Convention - Ch. 9 Philodin Mansion
“Some people change the world for what they believe in, some people change themselves to fit the circumstances of the environment, and I want to change both.”
Dyson Bay was quiet during the day.
On the night Mo Xiao and I left Dyson’s Bay, I remembered how everyone here communicated in silence with those invisible in-brain networks, their heads down, moving forward on their own.
And now under the blue sky, those types of communication aren’t visible. A large, spacious street with not a single person in sight. Silence, truly silent, where neither the sound of life nor the activity of life can be heard. Every street, every alley was empty, and at a glance, all the signs that shone brightly at night were left with only gray roll-up doors.
The forged plants cast heavy shadows in the early morning sunlight as if they were guarding the graves of something.
I began to wonder if something had changed in Dyson Bay after I left. I couldn’t help but look toward the distant row of low-rise bungalows, where the vibrant night market had impressed me that night. But perhaps I was too far away, or perhaps I couldn’t see well enough, and there was no hint of life in that place, as if it were an abandoned ruin, sinking forlornly in the distance.
The whole city seems to have fallen into a deep sleep, it chills down one’s spine. In this environment, even when I was already in a state of extreme lack of rest, there was no sleepiness at all.
“It’s so quiet.”
I tried to voice out the uneasiness in my heart, which seemed to reduce my stress a little, which at least reminded me that there were people around me and they were still listening to my uneasiness, after all, I couldn’t hear any other sound here.
“Well, are you surprised?” Mo Xiao squeezed a few words out of her teeth, and by the sound of it, she didn’t really want to talk to me because she was busy with more important ‘business’, but I couldn’t help but repeat ‘quiet’ three or four times already, so it didn’t seem good to not to pay a little attention to me.
“Sort of, it is really a bit of that, like …… something in a disaster movie.”
She said and squinted at me for a moment.
“You are afraid in broad daylight, you’re still a man?”
“I just feel a little spooky.”
“You’ve gotten a lot braver in the past few days.” Mo Xiao said to me in a slightly mocking tone, and asked, “So what are you afraid of?”
“It’s obviously broad daylight yet there’s no one around, which is strange and makes me feel a little dangerous.”
“I thought it was something major, but that’s all?” Mo Xiao snorted disdainfully. “Do you know where we’re going now?”
“The Black Market I think, I heard from someone who was on a helicopter yesterday.”
“Let me ask you, what time does the black market usually open?”
“No, that’s not the exact answer. The correct answer would be when there is less time for human activity.” She said, without changing her face, and flicked me on the side of the head, as if as a punishment for my wrong answer. “A black market is ultimately an illegal place, and such an act cannot be carried out when there are too many people who can act as witnesses, so what does it mean when we come to this place during the daytime to visit the black market?”
“It means that people here …… have their work and rest schedules reversed?”
“Bingo, since you, the little genius, have already answered all the questions on your own, then don’t bother me anymore, OK?”
She instantly turned her head away, quickened her pace a little, and walked back to Mo You’s side, going back to the war that belonged only to the two of them. The two have been fighting for a while. From the moment they got off the plane, the atmosphere between them was very stiff, they stared at each other with a sharp murderous aura, like a bayonet, which could possibly stab a person in the middle of the two, maybe there was some kind of disagreement on the plane, they aren’t happy with each other.
But the way they fight is quite amazing.
These two are one tall and one short walking forward side by side, and there are no quarrels, there is no interaction, just walking forward together. But over time, you can find that they are gradually speeding up their pace as if they want to get rid of each other. After some careful observation, there is an inexplicable tacit understanding between the two. Sometimes Mo Xiao is in front of Mo You, sometimes with Mo Xiao behind Mo You. If they get tired they stop together, after rest, they accelerate together, one fast one slow, one freeze one move, all very natural. Perhaps this is what it meant to be sisters, years and years of living together to work out a sense of synchronization.
But …… this is exactly the way children fight, I thought with some amusement.
If I want to keep up with their rhythm it would take a toll, and my stamina isn’t good, but I am empty-handed, so I can barely keep up. On the contrary, those who were left far behind are in some trouble — the big men who were in the same plane as me. They are each carrying a large wooden box, earlier I had said that the helicopter was crowded, precisely because these boxes took too much space. I do not know what is inside, but the boxes look heavy. Tang Ren looks extremely conspicuous in the crowd, probably because he alone carried two large boxes. Oh, and Lei Ke, Lei Ke is also behind, he also did not keep up although he did not carry anything, simply just because he has short legs.
After almost half an hour of this excruciating rally through the silent streets, I was exhausted.
Traveling through the complex city, I even wondered a little if the two people leading the race in front of me were so focused on the fight that they didn’t look at the road beneath their feet at all. I think we passed the same place several times in a row, and I kept seeing the same sights, such as …… the battleship on the beach.
I don’t know if it’s because I’ve been following the duo past the same place, or because the ship is so big that I can see it from anywhere, but whenever I turn my head and see the battleship, I can’t help but look away. That ship was huge, bigger than any ship I’ve ever seen in a movie, even the Titanic, which was made by computer special effects, had to be ashamed of itself in comparison. The first half of my life …… if from when my memories began counts as my birth, then the first half of my life was spent on that ship. The ship could be considered my home, and seeing my home looking like that, filled with black as if a sea monster nibbled on it, I feel a bit complicated.
The scene of the night of the explosion is still fresh in my mind. If I had not chosen to follow Mo Xiao out of there for no apparent reason, what would I be like now? I can’t answer that, and I’m afraid no one can either.
If the future can be seen, then is it still the future? So all I care about now is my past, and my past will not disappear with the burnt ruins still floating on the sea, my past did exist, and I can be sure of that.
When did the two call a truce? I can’t answer this one because I didn’t pay attention to the time myself.
But the scene at the time of their truce is a very good answer.
Both of them were holding their hip and leaning on the wall, panting heavily. Their faces were red from over-exercise or from their exasperation.
“Okay, wait …… stop, to continue this …… meaningless behavior is simply as pointless as your existence.”
“Heh, sister, just admit defeat, someone who uses their brain like me, it’s impossible to lose in physical strength! Hahahahaha!”
It seems that both of them aren’t very physical and they’re tired, Mo Xiao is so tired that she can’t speak without stuttering, while Mo You couldn’t think straight. Maybe it’s time to end this argument, a neutral is needed at such times, just like the city-states in classical times liked to find a third party to mediate when setting contracts, it’s time for me to step in.
“That should be enough, you two.”
I said in a peacemaker-like tone.
“Any more of this could delay business.”
“Business ……? Ah-ah, I almost forgot about it.” Hearing this, Mo You straightened up all of a sudden. “We have to hurry to the black market to do so, what time is it?”
She said, leaning against the wall and looking around for something that could prove the time, but only to see the garbage can-like vigilante robots roaming the streets …… they were doing what garbage cans should do at the moment, cleaning up dirty stains and trash on the ground.
Suddenly, I felt as if the sunlight was more prevalent, and subconsciously tilted my head to see a large classical clock hanging just above the wall we were leaning against. I took two or three steps backward and realized that the building looked a little too out of place with its surroundings, and its style was just too ‘historic’. This building did not use any of the popular composite materials, not even reinforced concrete, instead it is built out of marble, and probably some other valuable materials, some of the decorations are even wrapped in gold. Probably because the layer of gold film is too reflective, I could not help but be attracted.
“It’s a quarter past eight.”
I stared at the building with rapt attention while patting Mo You’s shoulder.
“Where is this place?”
“So we’re already here.” Before Mo You could answer, Mo Xiao lamented first. “We scurried around yet still arrived here.”
“What is this place?” I asked again.
“The black market.” Mo Xiao and Mo You answered me in sync.
“No, that’s not what I meant, I mean ……” I paused for a moment, not knowing what to say.
“Oh, I see, you mean what this building is, right?”
“Yeah, it feels like the style is very different from the rest of the place.”
“You can call its common name ‘Rat’s Nest’.” Mo Xiao said, “Or you can call it by its scientific name ‘Philodin Mansion’.”
Mansion? I couldn’t believe my ears when I heard this, weren’t we going to the black market? Could it be that the black market is located inside someone’s mansion? This is unbelievable. I didn’t have any more time to think because Mo Xiao and Mo You were now striding up the steps that shone brightly in the sun. I had to quickly follow them.
Mo You knocked twice on the gilded door, which moved automatically in response, revealing a gap through which only a dim eye could be seen through the narrow crack.
“Hello, how can I help you? The Philodin Mansion is a private place and is not open during the day.” The voice coming from it was filled with vicissitudes.
“We are here by invitation.”
“…… do you have identification?”
“Of course we do.”
Answering so, Mo You signaled with her fingers toward the back and then spread her hands toward Mo Xiao and me, as if waiting for us to hand her something. Mo Xiao and I looked at each other in disbelief. Mo You, however, kept waiting with her hand out, and kept waving her hand, signaling us to hurry up.
“Idiot, bring me that!”
Mo You said impatiently, finally realized that something seemed wrong, turned back and froze for a moment.
“Hey? Where are those guys?”
I thought she was probably referring to Lei Ke and those box-carrying hulks, so I answered her truthfully.
“They didn’t keep up with us, you two were running too fast.”
“What …… they!” Mo You was about to vent her anger, but stopped half way, turned her head to look at the eyes in the slit, smiling and whispering.
“That, master …… no no, uncle, can you let us go in first? We got separated from the people with the documents, they should be here in a short while.”
(TLN: Sometimes people say master as a joke, but here she says master because as a reference to someone who has power over you at the moment.)
That loli sound makes people’s bones crisp, if people do not understand her nature, I think most people will fall for it. Unfortunately, the person in the doorway was obviously not ‘most people’. I think ‘most people’ should not be able to be the watchdog of the black market anyway.
“In fourteen minutes, today’s party will begin, so if you want to participate, make sure you have your documents ready as soon as possible.”
With just one sentence, without waiting for Mo You to scream out, he simply closed the door.
Mo Xiao looked at Mo You, who had an angry face after getting shut out, shrugged her shoulders and walked to the side of the stairs and sat down.
“What should we do next?”
“Just wait.” Mo Xiao said.
“Wait for what! Lei Ke and Tang Ren have never been here before, they don’t know the way!”
Suddenly, Mo You yelled without warning, thundering as if she wanted the whole world to hear her yell, the sound even alarmed the garbage cans that were scrubbing the floor …… or security robots. They flashed their bright shining eyes in unison to look over, although Mo You was angry, she still held back.
“Damn damn damn damn damn damn damn damn ……”
She walked down the stairs, pinched me fiercely, and then squeezed out the words viciously from her throat in a bitter tone of voice.
“This – is – such – a – good – opportunity – and – we’re – going – to – waste – it ?!”
She was gritting her teeth as if she was the one being pinched, gritting her teeth.
“Who told you to be so childish, just don’t fight with me in the beginning.”
“Are you looking for a fight?”
“All right …… all right ……”
With Mo Xiao’s words, a thick smell of gunpowder once again permeated between the two. Just when I was feeling suffocated by the smell and thinking about running away, I suddenly noticed something from an alleyway off to the side crawling straight towards us at a very fast speed …… From that size, I thought it was a dog. But upon closer inspection, it turned out that it was just Lei Ke crawling like a dog. He put his face to the ground and acted like a guard dog and followed the scent of the ground
I said with surprise, as if I had seen a savior, since Lei Ke had come, then the documents that Mo You wanted must not have been far.
All of a sudden, the animosity between the two was interrupted. Mo You quickly greeted him and gestured for Lei Ke to bring her the documents.
Lake touched his pocket and took out a small card. I poked my head over with some curiosity to check out just what kind of document was so important, but suddenly felt the temperature seemed to drop a few degrees.
“WHAT IS THIS ? ! ? ! ? ! ? !”
“Lei Ke! ! ! !”
“Where are the Coalition Government documents I told you to forge!?”
I subconsciously covered my ears so as not to have my eardrums pierced by Mo You’s screams. At the same time, I finally saw what exactly the card in Lake’s hand was — wasn’t it the business card written in colored pencil that he had shown me previously? I couldn’t help but be dumbfounded, and then I saw Lei Ke form a square with his hand, move it to his chest, and finally scratch his head somewhat innocently.
[Isn’t this the ID?]
This seems like something that only Lake could do ……
Mo Xiao was on the side and looked at this scene, showed a somewhat gloating smile and patted Mo You’s shoulder.
“If the document you want is this thing, I have it.”
Only to see her roll up her own sleeves, revealing the icon under the skin of her wrist.
Ah, I remember this, it was the same thing when Mo Xiao bought a bunch of scalpels at the Dyson Bay bazarre. I looked over at Mo You, her eyes seemed to light up for a moment and then immediately showed a look of resignation.
“And the price?”
“It’s not something troublesome,” Mo Xiao winked wryly. “Just call me elder sister and bow to me.”
(TLN: Mo You has called Mo Xiao elder sister before, but that was with a lot of sarcasm.)
“How dare you …… ugh!”
Mo You was about to retort, then closed her mouth tightly, brought her tiny fingers to her mouth, and started biting her nails hard, as if she was weighing the pros and cons. At this time, Tang Ren and those big men who were carrying the boxes had also arrived. Seemingly realizing that time was running out, Mo You finally made up her mind and bent down to Mo Xiao with a face of reluctance and humiliation and said in a small voice.
“…… elder sister.”
“Hmm? What did you say, I don’t seem to hear too clearly eh.”
“My dear elder sister!”
Mo You gritted her teeth and shouted out loud.
Seeing Mo You in this state, Mo Xiao seemed to be very happy. She smiled and stroked Mo You’s bowed head, “That’s right, that’s how you behave. Go ahead and find the old man to open the door.”
Mo You raised her body, plucked out a vicious glance at her, ran quickly to the door, and knocked on it.
The watchdog said with scrupulous attention.
“Now the document is here.”
Mo Xiao extended her wrist, only to see the old man take out a scanner, carefully swept back and forth several times, finally smacked his lips and nodded in satisfaction
The door did not open widely, only enough for only one person to pass at a time, and he poked his head out and looked at the surroundings, gesturing for Mo You and us to hurry in, and then, after everyone had entered, closed the door.
Once in the room, the big men carrying huge boxes and Lei ke threw the boxes down as if they had entered a safe haven. They sat on the floor, even if the comfortable sofa is close at hand. They seem to have absolutely no strength to talk a few more steps to the point where they prefer the cold, hard ground. In contrast, only Tang Ren elegantly bent and gently put the box down.
“Welcome, may I ask how to address you?”
The man who was looking at us in the doorway earlier gave a salute to Mo You, and just as I thought, it was an old man, dressed very decently, with a full head of white hair, behaved and dressed like a butler similar to Tang Ren.
“Well, just call me Lord God.”
“Understood, Miss Lord God.”
(TLN: The butler called Mo You with a miss, which is like another layer of honorific on top.)
Hearing this title, Mo Xiao almost laughed out loud.
And although Mo You felt unhappy about it, it seemed that she didn’t bother to be pretentious with Mo Xiao.
“The auction here is about to start right? You just said there are still ten or so minutes left.” Mo You said.
“Then, is there a woman full of white hair that looks in her thirties at today’s auction?”
“I am already eighty-one years old this year, dear Miss God Lord, my memory is not as good as it used to be.”
“Then there is none?”
“If you must jump to conclusions.”
“Hmph, that’s fine then.”
Mo You frowned, bringing the corners of her mouth with it, and also sank slightly downwards, as if she was a little disappointed. But immediately, she changed back to her usual appearance.
“Eighty-one years old …… still working as a butler?” I sighed a little.
“Hmph, you have no insight.” Mo You said with some disdain. “In this world, living people are very precious, not to mention the service industry. Only mansions of this level don’t use those cheap robots to work.”
After saying that, Mo You waved her hand and made a forward command, signaling the people behind her to follow her and walk towards the elevator.
After she took a few steps, the footsteps that responded to her in the room were few, just me, Mo Xiao, Tang Ren, and the footsteps of Lei Ke that didn’t quite sound like ours. This seemed to make her feel that her oracle was not being carried out, so she turned back in annoyance and glared at the people behind her.
“Hey, didn’t I say go? Why are you all still dawdling?”
Those big men who were lying on the ground and still hadn’t recovered had their souls jerked by such a glare and scared out of their minds. They continued to struggle and had just straightened up halfway from the ground, but suddenly pressed back to the ground by a pair of strong arms.
“Missy, just let them rest here for a while.”
Tang Ren said, incidentally picking up a few guys his size and tossing them on the sofa like a dog owner tending to newborn puppies.
Mo You pouted and stared at Tang Ren for a while, arms akimbo.
(TLN: akimbo – with hands on the hips and elbows turned outward.)
The old man suddenly interjected into the conversation and said he could have someone help carry the contents of the boxes.
But Mo You refused instantly.
“Then you’ll have to do their ‘job’.”
She said this, emphasizing the word ‘work’ extraordinarily heavily, and then strutted towards the elevator with her hands behind her back.
“I appreciate it.”
Tang Ren bowed slightly to Mo You, and did not hesitate to pick up the four boxes, and followed Mo You with a light gait.
Lei Ke was about to help, but was tipped back by Tang Ren’s toes.
“Didn’t you dislike that place? Just stay up here.”
Lei Ke lowered his head in thought, nodded, and ran to sit on the sofa, while saluting Tang Ren and me.
Tang Ren strides again, following Mo You, although his way of carrying the boxes makes people wary, but he himself looks like he is at ease.
“Do you need help?”
I asked as I walked up quickly.
And Tang Ren responded very simply, without slowing down the pace of his steps, and followed Mo You to the elevator.
“Are you overestimating how much you can contribute?”
Mo Xiao gave me a blank look and followed. Only I was left behind not knowing what to say.
Only a place used to conspire something unspeakable would people build a building with the underground larger than above. Like the infamous ‘Wolf’s Lair’, that building has a dazzlingly complex underground transportation system, but of course it was originally a sanctuary to shelter a villain who had a vendetta against most people.
I’ve seen the underground passages of the Wolf’s Lair in movies and some documentaries, and they are both narrow and stuffy, a place that people don’t really want to go to, and they don’t seem to be used that often, or they wouldn’t be so monotonous and dehumanizing.
The underground here is far less complicated than the bunker in the Wolf’s Lair, and I just spent a minute looking at the schematics in the elevator to almost completely understand the structure. Of course I’m not the kind of person who is interested in everything, it’s just that the journey from this first floor to the floor below is just too long.
In my mind, the black market should be somewhat similar to a flea market. A bunch of people laying a blanket on the ground as a stall, with all kinds of contraband on it, people running business either blatantly advertising some creepy stuff, or sitting on the ground in silence to wait for customers.
But it seems that this black market is designed with the idea of building a theater, at least acoustically. The whole building’s underground floor presents a perfect fan shape, which ensures that the guests sitting in the back can also hear the sound from the center, which is the original design inherited from the ancient Greek theater.
Mo Xiu seemed to also say about an auction or something, in that case, I can probably know what this black market is like. The so-called black market is actually a high-level place specializing in the auction of illegal items.
With a crisp sound from the elevator, the weightlessness generated by the elevator’s descent disappeared in response.
Once we stepped out of the elevator, the spaciousness and the brightness of the place made me wonder if this was really underground. Mo You led the way out of the elevator and ran into a young man in a waiter’s uniform, who bowed courteously to us and then made a ‘welcome’ gesture with a stiff face, signaling us to follow him.
For the waiter’s silence, Mo You also did not say much and naturally followed the waiter. Looks like this isn’t her first time to a place like this, but certainly not much, otherwise the old watchdog outside can’t not recognize her.
After a long time, Mo You suddenly looked back and sneakily glanced at Mo Xiao, who fell to the end of the pack and did not seem to notice the movements here, so she poked her little head towards me, with a mysterious look.
“Hey, little handsome, how much do you know about the Covenant Organization?”
Since the auction hadn’t started yet, the theater was very noisy, making it hard for me to hear Mo Xiu’s question. When she saw my reaction, she seemed too lazy to repeat it, and turned straight around and continued to follow the waiter, letting her long white hair sway around behind her head. I didn’t have the heart to pursue the question, after all, she had said some inexplicable things before.
We should now be in the outermost ring of the fan-shaped ‘theater’. Most theaters are like this, the higher the periphery, our position is even higher up, or rather not even down in the theater, but in the passage within the walls. Through the window you can overlook the entire theater.
This place here should also be an employees’ passage, waiters wearing a clean uniform busy with trolleys covered with white cloth, most of which are jewelry. But some of these goods are jaw-dropping …… it’s not about the value, it’s about the bottom line. I saw with my own eyes a few large waiters and a few young girls brushed past us, needless to say, those young girls are also auctioned goods, no matter how elegantly they are dressed, they can not hide this. For they were all ‘leashed’, their eyes scattered, mechanically submissive, their necks chained with heavy iron chains.
“They even do human trafficking?” I couldn’t help muttering to myself.
“What are you fussing about,” Mo Xiao glared at me. “Human trafficking hasn’t disappeared even in the days where there’s plenty of food and clothing, let alone now.”
After saying that, she paused for a moment, then added.
“You better not have any strange ideas, it’s too stupid to try play hero in a place like this.”
I guess so, such places are heavily guarded and there are cameras everywhere.
Finally, the waiter seated us in a corner, right on the very edge of the fan, and it seemed we were not considered very important guests. After sitting down, Tang Ren put all the boxes down and piled them up on the aisle, we were in the corner anyway, which really shouldn’t matter, but I was suddenly a little curious, what exactly did Mo You bring? Since it’s an auction, we should be here to buy something, is it all cash inside?
So I secretly reached my hand to the boxes that Tang Ren guarded vigilantly and turned it over quietly to see …… not paper money, but gold, it seems that the transactions here use hard currency. But just when I was going to close the box, I saw a red light flashed in front of my eyes, there seemed to be something buried underneath the gold. I wanted to reach for underneath the box, but Tang Ren violently tugged my hand.
“Curiosity kills the cat.” He said in a smooth tone. “You should learn to be a less curious person, little Comrade Huang.”
The words did not carry a little coercive or intimidating meaning, but I did not dare to continue, and could only obediently pull my hand back, this is the first time he directly addressed me, the ‘little Huang’ and that ‘comrade’ really left me awkward.
I have little time to recover from this awkwardness before the opening music rang out. Mo You had a smile on her face while she stared at the center of the stage, she smiled like a confident strategist, and like a tiger in the grass, as if waiting for an opportunity to leap up. I will never be able to guess what she is thinking, but I still remember the bait she used when I came.
“Is the professor really going to be here?” I turned my head to Mo Xiao and asked.
“When we came here, didn’t Mo You say that a higher ranking person than you in the Library would come, and asked me to ask that person things? That should mean the Professor, only she held the highest authority when she was in the hospital.”
“Then how can you be sure there is none higher than her? You just came on a whim because of this kind of blank check to come along through this mess …… I’m too lazy to scold you, you’re really stupid, stupid don’t talk to me and go play somewhere else.”
“You say that …… but I can’t get out now, either.” I pointed to Tang Ren’s box, that box had blocked the aisle.
“Then shut up and collect your voice and sleep.”
Seeing her acting like this, I can only stare at the auction taking place.
But the goods auctioned here are not quite the same as I thought, no gold jewelry, there are just some, uh, cans, and that is the first piece of goods sold. The host held it in the palm of his hand and then raised it high so that all the buyers could see the item clearly under the shining spotlight, the cans were also printed with the words ‘internal’ ‘pork’ and so on.
They certainly wouldn’t have paid six thousand five hundred kilograms of gold just to buy a can, so I think this is just a sample, the next goods like water, and wheat flour are all the same, and they are also printed with the ‘internal’ ‘forbidden to sell’. Obviously, these people are peddling government supplies.
Bidding at auctions is a boring process, at least to an outsider, just as people who don’t gamble on horses don’t quite understand the fun of watching them. I was a little sleepy watching, and I didn’t devote much attention to anything other than the maidens. Perhaps because most people had already consumed a large number money in the previous bidding, these young girls were bought by an obese man at a pitifully low and cheap price compared to the previous goods. One could not help but worry about their fate.
After their auction was over, the next item was quickly put up for auction.
The next item was a very small thing, so the seller had to use the display screen to project the image above the theater, and I saw that it was something like a chip. Just then, I noticed that the corners of Mo You’s mouth raised in an exaggerated degree, and Mo Xiao also looked at Mo You as if she had suddenly realized along with an expression of ‘so that’s how it is’.
As the host’s horn sounded to start the offer, there was silence all around. I don’t know if they had already used up the hard currency they brought before, or if they all didn’t want the item. Even Mo You did not raise her card, but just stared at the chip.
Just when the host was about to announce the aborted auction, someone suddenly raised the offer, although only a little.
I did not see who made the offer. However, Mo You seemed to be sure of who this person was.
“Hmph, the old woman is really here, I told you, how could she miss such a precious component?”
Mo You suddenly poked me with her hand, and I immediately understood what she meant.
“I’ll raise!” This was my first time participating in this kind of activity, so my voice was a bit trembling.
Then, just like the previous showdown between Mo You and Mo Xiao, the long tug began.
Mo You and the mysterious bidder fought for a while, and finally the price of that chip increased by three times. I don’t know much about chips and stuff, but this price made me, a layman, feel a little exaggerated.
“Is this thing really worth that much?” I asked.
“It’s not worth it.” Mo Xiao answered dryly instead. “It’s just a ‘bait’.”
“Yes, only a ‘bait’, I really didn’t expect that the professor would stoop to the level of obtaining resources this way. Her old friends from the past have either drawn a line between the professor or have lost their power like her.”
Mo Xiao said with a sigh.
The long fight, too, finally came to an end, and Mo You still got what she wanted as she wished. However, she did not go up to the stage herself, but stared at me who was sitting aside and said.
“Hey, you go up and bring it for me.”
“Me ……? Why?”
“It’s not appropriate for a celebrity like me to appear in public, it’s better for you to go.” She said while pushing me.
Although it sounds like an excuse, but this is not a difficult job, after all, she brought me the whole way here, a small request couldn’t hurt. With this in mind, I walked up to the stage, and the feeling of being in the spotlight made me a little nervous. I threw down the gold that Tang Ren had just given me and hurried back to the corner with the chip.
Mo You picked up the chip and shook it at Mo Xiao, seemingly with some kind of provocation, and then said to us happily, “Well, let’s go back.”
“Go back? But the auction hasn’t …… and we haven’t seen her yet ……”
“It’s okay, the old woman will find us if we have the stuff.”
She said, picking at the tiny chip with her finger and waving it in front of my eyes.
“She’ll try to come and get it.”
Mo You pulled me to leave with a very rapid pace. I even almost fell over several times.
Just as we were about to reach the exit of the elevator, the unexpected happened, and a thin figure blocked our way.
“Can you please let me have that chip?”
I thought to myself that no plan can go smoothly, and indeed there was still a stumbling block.
The person blocking our narrow path back to the surface was a young woman with pale, bloodless skin.
“Let me repeat my request one more time.”
From her came a voice that was very eerie in tone, like the sound made by a speaker, and closer to a man, with a vague murmur. And the female’s mouth didn’t even move a bit, as if she was making ventriloquism.
“Please can you give up that chip for me?”
“Hmph …… that won’t do.” Mo You looked at the woman in front of her with a stony face and shook her head.
“I’m willing to offer three times what you guys are offering.”
“Heh, how funny.” Mo Xiao, who was on the side, laughed. “Instead of catching the big fish, something else has come instead.”
So Mo You originally wanted to use this chip to bait the Professor out, but she didn’t expect that there were other people who were after this chip.
“But before that, answer me two questions first.” Mo Xiao took a step forward and brutally interjected into the conversation between Mo You and this woman. “One, what do you want this chip for? Two, if you can afford to pay three times the price, why didn’t you just bid on it during the auction just now?”
Indeed, this was strange and also proved one thing from the side that this person was not serving the Professor, otherwise she would have already come up with a higher price when she was bidding just now.
“That’s a tricky question.” The female mechanically tilted her head, still expressionless as if she were a corpse, while her words were indeed alive and full of emotion, a look that was really bizarre, as if the voice was out of sync with the person. “First of all the first question I do not want to answer. As for the second question …… it’s so troublesome. Forget it, I’ll just you straight up, I just want to have some fun messing with you guys.”
Saying that, the female raised her right arm like a puppet on a string and pointed it straight at us.
“You guys just act like you’re walking down the street and getting picked on, and obey me.”
“Nuts.” Mo You said and raised her head, signaling Tang Ren to move the female in front of him away from the intersection.
But without waiting for Tang Ren to do it first, that female instead passed around Tang Ren to Mo You’s side with a swift movement …… that was just too fast, I couldn’t even see it clearly.
She bent over, her long hair fell down, and used her neck to press against Mo You’s ear. This bizarre behavior caught everyone off guard, but the next line that came from her froze everyone again.
“It doesn’t matter if I exposed the bomb hidden under the gold?”
Bomb? Gold …… Mo You actually hid a bomb under the gold? No wonder Tang Ren refused to let me see what was at the bottom …… did Mo You brought the bomb to blow up the place? I looked at Mo Xiao to see that she was also astonished, it seems she was kept in the dark.
“Who the hell are you? How did you know about it? ”
“You don’t have to worry about that, you just have to answer if you want to play with me for a little while, don’t worry, it won’t take long, I can definitely let you go before the explosion.”
“What do you want to play?”
“You will know when you come.”
She suddenly opened the door on the corridor aside and gave us a ‘come’ gesture.
The four of us looked at each other, and finally our eyes returned to Mo You, who was the lead.
Mo You thought for a moment, took a deep breath, with an expression that doesn’t seem to be scared of anyone, and walked into the room as we followed.
This room seems to be a mansion staff resting place.
Except the room was cleaned up, except for a table with two chairs in the center, and three chairs against the wall, nothing else.
In the center of the table, there was a small chess board, already set up, but the pieces were not the common kind, but replaced by the ancient soldiers’ pawns, and I could only tell from their placement which were rooks, which were bishops or pawns, and king.
Mo Xiao smiled, she was confident in her logical ability, and was about to walk up to the chess player’s position when she was suddenly pulled back.
“Please go and watch from the sidelines.” The expressionless female said. “I would like to compete with that little handsome man.”
With that, the faceless female cast a glance at me.
I took two steps back.
“Yes you, because you look the easiest to bully, hahaha.”
“But I ……”
“If you don’t play, I won’t have let you guys out.”
The facially paralyzed woman weakly snapped her fingers, and the door to the lounge closed in response. Mo You glanced towards the door, didn’t bother to even try to open it, which would obviously be futile. She just waved her hand helplessly to Mo Xiao, gesturing for her to come over and sit down against the wall. Mo Xiao looked at me with some concern, walked up and patted my shoulder and gave me the seat.
I had no choice but to take the player’s seat, and on the other side, the paralyzed woman likewise took her seat.
“You know how to play chess, right?” The paralyzed woman suddenly asked me.
“No, I don’t know, I’ve never ……” I naturally know how to play chess, but on second thought, maybe if I say I don’t know, I can still swap. I really didn’t really want to take on such a big responsibility.
“You’re lying.” The facially paralyzed woman interrupted me bluntly. “My hearing is quite good, your heart beat faster when you just said that, and your eyes also looked towards the right, the human brain needs to use the imagination from the right brain when lying, so people will inadvertently look towards the right.”
This comment left me speechless.
“It’s great that you have such a good hearing.” I said back, but just when I felt I had lost my momentum, from behind came Mo Xiao’s voice. “That’s awesome! I just farted, did you hear that?”
Obviously, she was helping me gain ground, which made me recover a little bit after losing the first face off. I smiled awkwardly at her, but she still responded with her usual slightly lazy expression.
Ah, it seemed things weren’t too bad, at least I wasn’t alone.
But suddenly, a wall rose up from the floor, separating me from Mo Xiao and the others. I stood up in surprise, not knowing what had happened. Mo Xiao, Mo You, and Tang Ren instantly disappeared from my sight, and I was about to find out what was going on when I was pulled back by the paralyzed woman. Her strength was surprisingly strong and I wasn’t able to resist.
“I really almost forgot about this, these days you can’t expect people to watch chess without saying anything, hmm……”
“You, what did you do?”
“As you can see, just isolated people who might be messing up the game, I don’t really like people criticizing the game while I’m playing.”
“So back to the original question, you know how to play chess right?”
I nodded, there was no point in lying when it came down to this.
“The one we’re playing today, well, it’s kind of a game I invented myself, I call it —— Russian chess.”
“Do you think I can beat you, the founder of this?”
“Don’t say that, the basic rules are exactly the same as chess, except that ……”
Suddenly, the paralyzed woman took out something from the table, then slammed it heavily on the table and pushed it in front of me. I fixed my eyes on it and drew a cold breath, it was actually a revolver. Russia, revolvers, that gave me bad associations.
“It’s just chess and Russian roulette together, let me talk about the rules next.”
The facially paralyzed woman said taking the gun, flung the chamber open, loaded a bullet into it, and then closed the chamber again.
“The rules are too simple, this is a nine-round revolver, which ever side lost a piece, that side shoot themselves in the head, if the piece is a rook, bishop, knight, then turn the chamber one time over before shooting, if the king is eaten — nine shots in a row. Because that’s a loss. It’s very simple, isn’t it? Ah, also, I anticipate that you are the kind of person who would hesitate for the life of your opponent, so I’ll tell you something.”
Saying so, the girl brought her face up close.
“You don’t have to worry about my life at all, because this woman is …… to put it simply, just think of her as a robot, and as you should have noticed, I’m using the speakers on this ‘robot’ to communicate.”
No wonder the woman with the paralyzed face had such an obvious dissonance, I didn’t know whether to breathe a sigh of relief or to be nervous. That means my enemy is completely free of psychological pressure, while I need to take greater risks with each piece lost.
“Wait, so I’m going up against a robot, aren’t I at a disadvantage?! I’ll die!” I shouted.
“Haha, yes, let’s begin!” My opponent nodded and took out an hourglass from the table. “Match time is unlimited, thinking time is limited to this hourglass, when this hourglass time is about to run out it will automatically sound a reminder tone.”
The words just dropped, and the hourglass issued a clear and urgent beep, so my opponent rushed to rewind the hourglass.
The beeping also stopped in response.
“So, let’s open the game, Vikings are black.”
Vikings means my opponent’s side, I could guess just by looking at her pieces. They are all fierce guys, while mine are peasants with sticks and forks, and only the king is decent looking.
“White first, black second, this is the basic rule. But do you know the origin of this rule?”
Before starting the game, my opponent suddenly threw out this question. Before I could answer, she spoke again.
“There are rumors that the rule that white goes first is due to the fact that day comes first and night comes second. But day and night have long been reversed at Dyson Bay, so how about we swap, black first and white second?”
Although I didn’t know what the manipulator behind this woman was trying to do, it didn’t seem to do me any harm, and after a little thought, I nodded and agreed to this inconsequential proposal.
There is no doubt that the first move in chess is all about the moving pawn. But the opponent’s play style was unique in that she moved the pawn that was in front of the queen first, so it looks like she’s the kind of person who prefers to make maximum use of the queen. Is she the kind of opponent who will use the queen to drive into the enemy line?
For me, the risk of losing each piece was huge, so I couldn’t risk it. I chose the most conservative method, stacking up the pawn in chains first, because the pawns take out pieces diagonally, so if she attacks my pawn wall, I can trade with her.
With this in mind, I directly moved the pawn blocking the bishop forward two spaces, prioritize getting the bishop out… but to my surprise, my opponent didn’t set up at all, and moved the ‘queen’ directly.
The queen is the strongest piece in chess, and he simply gave up her initial layout to disrupt mine, and while I was still setting up my pawn chain, she moved the queen to pressure my unplayed bishop. Although the bishop is still protected by the pawns in front, the bishop can only move diagonally, so I’ll be powerless to fight back if she takes it.
So I hastily put out the other bishop, and she has no problem moving out her knight, the only piece in chess that can move over other pieces. Her play was really quite aggressive.
But I probably understood her thinking a little bit.
She just wanted to kill me directly, to consume the maximum number of my pieces at the beginning, so that I would die on the roulette wheel, after all, if I was unlucky, I might be finished on the first shot.
Thinking about it this way, I got a little anxious.
What should I do next, should I trade pieces with her?
In the middle of my thinking, the hourglass sounded. In chess, if you exceed the thinking time, you will also be awarded a loss, so I had no choice but to move the bishop out, which is my favorite piece and can occasionally play a surprise attack, hoping to get something out of it.
During the game, although my opponent attacked aggressively, I felt I could handle it because there was no time limit, and I was careful enough to not start trading, and I felt I was starting to get a slight advantage.
Finally, after about 30 or 40 moves, she could not resist and started to trade her pawns with my pawn chain, although the pawn lost its effect if it took one of the opponent’s pieces because it went diagonally, but at least she lost her first piece. I saw her blandly pick up the pistol and say lightly.
“This shot is empty.”
Said the woman, pulling the trigger.
“I told you, I can hear it.”
Then with a swift and compelling move, she took my pawn, who had lost the protection of his chain with his rear, with her queen which now entered a more favorable position. Able to directly threaten the two pawns at the end of my pawn chain, but I knews he wouldn’t dare do that because then I could just trade her queen.
I picked up my gun and swallowed, but my opponent was all lighthearted, and after all, it wasn’t her who’s getting shot.
“Relax, this shot is empty too.”
“How do you know?”
“Did you forget? I said my ears are good, this body’s hearing is still quite impressive, I naturally know in my heart which cylinder contains the bullet.”
I was silent for a moment, and then said to myself in my heart, “Huang Yuan, you can’t die now, you must find your memory.” After such encouragement, I pulled the trigger — empty, which made me heavily relieved.
And what happened next was as I expected, she left her queen in that excellent position in order to threaten my backline. Then more knights were thrown into the offense, and knights are a subset that requires careful planning to be used flexibly, but they are a huge threat. Over the next few steps we traded off a few soldiers and each fired two shots, so that we were halfway through the nine rounds. With three left to go, and Death’s footsteps began to close in on me.
At this point, she suddenly and violently began to move the queen directly into the back line taking out a pawn, while also checking me. What does this mean? She couldn’t even trade out my queen at all by doing this, this move was just too crazy.
I fired a shot, and luckily, it missed. Just as I was about to move my queen to take his, I saw her tap the board, and she pointed to what was one of my pawns that was within striking distance of the knight.
“Do you really want to do that? That could end the game early.”
“What does that mean?”
“It doesn’t mean anything, it just means that if you’re going to take my queen, then you’re 100% going to take that last shot.”
…… Does she mean that the bullet was on the last round? With the shot I just fired, there are now only two rounds left in this chamber. The chances of getting hit with the next shot are 50%, which is a very high probability, do I believe what she says or not ……
Hourglass’s urging rang out once again, this timer is really unpleasant at a time like this when you need to weigh your thinking. There was no way I could afford to take the risk because she had checked me and I had to take her knight with the bishop that I had planned to snipe his rook from a distance.
She laughed, wheeled the pistol, fired a shot at her own head, and then very decisively used her queen to take my queen in front of my eyes.
This shot completely messed up my layout, and the situation tilted in his favor, her queen entering my backline with no pressure, I was forced to castle, and whenever I tried to sink my mind into thinking about the way to break out of this situation, the shrill beeping of the hourglass would disrupt my thoughts, forcing me to proceed to the next hand.
Gradually, my aim was messed up, no longer aiming for her queen, or to target her king, or even trying to capture any of his pieces, but simply sending off my knight, bishop, or rook to spin the wheel before the odds of getting shot myself became too low.
(TLN: The author uses low probably because he doesn’t want to take out pieces that would spin the wheel, therefore lowering the chances that the enemy could set him up to get shot.)
I realized that my decline was irreversible and that I was going to lose.
Now I had no knight, no bishop, only a pawn and a rook, and that pawn was far away. Maybe there was a chance of getting him to the end, but that was almost impossible to happen. As soon as I reached the end, her rook would take my transformed queen without mercy.
And a single rook is also impossible for checkmating.
All was lost. I scratched my hair in vain and fell into a frenzy over what was going to happen next.
Just then, as I was caught up in the frenzy, I accidentally knocked the pistol with my elbow, the gun fell to the ground and the chamber opened, the bullet fell out and bounced twice on the ground with a crisp sound.
“Wait …… that’s ……”
I froze, it wasn’t a bullet at all, at least not a full one, just a bullet shell! No wonder none of the shots had hit so far, that simply didn’t ring.
“You! You’re fouling!”
“How is that a foul?” The voice coming from the paralyzed woman didn’t have any sense of panic that her cheating was discovered. “I just said to take this and shoot at the head, I didn’t say that you have to blow your head off.”
So that’s how it is, I see.
Originally I thought cheating was impossible in chess, but there were other techniques outside of the game, that hourglass too was simply used just to make me more impetuous at this point.
This guy, right off the bat, was prepared.
…… tsk, reluctantly, losing to such a despicable guy is really regretful.
In any case, I can’t lose, I secretly resolved.
At this point, it was impossible to win, but there was a way to not lose.
Other chess games don’t work, but chess, they do.
“Your eyes have changed, have you given up on yourself?”
My opponent laughed.
But I didn’t care, I moved the pawn forward one step, and the soldier reached the end of the line, morphing into the queen.
“Struggling to just die.”
She moved her rook without mercy, stomping the newly crowned queen …… which was exactly what I needed. The silver lining I grabbed.
In the very next moment, I moved my rook and hurled this at her king, into the enemy camp.
“Check.” I said.
“Humph, what’s the point? A rook cannot checkmate me.”
She said this and couldn’t wait to take my rook with his queen, but in this instant, she suddenly froze. Because she found that on this chess board, I no longer had any pieces left except for the king.
“Do you remember that chess has a special tie rule?” I asked him. “You were so caught up in the advantage that you forgot about it, and you might have been able to checkmate me if you had spent an extra 20 or 30 seconds thinking about it instead of just being so focused on my pieces.”
“Stalemate (forcing a draw) ……”
“That’s right, stalemate, when a side has only kings left and the king is unable to move, it will automatically count as a draw.”
I didn’t move my king after castling. It happened to be in this advantageous position in the corner, and he blocked one of my king’s lines with the rook, and I used rook as bait for the queen to take the rook after going up, thus completing the position of forcing a draw …… The result of this game also ended the same as the ‘Siege of Paris’, the French defeated the Vikings, but could not expel the Vikings, and could only make peace with the Vikings. Ultimately handed Normandy over to the Vikings to manage. What a wonderful coincidence.
My opponent was silent for a while, then manipulated the puppet and applauded a few times.
“Not bad, so let’s say I lost, and I lost despite being so well prepared …… I am a man of my words, congratulations.”
After the words, the woman with the paralyzed face fell on the table as if she had lost her soul.
Behind me came the sound of stones moving.
I followed the sound, only to see Mo Xiao, Mo You and Tang Ren, all running towards me unharmed.
I took a breath, this was really tiring.
But what the hell was that guy? I picked up the last piece she moved that was after, I looked at it, it was the only piece that was different from the Viking image. It was a man in a white frock with dark brown hair and green eyes, just as I was about to take a closer look at the piece, the puppet’s hand suddenly moved and crushed the piece.
(TLN: The gender is unknown, so I stuck with the feminance pronoun, comment any mistakes, I would gladly fix them.)