Xiao Li didn’t know about what Fu Zige did. He returned home and saw that the KTV ghost was 30% joyful and 70% panicked. He had returned to his microphone and left only the round microphone head sticking out of the sofa. The upper cushion covered the rest of him.
Xiao Li had just returned from the pet hospital. He had accompanied Shen Chenzhi to pick up the little white cat and then went to Shen Chenzhi’s house to settle the kitten. The little white cat had reluctantly tried to hold onto him with his paws while leaving and Shen Chenzhi asked him to stay, but Xiao Li was still determined to leave.
He looked at the TV that was turned off and then poked the end of the KTV ghost’s microphone. He asked, “What’s wrong with you?”
Fu Zige hummed and twisted his body. “I’m fine.”
Xiao Li turned his head and questioned Zui Tian who had stayed at home. “Did he go out?”
[Maybe he went out to participate in a poetry recitation contest and was eliminated.] Zui Tian still hated Fu Zige for reading passages from his novels so his words were strangely authentic.
Xiao Li, “……”
Tan Li and Zhou Ying had gone out with him while the little black cat had to follow and watch him. Only these two reality ghosts and the ancient woman were left in the house. Unfortunately, the ancient woman took the stick person out. It was said they went to watch a painting exhibition in reality. If Fu Zige refused to speak then Xiao Li didn’t know where he went and what he did.
Soon, the next issue of I am the King of Songs aired and Xiao Li knew what Fu Zige had done. It was for no other reason than the program turning this event into publicity.
That night, Xiao Li ordered a midnight snack takeout and sat at him aimlessly watching TV while finishing his homework on the coffee table in front of him. Fu Zige lay on his side beside Xiao Li, microphone facing the balcony in a half-dead manner.
Tonight was the broadcast time of I am the King of Singers. Xiao Li specifically turned to the channel that broadcasted this show. The moment the time arrived, the preview of the program was first released during the commercial time. On the television screen, an eye-catching advertisement came out.
“A supernatural event suddenly occurred in the recording room for screening submissions. The staff saw a ghost face?!”
“What type of fairy song is it that even a ghost face will listen to it? Don’t leave, the show will be broadcasted right away!”
After this slogan, it showed a young man sitting on the ground and pointed his finger at the vent on the ceiling. This was taken by his colleague.
The staff members’ faces and the vent were covered by a mosaic but the white shadow at the vent could vaguely be seen. Judging by the movements, it had stretched out its neck like it was frightened by the observation of the dizzy young man.
There was no need to look at this ghost face. Xiao Li could guess who it was.
Xiao Li, “……”
Fu Zige saw himself on the TV screen and weakly defended himself. “I just wanted to thank him for praising my song.”
Who knew Ah Le would be so unafraid after his initial reaction?
Fu Zige himself was very uncomfortable about scaring ‘Ah Le.’
Xiao Li hadn’t spoken yet when the manuscript placed on the tissue box showed some writing: [What are you like now? Don’t you have a B number in your heart?]
[The cannon fodder in my update tonight will be you.] Zui Tian retaliated decisively.
Fu Zige told him, “Hehe, do you want to be read to again?”
“I haven’t recited the scene of your male and female lead’s first kiss—”
Seeing that both of them were pinching each other in their own way, Xiao Li patted Fu Zige and stopped their struggle with one sentence. “The program is beginning.”
It was a matter regarding himself so Fu Zige immediately turned and watched the show intently.
In the past, I am the King of Singers started with the selection and performance of non-professional contestants. However, this episode was different. The program group seemed to be fully committed to promoting the program with the ‘supernatural event in the recording room’ gimmick. Therefore, after the program started, the first thing that appeared was a mosaic interview with the staff in the recording studio.
A woman with a mosaic over her eyes appeared on the screen. “I didn’t see the supernatural scene with my own eyes. It was my colleague who saw it. At that time, we were discussing an original song by an amateur. It was very tasteful. The moment my colleague stood up and was about to leave, the ghost appeared.”
Then the colleague, a young man appeared. “I am much better. Thanks to the program for letting me take a few days off. I went to the temple to burn incense to drive away evil spirits.”
“What happened that day was the scariest thing I have ever seen in my life. I just stood up and wanted to go outside. I looked up by chance and caught a glimpse of that face.”
“I was so scared. I thought it was going to attack me but our recording studio was clear. Nothing like this has ever happened before. There weren’t even rumours.”
“Later, I thought to myself that the shadow in the ventilation duct showed signs of looking inside. I started to wonder if it was attracted by that song?”
The interview with the staff members ended here and a slogan appeared on the screen again.
“The mysterious song that even ghosts are attracted to! An anonymous singer with a hoarse voice but a different type of charm.”
The editor couldn’t close his eyes for three nights after editing this special program! Is the program good? The editor changed his hair?!]
[Next, please enjoy the song. It came from the submission mailbox but the contributor refused to accept our interview and invitation.]
The TV screen changed to the scene where hundreds of spectators were sitting under the stage. There was a microphone on the empty stage where no one was standing. The judges had turned their backs to the stage and were waiting for the song in their earphones.
The show started to play Fu Zige’s recording and the man’s hoarse voice filled everyone’s ears.
Xiao Li, “……”
He knew that Fu Zige’s song was indeed good but it wasn’t to such an exaggerated extent. Obviously, the show had spared no effort to save its falling ratings and even used this type of thing as a gimmick.
Xiao Li thought about it and spoke to the microphone next to him. “Look on the bright side. At least your song appeared on TV.”
Fu Zige didn’t seem to mind being used like this. Compared to the previous few days, his spirit was much better. He exclaimed joyfully, “I thought that I scared him and I was quite uncomfortable. Now it seems he is in good spirits.”’
Fu Zige was originally a bar singer. His biggest wish was to let his songs be heard by others. Now he had achieved his wish and he was waiting for the judges’ comments.”
The judges didn’t disappoint. Perhaps it was a script set by the program but the leading male singer spoke with his back to the stage. “The voice is simple and the singing has the power to move you. This singer must be very experienced.”
Another soprano singer said, “Yes, Teacher Wu is right. There are inherent flaws and high notes can’t be sung but the emotions are very sincere. At the very least, I have the impulse to understand the singer’s experiences after listening to it.”
Fu Zige watched eagerly and in an engrossing manner. He wished to pass directly into the screen as he memorized these comments deeply in his mind.
Zui Tian had gone offline to write today’s update and he madly wrote Fu Zige into the novel. Xiao Li patiently watched Fu Zige for a while before lowering his head to read Shen Chenzhi’s message.
Shen Chenzhi had sent a photo of the little white cat.
The little white cat had adapted to his new home. He was frowning at the cat milk cat in front of him and rushing over to eat. However, his legs were still tied with bandages and this made his movements slow. He could only pounce with his front paws.
Xiao Li praised it. [He has adapted.]
Shen Chenzhi: [Yes but he misses you very much.]
Xiao Li: [I’ll go see him when I have time.]
Xiao Li heard the almost inaudible gratitude. He left his head from the phone and smiled. “No need for thanks.”
There was no instance in so long that Xiao Li visited the forum. He found that it wasn’t just him. Almost all the gaps between instances had lengthened and the reincarnators stayed in reality for too long.
In addition to what was happening in China, there were also detailed forum posts organizing what happened abroad. The most famous one was the group hallucinogenic event that happened in the Banana Country. It was said to have occurred in a residential area. At that time, everyone claimed that they had seen the end of the world. They also hear voices bewitching them. Even several foreign senior reincarnators were involved.
The forum posts were full of ups and downs. There were various inquiries about what was happening and posts revealing some of the situations. Protection and supply items were sold out in the mall. Some items were sold in the black market for enough money to buy a house in a first-tier city.
Xiao Li was taking turns sorting out the common points in the various supernatural events in reality when he was pulled into the next instance.
After the initial sense of shaking subsided, Xiao Li opened his eyes and found himself in front of a tourist bus.
It wasn’t a tattered, poor mountain bus. The bus in front of him looked luxurious, clean and spotless. It had two floors. The upper floor was an open-top design and the chairs were covered with red fabric. The bus was mainly gold, white and red and looked very expensive.
The setting sun in the distance was like blood as it shrouded the sky. It was dusk.
A group of people stood in front of the big bus around a middle-aged man. The man’s hair was grey and he was wearing a typical Chinese tunic suit and a dark blue hat with a wide brim. He was holding a stack of A4 paper in his hand and pointed to the person next to him.
In addition to the middle-aged man, Xiao Li looked around and found several familiar faces. There was no need to mention Shen Chenzhi. He had entangled around Xiao Li and signed the Team Symbol. There were also his two old teammates Ye Zeqing and Zheng Yi, Wang Huai, a dark-skinned foreign girl with her long hair pinned to the back with gold jewellery, a gentle Asian youth and two older, mature men.
They were all looking around, including Xiao Li.
Compared to the others, Ye Zeqing and Zheng Yi were very familiar with him and they greeted Xiao Li together.
Ye Zeqing called out, “Moriarty.”
Zheng Yi said, “Sherlock.”
It was at almost the same time. They stared at each other but no one was willing to back down easily.
Xiao Li told them, “…Forget it, it is better if you call me Hercule.”
The strangers over there also came over and formed a circle to introduce themselves.
“—Okay, players, please come here.” A smooth voice interrupted them before the greetings of the reincarnators could begin.
It was a short looking man with a bulging belly like a ball. He was very happy as he sprayed a horizontal line with black paint on the back of his hand. He raised his right hand and waited for everyone to come.
Player? He was calling to them?
Xiao Li and the others walked over and listened to the fat man shout loudly while covering his stomach, “Welcome to the Gambling variety show! All contestants have been carefully selected and have passed through many levels before they could be selected, pulled out and allowed to stand on the stage of the program with the highest ratings in the universe!”
“Such an opportunity isn’t easy to come by. I hope you will cherish it.”
“First of all, each of you must be equipped with a miniature pinhole camera that you must carry with you. You can’t turn it off and it can’t be removed. After entering the designated location, it will broadcast your actions for 24 hours a day.”’
“Remember, your actions will be broadcasted live and the audience can see whatever you say or do. There will be a barrage in the live broadcast room and you can check it twice a day.”
“This is a special communicator made by the program to connect you to the live broadcast room. It doesn’t have any other functions such as calling. It is just for your convenience to respond to the barrage and please our audience.”
“Next, please take the big bus next to me. It will take you to the designated location. You will receive an envelope and this is the goal you must achieve in this show.”
The fat man was good. He said so many things in one breath but he didn’t make any mistakes. He held the microphone emotionally and spoke clearly. The cameraman in the program crew held up the camera to shoot the fat man and the players at 360 degrees. As the fat man spoke, a staff member came over and handed the so-called pinhole cameras and communicators to everyone.
The communicator was a mobile phone-like tablet while the camera was designed as a brooch in the shape of an ouroboros. It was carved realistically and the brooch alone was a work of art outside.
Xiao Li took the brooch and pinned it to his chest.
“Hmm, have I forgotten something?”
“Oh yes, there is the most important thing—”
The fat man had been preparing to leave when he suddenly came back and flashed a standard smile at the cameraman next to him. “Thank you for your support of this show. In addition, thank you to Death, Despair, Screams and Fear for sponsoring this show. The above were called out in no particular order.”
“Next, please watch the beginning of Gambling.”
His smile revealed all his teeth which were extremely white. However, his words made the reincarnators look at each other.
Death, despair, screams and fear. If all the previous reminders were considered to be normal for a variety show, this acknowledgement revealed the flesh and blood under the warmth of the show’s crew.
The woman with the gold jewellery originally wanted to stop the fat man but he ran away before she could take two steps. At the same time, the staff member who gave them the brooch smiled. “Please get on the bus.”
“Excuse me, can you tell us the specific destination?” Zheng Yi came over. He saw that the staff member looked normal and boldly asked.
“Please get on the bus.” The staff member’s smile was unchanged and he repeated his words.
“This can’t be revealed?”
“Please get on the bus.”
No matter what Zheng Yi asked, the staff member kept the same smile and repeated the same sentence. His smile was the same as the fat man’s smile. It was like they received special training and there were no individual differences.
Zheng Yi found it a bit creepy.
Xiao Li passed by him. “Let’s go.”
He took the lead to get on the parked tour bus and picked a space on the top floor by the window. Shen Chenzhi followed and sat beside him.
Zheng Yi and Ye Zeqing chose to sit behind and in front of him respectively. Wang Huai sat opposite Xiao Li. The foreign woman and the Asian youth chose to sit together on the top floor while the two men who were obviously familiar with each other chose the safer bottom floor.
After everyone got on the bus, the driver closed the door and it slowly started to move. The driver was also part of the program crew. He was a tall, muscular and ordinary man. He stepped on the accelerator and drove forward.
From the rearview mirror, it could be seen that the staff members stood in place and watched the vehicle leave, the same smiles on their faces. Only the fat man who served as the host was missing.
On the top floor, the woman with the golden jewellery spoke first. “We should get to know each other now. We will always cooperate in the future. I am Setamon.”
She used a translation item and it would automatically translate the languages spoken by each party.
The Asian youth smiled slightly. “Park Heesoon.”
Zheng Yi and the others reported their names one by one.
Setamon said, “I will skip the ‘it’s you’ compliments. I’ve heard of everyone here. I’ll be more direct and tell you what I see first.”
She held up her task book. “Currently, the task book hasn’t published the task and introduction. Perhaps it is like this so-called program and we have to arrive at the designated location before it is published.”
Her face was small and she had a sharp chin. She wore high heels and spoke very skillfully.”
Ye Zeqing wondered, “Where will the destination be?”
The speed of the bus was very fast. Just based on the outside scenery, it seemed to be a nearly built road in a remote suburban village with roadside weeds and mountains in the distance.
The bitter wind blew everyone’s hair and whistled in their ears. Xiao Li squinted and didn’t say much. Then a coat with the light sense of ice and snow covered him from the right side. He recognized it as the smell of the young man beside him. He grabbed the edge of the coat with his hand.
Shen Chenzhi told him, “Cover it. Don’t you feel cold?”
Just then, the open top roof started to operate. There was a buzzing sound as the roof closed like a giant black dandelion, obstructing the increasingly wild wind.
Surrounded by this black leather, the outside scenery also became blurred as the bus drove into the night.
Shen Chenzhi’s cold voice entered Xiao Li’s ears. “Sleep for a while first.”
At the same time, the two men inside the bus.
They looked out the window the whole time without speaking. In the end, the taller man said, “I can’t see the outside world.”
The other person never spoke.
The first man said, “Wait.”
The bus drove for a long time through most of the time. No one could see what was outside the window and Zheng Yi couldn’t help complaining about this bus. He was hurting all over by the time the bus finally stopped.
“Please get out of the bus.”
The driver used a megaphone to amplify his voice as he opened the door. “Before getting off the bus, please collect your task card from the draw box behind the door.”
The two men sitting on the lower floor of the bus approached first. The outside of the box was ordinary. it was wrapped tightly and left only a hole large enough for a hand to fit into. The tall man who spoke first smoothly pulled out a golden envelope sealed with dark red paint from inside.
The other man wanted to reach in but the driver opened his mouth. “There is only one task card. Your task is the same.”
Even with this reminder, the man didn’t take his hand back. He fumbled around inside to confirm there were no other cards. The people on the top floor of the bus also came out one after another.
Xiao Li came down the latest. He hadn’t planned to sleep but he closed his eyes unknowingly. He woke up and found that he was leaning against Shen Chenzhi’s shoulder, not against the window. He rubbed the red mark on his face and jumped out of the bus.
The moment the last person got out of the car, the driver immediately stepped on the accelerator and left the destination. He was eagerly speeding off like something was chasing behind him. The so-called destination was a completely different building complex.
It looked like an exquisite museum or a large artwork. It was like a scale with trays on each side. It towered in a tall manner and had white walls. There were no signs at the door and it was very high.
After a brief observation, the man holding the task card tore open the envelope and took out the card inside. The card’s surface was very simple. It was a piece of white paper with only a few words written on it. [Welcome to the Adjudication Prison. Your task: Escape from prison.]
[Winners will get all the prizes of this variety show. Shh, are you curious about the prizes? Then you’ll have to wait until you win.]
The opposite side of the card was another sentence. [Failure? The result of failure is death.]
The word ‘death’ was written boldly. The moment everyone finished reading the task card, their task books vibrated. Xiao Li looked at the little yellow book.
[Remaining safety time: None.]
[You have entered the ruling prison 010.]
[All sins end here.]
[The task: Escape from prison and return to reality after completion.]
[This task has been authorized by the adjudication court and the trial process will start.]
Compared with the introductions for the previous instances, the little yellow book could be called very concise this time. It didn’t use much ink.
Zheng Yi wondered, “This is… a prison. Prison? A cage?”
The appearance of the building in front of them didn’t look anything like these words. Xiao Li gazed in the direction where the bus had disappeared and saw that a suspension bridge stretched out from that place. They were completely isolated from the outside world.
“The trial process, how will we be tried?” Park Heesoon asked.
The moment he finished speaking, he saw an extra line of words in his task book followed by a Libra symbol.
[In the ruling, the trial charge: Sloth.]
[10 years of imprisonment. Number 23023.]
Park Heesoon was stunned. “10 years. I’m not so lazy, right?”
“Is this determined based on the seven deadly sins?” Setamon spoke to herself. “Is this too general or is it the arrangement of the program?”
Xiao Li looked at it and the little yellow book showed: [In the ruling, the trial charge: pride.]
[Imprisoned for life. Number 23024.]
Below this sentence, there was one written by the little yellow book: […By me.]
Xiao Li, “???”
He instinctively raised his head to look at Shen Chenzhi next to him. The young man noticed his gaze. Shen Chenzhi didn’t show his empty task book and instead leaned over to whisper in Xiao Li’s ear, “I love you too much.”
The punishment was life imprisonment.
Xiao Li, “……”
Xiao Li wondered, “Lust, desire?”
Shen Chenzhi smiled and denied it. “Greed.”
Wang Huai added lazily, “I am a glutton. I was imprisoned for five years.”
He felt good about himself.
Ye Zeqing stated, “sloth, imprisoned for 50 years.”
His face was green. Was he so lazy? Wasn’t it Ye Lingshi who acted lazy when Ye Zeqing told him to study the art of refining ghosts? Why was he imprisoned for so long?
Zheng Yi added, “I am also gluttony. I am imprisoned for 50 years.”
Setamon told them, “Envy, 10 years in prison.”
It was only then that the remaining two men said their names. The tall man said, “Mo Di, 10 years.”
There was only one person left. “Moss, 90 years.”
Xiao Li took a second look at these men. The two of them didn’t say their crime. They just talked about their imprisonment time.
In front of this building, waves flooded the sky and turned into a CG. The first shot showed a woman with long hair. She was very beautiful with meticulous makeup. She wore a long dress that perfectly complemented her waist.
She held a brooch similar to theirs in her hand and complained to the people around her. “What type of bad show is this? I can’t bring an assistant and I have to take a bus so far away. Still, it is really beautiful. What type of prison is this? It is absolutely amazing.”
“Miss Lian Susu, don’t be like this when you’re on camera. The moment the camera is on, remember to act for me. It doesn’t matter if you escape successfully or not as long as the audience loves you.” The agent next to her spoke quickly. “Look, even she is here. This is the most popular variety show right now.”
Lian Susu glanced at the person on the other side surrounded by a group and scoffed. “Don’t worry, I still know this. Forget it. Hurry up and finish shooting early.”
She placed the brooch on her chest as she spoke. Once she stood up again, her voice was impeccable as she spoke to the man in the centre, “Director, let’s get in the car quickly. It is so late and I don’t want to delay everyone from going home.”
The director said, “Okay, Miss Lian is really considerate. Thank you.”
“What is there to thank?” Lian Susu smiled. “I will definitely try my best to cooperate. I’m going now. Everyone, work hard.”
The scene changed here as Lian Susu and another female celebrity stood together in front of this building. They competed with each other and Lian Susu walked in first.
The introductory CG ended here. The moment the image disappeared, the door of the building slowly opened from the inside, waiting for everyone to enter. However, no one came out to greet them.
Setamon speculated, “They should be the first batch of variety show contestants and they have already entered here.”
Wang Huai declared, “Go in first.”
The interior of the building was beyond everyone’s expectations. No one stood at the door to ‘greet’ them and there were no traces of life. There were no security guards at the door and none of the staff members from the show. There was only the harsh light above their heads. It was quiet like a cemetery.
At first, it was only a single person passage. It was only large enough for one person to enter and leave and everyone lined up to walk inside.
The door closed quietly behind them without making a sound. It had no door lock and once inside, the door blended completely with the wall. The door seams were small and looked like an intact wall. It was like there was no door at all.
The end of the passage contained four forks in the road. The lights dimmed at the fork.
At this time, a harsh broadcast was heard. “Please note that there are still five minutes before the lights-out time. Please enter the corresponding room according to your number as soon as possible. I repeat, there are five minutes left before the lights-out time.”
Enter their room according to their number.
Ye Zeqing pointed to the [No. 23000-24000] sprayed on the wall on the far right fork. “Here.”
“Go in first. Our numbers are in the same batch.”
They all entered this fork in the path and found that there were rooms. Each room was around the size of a single room and had basic living facilities such as a bed and washbasin. The outer wall of each room had a corresponding number written on it.
They went into the depths and found that there was more than one floor. There were countless floors and the end couldn’t be seen. The middle was hollowed out and there was even a platform in the depths.
Not all of these rooms were full of people. Most of them were empty and only a few were occupied.
Xiao Li walked until he reached the room with his number. He only saw three people along the way and there wasn’t Lian Susu from the opening CG.
The rooms with the three people were quite far apart. The first one had a young man with good facial features but he was very untidy. It seemed that he hadn’t cleaned up for a long time. He curled up in a corner of the bed and looked outside.
The second person was a woman. She had an upright posture and sat very straight. She closely scrutinized the reincarnators.
The third one was a silent man. He was sober and leaning on the railing toward Xiao Li. “Newcomer, go in quickly and turn off the lights. Cherish your first night.”
This person could communicate.
Xiao Li stopped in front of the man’s room and tentatively bent over. “When did you come in?”
The man said, “It’s none of your business.”
He held up a finger and pointed to the sky. “The time to turn off the lights is approaching. If you want to die, keep standing outside like this.”
The broadcast was heard at just the right timing. “Please note that there are three minutes before the lights will go out. Please enter the room corresponding to your number as soon as possible.”
Shen Chenzhi stated, “Go in.”
He had opened the door for Xiao Li. He stood inside his own room and reached out for Xiao Li.
Xiao Li hesitated for a moment before walking in. Except for him, the rest of the reincarnators didn’t have the idea of breaking the taboo the first day they came in. They all chose to walk into their own rooms.
It was a single room but the sound insulation was very poor. He could even hear the sound of the person moving next door.
Three minutes later, the overhead lights were instantly extinguished and darkness fell.