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Chapter 39: The Haunted Mansion by the Tarn (VI)


The dining hall was quite large, at its center was a long table. It was long enough that two people seated at its ends would have to yell to speak to each other. Strewn across the white tablecloth were plates and forks, along with several toppled candle holders.

Above the dining table hung a chandelier even larger than the one in the parlor. However, this one no longer gave off light; the only light in the room came instead from the muted glow of the wall lamps.

The wooden chairs were completely in disarray. Some even laid on the floor, toppled over and covered in cobwebs.

Rain had only paused for a moment when she heard the System notification go off, but then continued her search; her expression as cold as ever.

It was again Sorrowful who started first, “That big bro who looked kinda powerful died, yeah.”

“Powerful?” Rain asked, “What possessed you to think that?”

“His level was quite high, and he was also a pro player, ah,” replied Sorrowful.

Rain lifted a section of the tablecloth with her sword. Without pausing in her search, she casually retorted, “We can also increase our levels and we can also ‘claim’ to be professional players.”

“Cousin[1]… you’re just bickering with me again.” Sorrowful glanced at Rain and mumbled to herself, “Even the pro player has died now, is it ok for you to still be so calm?”

At this moment, Rain fished out a letter from underneath the table, and only said two words, “Plot item.”

【Name: Ink-stained Letter】

【Type: Plot Item】

【Grade: Ordinary】

【Function: Unknown】

【Can it leave the Scenario: No】

【Remark: The letter has been partially obscured by ink stains and parts are illegible.】

She spoke as she handed the letter over to Sorrowful, “It is unlikely that this letter was originally under the table. It was most likely reset here after that ‘Unrivaled Braved One’ died.”

Sorrowful took the letter and opened it for a look. She then placed it into her inventory bag she kept at her waist before licking her lips and saying, “Yeah… Assuming that this letter is one of the clues for solving the mission, there’s a possibility that the whoever carries this letter would be targeted by some unknown force from the mansion. They’d probably be forced into some extremely dangerous circûmstances. That’s how…”

“That’s how a professional player died?” continued Rain.

“Hm… but it’s still very strange.” Sorrowful said, “Their group has four people, why would only one person, not the mention the strongest person, die? Could it be that…”

“There’s no need for ‘could it be that’ anymore.” Feng Bujue’s voice suddenly rang out. He came in from the doorway. “It’s quite obvious that we’d split up.”

Rain and Sorrowful both turned their heads towards him and Feng Bujue continued, “Besides, seeing as how he’s already tripped up, this ‘strongest’ should also be questioned.”

“His level is higher than yours, plus he’s a professional player.” said Rain to Feng Bujue. She directly copied Sorrowful’s rationale as her own.

“I can also increase my level. I can also ‘claim’ to be a professional player; does just that count as strength?” casually retorted Feng Bujue.

Sorrowful covered her mouth in a snigger, nearly laughing out loud.

Rain’s expression changed minutely, “How long have you been here?”

“Just now, why?” asked Feng Bujue. He honestly hadn’t heard their words earlier; he’d only heard Sorrowful’s last few words.

Rain was silent for two seconds before asking, “Was it you who discovered the Ghost Palace Side mission?’

“Yes.” Feng Bujue answered, “I found the first and fifth sections. Was it you two who discovered the other two sections?”

Sorrowful shook her head in denial. “No, we ran into countless traps on our way here.”

Rain also asked, “What is Ghost Palace anyways? Writing? Or a kind of item?”

“It’s a poem.” Wang Tanzhi also emerged from the dining room doorway with Long Aomin beside him.

“It’s good you’re here.” said Feng Bujue. “Which sections did you guys find?”

“The good news is… we found two sections.” said Long Aomin.

“The bad news is… we couldn’t memorize them.” Wang Tanzhi’s expression was not of shame, instead, it was an expression of pride.

“Roughly repeat a few phrases to give us an idea.” said Feng Bujue.

The two rambled together four or five select phrases.

When he finished listening, Feng Bujue said, “They should be the second and third sections…” Then he did something very shocking. He completely recited the two stanzas Lil’ Tan and Long Bro found and asked if it was accurate.

“Jue Bro… what’s going on?” Wang Tanzhi said in fearfully, “Were you secretly following us?”

“This mansion is based on my memory of a real place. In actuality, I’m a serial killer, and this place is my base of operations.” calmly stated Feng Bujue. “The ‘Ghost Palace’ you’ve read is what I’ve written on the wall during my idle periods.”

Wang Tanzhi’s jaw seemed as if it would dislocate. His mouth was opened and he stared at Feng Bujue with wide eyes; his mind was in disarray.

Ten seconds later, Feng Bujue said to him, “Right now, you’re the only person who hasn’t realized this was a joke.”

“Ha ha ha…” Long Aomin suddenly laughed out loud. He’d caught on quickly earlier that this was Feng Bujue just joking around, only he didn’t find it funny at all. But the way Wang Tanzhi reacted as if it were true really made people speechless.

“This Mr. Feng, now that your cold joke is done, can you explain the actual situation?” Sorrowful said, “Not only do you know the order of those stanzas, but you could also recite it in detail. You definitely know the origin of ‘Ghost Palace’, right?”  

Feng Bujue explained, “This poem is from Allan Poe’s short story《The Fall of the House of Usher》, I believe this Scenario is also based on this work.” He moved to sit on a stool. “Any of you read it before?”

“Nope~” Apart from Rain, the other three spoke together as if they were school children answering the teacher and drew out their reply.

“It’s fine if you haven’t, his short story wasn’t any good anyway.” Feng Bujue said, “Poe was just a high-class literary hooligan who gambled, drank, and indulged in all sorts of vices; he chased after a rich woman and married a loli. Throughout his life, he tirelessly wrote to satirize people; most of his short stories only attached importance to the atmosphere and neglected the plot; he sometimes even engaged in opportunistic dishonest acts. Take for example the opening in《Ligeia》, he randomly fabricated an excerpt and added a dash and claimed it was quote by Joseph Glanvill. If Google existed in the 19th century, this punk would’ve already been pulled out to march (in shame) through the streets by critics.”

“Sounds like you’re a die-hard fan, ma…” said Rain coldly.

“Sounds like you’re envious, jealous, and hateful, ah…” Sorrowful casted a look of contempt.

“The more I hear, the more it sounds like you, ah…” said Wang Tanzhi.

“Feng Xiong, be more dignified, ah…” Long Aomin didn’t know what to say, and could only advise him.

Feng Bujue stood up, the expression on his face unchanged, and firmly insisted, “I just know a little about it, that’s all. It’s nothing really…”

“You can even recite the poem from memory. Just stop trying to explain yourself.” interrupted Rain.

“This elder sis…” started Feng Bujue.

“May I know your age? To be calling me elder sister.”

“This little sis…”

“Try again.”

Feng Bujue took a deep breath. “Heroic-one… actually, I am someone with encyclopedic knowledge…”

“Mr. Feng, you really don’t need to explain to me.” The corner of Rain’s mouth lifted in a trace of a barely perceptible smile.

Feng Bujue went lifeless for roughly three seconds, then suddenly turned around and nonchalantly spoke, “The wind is quite noisy today…”

Even Long Aomin felt embarrassed, “Feng Xiong, even if you’ve been exposed, you don’t have to mind it too much. Let’s continue looking for clues, ok?”

Feng Bujue nearly spewed out a fountain of blood, he thought to himself, “Damned girl, you couldn’t just say the latter half of that and be done with it. Was that former half you preparing your finishing blow?”[2]

“Oh right, I wanted to ask you guys. Isn’t it weird?” Feng Bujue said sternly, “How did we all end up in the dining room? This mansion should be able to change its structure. For us to convene here at the same time, does it mean…”

Before he finished his words, they heard a “bang” noise and the only door in the dining room closed by itself.


Footnotes:

[1]Sorrowful calls Rain 表姐 which means elder female cousin from Sorrowful’s maternal side. I’m leaving it as cousin, because cousin sis sounds terrible.

[2]In case it’s unclear, Feng Bujue is angry about Rain forcing him to address her “properly”


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