Chapter 2 - Rose Funeral
Xiao Lou stood in front of the card wall and was dazzled by the large umber of cards. He was surprised to find that each card had an animation in addition to the markings such as 2 of Hearts or 3 od Spades in the upper left corner.
These cards seemed to have countless condensed spaces. Each card was like a thumbnail TV screen that played different plots.
The card in front of him had the clearest animation.
Xiao Lou stared and saw that in the card world, a short girl was being chased by several ugly zombies. The girl accidentally slipped and fell to the ground, allowing the zombies to quickly surrounded her. They tore off her head and gnawed with relish. The girl’s horrified eyes seemed to stare straight through the card window at Xiao Lou.
Xiao Lou’s scalp was numb and he felt nauseous. He clenched his fists hard, his nails penetrating deeply into the palm of his hand. The intense pain told him that this wasn’t a dream. It was another space that he couldn’t understand and consisted of cards.
That girl certainly couldn’t live but having her ‘brain eaten by zombies’, this type of death was too cruel.
Was she, like himself, inexplicably pulled into the Card World? Xiao Lou closed his eyes and couldn’t bear to look again.
The system coldly asked, “Do you see the Card World?”
Xiao Lou took a deep breath and replied, “I see it.”
“You have only one chance to modify your choice. A or B, what do you choose?”
Xiao Lou didn’t hesitate. “I choose B.”
The system declared, “The option has been confirmed.”
“Congratulations on being the 86587847th Card World challenger. Before entering the new world, you can change your image and gender. You have three minutes to make the initial data adjustments.”
There was a mirror in front of him. The young man in the mirror was handsome and his eyebrows were gentle. It was just that at this moment, his face was somewhat unnaturally pale. It was difficult for anyone who suddenly encountered such a thing to calm down. Xiao Lou was already a relatively calm person since he didn’t scream when he saw the girl being eaten by the zombie.
Xiao Lou glanced at himself in the mirror and spoke calmly, “I won’t adjust my looks or gender.”
Perhaps a lot of people who died unexpectedly were sent to the Card World. There were more than 80 million challengers. If he didn’t adjust his appearance, he might meet someone he knew before. Even though he didn’t understand this Card World, the only thing he could do now was abide by the rules of the new world and increase the chances of living as much as possible.
“Challenger Xiao Lou, the initial data storage was successful.” The mirror disappeared and the mechanical voice of the system was heard. “Next, I will read out the basic rules of the new world.
“In the Card World, every card contains a different small world. You can understand it as a secret room.”
“The type of secret room is determined by the type of card. The Hearts represent solving puzzles, Diamonds represent a secret room with different mechanisms, Spades is a survival room and Clubs is a challenge room.”
“The difficulty of the secret rooms are from low to high, in turn it goes from D, C, B, A, S and SS is the highest difficulty. Only by passing the SS-grade secret room can you obtain a new life and return to the human world.”
“If you succeed, you can get rewards. If you fail, you will be sent to the nightmare room for punishment. Players who can’t survive the nightmare room will be completely wiped out of the Card World.”
“The rules will only be told once. Then please select a card.”
Four cards emerged in the air in front of Xiao Lou—Hearts 2, Diamonds 2, Spades 2, Clubs 2.
These four cards, unlike the cards on the card wall, didn’t have a dynamic plot and looked like the most basic playing card. The front was printed in colour and it was unknown what he would face after opening the card.
One card was a world. Which one should he choose?
Xiao Lou thought carefully before reaching out to draw ‘Hearts 2.’
He loved to read detective mystery novels since he was a child. Ever since he was pulled by his roommates to play a secret room game during university, he liked this thrilling, logically and rigorous escape room game. Every time he went to a city, Xiao Lou would go the secret rooms to play. He had played hundreds of secret rooms and had rich experience. However, in his world, most of the secret room games were puzzle-solving or mechanisms. He had never heard of any ‘survival’ or ‘challenge’ secret rooms.
Thinking about the video where the girl was eaten by a zombie, the Spades secret room was likely to face a crisis of survival. The Clubs challenge room was difficult to the determined based on the name and it might be worse to rush into it. Relatively speaking, the hearts puzzle-solving room sounded friendly and Xiao Lou was good at them.
To be safe, he chose hearts first.
—The card selection is over.
— 2 of Hearts Secret Room (Rose Funeral) is open.
—Challenger Xiao Lou, the data is read.
—The time limit is 30 minutes. Exceeding this time will be judged as a failure to clear it.
There was a system prompt and a red light emerged from the card 2 of Hearts. The red light quickly formed a vortex and Xiao Lou was directly sucked into the Card World.
Xiao Lou’s vision suddenly turned black. Once he regained his vision, he found himself in a narrow, empty corridor.
The light in the corridor was very dim and there was a door at the end. The surrounding walls were bare and were the most common white wall. Meanwhile, there were dust-stained beige tiles on the ground. No useful clues were found.
A transparent suspension box with the countdown of 30:00 appeared in front of him. Xiao Lou found that the countdown had started and quickly walked to the door.
He pushed open the door and quickly looked through the house.
This was a three bedroom, three common room residence with an area of approximately 120 square metres.
The furniture was a warm colour and looked very warm. There was a soft fabric sofa in the living room, a thick carpet under the coffee table and a large LCD TV on the opposite side. The dining room was clean and neat, with a bunch of roses on the table.
The three rooms next to it were open. One was the master bedroom, one was a child’s room with cartoon wallpapers and the other was a study.
The entire house was to the north and south and the square shape was the most common layout for a family of three.
The moment he entered the house, Xiao Lou smelt a strange scent that seemed to mix with the aroma of roses.
He followed the scent to the master bedroom.
There was a double bed in the middle of the bedroom. At this time, the bed was covered with bright red rose petals. A woman wearing white silk pyjamas had fallen asleep on the rose petals. Her hands were gently placed on her abdomen and she seemed to be sleeping peacefully.
However, her chest had been opened up and there was a large pool of blood.
The woman’s pyjamas were stained with blood around the chest area and the delicate face covered with makeup clearly showed signs of death. His lips were blue and her skin as pale as paper. The strong smell in the air was coming from this woman’s body.
The 2 of Hearts secret room was actually a murder scene!
Xiao Lou almost gagged at the strong smell. He squeezed his nose hard and his eyes started to look around carefully.
As a player with many years of experience in escape games, he had played many puzzle-solving rooms and saw many horrible scenes. His forensic expertise almost made him immune to corpses so when he saw the female body on the bed, he didn’t panic and made himself calm down quickly.
The card of hearts represented a ‘puzzle room.’
Since this room was a murder scene, the puzzle to be solved was naturally the cause of death of the deceased.
Xiao Lou endured the smell of the corpse and stepped forward to start a comprehensive inspection of the dead.
The deceased, a young woman in her 30s, died in her pyjamas at home.
There was a large blood stain on her chest. The fatal wound came from the stab to the heart. The weapon should be a sharp knife that directly pierced the aorta of the heart. The technique was clean and neat. In addition, she had no other injuries on her body and no traces of being abused.
This was the master bedroom with a separate bathroom.
Xiao Lou started to look for clues and started with the bathroom first.
There were many long hairs on the floor of the bathroom. They were brown and curly, just like the deceased. It shouldn’t be left in the bath from before she died and there wasn’t time to clean it up. There were also some clothes she had changed out of in the bathroom and there were some dark red marks on the clothing.
Xiao Lou picked them up and examined it. It looked a bit like blood but it actually wasn’t. It was obviously different from the blood on her pyjamas.
[D-grade secret room special tip: clue collection 5%.]
The moment he picked up the clothes, the line in front of the suspension box suddenly changed. The clue collection degree, this prompt was very important. For newcomers to the Card World, they could at least be sure that what they found was related to the case.
It seemed that these clothes were indeed related to the case. Xiao Lou carefully looked through the pockets of the clothing and found nothing else. However, the dark red traces on the clothing seemed to remind him of something.
He put down the clothes and continued to look for other clues.
The bathtub and the toilet were very clean. The toiletries placed on the sink weren’t abnormal. In the trash can, there was some toilet paper and it looked dirty. Xiao Lou didn’t hesitate to reverse the trash can and dump out all the garbage inside.
He found some shredded paper.
Xiao Lou quickly went through the dirty toilet paper and found all the shredded pieces of paper. He put them together and it was actually a photo, a photo of a marriage certificate.
[Countdown 27:45, clues collection 15%.]
Xiao Lou remembered the two clues and walked out of the bathroom. He started to rummage through the bedroom.
The secret rooms he used to play generally had a time limit of more than one hour. The difficulty meant it was usually three to five hours. Some large secret rooms even took seven or eight hours to escape.
Half an hour to solve a puzzle was too short.
Fortunately, this secret room wasn’t too difficult. After all, it was a D-grade secret room and there was the clues collection tip.
Xiao Lou flipped through the closet and quickly analyzed it in his mind.
The photo of the marriage certificate was torn and thrown into the toilet’s trash bin, indicating that the woman’s marriage was broken. Her residence still had male clothes and shoes, indicating that the two people hadn’t reached the divorce step. Her death was likely to be related to her husband and the next search focus should be on her husband’s things.
Xiao Lou rummaged through all the clothes pockets of the male master in the closet at a very fast speed. He only found a wallet with no cash and bank card. However, there was a photo of a couple, which was the couple on the marriage certificate.
In the photo, the woman was dressed in a white wedding dress and she was happily nestled in the man’s arms. The handsome man and beautiful woman were a good match.
[Countdown 24:06, clues collection 25%.]
Searching the wardrobe took a lot of time. Xiao Lou calmed down to think before turning to the dresser and bedside table.
He saw an exquisite perfume bottle on the dressing table and opened it. It had the scent of roses.
The drawer of the dresser contained a card that read: Dear, this bottle of rose perfume is for you. I wish you a happy birthday and an always beautiful youth— Your best friend, Liu Wei/ July 17th. The word ‘friend’ on the greeting card was drawn over with a big red cross.
Birthday, rose perfume, cross-out card and the new character Liu Wei. All these clues were crucial. In the suspension box in front of Xiao Lou, the clues collection degree jumped directly from 25% to 50%!
[Countdown 22:00, clues collection 50%.]
[You have collected half the clues and suspicious people have appeared. Do you want to identify the murderer? Yes/No]
[Tip: The shorter the time of the instance clearance and the more clues that are collected, the higher the reward will be.]
Xiao Lou thought about it and chose ‘No.’
He still had 22 minutes left and not all the clues had been found. It was very likely he could make a mistake with the identification of the killer.
At present, several clues had been found that pointed to the murderer being either the husband or the girlfriend. The husband cheated with the friend and was discovered by his wife. The heroine ripped up her marriage certificate in anger and drew a big red cross over the greeting card sent by her friend. Perhaps there was a dispute on her birthday and the heroine was killed by her husband or girlfriend.
If it was such a story then most of the clues could be reasonably explained.
Was it really that simple?
Xiao Lou glanced at the gorgeous rose bed and quickly turned to go outside the room.
This absolutely wasn’t the first crime scene.