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The next day, the sun had yet to rise when the villagers opened the windows and doors of their houses and began making breakfast. The village chief’s kitchen was very close to the small warehouse. The sound of pots bumping woke Xin Meng up and he sat down and rubbed his eyes. Looking at his watch, it wasn’t even six o’clock. He slept late yesterday so now he can’t even open his eyes but people have already started cooking. It’s not good to stay in bed. He yawned and got out of the bed to put on his shoes, then opened the door and walked out the room.
The village chief was sitting on a small bench in the living room. A bowl of millet porridge has been placed at the low table in front of him. There’s also a couple of steamed buns and a plate of pickles. Wu HueXua cane out of the kitchen, with two bowls of porridge in her hands. Seeing Xin Meng awake, she hurriedly greeted him, “I was just going to call you, sit down and eat.”
Xin Meng thanked them, and so the three sat down and finished their breakfast around the table.
The village chief took Qi XiaoKui seriously. After breakfast, he turned on the loudspeaker and every household opened their doors, the villagers scattered to the mountains to look for someone.
Xin Meng was embarrassed to wait there, so he planned on finding his teammates first and then follow the villagers to look for her. Also ask about the ‘Forbidden Land’.
This time, Xin Meng took initiative with You Yi. The remaining Li Yougen and Dong Xiu decided to act independently and Xiong JiaBao looked left and right, before finally joining Xin Meng.
Xin Meng choose a familiar villager who sat next to him when they had a meal at the village chief’s house. It was also the skinny boy who first mentioned the ‘forbidden land’, Wu Qiang.
Wu Qiang is very talkative, and he doesn’t pay much attention to what he is saying. He’s a very suitable target. In order to discover some clues, Xin Meng deliberately walked next to him and tried to talk along the way. You Yi and Xiong JiaBao followed. You Yi has been watching Xin Meng, so when the mountain path is difficult to walk, he can always pull him back on time, while Xiong JiaBao is not that attentive.
“By the way, the ‘forbidden ground’ you mentioned yesterday, that place where you store food?” Xin Meng asked inadvertently. “Children really shouldn’t be let in, but you are all so grown up. Still afraid you will mess with the food?”
Wu Qiang again showed his unsatisfied expression, clearly wanting to say something, but probably due to the village chief’s orders, he couldn’t say it. Xin Meng noticed it and teased him, “It seems that in the eyes of the adults, you are still a kid! Actually, we have that problem too, even if we are already in our twenties, our parents always think we haven’t grown up and aren’t reliable. So this is also the case here.”
“No!” When a half-sized man like Wu Qiang, who longed to become an adult, heard that, he immediately threw the village chief’s orders far away. He told everything, “The ‘forbidden land’ is not a place to store food at all, not is forbidden to young children, it’s forbidden for both adults and children!”
“Ah?” Xin Meng pretended to be surprised. “Why so?”
“I don’t know” Wu Qiang muttered, one hand picking leaves and branches, whipping them around, “When I was a kid, I went there with Wu Deli, but it turned out there was nothing. Just a few big stones on a grove, nothing else. The adults found out about it later on and when we came back, we were severly punished hard! So unjust!”
“If there’s nothing, why is it called ‘forbidden land’?” Xin Meng couldn’t understand, was it just an ordinary grove?
“Maybe it’s just its name.” Wu Qiang said indifferently, and then suddenly exclaimed, “Oh, yes, I remember, there’s something else about it.”
“What?” Xin Meng quickly asked.
“It’s just a legend, I don’t know if it’s true or not” Wu Qiang scratched his head. “It is said to be an ‘unknown’ place, and if anyone enters, he will trigger the ‘unknown’. But when we went in, nothing happened. No one got sick or anything, every villager was fine.”
Xin Meng silently remembered this incident in his heart. He felt like it was an important message.
“In fact, there’s no mystery” Wu Qiang pouted. “After that, I asked Wu Deli to ask the village chief. It was originally an ancestral grave, where our ancestors are buried. Later, afraid of the bad luck ,they moved the grave, to prevent future generations from going there.”
Xin Meng was trying to inquire about the location of the forbidden area, so they could secretly look at it later, but Xiong JiaBao was stupid and came directly at Wu Qiang: “Take us there now.”
Xin Meng snorted and, sure enough, Wu Qiang’s relaxed attitude became vigilant. He looked at the three of them, defensively and said, “What do you want to do there? Why are you asking me about it?”
Xiong JiaBao was trying to explain the situation to him, but You Yi lifted his leg and kicked him, he almost fell. He was very ignorant to the situation, Xin Meng only glared at him and You Yi cooperated with a cold warn, “Shut up!”
Xiong JiaBao had no choice but to keep quiet.
Of course Wu Qiang refused to take them to the forbidden area, he couldn’t bring a group of strangers there! After all, it was the place where their ancestors were once buried. The villagers were very attentive to their customs, if you ask something like that directly, they will surely think you are insane!
After thinking about it, he explained to Wu Qiang this way, “He meant that since we didn’t find out companion yesterday, it may be possible she accidentally went to the forbidden area, and since no one entered it. We haven’t found her until now…..so…”
Wu Qiang hesitated a little, but thinking it was possible, he calmed down, but still told them seriously, “I can take you there, the place is not large and can be looked clearly from the outside. But you can’t go in, just stand outside, or else I’ll be punished according to the village’s regulations!”
Xin Meng quickly nodded and the three followed Wu Qiang. After turning a corner, they changed road, turned a few times and then saw the grove he told them about.
The grove is really a ‘small’ grove, with a diameter less than 500 meters. You can see the edge of it at first glance. There are dozens of thin and tall poplar trees scattered on the middle, and a few big stones scattered around.
The stones looked a bit strange. They are not tombstones, but are standing like tombstones, and the number is even weirder, exactly six.
Xin Meng has been looking at the six big stones while thinking about Xiong JiaBao’s card and about the number of them. It seems that the ‘it’ in the message [Ignore it, or push it. You choose] referred to the big stones.
He wanted to stay and watch them carefully, but Wu Qiang already started to push them out. “Okay, you’ve seen it already, let’s go, don’t let the others see us here.”
Xin Meng had to calm down his thoughts. He already remembered the route anyways, so he would come back when he had the chance.
The four looked around and were unable to find Qi XiaoKui. Wu Qiang wondered, “Are you sure you are a group of six? Hasn’t that person left already?”
Even Xin Meng hesitated for a moment, but he still shook his head. Their range of activity has been limited to this valley, as long as they were players and unless they cleared the task, they couldn’t go out, so Qi XiaoKui must be somewhere in this mountain, but hiding, not willing to be found by them, that’s the only explanation.
Thinking of the previous game, when Qi XiaoKui was pushed to the zombies by Li Yougen, Xin Meng could only sigh and decide to give up looking for her.
The girl who had been wary since the beginning would no longer trust them. Since she thought it was safer to hide, they shouldn’t bother her again.
As for the card on her hand…
They can only take one step at a time.
Xin Meng went back and told the village head: “Village chief, tell everyone to come back. I just received a call from our friend. She said she accidentally left the valley, so there’s no need to bother about her. Thank you in advance.”
“She’s gone?” Somehow, the village chief seemed a bit regretful, but soon laughed again. “It’s good she’s fine, I’ll call everyone back.”
Soon the horn sounded and the village head was heard. He couldn’t understand a word, but the villagers came back to the mountain one after another. Dong Xiu and Li Yougen also arrived.
Dong Xiu asked, “What’s going on?”
Xin Meng replied, “Don’t look for her. She’s hiding from us, we won’t find her.”
Li Yougen was very dissatisfied, and he didn’t know if it was towards Xin Meng or Qi XiaoKui. “Waisting everyone’s efforts.”
Xin Meng ignored him. “We have found the forbidden area, but the villagers guard it tightly, we have to find a chance to sneak in.”
By the time lunch was over, the villagers went to take a nap, Xin Meng and the group excused themselves with the wanting to see the mountain’s scenary and left,
The group stood outside the grove. No one stopped them this time. You Yi walked inside first. Seeing there was no danger, he signaled to Xin Meng. Dong Xiu and Li Yougen bypassed Xin Meng first. Xin Meng was the last one to enter. You Yi stood still and waited for him.
They could see everything from the outside, so they didn’t look around and headed straight for the big stones.
Before, due to the distance, Xin Meng couldn’t see it clearly. Now, closely, he looked at the stone and had a creepy discovery…
The six stoned that resembled tombstones were actually engraved with their names!
Translator and Editor Notes:
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