Please update your browser: Your browser is obsolete, you need to update or switch! Missing var() support! Missing grid support! Missing (flex-) gap support! Missing aspect-ratio support! Missing container query support! Missing clamp() support! Missing -webkit-line-clamp support!
    Header Background Image

    Asianovel

    The world's first crowdsourcing-driven asian bl novel translation community

    Chapter 153

    Behind the deity on earth were roughly seven or eight players. The initially spacious torture chamber suddenly felt cramped. Although the players maintained their smiles on the surface, their expressions betrayed their shock as they frantically messaged each other in the player chat. The door to the torture chamber then creaked open from the inside.

    A pungent smell of blood hit their noses, and the players' smiles vanished instantly upon witnessing the scene within.

    Player Chat:

    Security: "Damn, what's going on?"

    Innocent Cake: "Suddenly, everything's blurred. Ah, my eyes!"

    Taibai Venus: "Cake, are you under 21? You shouldn't be seeing this."

    For what they saw was akin to a scene straight out of hell.

    The deity on earth fell silent for a moment before turning to the cultists. "What are you doing?"

    One of the cultists spread his arms. "Oh, Great Priest, isn't it obvious? We're saving the souls of lost sheep—by torturing their bodies with whips, giving them 'suffering,' which is a 'baptism' for these sacrifices."

    The more sacrifices for the arrival of the Evil God, the better. In line with the doctrine, the believers inflicted torment on these bound victims, considering it a rightful act.

    "God on Earth": "The sacrifices must be alive."

    A believer replied, "Haha, of course, Father. Rest assured, our techniques are precise. We won't let them die."

    Another devout believer eagerly unlocked the cell door, "We've reserved two fresh prey for you, easy targets. Are you ready to impose 'suffering' upon these lambs now?"

    With the door ajar, players could see more clearly. Had it not been for the censorship mode, several players might have lost control and vomited. The scene before them was excessively gruesome, exposing the darkest and most savage side of humanity in the rawest form.

    Among them were underage boys and girls, who also bore the most wounds. Some had their limbs severed, while others had their mouths sewn shut with needles and thread, their eyes devoid of any light.

    Their techniques were indeed precise; the sacrifices in the cell were still alive, albeit some would have preferred death to their current state.

    The live stream erupted into chaos.

    "D*mn, beasts!"

    "Sigh, so many minors. It's heartbreaking, even though they're NPCs."

    "What's going on? My screen is censored. Is there something I'm not supposed to see?"

    "Upstairs, you're wise. Some scenes are better left unseen; they can shake your faith in humanity."

    "Truly cultish. I've been reading God Among Us's forum posts and never thought much of it. Seems like even the big shots keep their troubles to themselves, qaq."

    "Haha, let's not forget how our leader joined this group. That should tell you all you need to know about these cults."

    Disregarding God Among Us, the newer players, who had recently joined the church, were clearly unprepared for such a sight. They fell silent collectively.

    Player Chat Channel:

    Too Arrogant Venus: I'm getting annoyed.

    Innocent Cake: You're just a bit annoyed? I can barely see anything past the censorship, and I'm about to explode! Can't MAD take action against them?

    Bald But Not Balding: Sigh, think about our leader's plan. They've worked so hard on it – we can't let it fail here.

    Innocent Cake: But... will our leader really 'try' it? Is it really alright?

    Upon hearing the devotee's fawning, the deity in human form cast a gaze upon the only two individuals within the dungeon who appeared clean and unscathed—a youth and a young man. The youth exuded an air of nobility, indicating he had been well-cared for, and his appearance was the sort that would appeal to many gamers with his handsome features. As for the young man... why did he seem vaguely familiar?

    It must be mentioned that Edmond had taken precautions before arriving, not just dyeing his hair black but also altering his facial features with makeup. However, faint traces of his original appearance remained around his eyes and brows, which is why God on Earth found him somewhat familiar.

    Furthermore, aren't these two a bit too composed? Leaving aside the slightly timid young man for now, the aristocratic youth lifts his eyes to meet theirs, devoid of any trace of fear.

    "Venerable Father?" Seeing that the divine presence showed no reaction, the devotee called out again, even proffering the bloodied whip before him with obsequiousness. "Those two would make excellent prey. I'm sure they would be overjoyed if you were to administer their baptism."

    God, gazing upon the proffered whip in the mortal realm, was about to speak when a player suddenly stepped forward from behind him.

    "Your Eminence, there's a call for you," the player named Blood Disciple said with an air of reverence, holding out a phone that displayed an ongoing call.

    God Among Men was taken aback but took the phone. There was no sound coming from the other end.

    Player Channel:

    Blood Disciple: You go to the Bishop, we'll handle things here.

    Blood Disciple winked at God Among Men, "The significant ones must be present in crucial situations."

    A hint of a smile graced God's human lips as he pretended to say something into the phone, then returned it to Blood Disciple before turning to address the devotee, "I would delight in bestowing 'ordeals' upon lost sheep, but alas, the Bishop requires my presence."

    The two believers, without a second thought, replied, "Oh, of course, His Excellency the Bishop's tasks would be of greater importance."

    "Yes, perhaps the ritual is about to commence. I must hurry," the Divine Being among Men said. "In addition, I'll leave a few devotees to assist you in guarding the offerings."

    As the divine presence departed with the players, only three gamers were left on the scene—headed by Bloodthirster. Immediately, he formed a party with the other two and shared his thoughts with them through the party channel.

    Team Channel:

    Vampire Sect: The deity among mortals has a heavy burden of tasks ahead. We can't afford to disrupt the image and plans he's established because of what's happened here. Leave this to us.

    Golden Star Tai: Sure thing, sure thing.

    Baldy: Alright, I have no objections.

    After God Among Men left, the two devotees promptly approached Vampire Sect and his group.

    "Are you all new to the church? You seem unfamiliar." The salaryman devotee smoothly offered them cigarettes.

    The Blood Acolyte waved his hand in refusal. "Sorry, our doctrine forbids us from seeking pleasure on earth. We don't indulge in cigarettes or alcohol."

    "Alright." The believer awkwardly put the cigarette away, muttering to himself that the rumors were true—Father Austin's followers were indeed overly devout.

    Though the doctrine was clear, believers undoubtedly wanted to adhere to it, but how could one avoid all pleasures in life? Only ascetics could achieve such a feat.

    "Speaking of which, how did you manage to catch them?" The Blood Acolyte approached the cell door with feigned interest, positioning his body to obstruct the view.

    "Oh, this is the interesting part. It was mainly due to people's empathy."

    The two believers eagerly shared their cunning tactic with their 'companion.'

    "Of course, we had to select our targets. Based on our experience, younger travelers tend to be more trusting, especially when the child is the one seeking help."

    Child protection was stringent abroad. Most people couldn't ignore a child in distress; even if someone was abusing a child at home, neighbors would call the police, leading to child protective services conducting an investigation. In severe cases, parents could lose custody.

    The believer spoke excitedly, "Especially with female targets, this trick always works. When unable to find a police officer, most people, especially those accompanied by adults, would lower their guard and bravely intervene, falling into our trap."

    Moving closer to the Blood Acolyte, the believer gazed at the young boy and girl huddled in the corner of the cell. "Especially since they look so pitiful, don't they, dear daddies?"

    The little girl said nothing, even shrinking back in fear as the devotee approached, clutching tightly to her brother's arm. The youth had actually already awoken, but he kept his eyes closed, his lowered hand balled into a fist, nails digging into his flesh.

    "Hmm?" The Blood disciple's fake smile almost slipped. "They're your children?"

    "Yes, that's why I entrusted this task to them. How glorious it would be to serve the Master's descent," the devotee's smiling face now appeared no less than demonic to the prisoners and players alike.

    "So that's how it is," the Blood Acolyte nodded. "But it seems they're not in a great situation."

    "Oh, this is the baptism one must undergo to join the church," the believer casually glanced over, not taking it too seriously. "If he can't endure even this, he's unworthy to be a sacrifice for the Lord."

    The live-stream chat erupted once more, with profanities censored into asterisks, indicating the busy moderators at work behind the scenes.

    Bloodthirsty took a deep breath to compose himself before he said, "What a wonderful father you are."

    His tone was laced with sarcasm, but the cultist didn't pick up on it. Instead, he chuckled and replied, "I couldn't agree more. As their father, I wanted only the best for them during their baptism. You can ask him yourself."

    Another working cultist nodded, his face filled with envy. "Indeed. Unfortunately, I'm the one who brings trials to my family, and I don't even have children yet."

    At this point, the players were still puzzled, but they would soon understand.

    At this moment, the limping man, who had earlier endured torture, finally regained consciousness. His entire face, swollen from being submerged in saltwater, bore an unrecognizable visage. Not an inch of his skin was untouched by injury. He stood frozen for a long while before suddenly leaping forward like a madman, lunging towards the teenager and the little girl. The teenager could no longer feign sleep, yet he made no effort to resist or evade. Instead, he pretended to struggle as he turned his back, shielding his sister protectively in his arms.

    The lame man kicked and thrashed at the youth's back with a frenzied intensity, his voice hoarse: "It's all because of you, all of you who lured me here, a pack of devils who deserve to burn in hell, you sons of bitches, why don't you all just die?"

    "After all my good intentions, this is how you repay me? Damn it, get down on your knees!"

    The limping man savagely kicked the teenager's knee, forcing him to collapse to the ground on one knee, yet he remained resolutely silent. The little girl tried to wriggle free from his embrace, but the teenager held onto her tightly, refusing to let go. Helpless, she turned her gaze desperately towards Lann, her eyes brimming with pleading.

    The occupants of the cells seemed accustomed to such scenes; some watched with detached eyes, while others, fueled by animosity, directed their gaze at the other underage prisoners.

    The players watched, stunned, as if both captivated and perplexed by the scene before them.

    "Baptism and trials..." Blood Acolyte mumbled, something suddenly dawning on him.

    "Indeed, baptism is the infliction of pain upon oneself, and trials are the imposition of pain onto others. Only by enduring these two tests can one join the church," the cultist said with an eerie smile, feigning kindness. "Isn't this a golden opportunity? I told them that they could leave this hellhole if they became members of our church. The wounds on their bodies aren't just from us, but it seems none of them have passed the test yet."

    What test had they failed?

    The players were well aware that these individuals were sacrifices prepared for the ritual – salvation was never in the cards for them. The cultist's deliberate words and the inclusion of their kidnappers in the cells were merely to instigate mutual torment among them.

    The tenet of this church dictates that one must undergo suffering and trials to purify themselves in order to better please the divine.

    Thus, by enduring such torment before the ritual, they believe they align themselves more closely with this doctrine, fulfilling its requirements.

    However, those confined within the cells are unaware; they think their pain will indeed lead to freedom. Not only do they inflict harm upon themselves, but they also impose suffering on others within the cells, especially those who lured them there.

    "Are we really not killing? Seriously, no killing here?"

    "Damn it, just get rid of him, I can't take it anymore!"

    "Beasts have feelings, cultists don't."

    "You're insulting beasts by comparing them to these cultists."

    "Not killing? Still waiting? Do any of you have any backbone?"

    "Calm down, guys upstairs. Don't forget God's plan on Earth and Black Cat's scheme. This is the first step in a major quest. All players are now introduced by God's plan on Earth. According to this cult's twisted logic, the introducer acts as a guarantor. If anything goes wrong with the players, God's plan on Earth won't be able to escape responsibility."

    "It might even jeopardize the entire quest. Players can't make a move right now, and God's plan on Earth's black priest persona can't collapse."

    "They're merely NPCs, frightening in appearance but essentially just lines of code. Don't take them too seriously."

    "Damn it, anyone who's played this game knows not to treat the NPCs as mere NPCs."

    The chat was in an uproar, with some advocating intervention while others believed they shouldn't disrupt God on Earth's plan.

    The situation in the cell grew more intense. Under the urging of the two cultists, the victims were forced to turn their blades on the weaker ones. Initially, there were those who intended to target Lane and his group, but they held back out of fear of the fully capable adult, Edmund.

    "Lord?" Edmund asked softly.

    Lane nodded. "Go ahead."

    At Lane's signal, Edmund rose to his feet and seized the crippled man by the hand. He was also an adult with intact strength, making the weakened cripple no match for him.

    "Everyone, stop!"

    His command fell on deaf ears. Instead, people looked at the two young men with pity, causing the watching cultists' expressions to darken.

    "I almost forgot about you two. The odds aren't even now." The cultist aggressively unlocked the cell door and aimed his gun at Edmund's head. "Get out here!"

    "No, no, catch the young master first," another cultist interjected abruptly. "They came together, right? I want to witness their friendship turn into enmity; it might be entertaining."

    Edmund, who had been obediently holding still under the gun's barrel, suddenly lifted his head, fixing his intense gaze on the speaker. The cultist instinctively took a step back, as if he had seen a monster stirring within the young man's eyes.

    However, he quickly regained his composure, shame and anger surging in his mind. He struck Edmund fiercely on the forehead with the gunstock, then turned to seize the young master.

    The cultist's blow was forceful, but Edmund didn't dodge. His upper body leaned backward as if he would fall from the impact. Yet, halfway through his fall, his spine curved, and his powerful abdominal muscles held him upright in mid-air. A faint laughter of the clown echoed in his ears.

    Lane didn't intervene, and Edmund should have remained silent according to the script. However, he couldn't tolerate these ants laying a hand on Lane.

    The cultist approached the young master step by step, deliberately slowing down to savor the prey's fear and despair. Unbeknownst to him, the young man, who should have been on the ground, stood upright, a hint of crimson paint now visible at the corner of his mouth.

    The seemingly detached young master lifted his head, yet no trace of fear could be found on his face. Instead, he seemed... troubled?

    Lane slightly raised his gaze, noticing Edmund, now standing tall behind the cultist. Half of the young man's body emerged from the darkness like a lurking bird, reaching out to the cultist with a gleam of bloodlust in his eyes.

    Due to the angle, the players didn't witness this scene. They all watched nervously as the cultist grabbed the young master's arm, ready to drag him away. At that moment, the Blood Cultist suddenly went berserk.

    "Aaaah, I hear it, I hear the voice of God!"

    Player: ?

    The other two players were taken aback, turning to look at Bloodthirsty in confusion.

    Bald: "What's gotten into you?"

    Bloodthirsty: "Watch my performance."

    The two cultists were also stunned. The one dragging Lann out paused, causing Edmund to stop his clown antics as well.

    Bloodthirsty covered his face and spoke to the air in a nervous tone, "Master, is it You calling me? What do You wish to say?"

    "What? I can't hear, why can't I hear?!?"

    With that, Bloodthirsty suddenly picked up a military dagger from the torture room. Under everyone's shocked gazes, he stabbed himself mercilessly, creating two or three bloody holes in his body. The dagger had a serrated design that caused immense pain when pulled out, but Bloodthirsty's face showed no sign of suffering. As he pulled the dagger out, flesh trailing behind, an intoxicated expression appeared on his face.

    "I think I'm hearing You now..."

    Cultist: "W-What's happening to him?"

    Gleaming Venus stared at the Blood Acolyte's message with an artificially forced look of fervor. "I see now. It must be because the ritual is almost complete, and the deity has started paying attention to us. He heard the divine voice – it must be the deity speaking directly to us!"

    "Performance: Successful"

    The disciple was stunned. "Are you serious?"

    "Oh," Baldy exclaimed, "I think I heard it too."

    With that, he also retrieved a dagger from a nearby torture device and stabbed himself, grinning as he did so. "Indeed, the more we endure the pain of baptism, the clearer we hear the deity's voice. Listen carefully to what They're saying, what message They're conveying! You should listen too!"

    Confused, the disciple looked at him. "I, we..."

    "The deity wants you to undergo baptism as well. What are you waiting for? Hurry up!"

    "But, but we still have guard duties..."

    The two disciples were dumbfounded by the Blood Acolyte and Baldy's actions in slicing themselves without hesitation.

    The remaining Golden Venus pulled out a gun from his chest, pointing it at them with a twisted expression. "Why aren't you doing it? I suspect your faith isn't genuine. Are you spies sent by another organization? Why don't you act when the deity offers you the chance for baptism?!"

    "Damn, hitting back with a counter-accusation."

    "Ha ha ha ha! Come on, let's mutually inflict pain upon each other!"

    "Well, isn't that a clever move."

    "You won, and in such a manner, laughter through tears."

    "To be frank, this does align with the character portrayal. As we all know, under the mighty figures on Earth, gods often have devout followers, each undergoing rigorous baptism rituals (dog emoji)."

    "Better to go mad on our own terms than be driven mad by heretics, amen (crossing their hands in prayer)."

    Mad, a bunch of lunatics!

    The two cult members inwardly raged at these newcomers, Bloodthirster and Baldy pausing their actions, their daggers and military knives pointed threateningly at them. With their blood-soaked appearances, no one dared doubt their willingness to act.

    "Do you want to do it yourselves, or shall we assist?"

    "We'll do it ourselves, ourselves."

    The two devotees closed the cell door, then, with grim determination, each chose their own instrument of torture, ensuring it was not too light. If the self-inflicted pain was insufficient, the blood-wielding cultist would pause, gaze coldly at them, and inquire, " Haven't you eaten yet? Do you need me to assist you? Has it been a long time since your last baptism?"

    "No, no," they replied hastily.

    "We'll do it ourselves! We'll do it ourselves!"

    The other inmates in the cell were astounded, watching in disbelief as these cultists began to torment themselves. The scene seemed surreal.

    Only Lane's lips curled into a faint smile, while Edmund retreated from his clownish demeanor.

    The little girl wriggled out of the young man's embrace, her eyes sparkling as she watched the scene unfold. The youth, similarly captivated, had a clearer view moments ago; from his vantage point, he could plainly see Edmund defy logic by straightening his body and the composed countenance of the young master. His gaze shifted between the two, finally settling as he quietly ushered the little girl over to Lann and the others.

    Lahn lifted his eyelids to regard them and made no move to refuse the children's plea for sanctuary.

    On the other side, the divine being strode directly toward the top floor of the building.

    The new harbor was dotted with derelict structures and half-finished buildings. Usually, these dilapidated edifices served as shelters for the homeless from the elements. On occasion, when the need arose, cultists would venture into these places to harvest from the very population they provided refuge for – the homeless.

    He ascended to the top floor, which had been cleared and temporarily transformed into an open surveillance room, monitoring every corner of the building.

    The Bishop was stationed here. A massive circle was drawn on this level's floor. If one connected the nodes of various rooms from different floors and viewed it from the rooftop, they would see that the layout of all the rooms converged into a complete array.

    "Any updates on the nodes below?" Endicott, the 'Lucky One,' who had become the Bishop due to the deity's earlier endorsement, felt exceptionally pleased seeing the deity descending the stairs. His future as a Cardinal was now virtually guaranteed with this accomplishment.

    "All is in order," The Deity on Earth replied with a smile. "At midnight, when the moon rises, we can commence the activation of the ritual."

    "Excellent, as expected of my most favored High Priest." Endicott patted the Deity on Earth's shoulder, finding the new prodigy more likable than ever before.

    "However, I have a question that I hope you can clarify for me."

    "What's your concern? Speak freely!"

    "Bishop, isn't this ceremony somewhat hastily arranged?" The Deity on Earth inquired.

    It was indeed hasty. For a legitimate religion, preparations for grand rituals or sacrifices typically took at least ten days or half a month. For a religion the size of Christianity, half a year's notice was not uncommon. Although the new Bishop was a cult, according to The Deity on Earth's covert investigations, it was a legally recognized religion in New Port. Though their covert activities were even more sinister than typical cults, their scale was undeniably vast.

    Compared to this, the newly appointed Bishop's grandest event in recent history, or perhaps ever, was set to take place in less than a week. And there were no suitable celestial alignments in sight. It was indeed peculiar.

    "Ah, you don't understand," Endicott said with a meaningful tone. "This isn't just a mere formality like before... The Pope has truly heard the voice of the deity. It is urging us, impatient to manifest in the real world."

    At these words, God on Earth's pupils constricted slightly. "The deity...?"

    It was actually that deity who was urging them? Why would they be in such a hurry to descend into reality?

    Could it be related to Lane?

    God on Earth pondered, but for now, they could only deal with whatever came their way. They would definitely disrupt this ceremony.

    The new Bishop had prepared for this ritual in a short time, but everything was in order. The abandoned skyscraper, which was once intended to be a city landmark by a corporation, seemed the perfect location for forcefully summoning the malevolent deity. Despite the project being left unfinished, it remained the tallest building in the city. According to mystic knowledge, it would absorb the most magical energy after the moon rose.

    The sacrifices were also ready at strategic points. When the time came, they would slay all the victims, and their blood and life force would flow through the nodes and converge at the heart of the building. The Cardinal would oversee the final phase.

    It was time to inform Black Cat and the others.

    God on Earth's fingers twitched, swiftly sending the information via private message to Black Cat's group. At the same time, they feigned a troubled expression, furrowing their brow.

    Sure enough, Endicott took the bait and glanced at God on Earth. "What's wrong?"

    "Nothing," God on Earth relaxed his brows. "I just recalled that one of my subordinates reported a piece of information. Due to the recent disappearances, someone in the New Port has hired outsiders to investigate them. They might have already traced it back to us."

    "Hired people? What kind of people? Detectives?" Endicott scoffed. "We've probably thrown more of those into the sea than we can count."

    "No, they seem to be university students."

    "Students?" Endicott burst out laughing. "Dear Austin, don't tease me. Let them cause trouble if they want to."

    "In any case, they can't do anything."

    That was the current state of the city.

    God on Earth continued, "I'm just worried that if they really uncover something, it might disrupt our ritual."

    "Haha, if they dare come, we could use them as additional sacrifices." Endicott sneered, clearly unconcerned.

    He had every right to be confident, for the building was now completely sealed off by the Bishop's men. Armed forces awaited downstairs, while believers patrolled each floor. He had no fear of a bunch of college students.

    The detectives and mercenaries were powerless against them; what could mere college students do? It was truly laughable.

    Thus, the deity on earth said no more, sending a signal to the black cat with assurance.

    The sun had just set, and there were still three hours until the ritual began. Time was ample.

    ...

    The black cat and the druid had been waiting impatiently. Upon receiving the deity's signal, their eyes lit up instantly.

    "Brothers! Let's go!" the black cat announced in the player channel.

    Player Channel:

    Alon: Hehe, I've been chomping at the bit for a while now.

    Black Cat: The map of the nodes is in the group, the big shot Deity on Earth has already shared it. Don't forget to check it. The key to disrupting the ritual is to sabotage these nodes and release the sacrifices. If they're brave enough, let them jump in as offerings themselves.

    Druid: Don't worry, got it!

    Matcha Milk Green: Charge! Let's be the first to tackle this new Bishop dungeon!

    Majority Rules: Out comes my enchanted weapon, earned from all those main quests. Finally, my treasure gets its moment to shine!

    Nightly: The Rebellious Squad is assembled, let's charge straight in!

    Barbie: Brothers, follow me!

    Despite their bold words, the players instinctively began to strategize for survival in the initial onslaught. Each showcased their unique skills, some sneaking, others climbing. After all, they were seasoned players from previous main quests; they knew the value of subtlety.

    Indeed, a few successfully infiltrated the building undetected, avoiding combat. However, with larger numbers, some were inevitably unlucky.

    "Perception Check: Success"

    "Perception Check: Failure"

    "Darn it, Lady Luck is against me!"

    The Strongest Man angrily stared at his failed roll. The alarm indicating intrusion blared throughout the building, instantly drawing countless guns in his direction.

    "FIRE!" The commander on guard duty downstairs issued the order without hesitation. At this critical moment, no one, not even an ant, was allowed to intrude upon the ceremony hall.

    The figure of the Strongest Man was instantly swallowed by bullets, but the commander failed to notice a shadow slipping into the darkness behind him, appearing like a stealthy specter.

    Nayami, having reloaded her Specialist Assassin card, emerged from behind him, raising her hand to slash at his neck.

    Her enchanted black dagger had a built-in effect, automatically scoring a critical hit when close to a vital spot.

    "Critical Hit Damage: 24 points."

    Nayami didn't need to witness the outcome. Before the cultists around the commander could react, she threw a flashbang without hesitation. All they could see was the prominent emblem on his chest before the blinding light of the flashbang struck them.

    "Monster..."

    On the front line, the armed personnel stared in disbelief as the Strongest Man remained unscathed amidst the barrage of bullets.

    In reality, it was the effect of a disposable C-rank magical protective item in his hand.

    The Strongest Man casually tossed aside the tattered protective garment, flashing an eight-toothed grin. "Michigan University's Alchemy Department, you deserve nothing less!"

    0 Comments

    Enter your details or log in with:
    Heads up! Your comment will be invisible to other guests and subscribers (except for replies), including you after a grace period. But if you submit an email address and toggle the bell icon, you will be sent replies until you cancel.