Candleman Festival (12)
If Old Yu hadn’t seen it with his own eyes, he wouldn’t have believed that anyone in the world could use a steel chisel so gracefully.
It was like holding a carving knife and slowly enjoying the process of creating a work of art…
Old Yu couldn’t intervene, so he lit a cigarette and just watched. “You two young people are quite thoughtful. You even prepared a steel chisel.”
Chi Nan explained, “Ye Chang brought a whole toolbox. If you need it, you are welcome to go to Room 101 to get it.”
Old Yu: “……”
Chi Nan added, “There is also a medicine box and a lot of snacks.”
“…It is really complete.”
In less than five minutes, Ye Chang used the steel chisel to pry off a brick along the edge of the hand shadow.
Chi Nan immediately threw the brick into a black plastic bag and sealed it before looking at the time. “Let’s go. We can make it in time for breakfast.”
After returning to the dormitory, Chi Nan quickly emptied a suitcase and stuffed the brick into the innermost layer. He wrapped it tightly to prevent any light transmission, and finally stuffed the suitcase under the bed.
Old Yu stood outside the door watching his every move and smiled bitterly. How could this blind man look skilled enough to resemble a murderer who often killed and dismembered corpses, packing them up…
“Chi Nan, can you tell me more about your plan?”
Old Yu was now gradually figuring out Chi Nan’s personality. This little blind man tended to be silent in the process of thinking and acting. He was used to doing things independently. He didn’t like to be disturbed when doing things, and it was difficult to cooperate with him. It was rare for him to meet a tacit companion like Ye Chang.
Chi Nan told him, “Shadows need light to exist. I want to try to cut off the light source of that ghost wall to see what will happen.”
“It is just a bit troublesome to extinguish all the candles in the square and the nearby residential buildings. Therefore, I wanted to dig up a part of the shadow and put it in complete darkness to try the effect.”
“Xia Wei’s hand was chosen first to observe what would happen to the shadow representing a wax limb after it lost its light source,” Chi Nan added.
Old Yu was stunned for a moment before realizing. He threw away the cigarette butt in his hand and exclaimed, “You just reminded me. I will have Xia Wei wear long sleeves to hide his wax hand, or he might not be able to even keep this hand.”
Judging from the disappearance of Gu Xiao and Bai Chuan, the wax bodies should be ‘recycled’ and contributed to the Candleman Festival.
Xia Wei’s matter last night was equivalent to a sudden accident. The NPCs shouldn’t know that his hand was turned to wax, or it was likely his hand would be cut off and stored as a material for the Candleman Festival.
Old Yu thought about it and rushed back to his room. He took Xia Wei’s wax hand as a key protection object.
At exactly 9 o’clock, the remaining seven people appeared in the production workshop on time.
The young mother’s condition was much more stable than yesterday. Her originally distracted and scattered eyes were refocused and she was well-groomed.
Under the instructions of Old Yu, Xia Wei had wrapped his wax hand tightly with a bandage and fixed it to his chest professionally, as though it had been fractured. He used an accidental fall as an excuse so the female foreman wouldn’t be suspicious.
The female foreman’s expression was much uglier today. She looked at everyone with dissatisfaction. “It seems that last night was calm and no volunteers created surprises for us. I didn’t expect that four nights would pass and there would still be so many volunteers left. This isn’t the situation I want to see.”
The female foreman focused her attention on Ye Chang and Chi Nan. “The volunteers of Room 101 have won the honor of ‘Excellent Volunteer’ for two consecutive days. For the sake of fairness and justice, it doesn’t matter how you perform from today onwards. The honor must be given to other dormitory volunteers.”
She continued using the rules and privileges in order to ‘stop the loss’ in time. “If there are no particularly good volunteers, I can only eliminate Room 101 and choose it randomly.”
The moment these words came out, the expressions of everyone present changed. The atmosphere became strange after losing the shield of Ye Chang and Chi Nan.
After all, even if they had clearly mastered the method of extinguishing the candle, extinguishing the candle itself was very dangerous. If there was another shadow killer like Ye Chang, the situation would become more uncontrollable.
“The Excellent Volunteer award is issued according to the dormitory number, not the name of the person…” Chi Nan paused and looked up. “It doesn’t matter who randomly gets it. It should be no problem to change dormitories.”
Old Yu thought about it and his eyes lit up. “Yes, the rules only say that we can’t change roommates. It doesn’t say that we can’t change dormitories. The method you mentioned before can be tried now.”
“Based on the method you said last time, do you want the people to move to Room 107 while the death box is left in the original dormitory? However, what if a strange rule is triggered because the candle doesn’t have a target?” Wu Ying wondered.
Chi Nan explained, “We will just swap with the people who have won the random draw.”
Everyone was slightly surprised, but Ye Chang also agreed. “I have a special status now and Brother Nan has mastered the routine of dealing with the humanoid candle. Changing dormitories with us should be the safest way.”
The moment Ye Chang said these words, Wu Ying fell silent. She had a blunt personality and yesterday, she questioned Ye Chang’s identity and reacted the most fiercely. Now, on second thought, if it wasn’t for Ye Chang and Chi Nan taking the initiative to grab the death box, there might only be four people alive right now.
“All volunteers, today is the fourth day that you have come to Candleman Town. First of all, thank you for your hard work and dedication to this year’s Candleman Festival. Still, I would like to remind you that the success of the Candleman Festival is inseparable from your physical sacrifice. Isn’t the disappearance of your body in exchange for eternal light and freedom of the spirit the most beautiful and moving thing?”
The female foreman suddenly raised her tone and warned. The group just wanted to roll their eyes.
“After the Candleman Festival is successfully held, the greatest candle person will be lit in the central square of Candleman Town and every corner of the town will be shrouded in light. There will be no dark dead ends, and all of us will live in the light forever…”
The expressions of everyone except for the female foreman were ugly. The meaning of these words was too obvious. Once the giant candle was lit, Candleman Town would be completely enveloped in the light of the humanoid candle. No matter how they tried to hide, they would be covered by the light of the giant candle. It was just like a nuclear bomb’s explosion. None of them would be spared, and they would be wiped out in an instant.
The day of the Candleman Festival was the day of death for all sleepwalkers.
The production workshop was deathly silent. Everyone breathed lightly, and their expressions were heavy.
“I know that you have been looking for the little girl who ran away from home to pursue the light. It is your freedom to do whatever you want outside of working hours, but I want to advise you not to waste your energy. In the past, children who have run away from home couldn’t be found before the Candleman Festival. I hope you don’t waste your time.”
The experienced sleepwalkers knew this was an important reminder. The young mother’s lips were pursed in a straight line. There was no violent emotional reaction, but she couldn’t restrain the slight trembling of her body.
Chi Nan whispered to Old Yu, “Is this a rule-based reminder?”
Old Yu nodded. “The disappearance of Rui Rui should be a plot point of the dream with a time limit. In other words, it can’t be triggered before the set time arrives. We won’t be able to find Rui Rui no matter what method we use.”
“It is like playing a game. If the progress bar isn’t enough, there is no way to unlock the corresponding plot point.” He made an analogy for the convenience of understanding.
Chi Nan wondered, “Isn’t this a dead end without a solution? What is the point of the dream maker designing this plot point?”
Old Yu shrugged. “No, in fact, there is a solution. For example…”
He paused and looked at the young mother with some hesitation. Then, he lowered his voice to the minimum. “For example, we could’ve found out the rule of the candle wick before Rui Rui disappeared and killed her first. This way, the candle wick won’t be present and the possibility of clearing the dream is much greater.”
“Of course…this is too cruel…” Old Yu arranged his position again.
Chi Nan thought for a moment. “We are too passive in front of the dream makers.”
Old Yu sneered. “What are you thinking? In front of the dream makers, we are just playthings to entertain them in the Colosseum. Do you still want to have the initiative?”
Chi Nan didn’t speak, but Ye Chang pushed up his glasses and said in a joking tone, “Maybe being a dream maker is also hard work. Building the dream, formulating the rules, and monitoring the sleepwalkers placed in the dream. Everything from the early planning, execution, design, and operation is like a job.”
Old Yu was stunned before he laughed and said, “Student Ye, your description is really superb. You are talking about the dream makers as if they are laborers squeezed by capitalism.”
Ye Chang shrugged. “Who knows? Maybe they are.”
Chi Nan glanced at him. “How do you know?”
Ye Chang smiled. “Just a guess.”
For today’s volunteer work, everyone chose to be passive and sluggish. Finally, the Excellent Volunteer box was randomly handed to Wu Ying and Dyson Sen, who lived in Room 109.
Chi Nan and Ye Chang took Wu Ying’s box according to the previous plan, and changed dormitories with the two girls in Room 109.
“Thank you,” Dyson Sen sincerely told Ye Chang, “Yesterday, Wu Ying said words that doubted you. I apologize for her.”
Ye Chang smiled gently. “It doesn’t matter. After all, my shadow really has done bad things. I just hope he won’t continue to hurt people.”
Then he turned to look at the ground, where there was nothing.
Ye Chang and Chi Nan moved their daily necessities and lived in Room 109.
Ye Chang still had the heart to joke around. “I didn’t expect that I would one day live in the girl’s dormitory.”
Chi Nan blinked calmly. “It is a pity that you like men.”
Ye Chang didn’t smile this time. He gradually put away the smile in his eyes and stared at Chi Nan.
He said, “Yes, I like men.”
On the contrary, it was Chi Nan who lowered his eyes in a panic. It was as if a kitten’s claws had scratched at his heart.
This type of feeling was strange, wonderful, and very uncontrollable. Chi Nan was suddenly a bit confused.
However, it was only for a fleeting moment. Chi Nan soon digested his inexplicable emotions with sweets and tears.
Like the previous two nights, Ye Chang used Chi Nan’s tears to extinguish the candle that came to the door. The room returned to silence, and Chi Nan lay on the bed to go to sleep.
Once it was almost dawn, Chi Nan abruptly woke up from a deep sleep. A cold wind blew on his face and he couldn’t help shivering in the quilt.
He remembered that before going to bed, they had tightly locked the windows and covered them with thick quilts. How could there be wind blowing in?
Chi Nan opened his eyes. The dormitory that should be dark was flickering with dim candlelight. Ye Chang sat at the desk with his back to Chi Nan. He seemed to be seriously flipping through the exercise book, and there was the rustling sound of the pen writing from time to time.
However, Chi Nan remembered that after figuring out the principle of the shadow alienation, Ye Chang no longer did exercises at night in order to cut off the light source, let alone lighting a taboo candle.
“Ye Chang?” Chi Nan had a bad premonition. His drowsiness subsided. He sat up and tried to call Ye Chang’s name
Ye Chang kept sitting at the desk and doing questions. He seemed to be wearing earplugs and turned a deaf ear to Chi Nan’s voice.
Candlelight flickered faintly from the corner of the desk. From Chi Nan’s perspective, he couldn’t see what type of candle it was, so he got out of bed and walked behind Ye Chang. The other person had his head down and seemed unaware of the whole process.
There was a mirror in front of the desk. Chi Nan’s gaze went over Ye Chang’s shoulders and stopped on the reflection in the mirror.
Chi Nan sighed in relief when he used the mirror to confirm that it was an ordinary candle that was lit on the table. At almost the same time, Ye Chang in the mirror finally raised his head.
In the mirror, Ye Chang’s facial expression was blurred.
Chi Nan’s heart sank. The face had an outline but no facial features. It wasn’t Ye Chang, but the shadow.
His movements stopped and he instinctively stepped back. Ye Chang, who was sitting at the desk, briefly laughed. It closed the exercise book and said in a gentle and sincere tone, “Don’t be afraid. I’m not willing to turn your body into a candle.”
“Brother Nan, I’ll be very sad if you are afraid of me.” The shadow looked back. Due to being immersed in the shadow of the candle, its facial features became even more blurred.
Chi Nan really stopped moving and looked back calmly. “You’re not Ye Chang.”
The shadow smiled with a hint of helplessness and cruelty. “Then who do you say I am? Huh?”
Chi Nan replied firmly, “The shadow.”
“Don’t forget, even if I am a shadow, I am Ye Chang’s shadow.”
Chi Nan insisted, “A shadow is a shadow. I am myself. It isn’t the same.”
The alienated shadow was equivalent to an independent existence implanted by the candle. It might have the memory, physical appearance, speech, behavior, and habits of the main body, but its thoughts and choices had nothing to do with the body. The candle people used the shadow as a medium to turn the body into wax.
In other words, it wasn’t Ye Chang who was talking to him now, but the candleman in Ye Chang’s shell.
The shadow smiled in a way that was unique to Ye Chang. “Do you like Ye Chang so much?”
Chi Nan was silent for a moment. “In any case, I don’t like you.”
The shadow sighed, looking oppressive yet pitiful. “Chi Nan, do you think that in the Nightmare World, there is really a sleepwalker called Ye Chang who is a high school senior?”
Chi Nan’s eyes twitched slightly. “What do you mean?”
“You really don’t have any doubts? Such a person suddenly appeared next to you and seemed bound to you, like a shadow.” It observed the expression on Chi Nan’s face with interest while emphasizing the word ‘shadow.’ Then he continued, “The place you live and the instances you enter. He just happens to be there, and he even knew the situation of your tears at the beginning. Don’t you think it is strange? He is like your shadow.”
Chi Nan didn’t hesitate. “I don’t think so.”’
He didn’t intend to believe this provocative rhetoric which would cause unnecessary trouble to himself.
The shadow was stunned for a moment before letting out a regretful laugh. “It seems that I have to come up with some evidence. What should I do? Why don’t I do this…”
As it spoke, it increased the intensity of the candle’s flame. The sparks crackled, and the shadow took off its glasses.
“You should’ve asked Ye Chang why he never took off his glasses, right?” The shadow stared at Chi Nan with slightly reddened eyes as if staring at its prey. “It is because as long as he takes off his glasses, he will be exposed, this wicked dream maker.”’
Chi Nan froze in place and his breathing became lighter.
“I think you should remember these eyes, right?” the shadow said before covering its face with a mask that Chi Nan was familiar with, its smile deepening. “Perhaps this will have a deeper impression on you. Do you remember?”