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    Asianovel

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    Chapter 88

    By now, Lane was well-versed in the rules of the newly emerged platform. Undoubtedly, with every believer he gained, and the higher their Dream Gaps ranked, new platforms would appear within his own Dream Gap.

    Though he still didn't grasp the underlying mechanism.

    Lane stepped onto the new staircase, and as always, the fog atop it posed no bother to him. Perhaps due to his experience navigating through Albert's dream, it even felt somewhat familiar.

    Ascending the steps, he entered the new platform, where a familiar stone table greeted his sight, bearing two items just as before.

    One is a pistol outlined with gorgeous gold trim, with a style close to the Desert Eagle, looking quite cool and stylish. Lan En immediately fell in love with it and started to play with it fondly.

    The cartridge was loaded; Lane didn't hesitate to fire a shot in the direction of the mist. The bullet, engulfed in golden flames, pierced through the air and lodged itself within the haze.

    As expected, this weapon's effect should be similar to the Golden Flame that Albert had utilized before, dealing critical damage to malefactors.

    It could be seen as a boost to combat effectiveness. Among the four believers Lane had currently taken in — Edmund, Carrens, Archy, and Albert — only Archy's ability was essentially non-combat. Of course, if one were to insist, Archy's ability was actually the most versatile.

    Edmund's Jester Mask grants a temporary boost to physical prowess; Carrens' Blood Wolf Mark emphasizes retribution with an eye for an eye; and Albert's ability deals critical damage to specific individuals - all formidable skills with practical applications.

    At that moment, Lane had a bold idea. What would happen if he combined the dice with this gun? Scenes of legendary battles from his past life flashed through his mind, igniting a fire within him.

    "I've decided, I'll name you 'Judge,'" Lane whispered softly as he caressed the gun.

    Pocketing the Judge, Lane turned his attention to the next item that had appeared. It was peculiar, an arrangement of cylindrical wooden tubes of varying lengths. As before, an explanation emerged as soon as he touched it.

    "Panpipe

    "Effect: Playing the Panpipe may attract all sentient beings. During the performance, there is a chance to manipulate their minds."

    "Inscription: The Panpipe of the Satyr. No longer does the enchanting melody resonate in the forest. The fairies and sprites have waited too long... long enough to have lost themselves."

    Upon receiving this item, Lane felt a rare sense of confusion. "Attract all sentient beings? And what does this description mean?"

    The second type of items that usually appeared, like the dice from the first level and the shepherd god's staff from the second, were related to divine powers. But this Panpipe... How was it used? Could he simply blow into it?

    Lane had no prior experience with musical instruments. He tentatively placed the Panpipe to his lips, and then...

    "Pfft."

    "Huhu."

    As it turned out, outsiders couldn't produce any musical notes with this thing; they nearly spat their saliva out instead. Fortunately, no one else witnessed this embarrassing moment.

    With a reddened face, Lane put the instrument aside for now. He decided to learn how to play it properly once he returned to reality.

    The third level's gains weren't much different from the previous two. It was just the addition of new believers' abilities and a manifestation that resembled Pan's power. After acquainting himself with his newfound abilities, Lane returned to the platform below and summoned the Sphinx with a bell ring.

    He had a myriad of questions to ask.

    "Oh~ My revered Lord, it's been so long, and I've been worried sick! Oh, of course, I didn't doubt your capabilities. What I meant is that my Lord, you would easily overcome such a trivial trial in the Dream Gap!" The Sphinx immediately launched into its usual flattering tone, which Lane had grown accustomed to.

    "Sphinx, how is Archie doing?"

    Lane's first question concerned Archie's well-being, which touched the Sphinx who was about to riddle him.

    "He's fine. He's back at the police station. The inspection team hasn't returned all day, and there's not a soul left at their hideout!" The Sphinx added, "Though, he's a bit worried about Albert and asked me to remind you that the inspectors might head to the hospital to look for someone."

    "Indeed." Lane frowned. He hadn't expected the Audit Bureau to have traced them here. After entering the Test of the Dream Gap, he had lost all sense of the outside world and was unaware of the current situation in the Divine Realm.

    But with Auger around, there shouldn't be anything… wrong, right?

    "Sophia should be safe by now. When you return, you can inform Archie so he won't have to worry."

    The Sphinx blinked, catching the implications in Lane's words. "So he also…?"

    Lane didn't respond, only smiling. His smile spoke volumes.

    Half-tangled and half-relieved, the Sphinx was conflicted over having another believer competing for attention with Archie but gratified that—true to form—this was their Lord!

    "I have something to ask you."

    "Of course… I've been preparing for this for a long time!" The Sphinx said eagerly, determined to help Archie regain attention.

    "Among all your believers, who is your favorite? Which believer is the most useful to you? What kind of believer do you hope to have?"

    Lane was taken aback. "Favorite…?"

    "I don't have a favorite. I appreciate all my believers," Lane hadn't really thought about this. Or rather, although Edmund and the others' faith in him was genuine, Lane didn't view them solely as his followers.

    To him, Edmund, Arch, Carlens, and Albert held far more significance than just being believers.

    If not for Edmund, who knew what would have happened at that banquet?

    If not for Carlens, Lane wouldn't have been able to recruit so many players so easily. Even now, Carlens still managed more than half of them. If Carmen was the public face of the Secret Church, then Carlens could be considered the man behind the scenes.

    If not for Arch, Lane might not have made it through the hospital dungeon.

    And even Albert, the newest addition, was no different. It was almost a joke to say that if not for him, Lane might not have successfully descended into the real world.

    "Regarding usefulness... your very presence here is already the greatest help to me. Your original selves are what I had hoped for."

    Lane spoke sincerely. Without these four believers, he might not have been able to unlock the Rift of Dreams.

    "Lord Lane!"

    Sphinx eagerly threw herself into Lane's arms, tears welling up in her eyes. "I'll always follow you!"

    "Oh, alright." Lane leaned on the Sphinx, still a bit bewildered.

    "Can I ask my questions now?"

    "Of course!" The Sphinx coughed bashfully, affectionately rubbing against Lane's chest before stepping back.

    "Please go ahead."

    "My first question is, is there any way to bring Mida back to reality?"

    Lane began with the information he was most eager to learn. In his past life's game, he knew that deities or divine entities had the power to revive deceased NPCs. However, for some reason, in the trial of the Gap of Dreams, it seemed impossible to alter events that were already anchored in reality. Thus, Lane had settled for rewriting the dream into reality as a secondary option. But if there was a way to fully restore Mida, that would be ideal.

    "..."

    "Sphinx?" Lane couldn't help but ask in curiosity when he didn't receive an immediate response from the Sphinx.

    "Simply by reestablishing a sufficient number of anchor points and reopening the 'door,' Mida can return from the dream to reality," it stated. "For thoughts are contagious."

    "…The Sphinx?" Len asked hesitantly.

    The Sphinx seemed different somehow.

    As it answered, its eyes suddenly turned cold and feral, like an inorganic answering machine.

    "Hmm? What's wrong, my beloved Master?" The Sphinx blinked, instantly dispelling that cold, inorganic sensation.

    Len furrowed his brow slightly. "Didn't you notice just now?"

    "Notice what?"

    "The answer I received."

    "Oh, that can't be mentioned. Please don't tell me," the Sphinx waved its paws repeatedly. "I don't recall what I answered before; it was likely something I shouldn't know."

    Len was taken aback. "Why?"

    "Is this the second question?"

    "Yes."

    "The knowledge obtainable in that world is limited," the Sphinx replied. "Some information can only be known by a designated number of individuals. If that limit is exceeded, terrible things would occur."

    "What kind of things?" Lane asked, then suddenly waved his hand. "Wait, this isn't the third question."

    The Sphinx opened its mouth. "Very well, then what is your third question?"

    "My third question is about you, or rather, Archy," Lane crouched down to meet the Sphinx's round eyes, asking in confusion, "What exactly are you?"

    In truth, Lane had been wondering about this for a long time. Archy's abilities were too convenient, despite the Sphinx's claim that it was merely a conduit for information and knowledge with many restrictions.

    But those restrictions seemed insignificant to Lane. The increasingly absurd questions posed by the Sphinx indicated that the cost was negligible.

    Considering the disparity in difficulty when acquiring information from the Cthulhu Mythos world, Lane had always been skeptical about the Sphinx's existence. His doubts had only deepened after the Sphinx's peculiar behavior and the significant revelation it had just shared.

    Was it truly possible for someone's abilities to defy the laws of nature to such an extent?

    The Sphinx opened its mouth and said, "Archie is one hundred percent human, and I am one hundred percent pure Origin Power. You granted me wisdom— that's the truth."

    "But if your question is why Archie awakened the ability called 'Sphinx,' I can explain that it's because Archie Aiken possesses the bloodline of the Seers."

    Seers?

    Why did that word sound familiar to Lane? He seemed to have heard it somewhere before.

    Unfortunately, he couldn't ask any more questions; his daily limit of three had been used up. After bowing slightly to Lane, the Sphinx returned to the mist with an elegant feline stride.

    In the mist, faint insect noises emerged, but were dispersed by the Sphinx's swishing tail. Nonetheless, barely visible insect eggs clung to its fur.

    There was nothing left to explore in the Gap of Dreams. Yawning, Lane succumbed to drowsiness and fell asleep once more.

    After an unknown period, Lane finally woke up within the Divine Realm.

    Surprisingly, this time, he didn't feel the usual burst of energy after a deep sleep. Instead, weakness lingered in his mind, accompanied by a subtle ache in his temples.

    In that moment, a pair of large hands gently placed themselves on Lane's head, massaging his pressure points.

    Lane's furrowed brow gradually relaxed as he closed his eyes, a slight smile tugging at the corners of his mouth. "Ogar."

    "Hard work," Ogar said.

    "I'm alright, just a bit worn out."

    "You're not yet of age," Ogar said, "Using that authority forcefully is too dangerous."

    Lane opened his eyes in surprise. "How did you know?"

    Oggle raised his head, gesturing for Lane to look up.

    Lan looked up. "Ah, yes, now that you mention it."

    Now, instead of the fog-shrouded sky above Arkham Hospital, there was an inverted reflection of Gothic architecture, as if a divine realm had taken form.

    Miskatonic University now hung inverted in the skies above the Divine Realm, not by Lane's original intention. Initially, Lane had planned to place it beside Arkham Hospital. However, he was utterly exhausted, pushing his magical output to its limits, which likely induced dizziness and blurred vision.

    Fortunately, at least the outcome was a success.

    "You mentioned this authority earlier," Lane pressed eagerly, "the ability to alter reality through dreams. Is it true that other gods can do the same? I'd like to know more about this."

    "Indeed, it's possible," Ogar replied slowly, "but it's quite challenging in this world, the 'Wasteland.' The rules of dreams find it difficult to interfere here. To change reality in this place, one needs anchors."

    This aligned with the information Lane had obtained from the Sphinx. To bring Myria back to reality, sufficient anchors were required.

    "What exactly are these anchors?"

    "Memories, familiarity, recognition," Ogar explained. "In simple terms, because I know you, we've spent a considerable amount of time together, and I'm aware of your existence, there's a connection between you and this world."

    Ogar's fingers gently brushed against Lane's neck. Their eyes met, and his deep, magnetic voice resonated in Lane's ear, "Due to this connection, you exist here, and you won't be swept away like a balloon in the wind."

    Feeling a flush in his ears, Lane shifted his head slightly, creating some distance. "So, is it because Myria lacks enough anchors in reality that it can't be done for now?"

    "Mm, finding anchors for one or two individuals might not be too difficult," Ogar paused, "but for an entire school, the number of anchors needed would be staggering. Moreover, just having anchors isn't enough; they must also be connected to reality through a gateway."

    In truth, under such stringent rules, most gods would be helpless, for the requirement of a gateway was a rigid condition. If they could open gates so easily, reality would long have become their playground.

    However, fatefully, Lane knew he had done it once, and there might be a chance to do it again in the future.

    Though he hadn't used it since then, of course...

    In any case, having a solution was better than having no hope.

    "I see. By the way, will other Outer Gods be able to sense what I'm doing?" Lane suddenly wondered.

    "Nothing to worry about. Not many, but also not few gods can achieve this. It's not a privilege exclusive to the Gatekeeper," Augur said nonchalantly, glancing at MIT. "Besides, this structure is now within my divine realm. No one else would be able to perceive it."

    "Huh, that's a relief," Lane couldn't help but sigh in relief upon hearing that.

    "Still, I advise against repeating this before you advance to the next stage," Augur said with concern, looking at Lane. "Your power has been severely depleted. You might need to slumber for a while to recover."

    Lane's heart skipped a beat. "For a long time?"

    "Oh, not that long," Augur replied.

    That was good. Lane felt relieved.

    "Maybe just three months," Augur continued. "It'll pass in the blink of an eye."

    Lan: ?

    Three months? The players will be in open beta by then! If anything happens, it'll be too late.

    Noticing the concern on Lane's face, Ogur tilted his head in confusion. "What's wrong?"

    Three months, in the perspective of a god, was no different from a blink of an eye.

    "Are there any other alternatives?" Lane thought, three months, and the players would be in open beta.

    Male Mama wore a disapproving expression, looking at Lane as if he were a wayward child pulling all-nighters.

    "I really can't sleep for that long," Lane smiled bitterly. "Besides, the Audit Bureau issue hasn't been resolved yet. Who knows what could happen if I'm gone for so long."

    Ogur reluctantly said, "There is a way. You could sleep for a while, wake up, sleep again, and wake up, but it won't be as effective as a single extended slumber. Plus, you'll need more believers."

    Lane's heart stirred, and he looked up at Ogur, who spoke calmly. "The anchors I mentioned earlier, believers also serve as anchors for gods descending to the mortal realm."

    "The more believers we have, the more power our dreamland deities can exert in reality."

    Well now, Lane thought, they might be getting serious about building a church.

    Oh, so he was planning to establish a church anyway? In that case, it's fine.

    "Then there's the matter of the Auditors..." Oggle said slowly. "In fact, they're right here."

    Lahn: ?

    "When they arrived earlier and you weren't here, I had to attend to them myself. Would you like to see them now?" Ogler inquired. "They should be in the psychotherapy section at the moment."

    Lan: ? Quite the fellow.

    What on earth happened while he was away from the Divine Realm?

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