During the day, the roses in the flower field were closed, turning into buds that didn’t blossom. The wet soil became dry and the flower fields looked harmless and idyllic. Yet after some experimentation, Bai Liu’s group found that their mental value would drop faster if they stayed at the flower field.
They only had two bottles of low-grade perfume. In order to maintain a normal mental value, they might run out of perfume before it even became night if they stayed around the flower field. Therefore, Bai Liu chose to stay away from the flower field. To be precise, Bai Liu wanted to stay away from this entire perfume factory with an unknown pollution source.
There were two bottles of perfume that lasted for four hours. In order to endure until the next morning, staying in a place where they were more likely to be contaminated obviously wasn’t a good plan.
Bai Liu decided to walk outside the factory to see what was going on in the area where the factory was not located.
“What you can think of, others can also think of.” Liu Jiayi held Bai Liu’s hand and frowned. “It is easy to bump into other players when going out like this. Why don’t you think of a way for each of us to do the 80 kg rose task? The method last night had already pulled my ability to the maximum. I could barely collect 80 kg. It is impossible to double it to 160 kg.”
Bai Liu wasn’t in a hurry. “Didn’t you hear the processing worker this morning? All the night flower pickers completed their tasks last night.”
“There are six players in the game and our identity is a new flower picker. If all the flower pickers have completed their tasks, it means that the other four players apart from us are also capable of picking 40 kg of roses in one night.”
Bai Liu smiled. “Four people can pick 40 kg a night. Isn’t that exactly the 160 kg we need?”
“……” Liu Jiayi rubbed her arms that were covered in goosebumps due to Bai Liu’s strange smile and asked, “What do you want to do?”
“Let’s investigate the situation near this factory first.” Bai Liu’s gaze deepened. “Every monster in this game has its own origin and cause. The vagrants are transformed from people. Since I can make deals with people, I think…”
“You want to make deals with these vagrants?” Liu Jiayi frowned. “Many of the monsters in the game are contaminated humans with zero mental value. They have gone crazy. How do you trade with crazy creatures? They don’t have enough sanity to understand you.”
Bai Liu lowered his eyes and looked at Liu Jiayi. “What if they can recover their sanity for a short time?”
Liu Jiayi was stunned and instinctively retorted, “Impossible.”
The alienation of monsters in the game was irreversible. This was the ‘rule’ of the game. After the mental value turned 0, it would freeze and turn gray. It couldn’t be restored with mental bleach.
Monsters had always been monsters and it was impossible for them to change back to human.
Yet soon, Liu Jiayi found that something was wrong. The mental bleach in this game was originally frozen!
It wasn’t just for monsters but also for them. Meanwhile, the perfume had no restrictions on the vagrants. In other words, if this perfume could be used on vagrants and took effect, these monsters would regain their consciousness and become normal ‘vagrants’. It might be possible to temporarily stop attacking them—it was just like how the merfolk statue stopped moving when stared at.
“The perfume is likely to be the weakness of this group of vagrants.” Liu Jiayi looked up at Bai Liu. “When did you think that this game’s perfume could be used as the mental bleach of monsters?”
“Before I entered the game,” Bai Liu answered.
“Before you entered the game?” Liu Jiayi was full of question marks.
Bai Liu threw the perfume bottle in his hand. His eyes moved up and down with the tossed perfume and his mouth twitched. “Before entering the game, someone told me that if this perfume was used for crazy employees, it could restore their sanity and status. No matter how crazy they were before, once this perfume was sprayed, they would return to their usual appearance like nothing had happened.”
“I was thinking at the time—this is simply a remake of mental bleach.”
Bai Liu looked down and casually played with the two bottles of perfume in his hand. “It can restore the state of a person and pull a person back from madness. I added it to the game’s setting. For players, if we don’t use mental bleach then we will go crazy from the contamination of the monsters in the game.”
“For players, the mental bleach is our rose perfume. Us ordinary players are ‘addicted’ to it and will buy it in order to survive. We will work for the game as ‘flower pickers’ to earn points so we won’t be ‘laid off’ and become ‘vagrants’, falling to the ‘nameless area’. Senior gamers will be promoted to the next stage.”
Bai Liu looked at Liu Jiayi. “Don’t you think these mechanisms are very familiar?”
Liu Jiayi was a little creeped out because she understood Bai Liu’s meaning. “…The game is a large Rose Factory.”
If the game was a large-scale factory that exploited players then who was the ‘factory manager’ who exploited everyone and gained the most benefits?
Bai Liu’s eyes darkened—they reached the edge of the flower field.
Outside the magnificent flower fields wasn’t a pleasant town but a desolate and dilapidated suburb with curled up newspapers and long-abandoned factories. At a glance, they couldn’t see anyone for dozens of meters. It was like a completely different world from the beautiful flower fields and perfume factory behind them.
Bai Liu walked to the door of an empty factory with a job advertisement posted on it but this was from 10 years ago.
It seemed that this factory didn’t need to recruit people. The tin roller shutter door of the factory had ‘demolition’ written on it with yellow paint. The paint peeling at the bottom had a very old texture.
Liu Jiayi crouched down to look at the newspaper fragments scattered on the ground.
[The emergence of the rose perfume? A new addictive substance banned nationwide, triggering public protests!
-if this type of thing is banned, why can’t we ban coffee and cigarettes? This is a serious violation of our freedom to consume!
(Mr Wang, the owner of the convenience store who led the protest, said that he hoarded a lot of rose perfume in his store. This year, he has made hundreds of yuan in profit from the rose perfume.)]
[There is a factory explosion. The perfume has spread and the protest has won. The Dry Leaf Rose Gas is the bestseller in the world!]
[Rose perfume lifts people’s spirits, improves students’ learning efficiency and improves staff members’ work efficiency… ushering in a golden period of rapid development. Factories and enterprises have expanded enrollment this year by 7.2%…]
[…The rose perfume has ushered in the third major price increase this year, causing large-scale protests around the world. This perfume, which has become a necessity, is now a burden for most people with an annual average income of 100,000 yuan… the rose perfume is a necessity for billions of people but there is a faint trend of developing into luxury goods.]
[…The three consecutive price increases of this perfume are a signal. It has sounded the death knell for countless poor and ordinary people…]
[Global governments jointly protest the sky-high price of the perfumes and sanction the unlimited multiple price increases of the Dry Leaf Rose Gas. They demand that the factories stop this behavior or they will forcibly close factories…]
[…The heads of the governments of three countries have withered during a tour due to the loss of perfume supply… The perfume factory has promised to give priority to the supply of premium perfumes to countries willing to sign friendly agreements with the factories… the collapse of the Joint Sanctions Association…]
[…The world’s rich list is slaughtered by the rose perfume manufacturing and selling industry.]
[…During the Great Depression, a large number of factories closed down… schools are closed… unemployment is on the rise… riots are frequent… withered and dying vagrants can be seen everywhere at street intersections…]
[…Rose manufacturing might be the only way of employment for today’s young people.]
[…Last year, the production of rose perfumes declined and the number of people withering globally has risen further compared to previous years…]
Bai Liu also crouched down beside Liu Jiayi to read these newspapers on the ground.
Liu Jiayi might not be a kind-hearted child but she still felt numb when she saw these newspapers and the shocking black and white photos.
Messy crowds, blood-stained roads, people on the verge of death everywhere and numb eyes looking at the camera—these black and white photos gave people the chills.
“This type of thing can only destroy the ecology.” Bai Liu picked up a photo on the ground with the caption ‘desperate and withered vagrants are staying collectively under the bridge. The rose factory remains indifferent and won’t sell perfumes at a reduced price.’
[In the early days, the rose perfume that was promoted for free and promised to be sold to the public at a low price has now risen to a sky-high price…]
“It is given to you for free during the promotions and then at a low price. After you are used to it, it has already monopolized the market and you can’t find any substitutes. Then the price is raised. You can’t survive without this thing so you can only pay a higher price to buy it, becoming a slave to the rose.”
“This is a very routine exploitation method but it causes death when implemented with an addictive substance. It leads to a criminal-like demise that kills all humanity. In this apocalyptic era, even money has lost its luster.”
“Therefore, I don’t like this thing. It erases the meaning of what I’m after.”
Bai Liu calmly loosened his fingers and the wind blew away the old newspaper fragments in his hand.
Did Tang Erda see this future where there was no solution other than annihilation?
Watching Su Yang and his teammates become people who were obsessed with roses and deformed while there was no way to save them. He could only watch them wither or enter the next timeline to escape…
This type of thing had happened multiple times so it was no wonder why this man went crazy.
Bai Liu’s eyes narrowed. Several dark shadows flashed through the empty abandoned factory behind him and dense tentacles spread over the ground. Liu Jiayi approached Bai Liu vigilantly and stood in front of him. These vagrants hiding in the factory were trying to attack them.
“Perfume! He smells of perfume!”
There was a frantic scream and the shaking shadows let out piercing cries. Then all the black shadows pounced on Bai Liu.
“There are so many vagrants here.” Liu Jiayi held the poison and her back tensed. “Are you sure our perfume is enough?”
“I’m not sure.” Bai Liu answered honestly. “Still, aren’t you here?”
Liu Jiayi, “…….”
Liu Jiayi was angry. “Da*n!”
The black vagrants with tentacles moved like snakes on the ground. The newspapers on the ground were swept into the air by the tentacles, floated in the dark sky covered with dust and were carried far away by the wind.
One of the photos showed a flower picker smiling happily with a cracked face. [Even if you work night and day without rest, you aren’t a regular employee. Picking 40 kg of dry rose petals can barely get you a bottle of low-grade perfume. Even so, working at the rose factory is the happiest thing in the world.]
[We are doing the work of changing the world and saving others.]
[If we work hard, we might be able to reduce the price of the perfume and let more people live!]
—A flower picker who was about to wither said weakly.
(At the time of the report, the rose picker who was willing to be interviewed has been fired and laid off for disclosing details of his work in violation of the Rose Factory’s regulations.)