Chapter 369: Three Choices
Translator: BinBin92 Editor: EllisBLV13
She had walked on the path for a few minutes, and although the title carried the word "cartoon," Lin Sanjiu had not seen any vibrant colors along the way after.
After getting through the entrance, she found herself walking on a plasticine-constructed path surrounded by a forest made with cardboard. Peeking through the layers of water-soaked leaves, she could see Mickey Mouse's cottage. It was a peculiar-looking building constructed with numerous large, multi-colored hemispheres stacked together.
Despite being painted in naturally bright and vibrant colors, the building looked slightly dusky. All the colors, pink, red, orange, yellow, sky-blue, and green had lost their vibrancy leaving only a dull and faded tone behind.
Mickey Mouse walked in front of Lin Sanjiu, leading the way. His trademark two large, circular ears swayed in the wind with every step he took. He seemed somewhat relaxed as he hummed while trotting down the path.
'Four years ...'
It had been four years since Lin Sanjiu had last seen the cartoon character Mickey Mouse; however, no matter how hard she looked, she couldn't entirely associate the Mickey Mouse in front of her with the Mickey Mouse that always wore a big sunny smile on his face that had perished back then along with her hometown in the hyperthermal hell.
Since she was walking behind him, Lin Sanjiu could take all her time studying him.
This Mickey Mouse was monstrous; he was tall and massive. He donned the same red shorts like the Mickey Mouse in Lin Sanjiu's memory; despite that, the carmine color of his short seemed more like the color of dried blood to Lin Sanjiu. On the back of his shorts was a hole that allowed his long, hairless, deep carneous color tail that resembled the tail of a regular sewer mouse to go through.
Tearing her gaze away from his tail, Lin Sanjiu fell into deep thought. She couldn't remember what a cartoon Mickey Mouse looked like.
When they came out of the forest, they found themselves in front of the building constructed with five hemispheres. Even though the building covered a large area, the windows were tightly shut and the colors on the building had faded. If Lin Sanjiu weren't being led here, she would regard it as an abandoned building.
While she was busy examining the cottage, Mickey Mouse spun around and winked at her. With a beaming smile, he showed Lin Sanjiu his sparkling white teeth and blood-red gums that had been hidden under his spiky black fur. She felt uncomfortable.
"Beloved guest, have you smelled it?" He was always high in his mood; and for no reason, he always had an annoying jocular and wheedling tone when he spoke.
Before the question "What smell?" came from Lin Sanjiu's lips, a bang sounded out from the corner of the building. Then, an enormous shadow appeared. Lin Sanjiu gaped, taken aback by the size of the shadow. After taking a half-step back, Lin Sanjiu had a clear view of what it was. It had a pair of round ears and a beaming smile that had no fraction of difference to that of Mickey.
It was just that on top of that mouse's head sat a large bow, tied using a faded red rag.
"You… are Minnie?" Lin Sanjiu rummaged through her memories and remembered the name of Mickey's girlfriend.
Minnie finally showed half of her body after shoving open the grimy windows. Similar to Mickey, Minnie had, too, a row of squarish teeth. The way they winked their eyes were alike, even their sounds were identical. The only difference was that Minnie's voice was much sharper like a matured man talked with his nose pinched.
"Welcome, my guest," Minnie said exuberantly, "I have baked a few of my signature pies to welcome you. Come one and give it a taste!"
As soon as it finished talking, Lin Sanjiu's nose twitched. She, at last, understood what Mickey was referring to.
The air was laced with a smell that baffled description once the window was opened. It had an offensive odor with a trace of strong sweetness in it. However, before one could get used to it, a poignant, raw meat stench followed and burned the nostrils of whoever was unfortunate enough to smell it.
Lin Sanjiu's gasped. Her stomach did a flip-flop, and she almost vomited. The fruity scent had made the experience all the more horrible. Lin Sanjiu even felt that she was getting a headache.
Lin Sanjiu didn't know if Mickey was purposely ignoring her reluctance or was just insensitive. He went ahead and opened the oval-shaped door.
"Please, over here."
The nauseating smell assaulted Lin Sanjiu's nose once again after the door had opened, and she felt that it was at least twice more horrible compared to her last not-so-good experience. If she were given the option to choose in between getting slapped in the face or face this malodorous smell, she would choose the former. To make herself much comfortable, she had no choice but to slow down her breathing as she followed Mickey into his cottage.
Since the owners of the cottage were two super-sized mice, all of the furniture inside the cottage was one size bigger than usual. When Lin Sanjiu sat down in front of a large dining table, her feet were unable to reach the ground despite her taller than ordinary height. It brought her back to the time when she was ten years old.
From a closer look, Minnie was as huge as a hill.
Wearing a pair of carmine high heels, Minnie bustled in between the kitchen and dining room to set the table. Every step she took sounded like rumbling thunder. Thump, thump, thump. The floor screamed with every stomp. After Minnie and Mickey sat down at the dining table, Lin Sanjiu realized Minnie was twice the size of her boyfriend, Mickey.
There were three large pies resting on top of the ragged burnt sienna dining table. Every one of them had the same soil-like texture. Wisps of hot steam rose into the air from the pies.
The smile of both oversized mice was veiled and distorted by the hot steam, sending a chill down Lin Sanjiu's spine.
"These pies are my special dish. I baked them especially for you," Minnie spoke proudly. She waved her hand dramatically in the air across the three pies, "Among the gourmet specialty in our Cartoon Worlds, our pies are crowned the best. Once tasted, always wanted. The fragrance of our pies will steal even your nose away!"
At this point, Lin Sanjiu wished that her nose could be stolen away so that she could be freed from the excruciating pain of smelling the pies.
She did not even want to open her mouth as the fetid smell that permeated the air seized every chance it got to rush into her mouth. At that time, she was certain that she would toss her cookies. Suddenly, a thought flashed into her mind and made her chest seize. Her stomach was already churning just by smelling the wretched scent. Could it be that the two mice wanted her to eat these pies?
"However," Minnie spoke again after a slight pause. Her eyes centered and narrowed into a thin line, "Some unfortunate events happened and diverted my concentration when I was baking the pies. Amongst the three pies, only one was baked with the correct ingredients, so I'm not entirely sure with the remaining two."
As it spoke, it withdrew a fork that was larger than Lin Sanjiu's face from nowhere and handed it to her, "Anyway, chow down please."
' All three pies looks suspicious to me! ' Lin Sanjiu took the fork and had a stare showdown with the pies that looked like a concoction of soil, and sweat began to bead down her shirt, wetting her back in the process.
She somehow had an insight into what would happen next.
"Of course, each of the pies has its own story that marks its uniqueness when I picked them out from the oven," Minnie brought her head closer to Mickey. Then, with four beady eyes, both of them stared at Lin Sanjiu through the steam, "If the descriptions can help you to decide which one you want to eat, perhaps you don't have to try every single one. You could pick the one baked with right ingredients and savor the deliciousness of our Cartoon World."
"It should be noted that you can neither touch the pies nor can you smell the pies. You can only see them from your seat and hear the stories given to help you make your decision," Mickey chimed in.
With a heaving sigh, Lin Sanjiu nodded. She tried her best not to open her mouth and force the words "Go on" through her lips.
Lin Sanjiu knew that Mickey and Minnie must be hiding something from her, and she confirmed that among the three pies, only one was safe to eat.
"The one at your left side," Minnie pointed to the pie she spoke about. The risorius retracted the muscle on its face, fading its big smile, "This is the story the oven gave when this pie came out:
"In this village, a bus driver and a doctor were simultaneously wooing a pretty girl named Sarah. However, the bus driver had to leave the village for a week. Before he left, he gave Sarah "seven items" to prevent the doctor from slipping in and putting the moves on her. Minnie used these seven items to bake this pie."
Astounded, Lin Sanjiu looked at the pie before shifting her gaze over to the two oversized mice. She had never imagined that the way to clear this level was by solving riddles.
' Will the riddles become harder as I progress forward? But intellect is the only attribution in Growth types that don't grow with time… '
Minnie did not give any time for Lin Sanjiu to think. After telling her the story of the first pie, she pointed her finger to the second one, "Moving to the next one. Greater than God, more evil than the devil. The poor own me; the rich need me. If you consume me even with a single bite, the cold clutches of death awaits you. Minnie has used this ingredient to bake this pie."
Lin Sanjiu frowned. Minnie was speaking very fast which left her no other alternative but to memorize every word as it was said.
"This is the story for the last pie: I can be long, I can be short. I can grow on my own, and I can be purchased from the mall. You can paint me with color, and my extremity can be curled or flatten, as you desire. Minnie used this ingredient to bake this pie."
After she finished giving all three stories of the pies, Minnie immediately closed her mouth. It seemed that she was not going to repeat the stories for the second times.
Mickey giggled as he tilted his head at Lin Sanjiu, "It's alright if you can't make your decision. What you have to do is pay 5 Stamina Points, and you will have yourself the pie with the correct ingredients."
Lin Sanjiu finally understood the meaning of "incite the player's desire to shop."
Regardless of whether or not the riddle was the norm here, it seemed that the trick of succeeding in this level was to filter out the options. If you picked the correct one, you lived; if you selected the wrong one, you would be doomed. However, seeing how the amusement park emphasized on the safety and bringing fun and joy to their customers, it always prepared a way out for their players. In this case, you could just buy the correct answer with Stamina Points if you couldn't make up your mind to pick the answer.
Of course, it went without saying that 5 Stamina Points was merely the base fare.
"What would happen if I picked the correct option?" Lin Sanjiu asked, opening her mouth wide. In the grand scheme of things, the ill-smelling was no longer a threat for her, "Can I gain extra Stamina Point as a reward when I leave?"
The two mice exchanged glances, and Mickey shook his head.
"It's considered a reward for you to be able to taste the wonderful deliciousness of our Cartoon World," Mickey spoke again with his off-putting saccharine tone. It winked its eyes, "At least, this is what will happen for the pie."
This means that there was no extra reward for the first riddle.
Lin Sanjiu frowned so hard that there were creases on her forehead as she studied the three pies meticulously. Among the three pies, the center one piqued her interest the most.
She didn't know whether or not they purposely made the riddle in a way that the story plainly spelled death. If the riddle itself was the answer, could it mean that she could exclude it?
But after she gave it another run thought in her mind, another idea surfaced. Maybe due to the straightforwardness of the riddle, only then Minnie used it as her ingredient to bake the pie. Her intention was plain to see: she wanted to confuse the player. Perhaps, in the end, the pie at the center might be the pie that was baked with the right ingredients.
Even if she didn't have the wisdom of Nüwa, after thinking for a while, Lin Sanjiu finally made her choice.
Truth to be told, there was only one among the three riddles that she was particularly confident with her answer. Luckily, she just needed one.
"Ready to give your answer?" Minnie smiled at her, "Which one do you want to taste? As for you to know, even I, the baker, have forgotten what ingredients I have used to bake these pies."
If it weren't for the noxious scent that tickled her nostrils, Lin Sanjiu would have taken a deep breath. After a short discussion with Mrs. Manas about her choice, she pointed to the pie with the fork in her hand and said swiftly, "This one. This is my choice."
The pie she was pointing at was the first pie on the left side.
"Fascinating. I hope you enjoy your pie."
Minnie's face was flat, so Lin Sanjiu wasn't at all certain that she guessed it right. She swallowed hard as Minnie pushed the pie she picked towards her. As she braced herself against the assaulting smell, she cut a small piece from the pie and shoved it into her mouth.
There was the saying: don't judge a book by its cover as you might find yourself a hidden gem in the most unexpected scenario. Surprisingly, the taste of the pie was at odds with its appearance. The soft and crispy texture, along with the fresh apple sweetness burst in her mouth made her question whether or not she was eating the same food as what she saw. It washed away all the noxious scents, and Lin Sanjiu thanked God for the minor fortune.
Yes, an apple a day kept the doctor away. By giving her seven apples, wouldn't Sarah be able to wait until the bus driver was back?
Mayhap her highly-strained heart finally found a place to land, or the apple pie was delicious. Lin Sanjiu took a few more bites. However, the gaze of those two mice was too intense; she lost her appetite soon after as she put down her fork.
"Thank you for your pie. I'm done eating." She then asked curiously, "What are the ingredients for that two pies?"
Once again, the two mice exchanged glances, and Mickey turned to her first.
"Good job. Now, follow me. I'll tell you along the way," he said with a smile in his eyes.