An undated photo loaded on Su Jin’s laptop screen. It was a little yellowish and it was taken from a high vantage point.
The layout of the town was the same as the Fengxi Town he had just returned from. He could even see where Lin Yue’s house was.
He looked at the longbow on his bed. This was like a prize he had picked up from the town itself, but Blackie said that it had to be appraised before it could be used. Unfortunately, Su Jin didn’t have a lot of points and it didn’t make sense to use them on appraising an item that he wasn’t sure was useful or not, so he decided to just keep it aside for the time being.
After that, he made a phone call to his colleague. “Hello, is that Brother Li? Yeah, Su Jin here. I’ve got to settle some urgent matters, so could you help me to take leave? I’ll need three days!”
“Three days?! Su Jin, you’d better think about it carefully. If you take those three days, you won’t get the perfect attendance award money1 and moreover, you’ll miss the gathering too!” said the older man on the other end of the line.
“It can’t be helped, it’s really urgent. Tell you what, once I’m done settling this, I’ll treat you to dinner.” Su Jin needed his colleague’s help, so he tried his best to plead with Brother Li. In the past, he would never have offered to treat anybody to dinner. After paying the bills and sending money home every month, any money he had left was barely enough to even buy a beer, never mind a meal.
Brother Li laughed and said, “You can’t fool me with that! I know how tightly you hold those purse strings! There’s no way you’re going to treat me to a meal.”
“Oh well, that’s just part of being poor. But seriously though, I really need you to help me to take leave for the next three days.”
“Alright, alright. You’re actually forgoing your attendance money, so it must be really urgent. Did something happen at home? If you need anything, just let me know. I’ll definitely help you where I can,” said Brother Li seriously.
Su Jin felt a warmth in his heart as he thanked Brother Li, “Thanks so much, Brother Li. I’ll let you know if you need anything. I’ll hang up now, bye!”
After hanging up, he tried the number that Chu Yi gave him, but the number didn’t belong to Chu Yi. He scratched his head and wondered if Chu Yi had remembered his own number wrongly.
He lay back down on the bed and fiddled with the black card for a while, then randomly called the customer service hotline of a bank and gave them the card number. Strangely enough, nobody asked him for a PIN or passcode or anything like that. He was surprised that there was no form of protection on this card at all.
“Your balance is ten million dollars.” Su Jin exhaled deeply as he listened to the automated voice report the balance. Then he tried a few other banks and got the same result. This black card was really usable across banks.
“The time!” Su Jin looked at his clock. Besides the time he had taken to research Fengxi Town and make a few phone calls, he had actually only left his apartment for only about a minute or so. As he lay on the bed, he thought about the crazy things he had experienced earlier, and everything suddenly seemed unreal.
What on earth was this Handbook all about? It allowed him to exchange those points for so many magical items and it transported the owner to a terrifying and almost unbelievable world. Compared to all that, body restoration and getting large sums of money didn’t seem so out of this world anymore.
It was impossible for Su Jin to understand everything about the Handbook by speculating about it, so he closed his eyes and fell asleep soon after. Su Jin considered this one of his superpowers. As long as he wanted to sleep, he would be able to fall asleep in a very short time, regardless of what he was thinking about or worried about.
The next day, Su Jin woke up early in the morning. After he packed a few things into his bag, he headed straight for the airport and bought a ticket to Z province. Thankfully, it wasn’t peak travelling season.
The items he had used his points to exchange for in his Personal Hell Domain and the longbow really gave him a headache. His Ultra-Light Mecha Armor was invisible to others and was on him at all times, so that wasn’t a problem, but it was almost impossible to bring the rest on board a plane. Just when he was running out of ideas on what to do with these items, he casually dumped the Handbook on the longbow.
All of a sudden, the longbow turned into a flash of light and disappeared. He was stunned at first, then he quickly started flipping through the Handbook and found it on the second last page of the Handbook. It was now nothing but a drawing in the book.
He tried to grab at the longbow and a beam of light shot out as the longbow appeared in his hand again. Now he knew where Jiang Li’s spear must have suddenly appeared from.
After he practiced how to store and retrieve his items for a while, it became second nature to him. He marvelled once again at the Handbook. This storage ability was really amazing.
On the plane, Su Jin continued to search for more information on Fengxi Town on his phone, but besides that photo he found, it seemed as though any other information about Fengxi Town had been completely erased. He couldn’t find anything useful at all.
He looked at the photo of Fengxi Town that he had saved on his phone. The address of the town was indicated at the bottom right corner of the photo. If not for this photo, he could forget about locating this secluded little town.
Once he got out of the plane, he took an intercity bus, then changed to a local bus, but was still unable to reach Fengxi Town. After asking around, he found out that the location he was trying to get to was already abandoned years ago, which was why no public transport could reach it. If he wanted to get there, he had to walk.
He looked up at the darkening sky. Just getting here had already taken him almost half a day, but he wasn’t feeling tired at all. His strengthened body could now endure the sort of training a soldier in the special forces could, so merely travelling wasn’t going to tire him out so easily.
Since he wasn’t tired, he decided to keep going. He purchased a bicycle from the town he was in because a bicycle was definitely faster than walking. Then, he went around to ask the townsfolk about exactly where Fengxi Town was. He thought it would be difficult to get information, but it seemed like everyone in the vicinity knew about that town.
“Fengxi Town has been abandoned for a few decades now. Why do you want to go to such a place?” asked one of the girls he approached. She looked like she was only 15 or 16, yet she knew about Fengxi Town.
“Oh, I’m the hiking and camping sort of guy, so I like to visit places that are off the beaten track,” lied Su Jin. Then he asked her curiously, “Since it’s been abandoned for a few decades now, how do you know about the place?”
“Everyone who lives around here knows about that place. My grandfather used to tell us ghost stories about that place when I was a child,” she replied as she rolled her eyes. Then she said, “But what I heard was that something terrible happened a few decades ago that wiped out the entire population overnight and the police cordoned off the town too. Apparently, it was an infectious disease. Aren’t you scared?”
“An infectious disease?” Su Jin laughed. “Even if it were an infectious disease, it’s already been a few decades. That won’t be a problem anymore.”
After he parted ways with the teenager, he started cycling towards where she told him it was. She yelled after him, “It’s getting dark! If you go there now, you’ll have to spend the night there!”
“Got it! Thanks!” he replied and waved at her.
The road eventually became impossible for a bicycle to get through and the bicycle had now become a burden to him. So, he abandoned it and continued the rest of the way on foot.
It was 8pm by the time Su Jin could see Fengxi Town from afar. This Fengxi Town was so different from the town he went to, the night before. The houses were damaged, and the grass was half his height. It was obvious that nobody had come here for the past few decades.
He pushed the tall grasses aside and continued walking slowly towards Lin Yue’s house. He spotted it quite quickly and found it strange that this particular house was in much better shape than the rest around it. There was also a splatter of flesh as well as dried blood in front of the gate.
His memories went back to how Jiang Li had thrust his spear into the hunter after the hunter had taken possession of Yang Zichen’s body, and the spear had blown the body to bits. Su Jin sighed quietly and found some abandoned tools nearby. He was much stronger now, so he used those rusty tools to dig a hole of sorts and buried whatever flesh he found.
“Yang Zichen, we happened to meet in this place, and although it was only for a short time, we went through life and death situations together. I’m alive partly thanks to you too. I don’t know where your home or your family is, so the only thing I can do for you is to bury your body. I hope you won’t run into such an unlucky thing in your next life,” murmured Su Jin to himself. Since the remnant of Yang Zichen’s body was here, that meant that everything that happened the night before had actually happened in this abandoned town. He didn’t know why the town became so overgrown and rundown overnight, but after everything that happened the night before, nothing could really shock Su Jin anymore.
He bowed a few times respectfully towards this simple grave, then he walked towards the gate of the house. A boning knife had been hidden near the gate and its blade gleamed brightly. He picked up the knife and used it to knock on the gate.
“Is anyone there? I’ve come as promised!” Su Jin was yelling like a door-to-door salesman as he banged the knife against the wooden fence.
Creak! Just then, the sound of a wooden door being opened came from the house inside. A familiar silhouette walked out of the house and stood before Su Jin.
“You really came.” This person was none other than Auntie Li, the only surviving human other than the Handbook owners who passed the challenge. She was also the god of Fengxi Town in human form.
Su Jin smiled and tapped the fence with his boning knife again. “I’m a man of my word. I was just afraid that you might not have understood my message and that I would have come all the way here for nothing.”
“When you purposely left that boning knife behind, I knew you were going to come back. But it was still a gamble for me,” said the god in a low voice.
“Why? Were you afraid that I wouldn’t come back?” asked Su Jin with a grin.
“I was more afraid that you wouldn’t be able to get back here. As one of the Handbook’s challenges, Fengxi Town has its own special characteristics. I was supposed to have gone into a deep sleep once the challenge was over and wait for the next challenge to start. I paid a great price in order to wait for you, so if I don’t get what I want this time, I will not let you off,” said the god as he stared straight at Su Jin, as if he might swallow Su Jin whole.
“I’m someone who might be willing to work with you and you’re threatening me? That’s not a good start. You’ve affected my impression of you,” said Su Jin as he started tapping his nose with his right finger again. He was trying to analyze what the god had just said. After his body had been strengthened by that elixir, he discovered that his mind seemed to have greater clarity as well. It didn’t necessarily mean that he had become more intelligent, but it was more like he had gotten a processing chip upgrade and he could process everything much faster now.
The god’s words contained important information, but Su Jin had to put that aside for now. He would need other information to verify his speculations.
“You don’t have to think so much. You’ll eventually find out more. So, how about our deal? Have you decided to become one of my devotees?” The god stretched both arms out, as if he was waiting for Su Jin to leap into his embrace. 2
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