The sound of falling rain echoed throughout the dream.
There was a fluffy mushroom floating in the sky and a teenager standing by the window and looking at the outside world, the daylight bright and intense.
After an unknown amount of time, the boy finally turned around and walked to the white bed to sit down. His face was still blurred by the light. He lowered his head, picked up a book on the bedside table and read it quietly.
It was raining continuously outside the window. In the damp and gloomy rain, the mushroom clinging to the glass became a bit bigger.
Time seemed to be standing still. It infinitely extended his senses and boredom and loneliness continued to breed. Pei Qingyuan tried to do something to break this terrible paleness, but the person in the dream couldn’t hear his voice or perceive his presence at all. Only the sound of rain and turning pages were shallowly intertwined in the air.
Pei Qingyuan had been trapped in this white room, watching helplessly. He almost thought he couldn’t wake up from this dream until there was a warm touch to his arm.
The strange, lonely world was instantly sucked away.
In the warm morning, he opened his eyes blankly and saw the sky blue that was close at hand.
The cat rubbed against his arm lightly with his tail and meowed happily.
“Host, you are actually sleeping in.” Ji Tong’s voice was heard in his heart. “Get up quickly, get up quickly. Lin Zihai is brushing his teeth!”
He finally returned to the colored reality.
Pei Qingyuan instinctively sighed with relief.
Until the end of the dream, he couldn’t see the face of the boy. A dull sense of loss instantly filled his heart.
“…I had a dream.”
He picked up Mushroom walking back and forth around the bed. He got up and opened the curtains to see only the empty sky outside. The soft morning light poured in, giving the cat’s snow-white fur a tinge of gray-blue.
Ji Tong asked him curiously, “What dream?”
Pei Qingyuan stood at the window in a stunned manner for a long time before whispering, “I dreamed of a huge mushroom.”
He didn’t know why but he didn’t mention the strange boy in his dream.
Maybe it was because he didn’t know how to describe it.
Hearing this somewhat strange answer, Mushroom narrowed his eyes comfortably.
“That dream sounds delicious,” Ji Tong commented. “What is good to eat this morning? Shiitake meat buns? Cheese and mushroom pasta? Creamy mushroom soup?”
Pei Qingyuan’s originally somewhat depressed mood was quickly swept away by the naming link that was filled with Ji Tong’s characteristics.
He calmed down his thoughts, changed clothes and walked out of the room. Lin Zihai and Shen Yiming had finished washing. They were sitting and chatting in the living room, stuck on the topic of what to eat next.
Seeing him coming out, the two of them took the initiative to greet him. “Good morning, class monitor. What are you going to eat later?”
Under Lin Zihai’s assimilation, Shen Yiming had also started to call him the class monitor.
“Good morning.” Pei Qingyuan had been brainwashed by Ji Tong’s mushroom dishes. “I want to eat cream mushroom soup.”
The moment he finished speaking, he frowned while feeling like something was wrong. This soup was only served in Western restaurants.
Shen Yiming had been ridiculed by strangers in a Western restaurant and was very resistant to such places.
Before he or Lin could speak again, Shen Yiming smiled and said, “I also want to drink it. There are many dishes in the Western restaurant that I haven’t tasted. I want to use this opportunity to taste them all.”
His voice fell and Pei Qingyuan and Lin Zihai answered at almost the same time.
They all found that Shen Yiming seemed to be different.
Pei Qingyuan finished washing up quickly and the three of them set off to the restaurant together. In the process, Pei Qingyuan and Lin Zihai both heard Shen Yiming’s particularly serious voice.
“Thank you,” he said. “I’m very happy to share a dormitory with you this time. I am happy to be friends with you.”
In the past, they were all ordinary classmates of the third and seventh classes. They had very little intersection, but this chance encounter allowed him to learn a lot.
He learned more than just knowledge from books.
The door opened and the dormitory area was full of the fragmented sound of students talking. There was a lively atmosphere.
The morning sun shone gently on the shoulders of the teenagers.
Mushroom got off work and the watch Xiao Mei took over work, flashing with brilliant colors.
“Ruan Ruan, good news!” Ji Tong told him excitedly. “The mission board is brighter. According to the previous experience, the mission should be completed soon.”
This was the second main mission received by the host about gaining a group of reliable and excellent friends.
Ji Tong had always felt that the criteria for judging the completion of the mission was stupid. But this time, he felt that the idea of the mission panel was quite reasonable.
Yesterday’s lecture and buffet dinner made many students’ moods change to a greater or lesser extent. Shen Yiming, Lin Zihai and the others who had more contact with these seniors were definitely deeply touched and they might be closer to the definition of excellence now rather than simply thinking of it as good grades or good at sports.
There was no need to worry about excellence and he could be satisfied with good friends.
Ji Tong guessed that this little progress that was still missing should be reliability.
It was the sports meeting after returning from Chengde. If there was no accident and the students of the third class worked hard under the leadership of the class monitor, winning glory for the class, wasn’t this reliable?
The more Ji Tong thought about it, the happier he became. It was as if he had seen the golden growth value waving at him.
After completing this mission, the host could receive new random rewards and he could level up again.
This time, the mission was completed perfectly. He didn’t take advantage of any loopholes and the host did indeed have several precious friendships. The growth line was indeed extremely healthy and no one could fault it. So during the assessment of the next regular meeting, would his score finally surpass Fang Hao’s?
Ji Tong thought of this, opened the system chat group and inquired about the news.
[President Ji: It is so boring. Come and play flying chess? @Brother Hao.]
[Brother Hao: I’m coming, I’m bored to death. Is Sister Yinyin coming?]
[President Ji: What is boring?]
[Brother Hao: Wasn’t the host stuck in the lava purgatory last time? A few days ago, he found the supreme treasure Fire Lotus in the purgatory. After absorbing it, he retreated into cultivation. Once he leaves seclusion, he will definitely be able to cross several small realms in a row and his cultivation base will skyrocket. I estimate that he will be in seclusion for at least 20 years…]
[Yinyin: …So pitiful. How can you live this month?]
[President Ji: Haha, you must not have time to complete the task before the next regular meeting. It is my turn to dominate!]
[Brother Hao: ?? Are you cheating me in flying chess?]
[Brother Hao: Abominable!]
The timelines of different projection worlds were different and the time flow rate of the system center was also different. Otherwise, the systems would have to work too long in the world with fantasy or similar themes, which was very unfair.
Ji Tong was simply happy after learning that Fang Hao wouldn’t pose a threat to his assessment ranking.
[President Ji: Dear colleagues, what is the reward for the first place in the assessment?]
[Yinyin: Xiao Tong is so confident this time.]
[Brother Hao: Heh, I won’t tell you.]
[President Ji: I will accompany you to play flying chess ヾ(@^▽^@)ノ]
[Brother Hao: …Generally, some special growth points are rewarded.]
[President Ji: Special growth value? Is there any difference from the regular one?]
[Yinyin: The special growth value can’t be used to change the form of the system, but it can be used to enable some special functions.]
[Brother Hao: For example, system interconnection permissions.]
[Brother Hao: If you really win first place, can you let me go to your world to play? I want to play that AI quiz last time and I want to play flying chess face to face.]
[Brother Hao: In return, I can teach your host some quick and ruthless tricks to increase his fighting ability. It absolutely won’t be a problem for him to fight against a dozen people. You shouldn’t have this type of data.]
[Yinyin: Hahaha, I’ve also thought about it. I can probably teach your host how to fall in love. Xiao Tong doesn’t seem to have experience in this area, right?]
[President Ji: …(⊙o⊙)!!!]
After listening to the big cake drawn by his colleagues, Ji Tong now had only one wish: Fast forward to the sports meeting and get first place in the regular meeting assessment. Then fast forward to the thugs in suits who could fight one against ten.
…He seemed to have fast forwarded a bit too much.
The little robot on the dial giggled at his imagination.
Pei Qingyuan listened to Ji Tong’s report and immediately heard a cheerful and lively tune.
Now even without Ji Tong’s explanation, he could guess that this BGM represented joy and excitement.
Pei Qingyuan was happy after knowing that the task had progressed, but he also thought about the mission reward that was about to be issued.
What would Ji Tong look like when he grew up?
He suddenly remembered the boy whose face couldn’t be seen clearly.
Why did he dream of a stranger he had never known before?
Even if he couldn’t see the face, Pei Qingyuan was sure that he had never seen that back in real life.
If he had seen it, he wouldn’t have forgotten it.
On the campus path in autumn, the warm sunlight blew through the leaves and past the students with young faces. A teenager wearing a watch in the crowd instinctively looked up at the bright sun and lowered his eyes.
It was the same as the sun in his dream.
The remaining three days of the exchange week passed quickly. The exchange students of these foreign schools obviously became more and more relaxed. Unlike the general restraint and admiration of the exchange students in previous years, they looked at everything new and novel here with peaceful eyes. They were like sponges trying to absorb the scenery.
In this atmosphere, the malicious targeting and embarrassment were made especially ridiculous and gradually disappeared. At least it no longer appeared on the surface.
There was morning self-study, classes, lectures, meals, club activities and entertainment in his spare time. He lived a fulfilling life every day.
Ji Tong sighed coldly in his heart. “It is a really beautiful campus life. There is mushroom soup, peacocks and good friends who go to the bathroom together.”
Pei Qingyuan guessed that his system should’ve absorbed an entire knowledge base about good words and sentences in high school.
He had the same schedule as other students, listened to the same classes and saw the same scenery. The only difference was that he often dreamed of that pale room and the dream hardly changed. It was always daylight, rain and a quiet back. There was a long loneliness that even he almost couldn’t bear.
Pei Qingyuan always thought he was familiar enough with loneliness. The life he lived in the Pei house was strictly regulated since he was a child. Everything he encountered after his life experience was exposed made him more and more accustomed to silence. This was until the system appeared in his life.
Yet compared to that dream, at least he still had a colorful world.
During the break, Pei Qingyuan often thought of this strange boy who appeared in his dreams.
He even started to worry about what the boy would look like in his future dreams.
Would his condition get worse and worse?
Pei Qingyuan didn’t tell Ji Tong about this, nor did he try to describe his inner feelings.
It was because he thought this might be a question that his system couldn’t answer.
Ji Tong had always been happy.
Then after becoming more and more familiar with these new friends, Pei Qingyuan finally couldn’t hold back the increasingly full emotions in his heart and asked these peers a question.
“What would happen if you were stuck in one place since you were a child and couldn’t go out, being lonely every day? Will you collapse?”
At lunch time, in the noisy restaurant, everyone listened to what he said and thought about it seriously.
“It is so boring to live. I guess I might want to die,” someone replied.
“My mother is almost like this. It is inconvenient to move and she rarely goes out.” Xiao Xinchen didn’t shy away from this “But my grandparents loved her a lot. My grandfather resigned to accompany her at home and she later met my father. My mother should be very happy and is similar to ordinary people.”
Shen Yiming shook his head. “I can’t imagine. If I didn’t have such a strong will, I would definitely collapse.”
“Is there a phone to play with?” Lin Zihai thoughtfully asked. “It might be better to have a phone, but it is still scary.”
“Didn’t you say you handed in your phone? Are you still thinking about it?”
“The head teacher gave it back to me yesterday and told me to call my family…”
“No wonder why your dark circles are so big today!”
In the midst of the laughter, someone curiously looked at the black watch on Pei Qingyuan’s wrist.
“What does Xiao Mei think?” The man asked. “Can Xiao Mei answer this question?”
The screen brightened and the little robot appeared on the screen as usual, blinking blankly.
“Xiao Mei thinks that nothing will change.”
“Because humans can eat so they are happy.”
The little robot answered them in a regular mechanical voice.
“This answer is so familiar. Didn’t you say it yesterday? Xiao Mei is acting perfunctory to us!”
“Xiao Mei is really an AI. It doesn’t understand us humans.”
Xiao Mei smiled with crooked eyes. “Xiao Mei will study hard.”
At its cute expression, the laughter of the teenagers became more distinct.
Pei Yan’s eyes swept over the lively exchange students where there were his former friends.
Sitting opposite him was Xiang Jinyang, who was talking with a smile, “Xiao Yan, Teacher Qi of Jiangyuan College will be here in the afternoon and he will listen to the other professors’ lectures with Professor Xiao. Do you want to go and say hello?”
“You have already read a lot of books. Aunt Ye originally wanted to take you to meet scholars in this field. If you want to learn this major in the future, you need to pave the way. Teacher Qi is a good choice…”
His tone was kind, as if he was thinking about his friend.
Pei Yan was silent for a moment before suddenly saying, “I can’t learn.”
“What did you say?” Xiang Jinyang thought he had misheard.
“I can’t learn it so I don’t want to go.” Pei Yan repeated in a low voice. Then for the first time, he took the initiative to get up and leave. “I’m done eating. I want to go back to the classroom first… I’m sorry.”
Xiang Jinyang looked at his back in amazement and clenched his fists.
On the second floor of the restaurant, the handsome boy wearing glasses silently withdrew his gaze.
The people next to him were talking about the undercurrents on campus this week, complaining about the obstructive exchange students and talking about the leisure activities on the weekend.
“Wenbai, are you going to see that musical on Saturday? This is the first time the show is doing a domestic tour and it is already booked out. My uncle left me a few tickets for the prime positions.”
“Thanks, I’m not going.” Zhuang Wenbai smiled and refused. “I have other things arranged.”
How could a fake drama be as interesting as reality?
Once the group of people finished their lunch and got up to leave, some companions accidentally touched the decorative vase on the table. Once the glass bottle was about to slam against the table, Zhuang Wenbai reached out in time to support it.
The glass vase was held firmly in place before the fragrant bouquet fell from the mouth of the bottle and scattered loosely on the ground.
“Phew, it is okay.” The man sighed with relief. “Thank you to Wen Bai. What type of glass vase is at the restaurant…”
“It’s okay,” Zhuang Wenbai sighed lightly. “It won’t break.”
It would hold these flowers until they withered.
In the blink of an eye, Friday was coming and it was the last day of the exchange week.
The five day schedule was over and only one farewell ceremony was left. The exchange students were arranged to return to the dormitory to pack their bags first. Then the school bus would pick everyone up to take them to the auditorium.
There was a sad, parting mood in the dormitory building. Many students who met here exchanged contact information and made an appointment to meet each other again.
Teacher Qian, who had received the exchange students when he came, waited in the corridor and helped everyone carry their luggage. He specially told Pei Qingyuan that he hadn’t found a missing cat notice related to Mushroom.
Pei Qingyuan knew the reason and calmly responded, “I will take care of him.”
Seeing the hesitant expectation in Teacher Qian’s eyes, Mushroom walked up to him and allowed the teacher to play with him for a while. This way, the host could also concentrate on cleaning up.
“Mushroom is the most well-behaved and beautiful cat I’ve ever seen.” Teacher Qian was reluctant to part.
Teacher Qian was also one of the most sensible humans he had ever met.
Mushroom stretched out a paw and patted Teacher Qian’s arm appreciatively.
The sound outside the room was noisy. Shen Yiming was cleaning up the room when a similar scene made him suddenly remember something he had forgotten.
He walked into Lin Zihai’s room. Then he hurriedly came out again and went straight to Pei Qingyuan.
“There is a question I have been forgetting to ask you.” Shen Yiming took Lin Zihai’s wrong question book and turned to a certain page. “On the day I came, Lin Zihai asked me a question and said that you know another solution. I didn’t believe it originally and said it was impossible. Now I think there must be one. Can you teach me?”
Pei Qingyuan looked back when he heard the words and he saw Shen Yiming’s eyes flashing with a strong desire for knowledge.
The air was quiet for a while and he didn’t reach out to take the wrong question book.
“You will find out,” he said. “Perhaps there is even a third solution.”