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    Asianovel

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    Chapter 94

    A thought stirred in Archie's heart, and he slowly turned his head to see Curry standing behind him. He must have come out from one of the small rooms in the basement, perhaps a lounge or restroom.

    Fortunately, Curry didn't seem to bear any ill intentions. After casting a casual glance at Archie, he turned to pour himself a cup of coffee from the machine on the other side and began drinking it without another word.

    "I thought you'd never come back here," Curry said as he sipped his coffee. "Didn't the last lesson teach you anything?"

    Archie knew Curry was referring to the previous interrogation, but he had returned for the purpose of gathering intelligence. Naturally, he couldn't reveal that. "Have they returned?"

    "No, not a single one. I doubt they will," Curry replied nonchalantly. "I've seen this scenario too many times. At the headquarters, less than 30% of investigators return unscathed from unknown realms."

    This was why Curry hadn't even considered rescue efforts back then. Even if the headquarters found out about Job's team's demise in the realm, they probably wouldn't have done anything.

    "Didn't you organize a rescue mission?"

    "Rescue? Perhaps in the past. I've heard that they used to do that. Every investigator trapped in a realm would be attempted to be rescued, and the survival rate was high. But that's not the case recently."

    Archie listened attentively. This was all crucial information from the Audit Bureau. "Why?"

    Kerry grinned. "Who knows? Perhaps there aren't enough capable hands, or perhaps that one decided they weren't worth saving."

    "Ask him," Lane suggested.

    "That one? Who do you mean?" Archie inquired cautiously.

    But Kerry only laughed. "I can't say; if I mention his name and he happens to be watching me, it wouldn't be good. Forget about getting any intel from me. The value of such information is beyond your imagination."

    Archie replied, "How do you know I can't afford it?"

    "You definitely can't, unless the people behind you want to negotiate with me," Kerry said, not wanting to elaborate further. "It's time for you to go."

    Archie pressed his lips together and mentally asked Lane, What should I do?

    Lane was also pondering. He didn't know much about Kerry Chapman. From Albert's fragmented memories, Kerry was an assistant professor at MIT, sharing the same curiosity about the unknown as all the faculty and students, along with extraordinary initiative. He might also have mysterious sources of information.

    From Archie's earlier description, although Kerry worked for the Investigative Bureau, his motives were unclear, and he had even disclosed to Archie that the bureau was pursuing Albert.

    In any case, Kerry seemed at least to be a double agent.

    Not to mention the photographs on the workbench.

    Lance deliberated for a few seconds and decided to take a chance.

    "Archie, would you mind staying in the Divine Kingdom for a while?"

    Archie was taken aback but instinctively replied, "Of course not."

    As he spoke, he sensed an immense will descending upon him. His original will seemed to be instantly squeezed out of his body, yet he didn't feel the slightest discomfort. Instead, a sense of joy originated from the depths of his soul.

    At the same time, Kley, who had just risen to see his guest off, froze abruptly.

    In the basement, an eerie and immense pressure suddenly spread, involuntarily stirring a nameless fear within people's hearts. The source of this bizarre aura was none other than the person standing before them.

    Archie lifted his face, and his once dark eyes now shimmered with a golden glow.

    "Why that expression? Weren't you keen on having a chat with me? Kley Chapman," 'Lance' smiled, "Sit down."

    Kley subconsciously followed his instructions, sitting down with a mix of fear and repressed excitement. That excitement stemmed from a scientist's thirst for exploring the unknown.

    Now, before him stood the greatest unknown in the world – an entity known as an Evil Deity.

    Cree didn't feel fear; he even felt a tinge of regret that Lahn wasn't his true self.

    "Of course, it's an honor," he said, licking his lips before sitting back down in his chair.

    "I wonder if I can afford your price right now."

    "You jest," Cree replied. "Your mere presence has already surpassed the value of any information I possess."

    "The person I mentioned earlier – the one everyone in the Audit Bureau refers to as 'that one' – is none other than the Director of the Audit Bureau. Their real name, gender, and age are all unknown, and they are the absolute core of the organization."

    Without hesitation, Cree revealed the information he had previously kept silent about.

    "The only thing we know for sure is that they possess a rather unique Origin Ability. Whenever they intervene, events unfold exactly as they desire. Thus, some within the bureau view them as hope, the future, or perhaps even fate itself."

    "Fate, huh…" Lahn murmured, recalling similar words he had heard before – from Soren or perhaps Kano.

    He remembered reading an official faction introduction on a website in his previous life.

    "In the annals of human history, there exists an organization that has perpetually transformed its identity and form, standing tall amidst the river of time, safeguarding the future of mankind for ages unknown."

    This description aptly fits the Bureau of Inspection, an entity that might have gone by different names in bygone eras – the Investigative Bureau, the Tribunal, the Adventurers' Mutual Aid Association. Nonetheless, at its core, its purpose remained the same: to uphold humanity's glory.

    Could there truly be an organization that could persist for such an extended period, outliving even nations that rise and fall within centuries? What grounds did this group have to endure so long?

    Unless the one leading it was not entirely human?

    At that moment, Lane noticed a flicker in Cree's eyes. This reaction...

    A sudden realization stirred within him, accompanied by the crisp sound of dice rolling in his mind.

    "Psychology: Success"

    Ordinarily, psychology rolls were conducted in secret, with players unaware of the outcome. However, Lane's dice was an exception; perhaps due to the nature of his power, he was privy to every roll's result.

    Upon achieving success in Psychology, he keenly detected an uneasiness in Cree's expression, as if there was more being concealed.

    After a moment's contemplation, Lane chuckled softly. "A familiar title indeed. Has It embarked on yet another game of make-believe?"

    "I had thought he'd given up on such trivial pursuits after the farce with the Adventurer's Guild," Lane remarked.

    The Adventurer's Guild was, in fact, the precursor to the Inquisition, an organization that existed around the medieval era. According to the game's lore from his past life, it was destroyed during an invasion by an evil deity.

    Lane had merely been probing Kris, and the outcome was clear: Kris didn't show any surprise, but rather, excitement flickered in his eyes.

    Indeed, He was an awakened ancient entity, Kris concluded.

    Initially, Kris had assumed the information provided by that person was false. After all, no one knew better than him that almost no deities had descended into the real world, for this world still lay under the watchful eye of Fate. Any signs of an evil deity's invasion would be swiftly eradicated.

    However, Lane's existence shattered his understanding.

    To be able to interact with such a magnificent being without having his mind corrupted—on the contrary, his creativity surged due to the adrenaline rush—Kris wished he could halt the air circulation in the basement, preserving this moment as part of his collection.

    Kris eagerly licked his lips, his previously disheartened expression instantly invigorated. "You're right, it is a childish game, but what can we do? Our beloved Lord Fate adores such pursuits."

    Fate.

    Upon hearing the term for the third time and considering the lengthy history of the Audit Bureau, Len almost firmly believed that the "Fate" mentioned in the myth referred to the current Director of the Audit Bureau.

    Moreover, judging from Kerry's reaction, this ability might not be inherited but had been possessed by Fate since thousands of years ago, surviving through the ages.

    What kind of ancient monster was this?

    Recalling the mythological tale of a 'god' bestowing the power of fate and Kerry's previous remarks, Len couldn't help but feel uneasy. Had he already caught their attention?

    "It seems I might meet this Fate quite soon," Len ventured cautiously, "That Eugene must be his secretary, right?"

    Cyrus pondered for a moment. "Yes, but if it is him, he probably wouldn't report this incident to Lord Destiny. For loyal dogs like them, it's not logical to botch a job and leave their master to clean up the mess. Besides, he hasn't returned yet, which suggests that he's likely outside, thinking of how to deal with you."

    "Deal with me?" Lane raised an eyebrow.

    "I also find him overconfident, but when you consider how the mentally unstable tend to behave, it's not surprising," Cyrus recalled the delusional individuals he'd encountered in the Investigative Bureau. "He has his reasons for doing so. From their perspective, they definitely don't want to see Mysteria University resurface. Therefore, he'll surely take measures, even if he can't directly target you, he could go after your followers. In fact, given Eugene's abilities, it might be more likely for him to exploit that angle. Hypnosis is almost ineffective against the bizarre, but it can be highly effective on humans."

    "Of course, I don't think he'll succeed."

    Lane looked thoughtfully at Cyrus and smiled. "Thank you for the information. What kind of reward would you like?"

    Kerry shook his head. "No payment is needed. It's been a pleasure just meeting you."

    "Is that so?" Upon hearing this, Lane didn't comment further. He controlled Archie's body to stand up. Kerry thought he was leaving, but instead, Lane walked over to Kerry's workbench, took up a pen, and wrote a sentence on a piece of paper. Then, he handed the note to Kerry.

    "This is my token of gratitude."

    With that, he turned around and left the basement via the staircase.

    Kerry looked down at the paper, which contained only a single sentence.

    'All is well at Michigan University.'

    He muttered, "How terrifying. An evil god who understands human hearts is just too much."

    He turned back to his workstation, booted up his computer, and opened a chat window.

    The chat room contained only one person, one of his few online acquaintances, the Gardener.

    Scientist: Just as you said, there's indeed a god behind Archie.

    Scientist: I wouldn't have dared to believe it.

    Gardener: We've known each other for so long. Would I ever deceive you?

    Scientist: Huh, do you think I've forgotten how many times you've tricked me?

    Gardener: ^-^

    Gardener: So, are you interested in making a change?

    Scientist: I am unwavering in my devotion to the Goddess of Science.

    Gardener: But the Goddess of Science doesn't grant you jolts of inspiration, or else you wouldn't have made a deal with the devil.

    Cree studied the words for a long while before placing his hand on the keyboard.

    Scientist: You want my soul? Today's not enough.

    Gardener: Have no fear. I'll show you Her true, radiant form.

    Upon sending that message, the Gardener logged off.

    Closing his laptop, Kerry opened the drawer of his workstation, which was filled with all sorts of miscellaneous documents – legends of deities from various regions and clues to the evil gods collected by the bureau.

    What was the essence of a god? It had been an ongoing debate for years, but Kerry had his own perspective. His mentor, who had once guided him, had directly confronted an embodiment of an evil god during an investigation and left behind a haunting phrase before taking his own life with a gunshot.

    'They are the rules, the truth itself.'

    Kerry wasn't afraid of his mentor's death; he regretted not being able to witness that divine presence alongside him.

    Most scientists, in the end, found themselves delving into theology. The more they studied science, the more they realized the grandeur of the universe and their own insignificance. For inquisitive scientists, no one could resist the allure of confronting the truth.

    Kerry joined the bureau because they were closest to both gods and death.

    He wasn't afraid of death; he simply yearned for a glimpse of the scenery reflected in his mentor's eyes before he passed.

    That, surely, was the ultimate pursuit of all scientists.

    He rubbed his brows, removed the flesh-colored ultra-thin glove from his right hand, revealing a slightly reddened back of the hand due to the prolonged wear, which made the black tattoo more prominent. It was the design of an open book page.

    Taking out the note Lane had given him, he slowly crumpled it and then took down the photo of Myridian from the workbench, tossing them both into the trash bin.

    Another question was put to rest. For Creed, the matter concerning Myridian had reached its conclusion.

    Scientists didn't chase after results already obtained; they pursued the puzzles that continually emerged in their hearts.

    ...

    This conversation with Creed had provided Lane with more intelligence than he had anticipated.

    The veil of mystery over the Chief Inspector began to lift before him. The man's true identity was likely a thousand-year-old monster who had survived into the present day, a former "Sage" of humanity.

    As for the purpose behind Creed's machinations against Myridian, this question might only be answered in their future encounters.

    There was still a small problem before Lane now: Eugene, who had escaped from the Divine Realm.

    If Creed wasn't lying, and Eugene's ability was indeed hypnosis, capturing him would indeed pose a challenge. In human society, there were countless ways for the other party to hide their identity and remain undetected. Lane himself was safe within the Divine Realm, but many of his believers still lived among humans.

    Wait a moment, if he is Eugene, the most effective way for him to cause trouble for the Secret Church would be...

    Lann's expression subtly shifted as he suddenly recollected that ever since the blind box event began, Carmen hadn't prayed to him in a while.

    "Archie, I need you to make a trip to the Kamui district."

    Archie paused for a moment, but without much hesitation, he agreed and went to the street corner to hail a cab.

    From the moment he hailed a ride, Lane sensed something amiss. Upon learning that Archie's destination was the Kamui Quarter, many drivers wore expressions of disdain, with some outright refusing to go there.

    "That's the Cursed Clan's territory. Misfortune befalls those who draw near," the fifth driver who stopped explained. "I usually avoid that area too; otherwise, I might end up with a flat tire on my way back. I advise you, guest, not to go there. It's an ill-omened place."

    Archie expressionlessly offered double the fare.

    Driver: "Well, look at that. What bad luck. My car's speed can outrun any misfortune."

    Despite his words, when they approached the outskirts of the Kamui district, the driver let Archie off, not out of malice but because it was impossible to proceed any further.

    A large crowd had gathered outside the Kamui district, each holding signs aloft.

    "Cursed race, leave Arkham!"

    "Spawn of the devil!"

    "Return my family to me!"

    Archie was flabbergasted. Could this still be the modern era?

    "The rumor has it that they're protesting, demanding the eviction of the Khami tribe," the driver shrugged. "Now, people say that the great disaster was caused by the Khamis' mischief. They worship an evil deity and cursed Arkham City with their rituals."

    Archie: ...

    Lane: ...

    In a way, they were right, but in another, they were utterly wrong.

    "Isn't this superstition? We live in a scientific society, and the government had said that the hallucinogens from the factories were the root cause, didn't they?" Archie felt a twinge of guilt when he spoke, for he too had turned to faith.

    The driver snorted. "Haha, you actually believe the government? After seeing those monsters and the giant claw marks? I'd rather believe that the top brass of the government are lizards who couldn't endure the dry weather and went on a rampage. Besides, priests from churches all over are saying the same thing. The Khamis are a cursed tribe, and their presence invokes divine wrath. It's written in the Bible. Don't you believe in the Bible?"

    The driver was a devout religious follower.

    Archie remained silent, got out of the car, handed a bill to the driver, and then struggled his way through the crowd of protesters ahead.

    The demonstration had encircled the Kamui district, with women and children at the forefront, holding portraits of their departed loved ones while weeping uncontrollably. Men carried buckets of paint, scribbling "Cursed Breed" and "Murderers" in red on the entrance to the Kamui district.

    They refrained from storming into the area because a line of players stood at the entrance, forming a human barrier, glaring fiercely back at the protesters.

    However, they dared not provoke any conflict. In this tense atmosphere, a spark could ignite a full-scale brawl. The players were not fearful, but behind them were the Kamui people, with women and children safely indoors. Carmen and the remaining Kamui men stood anxiously behind the players, fearful that an impulsive act might escalate the situation beyond repair.

    Carmen was overly worried. Though players were usually unbridled, they could be relied upon in crucial moments. Now, with the Rebellious Mob Squad at the forefront, the seemingly more composed Uncle Hao took a step forward and said, "Everyone, calm down first. Voice your grievances. Violence can't solve anything!"

    "Indeed, there's no need to hesitate. If you have any issues, let's discuss them together and find a solution!" Barbara encouraged, skillfully employing a conversational tactic.

    "Script: The Art of Failure"

    "We have but one demand," a fair-skinned man stepped forward from within the procession to say, "the Kamui tribe must vacate Arkham City."

    "There doesn't seem to be any justification for that," Yeyue argued earnestly. "They're residents here too. What grounds do you have to ask them to relocate?"

    "For this is not their city! It's ours!" the white-skinned man declared coldly. "They never belonged here, nor anywhere else. Our government took them in with kindness, gave them a place to gather, but what have they given us in return? Disaster and curses!"

    "Hey, buddy, that's not fair," Babba interjected. "How can you be so sure that the calamity in Arkham was caused by the Kamui?"

    "Who else could it be?" a woman in the crowd sobbed. "I live in the neighboring district, and I've seen you all acting suspiciously every day, concocting strange potions, practicing divination. You must be possessed by demons!"

    Players: ???? This medieval witch-hunt vibe.

    This was an eye-opener for the players, who had never encountered such superstitious accusations that were laughable.

    Oh wait, there are gods in this game, so never mind.

    "Don't waste our time talking to them!" a hotheaded man in the parade shouted. "Let's charge in and drive them out of our city!"

    The frenzied crowd roared and charged at the players forming a barrier.

    This wasn't looking good.

    Nayuta and the others felt a sinking feeling. With the players yet to arrive, if a fight broke out, it would inevitably affect the Kamui people behind them.

    Yet, there was no turning back now. Yeye clenched her teeth and declared, "Stop them!"

    Both parties were armed, but Yeye's group refrained from drawing their weapons to prevent further escalation. However, the protesters, many of whom had just lost loved ones and were still in mourning, didn't hold back. With reddened eyes, they charged at the players, swinging fists.

    The Commoners Squad and other players put up a valiant resistance, barely preventing the crowd from entering the neighborhood. But despite their efforts, quite a few ended up with bruised noses and swollen faces.

    Finally, a player couldn't endure it anymore and shoved someone carrying a photo of a deceased family member.

    This sparked chaos. Protesters promptly drew guns, pointing them directly at Yeye as she struggled to hold the line.

    Bang!

    Blood blossomed across Yeye's chest in an instant, her face still wearing a look of disbelief.

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