Su Jin was terribly shocked. He wasn’t sure what had happened to Chu Yi. Was his death within the Train of the Supernatural too hard for him to take, so he decided to leave the team?
“No, Chu Yi is not so fragile,” muttered Su Jin as he shook his head. He didn’t think Chu Yi would crumble so easily. From what he knew of Chu Yi, this young man was the sort who would never back down in a fight, even if he had been defeated a thousand times or even ten thousand times.
“Jin!” Kano Mai’s voice resounded from behind him. Before he could look up, Kano Mai had already leaped into his embrace.
“What’s wrong?” Su Jin got a shock. Did something bad happen?
But before Su Jin could ask further, Kano Mai started sobbing uncontrollably, which made him panic. Besides his fear of heights, the other thing that terrified him was watching a woman cry, especially one who was crying in his arms.
“Jin, I thought… I thought you weren’t coming back…” She raised her head and her eyes were puffy and bloodshot. She must have been crying for quite a while already.
Su Jin was a little embarrassed and he quickly comforted her, “It’s alright, it’s alright. I’m here now, right? Why would you think I wouldn’t come back?”
Kano Mai realized she was in his arms and her face turned red, but she refused to let go of him, as if she was afraid that he might disappear if she did that. She hugged him even more tightly instead, which made him feel really awkward.
“I… Mai! Can you… can you let go of me?” Su Jin scratched his head.
“No!” She buried her face in his chest and shook her head.
“Wha…” Su Jin didn’t know how to respond at all.
“Jin, I… I don’t ask for much, but could you… could you just pity me for this moment?” Kano Mai sounded really pitiful. From the first day she had met Su Jin, she had been silently staying by his side and like she said, she had never asked for much.
Su Jin froze for a while because for some reason, Kano Mai was giving him an extremely pitiful sort of vibe. His psychokinesis was much stronger and more sensitive, so now that they were in such close proximity, he could sense the emotions inside her. There was a love and longing inside her, but behind that lay a deep loneliness. A loneliness so cold and so sad that he couldn’t help but shudder a little.
“What exactly is Mai’s story?” wondered Su Jin to himself. Kano Mai was definitely not just some ordinary Japanese person. She had a secret that nobody knew about.
After he sensed her loneliness, he embraced her gently and stroked her hair with one hand as he said softly, “Were you worried about me? You don’t have to be worried anymore… I’m perfectly fine…”
Kano Mai nodded slightly but didn’t let go, so Su Jin awkwardly tried to probe further, “So… why were you so worried?”
“Because it’s been a week and you hadn’t returned, so… I… I thought something had happened to you.” She began to sob again and held him even more tightly.
“A week?!” Su Jin was shocked. He had spent a bit more time in the Handbook’s universe compared to her, but time in the Challenges always moved way faster than time in the outside world. Even if he had spent more time inside, he wouldn’t have come out so much later than her.
“Could it be…” His eyes widened. He realized where the problem was. It was the long river of time. After he blasted the connection between the front of the train and the rest of the carriages, the long river of time had been affected as well. So, for a long period of time, the time inside the Challenges and outside the Challenges flowed at the same rate, or had gone the other way instead. That would explain why he had only spent a little longer inside, but an entire week had passed by outside.
“I’m sorry for making you so upset,” he apologized quietly. It was no wonder she was so scared. He hadn’t returned after an entire week. That would have normally been a sign that he was dead.
“It’s… it’s okay… actually, your information is still inside my Handbook, so… so… I was just… worried…” said Kano Mai embarrassedly as she pulled herself away from him.
Mention of the information in the Handbook made Su Jin think of Chu Yi. He quickly asked, “By the way, what’s going on with Chu Yi? Why did he leave our team?”
Kano Mai’s expression shifted when she heard him mention Chu Yi, and she shook her head. “I don’t know either. I checked Chu Yi’s information the moment I got back here. There was nothing at first, but after a while, his information appeared again, except that… he was no longer listed as a member of our team.”
This really puzzled Su Jin. What in the world happened with Chu Yi? Was it because Chu Yi had died once, so he was automatically out of the group after he was revived? If that was the case, seeing him again was going to be really difficult. Chu Yi had not gone through enough Challenges for him to enter Hell’s Bar, and without a team, he wouldn’t be able to enter it for a long time to come.
Under such circumstances, it was going to be hard to meet Chu Yi again. If they were unlucky, they might never cross paths again. But it didn’t make sense for the Handbook to make such an error.
“Never mind that now. Call the rest, let’s meet in Hell’s Bar.” Su Jin activated their team’s access to the bar and used the Handbook to call Situ Jin and Wu Chen. They responded quickly and agreed to meet.
Shortly after Su Jin and Kano Mai entered Hell’s Bar, Situ Jin and Wu Chen appeared as well. They were all so glad to see one another again. After exchanging a few words, they turned their attention to the problem of Chu Yi.
“I’ve checked with other owners who also had teammates who were revived, but none of them have teammates who ended up getting out of the team, so I suspect Chu Yi… has done this out of his own free will.” Wu Chen had a deep frown on his face. He often went around gathering information and had a lot of sources. He knew that if Su Jin returned, he would definitely want to know more about Chu Yi’s situation, so he went to ask around immediately after his own return.
“His own free will.” Su Jin had a grim look on his face. That was what he had been most afraid of. That meant that something must have happened on Chu Yi’s side.
“I don’t know exactly which universe Chu Yi is in, otherwise I could have found out more.” Wu Chen sighed heavily. There were way too many parallel universes. It was so hard to find out which universe one belonged to, and many owners themselves had no idea which one they were in.
Just then, Su Jin’s Handbook suddenly started glowing. The green glow looked so sinister, it made one’s hair stand on end. Someone then walked over to Su Jin.
“Mr. Su, I’ve finally found you.” The one who had arrived surprised Su Jin, because it turned out to be the one who went through a Challenge with him not too long ago - Xiang Nan. Xiang Nan was holding onto a piece of parchment paper with strange runes on it, and it seemed like that was the item that helped him locate Su Jin. Behind him stood four others, including Zhang Shuhan and Tian Lili, original members of Team Wind and Rain.
“I see that Team Wind and Rain has regrouped. Congratulations,” said Su Jin to Xiang Nan. Their original team leader had already passed on, but at least the rest of the team had come back together again.
Xiang Nan smiled, but his smile was very forced. “There’s something I need to ask you. Your team has a member named Chu Yi, right?”
Su Jin blinked in surprise. They had just been talking about Chu Yi, and now, Xiang Nan was asking him about Chu Yi. He nodded and said, “That’s right. Chu Yi is part of my team. Did something happen?”
Xiang Nan nodded and moved to one side to allow another lady to step forward. She was around 30 years old and had very pretty features.
“This is Han Linmei, a new member to our team. Linmei, this is Su Jin, the team leader of Team Boning Knife and our team’s best ally,” said Xiang Nan as he introduced the two. He trusted Su Jin very much after going through two Challenges together. He felt very lucky to have met Su Jin. Furthermore, it was Su Jin who had encouraged him and gave him the courage to regather his old teammates.
“Mr. Su, I told my team leader about some things before this and he said that I must relay this information to you as well.” Han Linmei behaved extremely courteously to Su Jin, even bowing slightly before speaking. This wasn’t because they were new to one another, but because after Han Linmei heard all about Su Jin from Xiang Nan, she admired this young man from the bottom of her heart. You could even say she was now a fan of Su Jin’s.
“Information about Chu Yi?” Su Jin felt a little uneasy. He had returned a week later than the rest of the team and it seemed like some things had certainly happened over this past week.
Han Linmei nodded. She took a photo out and said, “Mr. Su, my strength is in concealment as well as gathering information, since having information during a Challenge is very important. This is a photo taken with a special sort of film. Please have a look.”
Su Jin took the photo from her with a puzzled look on his face. His gaze froze immediately. The point of this photo was very obvious. Chu Yi was in the middle of the photo and his hand was bloody from having just punched it right through another man’s chest.
“This was taken within my universe. I forgot to introduce myself to you, Mr. Su. Not only am I a member of Team Wind and Rain, but I am also part of the Resistance Army in my universe.”
Su Jin paused to think for a moment and said, “You’re from the same universe as Chu Yi? I remember Chu Yi telling me that there was a cult in his universe and their philosophy is that owners should rule over non-owners. Is this Resistance Army you’re from going against this cult?”
Han Linmei nodded. “That’s right. There are ambitious people among the owners, or perhaps, I should say that some of them have been traumatized by the terror brought on them by the Handbook, so they seek self-satisfaction in abusing others. But there are some owners who have managed to stay strong and are willing to stand on the side of justice, so we have joined hands to fight against this cult.”
“Instead of saying you’ve stayed strong, it’s probably better to say that you’re more intelligent. All of you know that owners were ordinary people to begin with. Having control over ordinary people might grant you satisfaction for a while, but once that feeling wears off, you’d be left with only emptiness and brutality,” muttered Su Jin quietly, like he was talking to himself.
But Han Linmei had heard his words clearly and nodded. “Mr. Chu Yi was one of the owners that the Resistance Army had targeted and really wanted to get on our side. Of course, the cult was trying to get him on their side too. He was originally more inclined toward us, but just a few days ago… he suddenly appeared and became part of the cult. He then went on a killing spree and many of our friends have been killed or hurt by him.”
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