The Moon Will Always Come to You - Chapter 35
Chapter 35: Solving the Game
Ruan Zhizhi didn’t know what was going on recently, but she always liked to search the Internet for things related to her alma mater.
Alright, she admitted that she wanted to find out more about what had happened to Shi Yan in university.
Speaking of the fact that there was such an outstanding and almost perfect university alumnus—although Shi Yan was always reluctant to bring up the past, Ruan Zhizhi felt that even if she was an idiot, she would be able to guess how popular Shi Yan was when he was in university.
She turned on her computer and logged into Renren. Not many people still used Renren nowadays, but when she was in university, almost all of the Chinese classmates around her had had a Renren account.
Propping her chin in one hand and holding the mouse in another, Ruan Zhizhi began to search the classmates she had followed one by one. She pursed her lips and suddenly felt that Gu Nian was right. During those years, she truly was a fool. In her four years of university, there was only that one person in her heart and eyes. It was as if the entire world only had this one man, and she turned a deaf ear to other people or matters.
Gu Nian once said that when they ate together in the past, she could always see Shi Yan sitting at a table not far from them, quietly eating by himself. When she’d talked about this matter, Ruan Zhizhi hadn’t felt anything in her heart. She merely thought that everyone’s disposition was different, and some people naturally like peace and quiet. But thinking about it at this very moment, she suddenly felt that Shi Yan must have been very lonely at that time.
Yes, how could anyone in this world naturally like to eat alone, much less in public?
She suddenly felt that she was a little cruel.
For no reason.
Just as Ruan Zhizhi was letting her thoughts go astray, the computer mouse had already finished scrolling through the albums of three university classmates. There was no Shi Yan in any of these albums, not even a silhouette.
She couldn’t help sighing. Shi Yan was a person who appeared cold and arrogant. He was always operating alone, and it was ordinary for him to have few friends by his side.
In her heart, there was a sort of longing that urged her to get a glimpse of Shi Yan’s university days. When you liked someone, you wanted to know their past, not to mention this man’s past. Every minute and every second may be intimately related to her.
She also wanted to be a part of his life, even if it was only a little.
Today was a sunny and cloudless weekend. Shi Yan couldn’t go out because there was a teaching and research meeting at the school, so without any better option, Ruan Zhizhi stayed at home to take care of things.
She lay on the sofa with her laptop in her arms. Time elapsed like this minute by minute and second by second. Among the thousands of photographs, she earnestly browsed one by one, for fear of missing a face similar to his.
After an unknown period of time, she had already looked through the albums of sixteen people. Ruan Zhizhi rubbed her eyes and found that there were only three university contacts remaining.
She moved the mouse to the avatar of the next contact. This female student’s name was Huang Yining, a classmate that Ruan Zhizhi had met by chance at a party in university. If she recalled correctly, this girl had been an undergraduate also majoring in the Department of Psychology.
With an idea, Ruan Zhizhi opened her personal homepage almost impatiently.
Unlike other people’s homepages that were already barren, Huang Yining still updated everyone from time to time over the past three years. It seemed that she still used it to this day.
Clicking into the album, there was a great abundance of more than a thousand photos inside. Ruan Zhizhi was not in a hurry. She warmed a glass of sweet milk and went through it carefully.
The mouse quickly slid to a photo from three years ago. It showed the school buildings, the library, and even UCLA’s musical fountain; things that Ruan Zhizhi was all too familiar with. For some reason, a sense of tension gradually surfaced in her heart.
“Today we won first place in the group race. I would like to thank my senior brother for carrying throughout the whole process [applause]. However, although his thighs are very thick, the big god senior brother is extremely aloof and reclusive. He usually loves to ignore everyone, so I don’t dare to hug his thigh [tongue out].”
In the picture that accompanied these words, there were three people standing together. The girl in the middle was holding a crystal trophy in her arms, smiling brilliantly. Full of hope, Ruan Zhizhi looked at the two boys on either side of the girl, but unfortunately, the appearances of the two boys could not overlap with his.
Somewhat disappointed, she sighed. Ruan Zhizhi was just about to turn to the next photo when, in the next second, she glanced at something out of the corner of her eye. In an instant, her breathing stagnated.
Perhaps it was a problem with the shooting technique, or perhaps she ought to say it was the position and lighting where he was standing that was too poor. Ruan Zhizhi carefully gazed at the lower right corner of the photo for more than ten seconds, only to determine that the male student who only revealed the side of his face was indeed Shi Yan.
In the lower right corner of the picture, Shi Yan stood quietly outside the lively crowd. His back was incredibly straight, his features somewhat pale. The sockets of his eyes were slightly sunken, and there was a hint of dim blue under his eyes. He appeared very tired, his expression wan. His entire being seemed to disassociate outside worldly affairs, gloomy and indifferent.
Ruan Zhizhi looked, and the rims of her eyes abruptly turned red.
All of a sudden she felt that she really had missed a lot.
After right-clicking to save the photo, Ruan Zhizhi continued to scroll through until she turned to the last page of the album, only to find another photo of Shi Yan.
“Today is UCLA’s new student reception, it’s super lively. I got to know many awesome people, and I feel even more that I must study properly in the next four years. Oh, right. I still see our department’s handsome guy. The handsome guy is standing alone in a corner. In the past, many girls were ruthlessly rejected when they hit on him. I’m a little scared.”
This photograph looked like a stolen snapshot. The male student in the picture appeared to be about eighteen or nineteen years old. He was dressed in a black sweatshirt and a black baseball cap. The brim was lowered, covering most of his face.
But even if Ruan Zhizhi turned to dust, she would recognize that this male student was certainly Shi Yan from seven years ago.
His qualities were too unforgettable.
In the photograph, Shi Yan’s head was lowered slightly, and he was leaning against a wall in the corner. He was holding something in his hand, appearing incredibly focused.
Ruan Zhizhi blinked, trying her best to enlarge the photo that wasn’t very clear since it was a stealthy shot. After studying it countless times, it turned out that he was holding a folded paper napkin.
Oh, he was paper folding.
She felt that Shi Yan hadn’t lied to her. He really…had always been alone.
Ruan Zhizhi stared at the picture for a long time, completely perplexed despite pondering so much.
He was obviously such an outstanding person. Even if he had lost both of his parents, how could he have no friends from childhood to adulthood? Undoubtedly, he ought to have been splendid all along, attracting everyone’s attention…But why was there always a dense, heavy sense of loneliness in his eyes, which was almost frightening to people?
She didn’t know how long she had been in such a trance. Ruan Zhizhi finally suppressed the entanglement in her heart. It was probably some kind of emotion called distress. Shaking the mouse, the computer screen lit up again.
She originally planned to stop looking there, but when she moved the mouse to the red X in the upper right corner of the computer, she suddenly found that Huang Yining was online at that very moment.
Her fingertips on the mouse seemed to freeze, and she couldn’t click down no matter what.
Ruan Zhizhi took a deep breath and eventually opened Huang Yining’s chat box.
Ruan Zhizhi: Hello, do you still remember me?
After roughly half a minute, the other party replied to her.
Huang Yining Cindy: God, it’s Zhizhi ah, of course I remember.
Huang Yining Cindy: I thought I was the only one still playing on Renren.
Ruan Zhizhi broke into laughter. Her fingers typed a string of words on the keyboard, but after thinking about it, she deleted them one by one.
Not to mention that she and Huang Yining were merely nodding acquaintances, even if they used to be good friends, she would probably feel embarrassed to suddenly and inexplicably make discreet inquiries about a man’s past three years later. Moreover, in Huang Yining’s mind, the names Shi Yan and Ruan Zhizhi probably represented two unrelated worlds.
Just when she was biting her nails and feeling somewhat at a loss, the other party saw that she hadn’t answered and sent another message.
Huang Yining Cindy: What’s the matter Zhizhi, suddenly looking for me, is there something wrong?
At the same time, Ruan Zhizhi finally summoned the courage to press the enter key.
Ruan Zhizhi: Do you still remember Shi Yan?
This time the other party was silent for a while.
It took about a minute or two before Ruan Zhizhi received her reply.
Huang Yining Cindy: So, it turns out that you also know Shi Yan ah. Before, I always thought you didn’t know each other.
Ruan Zhizhi bit her lip and thought for a while. She wasn’t sure if it was okay to suddenly tell her that Shi Yan was her boyfriend now. She decided to switch to a more euphemistic manner.
Ruan Zhizhi: He also came to City A for work after graduation. City A is only so big, it’s hard not to know him.
Ruan Zhizhi: I was impulsive. When I saw you were online, I couldn’t help but send a message. In fact, it’s nothing, I just wanted to ask if you were familiar with Shi Yan before, and wanted to know a few things about him in the past.
After a pause, she finally added a line:
Ruan Zhizhi: I think I might like him.
If she didn’t tell the other party about her feelings for Shi Yan, and just rashly asked her about a stranger’s information this way, the other party would probably think that she was sick.
After she sent these three messages, the other party didn’t reply for a long time.
One minute, two minutes, three minutes…five minutes. Ruan Zhizhi’s patience was whittled away little by little until there was practically nothing left.
After inspecting the computer to make sure that the network was not disconnected, and seeing that Huang Yining was still online, Ruan Zhizhi frowned, not very sure what she should do now.
Just when she had already given up and planned to close the Renren website, the other party finally replied to her messages.
Huang Yining Cindy: Senior Brother Shi Yan and I actually aren’t very familiar with each other. Originally, he was a classmate in the same major as me, but it took him two-and-a-half years to graduate from his undergraduate degree. So later, I changed the way I addressed him to senior brother.
Huang Yining Cindy: Senior Brother Shi Yan was usually very withdrawn, and he didn’t like to communicate with people. He was always coming and going alone, so I’m very sorry, but I don’t know what I could possibly tell you.
Ruan Zhizhi read it. It also wasn’t good to force others, so she replied considerately:
Ruan Zhizhi: It’s okay, I was too presumptuous in the first place. Regardless, I still thank you very much.
As soon as she finished typing this line, she saw that the other party had sent her another message:
Huang Yining Cindy: I just sent an email to your Renren mailbox. Inside is a game installation package. It’s Senior Brother Shi Yan’s third-year minor course assignment. I was just looking for it on my computer. Fortunately, it’s still there.
Huang Yining Cindy: He designed a riddle-solving game, it’s not very difficult. Give it a try and see if you can clear it.
Ruan Zhizhi was a little doubtful, but she was too embarrassed to say any more, so without any better option she thanked the other party, then clicked into her mailbox to download it.
In any case, being idle was being idle.
The game installation package wasn’t large, and it took Ruan Zhizhi ten minutes to install it on the computer.
She opened the game. Sure enough, it was an adventure riddle-solving game. In the game, the player needed to play the role of a detective. Altogether, there were seven cases that needed to be uncovered. Each time the player cracked a case, they would receive a string of code left behind by the murderer. When all seven cases were cracked, the seven codes would be combined to solve the riddle, and they would obtain a line of text. This was the ultimate answer that the murderer had left behind in the game.
Ruan Zhizhi originally thought that she would never like this kind of uninteresting, IQ-testing game, but unexpectedly, once she opened the first case, she couldn’t stop.
Each of the cases designed by Shi Yan were fascinating and extremely brain-burning. As soon as she solved a riddle, she would quickly find herself caught up in a deeper mystery. The overall atmosphere of the game was utterly strange, and it even had a few horror elements. If it was currently nighttime, Ruan Zhizhi would not dare to go to the washroom alone.
The more she played, the more addicted she was, and she didn’t notice the passage of time.
She didn’t know how long it took. At last, Ruan Zhizhi reached the final case with difficulty. She looked up at the number of gold coins she had in the upper left corner of the game interface and found that she was running out of money.
In the game, if you encountered a case that you really couldn’t solve, you could exchange gold coins for clues. Ruan Zhizhi was a little ashamed to find that after going through six cases, sure enough, her gold coins had already been spent.
Indeed, the final case was really tricky. Ruan Zhizhi experimented back and forth countless times, but she could only play out the ending of “best effort”.
After half an hour, she finally couldn’t take it anymore. She picked up her cell phone and took a photo of the game screen, opened WeChat to find her pinned friend, and sent it over.
Zhizhi: Shi Yan, I always die when I get here…Those four clues, just how can I collect all of them?
Not long after, she received a reply from the other party.
Shi Yan: How do you know about this game?
Ruan Zhizhi made a “囧”. She didn’t intend to tell him that she had been searching online for all kinds of information about him like a pervert, so she was forced to conceal it.
Zhizhi: Aiya, this is not important. Quickly tell me how I should play, I really want to know the conclusion to the riddle.
Shi Yan: You really want to know?
Zhizhi: I really want to know.
After this message was sent, Ruan Zhizhi waited patiently for a while. At last, she received a long guide from the other party.
Shi Yan: On the third day, go to the garden to chat with the doctor. Carefully observe the ground, there are clues. On the fifth day, see the countess first and then go to see the count. After the count leaves, choose to quietly follow him and enter the underground secret room. There are seven lamps on the walls of the secret room, they have to be removed. The order for removing the lamps is the same as the house number of the count’s guest room, 174, 2536.
Zhizhi: Giving you a kiss of love, I’m going now! You attend your meeting properly and don’t play with your phone.
Shi Yan: ……
After getting the perfect outside help, Ruan Zhizhi finally cleared the game successfully.
Quite soon, the seven secret codes she’d obtained slowly appeared on the screen. To her surprise, it was a long string of Morse code.
Ruan Zhizhi was a little discouraged. Sure enough, the answer to the riddle was not as simple as she thought.
But coincidentally, when Ruan Zhizhi was in high school, she had been very interested in Morse code due to watching a few espionage thrillers. She’d even specially purchased a book and studied it for a time.
She quickly ran to her bookshelf and took down that old, yellowed book. She also took out a pen and paper, and began to decipher the code word by word.
After an unknown amount of time, she set down the pen perfectly content and kneaded her temples.
However, before she could share the joy of finally clearing the game with Shi Yan, Ruan Zhizhi’s gaze fell on the white paper and the answer she had finally received. Suddenly her throat choked up, and then tears burst out of her eyes uncontrollably.
It turned out that in the game, the final answer left behind by the murderer was so simple. So simple that it was only seven words.
Those seven words were, 阮之之，我喜欢你. (Ruan Zhizhi, I like you.)
Translator’s Note: Left the original Chinese characters for the last line because there were seven clues for each character in the game.
Also, if that’s the murderer’s final answer, then does that mean Shi Yan is the murderer?! LOL
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