Chapter 10

Zheng fell asleep in the second floor bedroom that same day. He slept peacefully, sweeping away the pain and fatigue accumulated over all these days. Zheng did not wake up until LiuYu came to know on the door morning of the second day. He walked out of the room refreshed.
LiuYu asked in a cautious tone, “Did you sleep well last night? Was there…”

Zheng laughed. “Yes. It was very quiet and I slept well. You here to call me down for breakfast?”

LiuYu nodded. He glanced at the sides then said, “Did you… did you see anything paranormal last night? I heard ChengXiao said that ghosts have no forms. They can appear as anything. Their forms are given by our minds. Ghosts can be scary, exotic, or beautiful. They are the materialization of a person’s desires. He said…”

Zheng didn’t know whether to laugh or not as he interrupted LiuYu. “Did he say the reason I came up here is because I haven’t tapped in over ten days and couldn’t hold it anymore? So I used my lust to conjure a female ghost?”

LiuYu instantly nodded. “Yes. He was moving his hands furiously as he spoke. So did you see the ghosts?”

Zheng rubbed LiuYu’s head and said, “Don’t listen to that pervert’s nonsense. Ghosts come from your desire, but they come from your violent and evil desires. When your mind is filled with the fear of ghosts, how could they come in the forms of women? They will be the most popular existence if that can be true. Pretend you never heard him said anything. Speaking of which… that is probably what he is lusting to try.”

Zheng saved LiuYu from the corrupted training of ChengXiao. They headed down stairs to the living room. Zheng continued to give LiuYu advices. “You have to be extra careful of that being. Stay as far away from him as possible. If that isn’t physically possible, stay firm within your heart. I really fear that he taints you.”

“Taint?” LiuYu’s face turned pale. He instinctively reaches for his butt and then laughed awkwardly.

By the time Zheng enlightened LiuYu to stay aware of ChengXiao, they had come into the living room. There were five people already inside. Counting LiuYu and him, that made it seven people. The team split up last night but no one disappeared. He had won half of this bet!

Zheng let out a sigh of relief. He sat down by the dining table. Everyone had been eating convenient food from the supermarket these days. Nearly twenty continuous days of canned food made them want to throw up at the sight of another can. However, the situation did not allow them any other choices. Furthermore, their minds were tied to figuring a way to leave this world, so the food wasn’t as important.

Zheng meditated on the sofa after breakfast. He seemed to be ignoring the rest of the team. The others also did their own things. Xuan was reading. Kampa, TengYi, ChengXiao and LiuYu were chatting. YinKong was resting with her eyes closed. Time slowly passed by. Kampa exited the four men group at 3pm.

“I am going to the toilet.” Kampa gave Zheng a heads up and headed to the toilet.

Zheng’s hands trembled. He wanted to open his mouth but in the end, he simply nodded and continued meditating.

(No use trying to stop it. Believe in the team. Believe that they will never give up when confronted with their weaknesses. We have all been through the edge of hell many times. We have our weaknesses but our hearts also grew tougher… Stay strong, everyone!)

Kampa did not know the fighting Zheng was going through in his mind. He walked toward the toilet as he hummed a song. He pushed the half broken door open, his hand reached for his pants, then suddenly he heard the same tune he was humming. The two voices overlapped.

kampa’s mind paused for an instant. Without thinking, he gathered his strength. Black hair grew from his body. His muscles expanded. He didn’t turn into a complete werewolf but he was much bigger than a normal person. He struck his fist to the side.

Just then, an arm passed over a bottle of cheap vodka. Kampa’s claw halted 10 centimeters before the bottle.

“Mate… We promised to finish this vodka the next time we meet. How have you been?”

The arm and voice came from the cubicle to his side. The man didn’t come out from the cubicle.

Kampa’s fist was shaking. He was hesitating whether he should punch ahead. As the vodka reached closer and closer to him, he finally opened his palm and grabbed the bottle.

Battlefield, fire, comrades… Kampa’s life was spent in a complex yet pure world. He came from a place of wars. His country abandoned him but he never left the battlefield. The journey he walked was difficult. Two things accompanied him through his journey, weapons and comrades.

“O bella, ciao! Bella, ciao! Bella, ciao, ciao, ciao!
E se io muoio da partigiano, tu mi devi seppellir.”

The song started again from the cubicle. The deep and coarse voice gave the song a hint of melancholy and boldness.

Kampa’s heart tightened. He popped open the vodka and binged it in one go. Then he howled and punched the cubicle’s wall. His fist struck a hole on the wall. Through the hole, he saw a man dressed in a black and white striped shirt, wearing a black hat and a pair of scissor like gloves. The man’s face was burned.

The people in the living room heard the sound of impact on the wall. YinKong was the first to rush toward the source of the sound. ChengXiao followed right behind her. Then TengYi and LiuYu. Zheng got up the moment he heard the sound but he hesitated. By the time he got himself together, there were only Xuan and him left in the room. Xuan seemed to be slow. He just put down the book by this time.

Zheng gave a good look at Xuan before he ran toward the toilet. YinKong was running so fast that she had passed through the hallway and made a turn when the others just arrived at the hallway. She disappeared from everyone’s sights.

ChengXiao, Tengyi and LiuYu came to the door of the toilet. ChengXiao gave it a hard push. The already broken door collapsed and exposed the room behind it. There was nothing.

Zheng arrived at the scene right after the other three people. They looked at each other baffled. ChengXiao said, “You did hear sound coming from this way right? Like something smashed a wall or a rock. But the toilet looks perfectly intact, aside from this door.”

“Yes… Kampa is no longer in my dream.” Zheng sighed then muttered.

The three people looked at him confused. ChengXiao asked, “Who’s Kampa? And what does it mean by no longer in your dream?”

Zheng didn’t reply. He looked over the three of them then to the sides as though he was searching for something. After being unable to find it, he sighed again. “YinKong has also… left my dream.”

YinKong followed the sound into the hallway. She ran ahead of everyone since she was the fastest and Zheng hesitated before he moved. As she left everyone’s sight after making a turn, an unnatural feeling struck her. She drew out Excalibur and held it in front of her throat.

The invisible sword clashed with something. Sparks flew in every direction. YinKong was pushed back from the force of impact.

“Hoho. You blocked it. You added protection to your throat after dying to the string last time. An assassin shouldn’t have any fear, my little cousin. You can’t be an assassin anymore once fear sprouts in you.”

A man with long hair walked out of the darkness from the other end of the hall. He lightly flicked the string with his finger then looked over to YinKong with a smile. He was the person YinKong had been chasing after for so long, the ZhuiKong from team Devil.

YinKong did not charge up like she did the previous times. The gap of their strengths was wide. It wasn’t possible for her to take him head on. She was also cautious as she had noticed the strangeness of this place. No one caught up to her after the few seconds she stopped. She knew Freddy might have targeted her. This wasn’t the same dimension as the others were in. Lastly, she was wavering. Her hatred toward ZhuiKong wavered.

Seeing that YinKong was staring at him with a pair of cold eyes, ZhuiKong laughed. He slowly walked to her. “Do you really not plan to fight me? Do you think I am merely an illusion created by Freddy? Oh, my little cousin.”

YinKong did not move until ZhuiKong said these words. She leaped backward because a wave of killing intent exploded from ZhuiKong. The killing intent forced her to react with her instinct. She leaped out of the hand reaching forward.

“See? I am not just an illusion… I am the materialization of the one in your heart. Or should I say the materialization of your fear. Do you like such a real me?” He continued walking toward YinKong.

The materialization of fear? It struck YinKong when she realized the hole in her heart had grown so big. A feeling different from hate had manifested from her. It was hope or a sense of expectation she had for ZhuiKong. She was hoping that ZhuiKong only killed their friends and comrades due to a concealed reason. This hope contradicted with the hatred she had. That was why she wasn’t as impulsive.

Wavering was fatal to an assassin compared to intense emotions such as anger, affection, fear. Conflicts in the heart would halt her blade, because weapons waver between hitting its target or not like its user.

YinKong took a deep breath and calmed herself. “Yes. I shouldn’t waver. No matter if there’s a reason behind what you have done, their deaths have become a fact. The end result is I can only seek revenge from you. Is that it? This is the result you wish for.” Her eyes looked a little watery.

ZhuiKong laughed. “You are basically right except the result is a little different. You aren’t seeking revenge. You became my toy. I can’t wait to slice the person that I loved so dearly into pieces. Do you know how I killed your stupid friends? I sliced them like this, one slice at a time.”

ZhuiKong suddenly pulled out a head from behind. His dagger carved on the head. Blood and flesh was falling to the ground. Worse yet, the head was crying miserably as if it was alive.

YinKong clenched her teeth and tightened her grip on the sword. She stared at ZhuiKong coldly. That head belonged to one of her friends. She was a girl quite close to her. Despite knowing this was probably an illusion, anger boiled within her from sight of the brutal treatment.

The extensive assassin training since YinKong was a child held her back from attacking. She wouldn’t even have felt such anger if it weren’t ZhuiKong. She gripped Excalibur tightly and watched the illusion show.

ZhuiKong was entertaining himself without regard of what YinKong was thinking or doing. He tortured this human head until all the flesh and blood were shaved clean, leaving behind a white skull. Yet, the skull continued to cried in pain on his palm.

“Don’t you feel ecstatic, my little cousin? Watching someone you know so well die in my hands, and then dismembered, tortured, or perhaps even worse, destroy them mentally before their death, make them into a maniac and retard. Isn’t this feeling ecstatic? Haha.” He threw the skull to the ground and pulled out another head from behind. He carved the lead in the same manner.

The skull rolled toward YinKong. The illusion was so real that she couldn’t notice any flaw despite knowing everything was fake. As she intended to step away from the skull, it stopped. A girl’s voice came out.

“It hurts, sis. It hurts. My whole body hurts. I can’t see. I can’t hear. Sis, kill me. It hurts so much… kill me. Sis…”

The voice weeped as if a pitiful girl was talking to her sister. Yet, the scene of a skull talking and a man carving a crying human head was appalling and disgusting. It was enough to stop a normal man’s heart from fright.

YinKong could no longer contain her tears. Her mental defense collapsed when she saw those who she had known, heard the voices of her friends, and witnessed what ZuiKong was doing. She swung Excalibur as tears rained down her face. The sword crushed the skull. YinKong charged at ZuiKong in madness.

She disappeared into the hallway.

Zheng couldn’t help but bring the rest of the team back to the living room. Everyone followed the same script. No one remembered Kampa nor YinKong after their disappearances. Their names also vanished from the paper. If he didn’t still remember them, it would appear that the two never existed.

(Five people left. Xuan, ChengXiao, TengYi, LiuYu, and me. If my analysis is correct, things are coming to an end. The only question is what HongLu last said. What other method is there to wake a person than physically waking him? And how do you make the nightmare disappear?)

Zheng pondered quietly in the living room. He thought about the ordeal the team was going through and whether or not they could persevere through the mental battle. All he could do was wait… wait until the thing he was clinging on broke apart.

(If the dream is really constructed with my mind as the foundation, then breaking apart my desire to live on will allow Freddy to drag me into the despair dream. The result will be decided at that instant. However, I still don’t get the last step. I have found the origin. I have found the key. I know my the desire I cling onto. But how do I stop the nightmare? How do I accomplish the last step HongLu said?)

Zheng looked at the people around him again. He sighed then pinched his hair.

(I don’t have much time left. I need to figure it out before they all get dragged into the despair dream! What other way can you stop the nightmare?)

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