Novel Wars

Chapter 5: "Conclusion"

Disregarding everything else, being able to take a nice warm bath was pretty good.

The room wasn’t very big. Xing Ye checked every nook and cranny to make sure there was no way anyone could peek in before taking off his clothes and stepping into the bathtub.

The mirror was still stuffed between his chest and sunk to the bottom of the tub when he entered. Xing Ye didn’t pay attention to the mirror as he quickly washed his face and hair.

Usually, Xing Ye only needed five minutes to wash up. However, now that his hair was long and hasn’t been washed for a while and the shampoo from who knows what era wasn’t very good at cleansing, it took Xing Ye thirty minutes to finish with his hair taking up most of it.

He first washed his body, putting on clothes before washing his hair to avoid the dirt from his hair tainting the bath.

After his hair was finally clean, the bathwater had already become a murky grey color. Against the laws of physics, the mirror floated up, its surface now grey and not reflecting anything.

Xing Ye watched the mirror’s struggle indifferently, taking the basin by the bathtub and asking, “I have clean water here, do you want to be clean?”

”Yes!” The mirror wrote very large and even added an exclamation mark.

Xing Ye smiled slightly, “Then tell me, what are you really?”

Mirror: “...”

Xing Ye discovered two things with this journey.

First, all the plot updates could be manually made. Xing Ye confirmed this when he kicked the mirror back into the river. At the beginning of the game, the system specifically said that the manipulators couldn’t modify their preset conclusions, which made it easy for players to mistake that the manipulators can’t get involved with the game. However, not being able to change the conclusions they set isn’t the same as not being able to change the plot. The manipulators can alter the narration based on his decisions.

Second, the narrator couldn’t control the mirror. This was very important because according to the narrator, this should be a magical, living mirror with its own consciousness and shamelessly followed Claire because it really liked her. However, the mirror clearly showed it was unwilling and sometimes didn’t even fulfill its purpose as a mirror yet the narrator didn’t seem to be able to see its rebellious actions.

Even though Xing Ye didn’t play games, from a business standpoint, it was obvious that no game developer would put a godly weapon in a game’s novice village. It would be far too unbalanced.

This mirror was either a bug, or had another identity.

The mirror didn’t move after Xing Ye questioned it, just slowly sinking down into the bucket. It looked as if even if it drowned to death, it wouldn’t answer Xing Ye’s question.

This just made its identity even more questionable.

Xing Ye fished the mirror up before it completely sank and used the clean water to wash it. He looked at its surface which still refused to reflect anything: “You can see through who’s a player, right?”

The mirror didn’t reply. Based on what Xing Ye knew of it, if it didn’t deny it, it was a yes.

If it cooperated, it really would be a godly weapon.

”I don’t need it even if you can,” Xing Ye patted the mirror, “It’s not hard to guess anyways.”

After that, he stuffed the mirror back between his chest.

Mirror: “No!!!”

Xing Ye glanced at it and just ignored his protest as he put on the black and white maids’ uniform, leaving his hair down as he walked out of the room.

The senior maid waiting by the door frowned slightly, “What’s wrong with your hair?”

”It’s not dry yet.” Xing Ye casually tugged at his messy, tangled hair.

”Follow me.” The senior maid took Xing Ye to another room and combed it through before putting on a headdress like the other maids.

After sorting out his hair, she took Xing Ye to the earl’s room. They had just arrived when a girl was thrown out.

She was practically naked, her body covered in bruises and almost all her teeth pulled out. Xing Ye squatted and checked her pulse; she was already dead.

”Give me a new maid.” Inside, a man’s voice sounded.  

The senior maid didn’t bat an eye as she told Xing Ye calmly, “Claire, Earl Luca is calling you.”

Xing Ye stood up and glanced at her deeply before striding into Earl Luca’s room.

Narrator: “The maid’s death made Claire very scared. She nervously clutched her clothes, afraid she’ll become the next victim.”

It was already nighttime. The room was filled with candles, illuminating the half naked man sprawled out on the luxurious bed. He saw Xing Ye and ordered, “Close the door and come here.”

Xing Ye not only closed the door, but also locked it.

A variety of torture tools laid beside the bed. Xing Ye looked at them as he walked over, his steps calm and steady. Finally, he stood before Earl Luca.

Earl Luca was an extremely thin and shriveled man, sitting on the bed with a whip in his hands. Xing Ye’s tall height pressured the old man, making him can’t help but stand up, revealing he was also a head shorter than Xing Ye.

“I hate people looking down on me.” Earl Luca said gloomily as he raised his whip, lashing it at Xing Ye.

Xing Ye was sharp sighted and agile. The split second the earl raised his whip, Xing Ye lunged forward and clutched at his neck, using his other hand to cover the earl’s mouth so he couldn’t scream.

Earl Luca’s eyes bulged as his pupils shrunk, struggling with all he had to break free. However, Xing Ye still had all of his original height and strength. The only thing the system changed was his gender and all his other properties were left untouched.

How could Earl Luca, who spent his days lazing in debauchery, possibly be stronger than Xing Ye. who always took care of his health and often went to learn self defense from bodyguards.

Xing Ye quickly seized the whip in Earl Luca’s hands before finding a tool in the room he could use to tie him up and seal his mouth. The earl’s struggles made a lot of noise so to cover it up,  Xing Ye cried out, “Aah! It hurts!! Master, Earl, please let me go!” while subduing him.

After tying him up, he dragged the thin and weak earl to the door, opening the door a crack before loosening the gag on the earl’s mouth a little.

Sure enough, the earl immediately released a scream: “Somebody come, this-”

Xing Ye only let him shout a sentence before immediately knocking him out.

He dragged the earl behind the door and hid there. He waited for the senior maid standing outside to peek in and carefully enter the room before immediately standing up and closing the door.

The senior maid heard the door shut and quickly turned her head to see Earl Luca sprawled out fainted on the ground like a mop.

“Before I let him call somebody over, I was thinking, could the manipulators have their identities revealed?” Xing Ye’s words cut off the senior maid’s scream.

“What, what are you saying?” The senior maid’s face was pale as she looked at Earl Luca, not knowing if he was dead or alive.   

Xing Ye found the mirror uncomfortable and pulled it out from his bosom as he spoke: “It’s simple to guess who the manipulators are. The narrator can only control the NPCs actions but can’t hold any influence over me. To make sure I follow the plot, the manipulators have to personally correct any mistakes. So, to ensure that I’ll be picked to be Earl Luca’s maid, one of the three who are in charge of choosing the maids has to be a manipulator.”

Xing Ye picked up the fallen whip: “Earl Luca’s an aristocrat who’s obsessed with injuring helpless maids. If I catch his eye, then there’s only two outcomes for me: first, my identity as a man would be exposed and my mission would fail. Otherwise, I would be tortured by the Earl until I die, which was one of the endings you’ve set for me. Am I right?”

With every step forward, the senior maid squirmed back all the way until she hit the wall and couldn’t retreat any further before speaking, her voice trembling: “How, how did you guess it was me?”

“It’s very simple. Before I entered the bathroom, the one waiting outside was the old butler. When I came out, you were there instead. As a manipulator, you probably personally wanted to see my ending, right?”

The senior maid no longer tried to defend herself as she just sat on the floor, speaking powerlessly: “You’re right, I’m one of the manipulators. You might’ve won this time, but there’s still two others and now you have to figure out how to escape the earl’s manor.”

”Oh?” Xing Ye looked down on the senior maid, waiting for her to continue.

“There are many imperial bodyguards stationed in the manor. Even if you can beat the earl, you can’t defeat so many imperial guards. You definitely won’t be able to escape after injuring Earl Luca. I can help you,” The senior maid said, “My status in the plot is a wet nurse that’s raised the Earl since he was small. He respects me very much, so I have quite a bit of influence in the manor.”

Xing Ye inspected the senior maid, “Not a bad idea. If you helped me escape, what would happen to you?”

“Probably be put to death by the furious earl.” The senior maid shook her head with a bitter smile, “But I’ve already lost and even if players die in the game, they wouldn’t really die. If I do this, I can go back to the system space earlier and won’t have to stay here and labor. After all, I’m a modern person and I naturally don’t want to stay a servant.”

“Then I’ll really have to thank you.” Xing Ye smiled good naturedly.

“Thank you for telling me another rule about the game.” Xing Ye said, “Before, I’ve always thought that the ‘conclusion’ meant the plot’s conclusion. However, who’s conclusion really is it? Usually, people would all think it’s the executor’s conclusion. After all, Claire’s the main character of the plot. However, that’s a misconception since I’m looking at it from the executor’s viewpoint. If I looked at it as a manipulator, there should be two main characters. The first is Claire, and the other is the manipulators themselves; that is, the conclusion of your role as the senior maid.

"When a manipulator could set two endings, he had to be extra cautious. On the surface, the two conclusions were Claire’s identity as a player being discovered and being tortured by the earl to death. If both of these conclusions couldn’t be reached, the manipulators could choose another conclusion: the old maid found her conscience and couldn’t bear to see Claire harmed, so she helped her escape.

"If I believed you earlier and escaped the manor, then I would’ve lost.”

This time, the old maid revealed a real expression of despair: “How, how do you know so much? The system clearly told us that this rule would be hidden from the executor!”

“If my enemies were just the manipulators, I probably wouldn’t have been able to guess that.” Xing Ye looked down at the manipulator who had completely given up, “But this is a game that challenges fate. As somebody in the anti-fate camp, I’d naturally also treat the system as an enemy, thus being able to discover this hidden rule with your help. Isn’t that so?”

Hearing this, the mirror in Xing Ye’s hand suddenly lit up slightly.