The darkness around them was lifted and a gambling table appeared in front of them. A man with frightening facial features sat where the dealer usually sat.
Su Jin burst out laughing when he saw the man. He recognized this dealer immediately and said to him, “That was fast. Your tummy’s all sewn up already?”
“Haha! That’s nothing to me, really. Thank you both for helping my daughter to let go of her hatred. I’ll give the two of you a little advantage later on.” This man was none other than the father of the little girl whom Su Jin had sliced open just moments ago to reveal his own son’s chopped up body.
Many of them paled immediately. It was creepy to see a dead man who was lying in a coffin just a while earlier to be sitting in front of them and talking to them about playing games with him.
“What’s there to be scared of? We’re in a Handbook Challenge, after all. I’ve not just seen ghosts, I’ve even seen gods,” said Chu Yi with a scoff as he mocked the more timid among the group. He found it ridiculous that Handbook owners would still be afraid of such things.
Su Jin, on the other hand, didn’t think it was that ridiculous. They hadn’t expected the ending of that story after all, so seeing a mutilated body flow right out of another body was traumatizing. Worse still, the man whose body contained those chopped up parts was now seated in front of everyone. It was normal for some to feel disturbed.
The dealer scanned the group in front of him and snickered. “You don’t have to look so scared. When I was alive, I loved having fun. And out of all the fun I had, I loved gambling the most. I just want to take a gamble with everyone here, so that we can decide who wins and who loses, or…who lives and who dies.”
“You’re making us gamble with our lives?” someone asked in a trembling voice.
The dealer glanced at the one who spoke and burst out laughing. Everyone could see the algae on his teeth and a black, sticky liquid inside his mouth. It looked really gross.
“That’s right! Your lives are at stake now! If you win, you live. You lose, you die!” The dealer looked at everyone with his greenish eyes, which made all of them feel unsettled, including Su Jin.
“I know every game there is in the world and I’m an expert at cheating as well. So, let me warn all of you now – do not attempt to cheat in front of me. If I catch you cheating, then you would have lost that round. Of course, I won’t cheat either. This is meant to be a fair challenge. I’ll give you ten minutes to decide what game you want to play with me,” said the dealer.
Su Jin thought about the instructions for a while, then said, “You said we would have lost if you caught us cheating. In other words, we can cheat as long as you don’t catch us doing so?”
“Of course.” The dealer nodded. “If you’re able to cheat without me finding out throughout the duration of the game, then I will acknowledge your victory regardless of how you did it. In other words, if I declare that the game is over, then even if I realize you’ve cheated after that, I will still take it that you did win the game.”
The dealer was extremely confident. Perhaps he was certain that he would be able to detect any form of cheating, so he wasn’t afraid that someone would win by cheating without him knowing. Or perhaps he looked forward to someone trying a cheat, since he would have a license to kill these living people if that happened.
He grabbed the air suddenly and a wisp of white smoke emerged from each of their bodies. The white smoke turned into a little person who looked just like them and flew to sit down in front of the dealer.
“These are your souls. If you can’t win it back, then it’ll be a delicious meal to me,” said the dealer with a cackle.
Everyone started thinking about what they ought to do. Gambling was something that everyone knew how to do. It was just a matter of how good you were at it. Even a child could do a game of guessing whether the next card drawn was of a higher or lower value compared to the last card. That was a form of gambling too.
“I’ll go first.” Situ Jin turned out to be the first one to try. Everyone was shocked because they still had a good five more minutes to contemplate their strategy, but they were also relieved that someone else was going first. That way, they could see if there was a good way to get through this round.
The dealer looked curiously at Situ Jin and smiled. “You’re a bold one, and boldness is exactly what a gambler must have. What would you like to play? You can choose any game from any country.”
“We’ll draw from a normal deck of poker cards, including the joker cards. The one who draws the higher value wins. The colored joker card will have the highest value, and a three will be the lowest,” said Situ Jin.
The rest were shocked that Situ Jin had chosen to play such a simple game. But Su Jin applauded the man in his heart. Gambling was something that required skill and that dealer was definitely more skilled in this aspect than any human was. The game that Situ Jin had chosen to play reduced the technical gap between himself and the dealer to its minimum.
The dealer didn’t object. He told them that they could pick any method of gambling they wanted, after all. He flicked his wrist and a deck of cards appeared in his hand. He held it out at Situ Jin.
“You can shuffle the deck.”
Situ Jin took the deck from the dealer and kept shuffling them. Two minutes later, the deck was definitely completely shuffled.
He put the cards down and asked, “Who goes first?”
“You can go first,” said the dealer nonchalantly.
Situ Jin nodded, then drew a card from the pile and turned it over without hesitation. It was a colored joker card.
The dealer’s eyes widened, then he nodded at Situ Jin. “Not bad! You’ve won! You’ll stay alive for now.” The dealer waved his hand, sending the little person with Situ Jin’s face on it flying toward Situ Jin. It was absorbed back into Situ Jin’s body immediately.
Everyone could hardly believe their eyes. That was it? Only three minutes had passed since Situ Jin stepped forward and he had won just like that.
“He’s really daring! This method of gambling eliminated the need for any technique and he just left everything to chance. That’s…practically insane,” blurted one of them, clearly in awe of how gutsy Situ Jin had been.
But some of the other owners laughed when they heard this remark, because they knew how Situ Jin had won. The dealer also laughed and said, “Chance? Chance doesn’t truly exist in gambling. This gentleman here didn’t leave anything to chance. I don’t consider what he did a cheat either. He used a legitimate gambling technique and showed us what he was really capable of.”
“I don’t know any technique. I just picked the card with the highest value,” said Situ Jin quietly. He didn’t sound smug at all.
Some of them were still confused, so Su Jin explained, “Regardless of whether you consider it a gambling technique or not, Situ Jin had won the round by his own ability. While he shuffled the deck, he memorized the movement of each card, and picked out the colored joker card at the end.”
What Situ Jin said made sense now. He had literally just picked the card with the highest value. The dealer did not consider memorizing the cards cheating, since Situ Jin did not hide any card, make any markings, peep at the cards or anything like that.
Everyone was amazed by Situ Jin’s ability. It was possible to memorize 54 cards in a fixed order and some of them could do it, but to memorize the cards while shuffling them without using any cheats or any special method of shuffling was really difficult. In fact, it was more than difficult. It was practically impossible.
Yet, Situ Jin had done the impossible. Even an intelligent man like Xiang Nan knew he couldn’t do it. Su Jin could probably do it only because he had become physically stronger and his brain was capable of a lot more with the help of the Body Strengthening Elixir. None of the others were confident of pulling this off.
“This gentleman has done an excellent job, so if any of you would like to do the same, I will gladly allow you to. I can even allow you to shuffle the cards as well.” The dealer applauded Situ Jin and even encouraged the rest to do the same. But that smile on his face made everyone feel very disturbed.
The others weren’t fools either. Situ Jin was able to do something that none of them could, so they didn’t want to do the same thing if they didn’t have to. They all looked worried and antsy as they continued to think about how they should handle this round.
When the ten minutes was up, the dealer looked at the hesitant group and shrugged as he said, “You’re not very excited about this, eh? Well, too bad! All of you have to go through this round! Since nobody’s stepping forward, I’ll choose an opponent!”
His green eyes scanned the group and he cackled when he saw that every person avoided meeting his eye. Suddenly, his gaze fell on Park Donggeun.
“You’re next!” The two words were like a curse that made Park Donggeun feel numb all over as he walked toward the gambling table against his own will.
“What game do you want to play?” asked the dealer with a smile.
Park Donggeun gritted his teeth and said, “I’ll do the same thing as he did!”
“Oh? You seem very confident!” The dealer laughed maniacally, revealing those disgusting teeth covered in algae again.
“Since he could do it, I can do it too! I’m a veteran, after all.” Park Donggeun was certain that a veteran would definitely be able to do something that an ordinary owner was capable of.
The dealer made a new deck of cards appeared in his hands and put it down in front of Park Donggeun. “Just like him, you can shuffle the deck. But I’m warning you – do not use the power that you have. Otherwise, you shall die immediately!”
Park Donggeun held the deck of cards tightly in his hands. Since he couldn’t use his Spirit Power, he could only shuffle the cards as slowly as he could. But he soon started panicking because he realized that he couldn’t remember a single card now.
Sweat began to drip down his forehead and he eventually gave up, putting it back down on the table. The more he shuffled, the more confused he became. He couldn’t do what Situ Jin had done at all.
“Oh dear. Given up already?” The dealer cackled.
Park Donggeun’s eye twitched slightly as he snapped, “It’s hard to say who will win! There’s still a non-zero chance that I might win!”
The mocking smile on the dealer’s face disappeared as he nodded very seriously. “Now we’re talking. You’re right, you still have a chance of winning. That’s the way a gambler should think! And now, pick a card!”
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