In Virtual Reality 7 ☆ Screaming Haunted House (3/12)
Hoodie flicked on the flashlight, but the beam was scarcely brighter than the moon above.
Worse, the light blinked many times before dimming and turning off after a few seconds.
Tian Si De: “This ……”
As though expecting this, Hoodie whacked the flashlight several times on their thigh.
Good, the light returned!
Tian Si De: “……”
“All right, let's go.” Hoodie stepped directly across the street after saying it.
Only one light shined on the gloomy path.
Tian Si De sped up to catch up.
In her head, Xu Jin Yi ran over the storyline of the paper bride.
When someone came to beg for a paper bride to marry his son in the underworld, The Paper Folding Shop had run out of supplies.
When the paper bride's wedding day arrived, The Paper Folding Shop could still not make a female paper figure, so it sent a folded paper man to the village to gather supplies.
If you want to avoid making a paper figure for the plot, skip them.
Anyway, The Paper Folding Shop had already sent their henchmen.
That Fang Wen Wen most likely encountered one of the paper minions and was abducted.
Xu Jin Yi led Tian Si De farther down the trail.
She moved ahead with a relaxed swagger, bobbing her torch to the left and right.
On the contrary, Tian Si De, behind her, got increasingly terrified as he proceeded.
The silence surrounding him seemed like death to his ears.
He couldn't help but reach out and grip Hoodie's hem.
The Paper Folding Shop appeared in random places.
Some days, it was to the left; some days, to the right; if you wanted to find it, you had to look both ways.
After approximately five or six minutes of going from side to side, Xu Jin Yi came across The Paper Folding Shop on the right.
The flashlight's light flashed on the pallid face of the paper figure.
The dramatic contrast between the scarlet cheeks and the black lines around the eyes caused Tian Si De's feet to go weak, and he slumped backwards helplessly.
Hoodie appeared to have eyes on the back of their head and grabbed his garments to keep him from falling.
“Thanks, thanks…” The boy spoke weakly.
Even if he hadn't been wearing his glasses, such a shortfall would have resulted in a crit hit to his tailbone.
“Go inside and ask.” The hoodie loosened their lapels and walked past the paper guard inside The Paper Folding Shop.
Tian Si De gritted his teeth and moved behind the hoodie, clutching the hem and closing his eyes.
After pulling the door open, a ghostly green light was promptly turned on in the lobby.
There was light, albeit the colour was off, and Tian Si De risked opening his eyes and glancing about.
Folded paper things covered the floor and tables around them.
There were big paper houses and a half-man-high paper horse on the floor.
There were several paper wreaths, paper gold ingots, and some miniature, incomplete paper figures on the table.
He noticed Hoodie shining the flashlight around before suddenly they yelled, “Where's the boss? Still in business or not!”
Tian Si De: “?!?!!”
He didn't expect them to yell, nor did The Paper Folding Shop.
The green light overhead flickered, and a man with a hat emerged from behind a long table full of folded paper goods.
No, 'it' was a folded paper man as well.
The folded paper man leaned forward, his hands clasped in front of his abdomen.
His pallid face exuded an uncanny friendliness.
Tian Si De: “……”
With this pose, could it be the boss?
Hoodie piped up as if he knew what he was thinking and asked, “Boss, did someone approach you the other day to order a paper bride?”
The lights flickered, and the paper boss's posture altered each time.
'It was nodding..?'
It was unquestionably a bizarre scene, but Tian Si De overheard a hoodie spit out, “Did they cut frames to save money?”
Tian Si De: “……”
He cautiously nodded as he observed the paperman's unusual movement.
It looked like it.
But, unlike the brazen Hoodie, he was afraid to say it aloud and anger the paper boss.
Tian Si De knew Hoodie was daring, but he didn't believe they were this audacious towards real ghosts.
After receiving a response from the folded paper person, the hoodie banged the table and snarled at the shopkeeper.
“How dare youuu~!! Do you knooow ~Whooo~ was stooolen~ by youuur~ subordinates~?!”
Tian Si De: “?”
Paper Boss: “?”
What prompted them to start singing?
Hoodie simply sang in a bizarre sing-song voice.
Tian Si De's gaze shifted a bit in uncertainty.
The lights flashed, and Tian Si De noticed similar bewilderment in the paper boss's low frame rate animation.
“She is the wife of our ↑great ↓and ↓famous ↑ Lord Tian~!!!”
Tian Si De: “?” He made a weak, pitiful, and helpless sound as he pointed blankly at himself., “I…?”
Hoodie kicked him in the leg behind the large table, out of sight.
Tian Si De: “Ow-yes, yes, yes, yes!!!”
His face twisted, and he barely managed to maintain a furious expression.
“Boy! How dare you rob my lady; what ~are~ your intention~!!!”
Paper Boss: “……”
For a moment, The Paper Folding Shop was eerily quiet.
Tian Si De, who had joined Hoodie's sand sculpture delusion, reacted to what he had done: “…”
Why was this such an awkward scene?
Just as he thought he was about to die of embarrassment, the lights flickered, and the paper boss disappeared.
'Where did he go?'
Tian Si De couldn't stop himself from swallowing.
In the quiet Paper Folding store, the sound of his throat rolling was noticeable.
Hoodie whistled as he waited for the lights to turn on.
Something was sneaking up on Tian Si De's feet.
He took a closer look and discovered —
Good lord, wasn't it The Paper Folding Shop's proprietor?
Tian Si De was about to take a step back when Hoodie reached up and grasped his shoulder.
He remained still, staring stiffly at the man on his knees.
The light flickered a few more times, and Tian Si De, fighting back his dread, began to attempt to make sense of the low frame motions of the folded paper man.
It lifted its head and tapped the ground.
It rose his head and pounded it down again.
This move was repeated until Tian Si De finally grasped what it meant.
The other man appeared to be pleading for his forgiveness?
'Are you kidding me?'
He opened his lips, but nothing came out.
Hoodie: “Ugh ugh ugh, stop kowtowing.
Is it useful for you to kowtow? Why do you need a jail if it does? Only Master Tian is generous enough to give you a reprieve from a death sentence,” remarked Hoodie, crouching on the ground and pointing to the folded paper man., “You've had the chutzpah to abduct the master's wife! I'm afraid you deserve to be sunk in the pond? No, drowning is too cheap for you.
You should burn a knife and slice off your flesh piece by piece so the wolves may devour your black-hearted bones!”
Even though they were visibly smiling, Hoodie's statements were like a frigid winter wind that could penetrate one's spine.
For a brief while, the lights in The Paper Folding Shop flickered fearfully, and the Paper Folding man was seen curled up, gripping his hat and dropping to his knees.
Tian Si De was dumbfounded.
Hoodie become more terrifying than a ghost?
He also trembled involuntarily as he imagined the aforementioned scene.
“Say, which family asked for a paper bride?”
Shivering, the folded paper guy touched a piece of white paper, the ink spots haloing into a word.
Tian Si De murmured, “Zhang (张)?”
“Good old man Zhang!!!”
Hoodie raged as the eerie green light continued to flicker, sending shivers down the folded paper man's spine.
“He's seeking a bride for his son in the underworld!” Hoodie smacked the long table, causing the paper-folded things to sway.
“He's a sneaky scoundrel! What kind of boldness does he have to take our Master Tian's wife as his bride?!”
Master Tian stood shivering, not daring to say anything.
He was worried that Hoodie might get carried away and inadvertently attack him.
Shivering, the folded paper man kneeling on the ground wished he could burrow into the earth.
“You too!” Hoodie grabbed the man's lapels and hauled him up, severely lecturing him, “Who gave you the guts to seize her? Are you willing to be skinned alive? No, even if you peel it off, your skin, flesh, and especially your stinking black heart, not even starving wolves will dare to eat it and will flee!!”
The folded paper man shook his head toward the telegraph machine.
He fumbled for a bit before picking up the white paper and writing:
[We Help find your wife]
The ink smears were so slanted that it took Tian Si De a long time to read the five words.
Hoodie came to a halt and turned to face Tian Si De.
“Master Tian, what do you think?”
Master Tian: “……
Just, just do what he says.”
As they tossed away the folded paper guy, Hoodie growled harshly.
“You're in luck; my lord is kind.
But if you still can't find the abducted wife, I'll tie you up and light you up like a sky lantern without seeking permission from your lord!”
Paper Boss “…!!!”
Tian Si De was still in a trance as he left The Paper Folding Shop.
The folded paper doormen in front of the business had vanished.
He had the impression that Hoodie's turmoil had scared them away.
Hoodie switched on his flashlight, and they tapped it familiarly.
They then smacked Tian Si De on the back.
Tian Side's spirit almost flew away after being struck like this.
This time, Hoodie was much calmer and just teased him, “Your acting skills are only so-so; you still need to improve.”
Tian Si De smiled bitterly.
“This alley leads to Zhang's home.
In the village, they have a large family.
When you go to get your sweetheart back, you must exude confidence.
People in this community abuse the weak and fear the strong.”
He said this with a friendly but firm tone.
Tian Si De followed him on his right side and couldn't help but wonder, “Why are you so familiar?”
“Are you taken aback?” Hoodie chuckled.
“Didn't I tell you I've been here before? It's just the same plot.
After a few more walks, you have them almost memorised.
Anyway, it's a long path; let me tell you about it, and you'll understand why I sounded so harsh just now.”
——— Translators Notes ———
张: zhàng = stretch, extend, expand; sheet
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