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    Chapter 86

    A century-long scheme foiled, Sauron erupted in furious indignation, disregarding the players around him who were fixated on the assembled mages and their students. He stretched out his hand towards them, a gesture charged with intent.

    "That binding"

    Yet his spell was thwarted, for Alexis had cast a shield beforehand, and so Soren's disruption failed to interrupt the last incantations of the Masters and students.

    In an instant, Sauron's gathered energy was utterly drained.

    "What exactly... do you intend to do?" Albert stared at Lane, his expression filled with profound confusion.

    "The outcome is indeed anchored in place; the past cannot be altered," Lane replied calmly, looking back at Albert. "Along the way, you've seen that any conclusion that has already manifested in reality cannot be changed."

    For instance, when Lane had tried to warn the younger Albert about the issues within the Inspectorate, and the young man was not one to ignore advice, he had provided the false information to the Stranger leader. Yet, in the end, the Strangers still obtained the correct data. It was clear that this accurate information was what the young Albert had originally sent to the Inspectorate.

    But even if the young Albert hadn't sent the information to the Inspectorate from the start, Sauron might have acquired it through alternative channels, such as another spy at the University of Michigan.

    Details could be altered, but predetermined outcomes were immutable. So, what constituted a predetermined outcome?

    After witnessing all that transpired, Lane had formed some speculations. For instance, the disappearance of Mystic University might have been an inevitable outcome, as it no longer existed in reality. Similarly, his own arrival as "Lane" was also predetermined, otherwise it would defy logic.

    "But if it's details that haven't been anchored yet, they're not set in stone," Lane said, crouching down to touch Albert's blood-soaked golden hair. "Do you know how I came into this reality?"

    Albert looked at him, then spoke with a hoarse voice after a long pause, "Was it because this young man summoned you?"

    "Indeed, his name is Ian Balfor," a faint smile tugged at Lane's lips. "Though, no one remembers him now."

    "At first, our bargain was for him to save everyone at Mystic University."

    "You too, Albert, you're part of this university's story."

    Albert's pupils constricted, his lips quivering. "But I—"

    "Didn't he know," Lane whispered, "from Ian's memories, that in the original timeline, it was you who discovered the Outsiders entering the university with their Dream Induction ritual? You didn't attend the ceremony, managed to extract information about the time of the ritual from one of them, and passed it on to the Investigative Bureau. But when you found the university shrouded in fog, preventing your message from getting through, you eliminated those Outsiders and brought Ian here alone."

    Albert's face paled, his gaze dimming. "I can't recall, I don't remember his appearance or his name. Just a vague memory of urging someone to run, to escape this school."

    "Ian didn't run. He followed you, and thus witnessed your struggle against this fate," Lane said, placing his palm on the back of Albert's head and gently pressing it down to align their foreheads, their cerulean and emerald eyes locking. "That's why he asked me to save you."

    "Albert, you are worthy of redemption."

    Albert closed his eyes, his eyelids failing to hide the reddening rims as tears trickled down his cheeks.

    The Hundred-Eyed Giant's palm descended, yet it halted a meter above their heads. Its body trembled uncontrollably as it withdrew its hand and stepped back several paces.

    Something was coming.

    Not only the A-rank anomalies, but everyone present had a vague premonition. Alders roared for everyone to close their eyes, while Soren stared in disbelief. The players either widened their eyes or redirected their live streams, while drones hovering in mid-air focused on the scene.

    A door opened behind Lan En, standing like a mirror behind him. The red-haired young man took a step back and pressed against the mirror surface. On the other side of the mirror, an unknown entity dressed in Western court attire with goat horns stood back-to-back with him.

    Finally, the red-haired youth's figure melded into the portal, as He descended upon the realm of reality.

    That is ——

    A beauty indescribable in words, something that transcends human comprehension, seemed to ignite a searing pain in the eyes upon mere reflection, blurring the boundaries between what is beautiful and ugly. It was less a human conception of loveliness and more an elemental chaos, defying definition.

    One could only see twisted ram's horns atop Its head, intricate patterns sprawling across Its forehead, and a third eye open – a being that was both human and ovine in nature. Its lower body was clad in woolen legs, ending with a black spinal spike emerging from the tailbone.

    Bizarre, absurd, inhuman beauty.

    "I... damn..."

    Neither the black cat, Yeyeyue, nor any of the players present could bring themselves to close their eyes. Their faces were involuntarily adorned with fascination, fanaticism, and longing. The system's reminders echoed incessantly in their ears.

    "Sanity Check: Failed."

    "Sanity Level: 30."




    Not a single player present was spared from this temporary or permanent madness. They all began performing inexplicable actions in the small square: some suddenly knelt on one knee, endlessly expressing gratitude to heaven and their parents for bringing them into existence; others started dancing on the spot; and still others laughed through their tears, as if they had reached the pinnacle of life.

    The spectators in the live-stream channel were dumbfounded.

    "What is this? A scene from a mental breakdown?"

    "Good gracious, it's my first time witnessing such a mass frenzy all at once. It's utterly breathtaking."

    "What happened? What happened! Let me see, let me see!"

    "I long to behold the divine beauty of Lenore!"

    "Quick, the host, aim the camera over there!"

    "Hey, is someone upstairs trying to risk their life? (Dog emoji)"

    "Wait, wait, wait. You didn't hear? Black Cat and Babba's live streams went dark instantly. It seems like all channels directly facing Lane's were shut down. This stream managed to survive only because it wasn't directly focused on Lane but on the players!"

    "Why! What's the reason! Why can't we watch? I want to see my wife!"

    "This isn't fair, why can't they show us? Are they deliberately creating an air of mystery?"

    "Official statement: This is for your protection."

    "Exactly, exactly, I also think this is a strategic move by the officials. They deliberately don't show any scenes of Lane's divinity, allowing us to see it only in the game as a promotional tactic. Tsk."

    "But the ones we see in the game are insane! Damn, aren't you guys scared seeing this chaos? Everyone with their eyes open is losing their minds!"

    "To be fair, it's pretty creepy."

    "I'm not scared, I'd even say I'm intrigued to experience the madness firsthand."

    "After all, it's just a game, hahaha."

    Presumably, only the relaxed spectators in the live stream channel were left to discuss the situation leisurely.

    The instant Soren's eyes reflected that figure, he felt a sharp pain in his vision as if something was protruding from his eyeballs. His entire body grew numb, akin to being paralyzed by anesthetics. He lowered his head and saw his own limbs turning into wood.

    Without time to react, Soren severed his optic nerves without hesitation, erasing even the memory of that moment, retaining only the image of opening the door. Like sludge, dark shadows seeped out from his mouth and nostrils before shooting out like arrows.

    Lan En paid no attention to Soren's attempt to escape. Soren's survival was already predetermined in reality, an unalterable outcome. Besides, Soren was already dead in the real world; there was no point in arguing with a corpse.

    What mattered more now was his next move.

    Lane took a deep breath and clenched his fist. For the first time, he embraced his inhuman form, perhaps because he had already accepted his divine nature in his dreams. There was no longer any sense of rejection or alienation; it felt even more natural and comfortable than his human shape.

    The abundance of divine power filled his entire being, and at the same time, he sensed his absolute authority over this dream realm.

    Albert should have been the master here, but just now, he had surrendered everything to Lane.

    Dreams equated to one's consciousness, spirit, and essence. Lane could, if he wished, alter Albert's personality and memories, turning him into an entirely different person effortlessly. This was a bond stronger than the offering of faith.

    Of course, Lane had no intention of doing so. He needed control over the core of the dream realm for what was to come.

    But first, let's test the extent of his current power.

    Lane looked down at the fleeing A-class abnormality, the Hundred-Eyed Giant, and extended a finger to draw an imaginary line in the air.

    The dreamland immediately responded to his command. The five-meter-tall giant, like a blemish on a piece of paper, was effortlessly erased by an eraser, offering no resistance from beginning to end.

    As expected, Lane had become the master of this domain, wielding near-omnipotent authority.


    Lahn closed his eyes and reopened them. His emerald irises instantly darkened at the whites, while his pupils transformed into a molten gold, resembling a furnace. A black stripe supplanted his pupils, akin to the eyes of a goat or a mythical demon.

    His gaze pierced through the dreamscapes and perceived a thread extending from Albert, vanishing into the depths of an unknown dimension.

    This is Michigan University, submerged in the realm of dreams in reality.

    Indeed, the University still exists, but it has submerged from the physical realm into the dream world. The threads Lann saw are essentially anchoring lines. The more anchoring lines surrounding an object or individual, the more stable their sense of existence and rationality become.

    As MIT sank deeper into the realm of dreams, the threads connecting it to reality snapped one by one. Consequently, in the real world, apart from Albert, hardly anyone remembered MIT or had significant ties to it.

    Yet, there was still one person who remembered the University of Magic's existence.

    Well then...

    To be honest, Lane had no idea if his attempt would succeed. In his previous life, he had only heard about the theory, but no player or NPC had ever attempted it, let alone witnessed it.

    But now, he had no choice but to give it a try.

    Lane took a deep breath and intentionally invoked the dream. As usual, the dream responded to him.

    Aldrich, sensing something, attempted to open his eyes, but the moment he stirred, Alexis caught on. The old man turned his face towards him, caution etched on his features. "Aldrich, what do you intend to do? Don't be foolish!"

    "Aleksis..." Aldrich was taken aback, blurting out unconsciously, "How are we still alive?"

    Aleksis was momentarily startled, followed by a flood of conflicting memories surging through his mind. He also frowned deeply. "Right... Didn't we die protecting the students? Why...?"

    "Why do we have different memories?"

    After a long silence, Aldrich cautiously opened his eyes. He tilted his head, not looking towards the center of the square but instead glancing towards the sky at the edge.

    This glance left him utterly rooted to the spot.

    "What is that?"

    "What is that?"

    "Host, please adjust the camera angle quickly!"

    "Refrain from focusing on Lane, it'll cause a blackout. Gradually shift your aim towards the edge of the sky!"

    "I see, I see." Shu Shu Hao kept his gaze fixed on the live stream's chat messages, trying not to look elsewhere. After all, he was the only one left alive from their Team Troublemakers, with Barbie and Ye Ye now part of the frenzied masses.

    To be honest, if it weren't for the live broadcast, Shu Shu Hao would have loved to see what was happening with Lane too!

    He slowly tilted the camera towards the direction they were pointing at.

    And then, an eerie scene unfolded before the viewers' eyes.

    High above the University of Michigan, a rainbow-colored aurora appeared in the sky. Upon this aurora, a cluster of upside-down structures could be seen.

    "That's Arkham Hospital!"

    "Holy crap? Did I just miss something?"

    "No way, I've watched that video of Lane's visit to the hospital so many times that it's worn out, and look at the central area—doesn't that resemble the hospital courtyard? Damn, you can even see the doctors and nurses inside the building!"

    The comments in the live stream piqued Uncle Hao's curiosity to the point he couldn't resist opening his eyes.


    The hospital seemed to hang suspended in mid-air, upside down, an absurd, surreal, and yet eerily real sight that left every onlooker's heart thunderstruck.

    At the same time, within the nocturnal domain of the Hospital, both the medical staff and the invading Audit Bureau team noticed the anomaly in the sky. They lifted their heads in astonishment.

    From their perspective, auroras had appeared in the heavens, upon which a vast, inverted reflection loomed.

    Cree Chapman, who had infiltrated stealthily, instinctively looked up and saw the unfamiliar reflection of the school.

    But why did this school seem so strangely familiar?

    As the inspection team lifted their gazes to the sky, they failed to notice the shadows snaking across the ground at their feet.

    Aurgle appeared silently behind them.


    "It was all just a dream..." Alders muttered to himself. "We're already dead."

    Real memories intertwined with false ones. Amidst the commotion from the students behind him, Alders exchanged a glance with his old friend, both of them feeling an indescribable mix of emotions.

    Only moments ago, they had uncovered the truth about this world – it was but a dream of someone else, and they were mere segments of predetermined memories.

    It was due to the interplay of the Rift of Dreams and the veil of fog that their consciousness existed, albeit as illusory remnants of the past.

    "Aleksis spoke with a mixture of surprise and resignation, "I never imagined such an end. Yet, Mira University still stands, even within this dream realm. Not all students perished. Perhaps this is divine intervention. To have a beautiful dream in our final moments, we're fortunate indeed."

    Alders remained silent for a long while. Then, abruptly, he opened his eyes wide.

    Aleksis, sitting beside him, jumped in surprise, "What are you doing? Trying to catch a glimpse of the deity before the final dream fades? That's quite bold."

    "Not possible," Aldrich muttered in disbelief. "That legend..."


    "That legend is real! My theory was correct!" Aldrich abruptly seized Alexis's shoulders and shook him, his eyes wide with astonishment. "In the Dream World, its inhabitants are gods! Their thoughts and desires reshape reality! They make milk and honey flow from the earth, and gold rain from the sky!"

    "I know that was your theory. So what?"

    "No! This isn't just a theory; it's the law of the Dream World! Don't you remember? During that exploration of the Dream World, the team also conveyed another message! Above the ordinary inhabitants, there exists a more terrifying presence—true rulers of the dreamscape! Normal inhabitants can only alter their immediate surroundings and domains, but these beings can change the entire Dream World! They can even manipulate reality through dreams; they embody the rules themselves!"

    Alexis couldn't recall how long it had been since she'd seen Aldrich in such a frenzied and fanatical state, as if his younger self had returned, with flames of unquenchable curiosity burning in his eyes, fear and excitement etched on his face, and his lips trembling as he uttered the word:

    "Elder One"

    Answer me, answer me.

    Lahn repeated inwardly, a wildly audacious thought that had haunted him since the commencement in the auditorium.

    Could one manipulate reality through dreams?

    Though Lane had no firsthand experience in the game of his past life, he was aware of a piece of information. In a dream world dungeon from his previous life, a player had passed through numerous trials within the dream and encountered an immense entity, seemingly of divine status. This player had successfully revived an NPC who had long been deceased in the real world.

    Remarkably, apart from the players who were aware that he had died once, everything and everyone around him attested to his continuous existence; there were no records of his death. Even the NPCs who had participated in his funeral possessed no recollection of such an event.

    At this moment, Lane pondered whether he possessed this authority as well. The Dream had responded to him before; could he, perhaps, rewrite reality based on Albert's dreams?

    The notion was so audacious that it startled Lane himself, but the potential rewards, should it succeed, were immense.

    After all, he had been longing for Mida University for quite some time. Given its immense popularity among gamers, if he could incorporate Mida into his domain, wouldn't the devoted players willingly flock to his fold?

    Of course, these considerations are secondary; the most crucial aspect is ——

    This was his pact and exchange with the red-haired youth.

    And now, he has exceeded that goal.

    A smile tugged at Lane's lips. Albert's dreamland was now connected to his divine realm, and Lane received another tremendous boost. He had been uncertain about how to proceed, but he no longer needed to worry about that.

    Under will and command, the abundant divine power within was relentlessly consumed. Then, the surrounding dreams shifted in an instant, responding to the dominator's will and beginning to reconquer reality.

    The surrounding dreamscapes were crumbling bit by bit, like soap bubbles being punctured.

    "Aldrich!" Alexis's eyes widened as she watched her friend's figure gradually fade away.

    "Our fortune seems to exceed all expectations," Aldrich mused, gazing down at his increasingly translucent form. The two entwined memories in his mind seemed to have reached a conclusion, with the recollection of his demise in the auditorium fading, replaced by another.

    Assisted by a group of remarkable volunteers, they managed to survive the auditorium's ordeal and subsequently confronted the cult leader in the heart of the Michigan University's central square. The battle took a heavy toll on the volunteers, with many casualties, all in the effort to protect the integrity of the university and its students. Under the leadership of an unknown red-haired youth, they resorted to the forbidden art of deity summoning to turn the tide.

    With the offering of all of MIT as a sacrifice, in exchange for His descent.

    Consequently, in reality, Midas vanished while Soren survived. He bore the longing to reopen the portal as he continued his covert operations, having witnessed the opening of a gate and the descent of an unknown entity.

    As for Midas...

    He had become part of a dream, slumbering alongside the grand entity within Its divine realm.

    This was the dream, the revised reality.

    "It's over..." Alders sighed, his gaze falling upon the group of volunteers outside, his eyes brimming with sorrow.

    Yet, divine grace does not save all. These volunteers, who once fought alongside them, these souls who should never have come to Miyadi, are now forever entrenched in this place.

    At this moment, the surviving players were jubilant, for the dungeon had come to an end, and they had successfully cleared it. All of them had reaped their well-deserved rewards!

    Everyone had a fantastic time with this dungeon run, exploring the new map, engaging in exhilarating battles with monsters, delivering a resounding blow to Sauron's plans, and bearing witness to Lann's awe-inspiring transformation!

    It was already an impeccable simulated experience. The collapse of the dreamworld signaled to them that the simulation was coming to an end. Afterward, they should be returning directly to reality, wouldn't they?

    "Wait! Professor Alders!" A player suddenly recalled something, turning abruptly to look at the Master and students of Mithril Hall, who had just withdrawn their protective shield.

    Indeed... This is a replica, and in reality, MIT no longer exists. That means...

    Will we never see this MIT or these lovely professors and students again?

    The players gradually fell silent, gazing at the MIT faculty and students with a sense of awe. Some sentimental players even had tears welling up in their eyes. Suddenly, someone shouted, "Professor!"

    "Can we still enroll in MIT?"

    Alders pursed his lips. The students behind him couldn't help but feel their eyes turn red.

    "Of course, the University of Michigan would be delighted to welcome you at any time."


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