Su Jin wasn’t angry that these people had refused to say that they had something on hand that could deal with ghosts. One could die anytime in a Challenge, so it made sense for owners to prioritize self-preservation and hang onto anything that would increase their chances of survival.
They decided to quickly leave the safe area, since they would definitely die if they wasted time by staying here for too long. They didn’t have any other choice but to keep moving along.
Once they had all walked out of the area they were in earlier, a black mist swirled around them and they soon found themselves inside a room. The room was very rundown and there were spiderwebs everywhere. The furniture was covered in dust and the room was very dark as well. There was barely enough space for 13 adults to stand in this room.
Su Jin scanned his surroundings and Situ Jin did the same. He said to Su Jin, “The smell of blood is very strong, so somebody definitely died here, and this person…died pretty recently.”
Su Jin nodded slightly. As the head of the Department of Supernatural Affairs, Situ Jin made an excellent detective and immediately noticed what was wrong about the room.
Xiang Nan piped up, “I heard that some Challenges go in a cycle. So, once a group of owners pass through it, it would remain in place and wait for the next group of owners. Do you think this bloody smell is left behind by the previous group of owners?”
Situ Jin walked toward a photo frame and sniffed it before touching it. He shook his head and said, “Nope. The smell of blood is very strong but the blood dried up a long time ago and it’s almost black in color now. I can’t tell exactly how long the stains have been here, but I’m afraid it’s been quite a long while.”
“I think we don’t have to guess anymore. Something’s in front of our door and it’s coming in soon!” Su Jin had activated his psychokinesis from the moment they stepped into this dim room. He hadn’t detected anything in the room, but something was about to come in from outside.
Everyone instantly tensed up when they heard what he said. The door creaked open and a blackened figure walked in.
Their hair stood on end when they got a better look at the figure that had just walked in. It was a little girl around seven or eight years old, her body half rotted away and left with only the whites in her eyes. She walked in with a huge coffin behind her.
The little girl raised her hand and the lid of the coffin flew open. Two people were lying inside the coffin. One was a middle-aged man who had probably died a long time ago with his eyes wide open, and next to him was a middle-aged woman who was embracing the man, but who also had a sharp knife in her hand that was stabbed through the man’s heart from the back.
“Daddy’s dead, Mommy’s dead, and so am I…we’re playing hide-and-seek! Mommy and I are hiding while Daddy’s supposed to look for us. Daddy found Mommy, but why hasn’t he found me yet? I miss Daddy and Mommy! You’ve got to find me!” The little girl suddenly raised her head, causing the veins in her half rotten face to bulge. Her teeth were clenched within her lipless mouth as she hissed dramatically, “If you can’t find me in an hour, then all of you shall DIE!”
The last word was practically screeched out and everyone felt as though their eardrums were about to burst. The little girl’s face contorted as she shrieked and disappeared in an instant, becoming nothing more than smoke. But she left the coffin behind.
Everyone had grim looks on their faces. They didn’t expect a ghost to appear so swiftly. The ghost hadn’t attacked them, but they were only given an hour to find her or die.
“Our entire group’s lives are in danger right from the start? This Challenge is seriously…” One of the owners looked really worried. He didn’t expect the Challenge to start off like this. If they failed to complete this quest, they’d all die.
“Stop thinking about those useless things and focus on the task at hand,” said Su Jin before looking at Xiang Nan. “Mr. Xiang, what are your thoughts?”
“Firstly, the ghost said that we’re supposed to look for her. Based on the story she told us, I think we’re supposed to find her body. That coffin she brought along has the bodies of her parents but not her, so I think we can confirm that much.”
“Secondly, her body has to be within this place we’re in. So, we’ve narrowed down the parameters.”
“Thirdly, I think everyone has to remain on high alert. The ghost said that we’ll all have to die if we can’t find her within the next hour, but it doesn’t mean that we’re safe for this hour,” said Xiang Nan.
Everyone nodded in agreement after hearing Xiang Nan’s analysis. Xiang Nan was indeed an excellent strategist and the disbandment of his team was really not directly correlated to him.
Su Jin nodded and said, “I agree. We can’t just sit around and do nothing. We need to get moving right now. We don’t have much time.”
Actually, Su Jin had purposely allowed Xiang Nan to present his analysis of the situation because he wanted the rest to accept and acknowledge Xiang Nan as a reliable and intelligent member of the group who could help them survive the Challenge. Having Xiang Nan around was definitely going to make things easier, but the rest had to be willing to listen to him too. Otherwise, if they refused to listen to him later on, that lack of trust might bring all of them down.
“Let’s start then!” Chu Yi was very excited. He wasn’t very frightened of ghosts in the first place, and he thought that this whole body hunt concept was very thrilling and he couldn’t wait to get started.
Su Jin nodded, but added, “Always be cautious. If you run into anything that doesn’t seem right, move away immediately and we’ll think of something together.”
Everyone nodded, then started on their search. The room they were in was tiny, but once they walked around the coffin at the door and left the room, they realized they were in an old but extremely luxurious bungalow. There were at least 20 other rooms similar to the one they had just walked out from and the house itself was five or six stories high.
Su Jin and Xiang Nan didn’t look very optimistic. This place was huge, which meant that it was going to be hard for everyone to look out for one another while searching the house. Someone was definitely going to end up getting attacked at this rate.
“Or…should we get everyone to search in pairs? It will slow down the search though,” Xiang Nan said to Su Jin.
Su Jin contemplated this option for a while. It wasn’t too hard to search a house of this size within an hour, but the little girl’s body was probably very well hidden. If everyone searched in pairs, then the speed would reduce by half, which meant that they had to search in a big hurry.
“The veterans can search the place on their own, and everyone else can pair up.” Su Jin decided on an in-between sort of plan. Veterans could fend off ghosts for a while with their Spirit Power, so even if something did happen, there would probably be enough time for them to get help or attract the attention of the others.
Besides the five veterans, the remaining eight quickly got into pairs and they began their search. To play safe, they always remained on the same floor at all times.
Su Jin went round the living room first. There was a portrait of the family hanging on the wall. The picture of a couple and their daughter looked very heartwarming at first, but the couple’s expressions were very strange because their smiles looked more like they had been drawn on. It was as if they were wearing a mask with a smile on it.
He was a little disturbed by this portrait, so he went to take a closer look. It was indeed a photograph and not a painting. If it were a painting, he could blame these weird expressions on a lousy artist. But a photograph ought to have captured the original moment as it was.
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