Candleman Festival (2)
A sneer was suddenly heard from the front half of the bus. “Then your Candleman Town is quite powerful. Have there been no fires or accidents after so many years?”
The driver’s tone abruptly cooled down. “No, the residents of our town are very careful about fire safety.”
“If you are careful about fire safety then you wouldn’t light candles at night.” The man continued talking with a smile and casually lit a cigarette.
Sparks flashed in the narrow space of the bus and the old driver scolded him. “Smoking isn’t allowed on the bus!”
The man laughed, took two puffs before extinguishing his cigarette and shrugged. “Oh, I’m sorry. I know, fire safety.”
The driver, “……”
“We have arrived at the station. Volunteers, please get off the bus in an orderly manner.”
The man’s high-profile behavior just now successfully attracted the attention of all the sleepwalkers in the car.
His eyes moved around the crowd before finally stopping on Chi Nan’s face. He waved and called out, “Little blind man, it is really you!”
Chi Nan was stunned. “Uncle Yu.”
“Haha, I was afraid you wouldn’t recognize me. What a coincidence.” Old Yu looked over and instinctively looked at Chi Nan’s eyes. Then he shifted his gaze to Ye Chang beside Chi Nan. “This is…?”
“Hello, my name is Ye Chang. I am Chi Nan’s…” He paused and his lips curved up slightly. “Roommate.”
“Ye Chang… there are many long dreams at night…” Old Yu murmured before glancing at him calmly. “Are you a student?”
“Yes, my senior year.”
“A newcomer?” Old Yu asked again.
“Brother Nan took me through the last one.” Ye Chang was modest.
“Oh yes, then I wish you a smooth exam after you go out and that there is no need to repeat it.”
This might be the happiest blessing in the Nightmare World, as if they were still alive in their daily lives.
Old Yu looked at Chi Nan again. “What about that little streamer? Is he still alive?”
His words might be direct and uncomfortable but they were real. Life was precarious in the Nightmare World and former teammates might be gone within days of separating.
Death was as common as eating.
Chi Nan nodded. “I passed the last one with him and he is now resting in Zi City.”
Old Yu raised an eyebrow and sighed. “So after you left You Yu’s Dream last time, you encountered another nightmare instance? It is really fast.”
“We can’t choose,” Chi Nan said indifferently. There was no bitterness about being forced to work.
Old Yu smiled bitterly. “That is true.”
The bus parked in the central square of the town.
There was an old fountain pool in the center of the square that was surrounded by some marble-shaped statues. At first glance, the ordinary town square wasn’t much different from usual town squares apart from the candles that flickered in the night wind.
There were so many candles here that there was even a circle placed near the outlet of the fountain. Some candlelight sprinkled on the water and it was a bit sparkly and romantic.
Unfortunately, there was no sleepwalker with the task to find romance here.
Chi Nan approached the fountain, looked into the water and stared at his own reflection in the sparkling water for a few seconds.
It should be said that it was You Yu’s reflection…
The moment he lost his mind, the originally calm and waveless water surface suddenly developed small ripples.
“What’s wrong?” Ye Chang sat beside the fountain pool and placed his fingers into the water, smashing the calmness of the pool.
The reflection of ‘You Yu’ was also distorted and deformed along with the water.
“Hey, this senior in high school, quickly wipe your hands and don’t touch the things here.” Old Yu saw that this high school student was as big-hearted as Chi Nan and couldn’t help having a headache.
“Ah… okay…’ Ye Chang seemed to have heard Old Yu’s warning and was busy looking for tissues in his pockets. Before he could find it, Chi Nan had already handed over a handkerchief.
Ye Chang took the handkerchief and smiled. “Thank you.”
“Just now, was there something wrong with the water?” Ye Chang asked again while wiping his hands.
Chi Nan was silent for a moment before shaking his head. “No, I just wanted to see if my hair was messed up after sleeping all the way.
“…I’ll fix it for you if it is messed up.” Ye Chang couldn’t help smiling, revealing his small tiger teeth.
This was the first time Chi Nan noticed that the other person had small tiger teeth. It was quite amusing.
Chi Nan quickly looked away and over the fountain to the huge stone wall on the west side of the square.
He frowned slightly and walked toward the stone wall.
Old Yu followed his gaze while biting the cigarette. “What’s wrong?”
“There are many shadows on the wall.” Chi Nan approached and his eyes swept over the white wall covered with shadows.
The surroundings were so bright that it was normal for shadows to be projected on the wall. It was just that behind the moving shadows, there was a layer of shadows that was still.
Old Yu quickly understood what Chi Nan meant and hurriedly turned to look at the crowd. “Let’s move first and don’t let shadows be cast on the wall.”
The scattered people in the square were confused but they also knew the stakes. They hurriedly scattered around and took care not to let their shadows be cast on the stone wall in the west.
“Sure enough, these shadows were originally here.” Old Yu narrowed his eyes subtly. “Do you know what this reminds me of? Photos of a certain city that experienced nuclear radiation but specifically…”
Old Yu shook his head. He was a learning scumbag and really couldn’t remember.
“After the explosion of the atomic bomb, ‘ghost images’ appeared on the walls of many buildings at the accident site,” Ye Chang explained. “There are two ways to form the ghost images. One is that people immediately turned to ashes when the atomic bomb exploded and left burn marks on the wall in their shape. The other method is that light radiation has bleaching properties. Once the light of the explosion is blocked by an object, it will permanently leave a shadow on the wall.”
Old Yu looked at him approvingly. “High school really is the pinnacle of knowledge reserves…”
Still, what did this have to do with Candleman Town? Chi Nan thought about it before turning to the driver who was cleaning the bus. “Has Candleman Town ever suffered from nuclear radiation?”
The driver looked at him strangely. “Nuclear radiation? How can that be? The residents of Candleman Town have always lived a peaceful life with no disputes. Such a terrible thing will never happen.”
Chi Nan asked again, “How did these shadows get on the wall?”
The old driver stopped his work and smiled proudly. “This is the greatest, most beautiful and imaginative work of art in our town beside the giant candle. Many years ago, it was done by a young artist who also grew up in Candleman Town.”
“Is that artist still living in town?”
“The heavens were jealous of a great genius. He died of a serious illness more than 30 years ago,” the driver told him sadly.
So it was just a work of art?
Chi Nan cocked his head and raised a hand to touch the wall. He gently rubbed his fingers along the outline of a shadow on the wall.
The bus driver watched dully from the distance but didn’t step forward to stop him from touching the ‘great artwork.’
Old Yu watched his every move in confusion. “What are you confirming?”
Chi Nan looked at the finger that had just touched the wall. “I wanted to see if it will fade.”
There were no marks on his fingers.
Hmm… it didn’t fade. Maybe it wasn’t painted or it wasn’t a paint that could be rubbed off so easily.
Ye Chang handed him the handkerchief at the appropriate time. “Wipe it. There is dust.”
“Yes.” The handkerchief was returned to its own in this way.
Old Yu was really convinced by these two people. These days, do young people start directly looking for clues?”
“Can I take the liberty to ask, what type of paint is used for this great work of art?” Chi Nan politely asked the driver again.
The driver looked at the shadow wall with admiration. “This is the secret of our artist. Tourists and volunteers only need to appreciate the beauty of the artwork. There is no need to know so much.”
“Oh, okay.” Chi Nan knew he couldn’t ask so he closed his mouth
“Sometimes the truth destroys beauty, doesn’t it?”
The old driver suddenly gave a low laugh. He didn’t say anything else and turned back to his bus.
Chi Nan looked back a few more times and found that there were no shadows in the empty bus. A candle was faintly lit at the front of the bus which at first glance, looked like incense lit at a grave.
The one who brought the volunteers to the volunteer dormitory was an NPC dressed as a female candle factory worker.
It was only a 10 minute walk from the square to the dormitory. On the way, they were almost surrounded by candles. Rows of candles burned at the end of the path and the swaying lights reflected the quiet town like a mourning hall.
They had looked at the candles for so long and it was easy to produce a stronger sense of unease than absolute darkness.
It was just like the sun that never set in the previous instance.
The group of people walked in the candlelight and their shadows were staggered and mottled on the road, looking very lively.
“We have invited a total of 10 volunteers for this Candleman Festival but unfortunately, there are only five empty rooms left in the dormitory building. There must be two people to a room.” The female worker glanced at the group. “Of course, you can choose your own teammates. We won’t help allocate this.”
The woman led them to an old, iron gate. The dormitory was a row of white-painted bungalows. The yard was full of tropical plants like mangoes and coconut trees and inevitably filled with candles.
The dormitory looked shabby but they were basically clean and decent.
The fact that they could form a team on their own surprised a few veteran sleepwalkers in the team. This nightmare had such a high degree of freedom?
“However, I would like to remind the volunteers in advance…” The female worker, who had been expressionless, suddenly smiled abruptly. “The choice of roommate is very, very important.”
The moment she uttered these words, it stirred up a lot of water in the hearts of everyone.
The expressions of the sleepwalkers present changed subtly and they started to look at their companions to see if they were useful, whether it was intentional or unintentional.
“What do you mean? What will happen in the same room?” A skinny boy in the team with exaggerated earrings asked. “Do we have to be bound to our roommate to finish the task?”
The female worker didn’t even look at him and didn’t plan to answer his question. She returned to being expressionless and continued to urge them, “It is late at night. Please decide on your roommate as soon as possible.”
There was an uproar in the yard.
The meaning of the female worker was obvious. The choice of roommate was an important link. If they made a mistake, it might increase the difficulty and danger. Hugging the right thigh might mean lying down and winning…
It was only then that Chi Nan noticed his teammates in this round. In addition to Ye Chang and Old Yu, there were three boys and four girls left. It was actually just right to allocate to the double rooms.
It should’ve been deliberately arranged by the dream maker.
Among them was a mother and daughter in black funeral dresses. The little girl was probably only around 11 or 12 years old. She held the young mother’s hand and looked curiously at the brothers and sisters. Meanwhile, her mother was nervous about something and her brow had been furrowed from beginning to end.
The other two women were in their 20s. One had waist-length hair while the other had shoulder-length short hair. They were smoking next to each other and didn’t speak but they should know each other based on their demeanor. Their calm appearance also made it seem that they were experienced sleepwalkers.
The remaining three boys looked like university students.
One of them looked like an artist, with long hair that hung down over the shoulders. He was quiet and didn’t make a sound. The boy standing next to him had short-cropped hair and a very conspicuous blue skull tattoo on his neck.
The last one was the boy with earrings who had spoken just now. He was feminine in both his clothing and temperament. His gaze restlessly swirled around Chi Nan and Ye Chang, unabashed interest on his face.
A straight man like Old Yu could also receive signals from these eyes that clearly belonged to a gay man…
“It isn’t clear what the role of roommates is so let’s try to put a veteran with a newcomer as much as possible.” The most senior Old Yu suggested. “Then can I check who is a pure newcomer?”
Hearing this, the mother out of the mother and daughter pair and the boy with long hair raised their hands. The boy with the earrings glanced at Ye Chang, who didn’t raise his hand, and ended up raising his hand.
“Xia Wei, why are you pretending to be a newcomer now?” The blue with the blue skull tattoo ruthlessly exposed him.
Xia Wei rolled his eyes at this person. “Walk away. Didn’t you hear that a veteran will take a newcomer? Don’t get in the way of me looking for a 1.”
He didn’t say it quietly and everyone present could hear it clearly. The little girl raised her head and asked her mother curiously, “What is a 1?”
The corners of the mother’s lips stiffened. “…Don’t ask. Mother doesn’t know very well.”
Xia Wei didn’t mind everyone’s complicated gaze and walked directly to Ye Chang with a smile. “Little brother, can I be your roommate?”
The straight man Old Yu turned his head and saw Chi Nan, who had no expression.
Chi Nan thought back and remembered that Ye Chang seemed to be bent.
There was no embarrassment or discomfort on Ye Chang’s face as he apologized very calmly, “I already have a fixed teammate.”
“Oh.” Xia Wei raised an eyebrow knowingly as he glanced at Chi Nan next to Ye Chang. Then he smiled calmly. “There will be a chance later.”
Ye Chang also smiled politely and his eyes curved beautifully behind his glasses. “There is probably no chance.”
Old Yu couldn’t help laughing while the man with the skull tattoo sneered. “Xia Wei, you should give up.”
The corners of Xia Wei’s mouth twitched and he glared back. “F*k, in any case, I definitely won’t live with a 0 like you.”
The short-haired boy who was forced to come out and had his attributes exposed, “……”
“Uncle, I choose you.” Xia Wei naturally stood beside Old Yu.
Old Yu’s smile instantly stiffened. “…Cough, the NPC gave a reminder that roommates are very important. I think we have to consider it carefully.”
The author has something to say:
Little girl: Brother, are you 1?
Chi Nan looked at his awakening value of 0 and stopped talking.