ARTT Chapter 25

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Chapter 25 — Hidden Forever In My Heart
My Feelings for You!


Edited by Planetes

 

 

With a dazed expression, the soldier held onto the commander’s sabre. Despite the surroundings having been dyed an aged yellow, through the variation in shades and saturation, Ling Xiaolu could see how the soldier’s face paled, his eyes reddening, as well as how his body was covered in blood.

 

Snapping back from his trance-like state, he suddenly started yelling, rushing into the horde of dragons like a mad man. He seemed to have completely lost hold of his rationality, and with an attitude that was as though as he was seeking death, he swung wildly at the dragons with no method to his madness. The commander had saved his life, but he had also taken away his desire for living.

 

Ling Xiaolu wanted to go in and stop him, but his shoulder was caught by someone else.

 

With a rare solemn expression, Ji Meng shook his head. “Don’t worry, if they were to both have sacrificed their lives here, the story wouldn’t have been able to continue.”

 

In the chaos, Ling Xiaolu vaguely felt that Ji Meng made sense, it was just that he himself did not understand.

 

“So, in this quest, our function is just to cheer on the NPCs?”

 

Although Ji Meng had not done many quests before, his experience still surpassed that of Ling Xiaolu.

 

“The objectives of some quests are to kill monsters, some to collect items, but there are also quests that require the participants to accompany the character and finish up what they’re supposed to do.”

 

The dragons fully surrounded the frenzied soldier, and the dragon leading them all flapped its wings in the air twice, sucking in a long breath, about to roast this small fry who was overestimating his own abilities into ashes.

 

A glowing spell in the shape of a cross descended from the heavens. The dragons were swiftly imprisoned by this insubstantial light, and they struggled desperately, exhaling heavily. A dozen arrows flew across the sky, piercing the dragons with deadly accuracy. The injured dragons roared furiously, and they actually managed to free themselves from the magical restraints, flying towards the direction of the source of the arrows.

 

Ji Meng’s spirits returned. “They’re here!”

 

Sadia stood on her war chariot, chanting a spell composedly. The sceptre in her hand vibrated as though life was being poured into it, and the sounds of metal clanging together emitted from it.

 

After she finished the last syllable of her spell, a magical circle suddenly flew out, slamming into the dragons flying towards her. Ear-splitting howls could be heard.

 

The priestess’ army followed closely behind, and the leader of the dragons, along with the rest of its horde, were shot by thousands of arrows. Some fell straight to the ground, while the survivors ran for their lives. The entrance of the magical army finally brought an end to the heavy losses on both sides.

 

Sadia came down from her war chariot, walking over to the commander who was still holding onto his very last breath.

 

Emotionally, Ling Xiaolu called out, “Priestess!”

 

It was again that musical voice. As the chanting started, and where Sadia was standing being the focus point, colour and life swiftly spread throughout the land. The grass and trees were green, flowers blooming and birds chirping, the sun rose high up in the blue sky, accompanied by white fluffy clouds…  With a twist and a shake, the tinted, vintage photograph transformed into a vibrant oil painting. Never before had Ling Xiaolu noticed that the colourful summer was so beautiful, and the priestess chanting her spell in a sing-song was even more beautiful, to the point where one could not drag their eyes off her.

 

The fatal wound on the commander miraculously healed. His originally lifeless eyelashes fluttered, and vitality once again returned to his body. The man, who had been on the verge of dying, slowly opened his eyes, his eyes reflecting the angel-like image of Sadia.

 

“Was it you who saved me?” The weak commander gave a very faint smile. “May I have the honour of knowing your name?”

 

From her position above, Sadia met his eyes.

 

“I come from Chunfeng City, and my name is Sadia.”

 

“Sadia,” the commander placed his hand over his heart. “I originally thought that it was the evil dragon that stabbed into my chest. Never did I ever think that the thing that actually pierced through me, right here, is the holy light from you.”

 

Ling Xiaolu’s attention had been on this fairy tale couple the entire time. Only now did he remember the existence of the soldier.

 

“Eh? Where’s the soldier?”

 

The forgotten soldier had used the last remnants of his faith to press himself on. Right now, he could no longer support himself. Holding the sabre tightly in his arms, weakly, he collapsed onto the corpse of a dragon…

 

 

>>Returning to present time…

 

 

Ling Xiaolu and Ji Meng were both transported back to the command post. The commander was still in the pose he was in when they left. To him, it was as though time had been frozen, and he did not notice that the two people had vanished for a short period of time.

 

“I… seem to recall who you’re referring to.” The commander lifted his head, regretful. “However, I’m very sorry, I don’t know the name of that soldier. My soldiers are all very outstanding, and to lose him, I’m very sad.”

 

Solemnly, he kept the sabre. “Thank you for bringing this back for me. I’ll store it properly, and I’ll never use it again.”

 

“But that soldier…” Ling Xiaolu hesitated.

 

“I will definitely find his body, and help him perform his last rites.”

 

A chatbox appeared simultaneously in front of Ling Xiaolu and Ji Meng.

 

 

>> Would you like to inform the commander of the soldier’s feelings?

 

 

The two exchanged a look. With a tacit agreement, they both chose “No”.

 

 

【System】You’ve completed the quest [The Last Wish of the Nameless Soldier].

【System】You’ve received [The Nameless Soldier’s Statue].

 

 

Ling Xiaolu carefully spread his hands apart. On his palms appeared a tiny statue of a soldier kneeling on one knee.

 

There was nothing characteristic about the statue, other than when one’s sight fell upon it, an annotation would pop up.

 

— A Love That Couldn’t Be Spoken.

 

**

 

Ling Xiaolu bent down, silently placing the pure white flower in front of the soldier’s grave. This was an unnamed tombstone, and until his death, the nameless soldier still did not have a name.

 

“If there wasn’t the battle for the priestess, would he have not died?” The strange idea came to Ling Xiaolu.

 

Ji Meng shook his head. “His ‘time’ was up. Perhaps, the wedding was a plot point for him, and once passed this point, any cause could have resulted in his death. He would never be able to be revived.”

 

Although Ling Xiaolu was constantly reminding himself that all this was only a game, he still could not reconcile himself to it. “No, thinking about it, I still feel very aggrieved by it.”

 

Heartlessly, he grabbed Ling Long. “I’m going to beat up the dragon to vent my anger.”

 

Ji Meng snatched the little dragon over. “Why do you keep venting your anger on your little pet? Although it doesn’t have much intelligence, its nature is just like the soldier.”

 

Ling Xiaolu thought, mine definitely is intelligent, alright?

 

“Then what can I do? Can I beat the developers to vent my anger?”

 

“You can’t. But you can mail them razor blades.”

 

When there were no events going on in Jingzhe City, it was actually not as lively as the counties. Although there were shops along the streets, Ling Xiaolu saw that most of them were just places for specific functions.

 

Ji Meng brought Ling Xiaolu to the post office.

 

“Over here, they sell one razor blade for one yuan each. After buying them, you can post it to the developers using the postbox at the door.”

 

“…” Ling Xiaolu did not know how he should react. “This game is really very considerate.”

 

“Perhaps there were too many people with the same thought as you, and thus the developers created such a function to soothe their anger.”

 

“And they can even take this opportunity to earn more money,” Ling Xiaolu stated the crux of the matter.

 

Ji Meng entered the post office, and the NPC staff welcomed him politely. “May I know if there’s anything you need?”

 

“How many do you want to mail?” Ji Meng turned to ask Ling Xiaolu behind him.

 

Ling Xiaolu measured his dissatisfaction. “I want to mail 99 pieces!”

 

Ji Meng turned back. “200 razor blades.”

 

“So many?”

 

“I’m mailing them with you,” Ji Meng replied without turning back.

 

Ling Xiaolu: … To receive the razor blades mailed by the crown prince, who knows if the developers will panic?

 

The game company was truly very considerate. When mailing the razor blades, they could even select which quest caused the issue. With no hesitation, Ling Xiaolu selected <The Last Wishes of The Nameless Soldier>.

 

“Heart ache is terrible, and hungering after your money is worse. However, after making your heart ache, and then hungering after your money, this is the worst. The salaries of your company’s developers must be very high, right?”

 

Tossing the razor blades in the postbox, Ji Meng replied, “This is not what others say.”

 

“Then what do they say?”

 

“They say that there are many quests in this game that seem to be designed because the company isn’t paying the developers their salary.”

 

Ling Xiaolu: “Emm… I can’t believe I actually find that this makes even more sense.”

 

“Do you see that ranking board over there?”

 

“What’s that?”

 

“It’s the ranking board of the quests that have received the most number of razor blades so far.”

 

“……”

 

The numbers on the ranking board were shockingly great. The greatest number of razor blades a quest received was more than three million, and the inexperienced Ling Xiaolu admitted that he was frightened by it.

 

“What quest is this? It has actually stirred the anger of the players to this point.”

 

“You want to do it?” Ji Meng misunderstood what he meant.

 

Ling Xiaolu looked as though he had seen a ghost. “Are you kidding? Hold on, let me take a screenshot and blacklist all the quests shown here! Right now, I have low blood sugar, and I urgently need to do something delightful to soothe my emotions.”

 

Ji Meng had a very limited concept of delightful things to do. “Then, shall we go catch pets?”

 

“… Other than catching pets, feeding pets, playing with pets, taking photos of pets… are there any other things that are delightful?”

 

Ji Meng thought about it. “Then let’s go print photos of ourselves.”

 

The photo studio was diagonally across the street from the post office. A transparent cuboid was floating in the middle of the studio, its length nearly as long as the arm of an adult.

 

From his photo album, Ji Meng did a grabbing motion, then made a tossing motion into the cuboid. The images of them during the quest immediately appeared within the cuboid.

 

“How magical. Why do you have all these images?” Leaning against the top of the cuboid, Ling Xiaolu peered into it.

 

“Whenever we start a quest, we can capture the entire process.”

 

“Why did you tell me? If I knew earlier, I’ll have recorded everything down too!” Ling Xiaolu was feeling regretful about having been too engrossed in the quest, and he had even forgotten to take any screenshots.

 

Ji Meng slid the hovering control panel over to him. “You can use this to choose the scene, zoom in or out. You can also adjust the viewing angle, and once you’re done, just press the image capture key.”

 

Using his finger, Ling Xiaolu scrolled through the images, and the people in the images too moved about rapidly. He scrolled backwards, and the people inside too reversed their actions quickly. It was as though Ling Xiaolu was manipulating a holographic miniature movie, and even the colours of the images were the same as the style during the quest, transforming from a vintage tint to something bright and colourful.

 

“What about printing this image?” The screen paused at the scene where Ling Xiaolu was using the deer fist passed down from his ancestors to punch Ji Meng’s chest.

 

Ji Meng glared at him.

 

“I think it’s better to print this one.” Ji Meng scrolled all the way to the back, to where Ling Xiaolu was wailing cowardly in tears after jumping onto the dragon’s back. Annoyingly, he even zoomed all the way in.

 

Ling Xiaolu: …

 

Frame by frame, he searched for ugly photos of Ji Meng. “Just you wait! If I don’t amass enough photos to make a montage of you, I won’t rest… Hold on! I want this one!”

 

He pressed the key, carefully holding onto the printed photo in his hand. It was of the soldier holding up the hamster in his hand, smiling very gently.

 

Ling Xiaolu seemed to have received a treasure. “Although I don’t know your name, I can keep your image.”

 

He stored the photo carefully in his photo album. In the span of a blink, he turned to discover that Ji Meng had actually printed over a dozen photos, a thin stack of them in his hand.

 

“Why did you print so many?” Ling Xiaolu was puzzled. “What did you print? Let me see.”

 

Ji Meng quickly shoved the photos into his album. “No, it’s nothing.”

 

His actions looked even more suspicious now.

 

“Are you making memes of me?” Ling Xiaolu grasped him by the collar, interrogating him.

 

“Who is printing images of you?” Ji Meng feigned as though nothing was happening, looking all around him. “Why would I print images of you?”

 

“Then what were you printing?”

 

“… L-Leilulu, of course!”

 

Seeing how he was speaking so assuredly, Ling Xiaolu let him off, not quite convinced. He turned back, continuing to capture his own photos, murmuring quietly, “What’s there to be so guilty about printing Leilulu’s photos? And even not letting me see them… It’s as though no one knows you’re a pet maniac…”

 

In the end, both of them printed a stack of photos each, leaving the photo studio in satisfaction.

 

Ling Xiaolu nudged at Ji Meng with his elbow. “You have so many empty rooms in your house, how about lending me one?”

 

Towards this, Ji Meng’s response was, “I already told you not to talk about so much crap that didn’t have to be said.”

 

Ling Xiaolu chose a room on the second floor with the best lighting. Meticulously, he pasted the photos one by one on the wall. There was the soldier holding onto the hamster, the commander sacrificing himself, the chanting priestess, as well as Ji Meng shoving him down to avoid the dragon, Ji Meng and him running down the hill, the two of them and a pet fighting against the horde of dragons… Of course, the photo of him demonstrating his deer fist was there too. With all these photos, it formed the memory of him having been moved by a quest in the game for the first time ever, just like how that tiny little statue of the soldier was carefully stored in the display cabinet in the middle of the room.

 

Before leaving, Ling Xiaolu turned back again. Silently, the statue remained under the light of the sun.

 

Unconsciously, the corners of his lips quirked up, and he closed the door shut lightly behind him.


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