Candleman Festival (3)
In the end, Old Yu accepted his fate and shared a dormitory with Xia Wei.
He had no choice anyway.
“Xiao 0, how many instances have you been through? Be honest. It’ll make me feel better.” Obviously, Xia Wei’s act of raising his hand just now was a bluff to share a room with Ye Chang.
Xia Wei pouted. “Just one. The Candleman Festival is the second.”
Old Yu wondered, “Oh?”
Xia Wei saw his disbelief and said in an aggrieved manner, “You can ask Gu Xiao if you don’t believe me. We are classmates and entered the Nightmare World together.”
Gu Xiao was the short-haired boy with a blue skull tattoo on his neck.
Old Yu sighed. “It is okay to be roommates but let me tell you, I am straight and I won’t fall for boys who act coquettishly.”
Xia Wei smiled and shrugged. “Being looked at by a gay person is indeed one of the three illusions of a straight man’s life. Rest assured, I don’t fall for the uncle type.”
Old Yu smiled. He secretly looked at Ye Chang beside Chi Nan and thought, ‘Indeed, the gap between this person and myself is a bit big.’
“So apart from the mother and daughter and that boy, this instance is full of old sleepwalkers who have been through at least one instance.” Old Yu sighed. This wasn’t something to be happy about.
The more veteran sleepwalkers there were present, the more difficult the instance would be.
The little girl looked up. “Uncle, I’m not a newcomer. Only my mother is.”
Everyone was stunned. In retrospect, it was only the mother who raised her hand. It was just that everyone instinctively thought she represented them both.
Old Yu exclaimed and gave the little girl a thumbs up. “Great.”
The little girl smiled. “Thank you for the compliment. You can call me Rui Rui.”
In the end, it was decided that Old Yu and Xia Wei would live in 103, the mother and daughter would live in 105, Gu Xiao and the other boy with long hair would live in 107, the two girls who didn’t speak and only smoked would live in 109, and Chi Nan and Ye Chang continued to be roommates and would live in 101.
After the rooms were allocated, the female worker reminded them again in a lifeless voice, “Once the roommates are selected, you can’t change them for any reason. Otherwise, the consequences will be borne by yourselves.”
“Volunteers will work from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. every day. Breakfast will be served after 7 a.m. Tonight, everyone can rest after checking in.”
“Remember, there will be a roll call at 9 o’clock every morning. Don’t be late,” she solemnly warned the group.
It was already 3 o’clock in the morning and they had to gather at 9 o’clock the next day. The moment the female worker left, the sleepwalkers went back to their rooms to rest.
Maintaining enough energy in the nightmare instance was very important to maintain the stability of their mental values.
The dormitory was a long row of white-painted bungalows. Doors that were also painted white faced the courtyard. The cold tones were more like the inpatient department of a mental hospital than a staff dormitory.
Five of the ten rooms were locked, and the dormitories offered to volunteers were staggered.
There was also a stone wall raised between the rooms, as if deliberately used to cover something.
The strangest thing about the dormitory was the design of the windows’ position. Each room had two windows, one on the left and one on the right. They were high, near the eaves, and were like a pair of dark eyes looking down at the residents in the room.
It made people have the uncomfortable feeling of being stared at even before entering the room.
After entering the room, Chi Nan found that there were no curtains covering the window. The light from the courtyard fell unreservedly on the two beds on the left and right sides of the room.
It felt like they were actors on stage. Once the spotlight turned on, the details of their lives would be exposed to the audience.
Chi Nan took off his shoes, stood at the end of the bed, and stood on tiptoe to look at the windowsill.
He found that the usually unreachable windowsill was dustless. It seemed to be cleaned regularly like it was often used.
There was also a candlestick holder extending outward from the edge of the window. The candlestick holder still retained some residual wax. It should’ve been used not long ago.
Chi Nan used his fingernails to cut off a small piece of wax. The wax was a strange amber color and was mixed with strands of bright red, just like silk agate.
Chi Nan pinched it with his fingers. The touch was no different from ordinary wax but the feeling the wax left on his skin wasn’t good. Chi Nan put the residual wax back in its original place and went to the bathroom to thoroughly wash his hand.
“Brother Nan, do you want some pudding?” Ye Chang’s huge backpack always contained a lot of surprisingly good things.
Chi Nan was now a bit unscrupulous in front of Ye Chang. “I’ll eat it.”
He eagerly opened the pudding package and scooped spoonful after spoonful, sending the smooth and sweet pudding to his mouth. Tears rolled down but he didn’t bother to wipe them.
Ye Chang’s lips curled up in a smile. He opened a bottle of room temperature beer and gulped it while admiring Chi Nan’s tears.
“Do you like that type of guy just now?” After eating most of the pudding, Chi Nan raised his wet face and suddenly asked.
“Huh?” Ye Chang paused in the middle of drinking. “What type?”
Chi Nan thought about it. He had difficulty remembering the names of strangers and he wasn’t very good at describing people’s appearance. Therefore, he pointed to his ears. “The one wearing earrings.”
Ye Chang smiled and shook his head. “I don’t like those who wear earrings. I like those who wear beauty contact lenses.”
Chi Nan: “……” He blinked and tears rolled down again.
“Just joking.” Ye Chang seemed a bit happy and proud, and took another sip of the beer.
Chi Nan finished eating the pudding and went to the bathroom to wash off the tears on his face. Through the sound of rushing water, he seemed to hear someone’s footsteps approaching.
He also recognized them as Ye Chang’s footsteps.
“Please help me get a face towel, thank you.”
Chi Nan closed his eyes and reached out his hand in the direction of the footsteps. He waited a bit but Ye Chang didn’t hand over the towel.
Chi Nan’s heart froze slightly. He turned off the tap and the bathroom immediately became very quiet. There was nothing but the sound of his breathing.
He stood still for three seconds before wiping the water droplets off his face with his hands and opening his eyes.
He was facing a mirror above the sink. In the mirror, there was no one behind him.
The sound of footsteps just now…
Chi Nan turned his head and saw a dark shadow on the ground. The light from the living room shone obliquely, casting Ye Chang’s shadow into the bathroom.
He stared at the shadow for half a second. Then he took the face towel hanging on the other side, wiped his face, and walked out of the bathroom.
At this moment, Ye Chang was wearing headphones, sitting at the desk, and focusing on the exercise book.
From his position, the shadow was indeed just right to go through the bathroom door and reflect on the white tiles behind the sink.
“What’s wrong?” Ye Chang noticed Chi Nan’s gaze. He took off his headphones and raised a pair of eyes that were a bit tired from studying.
Chi Nan continued to wipe his face. “It’s nothing. I thought you came to the bathroom just now.”
Ye Chang frowned. “No, I’ve been doing my homework.”
Chi Nan nodded. “Maybe it was the sound of the wind.”
He instinctively looked at Ye Chang’s shadow again. Then he found that he might be too suspicious so he retracted his gaze and got into bed to go to sleep.
“Brother Nan, it is so bright outside. Will it affect your sleep…?”
Before Ye Chang could finish, he turned his head and found that Chi Nan was breathing evenly while lying on the pillow.
He was stunned for a moment. Then he smiled as he took off his glasses before glaring coldly at the shadow behind him.
In an instant, the Ye Chang who took off his glasses frowned in a troubled manner.
The ease on his face had disappeared.
Nothing seemed to happen on the first night. Old Yu counted ten sleepwalkers in the cafeteria waiting to get breakfast and let out a sigh of relief.
After all, in a nightmare instance, the first night was the most dangerous time when the rules of death were tested.
“Did something happen last night?”
Everyone gathered in the cafeteria for breakfast and to collect clues.
They all looked at each other. It seemed there was nothing special last night apart from a bit of sleep deprivation due to the influence of the light.
“There were voices in our room, around 4:30,” the little girl called Rui Rui said calmly while holding a steamed bun in her hand.
The young mother sitting next to her instantly turned pale with fright. “Ah…why didn’t you tell me last night?”
Rui Rui shrugged. “I was afraid you would be scared and it would affect your awakening value.”
“Could you tell where the sound came from?” Old Yu continued to ask.
Rui Rui nodded. “Under the bed.”
She paused before adding, “Under Mom’s bed.”
Then she gave her mother a look and comforted her, “Don’t be afraid, Mom. I’m with you.”
At this moment, her mother was so frightened that she put down her chopsticks. She had lost her appetite.
Chi Nan wondered, “Could you hear what they were saying?”
Rui Rui shook her head. “I couldn’t hear clearly. The speed of the chatter was very fast and occasionally I seemed to hear laughter.”
The young mother smiled stiffly with an ashen face. “It might be that I was talking in my sleep last night and this child heard it wrong.”
She didn’t quite believe it herself and was just pretending in order to comfort herself.
Rui Rui didn’t refute it.
There was no need for useless ‘gentleness’ in the nightmare world. Old Yu corrected her, “This might be an important clue. We can’t ignore it.”
After that, Chi Nan also said that he heard footsteps while washing his face. There might be no casualties or incidents last night but everyone felt a bit nervous.
Breakfast finished and they were guided by the female worker to the candle-making workshop.
A female worker with neatly tied hair, strange ginger powder painted on her face, and slightly sunken eye sockets appeared in the center of the workshop.
“We welcome all volunteers from afar. Being able to hold the Candleman Festival successfully will be inseparable from your efforts and hard work. Your presence is an honor for us residents of Candleman Town.”
“There are still five days until the Candleman Festival. I will lead you to cooperate with the female workers of the candle factory to make candle people and attend to the other preparations for the Candleman Festival. All volunteers, please work hard.”
“The volunteers will work from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Every day at 9 a.m., there will be a roll call. I don’t like late volunteers so please be sure not to be late, let alone absent. After 4 p.m., you can visit the attractions of Candleman Town.”
The female foreman revealed a creepy, still smile that all sleepwalkers were familiar with. “Of course, volunteers who do an excellent job of making candles every day according to the requirements will be rated as ‘excellent volunteers’ and will receive a special honor and reward belonging to the Candleman Festival.”
The female worker’s sharp gaze swept over those present and she seemed to be satisfied with the sudden brilliance in their eyes.
The experienced sleepwalkers immediately understood the meaning of this sentence. The production of candle people was likely to be one of the important plot points of this nightmare instance.
“There is just one thing I need to remind you of.” The female foreman smiled and her eyes swept over the group with a hint of warning. “Before the Candleman Festival is successful, all volunteers must stay in town and must not leave early.”
“What if we deliberately or accidentally go out? What will happen?”
The short-haired girl, who had only been smoking and not talking, suddenly asked.
The ginger powder on the foreman’s face seemed to twitch and her voice became hoarse and cold. “We hate volunteers who don’t keep their promise so…”
She smiled again. “Before the Candleman Festival, there is no exit in the town for volunteers to leave.”
Hearing this, everyone fell silent and sweat dripped down their backs.
“If there are no questions, we will start today’s candle making.”
The female foreman distributed white wax blocks, tools for carving, and mirrors. Chi Nan specifically confirmed that it was just an ordinary wax block and was different from the residual wax he saw on the windowsill last night.
By the way, what did this mirror mean?
“I have a question. Can we carve this at will?” Rui Rui raised a hand and asked the female foreman.
The foreman held up the mirror in her hand. “I hope that all volunteers will use their own faces as the prototype to carve their candle figures.”
As she spoke, she looked at herself in the mirror and revealed an eerie smile.
The group fell into a terrified silence. They had to carve their faces into the wax in front of the mirror and make a white candle person. Why did it sound wrong…?
Chi Nan was also silent like everyone else. The task assigned by the female foreman reminded him of the fear of being dominated by handicraft classes. He was once blind so he hated manual work.
“Today’s candle people production will be done in groups. The groups will be assigned according to the distribution of the dormitories yesterday. The people in the same dormitory will form a group,” the female foreman explained the rules.
The long-haired boy who had been silent suddenly raised a hand. “What are the specific criteria for judging an excellent volunteer?”
He was a pure newcomer and his eager expression surprised the careful sleepwalkers.
The female foreman pointed to his eyes. “The more similar the candle is to your face, the higher the score we will give. It is based on groups so the average score is used.”
“The rewards for an excellent volunteer will be very generous and will definitely satisfy everyone,” the female foreman emphasized, “On the other hand, if a group of volunteers are passive and fail to work, then they will be punished accordingly.”
Her encouragement and intimidation were obviously effective. The moment she finished speaking, everyone was in an uproar.
Everyone took it for granted that the punishment was a deduction of favorability or a death trigger.
No wonder the woman who guided them last night said that roommates were important… Could that not be important? If they chose well, then they would be hugging a thick thigh.
Xia Wei said from where he was sitting next to Old Yu, “This boy seems to have learned to paint. He has a natural aesthetic foundation and painting skills, which are one step higher than us.”
He muttered again, “If I knew this, I would’ve formed a team with him. I could’ve increased my favorability and put off dying until later.”
“…Who knows if the reward is a surprise or a scare?” Old Yu replied.
Rui Rui raised her hand again. “I still have a question. You must have a wick to make a candle, right? Now there are no materials in our hands.”
The female foreman smiled slightly at the little girl. “The wick is a very important thing for candles. Just like people can’t survive without a heart, the wick is the heart of the candle. Such an important thing naturally has to be obtained from yourself.”
She pointed to her head. “Your hair will be the wick of the candle.”
Old Yu rolled his eyes. “Damn, this is too unlucky. Are we going to become these candles?”
Xia Wei nodded. “Yes, but we have no choice. If we don’t do it, there will be a punishment. Let’s take it one step at a time.”
Chi Nan looked at everyone present, came to a conclusion, and nodded. “No wonder why no one is bald in this nightmare.”
Ye Chang couldn’t help smiling.
As he smiled, his gaze involuntarily moved to the mirror and the eyes of the two people collided in the mirror.
“If you want, let’s exchange it with each other,” Ye Chang suggested.