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    Chapter 115

    Amber hues from the lamplight illuminated the bustling gathering, where veteran players joyfully weaved through numerous stalls, constantly comparing the various items on offer.

    Players with high skill points in Archaeology, History, Esoterica, and Folklore became highly sought after. Without the all-encompassing appraisal skill, most players were essentially blind, and to avoid being swindled by cunning vendors, they had to rely on these professionals or rely on their luck with dice rolls.

    Among the crowd, there were also those who had the misfortune of discovering their belongings stolen soon after arriving.

    Thief Saint: "Which damn pickpocket stole all my resources, aaaaahhh—"

    Of course, there was also the element of luck, exemplified by the Villagers squad. They had swept through the stalls like garbage collectors, purchasing a bizarre array of items. The vendors were grinning from ear to ear.

    Oh, you wonder where they got the resources for such an extravagance? The answer is simple: they traded with seeds of the spiritual plants they had harvested from Myriad University.

    Players had long discovered that although the spiritual plants at Myriad were fierce, they wouldn't truly harm students. Moreover, some of these peculiar plants still retained their instinct to propagate their seeds, thus providing players with opportunities to obtain these seeds.

    At the time, they weren't quite sure what use they would serve, but it didn't stop them from taking advantage of the situation.

    Look, now those seeds have come in handy, haven't they?

    Although Lane's spiritual plants were peculiar, there were always some knowledgeable potion masters who found interest in these oddities. The Reckless Squad didn't discriminate; after all, they got everything for free.

    They planned to continue their antics, purchasing a large number of items to be later authenticated by a professor of archaeology at Michigan University. The entire process would be live-streamed, with the viewers betting on whether they would gain or lose.

    It had to be said that when it came to creating excitement in their live stream, the Reckless Squad was truly full of ideas. No wonder their channel's popularity was on the rise.

    "Hey, why are you buying all this junk?" asked Vivi, the youngest of the trio, as she looked curiously at the items held by Yeye and Baba. "These aren't worth much."

    "Ah, ah, ah, don't say, don't say!" Yeye frantically tried to stop her.

    But it was too late. The live chat was already filled with mockery.

    "Holy cow, the outcome is decided even before the bet starts"

    "Too funny, the house will surely lose before it even begins"

    "At least I bet on losing everything"

    "Yeye, if you're a man, don't cancel the bet!"

    Vivi didn't understand why Yaya was stopping her. She glared at the vendor. "If you've been deceived by him, you could've just told me. The Kamui are in charge of overseeing the assembly, and they forbid the selling of counterfeit goods."

    The vendor, who had been watching the spectacle, immediately protested, "Hey, little sister, it's your business to defend your beloved, but we run an honest trade here. I don't sell fake goods; at most, these items might not be as effective as advertised."

    Vivi's cheeks flushed instantly. "Who's talking about my sweetheart? Don't nonsense! He's not my..."

    Under the scrutiny of the night, her voice dwindled, wishing she could bury herself into the smallest crevice out of embarrassment.

    The live-stream chat instantly erupted into a frenzy.

    "Nayuta, what great fortune you have."

    "I didn't expect you to actually activate the Red Thread of Fate. Well done, indeed."

    "In that case, is your next step to become an affiliate of the Kamuy tribe and scheme your way to becoming their next leader?"

    "It had to be you, didn't it!"

    Nayuta: "Stop egging me on, all of you."

    Night after night, typing diligently in the live stream, he couldn't help but feel a headache seeing the bashful young maiden beside him. It wasn't that he disliked Weiwei; rather, although they were rogue players, Night after night and his team didn't want to exploit emotions to deceive NPCs. They, as veteran players who had followed the game's development, were well aware of how high the NPCs' intelligence had become.

    One could even say that the Rogue Squad had long regarded the Kamui tribe as friends. However, precisely because of this, he couldn't reciprocate Weiwei's feelings. He knew all too well how vulnerable a player's character card was in this world. Who knew when it might be discarded?

    At that time, it would be a double-edged sword...

    With a firm heart, Night after night said, "Uncle, I'm not the one she has feelings for. Please don't joke about this."

    Weiwei's face paled, and she looked up at Night after night in disbelief. He turned his head, avoiding her gaze.


    In the meantime, Insane was examining the necklace in her hand, her expression conflicted.

    The vendor was doing his best to extol the necklace's virtues, but his words weren't entirely accurate. He was merely exaggerating its miraculous qualities without any real substance, simply trying to coax her into buying it.

    Despite this, Insane still decided to purchase the necklace. The reason was simple: she suspected that the necklace was an Old Seal. The necklace's body was somewhat corroded by rust, but Insane keenly noticed the pattern beneath the corrosion – a twisted pentagram, identical to the Old Seals.

    What bothered her was that she had no resources left to trade. The magic potions and enchanted weapons she had prepared beforehand were already spent.

    The only thing remaining was...

    Madness hesitantly reached into her pack and touched a vial of potion, her expression conflicted.

    This potion was secretly given to her by Professor Rakin, the magic potion expert, for emergency use. Of course, Madness would never consider using it, as this potion was of B+ grade, one of the highest qualities accessible to players. Even cash-heavy players might pay a premium for such a potion if they knew about it.

    But what if this was indeed the Old Sigil? Wouldn't that be a windfall?

    Madness found herself in an unprecedented dilemma.

    "Useless, just a mere replica," a voice spoke from behind Madness. She turned around, surprised to find that it was Clay and Archie who had approached her.

    Clay glanced at the necklace in Madness's hand and immediately understood her intention. He casually gave a word of caution before walking away.

    Madness hastily put down the necklace. "I'm not buying this."

    Subconsciously, she wanted to follow Archie and Clay. Though she didn't know Clay personally, she recognized the famous NPC, Archie, and decided to trail behind them from a distance.

    Not insane, nor did she fully understand her own motive, perhaps it was an innate curiosity that propelled her to join the NPC's in their activity. Naturally, one had to check it out when they saw them moving about in an event.

    She overheard the conversation between the two people ahead of her.

    "When are we leaving?"

    "What's the rush? This is an annual gathering, we might stumble upon something valuable. Don't you want to take a look?"

    "I have no interest in such things."

    "Alright then, hold this for me."

    It seemed they were genuinely just there to browse the fair.

    Sighing, Not insane assumed there was no hidden plot after all. She had almost finished exploring and planned to meet Matcha Milk Green at another spot before both of them would depart together.

    Waiting for Matcha Milk Green was tedious, so Not insane decided to log into the forum to see what kind of magical items other players had discovered. To her surprise, however, the hottest topic on the forum wasn't the gathering but rather, the main storyline.

    The main storyline? What major main storyline? Had she missed something crucial while casually strolling through the festival?

    Stunned by the constantly updating thread on the forum, Forlorn quickly clicked in.


    In a quieter corner of the gathering, Lane pondered the intelligence that Fate had divulged earlier.

    The future of humanity was about to be doomed, and Arche and his companions played a crucial role in that dystopian timeline.

    That was why Fate demanded that Lane hand them over.

    To be honest, since the storyline of the game in his previous life hadn't progressed that far, Lane himself wasn't sure if Fate's revelation was true.

    But one thing was undeniable: he would never surrender Arche and the others based on someone else's mere words, let alone the glaring inconsistencies in Fate's reasoning.

    "Calmly, I ask," Lane pointed out, "You mentioned seven fateful nodes leading to humanity's destruction, but Edmund and the others only add up to six. So who is the seventh?"

    Fate hesitated, "I cannot reveal the identity of the seventh. If I were to utter their name, they would know."

    "That doesn't sound like an invitation to cooperate," Lane wasn't swayed. "If you're asking me to give up my followers, you must at least provide detailed information."

    "Certainly, I will provide it, and I'll ensure he doesn't misuse it," Destiny gazed at Lane, conveying hidden meaning. "On one condition."

    "Well, it seems there's no point in discussing further," Lane coldly turned away. "If that's your purpose, then please leave. I don't entertain impolite guests."

    "Are you willing to stand by and witness humanity's destruction?"

    "Don't be arrogant, Destiny," Lane stared back coldly. "Don't try to morally blackmail me. My affinity for humans is my own choice, and it doesn't mean anyone can use that against me."

    The wind shifted.

    Seemingly sensing Lane's anger and impatience, the spiritual plants within Arkham began to stir, yearning to entangle the uninvited guests' ankles, pulling them into the earth.

    The Prophet, seated between them, dared not even breathe, feeling that he had made a misstep. He shouldn't have come here at this time, let alone sit between these two – no, one man and one deity.

    He was just a weak and helpless Prophet, long retired from the forefront. Why was he stuck in the middle of negotiations between mortals and gods?

    Wait a moment.

    The Prophet suddenly realized that Destiny's power allowed him to see any future he desired. Perhaps this person already knew the Prophet would intercept him here and intentionally wanted him to act as a buffer?

    Sigh, still as cunning and sly.

    The Prophet grumbled inwardly but instinctively began analyzing Destiny's intentions. Based on his centuries of understanding of Destiny, this attitude didn't seem like the usual cautious and clever approach. It felt more like... probing?

    In the next moment, Destiny's tone softened, adopting a more conciliatory stance. "No, that's not what I meant. Allow me to introduce my abilities as a sign of sincerity."

    "My ability allows me to see the threads of human destiny, or rather, glimpse into the future of mankind. I can perceive the critical junctures that influence the course of humanity. For a long time, I've been observing the river of human fate. If there are elements that could lead to the destruction of the future, I silently remove the causes behind such outcomes, ensuring that humanity's future continues to unfold. To use an analogy, I'm like a gardener, pruning away excess branches that might lead to humanity's demise."

    Destiny turned to the Prophet, who promptly spoke up, "Yes, I can attest to the truth of his words."

    "Then how do you determine which branches are eligible for pruning?" Lane asked.

    Destiny replied, "Those that could lead to humanity's doomsday are naturally surplus."

    Lane smiled. "So, that's how you destroyed Midas University?"

    Destiny confirmed, "Indeed, in my observations, the research emerging from that university might contribute to humanity's downfall."

    Noticing the subtle displeasure beneath Lane's calm expression, he paused before adding, "I attempted to persuade them to cease their research, but Professor Anthony refused. In the future I foresaw, even if the university were forcibly closed, these faculty members and students would continue their work and studies elsewhere."

    "Did you not discuss this possibility with them?"

    "I did," replied Destiny.

    Lane asked, "And what was their response?"

    Destiny looked into Lane's eyes, already reading the answer he sought, "Professor Anthony's reply was that when Einstein formulated the mass-energy equivalence, he didn't anticipate the atomic bomb either. But should the significance of his equation be nullified just because of its application in creating the atomic bomb?"

    Lane smiled, "That is also my answer."

    "If I'm not mistaken, those seven nodes that could lead to human destruction aren't necessarily negative ones, correct?"

    After a moment of silence, Destiny answered, "Yes."

    "However, I still believe that for the sake of humanity as a whole, even a ten percent chance of destruction is worth eliminating," Destiny stated.

    Alright, Lane now firmly realized that there was no chance of persuading Destiny, nor would Destiny be able to persuade him.

    Destiny was an unapologetic conservative, willing to prune any extraneous branches from the tree of humanity's future to ensure its survival, for as long and as far as possible.

    Even if new possibilities might sprout from the pruned branches, he pessimistically refused to attempt them.

    "Final question, do you know Eugene?" Lane suddenly asked.

    Fate: "Who's that?"

    Lane fell silent. Asking this was an impulsive act on his part. Eugene had caused them quite a bit of trouble previously. Initially, he thought that Eugene was acting under Fate's command, but from the latter's reaction, it seemed that he was also unaware of the situation.

    For some reason, Lane recalled how, right before his death, Eugene had still looked up at the sky as if awaiting Fate's mercy.

    "It doesn't matter," Lane said indifferently. "I decline your previous offer, and I can assure you that there's no chance of it happening. Thank you for the information. Now, you may leave."

    Fate sighed. "As expected, it didn't work out."

    He stood up. Lane thought he was about to depart, but the Seer facing Fate suddenly noticed a silver glow shimmering in the latter's eyes.

    "Hey, you're not...?" The Seer gaped. No way, you're a parasite, your original body is still here!

    "I apologize," Fate said, "but that was the greatest likelihood I've observed for successfully ambushing them recently."

    As Lane's alarm bells blared, the vines swiftly entangled both Destiny and the Prophet, pinning them to the ground. "What do you intend to do?"

    The Prophet: "Wait a minute, this has nothing to do with me!"

    Destiny: "I'm done."


    Archy reluctantly accompanied Kerry on his shopping spree. Kerry seemed to be a regular at such places, with a deeper understanding of mysticism than most half-informed players. As they walked along, Archy felt that he was gaining knowledge beyond his usual exposure just by observing.

    "Ah, how much for this badge made from willow wood, imbued with divine grace?"

    "I don't want money. I'll trade it for a mystical item of the same level."

    Kerry scoffed at his impracticality. "Don't treat me like one of those easy targets. The magic in this is long gone. Do you think I'd swap it for another mystical item? You might as well throw the badge into a wishing well and hope for a faster result. It's only the craftsmanship that's worth something, making it marginally interesting for research. Otherwise, why would I buy it as a decoration?"

    The vendor awkwardly smiled. "Two thousand creds, no negotiation."

    "And throw in that bone blade. This is made from a black ox leg bone that died during a full moon, isn't it? It's not worth much."

    "Take it, you devil!" the vendor grumbled, while the trailing player silently stared at the identical bone blade in his hand, which he had exchanged for a herb capable of making a C-rank potion.

    D*mn! Is this game supposed to be this realistic?

    Players had genuinely believed that this gathering was a simple barter system. Turns out, it was a trap for unsuspecting players!

    Kerry reached for the bone knife, but unexpectedly, his hand clashed with the vendor's, causing the knife to drop. The handle got stuck between two cracks, with the sharp tip pointing upward. Just then, a passerby accidentally bumped into Kerry.

    In an instant, Kerry felt all strength drain from his body as he helplessly watched himself leaning towards the knife, its tip aimed directly at his throat, ready to pierce through.

    The next second, Kerry's body hung mid-air, the knife's tip already grazing his throat, drawing a few drops of blood.

    Archy clutched Kerry's shoulders tightly, beads of sweat rolling down his forehead. "What are you doing?"

    "It wasn't me," Kerry quickly waved the knife away, covering his neck. "Something's wrong. We need to leave this place now..."

    He turned to look behind Archy and widened his eyes. The vendor's makeshift stall suddenly collapsed, with bricks plummeting straight towards Archy's head.


    Archy and Clio were knocked down by the frenzied rush of the Insane, who had been watching Aron's stream. The moment she saw the situation with Lane turn dire, she immediately reacted and tackled them to safety.

    "Be careful! Someone's after you!" the Insane raised her head, her voice filled with urgency.

    Archy's forehead was cut by a brick, but he was lucky that the Insane's intervention prevented it from hitting a fatal spot. However, everything around him now seemed fraught with peril. A deadly sense of crisis pricked at his mind like needles.

    "Who?" Clio asked. "Who did this?"

    "Well..." The Insane wasn't sure how to explain. Could she really say that they witnessed the legendary Three Sages and decided to eliminate them because they might doom humanity in the future?

    "In any case, Lane told us to protect you. We don't know where the danger is coming from. Let's get out of here first."


    As the Insane finished speaking, a scream echoed through the gathering. Archy and Clio turned towards the source of the noise, only to witness a horrifying sight—someone was committing murder in broad daylight!

    While Lane conversed with Fate, a few uninvited guests had made their way into the assembly.

    Not because they had received an invitation from the Khamyans, but rather out of sheer desperation, they found themselves in this situation.

    The city seemed to have lost its mind. Attempting to seek aid outside, they were met with the astonished, joyful faces of Arkham's inhabitants, who watched their pathetic state with a sense of happiness and bliss.

    "What's wrong? Do you need help?"

    "You're covered in blood. You need to get to a hospital quickly."

    On one side were the caring expressions of the Arkhamites, while on the other was the distorted jungle and indescribable monsters. The incompatible scenes coexisting within the same city stretched their sanity to its limits. Whenever they tried to attack the locals, the surrounding plants would frenziedly assault them, forcing the cultists into the deserted areas.

    After a day of hellish wandering, the cultists finally grasped the possible cause: a sudden surge in their sensitivity to the supernatural had landed them in this predicament. Their only hope was to find a means to alleviate this heightened state, or else they'd be trapped in the city, eventually succumbing to the torment of the flora and fauna.

    Recalling the imminent Khamyan gathering, they decided to attack a few attendees, seizing their invitations to forcibly enter the event. They sought items or potions that could temporarily lower their heightened senses, and this gathering was their best chance to find such artifacts.

    As the cultists frantically searched, one of their own, unable to endure the torment any longer, snapped and killed a merchant attempting to negotiate. Now, things had taken a dangerous turn.

    Amidst the chaos, someone had committed murder in broad daylight, and the scream fueled the panic. Scarface wished she could castrate her frenzied companion. Her priority was to find the potion, not become a public enemy. If unrest broke out, the merchants would flee, leaving them doomed.

    "Listen, we only seek the potion and have no intention of harming anyone!" Scarface shouted loudly.

    Unfortunately, someone recognized them:

    "They're lunatics from the Doomsday Sect! They love torturing others! Don't believe a word they say!"

    Upon hearing that they were from the Doomsday Sect, the merchants panicked even more. The sect was notorious in this kingdom, known for its evil deeds like murder, arson, human sacrifice, and terrorism.

    Most of those present weren't powerful Adepts who ventured into the Realm of Dreams. Upon recognizing the Doomsday Sect members, chaos erupted, with everyone desperate to escape.

    All this unfolded before Lane's eyes through his spiritual plants. He glanced at Fate with a gaze as cold as death: "To act on my turf, you've got guts."

    "The nerve?!" the Prophet mourned. He'd just come to visit an old friend, but now he was being betrayed by a colleague he'd known for centuries. He exposed Fate's secret:

    "He's merely temporarily transferred his consciousness to this body, while his original body remains at the Investigative Bureau! If you kill this body now, he can instantly transfer back. This skill lasts about an hour, so based on our conversation, there are five minutes left before he can shift back on his own!"

    In other words, if Lane chose to save the other side within the remaining five minutes, he wouldn't have the chance or time to figure out how to keep Fate from escaping.

    Fate spoke calmly, "My apologies."

    Lane looked at him expressionlessly, his anger simmering within him. But he held back, prioritizing the safety of Archie and the others at this moment.

    Based on what he had witnessed from the spiritual plants earlier, Fate's ability seemed to manipulate surrounding elements to achieve his desired outcome - somewhat akin to the concept of 'Death Comes.' Perhaps the arrival of the Doomsday Cultists was part of his plan to create chaos, the more disorder, the more effective his power became.

    Closing his eyes, Lane was about to unleash his full potential, using the spiritual plants on site to trap everyone. Suddenly, he froze.

    The players on the scene were becoming excited.

    "Damn! It's finally here! My chance to enter the Church of Starry Wisdom!"

    "Deaths are meaningless in ordinary times, even saving loved ones doesn't work. This must be the only way through such dungeon scenarios."

    "Oh no, please, Lane, go slow... give us a chance... sniffle sniffle..."

    "Hurry up, save people before Lane acts, then we can die!"

    "I must have my character card buried next to the great God Amongst Mortals."

    "Next to the big shot, that seat is mine!"

    Lane: ...

    Lane: 6


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