Yucai High School was the best high school in the city. Focused on the sciences, the school encouraged the students to stay in dorms, to make it easier for the school to manage everything.
The school dormitory was the most common kind of dorms, with eight students to a room. There was a balcony, but no private bathroom, and each floor had a communal bathroom and a washroom on both ends. Not every dorm room was fully occupied. Some of them had empty beds, while others had paid the accommodation fees since the school encouraged them to stay, but since they couldn’t get used to the dorms, they still chose to commute from home, leaving only a bed and blanket in the dorms. Of course, they still had to ask a teacher for a permission note first.
Meng Yu and Li Lan stayed in the same bedroom, and even on the same set of bunk bed. However, recently, Li Lan had been commuting from home, and wasn’t staying in the dorms. Now, there were only six people in their dorms, and at night, including Meng Yu, there were only four people staying.
In Liu Qian’s dorm, since it was a mixed dorm, it was full of people from different classes.
Zhang Cheng also lived in the dorms, and after the morning’s classes were over, he immediately grabbed Lu Chu and Qian Wenhao, who stayed in the same dorm as him, and exclaimed, “I’ve been starving since this morning, let’s go, my bros, to the cafeteria to grab a seat.”
There weren’t any empty beds in their dorms, but only four people were staying in it, since the other four people had a permission note allowing them to commute from home. The other student staying in their dorm had never moved about with them, didn’t speak much, and always liked to go about on his own. Zhang Cheng had tried to get him to have a meal with them several times, but failed, so he just gave up.
After eating, they went back to their dorm for their break, and Zhang Cheng remembered the story he had heard about the female dorms this morning, and said in a mysterious manner, “Lu Xiaochu, Wenhao, did you know, last night, there was a ghost in the female dorms!”
Qian Wenhao looked at him distastefully, “a ghost? Don’t tell me that your perverted side exploded and you ran over to the female dorms?”
Lu Chu laughed, “a lustful ghost?”
Zhang Cheng crossed his arms and complained, “wow, Lu Chu, why did you follow along with Qian Wenhao, and learnt such bad things from him!”
After they joked around, Zhang Cheng told both of them the ghost story that he had heard in the morning in a vivid manner.
However, Zhang Cheng still wasn’t finished after he had told them the story, “Lu Xiaochu, do you believe that there are ghosts and gods in this world?”
Qian Wenhao refused to accept his question, “why didn’t you ask me?”
Zhang Cheng retorted, “what’s there to ask? That brain of yours can’t give any constructive answer.”
Naturally, Qian Wenhao wasn’t happy with what he said, and the two of them immediately started to fight.
Just then, the other person who lived in the dorms returned.
Everybody became quiet, and the atmosphere became a little awkward.
Lu Chu tried to break the silence by answering the question that Qian Wenhao had asked just now, “I don’t know if there’s really a god, but I believe that ghosts might exist.”
This answer made Zhang Cheng and Qian Wenhao quite confused, “why?”
In a serious manner, Lu Chu started to explain his own views, “gods might just be a spiritual figment of people’s imagination, while ghosts are a human’s obsession. A spiritual figment might be something created, but obsession exists in everybody’s heart.”
At this point, he added, “of course, this is just my personal opinion.”
Both of them fell silent.
Zhang Cheng felt wronged, “Lu Chu, can you say something that us science students can understand?”
Lu Chu laughed and teased him, “I’m speaking nonsense, and you still believe it?”
So the three of them began to joke again.
The other person in the dorm room looked up at Lu Chu, then quickly lowered his head again, However, his movements didn’t escape Lu Chu’s eyes.
The three of them chatted for a while longer. Zhang Cheng looked at the time. It was time for them to take a nap, if not, they wouldn’t have enough energy in the afternoon for classes, so they ended their conversation, and climbed back onto their own respective beds to sleep.
Lu Chu didn’t have the habit of taking a nap, so he just laid in bed and closed his eyes to take a little rest, and filtered out the main task in his mind.
“Requirements: Move about within the school.
As its name implied, before the ‘rules’ determined that this ‘game’ was over, his activities were limited to within this school, but nothing else was mentioned. If it was as if he came here for a vacation, but Lu Chu was very clear about the fact that any ‘game’ was dangerous, and the only thing different were the types of dangers.
He had only just entered into the ‘game’ when his roommates had told him a few campus ghost stories. Could it be that this time, this danger was related to ghosts again?
There was a possibility, but it wasn’t a definite thing.
After all, when most people went to school, they would spread ghost stories amongst their classmates, or perhaps share some special experiences they had encountered themselves.
This phenomenon was more common amongst the students who stayed in dorms. Both boys and girls would get used to getting into bed before they slept at night, as they waited quietly for the rounds to be made. Once the rounds were made, they would become energetic again, and start to whisper and talk in their dark dorm room. They would be both afraid and excited as they shared the ghost stories that they knew with each other, and amongst those, the stories of their own school would have the attention of every student.
Thus, now that Zhang Cheng told him these stories, it could just be a coincidence, and had nothing to do with the development of the ‘game’.
Lu Chu thought for a moment, then took back his thoughts, and felt that it didn’t matter if he could figure it out or not, since he could take a look at what happened next before thinking more about it. Moreover, he wasn’t alone.
Lu Chu laid on the bed, covered his eyes with his hands, and the corner of his lips were subconsciously raised.
I wonder, where is 7 now?
After their short break, Lu Chu got out of bed and went to the washroom to wash up. When he returned, he realised that Zhang Cheng and Qian Wenhao were still asleep, and the other person in their dorm had gone to class without saying a single thing.
Zhang Cheng and Qian Wenhao shared a bunk bed, and Zhang Cheng was on the top bunk, so Lu Chu first called Qian Wenhao up, then went to wake Zhang Cheng, “Zhang Cheng, Zhang Cheng?”
Zhang Cheng mumbled something and turned over. He muttered in a somewhat confused way, “en…… what……”
Lu Chu laughed, “wake up, it’s time to get up.”
“Wake…… for what…… a while longer…… let me sleep for a while longer……”
By this time, Qian Wenhao had already woken up. He shook his head to get rid of the remaining sleepiness, then laid on the bed and kicked the top bunk, “wake up and wake up! Look at what time it is now?!”
Zhang Cheng heard him, took out the alarm clock and squinted at it, and was immediately scared awake, “holy shit it’s 2:20!”
Saying that, he jumped directly dow from the upper bunk, took his things and ran to the washroom. As he ran, he shouted, “I’ll go wash up first, both of you can go to class first, don’t wait for me!”
Just before the bell for the first class in the afternoon rang, Zhang Cheng reached the classroom, panting.
Usually, the first and second classes in the afternoon would music, arts, or sports, etc. This was because the school felt that the students might be sleepy in the afternoon, and thus, it would be inefficient for them to have a general studies class.
But Tuesday was an exception.
On Tuesday, every class in the school would participate in a clean-up, then each class would stand up and sing their own class song. After that, the first lesson would be a class meeting, where their homeroom teacher would summarise the problems faced in the previous week, and the school would also give the class specific topics to have a discussion about. This was Yucai High School’s tradition, and its importance was comparable to Monday’s flag-raising ceremony.
Therefore, Zhang Cheng not only entered in the before the bell rang, but also just before the class started to sing their class song. Under everyone’s gaze, he entered the classroom.
Their old donkey of a homeroom teacher frowned, and felt that he couldn’t be kind about this matter anymore.
Teacher Lu cleared his throat and said, “Zhang Cheng, you’ve been very active recently, even during this morning’s self-study session.”
Hearing this, Zhang Cheng immediately gave a Lu Chu look, asking for help, but Lu Chu gave a slight smile and shook his head, indicating that there was nothing he could do about it. Zhang Cheng could only give their homeroom teacher a silly smile, “teacher, studying gives me joy.”
“Silver-tongued!” Teacher Lu criticised him in a serious manner, “later, stand at the front during the class meeting and examine your own mistakes!”
Zhang Cheng stood straight, “yes!”
The class meeting started, and, as always, their homeroom teacher would first talk about the class’ recent situation, then about the future study arrangements. Zhang Cheng was only allowed to sit down after he had given an in-depth review of himself. The class finally reached the main topic, and their homeroom teacher, Teacher Lu, gave a passionate speech on this class meeting’s main topic; “how to reasonably balance study and leisure.” It was filled with emotions, full of vitality, and in the end, he finally managed to hold back the rest of his passion, cleared his throat, and told the students, “okay, this is the content of today’s class meeting. ”
The students gave a vigorous round of applause and were moved to tears – it’s finally over, how inspiring.
However, their homeroom teacher added, “in addition, our class still has one more thing.”
Everyone held their breath at the same time.
“—Our class will welcome a new student.”
Instantly, everyone breathed a sigh of relief at the same time — as long as it wasn’t another speech again.
It was only Lu Chu whose heart skipped a beat when he heard the teacher’s words.
It was as if he had felt something, and he looked towards the class door.
Their homeroom teacher said, “the new student is still going through various procedures, and will only come to class in a while. It’ll take some time for the new student to adjust to our class when he first arrives, or integrate into our class. Everybody must be united, be caring, and help out our new student.”
All the students nodded their heads.
Then, a clear and steady voice sounded from the classroom door.
Their homeroom teacher gave a kind smile, “please come in.” He introduced him to the students, “this is the new classmate who just transferred to our class today.”
A tall youth walked in, his hair was dark brown with streaks of black, with clear ink-like dark eyes. His eyebrows were prominent and sharp, and he was pursing his lips with a calm and distant expression on his face.
It was different from the maturity and stability he had the first time they met, and different from the insanity of the previous game, this 7 was one that Lu Chu was familiar with, only, his age had become that of a teenager.
Of course, Lu Chu himself was the same, and looked around seventeen or eighteen. Young, and filled with vitality.
Their homeroom teacher said, “come, student Li Bo, say hello to everyone.”
7’s gaze swept across the crowd. His sight steadily fell on Lu Chu as he opened his mouth and said, “hello, everybody. I’m Li Bo.”
After that, he turned around, picked up a piece of chalk, and wrote two words on the blackboard. Then, he agilely turned around, looked at Lu Chu and said, “Li from ‘dawn’, and Bo from ‘doctorate’.”1黎博 (Li Bo). 黎明 (li ming) = Dawn. 博士 (boshi) = doctorate/PhD.
The students gave an enthusiastic round of applause.
Lu Chu was slightly startled. He met eyes with 7, and instantly, the previous game came to his mind, when 7 had made a gentle smile as he fell down in front of him, stained with blood.
“Lu Chu…… Lu Chu!” Lu Chu’s tablemate called him in a low voice.
Lu Chu returned to his senses, organised his thoughts, and looked at his tablemate, “hmm? What’s the matter?”
Lu Chu’s tablemate was called Liu Yang, and he was a slightly chubby teen. Liu Yang said, “what were you thinking about just now? Your mind kept wandering. I said, the new classmate looks quite good, just look, all our female classmates are all so excited.”
When Lu Chu heard this, he really glanced at his other classmates, then smiled at Liu Yang and said, “it’s still okay. Everybody’s just welcoming the new student.”
“Ay, Lu Chu, you’re quite good looking, so you don’t feel it. I’ve ever heard the girls discussing about you before,” saying that, Liu Yang sighed, “this world that only looks at your face, how difficult it is to live in.”
Teacher Lu said, “well, student Li Bo, for now, why don’t you sit in the empty seat in the fourth row? The seats in the class are adjusted once a week. I’ll tell the class monitor to tell you other methods to change your seat later, as well as other things you need to pay attention to. Of course, you can also ask the other students in class for help. If you have any questions, feel free to ask them, as this class is very enthusiastic. I also hope that you can quickly integrate into this big family.”
Lu Chu followed their homeroom teacher’s gaze, and realised that the fourth row he was referring to was the seat behind him.
Li Bo politely replied, “thank you, teacher.”
Then, he carried his schoolbag and walked to his seat.
Just at this time, the bell rang, and the homeroom Teacher Lu said, “okay, today’s class meeting ends here, class is over.”
“See you again, Teacher!”
The homeroom teacher walked out of the classroom, and the class instantly became chaotic.
Liu Yang first turned to the back row, and said to Li Bo, “it’s Li Bo right? Hello, I’m called Liu Yang!”
He grabbed Lu Chu and pulled him over, “this is my tablemate Lu Chu, he’s a good person, and we’ll be classmates in the future, so if you have any questions, just ask us, no need to treat us as strangers!”
Li Bo nodded, “thank you.”
Liu Yang is very enthusiastic, “no need to be so polite!”
Lu Chu looked at him, and his eyes were bright, “are you living in the dorms?”
Li Bo’s lips were slightly raised, and held back the intimacy and familiarity in his tone, “yes, living on campus, 316.”
“316!” Before Lu Chu could even react, Zhang Cheng and Qian Wenhao who came to see the new student after class excitedly said, “wow, that’s just beside us. We’re neighbours, what a coincidence, it’s fate! Right, Lu Chu?”
Lu Chu smiled, “en, we’re in 318.”
Saying that, Lu Chu looked Li Bo in the eyes, “if you’re free, come over and visit.”
When Li Bo heard his words, the corners of his lips raised even higher, “I will.”
After the afternoon class, Lu Chu, and the other two people in their dormroom, went to the cafeteria for dinner. After they took a walk around the field to digest, it was time for the evening’s self-study.
The evening self-study session was compulsory for Yucai High School students who lived on campus, but it was more flexible for students who didn’t. They could apply to go home, as long as their parents agreed.
The evening self-study session started at 7:50, and ended at 9:40. There was a five-minute break between classes.
Although there were teachers on duty during the evening self-study session, but they would usually stay in the office to prepare teaching plans or mark their paper, and would only come to look at them occasionally. Thus, whether the students were seriously studying, on the whole, depended on themselves. The evening self-study session was quieter, and occasionally, there would be the sound of some students whispering. Zhang Cheng was naturally whispering with Meng Yu and the others in the back, and occasionally, there would be bursts of laughter.
Lu Chu sat in his seat, had an assignment book spread out before him, and a pen in his hand. However, he maintained this position without writing a single thing.
Liu Yang didn’t live in the school, and applied to return home during self-study period, thus the seat beside Lu Chu was empty.
Suddenly, Lu Chu felt a shadow blocking the light. He turned, and saw 7 holding a book as he sat beside him.
7 turned to look at him, “can I sit here?”
Lu Chu’s smile was as gentle as ever, “it’s an honour.”
7 took a book out and flipped the pages, letting out the slight sound of papers rustling. Lu Chu listened, and didn’t know why, but his heart relaxed a little, and he finally started to write, filling in what he needed to.
In the second half of the evening self-study session, Lu Chu took out a piece of paper, tore it into small pieces, wrote a couple of words on it, folded it, and pushed it onto 7’s table.
7 paused a little, and the contours of his face became softer. He reached out to open the note, and on it was Lu Chu’s words.
—Not going to do your homework?
7 picked up the pen, and also wrote on it.
——Don’t feel like writing for the time being.
— Do you want to copy mine? I’ve just finished it.
After writing the word down, 7 was afraid that his tone would come off as too cold and indifferent, so he pulled back the note that he had pushed out, thought for a moment, and added a couple more strokes before returning the note to Lu Chu.
Lu Chu opened the note, looked at the solemn smiley face after the ‘okay’, and couldn’t help but smile.
They were obviously tablemates, yet the two of them happily passed notes to each other, enjoying this simple and mundane fun.
Of course, the contents of the notes were nothing more than minor things about their daily lives and studies. As for things concerning the ‘rules’ and ‘games’, they couldn’t talk about them through paper, in order to prevent unnecessary troubles.
After the evening self-study session, Lu Chu and the other two returned back to the dorms with 7.
The dorm that 7 stayed in was a mixed dorm, with students from several classes. After Lu Chu and the rest returned, they helped 7 get ready his things in the dorm, before going to wash up. By the time they returned to their rooms, it was time for lights out.
Lu Chu said goodnight to 7 at the door, and when he returned to the dorm, he thought to himself, it was too bad that they weren’t in the same dorm, even if he lived next door, they were still separated by two doors.
The second day, the people in Lu Chu’s dorm had breakfast together with 7, then went to class for the morning self-study session.
Wednesday’s morning self-study session was for English. The English class representative had written the requirements for today’s self-study on the blackboard early in the morning, and the students on duty that day got ready, then returned to their seats.
The bell rang, and morning self-study started.
Lu Chu took out his English book, opened to the page number written on the blackboard, and just as he was about to start reciting, he realised out that there was an empty seat. He recalled for a moment, and remembered that it was Liu Qian’s seat; Zhang Cheng had mentioned her yesterday.
Just then, a classmate from across the aisle called his name and passed him a note.
Lu Chu was a little confused. He opened it, and discovered that it was Zhang Cheng’s handwriting.
– Whoa, whoa! Lu Chu, did you know, the thing that I told you about yesterday, about Liu Qian’s dorm? All of them fell ill, every single one, a fever! It’s really too strange!!!
After Lu Chu read it, he frowned and looked back, and saw Meng Yu, Zhang Cheng, Gao Shimeng, and Li Lan enthusiastically discussing something together. Speaking of enthusiasm, Meng Yu’s and Li Lan’s voice was a little too loud, and even started to cover the sound of whole class reciting the text, which caused their classmates to look at them again and again. This caused the class monitor, who liked to study, to speak loudly in class, “please carefully recite and memorise the text during morning self-study, and don’t whisper and talk!”
After finally making it through morning self-study with great difficulty, Zhang Cheng dragged Qian Wenhao to Lu Chu’s seat, and said with an exaggerated expression, “whoa, too scary. Meng Yu told me, in Liu Qian’s dorm, all eight girls fell ill!”
Lu Chu frowned a little, “what illness?”
“A high fever,” Zhang Cheng said in a fearful tone, “Meng Yu said that she saw Liu Qian on the way back to the dorm last night, and felt that she didn’t look that good, so after she washed up, she ran over to Liu Qian’s bedroom. But, she didn’t expect that everybody in the dorm didn’t look that good. Meng Yu had a thermometer, so they measured, and holy shit, all of them had a high fever. Look, nobody came to class this morning; all of them were sent to the hospital.”
Qian Wenhao also felt that it was unbelievable, “is it really a normal fever?”
“It’s really a common fever,” Zhang Cheng said, “last night, they alerted the dorm manager. At first, the dorm manager thought it was some sort of infectious disease, and told everybody to keep away. Then, they called the ambulance and rushed to the hospital at night. The dorm manager also followed them, and contacted their respective homeroom teachers and only returned the next morning. Meng Yu didn’t feel at ease, and didn’t sleep well the whole night, and specially went to the dorm manager to ask about it once the dorm manager returned. The dorm manager said that it was just a common fever, and simply found it a little strange that everybody in a dorm room would suddenly contract a high fever all at once.”
Until here, Zhang Cheng started to whisper, “do you still remember the thing I told you about yesterday? The girls suspected that there was something unclean in their dormitory, now, the school’s given all of these girls a few days off, to let them stay at home to rest for a few days.”
After listening, before anything else was said, Qian Wenhao sighed, “Zhang Cheng, you really know a lot, don’t you?”
Zhang Cheng was quite proud, “that’s right, I don’t listen to gossip for nothing.”
“But this matter is really quite scary,” Qian Wenhao said, “it’s better to believe it than not to believe it, I think it’s time for me to burn some incense and pray to Buddha.”
“Don’t,” Liu Yang, who had been listening and watching this whole time, couldn’t help but interrupt, “although it sounds really exciting, it’s a law-based society now. We’re the flowers of our country, and should have a heart for science. All the supernatural events in this world can be scientifically explained, if there’s something that we can’t explain, it’s simply because we haven’t discovered this ‘science’ yet.”
Zhang Cheng rolled his eyes, “all these words that came out of a bad student like you, I don’t believe a single word.”
“Who’s a bad student?” Liu Yang said, “I’m a student with good prospects!”
Zhang Cheng and Liu Yang started to argue, and only until the bell signalling the start of the first class rang, did Zhang Cheng and Qian Wenhao return to their seats.
The morning’s classes passed by quickly, and Lu Chu kept thinking about Liu Qian’s matter.
Could Liu Qian’s matter, really be the start of this ‘game’?
7 had completed all the single-player tasks, this meant that 7 must have definitely gone through this game, and knew the beginning and end of this game, but Lu Chu didn’t directly ask him about what to prepare. Just like in the previous games, 7 had always been protecting him, guiding him, but he wouldn’t directly tell him the answers. The reason was simple, it was because 7 couldn’t guarantee that he would be around Lu Chu every single minute and second, so, he need to develop Lu Chu’s own abilities, and let him become stronger.
Lu Chu also knew that 7 did this for his own good. Therefore, for this ‘game’, even if he knew that 7 had gone through all single-player tasks, he didn’t have any intention to ask for help, but instead, he intended to followed along the development of this ‘game’, and solve the puzzles by himself, bit by bit.
After having lunch in the cafeteria, they prepared to return to the dorm to rest, and just as they got to the dorm’s door, and were preparing to say goodbye to Li Bo, they saw 7 enter their bedroom.
Zhang Cheng was excited, “here as a guest?”
7 shook his head, “I’m going to be living in your dorm. Am I welcomed?”
“Eh?!” Qian Wenhao quickly asked first, “what happened?”
7 took out a note, “I went to apply for a dorm room change. I discussed it with Fan Yiming who was staying in the same room as you guys, changed with him, and can move in today.”
Fan Yiming was a student in Lu Chu’s dorm who travelled from home, and had gotten a permission note to not stay in the dorm. Expect for the first day when he had stayed in the dorm, he had never been to the dorm again. Other than the mattress on his bed in 318, there was only a bedsheet and a pillow left. There wasn’t even a blanket.
“Wah, really?” Zhang Cheng happily exclaimed, “that’s good! This way, our dorm will have another person, and it’ll be livelier! If you can move now, let us help you move!”
“Yeah, let us help you move. That’s right,” Qian Wenhao said, “do we need to move Fan Yiming’s bed sheet and pillow next door?”
“No need,” 7 shook his head, “Fan Yiming said he wouldn’t come to the dorm again, so it’s fine to just throw the bedsheet and pillow away. In a few days, he’s going to apply to travel from home, otherwise, it would be a waste to pay a couple hundred more per semester for accommodation fees.”
Qian Wenhao said, “true.”
So they started to help 7 move his things.
They weren’t like the girls who had many different kinds of things, in a large quantity. Amidst their cheers, 7’s bedsheet and daily necessities were quickly moved from next door to 318.
Lu Chu’s bed was on the upper bunk, facing the window, on the east side. Fan Yiming’s bed was on the upper bunk near the door on the east side too, close to Lu Chu’s bed. During lunch break, Lu Chu climbed into bed, and found out that he was sleeping head to head with 7. There were only a couple of short iron railings in the middle keeping them apart.
The gap between the railings was quite large, and their arms could freely reach across it. Lu Chu laid in bed and closed his eyes to rest, and he could hear the sound of 7 calmly breathing.
This caused Lu Chu, who didn’t have the habit of taking naps, to feel sleepy. Just as he was about to sleep, 7’s hand stretched over, and gently touched the tip of Lu Chu’s soft hair.
“Sleep.” 7 said.
Lu Chu closed his eyes, and went to sleep peacefully.