When Chen Ge saw Lee Zheng and Jia Ming, the two at the door saw him as well.
"Chen Ge?" Lee Zheng and Jia Ming said in unison. Neither of them had expected to run into Chen Ge here.
"Why are you here?" Lee Zheng had one hand behind Jia Ming. Even though he was extremely surprised by Chen Ge's appearance, his hand had not moved an inch.
"Don't get too close to him, he might not be Chen Ge," Jia Ming whispered in warning. He looked quite scared. "Have you forgotten what I told you before? The shadow looks exactly like Chen Ge!"
Standing from the perspective of an outsider, there was nothing wrong with what Jia Ming said. A living person appearing at the hotel in the middle of the night in a small town shrouded in blood fog... there had to be some hidden issues about this.
"You posed me so many questions, but coincidentally, I also have many questions to ask you." Chen Ge also did not dare to put his guard down around Lee Zheng and Jia Ming. Before he arrived at Li Wan City, Lee Zheng had sent him a series of messages, telling him that Jia Ming had escaped from police custody and all the police officers were out and about trying to recapture the criminal.
However, just two hours after that, Lee Zheng and Jia Ming both showed up in Li Wan City. No matter how he thought about it, there was definitely something strange about this development. Lee Zheng had his hand hidden behind Jia Ming, so the barrel of his gun was probably poking right into Jia Ming's back to prevent Jia Ming from doing anything irrational. Since the man was packed, Chen Ge did not dare act too rashly. Guns were ineffective against Specters, but it would definitely be effective against him.
"In any case, we should all calm down first." Maintaining the stalemate in the lobby would only be a waste of time. Chen Ge decided to show his hand first. He took out his phone and showed Lee Zheng his call record. "Inspector Lee, I am Chen Ge. There is no doubt about that. I am here because I received an SOS call."
Chen Ge pointed at the phone records between Fan Chong and himself. "This man was once my Haunted House's visitor, and he has been acting strangely recently. He told me many strange things, and out of curiosity, I left him my contact number. But to my surprise, he went missing tonight, and I have no idea whether if he is still alive. I am the last person he contacted, so to investigate his disappearance more thoroughly, I rushed to Li Wan City as fast as I could."
Lee Zheng asked Chen Ge a few more questions. Seeing as Chen Ge answered all of them correctly, he sighed slightly in relief. "After Jia Ming escaped from the hospital, we searched for him through the city and eventually the team managed to confirm his escape route was heading toward the eastern part of town.
"Initially, we thought he was trying to run into the mountains to hide, but after expanding the search zone, I discovered something weird through the surveillance. When he was walking past one of the junctions, Jia Ming covered up his face. Even though he was still wearing his original clothes, his gait was strangely unnatural. I compared the surveillance again and again before coming to the conclusion that Jia Ming probably found someone to take his place at that junction.
"After ordering the rest of the team to continue with the original search, I turned down the other side of the junction to continue the search. The heavy rain proved too difficult for the search effort. It was very hard to look through the rain, but thankfully, the effort was reward. In the end, I caught up to this b*stard at the end of the road. After a round of chasing, I only managed to detain this guy after we entered Li Wan City."
After hearing what Lee Zheng had to say, Jia Ming waved his hands hurriedly. "Everything I did was because I was forced to by the shadow. If I did not follow his orders, he would have had more than one hundred ways to make my life a living hell."
"You were forced? How come it feels like you've purposely been trying to lure me to this place? What are you planning with this shadow? Admit everything honestly, this is the last chance you have." Lee Zheng had entered Li Wan City because he was trying to capture Jia Ming, it was an acceptable reason, but for Chen Ge, it also felt quite forced. He had this feeling that there was something off about Jia Ming and Lee Zheng, but he could not really tell what was really wrong about them.
"Inspector Lee, this place is very dangerous. Come in here first, don't stay at the entrance for too long." Chen Ge activated the recorder and proactively walked toward the hotel entrance. "Did you run into anything scary on the way here?"
"This blasted place sure is strange. It is raining so heavily outside, but there is not one patch of ground in this small town that is wet. I believe it probably has to do with this blood fog." Lee Zheng did not answer Chen Ge's question. With his hand on Jia Ming, he shoved the man into the hotel.
Chen Ge was familiar with how scary Li Wan City was, this place was crawling with ghosts and murderers. Technically speaking, Inspector Lee could deal with murderers with his gun, but how did a normal person like him deal with all those ghosts and monsters?
From how they acted, Jia Ming and Lee Zheng were merely nervous-there was no trace of terror in their eyes.
"Could the shadow be hiding in one of them? Is that why the monsters and ghosts in Li Wan City actively stay away from them?" One was the police, the other a criminal, but Chen Ge had no idea whom might be the hiding place for the shadow. "I cannot jump the gun too soon. Both of them might be who they say they are, and the shadow might be hiding somewhere else."
Ever obtaining the black phone, the shadow was the most difficult adversary that Chen Ge had faced. He believed that the shadow had gotten both Jia Ming and Lee Zheng here at the same time to confuse him. Chen Ge was cautious around Jia Ming and Lee Zheng, but the two did not trust Chen Ge entirely either. They already knew that the shadow had the ability to transform and mimic another person. Perhaps from their perspective, it was not that hard to believe that the 'Chen Ge' before their eyes might be a disguise taken on by the shadow.
"Take any seat you wish. Mind waiting for a moment? I have a few friends who are waiting for me upstairs." Chen Ge headed up the stairs.
After he turned around, he heard Jia Ming whisper very softly to Lee Zheng, "I've told you everything I know about the shadow, and now you've met him in person. This proves that I am not lying! Chen Ge is the shadow! We need to leave this place as soon as possible before it is too late! He will definitely kill us to get us silenced!"
"You worked so hard to lure me here just to let me see something like this?" Lee Zheng retorted in a chilling tone. "Since you are able to lure me here, then you would have some method to lure Chen Ge here as well. Plus, it is still undecided whether he is the real shadow or not."
"It cannot be clearer, and you still want to suspect me?" Jia Ming raised his voice. "Think back to the things that this man has done in the past. Do you think those things are doable by a normal person? He is merely making use of you and the entire police force; he is using all of you to cover up his sin."
"Cover up his sin? Do you even understand the definition of sin?" Lee Zheng pressed Jia Ming onto his seat at the dining table. "Be honest and be quiet. Stop disturbing me with your misinformation, and don't do things that you shouldn't. I know how to make my own judgment."
Lee Zheng and Jia Ming conversed softly as Chen Ge walked away. When he reached the top of the stairs, there came a knock from the hotel front door.
"Is someone there?" A young man who carried a black schoolbag stood at the entrance. He looked rather polite and weak. "I wish to stay here for the night."
The young man was in the middle of his puberty, and his voice was changing. Other than that, he looked like a normal high-schooler who probably ran away from home. Pushing his spectacles up his nose, he took a long detour away from Lee Zheng and Jia Ming. He carefully moved to the counter. "Is someone here? Is the boss around?"
Chen Ge, who stood on the second floor, saw everything clearly. "The boy looks similar to the boy that I saw on the high-schooler's phone when I was on the bus. Therefore, he should be either Bei Wen or Bei Ye."
When he was taking the last bus on Route 104, Chen Ge had run into an unassuming high-schooler. He had gotten onto the bus because he was in search of his missing schoolmates, and he had shown Chen Ge the picture of his mates. In a pure stroke of luck, the high-schooler that he had described seemed to match the high-schooler who helped Gu Feiyu when he took the bus. To prevent an accident from befalling the high-schooler, Chen Ge had chased him off the bus and promised him to get to the bottom of the truth and help his friends if it was possible.
"When I was playing Xiao Bu's game, I did run into a high-schooler at the hotel." Chen Ge gripped the railing, and his gaze wandered between the high-schooler and Lee Zheng. "In Xiao Bu's game, there were four tenants at the hotel, they were the woman, the high-schooler, the police officer, and Xiao Bu. Now that the police and the high-schooler have showed up, isn't it time for the woman who can change her skin to show up?"
The world behind the door was created from the memory of the door-pusher. The world inside the game recorded Xiao Bu's personal experience. Now that the door had gone out of control, all the nightmares that she had experienced would be turned into reality.
"Why would Xiao Bu have other people play this game? Does she merely want to prove that she is innocent? To garner sympathy from others? Or is this a tool to help her escape? The game contains the key that might release her from the nightmare, is that it?"
With Chen Ge's aid, Fan Chong had cleared the game, and it was around then that the accident had befallen the guy. The shadow had reached out to harm his whole family. Fan Chong was currently missing, and there was a great chance that the shadow had already taken control of his big brother, Fan Dade.
"The shadow should know about Xiao Bu's game, so why didn't he destroy it? Is it possible that there is something he needs inside Xiao Bu's game?
"The door in Li Wan City was pushed open by Xiao Bu, and to have full control over this door, one must have full control over Xiao Bu. If I consider it that way, the shadow was probably laying a trap with the game as well. In any case, the most important thing now is to find and save Fan Chong-he is the one with the information about this issue."
Chen Ge had assumed control of the hotel. After dealing with the glutton monster, this hotel was nothing more than a shell, so there was no reason for him to stay there anymore.
He pushed open the door to the guestroom. Scissors and the drunkard were squeezed next to the window. They already had the rope around the doctor. Should anything happen, they would send the doctor out first.
"How is the situation outside? Just now, it felt like the whole building was shaking. It was like there was an earthquake." When the drunkard saw Chen Ge walk in, he rushed over to the man to ask for information with a worried face.
"The boss and the chef were killed by the headless woman, and then she died in a stalemate facing off against the ghost inside this hotel."
"The ghost inside the hotel is also dead now?" The drunkard breathed out a long sigh. "Then we should take a rest here. When the sun comes up and the blood fog disperses, we should have no problem leaving this horrible place."
"The hotel is not as safe as you think. Without the ghost to guard over this location, more people and ghosts will be attracted to this place." Chen Ge walked to the doctor and lowered his head to inspect his body. "Can you walk now?"
The veins on the doctor's neck were pulsing. He used every ounce of his energy to shake his head. "I feel much more conscious, but I still cannot lift up my limbs. Other than that..." Scissors next to him seemed to understand what the doctor was trying to do. He reached out to lift up the torn corner of the doctor's pants. There was a large piece of skin around the doctor's calf that had turned ash gray.
"Before I arrived at Li Wan City, I heard people say that once you stay too long inside the door, you'll start to grow these gray patches on your skin. And if you have this skin discoloration, you are unable to leave the town anymore." The doctor looked depressed. "I am stuck here forever."
"The legs are grown on your body-no one will be able to stop you as long as you have the wish to leave." Chen Ge's original plan had been to drive the last bus on Route 104 directly to Fan Chong's home and make use of the red high heels and the smiling man to force their way through the shadow's trap. Obviously, the plan needed to change. With the blood fog swallowing up the small town, the door had already been activated before they even arrived. Chen Ge could only change up his plan to adapt to the situation. He would make use of the knowledge that he had garnered from Xiao Bu's game to take down as many ghosts as he could and use the enemy to empower his own people.
Having visited most of the places mentioned by the black phone, Chen Ge felt that it was about time to finish the main objective.
"We've received a few customers downstairs. I suspect they are locals here, so they might be disguised monsters and ghosts. Be careful when you go down. In any case, there is nothing wrong with being more cautious."
After giving a few more orders, Chen Ge had the drunkard carry the doctor, and they exited the room. When they returned to the first floor, Chen Ge noticed that other than the police, Jia Ming, and the high-schooler, there was a newcomer.
She was a woman with voluptuous curves and a sweet, candy-like face. However, she was a conservative dresser with long sleeves and a jacket that covered her whole body. She was even wearing a pair of gloves to ensure that not one inch of her skin was showing.
"Where's the boss? I need a single room." The woman was dragging a large box. She ignored the rest of the people in the room. She turned toward the kitchen with a smile. "I've brought the thing that you need this time."
When she walked past Chen Ge's group, Chen Ge did not catch any trace of perfume on the lady, but instead, he could smell a light scent of decay.
"The boss is not available. He has left the hotel, and there's no one inside the kitchen." Chen Ge reached out to block the woman's way.
"Who are you? Are you a close friend of the boss?" The woman's beautifully-constructed nose leaned to Chen Ge like she had sniffed something unusual from Chen Ge's body. When the woman leaned closer, Chen Ge caught a glimpse of the woman's collar. There was a complicated wound around the woman's neck that looked like a tattoo. It gave the impression that the skin underneath her clothes was sewn together.
"I am not familiar with the boss, but I hope you'll conduct yourself more prudently. I am now the shot-caller in this place," Chen Ge replied with a polite smile. In reality though, if there were no outsiders around, he would have summoned his employees to apprehend the woman and start to interrogate her about Li Wan City.
The woman stood on her tiptoes to peer inside the kitchen. Even though Chen Ge had already had his employees clean up the place, once one looked closer, one could still see the many suspicious problems.
"It doesn't matter to me who the shot-caller is. I just wish to know if this place is still open for business." The woman dragged the box forward. "There have been fewer and fewer people coming from outside lately, and do you know how much trouble I had to go through to gather these things?"
Chen Ge had a rough idea what was inside the box. "Of course, we're open for business. Leave the box with me, and you can stay here for as long as you like."
"Thank you. Do you mind if I go into the kitchen to grab something to eat? The blood fog this time is thicker than usual, and I am already feeling quite puckish." The woman came up with many reasons to enter the kitchen.
"Then, you'd better get seated. Food will be served soon." Chen Ge waved at the drunkard and told him to get Scissors into the kitchen, find some ingredients, and whip up something to eat.
After the two entered the kitchen, the door of the hotel was pushed open again. A man who carried a strange smile on his face entered the hotel. There was a large blood stain left on his shirt. He appeared to be injured. He did not say a word after entering the hotel but found a quiet corner and posited himself there.
Not long after that, a dripping sound came from the front door, and the smile on the man's face froze.
Several seconds later, the door opened, and a woman in a red raincoat also strode into the hotel with her head lowered.