Situ Jin waited in his office for the entire afternoon but Xu Ran never turned up. He was about to blow his top when Bo Ya came walking in with a box and an envelope.
“Mr. Situ, Xu Ran sent these here and said that you have to look at these alone. Also, he said you must read the letter first.” Bo Ya put the items down on the table, walked out of Situ Jin’s office and closed the door behind her.
Situ Jin ripped opened the envelope angrily and unfolded the letter. It didn’t take long for him to furrow his brows.
“To my dearest friend, respected brother and dumbass Situ Jin:
Don’t you dare blame me for not saving you from dying. The item in the box might possibly save you but…don’t be in a hurry to open the box and make sure you finish reading everything first.
This item might kill you immediately too, but the worst part about it is that it will turn you into the sort of person you hate the most, and I’m not referring to a change in personality.
You can decide for yourself if you want to use this thing or not. BUT REMEMBER WHAT I SAID!
The letter wasn’t too long and half of it was gibberish, but since it was gibberish from Xu Ran, Situ Jin didn’t dare to take it too lightly either.
It was clear that the item in the box was a gamble, but it was definitely able to help him get well. So, Situ Jin didn’t hesitate for too long and opened the box.
A book with a red cover lay inside the box and it was completely unmarked. Situ Jin flipped the book open puzzledly and instantly felt a chill envelope his entire body, as if the most terrifying thing in the world was about to happen.
“The General has survived a hundred wars and has returned a mighty soldier after ten years! I have seen countless bodies strewn carelessly without anybody to bury them after years of war. Returning home is hard but protecting my home is even harder! I have spent more than a decade at war but now, my country is in shambles and my family is dead!
I am filled with hatred…hatred for how unjust the heavens are, hatred for how heartless humans are, hatred for how useless I am! Hatred fills my very soul!“
A bitter and vengeful voice filled with hatred resounded in Situ Jin’s ears. It was as though even the holiest of water would not be able to wash that hatred away. When Situ Jin saw light again, he found himself with several others and they were all standing in front of a general’s tomb.
Meanwhile, Yang Tianzheng was in S City and had been alerted about what had happened at New Moon Island. He got his staff to make sure that no unauthorized persons could even go near the shore and also got his other disciple, Lv Jincheng, to observe the island from afar.
A glint shone in Lv Jincheng’s eye as he looked into the distance. “Shifu, I can’t see anything at all. The red mist has completely obstructed my view,” said Lv Jincheng as he shook his head helplessly.
Yang Tianzheng wasn’t surprised. After a short period of silence, he said, “When I was in charge of the Department of Supernatural Affairs, this red mist appeared in various parts of the country more than a hundred times. It always appears in a place that’s supposedly haunted or where something out of the ordinary happened. Apparently, this has happened very frequently in other countries as well. Back then, many countries sent representatives into the red mist to investigate further, but none of them came back alive.”
“Back then, we didn’t have such advanced technology. What if you send a robot in now?” asked Lv Jincheng.
Yang Tianzheng shook his head. “It’s useless. The red mist carries a strange magnetic force, so any machines that enter the area fail to work. Do you know Priest Qiu Chan from Clear Moon Temple?”
“Priest Qiu Chan? You mean the man known as a living national treasure of our country and a highly respected figure in Daoism?” Lv Jincheng straightened up. He possessed a special pair of eyes because Yang Tianzheng had asked a Daoist priest to conduct a special ritual for him, so Lv Jincheng did know a thing or two about the local Daoists.
Yang Tianzheng nodded. “That’s right. Back when I was in charge of the Department of Supernatural Affairs and we saw this red mist, the federal government sent Priest Qiu Chan to help us.”
“But Priest Qiu Chan has incredible Daoist expertise and has godlike powers! I tried to stop him but he barged into the red mist anyway in order to find out what was going on, and in the end…he turned out to be the only one who came back out alive!”
“Isn’t that a good thing? Priest Qiu Chan is extraordinary indeed,” said Lv Jincheng with admiration.
But Yang Tianzheng shook his head. “A good thing? I’m afraid not. After Priest Qiu Chan emerged from the red mist, he seemed to have gone mad and only came back to his senses after a chance encounter five years ago with a young man.”
“A chance encounter with a young man?” Lv Jincheng was surprised. Was that young man so handsome that his face could bring someone back to his own senses?
Yang Tianzheng smiled and said, “Daoists believe deeply in fate, so perhaps it is by fate that Priest Qiu Chan met him! Priest Qiu Chan eventually took that young man in as his direct disciple, so that young man is extremely senior within the Daoist community.”
“Who is this young man?” asked Lv Jincheng curiously.
“He’s Situ Jin’s friend, the future abbot of Clear Moon Temple and possibly a Celestial Master in the future – Xu Ran!” Each statement Yang Tianzheng made was more incredible than the last. When put together, Lv Jincheng realized that this young man must be a truly powerful person.
As the two of them spoke, the red mist over New Moon Island suddenly began disappearing rapidly. Less than a day had passed since the red mist covered the island.
“It’s over!” Yang Tianzheng had a lot of experience as he had seen this happen many times during his time as the head of the Department of Supernatural Affairs. This red mist appeared very suddenly and quickly, but once it disappeared, it was no longer a threat to human life.
At the same time, Su Jin was still looking at New Moon Island from afar. When he saw that the red mist had cleared up, he decided to leave the place. Even though he really wanted to explore the island again, he knew that the first people allowed back on the island would be representatives from the government. It would be a while before members of the public were allowed on the island again.
Kano Mai was in the house when Su Jin returned. She asked curiously, “Where did you go?”
“New Moon Island.”
“That offshore island a short distance away from the city? Did you guys have a picnic there?” she asked casually.
He shook his head. “No. Some strange things happened there earlier.”
He proceeded to tell her everything about New Moon Island and the general’s tomb. She remained calm as she listened to the entire thing and said, “I see. A Handbook Challenge must have started, so besides the owners that were chosen for the Challenge, nobody else is allowed to go anywhere near that place, or they’d die.”
“A Handbook Challenge started there?” Su Jin was surprised that Kano Mai seemed so familiar with how this worked.
She nodded, poured him a cup of tea, served him a slice of cake she had baked earlier, then sat back down and took a sip of her own tea.
“It’s nothing, really. You already know about how there are multiple universes and the Handbook Challenges occur across the various universes. The red mist appears so that the Challenge isn’t interrupted by any forces that exist in that particular universe. As long as you don’t force your way in, nothing bad will happen,” explained Kano Mai.
Su Jin nodded. In that case, the general’s tomb was probably central to this particular Challenge. He remembered that thing inside the tomb very clearly and pitied whoever had to run into it.
Now that he knew what was going on, he was no longer concerned about it. He had gained a day off because of what happened on the island, so since he didn’t have to follow Han Mengyao around, he decided to look for Ye Yun.
When he got to her place, he found that she was actually fishing by the swimming pool in her house. She had to be the only person he knew who could come up with something like that, he thought.
Su Jin waved to Uncle Yu from afar, then approached Ye Yun. “Fishing? How romantic.”
Ye Yun glanced at Su Jin, then went back to her fishing. He squatted down, put his hand into the water and swished it about. But the clear waters didn’t even have a leaf in it, never mind fish.
“Are you fishing for fish or fishing to pass time? My dear cousin?” asked Su Jin with a big grin.
She looked at him for a while, then flung the fishing rod aside. After hesitating for a long time, she suddenly said to him, “Su Jin, I have something I need to tell you.”
“Oh? What is it?” Su Jin’s chest tightened when he saw the serious look on her face. Was this girl really in some sort of trouble?
Back at Situ Jin’s office in the Department of Supernatural Affairs in B City.
Situ Jin felt like he had just walked out of the darkness. He sat in his chair and looked both dazed and shocked.
“Hell’s Handbook! So, that’s what this owner thing is all about…” murmured Situ Jin to himself. He lit up a cigarette, finished smoking half of it in one breath, then lit another. He wasn’t concerned about his health anymore, since his dying health had been completely restored during his time in his Personal Hell Domain.
Situ Jin wasn’t a fragile man at heart by any means, but he still needed some time to accept the existence of Hell’s Handbook, even though he had just gone through a Challenge at the general’s tomb on New Moon Island.
He had nearly died in that Challenge and managed to survive only with the help of several old timers. He had experienced zombies and evil spirits during this Challenge, and everything that happened played back again and again in his mind like a movie.
Just then, someone knocked on the door from outside. “Come in,” he called out, and Bo Ya walked in. She placed the report in her hand on his table and said, “Mr. Situ, S City just had a red mist incident.”
He nodded and picked up the document on the table. He had received several reports about this red mist suddenly appearing, but nobody had been able to find out the reason behind it. The only thing the government could do was to make sure that nobody came close to it and died by accident.
But after reading the details, he stared at the document in shock. The red mist had covered the general’s tomb on New Moon Island! That was where he experienced his first Challenge. At the same time, Situ Jin understood that Su Jin was definitely a Handbook owner just like himself.
“But if he were an owner as well, why didn’t he appear at the Challenge just now?” Situ Jin was puzzled for a moment, but he quickly arrived at an answer. It was clear that these Challenges happened quite frequently and each Challenge chose a different set of Handbook owners to participate.
“Mr. Situ, the incident has come to an end because the red mist on New Moon Island has just dissipated. Mr. Yang Tianzheng has ensured that no members of the public can get onto the island and he’ll get his team to send another report once they’ve completed their investigations,” continued Bo Ya. She didn’t notice that Situ Jin wasn’t really paying attention to the report anymore.
“Got it. Bo Ya, I…I’m feeling a little tired, could you let me rest for a while?” said Situ Jin with a sad smile.
Bo Ya thought that Situ Jin’s health had taken a turn for the worse and quickly nodded before quietly leaving the office so that he could rest.
But after she walked out, Situ Jin took out his copy of the Handbook and stared at it quietly for a long time.
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