Chapter 34 The Mountain Pool and the Haunted Mansion 1
"They even showed the name of the studio… Looks like Dream Inc. is not against the participation of professional teams and players," Feng Bujue observed.
"But this is not good news for players like us who don't have an 'organization' to support us," Long Aomin said. "If Dream Inc. doesn't put a limitation on these gaming studios, the top layer of the player base will be dominated by a handful of players. Like, they can manipulate the entire market through their internal negotiation or even collect high-end information and resource within themselves."
"Or perhaps," Feng Bujue said, "Dream Inc. thinks that the balance of Thriller Paradise is flawless, and the profit avenue for studios is already heavily limited by the system, and the presumptions that you have made are impossible to happen due to technical difficulties. Of course, these are not things that should concern us, and we can't do anything about it even if we want to.
"By the way, Brother Long, if you don't mind me asking… are you a professional player?"
"Ah? Ha ha, I don't mind that question of course. A professional player is not something that needs to be hidden, right?" Long Aomin laughed. "I'm quite impressed by professional players, but I am not one. I am just someone who likes gaming."
Long Aomin was telling the truth; he was a police officer in real life, and his name was Long Liwen. Even though there was the character 'wen'—which represented written words—in his name, he was a brave and some would say reckless officer. Actually, he had been just a few steps away from being transferred to Special Ops.
Unfortunately, tragedy had struck.
During one of his cases, he had been injured quite seriously. Long story short, after that, his knees had experienced some problems… so he could only spend most of his time sitting in the police station. Even though it did not detract from his everyday life, it dashed his hope of ever returning to the front line.
"Oh, is that so?" Feng Bujue said. "And I thought you were a professional player who liked to solo stuff."
"Ha ha… Actually, I don't normally spend much time online. For the past two days, the wife has been tomb-sweeping with her mother and visiting relatives. Meanwhile, I've had some time off from work, so I've been online more than usual, but tomorrow, I'll need to return to…" He hesitated but decided not to finish the sentence with 'the police station', and instead, it became, "…the unit, and I might not have time to play."
"Then, we'd better get going and try to finish at least two or three Team Survival Modes tonight," the excited Wang Tanzhi said.
"Alright, start the queue," Feng Bujue replied.
"I'm ready," Long Aomin added. Xiao Tan answered affirmatively and then came the system audio. Since Feng Bujue was not the team leader this time, the audio that he heard was slightly different. Namely, the first part was cut.
"You have selected the Team Survival Mode (Normal), please confirm.
"Confirming. The team size has been randomized—a team of six.
"Your team has joined the team queue. Currently searching for other readied players or teams.
"Search completed. Team full.
"Adjusting nerve connectivity. Generating the scenario…
"Please wait for a moment. Downloading.
"Welcome to Thriller Paradise."
This time, it sounded like a person with a split personality was talking because halfway through the sentence, the voice changed into a different one.
"Download complete. You are currently playing Team Survival Mode (Normal). A scenario introduction is provided in this mode, and there is a chance to trigger a side or hidden mission and unlock world-building.
"Reward for clearing the scenario: A randomized learnable Skill Card
"Playing the scenario introduction soon. The game will start right after."
The opening CG this time began in a forest, and the scene started to move forward slowly in first person. The narrator said, "One fall night, you and a few other teammates whom you have just met in a tourist group lost your way in the mountain. Hunger and thirst followed your every step as you skipped through the dying forest. Like a miracle, you happened upon a house in the forest."
The scene changed to show a large, ancient home. The clouds in the sky hung low to the ground, covering this eerie home. There was a pond next to the house, and the walls next to the water had two windows like the house had grown a pair of hollow eyes that were watching its own unidentifiable reflection in the water.
"The scent of despair wafted out from the house, rising up from the dead trees, the gray walls, and the quiet pond. But you have no choice—the chilling air seeped into your bones, and the sense of hunger dulled your alertness. You decide to head into the house…"
That was where the story ended. With a flash, when Feng Bujue opened his eyes, he was already standing inside the home.
It appeared to be the living room; it was large and spacious. The floor was made from wood, and the furniture and decoration seemed to come straight from the 19th century. The chandelier above them and the wall sconces had electricity, but curiously enough, other than those lightings, there was no trace of other electronic device.
Across from the living room was a flight of stairs about two meters wide, and it led up to the second floor. There were four doors around them and a passageway behind the stairs. Due to the lack of lighting in the passageway, one could not see where it led from where they were standing.
Feng Bujue took several seconds to observe his surroundings before his eyes landed on the three other players also standing in the living room.
First was a male player. His IGN was 'Invincible Champion' and only had a small difference to the player 'Fearless Champion' who was the first to reach level twenty. However, he was still a distance away from level twenty, currently only level fifteen. His title was Reckless Boxer. From his appearance, he was the same type as Long Aomin, but compared to Brother Long's Schwarzenegger-type physique, he was quite lacking, be it in terms of height, muscles, or presence.
The other two players were both female. They seemed to be in the same group before joining the queue because they stood close to one another. One could also get some hint from the names; one was Passing Rain, the other Laughing Soul, and they were both level thirteen.
Passing Rain appeared to be just over twenty, and her hair was cut short until it barely reached the back of her neck. But strangely enough, even though she looked pretty, there was nothing outwardly grabbing about her appearance. Technically speaking… with the facial editing feature provided by the gaming hub, everyone could become the greatest beauty; there was no problem with changing a man's face into a woman's. The fact that a female player did not improve her looks to the maximum in this game was like her going out without putting make-up on. Or was it because the girl looked extremely weird in real life and this was already the best the system could do?
When Feng Bujue studied her, the girl's eyes met his. Oftentimes, a person's first impression was decided by one's gaze. At first glance, if there was anything one could get from Feng Bujue's eyes, it was serenity, and Feng Bujue read something similar to murderous aura in the girl's eyes, one that was cold and sharp. This was not because she was glaring at him or she was pretending to be chill—it was something that radiated even on a normal basis. This was a look that was only possible for someone who was used to killing in real life.
Moving his eyes upward, Feng Bujue saw Passing Rain's title, Heartless Decapitator. Then, he grumbled internally, What the f*ck is going on? A special agent playing the game to train her guts?
Laughing Soul appeared much more normal. She looked one or two years younger than Passing Rain. She had a small face and long hair with no bangs to cover up her cute features. A slight smile hung on her face, but… there was no humor in her eyes.
Laughing Soul's title was Smart Gunslinger. If there was no surprise, she should excel at shooting guns.
"What's up with you?" Passing Rain suddenly opened her lips. Her eyes were targeted at Feng Bujue. Her expression was cold and her words sharp.
Feng Bujue understood that she was asking why he was staring at her. He flashed a smile and started to greet her. "Er… It's nothing. I was just surprised by the titles that the two of you have."
Passing Rain decided to answer by not answering. It was as if she had heard something that was not worth her time, and this placed Feng Bujue in an awkward position.
Laughing Soul saw this and chuckled to ease the tension. "It's the same for you guys; you have interesting titles as well."
She knew that her cousin was a reticent person, so she offered something to save Feng Bujue's face.
A little exposition about these two. Passing Rain's grandfather's sister was Laughing Soul's grandmother. Basically, they were relatives. Actually, they were of the same age, both twenty-two. Passing Rain had never liked to speak, but that did not mean that she was a push-over. She had never lost in a fight, even against men; that was how cool she was.
Laughing Soul was like a child that would not grow up. She was a prankster and always had a joke to tell. Plus, in terms of IQ, she might even be brighter than Feng Bujue, although she did not have his weird habits like compulsive reading and analyzing.
Why so many details about those two girls? Of course, that was because they will become main characters. Given that it's chapter thirty-four, it's about time for the main female characters to show up, right? Or did you expect the system to suddenly turn into a woman and fall in love with the main character? If that's case, this might be the wrong story for you!
"Thank you." Feng Bujue accepted the kindness and turned to face Invincible Champion. "Er… Brother Invincible, are you related to that Fearless Champion?"
"We're from the same studio," the man said curtly. " I don't have time to entertain any other questions. I'm almost up to here with questions from you filthy casuals."
He placed his hand next to his head, and his tone was dripping with condescension when he said those words.
"Oh… so we have a professional player among us. This is an honor." Feng Bujue used a tone dripping with deeper sarcasm to extend his praise.
The man responded with a scoff and turned his face away with his nose turned up. If not for the system, he probably would have started to curse. Suddenly, the system shattered the oppressive atmosphere.
"The main quest has been triggered."