The Trial Game of Life

The Trial Game of Life – Chapter 8

Table of Contents | Character Guide

Chapter 8: On A Snowy Night, He Returns (2)

Ten minutes later, everyone gathered in the hall downstairs to make dumplings.

The round-faced staff almost fainted when she saw the body and was still in shock, so she definitely could no longer bear the responsibility of making dumplings. However, except for one middle-aged man, all of them were young and were not proficient in this aspect. Even the three ladies were not much help either.

Woman In Red was sitting alone with an air of indifference around her, Jacket Woman was acting all timid while the beautiful Short-haired Girl was actively talking with the staff.

In the end, the middle-aged man and the two boys who looked like students took up the rolling pin. Buzz Cut curiously and solemnly studied the minced meat fillings in the bowl, as though he was waiting for a flower to bloom from the meat.

“May I ask, is this meat clean?” he asked.

The hall was rather quiet, so when he spit out this sentence, everyone heard it and understood ― shady business, human meat, typical trope.

The staff cried out: “How can you say that?”

Buzz Cut was a little embarrassed and turned to look for help from Black Glasses. Black Glasses seemed to think of something, then he put down the dumpling skin and said: “I’ll go to the kitchen to see.” 

Jacket Man also stood up immediately: “I’m coming with you.” 

The staff became even more sullen, so Short-haired Girl took the opportunity to ask: “You know that Li Ying Jun, right? Who is he? Why did he die here?”

“I don’t know why.” The staff sobbed softly and said: “He is the best woodcutter around here. All the firewood is usually delivered by him. I don’t know how he suddenly died here. We consider him our own woodcutter, but now he is dead, what should we do now…… “

A woodcutter.

Tang Cuo and Jin Cheng looked at each other and both saw the same line of thought in the other person’s eyes. Tang Cuo put his hands in the trench coat pockets and asked: “Did you see where they keep the firewood when you went down just now?”

Jin Cheng: “In the backyard.”

Without another word, the two immediately headed for the backyard .

Buzz Cut hurriedly asked: “Where are you going?”

Neither of them looked back. Jin Cheng just waved his hand: “To look at the firewood.” 

The backyard was a small space of more than 10 square meters enclosed by wooden stakes. On the right was a storage shed covered in dried grasses. The wind howled strongly, and from time to time, a few grasses would fall to the ground and quickly be covered by the heavy snow.

Outside of the backyard was a thick forest. The hostel was located on a gentle slope halfway uphill. Looking in front, there were neither shophouses nor villages, and looking around, there were no signs of other humans. 

The storage shed had no doors, and because today’s wind was blowing from behind, not much snow had fallen into the shed. All the firewood was neatly stacked against the wall and covered with a layer of waterproof canvas. On the other side of the shed were chainsaws, hemp rope, hammers and other working tools.

Tang Cuo lifted the canvas and glanced at the firewood. It was a mix of both old and new logs, and some of the logs on the surface seemed to be newly cut. Only one thing was odd — the firewood wasn’t dry, rather, it felt smooth and gave off a light, strange yet pleasant scent.

“What tree is this?” Tang Cuo asked.

“It doesn’t look like a common type.” Jin Cheng also squatted down and picked up one log to check, but the feel of the firewood was really bad. He quickly threw it away and took out his handkerchief to wipe his hands in disgust.

Then he looked at the forest behind him and said: “If we want to know, maybe we’ll have to go in and see.” 

But no matter what kind of story it was, there was always a universal rule ― never enter the forest.

Tang Cuo walked out cautiously and swept a glance across the windows on the second floor to locate the window of the common bathroom. Looking down from the window, the ground was perfectly covered in white snow and there were no footprints.

Jin Cheng said: “The snow is heavy so all footprints can be covered in ten minutes.”

Tang Cuo: “When you found the bronze trophy, was it covered in snow?”

Jin Cheng: “The bronze trophy was directly under the window and there was only a little snow on it.” 

In other words, the bronze trophy was thrown down just a few minutes before they found the body.

As they have figured up to this point, Jin Cheng said: “Every time I enter a new place, I will go one round first, so no one should find the body before me. Then the person who threw the bronze trophy is either the staff or the NPC hidden among the nine of us.”

Tang Cuo: “Why did he throw it away?”

Jin Cheng wiped his hands slowly and said with a smile: “This is what you the great detective should think about.”

He called Tang Cuo a ‘great detective’, but there was no way he could guess Tang Cuo’s profession back then. Tang Cuo didn’t think much about it anyway. He looked around to find nothing particularly of interest and went back into the house.

Black Glasses and Jacket Man had also returned from the kitchen. They both said that there was nothing unusual and the freezer contained just normal pork and beef. They even discovered an underground storage room but found only fresh potatoes, Chinese cabbages and radishes inside.

All in all, except for the body hidden in the locker, this place looked like an ordinary hostel.

Everyone felt a bit more at ease, and naturally they could have their dinner without any trauma. The staff was still in shock and had retreated to her room. Jacket Woman bit her lips and considered the thought for a moment before finally taking up the task of cooking the dumplings.

“Let me. I’ll do it.”

No matter how the environment was, hot food always made people happy. Next to the main hall was the lounge equipped with some leisure facilities such as a bar counter, a billiard table as well as a few small tables against the wall, and the two rooms were connected to each other. Everyone sat down in small groups to eat the dumplings, the atmosphere becoming rather pleasant.

Buzz Cut was the most lively and he took the lead in introducing himself: “My name is Qian Wei, this is my schoolmate Peng Mingfan. The two of us have been doing missions together and our results are a bit sloppy. I hope everyone will be easy on us.” 

Jack Man followed immediately: “I’m Zhao Ping and this is my partner Li Shuangshuang. We came to this world at the same time.”

A partner, not a girlfriend. Tang Cuo noted down silently.

Tang Cuo could see that these people were not first-timers. Although some were very timid, they acted very cautiously and also didn’t panic. Woman In Red was a newcomer, but she remained cold and only spit out a name ―

“Qu Li.” 

Middle-aged Man glanced at her and said: “Zhang Zhiqiu.” 

Short-haired Girl smiled heartily: “You can call me An Ning.” 

After Tang Cuo and Jin Cheng introduced themselves, the atmosphere froze again. Tang Cuo brazenly observed everyone, but he didn’t expect that Qu Li would look back at him after he stared at her for a few times.

Jin Cheng felt delighted.

Qian Wei exchanged a look with Peng Mingfan, then cleared his throat and said: “So we… what should we do now? We are told to kill Ying Jun, but Ying Jun is dead. Are we looking for the culprit now?” 

An Ning said: “Are you sure that the culprit is now among us? Is it the NPC?”

“I didn’t say that!” Qian Wei jumped anxiously.

“First of all, we have to know if anyone among the players is meant to play as the culprit. Are we outsiders or are we characters in this story?” Peng Mingfan pushed his glasses up; he was very young but definitely wise. “Although Blizzard Mountain Mansion is a reasoning game, the games of Yong Ye City won’t be as simple as just pure reasoning. Some people will die next.” 

The middle-aged man Zhang Zhiqiu nodded: “Ying Jun is dead but the game still hasn’t ended, which means either he is not actually dead or that person is not the real Ying Jun.”

Zhao Ping was stunned and immediately asked: “But the staff also said that he was Li Ying Jun, not to mention the ID card which proves his identity. If that isn’t he, then who is Ying Jun?”

There were nine of them here. Who was Ying Jun?

Did it mean that Ying Jun had not yet appeared?

Or could he possess someone else’s body?

Tang Cuo and Jin Cheng didn’t participate in the whole discussion. The two sat at the tea table by the window, next to the iron rack against the wall that had many books and potted plants on it.

Jin Cheng found a box of jigsaw puzzle from a pile of books. An Impressionism-style oil painting of four trees against the setting sun was printed on the box. He seemed quite pleased and poured all the pieces out loudly, aggressively occupying more than half of the table. By the time everyone finished the discussion, he had already completed one corner.

The result of the discussion was ― wait and see.

There was no other way.

At this point, Zhang Zhiqiu showed off some leadership qualities: “Although we entered the dungeon in the morning, it is best to act in accordance with the time zone inside the dungeon, otherwise we will lose energy at the critical moment. It’s now evening, everyone, let’s return to our rooms to rest. But don’t try to wander off alone during this time, okay? The three ladies should sleep in one room and the others can arrange themselves, at least two persons in each room. If something happens, shout out at once.”

There was nothing to refute. Even Qu Li who couldn’t mix in with the group didn’t object.

This hostel was small and the rooms mostly had bunk beds in a dormitory style. There was also a single room and a standard room. The men gave up the standard room to the women; no one wanted the single room so all men ended up with the bunk beds. Anyway, everyone could choose to sleep in the lower bunk, which was already quite convenient.

The final result was: one room for Zhang Zhiqiu and Zhao Ping, one room for the two students and one room for Tang Cuo and Jin Cheng.

Before returning to the room, Tang Cuo took another look at the common bathroom.

Li Ying Jun’s body was still the same as before and his limbs were becoming stiff. Jin Cheng leaned his arms against the washbasin and said: “This is not like a low-level game for Zone F.”

Tang Cuo turned back: “How do you know?”

Jin Cheng: “Generally in a low-level game, the newcomers are reckless and die easily, but that sort of game is usually not difficult and the plot setting is quite straightforward. But the players in this game are cautious, and they seem to be of a pretty high level. The middle-aged man should be a gun user, judging from the obvious callus on his hand. So ― the system seems to have a high opinion of you. How did you get sent to Zone F?”

They had been going round and round from one topic to another, then all of a sudden it came back to Tang Cuo. He deflected the question: “You mean, the system triggers priority based on its assessment of me and arranges the players in this way because of me?”

Jin Cheng: “Absolutely.” (T/N: originally written in English)

What bullshit. Tang Cuo hated using foreign languages.

“Why can’t it be because of you?” Tang Cuo asked.

“Because they aren’t good enough.” Jin Cheng said.

Narcissism is an illness.

Tang Cuo figured that Jin Cheng’s illness must be quite serious, so he didn’t bother to talk anymore and went straight back to their room. The room was randomly picked but it felt rather pleasant with its fresh navy blue walls.

On the other side, in the room of the two students.

Qian Wei hung himself on the bed pole like a monkey and racked his brain to think about Li Ying Jun, saying: “Don’t you think the masked man is suspicious? He was the first to find the body then the weapon, and his face is covered. Why didn’t you let me test him just now?”

Peng Mingfan asked back: “What about the person next to him? The two of them obviously know each other, but there is only one NPC.”

Qian Wei] shut down. After a long silence, he slapped his head: “Aren’t those who are alone the most suspicious? The one in red, and also Zhang Zhiqiu.”

“A lone player can also be a newcomer.” Peng Mingfan pushed his glasses up and said: “Don’t you think it’s strange? When we entered the game, it was only around 10 AM. What kind of newcomer is so powerful and just goes straight to the mission barely 24 hours after entering Yong Ye City?”

Qian Wei finally could react and was shocked to the core. Back then, they dragged on for more than a week to fully prepare themselves before they dared to take the mission. Most of the new players actually waited until the very last moment, when they were standing on the thin line between life and death, to enter the first game.

This newcomer surely wasn’t a simple one.

Who was he or she?

The same doubts were also lingering in the air in the room next door. Zhang Zhiqiu and Zhao Ping only met each other for the first time, so they didn’t talk much as they were afraid that the other person might be the NPC.

The night passed uneventfully.

The next day, at 5.30 in the morning, the hurried knock on the door broke the tranquility of the hostel.

“Wake up! Something happened!” Short-haired girl An Ning banged on the door from room to room like a whirlwind blowing across the corridor, waking everyone up.

Last night, everyone slept in the same clothes so they got up very quickly. They turned up in the corridor in just five minutes, asking each other what was going on.

Li Shuangshuang sat in front of the door of the second-last room, her face white from fear. Seeing everyone coming over, she quickly stood up and said: “She’s gone! Qu Li who slept with us last night was gone. There were no signs at all, neither of us felt anything. When we woke up, she…”

At this moment, An Ning rushed in, grasping for breath and saying: “She’s not downstairs.”

Zhang Zhiqiu frowned: “When did you find her missing?” 

An Ning’s face didn’t look too good either: “We didn’t see anyone when we woke up, so we don’t know when she disappeared.”

Zhang Zhiqiu: “You didn’t hear anything last night?”

Both An Aing and Li Shuangshuang shook their heads. Suddenly An Ning thought of something and said: “I shouldn’t be able to sleep so deeply. Now that I think about it, I didn’t even dream anything last night.”

Qian Wei immediately raised his hand: “Me too.”

After asking around, everyone confirmed that they slept like a log last night ― this was strange. Peng Mingfan pondered a few things and from the corner of his eyes, he saw Tang Cuo and Jin Cheng standing outside the group. He asked: “How about you guys?”

Jin Cheng leaned against the wall and smirked: “Kid, what are you doubting about?”

Peng Mingfan shut up without another word. Jin Cheng smiled and said nothing.

Soon everyone went to search both the inside and outside of the hostel again, but they discovered nothing, not even any footprints, let alone blood stains. Qu Li seemed to have evaporated and disappeared into thin air.

At almost 6 o’clock, the crowd gathered in the main hall downstairs again.

The staff seemed to recover after a night of sleep. She smiled and brought out a large pot of porridge. While swiftly handing a bowl to everyone, she said with relief: “Don’t worry, she might just go for a walk in the forest outside. The scenery is beautiful around here and the air is fresh. Let’s find her again after you’ve eaten, maybe you will find her immediately.” 

An Ning stared at her: “Didn’t you say that there is heavy snow on this whole mountain? Why would she go outside by herself?” 

The staff was taken aback, her words stumbling: “I, I just want to comfort you, I don’t have any ill intention…” 

An Ning asked: “So, where do you say we should go?”

The staff was lost for words again and could only mumble: “I haven’t gone outside yet. I wanted to go down the mountain but couldn’t. How can I know…”

Hearing that, Tang Cuo narrowed his eyes slightly and felt that something was wrong.

The rest also seemed to notice something from her sentence, each of them staring at the staff intensely. Jin Cheng, on the other hand, stayed still and held the bowl of porridge as though he was watching a show.

“Knock knock!” 

The sudden sound broke the awkward silence and made everyone’s heart thump, as if a hurricane had smashed against the door.

Everyone looked at the direction of the sound at the same time. With the windshield in between, they couldn’t see what was outside the door, but they could see a pair of leather boots barely visible through the gap under the door.

“Knock knock!” A snowflake floated through the gap and quickly melted into water.

“Who is there?” Qian Wei stood up.

Li Shuangshuang grabbed Zhao Ping’s sleeve nervously.

The round-faced staff looked undisturbed and even had a small smile on her face. She wiped her hands on her apron and walked towards the door while coolly explaining to the others: “It should be the woodcutter.”

Wood-wood-woodcutter?

The tight nerve in his head suddenly snapped and Qian Wei’s eyes widened. He subconsciously wanted to step forward to stop her, but it was too late. The moment the door opened, the blizzard poured in and the menu on the table flapped frantically.

A tall man walked in together with the wind and the snow. He was around 30 years old, his hair short and his chin full of stubble. He wore a black fur collar leather jacket, carrying a bundle of firewood on his back and an axe in his hand.

It was Li Ying Jun.

The Trial Game of Life - Chapter 7
The Trial Game of Life - Chapter 9
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HaiRyuKi
HaiRyuKi
8 months ago

Eh? Could it be the NPCs are in a loop? But they are interacting with the players…

Tiramisu never_lies
Tiramisu never_lies
1 year ago

I’m digging this😉
Thank you for the chapter 🌸

Ruka
Ruka
1 year ago

💙

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