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    Chapter 142

    Of course, this was only Lane’s speculation. He couldn't influence the scene before him, even though he desperately wanted to go back twenty minutes and eliminate Fate first. But now that events had unfolded, he could only try his best to remain calm and pretend nothing was out of the ordinary.

    As if responding to the black cat's confusion, the screen displayed scenes from various locations around the world.

    The Evil Gods were invading.

    The players were stunned.

    Though the images flashed by quickly, the depiction of the Evil Gods' relentless invasion didn't cease. Players initially believed that this timeline was similar to their current game setting, with most residents living safely on Earth. But now, it seemed they had jumped to conclusions.

    But... why?

    Lane, on the other hand, suddenly noticed something and stared at the screen in surprise, a flurry of questions swirling in his mind.

    Where was Ogul?

    Why did the 'him' in the scene not conceal his identity while closing the door? Wasn't anyone aware of how perilous his situation was? And why hadn't Ogul appeared at all? If he wasn't there, where had he gone, and what had he done?

    A flurry of questions raced through his mind as Len continued reading.

    The scenes revealed why the Forest Sect had flourished in this world: it was a realm fraught with chaos and peril, with malevolent gods descending at random, as if in pursuit of something, causing villages, even cities, to fall under their sway. The Inquisitors were powerless to stop these divine incursions, as similar events unfolded across the globe, shattering the balance between the mystical and mundane worlds, plunging everyone into hopelessness and madness.

    It was no wonder, then, that the Forest Sect, preaching transformation into trees and ascension to paradise, could gain traction. After all, they genuinely had a deity protecting them.

    Amos was skilled in manipulating human emotions. Only small villages had been transformed into trees; he deliberately left the major cities untouched. With various interests at stake, influential figures were always willing to offer minor assistance for their own benefit.

    This timeline was far worse than the previous one. At least in the previous world, before 'God' and the apocalypse, life had been peaceful, and most people lived in relative stability. Even at the end, everyone perished together.

    In contrast, the malevolent gods in this world seemed fueled by some kind of manic energy, disrupting reality and filling the lives of those below with turmoil. Observers couldn't help but pity those living in that timeline.

    "As the Forest Sect's influence expanded, the remaining nations or organizations coalesced into a resistance force.

    Most members of this resistance hated the Forest Sect and Pan, the Shepherd, because of the loss of loved ones or friends who had been turned into trees. Other religions seized the opportunity, particularly the largest religious organization in the world, Christianity.

    They declared Pan to be the embodiment of Satan, and that to counter Satan's descent upon Earth, they must summon angels or God, who would protect His flock.

    With no other options, desperate people chose to believe."

    Under the Doctor's scheme, 'God' descended - but when It arrived, only a third of humanity remained on Earth.

    "God, You must triumph!"

    "Divine One, save humanity!"

    "Defeat the demons!"

    The surviving humans didn't subscribe to the Forest Sect's teachings; they believed them to be devilish deceptions, luring people into aiding another deity in the fight against evil, only to end up as trees themselves. A fate not much better than outright death.

    With their last vestige of hope, they invoked 'God.' But faced with Pantheos, who had already transformed two-thirds of the land into a Divine Realm, God fell silent.

    "Do you wish to make this entire world a Divine Realm, thinking it will shield you from those malevolent gods?" God inquired.

    "You never gave me a choice."

    From the forest below, Lane's voice echoed through the trees, as if each one were an extension of his senses. "For my own survival, I had no other option."

    "Weren't you striving to be the sole Old God? Let us see if you can achieve that."

    Without hesitation, the deity turned to flee, but Pan, the Shepherd God, would not easily let this ancient god who rarely ventured to the surface escape. He sealed the gateway back to the Dream World, forcing the deity to confront Him. Both gods were immensely powerful, and their chase could span the entire Earth in a single day. The deity fled without hesitation, but Pan did not pursue.

    "Lord, should we not follow?" Amos asked, puzzled.

    In Arkham, Lane shook his head. "There's no need to resolve it immediately."

    He held the quill he had taken from the Ark. "I can't enter the Dream World, and the remaining seals can't be removed. To take the easier route, those believers need to witness how I torment the deity."

    "Yes, I understand," Amos acknowledged.

    In his hand was the Ark? A realization dawned on Lane, and his gaze locked onto the scene unfolding.

    "The deity attempts to escape reality and return to the Dream World, but its gate is firmly closed by Lane. He isn't in a rush to eliminate the fleeing deity, for two-thirds of the Earth's surface have already become His divine realm, with green algae even floating in the oceans.

    Pan could kill the deity at any moment, but instead, He maliciously chooses to repeatedly seize the deity before His followers, beat it, and then release it, only to repeat the cycle."

    Player Forum:

    Black Cat: Wow, what a ruthless move.

    Druid: How despicable!

    Matcha Milk Green: This version of Lane is so ruthless, I love it, shusha shusha.

    Majority Rules: He's indeed an evil boss, hilarious!

    Odd Seeker: This world's Lane exudes such a daunting presence.

    Ultimate Male: The citizens below are going to be in tears.

    The citizens of Orland were silent, then a timid little girl's voice suddenly echoed, "Mommy, can't even God defeat the devil?"

    What a great assist!

    Lane felt a chill run down his spine. He really wanted to tell the 'God' above that this wasn't his doing, so please don't come after him!

    The girl's mother quickly comforted her softly. Meanwhile, more people seemed to have woken up from a nightmare, quietly weeping or denouncing the 'Pantheon' in the scene. Priests could also be heard praying softly, causing Lane's reputation to plummet swiftly.

    Lane truly felt like a scapegoat.

    Without doing anything, he had become the prime culprit in the destruction of the future and incurred the enmity of Judas, his deadly foe.

    Imagine if you saw yourself being killed in the future. Wouldn't you try to eliminate the person responsible beforehand?

    He now watched the scene silently, simultaneously sensing the malevolence from the heavens that belonged to 'Judas.' It lingered like a serpent attempting to coil around Lane's ankles. He was certain that Judas would take action against him despite the pressure after the projection ended.

    Although he still didn't know his origins, he could deduce that the terrible state of the world in the vision, with the frenzied descent of the evil gods, likely had something to do with his identity being exposed. The evil gods were like ravenous wolves scenting blood, heedless of the consequences as they lunged at him.

    Lane in the scene had no choice but to risk expanding his Divine Kingdom to counter the evil gods, for he had no alternatives.

    So, was he truly the doomsday boss of this timeline?


    Lane reined in the jumbled thoughts in his mind.

    The most pressing matter now was how to escape this predicament.

    Lane had surmised that Fate's objective was to delay Judas's manifestation as 'God.' As a result, it had to release bait—information about the future from other timelines—that would be useful to 'God.' Since Fate was deliberately stalling, it implied that Judas's intervention in reality was bound by limited time.

    Yet, this didn't alleviate the crisis Lane was in, for he knew better than anyone what Jude was capable of, having once controlled Albert's dream gap. With control over the subconscious of the citizens of Orland City, Jude could be regarded as a deity within his divine domain, and Lane was now a prey trapped within that domain.

    Of course, Lane had attempted to escape this dream, but the moment he tried, the compliant dreamscape around him transformed into an obstacle. The smooth air grew thick, as if turning into an invisible cage. Lane hurriedly ceased his efforts, fearing that it might provoke Jude prematurely.

    Regardless of their willingness, the scene continued to unfold.

    "The God of Shepherds spared God seven times, which also meant He struck God seven times. At first, humans on Earth cheered for God, but as the number of strikes increased, their morale began to crumble.

    In the final instance, the God of Shepherds deliberately took on a monstrous form resembling Satan, and before the believers, tore apart 'God's' divine body, spilling golden blood across the land. Countless plants frenziedly grew, vying for the divine blood, while the remaining humans watched in stunned silence, their faith collapsing.

    "Is there no salvation for this world?"

    The God of Shepherds chuckled softly, exploiting the uncertainty in humanity's hearts. Using the Ark, He used a quill to sever their connection to God and redirect it to Himself.

    Miraculously, those who had despaired due to God's defeat now cheered for the God of Shepherds. They wildly shouted His divine commands, and in their fervor, one by one, they twisted into trees."

    Rolling a Critical Success: Hey, are these people really that real?

    Evil As Me: Damn, even the French have more backbone than them!

    Divinity Among Mortals: It can't be their fault. Looking at Lane's actions, though we don't know what he holds, it seems to be the reason for these humans' sudden change of demeanor.

    Black Cat: I agree. Could it be an artifact that alters perception?

    Not Crazy: If such a thing exists, why wasn't it used from the start? Surely, it couldn't have been intentional.

    In the scene, these people's attitude was as if God, not they, had been defeated by a devil.

    Lane, who had been uneasy below, suddenly widened his eyes. His gaze was fixated on the screen before him, as if electric currents were coursing through his mind.

    The scene finally reached its conclusion.

    As the citizens had speculated, Lane indeed appeared to be the 'culprit' behind humanity's ultimate destruction. After vanquishing God, the last vestige of hope for mankind was extinguished by Lane, and the Forest Sect continued to expand its territory.

    "When the last human tribe transformed into trees, the disciples, having completed all missions, returned to the original Divine Kingdom.

    In Arkham City, almost no trace of human technology could be seen, nor any living creatures. The entire city was eerily silent, with everything covered by various plants. Most strikingly, the colossal tree in the city center stood out.

    It was almost the largest tree in the world, reaching towards the sky, towering so high that its full form was impossible to grasp from the ground. Upon approaching this tree, all the disciples ceased their spells and walked to the center on foot.

    The ground around the colossal tree was covered in a dense web of vines and colorful flowers, concealing the earth beneath. At the foot of the giant tree sat a throne that seemed to merge seamlessly with its surroundings, upon which sat a faun-like god with a human face and goat's body.

    The faun's body seemed to blend into the throne, its hoofed feet transforming from ankles into creeping vines that spread across the floor. Its back merged into the massive tree, as if it were in a deep slumber with closed eyes.

    Amos knelt on one knee. "My lord."

    The faun-god opened His eyes, revealing golden-hued, goat-like irises that swept over His disciples. "You have fulfilled the missions I assigned to you."

    "Rest now," He said.

    Lifting His hand, the deity enveloped several believers in plants. When it was Amos's turn, he eagerly refused to become a tree, instead turning to Lane. "I have no interest in eternal tranquility. I only wish to stay by your side!"

    But Lane simply looked at him silently, replying, "I have no need for company."

    Amos opened his mouth to protest, but Lane didn't grant him another chance. Like the others, Amos transformed into a tree.

    All was finished.

    Lane closed His eyes, and when He opened them again, the golden hue in His gaze had faded, replaced once more by the vivid green. He placed a finger on the ground, creating faint, indistinct shadows.

    "Ultimately, it's just you and me left in this world," Lane whispered. "But when will you awaken, my dear?"

    The Shadow remained silent.

    Lane let out a deep, profound sigh, resettling himself on the throne. He took out a silver quill and, glancing beyond the scene, seemed to be talking to himself. "An Ark with only one seal lifted can exert limited power. For me to effortlessly manipulate the subconscious of my followers, their devotion must be unwavering."

    "For non-followers, controlling the human subconscious becomes incredibly challenging. It's either they inherently accept it or when their mental defenses are shattered, leaving them defenseless," Lane continued.

    Dice Lady Loves Me: Holy crap, is He looking at us?!

    Druid: Could it be... just a coincidence?

    Black Cat: Damn, you scared me! For a moment there, I really thought Lane saw us.

    Not Crazy: It should just be the officials pulling a prank, right? But is this some sort of description of the Ark?

    Official prank? Lane didn't think so. He held the Ark tightly, sensing intuitively that this was the key to breaking the deadlock.

    "The camera begins to zoom out, and the entire Earth has shifted from being predominantly blue to a blend of blue and green. There are no more humans on the planet; only vast oceans of green. The malevolent deities have lost their means to invade Earth."

    Be it earthquakes, tsunamis, or volcanic eruptions, plants were uprooted, yet new sprouts always emerged from the fallen, lifeless trees.

    Humanity hadn't perished; they had merely adopted a different mode of existence to better suit this world.

    In the realm of subconsciousness, humans who had lost all memory continued their lives as usual in the cities, going to work, attending school – it was not too dissimilar from life on Earth.

    A man with black hair stood in a daze, gazing at the scene before him. His companion nudged him and said, "What are you daydreaming about?"

    "I... Is this... reality?"

    "Of course, oh boy, here we go again," sighed his friend, who then dialed a number. Soon, an ambulance arrived and took the man away.

    The ambulance bore the emblem of the Inspectorate. The driver greeted the friend, "Hasn't he recovered yet?"

    "Yes, this is the third time. Maybe the pressure from upcoming exams is getting to him," shrugged the man. "If only we could get an appointment with Director Archie Hayes for psychological counseling."

    "Haha, that's quite a challenge. Director Hayes is always busy. But take care of your friend; you wouldn't want the Judgement Bureau knocking on your door," the driver warned.

    "Thank you for the heads-up," the man smiled. "May Pan, the Shepherd God, watch over you."

    The driver made a similar gesture, "May Pan protect us. Well, I must be on my way."

    The scene widened, revealing that this world was entirely marked by the Forest Sect, with only Pan as its deity. No other beliefs were allowed, nor could anyone recall the reality they came from.

    In the realm of reality, at the end of the world, a solitary god sat on his throne, silently watching over this planet of vegetation."

    The scene concluded.

    Players involuntarily swallowed, their eyes filled with excitement. Before they could express their emotions, a sudden change occurred.

    Judas sensed his control over the dreamworld beginning to wane and decided to strike at Lane first. However, Lane's response was swift; the colossal figure of Pan suddenly appeared before everyone's eyes.

    The citizens of Orlandu knew too little about this information and failed to grasp the significance of the final image. Most still had the memory of Pan ravaging Earth fresh in their minds. Now, seeing the giant Pan in 'reality,' they instinctively let out terrified screams.

    "No! Demon!"

    "Please, save me!"

    "Who will... who will save us?!"

    At that moment, Judas, hidden in the shadows, emerged without hesitation. The countdown to Its return had begun, and the Fates' calculations were precise. Once the scene ended, Its ability to intervene in the real world would also cease. However, It was determined not to leave empty-handed!

    Taking advantage of Its control over the subconscious, Judas transformed into the embodiment of 'God,' wielding a massive bolt of lightning that struck the colossal Pan. Simultaneously, It harnessed the power of the subconscious, cleaving Pan in two with a single blow.

    Though this act marked the beginning of Its forced detachment from reality, It knew it was sufficient. Judas was confident that the attack had severely wounded Lane and etched the image of 'God' defeating 'Satan' deeply into the minds of the people of Orlandu, paving the way for Its next descent.

    As It started to withdraw from the subconscious, something felt amiss.

    Why were these humans silent even after He defeated the devil?

    Lowering Its head, 'God' gazed at the people below, who weren't cheering or screaming. Instead, their eyes held fear, as though they were looking at... Satan.

    In the final moments before vanishing, 'God' suddenly felt a sharp pain and experienced a shift in perspective. Falling from the sky, Its body split in two, while Lane loomed overhead, looking down upon It.

    Just like in those timelines.

    Staring at the Ark in Its hands, 'God' finally realized Its mistake.

    Firstly, it must be understood that this was not reality but the subconscious world of the citizens of Orlandu – a collective dream.

    In dreams, all things are possible, and whoever wields mastery over this realm stands invincible.

    In a direct contest for control of the dream, Lane was no match for 'God.'

    But he had the Ark, his unfair advantage.

    At the moment the scene vanished, an idea struck Lane. He recalled the angel's manipulation of people's perception and his own words in the vision about utilizing the Ark.

    Thanks to this incomprehensible timeline, the citizens of Orland had reached the peak of their fear towards the 'PASTOR' and deeply ingrained its immense power in their minds.

    He deliberately summoned a massive PASTOR identical to the one in the vision, knowing that 'God' would fall for the trap and immediately attack. The instant God defeated the PASTOR, Lane utilized the Ark to alter reality.

    Such a complicated maneuver should have been impossible, but who could blame him when the image of himself defeating God seven times had firmly planted the impression of a powerful PASTOR and a weak God in the hearts of Orland's citizens?

    The PASTOR in the vision had mentioned that manipulating the subconscious of the masses with an unsealed Ark was incredibly difficult, unless it aligned with human impressions, common sense, or during moments of mental collapse or faith shattering.

    All these conditions were met at this very moment. The people's subconscious now assumed the PASTOR's superiority over God due to witnessing the alternate timelines, and their sanity had crumbled from witnessing multiple apocalypses.

    Thus, Lane used the Ark to reverse the outcome of his brief clash with God, turning defeat into victory. This alteration instantly manifested in the current dream.

    The devil had once again "defeated" God, a fact that shattered the faith of some believers. Judas gazed at his fading form, realizing that there was no chance of manifesting in the real world this time.

    But the gains from this journey were ample enough.

    Judas gave Lane a deep look before vanishing entirely.

    Simultaneously, the angel's power waned, and the dream began to dissipate. Everyone's consciousness returned to reality.

    Before the dream ended, Lane hastily used the Ark's authority to alter the subconscious of the people of Orlandu. It was impossible to make them forget everything entirely, but he could blur the specific faces in their memories. In short, though he couldn't salvage public opinion, he could ensure they wouldn't be able to identify anyone or match them to their identities.

    As for the players, Lane knew it was hopeless without even looking. Forget about it; recordings would be uploaded, downloaded, and shared wildly across player forums. He had long given up on salvaging his reputation among them.

    By the time Lane finished his work, the citizens opened their eyes in the real world.

    The dream was over.


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