Edited by Rinrin
The monster rolled off and Shan Ziwei put down his tracker tagging gun, not bothering to chase after it.
Clearly, he couldn’t defeat that monster alone. Shan Ziwei was a little disappointed. The monster’s ability of healing to full health when it evolved had destroyed Shan Ziwei’s hopes of defeating the monster at the beginning of the game. He didn’t have enough DPS, so he was unable to reduce the monster’s SP to zero before it evolved. If only Little Shuai and the others had come with him. With the four of them, they’d definitely be able to take the monster out while it was still at pawn level.
Shan Ziwei moped for a moment before he pulled himself together. He hadn’t completely wasted his efforts and time. At the very least, he had tagged the monster before the tag’s effect had run out, otherwise it would be impossible to find a monster constantly on the move in such a massive hospital. Shan Ziwei slung his gun over his shoulder and changed the battery in the multipurpose tracker. The now recovered tracker immediately turned on. Shan Ziwei chose mode one and looked in relief at the two blue dots that appeared on the screen – wait, two?
Shan Ziwei was stunned for a moment before quickly figuring it out. He had indeed shot two targets with the tracker tagging gun. One was the monster, and the other…
The white-haired young man looked in the direction of the windows. The dried-out mother of the monster still stood next to the window, motionless, with her head bowed. Shan Ziwei wanted to leave, but he hesitated for a moment and approached.
Shan Ziwei’s foot accidentally kicked something. He lowered his head to look and found that it was a black pawn chess piece. This chess piece told him all he needed to know: the Maria that stood in front of him, his “wife” was dead.
Shan Ziwei picked up the chess piece and gazed at the dry corpse, feeling conflicted. He realised now that he’d rather face this creepy, dehydrated, wrinkled face than Maria’s original mesmerising beauty. When he had seen her first just now, he had lost 60 percent of his Diamond SP (Fear) in terror.
When he thought of the Maria he had seen at first, an inexplicable chill crept up on him from below, trying to freeze him solid. Shan Ziwei shook his head hard and picked up the white bed sheet that had fallen on the ground, using it to cover Maria’s lifeless head. Yet that sheet, light and soft as air, was like the straw that broke the camel’s back. The decaying corpse crumbled as the sheet fell upon it. Shan Ziwei stared at the white expanse that had buried the body, his entire body feeling cold.
Time passes like a rushing river, and everything will decay back into dust.
The blinding white was then rapidly obscured by black. Shan Ziwei remained silent, letting Little Gaia lie on his head, obstructing his vision with its long sleeves. Even though the other didn’t make any noise, he could feel his cute plush’s care and affection for him.
The chill that had overcome him vanished without a trace. Shan Ziwei lifted Little Gaia’s sleeves away from his eyes, looking upwards. “I’m fine.”
The colour inverted eyes above blinked down at him. Though Shan Ziwei couldn’t see the expression on the other’s mask, he had a feeling it was smiling. He couldn’t help but reach up to touch it to see if it was really smiling as he thought it was.
First his fingertips came into contact with soft, silver hair that was as cool and smooth as it looked. Then Shan Ziwei felt the edge of the hard mask. The silver-haired plush stared back blankly; it seemed surprised that its owner would touch its mask. Shan Ziwei’s fingers glided over the mask, first coming into contact with the eyes, then the curve of its nose and finally the mouth. Shan Ziwei followed the line of its mouth to the edge, trying to see if it was curved upwards or not.
We’re sorry for MTLers or people who like using reading mode, but our translations keep getting stolen by aggregators so we’re going to bring back the copy protection. If you need to MTL please retype the gibberish parts.
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Had he just accidentally touched Little Gaia’s hair and mistaken the feeling?
Shan Ziwei held Little Gaia up to eye level. The silver-haired black-robed doll was as expressionless as always, looking very solemn, very innocent, and completely unfazed. Shan Ziwei gave up and remembered something else.
“You levelled up, didn’t you?”
During the last chessboard, Shan Ziwei had fed Little Gaia a bishop chess piece. After that, his Toybox had fallen asleep and remained that way. It wasn’t until Shan Ziwei had logged in again that he had seen Little Gaia lively once more. Due to everything that had happened since then, he hadn’t gotten the chance to ask Little Gaia about it. Now that he had some time and space to himself, he wanted to quickly take a look at it.
Little Gaia nodded and Shan Ziwei hurriedly asked, “What changes are there?”
Hearing Shan Ziwei’s question, Little Gaia opened and closed its mouth, letting out two speech bubbles.
Shan Ziwei checked the inventory and found that the original five slots had increased to ten, doubling its capacity. However, Shan ZIwei was more interested in the second speech bubble. He didn’t expect that this level up would give his Toybox a “shop” ability. Recalling the potions Unparalleled Dragon King had, Shan Ziwei felt his excitement rise. Potion drinking was an integral part of MMORPGs, after all. Red potions, blue potions, all these different potions were the souls of MMORPG items. Every potion was an extra life for a player!
“Quick, show me!”
And then Shan Ziwei got a bucket of cold water poured over him – the shop ability could only be used in his personal space!
… Once upon a time there was a shop right in front of me, but I didn’t value it. Only after I had lost it did I know regret. This is the most painful kind of experience in life. qwq
Mr. Shan the Optimistic once again quickly pulled himself together. That’s fine! He still had one more unopened surprise!
“What’s your special ability?”
Little Gaia cocked its head; it seemed confused. Shan Ziwei tried to explain what he meant, “Originally, when I was choosing Toyboxes, each Toybox told me their… uh… well, what made them unique. For example, how many inventory slots they started out with, or that they could check other people’s stats or similar additional abilities. What’s yours?”
Little Gaia silently listened to what Shan Ziwei had to say, its colour inverted eyes watching him unblinkingly.
The black speech bubble squeezed out from between Little Gaia’s lips, floating unsteadily towards Shan Ziwei. It was like a shy young girl, trembling nervously as it bumped against the person it loved before popping with embarrassment.
Shan Ziwei was stunned, watching dumbly as the silver-haired doll spoke silently again and again, as if afraid he didn’t understand or maybe to emphasize:
[You like me]
Drifting black speech bubbles surrounded the white-haired young man. The monochrome colouration seemed to drain his environment of colour. Shan Ziwei felt his mind drifting, as if he had returned to that original dimly lit checkered maze of gift boxes, gazing up and confessing his love to the perfect, ethereal young man who sat upon the computer screen.
— I like you—
“I… like you…”
It was like he was entranced or bewitched by those memories, repeating the confession he had made back then subconsciously. The doll in front of him who was made in the image of that perfect young man, pulled the mask it usually wore to the side over its face and used its sleeve to cover half of its face. Its lips, in line with its mask, curved into a smile, so sweetly drawing people in.
Shan Ziwei couldn’t help but stare at that slight smile. It felt so, so familiar, but he couldn’t tell whose smile exactly it reminded him of.
Rumour had it that the logo of RPG used the most standard average of faces, something without any defining features. Anyone would be able to see hints of themselves or others in it. Perhaps that was why Little Gaia’s mask gave him that feeling of déjà vu. Shan Ziwei’s gaze then shifted to look at the SP bars in the top left. Just when he had uttered his confession just now, the Hearts SP (Joy) that he had lost from Little Shuai falling on him had been completely recovered.
Shan Ziwei’s heart thudded in his ears. He had an idea of what Little Gaia’s special ability was now. Perhaps it was that Relationship Scenario Card linking them, but right now he and Little Gaia were bound by the “Ace of Hearts – Love (Active)” card – if he confessed love for his Toybox, he could recover Hearts SP!
Shan Ziwei felt his hands tremble from excitement, his gaze burning as he stared at Little Gaia.
This ability wasn’t the strongest or the best, but it was exactly what he needed. Ever since he had entered RPG, a certain hypersexual had been worried sick for his fluctuating Hearts SP. Even more tragic was that he couldn’t recover this SP through taking potions. He could only recover SP by getting involved in the corresponding relationship with someone else, and the Hearts SP recovery cards were all shameless as hell. As a player with a normal sense of shame, Shan Ziwei indicated that he’d rather choose death.
Now with Little Gaia, everything was different. Though it was still a bit embarrassing, confessing to his own Toybox was still better than doing so to a stranger. Plus, Little Gaia was a portable carry-on, an essential travel accessory. It was basically like having an infinite use Hearts SP restoration potion!
Satisfied, Shan Ziwei rubbed Little Gaia’s head. Little Gaia stopped using its sleeves to cover its face, instead nuzzling against Shan Ziwei’s fingers with its head. The mask’s eyes narrowed in content. After Little Gaia put its mask on, it left it there. Shan Ziwei looked over it in curiosity before putting the silver-haired black-robed doll back onto his shoulder. He had dawdled here long enough, now it was time to focus on the chessboard.
The moment he turned, Shan Ziwei spotted the cracks on the windowsill from the ricocheting bullet and stopped in his tracks, casting his mind back to the battle just now.
In that battle, his performance far exceeded his expectations. His shots landed exactly where he wanted them to, and there was no hint of awkwardness that should’ve come with the unfamiliarity of using a real gun. It felt just like it had in the past, as if he were sitting in front of his computer, smoothly controlling the gun through the screen.
The spiderweb cracks on the windowsill were the best evidence of that. When he realized Maria would use her own body to protect the monster, Shan Ziwei subconsciously used the ricochet technique – a fantastical technique in past shooting games. The reason it was considered fantastical, was because very few people were able to master it, to the point where most thought it was just a baseless rumour. The ricochet technique used the refraction and angle at which a bullet would bounce off a surface to hit targets behind obstacles. It sounded simple, like calculating the angle of the ball when playing pool or snooker, but since bullets were pointed projectiles, the ricochet angle was nigh impossible to control. Even if online games had simplified the angle and materials required, the success of a ricochet still more or less depended on luck.
Though very few people mastered ricochet, the number still wasn’t zero, for Shan Ziwei was a member of that few. He had programmed and used his own software to simulate and calculate the projectile paths of straight shots and ricochets, then with constant practice, he had become a famed pro in shooting games.
Shan Ziwei had never thought he’d be able to use this technique two-hundred years later, today, and he had even succeeded perfectly. He stared at the cracks with unease. Just now it had been as if he were in a trance, using the gun through sheer instinct. All that had remained in his head was to kill the monster and leave the chessboard; no thoughts for or effects of the differences of the mechanics between keyboard and mouse, and fully-immersive virtual reality had remained. He hadn’t even hesitated in the slightest in his decision to use the ricochet technique. If he made even the slightest mistake, merely missing the monster was the best-case scenario, if he had shot Maria then it would be over for him. The half that remained of his Spades SP would be gone in a blink from violating system scenarios.
Shan Ziwei grabbed his tracker tagging gun again, loading a few normal bullets inside, and shot the slab of flesh the monster had abandoned.
The force of the bullet threw the flesh slab up for a moment before it splat back against the ground. Though he had hit the target this time as well, it lacked the smooth fluency he had in the previous battle. Before, it had been like he was in complete control, but now it felt like the system was guiding his movements to shoot, which was completely different. The former was active; he had immersed himself in the familiar shooting techniques through his previous experiences and gaming mastery. The latter was passively moving according to a template. Never mind ricochet, even shooting normally felt awkward with unfamiliarity.
It looks like people really did unlock their hidden potential in a crisis. Just now he had probably just pushed past his limits and broke through!
Shan Ziwei did his best to cast his mind back to his state in the battle before. The monster had basically given him such a fright that it triggered an adrenaline rush, causing him to hyper-focus his attention. His reaction speed increased along with his breathing, heartbeat and blood circulation, giving his body more energy to act – wait. The more Shan Ziwei thought about it the more he despaired. How come it sounded so much like the symptoms of his hypersexuality?
There must be something wrong with it!
The stumped Shan Ziwei had no choice but to put this down for now. He planned to go look it up online after the chessboard was done. He didn’t loiter any longer, turning and leaving the room.
After the white-haired young man left, the room descended into a dead silence. A little while later, a two-tentacled flesh ball once again returned to the hospital room. The returned monster buried itself under the bedsheet on the ground. After rolling around for a bit, it climbed out, leaving the bed sheet laying completely flat on the ground. It flicked the white tuff of hair on its head, seeming to remember something, and then rolled towards the flesh slab. It’s two tentacles twisted around each other tightly, squeezing out some juices onto the flesh slab.
There was a soft sound, like something sprouting and breaking through the earth in growth. Countless slimy and blood red flesh tendons began to stretch out and separate from the flesh slab. They crisscrossed and twisted around each other, expanding across the room like a red, fleshy spiderweb…
Chapter 22 marks the start of VIP chapters on jjwxc~ Once again, I hope y’all can go support the author on jjwxc! Thanks for reading!
Next up, Scenario Twenty-Three: Monster Hunter (V)