t mind much.”
His small movements were caught by Ye Chang. “It seems you mind a bit.”
Ye Chang teased him.
Chi Nan raised his eyes and looked at this person. “Yes, you know that I am prone to tears and I’m afraid of embarrassment to outsiders.”
He didn’t mind saying it clearly to this person who didn’t care much about embarrassment.
“You don’t need to mind if it is because of this.” Ye Chang stared at him. “I’m used to it.”
Chi Nan’s lips twitched. “…Okay.”
In fact, he himself was used to crying in front of Ye Chang.
Who made this guy always touch him… under the circumstances where Ye Chang knew he would cry because of this…
It was done so frequently like it was intentional…
“Then I won’t be polite,” Chi Nan added.
The smile on Ye Chang’s face widened. “As you wish.”
The straight man Hei Cha on the side couldn’t take it any longer. He shivered violently and sat silently on the other side.
The two of them continued to be roommates in Zi City. This time, Chi Nan was more comfortable than before.
He liked to eat sweets. It was just that they easily caused him to cry so he was used to eating alone in his room.
Now that the Nightmare World had bound a roommate to him, Chi Nan had no separate space and started to unscrupulously eat ice cream in front of Ye Chang. He sent spoonfuls to his mouth while shedding tears.
Ye Chang handed the freshly shaved matcha red bean ice to Chi Nan. “Is this the sugar allergy you mentioned?”
“I was afraid you would mind.” Chi Nan unceremoniously held the matcha shaved ice and drizzled it with thick condensed milk.
“How come?” Ye Chang looked away and continued answering questions in the exercise book. “I like the way you cry.”
His last words were very low. Before Chi Nan could hear them clearly, they were already drowned out by the rustling of the pages in the exercise book.
Time passed quickly. They stayed at their apartment in Zi City for a week before the invitation letter for the next instance was sent.
At this time, the three of them were happily eating butter hot pot in 206 when the doorbell suddenly rang.
Everyone’s actions of grabbing food paused.
“Who is it?” Hei Cha raised the volume of his voice to hide his panic.
“Sir, there is a courier.” The man outside the door said.
“Okay, wait a minute.” Ye Chang put down the bowl and chopsticks and got up to open the door.
There was no one outside the door, only two letters stuck on the doorknob. He looked around, took off the envelopes and closed the door.
“Is it here?” Hei Cha watched him enter the house with the envelope and his expression sank. He was no longer in the mood to cook the beef.
Ye Chang quietly opened the envelope and frowned. “It is two volunteer application forms.”
Then he handed Chi Nan the volunteer application form.
“Candleman Festival volunteer application form?”
Chi Nan quickly read the form which already had his and Ye Chang’s names and a one-inch photo on it. All they needed to fill in was personal information such as past medical history and medication.
Chi Nan noticed there was a key option in the personal situation: Are you photophobic?
Was this instance related to light?
“It seems that this time, we are volunteers for the Candleman Festival.” Ye Chang took out a pen from his bag and quickly filled out the rest of the volunteer application form.
He also tacitly handed the pen to Chi Nan.
Hei Cha wasn’t in the mood to eat. “I’ll go to 205 to see if there is any courier for me.”
In less than five minutes, Hei Cha had returned and his expression was even more frustrated. “It is over. I got nothing.”
Chi Nan nodded. “It seems that the three of us aren’t in the same nightmare this time.”
“Why is it like this…?” Hei Cha sat back in frustration. He watched the steaming red oil and tumbling beef and picked up his chopsticks before putting them down again.
Chi Nan picked up the just-cooked beef slices. “Eat it now. It will be overcooked later.”
Hei Cha nodded. He placed the meat slices in his bowl before putting down his chopsticks again. “ I have no appetite.”
Chi Nan didn’t speak but Ye Chang told him in a warm voice, “Don’t worry, I have Brother Nan and I’ll be fine. We’ll come back and continue to eat hot pot…”
Hei Cha pouted. Don’t say such things that sound like a flag…”
Ye Chang interrupted him. “Okay, bah bah bah.”
It was only then that Hei Cha’s nervousness ended. Chi Nan poured fresh beef into the pot again. “Once we come back, change the base of the hot pot.”
“I want to try cheese,” he continued.
They filled out the volunteer application form that day and pressed it on the table. The next morning, the forms had disappeared and were replaced with two old-fashioned bus tickets that read ‘Zi City Bus and Tram Voucher.’ The price column was crossed out and the destination was written: Candleman Town.
It was really decent.
Ye Chang complained. “It has been less than a month since coming to the Nightmare World and I’ve taken a ship, train and now a bus. If there is a chance, I want to take a plane here.”
Chi Nan put the motion sickness medicine that he hadn’t taken previously into his bag. Ye Chang saw it and his lips curved up. “Thank you.”
He knew that Chi Nan must’ve remembered their ‘first’ meeting. He said he had motion sickness and asked for motion sickness medicine.
It turned out that Chi Nan’s actions were right. He had never taken such a long bus ride before. It drove without stopping in the middle. He remembered waking up several times in the middle but the bus was still moving in the dark wilderness.
In a daze, Chi Nan had the illusion that this car would drive all the way to the border of the Nightmare World.
Chi Nan remembered that he fell asleep against the window. Then after several bumps, his head rested on Ye Chang’s shoulder before he knew it. The boy wasn’t willing to move and obediently became a pillow. He even sat up straight to make the pillow more comfortable.
“I’m sorry.” Chi Nan woke up and hurriedly moved his head away.
Ye Chang still had that gentle and well-behaved look. “It’s okay. You can continue.”
“No, I got enough sleep.” Chi Nan had rarely slept so well. “We haven’t arrived yet?”’
He looked out the dark window. There seemed to have been a sandstorm and many fine particles of dust were stuck to the glass of the window.
“It will probably be soon.”
The next moment, there was a commotion in the bus.
“Look! Is there light over there?!”
“That’s right. It looks like someone lives there.”
“It should be our mission location, right? Thankfully, we’ve finally arrived.”
Chi Nan followed the gazes of everyone in the bus. At the end of the dark horizon, there were countless bright spots of light flickering and shaking.
People were phototropic. In a situation where it had been dark for a long time, their adrenaline would rise the moment they saw light.
There were several cheers from the bus. This long and grueling road trip had finally come to an end.
—Although what awaited them ahead might be a nightmare full of terror and death.
The bus got closer and closer and a brightly lit town appeared in the desolate wilderness. Everyone on the bus covered their eyes with their hands. Ye Chang also carried his school bag and prepared to get off.
“Welcome all visitors to the famous tourist attraction, Candleman Town. The annual grand celebration, the Candleman Festival will be held in five days. During this time, please cooperate with the female workers of the candle factory to complete the final preparations for the Candleman Festival.”
The bus driver gave an introduction to the sleepwalkers who had received the volunteer status. “The Candleman Festival is a world-famous grand festival that symbolizes light, freedom and hope. I believe this volunteer journey will leave you with unforgettable and beautiful memories.”
The bus drove through the brightly lit streets and alleys to the square in the center of the town
Along the way, Chi Nan pressed his face against the window and watched the town from the base.
From a distance, Candleman Town was brightly lit and was like a city of light rising from the darkness.
Yet once they were in it, they could feel that the town was full of darkness.
There were no street lights here. Instead, candlesticks protruded from the garret on both sides of the street. It was filled with colorful candles that crackled to illuminate the night at 3 o’clock in the morning.
It was 3 o’clock in the morning but the candles weren’t extinguished in every house in Candleman Town.
Ye Chang also noticed that something was wrong with the town and said thoughtfully, “No wonder why the volunteer application form specifically confirmed if we were photophobic or not.”
Chi Nan turned to ask the driver, “The candles are always lit. Don’t the residents of the town sleep at night?”
The driver’s tone was full of pride. “Of course they need to sleep. It is just that darkness can make people have nightmares. Therefore, there is a tradition in Candleman Town. Even in the deepest night, the candles will always be lit until dawn.