177 Drawing on the Third Floor

    Chapter 177: Drawing on the Third Floor

    'How is this possible?'

    Something detonated inside Gu Jun's mind. The landscape of his mind was covered in tattered thoughts. The strange discovery gripped at his heart.

    'How come the content of the watcher's diary has changed? Shouldn't it have recorded things that happened in the foreign world a long time ago?'

    This was a reward given by the system, a power that was not revealed to Afterlife Cult or R'yleh Cult. It was the factor that made Gu Jun the unpredictable wrench in their plans.

    'Could it be that they have entered a dimensional shift? The events that happen here can change the past?'

    "Gu Jun!" Wu Siyu hurried over and shook his body. "Stop it now. I know that your mind is getting corrupted, I need you to stop what you're doing now!"

    'Is that true?' Gu Jun pressed his hands over his brain, but he knew things were not as simple as that. This was beyond his control already...

    "I'll try to open one of the doors myself." Wu Siyu attempted to reach for his sword. "I'll see for myself what's behind them."

    "No, no..." Gu Jun stopped her. "If what you said is true, you have to ensure that you are not affected. One of us has to remain sane; we can't both fall into the madness, or... it'll be complete chaos..."

    "What exactly have you seen?" Wu Siyu asked. "Can't you at least tell me that?"

    Gu Jun glanced at her, and a wave of uncertainty overwhelmed him. The girl's face appeared to be fading away. Her tone was becoming unfamiliar.

    'Is this really Wu Siyu? Could this person be an illusion used to trick me since I walked into the old manor or way before that? Has the real Wu Siyu been separated from me already? The Dirty-minded Yu I know wouldn't volunteer to do these kinds of things so actively... Or is this the hallucination making me doubt myself? What is real, and what is fake?'

    "It's nothing..." Gu Jun croaked out. "We should head up to the third floor and see."

    Perhaps Ol' Uncle Dog would be hiding there. He took over the oil lamp and long sword from her and headed toward the staircase. Gu Jun kept a lookout on the girl trailing behind him from the corner of his eyes. For some reason, her expression appeared to be too sedated, her tone too even and her gaze too sharp. She did not appear like the usual Wu Siyu...

    Sensing his gaze on her, Wu Siyu asked, "What's wrong?"

    "It's nothing," he said again. He turned his focus back onto the broken steps and reached the third floor of the old manor. They managed to discern from the outer appearance that the third floor was about half the size of the first and second floor. It was probably used as some kind of loft. Above it was the slanted roof. Gu Jun raised the oil lamp to shine its ray around the place. Spiderwebs dangled over the beams, and trash filled the rest of the room. There were medical books with foreign language, test tubes that had been left out in the open for so long that they had crusted, and torn documents...

    The rays shone about and lit up the strange drawings that appeared to cover every inch of the walls.

    "Siyu, can you see these drawings?" Gu Jun asked darkly. He noticed drawings of giant bats, similar to the ones found inside Chen Defa's hiding place. There were also paintings of broken carcasses, twisted trees, and tall peaks. One of the drawings appeared to be that of an abandoned island, and an old manor sat in the middle of it...

    "Of course I can. Strange feelings." Wu Siyu nodded. The more Gu Jun interacted with her, the more he felt something was wrong with her. 'This is obviously not the real Dirty-minded Yu. Or is it?'

    With gritted teeth, he placed the oil lamp on a small wooden table and took out the Carlot Scalpel to hold it in his hands. He needed it to help clear his mind, but it did not seem to work this time. Some other illusory images kept flickering before his eyes.

    It was then that he noticed there was a yellowed envelope on the wooden table. It felt familiar to him. The letter that was mailed to Mr. Chandler, the system reward he obtained from performing the autopsy on the zombie...

    "Is it the same letter?" Putting the sword down, Gu Jun picked up the letter to study it. Even though the envelope was covered in a layer of dust, the postal information on it was still legible.

    "Recipient: Percy Chandler.

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    "Sender: Woody Orlem. Mailing Address: Capital - Carlot Academy."

    'So, it is not the same letter. The one in my mind is sent from an 'old friend', and there was no mailing address... Hmm... This one came from Carlot Academy?'

    Gu Jun had already torn open the envelope and plucked out the letter from within. It consisted of a single page, and half of it was written in the foreign language. Gu Jun skimmed through it to get the gist.

    "You have been accepted by the academy. The new semester will start on 1st September. Chandler, you have incredible talent that should not go to waste. Coming to the Academy will give you a new start. There will be challenges, but there will also be new friends and teachers to help you with them."

    This... was a personal letter written by Teacher Orlem to Chandler to persuade him to register at Carlot. The words were serious, but the tone was kind and understanding. Orlem appeared to have found out about Chandler's hesitance to accept the offer.

    But by the looks of it, based on the watcher's diary, Chandler still did not accept the offer.

    'But why?'

    A splitting headache came then. He felt something, and he opened the letter in his mind to take a look.

    Confusion immediately rushed into his heart. It had changed. It had also changed. The letter mailed to Chandler by his 'old friend' had been changed to this letter that he had just read.

    'Even the letter of correspondence can change? What is happening?'

    He took a deep breath. Since he read through the letter, there was a feeling that he could not shake. It was as if his mind was slowly connecting with that of Chandler's. The hesitance, the reluctance, the fear of going to a new environment. Enrolling at Carlot meant a lot of things. He would carry the name of Warsong on his back, and the whole town would expect him to rise and make a name for himself at the capital so that all the cities in the world would have the name of Warsong on their lips.

    But the competition at Carlot would be too intense. There were too many geniuses, and he knew he was not one of them. He was not born with such gifts... But the villagers did not know that. He had hidden this fact from them for far too long. If he stayed put and did not go to Carlot, his mediocrity would not be exposed.

    'This is such a waste of his immense talent,' they would say, instead of saying, 'Turns out that Chandler is a good for nothing after all.'

    "Ah..." Gu Jun wanted to burn the letter. The headache was still torturing him. In the end, Chandler rejected the offer. He wanted to walk his own path. He started to study medicine and occultism on his own, but he kept failing and ended up with nothing...

    But on the other hand, whenever Chandler walked through the streets of Warsong, he would always be bombarded by the news about Carlot, because be it the drunkards in the tavern, the farmers in the field, or the other high society members, they were always willing to talk about the Carlot Academy and the shining stars that were coming out of it. The Son of Steel, Freud Landon... Genius, everyone called him. That was a genius that could even be ranked among the best that Carlot could offer since its inception. That was someone who was personally blessed the Goddess of Life herself.

    "Son of Steel." Gu Jun groaned in pain. He felt a ball of hatred burning inside him. He wished to push it away, but the more he did so, the more it took center stage. That was someone Chandler aimed to be but could never become.

    The brilliant Landon, the strong Landon, the shining Landon.

    The weak Chandler, the mediocre Chandler, the forgotten Chandler.

    The unlucky Chandler, the Chandler who would soon mutate into a dirty and despicable zombie.

    Inside this very manor, he had woven a dream for himself. In this dream, he was no longer Chandler. He was Landon. He was someone else. The epidemic was created by the cultist Chandler because they wanted to design a more horrible illness. It would provide a hotbed for the Necro-skins, which were scarier than the zombies, to rise. The army of Necro-skins would unleash themselves on this world and all the worlds. They would defeat Landon and alter everything that was thought to be permanent.

    But this was a dream, all a dream. The real Chandler was trapped there, trapped inside this damned house.

    "Ah!" Gu Jun squeezed his hands on his splitting head. "This is all fake. I know it's not true. I am Gu Jun..."

    The flickering light suddenly illuminated a strange figure standing before him. The unfamiliar face appeared haggard, deranged, and sickened. The protruding cheeks, gums, and jaws were all early symptoms of a zombie mutation.

    "Don't move!" Gu Jun gasped in shock as he grabbed the sword to defend himself, but he noticed with apprehension that the figure had done the same thing. The light flickered once more, and Gu Jun saw that he was standing before a tall bronze-rimmed mirror. That figure that he saw was himself, and there was no one around him, no Wu Siyu or anyone else.
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