Once they were done on the island, Situ Jin made a phone call and a cargo boat came to pick them up this time.
Two days later, they returned to their homes and continued with their lives while recuperating and getting themselves ready for the next Challenge.
The time for the next Challenge soon arrived, and Su Jin contacted his teammates. He put his hand on the Handbook to start the next Challenge, but to his surprise, the Handbook didn’t react at all.
“What’s going on? Is it because my psychokinesis increased by too much? But it’s been sealed up, so why is this happening?” Su Jin blinked in surprise.
Wu Chen soon had news for them. He appeared in front of Su Jin and Kano Mai via the Handbook like a hologram.
“Jin, are you unable to start the next Challenge?” Wu Chen asked immediately.
Su Jin nodded and was surprised. “So, I’m not the only one facing this problem?”
“That’s right. I’ve been gathering information from Hell’s Bar during this time and based on what I’ve heard, ever since that incident with the Train of the Supernatural, all the Challenges have been stopped,” said Wu Chen.
Su Jin was stunned for a moment and he began to think about why this could be happening. The train must have had a major impact on the Handbook’s universe. A large number of deities had been set free, and the Mad Hatter had sent them into different Challenges at random.
“Hell’s Handbook is unable to maintain control over all these deities, so… it’s temporarily unable to clear the various Challenges of its deities. And that’s why it has just decided to put a pause on all the Challenges until this matter is resolved?” murmured Su Jin.
He felt that this was very likely to be the case. The Mad Hatter and the other deities on his side were a force that even the Handbook had trouble controlling in the first place. Now that they were littered everywhere in different Challenges, it was going to be very hard to clean them out of all the Challenges.
“In other words, does that mean that once we’re able to go through Challenges again, the Mad Hatter and all the deities with him would have been dealt with?” Su Jin sighed. Time passed at a different rate inside and outside the Handbook. To the owners, only one month had passed, but that amount of time could be equivalent to centuries or even millennia inside the Handbook. This was enough time for the Handbook to gather its forces and fight the Mad Hatter and his allies.
There was nothing else the owners could do but wait for the Challenges to start again. There were some owners who were delighted and thought that they were no longer bound by the Handbook and that they had regained their freedom. But those who were smart enough knew that was impossible.
The Handbook itself was a supernatural item to begin with. Some owners had indeed successfully left the Handbook’s universe before, and once that happened, the Handbook they owned disappeared and they couldn’t enter Hell’s Bar anymore. But neither of these had happened to any owner.
Also, the one thing that made them sure that the Handbook still had a hold over them was the fact that the Handbook had revived everybody who died in the Challenge they were in when the train had exploded. That was enough to prove how terrifyingly powerful the Hell’s Handbook was.
Time slowly ticked by. A week later, a black notice was put up in Hell’s Bar. This was a notice that would appear in everyone’s Handbook, even if you didn’t have access to Hell’s Bar.
Su Jin and Kano Mai immediately went to read the notice. The notice was very long, and the information was extremely shocking. This was an upgrade to the Handbook Challenges.
From today onwards, the Handbook Challenges will restart.
The Challenges will be upgraded. Besides the types that previously existed, new types such as murder mysteries, adventure types, traversing to different eras and so on will be added. There will be more Challenges that pit teams against each other. A ranking of teams and individual owners will be put up, while the four levels for teams will no longer be used.
In order to make the Challenges more interesting, the Spirit Power of all veterans and the strength of all owners’ physical bodies will be weakened inside Challenges and there will be a limit on the items owners are allowed to use as well. Owners will not be affected outside of the Challenges.
For Level A Challenges, the upper limit of veterans’ Spirit Power will be reduced by 50%, physical strength will not be reduced, no limit on items.
For Level B Challenges, the upper limit of veterans’ Spirit Power will be reduced by 70%, physical strength will be reduced by 20%, limited to 5 items.
For Level C Challenges, the upper limit of veterans’ Spirit Power will be reduced by 80%, physical strength will be reduced by 40%, limited to 3 items.
For Level D Challenges, the upper limit of veterans’ Spirit Power will be reduced by 90%, physical strength will be reduced by 60%, limited to 1 item.
The ranking list of owners and teams will be made publicly available, but owners and teams can choose to show or hide their ranking. At the end of each calendar year, the Handbook will give out prizes according to each owner’s and team’s ranking.
The ranking score of owners will be based on the various criteria. Also, an owner’s contribution during a Challenge will be added to their total ranking score after they complete a Challenge.
Introducing team battles. Each team can challenge another team within ten places of themselves to a battle by using one Battle Declaring Token. The battle will start in three days and you can choose between a Battle of Life and Death or a Battle of Win or Lose.
The Battle of Life and Death will be decided by who lives and who dies. Once one team is completely annihilated or surrenders willingly after more than half the team has died, the battle will come to an end. The winning team will be able to revive any owners they lose in the battle. If the winning team was the one who posed the challenge, they will take over the ranking of the losing team and they can choose one item from each of the losing team’s members. If the winning team is the one who was challenged, they can pick two items from each of the losing team’s members.
The Battle of Win or Lose will not result in any deaths. The battle will come to an end once one team has been annihilated, and all dead owners will be revived. If the winning team is the one who posed the challenge, they will take over the ranking of the losing team and they can choose three items from the losing team. If the winning team is the one who was challenged, they can pick five items from the losing team.
This string of changes was accompanied by clear numbers and explanations. The content was enough to stun every owner.
Situ Jin and Wu Chen quickly called to discuss this with Su Jin. After thinking about it, Su Jin agreed to activate their access to Hell’s Bar so that they could sit down and talk about this.
Hell’s Bar was noisier than usual because almost every owner who had access to this place was here right now. Nobody cared if they knew each other or not and just sat down to talk about the new rules.
By the time Su Jin got to his team’s table, Situ Jin and Wu Chen were already there. They immediately got up when they spotted Su Jin.
Su Jin motioned to them to sit down and Wu Chen said, “Jin, what are your thoughts about these changes?”
Su Jin took a while to sort out all the thoughts in his head, then said, “One thing’s for sure – the Handbook is putting limits on the owners’ Spirit Power, physical strength and items purely to tackle the most powerful group of owners.”
“The most powerful group of owners?” Situ Jin didn’t understand.
“Xu Ran, Shen Wu, the leader of the cult and myself, before my Spirit Power was sealed up, all belong to this group. Our powers have reached a level that’s so high, not even a Level A Challenge is much of a threat to us. When my psychokinesis suddenly increased tremendously the last time, I did feel like I had control over the Challenge.
“If I had that sort of power when we went through the All Have Sinned Challenge, then the seven Original Sins and Archangels wouldn’t have been a problem to me because my powers alone would have been enough to crush them.
“The Handbook must have noticed this and so, it has decided to impose limits on people like us. Or at least, it wants to make sure that this group will face a higher chance of suffering severe losses or even death in a Challenge.” Su Jin’s thoughts became clearer as he spoke them aloud.
His team members nodded, so he went on, “As for the ranking of the owners and teams as well as the team battles, that’s even easier to explain. It’s very clear that the Handbook wants to increase the chances of owners dying while increasing the number of elite owners.”
“What’s the point in doing that?” asked Wu Chen with a puzzled look on his face.
“I think I know why it’s doing this, but I can’t tell you the reason for the time being. There’s just one thing I can tell you,” said Su Jin before pausing to look at the other three. He continued in a grim voice, “Everyone has to become as powerful as you can in the shortest time possible. I think… I think we don’t have much time left.”
“We don’t have much time left?” Situ Jin and Wu Chen were completely confused by what Su Jin was saying, but Kano Mai’s expression fell when she heard these words. She knew what Su Jin was talking about, and she knew even more about this matter than Su Jin. She had a more complete picture.
“Since the ranking is already up, should we go take a look at it first?” asked Situ Jin.
Su Jin nodded. They found the ranking inside their Handbooks and were thoroughly shocked. There were a few hundred thousand owners listed in the ranking. That was the total number of people within the Handbook’s control across all the universes.
Each person’s Handbook showed that owner’s ranking, so Su Jin found his position very quickly. He was the cream of the crop at #207, and this was his position with a large part of his psychokinesis all sealed up. If it weren’t all sealed up, he wouldn’t be so far down the ranking.
Su Jin looked at the top of the list and found that almost everyone in the top ten positions had hidden their names and only a few had chosen to reveal themselves.
“Shen Wu, leader of team Court of Wrath, #8!” Su Jin narrowed his eyes. Shen Wu’s position was extremely high up and he turned out to be part of the top ten. He scrolled through the list and tried to find Xu Ran’s name, but failed to find it even after he had gone past #200. The man must have hidden his name.
“I’m #571!” Wu Chen shook his head. He was an old timer who had gone through a few dozen Challenges, yet his ranking was so much lower than Su Jin’s. At the same time, being part of the top 1000 out of hundreds of thousands of owners was a great achievement already.
“#3910!” Kano Mai’s position was pretty low and she was nearly #4000, but she was definitely considered to be high ranking.
“#5213!” Situ Jin’s position was lower than Kano Mai’s by more than a thousand places. His Spirit Power was a formidable one, but his physical strength, skills and equipment were much worse than the rest of his team. But given the total number of owners, the difference between #3910 and #5213 wasn’t really that great. They were more or less within the same bracket.
“Let’s look at the team rankings. Team Boning Knife is ranked… #91!” Wu Chen was stunned. He didn’t expect the team to be ranked so highly.
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