Footsteps came from outside the reading room; the librarian was heading their way. Even though Chen Ge still had many questions, there was no time.
"Chang Gu, I hope you're not lying to me. I can do my best to help your sister, but you need to guarantee that my friends and I can leave this school safely." Chen Ge stood together with his club members. He was a man of his word. He had promised to lead Zhang Ju and the rest out, and he planned to keep his promise.
"I can give you my promise, but what use is it? Here, anything can happen; even the painter can give you that guarantee." Chang Gu's blood red eye was twitching slightly. No one knew what he was really thinking.
"You've changed a lot since entering the door. Looks like I'll have to reassess our relationship," Chen Ge said calmly. He was always like that, hard to read. It was unclear whether he was bluffing or not.
"We're still friends. We both came from outside the door. We know about each other. I will not harm you." Chang Gu lifted the backpack. "See, I even brought your things for you."
"We are friends, but I've gained some new friends here. We're all friends, so I hope you won't put me in a difficult position." There was one thing that Chen Ge did not tell Chang Gu. He had promised to be someone else's friend in the toilet on the top floor of the education block. Chen Ge had accepted the invitation, thinking that there was no harm in having more friend, but now that he thought about it, that person was most likely the painter. Many people wanted to make use of Chen Ge, but if they knew him better, they would regret that decision.
"Okay, we'll do it your way." Chen Ge led the members to Chang Gu. "Now, can you give me back my stuff?"
"No problem, but you have to wait until you're inside the mirror before you open the backpack." Chang Gu did not hand the backpack to Chen Ge but followed him to the last row of the shelves. They worked together to push the shelf aside, and that revealed the mirror hidden under a black cloth.
"There isn't much use left to this mirror, so you'd better move fast. Get the school's approval before the painter realizes what you're doing." Chang Gu pulled the cloth back and handed the backpack to Chen Ge. "Stand before the mirror and place your hand on it. Look into the mirror with your heart, and you'll see what's on the other side."
Accepting the backpack, Chen Ge did not place his hand on the mirror directly but took a step back.
"What are you doing?" Chang Gu frowned.
"Don't worry, this is my first time here. I have no experience, so I wish to see other people do it first." Chen Ge resisted the urge to open the backpack and tossed a look to Zhang Ju. "This should have been a part of your memory."
Zhang Ju nodded and handed Zhou Tu over to Zhu Long before standing in front of the mirror. "Honestly, I don't mind living in the painter's paradise, but if that means I have to trade in my freedom, then I think not."
The scarred arm landed on the surface of the mirror, and Zhang Ju lifted his head to look at his own reflection in the mirror. Chen Ge had noticed this a long time ago. In the world behind the door, there were few mirrors. It was as if mirrors possessed a special meaning in this blood red world. He stood at the back of the group and patiently observed. If not for the others, he would even have thought about using a pen and paper to record the whole process.
Blood slid down the arm and fell on the mirror. Blood vessels crawled on the surface. It was hard to tell whether they were moving inside or outside the mirror. More blood vessels appeared. In the blink of an eye, the scene inside the mirror shifted. It was still the library, but the library in the mirror turned blood red. Blood flowed, and every book looked like it was written in blood.
"I didn't expect to one day return. This time, I hope I've made the right choice," Zhang Ju mumbled to himself outside the mirror, but his reflection had not moved. He was like a puppet without a soul, with his head lowered and eyes closed.
"Be careful. Don't wander about when you're inside. Wait for us. We'll move together. That should make things easier." Chen Ge tried to say something else, but Zhang Ju was not looking so stable. He did not seem to hear Chen Ge. The head that was scorched slowly turned. Zhang Ju's remaining right eye was red as blood. He stared at Chang Gu as the wounds opened all over his body. Blood vessels crawled on his body. "Your left eye is very beautiful. I... wish to eat it."
Zhang Ju appeared to be under some kind of influence. His expression turned ugly, and the strange thing was, the expression of his reflection started to change, transforming to match the one outside the mirror. When the two became one, the hand that was pressed on the mirror was pulled forward, and the young man was dragged into the mirror.
"He was dragged by himself into the mirror?" Before Chen Ge realized it, there was only a pool of blood left behind the mirror. Zhang Ju had disappeared like he had never been there in the first place.
"The mirror reflects your appearance, but it can't reflect your soul. On one side of the mirror, it's your shell, and the other side is your desire. When you look inside the mirror, you'll see your ugliest and sometimes your most dangerous self." After Zhang Ju left, Chang Gu's tone lightened. "Mirrors inside the School of the Afterlife are different from those in real life. The painter moved everything beautiful inside the mirror, and all the ugly, desperate, and scary things have been left outside the mirror. So, when you stand before the mirror, you'll see a different version of yourself."
While Chang Gu spoke, Zhou Tu passed through the mirror. He was so fast that none of the members, not even Chang Gu or Chen Ge, noticed it.
"Mr. Bai, I know you have many things that you haven't told us." Zhu Long felt like he had many things to say, but considering that there were outsiders there, he did not voice those thoughts. "I rarely place my trust in others, so I hope you won't disappoint us."
His palm on the mirror, Zhu Long looked at his reflection. The tall body was reconstructed, and the reflection in the mirror could not be called a person, more like a rag doll sewn together by a demented child.
The blood traces before the mirror thickened. After all the members had departed, Chen Ge stood before the mirror with two bags.