Author: 长洱 / Chang’er
Translator: Kinky || https://kinkytranslations.com/
It was an inconspicuous small building—at least compared to the many ancient buildings of Yongchuan University, that small three-story building wasn’t eye-catching.
Its exterior wall was red, and the architectural style had a clear taste of the Republic of China, so the windows were a collage of stained glass; a style that wasn’t often seen in modern times.
In Yongchuan University, most of these small buildings had their own public use. Some were reserved as offices for professors, some were labs, and others were used as exhibition halls. In any case, because these small buildings were precious, they mostly belonged to the university’s exclusive use. For those that didn’t flip through the materials specifically, few would know that in the depths of the path on the shore of the lake, there was a small red building that didn’t belong to the school.
The cherry blossoms outside the small building were in full bloom. Its pink petals reminded people of many wonderful and moving stories.
At some point in time, young faces gradually gathered together outside the small building.
The first person to approach the building didn’t boldly push open the door. He just stood quietly at the entrance, tightening his grip on the cold weapon in his hand. After him, there were others who gathered. Girls in school uniforms, teenagers wearing caps, and girls in long skirts…
Like attending a rally, more and more people started to gather outside the building, but unlike at a rally, they didn’t have any communication with each other.
The sun gradually moved, making everything look bright.
Finally, the person standing in front acted. He slowly walked up the steps and pushed hard, causing the ochre-red door to suddenly open wide.
At that moment, everyone outside of the small building wasn’t in a rush to enter. They all took something out of their arms and pockets at the same time.
Steel pipes, chains, knives…
They held the weapons tight in their hands. With bloodshot eyes, they walked into the building one by one.
Unlike the bright scene outside, the interior of the small building was dark. All the stained glass was covered with black cloth, and even the temperature had dropped abruptly.
The door suddenly closed. The last person to enter wrapped the door handle with a thick chain, creating a tooth-aching creaking sound as he sealed the entrance shut.
From light to darkness, their eyes needed time to adapt, so they could hardly see the environment inside the building.
It stood to reason that when people lose their vision, they would feel a sense of fear, but they didn’t experience it because they were with each other. When they were together, there was no voice to be afraid of in the world.
They gradually heard, in that huge space, the sounds of echoes coming from all over, as if there were some nocturnal creature crawling on the floor in the dark night. Perhaps it was a rat, or maybe a cockroach, or maybe something else.
Their vision gradually recovered, and everyone became excited.
There were really people here!
A chandelier hung from the old ceiling. When the dim light suddenly fell on them, they trembled.
Before entering the building, they had fantasized about what kind of group the organization called “Three Graves” was.
They fantasized about how they looked when they were in this meeting, what they were talking about, and how they would look when they thought they were at their best, and they imagined beating them with steel pipes and watching as they wailed in a pool of blood…
They had thought about so many things, but the appearance of those people in front of them was still beyond their imagination.
There were no suits, no shirts, no words, not even eyes. Everything in the small building was silent and depressed.
In front of them stood people dressed in all black. They were wearing black clothes that were enshrouded by the yellow light from the chandelier.
What was creepy was that those people in black were like ghosts. They didn’t even bother turning their gaze to the sudden intruders but continued to hold their thick brushes as they buried their heads on the floor and outlined a huge pattern…
They then turned to look at the floor, which was soft ivory white with mountains of black lines all over it rather than the usual wood color. Those lines rolled up and down, surrounding each other, then splitting apart again.
Suddenly one of them pointed to one of the figures in black and shouted, “It’s him!”
Looking in the direction of the finger, they saw an extremely handsome face.
Although the lights were dim, and the person’s face was blurred, they could still recognize that it was Chen Xuan, the mathematics department grass who could stir the entire forum by just going online.
It was just that Chen Xuan’s face was cold and didn’t represent the repeated rumors of elegance and gentleness. He was just painting intently on the ground, as if he were enchanted.
Perhaps it was due to the surroundings being too quiet, or maybe silence could awaken something, but the people who broke in finally recovered. They remembered what their goal was. They obviously came here to kill!
Invariably, they scattered in all directions and stepped on the floor covered with dense lines in an encircling formation.
As if foreseeing something, the movements of all the people in black stagnated. It felt like the air was suddenly sucked out, and all the figures in black suddenly dropped everything in their hands, like puppets whose strings broke, and sat down in unison.
The figures in black stopped painting, and the intruders standing outside the encirclement stopped moving forward again. They set their sights on the ground again, and some even stood on their tiptoes. They saw a pattern composed of many lines. The pattern was like an ancient totem with terrifying magic power…
The surrounding atmosphere was weird. They felt as if the pattern was a graveyard, with stone monuments and bones scattered about and the sounds of beasts roaring.
In fact, it was extraordinarily quiet in the small building with no sound around, but suddenly there was a voice like a white light shattering the night. In the darkness of the small building, it echoed loudly.
“Books are the grave of knowledge.”
Someone began to chant.
It was a figure dressed in black that sat in the far corner. His voice was eloquent, and it had a mysterious power, as if it could enchant people.
It was as if the believers were reciting doctrines. The rest of the people in black were chanting devotionally with him. Those vast voices seemed to be able to penetrate time and space, leading people into a barren and dark world.
“Blind obedience is the grave of wisdom.”
The second chant sounded, causing the intruders to tremble again. They all stayed in place, not knowing what was going on.
The grand chanting sounded again. This time, one of the intruders began to act. He clenched the handle of the knife and quietly walked towards the leader dressed in black.
“A prophet is the grave of future generations.”
The last sentence ended abruptly, and the word grave hadn’t been completely said.
This wasn’t because the leader suddenly realized that the group of intruders was surrounding them, but for a more serious reason. There was a snow-white knife pressed against his neck.
Despite this, the atmosphere remained calm.
The people in black didn’t stop chanting because their leader was attacked. They remained still, and their breathing didn’t even change.
But in the eyes of some, it was a tense moment like when the heart was about to stop beating.
In a room on the highest floor of the small building, people were standing in front of the screen with bated breath. They watch the blade close in on the neck of the leader in black. After a while, everyone’s eyes turned to Xing Conglian.
However, Xing Conglian didn’t move. Although the sniper’s requested instructions were coming through on his headset and the surrounding eyes were all eager, he didn’t order to shoot.
He looked at the person whose life was in danger on the screen without saying a word.
Also not saying a word was a man who was held at knifepoint.
The man was sitting cross-legged. His complexion was pale, and his hair color was soft. While he wasn’t as handsome as Chen Xuan, the temperament he exuded was far better than that of the school grass that had not yet left campus.
This was the reason why Shen Ran chose this person to start with.
No matter where they look, this person was the leader of “Three Graves”. Throughout history, it had always been the same principle that the king should be captured first.
As long as he killed this person… As long as he killed this person…
Shen Ran thought this silently, but suddenly realized he couldn’t think.
Then what? Kill this person, and then what?
At that moment, his heart suddenly became flustered, and he didn’t know what he should do.
At this moment, in the silent space, calm footsteps suddenly sounded. The sound was getting closer and closer to him…
Shen Ran raised his head abruptly and saw a man standing on the stairs.
Unlike all the people in black, the man wore the most ordinary white shirt. The light that was falling from the ceiling seemed to penetrate through the man’s thin body.
Step by step, the man walked onto the totem on the ground. In an instant, as if someone had brushed away the flowing water, the man in black who had been stationary moved again. They all stood up, bowed to the man, and then retreated to the side.
What was the use of retreating to the side? This damn person still had to die.
Shen Ran pressed the blade tightly to the hostage’s neck when he suddenly recognized the man in the white shirt that stood in front of him. “Are you Lin Chen?” he asked coldly.
“Yes.” Lin Chen looked at the boy in front of him. He was about the same age as Wang Chao, perhaps even a little older than him, but not by much.
However, there was no youthful vitality that young people should have in that boy’s eyes. How could he describe it? Those eyes were radiant, as if there was a flame burning inside. Although they were bright, they didn’t have a beautiful feeling, but the eyes of youth should be beautiful. The gaze of teenagers should be youthful and lively, like the world was moving, but in those eyes, Lin Chen only saw flames and ashes after the flames had burned out.
“Are you the leader of the Three Graves?”
When the boy asked this, he secretly glanced at the person he had taken hostage, as if he were unclear about the situation.
“Did you misunderstand something?”
Lin Chen didn’t speak. It was the person who was taken hostage who spoke.
Lin Chen looked at Mr. Hostage, and Mr. Hostage blinked slightly at him.
Looking at the blade on Su Fengzi’s neck and his relaxed face, Lin Chen regretted his arrangement for a moment. After all, Su Fengzi was an uncontrollable person. No matter how he had previously admonished people like Su Fengzi, if they wanted to say or do something, there was no stopping them.
Before the boy could respond, Su Fengzi reversed the grip on the knife that was placed against his neck.
The boy didn’t seem to expect him to be so bold. He jerked his hand hard, but the knife seemed as if it were held by iron pliers and wouldn’t budge even an inch.
Of course, there had to be a price paid when human flesh competed with an iron blade. Blood instantly stained the entire blade surface, and it fell, drop by drop, but Su Fengzi seemed unfazed.
Perhaps it was the expression on Su Fengzi’s face that was too cold, or maybe his unawareness of pain was too appalling, but the boy suddenly let go of the hilt of the knife and took two violent steps back, gasping in great fright.
“Who the hell are you people?!”
“Don’t you already know?” Su Fengzi took the fruit knife in his hand and played with it as he asked rhetorically, looking quite indifferent. “We’re Three Graves. Three Graves are us…”
“You destroyed our home!” The boy’s face suddenly stiffened as he accused the man sharply.
“Ah, is that your home? I’m sorry…” Although he apologized, with his slightly raised chin and the contempt in his eyes, he didn’t even seem half-remorseful. “Don’t misunderstand. We just thought it would be fun.”
There was no explanation because he didn’t think he needed to explain it to them. In fact, it wasn’t a provocation. It was just fun, and that was enough.
Probably the most annoying people were the ones they hated, but the other side didn’t care about them and smeared them, humiliated them, and defiled them, all for the sake of fun.
The young people standing a little further away heard this and became angry again. “Ran Ge, don’t talk nonsense with them. We’re here to kill them!”
“Do you have the right to open your mouth in this place?” Su Fengzi glanced at the noisy onlookers, then he said impatiently, “The tour is over. Shouldn’t you guys get lost?”
The more disdain he showed, the more riled up people became.
“Of course we’ll leave after we finish what we have to do!” the boy said coldly.
“What do you have to do here?” Su Fengzi suddenly laughed as if he thought the boy’s words were too funny. He stretched out his hand and pointed to a figure in black behind him. “This is the lowest IQ we have here, 141. Please, tell me. How high is your IQ, and how many trophies have you won? Are you a genius? If you’re not, what qualifications do you have to stand here?”
As he spoke, there was a sense of dominating arrogance.
The boy was obviously blindsided by this sentence, and he didn’t know how to answer for a while. His companions behind him reacted faster. They all raised their weapons in their hands and charged forward.
Su Fengzi stood still, alone, and proud.
Lin Chen, who was still in front of him, also remained quiet.
On one side were armed and angry students, and on the other side were unarmed, speechless people in black.
Like flames and seawater or man and the abyss, they were never compatible. One party would always devour the other.
In the room upstairs, Jiang Chao finally couldn’t bear it. He held down Xing Conglian’s shoulder and said angrily in a low voice, “Lao Xing, I must ensure the safety of the other students!”
He was of course referring to ordinary students who were dressed in black and were playing as members of “Three Graves”.
However, just like Lin Chen, who was quiet as water, Xing Conglian didn’t speak. He put his hands together against his chin, but his gaze never shifted from the surveillance screen.
This was either a speechless, tacit understanding or a much deeper trust.
Just as Xing Conglian was about to gesture to Jiang Chao to keep quiet, Lin Chen moved. The students who were about to rush up were also frightened by his action.
Everyone in front of the surveillance screens was sweating. Just as they were about to breathe a sigh of relief, they accidentally saw that Lin Chen didn’t actually mean to speak up. He just put his hands in his pockets, turned around, and made a gesture of leaving.
“Stop!” the students behind him shouted loudly.
But Lin Chen didn’t listen. At this moment, Su Fengzi took a step and stood in front of Lin Chen. He said it in a disdainful and arrogant tone, as if the world owed him millions. “Get out of here. Haven’t you caused enough trouble? Coming here to kill people… What are you? Three? I just left a message on the wall, hoping you would restrain yourself. Do you really think you’re invincible?”
Hearing Su Fengzi’s words, those young boys and girls all gasped as their eyes flushed with anger, as if they would turn rabid like a herd of beasts in the next moment.
But perhaps it was because the wound on Su Fengzi’s hand was too scary or maybe his face had an inviolable cold feeling under the dim light, that the intruders paused for a moment.
Su Fengzi showed contempt and didn’t give those people any reaction time. “Digging a grave and watching people lie in it gets your blood boiling and makes you feel as if you’re one of the most transcendent and mysterious collective? Do you think you have true faith and everyone else is just ignorant?”
“Lao Xing, what the hell are they doing? Are they not afraid of provoking a bunch of psychopaths and fucking looking for death?!” In front of the surveillance screen, Jiang Chao once again shrieked.
Xing Conglian raised his head and looked around, only to find that everyone in the room was giving him an anxious look.
“Lao Jiang…” Xing Conglian finally spoke. He moved a teacup on the table to the side, “Would you like to have some tea?”
“Drink your mom’s tea! We have to hurry if something really happens!”
“Hey, we’re performing official duties. Please be more civilized,” Xing Conglian said with a smile.
Jiang Chao became extremely angry. “Why the hell can’t we rush down and catch all them at once?” While speaking, he made the gesture of catching a turtle with a jar.
Hearing this, Xing Conglian’s gaze fell on Lin Chen on the screen again.
What Lin Chen said to him during breakfast echoed in his ears.
Specifically, it was probably something he said late last night that had some effect. When the police force distributed breakfast at 7 in the morning, Lin Chen specially brought him a box of yogurt and invited him to have breakfast together.
The two of them squatted down next to the stone lion at the entrance of the second division and watched the street sweepers cleaning the ground.
“The next action will be a little dangerous…” Lin Chen said to him after watching the sanitation worker sweep up the streets for a minute.
Xing Conglian probably guessed what he was going to say but still pretended not to understand. “Of course it’s dangerous. You have to pay attention to safety.”
As he spoke, he saw Lin Chen’s breathing stagnate. It seemed Lin Chen didn’t expect him to play dumb. After all, Lin Chen was a far more thorough person than ordinary people. “I’m very sorry regarding what you said earlier. This is indeed my problem, so I want to try and correct it.”
The other party was so sincere that it made Xing Conglian speechless. “Why are you so polite?”
“Because there is a troublesome matter that needs your help.” Lin Chen took a deep breath and said, “I hope you can delay the police’s arrest time as much as possible. Unless someone is seriously threatened, I hope you can order the snipers not to shoot.”
“What do you mean?”
“When the members of that group walk into the building, it stands to reason that the police would make an arrest at the appropriate time, right?”
“But after catching them, then what?” Lin Chen asked rhetorically.
“Interrogate them severely, bully them to force them to give up the mastermind behind all this. Then we’ll go arrest them… You want to say that this is useless, right?”
Lin Chen shook his head.
Although it was a serious conversation, Xing Conglian wanted to laugh. “In fact, I suddenly found that you have been instilling this concept in us. That is, after catching them, our interrogation won’t work, but in addition to interrogation, if we manage to catch them by surprise, they won’t have time to wipe off the data on their communication devices or other clues. We can still follow the trail and find the mastermind behind this, can’t we?”
“No,” Lin Chen said decisively.
“Do you think it’s important to catch the mastermind behind the scenes?”
“Isn’t it?” Xing Conglian responded rhetorically.
“It is, but that person is far less important than those children. If we catch that person, we may lose the opportunity to save these children forever.”
When he heard Lin Chen talking about children, he was confused for a moment, but he soon realized that the children Lin Chen was referring to were members of that group; those who had lost their humanity and were regraded by them as terrorists.
Rescuing terrorists was indeed a fresh statement.
In countless similar experiences in his life, he had never compromised with any enemy, let alone saved the hearts of criminals. This was what a saint should do, not the police.
But he didn’t refuse Lin Chen. He quietly listened as Lin Chen continued.
“Yes, we can catch the turtle with a jar, but when those children see the police rushing in, they will be shocked, but more so they will be angry because they have found that they have been betrayed by the world again. They will try their best to revolt, which will cause some people to be injured and others to be killed. They will really lose their sense of trust in everything in the world. They may go to prison or a detention center, and with some luck, some of them will realize their problems, but most people tend to be stubborn. After those people are released, they will be garbage and waste, the dregs of society. They will be desperate, feel pain, and abhor everything, and finally continue to retaliate against the world. Do you think this is the solution to the problem?”
Xing Conglian was speechless when he was asked this.
He could, of course, refute. He could say that there was very likely a no all-win situation ending in this world. It was very likely that a person could do everything right but still not get the happy ending that they desired. Those people were already broken, like organs eroded by cancer. Although it was painful and regrettable, it must be removed. There was no other option.
Inexplicably, deep in his heart, he actually felt a little uncomfortable. In fact, he hadn’t felt uncomfortable for a long time.
Lin Chen was still talking. Perhaps his legs were so numb from squatting too long that he stood up and leaned against the stone lion.
The shape of the stone lion was a bit funny, but Lin Chen’s face was solemn.
“Some crimes come from malice, some from cowardice, and some from the inability to control themselves. To me, they are more like children suffering from mental illnesses. They are first and foremost individuals with low self-esteem and are introverted. Because of this characteristic, they are exploited by criminals and deceived by the people they once trusted and loved. That’s a terrible hell. Do you think that when they enter that group, the first thing they experience is the welcome of love? No, the first thing they suffer is abuse—the abuse and destruction of their spiritual beliefs.”
“Are you trying to say that criminals are also victims?” Xing Conglian’s tone was a bit cold.
“Do you think that no matter what kind of suffering they suffer, they should also stick to their hearts and not be swayed by criminals? But unfortunately, they are just ordinary students. They can’t resist human nature. People tend to avoid pain. If pain is inevitable, they will choose to correct their perception to adapt to the pain. It’s like a man imprisoning a woman. He desperately abuses that woman, and once the woman can’t bear the abuse, she will begin to correct her cognition and regard the man’s behavior towards her as love, and then fall in love with him. Psychologically, this process is called ‘learned helplessness*’.”
*Behavior exhibited by a subject after enduring repeated adverse stimuli beyond their control.
Lin Chen’s voice was as faint as ever, but Xing Conglian heard the unstoppable, cold meaning behind his words.
“They will gradually fall in love with that group and accept the concept instilled in them by the group. Once they truly integrate into it, there will be a phenomenon of de-personalization. The identity of the individual with the group drowns out their humanity, and then they begin to lose themselves…”
“Losing oneself means losing their humanity. They only accept the instructions of the group because, fundamentally, they are no longer them. Those sinful thoughts are only the will of the group, not theirs.”
Hearing this, Xing Conglian understood why Lin Chen had told him in the beginning why those children weren’t real terrorists.
Before they lost their humanity, they were just selected victims, and before they became victims, they were ordinary students who had beautiful fantasies about life but weren’t ambitious, and in the identity of ordinary students, their previous identity was human.
They were all living, breathing humans.
Then, saving the lives of other students was as important as saving their lives.
Xing Conglian suddenly had confidence in Lin Chen’s plan, because he found that even he himself was convinced.
Sure enough, Lin Chen was right. He was really persuasive.
So maybe—maybe it was too naïve—too idealistic, too weird, but perhaps Lin Chen could really save those children’s lives.
“What if I refuse?” Xing Conglian suddenly asked.
After he finished speaking, he saw Lin Chen look at him impatiently as if saying, “Why are you talking nonsense?”
Su Fengzi’s incessant words passed through the headset and into Xing Conglian’s ears. Naturally, these lines were all written by Lin Chen, but the performance seemed quite personal.
Lin Chen stated that he would allow Su Fengzi to repeat the entire process of brainwashing and attempt to wash them back.
The first step was to force them to the extreme.
Crowds were extreme; therefore, they would only be moved by extreme emotions. If he wanted to move them, he had to become more extreme than them…
Xing Conglian looked at the stallion novel writer with first-class acting skills.
Su Fengzi, like the great orators of ancient times, possessed demagoguery magic when he was eloquent.
He said, “You were tricked into this collective at the beginning, and then they locked you up, abused you, ridiculed you, and told you that this was a process of suffering that you must go through in the transformation of human nature. At that time, you were alone and helpless. There was no way to ask for help, and then a group of people ran to you and preached about the transformation they had undergone through tempering, telling you how they changed from an obscure ugly duckling to a noble swan. They said that as long as you believe in them and join them, you can do it too… And you gradually believed it?” The corners of Su Fengzi’s lips curled, and he gave a look of contempt at all the intruders. “Did you go pick up vegetable leaves and eat rotten fruits together? Oh, they told you that this is called sharing joys and sorrows, and then you were satisfied and could suffer a little together. You feel that each of you were indispensable companions. Do you think it’s good to go to bed together? Modern society calls this a hookup. Don’t get distracted by how naïve you really are.”
With his words, those young faces gradually showed awkward and confused expressions. Su Fengzi’s mockery skills were too great. He knew even their most secret things clearly, but how?
In front of true elites, their low self-esteem and cowardly personalities reappeared.
But this confusion only lasted for a short time before anger took hold again. After all, their privacy was discovered, and their faith was trampled on. This was an intolerable insult.
Their faces were flushed, and the anger in their eyes seemed to burn everything to ashes.
This was really an extremely dangerous situation. Facing a group of fanatics, defiling their group was even more unacceptable than killing them!
The fierce changes in the emotions of the intruders were, of course, seen by the surveillance team upstairs. Two students were already very close. They raised their steel pipes and were about to bash Su Fengzi’s head in.
Jiang Chao finally couldn’t bear it. “Action, action,” he ordered through the wireless headset.
But gunshots didn’t sound, and there was no sound coming from his headset.
“Hey, hey!” He yelled at the microphone twice more but still didn’t get a response. It was obvious now that his equipment was useless.
He quickly remembered that earlier today, Xing Conglian had told him that because the police might be insufficient, he had also asked the Interpol snipers for help. At that time, he felt Xing Conglian meant well, so he agreed. The only problem was that ICPO used different equipment and systems than them, so in the end, for the sake of smooth action, they unified and replaced all the equipment with ICPO’s more advanced wireless equipment.
Unexpectedly, Lao Xing had set him up!
“Sir Jiang, I’m sorry. I’m sorry. Our Captain asked me to do this. If you’re angry, just punch him twice to vent your anger?” In the corner, Wang Chao, who had been as quiet as a chicken, suddenly raised his head while holding a laptop and gave him a sneer.
But Jiang Chao didn’t have time to beat Xing Conglian. Su Fengzi was about to get his head bashed in, and he needed to hurry and call 120, but someone actually reached out and caught the pipe.
In fact, rather than catching, it was better to say someone reached out and took away the pipe that was about to bash Su Fengzi.
It was Lin Chen who stretched out his hand. The contact between the steel pipe and the flesh suddenly sounded. Just the clanging sound alone made his whole body ache.
Lin Chen grabbed the steel pipe.
“Fengzi.” He stopped Su Fengzi from being hit and ordered, “Apologize!”
Su Fengzi’s face was unwilling, but he obeyed Lin Chen rather abnormally. He bent his waist in an extremely elegant manner and solemnly apologized to the intruders. “I’m sorry.”
The intruders were shocked again.
It wasn’t only the young students who were shocked, but also the people watching the surveillance.
Everything happening in front of the screen was nothing but bizarre.
From beginning to end, Lin Chen showed that he was too lazy to say anything, but everyone knew he was the true leader of Three Graves.
Although his clothes were ordinary and his expression was very plain, just standing there alone and indifferently, he seemed as if he stood on an unattainable cloud that couldn’t be touched.
“What the hell are they doing?” Jiang Chao couldn’t help asking.
Xing Conglian glanced at Jiang Chao and motioned for him to shut up.
Vice Captain Jiang sat down beside him, extremely depressed. “Lao Xing, really, what does he want to do? Talk to me. Otherwise, I’m really going to rush out that door, yeah?”
“He is trying to impress them.” Xing Conglian stared at Lin Chen’s figure on the screen as he replied calmly.
Of course, Jiang Chao’s eyes were full of confusion. In short, he was trying to impress a group of brainwashed lunatics. Those who wanted to do so were probably not far from madness.
“Of course we can make arrests now, but don’t you think there are too few people downstairs?” Xing Conglian curled his fingers and tapped on the screen. “That is to say, some people in the organization are here, while others are still waiting to perform the night operation. The problem we face has not changed. Are you sure that…” Xing Conglian looked at his watch and continued, “Within three hours, they will give up?”
“Of course I’m not fucking sure! What about Lin Chen? Will he find a way to make them give up?”
Xing Conglian’s face fell on Lin Chen’s left hand holding the steel pipe. The light wasn’t good, so he couldn’t see the specific injuries. He nodded and repeated some of what Lin Chen had told him during breakfast.
“For any extreme group, they won’t listen to anything outsiders say. Then, if you want them to listen to you, you can only let them worship you. Just like animals surrendering to their leader, groups surrender to their leaders as well. This is something that’s clockwork through the times…”
“But didn’t you explain to me that the ‘Three Graves’ organization that Lin Chen fabricated was obviously used to draw hatred, but now they’re suddenly worshiping?”
Xing Conglian smiled helplessly.
“It’s actually very simple. Because these students not only belong to their mysterious collective, they also belong to ordinary student groups. When these student groups began to discuss the mysterious elite student organization and pushed up Three Graves by playing detective, they also imperceptibly affected those crazy kids downstairs. These kids… Of course, that influence is only subconscious, so their worship is also subconscious. They themselves don’t realize that although they hate ‘Three Graves’, who dare to provoke and trample on them, the root of their hatred is because ‘Three Graves’ is a superior being and a representation of their hatred of their classmates.”
While Xing Conglian was speaking, Jiang Chao had already lit a cigarette.
“Then what?” Jiang Chao asked.
“Then, according to Lin Chen’s words, the group is easily moved by the most vivid and extreme images, so, ah, he showed them the artistic process of the ‘Three Graves’’ ceremony, and a foolhardier statement is that humans are always inexplicably shocked by some seemingly supernatural phenomena. Presumably, that’s no different from ritual dancing?”
“That’s Lin Chen’s friend, Su Fengzi?”
Xing Conglian nodded. “At the beginning, they would think Su Fengzi is the leader of ‘Three Graves’, and he’s good at fooling people. He satirized and ridiculed them. In fact, this is to appear stronger than them in spirit and belief. At that time, Su Fengzi had already put them in a condescending position. Then Lin Chen made his move. He actually asked Su Fengzi to apologize. This was not only an act of gaining favor, but Su Fengzi’s obedience allowed Lin Chen to step on his shoulders and instantly walk to the alter.”
Lin Chen’s gaze wandered past the children in front of him.
He looked at the faces of the young children. They were all so young—many younger than he thought. Some were restless, some were tense, some had grim expressions, some had makeup that was beginning to bleed from sweat…
Lin Chen’s gaze finally fell on a petite girl in the corner.
He knew who she was. It was Jin Xiaoan. She had a friend named Jiang Liu; a friend who was dead.
“For some reason, you hate the world. Regarding your hatred and the source of this emotion, I won’t preach about it. There’s nothing to say. If you think you have a reason to hate, then hate. This matter has nothing to do with me.”
He spoke very slowly, without any emotion.
In fact, at that time, his heart was indeed calm and indifferent. How could there be such understanding and empathy between people in this world?
“It doesn’t matter! Nothing matters! Stop acting like you care about us! Go to hell!”
The boy holding the steel pipe yelled at him. His hair was shaved to an inch, and he wasn’t tall. He was very thin and had beady eyes. Perhaps it was due to his figure that he was ridiculed and humiliated. He could have a girl that he liked, but perhaps she didn’t like him back. He could have found someone to tell them about his inner pain, but maybe there wasn’t anyone in this world who had ever listened to his heartfelt voice seriously.
Or, rather, it should be said he may not have confided his heart to the world.
In his life, he probably always lived in desperation. He longed for the beautiful, but the beautiful did not yearn for him.
Then, he met the organization. He had struggled and hesitated, but in the end, he couldn’t resist the most primitive human nature. He succumbed. He gained money, status, and women. He also discovered that loving and being loved were both truly beautiful things…
So what reason did he have to reject that organization?
Lin Chen wanted to laugh a little, but he suddenly realized that if it were him, it would probably be difficult for him to resist those beautiful temptations.
“I think you probably misunderstood. I don’t want to control you. I just know some of your stories and feel pity. In fact, I don’t think there was anything wrong with you before, and of course I don’t think there’s anything good about you now. However, we can ignore my regrets because that has nothing to do with it…”
“Shut up!” The young people in the crowd suddenly shouted, but in front of Lin Chen, their chanting didn’t seem righteous enough.
“Really?” As if to fulfill the young man’s wish, Lin Chen closed his mouth, let go of the hand holding the steel pipe, and turned and walked away.
Seeing that he was really leaving, even the elites present didn’t have the will to stay, and they all wanted to disperse.
“Stop!” the crowd behind them couldn’t help but chant.
“Do you really think that your power is enough to control everyone?” Lin Chen looked back and smiled coldly. “You can’t even control yourself.” As he spoke, he raised his wrist with some difficulty and looked at his watch. “It’s going to be 1 soon. If you can control yourself, you should know that it’s time to go to class.”
“Why are we still going to class?”
There was a mocking look on the young man’s face. Lin Chen looked at his narrowed eyes and asked rhetorically, “You asked me why you should go to class, and I should just tell you? Do you think there’s no point in going to class, no point in reading, no point in even living? This person doesn’t like you, that person doesn’t like you, the whole world doesn’t like you. You constantly think the world is ugly and filled with disgusting people, so why should you stay here?” Lin Chen took a step forward and looked down at the young man in front of him.
The boy with beady eyes suddenly became angry and almost hit Lin Chen with the steel pipe.
“Don’t think that I don’t know what you elites think. You look dignified, but in fact, you never even look at us. You think we’re all ugly and brainless. You look down on all of us!”
“That’s just what you think. It’s you who live in the grave of self-pity, not me,” Lin Chen said lightly.
“Just like I said!”
“That’s not true!”
Su Fengzi, who had been standing aside, suddenly spoke. His tone was very high, with a trembling ending. The shrill sound echoed throughout the old building.
No one spoke.
No one dared to speak.
“I know Jiang Liu.” In the dark and depressing space, Su Fengzi’s voice sounded again. His hand was still bleeding, but much of the blood had congealed around the wound, turning it into an ugly brown scar.
When they heard the name Jiang Liu, all the young students holding weapons couldn’t help but tremble.
“My relationship with Jiang Liu, how can I put it… She was actually my friend, or rather, my reader. She mentioned liking my books, but we had never met before she died.” Su Fengzi’s voice was soft. He seemed to be trying his best to suppress himself, and his voice trembled a bit. “When we first met, Jiang Liu wrote to them and told me she thought she looked ugly. She said her eyes were particularly convex and her nose was too flat. Her skin wasn’t good and was full of pits and potholes, making her look like a toad. So the reason why she liked my books was also simple. She said she envied the girls I wrote about. They were so good-looking, and they were so happy to have handsome boys who liked them. She envied them deeply. She said she really wanted to be loved, but no one loves her. At that time, I didn’t know how to comfort a sad girl. It was too difficult for me, as I always felt that it wasn’t easy to be loved by others. As long as you dress up beautifully, naturally some boys will confess to you, but in fact, I forgot that people are different. Some are confident, and some have low self-esteem. I forgot that for some people, it’s just something that can be done easily, while for others, it takes all their effort to muster their only remaining courage to do it. You see, the world is unfair. At that time, I couldn’t appreciate the mood of a girl with extremely low self-esteem, and I couldn’t imagine how much courage it took for her to show me a picture. When I saw her picture, I even thought she was being pretentious. She wasn’t as ugly as she said. She was pure and cute. Perhaps it was for this reason that I didn’t pay attention to her, but one day, she suddenly told me that her respected senior had brought her into a new world. She felt that she could really become a girl that many, many people loved, like in my writing, but I still ignored her, thinking she was crazy. Until one day, she suddenly contacted me and said that she wanted to invite me to her next performance. I didn’t want to go, but I was a bit curious about what she had become now, so I arrived at the agreed place, but what I saw was her figure leaping down from the sky.” Su Fengzi paused and laughed self-deprecatingly. “I’m not the kind of person who will regret this kind of thing painfully, but I still have some remorse. She can’t hear me praise her beauty. After all, I wouldn’t agree to go meet a dinosaur.”
Su Fengzi’s voice floated gently in the ears of the students. He had already finished speaking, but no one spoke. Everyone was silent, and the first person to cry was the girl in the corner who had just finished eating her buns.
“Is this a good sign?” Jiang Chao pointed to the crying girl on the screen as he asked.
“Of course. Sincere tears mean that they feel sad, and it is people who can feel pain and sadness,” Xing Conglian replied.
In that dark hall, Lin Chen was still calm, like a cloud in the night sky or a wind higher than the clouds.
He said, “In fact, when Jiang Liu jumped from the rooftop, I was also there, because my shimei also jumped from there. I don’t really know her that well. She may have been in too much pain and wanted to seek relief through death, but for me, I have always regretted that I did not save her, because if possible, I still hope to have another drink with her.”
Lin Chen stretched out his hand and gently rubbed the hair of the boy with beady eyes that was in front of him and said, “You actually don’t need the group to give you the illusion of being loved. There might not be many people in the world who like you, but there are always one or two who truly love you sincerely and unreservedly.”
“If you come out, you will see it.” He let go of the hand covering the boy’s hair and said, half idly, half seriously, “Although it’s just my hope, and this hope has nothing to do with you, I hope that no matter how unbearable the world is, you can hold on, come out, and take a look at it again.”
Su Fengzi wasn’t a good person.
To a large extent, he matched Fu Hao’s comments about being a “despicable, shameless, sinister, and nasty person”, but even Fu Hao couldn’t deny that Su Fengzi was an excellent storyteller. He was elegant, full of passion, and possessed bewitching powers as he stood there telling a story.
Because the half-true, half-false story told by Su Fengzi was too moving, those children really let go of the idea of burning the world in the end. Maybe even the people behind the scenes didn’t expect that their seemingly invincible organization would fall apart in an instant.
Su Fengzi was dragged away by an ambulance because of his serious hand injury, and Jiang Chao had already started a real net collection operation based on the many clues provided by the students. Xing Conglian, of course, was excluded because of certain “betrayal” behaviors.
At this moment, he and Lin Chen were sitting side by side in the corridor of Yongchuan University Hospital. Lin Chen’s wrist was lifted high, and there was an ice pack that the nurse gave him pressing on it.
Half an hour ago, Lin Chen refused to go to the hospital with Su Fengzi. Xing Conglian knew he probably wanted to be alone, so they had been sitting in the corridor for 20 minutes. He wanted to talk, but he didn’t say a word.
The school hospital of Yongchuan University didn’t have the cold atmosphere of ordinary hospitals that they were used to. It was lively around them. Students always got sick or injured together, so sometimes it was quiet and other times it was clamorous.
They appeared to be at a time when business was booming.
Xing Conglian looked at the basketball players whose names had just been called in front of them, and he counted them. According to the doctor’s current consultation speed, they would probably have to wait another half hour. Just as he was looking around, he suddenly heard Lin Chen speak.
“Today, thank you very much.”
Xing Conglian suspected there was something wrong with his hearing. He turned his head to look at Lin Chen in disbelief, completely shocked.
“You don’t need to say those polite or self-depreciating words. I said thank you because I wanted to thank you. If you weren’t here today and were replaced by someone else, there wouldn’t be an all-win possibility.”
After Lin Chen finished speaking, he found that Xing Conglian hadn’t responded for a long time, so he finally looked beside him.
Xing Conglian lowered his eyes and took out a cigarette and lighter from his pocket. He held those two things in his hand without making any movement.
“What’s the matter?” Lin Chen asked.
“Smoking isn’t allowed in the hospital,” Xing Conglian said.
Naturally, people like Xing Conglian wouldn’t be sad if they couldn’t smoke. In fact, the word sad wasn’t really suited for him. “If you’re in a bad mood, you can tell me.”
“It’s not that I’m in a bad mood, it’s just that I’ve always thought people have the ability and must control themselves, but the longer I stay with you, the more I realize that it’s really easy for people to lose control.,” Xing Conglian said as he stuffed the cigarette in his mouth but didn’t light it. “I want to smoke a cigarette really badly, so I took it out. It feels so natural…”
“If it’s natural, then what’s the problem?”
Xing Conglian turned the cigarette pack over and handed it to Lin Chen. “Look, it says smoking is harmful for your health, so should I not smoke?” He inserted the cigarette back into the pack. “I have never had the idea of quitting, but just now, I suddenly thought of doing it, and it already made me feel uncomfortable. I think I probably won’t be able to quit smoking in this life.”
Lin Chen looked at Xing Conglian’s annoyed face and wanted to say, “If you can’t quit, you can’t. Besides, I don’t care if you smoke or not.”
However, he naturally knew what Xing Conglian really wanted to say.
“Do you feel pain?” he asked.
“Then congratulations, you’re still alive.” Lin Chen pressed the ice pack in his hand and grimaced in pain as he continued, “And, congratulations, when you feel pain because you’re trying to control yourself, it means that you’re fighting against bad habits for a beautiful and healthy life.”
“Is this the tone you take when you do psychological counseling?” Xing Conglian curled his lips as if he disliked him for being too casual.
“If I adjust my tune, the fees are generally higher,” Lin Chen replied.
Xing Conglian couldn’t help laughing. He stretched out his hand and took the ice pack from Lin Chen’s hand and applied it to him. “I just suddenly understood what you said about being unable to control yourself because you have to control your greed, fear, vanity, and laziness to get better. Life is really too painful, so that’s why those children chose a different path.”
Lin Chen looked at Xing Conglian’s relaxed, peaceful, and profound gaze and felt his heart tremble.
Indeed, they were just ordinary people who yearned for a better life but were led astray because of their simple yearning.
Perhaps because there were too many books that portrayed the beauty of life when, in fact, life was originally a painful journey.
As for human nature, the reason it was great was because everyone was born with the nature of fighting against greed, fear, vanity, selfishness, stupidity, laziness, and cruelty. Even if sometimes the power of this kind of struggle was small and desperate, it always existed.
People always suffered because of struggle, but they could also be called human because of these struggles.
“The hero of that story shouldn’t be Jiang Liu.”
Xing Conglian suddenly remembered that if Su Fengzi had approached Fu Hao long before the jumping case, he didn’t actually appear because of Jiang Liu.
But if not her, then who?
He also realized that the reason they were able to solve everything smoothly was because Wang Shishi left her book behind.
It may have been that she forgot to deal with it, or it may have been a negligent mistake, but in the end, Wang Shishi still left that book behind in the last moments of her life.
The author has something to say:
Sentient beings suffer.
<<< || Table of Contents || >>>