IWBL: Chapter 167
The scene might be evenly matched but like Xiao Li said, the ancient woman was older and wiser. Although there seemed to be something wrong with this sentence, as the silent instance ghost, the ancient woman’s strength was obviously greater than the hand in this ghost painting.
Occasionally, the distance between the hand of the ancient woman was in the middle of the corridor but as time passed, the place where the hands met was gradually dragged in the direction of the ancient painting. The arm that protruded from the wall of the gallery became longer and longer until it was finally dragged into the ancient painting.
Xiao Li looked at the ancient painting and saw that the ghost hand was completely stiff as soon as it entered the ancient painting. It had lost its activity and was withered and pale, just like a specimen.
The ancient woman was playing with this hand. Then she felt it wasn’t that interesting so she threw it to the stick person. The stick person wasn’t entered in such a thing and let it go. The ghost hand fell to the ground and turned to Xiao Li.
It reacted very slowly. It looked at Xiao Li sluggishly before jumping up half a minute later. It waved its hand at Xiao Li and looked very friendly. Xiao Li raised his index finger and knocked on the stick person’s hand. It was like he was looking at his children and grandchildren.
Suddenly, there was a shallow breathing in his ears. He looked up and saw Shen Chenzhi.
The young man had come over with a heavy look. He was watching the small part at the back of the neck that had been exposed because Xiao Li bent his head. The skin colour there was white and delicate. Now that Xiao Li turned his head, he shifted his gaze to the painting.
Most of the time, Xiao Li didn’t like to share his emotions with outsiders. However, this time was different. There were many famous paintings here but only the stick person was drawn by himself. This added to Xiao Li’s sense of honour. He glanced lightly at Shen Chenzhi and in a rare action, he showed off. “Look, my son.”
His son was swinging its two line arms happily like a matchstick in an imitation mobile game.
The young man’s black eyes were like jewels soaked in the mist of the forest. Even in the dark, he looked bright and colourful. Shen Chenzhi’s appearance was printed in the young man’s eyes and Shen Chenzhi’s eyes curved in a smile. It was unknown if it was exaggerating as he said, “Yes, it looks good.”
Xiao Li always felt that something was wrong. He glanced at this person before picking up the ancient painting again.
Shen Chenzhi wondered, “Aren’t you going to say goodbye to your son?”
“…This son is too stupid to understand. Forget it.”
The listening Zheng Yi and Ye Zeqing on the side were uncomfortably listening. However, they lost their hatred of this fan of another person. They had a bit of short-term sympathy for the other side.
Xiao Li continued to follow the ancient woman’s direction and the rest of the group followed him. Thanks to the ancient woman’s interruption, most of the original tension had dissipated. Zheng Yi sighed, “This is the strangest instance I’ve ever entered.”
“Who said it wasn’t?” Chen Jinghan sighed the moment someone took the initiative to speak. “It is a mandatory entrance. If the bigshot wasn’t here, perhaps the number of people would’ve been reduced by half in the first exhibition hall.”
“What the hell is this place? I’ve been thinking about it. There are killing attempts as soon as we enter. What is the road to life?”
There was the ancient woman leading the way and the corridor that seemed endless finally came to an end. The group reached another fork in the gallery and found that the surrounding walls had suddenly opened up.
In fact, the width and height of the corridor hadn’t changed. The reincarnators just had the illusion that it was changed. It was because the paintings on the surrounding walls were gone.
There was a wide open door as the dividing line. Countless paintings were hanging on the wall outside the door and spread into the depths. Then inside the door, the walls were clean and white. The visual brightness made people feel cheerful.
Fu Guangbo broke the silence. “The ‘creator’ is here?”
He hadn’t dared look directly at the ancient woman previously. Now he took the opportunity to glance at her with a mixture of fear, joy and tension. Once he saw the stick person who was called ‘son’ by the bigshot, he even showed a horrified look.
This time, Xiao Li didn’t lower his head to look at the ancient woman because the facts were obvious. He simply hummed, stepped over the threshold and walked deeper.
Inside the door was a large empty room like the exposure room of a camera. It was dimly light and there were many thin lines on the walls. The middle of the room contained a table with various painting tools, various paints for oil paintings, brushes and inks for ink paintings, a small inkstone table and various other tools.
Not far from the table was an easel. An old figure faced the incoming reincarnators. He had a short stature, a slightly hunched back and grey hair. He held a paintbrush in his hand and faced the easel in front of him.
It wouldn’t be surprising if this scene occurred in an outside studio. However, this was a haunted studio and more importantly, this figure only had his upper body.
The ghost of the painting appeared and Zheng Yi and the others believed in Xiao Li again. Still, they were instinctively nervous and frightened. It was a type of inner fear.
The painting ghost seemed to be in some predicament and he had been ignoring them.
Xiao Li held the ancient painting in one hand and placed his other hand in his pocket as he approached the easel where the ghost was painting. He found that the other person was doing an oil painting.
The paint was in two colours, red and black. It painted over a large area but at present, it wasn’t clear what was being painted. He clearly felt Xiao Li’s approach but the painting ghost didn’t lift his head. He just kept painting a humanoid object while saying, “Welcome to Exhibition Hall R.”
The voice was hard to hear, like a sharp object rubbing against steel. Xiao Li noticed that the figure painted at the end of the paintbrush had no face, only a rough outline.
Based on this painting ghost’s demeanor and degree of concentration, he could finish the painting first and then pay attention to them. However, this person chose to leave it blank and stopped painting directly.
Did this mean… he was trying to use them to fill the face in the painting? The ghosts locked up in the paintings outside, was this how they came to be?
The painting ghost never put down the brush in his hand. He had a crazy look as he stared at the drawing board in front of him in an intoxicated manner. “I am an artist and I’m not as bloodthirsty as the others of my own kind. Now that you have come in, you are my prey. I should kill all of you. However, since you have found me, I can give you an opportunity as long as you are willing to pay a certain price.”
Xiao Li wondered, “What is the price?”
The painting ghost spat out a word. “Vote.”
“The painting I have in my hand still lacks a face. I want you to vote among yourselves to choose someone to be the face of my painting.”
The moment he heard the first sentence of the ghost’s explanation, Fu Guangbo’s heart rate had started to accelerate. He uncontrollably started to look over his teammates, skipping Xiao Li’s group and instead focusing on Chen Jinghan and the others. If he had to vote, it definitely wouldn’t be possible against Hercules’ large group. Then there was only the rest—
Before he could finish his careful thoughts, he heard a change in the tone of the painting ghost.
“—The selected person will always exist in this painting…” The painting ghost was originally prepared to appreciate the sight of the human infighting when he glanced at the ancient painting that Xiao Li was holding and forgot what he wanted to say.
The ghost’s pupils dilated for a moment like he was seeing something incredible. “T-This painting…”
Xiao Li was surprised. He lowered his head to ask the ancient woman, “Do you know him?”
The ancient woman covered her face with her sleeve and shook her head.
The painting ghost didn’t seem to have heard it. He stretched out a trembling finger to top the painting. Once Xiao Li stopped him, he stuttered, “A-An absolutely stunning work! Did you paint it? No, it can’t be you. Aren’t you a human? The brushstrokes of this painting are so wonderful. This technique and this outline directly bestowed a soul to the painting. Wait, what is this monster in the corner?”
Zheng Yi heard this and wasn’t very happy.
Zheng Yi himself wasn’t very old. He was hot-tempered and was a typical rebellious teenager. Once he heard the ghost say this, he forgot his fear and jumped out to argue for Sherlock. “Why can’t it be him? Hercule is a great painter. He painted a portrait of Bloody Mary.”
Regarding this point, it was mentioned by people on the forum. The portrait was ranked third in the top 10 unsolved mysteries of Sherlock. Although Shimizu also said that Sherlock’s drawing ability was bad, Zheng Yi didn’t believe it. He felt that Xiao Li’s drawings would definitely be good.
Zheng Yi spoke with so much sincerity that it seemed to be the truth. The painting ghost was stunned. “Bloody Mary? Portrait?”
Ye Zeqing was vaguely in a trance. Was Moriarty really so good? The drawings he saw on the ghost ship were clearly ugly…
As for Bloody Mary, why had he seen this example somewhere before? As a fan of Moriaty and Hercule, Ye Zeqing liked to praise these two people to Zheng Yi but he always avoided the bigshot’s only shortcomings. As for the deeds of Sherlock, Zheng Yi’s male god, Ye Zeqing had always been indifferent and never paid attention to it.
Xiao Li’s mouth twitched. Now it was impossible to stop halfway so he could only cough. “The ancient painting wasn’t done by me but I did paint her portrait…”
The ghost wondered, “Is it really Bloody Mary?”
Xiao Li reluctantly replied, “It is her.”
Xiao Li, “……”
This was the third time. He told the ghost, “Ask her yourself.”
He saw the painting ghost’s disbelieving expression and looked back for candles, but failed to find any. Finally, he had to say to the ghost, “Do me a favour. Draw me three candles. In addition, a mirror.”
The painting ghost was silent for a moment. Perhaps it was because he was an artist like he said. He actually turned to another easel and drew three candles in front of a mirror. His painting skills were excellent. If placed in the modern era, he must be a great contemporary.
The three candles were lifelike in both material and colour. In the weak light, they looked like three candles floating in the air with light blue flames burning on them. Everything was reflected in the mirror.
Xiao Li silently called out ‘Bloody Mary’ three times in his heart. He soon saw the shadow of the blonde beauty appear on the wall of the studio.
Bloody Mary appeared and the first thing she saw wasn’t Xiao Li but the painting ghost. She was raising her eyebrow when she heard the ghost ask excitedly, “He… did he really paint a portrait of you?”
Bloody Mary, “???”
This was it? She was called just to ask this question?
Xiao Li spoke to her. “I painted you, didn’t I?”
Bloody Mary who guessed a bit of the situation, “………”
She might not be human but Sherlock was a real dog. Of course, as a good evil spirit, she chose to help him deceive others.
The blonde beauty touched her long hair falling to her shoulders and spoke in a reminiscent and nostalgic manner. “Yes, I still remember the way you painted me. I was so expectant and the real thing didn’t disappoint me at all. That painting is still in my castle. Well, when you think about it, that portrait was the beginning of my response to your call.”
For some reason, Xiao Li always felt that her last sentence was through gritted teeth.
The ghost didn’t care about Bloody Mary’s tone. He got the answer he wanted and immediately turned to Xiao Li. “Paint something for me in front of me. My lifelong wish is to witness a work greater than mine so that my art is no longer lonely.”
“…That isn’t very good.”
Lie… no, it was cheating a ghost.
The painting ghost was quite insistent. “Promise me. I will agree to any conditions as long as you paint something for me.”
Xiao Li thought for a while and was prepared to take advantage of the danger. He raised a finger. “A painting for a painting.
“An equal value exchange. I will give you my painting and you will give me a painting that suggests the path to life. After I leave the exhibition hall, we can open each other’s paintings.”
He wasn’t worried about the ghost breaching the contract because Bloody Mary was here as a ‘notary.’ The blonde beauty looked quite interested in being a helper because she could see another hapless victim poisoned by this guy.
The painting ghost hesitated for a moment. Then he glanced at the ancient woman in the ancient painting and quickly made up his mind. “Okay.”
He removed the easel with the candles, took out a new one, dipped his brush in paint and focused intently on his latest work. At first, he looked back a few times in an attempt to take a peek at Xiao Li’s painting. However, he stopped after his attempts were blocked by Bloody Mary.
After both sides completed the painting, Xiao Li rolled up his own painting and handed it to the ghost in exchange. The ghost was excited as he took Xiao Li’s picture in a trembling manner, holding it tightly in his hand.
Bloody Mary watched the reincarnators walk away until they left the exhibition hall. Then she turned around to stare at the painting ghost’s face with interest.
Finally… finally she could see it.
The rolled-up painting was opened in a hurry. The painting ghost’s face was filled with excitement until the painting completely appeared before his eyes.
Painting ghost, “???”
He had been fooled!
The author has something to say:
@Say it to Sherlock bot, contributed anonymously.
In front of Sherlock, I’m submissive. In front of the reincarnators, I hit hard.