Blizzardous Threads of Red Main Story Prologue

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Blizzard Villa

It's freezing...

Blinded by the cold wind, you follow your instincts and walk along with those around you.

Flakes of snow fall into your collar, making the cold seem as if your skin's being needled with tiny broken needles.

*Heavy creaking*...

In the wind, you hear someone push the heavy wooden door open...

Blizzard Villa

Manor Mystery Invitation full.png

Luke: Finally. Everyone, get inside.

Marius: There was only light snow when we headed up the mountain. I didn't think it would turn into a full-blown blizzard...

Marius: The mountain roads were tortuous, and the snow turned it into a nightmare. What was the Zeng family thinking?

Artem: [Player], are you okay?

You: ... I'm fine.

The chilly winds push you inside. You blink a few times, trying to make out what lies ahead.

You: This is the... Blizzard Villa?

With the misty snow behind, and in front of you... a mountain estate, without the classical elegance you'd imagined it to house.

You: It's so dark... Is there no one here?

A classical and elegant main hall lies behind the thick wooden door.

Carved fence panes, hanging red lanterns, and the exquisite tables and chairs all convey a solemn atmosphere.

But the hall is empty, save for the whistling of the wind and the creaking of the moving lanterns...

Everything sleeps quietly in the darkness.

Vyn: Are you sure this is our destination?

Marius: Yuchen Town is not big, and there's only one villa. This must be it.

Luke: The living room is exquisitely furnished and most likely carefully maintained every day.

Luke: It's clear that someone used to live here, but now...

Luke bends down on one knee to carefully observe the surroundings.

Marius: It's a little strange. We were invited to the treasure auction...

Marius: Since it's an auction, we shouldn't be the only ones in attendance.

Marius: So, why haven't we seen anyone else yet?

Artem: Maybe something changed.

Artem: The blizzard is heavy, it'll be difficult to make the journey back down the mountain.

Vyn: ...

For a moment, everyone falls silent.

It is late in the afternoon and the snowstorm comes in full force. It grows increasingly darker and colder outside as night approaches.

Under these circumstances, it looks like it's not worth going down the mountain now.

You: Why don't we check out the backyard?

You: We'll have to find a place to rest if the snow doesn't stop...

Luke: Shh, quiet.

You: !!!

Luke's whisper interrupts you. You bite your lip and look to him in confusion.

Luke: I think there's someone here.

All eyes turn to the gray shadow in the room.

Luke: Someone's coming.

As soon as he says that, you hear several faint footsteps coming closer...

In the darkness, a vague outline of someone gradually appears.


Someone presses down on something that makes a mechanical sound, and in the next moment, the world lights up.

Blizzard Villa
Villa Hall
Blizzard Villa - Indoors (Lit).png

The entire hall is flooded with light. The warm yellow light drives away the prior darkness.

The interior is decorated with refined simplicity, making people feel like they've been transported back thousands of years ago.

???: Distinguished guests, we're sorry for the undesirable hospitality.

A middle-aged man dressed in a traditional outfit welcomes all of you with a smile.

Luke: You are...

???: Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Winters, and I am a butler of Blizzard Villa.

Winters: Distinguished guests, are you here for the auction? The storm is taking a turn for the worse. Please, come in, take your conversation inside.

Everyone's response to his warm greeting is relatively calm.

Marius: Excuse me, what was that about?

Marius: The whole hall was dark... The Zeng family really does have a special way of welcoming their guests.

Winters: I'm terribly sorry for that.

Winters: A wire came loose somewhere, causing a power outage in the main hall.

Vyn: Seems like the timing of our arrival was too coincidental.

Winters continues to smile, despite the veiled sarcasm in Vyn's voice.

Winters: *sigh* We are short on staff. Counting me... there are only four household staff.

Winters: The staff were making preparations in the kitchen while the other guests dined in the dining hall.

Winters: *sigh* That's why there was a delay in repairing the hall's switch.

Winters: And our master... is too busy sorting things out for the auction. I'm very sorry for the inconvenience.

As he speaks, the guests that have finished eating come out of the dining hall.

Many of them peer towards the entrance, checking out the people who've just arrived.

As more people enter, the noisy chatters bring life to the once-cold living room.

It also confirms what Winters just said.

Winters: The storm outside is getting worse...

Winters: How was your trip here?

Winters can expertly segue into another topic after a humble explanation and apology, like an experienced butler.

Artem: Thank you for asking. The whole trip went smoothly.

You: The snowstorm suddenly hit us while we were halfway up the mountain.

Winters: *sigh* Yuchen Town has always been like this—snowstorms every winter.

Winters: The snow is exceptionally heavy this year. I don't know when it will stop...

The butler smiles and looks warmly at all of you.

But for some reason, you feel a little uneasy...

You: (Huh? Am I just... overthinking it?)

Luke: Oh crap, if the snow gets any thicker, it'll be hard to get down the mountain in a few days.

Winters: Distinguished guests, please don't worry. No matter how heavy the snow is, it will eventually stop.

Winters: Besides, our villa offers all the finest facilities, so please rest assured and enjoy your stay.

Winters: And... would all of you kindly please show me your invitations?

Marius: Here.

Marius takes out a gold-stamped card covered in red velvet and hands it to the butler.

Looking at the invitation, you can't help but remember what happened that day...

NXX Headquarters
NXX Headquarters
NXX Headquarters Meeting Room
NXX Headquarters.png

Two weeks ago, Luke called out to Marius after a routine meeting at NXX.

Luke: Hey, were you able to get an invitation to Mevis Zeng's treasure auction?

Marius: Yes, I just received the invitation yesterday.

Marius looks at Luke with slight scrutiny.

Marius: Luke, why the sudden interest in stuff like this?

Luke: ...

Luke: I want to take a look at the venue.

Luke: I heard the Zeng family has been dealing in antiques for generations, and that they live in seclusion and secrecy.

Luke: It's worrisome that they would suddenly have such a grand auction in a mountain estate in the middle of nowhere...

Marius: You're afraid they're engaging in shady dealings under the guise of an auction?

Marius: All right. I'll give you an invitation.

Luke: Yeah, thanks.

They talk more with each other but only vaguely bring up the topic. It piques your curiosity.

You: What auction?

Vyn: They said that... there will be an antique treasure auction in two weeks at the Blizzard Villa in Yuchen Town.

Artem: As a large local family, the Zeng family started in the antique business and accumulated a fortune over the decades.

Vyn and Artem, who are sitting on the side, join the discussion.

Artem: The former head of the family was Nolan Zeng. He did business by himself outside in his early years.

Artem: Then one day, he took his wife and daughter for an outing on a whim. And that's... when the accident happened.

You: What happened?

Artem: They got into a car accident. Unfortunately, his wife and child died in the accident, and he was the only one who survived.

You: ...

Vyn: Nolan Zeng's personality changed drastically afterward.

Vyn: He withdrew from society and moved his family to a remote old manor deep in the mountains...

Vyn: And, afterward... I heard he adopted a child from an orphanage to be his successor.

Vyn: In the decades that followed, he was rarely seen in public, choosing instead to identify antiques in his home.

Vyn: It was his adopted son, Mevis Zeng, who ran the family business all these years.

You: ... The accident must have been traumatic for Mr. Zeng.

You: So, why is he willing to hold a public auction again?

Luke: A few months ago, Mr. Nolan Zeng passed away from illness, and Mevis Zeng has taken over the family business.

You: ...

Luke: Some see the auction as a way to highlight the Zeng family's wealth, as well as its transition of power.

Marius: I think that Mevis Zeng is a pretty clever one...

Marius: Sometimes, the Zeng family's low-key style will not be very fitting in the long run.

Marius: Increasing the family's popularity to a certain degree will be helpful for the family's future development.

Vyn: Yes, I agree.

It's rare for the two of them to agree on anything.

You want to say something to them, but then, you notice a profound smile on Marius' face.

Marius: Vyn, Artem, why are the two of you so interested in the Zeng family?

Marius: Could it be that you want me to get you two invitations too?

Vyn: That is not necessary. I am one of the invitees.

Vyn takes out his invitation with gold lettering and places it in front of Marius.

Marius purses his lips as if to say something, but holds back. Then, he turns to Artem.

Artem: I am also an invitee.

Marius: No way!?

You: Eh?

You and Marius exclaim at the same time.

Artem clears his throat to ease the delicate atmosphere.

Artem: Ahem. Mevis Zeng personally contacted the firm...

Artem: He wanted legal aid for the auction, so he sent invitations to us.

With that, Artem takes out two velvet invitations from his bag and hands one of them to you.

When you open the invitation, there is a beautiful old script on the note inside, with your name neatly written at the top.

You: Wow...

Luke: In other words, if I didn't ask Marius for an invitation... I'd be the only one who wasn't invited?

Marius: Sorry to have to take a jab at your confidence, but it does seem that way.

Luke: ...

You: A-at least we can all work together again.

You quickly say something to ease the atmosphere.

You: Besides, we don't need to investigate some strange case this time. Think of it as a relaxing trip.

Artem: Yes, it's just simple legal aid. It won't be too complicated.

Artem: We should have plenty of free time then. I can show you around town if you're interested.

Vyn: I know a great ski resort near Yuchen Town. We can go there together if you are interested.

You: That makes this trip feel more like a vacation.

Luke: But winters in Yuchen Town are accompanied by snow and freezing temperatures.

Luke: Remember to pack plenty of warm clothes and be prepared for the cold.

You: Okay!

And just like that, everyone quickly agreed on a plan and boarded the private plane to Yuchen Town.

Strictly speaking, everything went smoothly... aside from the snowstorm on the way up the mountain.

Blizzard Villa
Blizzard Villa
Villa Side Hall
Blizzard Villa - Indoors (Lit).png

Winters: Distinguished guests, please come with me...

By the time you come to your senses, the butler has already verified all the invitations.

You follow the butler into the side hall to rest.

The side hall is decorated in an antique style, much like the main hall.

On one side is a set of elegant wood-carved tables and chairs, and on the other is a fine brushwork painting with great complexity.

You feel like you've traveled to another era as the guest of a wealthy household in ancient times.

You: (What an exquisite room...)

Marius: ...

You: ???

Between admiring the extravagant decorations, you notice Marius frowning as he stares at something.

You: What are you looking at?

Marius: Nothing. I just like the painting on the wall.

Following his gaze, you see a freehand ink painting hanging on the wall.

The ink scattered and trailed freely in the piece. Even someone without an understanding of art can appreciate its greatness.

You: It's a great ink painting.

Marius: Unfortunately...

You: Hmm?

Marius: There are too many guests in the room, which spoils the mood of appreciating art.

Marius: How about we come back later to enjoy it, when there are fewer people?

You: (The guests around us...)

The room is full of guests sitting in small groups of their own, deep in conversation. It doesn't feel crowded though.

From what you know of him, he must be trying to hide something, which is why he changed the subject.

Winters: Yes, there's no rush.

Winters: The villa is home to my master's precious collection. Distinguished guests, please feel free to view them at your leisure.

Before you can ask anything else, the butler picks the conversation up from where Marius left off.

Winters: Distinguished guests, please get some rest as we prepare dinner for you.

Seeing the butler's enthusiasm, it doesn't feel right for you to bring up the topic from earlier.

You: (... Some things probably shouldn't be said out loud, but I should talk to him later when I have the chance.)

You: Okay, thank you.

Winters nods and turns to lead you to the resting area further inside. This is when...

???: Help! Someone! Anyone! The maniac is spewing nonsense again!

There is a commotion outside the living room. Someone is shouting frantically as if trying to stop something as soon as possible.

You: What happened?

Luke: Let's take a look!

You all exchange looks and immediately rush out the door!

Blizzard Villa
Villa Garden
Blizzard Villa - Courtyard (Snow).png

Someone is standing in the snow and muttering about something in the courtyard.

???: *sigh* You people... are too ignorant to know how dangerous the world is.

???: Just a friendly reminder... There are many dark secrets hidden in this corrupted mountain villa.

???: Of course, it is up to you to decide whether or not to listen to me.

???: What can an NPC like me change? I cannot do anything...

A familiar voice and silhouette, even the way he speaks, makes it clear who it is.

Marius: Hey, isn't he...

Luke: He looks familiar... Isn't he the same person we saved on Nosta?

Artem: Yes, it's him.

Vyn: We seem to share a strange kind of fate with him.

You: Zangr Stewart!?

Zangr Stewart: Have we met before?

Zangr Stewart: It's amazing that anyone would remember the name of such an unnoticeable NPC.

You: (Unnoticeable!? Are you sure?)

Servant: *sigh* Distinguished guests, do you know this man? What's he talking about?

Before you can ask Zangr what he's doing here, a young woman dressed like a maid starts complaining.

Servant: He came wandering around the villa a few days ago. Now he's back with his nonsense again! I can't stand it!

You: What did he say?

Servant: What else? It's the same nonsense he was just blabbering about.

Zangr Stewart: It's not nonsense. The spirits in the snow mountain have given me visions!

Marius: I haven't seen him in a while... but he seems to be just as delusional as before.

Zangr Stewart: Delusional? No, you don't understand... I'm not delusional. It's just my experience of being an NPC.

Zangr Stewart: How can protagonists who have plot armor understand my feelings?

He seems to be responding to Marius, but it also feels like he is completely immersed in his own world.

You: I really don't understand what you're saying...

Suddenly, Zangr looks up at you with a piercing gaze as if he had just discovered some magical new land.

Zangr Stewart: Yes, yes! I'm honestly so stupid...

Zangr Stewart: How can you guys believe me if you haven't seen it?

Zangr Stewart: Come, all of you, to the villa behind the snow mountain. I will show you the secrets hidden in the depths of the mountain villa!

With that, Zangr speeds down the steps and runs back up the hill from another turnoff.

Luke: What's going on with him?

Marius: Should we... go after him?

Vyn: His behavior is indeed strange, but there really are... founded worries about what he said.

You: ...

Artem: [Player], do you want to go after him?

Artem: Or we can confirm the situation with the people back in the villa first.

You: Yeah...

A strange feeling overtakes you.

What was supposed to be a pleasant trip has suddenly come to an abrupt end, replaced by one with unknown riddles and confusion.

But no matter what, you must face the things you must face.

After pondering for a moment, you make your decision.