Beside the rose field.
The hundreds of kilograms of roses that had been collected were piled up like a hill next to the flower field. Qi Yifang stood in front of the rose field and took out a weather vane that swayed from side to side in the direction of the wind. He raised it to the pile of roses, closed his eyes and took a deep breath.
“The relative humidity of the air is 78%, the temperature is 26 degrees Celsius, it is overcast to cloudy, there is no continuous breeze and the wind is northerly…”
Qi Yifang abruptly opened his eyes and used his thumb to move the wooden weather vane, his tone calm. “Now let’s start to make today’s daytime weather forecast.”
[System notification: The player will use the skill Weather Broadcast.]
[Skill range: Circular area with a radius of 10 meters.]
[Skill usage effect: Predict the weather in a local area and control the wind direction, wind force, sunshine, rain and all possible weather characteristics within a certain range.]
[Friendly tip: This skill will cause the player’s physical strength and mental value to drop to a certain extent. Is the player sure to use this skill?]
[I am sure.]
The wooden weather vane in Qi Yifang’s hand fell along with the sound of the system broadcast and started to swing rapidly from side to side. The physical strength and mental value bars on Qi Yifang’s personal panel also started to decline.
Qi Yifang exhaled and started to broadcast in a deep voice.
“Today, during the day, there will be a mild tornado with a wind force of around 2g… this will be followed by 12 hours of sunshine, mild winds and a cloudy night. Sunny…”
The weather vane in his hand constantly swung from left to right with his words.
A swirling cold wind blew in and a small area that was strangely stagnant next to the flower field started to swirl. It wandered back and forth around the hill of roses and the roses weighing around 2g hovered in the sky due to the gentle rotation of the wind. The lighter impurities were blown away while the heavier impurities remained on the ground without being carried away.
This magical tornado with a weight parameter set was like a high precision centrifuge that perfectly separated the roses from other things.
It took a day and a night to pick the fresh roses but it took only 10 minutes to neatly clean them. The tornado quickly disappeared and bright sunlight poured down. The dew drops on the petals were shining brightly.
Qi Yifang withdrew the weather vane and looked at the pile of roses in front of him that had already entered the ‘air drying’ stage. He patted off the grass residue that had blown all over his body and turned his head with satisfaction to smile at the other two people.
“It has been dealt with. We can move onto the second phase tomorrow morning.”
The Rose Factory’s open-air square.
There was a long queue next to a fully automatic mesh sieving apparatus.
This was a relatively rare piece of modern mechanical equipment in the Rose Factory. It took only a few minutes after pouring the roses into it to get clean dry leaf roses.
It was just that the Rose Factory focused on hand-crafted anti-industrial perfume brands so there were only a few such equipment. They were occupied by the old processing workers and regarded as their privilege.
Previously, Qi Yifang had been ready to line up to use this instrument to sift the roses. However, he was chased away by a few workers and scolded for being lazy enough to use an instrument after just being promoted. Rather than thinking of cheating things all day, the newcomers should get out and squat on the ground to pick up the dead leaves!
Qi Yifang’s group wasn’t afraid of these processing workers but it was best not to offend the NPCs in the game and they also had a way to handle the work i.e. Qi Yifang’s skill.
In a game where mental value couldn’t be recovered actively, it was best not to use skills that consumed mental value in order to complete the task. It was just that Qi Yifang didn’t want to cause too much trouble. Their main purpose was to save Little Witch. Therefore, he swallowed his anger and took away the other two people.
Now there was a clear shift in the situation.
The moment that the tall and sturdy Tang Erda stepped into the queue, the processing workers noticed he was a newcomer and started to scold impatiently again.
“You new batch of workers, how can you be so ignorant? Yes? You have to rob us old people of our equipment? What are you going to do?”
“I don’t understand you newcomers who want to be lazy and use machinery after just being promoted. If you don’t temper yourselves, you will soon be nothing and will be demoted. We are doing this for your own good.”
Tang Erda stared deeply at the processing workers who were intimidating him.
Tang Erda didn’t speak directly but he was tall and his limbs were long and sturdy. The originally wide protective suit on him was like a sportswear jacket. He didn’t look easy and his condescending eyes were very oppressive.
The processing workers were silenced by him. They didn’t dare speak loudly and just whispered among each other.
Then after seeing that Tang Erda was about to use the equipment, one old processing worker directly inserted himself in front of Tang Erda. He looked back at Tang Erda very provocatively and clapped his hands to let the people behind Tang Erda also cut in.
This man obviously wasn’t going to give Tang Erda a chance and planned to prevent Tang Erda from using the equipment.
If newcomers could use the equipment then wouldn’t their work efficiency be higher?
Originally, the processing staff of the factory had a high elimination rate. If they didn’t squeeze away the new workers, it would be even more difficult for them to be promoted to a factory worker!
Let the newcomers know the unspoken rules, use these unspoken rules to squeeze the living space of the newcomers, squeeze the fruits of their labor and facilitate their own promotion—this was the conventional idea of all old processing workers.
This type of thinking and practice was no less than cutting off the new workers’ way of life and sending them to death but the old processing workers didn’t care about this.
They even wanted the new processing workers to die as much as possible so that no one could take their place and cause them to be fired.
Qi Yifang had also encountered this dilemma and had to leave. He hadn’t figured out the specific routine of this level three game and rashly offending a large number of NPCs wasn’t a good choice.
However, Tang Erda wasn’t afraid of offending NPCs.
His strength was enough for him to mess around in a level three game. Even if Tang Erda attracted hatred due to this and all the processing workers in the factory chased after Tang Erda after turning into monsters, Tang Erda was confident that the ones who would die in the end would be the processing workers turned into monsters, not him.
Therefore, Tang Erda moved the sack of roses to his left hand and indifferently swiped his right hand. Suddenly, a silver gun appeared in his hand.
The heavy gun fell down and was deftly hooked by Tang Erda’s index finger. It was turned around, held up and raised, the muzzle aimed at the back of the head of the employee who was cutting in line.
“I don’t mind killing people at work.” His tone was calm and indifferent. “My job is to kill people who have turned bad. Do you think you are bad enough now?”
The old processing worker who had been looking proud trembled like a dustpan after hearing the sound of the gun being loaded behind him. His face was pale as he gritted his teeth and gave way.
Tang Erda carried the sack and stepped forward like nothing had happened. He poured the roses into the equipment to screen them and put the screened roses into the sack. Then he pinned the gun to his waist, placed the sack on his shoulder with one hand and walked away.
The old processing workers who had blocked Tang Erda just now gave way to him with a sullen expression.
“What is wrong with this new batch of processing workers?” The processing worker who just had a gun pointed at him by Tang Erda started to swear after confirming that Tang Erda had completely disappeared. “Either they are robbing us of the equipment or it isn’t known how they will finish the work in a while. There are also two people who haven’t started the screening yet!”
“It is almost noon and I don’t know where they have gone. If they don’t hurry and dry it, they won’t be able to hand over enough qualified roses when it is weighed tomorrow.” Another processing worker gloated. “It is estimated that these two processing workers will be directly demoted to flower pickers.”
The interior of the abandoned factory.
Bai Liu stood on a rusted container while surrounded by a group of vagrants who had regained their sanity.
The vagrants, who had just been woken up by Bai Liu’s perfume, sat obediently on the ground around the container. They looked up at Bai Liu on top of the container like they were looking up at a savior. Their fiery eyes showed a last glimmer of hope in despair.
“I believe you all know Mr Bai Liu.” There was another vagrant standing on the container. It was the one who took the lead last night. He stood half a step behind Bai Liu very respectfully and introduced Bai Liu to the people below with shining eyes. “The rose perfume you obtained this time is what Mr Bai Liu earned by working in the factory. Then he distributed it to us free of charge!”
These words caused a small commotion among the vagrants which soon ceased under the downward pressure of the hand of the vagrant who spoke.
“Okay, okay, don’t get excited. Mr Bai Liu will bring us more good news.“ The vagrant moved back with excitement and bent over to invite Bai Liu behind him. “Now I will ask Mr Bai Liu to come and say a few words to us!”
Bai Liu stepped forward. His voice wasn’t loud but the people below him fell surprisingly quiet in order to hear his words. Bai Liu’s voice seemed to echo clearly and powerfully in this empty and dilapidated factory.
“I want to help you free of charge.” Bai Liu took out a new bottle of perfume from his pocket. His eyes were calm and his tone was sincere. “However, the number of vagrants I can help with my own strength is too limited. I am just a low level processing factory worker who gets paid on time every day.”
“Now I can earn up to three bottles of low-grade perfume a day and a bottle of low-grade perfume can last for up to four hours. According to the amount of this perfume, I won’t be able to keep many people awake for a long time if I distribute it to each of you. This means I can’t help you for a long time.”
Bai Liu’s words dimmed the eyes of the vagrants below the container.
Even so, they didn’t speak out against Bai Liu for not continuing to help them.
After a long period of torture, Bai Liu was like a god. He gave them completely selfless help. Even if this help was only short-term, it allowed them to return to human form for a while and to not be immersed in the pain of being dominated by the rose perfume and the endless long itching of tentacles on their bones. They were grateful.
They hadn’t maintained their human form in so long that they couldn’t tell whether they were human or monsters. Even now when they were sitting on the ground, they had the urge to get down on their knees and crawl around.
“Still, as long as you are willing to help me, my help to you can be extended indefinitely.” Bai Liu’s words changed sharply, causing the vagrants who had lowered their heads to look up simultaneously in a nervous and eager manner.
Bai Liu continued in an unhurried manner. “My strength alone is limited but if you can help me and let me complete more work in the factory, I can get more perfume and distribute it to more vagrants. This will allow more vagrants to be awakened. I promise that every bottle of perfume you help me produce will be used to help more vagrants and let them join our team until I become the manager of the factory.”
“The day I get the rose perfume recipe and become the manager—” Bai Liu declared, “I guarantee that every bottle of rose perfume produced from the factory will be free and it will always be free.”
This was clearly a very tempting proposal.
The vagrants below couldn’t help gulping while their faces were filled with joy and fear. This promise was familiar to them.
Back then when the rose perfume flooded the market, these manufacturers used the same sweet slogan to lure them into the trap. Then what about now?
Those manufacturers who said they wanted to distribute the rose perfume for free were now selling the perfumes at a sky high price!
They looked at the calm looking Bai Liu on the container with doubt, fear, uneasiness and tears in their eyes. It was as if they were looking at the last straw in a dark swamp. They didn’t know whether this man was telling them the truth or leading them into a larger, deeper and more inextricable quagmire.
Still, what was the use of this? They had no choice apart from believing that Bai Liu would be a good factory manager.
The end was already doomed when the rose perfume was unknowingly accepted and abused by them. They could only choose to accept this ending or use death to escape.
It was a long time before someone lifted a trembling hand of white bones with great subtlety and extreme caution. She asked very quietly, “…Mr Bai Liu, will you really be a good factory manager?”
The woman who asked the question had a slightly decayed body. Only a corner of her forehead was withered. She was holding in her arms a small baby with withered feet that looked only a few months old.
The little baby was curled up in her arms, sucking on the thumb that was about to wither yet not wither. The pure and round black eyes were filled with two roses that didn’t match the age of the little baby, aged and withered.
The woman looked at Bai Liu with tears in her eyes filled with roses that were about to wither, her voice choked up. “…If you become the factory manager, will you always be a kind person willing to help us?”
“No,” Bai Liu replied very bluntly. “Most likely not. Now I am saying this to deceive you into working for me, just like the previous manager who promoted the rose perfume.”
In the following silence, Bai Liu’s words fell into the stunned ears of the vagrants below, like a drop of water dripping into a pan of oil.
The vagrants clenched their fists and stood up, their chests heaving violently as they stared viciously at Bai Liu. The eyes that had been filled with faint hope were now angry and dead. Some people shrugged numbly, as if they had already anticipated this ending.
The young mother who just asked Bai Liu the question weakly lowered her head. She covered her face and started to cry quietly, as if she was saying the child’s name.
Yet among them, no one rushed up to attack Bai Liu.
It was because even if Bai Liu revealed his bad intentions so bluntly, Bai Liu was their last hope, just like their despair.
As long as they could escape the addiction of the rose perfume engraved in their bones for a short time, the helpless vagrants could only be trapped by those who held the source of the perfume and be forced to fall into a deeper hell.
Bai Liu’s eyes swept over the faces of the vagrants below who had various emotions due to his words.
He could’ve used that reason just now to deceive the desperate vagrants.
You see, even if he now told them that he was lying to them, they deluded themselves into following him and working for him for free, just for a mouthful of that ethereal aroma.
As long as the perfume existed, this vicious cycle must exist. Just as ordinary people started to hope that the idea of ‘a good person will become the factory manager’ would make everyone happy, this in itself meant there was no way to restrain evil.
If morality was used to restrain interests then interests would only be presented in the form of morality.
However, Bai Liu didn’t like perfume. He liked money. This type of world meant nothing to him. Even if he got more perfume than these displaced people, it was just a symbol of a sense of spiritual superiority.
Bai Liu had no feeling for this ‘sense of superiority.’
He preferred a world where money circulated as hard currency. He wanted to put an end to this world.
“You can’t hope that I will be a good person. I’m not a particularly good person. In other words, no one who becomes the factory manager will be a good person as long as the rose perfume exists.”
Bai Liu looked at the vagrants below and his tone was as flat as ever. “However, if I say that I have a way to let the rose perfume disappear after I become the manager of the factory so that you don’t keep withering, will you help me?”
The vagrants in the audience slowly raised their heads in disbelief. The pair of rose-implanted eyeballs reflected Bai Liu’s emotionless face.
“Help me become the manager of the factory and I will help you end the fate of withering.” Bai Liu said, “This isn’t free help but an equivalent transaction, do you understand?”
The young mother was the first to stand up with tears in her eyes. She held up the child and asked incoherently, “Really? Mr Bai Liu, do you really have a way to end our withering, the withering of my child?”
Bai Liu smiled while the rose in his right eye bloomed the sixth petal and the crack on the edge of his eye socket was deeply visible. “I will wither if I can’t do it.”
“I’ve given you most of the perfume I have earned. You can supervise me all the time. If I can’t find a way to alleviate it, I will be the first to wither. Are you willing to believe me?”
There was a brief silence.
The mother hugged her child tightly. She lowered her head and cried out with trembling lips, “Thank you, thank you!”
The abandoned factory was inexplicably buzzing with excitement.
The vagrants lifted Bai Liu from the container and threw him upward. The roses in their eyes burned weakly and firmly like the last light of a dying fire.