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    Asianovel

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    Chapter 149: Player Forums

    As usual, after completing the main quest, there would be a period of time for game updates, during which players were forcibly logged out. Bored veteran players gathered in the forums to chat and pass the time, while anxious new players eagerly awaited the opening of new spots.

    Ah Lel: Please, please, I hope I get chosen! (Praying)

    Money's Not My Thing: I've washed my hands, burned incense, and taken a bath. This time, there must be a place for me! (Holding a rose)

    Tai Bai Jinxing: Please, I've been following this for so long, and I'm recognizable in all the live streams. Grant my child a spot, considering how sincere I am!

    Desperately Want to Be a Nuclear Power Plant: So many people waiting? Why is it that even after such a long time, there are still so many interested? (Sad face)

    I'm Glasses P: Could it be because the game's videos have gone viral everywhere?

    Peilupu: They should've bowed to the players already (dog emoji). The promotional video "Inheritance of the Flame" has gone viral again. After the closed beta ends, the official team should make a compilation video of "When Stars Shine," and it'll definitely become popular once more.

    It Wouldn't Be Surprising: (Planner: Note that down, we'll do it after the closed beta.)

    Aron: Hahaha, you guys didn't have to come so early. There are 50,000 spots open this time, and with the previous beta tests, the total number of players exceeds 100,000.

    Whispering Wind: You old-timers don't understand how sought-after this game is now. It wouldn't take minutes to fill up 100,000 spots, let alone 50,000. The game's pre-registration has already surpassed a million!

    Liyu FishFishFish: My friends are asking me when this game will have its open beta. We're already at version 4.0.

    Aron: Be grateful. At least this game jumps straight from one major version to another. Some games increment by 0.1, and who knows if they'll ever reach an open beta in our lifetime.

    Forest Black Goat: I feel like there's some hidden meaning in your words, but then again, maybe not.

    As the players continued their casual conversation, the game's spots finally started being distributed. Tens of thousands rushed to the official website, causing the forums to lag.

    Alale: Got it!

    Nothing But Trouble: Hehe~ (showing off the spot) Arkham, here I come!

    Money Has No Appeal: Now it's the game that has no appeal to me... It's over in just two minutes? Is it reasonable that I didn't get a spot? I've been waiting through an entire version. (Soul crushed)

    Appearance Is Justice: Sympathy for the person above. I once waited through two full versions myself.

    Black Cat: Welcome to the game, hhh, but the Arkham server might be quite crowded.

    Face Value is Justice: Newbies can come to Orlandu! The latest main quest just wrapped up here! There must be plenty of follow-up missions!

    This is quite a unique feature in this game. Unlike other games where maps refresh after completing the main storyline, in Destiny's Spiral, the battle remnants, collapsed structures, and even the NPCs' reactions to disasters remain incredibly realistic.

    As a result, players get opportunities to take on quests, usually involving transporting injured, moving supplies, or rebuilding homes.

    By the way, the game also has a Red Name mode. Those who attack city NPCs without cause will be marked red, allowing other players to kill them or report them to the authorities, maintaining order within the game world.

    God Among Men: If you're not afraid of dying or enjoy stirring things up, and are open to mature content, you can head to the New Port (laughs). We could use some extra hands here.

    Uh-oh: N-Nah, that's okay (cowardly)

    In the previous update, with new maps opening up, many players took to forums to share their mission experiences, such as daily life at MIT, the traditional detective quests at the Bureau of Investigation, and the cult simulator at the New Port.

    Among these, while the Bureau's quests were popular, it was actually the New Port missions that garnered the most attention outside of Orlandu's main quest period.

    As for the content... let's just say that this dungeon might be the most intense players have ever seen. Posts about it require moderation, and those under 21 years old can't even access them – it's ridiculous.

    No Peaceful Day: I'm in! I've been following the big shots' posts and I've been dying to explore the new port!

    Even Numbers Seeker: As expected, the newcomers are still bold.

    Majority Rules: Initially, the main storyline made me think this game would definitely be rated 18+. But with the new port map, I feel like not giving it a 21+ rating is an insult to the censors.

    Ultimate Male: Be more confident. I saw a post, which, of course, was swiftly removed by Shan, but I still wonder if this game can really launch. Is everything alright? Will it survive until the open beta? (Shivering)

    God Among Us: Really? I think it's quite mild compared to reality. I'm just dealing with violence with violence, hehe.

    Matcha Milk Green: (Shivering) P-Please hold back, big shot. Are you sure your account won't get banned by the officials?

    God Among Us: (Smiling) (Says nothing, but smiles)

    While old and new players engaged in friendly discussions, the game's countdown finally reached zero.

    Welcome back to Wheel of Destiny!

    ...

    Beauty Is Justice opened her eyes, as expected, she had returned to Orlandu.

    Judging from the dates on the street signs, the game's time was synchronized with reality, and players had been gone for about a day.

    Now, the city was already in the midst of post-disaster reconstruction, much like Arkham back then. However, the difference was that Orlandu was far more prosperous, so it didn't need players' assistance. NPCs were already taking action on their own. The screens on the buildings and news broadcasts were reporting the incident, attributing the cause to hallucinogenic drugs, gas leaks, and terrorist attacks.

    In short, it was a typical cover-up. It would be up to the citizens of Orlandu whether they believed it or not.

    Beauty Is Justice curled her lips. While strolling down the street, she glanced at her reflection in a window, noting that her appearance on this card was deliberately different from her previous one.

    As for what she wanted to do next or which faction to join, Beauty Is Justice hadn't made up her mind yet. The tax collector had invited her to check out the new port, while some veteran players had asked her to come back to Arkham, assuring her that the University wouldn't disappoint.

    But Beauty Is Justice didn't respond to either. She hadn't decided where to go yet. Both places seemed appealing, but something still felt incomplete.

    While walking, she suddenly noticed a new private message. It was from Thief Saint.

    "Thief Saint: Where are you? Still in Orlandu?"

    "Beauty Is Justice: Yeah, looking for quests."

    "Thief Saint: If you've got some free time, why not drop by the Church of the Galactic Stars?"

    "Beauty is Justice: ?"

    "Thief Saint: There's a funeral going on here, your own, in fact."

    "Beauty is Justice: ???"

    Confused for two seconds, Beauty is Justice suddenly recalled – yes, they had been absorbed into the Church of the Galactic Stars. In the game, joining the church wasn't just an official record; it also involved a funeral ceremony with invitations to related acquaintances.

    Some players loved this realistic touch, while others criticized it as the game developers' twisted sense of humor.

    At that moment, however, Beauty is Justice didn't ponder much. Instead, Judith's image flashed in her mind, holding her lifeless body.

    Their actions were heroic, a brilliant sacrifice seen by all, and no one regretted or boasted about it – except for the non-playable characters (NPCs) who had witnessed their deaths firsthand.

    By the time Beauty is Justice rushed to the scene, the funeral was nearing its end.

    To her surprise, the funeral was rather well-attended, for it wasn't just her own; it was a mass burial for the twenty-eight who had perished during the Ark Transfer operation.

    Mrs. Judith stood at the forefront, dressed in a sleek black suit and pencil skirt, her face veiled in black as she sorrowfully watched the coffins being lowered into the ground.

    The twenty-eight coffins were buried together, each bearing their names, ages, and brief life summaries read aloud by the priest. Many players hadn't bothered to write backgrounds, leaving their histories blank except for the time they'd joined the Inspectorate. This posed a challenge for the priest, but fortunately, Judith took on the task.

    "They were bound together by an unknown fate, perhaps leading ordinary lives. Yet, in humanity's darkest hour, they stood up with extraordinary courage and resilience."

    "They were no less than any investigator I've ever encountered. In comparison, we professionals should feel ashamed. For it was they who saved humanity in the end. I don't know where they came from, but one thing is certain: their characters shine among the stars of humanity."

    "Hehe."

    Justice of Appearance listened with a heavy heart, but a few lewd chuckles suddenly echoed around her. She turned to see who it was and sighed in frustration. "Well, look at you guys."

    Those giggles came from Sea of Stars, Thief Saint, and their ilk. Looking around, she realized that apart from the Inspectorate staff, the attendees were all players.

    "We had to come! This is our moment of glory!" said the cafeteria lady.

    "Your moment of glory is watching your own funeral?" Justice of Appearance rubbed her forehead.

    Janitor: "What's wrong with that? It's proof that we once existed."

    Security Guard: "You're here now, aren't you?"

    "I mean, it's proof that my character card once existed."

    Fortunately, their positions were near the perimeter, allowing them to whisper without disrupting the solemn atmosphere inside. Otherwise, they might have been confronted by other mourners attending the funeral.

    Unlike the grand funeral when God was laid to rest, with participation from several cities, this gamer's funeral was much more low-key. Many of them were newcomers whose heroic actions, though remarkable, were discreet, known only to a few within the Investigative Bureau. Thus, the number of attendees was relatively small.

    Justice Is Skin-Deep glanced inside and, upon noticing an unfamiliar high-ranking auditor standing beside Judith, promptly lost interest, casting her gaze around elsewhere.

    "What are you searching for?"

    The red-haired youth, the one suspected to be the incarnation of Lane, has been missing since the main storyline began.

    "Well, that was to be expected, considering Lane had assumed the form of Pan during the battle."

    "Though that may be true," Justice of Face scanned the area fruitlessly. Just as he was about to give up and withdraw his gaze in disappointment, a flicker of red caught his peripheral vision near the end of the funeral ceremony.

    A gentle drizzle began to fall from the sky.

    Judith declined the umbrella offered by her new assistant and stood alone in the rain, gazing at Loretta's grave marker.

    "Director, standing here in the rain like this will make you catch a cold," the assistant beside her whispered, unable to contain her concern. "The bureau still needs you to steer it through these challenging times. Please take care of yourself."

    "I'm just an acting director," Judith replied. "Call me Judith as you always have."

    "That won't do," the assistant insisted. "You're shouldering all the pressure from above on your own now. It's already tough for you, and everyone has great respect for you."

    "..." Judith said nothing more. At that moment, it seemed to her that she could faintly see a red-haired youth watching her from a distance.

    Judith instinctively took a step forward. "Pardon me, I need to use the restroom."

    "Well, shall I accompany you... Director?"

    Judith didn't wait for her assistant to catch up; she strode off in a determined direction.

    The red-haired youth, Ian...

    In the aftermath of the disaster, Judith was occupied with restructuring the Inspectorate, all while weathering pressure from various levels above her. Exhausted, she found herself unable to locate Ian when she finally came up for air.

    Had she been caught up in the catastrophe, or had someone taken advantage of the chaos to abduct her? Judy entertained the worst possibilities and attempted to locate Ian, but her search always proved fruitless; he seemed to have vanished into thin air.

    Why did he leave suddenly back then, and why has he reappeared here now?

    Judith hastened after the redheaded youth, but he moved too swiftly. By the time she collected her wits, his figure had vanished from sight.

    "Long time no see, Ms. Judith."

    A familiar voice rang from behind her, and Judith spun around to see Ian greeting her with a smile. "My apologies for leaving so abruptly earlier without a word."

    Judith's chest rose and fell gently from her recent sprint. Staring at Ian's face, a series of connections suddenly clicked in her mind.

    "You...you're not just a victim of the foreigners' persecution, are you?" Judith tucked a stray lock of hair behind her ear, her gaze at Ian a mix of curiosity and skepticism.

    Ian smiled, offering no clear confirmation or denial. "How did you come to that conclusion?"

    "Ever since you appeared, such a significant event unfolded, and then there's the fact that you're from Arkham..." Judith continued. "While it's difficult to uncover the pasts of those 28 who perished, there is one exception."

    The Thief Saint, or rather, the character card named Jubei, was the first among the 28 to initiate the Ark's transmission and also the sole veteran player.

    "He's the one who stole the Ark, and he left quite a few traces in Arkham. He even seems to have joined an organization called the Secret Church," Judith looked at Lane with a complicated expression. "The deity worshiped by the Secret Church is said to be a god with the body of a sheep and the face of a man, a Shepherd."

    The form of the Shepherd had already been exposed to all the citizens of Orland City during the battle with the angels. Not to mention the subsequent timelines. Although Lane had blurred their memories with the Ark, making them unable to recognize faces, the scene of the battle with the angels couldn't be erased.

    As a result, when Judith investigated everything afterward, she successfully linked the Thief Saint with the Shepherd.

    This explained the origins of the 28 individuals.

    "Why did you come to this funeral if you already knew?" Lane asked.

    He was aware of his current image in the eyes of the Orland City citizens. Even though he had stopped the angels, after that timeline, it would have been fortunate if they didn't consider him the mastermind behind doomsday.

    Judith tidied her hair and looked earnestly at Lane. "Because I don't believe you're the mastermind behind doomsday."

    Huh?

    "In the second timeline, your actions were truly astonishing. To be honest, even the upper echelons now harbor fear towards you and have ordered us to investigate the true identity of the 'Sheep-bodied, Human-faced' god as soon as possible, to seal or expel it," Judith openly revealed the order given by the higher-ups.

    Lann: "..."

    Judith's gaze sharpened as she spoke, "But I don't believe Pan is the one causing the world's destruction. If you were truly the culprit behind humanity's demise, why would you go through the trouble of preventing angels from destroying cities? In the second timeline, you didn't annihilate humans either; they simply moved to another world. How could an evil god truly have such compassion for mankind?"

    "Besides, the real culprit behind humanity's destruction should be the 'God' from the first timeline, right? Everyone can see it, so why not admit it? Isn't it because Christianity remains the largest religion in the world, with many politicians and tycoons being devout believers? They refuse to accept that God Himself could bring about humanity's end. That's why Pan became the scapegoat.

    "But when you think about it, was that being really God? If it were the omnipotent deity from mythology, why would its angels need to lurk within the Bureau and rely on the Doctor's help to manifest?" Judith's reasoning was impeccable.

    Lann couldn't help but softly remark, "You're very clever."

    "Of course, the main reason I'm willing to trust you is still those 28 individuals," Judith's eyes softened. "I don't know most of them, but I know my subordinate. She acted because she believed it was the right thing to do."

    "She chose you, so I'm also willing to trust her choice."

    Justice, who had been secretly following, was slightly taken aback by these words.

    Lann asked, "So, what are your plans?"

    "I'd love to arrogantly claim that our Bureau will stop 'God's' scheme," Judith said with a bitter smile. "But the truth is, our Bureau is still dealing with a mess internally. The Director is gone, but the problems remain. You wouldn't believe it, but the secretarial staff even attempted suicide to meet their Director. I slapped each of them and locked them up... Death isn't that easy. The Bureau has invested so much in them, and now with the apocalypse looming, every human fighter is invaluable!"

    At that moment, Judith truly exuded the aura of a leader.

    "When this crisis subsides," Judith said, "I'll reorganize the Inspectorate and continue investigating past injustices. If even our last line of defense is riddled with irredeemable corruption, then humanity's future truly is bleak. I'll prove to everyone that we can still save humanity, even without a Director."

    Lane watched Judith in silence for a while before a smile tugged at his lips. "Would Director Judith mind if I offer some leads?"

    Judith was slightly taken aback. "You want to help me uncover the truth again?"

    "No, but someone on my side has been waiting far too long for it." Lane sighed and turned his head towards Justice Is Skin-Deep.

    Justice Is Skin-Deep, thinking she had been caught eavesdropping, was about to stand up in alarm when she noticed movement in the bushes beside her.

    Judith's eyes widened as she watched a figure emerge from the grass, her mouth hanging open in astonishment. "L-Luke??"

    "You're alive?!"

    "I'm just as surprised to see you," grinning, Old Luke tousled his disheveled hair and chuckled at Judith's wrinkles. "We've all grown old, haven't we?"

    In that instant, as Judith gazed at Old Luke's weary, aged face, she was momentarily transported back to their younger days.

    Only, the two seniors who had brought her into the Audit Bureau back then were no longer around – one had passed away, and the other was incredibly aged.

    Judith's eyes reddened instantly, but she didn't shed tears. Instead, she smiled through her tears and said, "People would believe you if you said you were in your sixties."

    "Ai, will Director still take me in?"

    "Of course," Judith curled the corners of her lips. "In such critical times, I won't let any fighting force go to waste. Get ready for overtime work and reports."

    Old Luke and Judith left. Although he was no longer entirely human, he had specifically requested Lane to keep his appearance as a human, which Lane did as per his wish. However, if he stayed outside the Divine Realm for too long, he would lose all sense of being human after another decade or two, turning completely into a creeper.

    "That's more than enough," Old Luke said.

    Finally, Lane glanced at the bush where Justice Is Skin-Deep was hiding before leaving without a word.

    After everyone had gone, Justice Is Skin-Deep emerged from the bushes. At that moment, she received a message from the Tax Officer.

    "Tax Officer: Have you decided yet? Are you going to New Port or MU?"

    "Tax Officer: I remember you liking Lane quite a bit. Going to MU isn't bad either. Many veteran players are there. I heard that MU suddenly started recruiting again, and Thief Saint said he'd reserve a spot for you. Lane is the principal of MU."

    "Beauty Justifies Righteousness" was deeply conflicted, but after a moment of silence, she still declined the tax official's invitation.

    "Beauty Justifies Righteousness: No, thank you for Thief Saint's kind offer, but I've decided to join the Audit Bureau."

    "Tax Official: ??? What's wrong with you? Think it through – the main storyline has passed, and the Audit Bureau is in complete disarray. There are no benefits in joining now."

    "Beauty Justifies Righteousness: I know, I just...

    Closing her eyes, an image of Judith's resolute gaze flashed through her mind. She typed slowly.

    "Beauty Justifies Righteousness: I want to witness firsthand what the reborn Audit Bureau will be like."

    This was probably what she believed to be the right thing to do at the moment.

    Well, even though joining now meant starting anew.

    Beauty Justifies Righteousness let out a long sigh and stretched.

    Would tomorrow be a fine day in Orlandu?

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