Chapter 14 Let“s Play a Game 5
On the way to the next room, Feng Bujue noticed something worth celebrating. The workmanship mastery had been unlocked, and it was now level F. It was unclear whether that came from toying with the Walkman or folding the paper, but regardless, the result was a positive one. If the scenario reward was a skill for workmanship or general ability, then he could instantly learn it.
Several minutes later, he reached another door marked by red point. This time, he pushed the door, and it swung open easily. The room was not big. Next to the wall were two televisions, and in the middle of the room was a table. A key was left sitting on the table. There was a pipe that poked about one meter out from the ground in the right-hand corner of the room. Feng Bujue walked over to take a look, and the diameter of the pipe was large enough to fit a tennis ball.
This time, he did not touch anything, and the door closed on its own. At the same time, one of the two computers lit up, and the image of the white doll showed up on screen.
"Hi Ash, perhaps you think the game is nearing its end; perhaps you think you will be able escape this place with your life intact. But ask yourself, do you really have that right? Can a moment of kindness and a short period of pain make up for your life of sin?
"Both of us know you have not reached true salvation."
Feng Bujue did not speak. He thought the words were a bit off. The so-called 'a moment of kindness and a short period of pain' should be referencing his choices when he passed the two earlier rooms. This proved that the video had been recorded several minutes ago, or… was this not a video but a live recording?
The second television lit up as well. Feng Bujue saw something that he could not believe; Wang Tanzhi showed up on the second screen. In the television, Wang Tanzhi was walking down a corridor, and he looked injured. He was covered in blood, and the way he walked was very strange.
"In your life, you've met many who might refer to you as a brother, a buddy, but I believe that even if they die, you won't care. However… Ash, I know you still have a friend, a real friend," the doll said. "John is also playing a game, but the end that is waiting for him is a dead end. The only thing that can help him escape… the only thing that can help you leave this room is the key on the table.
"You can use it to open the last door or drop it through the pipe by wall and send it to John. There is only one key. If the bigot Ash chooses death, the kind-hearted John will survive.
"Life or death, make your choice."
Feng Bujue looked at the screen for a whole two minutes. He was studying what was going on with the Wang Tanzhi on the second television. Was this a fake image that was generated by the system, or was he really looking at Wang Tanzhi in his own Solo Scenario? If it was the latter, then the system was too powerful; it was able to overlap different scenarios of two distinct players in the same space and time!
He thought to himself, Looks like I'll only be able to get the answer from Xiao Tan after finishing the scenario. There is no way to verify this; I can only speculate.
Right then, Feng Bujue could not help but be impressed by the brilliance of this scenario. In the character setting, this Ash was really not a good person, and the earlier two rooms were unable to change much. In other words, they were merely a foreshadowing. From the progression of the plot, this last choice was the key. If Ash chose to sacrifice John and opted for his own survival, his whole life would be tormented by guilt. His selfishness and hypocrisy would be highlighted to cause mental torment. Ash would ultimately turn to another extreme, to become a maddened altruist, a real charitable person, because that would be the only way for him to feel better about himself. This was the so-called 'salvation'. The player would learn to respect and appreciate life after the trial.
The other choice was for Ash to kill himself and allow his best friend, John, to live. That was another type of salvation, one of self-sacrifice.
Feng Bujue shrugged, walked over to the table, and picked up the key. Looking at the closed door, he mumbled to himself, "From the looks of it, I will fail this scenario…"
He walked to the pipe and dropped the key in without much consideration.
Then the second television switched off, and the doll in the first television spoke again. "An impressive choice, Ash. Don't worry, death is merely the ascension of one's soul."
Looks like this really isn't a recording.
"That door…" Feng Bujue turned around to point at the door. "It leads to a dead end."
The neck of the doll twisted slightly, but it did not respond.
"Your choice of words was very interesting… and very careful. I almost fell for it. The thing that can 'help him escape' is the thing that can help me 'leave this room'." He chuckled. "If I took the key to open the door, I would have died, wouldn't I?"
The doll maintained its silence.
"You said that I can use the key 'to open the last door', but you never specified that I would live after opening the door, only that I would be able to 'leave this room'. The key hint was… 'If the bigot Ash chooses death, then the kind-hearted John will survive'." He shrugged. "I thought about this statement for a few seconds before realizing it is not as contradictory as it appears. At this moment, John has obtained the key, so he can survive, and by that same stroke, the 'bigot' Ash has already died.
"Because the Ash standing here is one that 'impresses' you, one whose 'soul has ascended', am I wrong?"
The doll finally spoke. "Brilliant. You've seen through the game's rules, but that makes me have reservations about the trial's result."
"Are you really just a set of data made by the system?" Feng Bujue narrowed his gaze as he walked to the television. "To you, my choice is not a fixed logical outcome? Whether the basis of my last choice is from a pure kindheartedness or cunning calculation, is it that important to you?"
He squatted before the television and lowered his pitch to match the way of speech of the doll. "This last choice in this game is actually not between life or death but one that is between id, ego, and super-ego.
"If I place myself in the role of 'Ash', that is a choice made by id. The contemptible reporter would not hesitate to sacrifice his friend to live and use the key to open the door, and he would die.
"If I use the perspective of a 'player' to understand this problem, it's my ego that makes the choice. For players of Thriller Paradise, this is nothing more than a scenario. The choices are simple—clear it or accept a game over. Therefore, I still pick up the key to open the door. The result is still death.
"Only someone who can adopt a subjective perspective while assuming the persona of the main character, or in other words, a 'player who knows he is only playing the role of the reporter, Ash' who can make the decision based on the super-ego. That way, even if I did not solve your puzzle, I chose to drop the key into the pipe because that is the most perfect interpretation of the scenario.
"And then, you will reward me with this pleasant ending, isn't that right?"
The television was switched off at that moment as if the system was forcing the doll from continuing the interaction. Then, the familiar system audio with no emotions appeared next to Feng Bujue's ears. "You have completed the scenario. Auto-teleportation will initiate in sixty seconds."