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    Chapter 146

    As Lane and Oger were chatting, the Black Cat was still analyzing the intelligence.

    Player Forum:

    Black Cat: Of course, this is just my personal opinion, but the Evil God's actions do strangely align with mythological tales. It's not out of the question that the officials are intentionally creating chaos.

    No, Lane thought to himself, the Black Cat had actually guessed correctly; this was indeed part of the Evil God's scheme.

    Druid: This is just my personal opinion.jpg.

    Matcha Milk Green: The officials might not have designed it like that.jpg

    Nayami: No guarantees.jpg

    Black Cat: ...?

    Druid: You don't have to be so modest, Black Cat. Everyone already knows about your clairvoyant identity (dog emoji).

    Baba: If it weren't for the official's aloofness, I'd suspect they intentionally gave you a hint.

    Uncle Hao: Be more confident. Why can't it be that the officials are secretly following Black Cat's master plan?

    Crazy: Haha, this is like a game being crowdfunded.

    Black Cat: Although I'm honored by your trust, we still need to go through the proper steps, hahaha. Alright, let's continue. Now, we'll analyze the real mastermind behind the scenes, the 'God' after the angel's descent. Everyone knows the significance of the 'God' in Christianity. Since an evil deity could manifest as an angel, there's no reason they wouldn't covet the 'God' position. So, the question is, who was the final 'God' to descend?

    Druid: Giving up on thinking.jpg

    Matcha Milk Green: Abandon all thoughts.jpg, big shot, just give me the answer straight.

    Black Cat: Honestly, I'm not sure about the true identity of this deity either. But from the similarity between the God I mentioned earlier and Lahn's methods, plus the intel Amos revealed in the first timeline, God is a traitor to the Old Gods. He betrayed the Old God faction and became a guide for the arrival of evil gods. In other words, His true form is actually 'Judas,' the one who aspired to be God.

    Strongest Man: Huh, I'm not familiar with Christian mythology. Why do you call Him Judas? Because of betrayal?

    Black Cat: Something like that. Mainly, it's based on the PV, which seemed to spoil future events. Didn't you see the enormous table hanging in the sky?

    Druid: Ah, yes, I'm aware of that too. You're referring to 'Judas' from the famous painting 'The Last Supper,' right?

    Black Cat: Indeed, Amos from the First Timeline also mentioned something about the 'Thirteen Council.' Along with the thirteen figures seen at the apocalyptic dining table in the PV, it suggests that there should be thirteen Old Gods, one of whom is a traitor. The number of Evil Gods is unclear, but judging from the final scene in the First Timeline, their number seems considerable.

    As the Black Cat spoke, it couldn't help falling silent, and those who had watched the First Timeline's story animation with it also fell quiet. Although the final image was not clear, anyone familiar with the Cthulhu Mythos could discern some traces from those vague silhouettes.

    If it really was as they suspected, did the Old Gods truly stand a chance?

    Black Cat: From what we know so far, Judas aims to descend as 'God' and guide the Evil Gods to Earth. In the First Timeline, Amos and Cree were his subordinates, orchestrating the apocalypse. Notably, in the final scene, Cree solidified the ritual used by the First Timeline's boss to open the Dream World. This implies that the main force of the Evil Gods is currently within the Dream World... Based on what we saw through the 'door' in our First Timeline, the Dream World might already be ravaged by the Evil Gods.

    Black Cat: Furthermore, there's something else I'm concerned about. In the First Timeline, players had a chance to win. A player stole the 'Fetal Blood' of an unknown god, which likely held the key to the success or failure of the ritual in the Dream World.

    Druid: So, if we want to stop the Evil Gods, we should take out Cree first, right? (stroking chin)

    Black Cat: Hey, come on! Cree is already under Lahn's control, isn't he? (laughs nervously)

    Insane: Yeah, the timeline has changed. But I think we should eliminate Amos first. If I recall correctly, he was the mastermind behind the Arkham disaster. (sharpens knife)

    Black Cat: Hold up. Given the progression in the First Timeline, it's evident that it's a world without Lahn but with players, significantly different from the current development. We can selectively gather intelligence from it, but we can't blindly trust its portrayal of the future.

    Black Cat: After all, in the First Timeline, Arkham was destroyed, and Albert, Carrens, and Arche even turned against the Bureau in retaliation.

    Insane: Speaking of which, this timeline is incredibly captivating (drools). Mature Archy, vengeful Albert and Carrens, the utterly villainous Amos, the mad scientist Cree, and the unpredictable Clown – they're all fantastically cool, aren't they?

    Matcha Milk Green: But I feel so heartbroken, qwq.

    Uncle Hao: Yeah, after all, the Archy we know might have a sharp tongue but offers free therapy to players. And Carrens, though we rarely see him, it's said that when one of his gangster NPCs dies, he personally delivers their ashes and compensation to their families. There's a large number of elderly in the Black Poker-protected district who are relatives of the gang members.

    Yeyue: And Albert, despite our limited interactions, there was once news reporting him as the police department's rising star.

    Matcha Milk Green: They're a group of NPCs who aren't entirely good, nor completely evil. Their lives were intertwined in this devastated city, and thus, after its destruction, they became spirits without a past or a future.

    Ah Li Le: Qwq

    Black Cat: There, there (teary laughter). After all, it's an official fake knife; you don't have to be too hard on yourself. If anything, the second timeline was even more heartbreaking, don't you think?

    Upon hearing Black Cat's words, the previously restrained Lan En fanbase erupted.

    Wants to Sleep with Lan En: Ahhhhhh! Wife! My wife!

    Wants to Be Lan En's Dog: Sobs... Wife, you're so pitiful, sitting alone on that lofty throne, enduring endless solitude without knowing how much time has passed.

    Lann stepped on me: He really did, I was devastated.

    In the realm of art, baldness is but a common plight; though it is truly pitiable, this version of Lane resonates deeply with me! A handsome, powerful, and tragic figure, tears stream down the corners of his lips.

    Radiant Kitten: Indeed, as the final scene pulls away, the world falls into an immense stillness. Only the gentle swaying of the forest under the breeze remains. Human voices are silenced; the gods slumber eternally on their thrones. This scene is incredibly impactful. The game's artistry and design are remarkable, they truly know how to resonate with me!

    Exquisitely Adorable Kitten Face: Hehe, this also hits my aesthetic spot! The official really knows how to appeal!

    Not Crazy: It's a bit disappointing. I have a soft spot for villainous characters. Initially, seeing this world's boss, Lane, almost made my mouth water. But in the end, he still ended up saving the world. Orz.

    ID is ID: It's not really saving the world, I genuinely feel that Lane in the second timeline appears much more indifferent. Compared to saving the world, I think Lane might have had his own objectives, with saving the world being more of a side effect? Or a coincidence? Anyway, he truly embodies the vibe of a major villain, especially when he defeated God seven times mid-way – that left a deep impression on me.

    Wealth and Honor Since Birth: Moreover, this timeline should be one without players, right? I've observed for a while, and there's no trace of player activity at all.

    Matcha Milk Green: So the variable in the first timeline is Lane's absence, while in the second timeline, it's the players' absence! Hehe, it turns out that both Lane and the players are heading towards each other!

    Lane Is My Wife: I'm satisfied, the official account really gets it! Confirmed, my wife's love interest is the players, and I am a player, so the theorem stands: Lane is my wife!

    Druid: Damn it, you shameless ones, it was me who entered the hospital to lift Lane's seal!

    Lahn: ...Ah, I almost forgot about that detail.

    To be honest, the players initially did seem to misunderstand and believe that the Druid was the one who freed Lahn.

    But from another perspective... they weren't entirely wrong.

    Lahn's gaze softened as he looked at the forum threads.

    If not for the Druid's unexpected intervention, he might truly have followed the path of the second storyline, where he loses hope, his sanity sinking into an unknown abyss, and his divinity rising as he becomes an emotionally detached Pan.

    It was the players' presence that reminded him that this world was a game, freeing him from his fear of the unknown and granting him an initial understanding of this world.

    Matcha Milk Green: Damn, don't remind me of that... sob sob sob, I just managed to push it out of my mind.

    Lahn Is My Wife: I don't care, I don't care! I don't want to hear it! My wife is mine, qwq!

    Yeyue: Yeah, now that you mention it, that does ring a bell.

    Druid: Heh~ Speaking of which, Lan still has the highest affection for me so far!

    Fox Wu Ling Twins: Look at that smug little guy (sour)

    Lan's Wife's Dog: Anyone up for ambushing the Druid in-game or forming a team? Count me in.

    Countless replies follow with +1s and +1s.

    Before the Druid could continue his antics, Black Cat had to intervene once more to redirect the conversation back on track.

    Black Cat: Alright, alright, we're derailing here (laughs in frustration). This thread is mainly for analysis. If you want to discuss the Second Timeline, please create a separate post. That said, there are indeed many aspects worth delving into regarding the Second Timeline.

    Black Cat: Firstly, I do agree with the idea of a mutual journey between players and Lan. The developers really know how to please their players; they've won me over! My heart is bursting with joy because it implies that among countless timelines, ours, where we meet Lan, is one of a kind (laughs).

    Black Cat: Among a trillion different worlds, our meeting is a unique miracle, and this miracle holds the potential to forge a path towards saving the world.

    From Now On, No More Love for Serene Nights: Ahh, you really know how to work it, the official team! And Black Cat, you too!

    Trouble Looms for Those Who Don't Understand Lan: You, boy, are too skilled with words!

    Washing hair with boiling water: How romantic.

    Majority rules: Alright, I'm fired up! Time to carry bricks and save the world!

    Black Cat: Hahaha, pardon my modesty, I'm just expressing my thoughts. To get back on track, we can also find a solution to save the world from the second timeline – making humans into trees.

    Black Cat: Judging from the ending of the second timeline, why didn't the apocalypse occur? It was clearly prevented beforehand, in a straightforward and brutal manner. The problem was solved at its root by turning all those capable of summoning evil gods into trees, and tearing God apart...

    Druid: Simple and brutal, I love it.

    Black Cat: And even though they turned into trees, human consciousness continued to live on in the spirit realm. Honestly, I think this ending is pretty cool, atmospheric, and Lovecraftian. From the visuals, it seems that Len used the 'Ark' to achieve this. There was even a moment when Len suddenly looked directly at the camera, hinting at the Ark's purpose, which really startled me.

    Not Crazy: What if the Len in that timeline was actually strong enough to see it? After all, he could tear God apart. I truly believe that version of Len was at an extreme level. Maybe because his divine kingdom had expanded?

    Black Cat: Very possible. That version of Len was likely far more powerful than the current one. However, with the current situation, it's unlikely we'll follow that path. Hence, the transformation into trees can only be seen as a reference.

    Black Cat: Here's another speculation: In the first timeline, the key to opening the door to the Dream World was the blood of an unborn evil god. Could this unknown god be Len? Considering it's a timeline where Len doesn't exist, and the second timeline confirmed him as the Gatekeeper, his authority might be linked to unlocking that door.

    Black Cat: So, based on the third main storyline and the PV, we can deduce the following information:

    1. The world is destined for annihilation, known as the Final Judgment, which in reality signifies the invasion of the malevolent deities.

    2. Among the thirteen supreme deities of the Old Gods, one is a traitor who will orchestrate the invasion of these malevolent forces.

    3. The Dream World has already been tainted by the malevolent deities, making it highly probable that they will infiltrate through it.

    4. Humanity was once 'Perfect Beings,' originating from the Dream World.

    5. Lane holds the key to the invasion of the malevolent deities.

    6. Judas aims to descend as a 'God,' and he might resort to actions reminiscent of mythological tales (speculation).

    7. Some of the malevolent deities might assume the names of gods from various mythologies during their descent (speculation).

    Black Cat: That's roughly the summary of the intelligence I've gathered. Any additional points are welcome.

    Madness: Hmm, after hearing Black Cat's summary, things seem much clearer. So, the main storyline of the next version will be about preventing the descent of the malevolent deities, right?

    Black Cat: It's very likely, yes.

    Druid: It feels like things are getting more intriguing. The upcoming main storyline must be a grand move (rubbing hands together in anticipation).

    Players passionately commented under Black Cat's post, with some agreeing with the speculation, others dismissing it, and still more expressing doubt. A myriad of opinions emerged as the debate raged on. Amidst the fervor, the official channel finally released an update.

    "Notification - New Version: 'Fatespin' Beta 4.0 is about to commence. The new version will introduce different login locations to avoid overcrowding. Players can choose to log in at Arkham or the new map. Expected openings:

    1. Arkham (Crowded)

    2. New Harbor (Smooth)

    3. Orlandu (Smooth)

    "Expected Beta Testing Spots: 50,000"

    "Notification - Special Map: Dreamworld activated. This is a testing version, and during the beta phase, access is only available through a special NPC, Lane. Please note that Dreamworld is rich in resources, ancient ruins, and stories lost in time, but also harbors unimaginable dangers. This map is recommended for players level 60 and above to explore in teams."

    Druid: Well, well, the officials aren't even pretending anymore, are they? They're clearly pushing Lane front and center.

    Not Crazy: So the officials are Lane's biggest fans after all!

    Ultimate Man: Was it just me who noticed that the official released the Dream World map right after the big shot mentioned it? It's confirmed now that they're copying Black Cat's ideas (dog emoji).

    Black Cat: Level 60... The first batch of players is only around level 40. This seems like a high-risk dungeon that requires team exploration.

    Daddy Hao: I'm not bothered by the high-level maps; I'm more interested in the increasing number of spots - hahaha, is the official finally preparing for open beta testing? hahaha

    Shake Off Troubles: This batch is also for 50,000 people. Combined with the previous players, it's a total of 100,000, but watching it live didn't give me a real sense of the scale.

    Yeye: Well... You should consider how vast this world map is. Honestly, did the officials waste their budget on unnecessary things? Many players have tested it out, and there are no invisible walls in the game world. Enthusiasts fly around enjoying the scenery. Calculating from the size of the world map, it's almost the same as our reality. Even if it's modeled after our world, the amount of data is mind-boggling. How do the servers manage to handle it?

    Ultimate Man: Sometimes, I can't help but wonder if this world might actually be real...

    Crazy One: Players have already discussed on forums how enormous the world map, quest texts, and data are. If there isn't an actual backup in the real world or if the officials haven't come knocking, I'd seriously believe we've entered another dimension.

    Odd Seeker: After all, the game markets itself on realism and freedom, hahaha. You guys aren't really thinking it's an alternate world, right? hahaha

    Yeye: ...Anyway, due to the massive map, even with 50,000 newbies, they won't seem numerous in the crowd. Plus, this main quest has a time limit, so some people might miss it entirely.

    Whispering Shadow: Agree qwq That's me. I joined the Inspection Bureau and became an intern investigator. They gave me a deep forest investigation task, and by the time I returned, the main quest was over...

    Lyuyu FishFishFish: This game is peculiar, unlike others that relentlessly beckon players to dive into main quests with a flurry of rewards. Instead, it casually notifies you that the main storyline has commenced, and before you know it, you miss the chance to participate as it quietly concludes.

    Novice Admirer: Nevertheless, I still want to play! Please, grant me a favorable draw!

    Observing the players actively participating in the lottery, Lane, who had finished reading the Black Cat's analytical post, temporarily closed the forum.

    The players' main storyline has concluded, and they eagerly anticipate the next update. Yet, the curtain on this world's affairs has barely begun to fall.

    Before the players returned, Lane had much to attend to as well – organizing the current situation, contemplating how to proceed with unsealing the Ark, and addressing the unresolved matters concerning Orlandu and the Auditors.

    Amidst a myriad of tasks, just as Lane was about to depart the Divine Realm, Ogler suddenly said, "I might be away for a while."

    Lane was taken aback, looking up in confusion. "Where are you going?"

    Ogler gazed at him calmly. "Back to the Dream World."

    Lane's brows knitted together. "Why do you need to go back all of a sudden? And aren't you supposed to be my guardian? I'm not saying you have to stick by my side all the time, but this is just too..." abrupt.

    Reflecting on it, Ogler had never left Lane's side since he arrived in this world. Though he seldom intervened in Lane's affairs, he was more like a silent observer and companion, never overstepping or hindering Lane's thoughts. Lane had grown accustomed to Ogler's presence and had never imagined a day when he would leave.

    Ogier simply looked at Lane with his rugged features softened by a gentle, submissive droop of his brows, resembling a loyal Tibetan Mastiff that would never anger its master.

    Yet, when these dogs became stubborn, they could exhibit a tenacity that left their owners exasperated.

    "…Is it because of the Ark?" Lane sighed.

    It was the only possibility he could think of.

    Ogier nodded. "The Ark's seal needs the consent of thirteen… or twelve Old Gods, to be unlocked using their blood or an artifact imbued with their power. You can't enter the Dream World, but I can without any issues."

    Lane: "There's no need for you to do this! I have a better candidate here!"

    "They aren't afraid of death, but they're too weak," Ogier said softly as he bent down, his shadow almost engulfing Lane entirely, as if he were about to embrace him but held back at the last moment. "I don't know how much time we have, and they might not succeed even if given the chance. I'm far more familiar with the Dream World than they are. I'm the best choice."

    "I won't leave you alone."

    Lane pressed his lips together. He knew all too well that Ogier was indeed the best candidate, especially considering his familiarity with the Thirteen Old Gods and knowledge on how to find them.

    But Judah was like a thorn in Lane's heart, piercing deep within.

    To fully unlock the Ark, one had to visit all thirteen Old Gods, and Judah was among them.

    If Auger were discovered, the consequences...

    "You've been watching from the sidelines for so long. Why can't you just stay by my side?" Lane asked hoarsely.

    Auger looked at him and replied, "I swore to be the sword and shield of only one God."

    "And I swear to you now," he took Lane's wrist, placing a kiss on his palm, "I will return."

    Noticing Lane's disapproving expression, Auger paused and added, "Moreover, I'm familiar with those thirteen Old Gods. I have some suspicions about Judah's identity. Trust me, I'll only retrieve the divine artifacts that I'm absolutely certain are safe. I won't seek out the Old God who might be Judah."

    "Open the door, Lane."

    A warm sensation spread from his palm to his heart, and Lane closed his eyes. Of course, he could refuse; he alone held the power to open the door. But gazing into Auger's eyes, he sighed softly in the end.

    Auger was right. His reason told him that he might not have the time to wait for players to grow stronger.

    The highest player level was currently 40, and in his previous life, even in the later stages of the Dream World, it was an extremely challenging dungeon. Players typically entered alive and left dead.

    After all, the Dream World was vast; who knew where those thirteen Old Gods could be?

    Of course, Lane didn't completely trust Oger to go alone: "Leave your itinerary behind. If you don't return within a certain period, I'll send someone to look for you."

    Oger: "Alright."

    After Oger finished recording his route, the door to the Dream World opened once more. This time, Lane learned from his mistake and only kept it open for a very brief moment, with the size of the portal just enough for Oger to pass through.

    As Oger was about to step away, Lane tiptoed and hugged him, saying, "Have a safe journey."

    Oger paused for a moment before bending down to embrace the young god with great strength.

    "Take care," Oger replied.


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