Chapter 39 The Mountain Pool and the Haunted Mansion 6
The dining room was large, and a long table sat in the middle. It was so long that the people who sat at opposite ends needed to scream to hear each other. On top of the white tablecloth, it was dotted with several empty plates and utensils as well as four candelabras that had toppled over. There was a chandelier right above the dining table, and it was even larger than the one in the living room. However, it did not seem to be working; the light in the room came instead from the lamps on the wall.
The wooden chairs were a mess, and a few were even lying on the ground. Some of them had not been moved for so long that there were spider webs attached to them. When Passing Rain heard the system announcement, she paused for just a second before continuing her search, the expression on her face still as cold as snow.
It was Laughing Soul who first chuckled and said, "That big brother who looked quite formidable is dead."
"Formidable?" Passing Rain asked. "From where did you see that?"
"Well, his level is high, and he's a professional player," Laughing Soul answered.
Passing Rain used her sword to lift a part of the tablecloth. She answered without stopping her investigation, "Our level will continue to rise, and we too can call ourselves professional players."
"Cousin… you're purposely bickering with me again." Laughing Soul rolled her eyes at Passing Rain and grumbled, "Are you sure we can be so calm when the professional player is dead?"
Then, Passing Rain removed a letter from underneath the table. She said matter-of-factly, "Plot item."
Item Name: Ink-stained Letter
Item Type: Plot Item
Can be taken out of the scenario: No
Remark: Parts of the letter are blotted with ink stains, making it not fully comprehensible.
She handed the letter over to Laughing Soul and said, "I doubt this thing has been lying underneath the table all this while. I believe it was placed here after the death of that 'Invincible Champion'."
Laughing Soul accepted the letter and opened it to read. Then she quickly placed it into her backpack. She licked her lips. "Hmm… If this letter is one of the important items to solve the main quest, then there is one possibility where the people who possess the letter will be assaulted by the mysterious power within the house, placing them in a dangerous spot, so…"
"So that is why the professional player is dead?" Passing Rain continued.
"Hmm… but it's strange," Laughing Soul argued. "There are four of them, so why only one of them is dead? And it is the strongest among them. Unless…"
"There's no need to guess." Feng Bujue's voice suddenly appeared, and he walked through the door. "Obviously, we split up."
Laughing Soul and Passing Rain turned their heads to look at him, and Feng Bujue said, "And from the fact that he was the first to die, we have to seriously question if he's the 'strongest' among us."
"But his level is higher than you, and he's a professional player," Passing Rain told Feng Bujue, using the words that were used to convince her earlier.
"But our level will increase, and we can call ourselves professional players too, does that make us strong players as well?" Feng Bujue retorted with a smile. Laughing Smile smothered the laughter with her hand over her lips.
Passing Rain's expression shifted slightly. "How long have you been here?"
"Just arrived, what's wrong?" Feng Bujue answered. He really did not overhear the two girls' conversation earlier; he only heard the last sentence Laughing Soul said. Passing Rain was silent for two seconds before asking, "Are you the one who discovered the side quest for The Haunted Palace?"
"Yes," Feng Bujue answered. "I found the first and fifth stanzas. Are you the ones who found the other two stanzas?"
Laughing Soul shook her head. "No, but we did find plenty of traps along the way."
"What exactly is this The Haunted Palace?" Passing Rain added. "Is it a book or some kind of object?"
"It's a poem." Wang Tanzhi also appeared at the door, and trailing behind him was Long Aomin.
"Your timing is perfect," Feng Bujue said. "Which stanzas have you found?"
"The good news is… we've found two of them," Long Aomin said.
"The bad news is… we cannot memorize them." Wang Tanzhi did not look a bit ashamed. In fact, he looked quite proud of that fact.
"Try to recite the key points," Feng Bujue urged. The two combined their memories and forced out as many terms as they could remember.
After hearing that, Feng Bujue said, "That should be the second and third stanzas…"
Then he did something shocking. He recited the two stanzas that Xiao Tan and Brother Long had found perfectly, without missing a word, and asked them whether he was correct or not.
"Brother Jue… what's going on?" Wang Tanzhi gasped. "Have you been following us?"
"This house is formed by the memory I have in real life. Actually, I am a serial killer and this is one of my hideouts," Feng Bujue said nonchalantly. "The Haunted Palace that you saw is something that I wrote on the walls out of boredom."
Wang Tanzhi's jaw dropped, and he looked at Feng Bujue with a shocked look, his mind a complete mess.
Ten seconds later, Feng Bujue told him, "You know, you're the only one who doesn't realize I'm kidding."
"Ha ha ha…" Long Aomin suddenly burst out laughing. He was quick to understand that this was a joke from Feng Bujue, but he did not think it was that funny. However, he was tickled by Wang Tanzhi's gullibility.
"Mr. Feng, is it? The time for jokes is over—can you tell us the actual reason already?" Laughing Soul said. "You not only knew about the arrangement of those stanza and even managed to recite them perfectly. Then, you have to know about the origin of this Haunted Palace, yes?"
"This short poem came from Edgar Allen Poe's The Fall of the House of Usher," Feng Bujue answered. "I believe this scenario is derived from that as well."
He moved a chair over to sit down. "Have any of you read it before?"
"No…" Other than Passing Rain, the other three answered his question in unison like kids in class.
"You're not missing out; his works are not that interesting," Feng Bujue said. "Poe is a poser, a fan of gambling and alcohol. His life was stained by the marks of many women. He focused his life on writing, but most of his novels only paid attention to atmosphere and ignored the plot. Sometimes, he resorted to dubious means to complete his work. For example, at the start of Ligeia, he copied a long paragraph and added a dash and said that it was a statement made by Joseph Glanvill. If there was a search engine in the 19th century, the man would have been dragged out to the street by his critics already."
"Sounds like you're a big fan," Passing Rain said coldly.
"Sounds like someone's jealous…" Laughing Soul tossed him a condescending look.
"The more you describe him, the more it sounds like you," Wang Tanzhi said.
"Brother Feng, take care of yourself…" Long Aomin did not know what to say, so he chose to advise the man.
Feng Bujue stood up and continued to argue his case without a change to his expression. "I'm not his fan. I just happen to know a thing or two about the man…"
"You can even memorize his poem. Please don't try to argue anymore," Passing Rain interrupted him.
"Big sister…" Feng Bujue began.
"How old do you think I am to be calling me your big sister?"
"Say that again if you dare."
Feng Bujue took a deep breath. "Beautiful lady… Actually, I am merely a studious person…"
"Mr. Feng, you really don't need to explain yourself to me." An indiscernible smile appeared on Passing Rain's lips.
Feng Bujue was stunned for three seconds before turning around like nothing was out of the ordinary. "The wind tonight sure is loud…"
Even Long Aomin felt embarrassed for him. "Brother Feng, don't mind it even if you're exposed. We should focus on looking for clues."
Feng Bujue almost coughed out blood, thinking to himself, You should have just said the last sentence. Is there a point to you saying the first sentence other than to poke at my wound?
"By the way, I was meaning to ask, don't you think there is something strange at work here?" Feng Bujue asked solemnly. "Why are we all gathered here? The layout of this house shifts, and the fact that we're gathered together, does this mean…"
Before he finished, there was a loud bang, and the only door leading to the kitchen closed on its own.