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    Asianovel

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    Chapter 84: Argument

    Morning was the most memorable time of day, especially in the crisp early hours of November when the chill invigorated the body with each breath, akin to a burst of mint candy.

    Yet An Zhi found himself locked inside his bedroom, unable to venture out. He leaned lazily against the bedside table, sitting on his bed.

    As the sun climbed higher, he lost track of how long he had been sitting there. Glancing at the clock, he realized it was now noon.

    Wen Yan had left at half past seven, but it was already twelve o'clock.

    An Zhi scoffed softly, "I really can't read Wen Yan, perhaps I never saw him clearly from the start."

    He raised his hand, turning it over to examine the back of his wrist intently.

    Having not ventured outside for months, his skin had become significantly paler, almost to an eerie bluish-white, like that of a corpse.

    "Divine Aid Contract... Divine Aid Contract..." An Zhi muttered to himself in a low voice, "Back then, after falling into the water as a child, I was pierced through the heart by that driver and died. In the years that followed, Ju Lang used the Divine Aid Contract to bind our lives together. So, was Wen Yan truly the one who saved me?"

    After pondering for a moment, he shook his head. "Ju Lang bestowed life, while Wen Yan aided my drowning. The two actions aren't contradictory. I shouldn't doubt Wen Yan. It was just a game, those storylines wouldn't occur in real life..."

    After all, they had been inseparable friends since childhood; he tried his best not to entertain doubts about Wen Yan.

    But with the Divine Aid Contract appearing, could the events of the game truly not unfold in reality?

    The more one forced themselves to believe something, the harder it became. An Zhi was at a loss, "Wen Yan, what on earth are you doing?!"

    "Woof!" The small Bichon Frise suddenly barked fiercely at the closed bedroom door.

    Immediately afterward, the sound of a door being opened echoed.

    An Zhi fixated on the doorknob, his voice icy-cold as he announced, "Wen Yan is back."

    With those words, the grand door swung open.

    "Ju Lang? !" An Zhi exclaimed in surprise, gazing at the two figures behind the entrance. "Qin Huai? !"

    The wind billowed against his trench coat as Ju Lang leapt forward, scooping An Zhi up into his arms. He explained, "Wen Yan is actually Xiang Yan."

    An Zhi responded in bewilderment, "No way."

    Outside the door, Qin Huai urged, "There's no time to explain. Let's leave first."

    In the eastern part of the city, the sun shone brightly, while in the west, continuous drizzles persisted.

    An Zhi gazed out the car window at the pine forest and asphalt road lined with vegetation. The air was refreshingly invigorating, carrying a subtle scent of pine and earth.

    Despite being led to a more secluded area, it wasn't entirely devoid of human presence.

    An Zhi turned around, leaning his arm on the backrest of the seat, and asked Qin Huai, who was seated in the rear, "When did the two of you meet?"

    Qin Huai explained, "It was Ju Lang who found me. I remember everything. I was a dream visitor."

    An Zhi's pupils dilated, and a cold sweat broke out on his back, instantly dampening his inner shirt. He forced a smile and said, "How could that be... You must have been playing too many games."

    Qin Huai spoke earnestly, "In the depth of white clouds, a wild ferry, and a butterfly dream in a moment."

    Among Qin Huai's three passions were drinking tea, fishing, and listening to operas, with "Butterfly Dream" being his favorite.

    Before Qin Huai's mother discovered their secret, there was an afternoon when An Zhi, due to an early Christmas break from school,

    Upon returning home, he set down his backpack and stealthily made his way to Qin Huai's room.

    In the midst of white clouds, a wild ferry awaits at the depth...

    The melody of "Butterfly Dream" drifted out from within the room.

    He pushed the door open and said, "Big brother, I want to go out and play."

    Qin Huai, brewing tea, replied, "Drinking tea and listening to opera is quite enjoyable. Why do you always want to run out all the time?"

    An Zhi held onto his arm, pouting. "Please take me out, big brother~ I want to go out and play~"

    Qin Huai, unable to resist his pleading, finally agreed.

    But then what?

    Qin Huai, with tea in a glass, a fishing rod, and bait on hand, took An Zhi to the riverbank for fishing.

    An Zhi spent the whole day idly by the river. At the end of the day, Qin Huai asked him, "Do you want to come again next time?"

    He firmly shook his head. "They're not coming."

    After this incident, An Zhi always found Qin Huai dull and mature.

    Unexpectedly, this was how he reminisced about the past and looked back on old times.

    An Zhi asked, "Should I call you He Mengfang or Qin Huai?"

    Qin Huai replied, "The past is in the past, not to be recalled. Just call me Qin Huai."

    Suddenly, the wheels of the car screeched loudly from intense friction, causing the vehicle to come to an abrupt halt. Everyone lurched forward due to inertia.

    Ju Lang shielded An Zhi and questioned Qin Huai, "Not to be recalled? If you truly believe that, why did you create a game with Wen Yan? Three thousand reincarnations, memories resurfacing, falling into madness – all because of those obsessions."

    Qin Huai glared at Ju Lang without reservation. "What about your obsession? You were the one who kept dragging him through reincarnation, into madness, and killing him. Didn't you participate in this game?"

    As he spoke, he took out a novel and held it in front of An Zhi. "The game 'Killing to End Killing' is adapted from a novel with the same title. Though it's called an adaptation, ninety percent of the content follows the original work closely."

    Fixing his gaze on Ju Lang, he continued, "May I ask this original author, how could you possibly know so much about events from a thousand years ago?"

    An Zhi took the novel and flipped through a few pages. "The plot is indeed identical." He closed the book and searched for the author's information on the cover. "Author: Shi Huai."

    "We're on our way to find Shi Huai right now," Qin Huai said. "After Wen Yan and I reconnected a few years ago, he approached me about turning 'Kill to Stop Killing' into a game. He had already developed the story and found a well-known author to write the novel. But yesterday, Ju Lang came to me and said that Wen Yan doesn't actually know Shi Huai. It was after seeing the novel that he found me to make the game. That's how Wen Yan met Shi Huai."

    The drizzle continued incessantly, and the windshield wipers swayed back and forth. An Zhi kept his eyes on the road ahead and asked, "Ju Lang, you just returned yesterday?"

    Ju Lang replied, "Suddenly, I couldn't find you, so I figured you weren't in the game and must have gone home. That's why I came back for a visit."

    With a serious tone, An Zhi asked, "Then how did you know that Shi Huai doesn't know Wen Yan? Or did you tell Shi Huai everything about a thousand years ago, leading him to write 'Kill to Stop Killing'? Have you known Shi Huai for a long time?"

    "Yes, I know Shi Huai, and I witnessed him writing 'Kill to Stop Killing,'" Ju Lang admitted. "But things aren't as you imagine them to be."

    "Due to what, then?" Qin Huai pressed.

    Ju Lang responded, "Don't have such hostility towards me. Anyone could potentially harm An Zhi, but not me."

    Qin Huai queried, "What about your explanation for Xixuan Men?"

    Ju Lang answered, "At that time, my father had used a ventriloquist..."

    Qin Huai interrupted him, "Stop using others as an excuse! You did it, so own up to it!"

    Ju Lang retorted sharply, "And you, He Mengfang, are any better? You have no idea about the truth and didn't bother to investigate. Ayuan was still barely alive under Xixuan Men's care when you ended his life. Later, when Xiang Yan found out Ayuan was in the Realm of Demons, you came sword in hand upon hearing the news. Do you know that I had just pulled him back from the brink of death at that moment?"

    An Zhi sensed that the two were on the verge of a heated argument, and he was driving. The last thing he needed was a car accident.

    Although it was a paved road, there weren't many pedestrians or vehicles passing by. He hadn't seen another car since they started driving. If something happened here, there would be no one to collect their bodies, leaving them to rot in the wilderness.

    "Both of you are equally guilty, so don't point fingers at each other," An Zhi interjected to diffuse the tension.

    The car fell silent instantly.

    Ju Lang spoke, "When you meet Shi Huai, everything will become clear."

    "Alright." An Zhi continued, "But why did I suddenly log out of the game?"

    Qin Huai replied, "I couldn't bear to watch you descend into darkness."

    An Zhi pressed on, "What about Wen Yan then? From what you said, you and Wen Yan planned this together. Why are you two now going separate ways?"

    Qin Huai said in disappointment, "I thought Wen Yan shared my wish for you to let go of your obsession. I was wrong. He's always wanted you to succumb to the dark side. Yesterday, when I noticed something was off with you and wanted to release you, he stopped me...

    "He said, 'Even if there's a pure land in one's heart, it doesn't compare to the slander and prejudice from others. It's better to be reckless and kill those who dislike me instead of foolishly trying to win their favor by sacrificing myself.'"

    An Zhi gasped, "Wen Yan couldn't have said such a thing."

    Qin Huai replied, "I don't want to believe it either, but I really heard him say that yesterday. When he saw that I wanted to free you, he even tried to kill me. Thanks to our many reincarnations as mere mortals, the company's security guards arrived in time, and I managed to drive him out."

    His voice trembled as he continued, "An Zhi, Ayuan, you have no idea how terrifying Wen Yan looked back then... He was like a devil, no! Even more terrifying than a devil, extremely frightening..."

    He started sobbing and asked, "Ayuan, how did Xiang Yan become like this?"

    With a sour feeling in his nose, An Zhi responded, "Perhaps... we, we never truly knew him at all..."

    Qin Huai's voice quivered, "I, I don't... recognize him anymore..."

    An Zhi spoke in a deep voice, "Dream Visitor, you still cry so easily just like when you were young."

    "Alright." The car slowed down, and Ju Lang said, "We're here."

    The grand, two-story white villa before them was Shi Huai's residence.

    The courtyard was filled with camellia trees, though it wasn't yet the cold winter when they would bloom; not a single bud adorned the branches.

    The villa backed onto an ancient lake. Surprisingly, hundreds of swans played in its waters, creating a magnificent sight.

    Some of them took flight into the sky, resembling a string of kites, their echoes gently stirring the birds nestled in the forest.

    Ju Lang said, "Let's go in. Shi Huai has been waiting for you."

    "Alright," An Zhi followed Ju Lang into the white villa.

    In the living room, beside the fireplace, hung a calligraphy piece with the words: In every moment without troubles, there is a moment of clarity; in a day without worries, there is a good day.

    A man stood before the artwork, observing it silently.

    After a while, he didn't show any intention of turning around, perhaps unaware of the trio's arrival. Ju Lang prompted, "Shi Huai, we're here."

    Upon hearing his voice, the man turned around.

    "Jiaomiao!"

    "Jiaomiao!"

    - In unison, An Zhi and Qin Huai exclaimed.

    In that instant, their faces turned ashen, their hearts raced to their throats, and their expressions became tense with anxiety.

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

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