Candleman Festival (End)
Old Yu sighed with relief in his heart while observing the young mother’s every move from the corner of his eye.
He used ‘empathy’ and patience instead of aggression.
The young mother clenched her fists. Her joints turned white and her veins bulged, giving the illusion that she was crushing the candy.
She didn’t say anything, and Old Yu pretended to be patient by lighting a cigarette. It was just that he frequently glanced at his watch out of the corner of his eye.
The minute hand moved once. It was 8:54.
In order to hide his irritability and anxiety, he lit the cigarette in his mouth and the rising smoke hid his expression.
He wanted to say something else, but reason and emotional strategy told him to shut up.
Another minute passed and it was 8:55. The flames on the altar burned higher and higher, and Old Yu’s puffs of the cigarette were much faster.
Ash fell, but the lady in front of him stood still like a statue.
Old Yu knew she was having the most intense inner struggle in her life and he looked at the time again. It was 8:56.
Every minute felt like a century. He secretly prayed that he could live for another century.
The bustling festive cheers around them were like crackling cannonballs, blowing up their anxieties. In the midst of the noise and torment, Old Yu waited for the woman in front of him to make a decision, just like waiting for the final judgment.
Finally, he saw the hope of survival at 8:57.
The young mother opened her five fingers and faced the warm and damp candy. She took a deep breath and used the greatest courage and cruelty of her life to open the candy wrapper.
It was just that her hands kept shaking and she couldn’t open the plain candy packaging at all.
Old Yu finally couldn’t stay calm. He spat out the cigarette onto the ground and held out his hand to the other person. “I’ll help you.”
In three minutes, Rui Rui would be used as the candle wick to light the giant candle and all of them would be turned into human wax in the overwhelming candlelight, staying in this unfortunate festival forever.
“I’ll help you get it open,” Old Yu repeated it again. He didn’t even notice it himself, but his outstretched hand was trembling.
The young mother hesitated for a moment over whether to give the candy to Old Yu or not.
Old Yu quickly tore open the wrapping paper. The so-called regret medicine inside looked like milk candy, and even smelled of sweet milk.
The young mother turned her back, not wanting to see the tragic situation of her daughter on the altar. Her hand shook as she raised the medicine to her lips. She remembered that Rui Rui liked this type of candy the most…
Old Yu, Xia Wei, and Dyson Sen watched her nervously, holding their breath and waiting for the last moment to come.
The noise around them disappeared, and the passage of time also disappeared. They were just waiting for the swallowing action of the woman in front of them.
Only Chi Nan watched the giant candle on the altar.
“Don’t eat it. The giant candle is starting to melt.” At the critical moment, Chi Nan’s still eyes flashed with subtle waves and his voice was a bit louder than usual.
The young mother immediately stopped swallowing and spat out the regret medicine. Old Yu’s tense nerves snapped in an instant and he became anxious. “Hey! What are you doing? Why…”
He didn’t know whether to scold the woman in front of him or Chi Nan. Then he followed Chi Nan’s gaze to look in the direction of the altar and was stunned.
The facial features of the giant candle and the scars carved by exquisite knife work started to seep blood. Streams of blood flowed one by one down the amber wax column, and it started to decay and collapse from the inside out!
During the last two minutes of the countdown, the wax melted!
In an instant, Xia We’s body wasn’t sore or painful. He couldn’t suppress his ecstasy as he waved his one hand in a cheer. “We succeeded! The method of starving the shadows to death succeeded!”
The giant candle melted and decayed at an extremely quick speed. In an instant, its facial features had blurred and melted. Blood flowed from its shapeless limbs. The sticky liquid quickly drowned the entire altar and extinguished the large brazier under Rui Rui’s body.
At the same time, as if inspired by some mysterious force, the surrounding NPCs participating in the celebration started to become restless. They slammed into the altar like crazy, like bulls provoked by a matador. They kept slamming into the barrier.
“It seems that these NPCs can help us break the barrier of the altar,” Chi Nan said while looking at the crowd of people flocking to the altar. He hit the head of an NPC who was about to pounce on him.
“Remember to spread open your arms and put your fist to your chest to protect yourself! Protect your chest to ensure your breathing! Don’t fall to the ground!” Old Yu shouted to everyone as he blocked his chest with his arms to prevent himself from dying in the stampede.
The sound of human flesh hitting the barrier continued to be heard in front of Chi Nan. His ears were roaring and the shouts of Old Yu were gradually drowned out.
Chi Nan’s body was thin due to always being sick. He was accidentally separated from the group after being hit by several waves of people. His chest and back were hit, and Ye Chang’s glasses fell out from the pocket of his jacket.
The surroundings were obviously very noisy, but Chi Nan seemed to hear the sound of the lenses shattering.
He froze and instinctively made an action of bending down to pick it up. Before he could bend down, a white figure passed through the chaos of the crowd. This figure seemed unaffected by the impact of the crowd as he bent down in front of Chi Nan, picked up the cracked glasses, and wiped the ash on the glasses with a corner of his clothes.
It happened in a matter of moments and time seemed to stand still.
He put the broken glasses back into Chi Nan’s jacket pocket and smiled briefly. “Don’t lose them again.”
The crowd rushed by. Chi Nan was stunned until Old Yu hit him on the back. “What are you doing in a daze? Let’s go! Get out!”
Chi Nan’s mind returned and he found that the young mother’s body was covered with molten human wax and blood. She had already rescued Rui Rui from the altar and was carrying her daughter on her shoulders as she rushed out with them against the flow of people.
“F*k, why are these NPCs alienated?”
Xia Wei screamed. The NPCs around him suddenly rolled up their sleeves and rushed at him angrily. Fortunately, they ran quickly, or they would’ve been beaten to meat paste by this group of zombie NPCs.
Chi Nan looked over at the volunteer exhibition hall at the edge of the square. “Go to the exhibition hall. The residents of Candleman Town don’t dare to go there.”
“Yes, yes, run!”
At Chi Nan’s reminder, the group started to run wildly like outlaws toward the exhibition hall. On the way, everyone broke out their most powerful running potential. Even the previously unstable Xia Wei could be called a living tiger at this moment.
The young mother held Rui Rui and killed a bloody path with the gun in her hand. In order for her daughter to survive, she released a combat power that even she didn’t dare to believe and led the remaining four people into the exhibition hall.
Facts proved that Chi Nan’s speculation was correct. None of the NPCs dared to get one step closer to the exhibition hall. The group immediately closed the door after entering, isolating the light and noise behind the heavy iron door.
Chi Nan had never done such intense exercise after entering this body. At this moment, the corners of his eyes were red due to a lack of oxygen and he was instinctively teary.
The candles in the exhibition hall were extinguished by Ye Chang the day before and no one dared to turn on a torch without permission. This meant no one could see his tears in the darkness where they couldn’t even see their fingers in front of them.
Xia Wei sat down by the door without restraint and whimpered and cried. “F*k, I really thought I was dead.”
He wiped away his tears with his only remaining hand. “We destroyed the giant candle. It should be a pass, right?”
Everyone might be looking forward to it in their hearts, but no one gave him a positive answer. They didn’t want to set up a flag once they said this.
“What’s next?” Xia Wei saw that everyone wasn’t talking and asked again.
Chi Nan answered, “Once the candle people outside are completely melted, we should be able to go out.”
He finally recovered from the lack of oxygen from strenuous running and his voice returned to the calmness of the past. It was completely devoid of any happiness or fear.
Xia Wei raised his hand to point between his eyebrows before moving them to both shoulders in a prayer gesture. “I’ll pray for us.”
The exhibition hall soon sank into darkness and silence. Old Yu looked at the time. It was past the 9 o’clock of the Candleman Festival and they were still alive.
He let out a sigh of relief.
In addition to Xia Wei, a woman’s crying was heard in the darkness.
“Mom, why are you crying?” Ru Rui put her arm around the young mother’s neck and rubbed her bloody neck against her mother’s equally bloody face. “Who bullied you?”
The young mother shook her head, tears rolling down with the movements. The trembling of her shoulders became more and more unstoppable. “No, Mom isn’t crying. What do I have to cry about?”
She almost rudely wiped the tears from her face with her hands, but the tears were like open floodgates. The more she wiped, the more they came out. “Your mother is just happy, not sad. I’m very happy that you’re still here.”
Rui Rui smiled, raised her head, and kissed her mother’s bloody eyelids. “Of course I am here. I said I would protect you.”
“Yes, Mom knows…you never lie…you’ll protect Mom…”
Rui Rui suddenly turned her head and spoke to Dyson Sen, who was lost in the darkness like a ghost. “Sister, don’t bully my mother in the future.”
Dyson Sen, whose awakening value was too high right now, was stunned for a moment. She stared across the darkness at Rui Rui, who was still alive and well, and didn’t speak.
Rui Rui sighed, took out her lucky candy from her pocket, and handed one to Dyson Sen. “Sister, if you eat my candy then you aren’t allowed to bully my mother anymore.”
Dyson Sen’s body was visibly shaking and it took her a moment to take the sugar from Rui Rui’s hand.
She didn’t speak. There was just the rustling sound of the candy wrapper being opened. After a while, Dyson Sen’s low and hoarse voice was heard. “It is so sweet…”
She finally raised her head and spoke to Rui Rui, who was covered in blood and wax. “I’m sorry.”
At this moment, she finally calmed down and her soaring awakening value slowly decreased.
Rui Rui replied with an angelic smile, “If I was you, I might’ve done the same thing. Still, I accept your apology for my mother.”
On the side, Old Yu was idle so he took advantage of the moment to ask the question he was curious about, “Chi Nan, tell me the truth. Who is Ye Chang?”
He instinctively put a cigarette in his mouth, but didn’t light it out of caution.
Chi Nan lowered his eyes and replied truthfully, “A dream maker. You know him too.”
Old Yu paused in his smoking action. “What? How can I know any dream maker?”
Chi Nan told him, “The dream maker of You Yu’s Dream.”
“Well, he only met you alone at that time. We don’t know each other. I can only say that I unfortunately enjoyed his dream.” Old Yu sighed. “It turns out that a dream maker opened another identity to experience the dreams of his peers. I said that Ye Chang wasn’t like ordinary sleepwalkers.”
“…Is this common in the Nightmare World?”
Old Yu raised an eyebrow. “It isn’t common. I’ve never heard of it. It is the first time I’ve seen it.”
Chi Nan: “……”
Xia Wei sighed emotionally. “Wow, I like this dream maker. I really want to try his nightmare when I have a chance.”
Chi Nan: “……”
Old Yu sneered. “His shadow made you disabled. Are you okay? What is wrong with this Stockholm Syndrome?”
Xia Wei smiled without caring. “My tolerance is relatively high for good-looking teammates. What can I do if they look so good?”
Old Yu was stunned. “Is this a teammate? F*king wake up…”
Xia Wei refuted it, “What’s wrong with being a dream maker? It is fine as long as he is pleasing to the eyes…f*k? What is this? What is this earthquake?”
The entire exhibition hall started to shake violently. The gravel and rubble fell down, and Xia Wei got up from the ground in fright. “Or are those zombie NPCs ready to attack here?”
Old Yu’s face wasn’t anxious. “It should be that the nightmare is about to collapse.”
The originally invisible ceiling of the exhibition hall suddenly burst with a strong white light. For a moment, everyone couldn’t open their eyes. Even if they closed their eyes, they could feel the scorching light. Only Chi Nan wasn’t afraid to crack his eyes open a bit. In the strong light that could almost melt people’s senses, he saw countless black fragments rising, melting, and disappearing in the direction of the light.
Chi Nan couldn’t see clearly, but he could feel the shadows on the fragments of the ghost wall evaporating and rising in the strong light. The souls of those trapped in Candleman Town had regained their freedom.
The moment the light stopped, the exhibition hall and the entire Candleman Town disappeared. All the sleepwalkers were on a deserted railway platform with the words ‘Candleman Town’ written on it. They all had tickets to the Dawn Base in their pockets.
Old Yu whistled cheerfully. “The instance has been smoothly cleared.”
Xia Wei, who was sitting on the ground, propped himself up from the ground using his hands, his face full of disbelief. “My hand…my hand…!”
He quickly pulled up the sleeve of his left hand. The hand that had originally turned to blood appeared in front of him in an intact manner. His voice was so excited that it was hoarse and he kept squeezing his hand to confirm it. “I’m not a disabled 0, I am fine! It really recovered!”
The wounds on the young mother and Rui Rui also disappeared without a trace. Everyone looked the same as when they first entered the nightmare.
Old Yu saw Xia Wei’s cheerful expression and laughed happily. “The instance is like this. Don’t even think about taking things away from the dream. Wounds and diseases can’t be taken away.”
He paused before the corners of his lips lowered. “However, the nightmare can take so many things from us. It is quite unreasonable.”
For example, their most precious lives. This time, only six out of ten sleepwalkers remained.
To be precise, it was seven. After all, the dream maker’s other identity Ye Chang wasn’t a sacrifice.
Chi Nan instinctively confirmed that the glasses in his pocket were still there, as well as the candle person.
He was relieved.
“Uncle Yu, do the sleepwalkers have a way to meet a dream maker?” Chi Nan picked up Ye Chang’s broken glasses and curiously placed them on the bridge of his nose. It was as if he was getting to know the Nightmare World again from Ye Chang’s point of view.
Oh, it was flat except that the lenses were cracked. His vision became fragmented.
He looked through Ye Chang’s lens and added, “The type where an appointment is designated.”