Su Jin and Chen Xin’er’s idea was very simple. Even though this was a Level A Challenge, the Handbook would not put them in a situation where there was absolutely no way out.
The aim of each Challenge was not to kill the owners, but to put them through terrifying experiences. Also, if they moved around by themselves, they wouldn’t have to constantly guard against each other.
Su Jin called this a gamble, but in reality, they didn’t really have much choice. They were now faced with a Level A Challenge, where even veterans could only get by with luck. In other words, intelligence and scheming wasn’t going to get anybody anywhere. It all depended on whether you got lucky or not.
“Okay. Everyone, listen to me. I believe that even if you’re under the control of an Original Sin, there is a way to get out of its control. As long as we don’t give up, there’s hope!” said Su Jin earnestly to his team members. He didn’t have any better way to tackle this Challenge either.
“But Boss, we were still able to apprehend that fellow even after he was possessed, so I don’t think we really have to, you know…” Yang Mo was still very worried. A Level A Challenge had only made him even more afraid than before and having a team helped to ease some of his fears. Thinking about having to face these dangers all by himself made him feel weak in the legs.
Su Jin laughed bitterly and said, “What if the one who got possessed was myself? Or Chu Yi? How do you think things would have ended?”
Everyone gasped at the thought of this possibility. Su Jin and Chu Yi were way better fighters than them, especially since they were both veterans. If either one of them had been possessed earlier, then more than half of them or even all of them would have perished.
“What we’re up against this time is different from the usual. We don’t understand anything about these Original Sins, so if anything happens, we won’t have any chance to find a way out since we could all be wiped out in an instant. So…I’m afraid we’ll have to go our own way from here.” Su Jin didn’t want to do this either. But he knew that if he or Chu Yi got possessed by an Original Sin, they were all going to be massacred.
Everyone fell silent. Su Jin gave out some leaves of the Tree of Life to everyone, then said to Kano Mai, “I don’t know if I will survive this Challenge, so…so don’t be angry with me anymore, will you?”
Kano Mai pursed her lips and stared straight at him with her clear and beautiful eyes. But just before he looked away from feeling too awkward, she suddenly said, “If you survive this, I’ll forgive you.”
“It’s a deal!” Su Jin grinned and nodded.
Su Jin walked over to Chu Yi. Chu Yi was recovering well, but he was definitely in poorer shape than before getting hurt. Su Jin asked Chu Yi worriedly, “How are you? Is this injury going to affect you badly?”
“It’s okay, just a little painful. But it won’t affect my fighting ability too much, plus my internal energy is able to help me heal faster.” Chu Yi didn’t want Su Jin to worry about him, so he just nodded with a bright smile despite the pain he was actually in.
Su Jin sighed heavily, then turned to look at Yang Mo and Ning Meng. These two were the poorest at fighting but were still pretty good at staying alive. But none of that was helpful in a Level A Challenge.
“Either one can use this,” said Su Jin as he retrieved Black Fire from his Handbook. This was the only weapon he had that didn’t require any Spirit Power and it was a fairly powerful one too.
Yang Mo immediately shook his head and said, “I’ve got weapons of my own, so Ning Meng can have it. She’s gone through too few Challenges, so she doesn’t have much in her inventory.”
This was only Ning Meng’s third Challenge and her first one as part of the team, but she had unfortunately run into a Level A Challenge. She was probably the weakest and the most terrified among all the owners in this Challenge.
Su Jin gave Ning Meng Black Fire and all the ammunition he had on hand, then patted her shoulder and said, “Being afraid in a Challenge is pointless, so why not be brave and live on?”
Ning Meng looked down at Black Fire and the bullets in her hand. She pursed her pale lips and looked up to see her teammates nodding at her encouragingly. Her previously terrified heart suddenly didn’t feel so afraid anymore.
“I…I will…I will live on!” Ning Meng nodded vigorously.
Kano Mai retrieved two purple crystals and said, “These are Teleportation Crystals and they can send you to a random place ten kilometres away. You just have to crush it to activate. I hope it will be of help to you two.”
Teleportation Crystals were rare treasures and could probably save a life in almost any Challenge, but Kano Mai didn’t hold back and gave them away to the weakest members of the team.
Chu Yi too, took out two small wooden balls. After giving them one each, he rubbed his painful abdomen and winced as he said, “These are Thunderbolt Bombs, they’re a lot more powerful than ordinary hand grenades. Also, the thunderbolt power inside is good for driving away some evil spirits, so if you run into any danger, just fling it at your opponent.”
Yang Mo and Ning Meng received the items gratefully. Yang Mo took four bags out and said a little embarrassedly, “I’ve made some emergency packs, so each bag contains stuff that can help to stop bleeding, disinfect and dress wounds. It’s not very useful, but I hope it will help everyone in one way or another.”
The rest of the team didn’t refuse the packs and took one each. Ning Meng pursed her lips and said, “I’m sorry, I don’t have anything for you guys.”
“It’s alright! Surviving this Challenge will be the best gift to all of us! Promise me I’ll see you at the end of the Challenge?” Kano Mai tousled Ning Meng’s hair and smiled at her.
Su Jin moved the tattoo of his team’s symbol to his forearm and said, “I had initially hidden this symbol on my shoulder because I didn’t think it was good for others to see it. But now, I’ve realized something. Team Boning Knife isn’t something to be ashamed of at all. All of you are my best friends, my reliable team mates, my precious memories. I won’t hide it from now on! Team Boning Knife!”
The other four blinked in surprise, then smiled as they too, moved the symbol on their shoulders to their forearms. They locked arms and shouted, “Team Boning Knife!”
After they bid each other farewell, the other team was also done saying their goodbyes. Eight of them went their own way into the vast desert of billowing sand to face the next obstacle by themselves.
Su Jin walked on and on and had no idea how far he had walked. There was nothing but sand all around him, so it was hard to estimate how much he had walked without any landmarks in sight.
“Is there really nothing I can do?” Su Jin furrowed his brows deeply. He hadn’t given up on trying to find a way out of this tough Challenge.
“Greed, gluttony, lust, wrath, sloth, jealousy, pride. The seven deadly sins. When Greed chose that team member of Team Moon in the Blue Skies, was it a random selection? Or was it deliberate? Did it know which one among the ten of us had the most greed in his heart?”
“If that was so, then did Greed choose him because his greed had hit a certain level? Or purely because he had the most out of all of us?”
“And if one of us doesn’t have any of these sins, does that mean he’d be invincible in this Challenge?” Su Jin asked himself before shaking his head immediately. “That doesn’t make sense. Original sin refers to the earthly desires that a human is born with. As long as one is alive, you would have desires. And once you have desires, you will definitely fall into one of these categories.”
Su Jin continued to mutter to himself in an attempt to find a pattern, but he eventually shook his head dejectedly. He had too little to work with. If the teams stayed together and got attacked by these deadly sins more times, he was sure he would be able to find some sort of pattern. But doing that would result in too many casualties and would defeat the purpose of finding a way for everyone to get out of this Challenge alive.
“What’s the aim of this Challenge? Is it just trying to kill us all off? If that’s not its aim, then…what deeper meaning does this Challenge have? Is that the key to surviving this Challenge?”
“Original sin…original sin…when I met with Anubis, I had also gone through this journey of redemption and gained some insight. In my opinion, original sin is something that comes naturally with all humans. Once one has desires, then one would be guilty of these deadly sins. But humans can only move forward when they have desires. The further they go, the more sin they will accumulate. If humans were judged based on their sins, then…do humans have to give up the desire to keep moving forward? But that goes against the very concept of life.”
The more he thought about these things, the more confused he became. After the Challenge began, he hadn’t been able to gather any further information on this place at all. He had made decisions purely because he didn’t have any other choice. Relying on just knowing that this Challenge involved the seven deadly sins was not useful for gaining any other information at all.
“I have to find something…for the sake of Mai, Chu Yi, Yang Mo, Ning Meng…for their sake, I’ve got to find a way to survive this!” said Su Jin through gritted teeth.
Just then, he realized there was something ahead. He looked into the distance and saw that an ancient shrine was right in front of him. A shrine had suddenly appeared in the middle of this desert of nothingness.
He walked towards the shrine to find that it looked very old but rather stately as well, as if it had been here since the beginning of time. One door of the shrine was ajar and he could see that there was greenery inside the shrine. It was as though the world outside the shrine was completely different from the world inside.
The shrine seemed very calm and peaceful, but it didn’t take a genius to conclude that this place was some trap. A shrine suddenly appearing out of nowhere in a Level A Challenge? It couldn’t possibly be safe.
“I’m not going to pay it any attention. I’ll just walk around it.” Su Jin immediately walked around the shrine and didn’t even want to go too near it, afraid that some terrible danger might suddenly appear.
After that, he continued walking. But it didn’t take long before he stopped again, because that shrine had appeared before him yet again. This time, the door was wide open and he could see a river flowing inside the shrine. If he walked in, he wouldn’t have to suffer the terrible heat of the desert anymore.
“I’m still going around it!” Su Jin went around it again and continued trudging on, pretending to have not seen it at all.
But the shrine reappeared and blocked his way again before long. This time, both sides of the shrine’s doors were wide open. But the river and greenery inside the shrine had become a little strange. It seemed a lot angrier this time.
“I’m not going in!” Su Jin threw it a glance, then walked around it again. This thing obviously wanted him to go in, but there was no way Su Jin was going to do what he wanted.
This time, Su Jin had just walked around the shrine when the shrine reappeared before him. This time, a monk in a white kasaya was standing in front of the doors to the shrine.
Su Jin immediately burst out laughing when he saw that monk.
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