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    Asianovel

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    Chapter 98

    As the days passed, the anti-racism movement showed no signs of subsiding; on the contrary, it was gaining momentum.

    This was because more and more players were joining in.

    They soon discovered that, for some reason, the game's officials indeed rewarded participating players with contribution points. This meant that their actions were recognized as successfully persuading the Kamui to stay in Arkham City.

    Thus, those who had initially been mere spectators also began to participate, assisting God Among Us in his endeavors to earn contribution points. Of course, not all players were united; among the 5,500, there were bound to be differing perspectives. Some were unhappy with God Among Us hogging the spotlight, while others, simply seeking amusement, aimed to cause trouble for him. These minor hassles, however, failed to hinder the growing momentum of the anti-discrimination movement, for compared to the entire game world, players were still in the minority.

    They were but sparks igniting a flame, which would soon spread like wildfire across the nation.

    The anti-discrimination campaign had evolved into an unstoppable tide, engulfing the entire country.

    God Among Us, under the watchful eyes of countless forum users, gradually ascended to a revered status. Following in the footsteps of the great leader, he began delivering speeches in city after city, accumulating a devoted following. His speeches, broadcast on all in-game video platforms, became sensations, especially his speech in Arkham City and the subsequent iconic scene of him lifting a child. Globally, these clips had amassed over 700 million views. Only a few classic videos, built up over years, surpassed this count, but everyone believed that this footage too had the potential to become a timeless classic.

    Ironically, the movement had initially been fueled by the dovish faction within the country. Several candidates had passionately expressed their support for the anti-discrimination movement and opposition to racial discrimination in news channels, personal columns, or talk shows. Surprisingly, none of these influential figures nor any well-known politicians reaped the greatest rewards. Instead, it was an ordinary, unknown youngster who emerged as the true beneficiary.

    With a timeless masterpiece of a speech, an unexpected twist, and the power of the internet, God on Earth took flight, swiftly becoming the central figure in this movement as he drew massive crowds wherever he went to speak.

    Upon arriving in each city, he was welcomed by local authorities and cheered by the inhabitants, despite having no official title yet. It was evident that people believed it was only a matter of time before he entered politics and made his mark on a grander stage.

    The player forums buzzed with discussion:

    UnopenTiramisu: Haha, I died laughing! When I joined the rally, the system actually gave me contribution points!

    DaddyIsMe: This proves the system is indeed encouraging us common folk, right?

    CurlyFurFur: I think it's quite reasonable. The system probably recognized that the rallies increased the influence of the anti-discrimination movement, which in turn puts pressure on the government to not mess with the Kamui. That makes sense.

    PantsFlying: Who would've thought there's such a way to complete main quests? Haha, isn't this game too free-spirited?

    Nyarlathotep'sLittleDarling: 'Freedom' has already become this game's reputation outside. Now, a new selling point emerges, all thanks to the mighty God on Earth. The officials should pay their respects, lol.

    Lahn'sSweetiePie: Speaking of in-game news, has anyone noticed how God on Earth's influence is expanding? He's been giving speeches across multiple cities.

    DiceMaidenBlessings: Things are getting crazier, guys! Are we really about to witness the first player president in the making?

    Reinhardt: President! President! (Waving a glow stick.jpg)

    I Have the Right to Remain Silent: Hilarious, this is like a politician simulator.

    Sweetheart Loves Fishing: Amazing! It's my first time seeing a player go this far. You must become the president!

    All Beings Are Not Equal to You: Addicted to the amusement.jpg

    Favored of the Dice God: +1 for the amusement

    Why Does Lady Dice Only Watch: +2 for the amusement

    Maxed-out Holy Light Skill: Dying of laughter, +3

    Human Sorrows and Joys Don't Cross Paths: I think most of the cloud gamers entering the forum now are here for this election. Can't help it, it's just too funny.

    I Think Buzzing: Indeed, I was drawn in by this game and its antics from another platform too.

    Matcha Milk Green: No wonder there are so many unfamiliar IDs lately...

    Not Yet Pledged to Any Master: Hahaha, I'm here to witness this too! If God Among Us can pull this off, he might just be the first player to become president in-game! The thought of it is hilarious, hahaha.

    God Among Us: It's not that simple, you know (tears up laughing).

    996 Blessings: The big shot has arrived! Capture with Master Ball!

    Strawberry Mapo Tofu: Isn't the big guy doing well lately? From what I see, things are going great for you. You've been on so many in-game shows.

    God Among Us: Development-wise, it's decent. But the presidency isn't an easy seat. My reputation is still okay because both parties have recently approached me, making me quite the hot commodity. My relationship with these parties is in a sort of honeymoon phase. However, once I accept one, the other will likely turn against me, using all sorts of dirty tactics.

    Morning Six, How Are You?: This is such a realistic portrayal of human nature.

    AAA Magic Potion Proxy: Although we know the game is realistic, I didn't expect even background factions that haven't appeared in the storyline to have such coherent logic...

    God Among Us: Yes, from my estimation, they probably employ all the tactics used in reality, and perhaps even more. Honestly, I'm starting to doubt if this is truly a virtual world.

    God Among Us: I haven't officially entered politics yet. But if I were to run for president, I'd have to choose a party. Even then, the people might not trust my abilities. I'd likely have to start small, as a county or city mayor, gradually proving myself and building my team. Becoming president overnight is impossible since I have nothing but reputation.

    There are older folks in their fifties and sixties within the parties, waiting for their chance. If I join, they'll surely leverage my current influence for votes, and naturally, intra-party strife will arise.

    No Cripple Can Play: Hold on, hold on, my head's starting to hurt. I'm just here to play the game, why do I need to hear all these troubles?

    God Among Us: Exactly, I feel the same way. Though it would be intriguing to become the president of this country, the time and effort required don't seem worth it.

    996 Blessings: Ah, so the big shot is considering giving up? Understandable, but it's such a huge opportunity to let go of.

    God Among Us: Yeah, I agree. And there are so many people who have come here for me. Thus, I have a proposal.

    God Among Us: Character Card Data.jpg

    Black Cat: ? Did you post the wrong thing, big shot? Why did you share your character card stats?

    Players could have more than one character card, and due to the different factions within the game, these cards' data were usually kept confidential. They wouldn't typically be shared with others unless they were close friends or allies.

    Regardless of whether God in Mortal World did it on purpose, many people had been curious for a while and clicked in to take a look.

    God of Roleplay: Damn, 75 credibility points... That's the highest in the game, right?

    Ultimate Man: It's a bit lower than I expected.

    Black Cat: I also think so. By now, many people globally should know about you. I assumed it would reach its limit.

    God Amongst Men: I inquired with the authorities. Credit is determined by one's status, reputation, and assets in the industry. Perhaps my assets aren't sufficient yet. My speeches are free, so that might have dragged my score down a bit.

    Druid: It's already terrifying. That means your credit value relies purely on your reputation (scary).

    Crazy No More: Scary.

    Who Knows: Scary.

    Surefire Great Success: Scary.

    God Amongst Men: It's not that bad. Honestly, luck played a bigger role in getting here. Anyway, to cut a long story short, I didn't post this by mistake. The reason I shared the 'Norman King' character card is that I need your help with something.

    God Amongst Men: I want to challenge the game's attribute point ceiling, which is the maximum credit score of 100. I want to forge a divine card, becoming the first player in the game to achieve full credit points.

    But doing this will undoubtedly tarnish Norman King's reputation. When someone reaches the pinnacle, they're also starting their descent, and sullying him would be too easy.

    Black Cat: ...I understand what you mean. Are you sure? If it were me, I wouldn't be able to let go.

    Divine Presence: Well, I've been occupied with some matters in reality too. It's not possible for me to stay in the game all the time. The in-game political affairs have drained my energy; I'm still playing along with them, making them believe there's a chance I might join them, just to delay their smear campaign against Norman King.

    To be honest, I'm feeling rather exhausted. There's no point in playing the game if it's not for enjoyment.

    Cheer Up, Son: Absolutely, games should be played for fun! Reality is troublesome enough as it is!

    Black Cat: Alright then, I respect your decision.

    Druid: You two are being cryptic.

    Black Cat: Actually, it's quite simple. We just need to ensure that Norman King never gets tarnished. Ending on a high note might really make this card a textbook example in the game!

    Divine Presence: That's right, that's exactly what I'm thinking. Though I can't become the first player president, I can still be the first player to go down in history. Such an ending would live up to everyone's passion! So, I'd like to ask everyone to witness the finale of this card!

    Lucky Kitten: Ah, I understand what the big shot wants to do now. It's such a pity, but I respect the big shot's choice. Let's elevate Norman King to godly status.

    Total Failure, Group Wipe: Where does the big shot plan to set the final stage? I'll definitely be there to support!

    Divine Presence: I intend to end where I began, in Arkham. Lately, I've heard that there's going to be a grand event in Arkham called Exorcism Day. The city government has already invited me. If any other players are interested in taking on another role in this spectacle, feel free to reach out. Perhaps we can both make our way into the game's history books together (dog emoji).

    Ultimate Man: Under the name of history's most heinous murderer? Hahaha, that sounds good too. Count me in!

    God Among Men: Alright, I'll get back to you.

    In the Domain of the God.

    Exorcism Day... huh?

    As Lane observed the players energetically discussing how to elevate Norman King to godhood, he couldn't help but ask the person before him, "Do you know about Exorcism Day?"

    Calrens, who was reporting recent events to Lane, paused in surprise and then considered, "Exorcism Day is a traditional festival in Arkham City, also its grandest celebration. It's said to commemorate an ancient legend."

    "What legend is that?"

    "Legend has it that in ancient times, when Arkham City wasn't yet the metropolis it is now, but a small village surrounded by the landscape and woods," With Lane's permission, Calrens took a stick and drew a simple sketch on the ground, "Back then, people could only huddle within this tiny village. Whenever the moon turned red, various monsters would emerge from the forest, attacking the village. During every crimson moon, many lives were lost. Until the gods descended."

    "Gods? What kind of gods?" Lane asked curiously.

    "No one can say for certain. That deity left no records behind. All we know is that They drove away the monsters and comforted the spirits of those who had perished. After that, the phenomenon of the red moon never occurred again," Calrens explained. "Since then, the Arkhamites have designated December 12th as Exorcism Day. From that day forward, the monsters ceased to appear. The festival was established to honor the god who banished the monsters and to remember the souls lost during the nights of the crimson moon."

    "I see," said Lane, deep in thought.

    "Lord, I have a report for you," Carrens said. "Regarding Anthony Moses, whom you asked me to locate earlier, I apologize, but I personally visited his residence and couldn't find him."

    Anthony Moses, the director of the Mythical Knowledge Research Institute that Alders from the University of Michigan had requested Lane to locate, was also the only one at the university capable of unlocking the institute.

    "Not found?"

    "Yes. According to information from his neighbors, Anthony hasn't been back for three months, and no one knows where he's gone," Carrens replied.

    Lane furrowed his brow but understood there was little they could do if he wasn't there. He sighed. "I understand. Leave someone to keep an eye on the place. Inform me if he returns."

    "Already taken care of, my lord," Carrens assured him.

    Carrens remained as reliable as ever, putting Lane's mind at ease. He nodded, dismissing Carrens.

    However, it would be best to inform Alders about Anthony's absence. Perhaps he knew where Anthony might have gone after leaving his home.

    As he pondered this, Lane pricked up his ears, sensing some commotion coming from the floating University of Michigan.

    "Quickly! Fetch assistance!" The on-duty teacher stood anxiously by the entrance of the laboratory, his voice echoing within as Aldrich and Alexis struggled to contain the infestation inside.

    Inside, the room had been transformed into something resembling an operating theater. In the center of the surgical table lay a figure, barely recognizable as human due to the countless wriggling maggots that now made up their form, just barely retaining a semblance of humanity.

    The maggots were frenzied in their attempts to escape, but fortunately, the laboratory was sealed, with only the main entrance as an exit. The three teachers were barely managing to keep the situation under control.

    "Er... What's going on here?" Len appeared instantly at the lab door, having teleported there in the Divine Realm where he could instantaneously move anywhere.

    No explanation was needed; Len had already seen the insect infestation within. His expression twisted momentarily, a reaction anyone with even a mild case of trypophobia or entomophobia would have upon witnessing such a scene.

    "Lord... Lord Len," the on-duty teacher recognized him, momentarily taken aback by the proximity to a deity. He averted his gaze, lowering his head, "As you can see, there has been a slight issue."

    "Someone, please, press this sprinkler button for me!" Alexis, engaged in combat with the insects, managed to extend an arm from the pile, pointing at the console. Len took a glance but was disinclined to step into the maggot nest. Instead, he threw out a seed.

    The seed grew into a vine in mid-air, quickly extending towards the console, its delicate branch gently pressing the button.

    In no time, the sprinklers in the lab activated, filling the air with an eerie scent as a liquid cascaded over the mass of maggots. The insects recoiled as if they had encountered a predator, retreating back to the operating table and reforming into a human shape.

    Job reappeared, his eyes still shut, his brow deeply furrowed.

    "Can someone please explain what's going on here?" Lane asked.

    Alders and Alexis hastily got up from the floor, straightening themselves out, particularly Alders, who was a stickler for neatness and cleanliness, usually dressed in well-fitting clothes that gave him an old-fashioned gentlemanly air.

    After ensuring he was presentable and hadn't offended any etiquette, Alders spoke, "There was just a minor hiccup in our research, but it's nothing significant."

    Alexis nodded, her gaze towards Job filled with a myriad of emotions.

    Lane's curiosity piqued. "So, what did you discover?"

    Alexis: "This might come as a surprise..."

    "I'll take it from here," Alders patted Alexis on the shoulder, stepping forward. "We've arrived at a startling conclusion – the soul within this person's body isn't the original one."

    "He should actually be known as Jason Berkeley, a classmate of Professor Alexis during high school."

    Having witnessed players' imaginative speculations before, Lane wasn't overly surprised. He asked, "So how did he enter Job's body?"

    "I have no idea," Alexis shook his head. "That's what astonishes us. In my memory, Jason Berkeley was dead."

    Pausing, he began to explain from the beginning to Lane, "Jason Berkeley was my high school classmate and also a like-minded friend. We were both fascinated by the world's bizarre events or monsters. However, we eventually chose different paths. I went to Michigan for further studies, while Jason, as far as I know, joined the Inspectorate."

    Lane raised an eyebrow. The Inspectorate... again the Inspectorate.

    "The last time I saw him was during an adventure. During the mission, he encountered a strange creature he'd never seen before. So, he asked for my help. Intrigued by the creature he described, I went with him. But things didn't go as planned. We failed, and Jason died in that incident, right in front of me. I even took care of his funeral arrangements, so I'm quite certain that he's dead."

    Alexis looked at Job on the operating table with a complicated expression. "Yet, strangely, during our conversations these past few days, when he gets confused, he'll mention details from our past interactions, even those leading up to his death. This convinces me that he is indeed Jason, at least the soul inside this body belongs to Jason."

    Lane suddenly asked, "You knew the old him and experienced adventures together. Do you know what Jason's Origin Ability was?"

    "Yes, it was healing, a very rare healing ability. Thanks to him, I survived back then."

    Healing. According to the information Edmund had passed on, Job's ability was also healing.

    Lane pondered, and a flash of insight struck him.

    "Jason... Do you remember how he died? Did he ever mention which level of the Rift of Dreams he had reached?"

    Alexis's eyes clouded with confusion, soon replaced by a mounting fear. "The third level. He told me he had broken through to the third level."

    "At that time... we were cornered by that enigmatic anomaly, with no way out. Jason planned to break through to the fourth level of the Rift that very night. He said that according to the Bureau's records, there was a qualitative change after the third level. So, our only hope for escape was for him to reach the fourth."

    "But when Jason woke up the next day, the first thing he did was point a gun at his temple."

    "I've never seen such twisted despair on anyone's face. He left us with only one sentence before taking his own life."

    Olddes asked, "What did he say?"

    "He said, 'This world is beyond saving.'" Alexis recounted. "Yet, an hour after his death, the Bureau's rescue team arrived. We were saved, but he... stayed there forever."

    Alexis fell silent, but his words hinted at the many adventures and tragedies the professor had experienced in his youth.

    Lane hadn't expected to gain information about the fourth level of the Rift of Dreams here, nor could he tell if it was good or bad. Why was the deceased Jason now inside Job's body, and what role had the Bureau played? Was it connected to the levels of the Rift of Dreams?

    A myriad of puzzles swirled in his mind.

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