In Virtual Reality
[Don't be a cheap pork and leave a like :P]
Peng Jia Lang had never felt so grateful to Xu Qin in his life; Xu had saved him by turning off the lights.
In the darkness, Peng couldn't discern the expression on the hoodie's face, but he could hear the anger in the other's voice.
It wasn't a playful anger; it was real and made Peng feel as if he was treading on a minefield.
The air around him seemed to be getting thinner.
Had he not be seating on a chair, he would have collapsing to the ground and been shaking.
Shen Jia sat motionless, trying to decipher the hoodie's mood in the dark.
The reason for the anger was unclear, and the hoodie seemed unnecessarily aggressive.
It was out of character for them to be so reckless and irritable.
Perhaps the person was suffering from some psychological trauma caused by Peng Jia Lang's silence and reluctance to explain himself.
But, this Peng Jia Lang's desire to speak and remain silent was becoming increasingly annoying.
Well, maybe it was good for Peng to suffer a bit.
After a brief silence, Shen Jia urged Peng Jialang to speak up.
“You should know that hiding information is also an enemy we have to face here.
Whether we believe you or not, Xu Qin and I will make our own judgments.”
The hoodie seemed to calm down at this, adopting a more subdued tone.
“Come on, hurry up and spill the beans,” they said.
Peng Jialang felt a chill run down his spine.
Was this a threat? If he didn't tell them, would he end up with a fist in his face? He stammered out a response.
“I-I wasn't lying when I said they gave me the bread.
Zhou Xiaohan and I agreed on it.”
“Zhou Xiaohan?” Shen Jia looked puzzled.
“Who is she? Oh, that girl!”
Silence was also confused.
“Who's Zhou Xiaohan?” New NPC?
The Hoodie arrived at Dark Virtue University after Zhou Xiaohan had already received a “Death Notice” from the university radio station.
She was walking towards her death in front of the school building while students watched.
On August 11 at 4:01 am, the girls' screams were silenced, and all traces of their existence were absorbed into the soil of Dark Virtue University.
The only thing Shen Jia could recall from that dreadful night was the sound of a scream, which started off subdued before escalating to a deafening outburst and eventually fading into nothingness.
It was the first time he had experienced such a bone-chilling coldness and the most profound fear since he had entered this bizarre university.
Those once bright eyes that should have been admiring the beauty of life had been severed from existence within the walls of this accursed university, leaving nothing but darkness and dust in their wake.
“How about an exhibition of stories instead?” Hoodie suddenly spoke, interrupting Shen Jia's thoughts.
He then came back to his senses and began to explain, “Zhou Xiao Han, a student like us, also came to Dark Virtue University.
However, a day ago, she received a death notice for staying out at night and was dissolved in front of the teaching building….” Hoodie looked thoughtful and then glanced at Peng Jia Lang, gesturing for him to continue.
The boy paused, appearing hesitant once again.
Without saying a word, they stood up straight and began to walk expressionlessly in the direction of where Peng Jia Lang was.
With the headlights off, their view was restricted, but Peng Jia Lang could sense Hoodie's approach through his other senses.
There were no immodest or flirtatious noises, only the sound of fabric flicking up in the darkness, followed by the soft thud of shoes on the floor.
Each step sounded like thunder, as if to crush his heart.
Finally, Peng Jia Lang felt a crisis looming, one that would have crushed even his attempts at concealment into dust.
“Wait, wait! I'll tell!” he exclaimed.
Peng Jia Long's voice seemed unnaturally loud as he blurted out his words.
After a long moment, he noticed that the sound of approaching footsteps had vanished into the darkness.
Nevertheless, he felt in his gut that Hoodie was standing before him, looming like a ferocious beast.
“Keep your voice down,” warned the beast, who took a few steps back and sat back down and then lazily adjusted to a more comfortable position.
The boy, intimidated three times before, went straight to the point without any more nonsense.
“The food in Building 2, Room 503, belonged to Zhou Xiao Han, not Long Xiao Hui,” he said rapidly.
“Before she died, Zhou Xiao Han told me that if there was ever not enough food or if there was an emergency, I could go to Room 503 to get supplies.
So, going there to get food isn't stealing! It was something Zhou Xiao Han promised me, and it was her own food.
But Long Xiao Hui took the supplies she left behind for herself!”
Peng Jia Long turned towards Shen Jia and asked accusingly, “Aren't they trying to watch their classmates starve to death?” But Shen Jia remained silent, and his expression was impossible to discern in the darkness.
Peng Jia Long's frustration grew as he continued, “I know you guys probably won't believe it, but what I'm saying is true.”
Zhou Xiao Han had left the food behind, but Long Xiao Hui had taken it for herself? Weren't they housemates? From their previous conversations in the group, it seemed like the two had a good relationship.
Xu Qin propped his head up, trying to make sense of the new information.
It was a lot to take in.
“When did Zhou Xiao Han make this promise to you?” Shen Jia inquired in a composed tone, seemingly unfazed by Peng Jia Long's outburst.
“About a month ago,” Peng Jia Long replied.
“Ah, I see.
You do realise that a lot can happen in a month, right?” Shen Jia continued, his voice level.
“The scarcity of supplies could have caused others to feel anxious about the shortage of food.
Perhaps Zhou Xiao Han made that promise to you out of kindness and because she had enough supplies at the time.
But now that a month has passed, and she's…
no longer with us,” Shen Jia paused for a moment, “503 isn't obligated to distribute her supplies among the remaining members.
They can choose to share or not share as they see fit.
Do you understand?”
“But, but…” Peng Jia Long tried to interject.
“Furthermore, it's not like 503 hasn't shared their food with other dormitories before.
They've done their best to be kind,” Shen Jia continued, now speaking like a wise mentor.
“Your actions of going to the girls' dormitory and forcibly taking supplies from 503 will only cause panic and anger among the other girls.
You should understand that Zhou Xiao Han is no longer here to keep her promise.
Long Xiao Hui and Liu Xin are the ones who can keep that promise now, and even if you want to take the supplies, you must get their consent.
Did you bother to ask them?” Shen Jia concluded, his words dripping with reason and logic.
Peng Jia Long fell silent, looking down at his feet in frustration.
He knew that Shen Jia's words held some truth.
He couldn't deny that the situation had changed, and he had not bothered to seek anyone's consent before heading to the girls' dormitory.
When Peng Jia Long noticed the majority of the food stockpiled in Long Xiao Hui's room, he immediately assumed that she had privately consumed Zhou Xiao Han's leftovers and decided she wouldn't share the supplies.
As a result, he grabbed some food and hastily fled, unaware that Liu Xin had just arrived and seen him leave.
If he had approached them and asked, 503 may have been willing to share.
Nevertheless, it wasn't their fault if they chose not to share; the circumstances had simply become too bizarre to handle.
“I now see why you said 'someone has to make a change',” Xu Qin whispered, recalling Shen Jia's words from the previous day, “If we don't change, this university will change us.”
They had once relied on each other and cooperated to survive, but now, they had lost sight of that communal spirit and focused solely on their individual needs.
It seemed like a minor change, but it was only the beginning.
What if they continued down this path? What kind of monsters would they become?
Was there anything more important than survival? What about dignity and freedom? In a normal society, those values would matter, but this wasn't a normal society.
Dark Virtue University revealed its strange nature at every turn.
If they broke their bottom line, then their limits would become an abyss with no end in sight.
Silence didn't offer any commentary but simply said, “Isn't that enough? You've covered half of the process with that paragraph and may have avoided the group's potential downfall.”
Peng Jia Long hung his head and muttered, “I'm sorry…”
“That's it? Nothing more to say?”
Hoodie's words echoed in the room, “I say, people like you can be incredibly annoying.
Is your mouth growing on your body for talking, or are you a typewriter and you have to type a word before it comes out?” they raised their fist, ready to strike again.
“I-I-I also saw Zhou Xiao Han leaving her dorm with a girl on the night she died!” Peng Jia Long's hands covered his face as he let out a muffled plea, “Don't hit my face!”
Shen Jia, standing by his side, frowned and asked, “The night she died? What happened?”
“Yes, or rather, in the early hours of the morning,” the young man whispered.
He kept a watchful eye on his surroundings, fearful that Silence might strike again.
“Zhou Xiao Han left with a girl from her dorm.”
Shen Jia pondered for a moment before inquiring further, “Do you know where they went? Also, how did you know it was her?”
The young man seemed confused for a moment, then slowly replied, “I was up late and went to the washroom.
Through the glass window by the sink, I saw Zhou Xiao Han…
I didn't recognise the other girl, but I was in the same class with Zhou Xiao Han before I came to Dark Virtue University, so I knew her better than most.
The back I saw and the clothes she wore were exactly the same as what I saw her wearing in front of the school building.
I quietly observed the other girls' clothing, but none of them matched what I saw.
The other girl's clothes were very plain, casual wear with a black hat.
Although it wasn't as eye-catching as Zhou Xiao Han's clothing, I compared it to the other girls and realised that no one was dressed in that manner.”
The young boy winced, still clutching his head, as he spoke in a hushed voice.
He stared intently into the darkness, afraid of Hoodie's next move.
“It was the night she died,” he whispered.
Shen Jia pressed his index finger to his lips and lapsed into deep thought.
After a moment, he resumed his inquiry, “If you saw the girl she was with, then surely you must know where they went.
Can you recall anything else?”
Peng Jia Long looked bewildered for a moment before slowly replying, “I'm sorry, I didn't see where they went.
I only saw them leaving together.”
“Then why did you assume it was a girl from her dormitory?” Shen Jia queried.
Peng Jia Long replied, “Because I witnessed Zhou Xiao Han and that girl talking about something at the time.
And who would ask someone out in the middle of the night unless they were very familiar with each other? What I said is the truth!” He added anxiously, “I suspect that one of the girls in Zhou Xiao Han's dormitory killed her! Think about it, who would benefit from Zhou Xiao Han's death? It must be Long Xiao Hui! As soon as she is gone, all the food left behind will belong to her.
Liu Xin won't be able to compete with Long Xiao Hui, so the biggest beneficiary will be her!”
Peng Jia Long was certain that Long Xiao Hui was the one who had killed Zhou Xiao Han.
He spoke with confidence, convinced of the fact.
Xu Qin, however, was skeptical.
“But do you have any evidence to support your claim? Or is this just speculation?” he asked, scratching his head.
Peng Jia Long fell silent, realizing that his accusation was not backed up by any evidence.
Xu Jin Yi, who had been listening in, interjected with a question.
“Did you see which way they went? Left or right?”
Peng Jia Long thought for a moment and then nodded.
“They went to the right.”
To the right was the laboratory building.
Based on Silence's experience with horror games, they suspected that Zhou Xiao Han's death might be related to the missing Headmaster's seal.
Perhaps she had stolen it and was caught, resulting in a Death Notice.
However, the punishment for staying out at night was only a notice of criticism, not a death sentence.
If Zhou Xiao Han had been caught stealing the Headmaster's seal, it was not something that could be reported to other students, as it might encourage others to try the same thing.
Silence clasped their hands together and spoke with a smile.
“It looks like we'll have to visit the archives to get to the bottom of this.
Unfortunately, we won't have time for it today.
How about we go tomorrow?”
Peng Jia Long: “……”
Hasn't this person given up on night visits by now? The boy was too angry to say anything.
Shen Jia also had the same idea, “If Zhou Xiao Han's file is still there, we can use it to uncover the real reason for her death sentence.”
“Very well! Tomorrow night we will go to the archives in the school building to find out the truth!” Silence made a firm decision, “Anyone want to come with me?”
Shen Jia raised his hand, “Me.”
Xu Qin considered it and also raised his hand, “I don't have any classes tomorrow afternoon, so I can catch up on my sleep and come with you in the evening.”
Peng Jia Long couldn't see, but he could sense the three sets of eyes staring at him in the dark: “……” Did he have a choice? One of them seemed to be radiating murderous intent!
'Damn it, Xu Qin, is this senior really on our team?' He gritted his teeth and raised his hand, “I'm in too.”
Hoodie said, “We're not forcing you~.”
Peng Jia Long fell silent, then gave a twisted smile, “I'm volunteering, really.”
“Very well~!” Silence nodded in satisfaction, then stood up and headed towards the dormitory door.
“I'll go and get my suitcase.”
Shen Jia froze for a moment and quickly followed, “Are you staying with us?”
“I can't help it, it's Ms Sophora's arrangement~” Hoodie replied as he carried the silver and white suitcase into room 412.
Shen Jia couldn't quite believe that Teacher Sophora could do something so kind, but it would make it easier for them to communicate with Silence and increase their chances of escaping from the university.
Hoodie knelt down and opened the suitcase that was upside down on the floor.
In the faint moonlight, Shen Jia could see that the suitcase was filled with pink hoodies.
Shen Jia thought to himself, 'How much do you really like pink hoodies? Don't you have any other clothes?!'
“How lovely pink is!” exclaimed Hoodie, justifying their own opinion.
Shen Jia, who had regained their senses, thought that they had accidentally blurted out their thoughts.
Xu Qin nodded in agreement, “I also think pink looks good.”
Peng Jia Long's mouth twitched at the sight of the two's mutual admiration for pink.
He ignored them and turned to Shen Jia, asking if they too were fond of pink: “Shen Jia, do you also like pink?”
It was only then that Shen Jia realized it was Peng Jia Long who had spoken first.
However, upon hearing the other two express their love for the color, Shen Jia became serious and replied, “Yes, pink is indeed very pretty.”
Xu Qin chimed in, “I find it cute.”
Shen Jia added, “It's also very youthful.”
But Hoodie tossed them a curveball: “I think it's cheap.”
Confused, all three wore question marks on their faces and stared at Hoodie in unison.
However, Silence showed no intention of explaining and closed the box, leaving the group uncertain.
It almost seemed like Hoodie wasn't even sure themselves of the suitcase content and had just opened it out of curiosity.
Xu Jin Yi had no idea that her suitcase was stuffed with original avatar hoodies and clothing sets.
During the day when she had taken a [Leave of Absence], she had only taken a quick glance at it and not examined it closely.
Nonetheless, her curiosity was now satisfied.
After closing her suitcase, she received a message on her in-game phone from Teacher Sophora, [“Dear Silent Student, here is your new class schedule.
Remember to attend class on time~”]
The class schedule provided by the other party was different from what Xu Jin Yi had seen when she played as a freshman on her PC.
It seemed like she had to memorize new quiz questions.
She rubbed her head in frustration, mourning the loss of her soon-to-be balding hair.
At 6:00 am the next morning, Shen Jia woke up with bleary eyes.
He had a class on Mechanical Engineering that morning and needed to go to the designated classroom after the morning study, leaving him with little time for his morning routine.
After a quick tidy up, Shen Jia was all set to leave the dormitory but found that Silence was missing.
Even the bed they had slept in last night didn't show any signs of being slept in, leaving only the silver and white suitcase sitting quietly under the desk.
“What's taking you so long?” Xu Qin's voice echoed from outside.
“We'll be late for the morning study.”
Shen Jia asked, “Where's senior Silent?”
“I don't know,” Xu Qin replied.
“Maybe he's gone for breakfast? He's a junior, so there's no morning or evening study on his schedule.
He's probably busy with his own stuff.
Let's go now, or we'll be late.”
Shen Jia rushed out and followed the group of ghost students into the classroom on the sixth floor of the teaching building, large classroom T6.
Unlike a month ago, he was now able to completely ignore this group of ghosts and listen to the lesson in peace.
He needed to gain as many credit hours as possible, even if it was just one.
Every credit counted, and he couldn't afford to make any mistakes.
He found a middle seat and hid behind the ghost students in the front row, hoping to remain unnoticed.
However, halfway through the lesson, a random quiz started without warning.
“Student Shen.” The ghostly creature on the podium called out his name, and its upper jaw grew larger and larger, revealing torn cheeks and flesh-colored blood.
“Please give a brief definition and connotation of mechanical engineering,” the creature demanded.
Shen Jia lowered his head to go through the book, and just as he did, he saw the creature's head suddenly appear from the side.
Its neck was as retractable as that of Miss Sophora's, with torn cheeks that let its mouth open way wider than humanly possible and a long scarlet tongue that could be faintly seen.
“Dear Shen, it's time for a random quiz.
No flipping through the book,” the creature taunted.
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