315 Green Prison
Floral Kane had once harbored a yearning.
She yearned to traverse the boundless forest of Ravenwood and arrive at its terminus to witness the vast world beyond.
It was alleged that a vast plain paved with yellow sand stretched northwards; that continuous gray-brown hills undulated eastwards; that a limitless azure sea enfolded the land on which they stood in its embrace to the west and south. It was as gentle as the Holy Tree Matriarch in their tribe’s myths.
It was said that…
After Terra’s conquest, innumerable rumors regarding the outer world disseminated to Ravenwood. However, most Forest Elves… or more pessimistically, nearly all of them, apart from Floral herself, were disinterested in those enthralling rumors.
They staunchly believed that they resided in heaven—under the vigilance of the Holy Tree Matriarch and the Father of the Wilderness, there was no need for the Forest Elves to yearn for the outside world, which was beleaguered with afflictions.
Contrary to the Forest Elves that adhered to tradition and clung to conventional beliefs, Floral Kane often sensed that she didn’t belong here—perhaps it was due to her human adoptive parents, but she perpetually experienced the notion that this might be her nature.
Since her last name was identical to the great explorer who had once traversed as far as the World’s End over a millennium ago, she felt that she shouldn’t remain in this constricted place for the rest of her life.
At times, she felt that Ravenwood was akin to a fruit husk that incarcerated her soul. Regardless of how she cried out, all she could hear was an empty echo.
For this reason, when she was young, she had even attempted to abscond and traverse this suffocating forest on foot.
Then, at the terminus of Ravenwood, she witnessed a spectacle that no one would ever believe…
“Your Grace, proceed further in, and you’ll encounter the location where the captives are confined.”
The hunchbacked jailer limped as he unsteadily inserted the bone key in his hand into the keyhole.
The sound of aged words and the creak of the door opening occurred simultaneously, causing Floral to snap out of her reverie.
“Is everyone incarcerated here?”
Floral snapped out of her turbulent thoughts and immediately queried.
As she spoke, she couldn’t help but bemoan her immaturity—she ought to have abdicated her naive aspirations and futile endeavors long ago.
However, what was amiss with her today? Her words and actions were dissimilar to her usual self.
Perhaps she should attribute it to the oppressive and constricted environment in Green Prison that reminded her that she was also a bird in a cage.
“Yes, all the insurgents you apprehended in the subterranean root system are present inside… Naturally, excluding the deceased, we’ve already disposed of their cadavers,” the hunchbacked jailer swiveled around and responded. He gravely tendered the key to Floral.
Moreover, upon noticing that the other party was still somewhat absent-minded when receiving the key, the jailer couldn’t resist cautioning her, “Your Grace, pardon me… but exercise caution when you enter. The vines in Green Prison originate from the Holy Tree Matriarch’s instinct to return life to the mother. Consequently, they will indiscriminately incarcerate individuals bereft of a key. Please safeguard the key in your possession.”
“Is that so?”
Everyone hanging had a faint smile on their visages, appearing as serene as infants in their mothers’ arms.
Upon surveying the numb and euphoric smiles on those people’s faces, Floral was beset by an unknown fury that emanated from the depths of her soul inexplicably.
“I understand. Wait at the entrance. I’ll summon you when I require your assistance.”
The instant she ventured into the depths of Green Prison, the coiled vines writhed around Floral akin to serpents.
In a moment, perhaps in the blink of an eye, she perceived the emerald vines as innumerable undulating fleshy tentacles—the entirety of Green Prison appeared to have abruptly transformed into the corpus of a wriggling living entity.
The door of Green Prison gradually shut behind her, and the dreadful delusions from earlier vanished. Floral didn’t mention anything about this. She advanced directly towards the cocoon in the center of Green Prison and plunged the bone key in her hand akin to a dagger into the vines that ensnared a captive.
Floral faintly discerned a shrill whine—but this was implausible. The vines didn’t possess the organs to utter a sound. No matter how much she inflicted pain upon them, those entities wouldn’t scream.
However, her demeanor was identical to when she witnessed the illusion. She also opted to disregard it.
The vine recoiled immediately in agony and flung the man enshrouded in the middle.
“Hobien Ebony…” Before the man could arise, Floral uttered composedly, “I appear to have forgotten something immensely important, but my intuition informs me that what I’ve forgotten might be related to the gibberish you uttered earlier. Consequently, I desire to listen to you intently… How does the world appear to you?”
The development team of Doomsday Watchers had previously conducted an online meet-and-greet with players. In the final Q&A segment, an inquisitive player inquired of the game’s chief screenwriter—which ending among Full Moon, New Moon, Waning Moon, or Eclipse was the true ending in the developer’s heart.
Undoubtedly, this was an exceedingly contentious query. After all, owing to the enormous contrast in the ambiance between the endings in the game, players often debated which ending was more plausible. This query was akin to asking the author of a stock essay to elucidate who the female lead in his heart was—even if the author genuinely had a preference, he couldn’t articulate it aloud.
At the very least, he couldn’t articulate it overtly before the sequel was released.
Thus, the screenwriter furnished an answer that sounded as though he was attempting to placate the situation.
“The ending you select is the true ending.”
Upon scrutinizing the three Void Sovereigns in front of him, William apprehended another connotation in this response.
“Precept… Just as Aiur mentioned, almost all the Void Sovereigns consider Currere as the ultimate prize for the Moon Realm’s grand game. And the specific manifestation of this prize, or at least a portion of it, is the so-called Precept?” he asked.
Naturally, he didn’t anticipate Them to answer.
Since even Aiur, who was willing to stand by his side, persisted in being a riddler on this subject, the three goddesses, who were his adversaries, had no rationale to answer his query.
“That’s correct, you guessed correctly,” the Lady of Starvation, who had decayed to the point of dregs, replied.
“Precept—the right to determine the history of Currere, and also the true authority of the Eighth Holy Spirit. Other than the Mocker and the Heartless, no one believes that that authority will manifest in you. If the Heartless weren’t willing to pay such a colossal price this time, we might not have surmised in this direction. Naturally… we wouldn’t have made such an attempt.”
“So? Was the test successful?” William queried, slightly taken aback.
“It’s hard to say for now. Due to your prior arrangements, there’s a likelihood of you returning to the other timeline. Once you possess a choice, you naturally can’t transmute this fragmented history into the sole historical veracity,” the spider shadow concealed beneath the lake remarked.
“So?”William asked uneasily.
“Thus, we still have to eliminate the possibility of you returning to another timeline,” Beatrice chuckled and continued, “To be succinct, slay all the adorable underlings that are responsible for drawing you back to that timeline…”
Bang! A detonation resounded, and the entire entrance of the empire’s embassy was engulfed by a fireball.
The rock door was instantaneously ignited by flames and gradually reduced to ashes.
“Don’t even contemplate it,” William enunciated frigidly as his eyes reflected the raging flames.