Chapter 30: Solving The Mystery (1)
Yue Qiang had always thought that his psychological resilience was pretty good.
The fact that the Game’s system gave him 14 points of Wisdom was a proof of this point.
But right now, he felt like he was going insane.
On the monitor, the short but impactful cutscene had already ended, and the screen had returned to the title screen. The interface looked as clean as ever. The red, green and blue tricolored bars sat quietly at the corner. The red was at zero, the green was filled only a bit, and the blue progress bar that was originally at 30% progress rate had advanced until just at 50%.
The two big words ‘Enter Game’ was right beside the blue progress bar.
Watching the familiar interface, Yue Qiang felt absolutely awful.
Should he click that ‘Enter Game’ button? He didn’t know.
He didn’t know what was going on when a cutscene had appeared out of nowhere while he was fighting against the Boss. He didn’t know why his heart would race inexplicably every time he was about to die in game. He didn’t even know if he would return to that battlefield and be killed right away by the horse riding, spear wielding storyline Boss if he pressed that ‘Enter Game’ button!
He didn’t know anything.
Right now, Yue Qiang was feeling so uncomfortable, extremely irritated that he even felt like smashing the PC apart.
In truth, this feeling wasn’t borne just now. From the moment he was forced into contact with this game, this feeling of being kept in the dark had always been there. When he realized that the class beauty he knew Rao Xiao Ting might be an NPC, this feeling had once reached its maximum limit.
It was Luqiu Duanyi’s explanation that helped him forget those jumbled thoughts forcefully, and returned back into the game.
She remember her saying: Only by increasing your own power, will you be able to solve everything.
But there had always been a voice in his heart asking himself a most simple question, but he didn’t know how to answer it at all:
When you have learned that the people in the real world are slowly turning into rigid NPCs, how can you still be playing games so calmly?
At the time, Yue Qiang’s answer was: A woman who held no ill intentions towards me had told me that, by increasing my power, I would eventually understand everything. But he really could not hold in that unbearable feeling any longer. As a normal person, he had the most basic common sense and judgment. However, everything that had happened up to this point had long exceeded the realm of common sense.
Perhaps what I need right now is a ‘Game Manual’? Or maybe I need to register at ‘The Game’s’ official website and get a real grasp of the game’s context?
Yue Qiang’s thoughts boiled as he sat in front of the computer desk. Suddenly, the words ‘official website’ sparked a forgotten memory.
A long time ago, he once posted a thread on a famous single player game forum and consulted the users very obscurely for some information. Too many things had happened since then that he had forgotten about this matter.
He hurriedly took out his mobile phone in attempt to seek out that thread. While searching, he made up his mind: If he couldn’t figure out what the hell was going on, he would rather smash the entire PC and stay away from this game forever.
After logging into the forum, he flipped through pages for a long time before he finally found the thread he had sent three months ago. With a shivering finger, he tapped inside.
“Rich guy at the second post, any plans to donate us some money?”
“The poster below me has no d.”
“The fifth poster will definitely know the answer.”
“You shitty spammers, I will @moderator to ban all of your spammer IDs.”
“You shitty spammers, I will @moderator to ban all of your spammer IDs + 1.”
There were tens of replies in the thread, and they were all spams, copypastas or raffle posts. When he glanced all the way to the bottom, he actually couldn’t find any valid information at all.
Suddenly, Yue Qiang realized something, and he clicked ‘Go Back’ to check out the other forum threads. The usual quality threads such as new game reviews, 100% saves, walkthrough summaries, bug reports and so on had completely vanished. The forum was pretty lively, it’s just that all of them were spam threads.
They were all forum spams!
He then searched through the previous threads by time, and realized that the quality of the threads had fallen in a stair steps downtrend. Moreover, the turning points of this stair steps matched the progress of the blue progress bar perfectly!
Now, the game’s blue progress bar had just reached 50%, and this single player game forum was completely dead.
Is this the truth behind The Game?
Yue Qiang did not lose hope. There were still many ways he could test this.
The first and foremost method he could think of was of course, calling Luqiu Duanyi. He was unwilling to make the call for the longest time, but right now he could not even bear to wait another minute. He had lost all of his patience.
Once the phone had connected, Yue Qiang immediately pelted her with a torrent of questions, “What’s with the sudden cutscene inside the game? What will happen if I die inside the game? What will happen if the blue progress bar reaches 100%? What’s going on with everyone around me seemingly turning into an NPC? Can you just fucking tell me what the fuck do all of these mean? Tell me! JUST TELL ME!”
Yue Qiang shouted loudly like he was venting; shouted all those questions he had kept inside his heart a long time ago one by one. He remembered very clearly that Luqiu Duanyi hinted to him that he must not say ‘any’ Chinese text related to The Game. However, he simply couldn’t hold it any longer.
While Yue Qiang was waiting for a reply from the other side, his eyes were staring at the computer monitor. However, it was at this moment he realized something frightening.
The blue progress bar that was perfectly half-filled previously was rising at an incredible rate!
Every time he said a term that was related to the game, the blue progress bar would steadily rise by a few percentage points. Now, the blue progress bar had stabilized at 70%, and sat very close to 100%.
Is this why she wouldn’t let me say those words? Yue Qiang thought. But he couldn’t care about that any longer. Right now there was only one thought in his mind, and that was to find out the truth of these matters!
On the other side of the phone, Luqiu Duanyi spoke up. Her environment was very noisy. She seemed to be selling something in a supermarket, and Yue Qiang had to wait for a while before he could get a reply.
“Have you seen the first cutscene?”
“Yes.” Yue Qiang answered.
“Then, the blue progress bar had exceeded 50%?”
“Yes.” Yue Qiang answered again. When Luqiu Duanyi said these words, the blue progress bar did not continue to increase. It seemed that the progress increment triggered by these terms was one-time.
“In that case,” Luqiu Duanyi said. Her voice was just as pleasant as ever, but somehow it had turned a little numb, “I have mailed the ‘Game Manual’ to you. Read it well. The rest falls in your own hands.”
‘Game Manual’? Mailed to me?
While Yue Qiang was in a stupor, he suddenly heard a ‘Ding’ sound inside his head. He had heard this sound many times during the past three months.
It was the sound of a system message.
In the past, the sound had came from the computer speaker, but now it had appeared directly inside Yue Qiang’s head.
System Message [Red]: Luqiu Duanyi had sent you the item ‘Game Manual’.
System Message [Red]: You have acquired ‘Game Manual’. The manual can only be read inside the game, and requires level 1 cultivation of the heart to enable viewing of the basic pages of the manual. Verifying the cultivation of the heart… the Player possesses ‘Pure Heart LVL 1’. Verification passed. ‘Game Manual’: Entry Level unlocked.
As the system spoke out the message word by word, line by line inside his head, Yue Qiang noticed that a book-like item had appeared on the title screen before he knew it. It was very small, very clear, and looked exactly the same as the cover of the book Luqiu Duanyi would pick up and read every time.
Is this the game manual?
He moved his mouse to click the book, and opened the first page.
The first page was blue in color. On top of it were the big, bolded words:
The blue progress bar, represents the world’s conversion rate.