Underworld Playerchapter 96: werewolves*

As Bai Zhi reached his grand conclusion, he noticed Temperance Gentleheart furtively scooting backward several meters.

"Why are you running? If I wanted you dead, there's countless ways I could get it done."

Bai Zhi rolled his eyes at her.

"Believe it or not, I could even, in complete secret, sell you off, and still have you happily counting the take for me."

"...I'm not that dumb." Temperance Gentleheart still looked irritated, but reluctantly came closer.

"Don't joke about this kind of thing, man... I mean, you're talking about planning our death..."

Bai Zhi glanced coolly at her. "Hmm, but I wasn't joking, though."

Reaching into his Inventory for another snack, Bai Zhi brought out an apple and began to eat it as he spoke languidly.

"All the clues I've gathered tell me that there's a 90% chance that, during the last round, I caused all of your deaths, and intentionally, too."

Temperance Gentleheart could not believe her ears. As she contemplated running away using her skill, Bai Zhi spoke again in that light, airy tone of his.

"It would not be reasonable to expect that I was the only one out of the whole team to survive. Even if I could not guarantee the whole team's safety, I'm sure I could save one or two. So, what reason could I have had for orchestrating a team wipe, then move on to the next reload on my own?"

"...Could it be that we were almost all dead, so you decided to... start over and save us all in the next reload?" Temperance Gentleheart suggested, tentatively.

"It's possible, but hardly probable."

Bai Zhi looked doubtful.

"I reckon a reload happens automatically as soon as over half the team dies. Even before the last reload, it must have happened at least once before, so even if I really meant to activate the next reload to try and save everyone, I didn't need to be the sole survivor."

The information overload was turning her brain to mush, and Temperance Gentleheart suddenly felt her head start to hurt.

"Uh… so, the reason was…?"

"My reason? Probably a traitor in the ranks."

Bai Zhi smirked in contempt as he looked at the back of his hand.

The thin cut he had received when he first entered the orphanage seemed to have healed over the time he spent there, and was now barely visible.

"Players who died, like you, will have everything reset to your initial state upon a reload, while survivors, like me, only have our memories wiped and our bodies restored, same as the rest of you, while any items or resources consumed during the last round are gone for good. That's why survivors can easily figure out that the reloads are happening. Hence, what could I have hoped to achieve by resetting all your memories? ...Well, most likely, I wanted the knowledge of the reloads wiped from everyone else's minds, at least for a while."

"...Traitor? What do you mean by that? And how did you figure that out?" Temperance Gentleheart reeled at each new revelation. "Didn't you say your memories should have been wiped too?"

"It is often observed that high-quality ingredients are cooked with the most basic of methods; so too, does information travel by the plainest of means."

Bai Zhi raised a finger before him in complete seriousness.

"Sabotage—isn't that ample proof that there is a traitor among us? I've deduced that the following is true of the last reload: we have long since met the second quest objective, which is to find and neutralize six sources of strange activity. However, when it came to the first objective—locating survivors—the team was probably sabotaged by this traitor. I was left with no choice but to kill all of you, whether directly or indirectly, then trigger the next reload. It's so me, honestly."

Hang on, I'm getting confused..." Temperance Gentleheart frowned, one hand on her head. "You said we've long since met the second objective? But as far as I remember, we only got..."

"What does the objective state?" Bai Zhi cut in sharply.

"...Uncover the six hidden sources of strange activity and neutralize them?"

"And what have the system notifications been saying?"

"One secret source of strange activity neutralized...?"

"And does it mention how many are left? Whoever told you there are only six sources of strange activity in this orphanage?"

Bai Zhi spread his hands to emphasize his point, his expression neutral.

"Trust me, we've long since met the objective. It was just a simple verbal misdirection."

"Then, then..."

Temperance had had her mind blown by the bomb Bai Zhi just dropped, and could not form the words to express the question in her mind.

Having finished his apple, Bai Zhi casually tossed the core out the window and dusted his hands. Projecting a patient, understanding figure, he said to Temperance Gentleheart, "Ask me anything, no need to panic."

Temperance Gentleheart braced herself with a deep breath, then asked Bai Zhi earnestly, "...I still don't understand, how could there be a traitor? Aren't we supposed to complete this quest as a team? What good is it to this traitor if they get in the way of quest completion?"

"It's probably a Fallen. To be fair, if I hadn't encountered one of them already, I would've been troubled by the same question, myself."

Bai Zhi narrowed his eyes as the memories of the conversation he'd had on the bone-paved path sprang unbidden to his mind.

"Anyway, just think of the Fallen as a supernatural entity that has managed to acquire the status of 'Player'. They will walk and talk like one, but their nature has been corrupted, and until they choose to reveal it, it is very difficult to tell the difference."


Nodding slowly, more to show she had heard, rather than understood, Temperance Gentleheart was reminded of the sudden hostility that she had felt from Bai Zhi earlier. Her curiosity got the better of her, and she asked, "Have you found out who it is, then?"

"No. There's no way for me to observe them all since we split up from the start, and simple observation wouldn't reveal who was Fallen, anyway. Basically, this is a game of Werewolves and I'm the Fortune Teller. My job is to unmask the imposter among us," Bai Zhi said firmly.

"Well, if you're being this chatty with me, that means you've determined I'm human, right?"

"As I said, unless the Fallen decides to drop the act, it's impossible to tell."

Bai Zhi looked askance at her.

"The reason I told you all this is because I'm confident that, should you turn on me, I can eliminate you in no time."

Temperance Gentleheart was shocked speechless.