Chapter 8: The Demonic Ritual 


Lu Yao observed with avid interest that the forest tribes held no reverence for gods, nor did they erect grand temples or display symbolic totems like many other cultures.


Unlike prophets who relied on the gods counsel, the shaman resembled a wise elder, harnessing the accumulated wisdom of ancestors to guide the tribe.


This revelation brought great satisfaction to Lu Yao.


If the forest tribe had embraced fervent beliefs in a particular deity, it could have sparked conflicts of faith, potentially leading to intertribal wars.


Now, a broader path connected the Garlic Tribe and the Forest Tribe.
Houses had sprung up on both sides, comprising the humble huts of the Garlic Tribe and the elegant tree houses of the Forest Tribe.
The two communities drew closer to one another.


Lu Yao patiently awaited the complete integration of these two tribes.


Suddenly, in the midst of contemplation, the faint sound of a ringing phone reached his ears.


The bell chimed persistently for over twenty seconds before repeating its melodic tune, seemingly originating from outside.


Lu Yao resided in an aged neighborhood, his dwelling nestled beside a partially enclosed alley typically used for parking.
The cars parked there were blanketed in a layer of dust.


During the day, the alley remained devoid of people, and at night, it became even more desolate.


Lu Yao strode toward the window and peered outside.


A solitary cement street lamp stood as a lone sentinel in the parking alley, casting feeble light that barely illuminated the area beneath it.
The rest of the surroundings lay shrouded in pitch-black darkness.


Beneath the flickering light, Lu Yao discerned a swaying figure, as if something hung suspended from the lamppost.


An unsettling feeling washed over him.


The street lamp stood about twenty meters away from the window sill, granting him a clear view.
Lu Yao scrutinized the scene meticulously and identified a person dangling from a rope on the concrete lamppost.


Night had cloaked the streets, and the sound of the mobile phone's ringtone reverberated through the alley with eerie clarity.


Without hesitation, Lu Yao dialed emergency services.


“Hello, Police? I'm at the dormitory of the Locomotive Factory in Jiuyuan Community.
There's a person hanging from a rope in the alley outside.
Please hurry!”


The police inquired about the precise address and the situation, urging him not to take any rash actions while assuring him of their imminent arrival.


As he hung up the phone, a wave of relief washed over Lu Yao.
Matters of this nature were best left to the capable hands of law enforcement professionals.


At that moment, the dormant cactus follower leapt onto the windowsill, its spines erect in a display of heightened alertness, facing the direction of the person in the alley.


“What is it? What have you discovered?” Lu Yao instinctively turned his gaze toward the tiny creature.


The cactus follower nodded affirmatively.


Lu Yao sighed, “It's a pity you cannot speak.
If only you possessed the gift of speech.”


“Great God Yao, if you grant permission, your humble servant shall speak,” the cactus follower proclaimed.


Kneeling before Lu Yao, it emitted a voice bearing a peculiar accent from its green form.


The voice defied gender classification.


Lu Yao was taken aback.
“You can speak?”


“With your permission, my lord, I can articulate words,” the cactus follower responded.
“Otherwise, I would remain bereft of my own voice.”


Lu Yao pondered for a moment.
Given the blurred boundaries between the pixelated world and reality, it seemed plausible for this prickly fellow to possess the ability to communicate.


He inquired, “What have you discovered about the hanging person?”


“My lord, it is a demonic ritual,” the cactus follower respectfully informed him.
“The demons, through cruel and extreme rituals, exploit fear and ignorance to manipulate their followers and gain their devotion.”


A demon?


A flicker of concern danced across Lu Yao's eyes.


“What sets demons apart from gods?” he queried.


“My lord, demons are malevolent deities of heresy,” the cactus follower elucidated.


Lu Yao comprehended.


perhaps, another term for players.
Besides himself, there were others employing the “The Celestial Experience” to extract sacrifices.


Sister Peng's words resurfaced in his memory—depraved individuals lurking within the Jiuyuan community, hanging their victims after subjecting them to unimaginable torments.


Lu Yao inwardly admonished himself, vowing to exercise utmost caution and prevent anyone from discovering the emulator on his computer.
Should these “Demonic,' players learn of its existence, they would undoubtedly vie for possession of his magical artifacts and launch an assault against him—an occurrence that would transcend the boundaries of the game.


He located a small flower pot and addressed the cactus follower, “Unless I grant permission, you must neither move nor speak.
As a cactus, your place is here.
Do you understand?”


“Yes, my lord,” the cactus follower complied, bowing subserviently.


In the parking alley, the mobile phone's ringtone persisted, akin to a plea for aid.


Lu Yao once again glanced at the suspended figure below the lamppost.
Fatigue seemed to have overtaken the person, for they no longer trembled or struggled, allowing their distinct physical traits to become more discernible.


Bathed in the lamplight, the individual wore a black corset, indicating a woman.
Furthermore, she appeared disheveled, her skin smeared with copious amounts of blood.


Lu Yao recollected that he had seen this person before.
The victim was a hairdresser employed at a barber shop called Model Fine Cut, located opposite the community.
Her working name was Lisa, her true identity a mystery.


Model Fine Cut offered affordable prices, catering to the masses.
A complete wash, cut, and blow-dry would only cost 15 yuan.
Lu Yao had frequented the establishment and possessed some recollection of Lisa.


She sported blonde hair, presumably in her early twenties, and possessed a soft-spoken nature, devoid of incessant prattle that often proved vexing.


Once Lisa had been rescued by the police, she appeared shaken, clad in a coat provided by the authorities, her silence enveloping her in an air of bewilderment.


Her body bore an abundance of peculiar symbols, etched upon her flesh with blood.
These symbols resembled deformed Arabic numerals interlinked like chains, entwining her form layer by layer.


The police sealed off the area, subsequently arriving at Lu Yao's doorstep to obtain his statement.


He truthfully recounted the events he had witnessed, although he omitted the details regarding the emulator and the demonic ritual.


Once the police had completed their rescue operation and recorded their statements, it was already the early hours of the morning.


Gripping the Sylvan Staff of Rejuvenation tightly, Lu Yao felt no trace of sleepiness.
He was well accustomed to staying awake until late hours.


He glanced at the cactus follower nestled in the flowerpot on the table.
“Have you visited our world before?”


“This is the first time your humble servant has ventured into your Divine Realm.
I was granted life by the Forest God.
However, the Divine Realm where the Forest God resides differs from your own.
It is primarily composed of water…
My limited existence prevents me from comprehending the nature of your Divine Realm.”


“What form does the Forest God assume?”


“It is unwise to gaze directly upon them.
Like you, the great deity, I am unable to capture the essence of a grand being such as yourself.
I can only imitate and perceive fragmented impressions of the gods.”


Through conversing with the prickly pear, Lu Yao gleaned fragments of information.
The cactus possessed no given name, merely one of many cactus followers crafted by the Forest God, forever engaged in menial tasks within the temple.
The Forest God's followers had introduced these cacti into the pixel world but had never retrieved them.


The cactus follower disclosed that the temple gradually fell into disrepair, an indication of the Forest God's decline.
Ultimately, the cactus follower had been buried beneath the temple's rubble, later unearthed by the forest tribe during their expeditions in search of mushrooms and berries.


However, only the gods possessed the power to animate the cacti, and the pixelated existence could not restore the cactus to its true form, limiting it to an awareness of its distinction from other flora.


“As you are a relic of the Forest God, henceforth, you shall be known as…
Little Huo,” Lu Yao declared, pointing at the cactus follower's forehead.

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