A lot could be done with one million yuan.

In a normal world, without the threat of supernatural entities, a sudden windfall of one million yuan could ensure that the recipient never had to worry about food or clothing, but since this world was becoming increasingly dangerous, the value of money had dropped.

After all, a rich dead man was still a dead man.
What use was his money then? Humans don ’t enter the world with money, and neither does money go with them when they leave it.
If no amount of money could absolutely guarantee one ’s safety, what use was it all?

This was also the main reason why the game currency exchange rate stayed incredibly high.

There was only one way to acquire items in the game ’s Marketplace, and that was to buy them with game currency.
For the right price, Players could obtain a wide variety of items, ranging from something as trivial as a screw to something as titanic as a space battleship.
Naturally, the more expensive items could not be obtained without astronomical amounts of cash.

From the information on the secret forum, Bai Zhi gleaned that the Marketplace, sometimes called the Shop, refreshed its stock of ten items every month.
The items could be of varying power levels, and each player got their own unique selection.

There were healing items that could cure various afflictions, wards against attacks by supernatural entities, enchanted dolls that could automatically trade places to take an otherwise-fatal hit for the Player, and many more.

Getting a good item in the Shop was one thing—having enough money to buy it was another thing entirely.
Those who joined large guilds could manage, but it was not easy for lone wolf Players to accrue the necessary wealth.
Healing and defensive items were always in high demand, and could be obtained on the black market—for an arm and a leg.

I have got to start working out.
I can ’t stand looking at these abysmal physical stats.
Not like I ’m trying to be Mr.
Universe, but I have to have an average physique, at least.

After buying some items off a certain online retailer, Bai Zhi felt the urge to login to the Players ’ forum on the Dark Web.
Even though it didn ’t mention anything particularly valuable to him right now, like what Sanity was, there was already plenty to learn about basic features of the game—so much that he spent the next three days doing just that.

He barely left the room in that time, had all his meals delivered, but also received a whole bunch of other packages.

After three days, things returned to normalcy on campus, with no further incidents, but the students who had been attacked by the supernatural entity and sent to the hospital for treatment were still unconscious.
Medically speaking, they were comatose.

Bai Zhi had a hunch that the key to bringing the students back lay in that [ Shadowland Perpetual Deed ], but his first priority was his upcoming Newbie Run.

As the 72 hours on Bai Zhi ’s New Player Immunity ran out, a new screen showed up before his eyes.

[ New Player Protection Expired, Mandatory Quest assigned ]

[ Type: Scenario ]

[ Name: Between Illusion and Truth ]

[ Objective: Survive until daybreak ]

[ Time Limit: 6 hours ]

[ Reward 1: 200 Base EXP ]

[ Reward 2: Coins x500 ]

[ Reward 3: Random Skill Card (Rare) x1 ]

[ Note: Rewards may vary depending on Player performance ]

[ Players have 3 hours to prepare.
At the end of that time, Players will be automatically transported to Quest Instance.

Bai Zhi frowned as he read the quest details.
Survive until daybreak? What a difficult quest right off the bat…

Most Newbie Runs were basically puzzle-solving challenges which posed a low risk of only moderate danger.
Survival-type quests, on the other hand, were difficult to complete for Players who lacked the stats, the skills, and the equipment, and if the other party members didn ’t pull their own weight, a complete wipeout was not hard to imagine.

The quest ’s cryptic name gave away no further clues, whereas the quest rewards were all standard issue for Newbie Runs.
Nonetheless, they were important rewards.

The value of experience points and coins were obvious, but the most important reward was the Rare skill card.
Skills were of utmost importance to a Player, more so than equipment.

Skills and equipment could belong to one of seven ranks, from worst to best: [ Flawed ], [ Normal ], [ Rare ], [ Elite ], [ Perfect ], [ Epic ], and [ Legendary ].
However, no Player had ever gotten any skills that ranked above Perfect.

Skills were more precious than equipment, because while equipment could be bought from the Shop, skills were obtained only by completing quests or winning an auction.

Even skill cards of [ Flawed ] quality were instantly snapped up when they appeared at the Auction, they were that valuable.
And the only quest that offered a guaranteed Rare skill card as a reward was the quest that all Players encountered once and only once—the Newbie Run.

The card given as the reward for this quest was Untradeable and could only be used by the Player who earned it, and only those who did earn it were considered Verified Players.

All Mandatory Quests, like this one, had a modifier for a Player ’s performance.
Performance was evaluated against some criteria defined by the system, and the final result was a ranking—D for the worst performance, S for the best.

Getting a D rank would halve the experience and currency rewards, while for C, B and A rank, the Player would receive 80%, 100% and 120% of the reward.
Getting an S rank would net the Player a whopping 150% of the reward.

For example, if you completed this quest with an S rank, then you would get 300 experience points and be 750 coins richer.

If you got a D rank, well sorry, but you would only get 100 experience points and a measly 250 coins.
Even so, the system was considerate, in a sense.
The experience needed to go from Level 1 to Level 2 was exactly 100 points, so a D rank completion would mean a level-up and access to the Shop.
However, with 250 coins, it was unlikely you would be getting anything good out of it.

Between Illusion and Truth…

Bai Zhi drummed his fingers on the desk as the gears of his mind began to turn.

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