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    Chapter 141

    As they witnessed the scenes of the future—yes, with time displayed occasionally, the citizens realized it was depicting the future. The astute among them began to grasp the gravity of the situation and, unable to control their despair, sank into hopelessness.

    Even after beholding the catastrophic future that spelled humanity's doom, some citizens succumbed to despair, which in turn drove them to madness.

    Yet, just as this predetermined fate seemed set in stone, the images started to oscillate once more.

    New scenes emerged.

    All the citizens, players, and Lane were momentarily stunned, their eyes transfixed on the new visuals, wondering if there was more to come.

    This time, the face that appeared on screen was one they knew all too well.

    "Is it him?"

    "Yes, who could have imagined things would end up like this." A doctor in a lab coat stood outside a door, peering through the window of a patient's room.

    Lane, clad in a hospital gown, sat by the bedside, gazing out the window from within. His skin was so pale it was almost translucent, his shoulder-length hair hanging limply, concealing his inhuman visage. His lips were pale, and his slender back conveyed a sense of fragility and vulnerability.

    "The patient here initially was merely a victim of a fire, which was misfortune enough. Strangely, he began reporting vivid hallucinations. Our hospital conducted comprehensive checks, yet we couldn't pinpoint any issues. Eventually, we surmised that the aftermath of the fire might have triggered some psychological complications."

    Moreover, he has no guardian, no close relatives or friends. The person who previously covered his medical expenses mysteriously disappeared. Ah, it's pitiful. He's so good-looking, yet he's in this situation.

    Amos gazed into the ward, his tone ambiguous. "Is that so... pitiful?"

    His tone was laced with skepticism and mockery. The doctor couldn't fathom the reason behind his odd demeanor, but he dared not offend this guest whom the director had personally ordered to be received. After showing him around, he respectfully escorted him out of the hospital.

    Before leaving, Amos suddenly clapped the doctor on the shoulder. "How have you been sleeping lately? Have you been having nightmares?"

    Doctor: "Huh, how did you know? Lately, I have been having recurrent nightmares. I dream about being parasitized by an eerie tree at night, with our flesh and blood being relentlessly drained, or battling other medical personnel. It's quite an odd series of dreams."

    Amos smiled and, gazing at the sprouting branch on the doctor's chest, sincerely advised, "It would be wise for you to avoid overexertion lately."

    "After all, health comes first." With that, he disregarded the doctor and turned to leave the psychiatric area. Just as he was about to exit, he sensed a gaze upon him. He paused and looked back.

    The exceptionally beautiful patient, with her shoulder-length silver hair, gazed down from the second-story window, her reddish-golden eyes barely discernible beneath their veil of tresses.

    In Amos's sight, the harmonious bustle of the hospital during the day transformed dramatically. A blood-red tree, extending from the second floor, ensnared the entire building, turning it into a colossal nest.

    Each creature had become both a guardian of its lair and a fertilizer nourishing the crimson trees. The blood-colored trees stretched outward, but were confined by the restrictive barrier, confining them within Arkham Hospital's boundaries.

    This horrifying scene, to the uninitiated, was a source of delight for Amos. Frenzy and obsession gleamed in his eyes.

    "Wait for me," he whispered silently towards the direction of the second-floor ward.

    The emergence of this new scene provoked another round of discussion below. Compared to the still-confused citizens, the players reacted more vigorously.

    Druid: Holy sh*t! What's going on? Didn't the world end in the previous scene?

    Black Cat: Look closely. This seems to be a rollback in time. This moment is clearly before the first main storyline. Lane was still in the hospital.

    Alon: But it's strange. If this is the timeline, where are the players?

    Alon raised the crucial question. At this point, the Druid should have already encountered Lane at the hospital, and Lane should have been discharged.

    Lane was also watching this scene. Unlike the players, he recalled the moment he opened the Ark, when an unknown contaminated fog invaded him, nearly robbing him of his sanity.

    The illusion he briefly experienced back then seemed to be a hospital devoid of players. It was also due to the Druid's interference that he recalled his reckless intrusion into the hospital, which sparked Lane's desire to survive at that time.

    Now, upon reflection, the appearance of the players had reignited Lane's will to live, who had previously given up.

    This motivation wasn't just about gaining a basic understanding of the world and detailed information about the future; it also soothed his inner confusion and the lonely despair.

    The existence of players and their forums acted like a thread connecting him to this world. He found the drive to assimilate into this world, no longer feeling like an outsider separated by an invisible barrier.

    Lane sensed that destiny was showcasing different scenarios, possibly representing distinct timelines with divergent paths for the future and the past.

    But what if this timeline was one without players? How would he have fared?

    The scene continued to unfold. From this, it was apparent that destiny didn't foresee the complete future but rather glimpses of crucial moments.

    For the image now displayed was Arkham ablaze.

    A scene both familiar and unfamiliar to the players. Familiar because they had experienced it during their first main storyline, yet unfamiliar since, back then, their presence had saved some Arkhamites. But this time...

    "A city engulfed in flames, as the strange and frenzied hunt humans."

    The Audit Bureau's squad was desperately saving citizens around the city, but under the cover of their headquarters, they found no evidence. They perished in the midst of their frantic rescue efforts, falling to anomalies and flames.

    As he lay dying, Captain Gevul hit the ground. In his final moments, he still pondered how to convey the situation here to the Audit Bureau's headquarters.

    Suddenly, he noticed someone approaching him. Despite the excruciating pain in his chest, Gevul rasped, "Quickly, go! Leave this place!"

    But the footsteps didn't divert; there was no hesitation as they continued towards him.

    Due to severe blood loss, Gevul's vision had blurred, only able to discern patches of color. Straining to focus, he blinked, trying to see what was happening. His sight wavered, and eventually, he saw a clown standing before him, wearing a bloodstained shirt.

    The pallid skin seemed painted, with vivid red at the corners of the mouth. Yet, through the clown's makeup, Gevul recognized a familiar face, disbelief flooding him. "E-Edmund?"

    The clown froze for an instant but then resumed his normal stance. He crouched down, seemingly inspecting Gevul.

    "You're... You're alive! That's great. Quick, leave here, tell the Audit Bureau what's happening in Arkham. We..."

    Gevul's words were cut short. Staring in disbelief at the clown, he watched as the knife was plunged into his heart from behind, then withdrawn.

    Only then did he realize the lack of sanity in the clown's eyes, filled to the brim with savagery and madness. Though the creature maintained a human appearance, it was no different from a beast.

    "Guffaw, titter, chuckle, hahaha~"

    The light in Gever's eyes gradually dimmed as the clown inspected the blood on his dagger and began to draw an arcane pattern on the ground with it.


    The door to the Dream World opened, and Soren spread his arms in satisfaction, only to be stabbed in the back by two figures approaching from behind.

    "I already knew you would make a move, but it's too late. The gate to the Dream World is already open."

    "Oh? Is that so?" Amos chuckled softly, glancing sideways at Albert. Albert understood what he was implying and recited a spell expressionlessly.

    If even the Inquisition couldn't save Arkham, they had no choice but to seek aid from an evil god, right?

    With the activation of a complex array, the calmness on Soren's face finally wavered. "Then what have you done?"

    "Nothing much," Amos chuckled lowly. "Since this city is doomed anyway, it's just putting it to good use by offering it to another evil god."

    In unison, they began to chant their prayer:

    "The Youngest Son of Dreams,

    The unspeakable enigma..."


    "Nature's and the forest's new sovereign," Carance murmured, staring at the decimated Arkham. His feet were stained with the blood of Black Bang members, as well as that of other gangs. Their blood flowed into channels he had dug, forming an indistinct pattern.


    "At the cost of this city," the Clown said, excitement causing him to bite his tongue, "descend upon us and reveal your true form."


    In that instant, the portal to the Dream World slammed shut.

    Before Soren's stunned gaze, a pure white deity draped in a pristine cloak materialized before the entrance.

    He wore a long white cloth, tattered only at its edges, which revealed a crimson lining. His skin appeared deathly pale, with the exception of a rhombus-shaped red pattern on his collarbone. His scarlet-golden eyes exuded the coldness of divinity.

    At the mere sight of Its form, Sauron's eyes uncontrollably welled with blood tears. Startled, he instinctively lowered his head, unable to bear direct gaze upon the deity.

    The pure white god's appearance lasted only a second before the door to the Dream World was forcibly shut. Arkham, which was destined to sink into the dream, remained in its ethereal state, invisible to those in reality. It seemed to have become, like Miskatonic, a divine kingdom offered by believers in dreams.


    Embarrassment, it seemed, was inevitable after all.

    But, but...

    Lane painfully closed his eyes. Why, why was he in the scene wearing only a cloak? This wasn't right! He had been fully clothed in his original timeline, so why did his counterpart in this world not care about such matters?

    Though no crucial parts were exposed, as the cloak covered him, still, everyone was watching now!

    Lane was contemplating if it was too late to move to another planet.

    Misery didn't always empathize with others. Lane wished for death at that moment, but the players were in a different mindset. They were frantically taking screenshots.

    Matcha Milk Green: AAAAAAAAAHHHHHH! Lane's new form!

    Mint Milk Green: Well, it's not exactly a new form; it feels like the Guardian's form, right? Only in previous narratives, the Guardian's appearance seemed veiled, but now it's been revealed.

    Strawberry Mapo Tofu: The art and modeling teams pulled an all-nighter, and it's finally out! So cool, oh my goodness!

    Human Joys and Sorrows Don't Cross Paths: My wife, my wife, oh my, she's so beautiful, so stunning!

    Observant Joy: I declare that this Guardian form has officially surpassed Pan in my heart. Sorry, Pan is more alien, but the Guardian hits my buttons!

    Not Sure Whose Dog Yet: Starting today, I'm the Guardian's dog!

    Druid: It does look great, but it seems this timeline really doesn't have any players. But even without them, our Lord still gained followers and saved Arkham. Hmm, not a bad thing, I suppose (scratching his chin).

    Nightly: Is it just me, or does this Lane seem a bit off? He doesn't quite...seem like the Lane we know.

    Crazy No More: I agree, isn't his gaze a bit too cold? Is everything alright?

    Strongest Man: Anyway, he saved Arkham, isn't that good enough?

    Isn't it?

    Lane didn't share this sentiment. As he watched the scene unfold in the sky, his heart felt as cold and lifeless as a corpse. Apart from embarrassment and shame, his biggest concern now was that his identity as a Gatekeeper seemed to have been exposed.

    A chilling, oppressive gaze descended from above, filled with a familiar killing intent. Lane's face froze. Fate, what on earth are you doing? !

    His heart turned icy. It was clear that the old god in the sky, a traitor, had set his sights on him.

    Lane was now deeply worried. Once the vision ended, would this deity descend relentlessly and end his life?

    Even if not, with his identity exposed, when this renegade old god returned to the Dream World, his secret would inevitably be revealed to the other malevolent deities. How could he possibly continue?

    Regardless of what people below were thinking, the scene continued to play out.

    Players initially assumed that the narrative would follow the original storyline: Lane would descend to resolve the situation, Arkham would return to normal, or perhaps resemble Miskatonic University in Lane's divine realm, where most people could still live their lives. But the subsequent images told them they had been overly optimistic.

    The scene shifted once more, but this time, players did not witness a revitalized city after the disaster. Instead, they saw a – Kingdom of Vegetation.

    Occasional billboards and road signs hinted at the location for the viewers, but apart from the twisted flora, the city held nothing else.

    This was peculiar. From the timeline suggested by the visuals, only a few days had passed. In such a short time, the former steel jungle had lost its steel and become an actual forest. So, where were the humans?

    The citizens below were puzzled, but the players had their suspicions, their expressions frozen in shock.

    Indeed, those plants... they were the original inhabitants.

    "I see, all the surrounding towns and villages of Arkham have fallen."

    Amos reappeared on the screen, dressed in a robe akin to a priest's, his face bearing a warm smile, seemingly having truly embraced the role.

    He continuously crossed out regions on the map. With each stroke, another area would appear, identical to the current scene—no exceptions. All had transformed into primeval forests, just like Arkham. Only when the camera zoomed in, revealing eerie human faces on the tree bark, did the citizens of Orlandeau realize the truth, their faces contorted with deep fear and despair.

    "Edmund is progressing fastest, followed by Albert and Carrenza; Archimedes is lagging behind... Hmm, I need to give him some incentive to speed up."

    After finishing with the map, Amos leisurely rose and moved to the heart of this plant kingdom to report to the entity seated upon the divine throne: "My lord, half a million residents have embraced the 'Forest Sect' this week."

    The being on the divine throne opened its eyes, still in the form of a youthful Pan, seemingly no different from this timeline's Len. Yet, if they stood side by side, few would mistake one for the other.

    This version of Len had an overly cold expression, devoid of any emotions that should be inherent to humans, resembling a detached statue: "What about the Bureau of Investigation's actions?"

    "They've issued warrants for Edmund and the others," Amos smiled. "But please rest assured, my lord. I've got them by the throat. I've contacted an insider from the bureau, a researcher who will aid us in dismantling it from within and locating the Ark."

    "At that time, the entire world will become your domain,"】

    Silence reigned within the mental space.

    Lane looked around, as if he wanted to grab someone to explain that he really didn't do it, or perhaps find a crack in the ground to hide in, or even wish for a brick to smash his head into first.

    The player forums had gone berserk.

    Black Cat: Holy sh*t! Holy sh*t! Holy sh*t!

    Druid: Blimey! Blimey! Blimey!

    Matcha Milk Green: I get it, I get it! You're all hyped, plus one, heck, even add in our ID numbers!

    Not Crazy: In this timeline, Lane is the boss. Oh my goodness, oh my goodness, oh my goodness!

    Baba: How do we win? How on earth do we win?! And how did things end up like this?

    Uncle Hao: Who knows? Who could have possibly predicted this?

    Nayue: "I really need to know what's going on! But, holy crap, Boss Pantheus is so intense!"

    Both Kerry and Albert stared blankly at the scene unfolding above them. This development had completely surpassed their expectations.

    Kerry: "… Do you have any thoughts on this?"

    Albert ignored Kerry. In truth, he was feeling rather conflicted. He could understand why his counterpart in the previous timeline would seek revenge against the Bureau. It was a plausible scenario. But why would his counterpart in this timeline aid the enemy?

    Kerry wasn't too bothered by Albert's reaction. With a cigarette between his lips, he pondered that if Amos knew what he'd missed, he'd surely regret not finding a way to follow them.

    Hmm, too bad this is a dreamland, or I could've recorded it and sold it to Amos for a fortune.

    The scene continued, conveniently progressing to the event everyone was waiting for.

    The Bureau's Doomsday.

    Similar to the previous timeline, the Bureau was once again infiltrated. However, unlike before, due to the sudden emergence of the 'Forest Sect' and their horrifying actions, the Bureau didn't fragment. Instead, they collaborated with other nations, becoming even more powerful. Their single-minded goal was to counter the newly risen and rapidly expanding 'Forest Church.'

    But often, the strongest defenses were breached from within.

    "Kerry, I never would have expected it to be you..."

    "Don't blame me. Blame yourselves for not seeing through people clearly." Kerry held the box containing the Ark in his arms, surrounded by dark muzzles and the furious, hostile faces of investigators.

    "And even if I didn't do it, someone else would have eventually." Kerry looked down at the doctor under his foot and shrugged. "I just took the initiative."


    Just as they were about to fire, Kerry vanished from his spot. Almost simultaneously, outside the Bureau of Investigation, Albert observed the bustling building and whispered, "This is what you promised me."

    Amos smiled warmly. "Of course... Go ahead, seek your revenge."

    Albert glanced at him, then turned and walked towards the bureau. Behind him, a horde of cultists followed, with the shadow of the Black Goat lingering.

    The destruction of the Bureau of Investigation eliminated any potential opposition to the Forest Sect, allowing them to spread their influence across cities and even nations.

    In the world of Human Emotions: Ahhh! My Lord!

    In the world of True Love: In Lane's world as the boss... Can we have this as a repeatable dungeon in the future? I don't mean anything by it; I just want to save other worlds.

    Beauty Justifies All: I bet you just want to see Lord Lane, huh? HHH Me too! Come on, officials, you know what we're talking about!

    Tax Collector: It would be fascinating if there were a dungeon based on this timeline.

    Cafeteria Lady: Me too, please!

    Druid: This is intense... damn.

    Black Cat: Hm, something feels off here.

    God Among Men: You've noticed it as well?

    Black Cat: Yeah. If the Forest Cult was the boss in this timeline, why haven't other countries reacted? Of course, the destruction of the Audit Bureau plays a part, but it seems like the resistance was less fierce than expected. Or is there another reason?

    Black Cat: After all, people being twisted into trees is horrifying. Why could such a thing happen so easily? Were the process and plans overlooked, and we're only shown the aftermath?

    The players' confusion echoed Lane's, but with his familiarity with his own powers, he had a more concrete speculation.

    What if these trees... were still alive?


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