Finding a job was impossible for Shi Jin. He didn't finish high school and was not yet eighteen years old.
Even when he tried to do manual labor, people would complain about his weight.
It seemed like the only way he could survive was by playing mahjong. The elderly people at the mahjong parlor were very generous and kind, and Shi Jin loved being there.
"Self-drawn, I win!" Shi Jin confidently threw down an eight of bamboo tile and pushed his tiles forward.
He smiled at his wailing opponents and said, "Thank you, bosses. If you need me, I'll be here until six."
Then he looked back at the old man standing behind him and his smile became even more charming. "Uncle Huang, I helped you win some money!"
Uncle Huang, who had just witnessed his winning hand, patted Shi Jin's shoulder and exclaimed, "You're a mahjong god reincarnated! You can win with anyone you play with. Here, take this as your hard-earned reward."
He then took the money from the table that Shi Jin had just won and handed him two red bills.
Shi Jin beamed with joy and quickly accepted the money, thanking Uncle Huang before standing up and saying, "You guys keep playing. I'll head out first."
"Sure, go ahead," Uncle Huang waved him off with a smile, watching as Shi Jin left before sitting back down at the table, happily continuing his game.
Having stayed busy until six o'clock, Shi Jin carried his purchased ingredients and leisurely boarded the bus.
It had been over a month since he escaped from the hospital. During this time, he traveled to several cities, worked odd jobs, sold goods on the street, and even bought lottery tickets. With his unwavering determination, he managed to survive through the toughest half of the month.
After careful consideration, he decided to hide in Y province, located on the border of China, where he found a temporary job helping a friend at a mahjong parlor.
Although the job had a complicated work environment and an unstable income, it allowed him to leave at any time without requiring any capital or formal registration. This was perfect for his current situation, where he needed to hide his tracks.
While making a living, he also kept an eye on the situation at home. Ruihang was a big company, and changes in management were big news. By casually flipping through the international financial news, he could see a lot of news about the Shi family.
As expected, after he gave up his inheritance, Shi Weichong forcefully took over Ruihang and suppressed the small actions of the deputy director Xu Tianhua with thunderous means, becoming the new president of Ruihang.
It was only then that the outside world finally learned that this business tycoon who had shone brightly in the China in recent years was actually the son of the business giant Shi Xingrui.
"Shi Weichong is really powerful. He managed to deal with Shi Xingrui's old team in just one month. How can I compete with him?" Shi Jin poked at his newly bought knockoff phone, looking at the imposing Shi Weichong in the news photos, and nervously touched his scarred arm.
Xiao Si comforted him, "After Shi Weichong completely takes control of Ruihang, your death value directly dropped to 880."
"Well, that's the only good news," Shi Jin closed the news and looked at the scenery outside the window, sighing softly.
After he no longer had a sword hanging over his neck, he spent some time getting to know the world in the book. To his surprise, he found that the world in the book was subtly different from the world he lived in, despite sharing a similar overall background.
For example, in the book, the country of Hua allowed guns and even permitted certain violent organizations to exist legally.
This was unbelievable to him. In his past life as a police officer, not all officers were allowed to carry guns.
"Jin Jin, when are you planning to meet your five brothers again?" Xiao Si suddenly asked.
Jin Jin snapped out of his thoughts and replied after some consideration, "At least wait until my death value drops to around 700, and leave each brother with more than 50 points of buffer. Otherwise, it's too risky."
"What's your plan for bringing the points down?"
"I still need to plan it out," replied Shi Jin. He had come up with a tentative plan, but he still needed to refine it. After all, this was a matter of life and death, and he couldn't afford to be careless.
"Um, um..." Xiao Si suddenly stuttered, suggesting in a small voice, "Since we have some free time, why don't we go look for the owner of the other progress bar?"
Shi Jin was taken aback, glancing at the inactive progress bar in his mind. He smacked his lips and nodded decisively, "Sure, how do we find that precious treasure of yours? Do you have any leads?"
As fellow wanderers in this strange world, it wouldn't hurt to have another companion on their journey to self-preservation.
"Wah wah wah, Jin Jin, you're so good to me! I love you so much! I want to give birth to monkeys for you!" Xiao Si was so excited that it couldn't speak coherently.
Shi Jin had a solemn expression on his face. "You're a good system, but I just can't get it up for you, so... I'm sorry."
Xiao Si: "..."
Shi Jin, feeling a bit guilty, asked, "You haven't told me how to find your precious treasure yet. Can you give me a clue or a hint so I can do my best to find them?"
Xiao Si's voice was mechanical and numb. "Fate."
"What?" Shi Jin didn't understand.
"The clue and hint to finding my precious treasure is fate," Xiao Si explained.
Shi Jin felt a sense of despair. "Are you serious?"
"More serious than your self-draw* today," Xiao Si replied.
*T/N: Referring to his mahjong play earlier.
Shi Jin: "..."
He continued to look out the window with a world-weary expression, feeling that the future was bleak. As the sky turned dark, the bus finally arrived at its destination - a run-down park on the brink of abandonment.
With his groceries in hand, Shi Jin got off the bus and made his way around the park's entrance, turning onto a small hill behind it and entering a small cottage nestled on the mountainside.
He had stumbled upon this house by chance. Despite its dilapidated exterior and overgrown surroundings, the interior was well-equipped with a bed, table, kitchen utensils, and full utilities. There was even a separate bathroom in the basement. If one ignored the environment outside, it was quite comfortable to live in.
According to the old man guarding the park entrance, this house used to belong to a park-keeper. However, when a wealthy person bought the neighboring mountains and turned them into orchards, the park-keeper was sent away and the house was abandoned.
Shi Jin was very poor. After confirming that the room was unoccupied, he moved in with his few belongings.
Today's income was good. Uncle Huang needed to leave from time to time to pick up his granddaughter/grandson, go home to feed his cat, or take care of his business. Each time he helped Uncle Huang, he would receive a few red tickets as compensation, and the earnings were not bad for a day.
After collecting the money he earned, Shi Jin made a simple bowl of noodles to fill his stomach. Then, he slaughtered the wild chicken he caught on the mountain yesterday, stuffed it with the spices and vegetables he bought today, and put it in a pot to stew on low heat. Satisfied, he lay down on his bed.
He fell asleep without realizing it, and in the middle of his dream, he was suddenly awakened by Xiao Si, "Jin Jin, someone is coming, several of them, and they look suspicious."
As soon as Shi Jin woke up, he immediately hid his cucumber pillow, which contained all his belongings and documents, under the bed. He then turned off the lights and walked quietly to the door, holding the knife he had bought, and looked outside through the crack in the door.
He met a pair of dark green eyes on the other side of the door, cold and icy, like the eyes of a wild beast.
Shi Jin was startled, but before he could react, a gust of wind suddenly came from behind him. Then, he felt a sharp pain in the back of his neck and knew nothing else.
Before losing consciousness, he only had one thought in his mind - he was so hungry, he wanted his wild chicken soup!
When he woke up again, Shi Jin found himself being dragged like a dead dog and taken into a stylishly decorated living room.
Several people were standing in the room, and when they saw him being brought in, the leader asked in a cold tone, "Is he awake?"
"It's almost time. Old Li knows what he's doing," the man who had been dragging him replied.
"You can go now," the man who had asked the question waved him off.
"Okay." The man who had been dragging him turned and left. With no obstruction, Shi Jin finally saw the three men standing not far away.
They were all tall and had ordinary, honest, or refined appearances. None of them looked suspicious, and they were all wearing the same type of neatly styled work clothes in military green. On the chest pocket was a small banana pattern, with the words "Flower Fruit Orchard" embroidered underneath.
Shi Jin's heart was filled with good fortune, and he shouted loudly, "I'm innocent! I didn't steal your fruit! Trust me, I'm a good person!"
Xiao Si who was about to warn him that the situation was not good: "..."
The atmosphere froze for a moment. The refined man who had been questioning before twitched his face and stepped forward, pressing down on Shi Jin's chest and asking in a deep voice, "Who sent you?"
Shi Jin grunted in pain as the man's foot landed on him, but as he looked up at the refined man's face, he suddenly felt a sense of familiarity.
After scrutinizing him carefully, he couldn't believe what he saw and exclaimed, "You're... Uncle Huang?"
Old Huang from the mahjong parlor was always kind and generous. Although his hair had turned white, he was still full of vitality and always stood up straight, without the hunchbacked posture that many elderly people had. The refined man in front of him was young and energetic, completely different from Old Huang.
However, as a police officer, Shi Jin was trained to recognize people not by their age or appearance, but by their bone structure and eyes. He quickly identified the man's identity. As soon as he was called out for his disguise, the man with the refined face's expression changed.
He reached out and grabbed Shi Jin's chin, shouting, "Stop pretending! You deliberately approached me at the contact point, then loitered around the base. Your background and identity are all fake. Tell me, what do you want to do and who sent you here?"
What contact point? What base? Shi Jin was dumbfounded, realizing that there must have been a misunderstanding.
He quickly explained, "I'm just a struggling minor. I don't understand what you're talking about."
"You still won't tell the truth? You'll have to face the consequences." The man with the refined face sneered, stood up, and pulled out a gun from his pocket. He loaded a bullet and aimed it at Shi Jin's head. "I'll give you one more chance. Say something I want to hear."
Damn, damn, damn!
As he stared wide-eyed, Shi Jin realized the danger of the gun. Cold sweat dripped down his forehead as he desperately tried to think of a way out. He must have been captured by some big shot and mistaken for an enemy spy. What was he going to do?
After a long silence, Xiao Si suddenly cried out, "Jin Jin, the progress bar is moving! It's already at 900!"
Shi Jin felt like crying. He never imagined that playing mahjong could lead to a threat on his life.
"You're not going to say anything?" The man with the refined face put his finger on the trigger and lightly caressed it. "I'll give you three seconds. One..."
"Ah! It's at 930!" Xiao Si screamed.
How could it be rising so quickly?
Shi Jin felt like he couldn't breathe, his chest tight and painful.
"Two..." The man with the refined face continued to count.
Xiao Si wailed, "950! 960! Jin Jin!!!"
Oh no! Shi Jin became even calmer in the face of danger, repeatedly thinking about the words the refined man with the gentle face had said that he wanted to hear.
Suddenly, a bright idea struck him and he shouted, "I am the younger brother of the new CEO of Ruihang! I am worth a lot and my background is complicated. You can't kill me!"
The refined man with the gentle face hesitated, lowered his gun, and looked at Shi Jin with suspicion.
"Ruihang? The one from overseas?"
Shi Jin nodded frantically. The refined man with the gentle face moved his foot aside, frowned, and looked in the direction of the other two companions. Shi Jin breathed a sigh of relief, coughed a few times while holding his chest, and followed the refined man with the gentle face's gaze.
As he looked, his eyes widened in disbelief. As the refined man looked around, he noticed a thin man in a wheelchair who had been standing motionless behind the other two men.
The man in the wheelchair glided forward, his pale skin and delicate features almost otherworldly. His phoenix eyes were upturned and lifeless, and he wore a black silk robe with red embroidered flowers that looked like blood spilled in the darkness.
Approaching the disheveled man, he asked softly, "Are you Shi Jin, the youngest son of Shi Xingrui?"
Shi Jin's lips trembled as he shifted his gaze from his clothes to his face, finally settling on the progress bar above his head.
He wanted to cry and laugh at the same time, his expression contorting as he exclaimed, "Baby!"
What are you doing here, and why is your death progress bar so full?