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    Asianovel

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    Chapter 160

    "The spellcaster must be among us!"

    Sean, the short man, dashed out of the hotel with a grave expression that contrasted starkly with his earlier madness. Clearly, he had also come to the same realization as before: something was amiss in this city. They didn't entirely believe the urban legend; they were half skeptical and half believing. They leaned more towards applying mystic knowledge, which aligned with the gloomy man's line of thinking. He didn't think that the foggy world was a mystic realm. If it were a natural one, it would have been discovered a hundred years ago. As for it existing due to an evil god...

    Recalling the news of a deity appearing in Arkham previously, it might not be a fabrication. However, that possibility was even harder to accept. In any case, he still inclined towards the notion that it wasn't the entire city that had become a mystic realm but someone in their group causing mischief.

    This wasn't a hard guess to make. The leakage of intelligence from multiple cults at New Port wasn't a secret. Many had speculated that there was a mole in the cult's upper ranks, but they just hadn't caught anyone.

    Moreover, before departure, he had learned a little about some hidden truths. There was actually a wizard in the team, but he wasn't sure who it was. He suspected that the wizard was causing trouble, and that wizard was likely the mole sent by Miskatonic University.

    His pretended madness earlier was merely a ploy to find an opportunity to escape.

    As Sean ran, he took out his phone and checked it, only to discover that there was still no signal. He cursed inwardly.

    He wanted to call the Gods Among Us, who had left earlier. If the scene they were seeing was an illusion cast by the wizard, then the spellcaster had to be one of the five remaining. The chances of it being Gods Among Us or the other person were relatively lower.

    Moreover, it was Arkham who had suggested the investigation in the first place. This meant that God on Earth was the least suspicious and could, for the time being, be trusted.

    Wait a moment...

    As Sean ran for a while, he was pleasantly surprised to find his phone signal gradually returning. As expected, his assumption was correct. The spellcaster must be inside the hotel, with their magical range being limited. Now that he was farther away from the hotel, the signal was recovering!

    Without hesitation, he called God on Earth first. "Where are you? Something big happened?"

    There was a brief pause on the other end of the line. "What's going on?"

    "It's hard to explain over the phone. Where are you? We need to meet up right away."

    The address was promptly given over the phone. Sean checked and found out that it was two streets away from the hotel. Indeed, God on Earth was innocent.

    Five minutes later, Sean arrived at the designated spot and saw that God on Earth was already waiting there, but alone.

    "What about the other person who was with you?" Sean asked warily.

    "The driver is suspicious. The other one is keeping an eye on him. I can show you, but first, you need to prove that you're still the same person," replied God on Earth, equally cautious. This cautious attitude somewhat reassured Sean.

    "Verifying is unnecessary, we aren't that well-acquainted anyway, and it wouldn't prove our authenticity. But I can share with you the bizarre incidents that occurred in the hotel," Shawn said, recounting the events at the hotel without holding back. He concluded, "You mentioned that the driver was suspicious, which confirms my suspicion. There's a wizard among us, a spy sent by Michigan University. This mission is a trap!"

    God Among Us replied, "How do you deduce that?"

    "It's quite obvious. Check your phone. I had no signal inside the hotel, but as soon as I left, the signal returned. Clearly, the hidden wizard is using a spell to deceive us," Shawn declared confidently. "In reality, we haven't entered any foggy world. There have been pedestrians around us all along. I couldn't see them because I was under a spell, thus the streets appeared empty to me. But you could see them, right? You didn't go to the hotel, meaning you weren't within the spell's range."

    God Among Us paused briefly before responding, "Yes, I did see fog, but there were still quite a number of people on the streets."

    "As I suspected," Shawn affirmed, brimming with confidence.

    "For instance, someone might be standing right behind you," God Among Us said.

    Yeyeyue emerged from stealth and struck Shawn with a stunning blow. He didn't even groan before collapsing to the ground.

    "A perfect plan?" God Among Us inquired.

    Yeyeyue shrugged at God Among Us. "There's always a flaw somewhere."

    Indeed, from start to finish, it had nothing to do with mystic realms or wizardry spells.

    It was a stage set by the players themselves.

    Let's revisit the purpose of this mission: to bring Mithras back into reality. To achieve this, players must cooperate with Lane, making the cultists aware of Mithras' existence. The first act has already been accomplished, and now it's time to implant more detailed knowledge of Mithras in their minds.

    The challenge lies in the fact that Mithras exists solely within Lane's divine realm, not in the real world. The cultists mustn't realize this, which is why the players and Lane orchestrated the second act.

    As for how they did it, it was straightforward. From the moment the deity guided them into that taxi, transporting them to the designated hotel, the cultists found themselves in the midst of a player-devised scenario.

    The fog in Arkham was natural for the city, while the vanished signals were due to signal jammers installed by the players at the hotel. It's also worth mentioning that the hotel belonged to the Secret Church, and its owner had long been a member. When Sean left the hotel, he noticed the signal gradually returning, as the jamming effect ceased beyond its boundaries.

    Similarly, the disappearance of the crowds on the streets was a result of the Secret Church's growing control over the city since the previous main quest. With Lane subtly influencing people's subconscious, no one would be seen on the streets the entire day.

    Next, the cultists needed to be led to the spot where Mithras should have existed, shattering their sanity and pushing them to their limits so they wouldn't realize they'd been transported to Lane's divine realm.

    Then, the final act would unfold.

    The most precarious part of the script was the cultists' arrival in Arkham and their transfer to Lane's realm. It was crucial to prevent them from realizing they were no longer in the real world.

    Given the unpredictability of the cultists, constant adjustments to the script were necessary, along with eliminating those who deviated significantly, like Sean and the cultist who initially followed the deity on Earth.

    Fortunately, according to the rules of horror films, team members were destined to dwindle, and the loss of companions was one way to amplify fear. These cultists were innately cold-blooded and ruthless; it would take some effort to drive them into a frenzy.

    "Alright, I have to head back to the hotel," God on Earth said. "I can't be away from the group for too long, especially at this moment."

    "Okay, I'll try to stop the other players. The forum users have probably guessed our plan by now. You can open the forum directly, and we can discuss our next move there."

    "Got it," God on Earth replied.

    Upon returning to the hotel, he overheard the gloomy man and the seductive woman engaged in a heated argument.

    "We need to leave this city! There's clearly something strange going on here! People have already died, and our mission was to gather intelligence, not court death!"

    "You can leave if you want. No one is stopping you. It's unbelievable how you managed to get in with such a lack of awareness!" the gloomy man growled, then glanced at the innocent Milk Tea Dog sipping his drink. He pointed at him and said, "Even this milk tea vendor has more sense than you!"

    Milk Tea Dog: ???

    The seductive woman shot him a disdainful glance and sneered. "Don't provoke me. Our mission has clearly gone awry. If you think you can climb the ranks through this task, better consider whether you'll even survive! Look at this newspaper!"

    She slammed the newspaper onto the ground. "A trace of a deity appeared here a few months ago. This secret realm might be the result of an evil god's power leakage. I won't be insane enough to stay here with you. Everyone knows that entering such a realm is a death sentence!"

    Gloomy Man: "No, no way. I don't believe this is a mystic realm. Remember those from the University of Michigan? If this were a mystic realm, they wouldn't have survived. This is a trap meant to mislead us! To make us think this is a quagmire, a territory we must avoid at all costs. Then we'd relay this false information back, and that would deter the higher-ups from taking any action here! That's their goal!"

    Like Shawn, Gloomy Man also believed it wasn't a mystic realm but the work of a wizard. However, their assumptions diverged; Shawn thought it was a ambush by the University of Michigan students, while Gloomy Man believed the intention was to mislead them into providing false intel.

    His entire future rested on this reconnaissance mission, and he couldn't bear to return empty-handed.

    At that moment, the Seductive Woman noticed God Amongst Men entering. "Austin, did you find any crucial information?"

    A touch of regret appeared on God Amongst Men's face. "No, nothing. We split up to chase after the driver, but he quickly vanished into the fog. I lost track of him. I thought he'd return to the hotel first."

    "No, damn it, still no signal," the Seductive Woman grew more agitated. "We've been here for less than three hours, and now, three of our companions are missing."

    "You don't honestly think they were killed by monsters, do you?" Gloomy Man said. "There aren't that many monsters. It's all in your imagination."

    "So who killed this man and hung him from the lamp?!" The Seductive Woman pointed at the dead cultist's corpse with agitation. "Tell me, can humans do such a thing? And the blood flowing from the tap, and the people who've disappeared outside!"

    "I can't take it anymore, Captain. I think we should temporarily withdraw. Clearly, what's happening here is beyond our capabilities. We should send others to complete this task, maybe those magic users."

    God Amongst Men remained expressionless upon hearing this, neither readily agreeing nor disagreeing. Instead, he turned to Gloomy Man and Milk Tea Dog. "What do you two think?"

    Gloomy Guy: "I object. I'm not going anywhere."

    Milk Tea Puppy, hesitant: "Uh, I don't think that's a good idea. This team slot is quite valuable."

    The Seductive Lady looked at them in disbelief and sighed as if a deity had descended upon earth: "Unfortunately, I am the leader, but I cannot defy the majority's will. Moreover, if this place is truly as dangerous as you say, we must stick together even more. We have no idea what's happening outside, so we can't afford to be alone for no reason."

    The live stream was flooded with joyful comments:

    "Such a classic horror movie scenario, your teammate refuses to leave.jpg"

    "Hilarious! The Black Cat team must have drawn inspiration from horror films for this script."

    "It probably is. I can't wait to see how you drive the cultists mad."

    "I'm more excited for the upcoming Secret Mission Mode. I'm already in the Divine Realm, ready to be an extra!"

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