This was a town that had seen better days.
Through the run-down, collapsing buildings reminiscent of European architecture in the Middle Ages that dotted the landscape, an icy gale from the wasteland beyond blew like a silent wail of despair.
In a sense, this place was completely ”dead ”.
Bai Zhi did not head toward the dangerous alleys that led to the Auction House, but instead, once he was out of the compound, found a ruin that could have once been a house and retrieved the Shadowland Perpetual Deed from his Inventory.
While other Players typically could not stay longer than one hour, Bai Zhi was exempt from this time limit, because he possessed the Shadowland Pass.
In theory, he could stay here for as long as he wanted.
”…As I thought, the Deed gives me ownership over some part of this land… ”
As soon as the Deed was in his hands, Bai Zhi felt a subtle connection with the earth beneath his feet.
It was a very faint sensation that could be easily overlooked if he wasn ’t paying attention.
He closed his eyes and allowed the new sensation to guide his feet.
As he approached a seemingly ordinary wall, the Deed in his hand emitted thin tendrils of black smoke that quickly enveloped his whole body.
When Bai Zhi opened his eyes again, he found himself in a familiar place.
A dim light flickered above his head while everything past a certain distance was shrouded in somber darkness—this was the same eerie corridor he had been transported to once before.
After taking stock of his surroundings, Bai Zhi glanced at the Deed in his hand again.
He was not surprised to find that the single Shadow Crystal recorded there was no more, presumably consumed in the process of transporting himself here.
Bai Zhi proceeded along the corridor, which did not simply continue along a straight path, but turned corner after corner.
After the third corner, he finally arrived at what looked like a break room.
Inside, laid neatly out on the floor, were fifteen marionettes.
Bai Zhi made a beeline for the table in the break room with a puzzled look on his face, paying the marionettes no heed for the moment.
He had noticed a newfound ability to read the alien lettering on some old, tattered flyers scattered across the table, which he presumed was a side effect of the Deed granting him ownership over this domain.
”…Haunted House? ”
Haunted houses were a common attraction in large carnivals, but Bai Zhi had not seen anything like that in the world since his transmigration.
Does that mean I escaped this Haunted House last time by going through the entrance? …As expected of me.
Returning to where the marionettes were placed, Bai Zhi made a face as he placed each one of these life-like figures into his Inventory.
Whatever the little boy had planned to do with the fifteen people when he brought them into the haunted house and turned them into marionette, none of that mattered to Bai Zhi.
Perhaps he just wanted to make them citizens of his domain…
Damn it, I can ’t stay any longer.
Glancing at his Constitution attribute, which had been steadily dropping since he entered the space and was now at critical levels, Bai Zhi shook his head ruefully and made the snap decision to return to the real world.
Including the time he had spent at the Black Market, Bai Zhi had been away for about ten minutes.
So, by the time he returned to the real world, the other students he had come to the hospital with had long since left, returning the place to a state of quiet serenity.
I should avoid going there if I can help it…
At least, until I have the Constitution to handle the strain.
No wonder other Players only stay for an hour at the most. ”
He studied his face in the mirror, turning his head left and right as he observed his pallid complexion.
Unable to do anything about it for now, he turned his attention to the fifteen marionettes in his Inventory.
As he took them out one by one, he couldn
’t help noting the incredible craftsmanship.
The level of detail was exquisite and the expressions of horror captured on their faces were unbelievably realistic—but of course, since they were made from real people.
Bai Zhi glanced at the unconscious students in the ward.
Sunlight was streaming in through the windows, and as he lifted the marionettes in his hands, they were quickly dissolved by the warm beams.
Dusting his hands off, Bai Zhi turned to the basket of fruits, intending to pocket a few more as a reward for his contributions.
Seriously, what was the logic in bringing gift baskets to the comatose? They should have followed my example and brought flowers.
That is, wildflowers freshly ripped from the roadside.
Bai Zhi reached a hand for the apples, but was suddenly interrupted by the door flying open, revealing a young girl with waist-length hair tied up in a ponytail standing in the doorway.
The girl who had stormed in looked vaguely familiar, but before Bai Zhi could recover any relevant information from his memories, she chastised him.
”You! You ’ve gone from bad to worse since I last saw you! How dare you steal the gifts meant for the patients? ”
”Hey, watch what you
I chipped in to pay for them too, ” Bai Zhi replied calmly with half-lidded eyes, having identified the person before him.
Without another word, he turned to leave, clearly uninterested in any further conversation with her.
No good would come of it, anyway, since the woman who had appeared before him with an inexplicably hostile attitude was, technically speaking, ”his ” third ex-girlfriend.
Bai Zhi had no intention of suffering for that other scumbag ’s crimes.
Women! I ’ve always said they ’re nothing but trouble.
This scumbag is just as incorrigible as ever!
An infuriated Mu QianSe ground her teeth and stared at Bai Zhi with blazing eyes while he sailed past her as if she wasn ’t even there.
About ten minutes earlier, she had sensed a ripple of Spiritual Energy, and fearing that a supernatural entity attack was imminent, had gone on full alert.
Despite her efforts, she had not found the source of the disturbance, but instead run into the person she hated most in the world—her so-called ex-boyfriend.
If asked for comment, Mu QianSe might concede that Bai Zhi was good-looking, but was possessed of no other qualities whatsoever.
He had given her nothing, except the most traumatic experience of her life.
And now, she had clearly caught him in the act of stealing the fruit that the students had brought as get-well-soon gifts for their friends, the patients! His pale, sunken look obviously indicated that he had just spent another sleepless night playing video games, and the way he had brushed her aside despite being caught red-handed only proved the depths of his shamelessness.
How in the world did this rake ever seduce the campus belle…
Or is it that simply being handsome gives someone carte blanche*?
She recalled the recent hubbub about the budding relationship between this scumbag and the campus belle with a shudder.
No way, I have to find a time to talk some sense into that girl! I ’ll never let her be fooled by that pretty face, like I was…
*Comes from French for ”blank paper ”, used to refer to someone who is free to do or say whatever they please.
POV: You entered the break room
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