A group of people who have struggled to run away from the banquet hall realized that the ravens have long disappeared and stopped chasing them. They weren’t even aware that half an hour has passed already.
They found themselves standing on a narrow forest path. When they looked up, they could only see that the forest was densely packed with hazel trees.
These several people glanced at each other. A woman among them began to complain, “Let’s stop running! My legs are about to break!”
Her name was He Yun. A rich young lady who has been pampered and has not suffered any hardships since birth.
Even now, she was still wearing a pair of three inch heels. If it wasn’t for her husband pulling her, she would have fallen down many times while escaping. She wasn’t grateful about it though. Instead, she turned to him and said, “This is all your fault! If you hadn’t received that invitation, we wouldn’t even be here in this hell! How are we going to get back now?”
Who knows if those birds are still waiting for them?
Her husband, He Zheng Wei, kept apologizing and said comforting words to her but it wasn’t enough to appease her. Then another woman spoke, “But Xiao1 Xiao – can be used as a prefix to indicate affection; usually used by older people towards younger people or by a senior towards their subordinate Yun, we didn’t expect this to happen before we came here. It’s not Zheng Wei’s fault. Besides, I also received an invitation. Will you also blame me for this?”
As soon as He Yun heard the women’s words, she put away her original domineering appearance.
“Of course not!” She scoffed. “How can this loser be compared to sister Qiang?”
He Zheng Wei, who was already used to this kind of treatment, did not refute her words, a helpless, wry smile pasted on his face.
Ye Qiao looked at the two of them and no longer tried to help them reconcile. “Xiao Yun, I know that you’re sensible. You must know that our first priority is to look for a way to get out of this place. Now, check your phone. Can you make a call?”
If they could get in touch with the outside, they could probably ask for help.
He Yun also understood what she meant. She opened her handbag that she had been clutching tightly. The others either did not bring it to begin with, or lost it on the way to escape, and now she’s the only one who can take out a phone.
“I can’t. There’s no signal.” She looked at her phone and shook her head.
Everyone fell silent.
Their drivers all parked their cars outside, at the entrance of the manor. When they entered the manor, a car was sent to pick them up and had driven for more than an hour to reach the entrance of the banquet hall. It could be conservatively estimated that they are now dozens of kilometers away from the gate.
The five people present at the moment were all wealthy and had a delicate body. Ye Qiang’s husband, who was in his fifties or sixties, was especially weak. His physical strength could no longer keep up.
The most crucial thing to note was that they have no idea where the direction of the gate was in, and even if they do want to walk away from here, they could not simply do so.
Little did they know that the manor existed in an independent space. Even if they find the gate, they still wouldn’t be able to go out without the owner’s permission.
Several of the faces around no longer looked good. He Yun raised her eyebrows, unable to resist the urge to get angry again.
Ye Qiang put the high heels she was carrying on the ground and said, “I remember the car was driving north when we came in. We will definitely be able to go out if we go south. Even if we don’t reach the gate, we still shouldn’t stay in here. Who knows if there are wolves in here or something? We should find a place to spend the night.”
She had become the vague leader of the group from the very beginning. As soon as she spoke, her husband, Gu Bai Xi, nodded and said vaguely, “You’re right, Ā2 A very common prefix; 阿 (Ā) is usually used as a greeting and indicates affection. Qiang.”
He Yun also looked at her and said, “I’ll listen to you, sister Qiang.”
As for the illegitimate son of her husband and Gu Bai Xi, the two had no right to speak at all, so they nodded their heads in agreement.
Ye Qiang put on the shoes that she had taken off before to escape. She needed to put it on now. Gravel, stones and broken branches were scattered on the ground. If she don’t put it on, she would definitely get hurt.
She pointed to the direction that she recognized and the five people started to go south. Probably because of their luck, they eventually found a spire house not long after they started walking. The house was shining with warm yellow light, and faint singing voices could be heard in the distance.
“There’s someone inside!” He Yun beamed with joy, immediately quickened her pace and walked towards the house.
The others also acted like her after seeing the house with lights on and hearing the singing. If there was someone here, then they could probably ask for help!
Only Ye Qiang showed hesitation, but she didn’t say anything as they all seemed very excited.
When they got closer, they saw the black roses on the wall, swaying in the wind under the cover of the night, sending bursts of strong floral fragrance.
Ye Qiang couldn’t help but stop in her tracks. She didn’t know what came to her mind, but her hands trembled slightly. No one noticed her acting strangely, but He Yun saw her stop and pulled her.
“Sister Qiang, what’s the matter with you? Let’s go inside!”
“…” Ye Qiang didn’t react, she was immediately pulled in.
It was after they entered that they discovered that it was a small opera house. The seats inside were covered with red velvet cushion, making it seem soft and comfortable at a glance.
Yun He pulled her immediately to sit down. “I feel so tired after all that walking we did. Good thing that there are seats here so we could take a rest… Sister Qiang, what’s wrong with your face? You don’t look good.”
Gu Zhao Dong had just graciously helped Gu Bai Xi to sit down when he heard Ye Qiang say firmly, “No! We’re leaving right now! We can’t stay here!”
“Sister Qiang?” He Yun didn’t understand why Ye Qiang said that. “But we were just about to rest…”
“You don’t understand! There’s definitely something wrong in here!” Ye Qiang lost her temper and the calmness she showed before disappeared. “We heard someone singing while we were outside, but do you see anyone in here now? If someone was really here, why didn’t they show up when we arrived? If no one was here, then where did those voices singing come from?”
He Yun’s face turned pale. She continued to ponder about the situation, then realized something. She spoke, her voice quivering. “…sister Qiang, have you noticed that the singing stopped as soon as we came in?”
“…” The others froze, finally realizing what was happening, and their whole body shuddered.
“Let’s leave now!” Ye Qiang said firmly.
They hurriedly tried to get out of the chairs and run for the door, yet to their horror, they found that they couldn’t stand up at all as if they were glued to the chairs! Not only that, gradually, they found that they could no longer control their bodies and could only remain sitting upright in the chairs, their faces maintaining their horrified expressions.
When Xia Nuo and Kan Chen entered the opera house, Xia Nuo saw that there were already a few dark figures sitting in the first row, and couldn’t help but sigh, “So there are already other audiences besides us?”
He remembered the way the little puppets threatened and enticed them just to invite them. He thought that they acted like that because they had no one to show it to, so they had to invite them!
Though it seems that there are only a few spectators–Xia Nuo counted, there should be five–it shouldn’t be that bad.
Kan Chen looked at the figures and realized what was going on but said nothing when he glanced at the happy young man holding a bouquet beside him.
Compared to his brother, the rather shy little puppet guided them to a seat. Xia Nuo was only one seat away from Ye Qiang. When he saw the gaze Kan Chen casted at him, he spoke softly. “This is the place with the best view. Dad instructed me to make sure you sit here.”
It was the truth, but Xia Nuo couldn’t help but laugh when he heard it. “I can’t see though, so what’s the use of having a good view?”
“Ai?” The little puppet exclaimed, surveyed his dark, moist eyes and lamented. “I didn’t notice it at all! Isn’t it inconvenient for you? Should I ask dad to give you a new pair of eyes? My brother and I already have our eyes changed three times, and each pair could see clearly!”
Can eyes be replaced? Xia Nuo was a little surprised when he heard this, but then realized that the two were puppets. Of course they could naturally change parts of their body.
“I don’t think that would work on me. I’m different from you, I’m only an ordinary human being.” He answered.
“Ordinary human? No, you’re obviously Mr. Kan Chen’s favorite p—mmm!”
The little puppet was strangled and could no longer say anything leaving Xia Nuo with a dazed expression. Mr. Kan Chen’s what? Why did you stop?
The little puppet shook his head desperately to indicate that he would not continue speaking. Kan Chen glanced at it threateningly then slowly let go of his hand.
The little puppet who survived the catastrophe didn’t dare to stay, and left quickly with the words “I will go backstage to see Dad”.
“What was he trying to say…” Xia Nuo turned to the man beside him.
Kan Chen chuckled softly. “Probably nothing? Kids like to talk nonsense, who knows what they think about all day?”
Then he became lost in his thought after he said that.
He had unconsciously stopped the little puppet from continuing, but when you think about it, did he say anything wrong? He had always treated the young man as a cute little pet, so why would he be reluctant to let the puppet say that?
He suddenly remembered the warm and soft kiss that landed on his face not long ago, and the vaguely uncontrollable heart beat after the kiss.
Perhaps the teenager is not just a pet to him. However, he couldn’t give a specific answer to how he regarded the young man as. Maybe…
Kan Chen closed his eyes, unwilling to think deeper.
“You’re right.” He heard the young man answer in a clear, crisp voice. “Kids these days are quite incomprehensible.”
He could already imagine what the young man looks like now without turning his head. He must be nodding solemnly while saying this, as if responding to his words…
He didn’t notice that the corners of his mouth had slowly hooked up.
Xia Nuo thought of his neighbors’ children in the real world. One moment, they would show off their toys to you, the next they would praise their favorite heroes in anime. Their thoughts would jump from topic to another.
If you think about it, the little puppet’s behavior of running away in the middle of his sentence is really not so abrupt. After all, he’s still just a kid.
Xia Nuo didn’t know that the little kid was in fact several years older than him!
The next scene rewinds to the moment they entered the opera.
Li Charlie was sitting on a bench backstage beside a beautiful woman wearing a black veil. He held the woman’s hand tightly and said, “Wei Wei, today’s play is dedicated just for you, so you must take a look properly… I’ve grown a lot over the years. I’m no longer that same old wimp. Oh right, you must perform well because the success of this new play depends on your performance.”
The woman sat in silence and did not respond to his words. The elder brother of the shy little puppet peeked out from behind the door and rolled his eyes in disgust when he saw him.
“Dad, why are you still here?! The guests have all arrived and the play’s about to start!”
“Oh-oh!” Li Charlie scrambled to his feet and pushed his glasses nervously, “The guests have already come! Has the owner of the manor come too? I’ve always wanted to thank him for all the years he’s been so kind to me. I finally have the chance today…”
“Daddy!” The little puppet shouted to stop him from continuing, “If you say more, it will really be too late!”
The puppet pulled the woman hard from the chair and dragged her onto the stage. The scarlet curtain slowly opened and the woman just stiffly appeared on the stage.
The moment Ye Qian saw her, her eyes widened abruptly.
In fact, when she saw Kan Chen and Xia Nuo come in, she thought of asking these two for help. As long as a normal person sees them being like this, they would eventually feel something is wrong, right?
But no matter how anxious she was inside, how much she wanted to speak, she could not utter a sound, and could only watch them walk past her.
Soon, she also noticed that something was wrong with those two men. The tall man, who had clearly discovered their plight, was acting like he was unaware of it! The other cute young man, on the other hand, was just blind. However, even if the boy was not blind, Ye Qian didn’t think he could count on him. Seeing him acting intimately with the man who has turned a blind eye to them, it’s obvious that he’s not a good person either!
But what scared her most is that the one leading the way for the two was not human, but a puppet that can run, jump and talk. No different from a living person!
The puppet even made a face at her as it passed by, said something, and then left with a smile on its face.
She hadn’t reacted at that time, but now that she thought about it, it went something along the lines of “It’s been a long time, mom.”
As soon as the woman on the stage opened her mouth, Xia Nuo realized why Mr. Kan Chen had given such a low evaluation before. There was no other reason, the voice of the female singer was really hard to listen to!
It seemed like rough stones rubbing together, or like a carving knife scratching hard on wood. Xia Nuo paid no attention to her singing, and focused on looking for a way to get out of this torture.
“Mr. Kan Chen.” Xia Nuo leaned into the man’s ear and whispered, “Can we sneak out?”
“Mr. Kan Chen? Mr. Kan Chen…” The man did not answer his question, and Xia Nuo realized that he seemed to be in a trance, so he gently called out his name a few more times.
Kan Chen: “!!!”
Xia Nuo felt that his hand on the armrest of the seat was fiercely grabbed. The large hand that laid on top of it seemed afraid that he would escape, and suddenly clasped his fingers with some force. Xia Nuo couldn’t help but let out a low cry of pain.
“I’m sorry.” The man quickly released his hand. His voice still sounded a bit raspy and contained a few inexplicable emotions. “What did you just say?”
“I said, can we sneak out?” Xia Nuo repeated patiently.
“I’m afraid not.” The man looked at the corner leading to the backstage. “Li Charlie is hiding behind the curtains right now and peeking.”