Candleman Festival (16)
There was the sound of a gunshot in the corridor and all the sleepwalkers in the dormitory building woke up instantly. The first door to open was 103.
The moment that Chi Nan opened the door, the muzzle of a gun faced his forehead.
Chi Nan didn’t move and just looked at the person holding the gun in the darkness. “What happened?”
The other person seemed to be suppressing her sadness and tears. Her shoulders shook violently and her hand holding the gun also trembled.
Dyson Sen didn’t speak. She just moved the muzzle away from his forehead and turned to Ye Chang, who was standing behind Chi Nan.
She declared, “I’m going to kill Ye Chang, or his shadow will kill us all!”
Her finger was pressed tightly on the trigger.
Old Yu, who had changed to Room 101, listened at the door for a while before he finally couldn’t help opening the door. “What is going on? All of a sudden, internal strife broke out and you are shouting to kill each other?”
“Wu Ying is dead.” Dyson Sen’s hand shook violently again, but the gun was always aimed at Ye Chang’s forehead.
Old Yu saw the messy blood stains in the corridor and Wu Ying’s body that had turned to wax. He started sweating and asked, “…What happened?”
“She left us a message at the end. Ye Chang’s shadow is going to kill all of us before the Candleman Festival.” Dyson Sen controlled her tears from falling and gritted her teeth. “Her last words are still written on the ground. You can see for yourself!”
Old Yu raised his torch and shone them on the bloody characters on the ground. He was well-informed and couldn’t help sucking in a breath. “Are you going to kill Ye Chang now to stop his shadow from continuing to hurt people?”
Dyson Sen stated coldly, “Now the only thing we can do is kill the main body. Didn’t we previously deduce that the death of the non-waxed body will cause the shadow to disappear?”
Chi Nan told her, “It is just inference.”
Dyson Sen fumbled with the trigger. “Isn’t an inference enough? Now it is clear that Ye Chang’s shadow can go beyond the common sense of light that we know. He can appear and kill people at will in the darkness! How many victims must be present before a decision can be made?”
“Maybe the next person to die will be me or you!” She laughed bitterly. “Isn’t that enough?!”
Chi Nan didn’t speak. Ye Chang, who had the gun pointed at him, put his hands in his pocket and calmly said, “It is enough. You can shoot me but I have a condition.”
Then he concealed his smile and stared at Chi Nan. “The person who shoots me can only be Brother Nan.”
Dyson Sen looked at him questioningly. “Are you going to play a trick?”
Ye Chang pushed up his glasses and smiled bitterly. “I only have one life. What tricks can I play? I just want to die at the hands of someone I care about. This requirement isn’t too much, right?”
“Okay, just do as you said.” Dyson Sen put away her sadness. She was a quick girl and directly handed the gun to Chi Nan.
She didn’t need to show too much hostility. After all, their enemy had always been Ye Chang’s shadow, not Ye Chang himself.
Chi Nan didn’t take the gun. He just looked at Ye Chang whose hands were in his pocket. “I didn’t agree.”
Ye Chang met his eyes. “Why?”
Chi Nan shook his head and lowered his eyes. “I don’t want to play with you any longer.”
Ye Chang was stunned for a moment before understanding. “That’s okay.”
“By the way, I have a question.” Chi Nan looked at him again. “What happens if a dream maker dies in a nightmare instance?”
Ye Chang was silent for a moment before shaking his head with a smile. “I haven’t tried it before. There is no precedent. I can’t say for certain so I’ll tell you when I’ve tried it.”
“…If there is still a chance.”
“There will definitely be a chance.” Ye Chang looked at Chi Nan through his glasses like he was looking at prey. “We will definitely meet again.”
Chi Nan stared at him for a moment. “So is this a pre-planned situation? Was the death rate of 90% at the Dawn Base also calculated in advance by you?”
At this moment, he directly expressed all the questions weighing down his heart.
Ye Chang shrugged. “I changed my identity and entered a nightmare that doesn’t belong to my jurisdiction, so my ability is very limited. In order to enhance my sense of immersion, like all sleepwalkers, I don’t know the key to clearing the dream or where danger lurks. It is impossible for me to preset the script.”
“If it could be preset, I would never allow my shadow to be used by such an ugly candle person and betray me, almost hurting you in your dream,” he added. His dislike of the ugly candle people was very genuine.
Everyone was confused and didn’t know what the two of them were talking about. Chi Nan continued to ask, “Did your shadow inherit your ability?”
Ye Chang pursed his lips. ”My guess is that there is a high probability.”
Chi Nan didn’t speak any longer. He knew in his heart that if the alienated shadow had the same ability as a dream maker then the consequences would be unimaginable… This also explained why they had been so careful, but Ye Chang’s shadow could always take advantage of loopholes. It was difficult to guard against, and even snuck into Chi Nan’s dream.
“At least in this instance, leaving me behind will cause endless troubles. I think you have seen it too,” Ye Chang reminded again, “Time is running out. Brother Nan, start as soon as possible.”
He looked at the black gun in Dyson Sen’s hand. Unfortunately, his eyes were hidden behind the lenses and Chi Nan couldn’t see his expression clearly.
Ye Cheng was saying sensational words, but his voice and tone were as gentle and polite as when the two of them first met at the dock of Zi City.
It was as if he was inviting Chi Nan to do something pleasant.
Chi Nan lowered his eyes and thought about it. He asked softly, “So why me?”
Then he took the already loaded gun from Dyson Sen’s hands.
Chi Nan thought he was just an ordinary newcomer who had only cleared two instances. If there was anything special about him, it was that he probably loved to shed tears and occupied this body to gain freedom and life.
Why did the dream maker go to great lengths to change his identity and become such good friends with Chi Nan?
It could be that he treated the other person as a friend…
“I’ve already answered this question during the day.”
“I want a more accurate answer.”
The corners of Ye Chang’s lips raised. “It is because I like to see you shed tears.”
“Do you still like it?” Chi Nan aimed the gun at the center of Ye Chang’s forehead, and the calm tone without any ups and downs was even crueler.
He only knew that his hand was a bit shaky at this moment, and it took a lot of energy to cover it up…
He wasn’t afraid of bloody things, nor was he too obsessed with life. Why was he shaken…or even scared at this moment?
He guessed that the grotesque emotion controlling him right now and making him want to run away was what people called fear.
If he could, he wanted to press the fast forward button or drag it like a progress bar to skip this segment.
He didn’t want to face the moment when the bullet pierced Ye Chang’s head.
“Brother Nan, give me some face and don’t shoot me in the head.” Ye Chang put his hand on Chi Nan’s hand on the gun and gently and slowly guided him. The muzzle of the gun gradually moved down and aimed at his heart. “I want to die a bit better so that Brother Nan has a clean and complete impression of Ye Chang’s face.”
He liked looking at his face and pursued a perfect appearance, so he wasn’t happy that there would be a big, bloody hole in his head after this identity died. His brain matter splashing was ugly and disgusting.
He held Chi Nan’s hand without scruples. Chi Nan’s eyelashes shook violently. Tears rolled down from his eyes, soaking and wetting the two teardrop moles at the corners of his eyes.
Chi Nan’s back stiffened and his breathing changed.
“Beautiful, isn’t it?” Ye Chang raised his other hand, took off his glasses, and folded them. He put them into Chi Nan’s pocket. “I’ll leave a souvenir from Ye Chang.”
He looked at Chi Nan with those obsidian-like eyes, as if he was looking forward to the other person pulling the trigger.
“By the way, as a dream maker, I will give you a final hint,” Ye Chang whispered in his ear, “In the dream world, all wishes that have been fulfilled can be withdrawn before returning to the real world as long as the party involved is willing.”
“Of course, a special item is needed.”
Chi Nan’s eyes widened slightly. He knew what Ye Chang was referring to…
“I hope the tips I gave you will help you safely survive this nightmare.”
“Chi Nan! Shoot quickly, shoot quickly!”
Old Yu’s panicked voice came from the door. From his perspective, he could see a flickering light at the corner of the corridor and a black shadow approaching in their direction. “The shadow is coming!”
“Chi Nan! Don’t hesitate! We will die if you don’t shoot!”
“Then let me do it!”
Dyson Sen was about to snatch back the gun from Chi Nan’s hand and do it herself when there was a loud sound that shocked everyone.
Ye Chang held Chi Nan’s hand and helped him press the trigger with a force that could definitely be called gentle.
The corners of his lips raised in a smile and he licked Chi Nan’s tears the moment he fell into Chi Nan’s arms.
He said, “Brother Nan, we will meet again someday.”
A bloody mist sprayed from behind the bullet-pierced back. Ye Chang’s entire body weighed down on Chi Nan. Chi Nan retreated under inertia, and barely stood standing until his back reached the cold wall.
He was pressed down by Ye Chang’s body that had lost its breath. There was no movement. Chi Nan had wide eyes as tears flowed down silently, wetting his face.
He couldn’t tell for a moment whether he was crying due to physical contact with the dead Ye Chang or because of something else…
It didn’t matter. At this time, he could shed tears recklessly and no one would accuse him of anything due to his crying behavior…
Chi Nan knew that tonight, when he shot Ye Chang, he had the absolute right to shed tears.
At the same time, he was clearly aware that his regular roommate Ye Chang was dead but…the dream maker behind the scenes wasn’t dead.
They would see each other again later…?
There was the sound of a gunshot and Ye Chang’s shadow, which claimed it would kill all of them, completely disappeared.
Old Yu sighed with relief. He looked at Chi Nan, who was silently shedding tears, and knew that comfort meant nothing in this moment. He just silently found a shovel to dig a hole in the yard.
At around 5:30 a.m., Old Yu returned to Room 103. He saw that Chi Nan had put Ye Chang’s body back on the dormitory bed and was sitting beside the body. His tears had stopped and he was holding Ye Chang’s glasses in a daze.
The little blind man’s eyelashes were still wet. His face was covered with tear marks as he stared sadly at his friend’s belongings without moving.
Old Yu sighed and thought it would be nice if the little streamer was here. He wasn’t the type to comfort people.
“Chi Nan, my condolences,” Old Yu comforted him softly, “I plan to bury both Ye Chang and Wu Ying. In the Nightmare World, leaving the body behind is a hidden danger.”
Old Yu was a practical and efficient person. In order to avoid complications and prevent such incidents from happening, he would incinerate the bodies of the deceased in previous instances if the system didn’t recover them.
However, this instance was so sensitive to light and fight that he had to choose a burial.
In any case, it was only one night. Nothing should happen as long as dawn arrived…
He thought that due to guilt or some other emotion, Chi Nan would be obsessed with Ye Chang’s corpse. Yet to his surprise, Chi Nan just nodded calmly. “Do you need my help?”
Old Yu hurriedly waved his hand. “There is no need. You’ve done enough tonight. I can do it.”
Chi Nan didn’t force it. “It is hard work for you.”
Old Yu lifted Ye Chang’s body and dragged it outside. “It is almost dawn. You can rest for a while.”
After Old Yu left, Chi Nan was the only one left in the dormitory. He was dazed for a moment before laying back down on his bed.
Still, he knew it was impossible to fall asleep tonight. He lay on his side and broke the frames of the glasses Ye Chang left him as a souvenir in a bored manner.
He started to repeatedly think about Chang’s words.
[All wishes that have been fulfilled can be withdrawn before returning to the real world as long as the party involved is willing.]
In other words, there was another way even if their plan to starve the ghost wall failed due to lack of time.
Destroy the wick.
Human wax was the flesh and bone of the giant candle. The wick was the heart and soul of the giant candle. The two were indispensable.
If there was no way to destroy the human wax, then destroying the wick was another option for them to prevent the festival.
The wick was Rui Rui. If Rui Rui was the wish of the young mother and if she chose to withdraw her wish, Rui Rui would disappear from the instance and the wick of the giant candle wouldn’t exist.
Yet at the same time, the young mother would lose her daughter again and recall that painful and desperate time…
Chi Nan closed his eyes. No wonder Ye Chang had said before dying that this hint could help them survive the nightmare. Yet even if he knew the truth and the key to cracking the instance, the party concerned might not be able to withdraw her wish.
In addition, what exactly was the so-called item?
Time passed minute by minute. It was already after 8 o’clock in the morning by the time they finished digging the holes and burying the bodies.
Unlike in the past, dawn today seemed to be particularly late. It was still dark when the sun rose.
“Something is wrong. I’ve been observing it for the past few days and it was already bright after 7 o’clock in the morning.” Old Yu knew that the switching between day and night was a key factor in this instance so he had a habit of paying attention to the specific time when the world became dark and when dawn came.
Today was the fifth day after they had entered the Candleman Festival instance. Only five out of the ten people were left. They were Chi Nan, Old Yu, the young mother, Dyson Sen, and Xia Wei, who had a high fever.
Gu Xiao and Bai Chuan were turned into human wax, Rui Rui was being used as the candle wick and her whereabouts were still unknown, Wu Ying chose to die due to Ye Chang’s shadow, and Ye Chang was shot by Chi Nan.
“Today is the Candleman Festival. Will it be…”
Old Yu didn’t need to finish his sentence, and the crowd understood his meaning. They all looked grave and didn’t speak.
Chi Nan stared at Ye Chang’s previous bed in a trance. The movement of breaking the frames of the glasses suddenly stopped and his expression froze.
The white paper box that symbolized the ‘Excellent Volunteer’ had strangely appeared next to Ye Chang’s pillow again.
Old Yu followed his gaze and found this abnormality. “Huh? Why is the box still here? Usually, doesn’t the box disappear after the humanoid candle is extinguished?”
The human candle symbolized the alienation of the shadow and the wax transformation of the body. The sudden appearance of the box at this time doubled the fear of the already uneasy people.
Chi Nan stated, “After Ye Chang and I extinguished the humanoid candle last night, the box did disappear.”
Dyson Sen’s expression of fear distorted and she suddenly raised her voice to shout, “What does it mean for this unlucky box to suddenly appear? Does it want to extinguish the rest of us for the Candleman Festival?”
After last night’s turmoil and helping her trusted partner shoot herself, the sadness and fatigue raised her awakening score to the critical point of 88. At this point, she already had a clear tendency to not control her emotions.
Just as everyone was looking at the extra box like it was a ghost, Chi Nan walked over. The moment he opened the box, waves were set off in the green eyes that were always still like stagnant water.
His movements also stiffened noticeably.
Old Yu asked anxiously, “What is inside?”