“What should we do with the three hunters?” Xiao Lou turned back to consult Yu Hanjiang’s opinion.
Yu Hanjiang stepped forward. He looked at the smaller version of Xiao Lou in the bottle and asked softly, “How did the hunters come to this world? How did you find out about our experiences in the other secret rooms?”
The fake Xiao Lou answered coldly, “We naturally have our sources. How else can we kill you?”
Yu Hanjiang continued questioning him. “What’s in it for you when killing challengers? Can you stay for more years in the Card World?”
The other person suddenly fell silent. His pale face had no expression and it was as if he had become a statue.
Yu Hanjiang frowned and slowed down his tone. “If you tell us about the Hunter’s League, I can consider not killing you since you look exactly the same as Xiao Lou.”
“Heh…” This Xiao Lou’s lips curved as if he heard a big joke. He let out a weird laugh in the bottle before answering indifferently, “I can’t live anyway if the mission fails. Please give me a good death.” Then he closed his eyes and put on a cold expression of ‘go to hell’.
Yu Hanjiang glanced at Xiao Lou and shook his head.
Xiao Lou had no choice but to force the hunters back to the Peach Blossom Spring and set them on fire.
These hunters were simply stubborn.
Everyone had encountered many hunters to reach this point. The thing they all had in common was that they would rather die than to reveal the secrets of the organization after the mission failed. It was like collective brainwashing.
Their loyalty to the organization exceeded even the most instinctive desire for survival. Why?
People who weren’t determined enough were likely to betray their friends and relatives in front of death. The Hunter’s League wasn’t full of people who could be determined when looking at death. Yet every time the knife was placed to their neck, no information could be found out about the organization. This was too strange.
Xiao Lou spoke softly, “They all aren’t afraid of death. I don’t believe that all the people in the Hunter’s League are completely unafraid to die. My guess is that if they leak the secrets of the Hunter’s League, they might face something worse than death. This is why they would rather choose to die than to speak.”
Yu Hanjiang thought about it carefully and agreed. “It makes sense. Those who spill the beans will experience something worse than death? This is why many hunters commit suicide by taking poison after the mission fails.”
Xiao Lou continued, “The organization has its own rules, such as the reward system for the heads of challengers. They can also move between different secret rooms and replace some special characters. I now suspect… could the Hunter’s League be an organization created by the keepers to confront the challengers?”
Ye Qi heard this and hit his forehead in realization. He walked to Xiao Lou and spoke excitedly, “Professor Xiao’s suspicion is very likely! If the keepers aren’t involved, how can some hunters enter the secret rooms and become key characters? Is it a coincidence that Chief Shao’s adoptive mother in the 10th level or the clones in this level are hunters?”
Shao Qingge opened his mouth. “If this is the case, the hunters might have to travel around different worlds on missions?”
Lu Jiuchuan had a serious expression. “During my time undercover in the Hunter’s League, I did often receive missions from my superiors but there was only one mission objective—killing outsiders. Since I wasn’t a real hunter, I asked Huaying to help me every week. They didn’t know that my missions failed and didn’t punish me. I don’t know what punishment the hunters who really failed the mission will receive.”
Tang Ci said, “In other words, from the moment we entered the Card World, there is a force that always opposes us. Our goal is to clear the secret rooms while their goal is to kill us?”
The team members heard Tang Ci’s words and exchanged looks.
At first, everyone thought this force was spontaneously organized by the natives, like a ‘cult’ directed against foreigners. Now it seemed that not only did the hunters know about their cards but they even knew the past experience in secret rooms. How could the natives have such great abilities?
After all, the natives were limited to one room. For example, the king and princesses from the ancient world of 8 of Hearts couldn’t appear in the entertainment world of 9 of Hearts. They couldn’t know what happened in the entertainment world.
Previously, Yu Hanjiang tried to test the fake Liu Qiao and she was able to answer all the information about the 8th, 9th and 10th levels.
Everyone shuddered at the thought.
There seemed to be a pair of eyes watching them all the time.
In the Card World, there were only four people who knew everything that happened in the secret rooms. They were the four keepers, A of Hearts, A of Spades, A of Clubs and A of Diamonds!
The keepers could freely control the flow of time in each world. They were the real power of the Card World. Behind them was the big joker and little joker. Perhaps as Xiao Lou speculated, the Hunter’s League was an organization created by them. From the beginning, they selected a group of people to stand on the opposite side of the challengers?
Ye Qi gave an example. “When playing online games, there are often two official factions set up. For example, in World of Warcraft. Players can either choose the Alliance or the Horde factions. If they meet in the wild, they can attack each other. So the Card World has the same set up, with the hunters and challengers forming two opposing factions?”
Previously, Xiao Lou wasn’t sure about the origin of the Hunter’s League. Now after all this time, they gained more information about the hunters and he had to doubt the intentions of these keepers.
The feeling of being played wasn’t nice but the factions were officially set and the task wouldn’t be deceptive. The method to leave here was still to clear the secret rooms. It was just more difficult.
At this point, Liu Qiao had spent 10 minutes informing the king about the consequences of the cloning incident.
The king of the merpeople was extremely frightened. He couldn’t believe that the dead Elder Kareen had been secretly studying clones and had produced version 2.0s.
In order to convince him, Liu Qiao took him through the labyrinth to the laboratory that contained many petri dishes that looked like glass coffins. These containers contained many identical ‘specimens’.
The king’s face became as dark as the bottom of a pot when he saw so many specimens.
Liu Qiao suggested, “Father, the cloning plan is too crazy. We must stop it as soon as possible. Otherwise, there will be a large number of identical merpeople in the future and our tribe will be completely chaotic.” She paused before adding another sentence, “Moreover, after the genes are copied, our bloodline is no longer pure.”
The last sentence was the key. The merpeople attached great importance to the bloodline. The thought that future merpeople would be mixed with the genes of humans and bugs was absolutely unbearable for the king.
The king immediately ordered, “Destroy all the specimens in the laboratory!”
Liu Qiao nodded. “Father, don’t worry. Let me and my brother take care of the aftermath of the incident.”
The specimens should have the genes of bugs, humans and merpeople. They were soaked in the nutrient solution and hadn’t woken up yet. The palace was in the depths of the sea and couldn’t be set on fire. Liu Qiao told Xiao Lou about this through Heart has a Tacit Exchange of Romantic Feelings. “My father agreed to destroy all the cloning experiments. Let Xiao Ye and Chief Shao help carry away the petri dishes from the laboratory.”
Ye Qi and Shao Qingge had the teleportation cards and could bring a lot of weight with them. The two of them swam back to the deep sea labyrinth and moved the hundreds of petri dishes back to the Peach Blossom Spring with the teleportation cards.
The team members were solemn as they looked at the hundreds of ‘glass coffins’ placed in the Peach Blossom Spring.
Yu Hanjiang and Lu Jiuchuan looked at each other. The two brothers tacitly walked forward, took out the clones from the glass containers one by one and piled them together. Then without hesitation, Yu Hanjiang poured a few bottles of alcohol on them and set them on fire.
This scene made the team members feel a bit uncomfortable.
In particular, seeing the burned clones that looked exactly like themselves….
Ye Qi resisted the urge to vomit and his face turned pale. Shao Qingge held his shoulder with one hand and covered his eyes with the other hand. “Don’t think too much. These clones don’t have a consciousness. Just think of them as inflatable dolls made according to our appearance.”
Ye Qi was stunned. “Inflatable dolls… Chief Shao, you know a lot.”
Shao Qingge chuckled and rubbed his hair. “Of course, how else can I be your father? I will teach you later slowly.”
Ye Qi was shocked speechless.
The original discomfort of the team members was instantly relieved when they heard Shao Qingge’s words. It was true that they felt much better when thinking of these experiments as dolls.
Lu Jiuchuan joked, “Today’s Peach Blossom Spring is simply a crematorium. Will Tao Yuanming have an opinion?”
Xiao Lou felt helpless. “We can’t set a fire in the sea so we can only bring them back to the Peach Blossom Spring to burn them. Fortunately, the Peach Blossom Spring will automatically disappear after three hours. Once a new space is opened again tomorrow, there will be no more traces and smells.”
At this time, the peach blossom trees were black and gray and the air was full of a strange burning smell. It was really uncomfortable.
Xiao Lou glanced at the Peach Blossom Spring that was temporarily used as a crematorium and sighed. Then he told his teammates, “Let’s go and find the king. After all, my tail is dyed and it won’t be good if the color fades.”
Everyone imagined the scene of Xiao Lou swimming in the sea, only for the silver color to fade away. It would probably stun the merpeople. The prince’s tail was actually dyed?!
Inside the palace, Liu Qiao was connected to Xiao Lou with Heart has a Tacit Exchange of Romantic Feelings while she accompanied the king to comfort the agitated old man.
The king patted her on the shoulder and said earnestly, “Your brother might be my illegitimate son but after all, you are brother and sister. I hope for you to live in harmony and not kill each other…”
The king still felt a lingering fear as he thought of the scene of the clone Xiao Lou and Liu Qiao confronting each other. He was afraid that one day, the brother and sister would really want to kill each other to fight for the throne. The last thing a father wanted to see was this scene.
“Father, rest assured, I have always respected my brother. However—” Liu Qiao looked calmly at her father in front of her. “It is more appropriate for me to inherit the throne.”
“What?” The king stared at Liu Qiao in disbelief. “Have you… always had this ambition?”
“Father, my brother doesn’t want to be the leader of the merpeople. He has already communicated with me in private and wants me to take over. I respect his decision and am willing to take on the burden for him. If you don’t believe it, you can ask him yourself.” Liu Qiao wasn’t lying. Her acting skills had been honed but this was what Xiao Lou had told her through their connection.
Xiao Lou’s tail was dyed and he naturally couldn’t stay with the merpeople to be the king. In addition, Xiao Lou’s true identity was still the crown prince of the Locke Empire. He had to go back as soon as possible to solve the problems of his own nation.
“That…I have to discuss it with your brother.” The king looked worried.
Just then, Xiao Lou finished dealing with the clones and returned to the palace. He came to the king, bowed and respectfully said, “Father, the experiments have been handled.”
“Your sister said that you don’t want to inherit the throne. Is this true?” The king asked doubtfully.
“Yes, Father.” Xiao Lou’s expression was extremely serious. “I might be your child but my mother hasn’t been found. Many of our people think that my origin is unknown and they won’t be convinced if I succeed the throne. Liu Qiao is the only child of you and the queen. Her blood is the purest.” He turned to look at Liu Qiao gently. “Moreover, my sister has been smart from an early age. She must be the best person to inherit the throne.”
“……” The king was worried and seemed to hesitate over who to pass the throne to.
“Father, why don’t you make a decision after consulting the elders?” Xiao Lou suggested.
“Yes, I’ll ask the elders for a meeting.” The king turned and left.
There were a total of 11 elders among the merpeople. Kareen had been killed and out of the remaining 10 elders, Gui Yuanzhang could handle at least five of them. In other words, there were at least six votes on Liu Qiao’s side.
That night, the king urgently summoned the elders. More than half the elders believed that Xiao Lou’s origin was unknown and it would be easier to convince the public if Liu Qiao, who was born to the king and queen, inherited the throne.
The next morning, the king announced the result to all the merpeople.
Liu Qiao walked through the palace in formal clothing and took the crown from her father. She officially became the heir of the merpeople. Xiao Lou stood next to her with a smile, his expression pleased.
In reality, Liu Qiao was his student. After spending so much time in the Card World, her carefulness, wisdom and courage had all improved. She had become more and more outstanding.
The side mission involving the merpeople had been successfully completed. Xiao Lou might’ve been the leader but Liu Qiao’s vigilance and self-rescue actions definitely deserved praise. If she was really unconscious, her teammates would be busy everywhere and it wouldn’t have been so easy to take care of the hunters.
After the succession ceremony, Xiao Lou said goodbye to Liu Qiao and the king.
He explained it to the king. “Father, when I was young, I was taken back to the palace by Elder Kareen and had to leave my mother. I want to find her. Next, I will have to leave the palace for a while. You must take care of yourself.”
The king sighed. “Go ahead. Since this is your obsession, I have no reason to stop you.”
Xiao Lou and Liu Qiao looked at each other and Liu Qiao told him through their mind connection, “Professor Xiao, us merpeople can’t help you too much with the matters in the Locke Empire. You must be careful.”
The merpeople could stay on land for a day or two but it would be very uncomfortable in the long term. Moreover, Liu Qiao was now the heir of the merpeople and she couldn’t leave the palace without authorization.
Xiao Lou nodded to her. “Don’t worry. The three of you stay here and wait for our good news.”
Gui Yuanzhang, Old Mo and Liu Qiao personally saw them off.
Just as Xiao Lou’s group was about to leave the sea, Gui Yuanzhang suddenly said, “We can’t help personally but our cards are okay. Professor Xiao, please take our three card packs.” Then he spread out his palms and took out three card packs like a magic trick. Apparently, the three people had previously talked about giving the card packs to Xiao Lou.
Xiao Lou looked at Senior Gui with surprise.
Giving such an important thing to his teammates showed that he had absolute trust in Xiao Lou.
Xiao Lou wondered, “Don’t you want to keep them for self-defense?”
Gui Yuanzhang said, “The problem of the merpeople has been solved. Last night, the three of us carefully checked and didn’t find any fish that slipped through the net among the merpeople. The clones have been completely destroyed and Liu Qiao is now the heir. No one can hurt us.”
Still, Xiao Lou couldn’t rest assured. He thought about it and said, “Leave the invisibility cloak and the dye card just in case.”
The dye card could dye the tails of the merpeople but it wasn’t very useful when returning to the Locke Empire. Meanwhile, the invisibility cloaks helped with escaping at critical moments. Gui Yuanzhang nodded and took the cards handed over by Xiao Lou. “Take care.”
Xiao Lou looked at them. “The three of you should also take care. We will see you after leaving the secret room.”
The six people didn’t say anything else. They swam back to the surface of the sea, getting rid of their tails and becoming normal people again.
Shao Qingge drove the suspension car out of the fishing village. At the intersection of the sky lanes, he stopped and asked, “Where to next?”
Xiao Lou said decisively, “Return to the Locke Empire.”
Proofreader: Paranoid Kitten & Fictional Reality