Chapter 2 - Fengxi Town

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The page started off with the large words “Fengxi Town” right on top, followed by the words that everyone heard in their heads before being transported to this place. The rest of the page was entirely blank after that, and it looked like it was purposely left that way. Su Jin turned to the next page and realized that the words “Difficulty Level: B” were written at the bottom of the page.

“Difficulty level? Is that referring to how dangerous this is going to be?” thought Su Jin. There were clearly varying levels of difficulty, but he had no idea what that actually entailed.

He read every word on the first page very carefully, afraid that he would miss something. Liu Yingying had told him that this book would help them to survive, so perhaps there were some details hidden in these words.

“Everyone, take a look at your own Handbooks and see if there are any differences in the content,” said Su Jin to the other three.

They opened their own copy and compared it across all four copies, but the content in all the books was completely identical. Zhang Jing asked Su Jin, “It’s all the same. Do you see anything special in these words?”

“According to the Handbook, something happened to Fengxi Town 50 years ago. It just says that all the villagers disappeared overnight, but it doesn’t state whether they died or not. Every ten years, the extinguished lights of Fengxi Town light up again… does that mean the villagers of Fengxi Town will return? Or does it mean that the thing that caused the villagers to disappear back then is going to appear again tonight?”

“Also, the ‘crazy’ in ‘crazy night’ here definitely refers to the danger we’re about to face, but what does ‘night’ itself mean? Is it referring to the time between sunset and sunrise, or is it referring to an event that happens at night? There are too many unanswered questions here. If we don’t get a better understanding of all these things, we’ll be forced into a lot of unwanted situations.”

The other three who were listening to Su Jin talk, were completely stumped. And of them, Chu Yi said, “It’s just a few lines, but you’re able to analyze them so much? You’re amazing!”

“Oh, I like solving mysteries like these in my free time, that’s all,” said Su Jin with a laugh. When he was a student, he actually set up a club in school with a few other friends who liked these sorts of things. They weren’t great sleuths1, but it wasn’t difficult for them to pick up a few clues from any text given to them. He also figured out that the aloof young man earlier and Liu Yingying had probably discovered these clues pretty easily too.

“So, what do we do now?” Yang Zichen’s eyes were filled with fear as he said these words. And it wasn’t really surprising that a teenager would be scared in such a situation. The fact that he didn’t just burst out crying was already a sign of how brave he was trying to be. Chu Yi was trained in martial arts, so he was a little less timid compared to Yang Zichen.

It was clear that the other three looked towards Su Jin as their leader, but Su Jin was usually the more easy-going sort of person and had never taken up a leadership position before. However, he couldn’t really push this responsibility to someone else since the rest of the people on the team included two teenagers and a frightened young lady.

"Just now, Liu Yingying mentioned that it's going to start in about ten minutes, so during this time, we're probably safe. But those ten minutes are almost up, so I think we’d better enter the village first.” Both Liu Yingying and the aloof young man had headed straight for the village ahead, and it was also obvious from the way they spoke that this wasn’t the first time that this was happening to them. In other words, they were veterans. And if the veterans chose to enter Fengxi Town immediately, newbies like Su Jin and the rest should also logically follow in their footsteps.

“Do we really have to go in? It seems safe here, so why don’t we just stay here until daybreak?” After she glanced at the sheaves next to her, the village ahead, which was illuminated with bright lights, terrified Zhang Jing even more. It was as if the village was a gigantic wild beast that was baring its fangs and was ready to gobble up anybody who came close.

Su Jin shook his head and said, “If this place were safe, the two veterans wouldn’t have been in such a hurry to enter the village. I’m afraid that once whatever is going to start, starts, something terrible will happen to us if we remain here.”

And so, all four of them started walking towards the village. The entire place was brightly lit, but there was no sign of life at all. As they walked towards the village, Su Jin said to them, "If 6 am is the time when most people consider the night to be over, then we’ll have to stay here for around eight hours or so.”

“Eight hours? Not six?” asked Yang Zichen timidly after blinking in surprise.

"It was around 10 pm when I got here, so it's eight hours to 6 am," said Chu Yi matter-of-factly.

But Yang Zichen replied, “That doesn’t sound right. It should have been around midnight when I got here. I was doing some revision for school and got tired of my textbooks, so I reached for some books on my shelf and ended up with this Handbook!”

“Midnight?! Why do I remember that the time I came here was still only 4 pm?!" Zhang Jing exclaimed.

Su Jin stared at them for a moment, then asked, “We’re all from the same country, right?”

All three of them nodded.

Su Jin frowned and pondered this matter for a while before saying, “Since we’re all from the same country and our country doesn’t have different time zones, then… perhaps the Handbook has the ability to warp time somehow, so even though we were transported here at different times, the time here is controlled by the Handbook and starts running again only when all of us have arrived. That’s why we entered the Handbook’s world at different times but appeared in Fengxi Town at the same time.”

“Or perhaps the Handbook has control over our consciousness, so it makes us lose our consciousness and wakes us up only when everybody has arrived here. But because nobody is able to tell how much time has passed accurately while you’re asleep, we all think that we appeared in this place instantly.”

Su Jin’s explanation wasn’t the best, but at least it was plausible. Besides, what everyone wanted was an answer that could make them feel less worried, and not necessarily the real answer. The unknown is the most terrifying thing, after all.

Fengxi Town was rather large, so it would be pretty difficult to run into the aloof young man and Liu Yingying if they didn’t purposely try to look for the two of them. Also, it was definitely unsafe to walk around the town right now.

“Why don’t we find somewhere to hide for the time being?” suggested Chu Yi.

They didn’t dare enter the village itself, so they found a house outside the border of the village that seemed fairly clean. This house was also not too far from the border of the town, so if they did run into any danger, it wouldn’t be too difficult for them to run from it.

The gate wasn’t locked, so it only took a gentle push to open it, and the gate swung from its hinge, into the front yard of the house. An oil lamp lit up the house, and the dim flickering of the light from it made the place seem somewhat surreal.

“Hey, look! There’s dinner on the table! Is the owner of this house at home?” Chu Yi was the first one to enter the house, and he found that there was food on the dining table. It was just simple fare2, but the most surprising part was that the food was still steaming, which indicated that it had been prepared not too long ago.

Su Jin looked around and shook his head. “That doesn’t sound right. Look at the amount of dust in the house, especially around the table.”

The house was covered with a thick layer of dust, besides where the four of them had passed through as they entered the house. The area around the table, in particular, had accumulated so much dust that it nearly covered the entire leg of the table, and it even looked fluffy. The top of the table was also covered in a layer of dust. Only the cutlery seemed clean.

“What… what’s going on? Are you saying that a ghost cooked this?” Zhang Jing started trembling fearfully.

“I’m afraid that the rest of the town looks just like this. Never mind that for now, let’s look around and see if we can find any other clues. Let’s see if we can find any good weapons too." Su Jin was also feeling scared, but this was not a good time to start panicking. He had to remain calm in such situations in order to stay safe.

After searching the house for a bit, Chu Yi and Yang Zichen found three knives, but they were all chef’s knives. Plus, every knife was covered in a layer of rust, but it was still better than having no weapons at all. Zhang Jing took one first. As the only female among them, having a weapon on hand might help her feel a little more secure.

Chu Yi took one of the knives as well. He was young, but he was trained in martial arts, so he was probably the best among them at wielding one. They wanted to give the last one to Yang Zichen, but to their surprise, he refused to take it.

“I don’t know what to do with a knife, so I’ll just follow you guys.” Yang Zichen still seemed very jittery, but Su Jin felt that this boy was actually really brave inside. He just needed to go through a few ordeals in life, and he would definitely be able to make it big in the future.

Since Yang Zichen wasn’t going to take the knife, Su Jin took it. He got Chu Yi to look for a bottle, and Chu Yi quickly returned with an empty glass bottle that looked like it used to contain sauce. Su Jin found some kerosene and matches in the kitchen, so he poured the kerosene into the glass bottle before stuffing a piece of torn curtain fabric and passed it to Yang Zichen.

“You can hold onto this. But you’ve got to be careful with it, because this is the only ammunition that we’ve got,” said Su Jin with a smile as he patted Yang Zichen on the shoulder, hoping it would give the younger boy some courage.

Yang Zichen didn’t refuse this time. He carefully held the bottle and kept the matches properly in his pants pocket.

Just then, Zhang Jing’s stomach started growling. She grinned sheepishly at the rest of them and said, “Sorry guys, I haven’t eaten dinner yet, so I can’t help it.”

“Do you think we could eat the food on the table?” Chu Yi asked Su Jin.

Su Jin frowned and said to Zhang Jing, “Bear with it for the time being. I don’t know where any of these things came from, so I think it’s better not to touch them.”

Zhang Jing was disappointed, but even though she was hungry, she knew that it was better to stay far away from all of these strange things since they were in a really creepy town right now.

“Zhang Jing, if you’re hungry, you can have this.” Yang Zichen suddenly pulled a chocolate bar from his pocket and held it out to Zhang Jing a little shyly.

She immediately grabbed it and said to him, “Thank you so much! Once we get out of this creepy place, I’ll treat you to a good meal!”

Yang Zichen didn’t say anything and just nodded bashfully.

Time slowly ticked by, and the silence was suddenly broken by the sound of bells ringing. Everyone jumped up in shock. Su Jin quickly ran out to the front yard. The sound came from the northern side of the village, and it wasn’t too far from them. The bell rang a total of 12 times.

“It’s midnight!” said Zhang Jing before Su Jin could say anything.

Since the bells rang 12 times, it probably meant that it was midnight right now, which also meant that all the different times that each of them had remembered before coming here were wrong. But none of that was important now. The bells probably signaled the beginning of the crazy night mentioned in the Handbook.

“Everyone, stay alert!” said Su Jin as he walked back into the house.

“AHH!” Yang Zichen suddenly exclaimed as he pointed in horror at the dining table and stammered in fear, “Someone… someone’s eating!”

The cutlery on the table started moving as if someone was really eating the food on the table, even though they still couldn't see anybody. None of them dared to make any sound, and they could even hear the sound of someone chewing on the food.

Crunch! Crunch!

  1. A sleuth is a detective/someone who investigates crimes ↩️

  2. Fare is another word for food. ↩️

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