Sure enough, Annan entered the CG cutscene after holding the glass bottle containing “Angelo”.
But the cutscenes this time were quite different from when he entered the basement and met “Angelo” previously.
Previously, Amos would be gasping for breath while stroking his grandson’s glass bottle, murmuring in his mouth and thinking nervously, “It’s this… As long as I still have this…”
Then, he would look back and see Brother Sledgehammer come to his face. He would have shouted, “Elle save me”, and then started to fight with his father-in-law. His incompetency succumbed him into the rage, but even his grandson chose the great-grandfather, Joseph.
Angelo turned into a colored ball of light and bit off Joseph for some reason. Immediately after the CG ended, the player was powerless with their only option to wait for death.
Undoubtedly, the lack of critical items led to the [Bad Ending].
But this was undoubtedly a preset ending.
After arriving at this ending for the first time, only could the dungeon challenger learn the key information about “Brother Sledgehammer”, “Amos” and “Elle” and understand the relationship between them.
But after Annan entered CG this time, he encountered a different scene and dialogue that he had never seen before.
“Are you satisfied?” Like an abandoned stray dog, the blood-stained one-eyed painter roared at the stillborn baby in the bottle with a trembling voice, “Is that enough?!
“—the Venerated Skeleton!”
As soon as Amos called out the name, the corpses covered in frost let out a burst of low laughter in the frozen basement, “Hehehehe…“
In front of Amos, the long-dead “Angelo” suddenly opened his eyes!
Those eyes, which had long lost their vigor, turned around strangely. He then looked at Amos in an instant.
“Of course…” The Venerated Skeleton’s low voice resounded in the jar.
Immediately afterward, Elle’s crisp voice came from behind Amos, “It’s not enough.”
Amos was startled and turned his head.
He covered his left eye that had been gouged out and let out a miserable howl.
Then, his eyes were burning with fire.
Elle’s image was projected in front of him.
The projection was vague. It should be a teenage blonde girl who wore a white dress that only reached half of her thighs. She had her arms hidden behind her; she smiled as she looked at her adoptive father, lover, idol, and murderer, Amos.
However, her left eye had a bloody hole too.
There was no blood dripping down, but it boiled restlessly at the bottom of his eyes.
Those weren’t actually blood. Instead, they were like lava or solidified flames.
So, did Amos manage to see Elle’s spirit after losing Elle’s left? Annan thought quickly.
Then, he remembered.
There was a fresh, expanding scorch in Elle’s left eye the first time he saw Elle’s portrait.
At this moment, Joseph, who was standing in the basement, also took a deep breath.
Apparently, he saw Elle’s spirit too.
As a Silver Rank wizard, it was not hard for him to see the spiritual body of ordinary people.
But after seeing Elle, he grew hesitant, wondering if he should come down.
“Elle…” Amos murmured in obsession, “My love…”
He slowly reached out to Elle.
Pa! But the hand he reached out was slapped away by Elle’s spirit body.
“—Your love?” The smile on the corner of her mouth became more harmless and lovely, but only a sarcastic voice could be heard, “Between your dream and me, which is more important?
“Haven’t I asked that before, fathers?” When Elle said this, Amos and Joseph seemed to shudder and hold their breath at the same time.
Annan, who was on the sidelines, finally realized something.
There was something in common between Amos and Joseph, who were intertwined in this nightmare and fought each other endlessly.
They were both Elle’s fathers, and they both gave up Elle for their careers.
Joseph allowed his ex-wife and his apprentice to remarry with his daughter. He knew that his wife was the cannibalistic Black Widow’s believer, but he did not ask for Elle’s custody.
It was because he had his job and career.
He knew very well why Elle’s mother gave birth to Elle despite Joseph’s prevention. The reason was that she planned to use this child to blackmail her mentor to get more benefits from Joseph.
The “Black Widow” she believed in was the false deity specializing in it.
Joseph knew all this, but he chose to refuse.
He naturally loved Elle, but he loved his own life more.
So, Joseph gave up Elle for his career and the path to transcendence. But when he came to Elle, he was worried about tarnishing his reputation, worried that Elle would speak ill of him. Thus, he wouldn’t acknowledge Elle as his daughter and dared not reveal her existence.
Unlike his decision when he divorced, Joseph, who was hesitant to face his daughter, had nothing to do with the tragedy. However, it was an indispensable “prelude” to another tragedy.
He actually had time to stop all the tragedies from happening because he didn’t even hold the first ritual when he came to the Freezing Water Port.
However, what had happened made him regret it for the rest of his life, but he had no room for repentance.
Elle’s second father, Amos, who was also the one she loved, victimized Elle as a “sacrifice”. He made a deal with the Venerated Skeleton in exchange for his depleted talent for growth.
Although this ritual would only sacrifice a small part of Elle on the surface, he wasn’t blind to the obvious harm.
He would agree to this ritual, but he was also afraid of the ritual. It was because he had already thought of the future possibility in his subconscious mind.
But he still decided to hold the ritual because he had his pursuit.
Of course, he loved Elle too, even more than himself.
Unfortunately, his passion for art and his talents mattered more to him.
“Thus, the essence of this nightmare is ‘reenactment’.” Annan immediately realized.
That was why this nightmare had drawn the Venerated Skeleton over at Freezing Water Port for decades, reluctant to leave.
In the end, the betrayal would reenact again and again.
This nightmare itself was a ritual!
Every time the nightmare was cleared, it equated to reenacting another betrayal.
Everyone had no memory of it, but they kept following the same story and repeating the same tragedy. After they entered the nightmare, they subconsciously acted as Amos.
Thus, the Venerated Skeleton’s strength was enhanced each time this nightmare was repeated.
And to allow all of these to happen… Unbeknownst to Annan, the CG cutscene had ended.
Annan realized he had regained his control over the body again.
He looked at Elle’s spirit body with a complicated expression and said in a low voice, “If I’m not mistaken…
“Miss Elle,” Annan deliberately didn’t refer to her by any of her last names, “You should have all the memories of these 300 nightmares?”
“It happened 1834 times.” Elle said softly, “I have been watching no matter if you clear or fail the nightmare.”
Behind Annan, “Angelo” with the voice of the Venerated Skeleton, also laughed.
“Yes, she’s been watching through her left eye. Seeing everything.” Angelo in the bottle whispered in a mature and low voice, “I have been listening through this umbilical cord… listen to her cry, her heartbeat, her collapse, her whisper, her hatred, her pain, her love, her song.
“—Yes, I’m listening.
“Of course, I’ve been listening.”
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