“So, you’re the fellow who caused trouble for my Boss? And you’re actually an owner as well?” Chu Yi looked Situ Jin up and down, then said to Su Jin, “Boss, do you want me to get rid of him?”
“Don’t be ridiculous. From today onwards, Situ Jin will be a member of Team Boning Knife. I hope we can all work together and safely get through our next Challenge,” said Su Jin as he glared at Chu Yi.
“Boss! You actually let him into the team?” Chu Yi pretended to be very upset just to tease Su Jin, which made Su Jin sigh exasperatedly.
They didn’t stay for too long in the bar. Situ Jin had to return to the office for work while Su Jin and Kano Mai were still keeping a lookout at Cloud Mountain. Only Chu Yi didn’t want to leave just yet. He told them that until he was sure that he was safe, he was prepared to just live inside the bar. The bar never threw anyone out anyway.
After they returned to the real world, Su Jin and Kano Mai realized that Han Mengyao was nowhere to be found. It was hard to say if she had left because she was injured in the avalanche or for some other reason. Either way, she was no longer keeping tabs on Su Jin, and Su Jin guessed that Situ Jin had made some arrangements, but he didn’t ask.
Situ Jin didn’t remain in Cloud Mountain. He had a lot of work on his hands, so he returned to his office in B City and called Su Jin to tell him that he had already sent his subordinates to protect Su Jin’s family members, so he needn’t worry about them.
Time slowly ticked by and Ye Yun was still nowhere to be seen. It was already time to go through another Challenge, so Su Jin contacted Situ Jin and Chu Yi with his Handbook and got everyone ready to enter their next Challenge.
Su Jin and Kano Mai stood side by side and opened their Handbooks together. Everything went dark and they both fell unconscious.
“Death, pain, calamity, terror…why does everybody say we’re dark and malicious? We just…wanna play games with you!” That familiar terrifying voice resounded in Su Jin’s ears again. No matter how many times he heard this voice, he never felt any better. The voice struck terror in his heart and it took him a long time to get over it.
His surroundings lit up again and he opened his eyes. A lot of people appeared within his line of sight, which made his heart sink. The difficulty level of a Challenge was positively correlated to the number of owners involved.
“Mr. Su, Miss Kano!” A voice suddenly rang out from nowhere and surprised Su Jin and Kano Mai.
Su Jin turned to look and was even more surprised to see that the person calling out to them turned out to be Xiang Nan. They had worked together on the Rubble Village Challenge, and even though there was some unhappiness between the two of them back then, a lot of time had passed since then and Su Jin was no longer bothered by it.
Also, after going through more Challenges after that, Su Jin understood why Xiang Nan had chosen to behave that way. In fact, Su Jin had done something similar in the last Challenge. He had used the people who didn’t want Chu Yi onboard to be bait for the highest level mutant and to confirm if they were moving in the right direction, even though he knew these people were probably going to end up dead. So now, Su Jin felt that he had no right to tell Xiang Nan off.
“Hello, Mr. Xiang. I didn’t expect to meet you again,” said Su Jin with a smile. But he quickly noticed that besides Xiang Nan, the rest of his team was nowhere to be seen.“
“Mr. Xiang, where’s Mr. Yu and the rest?” asked Su Jin puzzledly.
Xiang Nan’s expression fell and he said a little sadly, “Boss…didn’t survive one of the Challenges and our team disbanded after that.”
Su Jin and Kano Mai were saddened to hear that. Yu Guangde had taken very good care of them and worked with them to get through the Rubble Village Challenge. It had only been a few months since then and he was gone.
“I’m…I’m so sorry to hear that. That’s the reality of Hell’s Handbook. Nobody knows how long they’ll live for,” said Su Jin with a sigh. The Handbook universe was filled with dangers and the risk of dying. The only way to survive was to keep becoming stronger and stronger.
Xiang Nan smiled wordlessly and they finally turned to look at who else was in the Challenge with them. There were a total of 13 people and no newbies. This unsettled Su Jin even more. He had gone through two Challenges with no newbies, first the Fairytales of Horror Challenge, then the All Have Sinned Challenge. Both Challenges had been difficult to get through and he was now faced with yet another one with no newbies.
Su Jin immediately flipped his Handbook ope.
“Ghostly Games, Level B Challenge!” Su Jin’s eye twitched. Facing a Level B Challenge was bad enough, but this one even included ghosts. This was going to be as bad as a simple Level A Challenge.
“There’s only one mission. Play games with the ghosts and stay alive until the end.”
The fact that there was only one mission only proved how dangerous this Challenge was going to be. Everyone had dismal looks on their faces. They clearly knew how bad it was going to get.
“I think there’s no need to explain too much, I’m sure everyone here is aware of how dangerous this Challenge is going to be. I just want to know how many veterans are here,” said a plump middle-aged man.
“Five!” The man looked delighted when he counted the number of raised hands. Having five veterans out of 13 owners was a better ratio than most and everyone knew how much more advantageous it was to have veterans among them. But perhaps there was such a high number also because this Challenge was really difficult.
“Excellent. My name’s Han Yiqing. Could the veterans please introduce yourselves? We’ll need your help for this Challenge,” said Han Yiqing with a merry laugh. He had a pleasant disposition and seemed very approachable.
“My name’s Su Jin, I have Psychokinetic Spirit Power,” said Su Jin.
“I’m Xiang Nan, and I have Magnetic Spirit Power.” Su Jin and Kano Mai were surprised that Xiang Nan was one of the five veterans, since he didn’t have Spirit Power the last time they saw him.
“Chu Yi. My spirit power is Internal Energy and I’m better at close range fights,” said Chu Yi.
“Kano Mai. My Spirit Power is the power of Sloth,” Kano Mai introduced herself as well.
The last veteran was a man in a formal white shirt. He glanced at the other four and said, “Park Donggeun. My Spirit Power is telekinesis.”
“You’re from Korea?” Everyone was a little surprised that they had a Japanese and a Korean among them this time. The Handbook seemed to always put owners from the same country together after all, regardless of which universe they were from.
“Is that very strange to you? I’ve been based in China for work recently,” snapped Park Donggeun.
Nobody asked him anymore questions and continued to introduce themselves. They weren’t veterans but they were still important to the group.
“Is there anyone who’s good at planning and strategizing?” asked Su Jin.
Everyone exchanged glances and shook their heads in unison. Su Jin and Xiang Nan looked at one another and tried not to sigh out loud. Supernatural beings were a big part of this Challenge, which meant that quick thinking and strategizing was probably going to go a much longer way than pure physical strength or weapons. If a ghost attacked you with its supernatural power, even a veteran might not hold up, depending on what Spirit Power you had.
“In that case, Mr. Su and I will lead the group for the time being. Any objections?” Xiang Nan immediately asked to take up this role.
One of them protested, “Why should we listen to you? What qualifies you to lead our group?”
Xiang Nan glanced at him and said, “Firstly, I’m a veteran. Secondly, I used to be the strategist for my small team.”
“Hoho, just like you said, you ‘used to be’ the strategist for your team. I overheard your conversation earlier. Your team has already disbanded. You’re a strategist who couldn’t even hold your own little team together, so what makes you think you’re good enough to lead all of us here?” the one with objections continued in a nasty tone.
Xiang Nan furrowed his brows and looked at Su Jin as he sighed inwardly. “Mr. Su, I’ll have to leave this role to you then. In such Challenges, everyone has to be united and listen to only one set of instructions, otherwise the chances of survival will be very low.”
Su Jin raised an eyebrow at Xiang Nan. Xiang Nan was not the type who would worry about the safety of others, after all. Xiang Nan seemed to know what Su Jin was thinking about and said, “Look. For a Challenge like this, the longer all of us survive, the higher the chances of us getting out of this alive. If a lot of us get killed right from the start, none of us will make it out at the end.”
Su Jin knew that Xiang Nan was trying to say. The Challenges got progressively harder and dangerous as time went by, so if more of them survived the earlier part of the Challenge, there would be more of them to fight during the later part of the Challenge. On the contrary, if too many of them died early on, the few left at the end would definitely become targets for these ghosts and perish eventually.
He had great faith in the way Xiang Nan strategized. Even though Xiang Nan had used a method he didn’t agree with to keep all them safe back in Rubble Village, he had to admit that Xiang Nan’s solutions were all very effective.
Su Jin nodded slightly at Xiang Nan, so Xiang Nan went on, “Mr. Su is the team leader of Team Boning Knife and he’s also the brains of the team. I’m sure all of you have heard of Team Boning Knife, right?”
The rest were puzzled for a moment but one of them reacted immediately.
“Team Boning Knife? You mean the team who completed a Level A Challenge perfectly?” asked Park Donggeun in shock.
Xiang Nan nodded. “That’s right. Mr. Su is the strategist for that very same team. You guys don’t want to trust me, but I’m sure you’d trust him, right?”
Nobody had any further objections to make after they found out who Su Jin was. Someone who could complete a Level A Challenge was definitely someone they could count on.
“Since everyone trusts me, then I’ll take charge,” said Su Jin. After pausing for a short moment to think, he said, “The name of this Challenge is quite self-explanatory, so we’re expecting ghosts to make an appearance. Does anybody here have anything that can counter such creatures?”
Nobody said anything, which made Su Jin and Xiang Nan exchange tired glances. No owner would choose to reveal their trump cards if they didn’t have to. That was a natural mode of behavior in these dangerous circumstances.
“Alright then! Since nobody wants to speak up, I won’t ask anymore. The introduction to this Challenge has already said that we’ll have to interact with the ghosts and somehow survive their games. There’s very little information to work with, so we’ll just have to play by ear,” said Su Jin in a grim voice.
He took this time to observe the owners in the group. Most of them looked rather unsettled, but a few of them seemed a lot calmer than the rest. The latter group was probably the one with something that could deal with ghosts, or at least they were the ones most likely to survive a ghostly attack.
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