Candleman Festival (13)
The shadow’s gaze was filled with playful anticipation.
Chi Nan met his expectations. The moment he saw the mask, a bit of bewilderment flashed in his eyes. The shadow didn’t have time to enjoy it when Chi Nan’s mood subsided and he quickly regained his composure. “I remember.”
He said quietly while walking toward the shadow step by step.
The shadow was a bit surprised by his calm actions and started to get impatient. “Don’t you have anything else to ask?”
Chi Nan stopped in front of it. “Why are you telling me this for him?”
The shadow’s lips curved like Ye Chang. “It isn’t ‘for’ him. It is me who made the claim in order to cut off his path of retreat.”
Chi Nan whispered, “Why did Ye Chang do this?”
The shadow smiled and shrugged. “This… I think you should ask him personally.”
“Oh, then I really have nothing to ask.”
The shadow seemed disappointed. “Are you sure?”
Chi Nan and the shadow looked at each other for half a second. Then Chi Nan wondered, “Can I touch your face?”
The shadow raised an eyebrow with surprise. “Why?”
“I’m a bit curious. If I touch a shadow, will I cry?”
The shadow smiled. “Of course.”
The shadow cooperatively removed the mask on its face, revealing the face that belonged to ‘Ye Chang.’ Chi Nan also held out his hand.
Then, before his fingers touched the shadow’s skin, he quickly turned around and picked up the teacup on the table, throwing it at the candle at the corner of the table!
Before the shadow’s expression of shock disappeared, he saw the flames flutter a few times before extinguishing.
The room returned to complete darkness, and the shadow was engulfed in darkness.
Chi Nan stood still in the darkness for a moment before heading toward Ye Chang’s bed. He had just gotten halfway there when his throat tightened. A pair of arms tightly strangled his neck and pulled him back. Chi Nan struggled a few times to no avail. The strength and figure of the other person was absolutely superior, and Chi Nan shook like the other person was holding a small chick.
“Did you really think that you could deal with me by extinguishing the candle?”
It was still Ye Chang’s voice, but Chi Nan didn’t shed any tears due to the touch. An alarm bell rang in his heart. Ye Chang’s shadow had evolved to be able to move freely without a light source. This was a great threat to them.
“Cough, cough cough…”
Chi Nan was strangled and couldn’t speak. The shadow pressed its lips to his ears and declared in a flirtatious tone, “I want your body.”
As the oxygen drained little by little, tears appeared in Chi Nan’s eyes. His consciousness gradually fell into an abyss of fog until an identical voice was heard in his ears.
“Brother Nan, wake up.”
Chi Nan’s eyelids kept twitching, and his breathing became urgent and light. This time, he really opened his eyes.
Ye Chang was sitting on the edge of his bed and examining him from top to bottom. “You were having a nightmare.”
Chi Nan’s cheeks were slightly flushed after breathing rapidly. Even the teardrop moles at the end of his eyes were stained with water, making them appear vivid and fragile. His eyelashes fluttered a few times, and he looked like a fine porcelain doll on the verge of breaking down.
He instinctively moved his lips, but his throat that had been choked in the dream couldn’t speak. Ye Chang rushed to pour him a cup of cold water.
Chi Nan took advantage of this moment to rub the tears on his face against the pillowcase.
“What did you dream about? You looked at me with that type of gaze just now.” Ye Chang handed over the water cup and spoke in a tone where it was hard to tell if he was serious or joking.
“Thank you.” Chi Nan took a sip of the water. Then after a few seconds of silence, he looked up at Ye Chang. “What gaze?”
Ye Chang frowned imperceptibly, and he was keenly aware of the strangeness. “Just like now, there was hostility and caution.”
Chi Nan didn’t answer immediately and just drank all the water in the cup. Ye Chang didn’t urge him.
Halfway through, Chi Nan said, “Just now, I dreamed of your shadow and it attacked me.”
“What?” Ye Chang’s usual tone of ease changed and he was a bit anxious.
Chi Nan watched this person for a moment before placing a hand on his neck. “Just like this. It choked me and said…”
His Adam’s apple moved. “It said…it is going to kill me.”
Chi Nan lied.
Ye Chang paled and he lowered his eyes. “I’m sorry.”
“Why apologize? It was your alienated shadow, not you,” Chi Nan wondered.
Ye Chang smiled helplessly. “I don’t know what to say when something like this happens so…I’m sorry.”
Chi Nan remained silent and Ye Chang asked, “What else did it do besides attack you?”
Chi Nan stared into Ye Chang’s eyes and found that he couldn’t see Ye Chang’s expression clearly through the lens of the glasses.
“Or…what else did it say?” Ye Chang confirmed it again.
“It said that you have always known how to leave Candleman Town,” Chi Nan lied again.
Ye Change was obviously stunned. “I’m not sure yet. I’ll tell you when the time comes.”
“Yes.” Chi Nan didn’t dig into this matter.
“What else?” Ye Chang asked again.
Chi Nan hesitated for a moment before shaking his head. “Nothing else.”
Chi Nan thought he would be able to find a sense of relief on Ye Chang’s face, but unfortunately, he didn’t.
Ye Chang just said solemnly, “If the alienated shadow can hurt the sleepwalkers through dreams then it will be very dangerous.”
“Brother Nan, if it really gets to that point…I hope…” Ye Chang’s expression eased and his lips curved up. “I hope that the person who kills me is you.”
The eyes of the two people met for a moment before Chi Nan nodded. “Okay, I understand.”
On this night, Chi Nan had unprecedented insomnia. Even he couldn’t understand the reason for it.
The moment he closed his eyes, the image of the ‘shadow’ wearing the mask lingered in his mind.
In the eyes of the ‘shadow,’ there was a hint of red that warned of danger.
Chi Nan remembered this look. It was the first pair of eyes he had seen at the Dawn Base after he regained his vision, and the eyes of the person he accidentally bumped into during the last dance on the Dusk Ship.
He remembered the chaos and noise of the dance. He looked for Ye Chang’s figure against the flow of people, but in the end he was invited to dance by the dream maker.
So Ye Chang…should be that dream maker. Why did he pretend to be a high school student and newcomer, wasting time around Chi Nan?
Was his work not busy enough? Or was it out of bad taste? Then why choose Chi Nan?
Was there anything Ye Chang wanted from him?
He didn’t intend to alert the enemy until things developed further. He would take the other person as an object of observation.
Chi Nan couldn’t sleep, and he didn’t want to turn over since it would make a noise. In the end, he just silently pressed his hand against the wall.
The windows and vents were tightly sealed so no light could enter. The shadow on the wall naturally disappeared.
Chi Nan faced the darkness and played a lonely game.
The next day, Chi Nan had faint dark circles under his eyes.
Ye Chang’s eyes stopped on his face with some surprise. “Did you not sleep well?”
Chi Nan nodded first. He was halfway through the nod when he changed to shaking his head. “I slept well.”
Ye Chang was startled. “That’s good.”
Half a minute later, he raised his gaze and stared at Chi Nan. “Brother Nan, do you really have nothing to say to me?”
Ye Chang smiled bitterly and didn’t hide his keenness that allowed him to see through the other person. “Actually, after getting to know you, I think you aren’t good at hiding your emotions.”
Chi Nan’s lips formed a straight line. A long time passed. He had just made up his mind to say something when there was a sharp knock on the door. “Are you two okay after last night?”
It was the voice of Old Yu.
“We’re fine.” Chi Nan swallowed down what he wanted to say and replied to Old Yu.
Then he went to open the door. “There were no new victims last night, right?”
Old Yu shook his head. “Room 105 is fine, I confirmed it. The two girls originally from Room 109 also spent the night safely in your room. It is just that Xia Wei’s condition isn’t very good. He seems to have a high fever.”
Chi Nan checked the time. Around this time yesterday, he had hidden the fragment of the hand from the ghost wall in the suitcase.
Chi Nan declared, “I will go and see Xia Wei.”
Old Yu nodded. The two of them were about to walk to Room 103 when Ye Chang’s voice was heard from behind them. “Can I go with you?”
Old Yu was a bit surprised. Previously, Ye Chang took it for granted that he would follow Chi Nan and he never asked for permission.
Unexpectedly, Chi Nan also obviously hesitated for a moment before nodding. “Yes.”
Old Yu had a subtle feeling in his heart and he asked Chi Nan in a low voice, “What? The two of you quarreled? Why does your face look so stinky?”
Chi Nan was stunned for a moment. “Who?”
Old Yu sneered. “Who? You obviously have fierceness written on your face.”
Chi Nan pursed his lips. “Oh…I didn’t sleep well so I am grumpy after waking up.”
Xia Wei seemed to be severely burned. His skin was as red as cooked shrimp and half his face was still covered by the quilt. He started talking nonsense. “I’ll be disabled in the future…how can I find a little brother…wuuuu…a disabled 0 is very unmarketable.”
Old Yu looked helplessly and pitifully at this confused love brain and sighed. “Okay, there will be little brothers as long as you live. The longer you live, the more little brothers there will be. You can just beat those competitors to death.”
“I can’t make it through…little brothers don’t like disabilities…”
“Then who gave you the disability? Who are you looking for?” Old Yu was used to using ridicule to ease the atmosphere. He secretly looked at Ye Chang, who was part of the joke, and found that this high school student who was usually gentle and fond of smiling had a stiff expression at this moment.
He suddenly closed his mouth knowingly and glanced at Chi Nan. “What do you think is going on?”
Chi Nan wondered, “Did you check his hand?”
Old Yu shook his head. “He has been covering it with a bandage out of fear of it being discovered by the NPCs here. I didn’t dare take it off to see.”
Chi Nan nodded. “Why don’t you untie it?”
Old Yu directly lifted Xia Wei’s quilt and took off the bandages on his hand layer by layer. Once it was half undone, his expression became solemn. “This…how can this be…?!”
The white bandages that hadn’t been completely loosened were mottled with blood stains. The putrid smell quickly spread, as if the bandage-wrapped hand had rotted completely.
“Does it hurt?” Old Yu’s brow furrowed. He temporarily stopped moving and asked the confused Xia Wei.
Xia Wei just closed his eyes and shook his head. “My hand doesn’t hurt, but I have a headache.”
“The hand has already… I don’t feel it any longer,” he added.
Despite these words, Old Yu relaxed his movements as he continued to undo the bandage. The innermost layers of the bandage were soaked with blood and it was difficult to separate them from the rotten skin and flesh. The moment they were torn apart, it made a sound that made people feel numb.
Old Yu gasped when he unveiled the last layer of bandages and saw the condition of Xia Wei’s arm. The visual impact made him sweat and instinctively look away.
Chi Nan watched for a moment, frowning slightly. Xia Wei’s waxed hand was already rotten.
The entire hand seemed to have been soaked in corrosive liquid. The skin was festering and blurred. It was almost impossible to see it as the hand of a living person.
“W-What’s wrong? What’s wrong with my hand…?” Xia Wei couldn’t open his eyes, so he naturally couldn’t see the horrible rotting appearance of his hand. He could only shake his eyelashes as he kept inquiring.
Old Yu and Chi Nan exchanged glances and lied while re-bandaging Xia Wei’s hand. “It is okay as long as it doesn’t hurt much.”
Ye Chang hadn’t spoken much today. At this moment, he quietly suggested, “Let’s talk outside.”
The three of them came out of Rom 103 and lowered their voices to discuss it.
“What happened to Xia Wei’s hand. Why…?” Old Yu paused and couldn’t find the right words to describe that horrific hand.
Chi Nan thought for a moment. “It should be melted.”
“Melting?” Old Yu unknowingly raised the volume of his voice slightly. It was difficult for him to associate this word with the human body.
Chi Nan nodded. “Yes, just like a candle.”
Ye Chang instantly understood what Chi Nan meant. “It was because we put Xia Wei’s shadow into an airtight suitcase yesterday, so his wax hand began to melt.”
“Looking at it this way, the shadow will be ‘starved to death’ once it loses its light source after a sufficient amount of time,” Chi Nan added.
The fog in Old Yu’s eyes finally dissipated and his eyes lit up. “So as long as the shadows on the wall are ‘starved to death,’ the giant candle will melt into blood and rotten flesh on its own. Without the giant candle, the Candleman Festival can go to hell!”
Chi Nan’s face didn’t look happy. His thick eyelashes drooped and he said, “However, we don’t know how long it will take to starve to death.”
“It should be the time when Xia Wei developed the fever. I will ask him.”
Old Yu had a relaxed and unrestrained personality, but he was acute at the critical moment. At this time, he rushed into the room without saying a word and urgently asked Xia Wei when he developed the fever.
Xia Wei used his blurry brain to recall it and gave an ambiguous answer, “In the middle of the night…but I didn’t feel very comfortable in the afternoon…”
“In the middle of the night or in the afternoon? Around when in the afternoon or in the middle of the night?” Old Yu questioned.
“It seems to be noon…”
Old Yu exclaimed, “…Can’t you be precise and specific?”
Xia Wei was dumbfounded. “Uncle, are you mistaken? Who will remember the specific time of their illness?”
Old Yu pursued it relentlessly. “Think about it carefully. This is related to whether we can live or not.”
Xia Wei shook his head in a confused manner. “…I didn’t look at the time. It wasn’t easy for me to wake up.”
Old Yu stood beside him in a hurry. The important dream clearing clue was in front of him, but he couldn’t advance due to momentary negligence. Who wouldn’t be in a hurry?
Of course, the exception was Chi Nan who had no emotional ups and downs.
“We can only cut off the light source of the ghost wall as soon as possible and gamble.” Chi Nan knew there was nothing more to ask from Xia Wei and stated clearly.
“Yes, we have to hurry.” Old Yu suddenly froze and his brow tightened. “So here is the question. It is currently daytime, and the central square is full of candles in all areas without any blind spots. This includes the light coming from the surrounding residential buildings for 24 hours a day. How can the light source be cut off?”
He even thought about covering the entire ghost wall with impermeable fabric, but resources in an instance were limited. Even if the futon blankets were covering the wall, there was no way to guarantee that they would completely cut off the light source.
Before Chi Nan could speak, Ye Chang looked over and their eyes met without any doubts.
Ye Chang stared into his eyes. “According to my observations over the past four days, there is no police station in the town and no security guards in the square. The NPCs are almost all tools for setting up and issuing the task rules. They have no subjective consciousness, aren’t nosy, and have no combat effectiveness.”
Old Yu looked at him in a confused manner and Ye Chang added, “After dark, apart from the NPCs who come out to release the tasks, it is like we are the only ones left in the whole town. It should be fine no matter how much movement we make.”
Chi Nan continued, “Yesterday, we created a big hole in the ghost wall and no one has come to the door until now.”
“So…?” Old Yu was experienced but at this moment, he was confused. There was a bit of hidden uneasiness in his heart…
Ye Chang stared at the Candleman Festival’s special offerings set up not far from the square and stated naturally, “We can rest assured and blow up the wall.”
Old Yu was silent for a few seconds. “…F*k.”