Candleman Festival (6)
A moment passed before Chi Nan said very seriously, “Then we will compare to see who is better.”
Ye Chang was startled. “What?”
Chi Nan explained, “Let’s see who makes the candle person better to see who will listen to whom.”
He remembered that Ye Chang’s craftsmanship yesterday was worse than his. He was the bottom of the whole volunteer group, but at least he had made a candle person. Ye Chang hadn’t even finished carving the mold.
Chi Nan squeezed the wax block in his hand, picked up the carving knife, and added, “You said that you want to give me a candle person, but I also want to exchange gifts.”
“Is this a promise to me?” Ye Chang smiled, showing off his little tiger teeth. “I will do my best in order to stop Brother Nan’s idea of separating.”
Chi Nan: “……”
The sharp blade casually slipped through Ye Chang’s fingers and he smiled. “Brother Nan, I will satisfy you.”
Chi Nan rarely heard Ye Chang speak in such a serious tone. His actions froze and the carving knife almost cut his finger.
Ye Chang told him without looking up, “Be careful not to hurt your hands.”
Facts proved that Chi Nan had indeed “taken the enemy too lightly.”
Ye Chang was like a new person today. His carving skills were perfect and it took less than two hours to complete the most difficult candle man mold carving. Finally, the wax liquid was poured, the candle wick was placed, and it was demolded in one go. He seemed more skilled than the female workers who had worked at the candle factory for many years.
Everyone saw the “Chi Nan” candle man produced by Ye Chang. The small candle man was exquisitely crafted and had vivid and detailed facial features. It was a hundred times more exquisite than what Bai Chuan made yesterday. It could be called a work of art.
Meanwhile, Chi Nan’s “Ye Chang” wasn’t much better than yesterday’s one. His level was limited so apart from the pair of glasses, there was almost nothing related to Ye Chang…
Obviously, Chi Nan thoroughly lost this round.
It was scored according to the dormitory groups, so even if Chi Nan’s candle person couldn’t earn the reward, Ye Chang’s extraordinary performance made them steadily win. The title of ‘Excellent Volunteer’ fell on their Room 101 as desired.
The female foreman still said the same thing as yesterday, and even the curve of her smile hadn’t changed. “The success of the Candleman Festival is inseparable from the efforts and sacrifices of the volunteers, especially the Excellent Volunteer group. In order to show our gratitude, this is the gift that you and your roommate deserve.”
She handed the unlucky box that symbolized disappearance or even death to Ye Chang. “I wish you a bright and beautiful night.”
“Thank you.” Ye Chang took the box and directly opened it in front of the female foreman. He shook the empty box in front of her. “Why is it empty?”
The female foreman showed a strange smile that made people feel numb. “Please don’t worry, you will see it with your own eyes tonight.”
“Oh, I will wait and see.” Ye Chang closed the box again and handed it to Chi Nan. “I won it for Room 101. Brother Nan, remember to keep your word and don’t kick me out of the dormitory tonight.”
Chi Nan took the box and turned to the female foreman, politely asking, “Can you leave me the candle man that Ye Chang made just now as a souvenir?”
Was there really anyone who wanted to collect this ominous thing as a souvenir?
The female foreman seemed to have never encountered this type of foreman before. She stopped for a moment before replying, “I’m sorry but the candles produced in the workshop can’t be taken away by the volunteers without permission.”
There was obvious regret on Chi Nan’s face. “I see.”
Ye Chang smiled and lowered his voice so only Chi Nan could hear, “It’s okay. I promised I would give it to you, so I’ll find a way to get it out for you.”
Chi Nan glanced at him and suddenly understood. “Are you planning to steal it?”
Ye Chang pushed up his glasses and replied with a standard good student’s smile, “Or I will seize the opportunity to grab it. I will see which way is simpler.”
Chi Nan: “……” It seemed that someone was more eager than he was to go to the Nightmare World’s prison.
Old Yu was an experienced sleepwalker and he had reservations about Ye Chang’s “extraordinary performance” today.
He opened his mouth next to Ye Chang like he was making small talk. “As far as I know, one’s handiwork technique can’t be improved by leaps and bounds in one night.”
Ye Chang responded casually, “Well, probably?”
Old Yu was silent for a moment before examining him from head to toe with a scrutinizing gaze. “However, it is common for people to save their strength and use others to test the instance’s rules. It isn’t a big deal but… Student Ye, are you really a newcomer who has only gone through one instance?”
Ye Chang smiled as if showing off something to be proud of. “Yes, I’m new here. I was lucky enough to meet Brother Nan and he took me hand in hand.”
The use of “hand in hand” was used very subtly and Old Yu’s face twitched imperceptibly.
“What’s wrong?” Chi Nan, who had just released his tear glands in the bathroom, came out and asked when he saw the strange atmosphere between the two people.
Ye Chang smiled and shook his head. “Uncle Yu is curious about how we met.”
Old Yu: “……” I didn’t say such nonsense.
Chi Nan didn’t think much of it. “Oh.”
Ye Chang continued to smile. “I told him that we lived together first before getting to know each other.”
Chi Nan still didn’t think too much. “Yes, that is indeed the case.”
Old Yu: “……?” It really didn’t sound right.
He looked at Ye Chang, who was smiling gently, and no longer said anything. He had a premonition that he wouldn’t be able to get anything out of this high school student.
They got the box that symbolized death and their working hours were over.
After 4 o’clock, the volunteers finished working and went to the town square.
“The shadows really increased by two.” Dyson Sen took less than 10 minutes to count the shadows on the wall twice before confirming it.
Old Yu bit his cigarette irritably. “It seems that these shadows…are likely sleepwalkers who have disappeared before.”
“So the little candle people in the exhibition hall…” Xia Wei asked cautiously before shivering.
Old Yu didn’t have any scruples this time and went directly to the grave-like exhibition hall. “Go and confirm it.”
It was as they expected. The candle people in the exhibition hall were the same as the shadows on the ghost wall. After one night, two more were added, and they happened to have two volunteers who disappeared.
It could roughly be inferred that the number of missing people was the same as the number of shadows and candle people. The selection of the missing people was related to the ‘Excellent Volunteer’ title and it was impossible to find a way to prevent this from happening.
Even if someone was lucky enough to escape the unlucky box today, they couldn’t avoid it on the third or fourth day… Under the rules, the ‘Excellent Volunteer’ dormitory was assigned every night and new missing people would always appear.
Disappearing in the Nightmare World was sometimes more terrifying than death. No one knew what the missing people would face… In short, it wasn’t a good thing.
“The way to avoid disappearing should be hidden in the moment when the disappearance is triggered.” Chi Nan calmly analyzed it. “In other words, the cardboard box.”
“The female foreman also said to wait and see tonight,” Ye Chang added in an equally calm manner.
Old Yu looked at the two young men with a complicated expression before smiling helplessly. “I hope that tomorrow, I won’t see the two of you on the wall and in the strange exhibition hall.”
Then he looked at the tall wall of shadows. Perhaps it was because he stared at it for a long time that he had a visual illusion.
These shadows seemed to move in the flickering candlelight.
Then, after calming down, Old Yu felt like he had just been dazzled.
It was just that as a more experienced sleepwalker, he would pay more attention to things that “seemed” to happen.
Night arrived as scheduled.
Everyone was anxious and restless under the domination of fear, apart from Chi Nan and Ye Chang who were the chosen candidates to go missing.
The two of them ate in the cafeteria as usual. Ye Chang specially scooped up a large bowl of sweet white fungus soup and sat opposite Chi Nan, drinking it with relish.
Chi Nan: “……” His Adam’s apple moved and he sullenly bit down on the big steamed bun in his bowl.
“Brother.” Rui Rui walked over from the next table. She stood beside Chi Nan and handed him and Ye Chang pieces of candy. “There will be good luck if you eat them.”
Chi Nan was stunned for a moment, while Ye Chang smiled and took Rui Rui’s candy. “Thank you, we will eat them.”
“I hope I can eat with you tomorrow,” Rui Rui said sincerely.
“Definitely.” Ye Chang opened the package and placed the milky white candy directly in his mouth.
Chi Nan held the candy in his hand. Even if he didn’t understand it, he could feel the kindness and expectations of the little girl. This sugar now made him a bit flustered.
He would cry if he ate it, but the little girl would probably be disappointed if he didn’t eat it…
He didn’t know what to do. Then Ye Chang reached out a hand. “Give it to me. I’ll help you eat it.”
“Wait until we get back to our room and I’ll give you another piece of candy,” he deliberately added in a voice that only Chi Nan could hear.
Ye Chang got permission and took the candy. He placed it in his mouth and explained to the little girl, “This brother is allergic to sugar, so I will eat it for him.”
Old Yu walked over. “Chi Nan and Student Ye, if something goes wrong then run for help as long as you have the opportunity, understood? Don’t fight hard. We will be right next door.”
He had seen Chi Nan’s divine operations several times, but they had too little information this time. Old Yu was still very worried.
The moment Old Yu finished speaking, the young mother couldn’t help sighing heavily.
Chi Nan nodded. He could feel that the people around him were worrying about him so he used calmness to cover up his expectations about the unknown.
In this way, he might look more like a normal person.
The group was about to leave the cafeteria when Chi Nan looked down and found a wallet on the ground that someone had lost. He bent down to pick it up.
Then, he inadvertently saw the photo in the wallet and his actions paused.
The transparent compartment of the wallet had a black and white photo of the little girl Rui Rui. To be precise, it was a funeral photo.
“Brother, don’t look at other people’s belongings casually. Mom says it is impolite.”
Rui Rui’s voice was heard from above Chi Nan and she held out her hand to him. “Thank you Brother, please give it back to me.”
Chi Nan paused for two seconds before picking up the wallet, closing it, and handing it back to Rui Rui. “Sorry, I didn’t mean to see it.”
The little girl smiled at him angelically. “It’s fine. You two brothers and that uncle…”
Rui Rui glanced at Old Yu, who was secretly looking at her, and blinked. “Please keep it a secret for Rui Rui.”
Then she tucked the wallet into her mother’s backpack, took her mother’s hand, made a “shhh” gesture at the three of them, and left without looking back.
Old Yu watched the backs of the mother and daughter and murmured thoughtfully, “I guessed wrong before. I thought the mother was the deceased and the little girl revived her. I didn’t expect…they wore this clothing to attend the little girl’s own funeral.”
Chi Nan was curious. “So Rui Rui is now a living person?”
Old Yu shrugged. “How to say it… Rui Rui in the real world is indeed dead. Her funeral photo shows this. However, Rui Rui in this world is a living person. To be precise…she came back from the dead. Someone exchanged favorability to revive her, just like how you restored your vision.”
“It seems that the little girl was resurrected and directly stayed in the Nightmare World to fulfill her wish to resurrect her father. Judging by her proficiency, there should be some progress.” Old Yu continued to analyze it.
As for the role of the mother in this resurrection wish, Old Yu didn’t know for the time being. He just felt that the mother wasn’t right based on experience and intuition.
Of course, this didn’t seem to have anything to do with the Candleman Festival instance. It was someone else’s business.
Chi Nan wondered, “Then why is there a funeral photo if she has been resurrected?”
Old Yu explained, “I heard that people who are resurrected from the dead will have something similar to a ‘death certificate’ in the Nightmare World. It is like an ID card and they carry it with them. It can be a photograph or it can be something else. In short, it is the most special existence for people who have been resurrected from the dead. It reminds the resurrected people that they have died once.”
Chi Nan thought about it for a moment. “Why do they have to carry it with them?”
Old Yu shook his head. “I’ve just heard about this. I haven’t seen the real thing, so I don’t know.”
Ye Chang, who had been silently by their side, spoke in a low voice, “Perhaps there is no way to throw it away.”
Chi Nan glanced at this person and found that his eyes were hidden behind the lenses and his expression was blurred. “Why?”
Ye Chang shrugged. “I am just guessing. After all, it doesn’t sound like a pleasant thing. Who would be willing to take it with them if they could throw it away?”
He smiled and said in a voice so low that he was almost the only one who could hear it, “It isn’t so much an ID card as it is a birthmark.”
At this time, his hands were in his pocket and he reached for the cold, hard shell of the pocket watch.
His body temperature was too low to warm his pocket watch.
Chi Nan returned to the dormitory and went to wash up first as usual. Ye Chang naturally filled out his exercise book and nothing happened like last night.
An hour passed and Chi Nan couldn’t help being bored and sleepy. He threw the empty box next to his pillow and told Ye Chang, who was concentrating on studying, “Remember to wake me up if anything happens later.”
He turned his head and planned to go to sleep, but before he could sink into a deep sleep, he faintly heard the sound of talking
The voice seemed to be coming from behind him, growing closer as if calling his name.
Chi Nan turned around, but Ye Chang was wearing headphones and studying. He shouldn’t be the one who had spoken just now.
The candlelight from the yard entered through the glass and stretched Ye Chang’s shadow until it was under Chi Nan’s bed.
Chi Nan stared at Ye Chang’s shadow for a few seconds before closing his eyes.
Then, after a few minutes of silence, the voice appeared behind him again.
Chi Nan knew that there was nothing except for a gray cement wall behind him.
He rolled over again and faced his own shadow on the wall.
Shadow… Chi Nan’s drowsiness was gone. He opened his five fingers and the shadow on the wall obediently copied his movements.
He brought his hand close to the wall and the shadow became small and clear. He moved away slightly and the shadow became faint and faded, like a painting soaked in water.
There didn’t seem to be anything special, but there must be something wrong… Chi Nan tried a few more times before putting down his hand and staring at the shadow on the wall.
“Brother Nan, that thing seems to have appeared.”
Chi Nan hesitated. It was only after half a second that he confirmed it was really Ye Chang talking this time. He quickly sat up and followed Ye Chang’s gaze to the window directly above his bed. “There is an additional candle there.”