Episode 15

2 years ago
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“Do you have any recommendations?” Su Jin suppressed his urge to make exchanges on the spot and decided to ask Blackie for advice first.

“I’m sorry, but every decision made will ultimately affect the Handbook owner’s chances of surviving the next challenge, therefore I am not qualified to recommend you anything.” Blackie’s reply turned out to be pretty disappointing for Su Jin.

Su Jin had to think about this very carefully. Out of all the items available for exchange, he had to think about the ones that would be changed the next time. He looked through the list again. Every item was extremely valuable, but not many would really be helpful for ensuring his survival in the next round.

“Having a modified Deagle with unlimited ammunition sounds great, but I don’t know how to shoot a gun at all, so that’s useless.” Su Jin immediately eliminated the Desert Eagle first. If one knew how to use this gun, it would definitely be a powerful weapon and it didn’t need a lot of points either. But Su Jin had never even touched a gun before, never mind shooting one. Exchanging his points for a gun wouldn’t do him any good.

“Are you worried about not being able to use a gun?” Blackie suddenly asked.

Su Jin nodded and said, “The country where I’m from doesn’t allow us to carry guns, so I don’t know anything about them.”

“That’s not a problem. You can go to the Fixed Areas for Exchange section. There’s an option for arms training and it will cost you 10 points each time. Once you’ve exchanged those points, I’ll create a target practice room for you and the best coach will also be present there to guide you. You can stay in there for as long as you like, but once you leave the area, you’ll have to exchange another 10 points in order to enter again.”

Su Jin immediately went to check the Fixed Areas for Exchange section. Just like what Blackie described, there was the option to undergo gun training. Besides that, there were all sorts of skills training available, including kickboxing, diving, swimming and even language classes. Almost every skill in the world could be learned here.

“The cost for each one is the same too. If I weren’t limited by how much energy I had, I would really want to try them all.” Su Jin had a special sort of craving for knowledge. Even after he had graduated and spent hours working overtime in the office, he would still buy all sorts of books to enrich his mind. So, when he saw that he could learn so many things here, he felt the urge to learn everything.

“You don’t have to look so torn. Time here passes differently from the world you come from. Over here, time passes a lot more slowly. One minute in your world is one entire day here. If you really want to, you could learn everything available here,” said Blackie.

Su Jin was instantly thrilled by the fact that time passed slower here. This wasn’t hell at all. He felt like this place was more like heaven.

“But I must remind you that even though there’s more than enough time, there’s a limit to how much energy one has. No matter how much you want to learn here, you have to stop when you have to. There have been Handbook owners who survived challenges but ended up dying from exhaustion in one of their training grounds,” Blackie warned Su Jin very sternly.

Su Jin sighed quietly. Humans were too limited physically after all. Even though a place like this existed, he was still unable to go beyond his human limits.

“The Ultra Light Mecha Armor only needs 100 points, so I’ll take that!” Su Jin was very interested in such an armor and could understand the description of the item very well too. This armor was made from a high-tech flexible metal alloy, weighed about as much as a typical shirt and had excellent defence properties. It could deflect shots from most guns as long as they didn’t keep shooting the exact same spot.

There were other better defence items available besides the Ultra-Light Mecha Armor, but the prices of those items were a little too high. Su Jin really wanted those too, but he couldn’t afford it.

After Su Jin confirmed his choice, a white light shot out from the Handbook and an Ultra-Light Mecha Armor floated above the Handbook.

Su Jin reached out to grab the armor. It was extremely light, like how it was described, and there was a silver button on it.

He pressed the button, and the armor instantly flew at him and wrapped itself around him. There was a bright flash and the armor disappeared. This was a special effect the armor had. It could make itself look like the user’s clothing or even skin, so it was invisible to the naked eye.

After making that first exchange, Su Jin began looking through the other items. He decided to exchange his points for the All-Purpose Healing Pill. Each one required 200 points and was a little expensive, but the effect it had made it impossible for him to ignore it. Besides, he believed that it would come into good use in future challenges.

Once he had thought it through, he exchanged his points for three pills, which made his total points drop by 600 immediately. After that, he turned his attention to a Low-Level Body Strengthening Elixir, which cost 1,000 points.

The description for this Low-Level Body Strengthening Elixir was very simple. It just said that the body would be strengthened overall after it was consumed and that the effects would vary depending on the potential of the user, but it would unconditionally help the user to reach at least Level D.

“Blackie, what does Level D mean?” asked Su Jin.

“According to human standards, Level D is equivalent to the standard of a soldier from the special forces,” replied Blackie.

“Since this one is Low Level, does that mean there’s also a Mid Level and a High Level version of this?”

“That is correct. But the higher the level, the harder it is to come across one. You’re considered pretty lucky to have it among your very first set of items and you actually noticed it too. That’s really rare,” remarked Blackie.

Su Jin raised his eyebrow slightly. Even though Blackie said he wasn’t going to give the owner any suggestions, the way he talked about this elixir made it sound like he was trying to recommend it to Su Jin.

So, Su Jin didn’t hesitate and chose to exchange his points for a Low Level Body Strengthening Elixir. A bottle of green liquid appeared on top of the Handbook.

He opened the bottle and drank everything down in one shot. It was a little bitter and he didn’t feel any difference at first. But after taking a few breaths, he slowly started feeling the difference. His muscles began to tremble slightly, and his heart started pumping faster. His heart continued increasing in rate so much that everything suddenly went black, and he fainted.

Quite some time had passed by the time Su Jin regained consciousness. He felt achy all over, as if he had engaged in a lot of vigorous exercise earlier.

“Blackie, restore my body,” said Su Jin with a wince.

“Got it!” Blackie immediately started the restoration process. But this time, Su Jin didn’t faint. Perhaps this round of restoration wasn’t as intensive as the last.

Once the restoration was completed, the aches he felt earlier disappeared and was replaced by an energy that he had never felt before. He felt really good now. He tried throwing a few punches and he could even hear the sound of the wind his punches made.

“This is a really magical place!” exclaimed Su Jin. He flipped the pages of the Handbook back to where his total points were written. His 2,100 points were now down to just 400, which made him sigh resignedly, “It’s magical until you run out of points.”

“I’ll take $10 million, please.” After thinking about it, Su Jin decided to exchange 100 points for $10 million. The items he got earlier were of use to him in the real world too, but the one thing he needed the most was still money. Both his parents and his younger sister needed money.

“You can use this card to withdraw cash from any bank you like, and nobody will question where it’s from.” A debit card floated above the Handbook. It was entirely black except for a drawing of flames in a silver color on the border, which made the card look rather sinister somehow.

“I still have 300 points!” thought Su Jin as he looked at his balance. He finally chose to exchange 150 points for a Witch’s Concealing Potion and left the last 150 points alone.

“Points! Points! Points! This place is really scheming! Even though it’s written here that you just need 100,000 points to get out of this whole thing, you’ve got to exchange your points after each round for items to strengthen yourself with and to increase your chances of surviving in the next round. But if I have to keep exchanging at this rate, I’ll never get to 100,000 points,” muttered Su Jin to himself.

“Okay, I’m done with the exchanging. Can I go back now?” Su Jin asked Blackie.

“Sure. But one last thing. There will be a new challenge every month and you can choose when you wish to start the challenge during the course of the month. But if you do not decide when you wish to start the challenge, the Handbook will automatically send you into a challenge just before the month is up. Please remember that well,” said Blackie.

Su Jin nodded. “Got it. Please send me back now!”

“Understood. Please close your eyes, I will send you to your world right now.”

Su Jin closed his eyes and felt a warmth rush through his body. It felt like he had just emerged from the cold waters of a lake and was now seated next to a fireplace. When he slowly opened his eyes again, he discovered that he was back on his bed in his cellar. If not for his torn clothing and the items he had exchanged earlier, he would have wondered if he had really gone to a place called Fengxi Town or if it had all been nothing but a dream.

“All of it…all of it was real.” He looked at the things he had brought back to the real world. The black debit card reflected the light and the silver flame design looked like it was really burning.

He exhaled deeply before pushing away everything on his desk and getting his laptop out. He turned it on and started typing into Google’s search box.

“Fengxi Town!” He hit the enter key and the search engine immediately started looking for results and the list came out in seconds.

He scrolled through the results carefully. There were a lot of hits, but most of the results were about other similarly named towns and had nothing to do with the Fengxi Town he had been to.

But he didn’t give up. He continued to sit at his laptop to search for any useful information. His eyes finally lit up after searching for a few hours. He had found something useful.

“Fengxi Town… really exists!” murmured Su Jin as he clicked on an image on his laptop.

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