In the afternoon, the Shanshui Guesthouse.
Xiao Lou and Yu Hanjiang finished their lunch and sent Shao Qingge downstairs. A girl was excitedly talking to the boss, “The price at the beginning was 10,000 gold coins. It rose to 20,000 yesterday and today it is 40,000! Isn’t this too much? Doubling it in one day, why don’t you just steal money?”
The boss explained the reason. “Now everything is increasing in price, why wouldn’t the cost of accommodation rise? I won’t be able to live.”
The woman was extremely angry and about to start yelling when the boy behind her suddenly grabbed her shoulder. “Ting Ting, let’s move. It is too expensive to stay here since tomorrow’s prices will double.”
The girl’s eyes were obviously flustered as she lowered her voice. “Where can we move to? The Shanshui Guesthouse is the cheapest place to live in City A. Other places might be more expensive. Do you want me to sleep on the streets? When you first chased me, you said you wanted to give me a good life. Now don’t even talk about a good life, there is no place to live…” She was already crying.
The man looked ugly and after a moment’s silence, he changed his tune. “Boss, can we pay for the accommodation with instant noodles and milk?”
The boss showed interest. “How much do you have?”
The man suggested, “How about we give you a box of milk and a box of instant noodles for tonight’s accommodation?”
The boss put up two fingers. “Two boxes.”
The man’s mouth suddenly twitched. “Don’t go too far!”
The boss shrugged and smiled. “Before the prices rose, one box of instant noodles was 3,000 and one box of milk was 2,000. This adds up to 5,000 gold coins. My accommodation fee is 10,000 a day so two boxes aren’t that much? Two boxes for you to live.”
The young man and woman glanced at each other before gritting their teeth and agreeing.
The woman went through the formalities in the lobby and the man returned upstairs to get the food.
Yu Hanjiang whispered in Xiao Lou’s ear. “It seems these two people don’t have the money to pay for the cost of housing. They didn’t estimate the trend in rising prices and didn’t pay the room fee in advance… or perhaps you are the only one with the foresight to pay for seven days directly?”
Xiao Lou used to go out with his parents during the winter vacation and was used to paying for accommodation in one lump sum. This was because the prices would change greatly during the tourist season and the off-season. Some hotels had different prices for the workdays and weekends. Booking in advance meant being prepared.
He booked seven days of accommodation and spent only 80,000 gold coins.
The challengers who didn’t pay for a room in advance had the price increased to 40,000 today. Then it would rise to 80,000 tomorrow. The initial funds given to the challengers weren’t even enough for the room rate.
At this time, it was a good choice to pay for the room with materials.
It meant that once the materials were stolen, it was over. That’s why Xiao Lou particularly hated the idea of ‘stealing other people’s materials’ to clear this instance. This was simply giving them no path to life.
The trio left the hotel. Shao Qingge decided to take the laptop back to his room to pay attention to the stock market. The materials he had hidden under his bed were already stolen, making his place the safest.
Xiao Lou went to the city to investigate while Yu Hanjiang went to the construction site.
Perhaps it was because the afternoon weather was too hot but no one gathered in the central square to make trouble. The investors standing on the rooftop of the building with banners had also scattered. 80% of the stores on the street were closed and the entire city looked empty. Only the supermarket was still crowded with people and there were long queues.
Xiao Lou turned around in a circle. Since the director of the Market Supervision Administration came to reassure everyone, there was no large-scale bloodshed when the prices skyrocketed the next day.
He called Yu Hanjiang and asked softly, “How is it on your side?”
Yu Hanjiang replied, “At the construction site, the boss couldn’t solve the problem and all the workers went home. The site has been completely shut down.”
Xiao Lou asked, “Do we need to sort out the materials transfer?”
“Wait until tomorrow to see the situation. I will find a way to get a car so we can conveniently transport the supplies.
Xiao Lou told him, “Be careful. I will go back to the room to wait for you.”
He hung up the phone and returned to Shanshui Guesthouse. On the way, he saw the man and woman who had negotiated with the boss to pay the rent with milk and instant noodles. They stood in the hall with gloomy expressions, each carrying a travel bag. However, both bags were flat and obviously didn’t contain many items.
The woman’s eyes were red from crying and her voice was obviously shaky as she pointed at the boss. “Our things were stolen from our room. You are the boss so you should naturally be held responsible! What do you mean, you don’t know? You are a joke!”
The boss looked innocent. “I think you are the ones fooling around. You couldn’t afford to pay the room fee and now your things have been stolen? Who knows if it is true? I haven’t seen you go out in the past two days, you have been hiding in your room the entire time. Maybe the two of you are the thieves.”
The woman was furious. “Who are you calling thieves? Don’t accuse people?”
The man was obviously enraged and came over to grab the boss’ collar. “Check the monitors to see who stole our stuff?”
The boss rolled his eyes. “Do you think this is a five star hotel? How can there be monitoring…?”
The three people quarrelled in the corridor. Xiao Lou noticed something was wrong and returned to his room.
—Someone had come in.
Before Xiao Lou left, he had placed a piece of hair at the crack of the door. At this time, the short black hair had fallen in a corner.
It was obvious that the door had been opened but the door lock didn’t show any signs of being disturbed.
Was it a master of unlocking like Group Leader Yu?
Xiao Lou suddenly thought of a card.
After clearing the 3 of Hearts secret room, they were rewarded with the card Universal Key.
This key could open any type of door lock in the secret room without leaving any traces. A key could be used up to five times but if two people worked together, it could be used 10 times.
This thief could always pay attention to the movements of the challenger. After the owner of the room left, the ghost would use the Universal Key to open the door lock and steal the materials.
Maybe the thief lived in this guesthouse and there was a pair of eyes currently staring at him.
Realizing this, Xiao Lou’s back became cold.
He tried to maintain a calm look and pretended like he found nothing as he opened the door and entered the room.
After locking the door, he quickly sent a message to Yu Hanjiang. “The thief stole the supplies of the couple on the second floor. Group Leader Yu, come back as soon as possible. Perhaps the thief is already targeting us.”
Yu Hanjiang replied in seconds. “I’m coming back now. Pay attention to your safety.”
At a corner of the corridor, a pair of eagle-like sharp eyes kept staring at Xiao Lou’s back.
It wasn’t until Xiao Lou entered his room that the middle-aged man spoke in a hoarse voice, “The challenger who lives in 207 is very cautious. There are no supplies in the room and all the food are in the carry-on travel bag.”
The young man next to him wondered, “Is it impossible? They have three people and it is impossible to depend on the food in the bag to live for seven days. They must have a lot of materials stored in other places. Yes, the tallest person goes out every day. Maybe he is going to look at the supplies. Going out every day, maybe it is to look at the supplies. However, he moves too fast and with great vigilance. I can’t keep up with him.”
The middle-aged man sneered. “They have stored a lot of supplies and the things in their backpack aren’t enough to eat. There will always be a chance to get their goods. It isn’t too late to start.” He paused and looked at the young man next to him. “Ignore the residents of 207. Did you investigate the other rooms?”
The young man laughed. “Brother Xu, rest assured. Apart from 207, all the other challengers on this floor have put their things in their room.”
The middle-aged man slightly smiled. “We will act at night.”
Yu Hanjiang soon returned.
He entered the room and rushed in front of Xiao Lou with two or three steps, his eyes full of worry. “Are you okay?”
Xiao Lou smiled and shook his head. “Rest assured, I was outside when they acted and I’m fine.” He pointed to the hair in the corner of the room and lowered his voice, whispering in Yu Hanjiang’s ear. “Our room, the thief has entered.”
Yu Hanjiang looked at the hair and slightly frowned. “The door lock was normal when I opened the door.”
Xiao Lou touched his chin thoughtfully. “I have never thought about it before. How could the supplies in Shao Qingge’s hotel be stolen? Are the employees in the hotel lobby blind? Or can these thieves fly in the sky?”
Yu Hanjiang turned to him. “What did you notice?”
“If my guess is correct, this thief probably perfectly cleared the 3 of Hearts room and have two cards in hand that are very convenient for stealing.”
Yu Hanjiang recalled the rewards for 3 of Hearts and suddenly realized, “The cloak and the key?”
Xiao Lou nodded. “The invisibility cloak gives 30 minutes of invisibility every time. The key can open any door lock. Once no one is in the room, they could pt on the invisibility cloak and open the door directly to take the materials. If the box is wrapped inside the cloak, the milk and instant noodles would become invisible and it is like a ghost took them away.”
Yu Hanjiang had used the invisibility cloak in the decoration market’s warehouse today.
The invisibility cloak was originally a card limited to 3 of Hearts. It was only after perfectly clearing the instance that this limitation would be removed and it could be taken out of the secret room. To perfectly clear the 3 of Hearts secret room, this thief wasn’t simple.
Xiao Lou continued, “In addition, this thief isn’t doing it only for the clearance. They likely want to steal a large amount of materials to sell it at a later stage and gain a profit from the financial crisis!”
Yu Hanjiang’s expression sank.
He had also thought of this possibility.
If it was purely to clear the instance then there was no need to steal so many supplies. How much food could they eat in seven days?
Yet according to Shao Qingge, the hotel where he lived had three groups of challengers who were robbed. The materials lost by the two girls next door included several boxes of milk and instant noodles.
When Yu Hanjiang had entered the room, the couple in the corridor were still in trouble and had obviously lost quite a lot of materials.
This proved that Xiao Lou’s inference was completely correct. The thief wasn’t stealing the materials to clear the instance. They wanted to take advantage of the shortage of materials in the financial crisis to earn a lot of gold coins that could be taken out of the secret room.
They knew that the challengers who had goods stolen wouldn’t be able to survive for seven days.
Taking someone else’s life for money, this was simply eating ‘a person’s blood’!
Yu Hanjiang didn’t want any trouble. However, since this thief had hit the Shanshui Guesthouse and dared to sneak into his and Xiao Lou’s room, he must take care of them!
Yu Hanjiang seriously analyzed, “The invisibility cloak’s cooldown is 24:00 every day and can be used for 30 minutes. At 24:000, many people will be sleeping but some people won’t be asleep. It is risky to go in and steal things. I think they will act around three in the morning.”
Xiao Lou nodded. “At three in the morning, when everyone is asleep, they will use the key to open the door and grab the supplies. Still, what if someone hid things under their bed. If their actions are too big, won’t they wake people up?”
“Thus, there must be other tools for committing the crime in their hands.”
Xiao Lou’s eyes lit up. “For example, an inhaled anesthetic? If they encounter resistance, directly knock the person unconscious?”
Yu Hanjiang nodded. “After entering the world of the financial crisis, they only need to find a way to buy a large amount of anesthetic on the first day. They can live by stealing things. Not only can they live well, they can also sell the materials at a later period to make a lot of money.”
This was really smart.
Unfortunately, the cleverness wasn’t used in the right way and they wanted to clear the instance at the expense of other challengers.
Xiao Lou clenched his fists. “Group Leader Yu, what do you want to do?”
Yu Hanjiang’s eyes were deep and cold. “Lead the snake out of the hole.”