Chapter 61: The Executioner and the Condemned Prisoner

“Once upon a time, there was a criminal who was about to be executed.

The criminal knelt on the ground, trembling with fear.

The executioner approached him from behind and whispered, 'Don't be afraid.
I won't cut off your head when the time comes.
I will only cut the ropes that bind you.
As soon as the blade falls, run away as fast as you can, the farther the better.
Remember, never look back.'

The criminal was surprised but chose to believe the executioner's words.

The executioner raised his hand, and the blade fell.

Suddenly, the criminal felt the ropes binding him fall to the ground.
He quickly lowered his head and ran out, covering a distance of several tens of miles.

Finally, panting for breath, he returned home and saw his wife.

His wife asked, 'Why are you back?'

The criminal replied, 'I escaped and someone saved me.'

Several years later…

The executioner happened to pass by the criminal's house during a business trip and was surprised to see the criminal's wife holding a newborn baby in her arms.

The criminal saw the executioner and immediately knelt down, bowing his head.

He said, 'Thanks to your help back then, otherwise, I would have lost my head by now.'

The executioner was taken aback and took a long time to reply, 'Didn't I already chop off your head back then?'

The criminal exclaimed in shock and vanished into thin air.

The criminal's wife, child, and the newly built house all disappeared into thin air.”

Gu Yi listened to the story with a furrowed brow, feeling a chill down his spine.
He felt like he had grasped a key point.

“Yao Yao, did you find that story interesting?”

Wu Song is really amazing.
He can even kill a tiger.”

“Wu Song killed a tiger?”

“Yes, what's wrong?”

Gu Yi was stunned.
The stories he and his sister heard were completely different.

This was undoubtedly a hint from the system— introducing the worldview of life and death within the dungeon.

In the story, the criminal had actually died long ago, but if nobody exposed his lie, he could continue to live.

If this anecdote is combined with my current situation…

The Island Town was, in fact, an illusion.

The pixelated symbol like passersby.

Their empty, lifeless dead fish-like eyes.

The invisible sister.

The eerie flow of time.

Everything in the small town was proving this point.

During the previous deduction, when I asked my sister “Am I the one you drew”.

That action was like the executioner exposing the lie, triggering an instant-death flag for me.

In other words,

“I” is actually the ghost of the three-member family.
“I” had long since died, just like the criminal, living in an illusory lie.

The photos and diary sent by the anonymous user are the events that happened in the surface world.
If I present this evidence to someone or accidentally reveal it, I will trigger an instant-death flag.

Following this speculation, the anonymous user might not be on my side — could they be hoping for my demise?

If the small town is truly a delusion, then if I escape from the town and return to the surface world, will I die?

Am I dependent on the illusory world of the small town to stay alive?

Then why does the custom clearance require me to leave this small town instead?

Gu Yi felt a chill down his spine.

According to this line of reasoning, if he leaves the town, he will die.
If he doesn't leave, he won't be able to clear the dungeon.

It's a fatal dilemma with no way out!

Where did my reasoning go wrong?

The process of reasoning had no flaws, so the problem must lie in the premises.

If the major premise that “I” is a ghost is incorrect, it'll naturally lead to contradictions in the conclusion.
Maybe the definition of “ghost” needs to be redefined.

Maybe the mention of leaving the “town” in the dungeon doesn't refer to the current “Small Town” where I am located.

In summary:

The Small Town is likely an inner world, and my first task should be to find a way to escape from this inner world and return to the surface world.
Besides, I must not expose the lie that “I” is already dead.

“Big brother, is something bothering you?”

His sister's words interrupted Gu Yi's thoughts.

Gu Yi turned his head and glanced at his sister, noticing that she was gradually becoming transparent.
He quickly took a sip of almond water and smiled, saying, “No, I was just lost in thought.”

“What are you thinking about?”

“Nothing, even if I told you, you wouldn't understand.”

The bus soon arrived home, and during the journey, Gu Yi had spent a total of forty minutes.
The countdown is now displayed [6 days 11 hours 30 minutes.]

In the kitchen, there were leftover dishes from his parents.
Gu Yi heated them up casually and finished his dinner.

Holding his phone, Gu Yi sat at his desk, lost in contemplation.

In the small town, the flow of his time and the countdown's time were not synchronized.
But when he stayed in the old house, the time flow became synchronized again.

“It seems I need to add another rule to the countdown's rules.”

Gu Yi took out a pen and paper and added this new discovery to the rules of the countdown.

If the outside of the small town is the surface world, then the old house is likely the place connecting the inner world and the surface world, which is why the time flow synchronizes.

After pondering for a moment, Gu Yi decided to explore the third floor of the old house.

(The deduction begins!)

(You drink a bottle of almond water and leave the room.)

(You walk straight up to the third floor.)

(At the end of the staircase on the third floor, there is a decaying wooden door.
You kick the lower right corner of the door panel but still can't open the door.)

(You take a detour and climb onto the ledge outside the third-floor window.)

(You lean on the outside of the window and pry it open.)

(You arrive on the third floor.)

(The room is full of dust, and you turn on the flashlight on your phone.)

(The corridor on the third floor is empty, with nothing except two isolated guest rooms.)

(One guest room is locked, and the other is not.)

(You walk into the unlocked guest room.)

(The room has a desk, and two mahogany chairs are placed opposite each other by the desk.)

(The mahogany chair facing away from you is slightly shorter and modestly decorated.)

(The mahogany chair facing you is slightly taller and lavishly decorated, with a lifelike golden dragon carved on the back.)

(You touch the desk, and it feels warm, almost like a living being.)

(You suddenly feel your phone starting to heat up.)

(You open it and see that the countdown is already at zero.)

(Everything around you starts to distort.)

(The void swallows you.)

(You turn into nothingness.)

(You die.)

(The deduction ends!)

“Hey, there's definitely something in this old house.”

Gu Yi opened his eyes and wrote down the third rule of the countdown on the paper.

[In the unlocked room on the third floor of the old house, the countdown speed will accelerate by a hundred times.]

“Besides a set of tables and chairs, there's nothing else on the third floor.
Those should be the props for later use in the plot.
The other room is locked, so there must be another key to open it.”

Gu Yi closed his eyes again and re-entered the deduction mode.

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