One of the coolest features that came with the manor was a table that projected a map of the surroundings on it. AS Rowena and I stared at the display, we started discussing where everything would go in more depth. There were a lot of factors to consider when building a town let alone a city or empire.

Rowena tapped the map zooming in on our immediate area. “We need to place the Immigration gate somewhere well defended. Just about everything in this game had durability levels. I’ve no doubt that the gate is the same way.”

“That sucks to hear. I was hoping I could just place it and then there’d be a spawn point there,” I replied looking at part she’d focused on. My town’s territory extended a good ways up the mountain. Needless to say, it was nearly impossible to get up to parts of it without a good deal of equipment. The first three hundred meters behind the settlement was nearly sheer vertical rise. Even after that, there were only a few places that people could stand on and even those were precarious at best.

Rowena pointed to a point that was about five hundred meters up the mountain. I hadn’t noticed it because a shelf blocked the top down view, but looking closely, I could see there was a cave entrance of sorts under the shelf. “We should investigate this spot. If we place the gate there, we could eventually turn the mountain into a Fortress like that old movie with the hobbits. I’m not sure what methods there are to bring people to your village, but it is probably best to protect the guaranteed way as best we can.”

“That’s a good point. Plus, there are several ledges that can be worked on to create a path and checkpoints. Ideally, people would only be leaving the Gate not going near it. Any guards we post would be able to red flag them immediately. Much better than if the gate sat in the middle of the village.”

“Exactly.” We decided to investigate the cave first thing. Before that though, Rowena zoomed the map out. She moved the perspective deeper into the forest to the west. Looking at the map like this rather than directly in front of my eyes through the menu, I could tell this forest was massive. It just seemed to go on forever.

A distance that could probably be traveled in just over an hour sat the goblin camp. Because Rowena was recognized as part of the settlement, and she had reported the place, my map showed the area as having been flagged for danger. The center of the came was red while the color slowly got lighter as the circle radiated from the center. I was worried by the fact that the red came to just outside the territory of the settlement.

“My village is under a month-long protection. Does that protect us from the goblins?” I asked.

Rowena shook her head. “No. They are monsters. If they were led by a player the situation might be different but if these are all natural. Should they attack, they could level this place to the ground. Sure, you would revive but all the citizens would be killed.”

“Damn. Alright. Let’s get the Gate up while the citizens gather the resources to construct the wall.” After that, I needed to level up as soon as possible.

Rowena suddenly bowed while placing a hand to her heart. “As you wish, my lord.” I stared at her for a few seconds before she started laughing.

“Seriously?” I asked with a sigh.

She wiped a tear from the corner of her eye as she calmed down. “Sorry. You just sounded right at home just now that I couldn’t help it.”

“Whatever. Let’s go.” We left the manor. I’m not sure when, but two guards had taken up residence on either side of the entrance. “Don’t worry about this place while I’m not here. Protect the others.”

They placed a hand to their heart then moved off without a comment. The changes to the dark elves made them look cool in my opinion, I just hoped I hadn’t doomed them to a fate that I wasn’t ready to lead them through. I shook my head. We had other problems to deal with at the moment.

From the knowledge imparted when I learned my new spells, I knew I could take Rowena with me at a higher mana cost when I used my teleportation. We just had to hold hands. I reached out and she took it. From there, I focused on the ledge that the overhang was above. There was the squeezing sensation again before we landed on the ledge.

I managed to keep my balance this time, but Rowena tripped on a rock. She fell and since I was still gripping her hand, I was pulled along with her. We crashed to the ground with my face lodged in her bosom. I got off her and sat up. “Need to watch our step,” I said chuckling a little.

She rubbed her chest and nodded as she sat up as well. She was looking at me with… nervous glances? Yeah, I think that was the best way to describe it. Maybe she was worried that I would freak out since she had been a man until just the other day and I had basically felt her up. I knew a few people that might feel strange about that, but I didn’t really care one way or the other.

I stood up and reached out. “Thanks,” she said as she took the offered hand. Dusting off, we turned to the cave entrance. The space was quite large. With the entrance being at least four meters tall and two or three wide. I didn’t think anything could possibly be living here, there was no way to reach it after all. That said, this was a magical world. You never know what you could find.

Thanks to my dark sight, I was able to see quite a distance into the cave. There was nothing that threw alarm bells. I glanced to Rowena and nodded before we walked forward. Rowena pulled out a shield and her mace. I recognized the shield as the same that a few of the guards from the settlement used. She must have traded or borrowed it.

Stalking forward carefully, we still didn’t encounter anything. I thought it was going to be an eventful trip, the kind I was hoping for, when we spotted our first feather. It was soon joined with dozens more. The feathers were massive, easily as long as my leg and two or three palms wide. They had a blue coloration that made me cold just looking at them.

Seeing the discarded feathers, we slowed our approach considerably. If the bird they belonged to still resided up here, we might be in over our heads. I mean, I was only level two! Rowena wasn’t much higher.

The cave walls abruptly started to get further apart while the ceiling got higher. A few seconds later, we reached a large opening. In the center was a nest. More importantly, in the nest was a large bird, monster really, that took up most of the space. It was so large in fact that I didn’t think it could physically leave the cave. The beast was beathing slowly, indicating that it was asleep.

With a quick glance, I saw the skeletons of other birds. Perhaps it was able to survive until another bird monster came to claim the cave as its new nest and killed them. I judged the size of the bird and determined that we could probably kill it from a distance from inside the cave. I gestured to Rowena and she nodded as we backed up. Either way, if this plan didn’t work, we only had one route to flee down.

“Ready?” I whispered and she nodded.

I pointed at the massive bird that was still sleeping and concentrated on my new spell. Spatial Tear. There was a sort of disjunction of the faint light in the cave directly in front of my hand. A second later, the hard to see attack sailed across the room and sliced heavily into the monster.

A loud painfilled caw boomed around the room and down the cave. It caused my ears to physically hurt. I quickly sent the Tears down the cave into the giant as fast as I could cast them. A blast of cold air came from the bird in response, but Rowena moved in front of me and used a skill to negate most of the attack.

This kept up for close to a minute. I lowered my arm not because the beast was defeated, but because I was nearly out of mana. Rowena inched forward to check the state of the bird. When she stood up with a relaxed stance, I thought perhaps we’d won.

“Wait here,” she said causing me to tilt my head in confusion. She walked into the room with confidence. Curious at what she was doing, I peeked into the room. The bird was covered in dozens of wounds from the Tear spell. If it was any weaker, or smaller for that matter, I felt I would have long killed the thing. “Great Avian! I am the Beast Knight Rowena. If you don’t wish for my companion to kill you, then surrender yourself to service and become mine. I promise you one thing. You will return to the skies!”

I widen my eyes in surprise but quickly calmed down. Certainly, if this creature had been able to fly, the situation probably would have ended much differently. I had no idea if the thing could understand her, but her claim worked. The giant blue bird started to turn to a blue smoke that sank into Rowena.

“Amazing!” I called once the bird was completely gone.

Rowena spun around and grabbed my hand, squeezing it tightly. “You have no idea. I never expected to find one of these here.”

“These?” I asked.

“Trapped beasts. There are powerful monsters and beasts trapped in situations like this all over the world. You have to be stupidly lucky to find one. You have no idea the size of some of the expeditions that I have read about in search of these creatures.” That is certainly a good boon then. I was glad that Rowena had joined me. Otherwise, this monster might have simply been killed by my hand.

“I was wondering how it managed to trap itself in here. I guess if it was an initial design by the creators then it makes a little more sense.”

Rowena laughed and nodded at my statement. “You have no idea. A few players have found their old avatars trapped in strange places because they met the qualifications for the algorithm the developers used to move the monsters to these places. Mostly the undead races or monster races of course.”

“Damn. That would be quite the annoyance to wake up and be trapped from the world like this.”

“Right.” We laughed at the thought before sobering up. I checked to make sure but the cave was still in the settlement’s territory. Rowena raised her hand. “Wait.” She rushed over to the nest then exclaimed happily. “Bingo!” She climbed into the nest. A second later, I saw an egg being raised over the edge of the nest.

“An egg!? Can you hatch it?” I asked amazed by the thought that she might one day command two of those creatures. She might rule the skies.

“Not sure. I might have to wait for some extra skills. Either way, here.” She tossed me a blue gauntlet. I nearly fumbled the throw, but managed to catch it in the end. I sighed and took a closer look at the item. There were strange rings that wrapped around the gauntlet, but I had no idea what language was craved onto the rings. “Put it on.”

I nodded and slid the item onto my right hand. The size adjusted automatically and made for a comfortable fit. I felt my mana pool jump a bit as the rings that encircled the gauntlet started to move. They enlarged and spun around my hand lazily. “What is this?”

“Check the status.”

Pharix Runic Gauntlet – Unique.

Mana + 100.

Increases potency of spells by 20%.

That was impressive. I thanked her for the item. I really couldn’t wait to test it out later. My Spatial Tear spell was already overpowered. I cleared my head and got to what we came here for. I focused on the Immigration Gate.

A ghostly image appeared in front of me. There was a deeply complex magic circle slightly raised with a stone platform. In each of the corners of the hexagon shaped platform was an obelisk that glowed with purple energy. When I moved my sight, the image followed it. I placed it toward the back of the cave right where the nest was.

There was a burst as the nest turned to flames soon leaving the ground bare. Purple stone and metal slowed from a pinpoint at the center of the magic as the Gate too shape. In a matter of seconds, the ghostly image became solid. “That was impressive,” Rowena commented once it was all over.

“Very much so,” I agreed with a laugh. I walked over and placed my hand on the Gate.

Immigration Gate Lv. 1

Next Arrival: 12 Hours.

Upgrade: 100 Stone, 100 Iron, 1000 Wood, 2000 Mana

Possible Upgrades: Quantity, Quality, Rate

I checked the stores of the settlement. We were nowhere near that not to mention the mana cost. Either I would need to level up some more or get a few mage classed citizens. Since Rowena tamed the bird, we didn’t get any experience. Not that I blamed her. It had been a little too easy for my blood.

“We have twelve hours until the first arrival,” I reported, pulling my hand free.

“Then we have twelve hours to figure out how to get a path built to the village.”

I shook my head. “I plan on teleporting the first couple down. I don’t we’ll get too many from a level one gate. That gives us time to build up the actual village.”

“Ah. Good point.” It wasn’t a permanent solution, but at least if the worst should happen as Rowena warned was a possibility, my Gate would be safe. I could use it to repopulate in the future. Not that I planned to let that happen.


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