Candleman Festival (7)
Chi Nan was sure that this candle didn’t exist before he went to sleep. At some point, someone had lit it and placed it outside their window.
In addition, the little white box he put by the pillow had an extra note.
[You are the best volunteer on the second night. We will give you the gift that best represents Candleman Town. I believe you have received the gift when you see this note. I sincerely hope that you and your roommate can have a bright and wonderful night.]
“No wonder the box was originally empty. The gifts for the volunteers are supposed to be delivered late at night.” Ye Chang closed the exercise book in his hand and pushed up his glasses. “I’ll go bring it down.”
As he spoke, he jumped on the bed and pushed against the window that could previously be opened and closed freely. Now, it seemed like it had been locked and couldn’t be pushed open.
Chi Nan glanced around at the furnishings of the room before his eyes finally fell on the iron clothes rail next to the wardrobe.
10 seconds later, Chi Nan jumped on Ye Chang’s bed with the clothes rail in his hand. “Get out of the way.”
Ye Chang understood what he meant and very obediently gave way for him. Chi Nan directly smashed the clothes rail into the glass. There was a loud bang as a large piece of the window glass shattered and fell onto Ye Chang’s bed. Chi Nan directly reached out and pulled in the candle.
“It is a human candle made of a special wax block.”
The human candle held by Chi Nan in his hand wasn’t as delicate and exquisite as the ones in the exhibition hall, but the material was a clear platinum color and the wax block was mixed with wisps of red.
It was the same texture as the residual wax he found on the windowsill the first night.
At almost the same moment that Chi Nan pulled the candle into the room, the position of the original window was suddenly covered by a gray wall.
In an instant, the door to the dormitory, as well as the vents, disappeared. It was as if the cold walls around them suddenly gained life and would grow and spread on their own, sealing off all exits and trapping them in a confined space filled with eerie candlelight.
“What’s next?” Ye Chang, who was trapped in the room, didn’t seem to feel any fear at all. There was even some anticipation in his eyes for Chi Nan’s reaction.
Chi Nan put the humanoid candle on the table and placed his hand on the table like a student in laboratory class. He even threw the note from the cardboard box into the fire. It crackled and the flames shot up.
He blinked with green eyes full of curiosity. “Let’s take a look first.”
As he spoke, his gaze shifted behind Ye Chang. The shadow from the candle stretched and flickered with the flames, on and off, far and near. Its position seemed to be changing all the time.
It was as if a shadow game was being played against the wall, but Ye Chang didn’t move at all.
Ye Chang followed his gaze and looked back. “What’s going on with the shadow?”
“The shadow from this candle isn’t right. It is as if it can move away from the body on its own.” Chi Nan watched the shadow on the ground for a moment. The shadow seemed to sense his gaze and suddenly stopped moving.
The shadow cast by the candlelight was like a monster waiting for an opportunity, holding its breath and preparing to catch its prey.
“Shh, they seem to be…” At this moment, Chi Nan could feel the aggressive meaning of the shadow. It was as if he just had to blink slightly and the shadow would pounce on them.
Ye Chang’s expression sank in the candlelight. There was a vague sense of tenderness. Rather than showing any fear, he reached out and played with the flame of the candle wick. “Do you want to try extinguishing the candle? Shadows don’t exist without light.”
For a moment, Chi Nan thought of the overturned hot water kettle and water stain in Bai Chuan’s room. Maybe Bai Chuan and Gu Xiao also tried to extinguish the candle last night but the result…
Chi Nan’s curiosity intensified. He picked up the kettle on the table and poured it directly on the candle. Then, something strange happened. The fire wasn’t extinguished, but instead crackled and burned more vigorously.
Ye Chang poked the flame. “Aren’t you afraid of water?”
Rather than feeling horrified about something that went against common sense, his tone was more curious about the humanoid candle. It was like a good student eager to explore in class.
Chi Nan looked at the ground again and found that Ye Chang’s shadow was getting closer to them. It just seemed to be afraid of something and never launched the final attack.
“Didn’t you say you had a way?” Chi Nan suddenly asked Ye Chang.
“There is a way, but…” Ye Chang paused and looked up at Chi Nan. He hid the bad taste in his eyes perfectly behind the lenses and smiled imperceptibly. “Brother Nan has to allow it.”
Chi Nan: “……?”
“Brother Nan, will you allow it? The method I thought of,” Ye Chang smiled and asked for permission.
Chi Nan was a bit confused. “Yes, it is up to you…”
He didn’t finish speaking. Ye Chang seemed to have caught the opportunity and leaned forward slightly. The distance between the two of them was suddenly very close. Chi Nan could see the fire of the candle flickering on Ye Chang’s lens.
It was flickering and flashing, appearing very bright.
Chi Nan’s reaction couldn’t keep up with Ye Chang’s movements. He had just blinked when Ye Chang already touched the teardrop mole at the corner of Chi Nan’s left eye. There was an undercurrent of deception hidden under the calm and polite voice.
He said, “Brother Nan, let me borrow your tears.”
It was as Ye Chang expected. He hadn’t finished speaking when the tears had already flowed down.
He was so happy that he couldn’t suppress the curve of his lips. It was as if he had wanted to do this for a long time.
Unfortunately, there had been no good reason or opportunity.
Now, his wish was finally fulfilled. He deliberately placed his finger against Chi Nan’s teardrop mole for a long time as if he was reluctant to remove it.
He enjoyed Chi Nan’s tears, especially the tears from when he was caught off guard that couldn’t be stopped on their own.
The wet and dripping tears on his own face were particularly pleasing to the eye.
Chi Nan’s eyes widened slightly in shock and a bit of confusion. Tears dripped out like a floodgate and his body trembled a bit.
The teardrop mole was pressed down upon unscrupulously… It was such a strong, overwhelming, and trembling feeling…
The shadow on the wall didn’t move. The flames no longer moved upward and time seemed to stand still.
In the long years of his past, no one had done such arrogant and strange actions against him.
After a long time, Chi Nan finally blinked with difficulty. He asked in a hoarse voice, “Is it okay?”
Ye Chang deliberately remained silent for half a second before rubbing his tear-stained fingers against the corner of Chi Nan’s eyes. “It should be okay.”
It was another half a second before he reluctantly withdrew his hand.
Ye Chang pinched the wick of the candle with his fingers stained with Chi Nan’s tears. They saw that the originally flickering flames were extinguished in an instant.
The room suddenly fell into complete darkness. It was completely pure and black, reminding Chi Nan of the time when he couldn’t see before.
“Sure enough, your tears can extinguish a candle.”
Ye Chang sighed with relief. He took out a washed handkerchief from his pocket and accurately and gently wiped away the tears on Chi Nan’s face.
It was unknown how he did it in the darkness where he couldn’t see.
All of a sudden, there was only the sound of them breathing in the room. Chi Nan couldn’t help sniffing because he cried too much.
Silence spread among the tears and darkness. Beyond the silence, Chi Nan was a bit embarrassed because he cried too fiercely while Ye Chang obviously hid his excitement well.
“…How did you come up with this?” halfway through, Chi Nan slowly suppressed his tears and asked in a hoarse voice.
Ye Chang pretended not to understand. “What?”
Chi Nan pursed his lips. “How did you know my tears would work?”
“I guessed it,” Ye Chang replied after a long time.
“What if you guessed incorrectly?”
“I’ve always been accurate when betting, and have never lost.” Ye Chang smiled in the darkness.
He saw that Chi Nan didn’t speak and suppressed the pleasure in his heart. He changed to an embarrassed tone. “Sorry, I made you cry again.”
“It’s okay. Just…”
“Huh?” Ye Chang leaned forward and waited for him to answer.
Chi Nan shook his head. “Nothing.”
He originally wanted to tell Ye Chang not to press on the teardrop mole next time because it made him cry too strongly. Then, thinking about it, Ye Chang probably didn’t mean it. His hand just reached over and happened to touch the teardrop mole at the corner of his eye.
It also didn’t seem appropriate to tell the other person about the physical weakness he just found out.
Ye Chang still wanted to say something, but before he could speak, the darkness in the room gradually diluted due to the light that seeped in.
The vanished doors and windows reappeared on the wall. The candlelight from outside the house came in and everything was quiet. Even the candles on the table disappeared.
Nothing seemed to have happened in the room. Only the window glass shattered by the clothes rail proved that everything just now wasn’t an illusion.
Cold wind poured in and the water used to splash the candle just now wet Ye Chang’s clothes and pants. He shuddered in an appropriate manner. “It is cold.”
As he spoke, he looked at his bed and pillow full of broken glass and said in a despondent manner, “It looks like I can’t sleep tonight.”
The culprit, Chi Nan, obviously hesitated. “You can come to my bed for a night.”
Ye Chang was waiting for this sentence, but he still had to show some surprise. “Then where will you sleep?”
He knowingly asked while observing the worried and embarrassed reaction on the face of his prey, waiting for him to make a choice and tell him personally. “Is there anything more pleasant in the world than this?”
Chi Nan seemed to be stuck again for a moment. “I will sleep on the bed as well.”
In any case, it wasn’t like they hadn’t slept together before. It was already common for Ye Chang to make him cry. Chi Nan tried to convince himself like this.
Ye Chang smiled in an unabashedly happy manner. “Good.”
Once this was settled, Ye Chang went to the bathroom to change his clothes with what he brought in his backpack. He also took a hot shower.
Chi Nan watched Ye Chang walk into the bathroom and his eyelids twitched.
Ye Chang’s shadow was gone.
He instinctively looked behind him. His own shadow was still reflected on the ground, but Ye Chang’s shadow… He rubbed his eyes and looked over again. Before he could see clearly, Ye Chang had already closed the bathroom door.
The sound of water coming from the bathroom drowned out the words that Chi Nan wanted to say.
Ye Chang quickly took a shower but Chi Nan felt that the less than five minutes were incomparably long. His emotions rarely fluctuated because of something or someone. He had never been so anxious to confirm something.
He even had the urge to shed tears like when he ate sweets, was touched, or fell into a deep sleep.
Such a self was strange and out of control. Chi Nan didn’t want this.
He took out a sweet macaron from Ye Chang’s snack bag and took a bite.
The hot and moist tear glands stimulated by sugar made him feel safe and familiar. Chi Nan ate the sweet made while silently and recklessly shedding tears.
So when Ye Chang came out of the bathroom, he saw Chi Nan nibbling on the macaron with wet eyes. It was as if he had a vendetta against the macaron…
Ye Chang couldn’t help laughing again.
Chi Nan’s gaze shifted to Ye Chang almost immediately and he confirmed that the other person’s shadow was on the ground. The moment he put down the macaron, he found that his tongue was sweetly numb.
“What’s the matter? Are you hungry?” Ye Chang emitted hot water vapor from his body as he walked toward Chi Nan.
Chi Nan kept staring at the other person’s shadow while saying, “I suddenly wanted to eat sweets.”
He replied in a perfunctory manner. Then, he went around Ye Chang to the misty bathroom to wash his face with cold water.
After he finished washing up, he found Ye Chang was lying on the bed and left a place for him.
Chi Nan’s footsteps paused before finally lying down.
This wasn’t the first time the two of them had slept on the same bed. Last time, they were in a special room on the cruise ship. Now, the bed in the candle factory’s double room was a standard single bed with a width of 1.2 meters.
The moment Chi Nan lay down, the breath that belonged to Ye Chang inevitably wrapped around him.
The two of them opened their mouths at almost the same time before closing them. There was a moment of silence before Ye Chang finally opened his mouth. “It was too dangerous just now. In fact, I didn’t know what to do if your tears didn’t work.”
Chi Nan thought about it for a moment before organizing his thoughts. “In this way, the shadow of the person illuminated by the candlelight will be affected. Then the shadow will break away from the control of the body, and even commit an act of ‘betrayal’ by attacking the body.”
Ye Chang nodded and said thoughtfully, “You said that my shadow changed after the humanoid candle was lit.”
Chi Nan speculated, “The disappearance of Bai Chuan and Gu might be because the shadows hid their bodies or swallowed them up?”
There was a pause before he added, “Or have they turned into new candle people to be added to the volunteer museum?”
“…So why are the shadows doing this?”
Ye Chang was silent for a moment before replying, “They might want to gain freedom, or be doves that occupy the magpie’s nest to instead live in the main body…it is possible.”
Chi Nan’s heart skipped a beat and he murmured to himself, “Live in the main body?”
“Yes, suppose shadows are like appendages. Don’t they want to acquire bodies to live like normal humans?” Chi Nan’s voice was very light, and his breath faintly lingered in Chi Nan’s ears.
“The dove occupies the magpie’s nest and is free.” Ye Chang’s tone cooled down a bit after saying these four words.
Chi Nan thought about it for a moment and shook his head. “The shadows don’t seem to be free. The ghost wall in the square is no different from a prison.”
“Maybe for them, existing independently from the body is freedom?” Ye Chang analyzed Chi Nan’s line of thinking, “However, this isn’t important. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to test what the alienated shadow will do to the body, or I might be able to find Bai Chuan and Gu Xiao.”
“It is too dangerous.” Chi Nan considered Ye Chang’s mortality rate of 90% and shook his head. He rarely had such a sense of crisis in his daily life.
Now they had a very important clue. Once the volunteer was illuminated by the special candle, their shadow would be alienated, detaching from the main body and even attempting to obliterate the main body.
However, the motive of the shadow and the impact that the shadow would have on the main body were still unknown.
Still, knowing this information about the candlelight would allow them to better circumvent the rules of death and prevent the alienation of the shadow.
Ye Chang thought about it before saying, “Based on the situation just now, this alienation can be terminated before the shadow actually harms the body. A shadow can’t exist without a light source and the body will temporarily gain security.”
Chi Nan nodded hesitantly. “Tell them the information tomorrow.”
“Yes…” Ye Chang seemed to lean closer to Chi Nan again. “What did you just want to say?”
Chi Nan answered truthfully, “I’m not sure if the alienation was successfully terminated. I didn’t seem to see your shadow when you entered the bathroom just now.”
Chi Nan could clearly feel that Ye Chang was breathing slightly behind him so he continued speaking, “It might be that the change is still happening but it is slyly hidden. Or it might be that…my eyes were blurry.”
Ye Chang seemed to sigh as he turned to look at his shadow reflected on the wall. “I hope so.”
The two of them analyzed it for a while before Chi Nan fell asleep in a daze and spent a peaceful night.
At dawn the next day, there was a banging sound on their door.
“Chi Nan, Student Ye, are the two of you okay?” It was Old Yu’s anxious voice.
Chi Nan had just opened his eyes in confusion. Ye Chang, who had woken up before him, replied, “We are both fine. Don’t worry.”
Old Yu outside the door sighed with relief and laughed. “As expected of Chi Nan, the newcomer I am optimistic about. He escaped the disaster safely.”
The two of them quickly washed and got dressed. The moment they opened the door, Old Yu saw the scene of chaos inside the room and asked in a hoarse voice, “Did you want to escape from the window last night? There is such a big hole.”
Chi Nan looked at the window he had smashed in an embarrassed manner. He told Old Yu about last night’s experience. Of course, he hid his weakness of shedding tears when being touched. He changed it to a version where he forced himself to shed tears because he was too anxious.
Old Yu heard this and exclaimed directly, “Good fellow, it seems that this ghost is afraid of human tears. I’m afraid that I won’t be able to cry when the time comes. Then what can I do? Perhaps those who are capable should work hard. Chi Nan, cry more if you can and collect your tears as a means of self-defense for us.”
Chi Nan: “……”
Old Yu looked at Ye Chang and added with a smile, “I feel that Student Ye is quite willing to do this, right?”
Chi Nan: “……”
Ye Chang smiled and shook his head. “I don’t want to do the business of selling Brother Nan. Uncle Yu, don’t try to fool me.”
Old Yu choked up. Then, he smiled and started scolding the other person.
Chi Nan glanced at Ye Chang. Ye Chang winked at him and whispered, “Rest assured, I might always accidentally make you cry, but I don’t like others seeing you crying.”
The implication was that “only I can appreciate it. No one else should think about it.”
Chi Nan nodded incomprehensibly before saying with a blank face, “Oh.”
Just as they were talking, there was the loud bang of the door opening from Room 105 where the mother and daughter were located. It was so loud that they were caught off guard and several people were startled.
The young mother in the room stood in her pajamas, her hair disheveled and her face dirty. Her face was pale with fear and her body trembled constantly.
“What’s wrong?” the quick-witted Old Yu saw this and asked quickly.
The young mother held a one meter tall humanoid doll in her arms as she collapsed while exclaiming, “Rui Rui… Rui Rui…my daughter, last night…she disappeared!”