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    Asianovel

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    Chapter 84

    Oh no, oh no!

    The stealth time was almost up, but they still hadn't arrived yet!

    Barba crouched in the grass, her legs trembling as she gazed at the crowded players and cultists on the vast plaza nearby. The good news was that the players seemed to have regained their senses, implying that the hypnotic spell couldn't last long. The bad news was that the players were all tied up and surrounded by the cultists, seemingly destined to become sacrifices.

    The man at the center of the crowd, like the moon surrounded by stars, was Sauron. However, compared to the players' impression, this Sauron appeared younger, with intact limbs and a straight back, giving off an overall sense of greater strength.

    Barbara dared not linger too long, fearing discovery; a stealth operation like this could last at most half an hour, and time was running out.

    Oh no, oh no, are the Black Cat and the Druids going to make it? Can they? Why hasn't anyone arrived yet...

    As she fretted, footsteps echoed in the air, and Barbara heard them. Sauron, standing in the center of the square, lifted his head, looking towards the mist.

    Players and Miskatonic University students emerged from the fog. For two seconds, the cultists in the square fell silent, only to be followed by a mocking scoff from one of them.

    Indeed, compared to these fully-geared cultists, the players and the university students looked more like defeated soldiers, many of them still nursing injuries.

    But Sauron didn't laugh; on the contrary, his expression was grim.

    He had expected that plan to end with their deaths within the auditorium. Had something unforeseen occurred?

    Sauron's gaze fell upon the individuals in the group who were clearly not Miskatonic University students. These were the volunteers his subordinate had mentioned? And...

    Sauron chuckled softly. "What are you still doing there, Albert?"

    Extending his hand towards the blond youth from afar, he wore a bland smile that belied a sinister intent. "Come here, my boy. You've worked hard these past years."

    The Michigan team was visibly stunned, followed by an uproar. Students who knew Albert couldn't believe their ears as they asked, "Senior Albert, is this true?"

    "Senior, he's lying, right?"

    Albert didn't respond, but his silence spoke volumes.

    "Sigh, don't fall for it. Actually, Albert is a double agent; he's not all that bad."

    "Though it's true that Michigan's downfall did come because of him, that part isn't false."

    "Sigh, I was quite fond of Albert before, but now I favor MIT more, QWQ. That previous auditorium instance really touched me. Now, I can't help but feel resentment towards Albert for indirectly contributing to MIT's destruction."

    "Oh no, qwq why is that? Sunny, he's such a great guy."

    "He's no longer the embodiment of sunshine; since his identity was revealed, he's been a wolf in sheep's clothing here, qwq."

    Those closer to Albert instinctively distanced themselves, and within seconds, a small clearing formed around him. Only the red-haired youth remained standing in place, seemingly unaffected by the external influence. He turned his head to look at young Albert, who wore a blank expression, appearing indifferent to the rejection of those around him. However, Lane could discern the repression and anguish lurking beneath Albert's eyes.

    He had witnessed such a state from the other party once before.

    Indeed, it was during the previous main storyline, only then, Lane hadn't been aware of what had befallen Albert. In retrospect, he probably realized he'd been deceived by the Bureau of Investigation.

    All his sacrifices had been in vain, even aiding the enemy. Moreover, being an undercover agent was an intensely stressful task, pushing him to his limits.

    This is troublesome, Lane thought. Whatever he intended to do next, Albert would inevitably be at the core of his plan, for he was the master of this test, this dream. If Lane were to give up now, the chances of success would dwindle to nothing.

    Lane wished to console Albert, but the timing was unfavorable. After unsettling the morale at the University of Michigan, Soren pressed on with his countermeasures.

    One of the students, who had been slightly ahead, suddenly became blank-eyed. Then, with a sudden jolt, he attacked the nearest player.

    Player: "?? Wait, what's going on?"

    No one bothered to clarify the situation, and with traitors emerging from both the players and the Miskatonic University group, the once-organized ranks descended into chaos.

    Lenon immediately grasped Soren's strategy – first exposing Albert's betrayal and then manipulating individual students to further splinter the Miskatonic community.

    Even at this critical juncture, the man's caution was terrifyingly meticulous.

    But—

    The more one focuses on what's right in front, the more likely one overlooks the vulnerabilities in one's wake!

    As her stealth was about to wear off, Barbara didn't hesitate to strike Sauron with a vicious backstab!

    "Immerse yourself in my salty fish thrust!"

    Sauron's pupils constricted abruptly, but he reacted with utmost swiftness, seizing the weapon in Barbara's hand with a single hand.

    "Power Struggle: Failed" (Disparity too great)

    "Dodge: Failed"

    Two consecutive failures left Babba vulnerable as Soren seized her weapon, only to thrust the dagger straight into her heart.

    Babba spat out blood in confusion, then was overwhelmed by cultists who stabbed her relentlessly. Under the debuff of their overwhelming numbers, Babba's health bar plummeted dangerously close to zero. None of the surrounding cultists relented, their faces contorted with fury as they continued to stab, seemingly intent on turning Babba into minced meat.

    "Bab-ba..."

    "I'd love to say how tragically weak Babba died again, hahaha, achieving nothing once more. But this time, you actually made a difference!"

    Babba's laughter echoed wildly just before her demise, "Go for it, take them down!"

    Soren abruptly turned his head to witness the players, who were once tightly bound, breaking free from their constraints. Babba's stealthy strike was merely the epitome of her well-executed sneak attack, but her true mission had already been accomplished. While Soren was casting a hypnotic spell on the Mages and students, Babba had stealthily begun her move, slipping past the cultists undetected to join Nian and the others.

    The players instantly counterattacked, shifting the balance of power. As they freed themselves, the square became congested. Nian and the others, grabbing nearby sticks or branches, swung at Soren.

    Due to his excessive intervention, Soren was now unable to cast any long-preparation spells.

    But it mattered not, for he had an abundance of combat strength at his disposal.

    During Soran and the others’ early arrival at the square, they didn’t idly wait. Instead, they inscribed the Dream Inducing Rite onto every corner of the plaza.

    The mist thickened, and the eerie creatures, familiar yet alien to the players, emerged once more from its depths, indiscriminately slaughtering all human beings present.

    The initially segmented battlefield instantly descended into chaos. It was the players who first regained their composure. Yeyeyue yelled through the player channel, "Quickly exit the range of the Dream Inducing Ceremony's influence and dismantle it!"

    Uncle Hao: Try not to get hurt! Exit unscathed! The nature of these Dream Induction Rites essentially allows players to see the anomalies, be killed by them, and in turn, provide energy! Let's quietly apprehend the cultist as well, depriving him of his energy source!

    Aron: Noted!

    Of course, in theory, it was easy to say, but in reality, the challenge was immense. The cultists shared a similar madness with the players, caring little for their own injuries. It seemed as though they had received orders to drag players down with them, even at the cost of their lives.

    On the other hand, the players, bound by the constraint of not being able to die, found themselves somewhat hamstrung.

    As a result, the players found themselves in an awkward position, hesitant to perish easily while also striving not to slay the cultists, leaving them in a tight spot.

    The Druid, too, was battling valiantly below. Sliced multiple times by the cultists, blood gushed incessantly as he frantically sought a way out of the deadlock. At that moment, the viewers in the live stream encouraged him:

    "Hang in there, Druid! Big Boss Black Cat is coming with reinforcements!"

    "Indeed, hold on just a little longer, they'll be here soon!"

    The Druid was anxious. "No, tell them not to rush over. Sauron's Incursion Rite requires a large number of people as energy sources and stepping stones for the second phase. It's not better to have more people now; in fact, fewer would be preferable. Ah, we shouldn't have brought Master Mi and his students along if we had known!"

    The Druid was already regretting their decision. They were well aware of Sauron's setup, having experienced it once before, yet they still led everyone into this awkward situation.

    The Druid could faintly see that Master Mi's group was also being entangled by the strange occurrences. Of course, since they were located on the outskirts, they were dealing with only a D-class anomaly, which the students could manage with difficulty. However, this distance was far from secure!

    "Don't worry, do you think Black Cat Boss hasn't taken this into account?"

    "Black Cat: Dezi, not everyone lacks brains like you do."

    "A big shot's here! Quick, call him 'daddy!' Haha!"

    A stirrings touched the Druid's heart, and suddenly, a sound reached his ears – not just his, but everyone present. Was it rain?

    No, it wasn't. It was the fire suppression system of the grand square at Michigan University activating!

    Green liquid rained down from above, targeting the area where monsters, players, and cultists were concentrated. A refreshing fragrance emanated from the liquid, causing the frenzied individuals to slow their actions.

    No, they didn't want to slow down willingly; they were compelled to do so. As the liquid splashed, a profound drowsiness overpowered everyone's minds, making it impossible for them to keep their eyes open...

    The Druid was no exception. However, just before he completely lost consciousness, he suddenly grasped the Black Cat's strategy.

    Was it a gamble that if humans couldn't see the abnormalities, they wouldn't be harmed by them?

    This realization wasn't exclusive to the Druid. Nearby, Master Mithril, Aldrich, his eyes gleaming, sharply turned to Alexis. The small old man nodded solemnly and declared loudly, "Close your eyes, everyone! Don't look at the abnormalities under any circumstances! Whatever happens, do not open your eyes!"

    Simultaneously, Alexis began casting a Spell Barrier. He knew it was a high-stakes gamble, but given that a solution had been proposed, why not try it?

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