Chapter 401: Accidentally becoming first
Lu Zhixin’s emotions had been unstable over this period of time as her work efficiency had decreased greatly. Still, Xu Tingsheng was basically already no longer getting involved with matters in Hucheng as most of the final decisions were left to her. Hence, her working hours were getting dragged longer and longer.
It had been especially so that night.
Lu Zhixin had similarly received a game account from Xu Tingsheng earlier that day. She was rather curious as she logged into Weibo, downloading and loading the little game called Happy Farm. Immediately afterwards, her mood became rather complex.
She was the clearest on how Xu Tingsheng’s cashflow was virtually broken right now. On seeing him produce such a childish measure to salvage the situation, Lu Zhixin inevitably felt rather like smiling at first. It felt just like when they had faced their opposition side by side in the past.
Together, they had once been unstoppable, turning Hucheng from a little education platform to the behemoth it was today. Even the most conservative estimate priced it over 300 million.
Once, in order to help pave the way for Apple, he had taken Hucheng’s shares and performed an unprofitable exchange of shares with Tianyi. She had not been angry, having pretended not to know anything about it. When he had set the company’s matters aside and gone gallivanting about outside, deploying funds away for his own matters, she had not been angry, even having helped him to cover it up…
Time and time again, she had chosen to empathise with and understand him, putting in more effort to help remedy things for him…
Yet, things were irreversible this time. Lu Zhixin could sense that he was destined never to return to her side.
Therefore, she had chosen this path, not looking back.
Right after she had solidified her determination, when that face which she could not be any more familiar with appeared before her, as she thought of how he had been able to direct the overall flow of things, cheerfully overturning the frenzied waves time and time again, when she thought about him acting shamelessly, acting all ‘ruffianish’, looking embarrassed and helpless…
That tinge of pain and an innate unwillingness to be so cold-hearted towards him could not be wiped away however she tried.
“How good it would be if we could be like how we were before. I’m not greedy. Just like before, neither close nor distant. I’d still be fine with that,” At one point in time, Lu Zhixin had very much been tempted to go to him and tell him this.
Yet, she was Lu Zhixin! Lu Zhixin could never be someone who ‘begged’ like this. Whatever she wanted, she herself would strive for it, whatever the means.
After looking through their recent ‘Ten Cities Progression Plan’ and sending it to the mailbox of the manager, Wang Tuo, Lu Zhixin raised the half-filled glass of red wine beside her laptop and downed it in one gulp, intending to retire for the night soon.
She turned and entered the living room, turning on the lights.
This house was already all but empty now.
A very long time had passed since Xu Tingsheng’s last visit.
“I heard that he bought a new flat. He won’t be coming anymore, right? Even Dongdong was already secretly taken away by him.”
Lu Zhixin had previously helped Xu Tingsheng to take care of Dongdong for a very long time. She had not been present when he had returned to take Dongdong away.
She had searched for Dongdong for so very long that day…
She took a cold shower before returning to the living room, wrapped in a towel. Inadvertently, she remembered how he had walked in on her here back then. She had just taken a shower too, and he had looked at her while in a daze. He had looked so foolish, yet somehow cute.
“You fool. It could clearly all be yours, so long as you want it. You’d only have to ask for it.”
Facing the empty room, Lu Zhixin felt rather desolate. Even though he had not stayed there often in the past, hadn’t it at least been possible that he might then? At least, if she fell sick or something, he would feel sorry for her and take care of her…
But in the future? No more.
Lu Zhixin felt bitter within as pain penetrated unceasingly into the core of her being. She ended up pouring herself yet another glass of red wine. After pouring it, she shook the wine bottle and found it empty. So she had already unconsciously ended up drinking an entire bottle of red wine that night.
“Sometimes, having a high alcohol capacity…really isn’t a good thing.”
She poured the majority of the red wine in the glass down her throat, unable to forget how he had given all his love and doting to that young girl…Lu Zhixin instinctively wiped off the tears which were accumulating at the corners of her eyes, taking a deep breath as she sat down.
She casually turned on Weibo, clicking on the game that he had made, Happy Farm. Upon entering, she saw a whole row of already ripe radishes.
She smiled self-deprecatingly before mindlessly clicking to harvest these radishes.
Radishes x3, radishes x4…
“Wa, that’s a lot…ha.”
After harvesting her radishes, she actually inexplicably felt like she had gained a sense of fulfilment somehow. Lu Zhixin dug up the dead roots and planted a new batch, carrots this time…because she had levelled up.
She checked the leaderboards and found that as the sole Level 2 player, she was presently ranked first.
Ranked below her was a long list of Level 1s. It looked like no others amongst the fifty plus people in the first testing really cared about harvesting their cabbages. Lu Zhixin herself so happened not to have slept yet, whereas everybody else was sleeping, utterly defenceless.
“I think he said that it’s also possible to steal from others. He said that it’s necessary, even.”
In order to fulfil the task that he had handed down, Lu Zhixin randomly clicked on somebody else’s farm. The screen was similarly filled with already ripened radishes, exactly the same as for her own farm as there was nothing new here…
Yet, when the mouse pointer turned into a small hand and fell upon the radishes of others, there was suddenly a bit of nervousness and a slight rush of thrill that overwhelmed her…as she clicked lightly and on the screen appeared notifications of ‘Radishes x1, radishes, x1’, somehow…this evoked exhilaration, as if she had picked up some actual money.
Lu Zhixin had only exhaled in relief upon taking down Youxin Tongcheng, smiling relaxedly. Yet, as she stole her first bunch of radishes now, she actually felt an inexplicable sense of pleasure, joy surging within her.
There was probably no one who could imagine how their cool-headed, professional-looking boss, Lu Zhixin, would actually be laughing in joy in the middle of the night over a couple of virtual radishes, even clenching her fist unconsciously as she revelled in her small victories.
The second plot of radishes…the third…
After robbing all fifty plots of radishes clean, gazing at her profits which far surpassed what had been planted by she herself and seeing the flash of light as she levelled up yet again, Lu Zhixin was beyond herself with excitement. She was already two whole levels beyond everybody else.
“It looks like they have notifications saying that I was the one who stole their cabbages? What do I do?”
Lu Zhixin felt slight awkwardness at how this felt much too incongruent with her usual image.
“Early morning cabbage thief, Lu Zhixin? Alright, laugh all you can. The game is about stealing from one another anyway. Y’all can steal mine too…right, what if they steal mine? My carrots are much more valuable than their radishes.”
After checking when her carrots would ripen, Lu Zhixin took her phone and, very carefully, set an alarm such that she would be able to harvest her crops in time, lest an instance of thievery occurred with her the victim.
Only then did she turn off her laptop and go to her bedroom to sleep, her mind still lingering on those earlier thrills.
By thinking how she had better not oversleep the next day, Lu Zhixin was distracted from other, potentially more troubling issues as she fell asleep. This was a good thing.
Awoken by the glare of the bright sun, Lu Zhixin blearily opened her eyes…
“Wah…oh no, why didn’t that alarm sound? …Oh no, my poor cabbages!”