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    Chapter 100

    The crowd surrounding the plaza erupted into screams, swarming around the ordinary-looking God Among Men as if he were a superstar.

    "Is this guy's popularity getting scarier by the minute?" Aron observed, looking at the throngs around God Among Men. "Thinking about The Strongest Man attempting to assassinate him, I can't help but feel nervous for him. Will The Strongest Man be torn apart by the crowd?"

    "Who knows," said Black Cat. "But with the current situation, the script might not play out as we imagine."

    Previously, God Among Men had organized a group chat with some players to discuss how to elevate Norman King to godhood. Black Cat was part of that chat, but he didn't participate in their actions; rather, he acted as an advisor and knew of their plans.

    God Among Men had initially planned for a classic assassination during a speech, dying in full view of the public, thereby propelling Norman King's reputation to its peak.

    Of course, plans were often disrupted by unforeseen events. Just like now, before Norman King even took the stage, countless elderly protesters were already seated, waiting to voice their dissent.

    Black Cat and the others were curious to see how God Among Men would handle the situation. Unbeknownst to them, a black dogtail grass sprouted beneath their feet, invisible to the naked eye. Its tip slowly transformed into an eye-like shape.

    From within his paradise, Lane watched the live event through this plant. Knowing that today would be extraordinary, Lane had long made preparations, such as the plants scattered around the plaza.

    As previously mentioned, Lane could nurture Spirit Seeds through the scepter. When he planted these seeds in reality, it was akin to extending his divine realm from dreams. However, there were limitations to planting Spirit Seeds in reality. Only true believers could have Lane sow Spirit Seeds at their corresponding coordinates in the real world.

    In truth, Lane didn't have many true believers. Apart from Edmund and company, there were only several dozen from the Kamui tribe, as well as over a dozen that resulted from God on Earth's... cough, previous propaganda efforts.

    Therefore, these Spirit Plants didn't serve much of a purpose currently. At most, they acted as Lane's eyes and ears, as well as performing unseen landscaping. Of course, they also served as a form of vigilance. For example, after Lane heard Albert mention that someone had tampered with Sauron's inheritance, he grew worried about another disaster like the one in Arkham City. He thus had the Kamui tribe plant his seeds in the sewers or other hidden locations, monitoring for any similar arrays.

    The players were also on guard. The Black Cat team had made plenty of preparations. For instance, the players were scattered across streets with large crowds. As they explored, they would keep an eye out for similar arrays.

    Returning to the main topic, God on Earth calmly walked over amidst everyone's gazes. Government staff hurriedly greeted him, wiping away cold sweat. "Terribly sorry, Mr. Kim. We'll try our best to find you a spot."

    The original plan for this event in the square was already set, but since God on Earth had accepted the government's invitation, the Kamui tribe would perform a ritual here before he delivered another famous speech. This entire sequence would show the government making an effort to mitigate the effects of prejudice. Clearly, the reporters and media present had been informed beforehand, but the appearance of this group of elders was unexpected.

    Just as the staff was about to signal for security, God on Earth stopped them. "It's alright, just let it be."

    "But..." The staff couldn't imagine how God on Earth would deliver a speech under such circumstances. Wasn't he afraid of being interrupted halfway?

    God on Earth strode straight towards the stage. Carmen rushed over. "Norman... It's been a long time."

    Under everyone's watchful eyes, Carmen bowed deeply to God on Earth.

    "What are you doing?" God Among Men hurriedly helped the man up and whispered in his ear, "Please don't humble me, Priest."

    Carmen shook his head with a bitter smile. "I'm not thanking you as a priest of the Secret Church, but as the leader of the Kamui tribe, representing my people to express our gratitude to you."

    "Without you, we might have been forced to leave Arkham a long time ago."

    "That's nothing, just give me a discount when I come to buy potions in the future," God Among Men smiled. "I've been envious of Nightly's treatment for a long time."

    "All potions will be free for you in the future, as long as you provide the materials," Carmen said seriously. "I'll spare no effort in brewing the potions you need."

    "Enough, I'm starting to regret it." The God Amongst Men covered his chest.

    Carmen: ?

    "It's alright, it was just a joke."

    Carmen failed to perceive the bitterness hidden behind the god's smile. He turned to glance at the crowd below. "Indeed, it would be better for our Kamui tribe to leave. It's because we're here that they're protesting. I don't wish to undermine your speech."

    "No, my dear Carmen, if you were to leave, that would be the true mockery of my speech," The God Amongst Men composed himself. "It's alright, just stay here."

    Saying this, he straightened his attire and made his way towards the stage.

    Though called a stage, the arrangement here resembled an altar more closely. At its center stood a towering, faceless deity statue over two meters tall, the object of worship in Arkham. However, as no legends preserved the deity's name or appearance, the statue was carved rather simply, emphasizing the divine's sole distinctive feature: the horns on its head.

    In truth, there are few Arkhamites who still hold onto these beliefs today. The grandeur of the Exorcism Day festivities is largely a ploy to boost tourism.

    Given that subsequent rituals and prayers would take place here, a podium stood at the foot of the statue, before a sea of people. Yet, the divine being did not ascend the platform but instead walked to the edge of the altar and sat down.

    Before him stood the elder with the framed portrait, his gaze dull and unfocused. God almighty, in human form, nonchalantly plopped down in front of the senior, offering a warm smile. "Good evening, have you eaten?"

    Elder: ...

    Player Channel:

    Alon: To be fair, even I think your question is a bit off-kilter.

    Black Cat: Agree.

    The elder paid no attention to him, holding the photograph with a detached gaze. God in Human Form didn't seem bothered either. He proceeded to greet the other seniors around him, but naturally, they ignored him.

    Until the deity uttered these words on earth.

    "I don't mind, but if Hunter knew you hadn't eaten, he'd worry about your stomach issues flaring up again."

    The elderly man's numb gaze flickered. "You... How do you..."

    How do you know?

    The deity turned to look at an elderly auntie beside the old man. "Jenny would also be concerned about your health. Your condition doesn't allow for sitting for extended periods."

    "And Bob, Mark, Michael, Jonah, Galen..."

    The initially boisterous crowd gradually quieted under the deity's calm voice, leaving only the sound of their names resonating across the square.

    From the trembling of the elders, the others understood that the names the deity was uttering were those of their deceased loved ones.

    "Damn, how did he pull that off?" Alon whispered into the black cat's ear.

    A female voice sounded from behind them. "Why else do you think Deity on Earth was a bit late earlier?"

    Two players turned their heads to see Matcha Latte and Insane walking hand in hand.

    "One of them isn't reciting a list, is he?"

    "Hmm," Insane nodded. "Matcha Latte and I were just summoned by the big shot to help out. We discreetly took photos of the attendees holding up pictures and matched them with the list of those who perished in the disaster. Then, the big shot memorized everything swiftly."

    "Over fifty names in such a short time?" Aron wore a face of disbelief. "And paired with their families' injuries and illnesses?"

    "How could that be possible? The reason he was so quick is that the big shot's Intelligence stat is naturally high. He could memorize it directly. As for their family members' conditions, didn't you notice that he only spoke to two people? Their medical records can be found in the hospitals," Matcha Latte explained.

    "That's still impressive. To come up with a solution and put it into action so quickly," Black Cat said, looking at the square with deep emotions.

    As a speaker, once God on Earth had captured his audience's attention, he had already won half the battle.

    "Please don't misunderstand, fellow citizens of Arkham City. My anti-discrimination efforts aren't aimed at dividing the Kamei and the locals. On the contrary, we understand that every person standing on this land is someone I should protect. They all have the same rights: freedom and equality," God on Earth said. "This doesn't mean we'll forget those who lost their lives in the disaster. They won't be forgotten, nor will their names."

    If it were just empty words, not everyone would take him seriously.

    But when God on Earth mentioned each victim's name, the grieving parents would pay close attention to his words.

    Someone, overcome with emotion, sobbed, "We're not unreasonable people. We demand that the government reveal the truth they've been hiding. What exactly did our children, our families, die from?"

    There weren't many fanatics who genuinely believed that the Kamui were the source of evil. They merely sought to assert their rightful power—the right to know the truth.

    They didn't want their children's deaths to be gradually forgotten by the government, swept under the rug.

    The sit-in protest was a last resort. Lately, the anti-racism movement had gained momentum, overshadowing all other news. The nation's attention was now focused on it, and the citizens of Arkham's calls for the truth about the initial disaster had been repeatedly overlooked, only resurfacing when there was conflict with the Kamui.

    Reinvestigation was what they sought.

    "In my personal capacity, I swear to you that I will uncover what happened back then," God on Earth said gravely. "I won't let this matter rest. I'll give you a satisfactory explanation."

    With God on Earth's assurance, the protesters finally felt content. They stood up silently, no longer surrounding the altar but instead moved aside, forming a path on either side.

    Alon: "Is that it? It's over?"

    Black Cat: "What else did you expect?"

    Alon: "I thought there'd be more excitement... But did you hear that? The big guy is really going to reveal the truth?"

    Druid: "Who knows? Perhaps he was just bluffing. After all, God Amongst Mortals will vanish soon, and they won't be able to find him."

    The players chattered amongst themselves, their conversation confined to the player channel, leaving those around them oblivious to their words.

    God Amongst Mortals had averted the impending crisis. The mayor finally stepped up to speak, delivering his usual scripted speech. The mayor's secretary backstage expressed his gratitude to God Amongst Mortals repeatedly.

    God Amongst Mortals waved it off. "No need to thank me. Focus on how to console these citizens who have lost their loved ones."

    The secretary wore a wry smile. "We'll do our best."

    But that was all they could do. The truth couldn't be disclosed, and due to the government's ambiguous response, insurance claims couldn't be processed... God Amongst Mortals had seen his fair share of such vexing issues in reality. He shook his head slightly.

    Did this game really need to be so realistic in this aspect?

    Soon, the mayor's speech concluded, and the Kamui tribe took the stage.

    This was a significant moment for both parties. The Kamui tribe donned their formal traditional attire. Carmen's costume was the most elaborate, resembling an ancient shaman responsible for rituals. He wore a massive sheep bone headdress, his face painted with vibrant colors, adorned with a cloak made of various animal bones. In his hand, he held a branch with green leaves.

    The performance began, and one couldn't deny the Kamui tribe's prowess in rituals. The initially indifferent Arkham citizens, mostly there to see God Amongst Mortals, had grown tired of such demon-slaying day performances. However, within the Kamui's display, the familiar acts took on a new, wild vitality.

    Ancient, mystical, untamed.

    In the Kamuy dance, centuries-old tales unfold gracefully.

    A stone's throw away from the square lies a neighborhood.

    "I am a monster! Hand over all your sweets, quickly!" A child, wearing a monstrous mask, blocked Yeyey and Baba's path.

    "Are children nowadays so brazenly stealing?" Yeye grumbled as she handed over the candies she had just bought.

    "This is the rule, you outsiders!" Child Two pushed aside the monstrous mask on their face. "You don't have masks of the gods, so you must hand over your sweets. Otherwise, I can kill you!"

    "Hmm, way more violent than Halloween's 'trick or treat.' The government hasn't abolished this holiday yet?" Shu Hau munched on some local snacks he had bought while sarcastically commenting.

    He wasn't the only one indulging; other players were also fully enjoying the festive atmosphere, treating Demon Extermination Day as an in-game event.

    But that wasn't too far off from the truth.

    "Hey, kid, what are the rules of this holiday?" Yee Yee offered the child a newly purchased lollipop and curiously bent down to ask.

    "Oh, it's actually very simple. Those wearing monster masks can ask those without masks for sweets and cookies," explained Kid Number 3, showing them the candies and biscuits in his hands. They were local snacks sold at the stalls, with the only peculiar thing being that both the biscuits and candies were shaped like humans.

    "The ones with the deity masks can scare away the monsters."

    "And then?" Yaya asked.

    "There's nothing after that!"

    "Doesn't that mean the one with the deity mask is the strongest? Then everyone should just buy deity masks!"

    "But deity masks are the most expensive!" Kid Number 1 declared confidently.

    Yaya glanced at the shop beside her and found that he was right. The faceless deity masks with horns cost twice as much as the monster masks.

    ...What a money-grubbing tactic!

    "Why don't you go bother the people over there? They have so many biscuits they're piling them on the ground," Babba pointed out, gesturing to the other side where a few adults were arranging human-shaped candies and biscuits on the ground next to a flower bed.

    "That won't do. Those sweets are meant to welcome the spirits of the deceased," replied Kid Number 2.

    "Do the dead eat sweets too?"

    "Probably, I guess. Everyone's eating them today. As for the dead, well, I'm not dead, so how would I know?" Kid Number Three shrugged and, promptly responding to his friends' calls, turned to leave.

    Nayue continued watching the flower bed, while Shu Shu Hao waved goodbye to the children. Suddenly, he raised his hand to rub his eyes.

    "Hmm, why does it seem like there's one more?"

    Shu Shu Hao looked puzzled at the children's retreating figures. There had been three kids asking for candies, but now, four shadows were leaving.

    "Idea: Success"

    On the other side, Nayue's pupils also narrowed slightly. He spotted an odd shadow appearing behind a mourning citizen.

    "Idea: Success"


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