Late Night Kitty hugged the portable speaker and whimpered, ”But it ’s uh…
it ’s festive, isn ’t that nice? ”

”I don ’t care about festive, all I know is that we look like complete imbeciles trying to have a serious conversation while this upbeat nonsense is playing! ”

”Oh. ” Late Night Kitty raised a hand cautiously.
”What if I picked a different song? I ’ll find something suitable, I prom— ”

”Here, use these. ”

Before she could finish, Bai Zhi whipped out a pair of wireless headphones and stuffed it right into her arms.

Temperance Gentleheart made a face.
”…Just how much more do you have in your inventory? I thought we only had thirty slots in a basic Inventory… ”

”Just essential adventuring supplies.
I ’ve got homemade white phosphorus bombs, and what else…
ah, digestive tablets! You want digestive tablets*? ” Bai Zhi said with a straight face.

Temperance was speechless.

”A large backpack can contain quite a lot, ” Mustachio began.
”but the backpack itself only takes up one space in the Inventory.
This is information freely available on the Player ’s Forum, which is on the Dark Web. ”

He sighed deeply.
”Very well, cards on the table.
I ’ve decided to come clean.
I am a new Player, but also a member of the Official National Forces.
To secure my chances of a successful Newbie Run, before starting the quest, I was able to rent some equipment. ”

”The National Forces/Player ’s Forum? ” said Temperance Gentleheart and Late Night Kitty, respectively, at the same time.

Mustachio ’s revelation had captured their full attention.
Bai Zhi alone seemed unsurprised.

”Yes, I received my Player status a week ago, and three days after that, I was discovered by the National Team.
I chose to join them. ” Mustachio said candidly, showing that he meant his word.

”I trust you ’ve all heard about the proliferation of supernatural or bizarre incidents occurring all over the world? ” These incidents started occurring frequently three months ago, and that ’s when Players came into existence.
Naturally, the powers that be could not overlook such important events.
Thus, nations all over the world would come to establish official organizations dedicated to dealing with such matters. ”

Late Night Kitty raised a hand.
”Is it called the Dragons of the Orient? ” she asked with sparkling eyes.

The proper name is The Concerning Department. ”

Even Mustachio cringed as he said it.

”All in all, joining The Concerning Department offers many benefits.
With the ongoing increase in Impossible entities, the world is sinking ever deeper into crisis, and Players, the only ones with the power to fight them, are more needed than ever.
If you all wish to join, I can give you a phone number.
After the Newbie Run, just dial it and someone will walk you through the rest. ”

”That ’s not important right now…
What equipment did you get? ” asked Bai Zhi.
”Logically, I don ’t expect equipment, even rented ones, to come cheap. ”

”You ’re right.
Equipment is key to staying alive, but if a Player loses their life during the Newbie Run, their equipment disappears with them.
It ’s a risk that the Concerning Department has to bear. ”

Mustachio hesitated for a moment, then nodded firmly.

”I acquired a Rare defensive item for the duration of this quest and it cost me a million yuan. ”

Late Night Kitty didn ’t appear surprised by that, but Temperance Gentleheart ’s jaw dropped to the floor.
”One million…
Do all rental equipment get that expensive? ”

Mustachio shook his head.
”What ’s important to a Player isn ’t regular money anymore, it ’s levels, equipment, and coins.
Anyway, here ’s the thing.
It has a pretty special effect… ”

He took out a small, intricately woven bamboo doll from his Inventory.

[ Item Name: Bamboo Doll ]

[ Type: Special Item ]

[ Class: Rare ]

[ Description: A doll made of bamboo strips woven together.
Creates a clone of itself every 72 hours, up to a maximum of four clones.
Each clone can nullify any single attack within 200 meters of the main body, and this effect can only be triggered once per clone.

[ Requirements: Intelligence of 11 or above ]

[ Note: Praised by everyone who ’s ever used it.

In many ways, the usefulness of this special item justified its astonishing million-yuan rental price tag.

Temperance Gentleheart ’s eyes widened in surprise as she read the description.
”So back then, you… ”

Mustachio nodded enthusiastically.
”Indeed, I feel fortunate that this Bamboo Doll came together with four clones ready to be used.
And then there were three…
Well, I can handle losing a charge of protection, but losing a teammate, especially so soon, is something I could never bear. ”

He turned to look directly at Bai Zhi.
”I was hoping that this item would help me clear this Newbie Run with an S rank, but it looks like if I ’d kept it a secret, we were at risk of a complete wipeout. ”

Bai Zhi nodded and snapped his fingers.
”Okay! Now that that ’s out of the way, let ’s get down to business.

”Everyone, remember to stay away from reflective surfaces.
Most of them were covered up on this floor, but that may not be the case upstairs.
We have two pieces of the body, and it looks like we need four more.
It ’s our only lead right now, so let ’s gather those parts quickly and see if we can use them to defeat the spirit. ”

”Not again… ” Late Night Kitty lamented as she stood up from the couch.
After a moment ’s thought, she grabbed the headphones that Bai Zhi had given her earlier with both hands and put them firmly on her head.
It was small consolation, but it was the best she could do.

”Wait, but the clones—aren ’t you going to ask for one? ” asked Mustachio, startled to find that everyone else was ready to move on.

He simply could not understand why they were not making a bigger fuss out of something that could instantly save a Player from certain death.

Temperance reached a hand out, saying, ”They will come to our rescue even if they ’re in your hands, right? You must know, I ’m ever so grateful that you saved my life. ”

Mustachio was momentarily stunned, but suddenly, he shook Temperance ’s hand and declared, ”Hearts and minds together, everyone, let ’s clear this Newbie Run! ”

Bai Zhi had been staring out the window trying to gauge the time they had left.
On Mustachio ’s cue, he said, ”Yes… Here ’s the plan.

”We ’ve covered the first floor, and we learned the locations of two body parts, one of which is a head.
Assuming four limbs and a torso, that leaves four parts, spread out between the second floor and the rooftop level.
Kitty and I will take the second floor, you two take roof, any objections? ”

Suddenly and apropos of nothing, Late Night Kitty remarked out loud, ”Ah…
looking for a dead person ’s body parts in an abandoned villa deep in the mountains in the middle of a raging storm…
Why do I get the feeling we ’re becoming something like a bunch of perverts…? ”

Bai Zhi turned and gave her a stern look.
Lifting the headphones so she could hear him, he said, ”No, you need to embrace it confidently.
We are a bunch of perverts. ”

Late Night Kitty could only blink in response.

*Refers to 健胃消食片, a type of traditional Chinese supplement.
Main ingredients include: 太子参 (false starwort), 陈皮 (dried tangerine peel), 山药 (Chinese yam), 炒麦芽 (toasted malt), and 山楂 (Chinese hawthorn).

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