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    Chapter 156

    Information about Curios, Taints, and Sealed Artifacts were also gleaned from the cultists that God on Earth had infiltrated. Of course, they couldn't touch the Curios themselves, but when God on Earth ascended to become a High Priest, Endicott bestowed upon him an item related to a Taint.

    It was a dagger seemingly covered in rust, which required activation with blood. The effects of the item were unclear, but given the nature of Taints, it likely wouldn't be beneficial to the user.

    That was why God on Earth hadn't used it before parting ways with Bloodthirster and the others. He had sensed their intentions and handed the item over to Bloodthirster as a precaution.

    Now, Bloodthirster believed it was time to use it. He saw no point in pretending to be captured by players. Since he was going to abandon the truck anyway, why not test the effects of the Taint?

    As his blood dripped onto the rust, it seemed to come alive, crawling up his wrist. He felt as if his right arm no longer belonged to him. At the same time, the system kept prompting Sanity checks.

    "Inspiration Check: Success"

    "Sanity Check: Success"

    In that instant, a series of whispers flooded Bloodthirster's mind, revealing the function of the Tainted item. The more blood he shed and the more wounds he incurred, the greater the boost to his strength and speed. However, his appearance would also change.

    Bloodthirster's eyes lit up as he looked at the Druids.

    Blood Acolyte: I remember they'll be here soon; they have potions and doctors.

    Druid: What are you doing?

    Blood Acolyte: Hehe, you'll find out in a moment.

    In the next instant, without hesitation, the Blood Acolyte plunged the dagger into his abdomen, slicing horizontally to reveal his entrails. Yet, he seemed oblivious to the pain, his face filled with fanatical zeal as he cried, "Long live the new Bishop!"

    Rust crept up his arm, engulfing his body as his height shot up from 1.8 meters to 2.5 meters. His eyes turned rust-covered, transforming him into a monstrous creature.

    The Druid immediately drew his gun and fired! Enchanted bullets struck the monster's body, causing it to roar in agony!

    The second battle was imminent. The veteran players quickly regained their composure, calmly suppressing the monster's advance with their firepower. Coincidentally or not, the clash between the monster and the players destroyed the room's nodes.

    However, Endicott and the other Bishops couldn't complain. After all, the cultists had transformed into such a creature using pollutants for their new Bishop! They were willing to go to extreme lengths for their cause.

    Even the original competitors began to admire God on Earth and his devoted followers. Of course, they no longer doubted that God on Earth was colluding with Michigan students. If he were, why would his followers need to become such monsters? Why would his men refuse to retreat, even at the cost of their lives, to take down their enemies?

    God on Earth's unwavering loyalty to the new Bishop was evident, as was the fanaticism of his followers. Even if Endicott was a spy, this guy certainly wasn't!

    The other bishops silently echoed the sentiment in their hearts.

    "Such a pitiful child," God sighed deeply on Earth, clasping his hands together in a praying gesture with a compassionate expression. "May God bless you."

    "May God bless you." Endicott promptly followed suit.

    The other bishops did the same, muttering their prayers before lifting their heads to see an aged figure in red robes standing at the forefront, also praying with clasped hands. "Of course, God will bless His faithful, for they are so devout and pure, possessing noble virtues distinct from sinners."

    All the bishops froze, particularly Endicott, who was in charge of the ceremony. The shock on his face hadn't faded yet; he never expected the cardinal to suddenly appear.

    In the blink of an eye, the cardinal's ghostly figure had materialized out of nowhere.

    However, Endicott's complexion quickly paled from its initial severity.

    For he suddenly realized a question: If the cardinal could effortlessly appear here, did that mean they had been under observation the whole time?


    "Yes!" Startled, Endicott immediately responded.

    "You have disappointed me greatly." The cardinal lowered his hand and turned to look at Endicott, followed by the bishops behind him.

    Endicott's expression was rigid, and so were the bishops'. They knew that their believers had not performed satisfactorily just now.

    The only one who had done well was...

    All the bishops shot envious glances at God in Flesh, who wore an innocent expression.

    "Listening: Success"


    God in Flesh raised an eyebrow. Then, he seemed to hear some squirming noise coming from the ceiling.

    Speaking of which, what had the cardinal been doing all this time? The same could be said for the pope, who rarely appeared in public.

    "Austin, on the other hand, brings me great relief," the cardinal said as he turned to him. God in Flesh immediately humbled himself. "No, I also bear some responsibility for allowing them to advance this far."

    "You issued a timely warning, and your people risked their lives to intervene. I saw it all," the cardinal said calmly. "After this matter is settled, you will receive what you deserve."

    Endicott's expression could hardly have been more grim. The cardinal turned his head, and Endicott instantly schooled his features.

    "I seem to have been overly indulgent with you all. I understand that, given God's absence left no tangible evidence, your faith may not be as steadfast as it could be. But that's alright, for such conviction wasn't needed during those times. We rushed too hastily to regain our former glory, but now that God has returned, it's time for reorganization."

    Endicott was incredulous. "Your Eminence? You mean... No, no! I've contributed to the Church's growth! You can't do this!"

    The cardinal gazed at him, his eyes still benevolent, though this very kindness sent shivers down Endicott's spine.

    "Yes, we are grateful for your efforts. Without you, the new bishop would not have so swiftly regained the Church's former size before the chaos, nor would we have so easily regained control of the New Port."

    The chaotic era?

    God on Earth raised an eyebrow in curiosity.

    "But things are different now, children. God's will has descended, and a great calamity looms. It might be time for a change, for people who will better please Him, not parasites leeching off the Church. Perhaps it's not such a bad thing to slumber at this moment."

    "?" Endicott was unsure of the cardinal's meaning, as were the other bishops.

    Only God on Earth sensed something amiss. The system was repeatedly attempting to scan, yet failing, as if trying to convey a warning.


    Suddenly, a glob of sticky fluid dripped onto Endicott's face. Confused, he wiped his cheek, fingers now coated with an unknown green substance.

    Involuntarily, he lifted his head. In that instant, his eyes widened in terror, as if he couldn't believe what he was seeing.

    Endicott vanished. But God in Human Form saw it clearly: a massive, tar-like entity had reached down from the ceiling, snatching him up and devouring him in an instant.

    The thing was right above them.

    Realizing this, God in Human Form broke into a cold sweat.

    "Sanity Check: Success."

    "I apologize," the cardinal said. "He's been hungry for a long time. Waking him required a toll, but I didn't want to waste a sacrifice here. You needed the space anyway for newcomers."

    The cardinals fell silent for a moment before realizing the gravity of the situation. Fear seized their faces as they screamed and scattered, but they were no match for the monster's tentacles extending from the ceiling.

    One by one, like prizes in a claw machine, they were consumed by the descending, tar-like substance.

    In the end, only God Amongst Men stood on the spot, appearing calm and composed, though inwardly he was a bit timid. However, he maintained his nonchalant demeanor on the surface.

    The tar tentacles didn't descend for a long time. God Amongst Men dared not lift his head, fearing that a moment of irrationality would lead to his downfall or madness—either way, it would damage his cool image.

    "I seem to have passed the test?" he asked expressionlessly.

    The cardinal gazed at him for a long while. Eventually, a smile creased his wrinkled face as he took God Amongst Men's hand. "Welcome to secure your ticket to the new world."

    Feeling the sweat in God Amongst Men's palm, the cardinal looked up at him. "I thought you were truly fearless."

    "..." God Amongst Men looked down at his hand, wearing a bewildered expression. "Three seconds ago, I thought so too."

    The cardinal's smile became more sincere. If God Amongst Men had been truly unafraid of death, he might have doubted him. But now, he was utterly satisfied with this successor. He encouraged, "It's alright. Fear of death and the unknown is human nature."

    "There's nothing wrong with that. Congratulations, dear Austin, you've successfully secured your place in the new world."

    "Besides, there's no need for such fear anymore. It has left to deal with those rude intruders, some college students from a school called M University, I believe? No worries, the ritual will proceed as planned."

    God Amongst Men's face relaxed, and he turned to frantically tag Insane and Black Cat and the others.

    Divine Presence Among Us: Beware! A monster is heading your way!


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