Ch99 - Ballad
The game could tell it wasn’t going to be fun anymore.
But it was powerless and forced to play the new mode it had created with tears.
[You keep your panic at bay and pay close attention.
You notice that the faces on the ceiling are delicate and pretty, and that they all appear to be women.
Their lips are moving as if they are saying something.]
[Conduct Listening Check]
Shen Dongqing cooperated: “Yes.”
[Listening Check failed.]
[Those voices become meaningless moans in your ears.
You can only feel their anguish…]
The game broke off all of a sudden.
[What are you doing]
Shen Dongqing moved a small stool and stood on it.
This junk room was under the stairs, so it wasn’t too high.
Shen Dongqing almost touched the ceiling when he stood on the stool.
When he heard the game’s question, he stated reasonably: “I can’t hear it because it’s too far away.
I can hear it if I get closer!”
Shen Dongqing paused for a moment before responding, “Do Listening Check.”
[Listening Check successful.]
[You hear them say…]
Shen Dongqing interrupted the game: “Stop babbling, I will listen to them myself.”
Shen Dongqing may have heard the faces on the ceiling softly exhale as a result of the successful Listening Check, and all the meaningless sounds converged into one word.
Shen Dongqing: “Girl”
He jumped from the little stool as he realized what he was hearing.
“What did you see” asked the detective right away.
Shen Dongqing pointed to the faces.
When the detective looked up, all he saw was the ceiling with a hanging lamp suspended from it.
Shen Dongqing: “They said the word ‘girl.'”
The detective instinctively remembered the Girl’s Temple, which was halfway up the mountain.
When he turned around, he added, “I found the 18-year-old registration book.
Su Xiaoying did indeed stay here.”
Su Xiaoying was his mission target.
The detective: “According to the register, Su Xiaoying stayed in the attic.
I believe we can go have a look.”
The doctor hesitated: “The game prompted me to report to the local infirmary.”
The photographer: “I also got a notification.
According to the game, I’m really interested in the Girls’ Temple and want to take close-up shots there.”
This move sounded like a recipe for disaster.
However, there was nothing that could be done.
According to the script and characterization, as a new generation of young people raised in a modern society, they will not consider supernatural entities and ghosts anytime they come across something.
What was to be done, death or not, had to be done.
Shen Dongqing and Zhou Wenyan both heard the game’s voice at the same moment.
[You elected to spend the night in the inn because of the old man’s kind reminder.
The rain has ceased when you wake up the next day.
You want to go on with your business as soon as possible and visit your gravely ill grandmother.]
[You left the ancient town when you were a kid and never returned.
Your memories of your grandmother are hazy.
You only recall having a cherry blossom tree beside your childhood home.]
Shen Dongqing: “Cherry blossom tree”
But don’t cherry blossoms bloom in spring
What is the difference between looking for a cherry tree in autumn and fishing in a swimming pool
The doctor walked out carrying a small medicine box.
She remarked before departing, “The innkeeper must know.
You may be able to persuade her to take you to the cherry blossom tree.”
The doctor’s movements were presumably brisk since she assumed the village infirmary was unlikely to be dangerous.
And the photographer, who appeared to be on her way to her own grave, was the polar opposite of her.
“Persuade” said Shen Dongqing, tilting his head.
The old lady sat at the counter, engrossed in a soap opera.
She was fanning herself and cracking melon seeds while laughing so hard that her eyes couldn’t be seen.
Just as she was becoming enthralled, a figure appeared in front of her, obstructing the TV show on the wall.
“Move move move, go farther,” said the elderly lady, waving her hand.
Shen Dongqing leaned against the counter and spoke cheerfully: “I have a question for you, Aunt.
Is there a cherry blossom tree in the vicinity”
The old lady refused to cooperate: “No, I don’t know.”
Shen Dongqing thought for a while before asking for a Persuasion dice throw as per the doctor’s suggestion.
[Aunt’s Will is firm and she was not persuaded.]
Shen Dongqing changed his persuasion style to…
This method, however, was largely employed for non-human NPCs.
The old woman in front of him was clearly a human being.
Shen Dongqing possessed the good moral character of Respect for the Old and Love for the Young, thus he would not straightforwardly lay a hand on her.
He chose to persuade nicely.
Shen Dongqing made a little fist and shook it.
The old woman remained indifferent.
She did not care about Shen Dongqing’s “persuasion” at all.
We’re sorry for MTLers or people who like using reading mode, but our translations keep getting stolen by aggregators so we’re going to bring back the copy protection.
If you need to MTL please retype the gibberish parts.
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Vtfc Gbcudlcu ujnf j kjgw rwlif: “Gbc’a kbggs, kf’gf ubbv uesr.
Qf bcis tjnf bcf defralbc obg sbe.”
The elderly lady examined the counter with great care.
This counter was quite sturdy and had been in use for over ten years.
She hadn’t expected this sweet young man to smash a hole in it.
If he hits someone…
The old lady gulped: “I, I, I seem to remember.”
[…You persuaded the NPC.]
The old woman stated: “Right at the foot of the mountain, a family planted a cherry blossom tree beside their house.
You will see it as soon as you go there.”
Shen Dongqing withdrew his hand and beamed at her: “Thank you!”
The woman clutched her wildly pounding heart as she watched the two men leave.
Before she could catch her breath, she saw the gentle young man turn around.
“I don’t know anything else!” the woman hurriedly swore to the gods.
Shen Dongqing gave her a dubious look, grabbed a handful of melon seeds, and walked away.
The old lady: …
What kind of guest is this!
Walking out along the bluestone path, the buildings on both sides began to decrease, and by the time they reached the path leading to the Girl’s Temple, there were weeds all around.
There was only one adobe house visible from a distance in the desolate countryside adjoining the town.
It’s hardly strange that the old lady said you can see it as soon as you walk over there.
Shen Dongqing and Zhou Wenyan approached the adobe house.
They could see a tree planted in the yard with barren branches from the outside.
They were wondering whether it was a cherry blossom tree.
The courtyard gates were all open, most likely due to the residents’ guilelessness.
Shen Dongqing was rather disappointed.
The two men walked in.
It was extremely quiet inside.
There was no sound at all, as if no one lived there, and even the red couplets on the door panels had faded to gray.
Shen Dongqing pushed open a wooden door, and a gust of wind blew over, carrying a stink with it.
God only knows when that adobe house was built.
It didn’t even have power.
To illuminate, it could only use the light leaking from the roof.
It was dark inside, and a pale face could be seen flashing by, but it was too dark to tell what it was.
“Do an Investigation Check,” Zhou Wenyan had almost worked out the gaming style of this new mode.
Both of them may have failed the check due to bad luck.
The game smacked of schadenfreude: [You didn’t find anything in the darkness.
You believe it was blurred.]
Shen Dongqing raised his head silently, not saying a word.
The game had long grown accustomed to the vexing MO of these two thorny players.
When the game saw this, it was a bit baffled and asked, as it rarely did: […What are you thinking]
Shen Dongqing: “I’m wondering how difficult it would be to rip off the ceiling.”
Shen Dongqing smiled playfully: “Just kidding.” As soon as he finished speaking, he raced up with a sudden huge stride, reached for the spot where the pale face had flashed past and grabbed, picking up the thing there and walking out.
Shen Dongqing’s thinking was simple and crude.
Since it was too dark in the room, can’t you see it if you take it out
Shen Dongqing looked down as he walked out of the adobe house.
It was a photo frame with a photograph inserted in it, and the picture was taken in this small courtyard.
The girl with braided pigtails smiled brightly into the camera, and a cherry blossom tree was in full bloom behind her.
“This should be Ah Ying,” Zhou Wenyan commented as he followed Shen Dongqing and examined the girl in the photo.
The girl who had written them a letter.
“Cough… cough… cough…”
A burst of coughing came from behind.
Both men turned around at the same time.
At some unknown time, a short and emaciated old lady stood at the entrance, leaning on the door with one hand, gasping out of breath.
“You, you two…” When the old lady’s sight fell on Zhou Wenyan, her previously slack gaze suddenly sharpened, “What did you return here for”
“Grandma,” Zhou Wenyan called out as he approached her with the photo frame.
What a shame a loving bride welcoming scene didn’t take place.
The old lady yanked the photo frame from Zhou Wenyan’s grasp at a speed that didn’t conform to her age and yelled viciously: “Leave immediately! Leave NOW! Who told you to come back! Get out of here I say!”
The old lady shuffled back into the room after speaking, and they didn’t see her again.
If this were normal times, Zhou Wenyan would have already persuaded the NPC (physically) and forced her to cooperate, but there was a human elderly lady here with one foot in the grave, and it wasn’t good to touch her.
As the old lady’s figure was about to vanish into the darkness, Zhou Wenyan suddenly remembered “Ah Ying” from the letter and exclaimed, “It was Ah Ying who wrote to me and asked me to come back.”
It was clear that the old lady was trembling.
She came to a halt and stated, frightened, “There is no such person here! You must be mistaken, mistaken!”
The game asked considerately: [Do you want to roll for Psychology]
“Even a blind person can tell that she is lying, okay,” Shen Dongqing said, as if speaking to an idiot.
The game responded with silence, but its heart was broken.
It should not have created this jumble of new rules!
The old lady threw both of them out without any special treatment despite Zhou Wenyan’s identity.
She gazed at Zhou Wenyan with clouded eyes and a distorted tone before kicking them out: “Hurry up and get out of here! This is not the place you should stay!”
“And don’t ever go to the Girl’s Temple!”
The wooden door was shut tightly, and the old lady secured it to keep them from returning.
“Go check out the Girl’s Temple” Shen Dongqing suggested, looking at the decaying wooden doors.
In this game, it was impossible to clear the instance without courting death.
Not to mention that the Girl’s Temple was a crucial clue.
The game seized the opportunity to find a sense of existence: [Although grandma warned you not to go to the Girls’ Temple, the more you can’t go, the more curious you are.
As someone who grew up in the new era, you don’t believe in supernatural things, so you directly proceed to the Girl’s Temple.]
The path leading to the Girl’s Temple was narrow and steep.
Shen Dongqing and Zhou Wenyan walked on it one after the other, and the Girl’s Temple appeared in front of them approximately ten minutes later.
Perhaps because it had rained the night before, the walls outside the Girls’ Temple appeared to be smeared with layers of blood, and a stench could be smelled from a distance.
When they entered, they saw that the Girl’s Temple was completely decrepit, with no trace of devotees.
The yard was overrun with weeds, and there was only a narrow passage across the middle to get around.
The main hall of the Girl’s Temple was down the lane.
The joss sticks and candles at the main door were smoldering, and the roof above was leaking.
There was no statue of gods or Buddha consecrated, but rather a stone statue that appeared to be carved in the shape of a girl.
It appeared to be watching everyone who entered.
Shen Dongqing crossed the threshold and entered.
The Girl’s Temple seemed to have been abandoned for a long time, with grass growing everywhere inside.
The natives would have flocked there if it had actually been as the old man stated and “granted whatever is asked for.”
But there wasn’t a single native in sight now.
Shen Dongqing looked about but discovered no leads.
What he did find was the photographer who had passed out in a corner.
Before fainting, the photographer might just have witnessed something terrifying.
Her face was horrified, and she still clutched her camera tightly in her hand.
Shen Dongqing bent down and glanced at her for a moment before removing the camera.
When he pressed it, the screen lit up.
The last photograph was of the stone statue in the Girl’s Temple, which looked nothing special.
Zhou Wenyan noticed Shen Dongqing had been inside for a long time and walked over to find him.
Shen Dongqing waved him over, stood up, and handed over the camera, saying, “She took this photo before she fainted.”
Zhou Wenyan peered down at the screen and saw nothing suspicious.
The photographer slowly awoke at this point.
She groaned as she came to and noticed two individuals standing in front of her, entirely forgetting that there was still a person lying on the ground, staring intently at the camera.
The photographer’s legs were a touch soft, and she struggled to stand up, but the two men didn’t appear to want to help.
“What did you see before you fainted” Zhou Wenyan inquired, returning the camera.
“I, I saw a cherry blossom tree…” said the photographer, who was clearly in a trance.
She couldn’t recall anything else than the magnificently flowering cherry blossom tree.
According to rumor, there are dead people buried beneath cherry blossom trees, which is why they bloom so gloriously.
The photographer attempted to recall, but all she could think of was sweating all over her body and being unable to think of anything else.
Shen Dongqing didn’t uncover any hints in the Girl’s Temple, and he was hungry after a lengthy walk outside, so he proposed returning to the inn first.
Zhou Wenyan had no objections, and the photographer was desperate to escape this spot and nodded frantically.
The trio made their way to the front of the Girl’s Temple.
When they crossed the threshold, the game’s voice rang: [You gain nothing at the Girl’s Temple and plan to leave.
You glance back instinctively before leaving and see the girl’s stone statue smiling at you.]
[You seem to be confused and want to make a wish on the girl’s stone statue, thinking: Anyway, the old man said that ‘it’ll grant whatever is asked for.’]
[Please conduct a Will Check.]
[Shen Dongqing’s check is successful.]
[Zhou Wenyan’s check is successful.]
[The photographer’s check… failed!]
The photographer retracted the leg she had lifted to take a step forward and walked back to the girl’s stone statue, as if drawn by an invisible thread.
Her eyes were glassy, and she mumbled, “Make a wish… Grants whatever is asked for…”
Her knees became soft, and she promptly knelt in front of the girl’s stone statue, repeatedly knocking her forehead on the ground, making a teeth-gnashing sound.
After a brief period of time, she slowly straightened her upper body and opened her mouth: “…”
Someone outpaced the photographer before she could express her wish.
Shen Dongqing took the chance and approached the stone statue.
With a “pop”, he clasped his hands together and bent down slightly, and said, “You grant whatever is asked for, right Please make this stupid game close down as soon as possible.”
Stone Statue: ……
Don’t make personal attacks, okay!
The photographer returned to normal after such an interruption.
“What, what’s going on” she slumped on the ground.
Shen Dongqing: “The stupid game forced you to make a wish on this thing.”
Photographer: “Make a wish”
“Probably someone has to make a wish to start the next plot, else it will be stuck here,” Zhou Wenyan observed, staring at the completely unchanged stone statue of the girl.
That lucky person was the photographer.
“I, what did I wish for” she trembled.
Shen Dongqing: “I was the one who wished.
It will accede to every plea.
This cannot be squandered.”
Someone had to make a wish.
The photographer threw a failed dice roll, so she should have made a wish, but Shen Dongqing beat her to it, and she was able to break free from the game’s control.
The photographer felt a little better after learning that she hadn’t made a wish, and she inquired again, “What did you wish for”
Zhou Wenyan also folded his hands together: “Please make the stupid game close down pronto.”
She seemed to understand something and stood up from the ground to face the stone statue of the girl.
Her voice was unusually high: “Please make the stupid game close down as soon as possible!”
Personal attacks now come in groups, right
The three made their wishes in turn and exited the Girl’s Temple.
It is said that going up the mountain is simple, but going down is difficult.
The trek back to the adobe house took twice as long.
The photographer’s physical strength was lacking, so she leaned against a tree to rest for a while.
A pink petal fluttered over as a result of a blast of wind.
Surprised, the photographer caught the petal: “Cherry blossom”
How could there be cherry blossoms this time of year
Looking in the direction of the wind, the bare branches of the cherry blossom tree were full of pink and white cherry blossoms that were even more vibrant than in spring.
Cherry blossom petals fell like rain when the wind blew.
The wind rocked the two wooden doors and blew them entirely open, allowing those outside to see the entire picture of the cherry blossom tree.
The photographer’s instinct was to grab her camera and snap the out-of-season cherry blossoms.
She became pale after shooting the photo and appeared to be about to vomit.
Shen Dongqing leaned in for a closer look.
The photographer had captured an emaciated figure hanging from the cherry blossom tree.
It was the old lady they had previously met.
She was dangling from a cherry blossom tree branch, her feet pointed to the ground and her head down, swaying in the breeze with the cherry blossom petals.
Shen Dongqing raised his head, but he didn’t see the elderly lady hanging on the cherry blossom tree beyond the screen.
He lowered his head and looked at the camera once more.
The old lady in the photo raised her head in that split second.
Her wrinkles and age spots were fully visible, her eyes were sinister, and her lips were twisted open, as if she was saying something.
[You seem to have detected something.
Please pass an Investigation Check.]
The invisible dice fell.
[Investigation Check… Great success!]
Shen Dongqing raised his head once again.
The tree’s cherry blossoms swayed, forming distorted faces.
When they moved, the petals on their faces fell to the ground, and they sang:
“Girl, Girl, she leaves home at sixteen, marries at seventeen, and looks like a flower at eighteen.
She’s a good girl, girl, good girl—”
They were singing a ballad at first, but their voices warped and almost became nasty curses.
The game couldn’t wait to announce: [You felt a chill climb up your spine when you heard the tune sung by the cherry blossom tree.
Please pass a Sanity Check—]
Shen Dongqing nodded to indicate his agreement: “True.
The song is quite terrible to hear.”
The game snarled: [Aren’t you afraid!!!]
The exclamation marks almost became a creature, jabbing Shen Dongqing’s flesh.
Shen Dongqing pondered for a minute and earnestly suggested: “Actually, being scared is insufficient because the singing is deplorable.
If there is a singing section in the future, I hope you can train the staff.”
The game was once again glad that it was merely a string of data.
If it was real, wouldn’t it be pissed to death and then resurrected
Shen Dongqing talked with the game: “Why don’t you give me a Sanity Check, I feel really uncomfortable listening to this song.”
These ghosts sang as though they were conjuring a soul.
It was more like a demonic chant than anything else.
Shen Dongqing stated that if such voices were heard at night, it could easily cause two or three cowardly folks to faint from fright.
Shen Dongqing was so calm that there was no hint of panic.
According to the rules, the game could not throw dice forcibly and could only give up unwillingly.
The blooms in front of Shen Dongqing’s eyes vanished as soon as the game’s voice ended, and he noticed that the cherry blossom tree had returned to normal.
Only the bare branches and the old lady hanging from the branch remained after the cherry blossoms had faded.
After they left, the old lady got upset for some reason and hanged herself from the cherry blossom tree outside the door.
The game jumped out without giving up: [Because of facing the death of the NPC, everyone present performed a Sanity Check, 1/1d6.]
[The photographer failed the Sanity Check; reducing Sanity by 4.
Zhou Wenyan failed the check; reducing Sanity by 1.
Shen Dongqing failed the check; reducing Sanity by 2.]
The photographer’s Sanity had already been reduced by one point, so her Sanity had been reduced by a total of five points.
Her lips were pale, her head was spinning, and she couldn’t think clearly.
The deduction in Shen Dongqing’s and Zhou Wenyan’s sanity was minimal, and they felt nothing.
Shen Dongqing stroked his chin and had an epiphany: “We haven’t seen the dice, how do we know how much we threw”
The game was silent for a moment: [Please don’t question the game’s fairness.]
Shen Dongqing: “I’m not questioning if you’re fair or unfair.
I just think you’re too stupid.”
The game suffered a personal attack again and almost vomited blood from anger.
[…The game cannot manipulate the outcome of the dice throw.
The game has always been fair and just.]
Shen Dongqing blinked innocently: “I didn’t find you so stupid before.” Previously, after entering the game instance and hearing the introduction, the game would stop and become invisible from start to end.
But it was special now.
It kept babbling after they came in.
Simply vexing! It appeared and hopped around from time to time.
Shen Dongqing argued: “Can you not come out in the future”
Shen Dongqing turned to Zhou Wenyan: “It said no.”
Zhou Wenyan rubbed Shen Dongqing’s head: “Just ignore it.”
“Oh, I know.” Shen Dongqing said, “It’s stupid anyway.”
The game vowed tearfully.
It will murder these two people one day!!!