Translated by Addis of Exiled Rebels Scanlations
The fluttering wind, the swaying pink flowers and turquoise leaves, and corpses that died in terror. The image was eerie, if not completely unsettling, and Shen Si stood still until Jian Nian and the others approached him.
“Shen Si?” Jian Nian came over and put his hand on Shen Si’s shoulder, “Are you okay?”
“No.” Shen Si looked at the body on the ground, “I was just thinking about something.” Shen Si’s voice was very soft, with a little bit of very subtle sadness, “I was just thinking, even in his dreams this happens. He must hate plants very much…”
“Hate plants?” Jian Nian froze for a moment, and only after a moment did he react to what Shen Si meant.
The corpse was wrapped with petunia vines, the skeleton with overflowing flowers, surrounded by countless lawns. All those things that could be called weird and scary were accompanied by plants, even those thorns that would make people die of fear were things that grew on plants. This was the image of plants in the dream owner’s subconscious.
Fear itself may not just be the spikes, but the plants as well.
“Dead?” Li Yang came over from behind them, looked at the corpse, then squatted down to lift Sun Yiyuan’s sleeve. In Sun Yiyuan a pair of cuffs had a dense row of small thorns. Those small thorns stuck to his wrist, not much more obvious than sweat hair, but it was clear that Sun Yiyuan died because of this.
After Li Yang let go in a hurry, and took a step back, her face full of amazement, “Sure enough it’s these thorns again. We must check our own bodies for thorns that we didn’t find, and let others help where we can’t see.”
The people nodded in a hurry. They couldn’t tell whether they had been stung at all or when it would take effect.
They tacitly separated and took off their jackets to check their bodies in a safe place. Shen Si walked out of this field of petunias and casually found a place to take off his jacket, and just a moment after taking it off, something black fell from his cuff.
Shen Si lowered his head, some hard black spikes rolled on the weeds.
He looked at the spikes on the ground, and after a moment he frowned and shook the jacket off. After he did so, the spikes hiding in his collar cuffs were shaken out, and when he was sure there were no spikes on the jacket he unbuttoned his shirt, and fortunately there were no spikes inside his clothes after checking.
Putting his jacket back on, Shen Si picked up a thorn from the ground. He held it in front of his eyes and turned it around to look at it, but in the end he couldn’t tell what was different about it.
“Actually, there is no need for such trouble.” Shen Si turned his head to look behind him, as Jian Nian came over, taking the spike from Shen Si’s hand, “If you want to know what it is, I can just devour it and you’ll know.”
“No, I don’t think so, because it’s something shaped in a dream, and it’s generally impossible to parse and reconstruct.” Shen Si judged it this way.
“The only way to know if it works is to do it.” Jian Nian smiled and opened his hand, a black monster emerged from his palm, it rolled and then swallowed the spike in his hand in one gulp, Jian Nian closed his eyes and began to slowly dissolve what the spike carried.
Slowly and steadily, Jian Nian felt as if he had been standing there for ten minutes, ready to open his eyes as soon as he got impatient.
A bone-chilling feeling entered Jian Nian’s body, the hairs on his body stood up, and cold sweat soaked through his clothes.
Just when he wanted to open his eyes, there was a picture that came into Jian Nian’s mind. It was a mountain forest, the breeze was blowing in the forest, there was a hand in the weeds on the ground. The hand was full of thorns, as blood was falling down the fingertips.
Jian Nian opened his eyes, and took a step back with a little bewilderment on his face.
“Jian Nian?” Shen Si looked at him, “What’s wrong?”
“I think I saw a little something, probably what the dream master was dreaming about.” Jian Nian looked at Shen Si, “I could only see one hand, which was covered with sharp thorns, and it didn’t move.”
Shen Si thought about it, then he pointed to Sun Yiyuan’s corpse not far away, “Is it the same as his wrist?”
“Not quite the same, the thorns on his wrists are thinner and smaller, and he didn’t feel anything until he died, but in the dream, the thorns on that person’s hands were all big, black, long and short and were stuck in his hands, and because the thorns were thick, they were bleeding.”
“Do you think that the real experience of such a thing will leave scars on his hands?”
“There should be marks.” Jian Nian nodded, “And this is kind of a clue. Let’s talk to Xia LeYu later, if one of us has this experience, Xia LeYu will find it better than us.”
Shen Si lowered his head as he picked up the thorn from the ground that had just been shaken off by him, then looked at Jian Nian, “Is it a thorn like the one in my hand?”
As if just reacting, Jian Nian picked up the thorn in Shen Si’s hand, and after a moment he nodded, “Yes, it’s a thorn like this.”
Black, a little thicker than a needle, it could be broken off and could easily be stuck into human skin.
But they had come all this way and no such thorns seemed to exist.
Jian Nian and Shen Si looked at each other, and after a moment Jian Nian took the thorn and walked out to ask the others if they had seen such thorns on the way here, and if what he saw was true, the place with these thorns would probably be the most central point of the dream. If it was, the owner of the dream is bound to be stimulated by it.
Watching Jian Nian leave, Shen Si moved his fingers and then walked out. Just two steps out, Shen Si stopped in his tracks, and looked at Li Yang standing in front of him, slightly puzzled.
“Is something wrong?”
“I’ve heard of you, the one who has the ability to control time. Of course I don’t know much about it, because I’ve just returned to reality.” Li Yang smiled, “I came to ask you, can you change a person’s destiny?”
“Destiny?” Shen Si was slightly confused, “What kind of destiny are you talking about?”
“For example, a girl who has suffered a lot wants to change her past and change her miserable fate.”
Shen Si shook his head, “I can only reverse time, rewind the whole world directly backwards, or rewind the time of something. If it’s the former, no one will have memory of it, and for them, that rewinded time is something that doesn’t exist, and no one will notice that the time isn’t right.”
“What about the latter?”
“The latter wouldn’t make any difference, would it?” Shen Si looked at Li Yang, “The tragic past still exists, the world is still functioning normally, it’s just that an adult has been turned into a child. What is the point of such a change?”
Li Yang pursed her lips, and finally she let out a bitter smile, “…That’s true. Indeed, even with the existence of those with the ability to manipulate time, something like ignoring the world to change a person’s fate is indeed a bit of a thought.” Her eyes took on a bit of sadness, “I’m sorry for talking to you about this. As much as I hate Jian Nian, I don’t hate you.”
“Is that so? I’m really glad that you don’t hate me.”
Li Yang smiled, and reached up and pinched her earlobe with a bit of bewilderment in her eyes, “Actually, I think it might be me who is dreaming. I’m serious, the more I feel that way after Sun Yiyuan’s death.”
Shen Si looked at her, “Why?”
“I was born in the countryside, where there are many patriarchal elders. I am the eldest daughter of the family, and could grow up normally simply because in the countryside the first child must be born, or the person will be cursed to never to have a son.” Li Yang helplessly told her past, “I should have had a sister, but my sister died. She was just born when my grandmother stuck a needle into her body. I was only a few years old and all I could see was my sister crying until she wasn’t breathing, so I’ve been so afraid of needles that I get dizzy.”
When talking about this Li Yang’s hands were shaking, she tried her best to maintain her composure, but her voice still brought a little different trembling sound than before.
“Immediately after, even if my mom kept crying, grandma and dad still buried my sister into a flower pot. That flower pot was actually a large broken water tank, which was inside a mountain date tree that dad dug back from the mountains.” Li Yang bowed her head, “My sister in it turned into dead bones, sister was robbed by that tree from all the nutrients, annd sister was stabbed to death by needles.”
Li Yang’s face was pale, “Look at this playfield now. It’s really similar to what I went through. What I was afraid of, what I was worried about, what was hidden in the deepest part of my being came out.”
That was the psychological shadow of Li Yang, the fear that she could never get rid of in her life, because of the age and regional restrictions, she simply couldn’t leave, so much so that she had to stay at home and watch that big water tank. Until she saw that she was an adult and could control her own life, she was sent to the unlimited flow world immediately after.
Needles, date trees and a broken vat are the things that she still sees to this day that scare her brain into a blank.
“I do think it might just be a coincidence.” Shen Si opened his mouth, his voice was calm, but it was the flat tone that made Li Yang’s heart inexplicably settle for a moment.
“You think it’s a coincidence? Why?”
“Because you can easily describe what you are afraid of.” Shen Si looked around, “Needles, date palms and large water jars might bring the remains of your sister, but those are not things that can be found here. What’s here are all kinds of plants, petunias coming out of corpses, and thorns growing out of plants. Even if it’s skeletons, they’re all in adult form, not babies. What you fear so specifically, will appear vaguely in a dream, so don’t scare yourself for the time being.”
Li Yang looked at Shen Si blankly, after a moment she laughed, like she saw something super funny. She laughed so hard that she hugged and squatted alone, even her tears came out. Finally, she barely stopped laughing and wiped her eyes with her sleeve, “Shen Si, you probably haven’t killed before.”
“Although it’s true, why did you make such an exclamation?”
Li Yang finished wiping her eyes, then only spoke in a whisper, “Still believing in people in the playfield, even finding loopholes to comfort each other. Shen Si, you’re so innocent that I can’t believe it.”
“Me?” Shen Si pointed at himself, “No, I was simply judging, and I came to the conclusion after checking the facts.”
“That’s the difference.” Li Yang put it this way, “If the person I just spoke to was Sun Yiyuan, he would have quickly turned away from me and immediately treated me as the master of this dream. That’s being a Survivor, the first action of someone who had killed for survival.” Li Yang smiled a little with her hands behind her back, that tinged smile with some bitterness and helplessness, “People, once they break their bottom line to do something terrible, they can never go back.”
Doubt and selfishness was something that almost every Survivor imprinted in their heart, because if they wanted to live, then they must become selfish, they must doubt everyone, only then could they live.
The dead Sun Yiyuan was like this, and probably only Jian Nian who didn’t trust anyone to begin with, would live according to his own heart.
But Jian Nian’s ability to be so reckless was also his strength.
“Don’t talk to the others about this. I’ll communicate with Xia LeYu afterwards, they have more complete information and can get more details after the investigation.” Shen Si stated his rational conclusion, “Then we can judge whether you are the owner of the dream or not.”
“What if I am?” Li Yang smiled as if she was laughing at herself, “If I am really the dream master, those people will blame you for not telling them.”
“What if you’re not?” Shen Si asked rhetorically, “I’m inclined to think you’re not. If once you tell them, the desire to leave the playfield will make them subconsciously self-explain in their minds what’s not right, and then judge that you must be the dream master, which will instead mislead everyone’s judgment. Since there’s no harm, let’s put this matter aside first.”
Shen Si turned to leave. He didn’t continue to convince Li Yang nor did he express his views again, acting like he didn’t care.
But Li Yang knew that this man was really relying on his own reason in judging the pros and cons to find the best answer.
Looking at Shen Si stepping on the weeds and going out, then being led forward by Jian Nian pulling his wrist, Li Yang shook his head slightly.
There are still good people, but they just choose terrible targets.
Shen Si didn’t randomly doubt a person, as he said, human beings will mostly present a non-rational state for their own things, because everyone will have a sentimental side, in their own position or in the position of the next person.
Li Yang thought that the person who dreamed was herself because the scene coincided with her psychological shadows, so she gradually fit these with her own experience in her fear.
But like Shen Si said, what Li Yang was afraid of was too specific, and the thing she was afraid of was the mountain date palm, not the overgrown flowers in front of her.
Shen Si began to judge the current situation, sorting through the points known so far.
First was the style of the unlimited flow world, indicating that the person dreaming must be a Survivor, followed by the needles that could bring fear, the flowers and plants that were loathed, the skeleton that had no movement after assembling itself, the person who had beaten inwardly hated plants, feared spikes, and had experienced the death of some people.
Indeed, the standard Survivor image.
“I asked other people and got some information that most of the people who died had such spikes sticking out of their bodies.” Jian Nian looked at Shen Si, “For example, that person who was Dr. Xin’s previous partner, and the one that Li Yang met, Li Yang described it as being stabbed like a hedgehog. If it was an ordinary small thorn it would not have that description.”
“In other words, these thorns aren’t just in one place, but have grown in many places.”
It seemed unnecessary now to follow the location of such thorns to find clues.
Just then, Xia LeYu called again, each of their communications ended quickly with basically no nonsense. The length of their conversations were very short, since they still didn’t know when this thing would stop connecting, so they must be as clear as possible to explain everything at once.
“On the point of fear of plants, I found that one of you Survivor Song Sheng experienced the spiritual system playfield. Most of the spiritual system playfield is the world of flowers, so the fear of plants and flowers would also be normal.”
“Did you check the information on Li Yang?”
“Already checked. What she said is true, but I share your judgment that it’s unlikely that she is the dream master.”
Li Yang just left the Special Unit, so her information was at the top, and Xia LeYu quickly found and read this document. In the spectator’s point of view he was a little more rational than those in the playfield.
“A week after that incident her father and grandmother were taken away by the police. Killing the baby was also murder, and the one who reported it was Li Yang’s mother. The body of the baby inside was also taken away and finally buried in the cemetery, so by definition, the matter has been resolved. Although it’s a psychological shadow, not to the point of developing as the main tone of the playfield. If you are very worried, then follow her around slightly to pay attention, once she makes a telling move ask her if she’s the dream master.”
Shen Si blinked, “Is that okay?”
“Dreamers can’t realize they are dreaming, but have clear thinking and are regular people no doubt. But the playfield is going to create a game that couldn’t be passed, so observe the people around you, and if anyone makes a different move from the usual, then they’re likely to be the dream master.”
“Act differently than usual?” Jian Nian listened to the voice inside, “For example?”
“For example, Jian Nian you, after being provoked by others you didn’t fight back instead of smiling and saying it’s okay, you held back.” Xia LeYu explained, “This is because the playfield is ensuring that the dream master survives, and in the hidden interference with the dream master’s mind, of course, everyone’s a stranger. They won’t realize other people if other people are observing them.”
Shen Si responded, “Understood, then I’ll pay more attention to the central and the person you just said.”
“Leave Song Sheng to me, you go observe Li Yang. Remember to be careful.” Jian Nian took Shen Si’s hand, “Once there is a problem immediately come to me.”
“Compared to looking for you, if there’s a problem I should just go straight backwards in time.” Shen Si nodded, “Well, time rewind works better than anything else.”
Jian Nian looked at him helplessly, and then he sighed regretfully, “…Really.”
“What are you regretting?”
“Of course I’m sorry that you don’t need my protection, Shen Si.” Jian Nian voice with a little aggravation, “When I was a child, it was always you who protected me, so easily I became strong, to the point where I could protect others, but you also followed and became stronger, as if… You never needed anyone to stand next to you.”
Shen Si looked at Jian Nian, and after a moment he lowered his head, “It’s strange for you to regret this.”
“There is nothing strange, because I like you, I want to do more for you.” Jian Nian stated.
Shen Si looked at him and after a moment he spoke, “Even though I don’t need someone to protect me, it doesn’t mean that I don’t need anyone to stand beside me. I, for one, am still quite afraid of being lonely once in a while.”
Jian Nian froze for a moment, looked at Shen Si, but unfortunately at this time Shen Si had long turned away. Jian Nian reached out his hand, as if to catch Shen Si’s back through the air clenched his hand, leaving it like that in the air for a few seconds. Jian Nian smiled, withdrew his hand and walked in the opposite direction of Shen Si.
Obviously they were going backwards, but their hearts seemed to be closer.
Shen Si walked to the place where he and Li Yang separated before, but he couldn’t see Li Yang’s figure, only weeds everywhere. Shen Si stepped on the weeds and looked around, a wind blew over, the weeds made a rustling sound, but he still couldn’t tell where Li Yang went.
“Li Yang?” Shen Si shouted Li Yang’s name, “Hey, where are you?”
Unfortunately, there was no sound in the air except for the wind.
Shen Si looked at the ground, and just then he saw a piece of weed that seemed to have been trampled down, as if a person had been standing here for a long time, causing the blades of grass to be pressed down a bit.
Is this the direction?
Shen Si took a step, as he shouted the name of Li Yang while looking around, but he was also careful of the spikes that may be mixed in the weeds. Just then, Shen Si heard a little ho-ho sound.
It wasn’t like the wind blowing the grass or a skeleton rolling on the ground, it was more like a human making an air sound.
“Is that you, Li Yang?” Shen Si rushed to the sound of the place, just two steps out he stopped in his tracks, because he saw the grass scattered countless black spikes, stained with blood. Some of the spikes were still stuck to a little flesh, as if they were directly ripped out from the skin.
Shen Si rushed around the spikes and ran along the blood trail until he saw the pink petunia vine.
He walked over and reached out to yank the vine away.
The woman’s eyes were wide open, her pupils were constricted with fear, and she could only make a short breath in her throat. Shen Si looked down at her, and her skin was covered with black spikes, which were stuck in her bare skin, and there was no telling how many more there were inside her clothes.
As if seeing Shen Si, Li Yang’s eyes moved, she reached out her hand towards Shen Si, and after a moment she pointed in a direction. That direction was the white pillar of light that connected heaven and earth, and the white figure in the white pillar of light that had never interacted.
“Shen… Shen Si… you were… right.” Li Yang made a final sound, “To… live… get out of here.”
Li Yang’s hand hung loosely and smashed to the ground, blood wetting the ground. The petunia vines were spreading, a bunch of delicate petunia flowers bloomed from her mouth and slowly opened a crimson petunia flower, as if it had been dyed with blood.
Shen Si stood up and couldn’t speak. His mind was blank, and he didn’t even know what to think.
But… another person died.
Li Yang was not the dream master, so she died. Who will die next?
Was it Song Sheng, who was also not the dream master but was suspected?
Thinking of this, Shen Si froze for a moment, and then he hurriedly turned around and ran towards the front.
It must not be what he thought!