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    Asianovel

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    Chapter 83: Back Home

    As Long Bo extolled Jiaomiao's virtues, An Zhi felt an overwhelming sense of absurdity pressing down on his heart.

    Why did he have to die?

    Why did the ones he trusted most push him towards doom?

    Why did no one believe him when he spoke the truth?

    Why did he, once a favored child of destiny, end up as a mere plaything, only to be devoured by malevolent spirits?

    Did he deserve this?

    He had accepted his fate and chosen his burial ground, yet he was still forced through countless reincarnations, reliving those memories, suffering misunderstandings, humiliation, and death at the hands of his loved ones.

    On the night Shen Yuan remembered, he wept silently, realizing he would never find peace.

    To let go, one must possess completely. His sudden change in attitude overnight was his final attempt to make amends.

    An Zhi felt whispers ringing in his ears, chaotic and cacophonous, causing a headache to ensue.

    "Be silent!" An Zhi sharply commanded.

    Instantly, the entire tunnel fell utterly quiet, with only his echo reverberating against the walls.

    Even his own voice seemed too loud to him. Clutching his head with both hands, he covered his ears tightly, but the sounds persisted, growing more jumbled and irritating, like the combined wailing, crying, and screaming of a million voices right beside his ear.

    "Do you wish to descend into demonic ways?" The myriad voices coalesced into a single question.

    An Zhi refused. "No."

    "Do you wish to descend into demonic ways?" The voice continued to inquire.

    In that fleeting moment, a scene from a millennium ago flashed before his eyes:

    Wang Wanhe would often look at him with disdain, saying, "You... thing..."

    Ji Yuanshi, with reddened eyes, fiercely declared, "What is he? Why should he be treated like a treasure?! He should have died in the womb!"

    On this serene moonlit night, He Mengfang shouted in desperation, "Scram! Scram!! ——I never want to see you again!!! ——!!"

    Amidst the swirling snow in the Realm of Monsters, He Mengfang pointed her sword at him, "It's all because of this monster! No matter what, a life for a life shall be paid in blood ——!"

    With a piercing sound, the sword sank into flesh.

    "Ahh—" As if genuinely feeling the pain, An Zhi groaned and covered the spot on the screen where He Mengfang had struck him.

    "I... " His chin trembled uncontrollably. Filled with reluctance, he wavered, "I... I... I want to..."

    Suddenly, Ji Yiyi's voice echoed in his ear, "You must have your reasons."

    "No!" Snapped back to reality, An Zhi rejected the notion forcefully, "I said no, I don't!"

    "Would you become a demon?" The voice still asked persistently.

    A tear rolled down the corner of his eye. Sobbing, An Zhi pleaded, "Please, don't ask me anymore..."

    "Become a demon? !" The voice grew more urgent.

    Unconsciously, An Zhi recalled Wang Pan's words on that day atop the Xixuan Gate: "He doesn't know pain; he's ultimately heartless. Such a thing can only bring calamity if it returns. This outcome isn't necessarily a misfortune for the world."

    For a moment, he was unable to control himself.

    Shi Liuli had long heard An Zhi's muttering and, noticing his unusual state, placed her hands on his shoulders and leaned in, asking, "What's wrong with you?"

    Suddenly, An Zhi snapped open his eyes, a crimson glow flickering within.

    "Ha ha ha!" He laughed maniacally, staring at Shi Liuli with a deranged gaze.

    Startled, Shi Liuli quickly withdrew her hands from An Zhi's shoulders and instinctively took a step back.

    Seeing this, Dian Shan prompted, "Vice Island Master, you've been observing for quite some time. Now that the demon is right before you, don't you intend to act?"

    With a disdainful frown, Chu Yun brushed back his sleeves and stepped forward. Addressing An Zhi, he said, "Only by passing through this trial can you be reborn through fire."

    Stopping his laughter, An Zhi turned his head to look at Chu Yun.

    His eyes were bloodshot, with vertical pupils, and every pattern at the bottom of his irises shimmered with gold.

    These were not the eyes of a human, nor those of a deity.

    Chu Yun stated, "In the past, you were a god. Whether you're a god or a demon now, your heart shouldn't have changed."

    "Judging by intentions rather than actions, or actions rather than intentions? Huhu, either way, it's all in your words..." An Zhi muttered to himself.

    Then, Qin Huai's voice echoed in his ear, "An Zhi, come back quickly!"

    With that, An Zhi's vision blurred, and he stiffly collapsed.

    ...

    Upon regaining consciousness, he found himself staring at the ceiling of his own apartment!

    An Zhi sat up and muttered, "I'm back? It can't be another dream like last time, can it?"

    As he spoke, he pinched his cheek.

    "Ow!" An Zhi exclaimed. "It doesn't hurt! This must be a dream!"

    Creak — the door opened, and Wen Yan stepped in, saying, "This isn't a dream. You're really back."

    "Yip, yap, yap!" An Zhi's small Bichon Frise rushed out from behind Wen Yan, dashing straight to An Zhi's bedside. It stood on its hind legs, placing its front paws on the bed edge, desperately trying to climb up, eager for more intimacy with its owner.

    "Oh my~" An Zhi picked up the little Bichon as he spoke, "Let me see if you've gained weight while I was away."

    Wen Yan approached him, "Your dog is pickier than I am. He only eats meat and doesn't even like fruits or vegetables."

    Leaning against the wall close to An Zhi, he folded his arms and said, "It eats better than I do. I'm not sure about weight gain, but it certainly hasn't lost any."

    "Thank you, our game's chief planner, Wen Yan, for taking care of my puppy while handling your busy schedule," An Zhi expressed his gratitude before asking, "Hey, Chief Planner, why didn't I feel pain when I pinched myself just now?"

    Wen Yan replied, "You spent three months in the game. Of course, you need time to adjust when you return."

    An Zhi acknowledged with an "Oh." After a pause, he wondered, "Wait, I didn't complete the game mission. Why am I still back?"

    Wen Yan explained, "I met with the game's client yesterday…"

    An Zhi responded, "Oh, so they sent me back? They don't want compensation for my unfinished testing?"

    Wen Yan said, "The CEO over there is none other than…"

    An Zhi noticed Wen Yan's hesitation and urged, "Don't beat around the bush. Tell me who the client is."

    After a moment of hesitation, Wen Yan continued, "It's your brother."

    "Qin Huai?!" An Zhi was surprised. "He's a medical student and said he wouldn't get involved in the family business."

    Wen Yan replied, "Oh, come on. You know about the Qin family's scandal. If he doesn't step up now, who will? You? Can he just watch the Qin family go bankrupt? He'd still have to help pay off the debts if they do. Besides, the hospital he works at is also part of the Qin family's assets."

    A terrifying thought occurred to An Zhi. "Qin Huai knows it was me who caused the Qin family's downfall, so he sent someone else to negotiate the game deal with you, using this chance to trap me in the game as revenge? No wonder the outrageous terms started with three hundred million and a resurrection cost tens of millions. He must be desperate to save the Qin family!"

    Wen Yan chuckled. "You claim you don't like reading novels, but your imagination is more thrilling than one. If Qin Huai truly wanted to retaliate against you, he would've agreed to pull you out of the game yesterday when I told him about your situation without asking for compensation. My guess is that he had no idea you were in the game before yesterday."

    An Zhi asked, "So you're saying all of this is just a coincidence?"

    Wen Yan nodded. "Mm-hmm."

    Really?

    In the game, there was Ju Lang, and in reality, one also crossed paths with An Zhi.

    He refused to believe that all of this was merely a coincidence.

    Beep beep beep—An Zhi's work alarm, set on the bedside table, rang out.

    He picked up the clock, silenced it, threw back the covers, and reached for his shoes to start his morning routine.

    "Wen Yan, where are you going?" asked Wen Yan, blocking his way.

    An Zhi replied, "To work. Aren't you going to work?"

    Wen Yan said, "It's Saturday today."

    An Zhi turned to look at the clock, confusion etched on his face. He pondered, "I thought my alarm was programmed to skip weekends."

    Wen Yan explained, "I've been staying here with you and your dog for the past three months to take care of you. I love my sleep, so I found your alarm too early and adjusted the time."

    An Zhi understood now. "I see."

    "Wake up just now, you should rest for two days. It's not too late to start work on Monday." Wen Yan gently pressed An Zhi back onto the bed. "I'll prepare breakfast for you."

    With goosebumps all over, An Zhi said, "You're being so nice that it's... Ehh? Aren't you Wen Yan?"

    Wen Yan's anger simmered. "Eat if you want, or don't if you don't!"

    An Zhi chuckled. "Ah, this is more like it."

    Wen Yan rolled her eyes. "Are you mentally unstable or something? You find it weird when I'm nice to you, but you're comfortable when I'm not."

    An Zhi replied, "You don't seem like the type to be nice to others, and you probably can't cook either."

    "I!" Wen Yan protested. "I do know how to make oatmeal with milk and boil an egg."

    An Zhi made a face of disgust. "Tastes awful."

    Just as she finished speaking, the doorbell rang.

    "I'll get it," Wen Yan said before heading out.

    Hearing the doorbell ring, An Zhi recalled the chime he'd heard at the hotel in Ciye Town.

    Just as he was being strangled by the female corpse, Ju Lang had appeared.

    Lost in thought, he muttered to himself, "Since Ju Lang is from the real world, would he come looking for me?"

    Before he knew it, he found himself stepping out of his bedroom barefoot and into the living room.

    "Wen Yan dismissed the visitor with a firm statement, "It's not a good time for us to meet now. You should leave first. I'll find you when I have the chance."

    "But..."

    The visitor seemed to have something to say, but Wen Yan abruptly shut the door in their face.

    An Zhi's shoulders jerked in surprise.

    In his mind, Wen Yan was a bright and polite individual, like a gentle spring sun. Why was he so cold and impolite to that visitor today?

    Wen Yan turned around and saw An Zhi standing behind him. A hint of panic flashed in his eyes, and he hurriedly approached, "When did you come out?"

    An Zhi realized that he might not know Wen Yan as well as he thought, and he hesitated to respond to her question.

    Lowering his gaze, Wen Yan scolded gently, "It's already October, and November is just around the corner. How can you walk barefoot on the floor?"

    He led An Zhi back to the bedroom.

    Swallowing hard, An Zhi mustered the courage to ask, "Was that Wen Yu just now?"

    Upon hearing An Zhi inquire about the visitor, Wen Yan's expression tensed momentarily. Upon hearing the name "Wen Yu," he relaxed again, nodding with a smile. "Yes, it was her."

    An Zhi felt relieved. "Oh, no wonder you were so attentive to her."

    Wen Yan explained, "Wen Yu always clings to me. You know, forced relationships aren't sweet, and I don't fancy her."

    An Zhi softly acknowledged, "Mm-hmm."

    Wen Yan continued, "Since you've just returned, I feel like serving you oatmeal milk would be too plain. How about this? I'll go out and get us breakfast. What would you like?"

    Lost in thought, An Zhi replied absentmindedly, "Candied chestnuts."

    "Alright." Before Wen Yan left the bedroom, she reminded, "Remember to put on your shoes."

    An Zhi forced a smile and nodded slightly. "Mm-hm."

    The visitor was definitely not Wen Yu.

    Wen Yu was young, but the voice betrayed the speaker's age – at least in her forties or fifties.

    Wen Yan was straightforward and not skilled in deception; every lie she told would reveal an unnatural expression, easily seen through by An Zhi.

    But knowing this, why did she still deceive him?

    As he pondered, there was a click in the bedroom – before leaving, Wen Yan had actually locked the door from the inside!

    An Zhi hurriedly got up and rushed to the door, frantically pressing against the handle lock.

    It wouldn't budge.

    Wen Yan had taken the key to the room with her as well.

    "Why am I locked in here?" An Zhi felt an unsettling premonition stir within him.

    Bang! Bang! Bang! —— He pounded on the door, shouting, "What the hell do you mean by this? Explain yourself!"

    His cries fell on deaf ears.

    An Zhi usually set his alarm for seven, while Wen Yan typically set hers for eight. He approached the alarm clock, picked it up, and saw that it was only seven twenty-three.

    "It's not even Saturday!" The more An Zhi thought about it, the angrier he became, throwing the alarm clock into the bedding in a fit of rage.

    --------------------

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