Kano Mai reached out to shake Su Jin’s hand as well. She was tall and she had very slim fingers. Su Jin didn’t dare to use too much strength to shake her hand.
After they were done with that handshake, they looked at one another without knowing what to say and the atmosphere became awkward. Kano Mai glanced at Su Jin’s Handbook and said, “I believe I also need to be confirmed by your Mark of a Leader in your Handbook in order to officially become a member of your team, right?”
“Is that so? I have no idea. You’re the first one to join my team and I’ve never done this before,” said Su Jin with a laugh. He held his Handbook out to her, and she took it from him, then placed her hand on his Handbook.
A black smoke rose from where the Mark of a Leader was. It covered Kano Mai’s hand and extended outwards from her palm until it looked like a frightening demonic claw.
“Su Jin, I need a drop of your blood,” she said to him.
“A drop of my blood? What’s this, a paternity test? That’s a terrible way to conduct a paternity test! You’ve got to do it the scientific way,” said Su Jin very patiently.
“I’m not kidding. You’re the owner with the Mark of a Leader and the Handbook needs your blood to verify that it is your decision to take me in as a new member on your team!” said Kano Mai in an exasperated voice.
“I was just trying to crack a joke… Didn’t you find the atmosphere really awkward just now? I thought a joke or two would help to ease the tension.” Su Jin made a face, then picked up a fruit knife on the table, made a cut on his finger and let one drop of blood drip onto the hand of smoke on Kano Mai’s hand.
Once his blood hit the hand of smoke, it dissipated for a moment before gathering again. But this time, the smoke entered Kano Mai’s arm and moved up and down her arm like a raincloud.
“You didn’t set your own team crest?” Kano Mai looked puzzledly at Su Jin.
“Like I said, this is the first time I’m doing this!” Su Jin shook his head. Blackie had disappeared immediately after briefly introducing what the Mark of a Leader was and didn’t even let Su Jin ask too many questions. He now realized that Blackie had skipped a number of these administrative details in his description earlier.
Kano Mai didn’t seem to believe that Su Jin seriously had no idea about these things, but she had no choice but to explain it to him now, “Every team has their own team crest. This crest is like the name card of the team and it has certain powers depending on the challenge.”
“A crest? So, you mean like the symbol on a pirate ship’s flag?”
“Yup. Something like that.”
“How do I set my own team crest?”
“You can either leave it to the Handbook to design one for you, or you can design your own custom crest. You just need to think of a design while holding onto your Handbook,” she replied.
He nodded slightly, held onto his Handbook, then closed his eyes slightly. After a short while, Kano Mai noticed that the black smoke on her arm was beginning to take shape. About ten seconds later, the black smoke on her arm had formed the shape of a boning knife.
“Alright! That will be our team crest. From now on, our little team shall be called Team Boning Knife!” Su Jin was very pleased with his artwork. The boning knife he had drawn in his mind comprised of just a few black lines of different thickness and lengths, but the blade looked nice and sharp, which made it look like one touch of the blade could cut through flesh and bone easily.
Kano Mai seemed pretty satisfied with the crest that Su Jin had designed as well. She used her finger to touch the crest and the crest stuck to her finger as she moved it along her skin.
“Wow, it’s like a human touch screen!” Su Jin looked curiously at the way Kano Mai shifted the crest around.
She finally decided to place the crest on her shoulder. That way, it would be difficult for others to see it. She smiled and said, “Yes, you can move it to anywhere you want.”
Another wisp of black smoke came out from the Handbook, but this time, it headed for Su Jin’s arm instead. After it took the shape of a boning knife, Su Jin also tried moving the crest around and eventually settled on leaving it on his shoulder as well.
“Alright! Now that you’ve joined my team, what do you intend to do next?” Su Jin started paring an apple.
Kano Mai shrugged. She looked around the house and said with a smile, “I want to stay in this city for a while more, so if you don’t mind, why don’t you let me stay here for the time being?”
“Rental here is very expensive,” joked Su Jin.
“And do you think money still means anything to a Handbook owner?” Kano Mai took out her black card and waved it in front of Su Jin’s face.
Su Jin laughed and shook his head. “That’s why I’m not collecting money as rent. If you want to stay here, you’ve got to pay with your body.”
“I don’t think that’s really appropriate, is it? Then again, I… don’t really mind.” Despite saying that, Kano Mai remained in her seat and didn’t move at all.
He laughed and said, “What do you mean by it’s not appropriate? I’m going to be away for some time, so if I don’t get anyone to clean up and look after this place on a regular basis, everything will waste away on its own. So, I’ll be counting on you to do this for me. If you want to stay here, then you’ll have to watch this place and keep it clean for me.”
“Don’t you stay here?” Kano Mai was a little surprised at first, but she figured it out quickly and laughed, “Ah! I see, you’re going back to that luxurious neighborhood with all those bungalows, aren’t you? Well, that Chinese girl is very pretty indeed. You’ve got good taste!”
“I’m going to have to warn you about that. Do not follow me around like that ever again!” He got up and had a threatening look on his face as he pressed his palms against the coffee table and stared down at Kano Mai.
“Of course. I won’t do that again.” Kano Mai nodded immediately.
Su Jin started smiling again after hearing her response. He pointed to the second story and said, “The third room on the second story will be yours. I’ll leave this place to you, but you are not allowed to bring random strangers back here, you hear me? Also, when do you have to start your next challenge?”
“I still have about ten more days or so. What about you?” said Kano Mai.
“I’ve just completed one recently. But we’ve got to start challenges as a team, right?” asked Su Jin.
Kano Mai nodded. “That’s right. But don’t worry, the Handbook will calculate the time in between challenges according to the team member with the longest period of time left till the next challenge. So, thanks to you, I’ll be able to have at least another two weeks of peace or so.”
“Aww, looks like you’ve really got to thank me. In that case, help me to pack my things then. My room’s over there.” Su Jin placed the apple in her hands, then pointed to his room before plonking back down on the couch and shut his eyes to rest.
Kano Mai was a little stunned at first, but she soon stood up and went to help Su Jin pack his things.
Su Jin’s eyes were only half closed as he watched Kano Mai walk into his room. This woman was probably not as simple as she seemed to be. She seemed to be very familiar with the team system, so this might not actually be the first time she was joining a team.
But he wasn’t really bothered by the idea that Kano Mai might be hiding some things from him. Handbook owners had to go through very frightening challenges, and it wasn’t surprising for any owner to keep their trump cards hidden away from others. But at the same time, since she might not be honest with him, he wasn’t going to be fully honest with her either.
She had talked about herself during their conversation earlier, but Su Jin hadn’t revealed anything about himself. He wasn’t going to tell her much until she had earned his trust.
It didn’t take long for Kano Mai to pack Su Jin’s things. Su Jin didn’t check what she packed either. He took the bag from her, waved goodbye to her and walked out.
After Su Jin left the house, Kano Mai started eating her apple. She smiled to herself as she quietly murmured, “What a careful newbie. But he’s got so much potential. He’ll be a good teammate for the time being.” Then she bit down hard on the apple.
Su Jin stopped thinking about Kano Mai and got back to the estate where Ye Yun lived. The blue card that Ye Shaoshi passed to him was an access card to the estate, but Su Jin felt like this card was pointless. Kano Mai had obviously started following him from inside the estate, but the security hadn’t detected her at all. It wasn’t going to be hard for Su Jin to slip in and out either, since he had a bottle of Witch’s Concealing Potion.
When Ye Shaoshi saw that Su Jin had returned, he got Uncle Yu to bring Su Jin’s things to his room. Then he said to Su Jin, “That will be your room. When Sun Tong and I aren’t around, you can let Uncle Yu know if you need anything. He’ll settle it for you.”
“Boss, I think Miss Ye will be fine for the moment, actually. I really don’t think you need to insist on me staying here,” said Su Jin.
“It’s really not the first time she’s behaving like this. I agree that there are times when her mood improves tremendously, but eventually, she will slowly become more and more depressed again. You don’t have to do anything else, just keep her company. If she tries to kill herself, I don’t care what you do to stop her. You can try to convince her with caring words, or you can knock her out with a hit. In any case, I want to come back and see that she’s still alive!” Ye Shaoshi looked at Ye Yun’s room as he spoke and he looked so frustrated and helpless at the same time.
Su Jin looked at Ye Yun’s room as well and nodded. “You’re not asking for much, but I can only promise you that I will try my best. I believe you understand that if a person really wants to end their life, it’s really not easy for others to stop them.”
“I understand, I understand,” murmured Ye Shaoshi. He suddenly looked like he had aged ten years as he patted Su Jin’s shoulder listlessly and sighed.
Nothing happened for the rest of the night. By the time Su Jin woke up the next day, both Ye Shaoshi and Sun Tong were on a plane to the US. The huge bungalow was left with just Su Jin, Ye Yun, Uncle Yu and a few other house servants and gardeners.
“Good morning, Uncle Yu!” After Su Jin washed up, he walked over to greet Uncle Yu.
Uncle Yu nodded back at Su Jin with a friendly smile and bowed slightly. “Mr. Su, would you like something to eat? I’m afraid… it’s past breakfast time, so if you don’t mind waiting, we’ll be serving lunch soon.”
“Oh dear, is it noon already?” Su Jin looked out of the window. The noon sun was shining down very brightly indeed.
“Oh look! Young Mistress is home!” Uncle Yu pointed at the door to the house. Ye Yun was in a tracksuit and her collar was drenched in sweat, as though she had spent a long time exercising.
“Why, hello, my cousin!” Su Jin waved at Ye Yun. Then he asked Uncle Yu, “There’s meat for lunch, right?”
“Er… yes, there will be, of course.”
“Looks like the meals provided at work are going to be great!” Su Jin nodded with a pleased smile on his face. He walked towards Ye Yun and asked with a smile, “You didn’t see your parents off?”
“I saw them off before going for my exercise. Hey, you’ve got pretty good stamina, but you’ll lose it if you don’t train up on a regular basis. Why don’t you exercise with me from tomorrow onwards?” said Ye Yun.
“Exercise, you say? That sounds like a great idea!” Su Jin immediately agreed to it. While exercising with a beauty did sound like an excellent idea, Su Jin had no idea what sort of exercise Ye Yun normally did and he had no idea what he had just signed up for.
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