Candleman Festival (9)
In an instant, everyone followed her gaze to Ye Chang.
The floor illuminated by ordinary candles really didn’t have Ye Chang’s shadow.
“Where is your shadow? Are you human?” Wu Ying questioned.
Everyone knew that in the Nightmare World, only ghosts and indescribable monsters had no shadows.
“What the hell did you come here to do?”
All of a sudden, everyone looked at Ye Chang with suspicious and frightened eyes. They quickly scattered and retreated, apart from Chi Nan.
Ye Chang was aggressively questioned by his companions, but he wasn’t flustered at all. He even looked at Chi Nan in a slightly innocent manner. “Is it because I was illuminated by the candlelight last night? My shadow was alienated and ran away by itself?”
Wu Ying obviously didn’t believe it. In order to confirm it, she looked at the floor deliberately. “Don’t try to fool people!”
She pointed to Chi Nan’s clear shadow on the ground and said coldly, “The two of you are in the same dormitory and he was illuminated by the candle like you. Why isn’t his shadow gone? How do you explain this?”
Ye Chang was stunned before asking Chi Nan in a helpless, joking tone, “Brother Nan, have I jumped into the Yellow River and become unable to wash myself clean?”
Chi Nan lowered his eyes and looked at the ground at Ye Chang’s feet. Then he said thoughtfully, “Last night, you put out the candle.”
Chi Nan frowned slightly. “Perhaps the humanoid candle also had a danger trigger point. If anyone extinguishes the humanoid candle, their shadow will be taken away.
“There is also a possibility that from the moment we stepped into Candleman Town, our shadows have started to mutate. The voices that Rui Rui heard before and the people I sensed in the bathroom might be shadows, but they can’t escape the control of the body for the time being,” Chi Nan added.
Everyone was stunned. Chi Nan’s words sounded somewhat reasonable.
It made sense but unfortunately, there was no evidence.
Wu Ying continued to doubt it. “According to what you said, we might all have our shadows taken away. So why is it Ye Chang who was the first to have it taken away?”
Chi Nan thought for a moment. “That’s why I feel that the first possibility is relatively larger and…”
“I fouled in my last instance and the system forcibly increased my death rate to 90%. If something bad happens, it will definitely fall on me first,” Ye Chang explained for Chi Nan.
Then he smiled bitterly. “If you suspect me, I can do as you want but…”
He paused and changed his tone to a serious one. “Don’t embarrass Brother Nan.”
Old Yu bit his cigarette and looked at Ye Chang for a while before coming over to pat his shoulder. “Chi Nan’s deduction is quite reasonable and it is very important to us. I will believe you for the time being.”
“Thank you,” Ye Chang said sincerely.
“However, that doesn’t mean we won’t be on guard against you,” Dyson Sen added.
Ye Chang nodded. “Of course, I understand.”
Old Yu looked troubled. “It is just…if it is the first scenario that Chi Nan deduced and the act of extinguishing the humanoid candle causes the shadow to be seized, this instance is too difficult. Extinguishing isn’t saving ourselves. Then what should we do…?”
Xia Wei added in fright, “The second possibility is also terrible. It is impossible to prevent.”
Chi Nan was still standing next to Ye Chang. From beginning to end, he didn’t show any fear. He thought about it and said, “Once work is over, let’s go to the ghost wall to confirm it. Perhaps Ye Chang’s shadow is there. We can also confirm if Rui Rui…is safe or not.”
The implication was that if the ghost wall had more shadows, it was either Ye Chang’s shadow that had been lost or Rui Rui was turned into wax by her shadow last night…
The group understood. They looked at the crying mother at almost the same time and nodded silently.
At 4:20 p.m., Wu Ying and Dyson Sen sent the young mother who was in a trance back to the dormitory. Then they joined the group and rushed to the town square.
They confirmed it three times. The shadows on the wall hadn’t increased, and the number of people in the exhibition hall hadn’t changed.
Old Yu bit his cigarette and sighed with relief. “We didn’t find any additional figures. This should be considered good news.”
At the very least, this meant that Rui Rui had a great chance of surviving. It was just that after feeling reassured, they became even more confused. In addition to the death rule about the alienation of the shadow using the humanoid candle, there was another set of potential disappearance rules waiting for them…
“Since Ye Chang’s shadow isn’t on the wall, what is going on with his shadow?”
Everyone had new questions and looked at Ye Chang with uneasy expressions. Chi Nan, who was standing next to him, also felt the unfriendliness.
“I still feel unsafe letting a person without a shadow stay in the team.” Wu Ying had a direct personality and didn’t shy away from expressing her doubts and dissatisfaction.
Ye Chang pursed his lips and nodded slightly. “I didn’t take care of my own shadow and caused trouble to everyone. I’m sorry.”
Wu Ying was stunned by his calm attitude. “What is with your attitude?”
Ye Chang: “……”
Chi Nan wondered, “Then what should be his attitude?”
He was just curious about the emotions and reactions of normal humans so he hoped to get some answers from this aggressive lady. Unfortunately, his calm tone made the other person think he was being provocative.
Wu Ying sneered. “What do you mean? Shouldn’t he try to prove his innocence to us?”
Ye Chang suddenly smiled in a very apologetic manner. “I’m sorry, I’m not innocent.”
Everyone was stunned when he said this, including Chi Nan.
“I can’t guarantee that my shadow won’t do bad things and I can’t prove its innocence.” Ye Chang deliberately used ‘it’ to refer to the shadow.
Old Yu saw that the situation was at a stalemate and pressed the cigarette butt against the ghost wall. “Okay, let’s stop fighting. Don’t forget that if it wasn’t for Student Ye in the past two days, that unlucky box would’ve randomly gone to one of us.”
After hearing this, no one dared to say anything else even if they were still suspicious of Ye Chang.
Indeed, if Ye Chang hadn’t taken the initiative to make the candle yesterday and get the box that symbolized death, he might not have lost his shadow.
Today, he stood in front of everyone and got the title of ‘Excellent Volunteer’ again.
Just as everyone was silent, Old Yu glanced at Chi Nan. “Chi Nan, come here. I want to talk to you alone.”
Then he smiled at Ye Chang. “I will borrow your roommate to say something, if you don’t mind.”
Ye Chang’s eyes narrowed for a moment. Then he slightly lowered them, his expression hidden in the dim candlelight and hard to see. Even so, his tone was as relaxed and playful as usual. “Brother Nan isn’t mine alone.”
“Yes, I don’t mind,” Old Yu also half-jokingly replied.
“What’s wrong?” Chi Nan asked when he saw Old Yu’s uncharacteristically serious expression.
Old Yu frowned slightly as if pondering on the wording. “That Student Ye, did he really follow you as soon as he entered the Nightmare World?”
“Yes, we happened to be roommates in our last instance.”
Old Yu nodded. “So he was brought out by you?”
“…No, I don’t bring people.”
Old Yu smiled briefly before falling silent again. After a moment, he cautioned softly, “Even so, you should be careful.”
Chi Nan frowned. “What do you mean?”
Old Yu looked at him. “I always feel that he doesn’t seem like a newcomer based on the way he handles problems and makes judgments.”
Chi Nan didn’t answer and Old Yu added, “He doesn’t seem like an ordinary person.”
Chi Nan thought about it for a moment. “However, an old sleepwalker who pretends to be a newcomer should deliberately hide their sharp edges, like Nan Lu, right?”
Old Yu was stunned before smiling. “You are right. Ye Chang is too prominent.”
“In any case, it is always right to be careful,” Old Yu warned again. He believed that intimacy lowered people’s IQ.
Chi Nan pursed his lips. “Uncle Yu, in the You Yu’s Dream instance, you also thought I wasn’t an ordinary person, right?”
Old Yu looked at him for a moment before smiling. “I still don’t think you are an ordinary person now.”
“Still, you aren’t the same. How to say it….” Old Yu scratched his neck. “You don’t have a sense of danger about you. He… I can’t say.”
He shook his head again. “In any case, I might’ve thought you weren’t right at the time, but I didn’t say this to the little anchor.”
Chi Nan nodded and grasped the main point. “So you think Ye Chang is dangerous?”
Old Yu glanced at Ye Chang, who looked harmless. “I don’t have exact evidence. It is just based on my perception of people. You can believe it or not. It is up to you. I’m not necessarily right.”
“Or rather, I’ve been wrong many times.” Old Yu adhered to the middle ground.
“I see.” Chi Nan lowered his eyes. For some unknown reason, the last dance on the Dusk Cruise Ship flashed through his mind. It was the moment when the dream maker hurriedly picked up the object that had fallen.
He couldn’t help thinking that the object was the pocket watch that Ye Chang always carried with him. There was probably some similarity between the two.
Old Yu knew moderation and didn’t say anything else. “Let’s go back.”
During the time when Old Yu and Chi Nan were talking, Xia Wei walked over to Ye Chang’s side. “I believe you. Thank you for protecting us these last two days.”
As he spoke, he winked at Ye Chang without any shyness. The implied meaning was obvious.
Ye Chang smiled in a slightly embarrassed manner like a good student. “Thank you.”
Xia Wei thought he was shy. “Don’t think I’m being shameless for wanting to find a brother when the whereabouts of my friend are unknown. To be honest, the Nightmare World is precarious and it is uncertain if I can get out alive or not. I don’t plan to be reserved and will clearly fight for what I want. I really like your type. If it is possible, please give me a chance. You won’t lose out.”
Ye Chang wanted to refuse but Xia Wei gestured to him. “Don’t be in a rush to answer. Please give me some face.”
Ye Chang smiled politely and shook his head. “I’m really sorry, I have someone I’m interested in.”
He looked up as he spoke and his eyes fell on Chi Nan and Old Yu, who were heading in his direction. In an instant, a faint smile appeared on his face.
“Shall we look for Rui Rui in town while it isn’t completely dark?” Wu Ying suggested, “The town isn’t big. There might be clues if we look for her.”
They all felt there wasn’t much hope, but they still nodded. The group soon split into three according to their dormitories and looked for the little girl around town.
Chi Nan and Ye Chang were in charge of the southern part of the town. Candleman Town was eerily quiet at night. The NPCs seemed to be off work and hid in their candle-filled homes, not going out.
Chi Nan even thought that no NPCs would look out curiously if he fired a shot on the street.
Ye Chang happened to be thinking the same thing as him. “I found that there is no police station, prison, or other places in Candleman Town.”
Chi Nan understood since he had seen Ye Chang’s use of force to extract a confession. “It is very convenient if we want to use force.”
Ye Chang smiled. The two of them remained silent after that, and there was only the sound of footsteps echoing in the faint candlelight. In the narrow alley, it was easy to feel a sense of solitude and loneliness like they were heading to the underworld.
Chi Nan’s shadow was cast on the wall by the candlelight. It was long and faint. He looked at the white painted wall out of the corner of his eye. Only his shadow was reflected. Ye Chang’s shadow hadn’t returned after running away from home.
‘Maybe it doesn’t plan to come back…’ Chi Nan thought.
“What’s wrong?” Ye Chang asked from beside Chi Nan. His tone was still as gentle and calm as usual.
Chi Nan shook his head. “I’m thinking of something.”
Ye Chang nodded and didn’t ask anything else. He also didn’t ask about why Old Yu wanted to talk to Chi Nan alone. The two of them just walked together, quietly and closely.
The sky was getting darker, and the candlelight from the thousands of homes was becoming more dazzling.
Chi Nan’s pupils suddenly shrunk. It seemed that there had been some black object stuck beside his shadow just now. The black space on the wall seemed like a TV with a poor connection. It flashed the moment he concentrated his attention and silently shook.
Yet in the blink of an eye, it became still and there was indeed only his shadow on the wall.
It was as if his eyes were dazzled just now.
“Did you see that?” Chi Nan turned to Ye Chang and asked.
“It was like…something flashed by.”
Ye Chang frowned before shaking his head. “Maybe someone’s candle shook?”
Chi Nan was regretful. “I thought it was back.”
‘It’ referred to Ye Chang’s shadow.
Ye Chang smiled bitterly. “It isn’t necessarily a good thing for it to come back. After all, it has been alienated. It isn’t my shadow, but more like a parasitic monster using my shadow as the medium.”
“Brother Nan, are you really not afraid of me?” Ye Chang asked in a relaxed tone.
Chi Nan blinked in a confused manner. “Why should I be afraid?”
Ye Chang seemed a bit surprised and his footsteps paused. “I was just joking.”
He instinctively put his hand into his pocket and gently tapped the pocket watch. The surrounding area was too quiet, and the sound of his knuckles touching the metal shell of the pocket watch clearly spread.
Chi Nan suddenly said, “At the end of the Dusk Cruise, I met a dream maker at the bottom of the sea.”
Ye Chang paused slightly. “Do you know them?”
Chi Nan shook his head. “We don’t know each other. I’ve seen him once…”
Chi Nan paused before correcting it, “It is twice.”
They danced together at the party.
Ye Chang smiled. “Is it the one where you listened to music in the living room of his house?”
Chi Nan was stunned for a moment. Indeed, he had told Ye Chang about this. Therefore, he answered, “Yes, it is him, but I don’t know his name.”
“He has a pocket watch that is similar to yours.” Chi Nan lied. In fact, he didn’t see if the object that the dream maker dropped on the ground at the dance party was a pocket watch. Yet for some reason, he wanted to say this. Then, he observed how Ye Chang would answer.
Ye Chang just smiled calmly. “Really? I’m suddenly looking forward to meeting the dream maker.”
Chi Nan looked at him. “The pocket watch…is it something very important to you?”