Ch119 – Challengers Association
Xiao Lou thought that the airport broadcast was definitely a real world friend looking for Yu Hanjiang.
However, the trio had just entered the airport when they heard the announcer’s soft voice come from the radio again. “This is a broadcast looking for someone. Foreign vistor Mr Xiao Lou, Mr Xiao Lou, please come to the airport information desk. A friend is waiting for you.”
The three people stopped at the same time and looked at each other.
Yu Hanjiang frowned. “Do you have friends looking for you?”
Xiao Lou shook his head. “No, none of my real world friends have died unexpectedly in recent years. If something happened to them after me, they wouldn’t have passed the fourth level so quickly.”
Liu Qiao suddenly thought of a possibility. “Is it because the two of you set a new secret room record, making the challenger organizations look for you? I saw the news in the floating box at the time and you are probably the most famous challengers among the new arrivals.”
Liu Qiao’s words made sense. No matter the situation, since the other person in the airport was looking for them, the two people couldn’t ignore it. They would go and see the identity. Xiao Lou and Yu Hanjiang glanced at each other, turned and continued towards the information desk.
The three people walked over to the information desk and saw a woman wearing sunglasses quietly waiting to the side. The woman was 1.75 metres and had a thin body. She had a typical oval face, white skin and sexy, curly hair. After seeing the three people, she took the initiative to say, “Excuse me, are you Mr Yu and Mr Xiao?”
Yu Hanjiang nodded. Then the woman took off her sunglasses and took the initiative to reach out. “Hello, my name is Xue Mingyue.”
Xiao Lou didn’t remember this person and glanced at Yu Hanjiang in a puzzled manner. Yu Hanjiang didn’t reach for her hand and spoke directly, “Sorry, I don’t know you.”
Xue Mingyue smiled. “It is enough that I know you.” She glanced around at the passengers and suggested, “We should go somewhere else and speak.”
The trio followed her to a secluded corner of the airport. Xue Mingyue looked around alertly and said, “There were many local people at the information desk just now and it wasn’t convenient to talk.” She lowered her voice. “I am also a challenger. The president sent me to pick you up. The two of you who have set new records in the Hearts secret rooms are the strongest challengers in this group of new people.”
After perceiving that the other side had no malice, Xiao Lou smiled with relief and asked, “President? What president?”
Xue Mingyue answered, “The president of the challengers association, ‘Distant Guild.’ It is one of the largest associations in the City of the Moon and has only one principle—to go back using every means. We know that our home isn’t here.”
The aim of this association happened to coincide with Yu Hanjiang and Xiao Lou’s goal.
Both of them glanced at each other and continued to listen.
Xue Mingyue found that the two people were watching seriously and went on to say, “We will select some strong challengers from each group of new people and invite them to join the guild. An elite team will be set up within the guild to cope with the World Weekly and subsequent difficult levels. The two of you have done well and refreshed many world records. Thus, our president ‘Old Gui’ has been paying attention to you for a long time.”
She spoke a long paragraph. Yu Hanjiang captured the key information and frowned. “World Weekly? What do you mean?”
Xue Mingyue explained, “The airport is full of people. Can I ask you two…” She found that the two people had been followed by an indifferent looking female and awkwardly changed her words. “Please come back to the association’s headquarters with me. Our president would like to talk to you personally.”
Xiao Lou was worried about a scam but the main city looked peaceful and force shouldn’t be openly used. If there was danger then Yu Hanjiang had his guns. Even so, he glanced at Yu Hanjiang and said, “Group Leader Yu, please wait for me for a few minutes. I want to go to the bathroom.”
Yu Hanjiang was very cooperative. “Yes, I’ll wait for you here.”
Before leaving, Xiao Lou secretly opened Qin Guan’s heart channel with Yu Hanjiang. The heart channel was established and his thoughts were conveyed to Yu Hanjiang’s mind.
After a few seconds, Xiao Lou’s voice rang in Yu Hanjiang’s mind. “Group Leader Yu, we have been in a closed off level and didn’t expect our names to appear so many times in the challengers’ floating box. Now almost all challengers in the Card World know our existence and this can be a good and bad thing.”
Yu Hanjiang understood what he meant. “I understand. Xue Mingyue’s origin is unknown. She says she is from a challengers association but her credibility is still uncertain. We can gain information from her but we have to be ready to retreat at any time.”
“I think so as well. First, I’ll open Tao Yuanming’s Peach Blossom Spring in a place where no one is present. In 30 minutes, if the situation isn’t right then we will immediately transfer back to the airport.”
Professor Xiao’s caution was truly appreciated. Yu Hanjiang immediately agreed. “Yes, it is just as you say.”
Xue Mingyue found that since Xiao Lou went to the toilet, the handsome man in front of him had fallen silent. His eyes were fixed on the ground, slender fingers touching his chin like he was thinking of something. As for the girl, she had been silent from beginning to end and had a very low sense of existence.
Xue Mingyue took the three people with the parking lot. She drove a red car and the license plate should be that of the Card World. Liu Qiao consciously sat in the passenger’s seat and left the back seats to Xiao Lou and Yu Hanjiang. They got on one after another.
The back row was extremely spacious. Xiao Lou asked, “This car is very good. How much is it in the Card World?”
Xue Mingyue’s lip curved. “Change to yuan, it is around 120,000.” She saw Xiao Lou’s surprised expression through the rearview mirror and shrugged. “This world’s prices are really low. It is very easy to buy a car and a house so many challengers who stay here for a long time are attracted by the ultra-low price and don’t want to go back.”
Xiao Lou had expected it but his heart was still uncomfortable when he heard her say so.
The vehicle started and Xue Mingyue drove from the airport at high speed. There were roads in every direction and several sky highways, making traffic jams almost nonexistent. The scenery here was very beautiful. Street lights were hung from the trees and the tall trees beside the road formed a natural shade. The fallen vines looked like large green waterfalls from afar.
Cards drove on the road like they were driving through the jungle.
Xiao Lou looked out the window at the beautiful scenery and endless starry sky as he chatted with Xue Mingyue.
Thanks to Xue Mingyue, he knew that the proportion of locals and challengers in the City of the Moon was around 6:4. There were around 40 million challengers and 60 million locals in the city, with a total population of more than 100 million. This was much larger than the Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou areas on Earth.
Xue Mingyue told them, “The only difference between the locals and challengers is that the locals go to work from Monday to Friday and get off work on Saturday and Sunday. Meanwhile, challengers have a fixed time to break through on Saturdays and Sundays.”
Xiao Lou made a guess. “The breakthrough every week is what you call World Weekly?”
Xue Mingyue nodded. “The World Weekly forces all challengers to enter. There is a mysterious force that sucks us directly into a large secret room. Many locals always wonder why us outsiders disappear over time…in fact, they don’t disappear but die in the secret rooms.”
Her eyes stared straight ahead and a trace of loss flashed through them. “Thus, you can live a normal life in this world but it is precarious… no one knows what will happen next week and who will come back alive.”
Liu Qiao looked at her from the passenger’s seat and spoke her first sentence. “The World Weekly’s secret room is random?”
“Yes, it might be Hearts, Diamonds, Spades or Clubs.”
Xiao Lou frowned. “I remember that there are tens of millions of challengers who enter the secret room. So many people are sucked into the same secret room? What would the plot be like if tens of millions of people are involved in the Hearts secret room?”
Xue Mingyue smiled and explained, “The tens of millions of people would be scattered to different instances of the same secret room. Every secret room can accommodate up to 100 people. If it is a Hearts secret room then there will probably only be a dozen people.” She took a look at Xiao Lou in the rearview mirror. “In fact, it is very similar to a game world. We are game players and forced to perform weekend tasks. The locals are NPCs who don’t need to do tasks.”
The car fell silent. Xiao Lou looked out the window and thought about it. Unexpectedly, the challengers had the random World Weekly in addition to the fixed secret rooms clearance.
The World Weekly mission would pull tens of millions of challengers into secret rooms. There might be complex homicides, oversized mazes, extremely harsh conditions or the Clubs secret room that would eliminate one of the two camps.
The challengers experienced a thrilling life-and-death game every week. Maybe someone who was talking to you yesterday would never come back after the weekend.
Thus, even if the material conditions of this world were good, the challengers had no sense of ‘security.’ No one knew if they could live through the World Weekly. Even if they came back one week, could they make it the next week?
There was only one way for a truly secure life. Clear the SS secret rooms and return to the real world.
Xiao Lou took a deep breath and looked at Yu Hanjiang sitting beside him. Yu Hanjiang was also looking back and the two people used their heart channel to continue speaking.
Yu Hanjiang told him, “The World Weekly routine should be to randomly create a secret room every week. This is different from the fixed secret rooms of the 52 playing cards. Moreover, all challengers have to go to this weekly mission. It definitely won’t be too simple.”
Xiao Lou said, “World Weekly is on the weekends. Then the other secret rooms can only be cleared on Monday-Friday?”
Yu Hanjiang agreed. “For us, challenging the secret rooms is like going to work.”
The two people did the spiritual exchange and soon heard Xue Mingyue’s voice. “We’re here.”
She parked the car in front of a beautifully designed building.
It was a three-storey villa built of pure solid wood. At this time, the villa was lit up with warm yellow lights.
There was a small river in front of them and a wooden pathway that reached the front of the villa. Flowers were planted in front of the door and it was surrounded by tall trees. There was also a swimming pool the same size as a basketball court. It could be seen that the owner here enjoyed life very much.
Xue Mingyue took everyone to the door and gently knocked. “President, the people you are looking for has come.”
A low voice came from inside the house. “Bring them in.”
The trio walked into the villa.
A man approximately 40 years old was sitting on the sofa. He had an upright posture and wore a grey Chinese tunic suit. He gave off a very cultured first impression. The villa was entirely decorated in the Chinese style. There was a full range of solid wood furniture and looked very imposing.
There was a delicate tea set on the coffee table and he was making tea in the teapot. The man looked up at the three people. He had an imposing manner around him and spoke lightly, “The three of you, please sit. I made tea and we can drink while chatting.”
The three people had to walk over and sit down.
The man introduced himself. “I am called Gui Yuanzhang. I am a calligrapher in reality.”
Xiao Lou took a cup and was surprised. “Mr Gui? I’ve heard of you.”
Gui Yuanzhang looked at him. “Is that so?”
Xiao Lou replied, “My father loved calligraphy and collected some of your works.”
Gui Yuanzhang laughed. “It’s an honour.”
He handed them the delicate purple teacups and said, “Xiao Xue should’ve told you that I’ve been paying attention to the two of you because you broke the world records of the Hearts rooms. I went to the Intelligence Bureau and found that Group Leader Yu is a real police officer and Professor Xiao is a forensic doctor. The two strong people joined hands and the Hearts secret room should be very easy, right?”
Xiao Lou and Yu Hanjiang were surprised. They hadn’t expected him to find this out.
Yu Hanjiang frowned. “Is there an intelligence agency that allowed you to find out our real identity?”
Gui Yuanzhang smiled. “Yes, the Intelligence Bureau is also a challenger organization. They have collected a lot of information on challengers and locals. They can answer whatever you want to ask as long as you can afford the price.”
Liu Qiao heard up to here and couldn’t help gently clenching his fists. There was an organization like the Intelligence Bureau. Could she go to the Intelligence Bureau and ask about the whereabouts of her sister?
Gui Yuanzhang glanced at her. “Little girl, you seem to have something on your mind?”
Liu Qiao didn’t say anything about her sister. Perhaps it was a woman’s sixth sense but this man always gave her a strange feeling. She didn’t dare to show her weakness in front of a stranger. What if the other person knew she had a sister and took her sister to threaten her?
Thinking up to here, Liu Qiao calmly replied, “Nothing, I just think this Intelligence Bureau is somewhat magical.” She quickly changed the topic. “Mr Gui, Miss Xue said that the ultimate goal of your association is to return to reality, right?”
Gui Yuanzhang nodded. “Yes.”
Liu Qiao asked, “How many people are there in your association?”
“The Distant Guild one of the largest associations in the Card World, with over 10,000 members.”
Liu Qiao wondered, “Then why did the keeper tell me that until now, no one has successfully cleared this world?”
Gui Yuanzhang suddenly fell silent.
Xiao Lou hadn’t expected Liu Qiao to be so sharp. Just now, he was afraid that she would say something about her sister when she became excited. If her weakness was exposed to strangers then it could cause trouble. Fortunately, Liu Qiao was careful enough to not say too much to strangers. She knew the existence of the Intelligence Bureau and could find her sister on her own. This was the most sensible approach.
Her question was crucial and all three people waited for Mr Gui’s answer.
Moments later, Gui Yuanzhang told them, “It is because the later secret rooms are too difficult. We organized an elite team of 10 people. Among them are reasoning writers, sports athletes, dance teachers, Mathemathics Olympiad champion, singers, painters… it was a gathering of the best talents from various fields. As a result, they only went to one S-grade secret room, J of Hearts, and completely disappeared.”
He picked up the purple teacup and drank the tea. He sighed and whispered, “Even the Intelligence Bureau can’t find their whereabouts. They should’ve all died in J of Hearts.”
Xiao Lou couldn’t help feeling taken aback.
A reasoning writer’s analytical ability should be no worse than him and Group Leader Yu. The Olympiad champion’s calculation ability might be more powerful than him and athletes were physically strong. A dance teacher had a flexible body and talents such as singing and painting could create a magical effect when encountering a barrier. Such a strong team couldn’t even clear the instance?
“Since then, many people have been afraid to challenge the J and above secret rooms. At present, the average progress in this world is the seventh level and the highest is stopped at the 10th level.”
A bit of bleakness flashed in his eyes. “My group insists on going back but we were greatly damaged after losing such an elite team. It is difficult to duplicate.” He looked up at the two men. “Your presence gives me some confidence.”
Xue Mingyue smiled next to him. “Since Group Leader Yu entered the Card World, you refreshed the record of 2 of Hearts, Rose Funeral. The president has been watching you since there. We have many experts in the guild. If you want to go back then you can consider joining us.”
Gui Yuanzhang said, “The later secret rooms will be more and more difficult. It is only by gathering a large number of experts that there is hope of clearing this world.”
Xiao Lou and Yu Hanjiang were a bit moved but they didn’t make a hasty decision.
Yu Hanjiang’s spoke in a low voice. “Mr Gui, thank you for the invitation. We can’t give you an answer immediately. We have several friends we separated from when entering the main city. Once they come, we will discuss it with them and then tell you our decision.”
Gui Yuanzhang was startled. “Isn’t it just you two? I remember the world record only has your names.”
Xiao Lou smiled and explained. “They are friends we know from the Spades secret room. We are like-minded and discussed forming a team in advance. We can’t act in bad faith.”
Yuanzhang asked, “I can help you find them. What are the names of your friends?”
Xiao Lou shook his head. “We won’t trouble you. We have a good meeting place and the time is approaching. We should go back first and meet with our friends.”
Gui Yuanzhang suggested enthusiastically, “Why not stay at my place tonight?”
Xiao Lou stood up. “We won’t trouble you. After thinking clearly, we will personally come to visit.”
The other side smiled and no longer suggested it. He let Xue Mingyue send them back.
XIao Lou said they were meeting with friends at the city central square. Xue Mingyue returned the trio to the central square. Xiao Lou pulled Yu Hanjiang and Liu Qiao to a corner with no one present and directly used Tao Yuanming’s to return to the Peach Blossom Spring at the airport.
Looking at the familiar Peach Blossom Spring, Xiao Lou was finally relieved.
-A heart’s defenses were indispensable.
Joining this challenger organization might cause trouble for them.
It was better to wait until they found Shao Qingge and Xie Qi to talk about it. It was currently Monday in this world and there were four days until the World Weekly. They needed to investigate and collect enough information before making a decision.