Chapter 522 – New Beginning
Xiao Lou and his group chose the City of the Moon to return to this time.
In the beginning, Old Mo rented a three storey house on the outskirts of the City of the Moon as a team base. Before challenging the two jokers secret room, Xiao Lou wanted to calm down and rest here. They could recuperate and be fully prepared.
It happened to be nighttime in the City of the Moon. Lu Jiuchuan entered the house and couldn’t help praising it when he saw the environment inside the house. “Your living environment is great. It is big and the decorations are exquisite.”
Xiao Lou glanced at Old Mo. “The decorations of this house were designed by Old Mo himself.”
Lu Jiuchuan gave a thumbs up. “No wonder why it is so professional.”
Old Mo smiled. “I just did it casually. In fact, this house was rented by the team I first joined. I didn’t know how long I would stay in the Card World at that time so I wanted to clean up the house. I didn’t expect… alas…”
Old Mo’s smile gradually faded as he remembered the teammates who were eliminated in the World Weekly secret room.
Tang Ci came over. “Did your team encounter hunters during the rotating labyrinth?”
Old Mo nodded. “Yes, I alone survived…”
In the beginning when Old Mo joined the team, he told Xiao Lou and Yu Hanjiang that he could escape dying in the World Weekly by relying on his excellent perception of space. The path of the labyrinth was constantly changing and he moved around the labyrinth to avoid the pursuit of the hunters. At the last moment, he found the exit and saved his life.
However, all his teammates were killed in the labyrinth.
Tang Ci took out his laptop and called up a row of data. He said to Xiao Lou, “In the rotating labyrinth, the elimination rate is around 80%. Only 20% of the challengers who were forcibly pulled into this secret room survived at the end.”
This elimination rate was really terrible. Apart from the challengers who happened to be in a secret room who could avoid the World Weekly, the remaining people were forcibly dragged into the World Weekly. There were definitely not a small number of people who lost teammates like Old Mo. It was hard to imagine what type of perseverance Old Mo had to rely on when the people around him suddenly disappeared, leaving him alone.
Lu Jiuchuan was deeply touched by this. He walked over to Old Mo and patted him on the shoulder. “It wasn’t easy for you. I heard you have a daughter who is in high school this year?”
Old Mo nodded. “I wouldn’t have persisted until now if it wasn’t for the fact that my daughter has no one to rely on.” He looked back at Xiao Lou. “I am lucky. I met Professor Xiao and Group Leader Yu and joined a new team. I actually managed to pass all the way through the K secret room.”
“Old Mo, you have also helped us several times. If it wasn’t for you, we wouldn’t have been able to find our way through the labyrinth several times.” Xiao Lou spoke warmly. “We will definitely return. Your daughter will definitely be waiting for you in the real world.”
At this topic, everyone’s eyes couldn’t help turning red. They each had a reason to return and there was no reason to give up. It was just that the hunters in the K secret room gave everyone the chills when they thought about it.
Yu Hanjiang frowned and said in a low voice, “Regarding the hunters, we must try to find as many clues as possible. This is our last chance.” He walked over to Tang Ci and looked at the computer screen. “Mr Tang, can you only find these three brothers? Do they have any teammates who are still alive?”
Tang Ci shook his head. “No. According to the data, the three of them formed a team and came to the City of the Moon after clearing 4 of Spades. However, the three of them were unlucky. They came to the City of the Moon on Friday. Before they were ready, they were forcibly pulled into the labyrinth at midnight on Saturday.”
Ye Qi couldn’t help complaining. “Then aren’t they too unlucky? Their cards don’t seem to be useful in this labyrinth secret room.”
Old Mo had personally experienced the rotating labyrinth and agreed. “The labyrinth was a completely closed off environment and their cards were really useful. The kite can’t fly and the tornado can’t destroy the environment of the labyrinth. They only have the crystal ball but the card owner might not be able to use the skill because he didn’t react fast enough.”
Liu Qiao said, “In other words, they were dragged into a highly difficult World Weekly as soon as they left the novice village. They weren’t prepared and were unlucky enough to encounter hunters. They were killed and their cards fell into the hands of the hunters.”
Tang Ci said, “This is indeed the most reasonable speculation.”
He glanced at Lu Jiuchuan and lowered his voice. “The more terrifying thing is that there are countless people eliminated in the beginning stage like these three brothers. In addition to the 80% elimination rate in the World Weekly, there are many Spades and Clubs secret rooms with hunters. It is assumed that the cards of the challengers who are killed will fall into the hands of the hunters. Then the strength of the hunters…”
Lu Jiuchuan had a solemn expression. “It will far exceed our expectations.”
The cards of the eliminated challengers shouldn’t be particularly strong or they wouldn’t have been so easy to kill. However, quantitative changes led to qualitative changes. As long as a challenger had one S-ranked card, couldn’t the hunters kill 10, 100 or 1,000 people?
The number of cards in the hands of the Hunter’s League was absolutely massive but it wasn’t certain how they distributed the cards. Would it belong to whoever killed the challenger? Or did they match good cards based on merit?
Tang Ci’s expression was serious. “The even stranger thing is that apart from these three brothers, I can’t find the other cards you are talking about such as the dark alley, the poison quenched silver needle, the red umbrella, the illusion card, etc. I can’t determine the source of these cards.”
Xiao Lou had a guess. ”Could it be that some solo challengers had always kept their cards secret and these cards fell into the hands of hunters after they died? Or the hunters can also draw cards from treasure chests after completing specific tasks like us?”
Tang Ci stared at the screen thoughtfully. “Both are possible. Suppose that this Card World consists of three groups: hunters, challengers and the native people. The task of the challengers is to move through different secret rooms to solve puzzles. The hunter’s task is to kill us while the natives are like NPCs who play a role in promoting the plot.”
Ye Qi often played online games and immediately nodded in agreement. “In this way, most of our doubts can be explained. The natives are NPCs that will affect the story direction of the challengers. Us challengers and the hunters are opposing ‘factions’ with different missions. We can draw from treasure chests if we clear the instance. The hunters can kill us to pick up equipment or they can draw from the treasure chest for rewards after completing missions.”
Liu Qiao couldn’t help wondering, ”Isn’t this very unfair to us? Not only do we have to deal with difficult NPCs but we also have to handle the hunters who want our lives at any time. Meanwhile, the hunters just need to stare at us and kill us.”
Yu Hanjiang frowned. “Maybe the hunters also have special missions. For example, they must kill a few people in the secret room before they can pass it. In the Q secret room, didn’t the clone deliberately lead us to the merpeople palace in order to destroy us?”
Xiao Lou lowered his head and pondered on it. “Hanjiang is right. During the time when Brother Jiu was undercover in the Hunter’s League, he constantly accepted tasks and shuttled through different worlds to hunt and kill ‘foreigners’. It might be that Brother Jiu didn’t contact the high level hunters at the time and the missions received were relatively simple.”
Lu Jiuchuan opened his mouth. “It seems that during the concert stampede accident, Luo Yan might’ve received a difficult hunting and killing task? She killed thousands of people at one concert!”
Xiao Lou couldn’t help turning pale when he recalled the hellish concert scene. The deafening screams of those around him seemed to still ring in his ears. “For them, killing people is commonplace. They have long become numb to it. It is estimated that in their eyes, human life is the same as grass. Killing thousands of people is like stepping on a group of ants.”
They couldn’t help feeling a chill in their heart at the thought of such a terrifying organization.
Ye Qi asked, “Have we really decided to go to the two jokers secret room? Perhaps there will be no return this time and we will die there…”
Xiao Lou gently looked at his teammates. “You can also choose the ultimate reward package and stay in the Card World. If someone doesn’t want to take the risks, they can get the reward and quit the team. I respect everyone’s choice.”
There was a sudden silence in the room. Everyone might be inwardly struggling but no one wanted to give up at this time.
Yu Hanjiang glanced at his teammates in turn and said lightly, “Since no one has given up, we will give it our all. Tonight, everyone should have a good rest and recuperate their spirits. In the remaining three days, we will carefully practice our cards until we can form a reflexive life-saving reaction when attacked.”
Lu Jiuchuan said, “This is the responsibility of me and Hanjiang. During the three days of special training, we will teach you some coping strategies based on the cards you have in your hands. You can’t be too lax while still ensuring that you rest.”
Xiao Lou suddenly looked at Yu Hanjiang. “By the way, do we want to agree on a secret code?”
Yu Hanjiang wondered, “Secret code?”
He quickly understood Xiao Lou’s meaning. “Are you worried that another clone will appear?”
Xiao Lou said, “After all, the clones almost killed us in the Q secret room and we have to be on guard against this. Moreover, in addition to clones, the hunters might have cards that can copy appearances. For example, Brother Jiu’s mask card and Liu Qiao’s twin card. Can’t they copy a person’s image?”
It was said that it was difficult to guard against everything. They weren’t afraid of the hunters coming to them openly. They were afraid that someone would pretend to be Xiao Lou, Yu Hanjiang or a teammate and take advantage of their lowered guard to stab them in the back.
Xiao Lou’s concerns really had to be taken seriously.
Yu Hanjiang immediately decided. “Yes, from now on, each of us will say a few words to our teammates. Whisper it in their ears so it isn’t heard by any monitoring.”
Xiao Lou reminded them. “It is best that these words have nothing to do with the Card World or your real world experience. The more natural the conversation, the better. For example, what did you do today or today’s weather isn’t bad. This isn’t easy to cause doubts in daily conversation. However, the answer should be more special so it won’t be easy to get the right answer by chance.”
Yu Hanjiang added, “We don’t know if we will be together or separated after entering the two jokers level. Assuming that we are separated at the beginning, we must first ask the other person for the secret code when meeting any teammate. If the secret code is wrong, you must pay attention because the other person is likely to be a hunter.”
It was almost like a spy drama. The next time they met in the secret room, they had to talk to the other person for a while to determine if they were an ally or enemy.
Everyone started to think about this ‘secret code’. Yu Hanjiang suddenly leaned toward Xiao Lou’s ear and whispered, “Does Professor Xiao have a girlfriend? I have a colleague who is very beautiful. Do you want me to introduce her to you?”
Xiao Lou thought about it before replying in Yu Hanjiang’s ear, “No, I have someone I like. I’m planning to visit his parents in two days.”
The corners of Yu Hanjiang’s mouth curled up slightly. He saw that his teammates were deciding the password in pairs so his lips moved forward and he kissed Xiao Lou’s ear lightly, “My parents will definitely like you very much.”
Xiao Lou’s ears turned red. “Can you be serious about the secret code?”
Yu Hanjiang raised an eyebrow. “This is the secret code between us. Do you think someone will be able to guess the right answer?”
Xiao Lou thought about it. It was indeed difficult to match it word for word and it was also a small secret between them.
30 minutes later, the team had finished deciding the passwords. Xiao Lou listened to some of the words that the other 10 people said to him and remembered them carefully. He saw that it was getting late, so Xiao Lou suggested that everyone go to bed first. The next morning, they would receive special training from Lu Jiuchuan and Yu Hanjiang.
For the next three days, apart from Tang Ci who was looking up information about the hunters, everyone else practiced their reaction skills with Lu Jiuchuan and Yu Hanjiang. How to protect themselves, how to judge the position of the other person through footsteps, breathing, etc…
This knowledge couldn’t be fully mastered in a short period of time but it was better than nothing. It might be able to help at a critical moment.
Three days passed quickly. On the last day, Xiao Lou personally cooked a hearty dinner for everyone.
Professor Xiao’s cooking skills had always been widely praised but for this meal, everyone felt that it had no taste. Lu Jiuchuan boldly opened a bottle of red wine and poured it into 12 glasses. He stood up and said, “Don’t look upset. We should be happy!”
Tang Ci was stunned before his pale face eased slightly. “In fact, all of us had already died once in the real world. It is already heaven’s blessing to be able to come back to life in the Card World.”
Xiao Lou also stood up. “Besides, I met… so many friends in this world.”
Ye Qi smiled. “Yes! I don’t think it is a loss. No matter what, we can live again and can clear the instances with many friends. I am very content! If I hadn’t met everyone, maybe I would’ve been eliminated in 5 of Spades or 5 of Hearts.”
Long Sen scratched his head. “Wanyue and I also feel thankful to everyone. I am too stupid ad don’t know how to speak. If we really can go back to the real world and I get married to Wangyue, I will pay for all the flight tickets and accommodations. Please come and have a drink!”
Qu Wanyue’s eyes turned slightly red and she raised her cup. “It is worth living in this world to meet you.”
Gui Yuanzhang added, “I am old and have long been pessimistic about life or death. I don’t care too much about the real world but I admire your courage. Since you have firmly established your goal, I will follow you to the end.”
Old Mo joked, “You can come to me when you buy a house and decorate it. I will design it for you personally and make sure you’re satisfied!”
Shao Qingge smiled. “Find me for investment and money management. I’ll help everyone make money.”
Liu Qiao had always been calm but now her eyes were a bit red. She looked at the group and said, “I hope that after returning to reality, I can save my sister, successfully graduate and become a good doctor. Thank you for taking care of me all this time.”
Chu Huaying didn’t say much. “Don’t be too pessimistic. It isn’t a big deal to die again. There is nothing to be afraid of.”
Yu Hanjiang raised his glass at the end. “Everyone, drink this cup for our encounter with each other and also the last secret room. If we can return to the real world, we will still be friends for life. If we can’t get out alive…”
He paused. His eyes were calm and firm but when he looked at Xiao Lou, there was a hint of tenderness. “It isn’t a waste of this life.”
He and Xiao Lou smiled at each other and everyone drank the red wine in the glass together.
The clock pointed to 23:59.
Xiao Lou opened his personal space and saw the familiar card wall. The last card alternated between the big and small joker and didn’t have the ‘passed’ mark.
He reached out and gently drew the last card from the card wall.
Partially proofread: Paranoid Kitten