Chapter 521 – Reunion
Not long after the clearance notification popped up on the floating box, the option to ‘leave the secret room’ appeared in front of Xiao Lou’s eyes. Xiao Lou pressed the ‘yes’ button and a white light flashed in front of his eyes. This was followed by a time and space conversion and he saw a familiar card wall.
On the card wall, all the cards of the four suits from 2 to K were lit up with a soft light. There was a ‘passed’ stamp in the lower left corner of the playing cards and the card surface had the name of each secret room.
From the single clearance 2 of Hearts Rose Funeral, 2 of Spades Zombie Town… to the 2 of Clubs challenge when he met Yu Hanjiang, the 3 of Spades Financial Crisis where he met Shao Qingge and Ye Qi and 4 of Spades Liuxi Village where he met Liu Qiao, Qu Wanyue and Long Sen…
This wall recorded all their clearance results. It was full of memories when they looked at it.
In the blink of an eye, they had been in the Card World for so long and passed through so many secret rooms…
Xiao Lou stood in front of the card wall with a very complicated mood. Before he could speak, a young man’s clear voice came from behind him. “Professor Xiao! You finally came out?!”
It was Ye Qi’s voice.
Xiao Lou hurriedly turned his head and saw Shao Qingge, Ye Qi, Lu Jiuchuan, Tang Ci, Gui Yuanzhang and Chu Huaying waiting for him in his private space. Their teammates were all there which made Xiao Lou sigh with relief. He asked gently, “Xiao Ye, did you clear the instance in advance?”
Ye Qi walked to Xiao Lou and said in a soft voice, “We just completed the task and were sent to the pending area. This is an enclosed space like the pending area of the Bloody Night Witch instance. If the six of you didn’t solve the puzzle at the end or if you were killed by the hunters in the night labyrinth, we would’ve been eliminated together.”
Xiao Lou said clearly, “I see. In other words, you were teleported to the past timeline. If a clue is found and you completed the mission, you will enter the waiting area and wait for us to successfully pass the secret room. Then it will be counted as a clearance? If we fail, everyone will be eliminated together?”
Lu Jiuchuan answered, “That’s right. By the way, did you see all the clues we left behind?”
Yu Hanjiang nodded. “Yes. Thanks to your detailed clues, we could successfully find the murderer.”
Shao Qingge walked over with a smile and joked, “I told you that my idea is brilliant. Who would be idle enough to go to the mass burial site and dig up graves? We made a joint grave and buried the clues in the grave. Outsiders can’t understand it but Xiao Lou can understand as soon as he sees it.”
Xiao Lou looked at him helplessly. “Thank you to Chief Shao for thinking of it.”
Ye Qi asked with concern, “How are you? Was it very dangerous?”
Tang Ci said, “We didn’t meet any hunters in the timeline three years ago and Chief Shao didn’t meet them either. The biggest possibility is that the hunters are all in the original timeline. It must’ve been very difficult for the six of you to pass the instance, right?”
He glanced at the bloody gauze around Xiao Lou’s neck and the black rotten flesh on Yu Hanjiang’s hand. He frowned slightly and took out his healing robot. “Do you want me to help you heal the wound?”
Just now, everyone was so excited about the reunion that they ignored the wounds of Xiao Lou’s group. At this time, Tang Ci reminded them and Lu Jiuchuan couldn’t help scolding. “Your hand is almost rotten to the bone! What happened?”
Ye Qi looked nervously at Xiao Lou. “Professor Xiao, your neck is still bleeding! In addition, Teacher Qu’s neck is blue from strangulation. Who is so unethical that they will strangle you?”
Qu Wanyue smiled and replied in a hoarse voice, “I don’t know.”
Xiao Lou, “……”
It was Long Sen who strangled her. Of course, Xiao Lou and Yu Hanjiang tacitly didn’t say this. After all, Long Sen had been controlled by the rattle-drum sound and completely lost his sanity. Meanwhile, Old Mo almost committed suicide by stabbing his abdomen.
Xiao Lou saw his teammates looking at him with concern and smiled. “Everyone, you don’t have to worry. It is all skin trauma. The hunters we encountered this time were very strong and it wasn’t easy for us to get out of the night labyrinth.”
He spoke casually but Ye Qi and the others could imagine the danger at that time.
Even Xiao Lou and Yu Hanjiang were injured. This showed how terrible the hunters were.
Ye Qi said, “The Bug King card can only be used in the secret room. We can’t treat your injuries so we can only rely on Mr Tang. Let Mr Tang’s robot heal you!”
Tang Ci said, “Let’s sit down first and heal the injuries before we talk.”
His healing robot was quite cute in appearance with a large head and short body. It could heal most trauma, including knife wounds, decay, etc. However, the healing robot was powerless if it was a severed limb or internal organ injury. They had to rely on the Bug King card for that.
Fortunately, Xiao Lou’s injury this time wasn’t serious. It could be handled with Tang Ci’s healing robot.
Tang Ci gently untied the gauze around Xiao Lou’s neck.
There was a wound around 10 centimeters long at the collarbone. The mark left by the sharp knife was shocking. The wound was less than 2 centimeters away from Xiao Lou’s neck artery and it could be imagined how much danger Xiao Lou was in at the time.
Yu Hanjiang clearly saw the wound under the sufficient light. His eyes darkened as he said softly, “You said it was okay but you were 2 centimeters away from dying.”
Xiao Lou said in a soothing tone, “Isn’t it 2 centimeters away? Skin trauma doesn’t matter. I’ll be more careful from now on.”
Yu Hanjiang didn’t say anything else and gently held his hand.
Tang Ci quickly sewed up Xiao Lou’s wound and followed up by treating Yu Hanjiang’s right hand. The bruise on Qu Wanyue’s neck was also quickly handled. To Xiao Lou’s surprise, Liu Qiao’s arm and calves were also injured. It was just that these were small wounds like she was bitten by something small.
This girl was too strong to say anything.
Xiao Lou asked in a low voice, “Xiao Liu, is this an injury you suffered in the water at the time?”
Liu Qiao nodded calmly. “Yes. There were many strange things around me when I was lurking in the water. They were like countless small snakes biting people. Fortunately, I escaped quickly.”
Xiao Lou patted her on the shoulder. “I asked you to lead them away. It was really risky this time.”
Liu Qiao’s lips curved in a rare manner and she showed a smile. “Yes. I have two lives. Fortunately, the antidote was taken in time.”
Lu Jiuchuan had been frowning from beginning to end. The injuries on them as well as the information revealed in the conversation all showed that the six of them were later surrounded by hunters. The six teammates who were transported to the past had it relatively easier. They just had to investigate clues and didn’t meet any hunters.
Compared to Chief Shao and Ye Qi, who almost starved to death in the timeline of the famine and ate leaves every day to survive, Lu Jiuchuan’s group was the most comfortable in their timeline.
Tang Ci put away the healing robot and Lu Jiuchuan opened his mouth. “Tell us what happened with this case.”
Xiao Lou told the other six teammates about the process of solving the case and the hunters encountered in the labyrinth.
The murderer of the ghost killing case was Qi Ran. Chief Shao and Ye Qi guessed correctly. Lu Jiuchuan’s group of four deduced that Han Ningshuang’s accomplice was the masked man but they didn’t know his name. In the end, Xiao Lou combined the clues left by his teammates and successfully solved all the mysteries. They also found out that the murderer of the lake drowning case was another girl adopted by the grandmother.
Tang Ci couldn’t help being stunned when he heard this. “The murderer of the lake drowning case is related to long hair… could it be that Zhou Xiaoyun was the woman with shaved hair that we met outside the city three years ago?”
Lu Jiuchuan also remembered this matter and couldn’t help hitting his forehead. “We were so focused on investigating the ghost case and locked onto Han Ningshuang and the masked man. The clues we left for you were about these two people. We did see a woman with shaved hair outside the city but we thought she was a nun passing by and didn’t pay attention to her!”
Xiao Lou told him, “I don’t blame you. The lake drowning case was discovered after everyone separated and you didn’t know there was another case in this secret room. Yet in this way, I can understand Zhou Xiaoyun’s motive for committing the crime.”
He looked at Yu Hanjiang, who nodded tacitly. “Qi Ran’s motive for committing the crime is to get revenge for his grandmother. He will kill the whole family the moment he takes action. Meanwhile, Zhou Xiaoyun’s motive is for herself. It is most likely because she had a bad childhood experience that left her with a psychological shadow toward long hair and red clothes. Once she started killing people, we mistook it for two unrelated cases. Then it turned out that the murderer of the two cases actually knew each other and were covering for each other.”
Shao Qingge had a headache and rubbed his temples. “In any case, you managed to solve the mystery at the end. Apart from the transmission of clues across time, the hardest thing this time is the presence of hunters, right? How many did you encounter?”
Xiao Lou answered, “There were 13 hunters. The most powerful one among them is the murderer Qi Ran.”
Ye Qi sucked in a breath. “The murderer is also a hunter? I remember that in the 10th level, Chief Shao’s mother was a hunter and in the Q level, Professor Xiao’s clone was a hunter. Is it possible that the hunters can travel into the world of the secret rooms and directly replace the identity of the murderer?”
Yu Hanjiang shook his head. “I’m afraid it isn’t that simple.”
Tang Ci immediately took out his laptop, looked at Xiao Lou and said seriously, “This is our last chance to find out about the Hunter’s League. Otherwise once we go to the two jokers secret room, we won’t know anything about the hunters and it is likely to be more dangerous than the K secret room. Professor Xiao, tell me as much as you can about the hunters you met. I’ll see if I can get some information.”
Xiao Lou carefully sorted out his thoughts. “The characteristics are more obvious. There is a young man in a black cloak who can control crystal balls of different colors. An uncle with a scar who can control a tornado and iron net. There is a young girl with an absolute domain card who can create a dark alley area and has an illusion card. Another man has a kite that allows him to fly with his teammates as well as many hidden weapons quenched in poison.”
Yu Hanjiang added, “There is a young man with a gun and a defensive umbrella called Xiao Qi, a man with a lot of strength who can ignore bullets, an old lady who uses her thin hands as a weapon and a long-haired woman whose hair can grow infinitely. In addition, the hunter that Liu Qiao encountered can summon strange water monsters in the water.”
Tang Ci quickly tapped on the keyboard. The more Lu Jiuchuan listened, the deeper he frowned. He couldn’t help saying, “These hunters are much more powerful than what we originally encountered in J of Clubs!”
Chu Huaying, who had been silent the entire time, suddenly said, “The hunters we met in J of Clubs were all miscellaneous small fries but there were too many of them. They dragged us out for several days. It was only when our cards were used up that many people died. The hunters this time all seemed to be the elites. It really wasn’t easy for you to get out.”
Gui Yuanzhang wondered, “Where did the cards in the hands of these hunters come from? Is it as we guessed? In the beginning, the hunters and challengers were set up as two camps. We are tested using the secret room and puzzles to collect cards while they rely on… killing?”
At this moment, Tang Ci’s expression changed dramatically.
Lu Jiuchuan saw his pale face and hurriedly asked, “Xiao Tang, what did you find?”
Tang Ci turned the laptop screen around for everyone to see. “I couldn’t find the information of most of the hunters just mentioned but I found some information on the crystal ball, tornado and kite cards.”
Xiao Lou looked at the information listed on the screen and was slightly stunned. “These cards originally belonged to three brothers but they died in the previous World Weekly secret room?”
Tang Ci answered, “Yes, their identity cards have been canceled. Information on all challengers in the Card World can be found with the population management bureau. I hacked into the management system and the time of death of these three people is in a World Weekly.”
Old Mo suddenly interjected, “Was it that rotating labyrinth? There were many hunters in the labyrinth and several of my teammates died. My team was almost wiped out and I was the only one who survived…”
Tang Ci nodded. “Yes, it is the rotating labyrinth.”
Xiao Lou looked at the information and touched his chin in a thoughtful manner.
Yu Hanjiang was silent for a moment before speaking in a low voice. “In other words, the hunters can get cards after killing the challengers?”
Xiao Lou agreed. “That is a reasonable speculation. We earn cards from the secret rooms while they kill us and steal cards. After the three brothers were killed by hunters, the card packs on their bodies were taken away. That is why we saw the cards again in the K secret room.”
The personal space suddenly fell silent.
The way to obtain cards wasn’t just limited to passing the secret room. Since the cards could be handed over to teammates to use, the hunters could also kill them to take the card packs on them.
The stronger the challengers they killed, the more that the hunters could improve.
Preying on the weak was the rule of survival for the hunters.
Xiao Lou took a deep breath and said, “It seems that the hunters have more cards than we do. The last level will definitely be more difficult than the K secret room.” Then he looked around and wondered, “By the way, what about the four keepers?”
Ye Qi also looked around curiously. “We have been in the personal space for so long and we haven’t seen the four of them. Do they also get off work?”
Usually they would see the four familiar keepers every time they passed a secret room. There was the Hearts sister who always pretended to be kind with a smile, the Diamonds little girl who loved desserts, A of Spades who wore sunglasses to act cool and the teenager A of Clubs who had a paralyzed face.
Now all four of them were absent and everyone wasn’t used to it.
Xiao Lou looked back at the card wall and was surprised to find that in addition to all the playing cards that had been lit up with a green light, there were still two cards left on the card wall. They were the big and little joker which had unknowingly merged into one.
The face of the card sometimes had a golden joker or sometimes had a silver joker.
Xiao Lou was looking at the card when a light suddenly appeared around the card, followed by two voices ringing in his ears. “Congratulations on passing through all the card secret rooms from 2 to K. Today, you will no longer be greeted by the four keepers but the two jokers of the Card World.”
“Next, you will have three days to make your choice. Option A: get the ultimate bonus package and stay in the Card World. Option B: continue your challenge of the final two jokers secret room and leave the Card World after completing the level.”
“We will be here and wait for your challenge.”
The voices were feminine and sunny. The mixture together was very eerie.
The two jokers didn’t appear apart from the motif representing them on the card wall.
Options A and B reminded Xiao Lou of his choice when he first entered the Card World. He didn’t hesitate to choose B at that time.
He believed that all his teammates would choose B again this time.
No one wanted to stay here.
However, they weren’t in a hurry to challenge the final level. There were still three days for final preparations.
Xiao Lou and Yu Hanjiang glanced at each other and took a deep breath as he looked at the huge wall of cards. “Let’s choose B. We will challenge the two jokers secret room after three days.”
Partially proofread: Paranoid Kitten