“Welcome to your Personal Hell Domain! You can enjoy the full range of punishments offered by hell here! If you’re interested, we also offer some special services such as getting whipped by our demonesses or enjoying a sauna in Mengpo’s boiling soup!1(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meng_Po_Soup)] These are services that are exclusive to VIP members!” an eerie voice suddenly resounded in this already creepy place.
Su Jin looked around him but didn’t see anybody, so he shouted back, “You can introduce those things to masochists! I’m not one of them!”
“You’re not interested? Aww, too bad.” The voice sounded disappointed. But before Su Jin could say anything, the voice continued, “Alright then! Please take a step a forward. Don’t ask me which way is forward, because this ridiculous place doesn’t differentiate which direction is which. Just move in any direction you fancy!”
Su Jin’s lips twitched in annoyance at this cheeky voice. But he still took a few steps forward in a random direction anyway. Shortly after he had taken those few steps, the ground in front of him suddenly broke open and lava sprayed out.
He instinctively moved two steps back while the lava slowly cooled down to form a podium that stood about three feet high. A rectangular item was on top of this podium and upon closer look, he felt that this rectangular item resembled a book cover.
After pondering for a moment, he took out his copy of the Handbook and tried putting it on top of the rectangular item. It was exactly as he had guessed. This podium was meant for holding his Handbook.
“Welcome once again to your Personal Hell Domain, or whatever you want to call it. I will answer all basic questions about this space. If you don’t know what to ask, I will proceed with giving you the generic introduction that I have been given in advance. You may start asking,” the creepy voice started talking again.
“Who are you?”
“I’m the butler of your Personal Hell Domain. I am in charge of answering any basic questions you have about this place, and I will also help you with using this space.”
“What’s your name?”
“That depends on you. What will be my name?”
“Oh, you need me to set this?” After thinking about it, Su Jin said casually, “I see nothing but black around here, so I’ll just call you Blackie!”
“Okay then!” Blackie didn’t complain about the name that Su Jin had obviously chosen off the top of this head. He didn’t seem to know that this name was often used for pets.
“Are you actually alive? Or are you nothing but programming?” asked Su Jin.
“That depends on your definition of these things. If you’re asking if I have intelligence, then the answer is yes. If you’re asking if I have emotions, then I’m afraid this ability has not been activated for me,” answered Blackie.
“You don’t have emotions? Hey, I clearly remember how sarcastically you spoke just moments ago!” Su Jin protested.
“That was a result of the random personality I was given. If you don’t like it, you may change it. But according to my understanding of human emotions, humans are able to differentiate emotions purely based on something you feel inside your body and your analysis of another person’s facial expression. If you view that as emotions, then I am able to express all sorts of emotions down to the finest detail.”
Su Jin frowned. Blackie’s answer wasn’t wrong, but were human emotions really nothing more than a highly accurate yet mechanical analysis? He didn’t think so, but he was also surprised that Blackie was able to break it down this way.
“Alright then, next question! Blackie, do you have a physical body?” Su Jin continued.
“No, I don’t. But if you want me to have one, you can buy me one in the future,” replied Blackie.
Su Jin had a basic understanding of what Blackie was now. In short, Blackie was a high functioning AI, much like Ironman’s AI butler, J.A.R.V.I.S.
“What’s this space for?”
“This space is for Point Calculation, Reward Exchange and Body Restoration after a challenge has ended. There are other functions that will require you to unlock higher levels of access before they will be made available to you.”
“Body Restoration?” Su Jin’s eyes lit up. He thought he would have to live with just one arm for the rest of his life. He didn’t expect this place to come with such a pleasant surprise.
“Your left arm has been severely injured. Would you like to activate Body Restoration?” Blackie asked.
“Yes! Start restoring my body!” Su Jin nodded immediately.
“Got it!” After Blackie responded, a translucent beam of light shot out from his Handbook that was on the podium and engulfed Su Jin’s entire body. Su Jin felt a warmth run through his body, which made him feel very drowsy and he eventually drifted off to sleep.
After some time had passed, Su Jin suddenly woke up. He felt really refreshed and energized now.
Blackie voice resounded in his ear again, “Your body has been fully restored. Besides the injury in your left arm, the rest of your body and other illnesses have also been healed.”
“Oh? How nice of you.” Su Jin looked down to see that he did have a new left arm and a long scar that he had on his other arm was gone as well. Besides that, he noticed that his usual aches were gone as well.
“You can cure cervical spondylosis too?” He stretched his neck and realized his neckache was gone. Ever since he started working, his neck had only gotten stiffer.
“As long as you’re still alive when you enter this place, I’ll be able to heal any illnesses and injuries you have.” Blackie’s voice carried a tinge of pride.
“I’ll be counting on you then! So, that was the Body Restoration function, right? What about Point Calculation and Reward Exchange? What are those about?” asked Su Jin excitedly.
“Please instruct your Handbook to begin the Point Calculation process!”
“Start Point Calculation!” said Su Jin to his Handbook. A gentle beam of light shot out from the Handbook and turned to the end of the first page about Fengxi Town. Black text in a calligraphy font began to appear at the bottom of the page.
Level B Challenge “Fengxi Town” completed: 1000 points
Degree of Challenge Participation: A-, 500 points
Analysis and Deduction of Challenge: 70%, 600 points
Did not complete Special Mission, did not eliminate Special Characters: 0 points
Points Received: 2100
Total Points: 2100
Remaining Points: 2100
A bunch of numbers appeared on his Handbook. This was basically an assessment of his performance during the challenge. Besides getting no points for completing Special Missions and eliminating Special Characters, he received points in the other three categories.
“There are many ways in which you can use these points. You can exchange them for items and rewards, get out of the Handbook world, appraise items and more. I will explain these in detail when we get to it.”
“Is this number of points considered good for a newbie? Or bad for a newbie?” asked Su Jin.
“As a newbie, this is a really good score. Do you want me to proceed with introducing the Reward Exchange system to you?” asked Blackie.
Su Jin nodded. “Sure. Introduce the Reward Exchange system to me!”
“Please activate the Reward Exchange system.”
“Activate the Reward Exchange System!” said Su Jin to the Handbook. The book opened and flipped through the pages to stop at the last page. The paper on this last page was different from the pages in front. It possessed a whitish glow and looked like highly polished marble.
“The Reward Exchange system is a system that is based on your accumulated points. You can use the points you have received from challenges to exchange for various rewards here. However, the rewards available in the system are not fixed and will change with every challenge. You will be allowed to reserve one item each time. So, even if you do not have sufficient points to exchange for this reserved item now, this item will still be available after you complete the next challenge. Please note that you are only allowed to reserve one reward at a time!”
“Besides the rewards that will change with every challenge, the system also has a category of rewards that do not change. You may read the details of each item yourself, so please go ahead and explore the system. The interface works exactly like an app on your phone. If there’s anything you are unsure about, please feel free to ask me,” Blackie explained patiently to Su Jin.
Su Jin nodded absentmindedly. His attention was already fixed on the page in front of him. Just like what Blackie said earlier, there were two available categories. One was filled with items that would change after each challenge and the other had items that would not change.
He decided to look at the ones that wouldn’t change first and was instantly stunned after just taking a quick glance at the items. The rewards were really generous and were mostly extremely valuable luxury items of the real world. There was anything from aged red wine to various art pieces to limited edition branded items. Almost anything under the sun was available.
But what really took Su Jin’s breath away was the very first item. It was an option to exchange his points for actual cash and the exchange rate was unbelievable. One point could be exchanged for $100,000 in cash. He had a total of 2,100 points now, which meant that he could exchange all of it for a whopping $210 million dollars.
For an ordinary office worker who earned a few thousand a month like himself, this was definitely a huge sum of money. It was huge enough to make his head spin.
He forced himself to calm down and started weighing his pros and cons. While the idea of exchanging for cash was tempting, if he exchanged his points for luxury items and resold those items, the amount he earned on it would be higher. A sports car that would have cost a few hundred thousand in the real world only required a little under 20 points here.
He didn’t make any exchanges at this point and went to look into the other category first. There were fewer items in this category, but he jumped even more excitedly at these things.
Unlimited ammunition and modified Desert Eagle with higher shooting speeds: 50 points
Ultra Light Mecha Armor: 100 points
Witch's Concealing Potion (lasts 10 minutes within a challenge, lasts one hour outside of a challenge): 150 points
All Purpose Healing Pill (heals all illnesses besides extensive damage to body): 200 points
Su Jin stared at the available items listed in the Handbook and suddenly felt like he must be in some fantasy movie of sorts. Everything listed here sounded like it belonged in some fantasy novel!
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