Chapter 74.1: Before Dawn (13) (Part 1)
By the time there were only two hours left before the clock hit 12 o’clock in 1926, Tang Cuo still hadn’t found the gift the butler brought back from the bank.
The three returned to the phone.
Qi Hui came up with a thought: “After all, the reason why the butler took out the gift in advance was because Yu Wangnian instructed him to do so.”
Jin Cheng leaned on the flower rack with his arms folded. Seeing Qi Hui getting closer to ‘being useful’, he said: “Go on.”
Qi Hui: “Is Yu Wangnian already foreseeing the tragedy? They had lived together in this cage of a mansion for so long and their sanity was about to collapse soon. He might have noticed something, so he took out the gift to give to his daughter. Something like… leaving it to her to take care of everything after they died.”
This line of thought wasn’t illogical.
Judging from how each ghost behaved, the lady was killed by her daughter and had been taking poison before her death, so she harboured the most resentment and became an angry ghost. But Yu Wangnian, who was supposed to be the most terrifying, was just a normal ghost like the others, which showed that he held only a bit of grievance when he died. Perhaps he really did expect the ending of Yu Mansion.
For Yu Wangnian, this might be a relief. He indirectly killed his younger brother, then his wife later died. All the love, guilt and regret disappeared following their deaths.
Saying all this, the gift was still missing.
Tang Cuo went to the young miss’ and the butler’s rooms again, then headed to Yu Wangnian’s study. He almost peeled off the walls on all the rooms yet still found no clues.
Where did he miss?
Tang Cuo stood in the middle of Yu Wangyue’s room and went through some serious thinking. The door was open wide. From here, he could see the lady’s room. But would the gift be there?
The lady’s room could not be opened. The key was most likely in the last dimension that they hadn’t yet visited. Did they have to go there to get the key and come back here?
In the year 1936, the young miss took away Yu Wangnian’s diary most likely because of the information about the gift recorded in it. She didn’t know that the gift had been taken out in advance.
It could be seen that the gift hadn’t yet been given to her.
If it was the butler who went to fetch it from the bank, most likely he still kept it with him later. Where would he put such an important thing?
Tang Cuo once again glanced at the lady’s room. A bright light flashed through his mind and he rushed to the kitchen.
Qi Hui was standing on the corridor connecting the living room and the kitchen. Seeing Tang Cuo almost sliding down the stair railing, he hurriedly stepped away, then he closely chased behind the big boss: “Tang ge, what’s the matter?”
Tang Cuo said concisely: “The password box.”
The password box that was used to hold the medicine.
In 1924, Tang Cuo found a metal box with a password lock in the kitchen, which contained the lady’ medicine. He threw it aside after opening it, because there was really nothing else to notice about a box of medicine.
He subconsciously paid no mind to it later.
But in 1926, the contents of this box might have changed
Very quickly, Tang Cuo found the box in its original location and tried the password that he previously used, but it couldn’t be opened anymore.
Qi Hui became excited: “The password has changed, that means the contents must have changed too.”
Tang Cuo didn’t respond and focused on cracking the password. He first tried using the young miss’ date of birth but couldn’t open it, then he tried the date that the gift was retrieved from the bank, but it still didn’t work.
Out of nowhere, Jin Cheng popped up. He leaned against the door and said: “Since it’s a gift to celebrate her 18th birthday, maybe Yu Wangnian wants his daughter to open it exactly on the day she turns 18. You should try that date.”
This line of thought really was marvellous.
The young miss’s date of birth was 6th February 1918. The date she reached 18 would be 6th February 1936. Tang Cuo entered ‘360206’ with the mentality of just giving it a try, but he unexpectedly succeeded.
Qi Hui’s jaws literally dropped.
Tang Cuo was also silent for two seconds, then he calmly opened the box and took out a music box from it. The music box was very heavy, made of pure silver and adorned with a dozen pieces of ruby, sapphire and crystals. It must be expensive to build.
There was also a card underneath, where a line written with a fountain pen could be seen: “Father loves you. Yu Wangnian.”
Tang Cuo opened the music box and wound it but no music came out, so he decided to take it apart.
Qi Hui felt that this was too fierce and couldn’t help but ask: “If we take it apart now, can we put it back later?”
Tang Cuo didn’t say a word. Instead, he just looked up at Jin Cheng and blinked a few times.
Jin Cheng thought Tang Cuo was cute and his head went dizzy for a second: “Do it, I’ll put it back for you later.” [T/N: Sir, you haven’t even started dating and already flushed all your shame down the drain… (。￣□￣)]
Tang Cuo then glanced at Qi Hui, lowered his head and continued to disassemble the music box. Qi Hui felt a bit odd. Something wasn’t right, but he couldn’t quite tell what it was.
In short, he felt so redundant.
Five minutes later, the music box became a scattered pile of parts. Tang Cuo sat cross-legged on the ground playing with them while Jin Cheng squatted in front of him, watching with his head resting on his chin.
When Tang Cuo finally determined that there was nothing hidden in the music box, he pushed the parts towards Jin Cheng. Jin Cheng had no choice but to put them all back.
The two didn’t say a word during the whole process, but the natural understanding between them had implicitly advised Qi Hui to retreat ten meters away and keep himself to the phone, all lonely and desolate.
The only one lonelier than him was Rong Yi in 1936. He was not only lonely but also exhausted physically and mentally. These NPCs in 1936 were really ready to go berserk at every turn or set fire at every moment. Jin Cheng and Tang Cuo were golden partners, both having big brains and top-notch skills, while he was only one person. This was tiring to deal with.
After finally getting the key, he racked his brain to unlock the safe in the young miss’ room. After connecting these with the clues he had obtained before, he knew he had to return to 1926. But thinking about how Jin Cheng and Tang Cuo were also there, he hesitated.
If he went there now, he would be majorly disadvantaged.
After pondering the thought for a while, Rong Yi made a decision. He adjusted the time to one last time, and at the sound of the clock hitting 12 o’clock, Rong Yi’s figure instantly disappeared from 1936.
On the other side, Tang Cuo put away the music box and began to organise all the clues with Jin Cheng. There was only one last dimension remaining, and the outline of the story had come out. They might save a bit of time if they arranged these clues better.
Rong Yi probably had also obtained most of the clues, so now the most important factor was time.
More than an hour later, at 12 o’clock, the three of them crossed smoothly to 1916.
Yu Mansion in 1916 was a slightly different existence from other dimensions’. It was spacious and bright, with all the lights on and no iron railings outside the windows. Everything was clean and tidy. In the living room, there were even snacks on the coffee table and a ‘Double Happiness’ 1 on the door. It was such a bright, positive shade of red.
Suddenly switching from a haunted house to a dazzling house sent Qi Hui into a daze for a moment, but luckily, Tang Cuo quickly pulled him back to reality.
“Look for a corpse.”
Qi Hui widened his eyes: “A corpse?”
“There are murders in every dimension so far. Of course this one is no exception.” Tang Cuo quicky explained, then he turned around and walked to the basement. In one straight path, he walked extremely fast, opened the cupboard and headed down the stairs.
But he was blocked by the basement door because the key didn’t match.
Jin Cheng bent over to carefully look at the keyhole: “The lock has changed. This isn’t the lock in later years.”
Tang Cuo sharply caught a smell of blood from the basement. He asked for the glass lamp from Jin Cheng and brought it towards a crack on the door that was only the size of half a finger. As Tang Cuo looked through it, Qi Hui also leaned over to take a look. With only one glance, he fell backwards, his whole body shaking violently.
“There’s someone’s eye. An eye was looking at me!” Qi Hui was still in shock and panting hard. It was truly frightening. The eye in the crack was open wide and utterly bloodshot, as if its eyeball was about to pop out any moment. It was as though someone was also trying to figure it what was on the other side of the door through the crack.
Tang Cuo wasn’t scared, but his expression turned solemn: “It’s a player.”
Qi Hui was dumbfounded.
Tang Cuo turned his head: “You come take a look.”
What does he mean?
Qi Hui didn’t understand for a moment, or refused to understand, but Tang Cuo had already shifted his position so he could only bite the bullet and look at it with his heart drumming in his chest.
“Meng, Meng Ping.” Qi Hui finally recognised the other person when he saw the mole at the corner of the man’s eye. He shouted the name in disbelief, feeling himself going crazy: “What’s wrong with you? Meng Ping, you answer me!”
Tang Cuo and Jin Cheng didn’t speak and waited quietly for Qi Hui to finish venting and to accept the fact that Meng Ping was actually dead.
“Why did he die here quietly?” Qi Hui grabbed his hair. Although his emotions had gradually stabilised, he still felt like he could collapse any moment now.
“There are six players in the dungeon. You, me, Tang Cuo, Zhou Dahai and Rong Yi only made five people. Of course there’s a sixth. He wasn’t in any dimension we went to before, so he can only be here. But from the beginning till the end, he never responded to our calls.” Jin Cheng said.
Tang Cuo continued: “If he never responds, it means either he’s a powerful player like Rong Yi or he’s trapped somewhere. Ten hours have passed since we entered the dungeon. It must have been dawn, so he certainly has met his death.”
Hearing this, Qi Hui understood at once. He just couldn’t get to grips with it for a while. It would be easier to accept if Meng Ping unfortunately died during a boss fight, but what actually happened was that he was trapped till death.
How desperate and hopeless must he have felt in his last moments? The phone rang so many times but he couldn’t call for help even once. Qi Hui didn’t have the heart to think of such a scene.
“There should be corpses inside.” Tang Cuo dropped another bomb.
“Why do you think so?” Jin Cheng asked.
“Every dimension begins with death. It should be an NPC who dies, not a player. Meng Ping just happens to die here. At this time of 1916, it should be roughly around the wedding. If dead people appear on such a joyous day and you are the owner, what will you do?”
“Temporarily hide their corpses.”
Tang Cuo nodded.
If the corpses were to be hidden, the most suitable place in this mansion would be either the attic or the basement. Any normal guest would definitely not go to these two places.
Since Zhou Dahai said that there were traces of writing on the walls of the basement, there must be some story hidden there. This was the reason why Tang Cuo was inclined to think that the corpses were in the basement.
The two immediately headed to the attic to confirm. The attic in 1916 wasn’t locked, and as they pushed the door in, welcoming them were various miscellaneous items. There was also no butler’s keychain in this dimension, however, a different schedule was written on the blackboard.
[6 AM: Preparation work
7 AM: Breakfast
9 AM: Send the second master away
12 PM: Lunch
1 PM: Afternoon tea
6 PM: Dinner
9 PM: Clean up miscellaneous items]
It seemed like a normal schedule, but the last line had Tang Cuo particularly concerned. For a large family like this, what miscellaneous items had to be cleaned up at 9 o’clock in the evening? It was also illogical for the butler to start cleaning up only at such a late timing.
“What time is it now?” He asked Jin Cheng.
“9:28 PM. This ‘cleaning up miscellaneous items’ is likely about cleaning up the dead bodies. If someone dies, the corpse can’t be left there forever.” Jin Cheng said.
This implied that the body Tang Cuo was looking for might no longer be there.
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”.