The sudden bang gave all four of them a shock. Su Jin looked up to see that the person who had marched up to their table so angrily was actually the middle-aged man who had sold him information in the past.
“What do you mean by I lied to you? If you don’t explain yourself clearly, all my friends here are going to misunderstand!” After he had reached a consensus with his team mates, Su Jin no longer wallowed in his misery and indignation. He was going to get Ye Yun back on his own strength. Now that he was feeling much better emotionally, the way he spoke went back to normal as well.
The man glared at Su Jin and pointed a finger at him as he said, “You! You turned out to be Su Jin! The team leader of the team that completed a Level A Challenge perfectly! Why didn’t you tell me earlier?”
“How did you find out?” Su Jin was rather surprised. Logically speaking, there weren’t that many who would know anything about him. What were the chances of this man running into one who knew him personally?
The man grinned gleefully. “I have my own ways of finding out.”
“Amazing. Simply amazing.” Su Jin applauded the man without any expression on his face, then said, “We’re having a drink here as a team, so please leave and stop disrupting our gathering.”
The man was a little stunned by Su Jin’s response. The team’s usual waiter immediately looked at the man and he said hurriedly, “Don’t chase me away! Fine, I’ll tell you how I found out. I paid a very high price to get someone to use an extremely rare item. That’s how I got information on you.”
“There’s an item that can get information on others from nowhere?” Su Jin was shocked. If that were true, then there were no secrets left in the world.
The man smiled smugly as he said, “Of course there is. But don’t worry, you have to pay a high price each time you use it, and there are many other conditions you have to fulfil in order for it to even work. I merely got lucky.”
Su Jin was even more surprised to hear this. They had made two transactions before this but that was all. It didn’t seem logical for this man to spend so much effort on finding out more about him.
“You spent so much time and effort to investigate my team leader… Gosh, I didn’t know you leaned that way.” Chu Yi stared at the man suspiciously and shifted his chair further away from him.
The man’s lips twitched and he took a deep breath to keep himself calm. “I’ll go straight to the point then. I want to join Team Boning Knife!”
“Wha-?” Su Jin blinked several times.
“Wasn’t that clear enough? I would like to become part of Team Boning Knife,” he repeated himself in a solemn voice.
“But why? Why should I let you join my team?” Su Jin was very puzzled. He couldn’t possibly allow anybody who wanted to join the team to join, or accept anybody who had frivolous reasons like “I admire you” or anything like that.
The man looked like he didn’t expect Su Jin to turn him down and said, “I…why won’t you accept me as a member?”
“What a deep question. Let me ask you an equally deep question – why should I accept you as a member of this team?” asked Su Jin. The other three nodded in support of their team leader’s question.
The man was caught in an awkward position and the atmosphere became just as awkward. Su Jin explained further, “Your request is rather…unreasonable. We don’t know anything about you. We don’t know how capable you are or even what kind of person you are. If you were the leader of a team like mine, would you simply accept anybody who just wants to join?”
Su Jin was now very cautious when it came to taking in new members. Based on what he gathered from the conversation between Ye Yun and Alex the day before, he knew that Ye Yun had allowed Shen Wu to join her team. And what happened in the end? The entire team had been torn apart and it seemed like Ye Yun and Alex were the only ones who survived. Su Jin could not ignore the serious lessons he could learn from their experience.
“Alright then! You can test me.” The man also felt that his request was a little too ridiculous, so he patted his chest and said, “I’m someone considered good in fighting, so while I might not always be of help, I will not be the one to drag the team down in a Challenge.”
“Oh? How many Challenges have you passed?” asked Su Jin rather curiously.
“41 Challenges,” replied the man without hesitation.
The four at the table gasped. They had never heard of anybody who had passed 41 Challenges before.
Su Jin stared in disbelief at the man and asked puzzledly, “41 Challenges? You would have amassed enough points to get out of the Handbook universe, right?”
The man did not refute that point and nodded. He had a bitter smile on his lips as he said, “I had enough points by the time I completed a little more than 30 Challenges, but…sometimes things come to a point where your lack of points isn’t the only thing preventing you from leaving the Handbook’s universe.”
Su Jin could empathize with that. Even if Su Jin had enough points right now, he wouldn’t choose to leave the Handbook’s universe. He needed the Handbook to make himself powerful enough to get Ye Yun back. He figured that this middle-aged man probably had a reason like that for choosing to remain as an owner.
“Then…can you tell me what’s stopping you from leaving?” asked Su Jin.
The man paused to think about this for a moment, then pulled his wallet out. He took out a photo of a young girl from inside and gave it a fatherly smile.
“This little girl here is my daughter. She…passed away from an illness five years ago. I wasn’t an owner five years ago, so even though her illness wasn’t incurable, I didn’t have the means to get her treated.” He used his thumb to touch the face of the little girl in the photo with a gentle look in his eyes.
Su Jin sighed and said, “I’m sorry for your loss.”
“You don’t have to feel bad, because…I will revive her!” The man carefully placed the photo back in his wallet again and had a determined look on his face.
“Revive her?” Everyone stared at him in shock.
The man grinned back at them and nodded. “That’s right. I’m going to revive her. Over the past few years, besides going through Challenges every month, I’ve spent the rest of my time gathering information. I’ve found at least three ways I can revive the dead.”
Chu Yi’s eyes brightened instantly. His father had passed away because he had been too young to understand the consequences of his actions back then. If the Handbook had a way to revive the dead, he wasn’t going to pass on that opportunity.
Kano Mai’s eyes shone brightly too. She had someone in mind too. Situ Jin and Su Jin looked interested to find out more as well. After living long enough on Earth, most people would have someone they would be happy to revive.
“Revive the dead? How can you be sure that someone has really been revived?” Su Jin was the calmest among the four. He went on in a low voice, “The Handbook is driven by a very powerful force that’s almost godlike. If he makes someone with the same memories and the same appearance, would that be considered a revival of the dead?”
The man nodded and said, “You’re right, but what do you think humans are? If there’s someone with the same memories as you, the same appearance as you and the same emotions as you, would you consider him merely a duplicate? I think that’s a true revival.”
“Of course, my ideas are a little biased. It’s true that the Handbook is capable of all sorts of supernatural things. Replicating someone’s memories, emotions and body is one possibility, but there’s also the possibility that you can revive someone the more traditional way, which is to bring her soul back from the nether world and recreate my daughter!”
Su Jin didn’t know what to say to that. This was bordering on the philosophical, and the man wasn’t entirely wrong either. Could one really consider someone with the exact same body containing all the memories and real emotions merely a duplicate? Perhaps not.
“So, what are these three methods you’ve found out?” asked Kano Mai.
“The first one is to find a god and make use of their powers to revive a person. But it’s too hard to find one and it’s almost impossible to find one in the Handbook’s universe, so hoping to use their powers is just ridiculous.”
“The second way is to get a particular elixir. Legend has it that once a team reaches the highest level possible, such an elixir will appear in the team’s Hell Domain. It can create a body and bring back someone who has died.”
“The last method is the Gods’ Ceremony.”
“The Gods’ Ceremony!” Su Jin and his team raised an eyebrow. The Key to Immortality they had received from the last Challenge was one of the items for the Gods’ Ceremony.
“According to the legend, if you sacrifice the items for the Ceremony in a particular pattern, you will receive a divine gift that can revive the dead.”
All three methods were extremely hard to achieve, which explained why this man had not fulfilled his wish despite having gone through more than 40 Challenges and had chosen to continued ploughing through Challenges.
Su Jin nodded. “The first and third method require you to put in effort on your own. Only the second method requires an outstanding team. That’s why you’ve come for us.”
The man smiled and said, “It’s a win-win situation. You can test me if you like. If I don’t qualify for the team, then I won’t pester you guys anymore. How about that?”
Su Jin looked at his team mates and they all nodded at the same time. The man’s information on reviving the dead was simply too incredible and they believed that he had more information on hand. The other three were willing to take him in based on this information alone, even though there was still a risk that this would turn out to be a bad decision.
The man noticed that Su Jin was still hesitant, so he said, “There are many people who really want me to join their teams, but compared to your team, their teams don’t have enough potential. Believe me – I’m really sincere in wanting to join your team.”
“You want to join Team Boning Knife so badly? Just because we completed a Level A Challenge perfectly before?” Su Jin didn’t really understand. Completing a Level A Challenge might be really tough, but wanting to join a team just because of that sounded rather odd to him.
But the man nodded very confidently. “Of course that’s the reason why I want to join your team. I suppose you have no idea what completing a Level A Challenge perfectly really signifies.”
“Indeed.” Su Jin nodded. Level A Challenges were very hard and almost every owner had died in that Challenge. But he still felt that one Challenge alone wasn’t enough to prove anything.
“After I became an owner, I’ve seen a total of four teams complete a Level A Challenge perfectly and all four teams eventually became top tier teams. Level A teams. I don’t know if Team Boning Knife will be able to get there, but at this point in time, it’s the one that’s most likely to reach that point,” said the man with a smile.
“I like watching soccer, so I know that if you’re making a bet, you’ve got to place your bets on the team that’s most likely to win, because the chances that a team would suddenly win out of the blue are just too low.”
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