It was mundane yet exciting at the same time for Su Jin to immerse himself in the world of martial arts every day. Being able to train himself in martial arts with a girl he liked was certainly something to be happy about, and it was equally important to him that he was able to improve his fighting abilities before he started on his next challenge.
“Something’s happened at the house I’ve rented, so I need to go home and settle it.” Su Jin took a day off from Ye Yun and returned to the bungalow that he had rented.
Kano Mai had been staying in the house all this time and knew that Su Jin must have returned because he wanted to start his next challenge.
“Are we going to start the next challenge now?” asked Kano Mai.
“Yup. It’s almost the end of the month now. Instead of letting the Handbook forcibly drag me into a challenge at a bad time, I’d rather choose the timing myself,” replied Su Jin with a nod. He opened his Handbook, turned to the page after Fengxi Town and saw words begin to appear on the blank page. Everything went dark and Su Jin lost consciousness.
“Darkness has fallen, and the world is under the control of evil. The only hope that those in the light have is hidden within the Temple of the Origin of Heaven. At this moment, you and your companion have managed to overcome several major obstacles to finally arrive at the Temple of the Origin of Heaven. You must go to the deepest part of the Temple and there, you will discover the Sparks of Light! If you do not reach that place, all that is awaiting you is death!” A voice began narrating the introduction to the challenge inside Su Jin’s head. Just like the last time, this voice was unfeeling, cruel and could strike despair in the hearts of the listener. It was like a combination of the darkest things in the world.
By the time Su Jin regained consciousness, he realized that he was in front of an ancient looking Daoist temple gate. The temple glowed faintly but the entire area outside of the temple was shrouded in complete darkness. Besides himself, there was Kano Mai and four others.
The other four comprised of three men and one woman. The three men were generally older than himself. One was wearing sportswear and looked around 27 or 28 years old. He had a large build and his muscles looked like they were made from steel and ready to bash through anything.
The second man looked like he was in his thirties, wore a pair of gold rimmed spectacles and seemed like the scholarly sort. He wasn’t very tall and was on the skinny side.
The third man also looked like he was in his thirties and was wearing a pair of blue faded coveralls. He looked like an honest and hardworking guy, and even though he wasn’t as muscular as the first man, he still looked pretty strong.
The only female looked like she was in her early twenties and looked like a student. She wore a pair of black framed glasses and looked like the quiet type. She was still holding her Handbook in her hands.
Everyone had already regained consciousness at this point and the four others all looked a little panicky and lost. After Su Jin saw them, he realized how Liu Yingying and Jiang Li had immediately identified him and the other three as newbies. They had probably looked just as confused as these four in front of him right now.
“Where are we?” asked the girl fearfully. She had obviously been frightened by how she had suddenly appeared in a strange place and took two steps backwards in horror.
“Calm down, everyone. You can try to think of the last thing you remember hearing in your minds and ask me anything you want. I’ll answer your questions,” Su Jin tried to calm them down. As they recalled what they last heard, Su Jin took the chance to open his own Handbook.
A new introductory page had appeared in his Handbook and the text was identical to the narration he heard earlier. The level of difficulty this time was Level C and three missions had also appeared.
Mission 1: Reach the deepest part of the Temple of the Origin of Heaven. Mission type: Must be completed.
Mission 2: Find the Spark of Light and release it.
Mission 3: Kill the guardian of the Temple of the Origin of Heaven.
These three missions were something that had not appeared in his first challenge. He looked through them and started analyzing the missions. The introductory narration had mentioned the Spark of Light, but it didn’t say anything about the guardian of the temple. It was likely that he would have to fight the guardian in order to find the Spark of Light, just like how he had to fight off the hunters in Fengxi Town. But missions two and three were not the type that he had to complete, so he could choose not to complete them if he liked.
But the first mission was the one that was mentioned in the introductory narrative. The owners had to reach the deepest part of the Temple of the Origin of Heaven and this was a mission that had to be completed. If they didn’t complete this mission, they would definitely die.
“May I ask if all of this is real? Or am I just dreaming?” the girl asked nervously.
Su Jin nodded slightly and said to the four of them seriously, “This is a challenge started by the Hell’s Handbook and it is controlled by mysterious forces. Please do not treat this as a game or a dream. If you die during this challenge, you’re going to stay dead.”
“Let’s assume this is real. How do we get back?” the man in the gold rimmed spectacles suddenly piped up. He looked extremely uneasy as well, but he was still able to think quite clearly. He didn’t question the existence of the Handbook and went straight to asking how they could get out first.
“You just need to survive this challenge and you’ll be able to go back. But the Handbook will give you a challenge once a month, so I hope you’ll be mentally prepared for that,” replied Su Jin.
“This is going to happen once a month? What about our usual lives? I don’t have time for this crap every month!” sneered the muscular man as he glared at Su Jin in a rather unfriendly manner.
Su Jin wanted to explain more but Kano Mai stood in front of him and motioned to him to stop talking because she would take care of things from here. Su Jin had no idea what Kano Mai wanted to do, but since she had already gone through seven challenges before this, she was probably very familiar with what to do in this situation.
“We don’t have time to waste talking to you guys like this. Once the challenge begins properly, this place will become the most terrifying place in the world. I’m not in the mood to stick around and wait to die. Whether you believe us or not is none of our business. But because my team leader is a kind soul, I’ve decided to provide you with some reasons why you should believe us,” said Kano Mai in a calm and controlled tone of voice.
“Is that so? I’m looking forward to how you’re going to prove that this crap is real,” sneered the muscular man disdainfully.
Kano Mai walked over to the muscular man and held her hand out at him. He was surprised for a moment before quickly grabbing hold of her hand with a smile.
“What a soft little hand you have! Why, have you fallen for me?” He held onto her hand and rubbed it greedily and looked like he was really enjoying himself.
Kano Mai smiled faintly for a moment, and then it faded almost immediately. Her expression was icy and the next thing she did shocked everyone present.
Kano Mai suddenly exerted strength in her hand and actually lifted the muscular man off the ground even though he probably weighed three times as much as she did. This was a shocking sight to behold. A petite and frail looking woman was holding onto only the man with just one hand, yet she was able to lift him up. That was terrifying.
The muscular man’s eyes were as wide as saucers and cold sweat dripped from his forehead. He felt like his wrist was about to break, but no matter how hard he tried to get his hand out from her grip, he simply couldn’t break free. Kano Mai’s hand seemed so weak and supple, but it gripped him like a pair of heavy duty pliers.
“Let… let go!” the muscular man began to howl in pain.
Kano Mai smiled faintly, then flung him aside. She looked at the rest of them and said, “If anyone else still doesn’t believe what my team leader said, you can come forward and have a go.”
None of the other three dared to challenge her or even say anything since she was obviously a lot stronger than they were. Only the man in gold rimmed spectacles frowned and said, “Your strength is indeed shocking, but… that doesn’t prove that what he said is true.”
“That’s an excellent point, but like I said, whether you guys believe us or not isn’t our problem. Jin, we can’t waste time on these people anymore. Every time a new challenge starts, we’re given only 15 minutes to get ourselves ready. Once this grace period is over, everything around us will be filled with danger,” said Kano Mai to Su Jin.
Su Jin nodded in agreement and said, “Just like what my friend here said, we don’t have a lot of time to waste here. If you believe what I said earlier, you can come along with me and even though I can’t guarantee your safety, I will try my best to protect you. But if you don’t believe me, then… well, suit yourselves.”
Out of the other four, the first one to make a decision was actually the muscular man. After experiencing Kano Mai’s strength for himself, he immediately chose to follow Su Jin and Kano Mai.
The quiet girl decided to follow Su Jin and Kano Mai as well after thinking about it, while the man in the gold rimmed spectacles and the man in blue coveralls chose not to follow them.
“Since you’re not willing to believe me, fine. But I’ll just leave you with two important pieces of advice. Firstly, this Handbook is very vital to your survival, check it often! Secondly, do not leave the Temple of the Origin of Heaven!” Su Jin did have compassion on the newbies and didn’t mind protecting them, but if there were some who turned down his offer, he wasn’t going to bother trying to convince them otherwise.
Kano Mai looked rather perplexed by Su Jin’s decision to protect the two newbies and seemed to hate the idea, but Su Jin was her team leader, so she had no choice but to go along with it.
“Let’s go! We can’t stay here any longer. We’ve got to enter the Temple,” Kano Mai hurried Su Jin.
Su Jin nodded and led the other three into the Temple. The other two men remained silent and didn’t move. After Su Jin and the rest left, the man in gold rimmed spectacles and the man in blue coveralls exchanged glances.
“What’s this about not being able to leave this place? I think this must be some sort of reality show! How could they knock us out and bring us here without our permission? This is outrageous! I’m going to sue these people once we get out of here!” snapped the man in gold rimmed spectacles angrily.
“Sue them? It’s very expensive to hire an attorney,” said the man in blue coveralls quietly. He wasn’t the initiative type, so if he hadn’t been convinced by the other man earlier to stay behind, he would have gone along with Su Jin like everyone else.
“Don’t worry, I’m an attorney! As long as you trust me, I’ll make sure they compensate us appropriately! Once you get sufficient compensation, my fees won’t be a problem for you anymore,” said the man in gold rimmed spectacles with a big smile as he patted the other man’s shoulders in an assuring manner.
The man in coveralls felt relieved to hear that. The man in gold rimmed spectacles turned on the torchlight function of his phone and they started trying to make their way out of this place.
But the two of them soon realized that something was terribly wrong. Even when the man in gold rimmed spectacles shone his torch into the darkness, they still couldn’t see anything. The darkness seemed as thick as a liquid and was completely opaque.
“This… this is really strange!” The man in gold rimmed spectacles looked at the darkness puzzledly. Just then, the darkness seemed to come to life as a black fog began to gather in front of the two men.
“What’s going on?” The man in coveralls reached out to touch the black fog curiously.
Woong! A gust of black fog suddenly rushed towards the man in coveralls, and he was so frightened that he tried to withdraw his hand from the fog. But the fog was faster than him and the thick fog soon enveloped the man’s arm.
“AHH!” The man in coveralls shrieked and fell to the ground. He kept rolling about frantically and the man in gold rimmed spectacles wanted to help him, but once he saw the man’s arm, he instantly took several steps backwards.
His arm looked like it had been bitten and chewed off by something and one could even see his bone already.
“Save me!!” The man in coveralls tried to reach out to the other man for help. His face was contorted in pain and his eyes bulged like they were going to pop out any minute.
The man in gold rimmed spectacles hesitated for a moment, but finally decided to reach out to pull the other man away from the black fog. But just before his hand reached the other man, the fog around his arms suddenly intensified and dragged the man entirely into the darkness.
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