Thriller Paradise

Chapter 40 The Mountain Pool and the Haunted Mansion 7

Chapter 40 The Mountain Pool and the Haunted Mansion 7

Ten minutes prior, when Invincible Champion was still alive, Feng Bujue was inside the cellar. Feng Bujue knocked on the coffin lid and said teasingly, "Hey, Miss Madeline, are you there?"

He did not expect a reply to come from inside the coffin because he knew that the coffin was supposed to be empty.

After finding the first stanza of The Haunted Palace, Feng Bujue had begun to suspect that the house was inspired by the House of Usher in the short story. When he arrived at the cellar and saw the coffin and the fifth stanza on the wall, his suspicion was confirmed.

Feng Bujue read many books, but that did not mean that he had a photographic memory. Other than the memories that were pushed out of his mind as trash, for the rest… like stories that he had once read, he could recover around seventy percent of the memory. To have the man stand there and recite all six stanzas of The Haunted House from pure memory was impossible. Therefore, he needed Xiao Tan and Brother Long to issue some words to jog his memory before the other two stanzas become more clarified in his mind.

Of course, Feng Bujue could remember the general plot of the short story quite clearly.

Many people knew of the name Edgar Allen Poe; he was the founder of detective novels. His 'The Murders in the Rue Morgue' was deemed as the first actual detective novel in modern literature, and he was the man who popularized the term detective novel when he published the story. But that was 1841, and The Fall of the House of Usher was written before that. It was a Gothic thriller story, and the whole passage was steeped in a dark, scary atmosphere.

The summary of the story was as well; it detailed the story of the main character's dead friend, Roderick Usher. Roderick's family suffered from a mysterious hereditary disease. The house that he lived in seemed to be tainted by some kind of weird curse as well. Over hundreds of years, the lineage of the Usher family had continued in spite of all these problems, passing from father to son. Soon, the original name of the house was forgotten, and the house itself was equated to the name of Usher. When people mentioned the House of Usher, they were referring to both the house and the family.

One day, Roderick wrote a letter to the main character, saying that he was going to die soon. He was tormented by his illness, swaying between the physical and hallucinatory realms. The mysterious power within the House of Usher destroyed his rationality, draining him of his life.

The main character came to visit his old friend, hoping that his visit would breathe some life into the ailing man. However, on the night of the main character's arrival, Roderick's little sister, Miss Madeline, 'died from an illness'.

She was the only family that Roderick had left in the world, his only companion for all these years. Miss Madeline had been sick from a young ages, and the doctors had announced that there was no treatment for the girl. However, she continued to fight the disease, spending most of her time in bed. The curious depression and collapse of Roderick's mental state was mostly due to her condition.

Before Roderick died, he made a request. He wanted them to find a cellar to store his sister's body for fourteen days. The main character personally helped to fulfill his friend's dying wish. He placed Miss Madeline inside the coffin and placed her down in the cellar, but no one knew that she was actually still alive.

After eight days, the distraught Roderick fell into madness. That night, the main character came across the scary-looking Miss Madeline roaming the house, and she scared her big brother to death before finally dying. After the main character escaped from the House of Usher, he saw the house crumble into the pond next to it with his own eyes.

There were many 'unscientific' plot points in the story. For example, how could no one realize that Madeline was still alive when she was placed inside the coffin? How could a woman who subsisted on nothing inside the coffin for eight days have the energy to crawl back into the house? Why did the house collapse? Was it due to an earthquake or explosion?

But the readers in the 19th century would not have had questions like that. It was not until the end of 20th century when 'criticism' became an actual professional career, especially in the field of literature where Poe's works were questioned. If Poe was alive in the 21st century, any 'professor' who dared to call himself a critic would have some choice words for this famed author. Let's not dwell on this subject; it's about time we got back to the story.

Based on the plot of the story, the coffin had to be empty. Whether the spirit that Feng Bujue saw in the tunnel was Madeline's spirit or not, her body was not going to be inside the cellar but inside the house.

Feng Bujue pushed open the coffin, and it was empty, devoid of a dead body. He waved away the dust that flew all over the place and shone the flashlight inside the coffin. On the board inside the coffin near the head, he soon discovered that a small row of letters had been carved. It looked like it had slowly been gouged out using one's fingers.

It read "he knows" without any punctuation, and the letters were toppled all over. Placing himself in her shoes… there was no light inside the coffin, and Madeline would not have known whether her handwriting was neat or not. Furthermore, she had to maintain a fixed posture to carve those words, so the fact that it was legible was already a miracle.

"Hidden quest triggered." When Feng Bujue heard the system, he immediately opened the menu and saw a window floating at the forefront. "The hidden quest in the scenario will provide you with considerable rewards, but the difficulty for discovering and completing the hidden quest will be much harder than the main and side quest.

"The system hints related to the hidden mission, including the voices and words in the game menu, are only viewable to the player who triggered the hidden quest. If the hidden quest is triggered within the company of many players, then all the present players will gain the update to said quest. But hidden quest cannot be shared. While the player with the hidden quest can share the information with other players, and the other players can obtain the quest details and progress in their menu, it will not be counted as accepting the quest, and they are unable receive any rewards from completing the quest.

"Above is the information provided when the player triggers a hidden quest for the first time. If you have any more questions, feel free to look through the game manual."

"In other words… finders keepers," Feng Bujue murmured to himself. He closed the window and glanced at the quest. "Rescue Miss Madeline's soul."

"Oh… What is this?" He had a brief idea of the scenario and its plot, but the main problem was, how was he going to escape from this cellar?

He raised the flashlight again and made a closer investigation of his surroundings, but he found nothing. He turned his gaze back to the coffin. Other than the sentence and other scratch marks left on the wood, there was nothing worthwhile.

Feng Bujue leaned the flashlight against the wall of the coffin, pointing the side that gave off the light upward. Then he bent down to pick up the heavy coffin lid and lean it against the wall. He looked on both of its sides, but there was nothing special about it.

Wait a minute… Feng Bujue suddenly stopped moving and thought, The person inside the coffin should have been facing up, and technically speaking it, is more convenient for the person to carve on the coffin lid. Even if she was worried that someone might overlook the carving on the lid, so she decided to carve it on the coffin itself, why isn't there any sign of a struggle on this lid? There are signs of kicks and scratches on the coffin itself, but the coffin lid looks brand new.

Feng Bujue grabbed the flashlight and shone it on the lid leaning against the wall. He squatted down and focused his sight on this wooden board.

"Hmm…" He knocked on it again. The lid produced a sturdy sound of wood; it did not sound like it was hollow.

Then, Feng Bujue made a very daring decision. He raised the lid and slid it over the coffin, closing it two thirds of the way. Then he climbed into the box. He used his hands to move the lid close from within. Lying inside, he did not feel that comfortable, not because of any psychological effect but because the wooden boards were extremely hard. It felt like he was lying on top of a hard, wooden floor.

Feng Bujue placed himself in the position of Miss Madeline. He shone the flashlight at the lid and then said, "How did you get out of here?"

Then, he raised one of his hands to push at the lid. To his surprise, the lid would not budge.

"Oh?" Feng Bujue was shocked. He placed the flashlight next to his head and used all his limbs to push. He even kicked at it several times, but the lid simply would not budge. After some struggling, just as he wanted to take a breather, on the coffin lid, the piece of wood that was facing him suddenly bulged forward and slowly morphed into the shape of a human face.

The gender of the face was hard to tell, and its voice was like that of an old witch. It told Feng Bujue, "Dying man, do you want to leave here?"

"Yes," Feng Bujue replied. He did want to see what kind of tricks this coffin monster could be up to.

"What can you give me?" the coffin lid asked.

Then the system audio sounded. "You can sacrifice a piece of equipment that is of normal quality or higher to have the monster teleport you out of the cellar."

Oh… So, I 'can' sacrifice, is it? Feng Bujue thought. In other words, I can choose not to sacrifice. That must be right… Because if the player doesn't have any appropriate equipment, then would they be trapped here forever? That doesn't seem likely… there has to be another exit.

"Coffin, I have nothing to give you," Feng Bujue said. The face suddenly underwent a drastic change; the lips and eyes peeled open, and the face turned scary. If this was a normal person, they would have been scared, but in reality, it was merely a human face floating on a wooden board; it was unable to attack the people lying inside the coffin. At most, it could only scare them, which would not work on Feng Bujue.

"Then you'll be trapped here forever, before wasting away in fear and hunger. Even when your nails are bloody from the scratches, even when your knees and ankles are cracked from the kicks, you'll never be able to…"

Feng Bujue removed the M1911A1 pistol from his backpack and switched the safety lock off.

"Let me introduce you to a friend of mine…" Feng Bujue aimed the barrel at the space between the face's brows. "It's a little thing that was made after the second industrial revolution."

"The damage caused by the weapon in your hand is not enough for you to escape. One or two small wounds is nothing," the lid replied.

"I know you can change and recover, but what about the coffin boards next to me, above my head, and underneath me?" Feng Bujue asked.

The face on the lid laughed, and at the same time, the carved handwriting near Feng Bujue's head and the surrounding scratch marks disappeared. "What about them?"

"Oh… So that's it. Since the quest has been received and the secret of the coffin has been discovered, the hints of the scratch marks can be removed," Feng Bujue said as he put the gun away.

"Now, have you changed your mind?" the lid said again. "You can give me the weapon you were holding earlier, and I'll let you out immediately."

Feng Bujue pulled out the kitchen knife and Mario's Wrench without stopping to take a breath. "Now you have two choices, one is to teleport me back into the house and end this happy conversation."

He raised his arm to left a deep cut on the coffin board. "Or two, I will cut you up into pieces and feed you into the oven."

Several seconds later, Feng Bujue successfully reappeared inside the house, but he was not back in the living room where he disappeared from but in a corridor. There was a painting on the wall next to him, but the painting was not of an underground tunnel but a twisted and ugly human face.

He did not stop to waste his time. He checked his Life Points, which were still full, and Stamina Points, which were high and continued his exploration.

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