Kano Mai stepped forward very calmly, as if she wasn’t afraid of what the female voice was going to ask her at all.
“Hello, pretty young lady! You’re…you’re…!” The female voice suddenly went into a state of panic and shock, as if Kano Mai had agitated her.
“I’m…what?” said Kano Mai in a low voice. Her back was facing the rest, so nobody saw the aggressive expression on her face.
“I, uh…so, the…nation you hail from has already been destroyed, right?” After hesitating for a moment, the female voice decided to go ahead and ask Kano Mai the question she had.
Kano Mai remained silent as a bright light suddenly appeared before her. When she looked at it, she saw a beautiful planet covered in oceans that gave the planet life.
One day, this same planet was swallowed up by darkness and everything on it was crushed. Every living thing died and every soul wailed and howled miserably. Kano Mai watched on without flinching. This scene had once flung her into despair and depression, but it had also appeared countless times in her dreams, so she was already used to seeing it.
“That’s right. It’s already been destroyed.” Kano Mai nodded without hesitation. Not only was her nation destroyed, but her entire world was.
The rest were rather puzzled by Kano Mai’s response. To them, Kano Mai hailed from Japan and that country was still standing. Why did she respond this way? Was there something about the country that they didn’t know about?
“Congratulations on passing this round!” The female voice announced without hesitation as well.
Kano Mai walked back to where Su Jin was. She looked very exhausted and Su Jin felt that it wasn’t a good time to ask her questions, so he just nodded slightly at her.
After seeing that three owners had managed to get through this round unscathed, the others began to feel more courageous. This round didn’t seem as difficult as they had previously imagined.
“I’ll go next!” Han Yiqing took a step forward. He was a little nervous, but after making it through the gamble with the ghost from the previous round, he felt a lot more confident now.
“Aha! An honest man! So…your child’s surname isn’t Han, true or false? HAHA!” The female voice started cackling.
Han Yiqing’s entire body shook as his previously timid gaze suddenly became enraged. He was about to speak when he realized he was back in his own house.
“This is…my house.” Han Yiqing felt confused but his memories were a blur. What was he doing before this? Why couldn’t he remember anything?
Just then, the main door of the house opened. His eyes widened when he saw who walked in, because the person who just came in was none other than himself. He was dumbstruck when he saw what his doppelganger was carrying.
“That cake…that’s…that day…” mumbled Han Yiqing to himself. There was a terrified look in his eyes as he stared at the cake box.
The other Han Yiqing, however, was full of smiles. Today was his tenth wedding anniversary with his wife, so he had taken the afternoon off and bought a cake. He was going to wait till his son came back from school to give her a surprise.
But when he walked toward the bedroom door, he heard some weird noises coming from inside. He was a timid man, so he cautiously approached the door and put his ear against the wood. The sounds he heard next nearly made him faint in shock.
“Tsk tsk! How could you invite me to your place to make love to you while your husband’s at work? Don’t you feel sorry for him?” a man’s voice spoke. Han Yiqing knew exactly who it was. That voice belonged to Qi Hai, his neighbor. Qi Hai had always been nice to him and even referred some business deals to him.
“You’ve slept with another man’s wife and you still have so much energy to complain? But then again, you’re definitely way more energetic than that useless fellow. He can’t even last a minute and I still have to pretend that I’m enjoying myself! The best part? He actually believes my acting! What a joke!” replied a woman. That voice belonged to Han Yiqing’s wife.
Outside, both Han Yiqings were furious. He couldn’t stand the fact that someone he saw as a good friend was actually sleeping with his wife, but he was also not the confrontational type. The first thought that crossed his mind wasn’t to dash into the room and give the adulterous couple inside a piece of his mind. Instead, his instinct was to run away from this horrible reality that he didn’t want to face.
“You coward! You coward!! Go in and confront them! Go on! Scold them! Shame them for what they’ve done! Come on, you coward!!” Han Yiqing roared at his doppelganger standing outside the bedroom door in a daze.
But the other Han Yiqing clearly couldn’t hear a single thing he was shouting. He stood woodenly outside the door and heard the next part of the conversation.
“Hey, do you think he’ll notice something when Xiaojun gets older? Xiaojun is beginning to look more and more like you. Do you think he’ll kick up a big fuss?” asked the wife worriedly.
“Why are you worried about something like this? If he tries to kick up a big fuss? I’ll bash him up!” said Qi Hai disdainfully, as if he didn’t have any regard for Han Yiqing at all.
That was the straw that broke the camel’s back. He could accept the fact that his wife was cheating on him and he could even accept the fact that she was cheating on him with someone he treated as a good friend. But he couldn’t accept the idea that Xiaojun, his precious son, wasn’t his.
Xiaojun is my son, Xiaojun is definitely my son, he thought.
He finally pushed the bedroom door open and gave the couple inside a shock. They clearly did not think he would come home at this hour.
“Yiqing, I…let me explain…” His wife looked a little scared because he had a very frightening expression on his face.
“Xiaojun…Xiaojun is MY son. Xiaojun is MY SON!!” Han Yiqing grabbed hold of his wife’s hair and started yelling at her.
Qi Hai kicked Han Yiqing aside and grabbed him by the neck before he could fight back. “How dare you treat her like that!” said Qi Hai in a frosty voice. “Why did you come back so early today? Then again, it doesn’t matter. You’ll find out sooner or later anyway.”
“I…I don’t care…about you two…but…but Xiaojun…Xiaojun is my son! Please…please tell me Xiaojun is my son…” pleaded Han Yiqing as tears flowed down his cheeks.
Qi Hai snorted. “Well, too bad. Xiaojun is MY son!”
“NO!” Han Yiqing roared furiously and pounced at Qi Hai to kill him, which was actually what he did after he became a Handbook owner.
But when he was about to get to Qi Hai, Qi Hai turned into nothing but a cloud of green smoke. His wife and his other self disappeared as well.
He was only left with the female voice asking him again, “So, tell me. Was that statement true? Or false?”
“No! No! Xiaojun…Xiaojun is my son!” yelled Han Yiqing in rage. Nobody could take Xiaojun away from him. He would never allow it.
“Crap!” Su Jin shook his head. It was clear that Han Yiqing was already too immersed in the hallucinations before him and couldn’t think clearly anymore.
“Teehee! You’re WRONG! He’s Qi Hai’s son! HAHAHA!” The female voice laughed manically as a rope suddenly fell from the ceiling and wrapped itself around Han Yiqing.
“No!” Han Yiqing had snapped out of his daze and started shouting in horror when he realized what was going on. He struggled to get out of the rope’s grip, but it was too strong for him.
One end of the rope went straight into Han Yiqing’s mouth. He gurgled and his eyes rolled back in their sockets as his struggling slowly weakened. His movements came to an abrupt stop and his body bent over limply, unable to move anymore.
The end inside him came out again from his mouth, but this time, it was holding onto a beating heart. The rope retracted back into the ceiling and Han Yiqing’s heart remained suspended from the roof. Now, everyone knew why there were so many beating hearts hanging from the ceiling.
After Han Yiqing’s lifeless body was flung back down onto the floor, the female voice called out, “Next!”
Death was inevitable. Human life was the most worthless thing in a Handbook Challenge. Even if one managed to survive the earlier rounds, it didn’t mean they would survive the rest.
“Nobody wants to step forward? I’ll be fair to you guys – all of you can do this at the same time!” said the female voice with a snicker.
All of a sudden, the last four who had not gone through her test trembled all over as they started hallucinating.
Chu Yi saw nothing but a white blur in front of him as the female voice rang in his ears, “You’re a strong, young man, but your heart is filled with questions. Your father died when you were very young and you once naively thought that it was merely an accident. But after you gained this supernatural power, you started searching for the truth, and in the end…what I’m really asking is, the one who caused your father’s death was actually you, wasn’t it?”
The white mist in front of his eyes dissipated and he returned to a familiar place. This was the house where he lived for 11 years of his life. His father, as always, was seated at his desk, tidying his notes.
Chu Yi blinked in surprise. His father had passed away when he was six and he had already forgotten what his father looked like. Why were his father’s features so clear now?
The door of the house was suddenly kicked open. His six year old self came running from outside with a soccer ball in hand and gulped down the cold water that his father had left for him on the kitchen counter.
“Dad, I want a fizzy drink!”
“Fizzy drinks aren’t good for you and they’re so expensive! We’re having trouble making ends meet and your father is ill! Can’t you be more mature and help your father to worry less?” his mother’s voice called out from behind.
Young Chu Yi made a face as he grumbled, “The boy next door gets to drink fizzy drinks all the time, but you refuse to buy me any.”
“Stop bothering me in the kitchen. Go pass this to your father. I need to work overtime tonight, so remember to make sure your father takes one pill on time,” instructed his mother after patting his head.
Chu Yi brought the medicine to his father and asked curiously, “Dad, what happens if you don’t take your medicine on time?”
His father laughed and said jokingly, “What would happen? If I forget to take my medicine, then I won’t be able to talk to you anymore. Besides sleeping, I won’t be able to do anything else.”
“Ohhh!” Chu Yi nodded, then ran out with his ball again. His father watched his son run out and chuckled to himself.
At night, the young Chu Yi knelt on the floor as his father glared furiously at him and scolded him in a loud voice, “How could you do something like this? I didn’t buy something for you and you went to snatch it from someone else? That’s no different from being a thief!”
“Dad, I’m sorry, I was wrong, I won’t do it again,” said little Chu Yi through his tears.
“I know, I’m useless! Even if I work myself to death, I won’t be able to earn much and I really wish I could just have a good night’s sleep for once, but…even if that’s the case, that’s the way it is for our family! We might not be able to afford expensive things, but we are of upright character! By doing such a thing, you…you’ve become a bad person!” His father was agitated as he scolded his son with disappointment in his voice.
All of a sudden, his father clutched his chest and said to Chu Yi in a weak voice, “Get…get my medicine…”
Chu Yi ran to get his father’s medicine, but after taking it from the cabinet, something his father said in the afternoon struck him. Didn’t his father say that he could just sleep and not do anything else if he didn’t take this medicine?
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