Chapter 25 - Kano Mai

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When Su Jin and Ye Yun returned to the house, Uncle Yu was standing at the gate and looking out for them. When he spotted the both of them walking towards the gate, he exhaled deeply in relief and mumbled to himself as he showed them back into the house.

After they walked into the house, Ye Shaoshi glared hard at Ye Yun, as if he was about to gobble her whole. But at the same time, he didn’t look as upset anymore since his daughter had returned home safely.

“Dad, could you cook for me? I really miss your cooking.” Ye Yun quickly hopped over to her scowling father and tugged at his arm playfully while whining adorably at him.

Su Jin figured that nobody would be able to stay angry for long with a girl like Ye Yun, especially if she started speaking in a cute voice like that.

And just as he had guessed, Ye Shaoshi couldn’t stay angry at his daughter after she spoke so endearingly to him. She just had to whine for a short while and he agreed to cook all the dishes that she loved to eat. Su Jin was also kind of disappointed that he wasn’t going to be able to see Ye Shaoshi discipline his daughter after all.

Ye Yun happily skipped all the way back to her room after she had successfully convinced her father to cook for her. Meanwhile, Su Jin was still puzzled as to how Ye Yun’s mood and energy had suddenly picked up again despite looking so tired on the way home. He could only conclude that it was true that the minds of women could be really hard to read at times.

“Su Jin! Ye Yun’s become so much happier after taking a walk with you, so why don’t you live here from now on?” Sun Tong noticed that her daughter’s mood had suddenly improved, so she immediately gave Su Jin the credit.

“No, no, it’s not what it looks like! I’m just trying to do my job, Lady Boss!” Su Jin stared at Sun Tong in alarm. He was still trying to figure out why Ye Yun’s mood had suddenly improved.

“Lady Boss?” Sun Tong looked at Su Jin puzzledly for a moment before bursting into laughter. She turned to Ye Shaoshi and said, “My goodness, this employee of yours is really humorous!”

“That’s probably how he made Ye Yun happy, isn’t it? Su Jin, why don’t you just stay here from now on? My wife and I are leaving for the US in a few days, and we asked Ye Yun to come with us but no matter how hard we tried, she still refuses to come along. But if you’re here to accompany her, I won’t have to worry about her.” Ye Shaoshi patted Su Jin’s shoulders hard and looked like he really thought very highly of Su Jin.

Su Jin decided to give up explaining himself since it seemed impossible. He could only smile awkwardly at them as he said, “I’ve just signed a new rental contract two days ago, so… I don’t need a new place to stay.”

“Just leave that for the time being. Pack your things and stay here until we return from overseas at least.” Ye Shaoshi had been the CEO of his own company for a long time and often gave orders that left no room for negotiation. Even though he sounded like he was compromising by getting Su Jin to move over temporarily, that still meant that Su Jin had to move.

“Well… I guess… alright then.” Su Jin glanced up at the second story and figured that his house would be fine even if he were staying here for the time being.

“That’s great! That’s great! Go back and pack your things, then come back here. Also, take this card too, otherwise you’re going to have trouble getting into the estate later.” Ye Shaoshi gave Su Jin a pleased nod as he handed a blue card to Su Jin.

Since he had already agreed, he accepted the card and returned to his place after taking his leave. After walking out of the estate, he didn’t take a cab and started jogging back instead. He wasn’t doing this to save money. He was doing this because he could sense that someone was following him.

From the moment he had stepped out of the estate, he had sensed something amiss. He could sense that there was someone not far away from him who kept following him. But the moment he turned around, that person would look just like any other pedestrian. It was obvious that this person was an expert at following others.

Su Jin wasn’t jogging very quickly either, since the streets were quite crowded. But the crowd slowly thinned out as Su Jin chose to go down smaller alleys. Then he suddenly picked up speed, jumped over a fence, ran into a maze of small roads, before turning towards a completely different direction towards the busy city center.

After he had suddenly increased his speed and switched directions, he was pretty sure that he had shaken that person off his tail. He quickly hailed a cab and got in. After the car had driven out of sight, the person following Su Jin finally arrived at where he had boarded the cab.

“He’s a really vigilant one!” Her nose twitched slightly, and she looked at the watch on her wrist with a laugh. “But too bad, that’s not going to be enough to get rid of me.”

When Su Jin got home, his expression fell immediately after he opened the door. Someone was sitting on his living room couch and was even holding a cup of water in her hands.

“Hoho, looks like you ran into a jam on the way home. I’ve actually arrived earlier than you did.” She stood up and Su Jin was finally able to see what she looked like.

The woman in his living room looked like she was in her twenties, and she was of Asian descent. She was dressed in a black suit and wore a pair of thin black framed spectacles. This outfit made her look both intelligent and sexy at the same time.

“Are you… Japanese?” Su Jin narrowed his eyes slightly and secretly pulled his Handbook out. He kept his fingers on the book because that way, he could take the Demon Lord’s Boning Knife or the Demon Lord’s Longbow out of the Handbook with just a thought.

“Is it that obvious? I didn’t expect you to identify my country of origin so specifically,” she said as she used her fourth finger to push some of her hair behind her ears, which seemed like a fairly flirtatious move.

Su Jin grinned and shrugged as he said, “Well, I’ve seen a lot of uh, Japanese action movies, so while I’m not always certain about the men, I’m certain about the women.”1

“Why would you be certain about the women and not the men?” She seemed a little confused.

“Why don’t you guess?” Su Jin raised his eyebrow.

She suddenly realized what he was talking about and laughed with a hand over her mouth. “I didn’t expect you to be so interested in that sort of thing. But then again, there’s nothing unusual about that.”

“Alright, enough of this idle chatter. Where you’re from doesn’t matter, but I don’t think it’s appropriate for you to enter a home when the owner of the house isn’t around, right? And from the looks of it, you were following me?” Su Jin’s expression suddenly grew serious as he spoke sternly to her.

She got up slowly and bowed at him politely. “My name is Kano Mai, and I would like to be your teammate!”

“My… team mate?” Su Jin frowned.

Kano Mai got up and took something out from her jacket. It turned out to be the same thing that Su Jin was holding. She had a Handbook too.

“Hell’s Handbook?! You own this thing too?” Su Jin connected the dots immediately once he saw that she owned a Handbook as well. This woman was clearly here to form a team. But at the same time, Su Jin was surprised to run into another owner so quickly.

“That’s right. I’ve made it through seven challenges.” She nodded and opened her Handbook so that Su Jin could verify this for himself.

The Handbook had records of every challenge its owner had been through and the assessment that followed, so Su Jin would be able to see if she was telling the truth or not once he looked through her Handbook. But he didn’t take it from her and just nodded. After all, if she had really survived seven challenges, she might have some other tricks up her sleeve. He wasn’t sure if she was a friend or a foe yet.

“Why do you want to become my teammate?” asked Su Jin as he maintained the same expression as before.

Kano Mai blinked several times, then smiled and said, “That’s because you have the Mark of a Leader. Once I become part of your team, I’d be able to enjoy benefits that only teams can enjoy. If I enter a challenge with a team, my chances of survival will increase dramatically, and I really want to make sure I can live on for as long as possible!”

“Oh? But I didn’t tell anybody that I have this Mark of a Leader and it’s only been a few hours since I got it. How would you have found out about it? Japan is hours away from here.” Su Jin started tapping his nose again. Did the Handbook send out a public announcement after he received the Mark of a Leader? Is that how she knew about it so quickly?

“That’s because I’ve got this!” Kano Mai showed him the extremely intricately designed watch on her wrist. She explained, “This is an item I purposely exchanged my points for the last time. This is a Team Finding Watch. As long as an owner with the Mark of a Leader appears within a certain radius, it will notify me. I happened to be in S City for a holiday and didn’t think I would be able to find anybody here.”

Su Jin scratched his head. The variety of items that the Handbook offered was immense, so it was possible for something like that to be available for exchange. Kano Mai’s explanation seemed very reasonable, so Su Jin actually let his guard down a little.

“Have you come across many other owners?” Su Jin sat down on the couch and motioned to Kano Mai to sit down as well so that they could speak face to face comfortably.

Kano Mai thought about it for a while and said, “I’ve seen quite a number, but… the death rate of each challenge is way too high, so after seeing some of them one or two times, I’ve not seen them anymore.”

“Are there a lot who have the Mark of a Leader?” Su Jin continued to ask.

“Before I found you, I wondered if this thing was just a toy. And if I hadn’t run into an owner with the Mark of a Leader during one of my challenges, I would have thought this whole thing was a sham,” said Kano Mai as she laughed and shook her head.

“Is it that rare?” Su Jin was rather surprised. It wasn’t easy to come to a realization that there were actually multiple parallel universes, but he was quite sure that any owner who managed to survive a number of challenges and gathered sufficient information would be able to arrive at the same conclusion as he did.

“Perhaps there aren’t many where I come from. I’m not sure if there are many owners with the Mark of a Leader in other countries,” said Kano Mai.

Su Jin nodded thoughtfully, then looked up at her and said, “Well, if you would like to become part of my team, then I’d need you to introduce yourself in greater detail.”

He didn’t mind having someone on his team, but he needed to know more about any potential team member. He had to establish her identity and potential before agreeing to work with her and at the same time, he was still quite wary of her, since she had pretty much popped up from nowhere. He didn’t know that much about other owners and Kano Mai was the first one he had met besides the ones who went through his first challenge. Remaining vigilant was still of utmost importance to him now.

“My name is Kano Mai, and I’m from Osaka, Japan. I’ve been through a total of seven challenges, but I haven’t been lucky enough to activate my Spirit Power, so I can’t really consider myself a veteran yet. I’m best at infiltrating enemy camps and being a sniper, so I can provide support from afar. My greatest weakness is dealing with any supernatural enemies, or rather, I don’t possess any ability to deal with such enemies yet. If we run into such enemies in a challenge, I’m almost useless.”

“And because I don’t have Spirit Power, I’m not able to use any weapons that require it. For close range attacks, I have a Starlight Sword. For long range attacks, I use a Soul Whisperer Sniper Rifle. That’s all.”

Su Jin started tapping his nose lightly after hearing what she said. He wasn’t sure if she had told him everything, but whatever she had told him was probably true. The only thing that bothered him was how she still hadn’t been able to activate her Spirit Power despite going through seven challenges already. That only went to show how difficult it was to activate Spirit Power.

“In that case… congratulations, Kano Mai. You’re the second member of this team!” Su Jin stuck a hand out at Kano Mai to welcome her to the team.

  1. Man of culture. I respect him again. ↩️

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