Translated by Addis of Exiled Rebels Scanlations
Shen Jize held the piece of jade, pondering for a moment, before entering the passage. After a while, Lu Rong came out of the hallway red-faced, ran in small steps to the front of the passage, and also went back.
The first moment he opened his eyes, he rolled up from the big bed, and looked down, his clothes were on properly. The room was brightly lit, and when he grabbed the phone next to the pillow to check the time, it was seven o’clock in the morning. This time, he stayed in the illusionary world for the whole night.
Knock knock knock.
There was a knock on the bedroom door, and it didn’t take much thought to figure out that it was Shen Jize.
Lu Rong was still a bit bashful, and was now reluctant to see him, so he fell back into bed, pulling the covers over his body.
“It’s time to get up, are you dressed? I’ll come back when you’re done.” Shen Jize said as he knocked on the door.
Lu Rong replied bashfully, “I haven’t woken up yet.”
Shen Jize paused, “We have a lot of things to do at home, so we’ll go out when you get up.”
Hearing the footsteps leave outside, Lu Rong slowly lifted the covers and sat up, holding his messy hair for a moment before getting out of bed and going to the bathroom to wash up. After washing up and taking off his pajamas, he took out a blue T-shirt and beige shorts from the closet and put them on.
He was still a little embarrassed to face Shen Jize, standing in the doorway as he mulled it over, and decided that now the most natural way to respond was to pretend not to care about this matter.
Not to mention it, as if it never happened.
When he went out, he just needed to say hello to him, yawn and talk, rub his eyes, and act like he wasn’t quite awake.
Lu Rong thought, then pulled open the door, and instantly met the smiling eyes of the person outside the door.
——Shen Jize was leaning on the wall of the passage opposite the door, holding a glass of milk in his hand, staring at him as he drank.
“What are you doing here?” Lu Rong blurted out.
“I’m waiting for you to get up.” Shen Jize returned naturally, “I’ve made breakfast, it’s on the table, go and eat it while it’s hot.”
“I-I, ah, okay.” Lu Rong was so suddenly disturbed by Shen Jize that he forgot all the strategies he had thought of to deal with the situation and just stammered back.
Shen Jize smiled at him, and although he didn’t say a word, his gaze flicked meaningfully around his body.
Lu Rong’s face reddened.
“Are you hot?” Shen Jize asked.
“Huh? I’m… What’s wrong with me? It’s not hot.”
Shen Jize, “I saw you blushing and thought you were hot.”
Lu Rong touched his face to cover it up, “It’s a little hot, it’s pretty hot this time of year.”
“It’s on medium temperature, but if you’re afraid of heat, I’ll go adjust it down two degrees.” Shen Jize picked up the milk cup and walked towards the kitchen, then turned back after two steps, “No need to strip naked.”
He continued to walk forward, the corners of his lips hooked.
Lu Rong went to the kitchen with a hot face and sat down opposite Shen Jize. There was a glass of milk on the table in front of him, and a sandwich with eggs and ham. He took a bite of the sandwich and chewed with his cheeks puffed out, occasionally stealing glances at the person across from him.
Shen Jize slowly sipped the milk without speaking. He was wearing a slim black shirt with the first button open, the Adam’s apple on his throat rolling up and down as he swallowed. The cuffs were pulled up to the arms, revealing strong and slender arms, the whole person had both the mature charm, and a young man full of vitality.
Lu Rong’s eyes were suddenly drawn to the greenish color on his neck and asked, “Brother, what’s that on your neck?”
Shen Jize looked down and said, “A jade pendant.”
Seeing Lu Rong keep staring at the jade pendant, he took it off and tossed it to him. Lu Rong tossed the jade pendant around, looking more and more puzzled, then stuck it in his mouth and licked it.
“Hey, don’t put everything in your mouth.” Shen Jize hurriedly stopped him.
Lu Rong smacked his lips and said, “This seems to be the jade you lost when you were a child. Even the taste is exactly the same.”
“Yes, it’s the jade pendant that I left behind at the construction site illusion when I was a kid, and I picked it up in the campus illusion last night.”
Lu Rong was surprised, “But it was dropped in the construction site illusion, so how did you pick it up last night?”
“I was wondering the same thing, it’s been dropped for years. How come it’s here?” Shen Jize frowned and tapped his four fingers on the table in turn.
Lu Rong struggled to think, “Did the ghosts in the illusion pick it up and bring it there?”
Shen Jize slowly shook his head, “No, the ghosts and monsters are all created in the illusion and will disappear as the illusion disappears.”
The two sat in contemplative silence, both staring at the jade leaf pendant.
Shen Jize suddenly said in a deep voice, “I see what’s going on.”
He took the jade pendant from Lu Rong’s hand and looked at the lines in it in the light, “If this jade pendant wasn’t found by anyone, then it must have stayed in that place from the beginning and never moved.”
“It’s been in the same place since the beginning, never moved…”
Shen Jize looked at him, “In other words, whether it was the site illusion or the campus illusion, or any other illusion we have experienced before, there’s actually only one, and only the scene looks different.”
“Only one?…” Lu Rong first mumbled, then suddenly thought of something, not saying anything more, and sat there deeply lost in his thoughts.
He remembered the night he and Wang Tu parted as children, and now he remembered that the black hanging scroll behind him was also part of the illusion, and Wang Tu and Uncle Chen never met again after they went in, so they were probably trapped in the illusion.
If, as Shen Jize said, there was only one illusion, was it possible for him to find the missing Wang Tu in it?
If Wang Tu was found, was he still alive?
Lu Rong’s mind was in turmoil until Shen Jize’s hand waved in front of his eyes, only then did he react.
“What are you thinking about? You don’t say yes even when I call you, and you keep daydreaming.” Shen Jize asked suspiciously.
Lu Rong took a sip from his glass of milk, and the warm, sweet milk slid warmly down his throat, but he couldn’t taste anything. He excused himself, “I was thinking about your jade.”
Shen Jize smiled broadly, “You like the jade? If you like it, you can wear it.”
Then he lifted his hand and tied the jade around Lu Rong’s neck. When the jade touched his skin, it brought up a sharp coldness. Lu Rong touched it with his hand and said, “Brother, I want to go to a place later.”
“What place?” Shen Jize asked.
Lu Rong hesitated a little, but replied, “The Red Maple Community, that’s where I lived when I was a kid.”
Shen Jize knew he had been trafficked and his guardian was missing, so he was stunned when he heard this. But he quickly reacted, reached out and put his hand on the back of Lu Rong’s hand and asked softly, “Do you want me to accompany you?”
Lu Rong shook his head, “No, I can go by myself.”
Shen Jize just thought he wanted to be alone and said thoughtfully, “Okay, I’ll take you there.”
Lu Rong wanted to refuse, but looking at Shen Jize’s worried look, he thought better of it. He put down the cup and licked his lips, and was just about to say that he was full, when he saw the person opposite him suddenly reach out to him, a warm finger touching his lips.
Shen Jize’s finger paused on his lips for two seconds, slid away, and said in a light tone, “You have milk stains on your mouth.”
Shen Jize was still sitting still, slightly rubbing those two fingers.
The black SUV drove out of the Fei Hongxie neighborhood a few moments later. According to the address provided by Lu Rong, half an hour later, parked in front of the Red Maple Community.
Red Maple Community was a villa area, and right next to the gate stood a huge stone, with a large community name carved on it. Although the security booth seemed quite old, and the fence next to the door was also crawling with green vines, he could see that at some point itl belonged to a very high-end community.
Red Maple Community… Lu Rong looked out through the car window and mumbled in his mind.
Shen Jize turned to him and asked, “Do you want me to walk you in? I can find a place to park the car.”
Lu Rong shook his head, “No, I’ll go check it out myself and come out.”
“Okay, then I’ll wait for you in the car.”
The security guard, an old man in his fifties, was sitting in a small booth watching a video on his cell phone, laughing his head off. After seeing Lu Rong, he only asked a few questions, then threw a book for him to register and let the person in.
Lu Rong slowly followed the neighborhood road, feeling déjà vu watching the scenery along the way. He went to the house number Grandpa Cai told him, and finally stopped in front of an old villa.
The carved iron gate was covered with rust and the fence was covered with greenery. The courtyard was covered with leggy weeds, and the exterior walls of the house had a trail of wind and rain.
Obviously, the house hadn’t been inhabited for many years.
Wang Tu had not come back.
Lu Rong stood quietly outside the iron gate, his eyes sliding through the yard inch by inch. This was the place where he lived before he was four years old, and it had appeared in his memory over and over again. But those scenes are getting blurry, so he can’t tell which are real and which are imagined.
In his memory, the yard was as big as a soccer field, but it turned out it wasn’t that big. The brownish-red iron poles, faintly visible in the flourishing wall climbers on the left, were the swing set Wang Tu had built for him.
In the large room, sunlight spilled on the mahogany floor, as he ran downstairs and downstairs with his bare feet, calling out repeatedly: ‘Brother Tu, come and catch me…’
“Brother Tu, push me a little more! Push me a little more!”
“Come in, eat your dinner and then play…“
Lu Rong looked at the strange and familiar house in a trance, as if he remembered a lot of things, but also thought of nothing. He stood quietly for a long time before turning around and leaving.
Back to the car, Shen Jize saw him in a sullen mood, so didn’t ask any questions, and just drove the car along the road, then half an hour later, stopped at a silent river. There were few cars coming and going, and no pedestrians, only the gentle flowing sound of the river.
“I lived with Wang Tu as a child, and one night when I was four years old, Wang Tu inexplicably disappeared, and I was thrown into the trash.” Lu Rong stared at his fingers and suddenly spoke up to break the silence in the car.
Shen Jize didn’t make a sound, just leaned back in the seat and listened in silence.
“Later, when I grew up, I understood that Wang Tu didn’t throw me away.” Lu Rong turned his head to look out the window, a trace of sadness flashed in his eyes, “I know he was swept into the illusion, and probably still hasn’t come out.”
Shen Jize’s throat moved up and down. He had a lot of questions, but held back from speaking out to interrupt.
“I was just wondering, since the illusion is just one from beginning to end, can we find him inside?” Lu Rong’s fingers were twisted around each other, and his long, thin knuckles were a little white.
Shen Jize unfolded his hand and wrapped it around his shoulders, whispering, “Since you think Wang Tu was swept up in the illusion, we’ll find him next time we go in.”
“Hmm.” Lu Rong buried his face in Shen Jize’s arms, listened to his steady heartbeat, and after a long time asked, “Aren’t you going to ask me what’s going on?”
Shen Jize kissed the top of his hair and said, “If you don’t want to tell me, I won’t ask.
When they returned to the city, they didn’t go home immediately. Shen Jize took him to a self-service store to buy all kinds of clothes and gave him a new cell phone, and soon the trunk was full of bags.
In the evening after the shower, Lu Rong put on his new pajamas, a smooth silk fabric as silky as milk, with cute, brown bears printed on it. He took the clothes to his face and rubbed them against it, finding it very comfortable.
Shen Jize was still in the shower, so he carried the other clothes back to the bedroom, one by one hanging in the closet, and the originally empty closet suddenly filled up. Then the paper bags on the sofa were put away, all flattened, carried to the living room outside the floor-to-ceiling windows of the large balcony, ready to take out tomorrow when he went out.
The balcony was large, with a small carved iron round table and a comfortable lounge chair. There was a small forest, next to a wide artificial lake. Lu Rong put the pile of paper bags in the corner and straightened up to go back to the house, when he inadvertently swept his eyes out and saw what appeared to be the flash of a figure in the woods.
It was quite late now, and he wondered who was still in the woods. He suddenly remembered the “perverted black fan” that Shen Jize had encountered, and suddenly became alert, staring carefully at the place.
The street light illuminated the woods clearly, but after all, it was night, and the branches were too dense, so he looked for a long time and didn’t find anything unusual.
Could it be that his eyes were blurry?
“What are you looking at?” The voice of Shen Jize suddenly rang in his ears, he had somehow gotten out of the bathroom and was standing behind him.
“I just saw someone in the woods, but now I don’t see them anymore.” Lu Rong replied as he turned his head, and his eyes immediately bumped into a patch of bare skin. It was Shen Jize’s solid chest, dripping with drops of water that wanted to fall off and the heat from the bathroom, damply hitting his face.
When Shen Jize took a step forward and stood side by side with him, he realized that the man wasn’t shirtless, but that his bathrobe was wide open and only loosely tied at the waist, revealing his long calves and large pectorals.
Lu Rong hurriedly moved to the side, turned his head to look ahead, but couldn’t help but sneak a peek this way.
Shen Jize didn’t notice his reaction, only fixed his eyes on the woods, his deep eyes half narrowed, and after a moment said, “It’s okay, even if someone’s hiding, he doesn’t dare to do anything else.” As if worried about Lu Rong being scared, he said soothingly, “Don’t be afraid, I’m here. In fact, you also know I often enter the illusionary world, and those things fight to the teeth and use all their abilities to get me.”
Since this matter was mentioned, Lu Rong asked the question in his mind, “Brother, why do you also enter the illusion world?”
In his opinion, the illusion was triggered by himself and he entered it unconsciously when he was asleep, while Shen Jize was brought into it because he was sleeping in the same room as him. He had slept in a separate room from Grandpa Cai since he was very young, and the first time he met Shen Jize in the vision was when he was in the same bed with him.
But Shen Jize and he had never seen each other in the intervening years, so why would he also experience the unique illusion?
Shen Jize heard him use the word also, frowned and asked, “Do you also often enter the illusion?”
Lu Rong nodded.
Shen Jize’s face was serious, “Then are the illusions you encountered dangerous?”
Lu Rong only had to say, “Because I have that white deer in my illusion, he is very powerful, that’s why I said it’s okay.”
Shen Jize suddenly understood, “I wondered where Little White went all these years, I haven’t seen him once. So he stayed in your illusion.”
Lu Rong responded in a casual manner.
Shen Jize looked better, fortunately Little White had been following Lu Rong, otherwise he was so delicate, how could he cope with the danger? But all these years only he was alone, even if there was a white deer then so what? Just thinking about how scared and frightened he was because his Brother wasn’t around.
Lu Rong also fell into a deep thought, when an idea popped into his head.
The mysterious force that created the illusion for him couldn’t grasp the reality of his situation, but could only tell from the illusionary scenario that he spied on that Shen Jize was close to him, and wanted to start with him.
The mysterious force didn’t know that the two had been separated, so it had been trying to trap Shen Jize in the illusion for years. His intention was to take away all those close to him, such as Wang Tu and Uncle Chen before, and Uncle Bai who hadn’t been heard from, and now Shen Jize.
What was he trying to do? The main thing he wants to deal with is actually him, right?
“Don’t be afraid, I will always be by your side when you enter the illusion world again.” Shen Jize interrupted Lu Rong’s thoughts. Lu Rong wanted to say he wasn’t afraid, but his mind turned slightly, as he leaned towards Shen Jize, “I’m not afraid with my brother around.”
“Then go inside and go to bed early. You have things to do tomorrow.”
After entering the room from the balcony, Shen Jize closed the floor-to-ceiling window, and reached out to try to make sure it was locked.
Lu Rong returned to his bedroom, showered and changed into his pajamas, dried his hair haphazardly, and tried to get under the covers with a messy mess. As he climbed into bed, he suddenly thought, what if he entered the fantasy world again in the middle of the night? How could he see Brother in this appearance now? He hurried back to the bathroom and used the hair dryer to dry his hair carefully.
When he went out, he turned around and looked at himself in the mirror, unbuttoned the bear pajamas by two, revealing a small piece of snow-white skin and collarbone. The person in the mirror, with red lips and eyes, suddenly blushed a little and hurriedly buttoned another one, snapped off the bathroom light and went back to bed.
Under the soft quilt, Lu Rong closed his eyes and tossed and turned, and after a while, rustled the button again to unbutton it.