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    Asianovel

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    Chapter 159

    An idea gradually formed in Lane's mind, and he couldn't help but curve his lips into a smile. He then looked at God on Earth and waved at him.

    "Interested in hearing my plan?"

    The key to the grand descent of Miskatonic University lay in reinserting the concept into people's subconscious, allowing them to harness the Arkham Horror and its powers to bring the university into reality. The first step, drawing the cultists' attention, had already succeeded.

    The only loophole now was that there was no information about Miskatonic University in the secular world, leaving it up to the cultists' imagination. The second phase required a perfect patch for the university's current state and origins.

    Of course, this wouldn't be a pleasant journey for the cult members, but that didn't stop them from trying.

    ...

    Although the cultists in the new port still harbored doubts about unity, it didn't hinder their efforts to insert their own people into the group, all for the sake of being the first to discover any news about Miskatonic University when they reached Arkham.

    Thanks to his impressive performance during the initial meeting, God on Earth naturally became the leader of the reconnaissance team, responsible for guiding the group to Arkham to gather intelligence.

    This also offered more room for players to maneuver.

    At last, the devotees alighted from their vehicles and arrived at their intended destination.

    "Finally, we've arrived!"

    A diminutive man from the God on Earth sect eagerly stepped off the plane, gazing at the unfamiliar city, where lights began to twinkle as the sun set. He grinned, "Oh, God, I can hardly wait to add some new hues to this place."

    "Shut up, Shawn. Don't forget why we're here. Our main purpose is to gather intelligence!"

    "Oh, of course, I haven't forgotten. But do you honestly think we'll do nothing?" The short man countered.

    The other followers who had descended from the aircraft couldn't help but shift their gazes. It was clear that despite forming a team, most of them hailed from different sects and, apart from their shared mission to investigate Myriad, each had their own assignments from their respective sects.

    Like the small man, who was already eager for revenge against Myriad. His sect was one of the hardest hit by player attacks, nearly swallowed by other sects. They were the most vengeful.

    Others remained silent, obviously harboring their own plans. As the leader, it was undoubtedly a headache to deal with the lack of unity within his group. However, when God on Earth emerged, he maintained a gentle demeanor. "I won't hinder you from achieving your goals, but it's getting late. Let's head to the city center first and find a place to rest."

    Arkham wasn't a particularly developed city. Although it had an airport, flights were scarce. By the time they arrived, the sun was almost setting.

    The small man was pleased with God on Earth's pragmatism. Initially, he'd expected the man to be a troublesome figure based on his performance during the meeting. To his surprise, he turned out to be quite 'sensible'.

    The diminutive man didn't mind giving the deity some human respect and was the first to agree, "Let's go find a car."

    The airport was situated in the outskirts, so they had to take a taxi. God Among Us walked calmly at the forefront, subtly guiding his followers towards the two taxis outside the airport without drawing attention.

    The player IDs on the drivers' caps were particularly eye-catching, of course, only visible to God Among Us.

    "Where to?"

    "City center!"

    Player No Work Today responded promptly, "No problem."

    They all got into the cars. There were seven in God Among Us's party, filling up two vehicles. Both drivers were players who had been eagerly awaiting their arrival.

    At this moment, Act Two officially began, a task that could be said to test the players' acting skills to the utmost.

    "Customers, you look rather unfamiliar," No Work Today remarked casually. "Are you here for a vacation in Arkham?"

    "Just so," God Among Us replied nonchalantly.

    "Well, isn't that unfortunate," the driver, not working today but still operating the player channel, smoothly recited the lines. "This isn't the best time to visit Arkham."

    The short man couldn't resist taking the bait. "Why is that?"

    A quirky smile tugged at the driver's lips. "There will be heavy fog soon. Take a look outside your windows."

    The cult members turned their gaze to the window. Indeed, a mist was beginning to form, though visibility was still relatively high.

    "I'll give you a piece of advice: it's best not to venture out in such foggy weather, or strange things might happen."

    "Haha," the short man scoffed immediately, his disdain evident. "Who do you think you're scaring? Do you believe we'd fall for such tricks?"

    Having grown up in the most dangerous neighborhood of New Harbor, the cultist looked down on ordinary people who lived in the sunlight, regarding them as ants that could be crushed effortlessly, harmless lambs.

    Moreover, cultists had seen it all. They wouldn't be frightened by mere urban legends, would they?

    Not only did the short man dismiss the driver's warning, but the rest of the group also paid no heed. The driver, unperturbed, continued driving with a chuckle.

    "Master, I've heard that this city has experienced two disasters before. The second one, they say, involved a deity appearing. Is there any truth to that?" God Among Men feigned curiosity.

    Today, not working, his expression shifted, and his eyes clearly avoided direct contact. "Catastrophe? Oh, yes, there have been incidents, but it's the government's fault for shielding corrupt factories that caused all these problems. As for this deity you mentioned... sorry, I don't believe in religion."

    "I was just curious," the God among Men smiled, casually taking out a stack of old newspapers from the backpack he carried. "See, this is what piqued my interest."

    The newspaper carried by the God among Men was unfolded before everyone, with the front-page headline reading, "Shocking! A Divine Being Spotted within the City? The Truth Behind the Catastrophe Lies ——"

    The live-stream audience couldn't hold back their reactions.

    "Damn, it's you again with the sensational headlines."

    "How can we see this kind of news even in the game, hahaha."

    "What are you guys up to? Black Cat and the others haven't posted anything on the forums. Cloud gamers aren't getting any gaming experience at all."

    "Nonsense, if you want the experience, play the game yourselves (laughs in frustration)."

    "Hehe, let me spoil a bit. Actually, watching this unfold directly will be even more thrilling."

    The believers were also exasperated. This kind of newspaper clearly wasn't reputable, they thought.

    With an acting prowess accumulated over a lifetime, Today Off Work managed to create beads of sweat on his forehead. "R-Really? I didn't expect you to take this urban legend seriously."

    Huh?

    The other believers suddenly felt something amiss. Didn't he not give the same response when they discussed the foggy weather myth earlier?

    Before they could probe further, Today Off Work pulled the vehicle up in front of a hotel. "Alright, we're here. You can get out now."

    The believers exchanged glances, but it was God on Earth who stepped out first. "Let's go."

    As the car disappeared into the distance, the short man couldn't help but ask, "He's obviously suspicious. Are we just letting him go like that?!"

    "Relax," God on Earth said coolly with his hands in his pockets. "I've planted a tracker on his car. He won't get far. Go check in first. I'll be back soon."

    One of the believers offered, "I'll go with you."

    "Perhaps," God on Earth replied noncommittally.

    The short man rolled his eyes. "I'll pass. The rest of us will drop off our luggage and then come find you."

    "Certainly."

    The group split into two, and the diminutive man took on the secondary command. He gleefully entered the hotel, intending to book rooms at the reception. To his surprise, the receptionist said, "Is this for Mr. Austin's reservation? Seven rooms have already been prepared."

    The little man didn't expect such thoughtful service from an ordinary person: "That's correct."

    The player working at the hotel's front desk gave a knowing smile. "Very well, here are your room keys. Please keep them safe. With the thick fog tonight, it's best not to leave your rooms."

    Bernie, one of the cultists, couldn't resist asking, his eyes fixed on the receptionist's, "Is it because of that urban legend?" Earlier, the driver had also warned them against going out in foggy weather.

    "Yes, it's quite an infamous urban legend in Arkham. People claim to encounter monsters during foggy days, and strange occurrences often happen," the receptionist shrugged. "I don't really believe it, but with low visibility tonight, it's always better to be cautious."

    Her words made sense.

    However, the cultists clearly disregarded her warning. They were ruthless cultists; would they be afraid of an urban legend? In a way, they were the ones creating such legends.

    Each of them, chosen for this mission, was either a pillar of the cult or a close confidant of the cult leader. Their hands were stained with the blood of the innocent. Even if ghosts came calling in the dead of night, they would dare to offer them again to their evil deity.

    By the time the cultists reached the hotel, the sun had begun to set. After settling their luggage in their individual rooms, complete darkness had enveloped the outside world, and the fog grew thicker.

    The short man glanced out the window and noticed something odd. At this hour, why was the street already deserted?

    But he didn't ponder much then, simply waiting silently in the room for God on Earth to return.

    An hour, then two hours passed...

    There was still no word from God on Earth. Shawn, the short man, had called him several times, only to hear no answer. Eventually, the calls didn't even go through, and he sensed that something might be amiss.

    Moreover, it seemed eerily quiet outside.

    Shawn rushed out of his room, just in time to see the open doors of the adjacent rooms, with the other three occupants emerging from theirs. "Did any of you notice anything strange?"

    "It looks like you did too," the gloomy man said. "The signal suddenly disappeared."

    "And there's nobody left in the hotel," remarked a sultry woman leaning against the door frame. With her black-polished nails, she scratched at splinters on the wooden door. "The receptionist, the chef in the kitchen, and the cleaner – they're all gone."

    "It's not just the hotel staff," the gloomy man added. "If you look out the window, you'll see that there's nobody outside anymore."

    As the voice faded, the surrounding atmosphere instantly turned somber, and the devotees' expressions grew grave.

    At that moment, the last person who had been silent raised the laptop in their hand and said, "T-this is the information I found before my signal completely cut out. Because those people kept talking about urban legends, it really caught my attention..."

    "Hand it over quickly!" The short man, Shawn, snatched the introverted man's laptop and eagerly scanned its contents. The alluring woman and the gloomy man crowded around to look at the screen as well.

    On the screen was a rudimentary forum page, documenting the so-called fog legend.

    According to the legend, whenever Arkham was shrouded in fog, one must return to their room and lock the door tightly. Under no circumstances should they open the door to any sounds from outside, nor should they venture out onto the streets. Doing so would reveal another world.

    A despairing world filled with all sorts of monstrous creatures.

    "That description sounds eerily familiar."

    "Hmm, I think I'm starting to piece together what the bigwigs have planned. So that's how it is."

    "How wicked of you all, hahaha. Now Arkham will truly become a horrifying legend."

    "What, what happened? I missed something."

    "Well, have you heard of Silent Hill? I suspect that the gods among us are following its script. I already have an idea how to deal with the University of Michigan and how it will make its appearance."

    "Why didn't you tell us about this!" Sean was furious. Seeing Introverted South's timid expression, he charged forward, pointing at his chest. "Which cult do you belong to! Didn't your cult leader tell you to share any strange occurrences during operations?!"

    Sean was simply taking advantage of Introverted South's meekness to spout nonsense. Let alone sharing information, it would be a praise-worthy act of camaraderie if these cult members from different churches didn't stab each other in the back. There was no way they would share intelligence.

    The alluring woman and the gloomy man exchanged odd glances, but for their own interests, they didn't expose Sean.

    "I... I'm from the Church of Daily Milk Tea. I'm sorry, I didn't know. I thought everyone considered this trivial."

    Sean: ?

    The alluring woman and the gloomy man: "...? Daily Milk Tea?"

    They were taken aback. What? There was such a cult in New Harbor? What kind of cult was it?

    Tea Pup spoke softly, "Yes, our cult's belief is to drink one cup of milk tea every day. All members have to comply. Don't underestimate us because we're a small cult; our industry chain spans the entire New Harbor."

    The alluring woman suddenly recalled something. "The milk tea industry belongs to your cult?!"

    Bubble tea is a newly booming industry in New Harbor, it's rumored to be highly profitable. The Triads once attempted to get involved, but hearing whispers of a cult's involvement, they decided against it.

    Player with the ID Milk Tea Dog humbly replied, "Yes, while our church hasn't flourished much, we have money, so we were able to purchase a spot on the team."

    The cult conference that God Among Us previously attended wasn't open to just any organization; it was exclusive to cults deeply entrenched in New Harbor for years. The Church of A Daily Bubble Tea, of course, didn't possess such a background, but they had wealth.

    The cult members were speechless, while the live stream chat was bursting with laughter.

    "Grass, what are you guys doing, hahaha!"

    "Godly daily milk tea church, I thought the Flying Spaghetti Monster was bizarre enough, turns out there's something even more absurd."

    "Not surprising. Calling New Port a cult simulator isn't an exaggeration. The requirements to establish a church in this city are quite lenient. I know many players have registered, though whether they can actually run them is another story."

    "Exactly. Among those I'm aware of are the Pineapple Off Pizza Church, Strawberry Mapo Tofu Church, Sweet Tofu Brain Church, and the Hot American Coffee is Traditional Chinese Medicine Church. Of course, all of them vanished within days of registration."

    "Hawaiian pizza enthusiasts are enraged!"

    "Indeed! I was the one who brought down the Strawberry Mapo Tofu Church (in a loud voice)."

    "I'm not surprised by the quirky cults players create, but I am astonished that someone actually established a milk tea supply chain in-game. What are you guys up to? This game is too free-spirited!"

    "Official response: I may have given you too much liberty."

    "Didn't we already say no business in Cthulhu-themed games?"

    "What's wrong with that? Big shots are holding rallies in-game, why can't we do business? (Gestures sarcastically)"

    "I recall that the Daily Milk Tea Sect was the only player-founded church that managed to thrive, huh. Yeah, it was started by a bunch of random lifestyle players."

    "You call them lifestyle players?"

    "Indeed. Traditional players: roleplay, investigators, followers. Lifestyle players: entrepreneurship, administration, even becoming president."

    Sean took a deep breath. "Why did you buy a spot on the team? By the way, you don't have any beef with those from Miskatonic University, right? So, what brings you here?"

    "Certainly, we do!" the Milk Tea Dog grumbled. "Their influx into New Port overloaded our milk tea shops daily, leaving us swamped with orders. Initially, we just wanted to make milk tea for ourselves, but ever since they arrived, we're exhausted from selling every day and barely have time to enjoy a cup ourselves!"

    The financially struggling member of the small church...

    Forget it, don't argue with a madman.

    Sean took a deep breath and reminded himself that the new harbor was a melting pot of all sorts, and this person clearly had a screw loose; he shouldn't engage in a dispute with a madman.

    "Me, holding milk tea: Meow?"

    "As a matter of fact, it does seem like everyone went to buy milk tea."

    "So it turns out you guys have been keeping this church afloat!"

    "It's not our fault. The Big Shot Divine Being and Black Cat Big Shot also went to buy some!"

    "Indeed, Big Shot Divine Being even personally promoted the milk tea shop!"

    "Enough already." The enchantress let out a deep sigh, turning away from Milk Tea Dog, afraid that the conversation would veer off into another tangent. "What else did this urban legend say? Did you find any more detailed information?"

    "Yes, yes." As if fearing rejection, Milk Tea Dog hastily added, "I found another website with more details about the foggy weather, like what signs indicate we've entered that world, and also..."

    "Wait a moment," the gloomy man interjected suddenly. "Did anyone notice that we seem to be missing someone?"

    Upon hearing this, everyone was stunned. The seductive woman suddenly recalled, "Right, Father Austin went to look for that driver. Another cult member accompanied him. We were seven in total, five here at the hotel, but now we're only four."

    Sean exclaimed, "Norris is missing?!"

    At that moment, a terrified scream echoed from somewhere within the hotel.

    Sean and the others' expressions tensed up. They immediately turned towards the source of the sound and ran, with Sean taking the lead, followed by the seductive woman and Milk Tea Dog. The gloomy man was at the back, his gun held loosely in his hanging wrist, ready to fend off any danger.

    The noise originated from a toilet on the second floor. As soon as Sean entered, he was shocked by the scene before him.

    There was blood everywhere.

    The missing cultist, Norris, was hanging from the bathroom's light fixture, his abdomen ripped open as if mauled by a fierce beast. Blood continuously dripped onto the floor from his wound, while walls and floors were covered in massive claw marks and splattered blood. It appeared as though Norris had been killed by some terrifying monster.

    As Sean lowered him, all the cultists could see the frozen expression of extreme fear on Norris's face. Even an evil cultist like him couldn't help but feel a chill run down their spine.

    The seductive woman stepped forward to examine Norris's wounds. "He hasn't been dead for long. The fatal injury is at the back of his head; he was likely bludgeoned to death."

    The gloomy man commented, "I met him earlier. He was the first to notice that the hotel staff had vanished, so he suggested searching for them. Who knew..."

    While everyone's focus was on the victim, Milk Tea Dog directed their gaze towards the bathroom faucet, pointing at it with terror. "Look! Blood is flowing from the faucet!"

    Sean and the others spun around, and indeed, the faucet that should have been spouting clear water was now oozing thick, crimson blood.

    "It's exactly like what I read online," muttered Milk Tea Dog. "Before entering that world, there's fog first."

    "Then blood flows from the faucets."

    "Everyone vanishes from the real world."

    "And finally, the monsters attack."

    He clutched his forehead in despair, his features contorted. "We're done for. We must've accidentally entered the Fog World. We'll die, we'll definitely be killed by those monsters!"

    "Damn it! I don't believe in any damn monsters!" Sean erupted in anger, charging at Milk Tea Dog with aggression. He grabbed the collar of Milk Tea Dog's shirt and slammed him against the wall. "Even if there are monsters, they should be afraid of me! I have the protection of a deity watching over me!"

    With that, he released Milk Tea Dog's collar and, laughing maniacally, started shooting randomly around him as he rushed out of the hotel. "Haha, come on, you monsters! Try my gun!"

    The enchanting woman watched Sean's retreating figure, her eyes wide with disbelief. "Has he gone mad? To split up at a time like this?"

    The gloomy man casually remarked, "Maybe he's just gone mad from taking too many drugs. Ignore him. I don't believe in a Foggy World or anything like that. Don't forget who we are; think according to the rules of the mysterious realm!"

    "Right." The alluring woman realized her mistake. They weren't ordinary people. Why were they losing their composure over such an incident?

    Indeed, everything they had encountered defied science. However, in the context of the mysterious realm, there might be someone capable of achieving it.

    "The question is... Could this be a hidden realm?" The alluring woman speculated, only to receive a mocking glance from the gloomy man. "I don't think so. Two conditions are necessary for a hidden realm's existence. First, natural hidden realms are formed due to unique geographic features that have existed since ancient times. Second, you wouldn't even dare to guess what the second condition is."

    The second condition referred to the leakage or intentional creation of power by a malevolent deity.

    "The most probable explanation is that someone is causing trouble," the gloomy man said sinisterly. "That troublemaker could very well be among us."

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