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    Chapter 90

    After a brief introduction, mainly consisting of Lane introducing himself, Aldrich wouldn't waste Lane's time with the extensive faculty and students at MIT. He was well aware of why Lane had come.

    Based on the previous sacrificial ritual, Aldrich and the other students had offered MIT to Lane in exchange for protection. Now that the transaction was complete, even exceeding Aldrich's expectations, the original reality had been rewritten, and all the students who had died in this world line were resurrected.

    MIT now resided entirely within Lane's Divine Kingdom, becoming his tangible possession, along with its faculty and students.

    Lane's visit as MIT's new owner to inspect his property was thus natural.

    "Please follow me, although MIT might be a bit disorganized at the moment," Aldrich said with a wry smile. "Especially the auditorium and central plaza; there might still be some signs of battle damage."

    "That's alright, I don't mind," Lane replied as he followed Aldrich into MIT, with curious glances from the surrounding faculty and students.

    There was no avoiding it; this was their first encounter with a genuine deity!

    Moreover, this god had actually saved MIT – a plot twist so absurd that even the wildest fairy tale couldn't have conjured it up!

    Under Aldrich's guidance, Lane finally gained a clear understanding of the current state of MIT.

    Walking past the eerie academic buildings and the central square still bearing scars of conflict, Lane observed, comparing his surroundings with the memories he'd absorbed from Albert. He even glanced at Albert to gauge his reaction, but unfortunately, Albert's expression remained unchanged, revealing no hint of recognition. He didn't interact with any of the Miskatonic faculty or students, and Aldrich seemed not to have noticed this particular student before.

    This atmosphere was quite tense...

    Putting aside the subtle tension between Albert and the professors, Lane was generally pleased with his tour of Miskatonic University. The unique structures, especially the library, the small museum, and the Mythical Creatures Research Institute, piqued his curiosity.

    Indeed, Miskatonic had its own museum, filled with odd artifacts acquired by professors and students during their various adventures. There were bizarre anatomical specimens, relics, and treasures discovered in subterranean cities. Most held more symbolic value than practical use, but Lane was sure that players would appreciate these objects, each representing a thrilling tale.

    The university's library was another matter entirely. In Albert's memories, Lane had only glimpsed it during the "Miskatonic's Dog" incident. The books he saw then were just the tip of the iceberg. The true wealth of Miskatonic lay within these seemingly ordinary volumes.

    There were ancient texts chronicling genuine dark histories, grim tomes connected to elder gods, and even an original copy of the infamous Necronomicon, renowned in the Cthulhu world. Ordinarily, these books were kept out of reach, as Aldrich explained that some curious students, after reading them, would often take a year off to recuperate in a mental institution. But for Lane, there was no issue now.

    It wasn't the book itself that brought surprise; though it contained numerous incantations to summon evil deities and useful spells, what truly delighted Lane was the significance of possessing an original copy of the Necronomicon.

    This was an essential feature in the game system - class advancement!

    Indeed, in "Fate's Spiral," all players started with an initial occupation: hooligans, homeless, or unemployed youth.

    This occupation system persisted until the second phase of the closed beta. It wasn't until the third phase that the class advancement officially opened. At that time, players could choose a profession based on their skillset, and the skill points in other fields would be capped, allowing only the skills within their chosen profession to develop infinitely.

    Special professions like Wizardry wouldn't unlock until after the open beta. This was the game's unique dual-class system, where a player could have a primary occupation and a secondary one. Secondary occupations usually included Wizard, Seer, Alchemist, or Heretic.

    After the third phase of the closed beta, advancing the primary occupation was straightforward; one just needed to reach a specified skill point threshold and find a 'vocation mentor' for guidance.

    On the other hand, unique classes like Wizard were more challenging. Simply put, a player aspiring to be a Wizard had to touch ancient texts containing spells, preferably original copies, to meet the conditions for class advancement. This alone posed a significant obstacle for many players.

    Additionally, they needed tutelage from a certified Wizard (one who knew three or more spells). It was well-known that Wizards appearing later in the game had peculiar personalities. Hence, players typically waited until the endgame to gather the necessary conditions to approach these individuals.

    Lan looked sharply at Alders. "How many spells do you know?"

    "What?" Alders seemed confused.

    "You are a certified Wizard, right?"

    "…One could say that." Aldrich replied cautiously.

    "That's great." This was the best news Lane had heard so far. The two requirements for players to advance their professions were already present at MU.

    Moreover, he recalled that MU offered many peculiar majors, such as Monster Studies. Coupled with the bizarre body specimens in the museum, it could unlock the Aberrant Hunter profession.

    With the Arcane Studies major and the abundance of ancient texts in the library, one could embark on the path of becoming an Occultist.

    Not to mention, with Carmen as a Master Alchemist and the Soul Devourer Butterfly's scales, the Alchemist profession could be unlocked. Technically speaking, the Secret Church and the sacrificial array could even pave the way for the Fanatic profession…

    In short, MU almost covered all the high-ranking professions one could imagine in the later stages, alongside the conventional majors. A complete vocational school was right in front of Lane.

    If everything went smoothly, perhaps by the third phase of the closed beta, players' combat power would significantly increase. Coupled with the forbidden spell collections in the library, their strength would reach epic proportions.

    At the thought of this future, Lane couldn't help but feel excited.

    And evidently, MU still had more surprises in store for him.

    Soon, they arrived at the university's second well-known facility, the Institute of Mysterious Knowledge.

    Unfortunately, it's temporarily sealed off.

    Aldis explained, "This research institute holds a unique position, with many valuable resources. It's usually under the care of Director Anthony, who had to attend to other matters. Before he left, he cast a powerful sealing spell that none of us can break."

    Pausing, he added, "Moreover, if we were to force our way in from the outside, the contents inside might be destroyed."

    How intriguing. The grand library of Necropolis even houses the Book of the Dead, yet this facility alone is under such strict sealing magic.

    This piqued Lenon's curiosity even more. In the Cthulhu Mythos world, this knowledge institute of Miskatonic University was equivalent to the SCP Foundation, containing nothing but the most enigmatic secrets.

    Unfortunately, they couldn't enter just yet.

    Lenon glanced at it wistfully a few more times.

    At that moment,

    "Sir Lenon," Aldis suddenly placed his hand over his chest and bowed slightly towards Lenon. The professors behind him showed no surprise and followed suit, as did the students who had accompanied them.

    "What are you...?" Lenon hesitated.

    "You saved Midas, just as the price we paid when invoking the divine back then. Now, Midas belongs to you," Aldrich explained. "And you will become its chancellor, as well as its de facto ruler. You have the right to do anything with Midas and its faculty and students whom you have rescued."

    "Technically, we have no right to make any demands of you. But as their professor, I have a responsibility towards the students. May I ask what your plans are for Midas?"

    At this mention, Aldrich, Alexis, and the other students couldn't help but look tense.

    As members of the mystic realm, especially those who had encountered malevolent deities before, the professors and students of Midas were well aware that there was no such thing as a free lunch in this world. Every gift from fate came with a price tag attached.

    The question was whether or not they could afford that price.

    As for Lane, he seemed amiable for now. If he truly was the "Ancient God" that Aldrich judged him to be, such entities were distinct from evil gods; they wouldn't bear much malice towards humans and might even assist them if their interests aligned.

    However, ancient texts were just that—ancient texts. None of them had ever genuinely interacted with an Ancient God before. The only one who had, Anthony, wasn't present.

    Consequently, even Aldrich couldn't help but feel apprehensive about Miskatonic University's future.

    Albert, who usually remained composed behind Lane, couldn't resist stealing a glance at him this time.

    "I thought you'd be unable to hold back and ask right away," Lane chuckled. "Actually, there's nothing much to it. Just carry on as usual."

    "Business as usual?" Aldrich was taken aback.

    "Hmm, to be precise, maintain the school's operations as they are in reality."

    The professors all exchanged surprised glances.

    It wasn't that the condition was too stringent; on the contrary, it was too cheap. After all, dealing with evil gods usually came with a tremendous price. Although the Old Gods weren't as insane as the evil gods, they were still deities. What seemed mundane to them might be challenging for humans. Aldrich had prepared himself to offer his soul or faith, but the sudden shift to a more agreeable tone left him feeling uneasy.

    "Why? Is that difficult?"

    "Of course not!" Aldrich hurriedly replied.

    "Very well, then. Leave it to you. In due time, I'll send my... followers to study here."

    So, it was about imparting knowledge to the god's followers. Aldrich breathed a sigh of relief; this was much more reasonable.

    However, he couldn't help but feel a tinge of melancholy. The University of Michigan had historically produced many talents for the Bureau of Investigation and was known as the breeding ground for investigators. Now, it seemed it would become a breeding ground for heretics.

    What was the difference between this and their archrival school?

    However, it was admirable to be flexible. Since he was already destined to serve Lane, and Lane didn't seem cruel, Alders quickly embraced his new role.

    "I'll impart all my knowledge to them."

    "Oh, that won't be necessary. Just teach as you normally would, treat them as regular students. It'd be best if they have to pass tests or challenges to gain more advanced knowledge."

    Alders: ?

    "Don't worry, I'll tell you what to do when the time comes," Lane wasn't in a hurry to train occupational mentors since the Third Edition's beta hadn't started yet. He changed the subject and looked back at the research institute. He was still more interested in this Lovecraftian world-renowned research facility.

    "I want to reopen this institute. Do you know the professor's full name? Perhaps I can find a way to bring him here."

    "Anthony Moses. He lives in a small town ten kilometers outside Arkham, 118 Cansy Avenue."

    Without much hesitation, Alders revealed the director's name and address. This made Alexis couldn't help but comment, "I thought you two had a good relationship."

    "Our relationship is good, but how does that relate to him taking funding from my research institute?" Alders snorted coldly. "Hmph, others only know about his Mysterious Knowledge Research Institute, but without my Dream Research Institute providing theoretical foundations, how could his institute have achieved so much?"

    "Well, if we're talking about it that way, my Ancient History Research Institute provided him with the most information!" the history professor on the side grumbled. "He gets all the archaeological findings as soon as they come out. How can there be such a person? Disgusting!"

    "Indeed, our field of mysticism has contributed the most to the knowledge of myths," the mysticism professor lamented.

    Perhaps reassured by Lane's amiable demeanor, the atmosphere in the room relaxed. Suddenly, it turned into an Anthony-bashing session, with the professors expressing their pent-up frustrations. From their words, Lane gradually pieced together an image of Director Anthony: a quirky character like many at Michigan University, but with added traits of arrogance, tactlessness, and being difficult to please. His emotional intelligence was virtually non-existent, and he had a knack for offending most professors with his words.

    It was said that his only friend on campus was Professor Alders, solely because they were childhood friends. Alders had grown accustomed to the other man's lack of social grace, and it was Professor Alders who criticized him the most fervently!

    As he spoke, Alders kept an eye on Lane's expression. At first, Lane didn't understand, but eventually, he caught on. "Don't worry, I won't stoop to his level."

    It was heartwarming, despite the professors' criticism of their colleague. Deep down, they seemed genuinely concerned for Professor Anthony.

    Alders opened his mouth, "No, what I mean is, if he speaks disrespectfully to you, you have every right to give him a good scolding."

    "That's right, Anthony is notorious for his thick skin. Not even a B-class anomaly could take him down. With his Origin Ability, you can afford to be candid," the professors chimed in, looking eager for a showdown.

    While Alders might still hold some protective feelings towards his friend, the majority of the professors seemed more than ready to give Director Anthony a piece of their minds.

    Lane fell silent, wondering just how much of a nuisance this person must be!

    "Though he was quite the nuisance, he did possess genuine talent," Aldrich said suddenly, his gaze lingering on the sealed research facility with a hint of nostalgia. "He had many enemies outside before. It was only by seeking refuge at Miskatonic that he could focus on his research in peace. Now that Miskatonic is gone, I wonder how that old fellow is faring."

    "Sir Lane, if you can bring him back, please do so. Otherwise, who knows when that old man might be caught off guard while sleeping outside."

    Lane thought to himself: How much did Director Anthony manage to offend people?

    "Alright, I understand," Lane replied, feeling a mix of amusement and concern. "I'll keep it in mind."

    Aldrich breathed a sigh of relief. Both of his primary concerns had been addressed. The professor specializing in the Dreamlands finally relaxed his furrowed brow, feeling for the first time that fate still favored Miskatonic.

    Now, he genuinely regarded Lane as the new head of the university. As they continued their tour, Aldrich gave Lane a detailed rundown of the current situation at Miskatonic:

    "So far, we have 202 students, 10 professors, 7 associate professors, 5 lecturers, 2 resident tutors, and 2 security guards," Aldrich explained. "All of them were the faculty and students who remained on campus during Christmas and couldn't return home. As for those who left... we've lost track of them. They've probably forgotten about Miskatonic too."

    Lane nodded. "I see. Honestly, I didn't expect so many to still be here."

    "If not for your assistance, there would have been more casualties," Aldrich said with a bitter smile. He waved at the students following behind, and a blond boy with freckles quickly approached. His eyes avoided both Lane and Aldrich, seemingly afraid to make direct eye contact. He kept his gaze down as he softly greeted them.

    Under Lane's curious stare, Aldrich introduced, "This is Jude Bare, a senior majoring in geology. He's one of the few students who survived in the original timeline. Jude, tell Sir Lane about the situation back then."

    "Very well, Professor. After the initial chaos following Michigan University's immersion into the Dream World, we conducted our first headcount once things had somewhat settled down: there were 110 surviving students, four professors, and one associate professor..." Jude recited the figures with his head bowed, his words flowing seamlessly as if he had memorized them perfectly. However, his rapid pace made it slightly dizzying for the listener to keep up.

    "Jude," Aldous patted the teenager's rigid back, "calm down and speak slowly."

    "Apologies, Professor," Jude seemed to find solace only by distancing himself from Lane, maintaining a two-meter buffer. "In the original timeline, the situation was far more grim. The campus was infested with anomalies, and many lost their lives. In the dream world, it got even worse—nearly a quarter of the population would perish each week for various reasons. We had to venture outside the school to search for food…"

    Alders sighed inwardly. The student was excellent in every way, except for their tendency to get overly nervous and be socially anxious. When anxious, they blurted out words in a machine-gun-like torrent without pause.

    "Wait a moment," Lane gestured for a pause.

    Jude nervously closed his mouth, a hint of frustration flickering across his face. "I'm sorry, it would be better if someone else took over here..."

    "Are you saying your students spent some time exploring the Dream World?"

    "Yes, yes."

    "In that case, you have some understanding of the Dream World?" Lane said in surprise.

    Jude nodded, and Alders chuckled. "Indeed, it's thanks to Jude's leadership that so many students are still alive, and those who retained their memories from the Dream World speak highly of him."

    "No, no, I didn't lead anything. It's just that I happened to survive a few explorations!" Jude waved his hands hastily, still avoiding eye contact.

    Lane stared at him, his eyes gleaming with interest.

    In his previous life, the Dream World was also an extremely mysterious dungeon. Due to the scarcity of the Dream-inducing potion ingredients, only a handful of players had ever entered it. Those who had explored the Dream World were highly sought after in their teams, and information about the Dream World was tightly held by a select few players rather than being widely shared.

    Now, there were actually so many students with experience exploring the Dream World? Such experience was invaluable in itself.

    Noticing Lane's interest, Aldis took the opportunity to say, "If you're interested, I can gather the students who still retain their memories of the Dream World and have them document their experiences, compiling them into a resource."

    To be honest, it was a very tempting proposal. Lane's heart skipped a beat. "Is that possible?"

    "Of course. We were planning on doing this anyway," Aldis said with a hint of pride. "My Dream World Research Institute has always been frustrated by the lack of practical exploration experiences, which hindered us from making substantial progress."

    Lane: ? No substantial progress?

    That was quite modest. If one were to be honest, the Arkham Disaster and the opening of the Dream World's gate were both closely tied to your research findings.

    If no substantial progress was already resulting in such significant events, what would happen if actual progress was made?

    "But that will change soon! My Dream Research Institute will soon replace Anthony's Mythical Knowledge Institute!" Alders was radiant with excitement. "Many of the students who fell into the dream world with Miskatonic now have memories from it, providing us with ample research material. I'll finally be able to lift the veil of mystery from the dream world. Then, everyone can become... Cough, cough, cough!"

    But he quickly realized he was in front of Lane and promptly reined in his boasts. Deities weren't like his bosses or peers who would humor him. If they took him seriously, Alders would be weeping bitterly.

    "Everyone is a god in their own world. With unwavering belief, gold can rain from the skies, and milk and honey can flow from the earth," Lane suddenly spoke softly.

    "A-And how did you know?" Alders was stunned. He often painted grand visions for the chancellor but had never mentioned them to anyone outside Miskatonic.

    Albert's heart stirred as he looked at Lane, who only smiled enigmatically.

    "Cough, well, this goal is still in its conceptual stage. Besides, some students who died in the dream world might need time to adjust. They've been resurrected, but their minds are still trapped in the period of their death or even madness... If possible, could we send them to specialized mental health facilities for guidance?" Alders asked.

    "Of course not a problem." Lane had no intention of blocking communication between the two realms, anyway. "You can use that pea sprout to get to the hospital."

    "That's excellent." Alders sighed in relief and signaled Jude, who hastily excused himself, likely to attend to the temporarily deranged students. Before leaving, he turned to Lane.

    Struggling to raise his head, he met Lane's gaze and said solemnly, "Thank you."

    With that said, the freckled blond youth deflated like a punctured ball, immediately slouching as he hurried away, as if pursued by some fearsome beast or an impending flood.

    Aldus hurriedly explained, "My apologies, he's just severely socially anxious. At his worst, he finds it impossible to communicate with humans. His aversion to eye contact stems from this issue."

    "Nonetheless, he is genuinely very grateful to you."

    Lahn: "Because of healing?"

    Aldis shook his head gravely and said, "Because of everything."


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