Don’t Close Your Eyes At Me
Chapter 75: Black Death
The re-examination didn’t require the examinees to choose their subjects so naturally they didn’t find themselves at an intersection.
When You Huo entered through the door, thick fog covered his face.
Qin Jiu stepped through first.
Earlier he had wanted to say something to You Huo but the next second his tall figure entered into the fog…..
After experiencing so many exams, he had also gone through fogs many times.
But for the first time, You Huo felt a sense of emptiness.
Countless familiar yet unfamiliar moments surfaced………
On a certain day of a certain year, he sat at the end of a conference table. Someone glanced at him through the arguing crowd before picking up his jacket and leaving;
On a certain day of a certain year, he led a group of people through a long corridor and happened to pass by another group of people. His footsteps paused momentarily but he didn’t give his greetings;
On a certain day of a certain year, he was driving around a corner of a street. Someone who was leaning against a streetlamp gradually got further and further away through the rear-view mirror;
Again, on a certain day of a certain year, his vision was dark and blurred. Someone sat before him laughing and he heard rustling sounds that sounded like a scarf being tied. He seemed to smell blood, but he could already no longer see………
“Sir? Are you okay?”
You Huo blinked a few times and returned to his senses.
At some unknown point in time, the fog had cleared up. Before him was a long dirt road and a black carriage. The coachman was dressed in clothes from another century and he spoke with a thick accent.
He must have entered the exam.
You Huo looked around. There was no one else around.
The coachman said: “You don’t look well. Your face looks pale.”
You Huo stood there for a moment before responding: “It’s nothing.”
The coachman glanced at him worriedly several more times.
You Huo pinched the bridge of his nose and asked warily: “Who are you?”
“I’m here to pick up you and your wife.” The coachman said: “Did you forget? You promised to be a guest at Carlton Manor.”
You Huo’s movements stopped. He looked at him like he was mad: “Pick up who???”
The coachman: “You and your wife.”
He opened the carriage door and made a respectful gesture: “Madam is already inside. Please come on. I have food prepared. You might feel better after eating a little.”
You Huo’s brows were so furrowed together, it could trap mosquitoes.
He entered the carriage and saw a young lady inside who looked more confused than he was. She looked at most twenty.
Inside the carriage was a round framed oil painting of a flat-faced cat.
The coachman pushed him inside and said as he closed the door: “The weather in this area is bad, especially in this season.”
He sat at the front and picked up the reins. Looking into the distance, he said: “That dark cloud there is coming closer. If we delay this anymore, I’m afraid it will rain. Sir and madam, please be seated. We have to hurry and reach the manor before it rains.”
The carriage was actually very spacious. The seats facing the door were decorated with gorgeous cushions and the sides were reinforced with armrests. The female stranger sat there and there was still enough space next to her to sit a large person.
The girl froze for a moment before patting next to her and saying: “That……You’re also an examinee? You should sit here.”
Before You Huo could say anything, she quickly added while waving her hand: “Please don’t misunderstand. I don’t have any intention to take advantage of you. I also just got on this carriage maybe about two minutes before you. That coachman caught me by surprise when he opened his mouth and started calling me madam. I tried to persuade him to change it, but it didn’t work.”
You Huo let out an “mhn” and said lightly: “Probably the system’s doing.”
He however didn’t sit down next to her and instead sat on the side to maintain a polite but also unfamiliar distance.
This was not the young lady’s first exam, so she had also seen many ridiculous things done by the system.
But she still mumbled: “What damned system would help people get married……..”
“That’s right, there’s wine and bread here. Would you like you eat a little? You don’t look well…….”
There was a silver bucket filled with hard bread, two bunches of grapes and a couple of silver jugs.
You Huo glanced at it: “Have you eaten?”
The girl shook her head: “I’m not hungry. I came after eating at the rest stop.”
You Huo nodded.
He was somewhat absentminded. He once again opened the window and looked out.
“Are you waiting for someone?” The girl asked.
You Huo’s finger touching the window paused. He then answered: “Yeah.”
Unfortunately, the coachman didn’t appear to have any intention to wait around.
There were also no other people here.
The dark clouds in the distance slowly travelled closer but the sun above was still bright.
It was already the middle of summer here. The sunlight poured over the treetops turning the green surface white.
You Huo sat in the carriage for a while before noticing the heat.
It was as if he was lost in thought before this.
He removed his winter coat leaving only a white t-shirt.
The girl said, “There is a box under my seat. You can put your coat in there.”
“My name is Zhou Qi. What about you?”
Zhou Qi let out an oh. Seeing that the other party wasn’t very talkative, she didn’t continue talking.
She leaned her head to the side and looked out the window. Soon, she was lost in thought.
The carriage travelled on for about half an hour. The coachman turned around and said: “Soon we will enter the town and pick up another pair of guests.”
You Huo opened his eyes. There were no signs of sleepiness in his eyes.
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For the first time he hadn’t fallen asleep on the way to the examination centre.
Hearing the coachman’s words, he opened the window again.
This was a small town with houses made of stone. The women wore tattered dresses from another century while the men wore grey shirts with deep necklines that almost reached their bellybuttons.
It was clearly daytime, but the town wasn’t busy.
Everyone’s expressions were dull, and their eyes were blank. Their faces sunk in making them look very sickly.
When they saw the carriage approach, they quickly closed their windows and doors.
The carriage made a turn in the town and stopped by a wood.
In the forest was a familiar patch of thick fog. You Huo’s eyes fell over to that place.
The branches swayed with the wind and a woman stepped out from the fog.
You Huo’s eyes moved passed her and continued to look at the dense fog.
The coachman once again walked over. He said: “Madam, I’m here to take you to Carlton Manor. If you could please board the carriage?”
As he spoke, another person appeared from the thick fog.
This time it was a man.
It was unknown who he was. In any case, he wasn’t Qin Jiu.
At this moment, Zhou Qi was leaning against the door looking out. Behind her, there was suddenly a “clatter”.
She was startled. When she looked back, she saw that the handsome man called You Huo had broken the window off. The metal hinge holding it dangled helplessly in the air. On the other hand, he had closed his eyes and was sitting there with his arms crossed. He clearly had no interest in their two new companions.
Uh……He seems to be in a bad mood.
Of course, the moods of the two newcomers were no better.
As soon as the man and women boarded, the entire mood in the carriage plummeted.
Zhou Qi: “…………”
I don’t even know if I should introduce myself.
But she was a passionate girl. After holding it in for a long time, she finally said politely: “Um…….My name is Zhou Qi. Are you also examinees?”
It was obvious just by looking at their clothes.
That woman appeared to be a little over thirty years old. She had short hair and looked very capable. She sat down next to Zhou Qi and said: “Sorry, I’m just in a bad mood after being dragged over to take the exam. Did I scare you earlier? I’m 0——-”
She spoke halfway and suddenly stopped. She then awkwardly changed her words: “My name is Zhao Jiatong.”
Zhou Qi: “?”
Zhao Jiatong nudged the man next to her: “Go on.”
That man still carried the smell of alcohol on him. His hair was messy like a bird’s nest and there was a faint stubble on his chin. Overall, he looked very dishevelled.
He rubbed his face and looked up at Zhou Qi with bloodshot eyes. He said in a low voice: “1006.”
Zhou Qi: “???”
She was stunned for a moment before suddenly realising: “Invigilator?”
Zhao Jiatong nudged him again. He then changed his words: “Sorry, I didn’t sleep last night so I’m a little muddled. What was my name again?”
The two women looked at him stunned.
At this point, Zhao Jiatong finally couldn’t take it anymore. She rubbed her forehead and said: “His name is Gao Qi. Yeah……..We’re both invigilators.”
Zhou Qi let out an “ah”: “Invigilators also have to take the exam?”
As she said that, she glanced over at Gao Qi. He had pulled out a flask from the silver bucket in the carriage.
Zhao Jiatong snatched the flask away with a stern expression: “Can you be sober for just one day? Huh?”
Zhao Qi shrank back.
While she shrank back, she saw the handsome man who was in a bad mood through the corner of her eyes and was again scared.
When he heard that the two opposite him were invigilators, he finally turned his head over and opened his eyes.
Zhao Jiatong held the flask and apologised, “Sorry for wak…….”
Halfway through her words, her eyes widened.
She stared at You Huo’s face in shock. The flash fell from her hands.
Wine poured all across the carriage floor.
Zhou Qi regained her spirit: “Huh?”
She looked at You Huo and then at Zhao Jiatong. The latter wasn’t able to utter a single word the entire time and could only elbow Gao Qi like crazy.
Gao Qi was secretly trying to grab another flash.
“It’s just one flask. One tiny flask!” He protected the wine in his hands and looked up.
Another one fell.
Zhou Qi: “Huh???”
What kind of magic is this???
You Huo frowned. He lifted his leg to avoid the wine.
Gao Qi finally uttered out a sentence: “What the fuck, Invigilator A??!”
Zhou Qi didn’t know what this “Invigilator A” meant but she could tell that it was something big.
Because this Mr. Gao Qi’s voice had cracked.
As an audience, she felt like even her voice would crack.
Zhao Jiatong also murmured: “Invigilator A…….My god, is that you?”
Gao Qi: “You’re not dead???”
Zhao Jiatong: “Weren’t you removed?”
Gao Qi: “You’re actually not dead???”
Zhao Jiatong: “How could you still come back?”
Gao Qi: “How are you not dead???”
You Huo: “……..Do you have a grudge against me?”
In three sentences, he had died three times.
Gao Qi who was asked this was in shock.
He stared at You Huo while his mouth opened and closed several times. He finally uttered: “Grudge? Hey—– He asked if I have a grudge against him.”
Gao Qi shook Zhao Jiatong a few times and said: “My god, he actually asked me if I have a grudge?”
“After you fucking left, the one who suffered the most was me and you ask me something like this?”
You Huo: “?”
“I’m so angry.” Gao Qi said this and grabbed another flash.
Zhao Jiatong: “……..”
This time she didn’t stop him.
Gao Qi took a large swig and stared at You Huo for a long time with his bloodshot eyes.
This strange man had surprisingly calmed down after drinking some alcohol.
After a while, he said: “Did you……..forget about the past?”
You Huo internally commented that he has keen observation. After having such a loud outburst, he finally started to speak properly.
“Yeah, I don’t remember.” He said.
Gao Qi’s expression was complicated. He then nodded: “That’s true, that’s true…..You were removed so they naturally wouldn’t let you remember. But how did you get in again?”
You Huo: “How should I know? I was having dinner with my family and the three of us got dragged in.”
“Then you probably got involved by accident……..” Gao Qi said.
Zhao Jiatong murmured doubtfully: “Why didn’t the system kick you out again?”
Gao Qi: “Are you also drunk? Once you’ve entered, you must follow the rules. The system must follow the rules even if it wants to kick him out!”
Zhao Jiatong: “Oh right.”
You Huo responded: “Seems like that’s the case.”
He had some doubts before about why 021 was being so careful whereas Qin Jiu would directly call him Big Invigilator.
But now that he thought about it, just the fact that he had entered the system itself was a success.
And 021 still needed to hide her identity and position. As for Qin Jiu…..He has always been a thug.
Gao Qi gulped down the rest of the wine and slammed the flask onto the table. He let out a long sigh: “Forget it, let’s not talk about this. Since you no longer remember, let’s get to know each other again.”
“Me, I used to be rank D. Jiatong was rank E. We used to be in the same faction.”
You Huo: “Faction?”
“Oh right, that statement is outdated now. You probably have never heard of it.”
That was something from a long time ago.
At that time, invigilators had just increased from ten to fifty. Because a lot of outsiders were added at once and because the system was starting to go out of control, the conflicts in ideas and positions were even more obvious.
The fifty invigilators were divided into two groups.
The first faction mainly consisted of the initial invigilators. They were the first ones who were in contact with the system and had been with the system when it was functioning normally, so they more or less had developed some form of attachment. They insisted that the occasional moments when the system goes out of control was just a loophole that can be fixed gradually with continuous upgrades and improvements without the need to go against the rules and regulations. Afterall, they are currently bound by the systems rules.
The other faction consisted of mostly newly joined invigilators. Every one of these people are a double-edged sword and most of them were hot-headed. They liked to challenge the rule boundaries and they all stood out.
Their thoughts were more intense. Whenever there was a problem, they would directly break the rules to enforce changes.
To put it bluntly, they treated the system as something potentially dangerous. One faction believed that it was better to slowly persuade it without angering it while the other faction believed that force was the only option.
In fact, everyone knew at that time that most of the invigilators who had joined later came from the military and that most came with a mission.
Because the core of the system was hidden here, if they wanted to do something, they could only enter the tiger’s den first.
But once inside, they are under the control of the rules.
To go against the rules, they understood it more than anyone.
To go against it for a day or two by force, that was fine.
For one month? That was barely okay.
Then one year?
Who could last that long?
What’s more, every time they tried something and was unsuccessful, not only do the ones in the forceful faction suffer, the others were dragged in as well.
Over time, even hard bones can be worn away.
So, at the very beginning, the majority were in the forceful faction.
Later, one after another after another, they shifted over to the gentle faction.
The system bug resulting in the removal of Invigilator A was a warning to those in the forceful faction.
After that, there were no more invigilators who would openly say that they are part of the forceful faction.
In other words, there was no need for factions anymore.
Everyone was the same.
Gao Qi said: “It’s meaningless to talk about it now. The people I would start fighting with as soon as I saw them back then, I can now talk to them normally. There are only a couple I still don’t like seeing.”
As soon as he said the first half, You Huo could guess the second half of his statement.
But he still asked: “For example?”
“For example, 001.” Gao Qi said. He then let out an “oh”: “You might not have met 001. Back then, he was always going against you.”
You Huo internally thought: As expected.
“During meetings back then, there would always be one party who would kick the door open and leave. I remember one time I accidentally placed the two of you too close together. The invisible knifes in the air………..and then a glass and a phone was broken.”
Gao Qi who said this then proceeded to smack his lips: “I’m actually missing it a little. I must be drunk.”
Zhao Jiatong said: “When are you not drunk?”
Gao Qi then said: “But for me, shaking hands with 001 is not possible. If it weren’t for him, you also wouldn’t have almost died.”
He mumbled and again emphasised: “Impossible.”
As they spoke, the carriage looped around Carlton Mountain and turned into the woods near the manor.
The coachman said: “Sir, madam, we’re almost there.”
At this moment, the flat-faced cat hanging from the carriage wall spoke:
【Examinees have arrived at the final examination site using their respective carriages.】
【The exam is about to officially start.】
【Subject examined: History】
【Knowledge tested: World history. Black Death】
【This exam is a large-scale examination. There is a total of 26 examinees which have been divided into 13 groups. There are two examinees in each group. The total points between the two examinees will be the basis for calculating the grade in this exam.】
【The scoring method in this exam follows the role-playing model. There are no answer cards or standard correct answers. In addition to the original score, there are opportunities for bonus points, and the possibility of point deductions.】
【At the end of this exam, groups with a total score ranking of C will need to undergo re-examination. Those of rank D will be eliminated.】
【The points will only be announced at midnight every night. Apart from that, only the examinees of each group will know about the changes to their points in real time.】
【Now revealing the examination question.】
【In 1347, the Black Death had spread to Carlton Mountain. Half of the people in the town had died because of this plague and Carlton Manor was no exception. The Duchess, her newly born son, the housekeeper and most the servants died last year. On Easter this year, the Duke mourned for the dead. Guests who came to expression their condolences assured the Duke that they had brought a doctor who could help treat the sick.】
【Exam requirements: As a guest, examinees must not go against any requests made by the duke or both members of the group will be subjected to punishment.】
【If you have any questions, you can ask invigilators 154, 922 and 021. Invigilator 078 has taken sick leave.】
The four people in the carriage looked at each other.
After a moment, Zhou Qi asked carefully: “The guests who came, does that refer to us?”
Zhao Jiatong: “Most likely.”
“……….Is there a doctor here?”
“Then what is there to treat?!”
Gao Qi said: “That’s actually not the key point. From my experience, the exam requirements are often the key points. Rather than worrying about whether there is a doctor, it’s better to worry about whether the Duke has any strange quirks and whether he will make strange requests.”
The carriage stopped. The coachman got ready to open the door for them.
When he opened his mouth, the first words he spoke was: “Um…….We will soon enter the manor. I just want to warn you that the Duke is actually very friendly, but he has some strange problems. You……you should be careful.”
The next moment, the carriage window was opened.
The flat-faced cat oil painting was then thrown out.
Gao Qi got off first.
Many carriages were sitting outside Carlton Manor.
The sky above was overcast. Dark clouds covered their heads and lightning split through. It made the castle-like building appear even more eerie.
The rumbling of thunder roared……..
“Not a good day……..”
Gao Qi muttered. He turned and looked at the other examinees.
As he looked around, his eyes suddenly stopped. In an instant, his expression fell.
Zhao Jiatong followed behind him and said: “What are you doing? Saw a ghost?”
Gao Qi: “I fucking really did see a ghost!”
Gao Qi pointed in the distance: “001!”
Zhao Jiatong followed his finger and saw Qin Jiu get off a carriage.
Lightning flashed several times startling most of the examinees.
Only he alone raised his head and looked around.
“What a bad coincidence………he seems to be looking for someone?” Zhao Jiatong commented, “Huh? Is he looking here?”
Gao Qi’s back stiffened: “Fuck. He’s not only looking here, he’s coming over! What does he want?”
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You Huo, who were you looking for 🤭🤭