Life suddenly became really uneventful. After Azer left, no other gods came to make trouble, perhaps because the power that the Demon Lord had exhibited had been enough to keep them at arm’s length.
“Why don’t the top-ranking gods come instead?” Su Jin asked the Demon Lord.
The Demon Lord lay limply on the bed. After she had frightened Azer away, she continued to look like she was in very poor health and didn’t even go to those nightclubs she used to patronize anymore. But that was definitely a good thing for Su Jin. He didn’t have to tidy up the house so often if she didn’t have all these hookups. Besides, he knew that Kano Mai didn’t like having these people in the house either.
“Since you ask, I’ll give you three reasons why,” said the Demon Lord as she lay on her bed and enjoyed fine wine and fruit. Her voice was relaxed as she went on, “Firstly, it’s very hard for a top-ranking god to move through spacetime. It’s like trying to shoot a ball through a hoop – a ping-pong ball would fit without any issues, and a soccer ball would fit fine too. A basketball would require a bit of skill. But if you had to fit an exercise ball… how should I go about doing that?”
“Er… release some of the air inside first?” guessed Su Jin.
She clapped her hands and laughed, “Clever boy. That’s exactly it. Top-ranking deities are like an exercise ball. If they want to enter this universe, they will have to suppress their powers by a lot, perhaps even to the point where their powers are even weaker than an ordinary god. If they have to do that, then even if they come here, they wouldn’t be able to make much of a difference. They could even endanger themselves that way instead.”
“I’m able to travel easily because my powers have already been greatly reduced. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be able to get here either.”
Su Jin nodded, then asked, “What’s the second reason.”
“Secondly, there are very few top-ranking deities in the first place. Actually, nobody knows if the faction against the Mad Hatter has any top-ranking deities on their side or not. That’s why Azer was so eager for me to join them,” explained the Demon Lord patiently.
“Then… the third reason?”
“Thirdly… who do you think you are? No top-ranking deity would bother smiting small fry like you personally. Have you seen anybody try to kill a chicken with a missile?” sneered the Demon Lord.
Su Jin grinned awkwardly. Just like what she said, while he and Xu Ran were considered powerful among owners, they were nothing compared to all the other existences in the larger universe. They were no more than two pieces of dust among the gods right now. They had to become gods themselves first.
After getting used to walking on the edge of death all the time, Su Jin found himself surprisingly annoyed with mundane life. He used to think that he was a person who didn’t mind living a routine and unexciting life all the way until he died. But perhaps it was because Su Jin had other things he wanted to achieve in life, so the fact that he wasn’t getting any closer to his goals made him more unsettled.
But of course, this didn’t carry on for long. The Handbook was never late in delivering a Challenge. In no time, Su Jin embarked on a new Challenge by himself.
In the darkness, he could hear whispering all around him. It resounded in his mind, and it gave him a very strange sensation. It was like part of his body was extremely itchy, but he couldn’t reach it to scratch. He felt very uncomfortable.
“They’re here! They’re here! Another fresh body that makes one hungry.”
“They’re here! They’re here! Another pitiful soul that makes one salivate.
“They’re here! They’re here! Another ignorant lifeform that makes one feel sympathetic.”
“No equipment can be used for this Challenge. Spirit Power will be capped at 200.”
The voice faded and Su Jin’s world lit up. He was now in a wooden hut with five others next to him. The first thing he did was to flip his Handbook open.
Level B Challenge, Haunted House.
Level B Challenge, huh. And a supernatural one too, thought Su Jin with a frown. Everyone knew that supernatural Challenges were the most dangerous sort of Challenge, because many owners died in these Challenges without even knowing what hit them.
“Only one mission – survive the haunted house for three days.”
The mission was simple, but the simpler the mission, the harder the Challenge usually was. A supernatural, Level B Challenge with a total of six people. They could all die anytime, especially since there were limits on the owners’ powers and equipment.
“I only get to use three things and my Spirit Power limit is 500?! Damn it! That’s a limit on top of the existing limits!” cursed one of the owners out loud. Su Jin looked a little confused.
What was going on? Was there a difference in limit for each owner? Didn’t that mean the Handbook was picking on him? Su Jin was confused because this seemed way too ridiculous. Was the Handbook going to be so obvious in making things difficult for him?
“Let me introduce myself. I’m Xu Ge, I’ve gone through seven Challenges and I’m a veteran.” Xu Ge was the one who cursed out loud just now. He scanned the other people in the hut with a look of disdain in his eyes. “Are any of you veterans?”
Su Jin didn’t speak up because he didn’t trust this Xu Ge. This guy literally had the face of a bad guy, plus the contempt he had for other owners was written all over his face.
He silently used his psychokinesis to scan Xu Ge’s consciousness, since he had reached a stage where he could use extremely little psychokinesis to do this.
It was as he had expected. This Xu Ge was the sort who was willing to sacrifice other owners whenever he wanted to, plus he had an item that could protect him from supernatural forces for a period of time by just killing someone. This guy was even more dangerous than a ghost in such a Challenge.
“I’m Su Jin, I’ve been through three Challenges.” Su Jin purposely hid his real experience. If that Xu Ge tried anything funny, he was happy to give him a big surprise.
“Ning Ran, I’ve been through one Challenge,” said one of the ladies. Su Jin stared at her for a moment. This girl looked a lot like Ning Meng and shared the same surname too.
“Don’t mind me asking, but do you know someone called Ning Meng?” asked Su Jin.
Ning Ran blinked in surprise, then she grabbed Su Jin and asked, “You… you know my younger sister?”
“Your younger sister… I just knew it,” muttered Su Jin with a sad smile. He never thought he would run into Ning Meng’s older sister. He had always felt bad about Ning Meng’s death even though it wasn’t really his fault at all, but Ning Meng had been his teammate before, and he had always wanted to revive her.
“Yes, I know her,” Su Jin nodded.
Ning Ran immediately asked, “Do you know where she is? I’ve been looking for her for a long time, and I found this Handbook among the things she left behind.”
Su Jin glanced at the Handbook in Ning Ran’s hands. He guessed that after Ning Meng died, the Handbook had chosen Ning Ran and manifested itself among Ning Meng’s things, but Ning Ran did not find it immediately after her sister’s death.
“I’m sorry, but Ning Meng…” Su Jin wanted to tell her that her sister was already dead, but when he saw the hopeful look in Ning Ran’s eyes, he couldn’t help but lie, “She’s now in a secret place and she won’t be able to meet with you for the time being.”
“So, she’s still alive?” Ning Ran sighed a breath of relief.
Su Jin nodded, “That’s right. She’s still alive.”
“Okay, that’s quite enough. If you want to chat, you can do that after we’re done with this Challenge. How about we focus on the Challenge first?” said Xu Ge in an annoyed voice. He turned to the other three and said, “Your turn.”
“I’m Zhang Yang, I’ve been through four Challenges.” This was a man in his twenties. He looked quite calm and was playing with a dagger like he had practiced doing this a lot.
“I’m Yu Wenkuo, I’ve been through five Challenges.” Yu Wenkuo was a man in his thirties with an ingratiating expression on his face. He said to Xu Ge, “Mr. Xu, I’ll have to count on you for help!”
Xu Ge smiled back. He seemed to like Yu Wenkuo’s attitude. The last girl introduced herself, “I’m Qian Yingying, I’ve been through two Challenges.”
After everyone had introduced themselves, Xu Ge said in a pleased voice, “Looks like I’m the only veteran here. In that case, all of you shall listen to my instructions throughout this Challenge. Any objections?”
Everyone exchanged glances. Yu Wenkuo was the first one to nod with a smile as he said, “Of course not. You’re the only veteran among us, so it’s only right that you instruct us. I don’t have any objections.”
The rest nodded as well. After all, having a veteran was a good thing for them. Listening to the instructions of a veteran was also something to be expected during Challenges.
“Very good. Alright now, take a look around this place. We have to stay here for three days, so we need to know the place as best as we can,” commanded Xu Ge with the clap of his hands, as though he was used to giving instructions.
The group immediately split up to investigate the house. Su Jin threw Ning Ran a glance to motion to her to follow him. He had decided to protect her as a way to make it up to Ning Meng.
This place turned out to be a rather large house. After checking out the whole place, the group gathered again. Su Jin reported, “This seems to be a three-storied bungalow. We’re in the living room of the first story. On one side is the storeroom, the other side is the kitchen.”
“The second story has bedrooms and washrooms. I checked every bedroom and didn’t find anything unusual,” said Zhang Yang as he fiddled with his dagger.
“We can’t get to the third story because it’s locked.” As the only veteran of the group, Xu Ge had taken the initiative to go to the highest floor, but he couldn’t get there because a locked door was in the way.
“I think we shouldn’t explore anymore. Let’s stay here and see how things go first. We don’t have a lot of information and we don’t know what’s going on with this haunted house,” said Xu Ge.
Su Jin nodded and said, “I agree. Staying together is probably the best thing we can do now. Does anybody have any items that can be used against supernatural beings? Could you take them out first so that we have a better idea of what we can use?”
Everyone exchanged glances but didn’t say anything. Xu Ge put on a worried look as he said, “Items that can fight supernatural beings are very rare in the first place and it’s very hard to get your hands on them. I’m not surprised that none of us have any.”
Su Jin snorted inwardly. If the Handbook hadn’t purposely prevented him from using any items at all, he could retrieve Chimimoryo and they would sail right through this Challenge. But he figured that that was probably the reason why he wasn’t allowed to use anything.
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