Xiao Lou and Yu Hanjiang didn’t go to sleep until midnight. Before going to bed, Yu Hanjiang leaned over and kissed Xiao Lou’s forehead, softly saying, “Have a good rest. Good night.”
The simple good night kiss made Xiao Lou’s heart beat faster and his cheeks flush. He tossed and turned on the bed, not sleepy at all. He couldn’t help recalling the scene where he was kissed by Yu Hanjiang just now.
Xiao Lou touched his hot lips and closed his eyes in an embarrassed manner. Fortunately, Heart has a Tacit Exchange of Romantic Feelings wasn’t activated. Otherwise, how embarrassing would it be if Yu Hanjiang knew he was reminiscing about the kiss? He needed to be careful in the future when they were connected.
In fact, Yu Hanjiang wasn’t asleep either.
Brother Jiu had previously despised him for being a ‘firm single person’, saying he was a hard stone and no one would like him. Now this hard stone was opening up. He had learned to care for and protect another person and have his heart beat faster at this person’s proximity. He was ecstatic because his confession was accepted.
For him, Xiao Lou was the only light in this dark world and the only softness under his hard armor.
On the bed next door, Xiao Lou was breathing evenly and seemed to have fallen asleep.
Yu Hanjiang’s mouth was curved up in a small smile as he thought, ‘Xiao Lou, if we really go back one day then I want to take you home to meet my parents and tell them that this is the person I love the most. I will live the rest of my life peacefully with him.’
The next morning, Xiao Lou and Yu Hanjiang woke up with noticeable dark circles under their eyes. The two people met each other’s eyes and averted their gazes at the same time out of embarrassment.
Last night’s dreams were filled with all types of indescribable things. Perhaps it was because both of them were in love for the first time and had experienced their first kiss. After all, they were young men and it was natural to have dreams at night. After taking a cold shower, the two people calmed down and went to eat together as if nothing had happened.
Shao Qingge and Ye Qi had finished eating lunch in the restaurant on the seventh floor. Shao Qingge saw Xiao Lou and Yu Hanjiang coming over and spoke to them in a low, teasing voice. “I didn’t see the two of you at breakfast today. What did you do last night that you only woke up now?”
Shao Qingge just asked casually but the two of them had guilty consciences. Xiao Lou thought of what happened last night and couldn’t help his ears reddening. Yu Hanjiang pretended to be calm as he said, “It’s nothing. We just discussed the next plan.”
Shao Qingge saw Xiao Lou’s red ears and smiled. “It seems you discussed it until very late last night. Group Leader Yu has always had a regular routine. This is the first time Group Leader Yu has slept in until noon.”
Ye Qi seriously suggested, “Don’t work too hard. You should go to bed earlier in the future.”
Xiao Lou, “……”
In fact, rather than saying they went to bed late, it was more like they couldn’t fall asleep. This was too embarrassing to say so Xiao Lou just replied in a perfunctory manner, “Go back to the room as soon as you finish eating. Xiao Ye, pay attention to your safety.”
Just then, Xiao Lou saw Tang Ci enter the restaurant in his wheelchair. Shao Qingge and Ye Qi said their goodbyes and went back to their room first. Tang Ci acted like he didn’t know Xiao Lou’s group and went to eat by himself.
He sent a message in the group chat: [A friend from the Intelligence Bureau gave me a clue. On the challengers forum someone sent a message to some teams, requesting everyone to have a gathering at the seaside bar tonight at 1 a.m. I’m not sure about the reason.]
Yu Hanjiang and Xiao Lou exchanged looks and picked up their phones. Yu Hanjiang used the chat software made by Tang Ci to send a message. [Did the challengers become aware of the crisis because of the stampede at the concert and want to discuss countermeasures to deal with the hunters?]
Tang Ci: [It’s possible.]
Old Mo saw the message in his hotel room and said: [Apart from Old Gui’s Distant Association, the Luoying Pavilion composed of females and the mysterious Eternal Kingdom, most challengers still act in teams. I’ve received many challengers in the City of the Moon before and they are often unwilling to join this type of organization.]
Qu Wanyue added: [If it was me then I wouldn’t want to join. The organization might serve as a backer but there are many rules to abide by and we aren’t familiar with the other people in the organization. Teams like ours have the most freedom.]
Tang Ci: [According to the statistics of our Intelligence Bureau, nearly half the total number of challengers haven’t joined a large-scale organization. Those who are operating in a team account for quite a large number. If these scattered teams come together to deal with the hunters then we can’t predict the consequences.]
Teams like Xiao Lou’s always put their teammates as the first priority. If they met other challengers in the Spades or Clubs secret room, they tried not to meddle in other people’s affairs and protected their own teammates. This was probably the ideology of most challengers.
However, this stampede incident was too cruel and might’ve raised the vigilance of a large number of challengers.
If the amount of snow was light then it was possible to ‘sweep the snow away from the front door’. However once the snow became heavy enough to crush a person’s house, they had to unite or they could only wait to be broken one by one.
Xiao Lou was worried. [Most cards are disabled in the main city. If the challengers confront the hunters openly then the number of casualties and injuries will definitely exceed imagination.]
Challengers had cards in their hands and many of them could be used in the main city. For example, yesterday Ye Qi controlled a group of people with the piano music box. If these teams could survive to the present then they must have some powerful cards in their hands.
The hunters blatantly challenged the challengers. More than 500 people had died in the stampede incident and over 1,000 people were seriously injured. If the challengers united to kill the world’s native people out of anger then the consequences would be unimaginable.
Xiao Lou remembered that Spades showed them some scenes after clearing 3 of Spades, Financial Crisis. Some challengers directly released the zombie virus in the central square, turning everyone into zombies. Some people wantonly slaughtered the natives like they were killing monsters in a game. they didn’t regard the natives of this world as human beings at all. Among the challengers, there were some unscrupulous people who survived by any means.
Now there was a deep hatred between the hunters and challengers. If they openly fought then it would be the ordinary people without any cards who would be the most affected. They were people, not NPCs or a bunch of data in a game. They had their own feelings and consciousness.
Xiao Lou asked in the group: [Do you want to go and take a look?]
Yu Hanjiang agreed: [We can put on the invisibility cloak and take a look. We don’t know what they want to do at this gathering.]
Ye Qi was worried. [Will it be the hunters again? Perhaps they are deliberately luring the challenger teams to kill them again?]
Tang Ci refuted it: [That shouldn’t be the case this time. The challengers forum needs strict certification. The news of this gathering is only spreading within the forum. Moreover, those attending should be challengers with good strength. Even if hunters appear, they will be outnumbered and killed by the challengers.]
He paused before adding: [I’m in a wheelchair and it isn’t convenient for me to go. If you want to take a look, I can send you the location of the bar. This might be an internal gathering of challengers but you should still be careful. If the situation isn’t right then withdraw immediately.]
Yu Hanjiang suggested: [It is too inconvenient to move with a lot of people. I’ll go with Xiao Lou.]
The team members had no objections to this.
Xiao Lou and Yu Hanjiang got ready. At 1 a.m. that night, the two of them arrived at the bar. This bar was very large with two floors and the beach could be seen outside the French windows. Usually, many people came to the bar to listen to the music, eat barbecue and drink beer. However, tonight the bar was very quiet. The door had a sign that said ‘closed’ on it.
According to the intelligence bureau, the bar was opened by a challenger.
The door was locked and Yu Hanjiang and Xiao Lou couldn’t get in. They had to put on their invisibility cloaks, fly to the roof and leave the bug on the roof to carefully listen to the movements inside.
They heard a woman exclaim in an agitated manner, “The hunters are really too much. A school sister I know was trampled alive in the stampede! What do they regard us as?”
A middle-aged voice said, “I’m the leader of a team. One of my team members died at the concert and another is seriously injured in the hospital. Originally, we thought we could live in peace with the people of this world but they are becoming crueler. We can no longer sit back and wait to die!”
“Yes, so many leaders are gathered today. We should discuss a countermeasure!”
“I think we should kill Luo Yan first! If it wasn’t for her holding a concert and deliberately selling tickets at a low price, there wouldn’t have been so many challengers attracted to the scene to be trampled to death. She must be a high level hunter!”
“Do you think Luo Yan is so easy to kill? She ran away after the incident and we can’t even find her shadow now…”
The group of people had a heated discussion and the bar was noisy.
Just then, a low and calm voice was heard. “Don’t be agitated. I didn’t organize this gathering to incite you to fight directly with the Hunters League. It isn’t good for us to do that.”
Yu Hanjiang and Xiao Lou glanced at each other. This voice seemed somewhat familiar?
The two men took a closer look through the roof window.
They saw a man wearing a silver mask sitting on the stage for the bar singers. His mouth was shown below the mask and was curved up in a slight smile as he said in a loud voice, “We don’t know who is in the Hunters League or what their strengths are. The most terrible opponent is always the unknown. Therefore, I don’t suggest that you impulsively go to kill Luo Yan or the hunter minions to vent your anger. This can’t fundamentally solve the problem.”
His words made sense. The people at the scene heard his calm voice and their emotions quickly settled.
A girl said, “White fox, stop keeping us in suspense. You sent a message on the forum for us to gather in this bar. What do you want to say?”
The man glanced over the audience and the narrow eyes behind the mask curved in a smile. “Don’t worry. I just want to say that the only way to solve the problem is to leave this world.”
The air was drawn out of the bar.
Then someone couldn’t help complaining. “Isn’t this nonsense. If we could leave this Card World, who would f*king want to stay here?!”
The masked man answered calmly, “The hunters have an extremely strong hostility toward us ‘foreigners’. I don’t know the reason for this hostility. However, if our positions were changed and our home was invaded by strange people with strange abilities who can easily kill our relatives and friends, wouldn’t you be afraid?”
They all looked at each other.
The man turned to sit on the sofa. “If one day you suddenly wake up and find that your city has experienced a financial crisis for no reason or if you go to the hospital and a parasitic infection breaks out due to strangers, wouldn’t you hate them?”
The man continued slowly, “We are outsiders and we don’t belong to this world. Thus, we have to go back to our original world. The fundamental way to solve this problem is for the two worlds to operate independently so they don’t interfere with each other.”
Xiao Lou and Yu Hanjiang heard his theory and were very shocked.
This man’s idea was indeed reasonable. If his conjecture was true and all the incidents in the Card World were due to the arrival of challengers then for the people of this world, killing challengers was tantamount to driving away the invaders. They were just protecting their homes.
Xiao Lou took a deep breath and looked at Yu Hanjiang. “Hanjiang, do you have an impression of this person?”
It was no longer ‘Group Leader Yu’…
Yu Hanjiang was very pleased and nodded. “I remember. We met a masked man in Liuxi Village and he had a card to pull things from the air. He took away our jewel. When we left 4 of Spades, we chose the City of the Moon as our main city while he insisted on choosing the City of the Sun. I didn’t expect to meet him here.”
Xiao Lou admired Yu Hanjiang’s memory. Perhaps Yu Hanjiang took note of everyone they met as a ‘suspect’. He whispered, “This person’s thoughts are very interesting. Do you want to talk to him?”
Yu Hanjiang nodded. “Yes, wait for them to finish the meeting.”
The bar was full of the prominent leaders of the free challenger teams. Once the man finished explaining his theory, he told everyone, “We should try our best to clear the final SS-grade secret room and return to the real world. Then there will be no more need to face the hunters. It doesn’t work if we stay here. After all, we don’t belong to this world.”
Many leaders felt he was talking nonsense for a long time. At 2:30 a.m., all the challengers dispersed spontaneously. Many of them had light footwork skill cards and moved without attracting the attention of the natives having a barbecue on the beach.
Xiao Lou and Yu Hanjiang looked at each other, dropped from the roof and entered the bar. The bar was warmly furnished and the walls and roof were covered with green plants. The man with the mask was sitting there and leisurely drinking a cocktail. Yu Hanjiang walked up behind him and spoke in a soft voice, “What a coincidence that we meet again.”
The man looked back at the two of them. “The two of you are?”
Xiao Lou gave a reminder. “We have worked together in Liuxi Village.”
The man was stunned and his eyes were full of doubt. “Is it? I have no impression of the two of you.”
Yu Hanjiang asked, “Do you have a card that can take things from the air?”
The man smiled and shook his head. “No, the two of you might’ve got the wrong person. Would you like to sit down and have a drink?”
Yu Hanjiang and Xiao Lou felt a bit strange. They shouldn’t have made a mistake with their ability to recognize people. The man in Liuxi Village might be wearing a mask but his height, body shape and pattern of his mask were all the same. Most importantly, his voice was also the same as that person.
Did he pretend on purpose or did he lose his memory?
The two of them sat down and talked with him. As far as they could tell, this person didn’t seem to be acting. Yu Hanjiang and Xiao Lou doubtfully returned to the hotel.
Proofreader: Fictional Reality & Paranoid Kitten