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    Asianovel

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    Chapter 95

    The gunshot seemed like a signal. The moment Yaya fell, the Kamui people fell silent for a few seconds. Then, the men among them instantly turned their eyes bloodshot. No longer holding back, they brandished their weapons and clashed with the protesters.

    "Yaya—Yaya—"

    "What a laugh, why is it always Yaya's bad luck?"

    "Fight, fight!"

    "Wait a moment, wouldn't fighting only escalate the conflict?"

    "I share the same sentiment, but it seems we might be too late…"

    As the chat in the Rascal Squad's live stream channel suggested, the situation on the ground had descended into chaos. After the first gunshot and the first player falling to a bullet, both sides inevitably escalated into an all-out brawl.

    Players and Kamis engaged in earnest, drawing their weapons and clashing fiercely.

    Yet, continuing on this path will only make matters worse.

    Carmen was at a loss. He tried to reason with the crowd, but now no one was in a state to listen. His gaze shifted uneasily between the two factions until, amidst the chaos, he found himself locking eyes with a tranquil pair of green irises.

    Do what you can, Carmen.

    It was as if his deity spoke those words to him.

    In the livestream of the Rebellious Mob Squad, a player with the username 'Black Cat' entered the channel.

    "Black Cat: Damn, what's going on here? I got a shock when I saw this on the forums. Guys, don't panic! You can't forget that killing in this game world actually has consequences - you can end up in jail!"

    "Big Shot Black Cat, you're here! But it might be too late now. I doubt they care about jail time. They'll just reset their cards if it comes to that. (shrugs)"

    "Black Cat: It's not just that. Don't forget why they're protesting. If players start killing freely, where do you think public opinion will swing?"

    "Black Cat: Besides, something about this doesn't feel right. If we let things escalate without getting to the bottom of it, we might be heading for a disastrous outcome."

    "Black Cat: Anyway, everyone needs to calm down!"

    "Unfortunately, it seems like both the players here and the protesters have lost their heads. Trying to reason with them now is pointless."

    "What about the other players?"

    "They're still on their way, but whether their arrival will be a good or bad thing remains to be seen..."

    The live stream chat was buzzing with discussion, while in reality, the players were engaged in combat.

    Indeed, after the protesters fired at Nightray, they naturally became hostile in the eyes of the players. Were players the type to tolerate such aggression? Upon seeing their own being attacked, they retaliated without hesitation.

    Of course, they still possessed some sense of reason and refrained from drawing weapons, resorting to fistfights instead.

    Several Kamui tribesmen, noticing the situation, hurriedly dragged Nightray out of harm's way, trying to prevent further injury. They then signaled for first aid with a bandage to stop the bleeding.

    "Cough... Uh, cough," Nightray struggled to grasp the Kamui tribesman's hand. "Stop them... We can't let the situation escalate. This might be a trap."

    He had also seen Black Cat's comment in the live stream and sensed that there was something off about the protest.

    "However, the current circumstances..." The Kamui tribesman was both anxious and helpless. The crowd ahead was already in a frenzy, no longer paying attention to anyone else.

    Just then, Carmen, who had previously left, rushed back, throwing a vial of magic potion into the air without hesitation.

    The phial of potion soared high into the air, catching the gaze of Lane, who stood in the rear. He curved his lips and, using Archie's body, drew his gun.

    "Shot: Successful"

    The silenced bullet pierced through the phial, and the perfect-quality Calming Potion inside sprinkled over the agitated crowd below, gradually soothing their anger.

    Right then, the police and ambulances that Archie had called earlier arrived. The law enforcement was not there just to look pretty; upon realizing that the peaceful protest had escalated into violence, they immediately sprang into action, detaining the protest leaders and sending Nana to the hospital.

    The spectacle began and ended hastily, but Lane didn't relax, for he knew this was likely just the beginning.

    From the corner of his eye, he saw Carmen and several other players rushing towards Archie, perhaps having sensed something. Lane intended to greet them and stabilize the situation, but at that moment, the overwhelming drowsiness returned.

    Tsk, time to sleep again.

    Before his consciousness left Archie's body, Lane had planned to issue a faction quest to the players with his last bit of energy. However, just as he was about to do so, a system notification sounded.

    "Main Quest Triggered—Darkness Takes Root in Light (Prelude)"

    "Act 1: The Fate of a Clan"

    "Mission Objective: Lately, the citizens of Arkham have grown restless. The Kamui tribe has been chosen as a sacrificial offering to quell the rage. Your task is to prevent the eviction of the Kamui tribe from Arkham."

    "Number of Players Required: Unlimited."

    "Reward: 20,000 Experience Points, 200 Free Attribute Points, 200,000 Yuan Dynasty Reward... Upon completion of the main quest, rewards will be distributed according to each player's contribution."

    "Punishment for Failure: Loss of the Kamui tribe NPCs."

    Lan: ?

    This main quest seemed familiar. Wasn't this the precursor to the main quest 'Uncovering the Darkness of the Audit Bureau' from his previous life? But wasn't that quest supposed to trigger only after the open beta?

    The thought flashed through Lan's mind, but before he could dwell on it, his consciousness left Archy's body.

    In the meantime,

    As the second main quest was announced, the players' forums erupted once more.

    "New Main Quest Arrives!"

    Druid: What's going on? I merely went on an exploration mission in the outskirts, and you've already started the main quest?

    Aron: Damn, what's happening in the city? And this mission description is giving me the jitters! What does Kamui have to do with it all?

    Black Cat: That's a long story, but I only tuned in halfway through. Let's wait for the Diminutive Squad members to come online and explain the situation.

    Barbara: Hold on, Nian Nian is bawling her eyes out.

    Black Cat: Is the injury severe? Did she lose her character card?

    Barbara: No, Nian Nian is crying because the Kamui people are too hospitable. Kamui just arrived at the hospital and immediately used an A-grade potion on him. Nian Nian feels terribly regretful, thinking it was a waste.

    Nian Nian: How could it not be a waste! With my injuries, I'd only need to stay in the hospital for a few days or swap for a new character card. But an A-grade potion! When will I ever earn enough honor points to exchange for one, qaq.

    Nian Nian: My heart aches...it hurts so much that I can't breathe.

    Black Cat: Oh, please. Don't complain after getting a good deal. You must've gained quite some faction reputation.

    Nian Nian: Hehe, not bad. The Kamui's attitude towards me has shifted from friendly to respectful. Ah, my excellence couldn't be hidden after all.

    Black Cat: Alright, let's not divert the topic. Do you have any leads on this protest?

    Yeyue: None at all. Babba and I just happened to be here exchanging potions when we suddenly stumbled upon this protest. It took us by surprise.

    Babba: But there were actually some signs, although you might not be aware. Ever since the disaster in Arkham City, the Kamui tribe's position there has become rather delicate.

    Uncle Hao: That's right. You remember when we completed the main quest some time ago, and many of us went on volunteer missions? Back then, we noticed that there were no NPC volunteers forming spontaneously around the Kamui district.

    Yeyue: If we could attribute the lack of volunteers to the Kamui's isolation and others' reluctance to enter, rumors about the Kamui tribe started circulating later on. Incidents like the red paint being thrown aren't new; we've intervened before, but it only provided temporary relief.

    Druid: Black Cat, anyone who's logged into the game can try accessing this website.

    Druid: I believe this might be the reason behind their protest.

    The URL Druid shared could only be accessed within the game. Upon opening it, one would find an Arkham-based local social platform, currently inundated with discussions about the Khami tribe's 'guilt.'

    Prominent politicians and church ministers in the area had suddenly declared that the gods were displeased due to the Khami tribe's prolonged presence in one region, thus resulting in divine punishment. They warned that unless the tribe was promptly expelled, the previous calamities might recur.

    The comments under these statements were disgustingly vile, filled with abuses, defamation, and insults targeting the Khami tribe.

    Matcha Milk Green: I finished it, and now I'm not feeling too well.

    Odd Seeker: There's too much negativity in there. It's better not to read it.

    Black Cat: ...I think I get it. The Kamuy tribe has been made a scapegoat.

    Not Crazy: What do you mean by that?

    Black Cat: It means that someone needs to take responsibility for the previous disaster in Arkham, and provide the public with an answer they can believe in.

    Black Cat: Not to mention that the citizens of Arkham aren't fools; so many have witnessed the bizarre occurrences. With actual injuries and undeniable traces left by monsters in reality, they surely won't buy the government's previous explanation.

    Black Cat: Yet, it's strange how the public sentiment, which was initially demanding accountability from the government and the truth to be revealed, has now shifted to blaming the Kamui for the catastrophe. You can still find remnants of this online if you search the game forums.

    Druid: That's right. Initially, there were various speculations among the NPCs about the previous disaster. But at some point, influential figures, church leaders, and others with reputations started to uniformly point fingers at the Kamui.

    Druid: It just feels too coincidental. Did they conspire together?

    Black Cat: Personally, I doubt it's a coincidence. There might be someone pulling the strings behind the scenes.

    God Among Us: I also lean towards the idea that this isn't a coincidence. Judging from the previous posts of these account owners, some are clearly not from the same faction, yet they've united this time. That's quite peculiar.

    Nightly: So you're saying that if we find and eliminate the person behind this, we can complete the main quest?

    God Among Us: I don't think it's that straightforward. Or rather, if we focus solely on that, we might not even get to the mastermind before the Kamui are expelled, or even if we do, the outcome might still be the same.

    Black Cat: Why? Do you have any basis for this?

    God Among Us: It's not solid evidence, more like an inference based on political sensitivity.

    Cosmic Machine: Explain?

    God Among Us: Hmm, have any of you noticed that the current mayor of Arkham City is reaching the end of their term, and the election for a new mayor is drawing near?

    Uncle Hao: ? How does this relate to our mission?

    God Among Us: Hang on, let me finish. This game is indeed meticulous. When I first started, I followed all the prominent politicians and lawmakers in the game's political field through the in-game phone. Their statements align with the ideologies of the parties they represent. Therefore, I believe their past remarks can serve as a basis for reasoning.

    God Among Us: In this game, Arkham City and its country are clearly modeled after reality. There are two major political parties in this nation, which I'll temporarily refer to as the Hawks and the Doves. These parties represent a conservative and a liberal stance respectively.

    Druid: ...I have a feeling I know which country this game is referencing.

    God Amongst Mortals: Ahem, we're discussing a game, just a game. Anyway, Arkham City has always been a crossroads where doves and hawks meet. The mayors have been from both factions. In such a sensitive period, it's not hard to understand why the public suddenly needs a scapegoat.

    Matcha Milk Green: Why is that? O-O

    God Amongst Mortals: Simply put, it's to maintain the credibility of the government, and there's also a straightforward reason – the Kamui don't have voting rights.

    God Amongst Mortals: You see, in an election period, in a country where power relies on voters, being voteless is almost inhuman.

    Black Cat: ...Alright, I fully understand why the Kamui are so unlucky.

    Black Cat: So, what did you mean when you said finding the mastermind wouldn't help?

    God Amongst Mortals: It's not useless, but it might be too late. Public opinion is too unified now, as if the doves and hawks have joined hands to eliminate the Kamui. That's terrifying. Can you imagine two tigers on a mountain agreeing to unite to kill an ant? I'd rather believe they'd keep tripping each other up until the day the nation splits apart.

    Night Night: Because holding others back is instinctual for humans.jpg

    Aron: Not everything is genetic, please hhahaha

    Black Cat: I think I'm starting to grasp your point. You're suggesting that if these two factions unite, it could lead to significant consequences?

    God Among Us: It might not escalate to catastrophic levels, but you must understand that government institutions are typically controlled by these two parties. If they were to truly work together, policy implementation would be much swifter than we anticipate. Once policies are set in motion, there'd be no turning back.

    God Among Us: For instance, if the government seizes the Kamuy tribe's neighborhood and relocates them to a remote area, they would have no choice but to comply with the move. The person advocating such a policy would likely gain a massive number of votes, even if they're aware of being manipulated. They'd probably welcome this politically lucrative opportunity with open arms.

    God Among Us: This is where the mastermind's terrifying strength lies. They have the timing, the circumstances, and the public opinion on their side. They've capitalized on the aftermath of the disaster and the influence of celebrities to completely manipulate public sentiment. I dare say that even those who remain vigilant would likely stand by and watch this outcome unfold. Your investigation will undoubtedly face numerous obstacles.

    God Among Us: That's precisely why I say this mission isn't as straightforward as it seems.

    Druid: Oh no, no, no, big shot, it's actually you who's not simple.

    Black Cat: Serving tea to the big shot, your analysis must have been exhausting.

    Alon: Gently patting the Black Cat big shot upstairs, who on earth is this newly emerged powerhouse? (Shivering) Why do you know so much?

    God Amongst Men: Hehe, it's a secret.

    Lahn's Beloved: Kisses and hugs to Lahn's wife, so how do we proceed with the mission now? After this analysis, I feel like the Kamuy tribe is in trouble.

    Divine Presence Among Men: Indeed, the situation is dire, but not entirely hopeless. I propose we tackle it from two angles.

    Divine Presence Among Men: One team should focus on investigating the mastermind behind the scenes. I suspect they might possess some form of suggestion ability. We should find ways to identify those who have been influenced and trace our way to the root of the problem.

    Druid: ...But how do we determine who has been affected?

    Divine Presence Among Men: Actually, it's quite straightforward. Compile a list of individuals who previously advocated against racial discrimination and supported religious freedom but have now expressed opposing views. They could be under manipulation. The Kamui are an ethnic minority, and the main criticism against them stems from that verse in the Bible.

    Divine Presence Among Men: As for the other team, their role would be to buy time for the investigation team. They'd primarily protect the Kamui and steer public opinion, preventing it from becoming one-sided again.

    Black Cat: Alright, let's split into two groups once more. One for search and pursuit of the mastermind, the other for obstruction and delaying tactics.

    Druid: OK, I'll join the search team.

    Black Cat: Count me in for the search team as well.

    Nian Nian: Our Troublemaker Squad will join the obstruction team. Apart from anything else, causing chaos is our specialty (grinning widely).

    In the real-world Arkham Hospital, Nian Nian sat on her hospital bed with her chest bandages removed. Thanks to the Grade A magical potion, the wound that had once pierced through her flesh was almost fully healed. However, the rapid healing process caused intense itching, making Nian Nian constantly resist the urge to scratch.

    A Kamuy tribe maiden stood watchfully by his side, her fair hand gripping tightly onto Yeye's as she struggled to prevent him from scratching his wound.

    Baba and Shushu Hao observed the scene with a mixture of envy and jealousy.

    Player Channel:

    Baba: Yeye, you...

    Shushu Hao: Don't overdo it, qwq.

    Yeye: Damn, what did I do? You want to try? The itch is unbearable; I'd rather it heal on its own.

    Baba: Hell, this is an A-grade potion. It's such a waste using it on you.

    Yeye: I think so too. From the potion's description, even someone on the brink of death could be instantly revived with all debuffs removed. What a dungeon-crawling wonder!

    Yeye also regretted his earlier actions; had he known the Kamuy would use this potion on him, he should have stayed awake all along.

    "Don't worry about the cost," said the maiden, her face stern as she held his hand down. "Is there anything more important than your life? Potions, no matter how potent, are meant to save lives. No potion is worth more than your existence."

    Nightsweeper found the situation both amusing and distressing. He wanted to say that players' lives weren't that significant, but facing the tear-stained corner of the girl's eye, he found himself speechless.

    When players discarded their cards, it was merely a reset for them, without any loss in level; at worst, they might lose some attribute points and the favorability with NPCs and factions they had painstakingly built.

    But for NPCs, they were genuinely losing friends.

    "I'll protect all of you," Nightsweeper assured her earnestly. "Don't worry, no one will drive you away."

    The girl opened her mouth, her eyes suddenly reddening as she lowered her head. Running her finger over her wet eyelashes, she lifted her head and forced a smile for Nightsweeper. "It's alright, we're used to wandering."

    "Nonsense," Nightsweeper said sternly, causing a blush to slowly spread across the girl's cheeks under his gaze.

    "I won't be able to sleep without your uncle's magic potion!" Nightsweeper exclaimed with a pout.

    "Nightsweeper... you..."

    "What a rigid, unyielding man."

    "Why is Carmen's name here? Carmen doesn't want to be involved in this kind of situation!"

    Teenager: ?

    The girl's face froze, and she expressionlessly grabbed the rope nearby, binding Yaya's hands to the railing of the hospital bed.

    Yaya: "Huh? Wait?"

    Girl: "The medicine will take another half an hour to wear off. Don't move around too much and risk reopening your wounds during that time."

    With that said, the girl walked straight out of the room, shutting the door with a loud thud.

    Coincidentally, the second brother of the trio arrived with some medicinal food. Seeing his sister leave Yaya's room with a cold expression, he was puzzled. "Vivian, what's wrong?"

    "Nothing," the girl shook her head.

    The second brother glanced into the room. "Aren't you going to tell him how you feel? If we move away later, we might not see each other again."

    Vivian shook her head. "I don't want to talk about it now. If I do, I feel like he might do something reckless."

    The second brother thought about the Diao Min Squad's usual behavior and said sincerely, "Isn't that what they usually do anyway?"

    "This time is different," Vivian brushed her hair aside, her brows lowered as she spoke softly. "No one can go against the world. They've already helped us so much. I don't want to burden him further."

    ...

    "Tsk, tsk," Babba clicked her tongue around Nightray's bedside. "I never would have guessed, Nightray, you've got the makings of a heartthrob."

    Shu Shu Hao: "Spill it! When did you start flirting with this NPC girl? Was he the one who asked you to dance at the Kamuy tribe's banquet last time?"

    Nightray: "Scram, that's not true, stop spreading nonsense."

    "Oh, your cheeks are flushed."

    "Nightray has feelings!"

    "Didn't you understand his intentions just now? Why were you acting like such a stiff, straight man?"

    "Speaking of which, can you actually fall in love with NPCs in this game?"

    "It seems so, there's a relationship affinity system. I always thought that was one of the game's selling points."

    "That means my wife, Lane..."

    "Stop right there. She's mine, got it?"

    "You didn't see how Vivi was on the verge of tears," Yaya said. "I wouldn't want any young girl to confess with tears in her eyes. Such a beautiful moment should be filled with smiles, don't you think?"

    Baba and Shushu Hao exchanged glances. By then, Yaya had already sent a private message to God Amongst Mortals.

    Yaya: Big shot, how do we turn the tide of public opinion?

    God Amongst Mortals: Let me correct you—just reversing public opinion won't cut it. We need to create an even bigger sensation. If the upper echelons of Arkham have truly been hypnotized, they now hold the power. All we can do is bring someone with even greater authority into play.

    Yaya: ? How do we do that?

    God Amongst Mortals: Cough, cough. My method might be a bit unethical. I plan to fight magic with magic.

    God Amongst Mortals: Have you heard of anti-discrimination, buddy?

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