Chen Ge sat alone in the dark room, talking to himself, while the four dolls sat before him. The scene was weird to say the least. Thankfully, there was no one else there to observe.
"I don't know how or why you've appeared inside my Haunted House, and I'm not sure how to refer to any of you, but there's one thing I can guarantee—I mean none of you any harm."
Chen Ge's voice echoed in the room. Looking at the four dolls before him, a contradictory feeling rose in his heart. On one hand he wished there was a response to confirm his suspicion, but on the other, he was afraid that the dolls would suddenly move to do something dangerous.
Several seconds later, Chen Ge felt like he was overthinking and decided to switch his way of thinking. "The Murder by Midnight scenario is based off of the arson four years ago at Fu An Apartments, and the four of you should be the victims of that case."
Probably hitting a sore spot, Chen Ge could feel the temperature in the room dropping. The door was suddenly locked behind him, and the furniture around him rattled slightly.
"But the case has been solved! The madman who ruined your lives and hurt you has been captured and is awaiting the law's judgement!" Chen Ge was slightly unhinged by this sudden development. He pulled out his phone to find the morning news on the internet. "Look, see, it's on the news, and the person who caught him is me!"
Chen Ge knew the four dolls' unfinished business had plenty to do with Wang Qi, so he wanted to use the video as proof that he was the one who had captured him to placate the dolls, but it was not working as well as he planned.
The atmosphere in the room turned increasingly chilly. Chen Ge was panicking, but he had no better idea; the inability to communicate between the two parties was his biggest hurdle. The lack of results unsettled Chen Ge, but he did not plan to give up so easily. This Haunted House was everything he had. If he allowed the dolls free reign of the place, there would be too many unknown elements; if some huge accidents happened in the future, he would lose everything.
"Calm down! I'm here to help!" The dolls were not paying Chen Ge any attention. No matter how loud he screamed, it was pointless.
"I guess this is my final option." Chen Ge pulled out Wang Qi's missing person notice from his pocket. The yellowed piece of paper was dirtied with some blood stains, but beyond that, there was nothing particularly special about it. However, weirdly enough, when Chen Ge pulled out the notice, the noisiness in the room settled, and the atmosphere was not as intense as before. It was as if the hands that were strangling his neck were slowly relaxing.
"All you wanted was this?" The effect of the notice was better than Chen Ge expected. He placed the paper in the middle of the four dolls, and when the dolls' bodies touched the yellowed paper, the missing person notice started to struggle like it was fluttering in a raging wind.
The scene that happened before his eyes were definitely inexplicable. The room did not have any draft, but the notice and the four dolls were swaying like crazy. Chen Ge studied this closely. Several minutes later, a human face seemed to appear on the missing person notice; it looked suspiciously like Wang Qi. Before Chen Ge could take a closer look, the notice was torn apart. The pieces snuck into all four of the dolls' bodies, and the room returned to its usual quietness.
The black phone in his pocket vibrated. Chen Ge took it out to find a new message.
"You've completed the Hidden Mission inside the Murder by Midnight scenario! Increase the affection of specters by one. Obtained the goodwill of the victims' lingering spirits from Ping An Apartment. They will help you clean up all the trash every day to keep the Murder by Midnight scenario at its peak."
Looking at the message on the phone, Chen Ge stood where he was for a long time before he said to no one in particular, "And that completes the sole Hidden Mission?"
His mind tried to collate all the information he had gathered so far.
Finishing a Trial Mission with a completion rate higher than ninety percent will reward me a Hidden Item, and the Hidden Item will be the key to completing the scenario's Hidden Mission! In other words, if I want to have complete mastery of the unlocked scenarios of the Haunted House in the future, I'll need to finish the respective Trial Mission with a more than ninety percent completion rate.
Thinking back, if he had just survived the night at Ping An Apartment without being a busybody, he would have completed the Trial Mission as well, but he wouldn't have gotten the Hidden Item.
This thing is evil. This kind of set-up is just asking the player to walk into as many traps as he can.
Chen Ge searched through the black phone, attempting to figure out more information. The first thing he clicked was the 'My Team of Ghosts and Ghouls' tab, and to his disappointment, it was still empty.
The mission notice states that I've gained the goodwill of the victims' lingering spirit from Ping An Apartment, but there's no update to the window. Is it because they haven't agreed to help me completely or can lingering spirits not be counted as ghosts nor ghouls, so they don't show up on the list?
Chen Ge had no clue. He clicked into the 'My Item Storage' and realized Wang Qi's Missing Person Notice was still there, but the Malice Points attached to it were now zero.
What are these Malice Points? And why did the lingering spirits tear it up to feed on it?
The door to the hidden world was slowly opening. Chen Ge had no clue whether this information was useful or not, but he committed it all to memory. He rubbed the sweat on his forehead and stood up from the floor.
Even though I couldn't communicate with the lingering spirits, they'll help up clean up the scenario. Conclusively speaking, it's still more advantages than disadvantages.
Maintaining the scenario was a troublesome and tiring thing, and the appearance of the lingering spirits saved Chen Ge plenty of time, money, and effort. Looking at the four dolls on the floor, the last vestige of fear in Chen Ge's heart slowly disappeared.
Hiring the ghosts to help out at my Haunted House isn't such a ridiculous idea after all.
He walked to the door and turned around with concern. The dolls that represented the parents and the sister were sitting where they were, but the smallest doll was collapsed on the floor, leaning on her side. She was acting secretively, like she was preparing to sneak out again.
Chen Ge sighed, looking at this, and he realized not all ghosts in the world were evil and cruel. For example, this smallest doll was like a kitten that was curious about the world, easily intrigued but a coward at her core.
"Little girl, stop running about. Be careful or you'll get stepped on."
Chen Ge left after that. After helping the lingering spirits from Ping An Apartments with their wish, he had a deeper understanding of the black phone.
The unlockable scenarios on the phone probably aren't just to help me scare people. Each scenario has its own story and plot with its own reason and development. In a way, unlocking the scenarios is helping these homeless souls find a place to call home.
After turning off the flashlight, Chen Ge walked down the darkened corridor alone. After he was far enough gone, ensuring no human or ghost could hear him anymore, his lips curved involuntarily upwards to reveal a foxlike grin. "These are natural experts at scaring people, and they don't need salary, won't complain about tiredness, or act out of emotions; they are the perfect employees!"
With a bright future awaiting him, Chen Ge felt reenergized and was ready to scare the shit out of his hapless victims.
"It has dragged on for too long already; it's time to end this. There are three people left inside the Haunted House, let me think… Who shall be my first victim?"