Chapter 30: Fourteen People
It was quite unexpected that the VIP team was the first to gather all its members.
Although the Strawberry Sweet Doughnuts were fast in the front, the last member, nicknamed “Monk” due to his bald head, was delayed, affecting the overall speed. As for the Iron Blood Camp and the White Team, only their leaders, He Lu and Lu Jue, had entered, with the latter suffering from extensive burns.
In comparison, the VIP team had an organized and high-spirited appearance, living up to their name – VIP treatment.
Tanhua tousled his dog-chewed hairstyle and didn’t care about wrinkles on his coat anymore. He suggested to the leader, “Leader, should we also change our team name? I’ve realized that the team name is essential for our luck…”
Guang Lan gave him a cold look. “When I proposed to write a joint letter to request a name change from the higher-ups, no one responded. Now you realize its importance?”
Tan Hua buried his head in the table with a “thud” in despair.
Melancholic center-parted hair sympathized with his teammate. “Leader, changing ‘Strawberry Sweet Doughnuts’ to ‘Chocolate Doughnuts’ won’t solve the fundamental problem.”
Air sniper and Wheat-skinned young man were not engaged in the discussion. One was elegantly cutting a steak, and the other was stuffing bread into his mouth.
On the other side, Tang Lin welcomed his three teammates, and the four of them sat at an empty table next to He Lu.
“How did you guys get here?” Tang Lin asked as soon as they sat down.
Nan Ge hadn’t seen Tang Lin like this before, so devoid of his usual aloofness, and it made him look more lively due to the joy.
“If I tell you, you probably won’t believe it. We got three keys first and then rushed here in one go…” Zheng Luozhu enthusiastically explained how they had broken through the obstacles, gesturing and recounting it all to Tang Lin, as if he wanted to make him feel like he was there.
Tang Lin patiently listened and understood, “So, in summary, you followed your boss.”
Zheng Luozhu nodded vigorously, emphasizing, “Really, Boss is incredible…”
Tang Lin turned his attention to Fan Peiyang, who had been watching him silently. Fan Peiyang had been observing him for a while, and their eyes met directly.
Fan Peiyang raised an eyebrow, realizing that Tang Lin had finally noticed him. Well, it wasn’t too late.
Tang Lin smiled, and with a single look, he knew what was on Fan Peiyang’s mind.
Fan Peiyang, on the other hand, couldn’t quite grasp it. Tang Lin considered Zheng Luozhu and Nan Ge as friends; friends who would go to great lengths for him. He would be touched when they risked their lives for him, and happy when they reached the destination safely. But Fan Peiyang was different.
In Fan Peiyang’s eyes, Tang Lin was more than just a friend. He was someone to whom Fan Peiyang could reveal all his good and bad sides without reservation.
But all of these were not what Fan Peiyang wanted.
The person Fan Peiyang was looking at right now was not Tang Lin. It’s someone who possessed that memory, knowing that when Fan Peiyang got jealous, that Tang Lin would respond with gentleness and understanding.
It’s something he wanted to do.
But he can’t.
He can give his life to Fan Peiyang, but the other person only wanted the love of Tang Lin.
“Excuse me…” He Lu, sitting at the neighboring table, politely interrupted.
Tang Lin’s thoughts returned, he immediately understood He Lu’s meaning, as he hurriedly asked Fan Peiyang, “What’s the situation outside with the Iron Blood Camp?”
He Lu had provided him with so much information; it was only fair to reciprocate.
Fan Peiyang had waited for a while and was met with this question, leaving him in a difficult mood. “Not good, I don’t think it’ll be easy for anyone else to get in.”
Tang Lin looked at He Lu, his gaze offering comfort.
He Lu shook his head faintly, indicating that it was okay.
Only then did Tang Lin speak softly, recounting all the information about the changes in the challenge levels he had obtained from He Lu.
After listening, Zheng Luozhu’s brows furrowed deeply. “So what exactly happened? Why do they have to be so ruthless towards us….”
This wasn’t something they could discuss while trapped in the subway, the door had just opened again.
All twelve people in the carriage turned their attention to the newcomer.
Cui Zhan from the Ten Societies. He had a cut on his lip, and his shirt buttons were torn, but he didn’t have any major injuries.
The Strawberry Sweet Doughnuts looked disappointed.
However, He Lu and Lu Jue remained unfazed.
Cui Zhan didn’t pay any attention to anyone and found an empty table nearby, sitting down.
In less than two minutes, the door opened again.
This time, it was Zhou Yunhui who entered. His face was bruised, but his eyes were fiery, and he stared at everyone, finally locking onto Lu Jue.
Lu Jue had somehow made his way to the far end of the carriage, shirtless, with his chest covered in burns from the cold water.
Everyone realized that the atmosphere wasn’t right.
Lu Jue tried to smile and explain, “Leader Zhou, I didn’t hurt anyone from your Sky Lantern. Besides, not coming in here means death. Is it wrong for me to want to stay alive…”
“Correct,” Zhou Yunhui didn’t engage in a verbal argument with him. “But I want you dead.”
As soon as he said this, a corner of the seat where Lu Jue was sitting suddenly ignited.
Lu Jue quickly jumped out, away from the flames, his face showing a mixture of surprise and anger. He looked at Zhou Yunhui with both shock and fury in his eyes….
[You can’t fight here~~]
The flames on the seats extinguished without warning, leaving behind only a small charred spot.
Behind Lu Jue, above the door leading to the next carriage, an embossed owl pattern blinked like a wall lamp, simultaneously emitting a mocking mechanical voice.
[This is the rest carriage, meant for refreshing and recuperating. Anyone who engages in violence will be punished~~]
This was unexpected; everyone thought that after all those competing for the key had arrived, they would be briefed on the rules for this carriage. It turns out this carriage wasn’t meant for the challenge at all?
The mechanical voice disappeared, and Lu Jue felt like a heavy burden had been lifted from him. That alert sound had been a lifesaver.
His chest stung, but he dared not look at Zhou Yunhui again, keeping the hatred hidden deep within him as he silently returned to his seat.
Zhou Yunhui stood there, visibly restraining his emotions, which was the only reason he didn’t engage in further violence.
After a long while, he silently moved to an empty table nearby and sat down.
Cui Zhan was at the adjacent table, glancing at him for a moment and finally yawning before crossing his arms and lying down to catch some rest.
The tense atmosphere began to ease, and the air started flowing again.
Tang Lin looked at Fan Peiyang inquiringly.
“Lu Jue killed Dai Xiaoliang,” Fan Peiyang said, “He attacked him from behind while they were fighting with Zhou Yunhui for the key.”
Tang Lin was taken aback. He had initially thought that Lu Jue had stolen Zhou Yunhui’s key or harmed the person from the Sky Lantern.
“Dai Xiaoliang had the opportunity to kill Zhou Yunhui originally,” Fan Peiyang continued, “but he showed mercy to his opponent.” He had deployed with Zheng Luozhu and Nan Ge, waiting quietly at the back of the carriage for the right moment and had witnessed the entire incident.
Tang Lin nodded in understanding; he didn’t need to ask any further questions. He knew it all too well.
Sometimes, the line between good and evil was determined by a single thought, but most of the time, it ran deep within a person’s bones.
A few minutes later, the door opened for the fourteenth time.
Every person who looked towards the entrance had different expectations. This time, it was the bald member of the Strawberry Sweet Doughnuts.
The Strawberry Sweet Doughnuts’ table instantly became lively——
With a wry smile, Melancholic center-parted hair waved to his teammate, “Hey, you managed to get in too.”
Tan Hua checked his watch. “Not bad, only thirty minutes.”
Wheat-skinned young man chimed in, “I didn’t save any steak for you.”
Bald man, with his head hanging low, returned to the group.
“Being the last one to enter the group” was originally a sin,” he humbly accepted his teammates’ ridicule, but there was something he needed to convey: “No one else will be coming in.”
This statement surprised not only Strawberry Sweet Doughnuts but also everyone else in the carriage.
Especially Tang Lin’s group, who had been counting on the keys. Fourteen people had entered, leaving only three keys, and Nightwalker still had a chance…
Bald man rolled up his tattered sleeve, revealing the bandage around his arm covering the cut. Without lifting his head, he continued, “The last two minutes were indicated by the sound and countdown. Dammit, even if you manage to grab the keys, it’s useless once the time is up.”
Fan Peiyang couldn’t help but ask, “What about the people inside the carriage now?”
“I don’t know. When I entered, there were only fifteen seconds left,” Bald man replied as he flexed his bandaged arm, looking rather satisfied. He then turned to Fan Peiyang and added, “I didn’t hear any explosions, though.”
However, the absence of explosions didn’t guarantee safety, and there were plenty of other methods for dealing with the situation.
Fan Peiyang fell into deep thought.
Tang Lin lightly patted his shoulder, offering silent support.
Both Zheng Luozhu and Nan Ge also felt uneasy. Although their relationship with the others wasn’t deep, they had shared moments of laughter together on the platform.
Life was fragile, especially in the face of these challenges.
[Congratulations to the fourteen challengers~~]
The owl-shaped light above the door began to flash again, synchronized with the mechanical voice——
[You can now enjoy your meal for the next 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, all of you will proceed to the next carriage for the next challenge~~]
In the center of the owl symbol, a countdown timer appeared, showing 30 minutes.
Strawberry Sweet Doughnuts continued to eat and drink without any burden, while Bald man finally took a look at what was on the table. He initially thought it was a joke when Wheat-skinned young man said they didn’t save any steak for him.
“Damn, being able to have a meal like this makes it all worth it!” There wasn’t much decent food in the Underground City. Even if they managed to acquire ingredients, they were usually just simply cooked. Bald man had almost forgotten what chicken, duck, fish, or any other food actually tasted like.
The commotion caused by Strawberry Sweet Doughnuts lightened the atmosphere in the carriage.
Everyone else also seized the opportunity to replenish their energy.
The challenge level was still ongoing. There was no turning back. They could only strive to reach the end.
During the rush at the challenge entrance, boarding the subway, and fighting for the keys, time had flown by rapidly. Now that they finally had a moment to relax, it seemed like time was passing slowly.
Zheng Luozhu hadn’t touched a single drop of water or a grain of rice. He just stared at the countdown, feeling anxious.
Nan Ge noticed that he hadn’t eaten anything and asked, “What’s wrong?”
Zheng Luozhu sighed: “What should I do? Every time I see the countdown, I get nervous.”
Nan Ge understood and handed him a cupcake, showing rare tenderness: “Have something sweet. It can help you relax.”
Zheng Luozhu looked at the small cake hesitantly but didn’t take it. “What if it’s poisoned?”
Nan Ge: “……You better stay anxious then.”
Strawberry Sweet Doughnuts, several meters away, didn’t hear the earlier conversation but only caught the words “poisoned.”
The six of them stared at the empty plates：“……”
Tan Hua raised his hand and asked, “Why didn’t any of us consider the possibility of poison?”
Melancholic center-parted hair, sipping on his red wine, commented, “Yeah, our vigilance is way too low.”
Bald man: “Since we’re already poisoned, Wheat, you might as well fetch me the roast chicken from that table up front.”
Wheat-skinned young man: “Are you sure you want me to get it?”
Bald man: “Never mind, I’ll do it myself. If I wait for you then the chicken will be just bones.”
Air sniper looked at Guan Lan.
Guan Lan tilted his head and blinked, “a. Leave the group. b. Bear with it. c. The team members weren’t my choice.”
Air sniper spoke with a clear voice, “c is also an option?”
Guan Lan smiled charmingly, “No, I’m just trying to clear my own name.”
The door leading to the next carriage opened on time.
Originally, they were worried that something unexpected might happen, like a sudden hint that they would have to fight each other again.
But nothing of the sort occurred.
The fourteen individuals, including the VIP team of four, Strawberry Sweet Doughnuts with six members, Cui Zhan, He Lu, Zhou Yunhui, and Lu Jue, entered the next carriage one by one.
As Lu Jue entered last, the door closed behind them.
The new carriage was grand and luxurious. If the previous dining carriage still retained a bit of a “carriage” feeling, this one was entirely different.
There were no windows, no seats, only dazzling crystal chandeliers, intricately patterned wool carpets, elegantly designed floor candelabras, along with paintings and sculptures lining both sides. Being in this environment was like walking through the corridors of a medieval palace.
At the end of the corridor was another door, but in front of it stood a sculpture, as if it was guarding the entrance.
The sculpture depicted a majestic man seated on a throne, with two crows perched on his shoulders and two ferocious wolves lying at his feet.
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