Chapter 60: Beat The Drum, Pass The Flowers (3)
Just as Jiang He took Zheng Yingying to leave Zone G, Jin Cheng and Tang Cuo in the dungeon had played two more rounds and successfully obtained the first slip.
The word on the slip was ― 门 (noun, meaning ‘door’).
The big man turned at them again: “Do you have anything you want to say to me?”
There was only one word, so they obviously couldn’t make up a whole sentence. The game thus continued.
The drumbeat started again, and the remaining ten players continued to pass the hydrangeas according to Tang Cuo’s instructions, while Jin Cheng was responsible for whatever last-minute rescue. The speed at which the NPCs passed the flowers basically remained unchanged, and the round of the game soon ended.
This time, there was no paper slip in the red hydrangeas, and the player who got the flowers continued to choose to answer a question exactly as Jin Cheng instructed. Jin Cheng truly had a wealth of diverse knowledge; unless the questions were nonsensical like those back in [Conquering Demon City], he could basically answer them all.
Since this was just a Zone F dungeon, the questions asked wouldn’t be excessively difficult, not to mention, he could cheat using the walkthrough.
The next round soon started, and after four rounds, Tang Cuo clearly felt that the drumbeat was getting more and more irregular. It could suddenly speed up or slow down, and the timing of the hammers was becoming tougher to predict. Once, the hammers beat two times, one right after another, making Tang Cuo unable to control which person the hydrangeas would fall on.
Luckily, Jin Cheng reacted quickly enough and knocked out three NPCs amid the extremely fast drumbeat. With such a desperate move, he could finally send the hydrangeas to a player.
At this point, they got the second slip ― 忘了 (verb, meaning ‘forget’).
Forgot? Forgot what? Forgot to close the door?
The words on the two pieces of paper seemed to be related, but were still not enough to take a risk.
After seven rounds of the game, they were still lacking two slips.
Although the hydrangeas were becoming increasingly difficult to control, Tang Cuo didn’t give up, because doing this meant double insurance. Among all the participants, six NPCs had been knocked out by Jin Cheng and disappeared right after falling out of their chairs. Although the other NPCs remained indifferent about this, Tang Cuo was worried that too many knock-outs would trigger punishment. If they slowed down a bit, they wouldn’t lose anything.
In the thirteenth round, they obtained the third slip ― 关 (verb, meaning ‘close’, ‘relate’ or ‘link’).
No. 6, who performed well in the first round, immediately rejoiced: “It’s really ‘忘了关门’ (‘Forgot to close the door’)! Totally fitting!”
The feeling of being led to victory by a big boss was really great!
No. 7 next to him asked a question that ruptured his excitement like a bullet: “But there are four slips of paper, so what is written on the last one? Will it be an exclamation particle like ‘ah’, or a pronoun like ‘you’? Or ‘again’? ‘Forgot to close the door ah’, ‘forgot to close the door again’ or ‘you forgot to close the door’? You tell me, which ‘forgot to close the door’ should it be?”
No. 6 felt his head almost explode. He just ran into a math question, and now a language question? Couldn’t he just smoothly win with the big boss’ guidance?
He glanced sullenly at No.7: “I’m gonna shut up now, don’t talk to me.”
No.7, who was perhaps a representative of the language class, continued: “And it could even be an inverted sentence. Maybe it’s not ‘忘了关门’ but ‘门忘了关’? (both of which mean ‘forgot to close the door’, but written in different word orders)
The remaining players all showed a blank expression.
Jin Cheng looked at Tang Cuo.
Tang Cuo was expressionless: “Don’t look at me, I’m illiterate.”
The remaining players: “???”
Big boss, what did you just say? Say it again? How can you say that you are illiterate so confidently?
At this point, the big man turned around and asked again: “Do you have anything you want to say to me?”
Since there would be punishment for a wrong guess, they chose to move onto the next round.
For the next six rounds, the fourth slip didn’t appear, and the number of participants had reduced from 56 to 41.
Fifteen empty chairs were especially eye-catching.
Jin Cheng suddenly had an ominous hunch. Considering his and Tang Cuo’s luck, what if the last slip only emerged at the 49th round? Then how would that be any different from surviving 49 rounds of game?
Then why should they even bother wasting efforts on guessing the phrase?
“I have a question, what kind of ‘door’ is it?” Tang Cuo suddenly interrupted his thoughts.
At this moment, the game was still going on at an unpredictable pace. The big man was still slamming his drum sticks hard and the NPCs were still committing all their attention to the game; only the players were constantly being distracted.
Tang Cuo felt that the key to the phrase ‘forgot to close the door’ wasn’t about who closed the door, but what kind of door it was. Most of the dungeons of Yong Ye City always followed a certain logic. According to the walkthrough, although the words that appeared were different each time, there must be a standard ― it must be a phrase that signalled something so important that the big man would stop beating the drum altogether.
For example, there was a sentence recorded in the walkthrough, which was ― ‘Something went wrong in the boiler room’.
So, what kind of door would make people panic if it wasn’t closed? With four strips combined together, the phrase ‘forgot to close the door’ would still miss a subject, which meant that the person who said the sentence was trying to point to a specific door.
For example, if it was about a guarding the warehouse, the key to clear the game would lie in ‘the warehouse’.
Jin Cheng quickly understood what he meant, but after thinking for a second, he didn’t directly ask the question about the door. Instead, he pointed to the drummer and asked all the NPCs: “Who is he?”
The NPCs gave him a strange look, then replied in unison: “He’s Da Jin from the boiler room.”
He asked again: “What door is there in the boiler room?”
The NPCs looked at each other. What kind of door could there be? It was just a door. Meanwhile, the players also started thinking that perhaps there must be a problem with the boiler room door, so that Da Jin stopped the game and rushed over.
No. 7 spoke again: “Not a door (门), but there are valves (阀门) in the boiler room.”
At this moment, the hammers sounded for the third time. Tang Cuoxin quickly directed his attention to the position of the red hydrangeas and continued to command: “No. 5, slow down.”
“No. 6, slow down.”
“No. 7, slow down.”
Tang Cuo said, looking at Jin Cheng again and asked: “Shall we try?”
Jin Cheng flicked his wrists, glancing at the bush of red hydrangeas that was approaching him and said: “Yes.”
“Boom! Boom!” As the hammers slammed for the fourth time, Tang Cuo had everyone speed up and the red hydrangeas neatly fell into Jin Cheng’s hands. Jin Cheng searched the bush but found no slip.
The bald man turned around and asked: “Do you choose to give a performance or answer a question?”
Jin Cheng: “Answer a question.”
The bald man began to chant another poem:
“A guides his sheeps to the lawn,
B pulls one sheep to follow,
B asks A, ‘When will yours reach one hundred?’
A says, ‘Hm, it won’t be long,
With this herd that I do have,
Adding half nicely makes half,
Then I also need your one.’
This mystery, who can guess,
How many sheeps does A have?”
As his voice fell, the players collectively felt their heads spinning and No.6 even clutched his head in pain, beginning to question his whole life ― because he totally couldn’t understand the question this time! (T/N: Note that the poem has been translated such that it sounds slightly more literal. The original Chinese is rather cryptic, that’s why No. 6 says he couldn’t quite understand it.)
At least he understood the previous math poem!
Everyone gave Jin Cheng a hopeful look, and Tang Cuo also looked at him, because this question never appeared in the walkthrough.
Jin Cheng didn’t rush to answer. He playfully looked at Tang Cuo and asked: “Do you think I can answer it?”
Tang Cuo: “Didn’t you take the university entrance examination?”
Jin Cheng: “You didn’t?”
Tang Cuo: “I failed, thank you.”
Tang Cuo only graduated from junior high school, but it wasn’t like Jin Cheng intentionally poked his scars. He really didn’t remember that detail, and he never deliberately paid attention to other people’s academic qualifications anyway.
Jin Cheng touched his nose: “It doesn’t matter. Look at them, they look like they have taken the university entrance examination, but they still can’t answer.”
The remaining players: “???”
System, I’d like to report that I was personally attacked!
Tang Cuo could actually answer, but this time he resolutely stood on side of the other players to collaboratively protest against this smart dude Jin Cheng.
Jin Cheng felt the loneliness of being the family’s black sheep and spread his hands, looking all innocent and helpless. That said, his expression quickly became serious as he looked at the big man and replied: “A has thirty-three sheeps.”
The big man: “The answer is correct.”
The players decided to give up thinking and simply let this question be gotten over with. Whoever loved to solve riddles could go do it themselves. In any case, they wouldn’t choose to do math even if they died.
But wait, they were already dead.
So they indeed died without having to do math.
At this moment, the big man asked again: “Do you have anything you want to say to me?”
This one sentence had all the players instantly throw the math question just now to the back of their mind. The whole group simultaneously became nervous. Jin Cheng said that he could try, so whether they could clear the game all depended on this round.
Living up to the others’ expectations, Jin Cheng spoke to the big man very straightforwardly.
“I want to say to you that: ‘You forgot to close the door’.”
This was the whole group’s most convenient guess.
But the answer was wrong. In a blink, the big man went berserk and started hitting Jin Cheng with his drum sticks. Jin Cheng had prepared for this early on, but he didn’t use his fierce arrow, instead, he split the bow into two scimitars and got into close combat with the big man.
As his scimitars gleamed brightly, Jin Cheng continuously shouted different combinations of the words into the big man’s ears.
Tang Cuo leaned forward slightly and watched them intently.
The rest of the players gradually realised that Jin Cheng was deliberately buying time and testing all the combinations before the punishment was over. Simple, crude and fast.
But this method might apply to Jin Cheng only, because the big man’s combat power was too strong. Players in Zone F were unlikely able to endure such damage. They would be beaten to a pulp with just one careless move.
And the only chance of them leaving their seat would be only when the player holding the red hydrangeas chose to give a performance.
“Smash!” Jin Cheng cut off half of the drum stick and it thumped on the ground. Already about to trot back to his drum, the big man went berserk again, then he turned around and took out another completely new drum stick.
As the drum stick rode along the wind and magnified in his eyes, Jin Cheng flipped backwards to dodge the attack right at the last second. He landed with his toes on the drum stick. At that very moment, he merged his two scimitars back into one bow, mounted the arrow, aimed it perfectly and smiled at his target ―
“Forgot to close the valve.” (阀门忘了关. 阀 is the missing character. Character 门 combined with 阀 make 阀门, which means ‘valve’)
“The game is over. Congratulations to the players for successfully completing the mission [Beat The Drum, Pass The Flowers]!”
“We will begin to calculate the rewards now.”
The system announcement came promptly as usual, but Jin Cheng’s arrow didn’t stop. As the word ‘rewards’ landed, with a heavy “crash”, the big man flew into the red drum under the arrow’s powerful impact.
After all that, he put away his bow and arrow, turned towards Tang Cuo and raised his lips.
Tang Cuo remained expressionless and inexplicably felt that Jin Cheng looked like a peacock spreading its tail. Indeed it was quite a show-off, but perhaps Tang Cuo himself was a boring, uninteresting man, so he was slightly biased towards such a grandeur display.
The other players didn’t notice the unspoken undercurrent surging between the two of them, for they were immersed in the joy of winning without having to even lift their fingers.
“[Beat The Drum, Pass The Flowers], Difficulty: Hard, Initial players: 12, Survivors: 12, Rating: A, Character points to be earned: 25.”
“For the remaining personal rewards, players please check the system panel by yourselves.”
“Welcome back to Yong Ye City!”
Returning to his room on East Cross Street, Tang Cuo roughly glanced at the rewards and didn’t find any special equipment or skills. After quickly adding some points, he immediately headed to the game hall to do the next mission.
Unexpectedly, as he opened the door, a big red hydrangea was thrown into his arms.
Jin Cheng leaned at the door and said: “This is the system’s reward for me, now it’s for you.”
Tang Cuo: “…”
He was wondering what kind of straight man Jin Cheng really was, such that he could gift such a spectacular thing, like this big red flower. Taking a closer look, this hydrangea was actually a high-quality equipment.
[Big Red Flower]
Description: The big red flower used by Bao Le Machine Tools Factory to reward the best employee of the year. By wearing it, you can get a special buff that doubles the reward points upon clearance of the game (Item with limited consumption, remaining uses: 2/3).
In his head, Tang Cuo first wanted to decline the gift, but this buff made his heart flutter. He immediately asked Jin Cheng: “Your points have doubled?”
Jin Cheng smiled: “Yes, 25 points are doubled, so that’s 50 points. I’m 2 points away from being able to level up, so you have to use this red flower buff in the next dungeon, otherwise we’ll be separated.”
I’d like to be separated, thank you.
At the same time, news of the twelve movements appearing in the dungeon of Zone E was being circulated even faster. No one knew who leaked the information out, or whether the act was deliberate, but this time, even ordinary players heard of it.
With the end of the dungeon [Beat The Drum, Pass The Flowers], the other ten players returned to Zone F, and the news that Jin Cheng and Tang Cuo were bringing all other players to smooth victory spread like wildfire.
Under both triggers, more and more people gathered in the game hall in the central area, gradually reaching this year’s peak attendance.
The translator has something to say: Here’s a quick explanation to the sheep poem, in case anyone needs it:
A guides his sheeps to the lawn,
B pulls one sheep to follow,
B asks A, ‘When will yours reach one hundred?’
A says, ‘Hm, it won’t be long,
With this herd that I do have, which is 33 sheeps
Adding half nicely makes half, which is 33 + 33/2 = 49.5, making half of 100
Then I also need your one.’ which is 49.5 x 2 = 99, then 99 + 1 (from B) = 100.
Translator and reviewer at Strictly Bromance blog. In essence, she lives to indulge in plot-driven stories sprinkled with camaraderie and slow-burn drama-free romance, especially more so if they belong to adventure, mystery or supernatural genre. A trope that she always thirsts after: “Comrades who go through life and death together”.