A chill shot down Xiao Lou’s spine when he heard Liu Qiao’s words. He thought of his dream that contained the adult versions of himself and suddenly realized that if Liu Qiao saw Xiao Lou, it was likely to be a—
No matter whether it was the 4th Xiao Lou or a 5th or 6th copied from the 4th Xiao Lou…
In short, Xiao Lou was certain he had never seen Liu Qiao in this secret room but Liu Qiao confidently said that she had met him. This meant that the clone next to Liu Qiao was very similar to Xiao Lou and could deceive her.
Xiao Lou’s pupils shrank and he hurriedly asked in his mind, “Xiao Liu, where did you see him? What did he say to you?”
Liu Qiao was puzzled. She was just about to answer when there was a knock at the door. She got up and opened the door. The moment Liu Qiao opened the door, she met a pair of black, clear eyes. These eyes were looking at her with an extremely kind and gentle gaze.
Xiao Lou stood in front of her and asked, “You haven’t slept yet?”
“…Yes, I can’t sleep.”
Xiao Lou entered her room and placed a plate of snacks on the table. “I just came from Old Gui and brought some of your favorite snacks.”
Liu Qiao stared at the snacks on the table. “Thank you… I’m not hungry.”
She was a bit confused and tried to connect to Xiao Lou with the mental connection. “Professor Xiao? Aren’t you sitting across from me? Why do you want to talk to me with the Heart has a Tacit Exchange of Romantic Feelings?”
Sitting across from her?
Xiao Lou felt even colder at the thought that someone who was exactly like him was sitting facing Liu Qiao. He hurriedly said, “Xiao Liu, be careful. The Xiao Lou you see isn’t real. He is a clone!”
This matter was too complicated and Xiao Lou summed it up as quickly as possible. “My identity is the prince of the Locke Empire. In order to select the best heir, my father launched the Noah’s Ark project 20 years ago in which he cloned hundreds of Xiao Lous. There are currently four known surviving Xiao Lous. The one you have encountered is probably number four. I’m not sure if there will be more clones in the future or not.”
Liu Qiao, “……”
Just then, the Xiao Lou sitting in front of her sighed in a helpless manner. “If only my card pack wasn’t stolen, I would be able to contact Hanjiang and the others. Xiao Liu, why don’t you go out to the sea as soon as possible, find the others first and bring them back to the merfolk’s palace? We can find a way after we gather together.”
Who should she trust?
Liu Qiao’s heart tensed and she gently clenched her fists under the table to keep herself calm. She heard herself saying calmly, “It is better to discuss the matter with Senior Gui and the others. I don’t know where to find them alone. If I get lost, won’t it be more troublesome?”
Xiao Lou smiled slightly. “Yes, we will discuss it tomorrow.”
Liu Qiao’s mind was messy. The Xiao Lou in front of her was exactly the same as the Professor Xiao in her memory. His movements, voice and even his facial expressions and tone… how could he be fake?
She never would’ve doubted the Xiao Lou in front of her if it wasn’t for the Xiao Lou who suddenly connected to her with Heart has a Tacit Exchange of Romantic Feelings.
She had seen Xiao Lou on the first day she entered the secret room.
According to the setting, Xiao Lou was her brother and the successor of the merpeople’s kingdom. Liu Qiao was the mermaid princess.
Several human bones were found on a shipwreck deep in the sea. They launched an investigation into the case and found that this shipwreck didn’t belong to the Azure Empire…
Now another Xiao Lou told her that clones existed in this world?
Liu Qiao was stunned and continued to communicate with Xiao Lou through the Heart has a Tacit Exchange of Romantic Feelings connection. “How can I believe you?”
“I have the Qin Guan card and can establish this connection with you. Isn’t this proof enough?”
Liu Qiao calmly told him, “The Professor Xiao I know said that on the first day he came to his secret room, he went to investigate a shipwreck in the sea and his card pack was stolen. As a result, he can’t contact Group Leader Yu.”
Xiao Lou, “……”
Liu Qiao’s words made Xiao Lou feel like he had fallen into an ice cellar.
The clone actually knew about the card pack and knew Yu Hanjiang’s name? It was impossible for people in the secret room to know their team. The only explanation was that—
The Xiao Lou by Liu Qiao’s side was likely to be a hunter!
Seeing Xiao Lou’s face turn pale, Yu Hanjiang hurriedly held his hand and asked in a low voice, “What is the situation?”
“I connected to Liu Qiao but she said that Professor Xiao is sitting opposite her. This man knows the situation of our team very well and even made up an excuse that his card pack was stolen so he couldn’t contact you.”
Ye Qi’s mouth dropped open. “There is a Xiao Lou by Liu Qiao’s side? She believes that Xiao Lou instead of you?”
Xiao Lou shook his head. “No, she had doubts about both of us. After all, the excuse that the other Xiao Lou made up can explain his circumstances. The card pack was stolen and maybe it was stolen from me. More importantly, that man knows the information of our team well. I suspect he is a hunter.”
Lu Jiuchuan’s expression was very ugly as he clenched his fists and gritted his teeth. “The hunters have found out the situation of our team?”
Tang Ci opened his mouth. “In last week’s World Weekly, they sent people to follow us to the headless general’s tomb. Both Xiao Liu and I were small at the time and Long Sen and Qu Wanyue used the Chameleon card to integrate with the environment but… perhaps they have figured out the configuration of our team through an unknown method?”
Lu Jiuchuan wondered, “They even know most of our cards?”
Tang Ci’s eyes seemed frozen as he stared at the dark sea. “Information probably leaked from the Intelligence Bureau.”
The group sucked in a breath.
Tang Ci’s Intelligence Bureau database contained information about all the challengers, including their team.
In the beginning, Lu Jiuchuan had found Yu Hanjiang and Xiao Lou by relying on the information network of the Intelligence Bureau. He had Tang Ci invade the official household registration office of the Card World and found the ID numbers of all outsiders, allowing him to find challengers this way.
Tang Ci spoke with a blank expression, “Brother Jiu wanted to reorganize the team and once again challenge the S-grade secret rooms to return to the real world. He saw the news that Yu Hanjiang and Xiao Lou broke the world records and asked me to follow the two of you closely. So on the day you came to the City of the Moon, Old Gui sent someone to pick you up at the airport.”
Xiao Lou naturally remembered this matter. At the time, they suspected that Old Gui had a problem. Then they learned that Old Gui was Brother Jiu’s teammate. Xiao Lou glanced at Tang Ci. “Mr Tang, you mean that you have the details of everyone on the contract book?”
Tang Ci nodded. “Yes.”
Otherwise, Lu Jiuchuan couldn’t be reassured when teaming up with them.
Lu Jiuchuan smiled bitterly. “Sorry, this matter can’t be blamed on Xiao Tang. It was my idea. Hanjiang and Xiao Lou repeatedly refreshed the world records. I naturally believed in your abilities but I wasn’t familiar with your other teammates. Therefore, I checked the information of the people on your contract book in detail…”
Ye Qi shook his head. “Brother Jiu’s idea is right. Checking the situation of the other teammates before forming a team is being responsible. We can’t just casually form a team to break through. If a traitor were to join, it might lead to the whole team being annihilated.”
Lu Jiuchuan patted Ye Qi’s shoulder. “It is good that you understand. Last time, I almost died in J of Clubs. I had to be more cautious when reorganizing the team so I had Xiao Tang organize your details… this included the cards you drew as well as your real-world identities and jobs.”
Shao Qingge’s eyes narrowed. “Mr Tang, you suspect that this information was obtained by the hunters?”
Tang Ci answered, “I was worried about the information leaking and deleted it after seeing it with Brother Jiu. However, since I am a hacker and can invade other people’s computers, it follows that my computer can also be infected with viruses.” He bowed. “I’m sorry, it was my negligence.”
Lu Jiuchuan gently hugged his shoulder and didn’t say anything.
Tang Ci had experienced the most terrible Nightmare Room. He had his legs cut off and needed to rely on a wheelchair with restricted mobility for half a year. It was different for people who hadn’t personally experienced his suffering to empathize with him.
He was strict with his new teammates so it was natural for him to find out everyone’s details.
The information leakage wasn’t the result he wanted.
Lu Jiuchuan definitely wouldn’t blame Tang Ci but he was afraid their teammates would start to doubt him. After all, the information was likely to be leaked from Tang Ci…
Yu Hanjiang spoke softly, “Now isn’t the time to hold people accountable. Even if the information on Mr Tang’s computer wasn’t stolen by hunters, the Hunter’s League has other channels to find our information. You aren’t the only hacker in this world. If you can find this information then other people can as well. We don’t blame you, so you don’t need to feel guilty.”
Tang Ci felt warm and raised his head to look at Yu Hanjiang. “Thank you.”
Lu Jiuchuan gave his younger brother an appreciative look before saying, “That’s right, hunters always have a way to find our information. Let’s first think about how to solve the current problem.”
“It will be bad if Liu Qiao believes the clone over Professor Xiao!” Ye Qi anxiously pulled his hair. Suddenly, his eyes lit up and he turned to Shao Qingge. “By the way, don’t we also have a Qin Guan card? We can also connect to Liu Qiao and tell her that we are with the real Professor Xiao!”
Shao Qingge nodded. He took out the Qin Guan card copied previously and tried to establish a mental connection with Liu Qiao.
However, a message suddenly popped up in his floating box. “The card skill has failed to release. There is a card skill shielding magnetic field within 10 kilometers.” At almost the same time, Xiao Lou received the notification, “The Heart has a Tacit Exchange of Romantic Feelings connection has been interrupted. There is a card skill shielding magnetic field within 10 kilometers.”
Xiao Lou’s expression changed. “The connection between us and Liu Qiao was probably discovered by the other person. The ‘Xiao Lou’ next to Liu Qiao might have a very strong card that can block card skills over a large area.”
In the imperial palace, Yu Hanjiang and Xiao Lou could connect to each other outside the palace. The palace only banned the usage of new cards. The skills already used were still in effect. Now the card shielding magnetic field actually caused all the activated skills to lose their effect?
This was the strongest hunter they had ever encountered. The key was that the other side had Xiao Lou’s face…
Ye Qi was worried. “It’s over. The other person noticed that we were using cards. Will something happen to Liu Qiao?”
Xiao Lou remained calm. “The stronger the skills, the more restrictions there will be. This is a large-scale magnetic field and the duration won’t be too long. Otherwise, the hunters can turn all our cards useless and we will have no chance of winning at all.”
Lu Jiuchuan agreed. “Skills with such a large range and strong effects should last for less than 10 minutes.”
Shao Qingge watched as the Qin Guan card turned gray and spoke regretfully, “Unfortunately, Heart has a Tacit Exchange of Romantic Feelings has failed. The cooldown time is 24 hours and it can only be used tomorrow morning…”
Xiao Lou added, “I am the same. The skill can be used once in 24 hours. Now that it is interrupted, we will have to wait until the early hours of tomorrow morning.”
This was 24 hours. What would ‘Xiao Lou’ do to Liu Qiao and the others within this time?
Liu Qiao should be wary of this Xiao Lou but after all, he had Xiao Lou’s face. Besides, if Senior Gui and Old Mo were also merpeople, they didn’t know that Xiao Lou was a clone. If Xiao Lou stabbed them in the back, wouldn’t Gui Yuanzhang and Mo Xuemin be killed?
The more Xiao Lou thought about it, the more anxious he became.
For every second of delay, their teammates could be in more danger. What should he do?
Xiao Lou lowered his head and thought carefully. Then his eyes lit up. “I almost forgot. I still have Su Shi.”
Ye Qi wondered, “Su Shi? I remember he has the skill to make dongpo pork. His dongpo pork is particularly delicious.”
Apart from the Dongpo Pork, Su Shi’s strongest skills were actually the first and second skills.
The first skill was When did the Bright Moon First Appear? It made the current scene a full moon night and forced all the people at the scene to enjoy the moonlight for one minute. The full moon night would last for eight hours until dawn and it was currently the only scene change card.
The second skill was Thousands of Years’ Worth of Historical Figures. It would immediately reset the skill cooldowns of all character cards within 100 meters.
Su Shi was equivalent to the captain of the character cards and he could refresh the skills of all character cards.
Qin Guan’s Heart has a Tacit Exchange of Romantic Feelings was currently on cooldown and he couldn’t establish a connection with Liu Qiao. However, Su Shi could immediately refresh the cooldown of Qin Guan’s skill.
Su Shi’s second skill could only be released once in every secret room but now was the most critical moment.
Xiao Lou decisively said, “Once the card magnetic shielding is over, I will summon Su Shi.”
Proofreader: Paranoid Ktten & Fictional Reality