A Call From a Friend, Saw Her Picture Again

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A new girl had joined Senior Class 7! Her name was An Xin and she’d told everyone about her nickname! That could only mean a single thing in the minds of the guys. She wanted to be their friend! “Bunbun, it’s nice to meet you!” some of them shouted, eager to showcase their friendliness. Of course they wanted to cozy up with An Xin. She was beautiful in every sense of the word. Ren Rou and Tang Bingyao were every students’ dream, until now. Bunbun was new, she was exotic, she was exciting. And now she was their number one. They didn’t even look at the other two girls, because only Bunbun deserved their attention right now.

There were four students who weren’t concerned with welcoming An Xin to the class. It wasn’t that they disliked her or anything like that. Rather, they stared at her, dumbstruck. Bunbun. They’d heard the name before. It was the name Lin Feng had given to a childhood friend of his. Almost collectively, from where they sat, they turned towards Lin Feng. Bunbun? Is she THE Bunbun? They saw Lin Feng look up from his notebook. Is she really… Is that really his Bunbun?

Ren Rou tried to remember the picture of Bunbun that Lin Feng had shown her. That picture was from four year ago, with the girl looking a lot younger than she did now. The girl in that picture had pigtails and was standing off in the background. They do look similar though…

Tang Bingyao didn’t need to think like Ren Rou did. She stared at An Xin and pursed her lips. There was a look in her eyes that revealed far more of her thoughts at the moment than she would’ve liked. Fortunately, everyone was looking towards Bunbun and no one was looking at her.

Lin Feng was working on his latest idea for the match against Shanghai International when the homeroom teacher announced a new student was joining the class. He didn’t really care. It didn’t have anything to do with him. So he didn’t even bother to look up, scribbling down the ideas that formed in his mind before they disappeared again. Then he looked over the notes, but the letters were hard to read. He blinked his eyes and tried to ignore the pain that he felt in his head. The words on the page made sense again. This won’t work—

Then he heard the new student introduce herself. It was a voice Lin Feng recognized, one that he would know anywhere. His pen fell from his fingers on the table, then rolled off his desk and dropped to the ground. But he didn’t notice. He could only hear that voice that he knew so well. He lifted up his face and for the first time took a look at the new transfer student. Bunbun? The world was spinning before his eyes. He started worrying that it was his sleep deprivation and that he was seeing things. So he rubbed his eyes and looked again. There she was, smiling and sticking her tongue out at him. He barely moved his lips and the sound was almost inaudible as he said, “Bunbun.” She’d grown a lot since he last saw her, but she still looked the same. To him she did, anyways. She was Bunbun. She was one of his best friends growing up.

“An Xin, you can sit…” The homeroom teacher looked around the classroom. Most seats were taken, except for a few at the back of the class. He hesitated for a few seconds but then pointed towards a desk in the last row and said, “You can sit over there for now. Sorry, we don’t have that much space. We can maybe look into reshuffling the seating arrangement some other time…”

An Xin looked at the desk the teacher was pointing at. There was no one else sitting at that desk. Then she looked at the desk next to where she would be sitting. Two guys sat there. One of them was Lin Feng. She smiled at the homeroom teacher and said, “It’s fine. That seat looks perfect!” She then walked over to it and sat down on the side closest to Lin Feng. There was only the aisle separating them.

Lin Feng watched her walk and sit down at the desk next to him. He stared at her, shocked and speechless. She put her backpack down and all he could do was look at her. Then he said, his lips moving of their own accord, “Bunbun?”

An Xin paused midway through putting her books on her desk. Then she tilted her head and looked at Lin Feng. “Hey,” she said, smiling. “Long time no see.”

Before the two old friends could catch up, the school bell rang. It was the start of the second period of Monday morning. For Senior Class 7 that meant English. It was a subject many of the students hated. This wasn’t because of the subject per se, but more because of the teacher. He was a real hard ass. If he caught someone slacking off, he’d pull them to the front of the class and tell them to share their story. He liked to say that if someone felt that whatever it was they were talking about was more important than what he was teaching them, then it was only fair they shared it with the entire class and not just the students sitting next to them.

Lin Feng tried to pay attention to the class. He listened to the words of the teacher and made notes. These were notes on the class and not on the game with Shanghai International. But his mind was somewhere else entirely. It was on the girl sitting next to him. And after only a couple of minutes he tore off the edge from a page of his notebook and scribbled something down. He gave it to An Xin, who read it and wrote a reply.

Lin Feng: Why are you here? ﴿

An Xin: What? Do you not want me here? Teehee~ ﴿

Lin Feng: Where are you living? ﴿

An Xin: Mom and Dad moved here, so I had to come too. ﴿

Lin Feng: Really? You all live in Shanghai now? ﴿

An Xin: Yep! I’m really liking it here, though probably not half as much as you are. My parents told me that you’re living with a girl, right? They also said that she’s trying to become a League streamer. I bet you’re having a good time with her. Hehe~ ﴿

Lin Feng scratched the back of his head after reading the last note. He didn’t really know how to respond to that. He was living with a streamer girl. But she wasn’t a streamer girl. She was a girl who tried to make a living by creating real content that went beyond showing off her cleavage and long legs. But he didn’t know how to write all of that down on a small piece of paper. He turned towards An Xin, unsure, only to find her sticking her tongue out at him. Oh… Lin Feng shook his head and even showed a little smile, while An Xin stuck up her nose and laughed. She did that for half a second before quickly putting her hand over her mouth. The two looked to the front of the classroom. The teacher was looking at them, hesitating, but then continued with his lesson. Lin Feng and An Xin didn’t dare to move their eyes away from the chalkboard, listening to the teacher for a good three minutes. Then their note exchange started up again.

An Xin: Do you like it? ﴿

Lin Feng: Like what? ﴿

An Xin: My new hairstyle, Goofus. ﴿

Lin Feng: It’s new? Looks the same… ﴿

An Xin: Does this look like pigtails to you? ﴿
An Xin: It’s completely different. ﴿
An Xin: My parents also finally let me get contacts! You can finally look into my eyes~ ﴿

Lin Feng: Oh, I see. ﴿

An Xin: What’s wrong with you? I bet that wall behind you is more fun to talk with… ﴿
An Xin: Anyways, what are you working so hard on? ﴿
An Xin: I mean all those pages in your notebook. You were writing so much that you didn’t even see me at first! ﴿

Lin Feng: It’s nothing. ﴿

An Xin read the two words on the small note that was covered in tiny scribbles. She read them again, just to make sure she was understanding them correctly. But there was nothing to misunderstand about it. Dumbass. She looked up at Lin Feng and raised an eyebrow, giving him a moment to come with a better answer. He didn’t. He barely even looked at her. She waited for when he did and mouthed, “Big. Fat. Liar.”

There was a short break between English and the next period. These were a valuable few minutes to the four members from the esports team in Senior Class 7. Three of them jumped up from their seat and rushed to the back of the class, while Ouyang was already badgering Lin Feng and An Xin with his questions. Well, he did until Ren Rou shot him down with one of her famous glares.

“So you’re Bunbun!” Ren Rou greeted, smiling. “Lin Feng has said so much about you! He even showed us a picture of you! I’m so happy that we finally got to meet you!”

“Oh? My picture?” An Xin asked, surprised.

Ouyang’s hand shot into Lin Feng’s desk, almost on reflex, and retrieved the pencil case. He opened it up in one fell swoop and turned it upside down. The contents fell on the desk, but he didn’t care for the pens and crayons and other items. He wanted the picture hidden beneath all of that. He grabbed it and waved it in the air. “Yep! Here! This picture! Look, look. That girl in the back. You see her with the pigtails? That’s you, right?”

An Xin took the photo from Ouyang and looked at it. Then she smiled and said, “Yup, that’s me. I think this was taken back in middle school.”

“You had your hair in pigtails and you had the glasses, but you were still tots adorbs! I could totally see the me from four years ago falling for the you from four years ago! When you walked into the classroom I almost didn’t recognize you, because hot-diggity-dawg that glow-up! But I never forget a beautiful face! I knew that I knew you, I FELT IT! Then you introduced yourself as Bunbun and it all clicked! You’re Bunbun!” Ouyang laughed, proud of his deduction skills.

“I really like what you did with your hair. You’re really pretty,” Ren Rou chimed in.

An Xin smiled and said, “Thanks, that’s really nice of you.”

Ren Rou shook her head and said, “No, no. I wasn’t trying to be nice. I’m serious. You don’t know, but when Ouyang and the other guys saw your picture, they were so jealous of Lin Feng for having such a pretty friend. They almost wanted to fight him to get your number.”

“Right, right! Nice to meet you!” Ouyang said, excited. He pointed at himself and continued, “I’m Ouyang! Best bro of Lin Feng! I’ll throw myself under the bus for my best bro and deskmate!”

Yang Fan adjusted his glasses and reached out his hand. “I’m Yang Fan, friend of Lin Feng. It’s nice to finally meet you, An Xin.”

Tang Bingyao was the only one left to introduce herself. Three pairs of eyes turned towards her. But she ignored them and stuck out her hand. “I’m Tang Bingyao, but you can call me Tang Tang.”

An Xin shook Tang Bingyao’s hand and smiled. “Nice to meet you Tang Tang.” She looked at Tang Bingyao and smiled a little brighter. “You’re really pretty.”

Tang Bingyao shook her head, resolutely. “Not as pretty as you.”

Lin Feng decided that of every moment in this conversation to interject, this was the best. He stuck his head between the two girls and said, “I think both of you are really pretty.”

Rise Team Murder Mystery Part 4

ANNOUNCEMENT: So as those of you in the U.S might already know, we’re in the middle of Part 3 of the never-ending dumpster fire that is COVID19. Which means my schedule has gotten progressively more busy and it is starting to look like it’s only going to continue to do so for the next few weeks. I swear, could not have picked a worse time to do the whole medicine thing. So we’re tentatively dropping the release rate to 7/week until this whole thing blows over. If you guys have noticed, the chapter release time slipped from 4PM to 6PM EST to 12AM – 2AM EST. That’s just because of how long my days have gotten and when I get home to work on the chapters and release them. It doesn’t look like that’s going to change any time soon either. Shanks, Sietse, and I have been trying to figure out a way to push it back to the normal release time, but we don’t have anything workable at the moment. We’ll keep you updated on that over the next few days. As far as the whole 7 chapters/week thing… its not really set in stone. If there’s enough time to get more chapters out, we’ll push more chapters out. And some of the upcoming chapters are going to be merged “double” chapters because they’re real short and lacking on content. We will definitely get the 7/week out, and then push the rest out randomly as we go. At least for the next couple of weeks, based on how the whole COVID thing and my schedule is going.

Also, for those of you going home for Thanksgiving and all of that, STAY SAFE!

This might feel like less of a crisis than it did back at the start of the year because we’ve all calmed down a bit and gotten used to living this way. But this is not a great time to be messing around. Especially not with hospitals hitting capacity and everyone clustering together because of the cold weather and the holidays. Be smart, make decisions that protect your and your loved ones to the best of your ability. And remember that a COVID test is not a magical cultivation spell form that grants you immunity. All it does is test if you have the virus in your upper respiratory tract AT THAT POINT IN TIME. You can get a negative test and then become positive 2-10 days later because of incubation period and all that. Or you can get a negative test and then be exposed to the virus at a later time and become COVID positive. Use common sense, make smart decisions.

That’s enough of a PSA from me. Back to your regularly scheduled murder mystery!



Murder Mystery – Day 5:

Here’s what we’ve investigated based on your theories and questions so far: 

1.) FortColors wants to know if David Yars has a prostitute related to him and if that’s the case whether Boris Bilk is or has been her client. This is an important question. It could connect Boris Bilk to both murders. So I sent the expert in the field, Corver, to investigate. These are his findings:

A.) David Yars has two brothers, both younger than him by respectively two and four years. He has no sister. He lived together with his parents in the bar owned by his family, which is also where he worked from a young age. The patrons, some of whom have watched him grow up, said that he was recently in one of his “down” phases. It sounds like his mood has big swings. This was a story corroborated by his friends who also said that David was a really friendly guy, always looking to help people in need. He didn’t care about who they were, only about their situation and what he could do about it. One example that was brought up multiple times was how he offered women who’d fallen on hard times work at the bar.

B.) Corver recognized the bar when he arrived. He’d seen it at night more than a few times after calls from annoyed neighbours about it being a front for an underground brothel. There is supposedly a backroom where prostitutes and vetted customers can meet up. Though the owner of the bar, David’s father, denied any such claims, we found evidence of it being true after staking out for a night.

C.) There is no evidence that we could find that Boris Bilk has visited this “brothel”, though we did learn that he’s been seen in this neighbourhood a couple of times. It was enough for him to be noticed. His reason for being here remains unclear.

2.) passingbycow wants the mines investigated and wonders if there is a group of employees there who are part of a smuggling ring. FortColors has a related question. He wants to know how Boris Bilk is related to the mines and what the lights and sounds are that have been reported coming from deep inside the mines. Time is of the essence with this particular point, so we got right to work. Detective Krelz and Detective Billow assisted me and together we uncovered a couple of things:

A.) Boris Bilk does not officially own the mine. The mine is owned by a family friend of his, the Silzers. They own several large mines around Walled Lutton and own a lot of land there as well. From what we’ve managed to gather, their business is deeply intertwined with Boris Bilk’s merchant business.

B.) We looked into the people working for the Silzers. There are many and we can’t say that we’ve investigated all of them. In our search, however, we did find proof pointing towards the existence of a smuggling ring. Some people were living a lot more luxurious than their salaries should allow them to. There is a direct connection here between men working for Boris Bilk’s merchant business and the people working for the Silzers at the mines.

C.) Investigation of the mines themselves has revealed what could be expected from mines. Long paths with people hard at work. When we got to the lower levels, there was something case related we came across. There were several stone blocks with the circular labyrinth on them. They were placed at different intersections. No one seemed to know why. Supposedly they appear out of nowhere after the lights and sounds are heard.

D.) We did not experience the sounds or lights ourselves, but did get more witness statements. The sounds that were heard were definitely chanting. It wasn’t one person chanting either, but a larger group of at least 10 people. This is based on the size of the stone blocks and the number of voices the miners said to have heard.

E.) The lights that were seen, not by us but by the miners on other occasions, were a greenish red hue. This colour is corroborated by everyone who’s claimed to have seen it. The words used in the chanting were not in English. No one was quite sure what language it was in.

3.) passingbycow would like to see an aerial shot of Walled Lutton. More specifically, he wants to know if it’s built in the circular labyrinth symbol. This sounded like a logical step. I understand that we want to find out if this symbol that keeps appearing is part of the city or where it comes from. To that end, I gathered this information:

A.) Walled Lutton is not in the shape of the circular labyrinth. However, records have it that it was built on the remains of an older city. Perhaps the circular labyrinth finds its origin in this place.

4.) Pertinent Findings from the Autopsy report of David Yars.

A.) His nails were removed before his death and were discovered in his intestines.

B.) There two possibly ritualistic cuts across the carotid arteries from which he was drained of all his blood.

C.) Cause of death was exsanguination, from the cuts on the carotid.

D.) Heart and Penis removed post-mortem, both missing.

E.) He was drugged by a toxin that left him awake but unable to do or say anything (with remnants of a party drug also being in his system).

F.) There were 12 stab wounds across his body that were done post-mortem. Again, possibly ritualistic since they were not the primary mode of homicide.

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