Episode 32

The Fake
2 years ago
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“The main hall is too big and we can’t see the whole place either. It’s going to be very hard to locate them,” Kano Mai said to Su Jin.

Su Jin nodded slightly in agreement. “I don’t think they’re in any danger at the moment. I don’t think a Level C challenge would ensnare us with traps that kill us on the spot. That would be rather unreasonable.”

“What should we do now?” asked Kano Mai.

After contemplating his options for a while, Su Jin said, “Let’s settle the matter we’ve got on our hands right now first.” He looked at the man in gold rimmed spectacles and said, “Hello there, how should we address you?”

“My name’s Chen Jing,” said Chen Jing as he pushed his spectacles up. But now that he looked like he had gone through some sort of terrible ordeal, those glasses didn’t make him look elegant anymore.

Su Jin glanced at him and asked, “What happened to the other guy who left with you?”

“He… he touched the black mist and turned into ash on the spot. His entire body dried up and disappeared right in front of my eyes,” said Chen Jing in horror, as if he hadn’t gotten over that terrifying sight.

Su Jin looked Chen Jing up and down, then focused on the blood splatters on Chen Jing’s sleeves. He pointed at Chen Jing’s sleeves and asked, “Are those bloodstains from that guy?”

Chen Jing nodded. Su Jin raised another question, “You said his entire body dried up and turned into ash. If that happened, then there shouldn’t be any blood on your body, right?”

“I… I was too frightened and I don’t remember exactly what happened. He got injured before being gobbled up by the black mist, I suppose that’s when some of his blood splashed on me.” Chen Jing smiled awkwardly and looked rather dazed.

Su Jin didn’t continue probing him on this issue and continued with his next question, “So how did you get through the front hall?”

“Oh, I found a dial, keyed in the number code and got through the front hall. After that, I went down a corridor that had a stone bridge built over some water. There was a dead Tiger Water Dragon on the bridge and it seems like there were more in the water,” replied Chen Jing.

Su Jin’s eyelid twitched slightly as he got Kano Mai to turn around and whispered a few things to her. Kano Mai blinked at him in surprise at first, then nodded.

Once they turned back to face Chen Jing, Kano Mai aimed her Soul Whisperer at Chen Jing and fired a stream of bullets at him. Chen Jing was hit by the bullets and flew backwards without even having any time to react, then crashed onto the floor and didn’t move anymore.

“Did you make a mistake?” Kano Mai asked Su Jin after she had shot Chen Jing down.

Su Jin shook his head. He addressed the fallen Chen Jing, “Mr. Chen, right from the start, you had purposely convinced one of us to stay behind with you and now you’ve suddenly appeared right behind us. I don’t know if you ran into the statues that came to life in the front hall. Maybe you didn’t. But even if you didn’t, I actually put the wax layer back over the dial before running into the corridor that opened up behind the wall. Of course, if you looked at the floor carefully, you’d find it again. We killed off all the Tiger Water Dragons in the water, so getting through that part would also be no problem.”

“But… as a newbie, how did you even know what a Tiger Water Dragon is? I have a special skill, so I know what that creature is called. But I didn’t tell anybody else the name of that monster, so I should be the only person in the challenge who knows that monster is actually known as a Tiger Water Dragon. It’s plausible that you could have single handedly gone through the earlier stages as a newbie because we pretty much cleared the way for you, but to know the name of a creature that you couldn’t possibly have known? I’m sorry, Mr. Chen, but you’ve blown your own cover.”

After Su Jin said those things, the seemingly dead Chen Jing suddenly started getting up again slowly. He cackled and said, “Wow, I’m impressed. I slipped up a little and you’ve caught it.”

Chen Jing’s body was riddled with bullet holes but he didn’t seem to be bothered by them at all. He straightened his clothes out and adjusted his gold rimmed spectacles, then smiled as he said to Su Jin and Kano Mai, “The two of you are very clever, but… not quite clever enough either. I wanted to play with you two for a while longer, but since you’ve exposed my true identity, I’m going to have to kill both of you!”

Su Jin smiled as well as he scoffed disdainfully, “If you were capable of killing us, you wouldn’t have had to trick one into leaving with you and then pretend to be a hapless newbie in order to get close to us.”

Chen Jing froze for a second, then suddenly started running towards a corner of the main hall. He hoped to hide behind one of the giant statues in the hall and avoid getting killed by Su Jin and Kano Mai.

“Mai!” Su Jin called out to Kano Mai.

But Kano Mai didn’t need Su Jin to tell her to shoot at Chen Jing. She slammed a hand on her Soul Whisperer and it immediately turned red. Three high explosive rounds shot towards Chen Jing at high speed, but just when they were about to hit Chen Jing, a white light flashed from beneath Chen Jing and he disappeared immediately.

“He’s been teleported too!” Kano Mai frowned unhappily. If Chen Jing had been just that tiny bit slower, he would definitely be hit by her bullets. Three of those bullets managed to blast one of those statues in the front hall to pieces, so Chen Jing would definitely have died.

“It’s alright. At least now we know that one will be fine even after getting teleported,” said Su Jin quietly.

Kano Mai noticed that Su Jin’s brows were tightly furrowed, so she asked puzzledly, “You seem to be worried about something?”

He nodded and replied, “Yeah. Among the four of us just now … I’m afraid there might be an enemy among us.”

“Well, I did experience one challenge where a monster disguised itself as a newbie, but there’s usually only one. If there’s going to be more than one, the Handbook would hint at us about it,” said Kano Mai.

But Su Jin shook his head. “I can’t put my finger on it. Besides Chen Jing, there’s one more. That person might really be just a newbie, while Chen Jing is really a monster.”

Despite getting shot multiple times by Kano Mai’s Soul Whisperer, Chen Jing seemed perfectly fine, so he had to be some monster of sorts. It would be ridiculous for a newbie to be this invincible.

After Kano Mai heard what Su Jin said, her expression suddenly fell as she muttered, “An undercover mission? It’s rare for a Level C challenge to come up with an undercover mission.”

“Undercover mission?” Su Jin looked puzzledly at Kano Mai.

She explained, “So, every time an owner starts a new challenge, he would get a main mission as well as some side quests, and these side quests can vary from person to person very widely. One type of mission that can appear is a mission to kill your companions. If one of us is really a snitch, then it’s possible that the person actually has an undercover mission to complete.”

Su Jin chewed on these words for a while before saying, “Tan Xin… if one of us is a snitch, I think the most likely among us is Tan Xin.”

“Do you have proof?” asked Kano Mai.

Su Jin shook his head. “I don’t have any proof, it’s just… it’s just my guess. When I was putting in the numbers for the dial earlier, Tan Xin was right next to me. Let’s say Chen Jing needed the number combination to get to the passageway behind the wall. If he did, then the only person who could have told him the number combination would be Tan Xin. Of course, you could say that Shi Teng has been putting on an excellent act all this time, but I think that if Shi Teng were the snitch, he wouldn’t have risked his own life and be the first one to walk across that bridge just now.”

“But he didn’t die in the end either,” said Kano Mai.

Su Jin nodded and fell silent for a while, then said, “But his chances of dying were much higher, which is why I suspect Tan Xin more. But there’s also a chance that both of them are snitches and both have such a mission to complete.”

“Now do you understand why I didn’t want you to let them tag along?” said Kano Mai with a sigh.

Su Jin looked a little apologetic as he laughed bitterly and said, “I guess that’s the price I paid to learn this lesson.”

“Actually… even if you didn’t agree to let them tag along, they get certain advantages as newbies and might still manage to survive this challenge,” said Kano Mai to Su Jin after hesitating for a bit.

“You’re right. Well, since that’s the case, let’s just put our focus back on the mission!” Su Jin sighed at himself. Perhaps Shi Teng and Tan Xin were innocent, but just like what Kano Mai said, if the newbies went through the challenge by themselves, they might actually have a higher chance of surviving than if they followed him around.

“There might be more traps lurking inside this main hall, so if we don’t find them, we’re going to have a lot of trouble moving about.” Kano Mai glanced at the area around her. Even though these traps merely seemed to teleport one to some other place, it was still very dangerous. Even if one didn’t die immediately upon stepping on these traps, it would also cost you time trying to get out from wherever you were.

Su Jin started looking around too and after a while, a smile spread across his face because he realized where all the traps were. He said to Kano Mai, “Follow me and just be careful.”

“You know where the traps are?” asked Kano Mai puzzledly when she saw how confident Su Jin was.

He nodded and pointed to the floor of the main hall as he said, “That’s the place where Chen Jing disappeared, while that’s the place where Chen Jing stepped on and sent Shi Teng away, and that’s the spot where Tan Xin disappeared. Look carefully – do you spot a pattern?”

“A pattern?” Kano Mai furrowed her brows for a few seconds before the answer suddenly hit her. She looked at Su Jin and said, “Oh I see! It’s always the spot right next to the midpoint of the side of each statue’s right foot.”

“That’s right,” said Su Jin with a nod. All three of them had activated the trap at that part next to the midpoint of the side of a statue’s right foot. That couldn’t have been merely a coincidence.

The two of them avoided those areas and made it across the hall without any problems. They breathed a sigh of relief as they finally arrived at where the king of gods was. This particular statue was seriously humongous. As they stood next to it, they realized they weren’t even as tall as its foot.

“So, my clever team leader, what should we do now?” said Kano Mai as she grinned at Su Jin.

“Let me see!” Su Jin activated the Demon Lord’s Eye again. This time, the Demon Lord’s Eye quivered and sent a black mist into his arm as well, but it wasn’t painful like the last time. Instead, it actually felt so comfortable that Su Jin enjoyed it.

“Looks like I’ve got to limit my use of this Demon Lord Spirit Power,” Su Jin told himself. The Demon Lord was clearly eating into him and was even making him addicted to using this Demon Lord Spirit Power. He suspected that by the time he finished using all the Spirit Power inside the Demon Lord’s Eye, he would have become a devotee of the Demon Lord.

Su Jin flipped open his Handbook and frowned immediately at the information he had received. This time, the Demon Lord’s Eye had given him very little information. It was clear that there was a correlation between the type of target he was reading and how much information he would receive.

“A Heavenly Statue made in the image of a powerful and invincible god. The fact that humans managed to sculpt such an enormous statue is a miracle in itself. Its two bright eyes are made from the most perfect gems in the world. Each eye is worth billions!”

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