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300 The Artis

 Xu Yin slowly climbed out from behind Chen Ge, and the pair rushed toward the old lady in unison. The wrinkles on her face folded together.

When the old lady saw Chen Ge exit Room 304 and enter the shadow, her dry lips curved into a smile. However, before she could do anything, a man wearing a half red shirt suddenly rushed at her!

"So painful!"

The wounds on his body oozed blood, and the man landed on all fours like he was some feral animal. The smile froze on the old lady's face, and with a speed that did not match her age, she morphed into a shadow and escaped down the stairs.

"Didn't you ask me to follow you‽" The hammer landed heavily at the spot where the old lady had stood a moment ago, and the sound echoed throughout the building.

"None of you are escaping me tonight!"

Xu Yin and Chen Ge gave chase after the old lady.

The stairwell was filled with the sound of rushing footsteps. The steps were like endless, and this was the first time the old lady had felt that the stairwell was so long; this was probably the scariest night she had ever experienced.

The exit was just before her.

The shadow ran with all her energy. She was just a normal lingering spirit; her soul was lost when she saw Xu Yin with half a red shirt.

"Stand right there!" Chen Ge called after her.

Xu Yin was slightly faster than the shadow. Just as the shadow was about to escape, he managed to grab its arm. The shadow shuddered, and without hesitation, it tore its arm off and rushed out of the building, disappearing into the darkness.

Looks like I need more training-I was running too slow. Chen Ge sighed with regret.

When he turned to look at Xu Yin, he realized that the broken arm had already disappeared, and the blood stain on Xu Yin's shirt seemed to have grown.

Perhaps it won't be a terrible thing if Xu Yin becomes a Red Specter. Chen Ge looked down at the dark residential area. Since we've met, I can't just sit idle. After I find the drawer, I'll come back to deal with the old lady's lingering wish.

Calling Xu Yin, Chen Ge returned to the third floor. He called the agent's number. The call was not answered, so Chen Ge messaged the number asking for a reply. He wanted to 'thank' the agent in person for her reminder. Why isn't she taking my call?

Chen Ge held the phone in his left hand and dragged the hammer back into Room 304 with his right. I've inspected the living room and the bedroom closest to the door. The only remaining room is the deepest bedroom. These spirits have been trying to stop me from going there.

The last room was locked from within, but this was solved by a swing of the hammer. The bedroom is locked from the inside; does this mean the gambler's missing arm is inside?

Chen Ge cracked the door open and finally gained entry to the last room. The bedroom was tiny; a large bookshelf and a desk took up half of the space, and the remaining half was occupied by a rusted mini-fridge and a tattered sleeping mat.

The edges of the mat are frayed, looks like the owner used this mat often, but there's a bed in the other bedroom, right? Why did he insist on staying in this room? Was he afraid of something?

The atmosphere in this room was totally different from outside. There was no chill in the air, and the drawers and shelves were not sealed up with wooden planks.

The working table and shelf are perfectly clean. They look like they've been cleaned daily.

Chen Ge looked at the tidy bookshelf, and a weird thought appeared in his mind. Feels like it's the lingering spirits that help with the cleaning; does this mean the spirits here have an obsession with cleanliness?

The bookshelf had literature related to drawing comics.

How to draw a famous comic series, how to create an exciting world, an understanding of human anatomy...

These books don't seem to fit the previous tenants' identities, so has this place played host to a fourth tenant?

Chen Ge replaced the books and found a box of abandoned drafts under the bookshelf. The weirdest thing was the drafts had signs that they had been crumbled, and some had been torn apart, but someone had gruelingly pieced them back together with tape.

Why are all the drafts preserved? Chen Ge picked up the thick stack and started to read. The characters drawn were off. It was obvious that the artist had tried to make the characters look cuter and more mainstream, but the effect was just scarring.

The artist was definitely not a professional. The characters did not have vibrant expressions, and in fact, a few of them had blank eyes-some of them were frozen in fear. However, it was observable that the artist had been trying to improve, to fit the taste of the public, but something was different about his eye for beauty. Even if he was mimicking other people's work, he managed to draw the famous comic book character like a female dead body.

It's a kind of talent to be able to draw every picture as scary as these.

Chen Ge placed the drafts down and saw a thin notebook with a yellow cover at the back of the shelf. He flipped through it and realized that it was a budget book. It recorded the artist's weekly expenses and what he earned from selling his script.

Reading the content, Chen Ge's face slowly creased into a frown. Technically speaking, the comic artist was also a tenant at Room 304, but he shared it with someone else, and the place he rented was this small bedroom.

He had a hard life. He was a comic book lover, but looking through the notebook, for the three years the artist stayed in the room, the income he gained from drawing was a measly 1,200. The 1,000 was sponsored by the old landlady or his only fans, and the other 200 was the payment he got when he moved under the bridge to do people's portraits.

In the end, he drew the living people like a dead men, and he was chased by the angry customer for several blocks. After the police came to intervene, the person gave him 200 as compensation.

He powered on with his passion and love. He kept his monthly expenses to under 400, and his belief held firm-one day, he would succeed. However, the cruel reality was, even until his final day, his work did not find any appreciation. The last page of the notebook was a folded newspaper; one of the articles was on a middle-aged man who sacrificed himself to save a drowning boy. The article did not mention the man's name.

This is different from the other spirits. Just how many tenants Room 304 has had? Chen Ge replaced the notebook and walked to the desk. It's facing away from the living room. This should be the table mentioned in the black phone.

The table was filled with a lot of drawing equipment like it was waiting for its owner to return. Chen Ge scanned the desk, and he saw the three drawers that came with it. He pulled open the first drawer, and it was filled with drawing pencils and pens.

"This isn't it." Chen Ge pulled the second drawer open. It was filled with the rejection letters that the middle-aged man had received. They were almost overflowing out of the drawer.

Then Chen Ge tried the third drawer. He gave it a powerful yank, but the drawer remained unmoved.