In Virtual Reality
In Virtual Reality 8 ☆ Screaming Haunted House (4/12)
Zhang's Pagoda Tree Village (攻略Zhang-Huai) a tiny village with a mediaeval feel.
As the name implied, most people here had the surname Zhang and had a mixed reputation – neither good nor bad.
Regardless, the present Zhang family patriarch had just one son.
With his parents spoiling him and the Zhang family being a large family in the village, Zhang Huai (攻略) grew up arrogant and terrorized people who were not from the Zhang family.
One night in the middle of the night, the wicked youngster went for a walk at the end of the village and slipped into an unplowed paddy field.
Choking on mud that had gotten into his nose and throat, he couldn't get out on his own.
However, no one else came to the paddy field in the middle of the night.
Thus, a healthy young guy perished in that manner.
He had not yet started a family at his death, but his parents, as if under a spell, wished to find him an underground daughter-in-law.
So, they ordered a paper bride.
Hoodie walked onto the stone floor, their heels colliding with the ground with an audible clatter.
Tian Si De couldn't help but wonder as he listened to the narrative, “So the Zhang family ordered a paper bride rather than a real, living bride? What made them kidnap Wen Wen?”
“Because the Zhang family's parents were fussy about their paper daughters-in-law.
They either abhorred the one with little eyes or a large mouth.
Trying to impress them, The Paper Folding Shop has run out of paper to make new paper daughters-in-law.”
Hoodie continued to tell the story: “The Paper Folding Shop then assigned a paper man to search for supplies.
It most likely took Fang Wen Wen as a ready-made paper bride.”
“That paper man has such terrible sight; he can't even tell a live person from a paper man!” Tian Si De gritted his teeth.
Hoodie laughed perfunctorily.
“If you come here alone to play this haunted home side narrative, the paper man doesn't care if you're a boy or a girl; if he sees you, he'll whisk you away as a bride!”
Tian Si De: “……?!”
Good lord, was the Zhang family really so open-minded?
When Hoodie saw Tian Si De's troubled expression, he remarked, “What are you thinking? Zhang Huai is a heterosexual.
When the paper shop can't hand over a paper bride, it will give you two choices.
Either dress up as a bride or…”
“Or…?” Tian Si De inquired.
Hoodie hemmed and hawed before sounding all innocent: “Cut it off.”
Tian Si De: “..?”
Tian Si De: “..!!”
After learning about The Paper Folding Shop's story, they were almost there.
The Zhang family's gate loomed enormous at the end of the lane, and the red lights under the eaves of the entrance pierced one's heart.
They were double happiness lanterns.
“Here we are.”
Hoodie snuffed the flashlight and turned to face Tian Si De.
“I've only ever played The Paper Folding Shop branch's single-player method.
Usually, I was labelled as a paper bride.
The condition for obtaining the story pass is to discover the cause of Zhang Huai's death and escape.
However, looking at the story progression, we should find Fang Wen Wen in Zhang's house and safely bring her out to pass the level.”
Hoodie patted Tian Si De's chest.
“Master Tian, you must fight valiantly! It is entirely up to you whether you can hold the beauty.”
Tian Si De pursed his lips, but his eyes were firm, “That's for sure, I'm leaving this haunted mansion with Wen Wen.”
Hoodie took the initiative after the two had discussed the situation and slammed the door with a mighty fist.
The soft-hearted Master Tian watched in horror, believing that the great heavy door would tumble over from Hoodies slams any second.
After nearly a half-minute of banging, there was a rush of footsteps from within.
Tian Si De fixed his lapels and cleared his throat, expecting to say a few phrases like a true gentleman.
He wasn't sure whether it would work, but it wouldn't hurt to give it a shot in case the other side was friendlier than Hoodie claimed.
The Zhang residence door opened with a small crack.
Hoodie, meanwhile, kicked through the door before the person inside could speak.
The kick was powerful, and the door swung open with a snap, exposing the depressing inside of the Zhang home.
Tian Si De stood stunned.
“What are you waiting for? Get in!”
Hoodie jabbered as they walked inside the Zhang family gate in three steps, heading straight towards a specific courtyard.
'…Right ah, he did mention to me they'd played this so many times that they knew where the bride should be at a glance.'
Meanwhile, he anticipated that they would have to investigate and solve puzzles.
Tian Si De: So this is how it felt to follow a Raider(攻略gōng-lüè)?
The Zhang family deserved to be referred to as wealthy.
The courtyard was so vast that nearsighted Tian Si De had to squint and wrinkle his nose just to catch a glimpse of a sprinting pink hoodie.
As they entered, Hoodie reversed backwards to kick two more times the paper man who opened the door, knocking him unconscious.
“These things irritated me in the single-player storyline I did, always ratting me out to nearby guards.” Hoodie machine-gunned his past game encounters.
“They had me run wildly from the beginning to the end of the village and out of the haunted house before I could get rid of them.”
Tian Si De: “…
He had a bad feeling about this.
Hoodie paused: “Didn't I tell you? The Paper Folding Shop's side story is a parkour challenge! Only those with sufficient stamina can obtain the clearance achievement.”
Hoodie patted Tian Si De's stiffened shoulder reassuringly and said, “Come on, Master Tian.”
They employ a trick to skip the puzzle in the current plot progression, but the remainder still depends on parkour skills.
They were now utilizing game speed runners' tactics.
Even if there were no pursuers now, both people were fleeing to their deaths, terrified that if they took one step slower, they would be met with a massive wave of Zhang family guards.
Hoodie kicked open the locking door and leapt inside, heading right for the master bedroom.
Tian Si De trailed following, slamming the door behind him.
The bride was seated on the couch when they saw her.
The woman's face was hidden under a scarlet veil.
The intricately embroidered bridal gown appeared more of an art piece than a piece of clothing.
The bride sat silently on the bed's edge as if she hadn't heard anyone come in.
Hoodie abruptly came to a halt and scowled as if they were contemplating something.
Tian Si De wasn't thinking as deeply as they were.
After everything he'd gone through, he almost burst into tears when he saw his sweetheart again.
“Wen Wen! I finally found you.
Come with me now; this is not a nice place to be…”
A hand suddenly seized his back collar, suffocating Tian Si De and causing him to choke and cough.
Hoodie: “She's not Fang Wen Wen.”
'Not Wen Wen…?'
Seeing Tian Si De's scepticism, Hoodie let go of his back collar.
“If you don't trust me, go ahead and lift the veil.” Their statements contained a touch of encouragement.
Tian Si De calmed himself and scrutinised the red bride more closely.
A thick veil hid the bride's face while the bridal gown thoroughly covered her body.
He strained his eyes for a long time before noticing something was wrong.
The bride's hands weren't hidden in her sleeves but folded together, revealing crimson nails.
Nothing would appear out of place if those hands weren't made of paper.
Tian Si De couldn't help but take a step back, his lips quirking briefly as he exhaled softly, “……
The bride before him was nothing more than a paper man; it was not Fang Wen Wen.
But, in that case, what about Wen Wen?
And where is Wen Wen now?
Tian Si De's heart was full of sorrow.
It gobbled him up from his eyes, nose, and throat, just like the fishy-sweet, icy well water he had tasted not long before.
Unconsciously, his body began to tremble.
Fear and despair had overshadowed his previous burst of vigour.
Hoodie frowned and slapped him on the back.
Tian Si De: “Ahem pfft-“
Tian Si De felt like he was about to spit blood as the slap that might have cracked the Zhang family's gate landed on his back.
“Are you going to give up?” Hoodie gave him an odd look.
“It's simply the wrong story branch.
Why are you such a pessimist?”
Hoodie turned and headed towards the doorway through which they had entered.
Tian Si De took a deep breath.
Yes, Wen Wen had not yet been located, and he couldn't give up.
He averted his gaze from the paper bride before him and turned to follow Hoodie away.
The servants of the Zhang household had finally emerged after they caused so much commotion.
They didn't resemble live beings.
Guards and servants were clothed in coarse attire and patrolled the territory stiffly.
Their eyes were little more than black holes that moved from left to right and back again.
Their bones appeared to be held in place by nails, preventing their joints from bending.
Their entire body moved quickly in a strange and scary posture, similar to wooden dolls.
Two or three men patrolled the area, bearing the same ghostly green lights as in The Paper Folding Shop.
Two or three more held long swords half the height of a man.
They slammed it to the ground sometimes, sending golden and red sparks flying.
Tian Si De, who was nearsighted, couldn't see the swords, but he did smell a metallic scent that reminded him of blood.
The servants and guards of the Zhang household moved quietly.
For a brief while, Tian Si De could only hear his own heartbeat in the vast courtyard.
He held his breath tightly, not daring to breathe.
How would he get away from the Zhang family's armed guards…?
——— Translators Notes ———
攻略: gōng-lüè = strategy / directions / guide / how-to
Often used when gamers or novel system users follow a strategy or a guide to bypass obstacles and win.
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