Translated by Addis of Exiled Rebels Scanlations
Shen Si quickly ran forward, the weeds under his feet fluttering softly, making each step very slippery. At this point, Shen Si clearly felt being tripped by something, and he fell forward because of body inertia. In the moment of landing, Shen Si saw that the ground was dense with black thorns.
The clock appeared behind Shen Si and time rewound about five seconds back. Shen Si stopped in his tracks, carefully walked over with his feet kicking away the weeds, but he couldn’t find anything in the grass.
Just then, Shen Si turned his head to look at the pillar of light not far away. In that column, the white figure emerged, then revolved around the pillar of light, and finally scattered a handful of things in two directions. He was only out a few seconds, but immediately returned to the bright column.
Shen Si watched the white figure melt into the pillar of light, then he looked at the location, and sure enough, the place where he fell last time has been sprinkled with a large number of spikes.
Was this what Li Yang meant?
Those spikes were spilled by the white figure, and not everyone has the ability to rewind time with Shen Si, so after being pricked by needles, even if they were sensible like Li Yang to clean up the spikes on their bodies would not help; they would die in unwarranted fear and end up being wrapped in marionette vines.
Avoiding the spikes here, Shen Si took ten minutes to get to where Jian Nian and Song Sheng were. He ran over panting and pulled Jian Nian’s sleeve, so Jian Nian turned his head to look at him, and after a moment he shook his head.
“It’s too late.”
Shen Si’s breathing stalled, as he crossed over to Jian Nian to look ahead. It was a familiar sea of petunias, those brilliant flowers kept blooming, and a bloody petunia was sticking out from Song Sheng’s eyes in an extremely horroristic way. Shen Si didn’t pull away the petunia vine because he knew very well that the man was already dead.
“It was like this when I came over, but the body was still warm, so he should’ve just passed away.” Jian Nian judged the time of his death, and then asked as if he just noticed, “Shen Si, why are you here? Didn’t you go to look for Li Yang?”
Shen Si didn’t say anything.
“She too?” Jian Nian pointed at Song Sheng, “The same as this person?”
Nodding casually, Shen Si sighed, “Li Yang died, full of thorns in the petunia vine. When I saw something emerging from the pillar of light, scattering something towards here, I felt something was wrong and rushed over… I didn’t expect…”
“So these thorns were thrown by the guy in the pillar of light?” Jian Nian looked up at the distant pillar of light, and after a moment he frowned slightly, “But we still don’t know exactly who the dream master is, because the playfield will not let the dream master die. But every time we find a suspected person, that person dies, it’s like…”
It was like telling them that the person was not the dream master.
Jian Nian put one hand on his chin, and said with a little helplessness in his voice, “What a nasty to the core playfield this is.”
If a person with a strong sense of morality encountered this kind of thing would probably blame themselves, because other people died caused by their suspicion. These playfields always liked to play this kind of psychological game, so that people couldn’t be defended. Fortunately, only Shen Si and him were here.
They never felt self-blame for it.
“But we can’t stop guessing, we have to keep going if we want to find the dream master.” Shen Si frowned slightly, “But once you guess wrong, people will die. Wouldn’t that be the same as forcing someone to kill? It’s really too strange.”
Jian Nian was equally silent as he glanced at Shen Si and sighed silently in his heart.
Although he didn’t care very much about the death of others, Shen Si was different. Shen Si had never hurt others, and wouldn’t casually ignore the death of others, and he really didn’t want Shen Si to carry the psychological burden of suspected of killing others. This playfield was simply messing with people’s minds.
When Jian Nian was thinking about a way, a scream rang out abruptly. Shen Si and Jian Nian hurriedly ran towards the place where the sound came from.
As the two of them passed, most of the people who heard the sound came over.
There was a sea of petunias, and in the middle of the sea of flowers, a hand was stretched out, pierced with thorns, and a ruddy petunia was twisted and blooming around his fingertips.
The man crouched on the ground next to him kept screaming, he was staring at the sea of flowers, constantly screaming. Dr. Xin was holding the man down with the others to prevent him from hurting himself because he was too frightened, and Shen Si and Jian Nian went over to help, followed by Dr. Xin pulling out a row of small black thorns from the man’s arm.
The moment the thorns were pulled out, the man seemed to calm down a bit, his mouth opened wide, and the panic on his face eased a little, but his body was still trembling.
It seemed that the fear brought to him by those thorns wouldn’t subside in a short time.
Dr. Xin soothed him until the man’s pupils gradually returned to their original state, and although his breathing was still a bit rapid, it was at least somewhat normal.
“…Thank you, doctor.” The man spoke in a small voice to thank him.
Dr. Xin nodded, and then he judged that the man could bear enough before asking, “No thanks necessary. If you want to thank me, tell me, what just happened? I remember you arrived here with your companion. Was it an accident?”
The man’s face was pale, and only after a moment did he speak, “Those spikes, they came from the sky.”
“The sky?” Dr. Xin looked at the sky, before lowering his head in a somewhat strange manner, “And then?”
“He and I were just talking, guessing who exactly the dreamer was.” The man was a little less bold to say the name of the dead man, and could only use ‘he’ instead. His hands were constantly trembling, as the terror was still taking effect in his body, “He told me something, saying that maybe he himself was the dream master, and I believed it then. Then the spikes suddenly appeared from the sky, and he was quickly pierced. I tried to save him, that’s why my body was…”
Dr. Xin nodded as he reassured the man again before looking at Shen Si and Jian Nian who were standing next to him, “Have you seen Li Yang and the other one named Song Sheng? I remember they usually always arrive quickly.”
“Dead.” Jian Nian replied flatly, “The same way they died.”
Dr. Xin froze for a moment, he looked at Shen Si slightly confused, and only after Shen Si nodded did he seem to react.
“It’s likely that if we suspect that someone is the dream master, but the guess is wrong, that person will die.” Shen Si frowned slightly.
The trembling man sat up, looked at Shen Si in horror, then shouted in a broken voice, “You mean he died all because I believed his words and believed he was the dream master? Are you saying that I killed him?!”
“I didn’t say that.” Shen Si froze for a moment.
“But that’s what you think!” The man cried and held his head, the extreme panic from the spikes confusing his whole brain, “I wouldn’t kill anyone! It’s not my business if that man died, I just believed his words! No, not me!”
Dr. Xin hurriedly gestured to the others to hold the man down, and finally, under fear and exhaustion, the man finally fell asleep, and Dr. Xin was relieved.
He sat on the ground and wiped the sweat from his forehead, with a little tiredness in his voice, “This is an ordinary person, and it’s also his first time to be involved in a playfield. His extreme panic made him paranoid, so he subconsciously thought that you were accusing him. He probably convinced himself in his mind that you thought he was a murderer. So don’t mind him.”
“I won’t mind this.” Shen Si shook his head, “I only care about one thing. He said that the thorns came from the sky.”
Following Shen Si’s line of sight, Dr. Xin looked at the pillar of light connecting heaven and earth not far away, and only after a moment did he speak, “Do you think it’s the figure inside?”
“It probably can’t be anything else.” Shen Si plucked blades of grass from the ground, “But if we continue like this, we probably won’t be able to find the dream master.”
“Because a wrong guess will lead to the other person’s death?” Dr. Xini scratched his hair helplessly, with annoyance in his eyes, “That’s such a headache.”
But there was nothing that could be done.
The man who had fallen asleep in terror woke up a few hours later and ended his life because of his intolerable fear, full of fear that simply couldn’t be vented because he didn’t even know the other person he was afraid of, and all those spikes gave him was fear itself.
This was followed by a long period of decadence. Shen Si didn’t know exactly how long had passed, or rather he was no longer in the mood to pay attention to how long had passed.
Under the anxiety of not being able to leave and the death of people around them, the Survivors were accusing each other of suspicion, with the consequence that every Survivor who didn’t guess was dying one by one, and in a very short time, the Survivors were almost all dead, surrounded by a sea of marionettes.
But the owner of the dream hasn’t been found.
Dr. Xin stood in the grass and looked at the few petunias in silence with a vague sadness in his eyes.
“I’m a doctor, so I’m used to seeing life and death, and I’ve personally saved many people, but I’ve never seen anything like this.” Xin Tianxiang looked at those petunias, “Forcing people into a desperate situation, watching people in distress die in despair, such a thing I have never even thought of. It’s just too much.”
Shen Si stood by as he looked at Xin Tian Xiang, “So, as I said, the playfields are something that shouldn’t exist.”
“What are you guys talking about? It’s painful? No, that’s what’s good!” One of the few remaining Survivors amplified his voice and shouted, “Survivors are the only ones left, so it’s getting easier and easier to pull the dream master out from inside. Soon… soon everyone will be able to leave!”
The man kept laughing, but Shen Si and Xin Tian Xiang still saw the fear deep inside him.
There were some people who could turn fear into power, and their subconscious action when their mind went blank was to fight out, which was a normal thing.
And he, for one, was in that category.
The deaths continued, this time not just Survivors, but even the ordinary people were stabbed by a spike from nowhere and then died in fear. Dr. Xin at first would go to help, trying to calmly reassure the person who was terrified after being stabbed, but finally he could no longer force himself to reassure others.
“If this continues, we will all die, right?” Xin Tian Xiang’s voice tinged with a little self-deprecation, “We can’t even find who the owner of the dream is now, let alone in the second stage after the owner of the dream is awakened. I remember the last playfield, two-thirds of the people died in the second stage. But look at us…” Xin Tian Xiang pointed to the people around him, “We are close to total annihilation even before the dream’s master was found.”
Shen Si sat on the ground with his head down, as he listened quietly to Xin Tian Xiang’s words before finally speaking, “If there’s still one person alive, then it’s not a total annihilation.”
“Don’t end up with only the dream master alive, then it’s no different from total annihilation.”
“There will be no such thing, I have confidence in myself and Jian Nian.”
Xin Tian Xiang looked at Shen Si, after a moment he smiled bitterly, “Is that so? Then I really have to congratulate you guys.”
Just when Shen Si was about to say something else, the prop for communication with the outside world rang. Shen Si stood up and connected, then Xia LeYu’s voice came from inside, “Shen Si, how are you doing inside?”
“Not good.” Shen Si frowned slightly, “What’s going on at your end? It’s noisy.”
Not just the sound of shouting, but the sound of various objects colliding together, and even the cries of some people could be heard. These sounds were entwined together in a terrifying way, as if the opposite side was not a quiet and peaceful reality but a hell, Xia LeYu was silent for a while, then spoke.
“There’s something going on outside.”
“A day and a night have passed since you entered the playfield, and none of the playfields that have opened so far have ended, and… flowers are blooming on the ground.”
Shen Si’s hand stiffened for a moment, “Flowers?”
“It’s the flowers from the spiritual playfield. Those flowers bloomed in reality, and for a moment the whole world was in chaos.” Xia LeYu’s voice was tired and slightly sad, “Even if we have developed that herbicide in large quantities before, those amounts aren’t helpful to such a large scale of flowers. The professionals are working overtime to catch up with the amount, but…”
Xia LeYu paused for a moment before he continued, “But we can’t help you first for the time being, the number of people involved in the real world has been so large that it’s amazing. There are already Survivors affected by the flowers running into the street and hurting people.”
This is the first time since Xia LeYu grew up that he has seen such a chaotic city.
The ground was constantly popping up with bright flowers, and some other flowers, and Xia LeYu recognized that these flowers were the symbolic flowers of each of the three major spiritual playfields. Those flowers were tangled together, swaying in the wind, even climbing up to the rooftops of buildings.
There were people everywhere who were affected, and chaos unlike any other was raging.
“I received the order to withdraw, because I am worried about you so I haven’t left yet. You should be careful, if there is a special situation you can contact me again.” Xia LeYu spoke, “I will give you guys help in the best possible situation, so… come out alive.”
After that Xia LeYu hung up the communicator, and the noisy voices came to an abrupt end.
Jian Nian stood next to Shen Si, his hands in his pockets, with a little subtlety in his voice, “It looks like the situation outside is even more complicated than inside.”
“Only a few people have entered the playfields, but that’s a huge crowd outside.” Dr. Xin shook his head, “Originally I thought just going out was the best thing, but I didn’t think it would be as hot as it is here, so there doesn’t seem to be much difference between going out and not going out.”
Shen Si looked at Dr. Xin, “Dr. Xin, don’t give up.”
“Don’t give up? Don’t give up on getting out of here?”
“Don’t think so easily that the outside world is just over.” Shen Si looked at Xin Tianxiang, “I never believe in the so-called predetermined future, and hate predetermined fate even more; the future is not so easily written in stone.”
Xin Tianxiang frowned slightly, “Then do you have any way to change it?”
“Not yet.” Shen Si shook his head, “But I don’t intend to give up.”
“Since not yet then don’t say anything big.” Dr. Xin, contrary to his calmness at the beginning, looked particularly agitated, “Your power is so strong that you can even rewind time, but even rewinding time can’t stop the assimilation of the real world and the unlimited flow world. What else can be done?
Jian Nian blocked in front of Shen Si, “Hey, what are you doing? Why are you blaming Shen Si who didn’t give up when you gave up yourself?”
“It’s hard to harbor impossible hopes like this.” Xin Tianxiang stated.
“Of course I know it’s hard, but it’s what Shen Si wants to do, so of course I’ll support him.” Jian Nian rightfully countered, “I think he’s right about everything.”
Yes, it could be hard to harbor hopes that you couldn’t get.
Like the cognitive dummy who tore himself apart and followed Shen Si out of the playfield, but even when he came to the real world he still perished. Trying to break the established rules wasn’t that simple, even if it was a dead end. Shen Si silently lowered his head, and there was no emotion in his eyes.
Very hard, very lonely, very painful.
Xin Tianxiang turned to leave, and in fact, most of the people around have gone. They feared death, and felt that staying here wouldn’t help and could only bring despair. Now, with Xin Tian Xiang also gone, only Shen Si and Jian Nian were left, and that white pillar of light with no movement, as if it was dead.
“It’s okay, I’ve always believed in Shen Si,” Jian Nian stood next to Shen Si, “I believe in Shen Si’s choice, your aversion to fate, but also believe that you will find a way to change fate. “
“The way to change fate?” Shen Si looked at Jian Nian, and after a moment he smiled a little, “Really?”
“But our task now is to find the dreamer and leave this playfield,” Shen Si stated, “So let’s sort out the current information first.”
Jian Nian nodded, “Those who have died are ruled out, the playfield doesn’t let the dream master die.”
“This dream master is a Survivor, because there are signs of unlimited flow world around. He loathes plants, has a fear of thorns. You have seen the image of the hand being stuck by them, so the hand may have left marks, as well as those unknown skeletons which hadn’t moved. Is we assume someone to be the dream owner, once we guess wrong that person will die.” Shen Si made a summary.
Jian Nian nodded and added, “Xia LeYu told us that someone who made the wrong move would probably be the dream master. thinking that the playfield was vaguely controlling the dream master’s mind.”
It was like when Jian Nian was provoked and wasn’t retaliating but smiled and said it was okay instead, and by analogy, like if Shen Si couldn’t avoid a disaster but surprisingly didn’t use his time pause and time rewind. This level of wrong.
Suddenly, Jian Nian froze and he turned his head to look at Shen Si.
“Hmm?” Shen Si looked at him, “What’s wrong?”
Jian Nian stared at Shen Si, and suddenly, a very horrible thought flooded into his heart.
This thought made Jian Nian’s whole brain tumble, and he trembled as he tried to speak, but he was afraid that his guess was wrong.
“He Xin said something when I went to the Inspection Unit to do my experiments.” Jian Nian almost pressed his throat to open his mouth, his voice breaking with a little something not quite right, “He Xin said that you had not many thoughts after getting the time ability, only one. Which was to rewind time to before the playfield opened after one was unlucky enough to enter, and then get out from the playfield.”
Jian Nian looked at Shen Si, “Before when you entered the playfield, you had a clear purpose, such as wanting to strengthen your ability to see the other timelines, or to take back my temperature perception. But this time? Why didn’t you rewind time and leave this playfield?”
Shen Si froze for a moment. He wanted to speak but didn’t know how to answer, and finally settled on a very bewildered expression.
…Why didn’t he rewind time and leave the playfield?
“Shen Si… is it you who’s dreaming?” Jian Nian asked in a small voice.
Shen Si subconsciously took two steps back, after his backward movement, the whole playfield began to change. The thick and lush lawn was withering, then began to burn, black weeds became black walls, the blaze seemed to be the only red inside. Just then, countless flowers began to grow from his feet, and those unknown flowers spread and climbed up.
“Shen Si?!” Jian Nian rushed up, but the next instant he was blocked by countless skeletons.
Those standby motionless skeletons kept crawling over, and those white glittering arms buried Shen Si. The sound of clacking kept ringing as Shen Si was instantly buried, and that white light column went out, and the white figure floated over, looking like they were squeezing into Shen Si’s body.
Shen Si struggled, and it was the first time Jian Nian saw Shen Si’s frightened look. He reached out towards Jian Nian, his mouth shouting his name, “Jian Nian!”
Save him now!
Jian Nian was filled with this thought as he rushed into the clustered flowers and spiky skeletons in an attempt to rip Shen Si out, but to no avail. He was flung straight out by an unseen impact. The flames on the ground went out, the lawn turned to scorched earth, and only the graveyard of flowers and skeletons remained where Shen Si was standing.
Releasing the devouring beast directly from his body, Jian Nian picked up the communicator from the ground that was previously thrown down by Shen Si, and he quickly dialed Xia LeYu’s phone.
“Xia LeYu, pick up!”
The good thing was that Xia LeYu hadn’t returned to the Special Unit base yet, so he quickly received the communication.
“This is Xia LeYu. Shen Si?”
“Xia LeYu!” Jian Nian almost hissed out, “The dream master is Shen Si!”
“What did you say?!” Xia LeYu jerked up and then hit the top of the car, he covered his head and crouched on the ground, but had no time to care about his aching forehead, “Shen Si is the dream master? The dream master is not a Survivor? Didn’t you say that the dream master hated plants?!”
“…What should I do?” Jian Nian sat on his knees and looked at the flower tomb in front of him where Shen Si’s figure disappeared, “How can I save him?”