Author: 年终 / Nian Zhong
Translator: Kinky || https://kinkytranslations.com/
Chapter 73: Madness
After the gunshot, there was no blood.
The gun turned into a plume of green smoke, and countless colorful shadows shot out of Ge Tingting’s temples and jumped into the sky.
Among the colorful shadows, they could barely distinguish the headphones package, the hotpot signboard, Feng Qi’s figure, and the smiling faces of strange men and women. They exploded in the dark like an unusually grand firework.
But they didn’t fall.
The brilliant shadows floated slower in the air, and in the next moment, they collapsed and froze midair, turning into a yellowed family portrait. A group of people was depicted in the portrait: a middle-aged man and woman, each holding a daughter and an old man sat in the middle with a flowery smile on his face.
This was her most cherished memory.
Ge Tingting staggered and fell to the ground. The photo frame seemed to have lost its support and fell straight down—
In just an instant, runes of spells exploded, and circles of dark light swirled rapidly around her. Her eyes suddenly lost their spirit and instantly closed. On Ge Tingting’s wrist, strands of jet-black hair surged.
The black hair proliferated explosively, as if it had life. Tens of thousands of strands of hair were spread out and wrapped tightly around Ge Tingting, forming a pitch-black cocoon.
The photo frame was also tightly wrapped in the hair and placed by her side.
Yin Ren graciously withdrew his hand that was casting the spell.
Under the sleep spell, Ge Tingting had fallen into a deep sleep. Before her brain could react, her consciousness had already fallen completely into darkness.
Unstable consciousness would be affected by the environment, provided that “she was still conscious”.
Now that both she and her memory item were isolated by the evil hair, even if Fu Xingchuan himself arrived, he couldn’t break through such a line of defense.
Yin Ren controlled the spindle-shaped cocoon of hair, gently descending it. It fell to the ground like a feather.
“Shian is lucky. With this strength of will, she’ll become a powerful corpse servant,” Yin Ren said softly.
Huang Jin’s eyes were a little more fearful.
Yin Ren’s actions had gone beyond the scope of “special abilities” and “strange spells”. They were truly evil things, and they all knew that Shian wouldn’t let a real evil being become a field employee.
In addition to King Yama, who was concealing his identity, this pair of partners…
Before he could finish his thought, he felt a particularly strong gaze.
Huang Jin raised his head subconsciously and met Zhong Chengshuo’s meaningful eyes. Huang Jin adjusted his breathing for a moment, raised his hand, and made a zipper movement across his mouth.
‘Alright. I probably can’t keep this memory,’ Huang Jin thought sadly.
The electronic screen in front of the main teaching building lit up again.
Broadcast Guo Wei was sitting around a table, looking closer to death than last time. The pupils of those eyes were completely cloudy, and there was a suspicious bulge on his temples. The gloomy aura around him had grown heavier.
Through the screen, he stared at the three of them, as if organizing his words.
“Let me give you some advice, boy.” Yin Ren patted his hair cocoon and made a preemptive strike. His face was smiling, but his tone was as if it had been soaked in ice water. “When you make an agreement, the first thing you look at is whether there are any loopholes—this is one of the basic rules of common sense in the metaphysical world.”
“Choose one to exclude from the quota, play their best memories, and stay here.”
Yin Ren repeated the words.
“We did all that. Is there a problem?”
Guo Wei on the screen didn’t answer. His expression was a little distorted. The cocoon shook a few times, and the position of the portrait, which was hidden, slightly protruded. Guo Wei seemed to want to take it away, but he couldn’t.
He clenched the black ballpoint pen and looked at Yin Ren with an ugly expression; there was a vaguely crazy color in his eyes.
“Welcome to Qingjiang No. 16 High School. Welcome to the last day of my life.”
A few minutes later, Guo Wei spoke again with a hoarse and sinister tone.
“Teachers, family members, and faculty, you have three chances left. Please work hard to leave the school.”
He didn’t say anything else. When the voice ended, the screen fell into darkness.
“What do we do now?” Huang Jin worriedly glanced at the cocoon.
“The direction of destroying memories is right. Let’s continue to destroy secondary memories and see how the environment responds.” Zhong Chengshuo cracked his neck and shoulders without any worry on his face.
“Even if I make all my luggage into spirit bombs, it may not be enough.” There was a faint trace of worry between Huang Jin’s brows.
“Small matter.” Yin Ren let the cocoon float slightly. “I can make up for it with some ordinary spells. Let’s try it. Zhong Chengshuo, what’s next?”
“There may be phantom students in the female dorm who won’t move for the time being.” Zhong Chengshuo thought solemnly. “First destroy the women’s bathrooms that are ‘inaccessible’ and then the men’s bathrooms with unclear details to see the effect.”
Yin Ren: “……” Oh, the public bathroom.
Yin Ren: “…Then it’s better to have Huang Jin do it. He hasn’t used his spirit weapon yet, right?”
Huang Jin sighed and suddenly felt tired. “Okay.”
He weighed the cloth bag, which caused the spirit weapon to rattle.
At 2 in the morning, a burst of fire exploded in the darkness. The public bathrooms in the corner of the campus disappeared. After that, several cracks appeared in the barrier with pale spider legs embedded in them.
Next to the ruins of the bathroom, Zhong Chengshuo was tapping on the headset in his ear, as if waiting for something.”
“Sss*… Sss… Sss… Hey… Sss.” The noise of the headset was cutting in and out.
*Clarity: This is supposed to be static SFX.
Zhong Chengshuo made a quick gesture at the two of them and motioned for them to put on their headset.
“Special Investigation Unit 9, Zhong Chengshuo.” Zhong Chengshuo spoke in a clear voice at a gentle pace. “Calling Shian. Calling Shian.”
“Sss… Xiao Zhong? Sss… Keep… Talking…”
Soon, the static gradually weakened and Lu Xiaohe’s tired voice came over.
“…Manual calculation and navigation complete… Sss… signal band… determined…”
“Hey, are you alright?” Lu Xiaohe’s voice was hoarse.
“We’re all still alive.” Zhong Chengshuo frankly summarized.
“Haha,” Lu Xiaohe laughed weakly. “I’ve stabilized the communication, but the signal is a bit weak.”
“The testing equipment can’t keep up, so you need to be more careful. If you have any abnormalities, you must report them in time.”
“Nn.” Zhong Chengshuo showed a relieved expression.
“Next, Minister Fu will communicate with you… I’m taking a nap… Wake up again…” Lu Xiaohe’s voice was cut off before she finished speaking.
“Hey, hey, hey.” Fu Xingchuan’s voice also carried some fatigue, but compared to Lu Xiaohe’s, his fatigue carried other implications. “Your Lu Jie hasn’t rested for 34 hours, so be considerate.”
“If the situation isn’t urgent, report everything to me immediately in full.”
The group abandoned the miserable public bathrooms and returned to the faculty dormitory.
Yin Ren carefully placed the hair cocoon containing Ge Tingting on the bed. The night outside the window was like ink, and the incandescent lights in the room would flicker from time to time. This dorm wasn’t big, but the ceiling was high, giving a sense of depression like a deep well.
Zhong Chengshuo pulled over a chair and sat down, then began to talk to Shian.
In the next half hour, Yin Ren and Huang Jin fully witnessed King Yama’s ability to talk bullshit.
Zhong Chengshuo wasn’t good at communicating with people cordially, but his skill at covering up traces was perfect. The vision of what Yin Ren did was completely omitted, and Ge Tingting’s coma was summarized as “she was knocked out by Yin Ren immediately after losing her memory, and Huang Jin kept her in a coma using a spirit weapon”.
Comrade Xiao Zhong’s tone was extremely solemn and sincere. If it weren’t for Yin Ren being part of the team, he would almost be taken in by this kid.
Fortunately, Fu Xingchuan didn’t focus on the details.
“Well handled.” There was no usual arrogance in his tone. “You guys saw Guo Wei? How strange.”
“There’s never been such a situation before?” Yin Ren held down his headset and curiously interjected. “I don’t know if he’s a ghost, but I can’t think of other possibilities for the time being…”
At least a thousand years ago, things like ghosts were like mushrooms after the rain. No one knew where they would come from or how many varieties there were.
Lord Ghost King didn’t have an inquisitive spirit like Zhong Chengshuo—at that time, Yin Ren didn’t even know why there was day and night or why there was a sun and moon. If their existence was reasonable, he didn’t delve deeper.
Besides, if he encountered someone looking to pick a fight, he would just beat them up.
“The cause of the ghost is still unknown, but Guo Wei does fit the characteristics of a ghost.”
Fu Xingchuan’s voice was a bit vague. It sounded like he was smoking. He paused for a moment before continuing on.
“Ghosts awaken when they have experienced the painful process of death soberly and carried strong negative feelings at the time of their death. This is one of them.”
Fu Xingchuan’s tone was rarely solemn. “Second, this one’s death is widely known, whether through rumors or the news, so it wasn’t some ghost that just died quietly.”
Guo Wei’s situation was too standard. After Guo Laifu’s murders were widely reported, the Shian division in Qingjiang monitored the vicinity of the crime scene. However, after investigating for a long time, they didn’t find any traces of Guo Wei turning into a ghost.
Half a year later, the teenager’s file was collecting dust in the depths of all the data.
“We have never found this phenomenon. In the present situation, it’s difficult to define Guo Wei as a ghost… Haa, let me think about it. According to the science post, Guo Wei’s consciousness has parasitized Guo Laifu’s brain.”
“A consciousness that parasites someone’s mind.” Yin Ren harped on these words repeatedly.
“I understand the general situation. Today, we’ll send Unit 7 in for support. Pay attention to your sleep and make sure you’re awake.”
Fu Xingchuan didn’t wait for them to answer and ended the call.
Unfortunately, with things having come to this point, Lord Ghost King naturally wouldn’t be getting any rest.
Zhong Chengshuo had put on his nightcap again and was sleeping quietly beside Yin Ren. His expression was relaxed as before, as if he were lying in his own bedroom. Huang Jin, on the other hand, was tossing and turning frantically on the single bed. It could be seen that he was quite restless.
“Parasitic consciousness,” Yin Ren murmured silently as he lay flat beside Zhong Chengshuo.
In the narrow faculty dorm, the old clock ticked away. Yin Ren was lying in the middle of the room, but his consciousness covered almost the entire school—while Shian’s monitoring failed to keep up, his hair flowed repeatedly throughout the campus.
However, Guo Wei’s consciousness was tightly hidden, and Yin Ren still couldn’t find anything.
This was Guo Wei’s consciousness. As long as Guo Wei wanted, he could have let them go directly, but he induced them to escape instead, knowing they would destroy his memory. This didn’t seem like he was just fooling around with them for fun.
What was this thin child thinking?
Lu Xiaohe also slept restlessly.
Her head appeared to be filled with molten iron after 34 hours of high-intensity brain use. The messy theory and data were on a rampage, and the tension of manipulating the AI still lingered. In her dream, she and the monitor that had hands and feet were fighting each other for 300 rounds.
When she opened her eyes, it was 7 in the morning. She had slept intermittently for more than 5 hours, but her body was covered in cold sweat.
Lu Xiaohe rubbed his aching temples and picked out a “Early to bed, early to rise” t-shirt. She barely washed her face with cold water and went to the cafeteria to pour a cup of espresso.
However, when she returned to the office of Unit 9, it had already changed.
There was another temporary console next to her console, and a boy who looked like he had just graduated high school was sitting in front of it.
“Xiaohe Jie!” The boy held a breakfast biscuit as he waved to her carefully. “Unit 7 has entered the Archive. I just came here to work so we can be together.”
“Xiao Zhao.” Lu Xiaohe pressed her forehead.
Zhao Shiyan was the rear commander of Unit 7, which was specially assigned. This child was extremely sensitive to data, was a good gamer, and had skipped a few grades to finish college early. Shian took fancy to his reflexes and decisiveness and poached him with a high salary so they could cultivate him.
Xiao Zhao, Bao Linlin, and Wang Zhou were collectively referred to as the Iron Triangle of Bad Luck. As strong as these three’s abilities were, their luck was just as bad.
“Wait a minute.” Lu Xiaohe came back to her senses, and her voice trembled a bit. “Minister Fu isn’t asking you to go in to rescue, right?”
Unit 7 had indeed entered the Archive many times and was experienced, but Unit 9 was already unlucky enough as it was now. They really didn’t need to make things worse.
This was the group that, because of them, had changed the rules of the Archive. Last time, when Unit 7 entered the human mind, the host broke free from Shian’s heavy shackles and successfully jumped off a building, creating chaos.
Facing Lu Xiaohe’s unabashedly horrified gaze, Xiao Zhao frowned. “This is discrimination! Here, connect your communicator, and tell Minister Fu yourself—he’s been listening just now.”
Sure enough, Fu Xingchuan’s voice came from Xiao Zhao’s headset. “Well, on some metaphysical issues, fighting poison with poison is very effective… Not to mention, it takes three people to enter the Archive. I personally took two of Unit 7 in, so don’t worry.”
Lu Xiaohe: “……”
Gee, thanks, but your group is still 66% made up of Unit 7. She had to pay the highest respect to Minister Fu’s courage.
Xiao Zhao snorted. “We did well this time. Wang Ge just told me that they locked on to the general position of Unit 9—they found the rescue target in 5 hours. This is a new record!”
“That’s pretty good.” Lu Xiaohe sat down with a blank face.
She performed a simple operation and shared Unit 7’s communication channel. As soon as the gentle and pleasant connection sound ended, there was a scream in her headset, which sounded like a male’s voice.
Lu Xiaohe’s scalp almost exploded. “What’s wrong?!”
“It’s okay, Wang Zhou was scared.” The voice of ghost master Bao Linlin came from the headset. “Don’t worry. Minister Fu is with us. What can happen?”
A trace of pain gradually appeared on Lu Xiaohe’s face. In an obviously weak mental mind, it was really dangerous to say this kind of thing.
Or rather, should it be said this was truly worthy of Unit 7?
Lu Xiaohe took a deep breath. “Wang Zhou was scared?”
“Yes, we suggest you contact your team members quickly.” Bao Linlin’s voice became serious. “Xiao Lu, how did Unit 9 describe the school to you?”
“It’s a high school with a small area. The gate is a metal sliding door, and there’s an old security guard with a melted face at the security booth. Blocks of color resembling students can be seen on campus, and the tone for the class bell is a bit distorted… Almost like this.”
Lu Xiaohe transferred the investigation reports of her team members.
At any rate, Unit 7 was a B-level Investigation Group, so it was impossible they would be frightened by something of this level.
“What’s wrong? Has the school’s appearance changed?”
“…You can say that.” Bao Linlin sighed.
In the Archive.
Fu Xingchuan guarded the two members of Unit 7 behind him and looked at the “high school” in front of him.
They could vaguely see some elements that resembled a school.
The security booth and the metal sliding door were still there, but they were twisted like liquid and melted into the edge of the huge hemisphere. Crumpled school uniforms, rotten internal organs, rusty bicycles, damaged textbooks, and test papers densely form this weird hemisphere.
The hemisphere was clinging to a block, incompatible with the surrounding vague buildings, like a tumor growing out of the street.
Its surface was covered with deformed veins, faintly pulsating. These things didn’t completely cover the campus, as there were many gaps between them, but there was only darkness inside.
As a science post, Wang Zhou took the lead in approaching this weird “school”.
He leaned close to the edge of the hemisphere, trying to investigate the part of what he suspected was the security booth. Who would have thought that the twisted window of the security booth was suddenly torn open and a deformed face was ejected out, almost making close contact with Wang Zhou?
The face was like wax melting, and the facial features were completely misplaced, resembling a post-modern figure painting. The old man’s face was nearly flat, and his elongated neck was as slender as a flower stem.
“What are you doing here?” His mouth on the left side of his face opened and closed.
Wang Zhou was caught off guard and almost choked. When he recovered, he let out a scream.
Fu Xingchuan knocked on the headset and directly contacted Unit 9. “We’re at the entrance of the school, and we can’t get in for the time being.”
He stared at the weird face that was the size of an old wash basin and let out a chuckle.
“Unit 9, report your situation.”
At the same time, the members of Unit 9 stood in silence at the door to the facility dormitory, and no one answered.
As soon as it was half past 7, everyone went downstairs. After the door opened, the world turned upside down.
The calm campus had turned into a nightmare. The scene outside was truly hard to describe with just words…
At this moment, the bombed-out senior teaching building and public bathrooms were completely black with a faint void remaining. It was as if someone completely cut these two public buildings from a picture of a “school”. The phantoms of the senior high school students were walking around the campus in… a very less-than-energetic way.
Some were crawling and squirming, with their heads retracted into their bodies, while others only had half their bodies as they walked around on the ground on four feet. There were even a few figures melting into a ball with their disordered hands and feet waving aimlessly around.
Accompanied by bouncing test papers, books, and rulers, the group of phantoms staggered across the campus. Their posture was raw and hideous, a bit like the pedestrians in Guo Laifu’s consciousness.
Scotch tape was woven into cobwebs between the buildings, and the green fence on the playground was covered with dark red blood stains and snow-white correction fluid.
The pomegranate flowers in full bloom were mixed with fragments of internal organs, and blood would drip down the petals from time to time. The flowerbeds were set up with utility knives and compasses, and the words on the sign became “The grass is red. Trample on it at will.”
There were even parts of Guo Laifu on campus.
Guo Laifu’s body was covered with minced meat and internal organs. His face had a twisted smile plastered on it. Wearing bloody clothes, he was squatting in a remote corner of the campus.
Above the chaos, the sky was blue, and the sun was shining brightly.
In the frenzied scene, there were many “normal” students.
The students in the main teaching building talked and laughed amidst the chaos of hell. They carried fragrant breakfasts as if the scene around them were just part of their daily lives.
Yin Ren let the cocoon of hair holding Ge Tingting float behind him and quickly swept his gaze around.
He then saw Guo Wei again.
Guo Wei was still carrying two steamed buns and was walking towards the main teaching building with his head down. The twisted student phantoms would rub on his trousers. As if he had noticed something, his body would tremble slightly.
“Minister Fu, the campus has become a bit weird, but everyone is fine for the time being.” Seeing that Zhong Chengshuo was unusually focused on observing the current scene, Yin Ren took the initiative to report. “We’re going to continue the investigation and keep in touch.”
His hair carefully swam across the ground. Despite this, he still didn’t find the slightest abnormal aura.
It was like…
Witnessing the gradual madness of another consciousness.
The author has something to say:
“It’s a bit weird” by the 1,000-year-old Ghost King
Xiao Yin: Oh, if you only use magic, it’s easy to destroy buildings!
Xiao Zhong: I want to blow up the public bathroom.
Xiao Yin: Let’s go, Huang Jin!
For those who forgot who Unit 7 people are, they were the group that was initially assigned to find the corpse splitter in Arc 2, but due to their bad luck, Bao Linlin’s hang glider was shot down while Wang Zhou broke his legs trying to escape from the ghost master’s attack. Because both were hospitalized, Unit 6 took over the case in Ping’an Manor.
<<< || Table of Contents || >>>