Puppeteer twisted around, and his arms fell to his side, revealing the large gaping wound that crawled from his chest to his abdomen. With each moment, more and more of Puppeteer’s condition flashed across Maxin’s eyes: his skin, pale as snow; the wound, bleeding. Then, without turning his head, he waved his hand and sent something unseen that slashed through the air. It went straight for Maxin, hit him in the nose, and pushed him back into the sea.
Only then did Puppeteer turn to face Maxin, a cold smile dancing around his lips.
“Did you think that you would stand a chance against me because I was injured? Please don’t make me laugh.”
“What the hell are you doing?” Maxin struggled in the water, his voice contorted with pain. Blood gushed down his face. “Are you crazy? Look behind! Look behind!”
“There is no one behind me,” Puppeteer raised an eyebrow slowly.
Maxin fought with the water until he finally regained his balance. Even as he struggled, he did his best to retreat backward, “What are you saying—”
Enduring the stinging seawater, he opened his eyes and froze.
There was indeed no one behind Puppeteer. There was just an open sea and floating dead bodies behind him.
Maxin’s face gradually turned white as though he was the one who was badly wounded.
“That…that’s…” He felt a chill travel down his spine, and he was bereft of speech for several long seconds. “Yes, there is nobody at your back now…”
This was because the man had silently moved from Puppeteer’s back to his side. Right now, he leaned against Puppeteer’s ear, offering Maxin a wide beam.
Puppeteer was completely unaware of his presence until the person twisted his head and whispered into his ear, “He’s right. Because I’m right here.”
Puppeteer instinctively reacted by throwing an attack at the person. Be that as it may, his attack missed its target, doing nothing but merely stirring up some waves into the air. Then, using the veil of water as his shield, the thin figure clad in a black jacket leaped out of harm’s way and landed on a dead body with feline grace. Standing on top of the corpse, the pallidness of his skin and black jacket gave the impression that he was a specter who had lost its color.
“How rude,” the intruder laughed. He finger-combed through his shiny golden hair before continuing in an unhurried tone of voice, “You’re hurting my feelings, you know?”
Maxin turned his head subconsciously and met Puppeteer’s gaze. Both of them looked at each other for a moment then back at the trespasser.
“Look at me,” commanded the person smilingly. His grin was as warm as a ray of sunlight that pierced through the thick foliage of the forest in the summer season. “Do I look scary to you?”
He was right. The young man in front of them was not scary at all. In fact, they had never seen a person with an appearance as flawless as his.
Although the crowd of Zeus was considered as a fine specimen in their own right, there was an odd feeling about them. But this young man over here was different. His appearance was so impeccable that they could hardly find any imperfections in it. He had a mesomorphic build and a pair of perfect bee-stung lips. Whenever he smiled, his teeth glowed so brightly they burned one’s eyes, and his eyes glimmered with so much brilliance it was as if there was a river of stars in them.
“Hm? Why are you two staring at me like that? Am I too handsome, or what?” Again, the young man chuckled. Then, he began to move towards Puppeteer and Maxin. With every step, his naked body and package would swing, and the two men in the water had to muster up every bit of strength they had to keep their gaze fixed on his face so that they would not see something that would hurt their eyes.
“Who are you?” Puppeteer asked grimly.
“Well, why don’t you hazard a guess? You guys are not stupid, so I am very certain that you already know who am I,” said the dashing young man as he crouched down. Maxin jerked his head around, veins bulging on his forehead. “Let me give you some hints. I’m now a devastated and greatly saddened father who has just lost his kids… All of these Zeus. They were all my precious children.”
As he spoke, he grabbed the wrist of the Zeus he sat above. Like a misbehaving child, he dragged the corpse and circled around the sea. Seizing his chance, Maxin darted a glance at the Zeus’s neck. When he saw nothing on the Zeus’s neck, he frowned. Before he could say anything, Puppeteer’s voice came.
“You are the highest god?” he asked.
The young man nodded in assent. A wholehearted smile blossomed on his face as he said with great exhilaration, “Bingo! Yes, I’m the highest god.”
As the highest god waved his arms in the air, he tossed the Zeus’s corpse into the sea behind him. A spurt of water was sent skyward and caused Maxin to shudder at the sight. From the moment Puppeteer sent him to check through the Zeus corpses, a weird feeling had been stirring in his heart. He felt that something was out of place, but after experiencing so many life-or-death situations and ups-and-downs in one day, his brain was so tired and chaotic that he couldn’t think straight.
However, there was something he knew very well. Other than the young man before him who called himself the highest god, Maxin could not think of any better candidate that could stir up a tidal wave of such magnitude.
Frowning, Maxin then asked, “Why? Why would you kill all the Zeus?” As the question tumbled off his tongue, the strange feeling suddenly got stronger. Driven by his instincts, he turned his head and looked at Puppeteer. The lanky posthuman now stood as stiff as a rock on top of a corpse. Maxin did not know what he was thinking or how his condition was right now, as he merely saw his silhouette.
The highest god then sat down cross-legged. He stretched his arms into the water and scooped out another Zeus’s corpse. Pinching the Zeus’s nape, he said, “Because they were too naughty.”
Both Puppeteer and Maxin remained silent as they waited for his explanation.
“At the very beginning, this year’s God’s Ordeal was pretty much similar to the previous year’s. Everybody gave their best shot and fought with all their might for the only chance to meet the highest god. It was kind of boring, but well, it’s better than nothing.”
With those words, the highest god threw the second Zeus’s corpse away. He stifled a yawn before drawling out his vowels, “The other competitions were the same. It has been years. Even if I changed the rules, I would get bored pretty soon too… Hmm, how should I put this? It is like a 10,000 episodes soap opera or novel that has been serialized for years. Although we are very familiar with the plots and whatnots, we still enjoy it nonetheless.”
“Hang on,” Maxin interrupted, “So you’re saying that you were watching us when we were participating in the competitions in the Olympics? To you, all of these are just a show?”
The highest god shrugged his shoulders, showing off his beautifully chiseled muscles, which could only be rivaled by a Greek god’s sculpture.
” Duh .” As he spoke, he extended his hand and went for the third corpse. “Otherwise, what do you think these sports competitions are for? A long long time ago in Ancient Greece, the Olympics were held in honor of the Olympians. Everything you do in the competition is for me. I am your only audience.”
Maxin suddenly shuddered. He did not know if it was because of what the highest god said, or if he finally got the answer for the doubt that had been haunting him all this time.
“But when that guy over there appeared,” the highest god flung the third corpse away, and when he was going for the fourth one, he nudged his chin at Puppeteer, “The God’s Ordeal suddenly became interesting again. This is the first time I ever came across a contender who wanted to capture the host.”
Floating on top of the water surface with both Ji Shanqing and Soulsqn on his shoulders, Maxin looked like a statue that half fell into the sea.
“So that is the reason why those Zeus kept talking about how to make the scene more fun and getting the most entertainment out of this…”
“Mm-hmm, that’s right. They were discussing how to make the game more entertaining so that I could enjoy it better,” the highest god grinned. The way he smiled and showed his row of healthy teeth gave people the wrong impression that he was an innocent young man who had yet to see the dark side of the world. “To be honest, they were pretty good in setting the plot. They even succeeded in fooling you guys with the fake Lin Sanjiu strategy. I was pretty happy with them during that time.”
After he flung the fourth body away, he tilted his head. Water droplets dripped down his wet hair, onto his chest, then his abs, before rolling off. “However, all the Zeus are children I’ve crafted, so needless to say, my Zeus are the rightful lead actors. I prefer watching the main characters be more intelligent than their enemies, slaughtering their opponents, and toying with the antagonists… Many Zeus died during the start of the battle and that made me displeased. If it weren’t for the drama that Lin Sanjiu created, I would have long given up while I waited for a turning point in the plot!”
The image of Old Hag, the old man who saved him, came with splendid clarity into Maxin’s mind.
He might not have realized that he was merely an inconsequential clown in Zeus’s script.
“Then what?!” Anger ran harsh lines down both sides of the highest god’s flawless face as he harrumphed. “Have you ever watched a movie that tormented the leading actor? Their strategy was exposed, the lead actors were compromised, and they even failed to unwrap the grand prize! It was so frustrating! The story began high but ended low; everything had swayed from its intended course. They were a bunch of fools! I was so angry that I lost all interest in the competition that was going on land, so I destroyed and killed them all! After all, the last thing I would lack is posthumans.”
His attention-grabbing eyelashes fluttered. A glint appeared in his dewy eyes once more. When the highest god reached for the fifth body, he regained his jovial laughter. “But I’d forgotten one thing. Those Zeus bribed all of you with ‘God’s blessing’ so I’ve got to make sure that none of you drown in this water. Even if that fellow gets hurt, he pretty much deserves it…”
While Maxin held his breath and watched anxiously, the highest god scooped up an unfamiliar-looking male body. That person’s facial features were very normal and looked nothing like that of the other Zeus. Any other person would definitely assume that he was yet another posthuman who had become an unintended casualty of circumstances. However, the beguiling, eye-catching Pygmalion Choker around his neck embodied a stark rejection of this conclusion.
“Ah, found it!” the young man in his birthday suit exclaimed. “This is the one!”
Maxin jerked his head back, and his gaze clashed with Puppeteer’s in the air.
His conjecture was true.
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