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    Asianovel

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    Chapter 138

    Basil's voice echoed through the communication system, reaching most of the employees. Seastar, hiding in the restroom, cursed under his breath. He immediately stood up, originally planning to wait until he had bought enough time before leaving. But now, he had no choice.

    Just as he was about to exit the stall, he heard someone knocking on each door outside. Presumably, his identity had been exposed. Seastar frowned, contemplating whether he should rush out or not.

    At that moment, there was a gentle tapping on the stall door.

    Seastar was taken aback.

    Nearby Channel:

    Hallelujah: Buddy, from beneath the door.

    Seastar instantly regained his composure. After waiting for the adjacent stall to be checked, he curled his lips and passed the Ark through the bottom.

    The moment Seastar handed out the Ark, the stall door was smashed open from the outside. Facing the dark muzzles of guns, he lunged forward, using his body weight to try to push the assailants to the ground.

    "Failed Strength Contest:"

    Bang, bang, bang!

    Haliluya emerged from the cubicle with a blank expression, only to discover that this time, the restroom was sealed off. The few people who had been using it were now pressed to the ground, each being inspected for black markings or suspicious items.

    Well, they've learned their lesson this time, he thought. Even those who had entered with Starry Sea didn't escape scrutiny.

    Grumbling inwardly, Haliluya obediently squatted on the ground under the threat of the guns, his eyes meeting Starry Sea's dazed gaze, lying on the floor.

    "It's your turn," the inspector nudged him. Haliluya reached for the Ark in his embrace, ready to react, but then noticed the ID tag on the inspector's head.

    Haliluya locked eyes with him and blinked innocently. The inspector used his body to shield others' view as he silently completed the handover.

    After checking the rest of the restroom occupants, finding neither the Ark nor any black markings, the raiders were unsure of their next move. Just as they were about to contact Basil, one of them suddenly pressed their earpiece and heard a message: "What? Someone with black markings was found in the office outside?"

    Haliluya: ?

    He glanced at the live stream. By the way, the players responsible for passing the Ark had, without saying it out loud, agreed that whoever had it should stream and share their real-time location to assist other players in finding and supporting them. That's how Haliluya had located Starry Sea earlier.

    A ticker appeared on the live stream.

    "Rest assured, it's just a distraction."

    Haliluya grinned. "You guys are something else."

    "Hehe, who wouldn't want to join such a grand event?"

    "It's my turn! It's my turn!"

    "I'm here, right outside the bathroom!"

    Unable to resist, a smile tugged at Haliluya's lips. Despite being in the most perilous situation, he was brimming with valor at this moment.

    For he knew he was not alone.

    The raiding team hesitated for a moment, assuming that the relay had been completed before they reached the cosmic expanse, and since they couldn't find the Ark, they had no choice but to leave, with the player disguised as an inspector quickly passing the Ark back to Haliluya once he exited the restroom.

    Haliluya touched the almost visible black patterns and promptly passed the Ark to the next player upon leaving the bathroom.

    One by one, the relay continued.

    Passing the baton.

    "A person with black markings on their neck found on the third floor."

    "One spotted in the left safety passage on the sixth floor."

    "There's one in the main hall on the first floor!"

    "Captured one inside the safety passage!"

    Once the Inspection Bureau kicked into gear, it functioned like a massive machine, swiftly locating the suspicious individuals involved in the Ark's transfer, just as Basil had predicted.

    However, the Ark itself remained elusive.

    The number of cursed victims continued to rise.

    Judith listened to the endless updates with a pale face; each report signified a life lost. The silence in the surveillance room was palpable, as everyone was struck by the grim relay of life, conducted covertly.

    The reason they could identify individuals with the black markings but not locate the Ark was that the transfers were completed before the marks appeared.

    The more efficiently the Ark was transferred, the more people would fall victim to the curse.

    Finally, as this number kept climbing and the occupants of the control room were growing numb, a new message stirred everyone from their stupor.

    "We've found the Ark! We caught them! Just as they were about to complete the transfer, someone intervened!"

    Upon hearing this, Basil finally cracked a smile.

    It was evident that he had been waiting for this moment. The faster they moved, the more noticeable they would be. Once noticed, mistakes were more likely to occur.

    ...

    Let's rewind five minutes.

    Following Basil and Judith's orders, most of the bureau's staff had a general understanding of the sudden gunshots and the captured individuals. To prevent panic within the bureau, Basil claimed that those arrested were spies planted by external forces, infiltrators who had been lying in wait to steal the most valuable artifact within the bureau – a crucial element in turning the tide of the current situation.

    Although Basil didn't explicitly mention their connection to the evil deity, given their appearance at such a critical juncture, everyone subconsciously associated them with the deity. As a result, more and more people began to watch their colleagues closely.

    Under these circumstances, it wasn't surprising that the player with the username Unsweetened Baked Milk was suddenly pinned down by a vigilant investigator during the transfer of the Ark.

    "I've got him! Right here!"

    The investigator shouted, and those around him instantly sprang into action, seeking assistance from others while pinning down the one who had attempted to make contact with him. Kao Nai, originally intending to shield the Ark beneath his body, had a sudden thought and, with a bold gesture, lifted it above his head. "Do you want to take it? Are you sure you do?! Whoever touches this thing dies!"

    As he spoke, he grabbed the Ark and slammed it into the arm of the agent holding him down. The investigator, unsure whether it was genuine, instinctively dodged. Instantly freed, Roasted Milk seized the opportunity, clutching the Ark and dashing toward the door without hesitation.

    When others attempted to draw near, he would immediately raise the Ark, causing them to retreat with reverence.

    A knowledgeable investigator couldn't help but remark, "If you continue to hold onto the Ark, death will inevitably find you anyway. What's the point?"

    Roasted Milk smiled faintly but didn't respond. As he approached the door, an anesthetic dart struck his chest from a distance. With his last strength, he fell on top of the Ark, protecting it beneath him.

    The onlookers watched in silence. Then, the crowd spontaneously parted to make way for a man with short black hair, whose appearance was a testament to justice. He carried a massive box and approached Roasted Milk, attempting to move his body. However, he found the man's limbs too stiff, and his breath barely perceptible from his chest.

    He was dead.

    Not from the bullet, though. It had been an anesthetic dart. The cause of death was prolonged exposure to the Ark.

    The man with short black hair froze, memories of the previous players' corpses flashing through his mind. Roasted Milk had clung to the Ark so tightly that it was impossible to budge him. But the man dared not touch the Ark itself.

    "Allow me," Justice Is in the Face offered, sensing the gratitude in the dark-haired man's gaze. Without hesitation, she sliced off the roasted milk's wrist still clutching the Ark, then used the knife to push both the Ark and the severed limb into the box.

    The onlookers: ...

    The dark-haired man: ...

    The Roasted Milk, suspended in death: ... Ouch, that's a phantom pain.

    Kurt had ingeniously retrieved the box from the petri dish to temporarily isolate the Ark's curse, preventing any further calamity befalling the investigators.

    At this moment, the thief saint, who had been closely following the Ark of the Covenant's transmission in the live broadcast room, couldn't help but leave a message:

    "Thief Saint: Damn, isn't this the box from that Petri dish? I thought it was connected to it. If I had known, I would have taken them both!"

    "Starry Ocean: Are you silly? How do you plan to transport such a huge chest? Others aren't blind. Even if you manage to bring it down, you'll eventually have to carry the Ark separately, won't you?"

    The Ark of the Covenant was roughly the size of a stationery box, small enough to conceal. However, this chest was enormous; it would take both hands for an adult man to carry it, and it appeared to be quite heavy. It was far too conspicuous as a target.

    With the Ark safely ensconced in the crate, a collective sigh of relief swept through the onlooking employees. Though most were unaware of the object concealed within, the spectacle orchestrated by the Inspection Bureau and the trail of corpses had hinted at the extraordinary nature of the contents.

    With such an extensive mobilization, even cutting off communication to rally the majority of the Audit Bureau's staff, all for the sake of intercepting an apparently useless artifact.

    And all this, even at the cost of the lives of those suspected spies from other factions, who had been embedded within the Audit Bureau, and had sacrificed themselves to deliver the item.

    Unaware of the specifics, the employees grumbled about whether there were perhaps too many spies within the bureau. But when they witnessed their laughing intern colleague suddenly collapse to the ground, dead, their emotions were indescribable.

    The atmosphere turned somber. Ordinary staff members, witnessing Justice's bloodstained hands, spontaneously made way for him. Seizing the opportunity, Justice held the box and started retracing his steps to return it to Judith.

    At that moment, an intrusive noise interrupted. A tax official scoffed, "All that effort, just to find this trifle."

    A fellow tax officer beside him hastily tried to restrain the inspector, but failed to stop his sarcastic outburst. "With so many dead, could they all be spies from other factions? Is your Inspection Bureau full of holes? There are so many cult spies – you might as well rename it the Spy Bureau."

    As the words faded, the employees around him glared furiously at the tax inspector, though they were unable to voice any retort. The inspector, emboldened by their silence, continued, "To have the audacity to evade taxes, I'd say there's no point in this organization's existence at all..."

    "Justice By Appearance" pivoted his steps, marching angrily toward the tax officer amidst the horrified gazes of everyone present. Sensing the tense atmosphere, the other staff members of the tax office had already distanced themselves from the tax officer. The officer, attempting to evade, was caught off guard by "Justice By Appearance" who, with a forceful push of a large box, sent the tax officer stumbling backward and collapsing onto the ground.

    "Silence your canine yap! At least our investigators are on the front lines, battling adversity when disasters strike. What are you lot doing?!"

    With these words, the atmosphere around the staff instantly cleared, their spirits invigorated, and their gaze toward Yan Jiujie softened with unparalleled warmth, as if they now saw virtue in his appearance.

    Judith's voice echoed in Yan Ji Justice's earpiece, "Alright, hurry back. There's no need to engage with these people."

    Yan Ji Justice acknowledged her and shot the tax officer a disdainful glance. "If you've got guts, step out from under the protection of the Audit Bureau. You're nothing without it!"

    "Ha! Do you think I want to stay? If not for your bureau sealing off all exits, I'd have been on a plane out of this city already," the tax officer stood up, brushing off the dust from his clothes. He angrily addressed the security guard, "Can we leave now? You've got your man, and your item is back! My flight is about to take off. Can you afford to waste my time?!"

    It turned out that all this commotion was just to escape the city as soon as possible...

    This realization flashed through the minds of those present, and their gazes at the tax officer became even more disdainful. It was a common occurrence; though the authorities were urging the Audit Bureau, the police, and the military to quell the situation, the influential figures had long since boarded their private jets out of Orland. Whatever happened here no longer concerned them.

    Of course, such opportunities and slots were limited. No wonder the tax officers had been the most anxious when they blocked the entrance earlier.

    "Let them go," Judith sighed helplessly over the earpiece. They had reviewed the surveillance footage and confirmed that the tax officers hadn't approached the Ark bearers. Besides, there was no connection between them and the Audit Bureau. Now that the Ark had been found, there was no reason to hold them back.

    Yan Ji Justice remained silent. After confronting the tax officer, he continued carrying the box towards the control room. Along the way, the black-haired man offered, "I'll carry it. It's quite heavy."

    Feeling guilty for making a girl risk her safety due to his cowardice, the black-haired man wasn't trying to snatch credit. He simply wanted to help.

    Yan Ji Justice glanced at him and willingly handed over the box. The black-haired man tested its weight, finding it not too heavy. However, the thought of someone's wrist inside made his scalp tingle.

    Their journey was brief, for both Judith and Basil were wary of any untoward incidents, like the fearless spies launching a surprise attack once they confirmed that Justice Is Ugly had secured the Ark. Upon seeing Justice Is Ugly and the man with black short hair, they breathed a sigh of relief and moved to an adjacent unoccupied conference room.

    Without hesitation, Basil took the box from Justice Is Ugly, who glanced at him with a flicker in his eyes. Judith, holding Justice Is Ugly's hand, heaved a sigh of relief. "I'm sorry for putting you in danger."

    "No worries, I was close by," Justice Is Ugly smiled nonchalantly. "Besides, I'm part of the investigation bureau too."

    Due to the numerous transfers earlier, Judith had grown suspicious of everyone from the bureau. Thus, she had no choice but to entrust the Ark to someone she believed in.

    Basil hastily opened the box, while Kurt watched him in astonishment. Wasn't this guy afraid of the curse?

    Seeing Basil about to stick his arm in, Kurt tried to intervene, only to notice him pause, his expression revealing disbelief. "This isn't the Ark. It's been switched."

    Judith and Kurt's faces paled upon hearing this. Basil didn't say a word, simply turning the box upside down. There was no Ark inside, nor any arm. Instead, there was a pencil case, roughly the size of the Ark, filled with stones to add weight.

    Judith felt dizzy, her face instantly turning pale. "What's going on? Was the Ark fake? Or did someone switch it?"

    Both Basil and Judith turned to the man with black short hair, who now looked ashen. "N-No, it's impossible. That person was dead. He had the Ark in his hands. I saw it with my own eyes, and it was placed inside the box!"

    R-right, it wasn't him who packed the box!

    The man with short black hair instinctively looked at Beauty is Justice, only to find her gazing back at him in silence. He suddenly smiled and rolled up his sleeve, revealing a hint of black markings on his slender forearm.

    His mind buzzed instantly. Kurt had mentioned that using this box would prevent the curse from spreading, but why was Beauty is Justice affected? What about him?

    He instinctively checked himself, relieved to find no signs of infection. Raising his head, he saw Basil and Judith, the latter staring blankly at Beauty is Justice.

    "…Why?"

    Beauty is Justice scratched her head helplessly, unsure how to respond. All she could say was, "I'm sorry."

    Basil suddenly erupted, grabbing Beauty is Justice by the neck and glaring at her coldly. "Where's the Ark? Where did you take it?"

    None of the present Kurt, Judith, or the man with short black hair expected this outburst, nor did they anticipate Basil's speed. Even Kurt was caught off guard, unable to intervene as Beauty is Justice's neck was gripped tightly, her cheeks turning red.

    "Let go of her, Basil!" Judith snapped, coming to her senses. However, Basil ignored her, his gaze still fixed on Beauty is Justice.

    Kurt glanced between the two before looking at Beauty is Justice. "Are you one of them?"

    Beauty is Justice ignored him, focusing instead on Judith. Judith returned her gaze, a myriad of emotions flickering in her eyes—confusion, regret, concern, and puzzlement.

    She never would have imagined that the girl who once spoke up for justice, so much like her younger self, was also a spy.

    Had she misjudged her?

    Beauty is Justice suddenly reached out and patted Basil's arm weakly, saying, "I need to speak."

    Basil gently set Beauty is Justice down, but she didn't look at him. Her gaze remained fixed on Judith as she whispered, "Ms. Judith, you once told me to do what I believe is right."

    She offered a serene smile. A black curse mark crept up her pale neck. "This is what I believe is right."

    Judith pressed her lips together, her eyes reflecting Beauty is Justice's fading vitality. In that instant, she instinctively caught the young girl's weakening body as life drained from her in her arms.

    In that moment, a surge of sorrow and countless questions flooded her mind. Reason and emotion seemed torn in two—half mourning the young girl's unnecessary death, while the other half relentlessly analyzed the inconsistencies in the entire Ark robbery crisis.

    Suddenly, a flash of memory sparked like a bolt of lightning: their investigation into the Bureau's footage of anomalies impersonating humans.

    Basil's voice echoed from behind, "Investigate, investigate who she's been in contact with! The Ark must have transferred again at some point!"

    "Oh... Could it have been that collision just now?" the black-haired man suddenly recalled, "Those tax collectors left the Bureau just moments ago!"

    "Seize them all! Not a single one is to escape!" Basil took two steps before abruptly halting. Kurt and the man with short black hair looked at him in shock, or rather, what was behind him. Basil lowered his head and saw the tip of a blade protruding from his chest. "M-Ms. Judith?" "Are you out of your mind?!" "If my judgment is wrong, I'll bear all consequences after this incident," Judith spoke in a low, almost gritted voice. "Basil, aren't you... human?"

    Basil made no reply; he merely spat out a mouthful of blood.

    Judith's blow pierced his heart with undeniable efficiency, leaving no room for survival.

    Basil's body lurched forward, crimson lifeblood spilling liberally across the ground. Even for one blessed with extraordinary abilities, a destroyed heart typically spelled certain death. Yet, astonishingly, he did not perish immediately. Under the watchful gaze of the trio, Basil's limbs began to contort grotesquely. Additional arms sprouted from beneath his skin and under his armpits, while his teeth burst through the confines of his lips. His skin took on a sickly hue, turning ashen, and thick, black, hardened hairs sprouted across his flesh.

    It bore no resemblance to human appearance whatsoever.

    Kurt and the man with short black hair watched, stunned. Before Basil could launch his assault, Judith seized the moment. The dagger in her hand spun like a butterfly dancing on her fingertips—except this was a beautiful yet deadly dance. Several daggers pierced Basil to the ground like nails, eliciting a dying roar from him. Kurt reacted promptly, stepping forward to grab Basil's head with both hands and twisting it a full 360 degrees.

    Basil bowed his head, finally succumbing to death.

    Judith's voice was hoarse as she asked, "Kurt, even if an investigator has delved into the higher echelons of the Dreamland Gap or undergone transformation, they wouldn't completely turn into something monstrous, right?"

    "…No, there's no precedent for that. Even those deeply transformed don't end up like this."

    "In that case, my assumption seems to be correct." Judith smiled, a mix of relief and sorrow. She set down her blade and turned to pick up the body of Beauty Is Justice.

    "…What? What do you mean by that?" The black-haired man was utterly confused. As the only one who knew nothing, he hadn't been replaced by a strange entity and had no knowledge of such information.

    Kurt pressed his lips together, already guessing the truth. "How did you figure it out?"

    "He was too eager when he went to retrieve the Ark," Judith said, looking down at Beauty Is Justice's now-pale face. She reached out, her hand trembling as she closed the girl's eyes. "We really are so incompetent, couldn't even see through them."

    "Kurt, they aren't cultists or villains. They're just a group of young people who died for justice."

    Kurt gazed at the youthful face of Beauty Is Justice in Judith's arms, struck speechless for a moment.

    The inspectors had been replaced by these entities, which were so desperately searching for the Ark. There must have been some secret that the Bureau didn't uncover, almost leading them to deliver the Ark into their hands. But another group discovered the truth and fought to stop them. This was the real story behind everything.

    After a long while, Kurt finally said, "We're not entirely certain of their intentions yet. It's too early to say."

    "Is that so?" Judith wiped away the tears at the corners of her eyes. "Care to make a bet on it?"

    The image of Yan Jiashi speaking flashed through her mind.

    The man with short black hair, watching the tension between the two, hesitated for a moment, unsure what to do.

    Kurt averted his gaze. "Go ahead, but I doubt we'll make it in time."

    "I hope you're right, that they're acting for the sake of justice. Otherwise, I dread to think what else might happen."

    ...

    On the other side, after Judith gave the order, the guard reluctantly stepped aside, allowing the tax inspectors to breathe a sigh of relief as they filed out with the tax collector.

    The Audit Bureau was still quite far from the city center, and the surroundings were comparably less dangerous. They had come in tanks and armored vehicles, fully equipped with weapons and supplies, making it ideal for a trip to the airport.

    The tax bureau staff hastily boarded their vehicles, for several had already departed, and they feared being left behind due to lack of space. Among them, the man who had earlier obstructed the inspector did not spot the official. Gritting his teeth, he placed his belongings on a seat and stepped out to search. To his surprise, he found the inspector walking alone towards the city center.

    "Hey, where are you off to? The airport isn't in that direction!" he called out to the tax collector's retreating figure.

    The tax collector didn't reply; he merely waved his hand.

    Countless bullet comments raced across his vision.

    "Ahhhh, finally!"

    "Leaving the Inspectorate wasn't an easy feat!"

    "You two have quite the audacity! @Justice_is_Beauty@Inspector, hurry up and receive my praise. Both of you are fearless, how did you even conjure up such a risky plan? Did you ever consider the consequences if it failed?!"

    Indeed, after the Inspectorate intensified its inspections, players sensed that things were taking a turn for the worse. They knew they would eventually be caught, but forcefully breaking out seemed implausible. The Inspectorate had stationed investigators still within the building at all possible exits, even commandeering the tank from the Tax Office. Basil's order was to shoot on sight if anyone attempted to escape.

    Though the players numbered many, most had been depleted during the transmission process. Those remaining held little hope of breaching the tank's cannon, let alone making it through the considerable distance beyond.

    Thus, they needed a legitimate way to leave the Inspectorate. The only solution the Tax Officer could devise was to convince the Inspectorate to willingly open its doors.

    The only time they could convince her was when she believed that the Ark was already in their possession. Thus, the tax inspector recruited Face Value into the scheme, planning the operation in the vicinity where Face Value was located. Amidst this chaos, Judith would undoubtedly trust those who had been close to her recently, such as Face Value, who had recently collaborated with her on the investigation into the Secretary's office.

    Everything unfolded according to plan. The provocations were merely an excuse to get closer, to carry out the theft and transfer, as well as to secure the right to go out.

    And here they were, at the final stage.

    The live-stream chat was filled with praise. Players who had heroically sacrificed themselves during the previous transfers cheered the tax inspector on.

    "Come on! You can do it!"

    "This is the last leg! Just a bit more to go!"

    "Holy cow, isn't that quite a distance? This is far from the central battlefield, the city center! There's no way they'll make it in time!"

    "It's over. The auditing department will surely react soon. What now?!"

    Such obvious concerns were on the minds of the live-stream viewers, so how could the tax inspector overlook them?

    A red Ferrari zoomed down the avenue and skillfully skidded to a stop in front of the tax inspector.

    Tax Inspector: "Did you really have to pick me up in this kind of car?"

    Baba: "D*mn it, what choice did I have? Sports cars are the fastest, aren't they?!"

    Nian Nian: "Exactly! Do you know how difficult it was for us to drive here from the city?"

    "You two weren't at the epicenter of the chaos. I was wondering where you went. Were you off rescuing people or fighting monsters, or were you busy stealing sports cars?"

    "D*mn, it's the Troublemaker Gang! Baba, where did you get this sports car from?!"

    "Without a doubt, it was taken. Nowadays, you can just take any car on the street – the owners might already be with the heavens."

    "What an absurd joke."

    Tax Inspector: "No, no. You came to pick someone up and drove a sports car. Where am I supposed to sit?"

    As everyone knew, sports cars typically had only two seats. With Baba driving and Nian Nian in the passenger seat, Nian Nian pondered for a moment before patting her own thigh.

    Tax Inspector: ...

    "Hahahaha! I knew it!"

    "Is this appropriate? Hhhh, that tax inspector was just so handsome!"

    The live stream viewers burst into laughter, and the inspector nearly laughed in spite of himself. He started coughing violently, covering his mouth tightly as red blood trickled down the corners of his lips.

    "Come on, hurry up! If you don't get in now, it'll be too late!" Yeye dragged the inspector onto her lap, creating an awkward scene. "I'm just worried that we might not have enough people, and one more person means one more layer of safety."

    "Yeah, the Ark is great, but it can be exhausting for players."

    "It wouldn't be funny if both of us died on the way there, right?"

    Understanding the urgency, the inspector reluctantly sat down on Yeye's lap.

    Three big men squeezed into a small sports car, creating a bizarre sight.

    The audience in the live stream laughed and took screenshots. Before the auditors could catch up, Babba stepped on the gas, and the red Ferrari shot forward like an arrow.

    In the live stream, the viewers continued their discussions.

    "By the way, will this scene make it into the church? It should, right?"

    "Are you referring to the part where the tax collector sat on the man's lap? I'd say there's a high chance!"

    "Guys, stop it hhh! Didn't you see the tax collector's murderous expression?"

    The tax collector couldn't help but cough again, spitting out blood in the process. He saw his health bar dwindling, and it seemed he wouldn't last much longer.

    Even at top speed in a sports car, it would take several minutes to reach the combat zone in the city center from here. For a player under the Ark's curse, the longest they could endure was ten minutes.

    "Sigh, what a shame," the tax collector whispered regretfully. "I still wanted to be the last one to carry it..."

    "In the end, it wasn't meant to be... Ugh."

    Before he could finish his sentence, Yeyeyi suddenly fed him a health potion, making his eyes widen in surprise.

    "Here, have some," Yeyeyi offered the potion with one hand. "We prepared plenty, let's see if it works."

    The tax collector, still in disbelief, drank the potion and noticed his health indeed increasing.

    "It's useful, but why are you all...?"

    Nayi: "I've already been through the church. Honestly, it's just so-so."

    "What Versailles are you talking about?"

    "So-so face.jpg."

    "It's just a small price to pay, sacrificing an old card and all my connections with Weiwei's affection!"

    "A man's words are harder than iron."

    Disregarding the mood-killing comments, Nayi continued, "We don't know if the red potion will be effective, but it seems to buy some time for you to finish your turn. As for the curse, I doubt you want to remove it since you pulled off such a grand spectacle."

    He tousled the Tax Collector's hair. "Well done, rookies! This is your moment to shine!"

    The Tax Collector was too weak to pat Nayi's hand. He watched his health bar closely, saving the red potion until he was near death. The red potions they brought were limited, so he licked the last drop reluctantly.

    He didn't say thank you, as any words at this moment would be superfluous.

    All he needed to do was fulfill this mission that everyone was eagerly anticipating.

    The spark had ignited within the Inspection Bureau, and the torch of duty had been passed down from one to another.

    Now, it rested firmly in his hands.

    Baba hit the gas pedal hard, swerving the steering wheel as they crushed any tumor monsters in their path. Thanks to the deserted high-speed road, with only those frantically fleeing the city center, their journey was relatively smooth.

    The inspectors' pursuit was on, but they were left behind by the Ferrari's superior speed. Baba and the others initially feared an ambush, like RPGs, which could lead to disastrous consequences. Fortunately, the inspectors seemed to have no such intention, merely tailing them at a safe distance.

    With reckless abandon, they charged forward until, on the brink of exhausting their Red Medicine, they burst into the most perilous battlefield. At this moment, there were scarcely any living souls here; everywhere lay the scars of heavenly fire and the remains of shattered trees. Babba and his companions could now make out the towering form of the gigantified Nurturing God, and a glimmer of joy spread across their faces.

    A sudden notification popped up on the screen.

    "Watch out!"

    "Watch out, above you!"

    Baba lifted her head, a hint of panic crossing her face. An unknown meteorite was plummeting from the sky, and its trajectory would likely impact this very car!

    Bang!

    Baba swiftly stepped on the accelerator, pushing the Ferrari to its absolute limit once more. However, the car's rear was still caught in the blast, flipping it over. The three of them had only one thought in their minds – it was all over...

    Twisted plants burst from the ground, wrapping around the trio and cushioning them from the explosion and heat. When they regained their senses, the plants carried them towards the heart of the battlefield.

    Amidst the ruins of buildings, they saw Lane, who had already removed his blindfold, standing firm.

    The moment their gazes met Lane's, Baba and Ye Ye instinctively averted their eyes, patting the auditor on the back before his sanity check could kick in.

    There was no need for their reminder.

    For the auditor's vision was already almost gone.

    He had suppressed his pain. Otherwise, he would have felt excruciating agony all over his body, with black patterns covering him from head to toe. His limbs were rotting, rendering him immobile like a plant person. His ears, eyes, and other organs were following suit; his irises had turned black, leaving only speckled patches of color visible.

    Fortunately, Baba noticed something amiss and, together with Ye Ye, supported the auditor's body as they made their way towards Lane.

    Each step was a tremendous struggle. Lane didn't approach them; instead, he watched as the players steadily came closer to him.

    By the time Nightfall ceased their dance, the tax collector was left gazing at a blur of white, struggling to raise his arm and extend the Ark.

    In the gaze of destiny, this scene was reflected — the final relay, the intersection of the divine with humanity.

    This was what he could not see but yearned to behold.

    An unknown, yet hopeful possibility.

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