After returning to reality that night, Xiao Li spent a few quiet days.
The instance world was thrilling but it was bad because there wasn’t much to eat. Xiao Li had followed his mother as a child and often ate irregularly. It was common for him to eat his first meal at noon so he had stomach problems. It wasn’t serious but it would strike when he was excessively hungry.
Recently, Xiao Li had stayed at home and watched by his cheap father, Xiao Yuzheng. Don’t talk about three meals a day, he was already full from two meals a day. He spent a few days at home until the day when Xiao Yuzheng wanted to celebrate his birthday arrived.
At night, the orange sunset was interwoven with the blue night, forming a sea of clouds. The sea lined the sky and looked extremely beautiful. A beautiful cruise ship was quietly waiting at the port. Over time, the ship became lit up with five-colour neon lights.
The city’s richest people were gathered in the banquet hall inside the cruise ship and greeted each other. Xiao Yuzheng was with his business partners while Xu Mei took her son Xiao Ming to communicate with familiar ladies. There were all types of food and wine on the buffet table.
Xiao Li was in another room. He wore pure white clothing that he rarely wore and looked very different. Tan Li was sitting on the edge of the table, watching Xiao Li casually flip through the messages on his phone.
Most of the messages came from that guy Zheng Yi. As Xiao Li’s classmate, Zheng Yi was also invited to this party. He came with his parents and desperately sent a blessing to Xiao Li, just like the Spring Festival. “Big Brother, happy birthday!”
“My dad had prepared a gift but it didn’t show my heart so I got another one myself!”
“I’m looking forward to the next time we can team up for an instance!”
In addition to Zheng Yi, there was Xie Zeqing. He had sold his sold (helped Xiao Li with papers) in exchange for the contact information. Just a few days later, he used it to simply greet Xiao Li.
The doll looked at the image on Xiao Li’s phone and took the initiative to extend a hand to point to the screen. She wasn’t pointing to anything but Zhou Ying inside showed a reaction. The mobile phone page switched to the memo interface and showed the words: happy birthday.
The little black cat’s warm body lay on Xiao Li’s lap and he gave a long whimper. Xiao Li touched his head and smiled.
It was a warm atmosphere when there was a knock on the door. Xiao Li stood up to open the door onto to find Shen Chenzhi, who he hadn’t seen in a long time.
“Happy birthday,” Shen Chenzhi spoke softly.
Shen Chenzhi’s appearance here wasn’t surprising. Shen Chenzhi’s family wasn’t small. As for his own position, it could be known just by asking. Xiao Li and Shen Chenzhi weren’t strangers so he responded casually, “Thank you.”
Shen Chenzhi didn’t blink as he stared at Xiao Li. “What present do you want?”
Xiao Li was surprised for a few seconds. “Nothing.”
He didn’t want anything to do with this type of thing. Apart from the birthday parties his mother had held in his childhood, he never cared about his ‘birthday.’
Shen Chenzhi was very stubborn. His tone was low and sounded like a subwoofer in the ear. “There is nothing you want?”
Xiao Li shook his head solemnly. The sky outside the window was becoming darker. He looked at the time and interrupted his conversation with Shen Chenzhi. “It is almost 7 o’clock. I have to rush over to Xiao Yuzheng.”
Shen Chenzhi’s lips curved gracefully as he watched Xiao Li grab the phone on the table and leave the room.
Due to the matter of time, the stiff doll on the table wasn’t taken away. Tan Li carefully turned her head to look at Shen Chenzhi still leaning against the door. She was scared stiffless and turned back, becoming a real doll.
Once Shen Chenzhi departed and the room was empty, Tan Li jumped off the table and walked in Xiao Li’s direction.
Outside in the corridor, it was deserted. There were only the crew members of the cruise ship pushing tables back and forth.
Xiao Li was walking towards the banquet hall when he suddenly stopped as he passed a room in the corner. The thing that caught his attention was a waiter. The waiter wore waiter’s clothes and had an ‘Andy’ nameplate on his chest. He kept his head low and his face wasn’t very good. His lips were white as he pushed the dining car past Xiao Li.
“Wait a minute—” Xiao Li stopped him.
The man stopped hesitantly with his back to Xiao Li. “What’s the matter, Sir?”
Xiao Li walked over. “What is in here? I’m a bit hungry?”
“Sir, this is the food that is going to be sent to the banquet hall.” The waited bowed his head and smiled awkwardly.
Xiao Li hadn’t called out to this person for food. It was because he had a subtle feeling as he passed by. Reincarnators had dealt with too many ghosts in the instance world. Therefore, when they encountered ghosts in reality, they might not be able to see them but there was a sense of the ghosts.
This waiter… had a ghost!
Xiao Li told him, “Open it and see.”
The waiter seemed a bit overwhelmed. He bent his head lower, his entire back curved as he looked to the left and right. At this moment, there was no one else in the corridor, only the two of them. The waiter didn’t follow Xiao Li’s words but pushed the dining cart forward like he didn’t hear. Before Xiao Li could speak again, the waiter’s back moved. A ghost face emerged and smiled at Xiao Li.
At the same time, a pair of arms extended from Xiao Li’s mobile phone. Zhou Ying blocked the ghost face with one hand and covered it. His other hand grabbed the waiter’s shoulder. The waiter immediately turned around. He stared at Xiao Li with narrowed eyes. “A reincarnator?”
Xiao Li didn’t answer. “What are you doing here?”
The waiter put away the pretend disguise and spoke with a ruthless expression, “Since we are both reincarnators, don’t ask any more. If you leave me alone then you won’t suffer.”
“What if I have to ask?”
The waiter snorted coldly and a black shadow emerged from his back. It passed by Zhou Ying in the air and rushed towards Xiao Li! A cluster of hair caught it in time. A doll stood behind Xiao Li, hair like a black waterfall that increased more and more. This lasted until a cocoon was formed on the ceiling, the dark shadow completely wrapped in it and swallowed.
The waiter’s expression changed. He quickly adjusted his judgment and wondered, “You must block me?”
Xiao Li replied, “Tell me about your purpose and I’ll think again.”
It wasn’t that he wanted to interfere. It was just that these reincarnators had spent a long time in the instance world with the ghosts. Some had long abandoned human reason, not to mention the ghost controllers. The ghost path had higher yin and these people generally didn’t put ordinary people in their eyes. Their eyes were looking down from high above. Some of them were devious, insidious and vicious. At present, this person had a different purpose. If he was filled with revenge and resentment then he might hit all the people on board.
The waiter judged Xiao Li’s strength and spoke very simple. “I am currently refining a ghost and need a pure Yin child as a sacrifice. I have been tracking her for a long time but she has always been hiding at home. Today, she came to this boat with her family and I got on as well. Boy, what is your name? Do me this favour and I will pay you.”
“You don’t need to know my name.” Xiao Li moved his fingers.
Zhou Ying moved out from the mobile phone. Since Tan Li had already captured the ghost, the child reached out and hugged the waiter’s leg, looking up at him.
“Wait!” The waiter was panicked. “We can negotiate. If you feel that the price isn’t enough, I can pay more!”
He saw that Xiao Li still wasn’t interested and used his last resort. “I am a member of ‘The Judges’. If you destroy my plan, you should calculate if you are enough to face the retaliation of the Judges!”
He said this and the other side was really stunned. “The Judges?”
“Yes!” The waiter saw that thins were turning and continued, “As long as you don’t intervene, we can leave on good terms and also be friends. Otherwise, you don’t want the Judges as enemies, right?”
Then he heard Xiao Li say, “I’ve never heard of it.”
Then Zhou Ying’s hands tightened again as he looked up. “Do you want to play a game with me?’
The waiter’s heart sank. He tried to pull out an item while stabilizing the little ghost. “W-What game?”
Zhou Ying cocked his head. In the past, he would’ve said hide-and-seek but now it was different. “Anipop.” (TL: All the previous Happy Music mentions was apparently Anipop, a simple match three game.)
The waiter, “…”
Xiao Li patted Zhou Ying’s head. “Watch your tone.”
Then he took care of his clothes, dusted off the white suit and walked into the banquet hall.
The banquet hall contained many dressed up fashionable men and women. Xiao Yuzheng was standing in the centre and his face wasn’t very good. Once he saw Xiao Li coming, he calmly asked, “What were you doing? Why didn’t you come earlier?”
Xiao Li mused. “Saving the world.”
Xiao Yuzheng, “???”
He frowned and reprimanded Xiao Li. “What is this nonsense? Don’t you see these people waiting for you?”
Xu Mei held onto Xiao Yuzheng’s arm and patted him on the back.”Yuzheng, don’t be angry. Xiao Li, shouldn’t you apologize to your father?”
Xiao Li’s eyes swept over her coldly and he didn’t move.
Nevertheless, Xiao Yuzheng’s mood was eased. He pushed Xu Mei’s hand away and didn’t say anything more as he reached for Xiao Li’s shoulder and introduced him to several friends. “Old Qin, Old Gong, come and have a look. This is my son Xiao Li.”
The well-cut, pure white suit outlined Xiao Li’s excellent figure. His face with exquisite features was light. He obviously didn’t have a cold atmosphere but people felt a sense of distance from him. Once Xiao Li came out, the whispers grew louder.
The people introduced by Xiao Yuzheng were a certain age and had a beer belly that showed through their custom suits.
They hadn’t heard that the Xiao family had a second son but Xiao Yuzheng was willing to introduce Xiao Li so solemnly that it was clear this person had a certain position in his heart.
Therefore, they smiled kindly and raised a glass to Xiao Li. “Look, Old Xiao, this kid looks like you. I can see the elegance of your youth from him.
Xiao Yuzheng protested. “Hahaha, what are you saying? He looks better than me when I was younger.”
Xiao Li was patient with them and greeted them while holding a glass of wine. Fortunately, Xiao Yuzheng saw his impatience after a few rounds and brought over one final young woman. “Young people should communicate with young people.” He left Xiao Li’s side and ran to talk to his old friends.
Xiao Yuzheng had introduced a young and beautiful girl. Her hair was decorated with pearls and her surname was Gong. She was the only daughter of Uncle Gong.
Miss Gong elegantly clinked her glass against his. “Hello.”
Xiao Li chatted to her. “Hello.”
“How come I’ve never seen you before?”
“I’ve never been to an occasion like this before.”
After several rounds, he casually found an excuse and fled the banquet hall. Xiao Li came to the deck. All the guests were downstairs so above was empty. He leaned against the railing and looked at the distant sea. Compared to the previous sunset, it was now completely night and the full moon was reflected in the sea. It was cut into pieces by the endless waves but it was still the appearance of the moon.
Xiao Li put his chin on the railing and reached out a hand, as if fishing for the moon. The sea breeze lifted his hair and shattered his moon. Xiao Li remembered the previous ghost ship instance. Amidst the dark sea breeze, his heart that just calmed down felt a bit eager again.
Then on the distant shore, fireworks exploded into the sky. This was Xiao Yuzheng’s arrangement. Starting at 7 o’clock, fireworks would go off every hour until midnight. The colourful fireworks lit up the dark sky and it changed rapidly.
Under the fireworks, a small spark fell to Xiao Li. It floated in front of him and Xiao Li couldn’t help reaching out. The little yellow book in his inner chest pocket became hot. 【 A gift. 】
【 Happy birthday. 】
The firework-like spot fell onto Xiao Li’s hand and turned into a card. Xiao Li brought it to his eyes. It was a permit.
[Forbidden Zone Permit: You will be allowed to enter the Pirisse restricted area. Remember, this permit is only for seven days.]
The next moment, the fireworks disappeared from in front of Xiao Li and the darkness turned into a whirlwind.
[There are many forbidden areas in the world. This is one such forbidden area. It used to be a city but after a world-famous explosion at a nearby factory, it became a deserted city. The city residents were asked to evacuate within three hours and the entire forbidden area became frozen in time, never ending. No one knows how many bones are buried here, just as no one knows how many secrets are hidden here. Will you be a secret executioner or a revealer? Everything is your choice, everything is the choice of the forbidden area.]
【 Remaining safety time: 3 minutes. 】
[This world’s task is in phases. The first phase: Enter the Pirisse forbidden zone.]
[Friendly reminder: Once the first phase of the task is completed, the second phase will be revealed.]
This time, there was something new. The task was in phases. Xiao Li was started to believe Luo Dian’s words about the entire instance model constantly being upgraded.
Of course, there were still the little yellow book’s hidden tasks under the official tasks. However, this time the hidden task was purer than before.
[Hidden Quest: Happy birthday.]
Xiao Li didn’t have time to react when the little yellow book added: [After listening to me say ‘Happy Birthday’, jump over happily to kiss me.. However, you aren’t allowed to say ‘Thank you’, even if the task is done.]
Xiao Li, “………”
He closed the little yellow book that had dug a pit for himself and started to observe the surroundings. Their surroundings was a forest. At first glance, it was a place where people rarely went. All types of trees and flowers were growing wildly and into various strange shapes.
The edge of the forest contained a small road that was wide enough for a car. The left and right sides of the road contained endless trees. Apart from him, there were six people standing by the side of the road. A tall, off-road vehicle was parked in front of the six people.
The people faced each other. Then a tall, sunny looking young man shrugged. “It seems to be a cold atmosphere. Then I will come out first. My name is Hao Ge (Brother Hao), you can also call me Haozi (Mouse). This so-called phased task is something I am doing for the first time. Please take care of me.”
The others started to introduce themselves one by one. Once it was Xiao Li’s turn, he gave the name Sherlock.
They arrived at the last person but he didn’t introduce himself. Instead, he bent over to pick up a black backpack he had brought. This man was extremely tall and it could be seen that he had a lot of muscles. There was a violent air around his body and he seemed to intend to leave the group.
The others didn’t dare to speak. Only Hao Ge stopped him. “This friend, you aren’t going with us?”
The man’s eagle-like eyes swept over them, his mouth curving sarcastically before he walked forward without saying anything. He didn’t take the car and left it to the others.
Xiao Li looked at this man’s back and somehow thought of Xie Zeqing’s words: A beast is always alone, cattle and sheep are in group—
He hadn’t finished this sentence when Hao Ge clapped his hands and attracted everyone’s attention. “He is willing to go alone so we shouldn’t care about him. Everyone knows that in the instance world, it is safest to act together.
A girl called Zou Hanyi suggested, “Shall we first get in the car and see if there is a key? Isn’t this provided for us?”
She had a long ponytail and was dressed in a camouflage uniform. She looked competent and lively.
Another man carefully opened the door, fearing that a body would suddenly fall from the car. He took a look at the driver’s seat and sighed with relief. “Yes, there are keys and a map. Everything is here.”
“Let’s double-check again before getting on the car. I am afraid of being delayed here for too long.”
The season here was obviously different from reality. The night wind brought coldness and combined with the dark forest, the people couldn’t help wanting to leave. Several people opened the door and examined the car inside and out. They confirmed there were no ghost bodies before completely letting go of their worries.
Hao Ge asked, “Who can drive?
Everyone apart from Xiao Li and another man raised their hands.
Hao Ge said, “The people who drive will take turns in half an hour shifts. Does anyone have any opinions?”
The reincarnators opened the door and got on the train. The interior of the off-road vehicle was quite spacious but it couldn’t fit many people. The front driver’s seat and passenger’s seat had two people while Xiao Li and the rest were crowded in the back.
The first one to drive was Hao Ge himself. According to him, he was a long-time and experienced driver but he was still careful on the road in his ghost world. He was ready to slam on the brakes at any time.
The performance of the off-road vehicle was quite good. Xiao Li leaned against the window as he swayed with the car, a bit sleepy. In fact, this was why he didn’t choose to walk like the man. There was a car here and he could sit and rest all the way. Only a fool would walk dozens of kilometers on foot instead of choosing a vehicle.
Xiao Li covered his mouth and let out a yawn. He felt that he was become more and more sleepy and the discussions of the other people gradually weakened.
After a quarter of an hour in the off-road vehicle, the car violently jumped like it hit an object and then it suddenly braked, almost directly knocking a few people against the car. Xiao Li had been holding the handle on the roof and avoided flying straight out.
“What’s wrong?” Zou Hanyi asked.
Sitting in the driver’s seat, Hao Ge’s face was white. No one was clearer than the driver about what he just saw. He gulp and described it. “Just… there was a white shadow in front of my car window!”
The people sitting in the off-road vehicle felt cold.
Hao Ge continued, “I thought it was an illusion. After all, we just entered. According to the rules of the instances, even if it is a new phased task, it wouldn’t start killing directly without a reminded. Therefore, I didn’t brake. Then I felt like I bumped into something. It was the white shadow!”
The rest of the reincarnators could only imagine that the white shadow hit by Hao Ge might now be lying under their car, staring with eyes wide open and grabbing at the car…
Zou Hanyi’s face was very poor but she gritted her teeth. “Keep driving! We won’t get off the car. As long as the ghost can’t get in the car, we won’t stop!”
Hao Ge took a deep breath. He saw there were no objections in the car so he increased the throttle and restarted the car. Under the car, it was clear that they had run over something. It was creepy. The car continued to move forward and the forest outside the window were quickly left behind.
Xiao Li didn’t fall asleep again. He stared intently at the forest outside the window and raised his eyebrows after five minutes. They were back at square one.
Soon after, Hao Ge slowed down and pointed at the road. “The ghost, it emerged again!”
Xiao Li followed the finger and saw a white figure standing in the middle of the road. It had its head down and its hair covered its face but its lower body was obviously deformed.
Zou Hanyi exclaimed, “Crash into it!”
Hao Ge gritted his teeth and ran over it again. This time, everyone clear heard it. “Let me… get on!”
The throttle increased and the off-road vehicle hit it again.
“What’s going on? We encountered it twice?” Hao Ge was panicked. “Will we keep meeting it if we don’t let it on the car?”
Another man called Hai Han asked, “Are you sure… it is the one you saw the first time?”
“Yes,” Hao Ge replied. “I won’t forget that face. It appeared right outside the car window previously!”
Everyone thought it was absolutely impossible to let this ghost get on the car, not to mention the car was too crowded without any seats. What if they had to hold the ghost in their arms?
“No, it can’t be. Let’s try it again. It… it won’t appear!” Hai Han muttered.
In the eyes of the reincarnators, the off-road vehicle once again increased its horsepower. Then after five minutes, the white shadow once again appeared in the middle of the road. It was an infinite cycle. They would go round indefinitely until they let the white shadow get on the car.
“Ah!” Hao Ge’s spirit collapsed. He subconsciously stepped on the accelerator and slammed into the white shadow.
Xiao Li half stood up and reached out for Hao Ge’s shoulder. “Wait, stop first.”
The strength of his hand on Hao Ge’s shoulder wasn’t small. This brought back Hao Ge’s sense of reason and he stepped on the brakes. It was just that he braked a bit late this time. The white shadow was run over again by the time the off-road vehicle stopped, the wheels sliding down the road.
Xiao Li directly opened the door, got out of the car and walked over to check the white shadow’s condition. Hao Ge rolled down the window. Like the rest of the reincarnators, he thought Xiao Li had find a way to live and was looking at his movements with fear and curiosity. The white shadow lay behind the car. It had two marks from being run over and the ghost was swollen up in some places while crushed in others. It looked funny and terrible.
Xiao Li crouched down. “Can you talk?”
The white shadow looked up at him. “I… want to… get on the car!”
“But we have no seats—”
“Then let me eat a few people. Then the seats will be empty.”
Xiao Li touched his chin and thought about it. “Oh forget it. If you must get on then you can stay in the trunk.”
Before the white shadow could recover, Xiao Li took off his expensive suit jacket, wrapped up the white shadow in it, folded the shadow up like a bag of sushi and went to the back of the car. He opened the trunk and put the white shadow in. It wasn’t tied up so he found a rope in the trunk and tied it up.
The white shadow, “………”
Hao Ge, “!!!”
He nearly died on the spot when he saw that the run over ghost was placed in the trunk.
The author has something to say:
White Shadow: I should be in the car, not the trunk…