When they arrived home, it was already 6:30 PM.
The madam and the younger son had already finished their supper, but when the madam asked Su Xiaoqian to bring some dinner over for her older son, she also didn’t forget her loving husband. She especially didn’t touch half of the dishes for her husband, particularly the small rats dipped in sauce that he really loved to eat. Furthermore, when the master was not there with her to enjoy the meal, she was not even tempted to touch her chopsticks and take some of his, only devotedly waiting for him to eat his share.
Despite it being the autumn season, the food was still hot the moment the master had arrived. And after finishing his dinner, he went up to his study to read a book, just like yesterday.
After the master’s departure, Li Hao and the others all gathered into a room and asked, his voice full of uncertainty, “What happened to Liu Kui? How come only the two of you had returned? Where did he go?”
“Liu Kui, he…Liu Kui is dead.” Recalling Liu Kui’s dead and decapitated corpse, Lu Tianyi couldn’t help but choke up from the gory memory. His throat inadvertently closed up as he told everyone with great difficulty, “It was because I couldn’t help him that he was violently killed by the master.”
Lu Tianyi’s emotions were understandably in a stir, so Bai Yan graciously explained to everyone what had happened on behalf of Lu Tianyi.
One by one, everyone’s hearts fell after hearing this tragic story. Yesterday, no one died. They thought that they could peacefully survive the seven days if everyone were careful, but Liu Kui’s untimely death was like a painful slap to the face for all of them, letting them know that people would never be truly safe inside the game.
“By the way, there is one more thing we need to tell you. Lu Tianyi and I heard a lot of information about this family at the club. They all said that the youngest son of this family died a few years ago. An Qing, today, when you went into the young master’s room to tell stories, did you perhaps find anything strange?” Bai Yan asked.
“No, he still gave me a book for me to read like last time and the story was also the same as yesterday.” An Qing shook her head disappointingly, “So, we can already conclude at this point that the master and the youngest son of this family must be ghosts?”
“Well, except for the eldest son trapped in the cellar, the other three should be ghosts.” Bai Yan said, “Last night, I encountered the door-knocking ghost from the book. Its fingertips were sharp, and in the villa, only the madam’s fingers were like this. Furthermore, its hands felt thin and delicate, which were like the hands of a woman.”
“Sure enough, this family is filled with ghosts! I don’t think we have to guess anymore, the eldest son must be a ghost too!” Su Xiaoqian said, her voice full of bitterness, “Today, the eldest son still shouted a lot of nonsense, but honestly, I think he’s just pretending to act like this. His parents as well as his little brother have already turned into ghosts, so there’s no reason for him to still be alive!”
“Not necessarily. All these anomalies started happening half a year ago. Whether it be the husband and wife starting to love eating rotten food or the master’s personality changing drastically, it all happened only half a year ago.” Bai Yan organized his train of thought and said, “I have a theory. The club people said that the master used to love charity and was a cat and dog person. His wife was also kind-hearted and often donated money and goods to the welfare centers. Additionally, their eldest son was also a talented student in terms of art at his school. So if this is the case——half a year ago, as the youngest son returned home, he suddenly died out of nowhere… Then, this family started sprouting drastic changes, which may have led to who they are today?”
Bai Yan’s words caused everyone to think the situation over. Together with the clues that they have gathered so far, this theory made sense.
However, even if they knew all of this right now, they were still helpless. And even if they knew who the ghosts were, they had no other choice but to stay in the villa and obediently listen to the group of ghosts.
The people discussed it over again and left the room with grave expressions painfully etched on their faces.
The whole time, Zhu Fugui had been absent-minded while listening half-heartedly, frequently looking over at Bai Yan.
As expected, after their discussion had ended, Zhu Fugui pulled Bai Yan aside as if he had something on his mind, making Bai Yan feel rather down.
What gave him the illusion that I was a kindhearted person that liked meddling in other people’s business?
Despite saying that in his heart, he still needed to know about other people’s troubles.
The survival of the villa staff was directly related to his workload as a butler. When Liu Kui died, he had to temporarily take over as the driver. Zhu Fugui was in a dark state of mind right now and if he died in vain, it would be him who would be handling the dead mice tomorrow!
So, even knowing that he was not a suitable mental trash bin where one could dump his thoughts and worries, Bai Yan warmly patted Zhu Fugui’s shoulder and softly asked him, “What’s wrong?”
“Brother, I don’t know how to explain.” Zhu Fugui’s voice trembled as he spat the words out, making Bai Yan take this a little more seriously.
“Don’t worry and just talk slowly.”
“I… I was preparing the madam’s meal during noon, and when she had finished eating, she called for me and ordered me to contact the delivery company because she owed the delivery company a sum of money. After that, the madam had left me a series of calls that were about the number I should contact and as I returned to the kitchen, I tried to call the number using my phone.”
Speaking of which, Bai Yan noticed that Zhu Fugui’s shoulders were stiff and there was sweat pouring from all parts of his body, seeping out of his slightly damp clothes.
“Lao Zhu, what are you afraid of? What was the problem when you called?” Because Zhu Fugui stopped here and didn’t continue, Bai Yan might as well pat his back to comfort him, slightly urging him to continue.
As he was getting to the part of the phone, Zhu Fugui’s face suddenly turned a sickly ash-gray color, “I went back to the kitchen and called the number, telling them that we would be paying them back. But as a result, this person… This person was extremely frightening! I was so scared that I could barely move…This person’s voice was so terrifying!”
“His voice is terrifying? What did he say?” Bai Yan asked intently.
“He, he said…he said, ‘I(1), will, find, you, tonight!'”
- The person used 我 (wo), instead of 俺 (an).
Zhu Fugui didn’t speak Mandarin(2), but the strange thing was that he remembered every single word clearly from that phone call. He accurately repeated the words on the other end of the phone, his face filling with absolute panic while trembling nonstop, “He said that he’ll come and find me tonight!”
- Zhu Fugui has been using a Northern Chinese dialect while everyone has been using Mandarin Chinese. Although the words they use are mostly the same, there are some variations when he’s talking, like instead of using 我 (wo) to refer to himself, he uses 俺 (an).
“After that, I was so scared but I still went to the madam. The madam ordered me to wait by the villa’s gate at midnight and someone from the delivery company will come and collect the payment. To think that the madam didn’t even give me a single cent to hand over! Are they really going here to collect the payment in the middle of the night?”
When Zhu Fugui finally stammered out the last few words of his story, Bai Yan realized that this wasn’t just a small matter.
To minimize the risk, he promptly called Lu Tianyi over to the conversation and got him on the same boat.
During their time at the club, Bai Yan found out that Lu Tianyi had a strong sense of justice. Because his other teammates tragically died too, he loved to meddle in other people’s business, hoping that it wouldn’t happen again.
Personally, Bai Yan liked nosy people the most. For one, he didn’t need to worry about being stabbed in the back by this kind of person. Secondly, if someone had encountered a bit of trouble, this person would surely help them. Although Bai Yan has been troubled by Wang Ze’s sudden death until now, he had to admit that it was the best to use compassionate people.
Zhu Fugui couldn’t stop shaking from fear as he tried to retell the story again. Fearing that Zhu Fugui would stop breathing, Bai Yan informed Lu Tianyi of what Zhu Fugui had told him before.
After listening to what happened, Lu Tianyi frowned instantly, “Earlier when we were having a group discussion, why didn’t you say anything?”
“Someone already died today. I was afraid if I had told everyone about this, they would even be more depressed.” Zhu Fugui said, convinced by his thoughts, “Plus, the room had young women in it. Wouldn’t they have trouble sleeping if they knew about this?
“You can’t do this. It doesn’t benefit anyone if you hold back on this kind of problem.” Lu Tianyi had trouble letting out harsher words. Seeing that Zhu Fugui was frightened by this, he let out a sigh, “Someone could die from this if you didn’t inform us beforehand. In the future, don’t hide anything from us. Everyone can share their opinions or advice and can even help you shoulder the burden.”
“I, I know.” Zhu Fugui sullenly nodded his head and said anxiously, “Brother, please help me out, what should I do for tonight? Should I go or should I not?”
If he didn’t go, it would result in immediate termination by the madam. But if he did go… to settle the debt at midnight, with the madam not giving him a single cent, anyone would easily see that there was something wrong in this situation.
In the rules of the game, the servants were required to complete all of the villa owner’s tasks. Even if they knew that the task will lead them to death, they still must go and try. Lu Tianyi couldn’t think of a way out of Zhu Fugui’s quest. Fortunately for them, the delivery man, who brought the cat, dog, and mouse meat, would come to the villa tonight. Lu Tianyi had firmly decided to ask the driver about it, maybe they could ask the driver and gather more clues.
To not miss the delivery, the three restlessly sat on the steps of the villa’s front door, slowly passing the time by casually chatting and comforting Old Zhu.
Soon, it was already eight o’clock and the delivery truck arrived right on time, parking in front of the villa’s gates.
As the others unloaded the goods, Bai Yan, who had talked to the driver the night before, slowly approached the strong dark-skinned man and asked, “Brother, my friend called your company using his phone and said he would pay the owed sum. The people from your company said that they would come find my friend tonight and our madam had also asked him to wait here at midnight. It’s nothing to be concerned about right?”
“Using his cell phone?” The dark-skinned man eerily revealed his set of pearly white teeth, saying aloud, “Your friend can’t be saved. Just let him quietly wait for his death tonight.”
Seeing that Bai Yan wanted to follow up another question, the driver impatiently shouted, “Your friend will surely die! If I were you, I would move on and find new friends. I already knew with just a glance that you are a person that doesn’t have many friends. If you don’t find some more as soon as possible, you won’t have any friends left.”
Did he have to say it? My friend will have an untimely death!
Being ridiculed by the dark-skinned driver, Bai Yan’s dignity seemed to have taken a blow. Yet, no matter how irritated he was, he couldn’t just insult him then go back immediately. Instead, he continued to have a polite conversation with the driver.
However, just like yesterday night, the dark-skinned driver refused to answer his other questions, not acknowledging them no matter how much Bai Yan brought them up.
Grimly staring at the dust the delivery truck left behind, it wasn’t only Bai Yan, but all three of them sunk into despair.
In particular, Zhu Fugui, whose face showed nothing but pure sadness, had simply given up hope.
“It’s over, I’m going to die!” His nose started to sniffle as he unexpectedly started shedding tears.
Zhu Fugui, a strong man who was at the prime of his life, had stayed positive ever since he came to the game. Even if he usually panics towards smaller concerns, he doesn’t let himself easily show his distress to not affect the ladies in the team, fearing that he would also make them as anxious as he was.
After hearing what the dark-skinned driver had said, Lu Tianyi was left utterly speechless. He quickly pulled out a pack of cigarettes from his pocket, took one out, and handed it over to Zhu Fugui, also taking a cigarette for himself.