96 Apostate

    Chapter 96: Apostate

    The people in black were all in long-sleeved robes, their design strange and unfamiliar. However, the robes were adorned with the same patterns that came from a similar motif as the oil maps, shrine, and altar pillars. It originated from the foreign civilization, albeit a little more distorted in concept.

    "Shoot them, you people are worthless if you can't hit them at this distance!" Lou Xiaoning shouted angrily. She was about to launch herself to grab the gun but was stopped by Uncle Dan at the last minute. Indeed, different from before, the enemy had abandoned the cover of the fog, but would they have done so if it would make them vulnerable?

    Regardless Xue Ba still gave the order. While taking down the mutated wolf pack, the marksmen aimed at the closer individuals in black. The bullets phased through them. There were several hundred individuals in black who were approaching. From all four sides, each of the groups was protecting an individual in red in their midst. The people in red were similarly invulnerable to bullets.

    "Jesus save us from these ghosts..." Lin Mo prayed. He sat on the stretcher alone. He couldn't run even if he wanted to, so that unsettled him even further. The group could not tell whether these was an illusion or they were spirit, and that dealt a heavy blow to their mental state.

    Then, the expressionless, wilted faces moved their chapped and shriveled lips in unison. "Gu Jun, open your eyes. What do you see? What are you doing? Do you see yourself as being kin to the rest of them?"

    Xue Ba and the other Demon Hunters felt befuddled, but the accusation travelled along with the lullaby and sank into Gu Jun's head like a drill. It poked a hole in both his consciousness and subconscious, allowing some strange concepts of unknown origin to leak out.

    "Can you call out their names?"

    His brain was expanding, and his body was shaking. In the immense pain, Gu Jun felt he was losing control of his own body. He whipped his head around mechanically like a string puppet to look at his teammates. Xue Ba, Uncle Dan, Lou Xiaoning, Lin Mo, Zhang Huohuo, Yang Henan, Zhou Yi, Gao Mingpeng... and... and...? He realized he could only name these eight people. The remaining eight had become blurry and inconsequential as they faded into the background, their names disappearing alongside their existence.

    Gu Jun felt like he had been torn in two. One half had already been taken by the nightmare. It reminded him of the young self who was placed inside the banyan tree hole. The four pillars around the shrine suddenly grew in height, or perhaps he was falling downward... into more hallucinations... or back into the silent emptiness...

    At the same time, Uncle Dan, who was not armed, saw Gu Jun's eyes suddenly become bloodshot. The blood vessels in the eyes reminded him of the dark red patterns on the stones. Gu Jun's face took on the same expressionless, icy detachment as before.

    "Filthy apostates..." A dark and hoarse voice rang out. It sounded completely different from the usual Gu Jun. His bloodshot eyes were glued to one of the people in red. The man appeared to be different from the others. Now, Uncle Dan and the rest could see that the pattern of the robe he was wearing was different from the others. It looked more distorted and absurd. However, they had no idea what Gu Jun was saying. What did he mean by apostates? Regardless, there was one thing that they were certain of. They were no longer dealing with the Gu Jun that they knew. It felt like Gu Jun's body had been taken over by another persona.

    "Just let him be for now!" Xue Ba stopped Zhang Huohuo and the rest, who were about to jump on Gu Jun. They had no idea what was happening, and his instincts told him Gu Jun was still somewhere in there.

    Suddenly, a new development drew their attention away. The broken shrine under their feet appeared to have come alive. The patterns on the stone glowed and started to move like blood. A source of abnormal energy was being triggered. Instantly, they felt like they had fallen into some kind of arcane cell. Their muscles weakened, and they lost their mobility. In the strange state, Gu Jun's expression darkened. It appeared like he too was placed under the same impediment.

    The mutated wolves around the shrine stopped charging forward as if something scary had forced them to stop. All the figures in robes stopped around the shrine as well. The leading wilted man in red was shrouded in the shadow as he said, "It is in our faith that being apostates is better than being abandoned. No matter whether you are Gu Jun or the Son of Misfortune, your role is nothing but to serve our purpose. Your existence is to evoke the divine. Understand that you are not divine yourself but a sacrifice that we have cultivated for ourselves."

    Gu Jun still had some faint consciousness left. Suddenly, it all hit him... The people in red were giving him the answers. They needed his human powerlessness and confusion as well as the evil and madness of the Son of Misfortune. As the contradiction between these emotions grew, his S Value decreased, and thus, the chance of a successful summoning would be higher. Spirit Children were the vessels for divinity. Like a mother, they were cultivating another life inside them over many years.

    Today, right after he had completed all the rituals for his coming of age ceremony, when he was both physically and mentally exhausted but his spirituality was at its optimum activity, they would conduct a summoning to invoke that life form who had been in hibernation in the foreign civilization. The life form would consume Gu Jun and take over his body. The life form was not a dead person; it was the Son of Misfortune who would descend upon this world.

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    But the people of Lai Sheng Company did not intend to worship him. Instead, their real goal was to use this altar to suspend and shackle the Son of Misfortune before he could descend fully and had access to his full power. They would use this moment of weakness for the divine to strip away his power and absorb it for their own. That was the goal of Lai Sheng Company. Gu Jun understood everything now. He was probably the only Spirit Child who had successfully summoned the divine in all those years.
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