[Ragnar, Sumeri, Nikolai]

"Stop it!" one of the players shouted, their voice cracking with frustration.

"We should be stopping the ritual, not fighting each other!"

The words hung in the air, a poignant reminder of the original goal that had been overshadowed by the internal discord.

But in the frenzy of battle and betrayal, rationality seemed to have been swept away, leaving only the bitter taste of conflict and confusion.

In the midst of the chaotic clash between players and NPCs, a subtle transformation gripped the heart of the battleground.

The ancient World Tree, Yggdrasil, seemed to wither before their eyes. Its once vibrant leaves turned brittle and fell like golden rain, dissipating into motes of ethereal light.

The majestic canopy, which had shielded Ragnar and the others with its mystical aura, slowly disintegrated, leaving behind a hollow void.

The very essence of the tree, a lifeline that had safeguarded the battle's sanctity, was fading away, its presence diminishing into the ether.

As the players and NPCs bickered, their voices filled with accusation and desperation, their attention was forcibly drawn to Ragnar's group.

A collective gasp rippled through the crowd, their eyes widening in alarm.

"It's our chance! Attack them!" someone shouted, their voice carrying over the tumult like a clarion call to arms.

The realization spread like wildfire, uniting the warring factions in a common cause again.

"The tree is gone!" another voice cried out, the words echoing with a new sense of hope to defeat World Conqueror and stop the ritual.

The World Tree, once an invincible fortress, had succumbed to its time limit, leaving World Conqueror and the cultists vulnerable.

With a newfound sense of purpose, the players and NPCs rallied, their previous animosities forgotten in the face of this greater threat.

Swords clashed, spells erupted, and arrows whistled through the air as the combined forces surged toward Ragnar, Sumeri, Nikolai, and the cultists.

Ragnar's group, though aware of the encroaching danger, stood their ground.

Ragnar parried blows and delivered devastating counterattacks.

Sumeri wove intricate spells that deflected enemy strikes.

Nikolai moved within a blink of an eye, his every movement a dance of evasion and retaliation.

As the battle raged on, both players and NPCs relentlessly assaulted Ragnar's group, wearing down their defenses.

The NPCs turned aggressive and ceased their support to the players, plunging the battlefield into chaotic disarray. The cultists fell one by one under the relentless assault of the NPCs.

Amidst the frenzy, Ragnar's voice cut through the chaos like a blade. "Use the seed!" he commanded, desperation etched in his features as he parried blows with all his might.

Sumeri hesitated, her eyes flickering with uncertainty. "But . . ."

"We can't hold on much longer if we don't use it!" Ragnar's urgency was palpable, his every movement a testament to the dire situation they found themselves in.

Beside him, Nikolai fought valiantly, but even his unparalleled agility couldn't fully evade the onslaught. He was being pushed back, his usually swift movements hampered by the relentless barrage of attacks.

Sumeri clenched her fists, frustration, and fear warring within her.

Ren's instructions echoed in her mind –– those remaining seeds were meant for the final confrontation with Cthulhu. Using them now meant jeopardizing their chances against the Great Old One.

Yet, the harsh reality hung heavy in the air. If they didn't act, the ritual wouldn't be completed, and they wouldn't get the chance to face Cthulhu.

Once the portal opened, there would be no time for a strategic retreat, no chance to replenish their potions and supplies. They would be thrust directly into the heart of Cthulhu's lair, facing the cosmic horror with whatever they had left.

The cost of failure weighed on Sumeri's shoulders. Those precious seeds of Yggdrasil, the legend-grade items they had used –– all of it would be in vain if they fell here.

The enormity of their potential loss clawed at her, a reminder of the immense stakes riding on their success.

Opening the portal seemed like a desperate gamble, one that might tip the scales towards certain defeat if they used the seed here.

Would it not be wiser, Sumeri pondered, to conserve their remaining seeds, minimizing their losses instead of leaping headlong into a battle they weren't sure they could win?

The conflict within her mind was like a tempest, the turmoil of indecision churning in her thoughts.

An internal scream reverberated in her mind.

Ren would have had a solution. He possessed an uncanny ability to navigate such dire circumstances, a skill they sorely missed in this crucial moment.

"Sumeri!" Ragnar's urgent shout pierced through Sumeri's contemplation, snapping her back to the present.

With gritted teeth, Sumeri retrieved the seed from her inventory, her fingers closing around it with a mix of determination and trepidation.

Ragnar was the leader of this mission, and he demanded obedience, and she couldn't afford to hesitate any longer.

Just as she was about to hurl the seed into the ground, a bone-chilling surge of energy suddenly shook the battlefield.

The very air seemed to quiver with malevolence, a foreboding presence that sent shivers down her spine.

It was a moment of eerie stillness before the storm, a silent prelude to an unknown terror.

Fear clawed at her, her hand frozen mid-motion.

In the eerie silence that followed the surge of terrifying energy, the atmosphere crackled with an unsettling tension.

The ritual site, once a battleground of fierce struggle, now seemed to pulse with an otherworldly force.

The air grew heavy with anticipation, and an ominous, pulsating glow enveloped the cultists who chanted fervently, their voices rising in a macabre hymn that echoed through the shadows.

The ground beneath them trembled, responding to the ancient incantations. Symbols etched into the earth glowed with an eldritch light, intertwining and forming intricate patterns that seemed to dance with a life of their own.

Unseen forces gathered, coalescing around the cultists, their bodies outlined in a ghastly aura that pulsed in sync with their chant.

"No . . . they've completed the ritual!"

NPCs wailed in despair and fear, their voices mixing with the eerie melody of the ritual. They knew, deep in their digital cores, that Cthulhu's resurrection was at hand.

Their virtual forms quivered with terror, their programmed instincts overwhelmed by the dread of what was to come.

The players, too, were struck dumb with disbelief. Their eyes widened, unable to comprehend the turn of events before them.

So there really was an event!

The players thought in unison.

In the midst of this surreal scene, the portal to Cthulhu's lair cracked open like an ancient seal being broken.

A sickly green light spilled out, casting grotesque shadows across the ground. The portal pulsed with an otherworldly energy, its gaping maw hungry for the presence of the Great Old One.

With a sudden, violent pull, the portal activated, drawing in the cultists and Ragnar's group before anyone could react.

The cultists, their faces twisted in manic ecstasy, were the first to be consumed. Ragnar, Sumeri, and Nikolai were next, their forms distorted as they were forcibly pulled into the yawning void.

The portal shuddered and convulsed, like a living entity savoring the moment before devouring its prey.

In the blink of an eye, it closed completely, leaving behind an eerie stillness in its wake.