Translated by Addis of Exiled Rebels Scanlations
“Pottery? I could do pottery if needed, but why should I?” Shen Si tried to yank the corner of his coat out of the paper man’s hand.
The paper man’s face was glued on with white paper, black strips of paper made up its hair and eyes, and its clothes were also of flower-patterned paper. Looking at this paper man, Shen Si recalled the paper man at the funeral. When he received the news of Jian Nian’s death and took leave to go back, Jian Nian’s parents told him that they had already burned his remains, leaving only a cheap paper man they had bought lying around.
“Can you help me make a pottery vessel?” The paper man waved his white papiermaché hand, “It’s easy, come help me!”
Shen Si took two steps back, but the paper man tightly clung to his coat, being pulled along with his movements.
“Why do you want to make pottery?”
The paper man, who was not actually listening to Shen Si, continued to ask him to make pottery for it, and its voice gradually became calm in the beginning to shrill, repeatedly bellowing, causing Shen Si a headache.
“Are you afraid of fire? Let go of me.” Shen Si fished out the lighter he carried with him from the backpack on his back, and he clicked it on to light it.
The paper man should be afraid of fire. The paper man that was placed in the courtyard of Jian Nian’s house had also been ignited. Jian Nian’s parents seemed to be doing it just to keep up appearances, but then kicked him out immediately, even letting the rumor of him being an orphan spread more and more. His parents were dead, he had no blood relatives, his aunt’s family was gone, and even his only childhood friend/boyfriend had died of a disease.
Shen Si was completely rejected by the village.
At this time, a little spark from the lighter jumped to the paper man, and with a crackling sound, the paper man was instantly ignited. Shen Si was slightly stunned, he hastily yanked out the corner of his coat and took two steps back, while the paper man was burning up in the flames. It didn’t speak anymore, as if it had been thoroughly burned.
Shen Si was a little surprised to see the charred paper man. Slightly puzzled, he looked at the lighter in his hand, then put it in his pocket.
The paper man was burned up little by little, the flame became small as the paper was all used up. Shen Si also did not have the heart to stay, he turned away and walked around in the ceramic wall.
“Jiang Yi? Are you there?” Shen Si called out the girl’s name.
Right then, a small noise came from under the table next to him. Shen Si hurriedly walked towards the source of the sound, and when he looked closely, he saw a girl huddled under the table, hugging herself tightly. She was constantly trembling, trying to suppress her voice, but she couldn’t stop the sound of her teeth chattering out of fear.
“No!” Jiang Yi let out a shrill scream as she kept scooting inward, trying to hide further in, but she couldn’t retreat any further, because of the wall behind her.
Shen Si knelt down on one knee, he reached out his hand to try to calm the terrified Jiang Yi, “Don’t be afraid, I’m the guide who went up the mountain with you, I won’t hurt you. Don’t worry, look up at me.”
Jiang Yi trembled, then she slowly raised her head, her dyed wheat yellow hair was stuck to her face by her tears and sweat. Right now, Jiang Yi couldn’t be considered pretty. She took a horrified look, and after seeing the familiar white hair, she suddenly cried out.
“Mr. Shen! Save me!” Jiang Yi’s voice was a little hoarse from crying, “I’m so scared, I want to go home.”
Shen Si exhaled, “It’s okay, I’m the guide who brought you here, so, since I brought you here, I’ll definitely bring you back safely.”
“Mr. Shen, I know you!” Acting like she couldn’t hear Shen Si’s comforting words, she wiped a tear from her eye with her hand, then grabbed Shen Si’s sleeve with the same hand, “Please, you must get me out! I heard about you, that man said you were powerful! You are also good friends with three S-Rank Survivors, I will repay you, please, save me!”
Shen Si gave a slight pause, “I’m sorry, what are you talking about? I’m not a powerful person at all.”
“No! You must be!” Jiang Yi would no longer listen to any other words, she clutched Shen Si’s clothes tightly as if she was holding on to her last lifeline.
Shen Si looked at her, and after a moment he carefully took a step back, “Let’s put this matter aside for now, you come out from there first. It’s okay, there is no danger here, I will protect you.”
Once she heard that she had to go out, Jiang Yi was slightly reluctant, since this small space gave her a sense of security. She shrank under the table in confusion, and no matter what Shen Si said, she was not willing to get out.
“But if you stay under there, how are we going to get out of here?” Shen Si’s voice was calm, “Don’t you want to go home? The only way to go home is to leave here, right?”
Jiang Yi trembled and shook her head, she seemed to hear a minute-long sigh. Jiang Yi tremblingly looked up, she was afraid Shen Si would simply turn around and leave. Across the table, Shen Si was still on one knee, his dyed white hair dazzling, like it was glowing.
In that instant, Jiang Yi’s heart suddenly settled.
Shen Si was very strong, it didn’t matter how bizarre of a place this was, he must have a way to bring them out.
Jiang Yi moved her body out bit-by-bit, so when Shen Si saw her ready to come out, he stepped back. The girl got out from under the table, looked around in fear, and after making sure that there was really no one else around, she became relieved and her whole person relaxed.
She slowly lowered her hand, and there was a thud, like the sound of porcelain hitting a hard object.
Shen Si looked at her hand slightly surprised, “Your hand…”
“…Turned into ceramic.” Jiang Yi’s face was pale, curling up even after leaving the place under the table, “A paper man asked me to help it make pottery. I did half of it, but then fled in fear, and after two steps, I felt my hand becoming heavy, so when I checked, I realized that it had been turned into ceramic.”
“Is there still feeling?”
“No.” Jiang Yi looked at Shen Si in fear, “Mr. Shen, is my hand never going to change back?!”
Shen Si shook his head, “Don’t start jumping to conclusions, there are many Survivors out there, maybe one of them has a solution. But right now, let’s think about how to get out.”
“Okay.” Jiang Yi hurriedly nodded her head, she understood very well what state she was in now, plus, she completely believed Shen Si was a strong person, so she listened to whatever he said.
Shen Si pulled Jiang Yi up, they walked ahead along the wall. The wall was made of white ceramic with various floral patterns painted on it, so when Shen Si reached out and knocked around, it sounded exactly like knocking on a ceramic bowl. Jiang Yi faithfully followed behind Shen Si, not speaking at all, trying to reduce her presence lest she bothered Shen Si.
The sound of knocking on porcelain could consistently be heard. Jiang Yi only felt that these sounds knocked on her heart. Each subsequent one made her nervous and each time she jumped in surprise.
When the sounds ceased and Shen Si seemed to find the right spot, he stopped and started going through his backpack. Jiang Yi just stood next to him and gulped.
She didn’t know when it started, but she felt as if her surroundings were getting a little hot.
There was nothing in this strange space, only porcelain white ceramic walls and some messy tables. The whole space was dead silent, the only sound being Shen Si’s rummaging for stuff, Jiang Yi shivered a little, and couldn’t help but tug on her clothes to pull them tighter but they did not budge.
Jiang Yi’s body stiffened, she wore a long coat this time, reaching all the way under her knee, but it wasn’t so heavy that it couldn’t be pulled up.
It was like something was hanging on her clothes, and when she tried to pull it up, that thing would prevent her from doing so…
Jiang Yi lowered her head in horror, and the next moment she saw, hanging on the corner of her coat, a burnt paper man. The paper man raised his head, staring at her. Jiang Yi could see the paper man’s two large, dark eyes, the scene so much like something from a horror movie, that Jiang Yi’s head went blank.
She couldn’t even scream, just stand there stiffly and stare at the paper man.
A little spark along the paper man jumped to Jiang Yi’s clothes, the smell of something burning in the air. Jiang Yi finally reacted and tried to shake the paper man off, but the edge of her coat began to burn near Jiang Yi’s hands and feet. Shen Si pulled off her jacket and threw it away with the paper man.
Jiang Yi fell to the ground, she stared blankly at the burning jacket, unresponsive.
“Turned into fire?” As Shen Si watched the pile of burning clothes, the paper man walked out of the fire with his body engulfed in flames, and black pieces kept falling from his charred body.
“Mr. Shen!” Jiang Yi took two steps back, “What should we do?! It’s coming, it’s going to turn us both into ceramics!”
Shen Si pulled up Jiang Yi, “Let’s get out of here first!”
Pushing Jiang Yi out, Shen Si felt something heavy on the edge of his coat. A spark instantly ignited Shen Si’s coat, so he directly threw it away with the little paper man.
The lighter in his pocket dropped out and fell on the small paperman, the red casing of the lighter and the pitch black small paperman forming a sharp contrast.
Wait a minute… wouldn’t the lighter explode after heating?
“Run!” Shen Si reacted.
“Okay!” Jiang Yi hurriedly ran out, draggin her now ceramic hands, after that, her mind went blank, and she even felt that her whole being was in a very hard-to-define state. She could hear the voices behind her and she clearly knew what she needed to do, but her mind couldn’t control her body. What made her rush forward was the escape instinct.
Stumbling violently, Jiang Yi almost fell to the ground, reason instantly returning to her body, she gasped and subconsciously looked back.
The paperman was standing at the spot where the jacket was burning, reaching out his hand towards Shen Si, speaking in a crackling voice, “Can you help me make a pottery vessel?”
Shen Si stood in front of the paper man in silence, the distance between the two of them only one meter.
The image was eerie and unusual: a young man with white hair and a paperman that was burnt to a crisp, black residue constantly falling off his body, when suddenly, with a bang, an explosion sounded. Shen Si stretched out his hand, as if he wanted to grab something, but finally dropped it, then turned and ran towards Jiang Yi.
He was too composed… Whether he was facing something unexplainable or facing this almost insurmountable dilemma, Jiang Yi couldn’t understand how he could remain so calm.
Why wasn’t Shen Si afraid? Coming to such a terrible place with the possibility of being turned into ceramic and not being able to find a way to escape, a normal person would feel scared.
Or was it that, for Shen Si, this was nothing, and all she needed to do was trust him and she could leave?
At that moment, under extreme fear, Jiang Yi put all her hopes on Shen Si. In her eyes, Shen Si was the strongest person who could save her.