Roughly ten minutes after I had bought the pair of ores, Ryone suddenly appeared in my room. In the manner that she loves to manipulate the Admin Room, she simply appeared from thin air. Her face seemed somewhat tired, making me think that she had just returned from having descended down to the world. “Dale! I found it!”
Judging by the wide grin on her face, I knew ‘it’ was something important. “Found… what?” That still didn’t stop me from asking what it meant, though! The pronoun game shall not be played today!
Ryone blinked in confusion, but then seemed to realize that I had no way to read her mind, and that I hadn’t been spying on her to figure out what she was up to. “I found the next level of enchanting. It’s one of the key requirements to build the inventory system we bought.”
“Ohh.” I nodded, understanding why she was so excited. For Ryone, this must seem like a major breakthrough indeed. “So, what is it?”
The elven goddess took a deep breath, forcing herself to calm down before she began to explain. “It’s three dimensions. I figured out two different ways to do it, though they have different results. The first is to make a sphere, and carve the enchantment diagram on the bottom, with the pattern mirrored at the top so that they meet in the middle. Then you put the enchanting object inside.”
“This seems to work best to slightly increase the efficiency of enchantments, but the increase isn’t by much. The main method is a shape with hard sides, like a pyramid or cube. Then, carve an enchantment pattern into each side. Doing it this way lets you vastly increase the number of enchantments you can apply to the same item. Though, naturally that makes each enchantment weaker.”
I let her finish explaining before I gave a nod. I was much calmer about this discovery than she seemed to be. “Okay… What about how to make enchantments triggered? For instance, voice activation or specific actions?”
Ryone raised a finger as if she was about to give a further explanation, and then paused for a long moment, slowly lowering that same finger. “I… haven’t figured that part out yet. But this is still a major discovery! It’s a big step towards getting advanced enchantments!” She declared, as if pleading her case.
I gave a slight chuckle, again nodding my head. “I know, I know. Listen, Tubrock is going to be working on making godly items for everyone. I’d like you to help him with the enchanting side of it. You might even be able to learn something by working with him on this. For instance, what happens if you enchant the raw ore before it is refined? Or the bars before they are made into items?”
As I gave these suggestions, Ryone’s eyes seemed to light up. She seemed like she was going to leave immediately, but before she could I stopped her. “Don’t go just yet, I have a question for her.” I could see an impatient look on her face right away, as if urging me to get on with it so that she could go conduct more research. “How much do you know about the use of divine energy?”
Ryone’s face went blank for a moment in confusion, seeming surprised that I had asked that. “You mean, how we send it to our priests?”
“No, I mean the raw use of divine energy. I think someone unlocked the cleric class, because I can suddenly use that energy myself.”
When I said that, Ryone furrowed her brows together. “I can’t help you there. A god’s divine energy is naturally attuned to a specific set of domains, which limit their powers. I’ve never gone out of my way to force my divine energy to do something it shouldn’t, because of the implied cost.”
“I see… You can go meet Tubrock now. Be sure to let me know if either of you need anything.” As soon as I said that, Ryone gave an eager nod, vanishing into a black mist that dispersed into the air. The mist was a new touch to her transportation…
In the plains surrounding Try’s Hold, a large herd of centaurs were gathering. Among them, there were only the normal breed, not a single variant. This was not unusual, as the variants were still much less common than a normal centaur. This particular herd was composed of nearly fifty, all of whom were armed with stone spears or wooden bows.
One among the crowd seemed to be arguing with the rest. A young centaur who had just turned of age a few moons ago. “Please, there must be another way.” He begged, looking to the older members of the herd for assistance. “This can’t be the answer.”
“This is the only answer.” The eldest says, his hair starting to gray. He walked unsteadily on his four legs, clearly showing his age. A scar crossed the right side of his chest, a wound from an earlier battle. “They are an abomination to our people and our god.”
“Greymane.” The youngling pleaded, looking to the elder that spoke. Greymane was not the man’s name, but a title he earned for living as long as he had. “How can they be an abomination to our god? You’ve heard the stories! Tryval once stood with the ‘cursed’, sheltering them.”
“Silence, boy!” The elder snarled out, reaching for his bow. “You don’t know what you’re talking about. Those are just stories made up by them to buy acceptance.” As he spoke, he grabbed a single arrow from the quiver on his back. “They preach of following Tryval’s teachings, to accept one another, yet they hide in their walls to disguise their shame.”
The boy wanted to continue talking, but he saw that the greymane was nocking the arrow on the bow, clearly intent on attacking him if he did not stand down. “I can’t agree to this.” He said simply, turning his body away. “I will follow the teachings. The plains are my home, and its people are my people.” As he spoke, he began to trot away. Not in the direction of the nearby city, but out into the open plains. He refused to look back, to choose either side in the coming battle.
“At least one knows.” A quiet voice seemed to be carried on the wind. The remaining centaurs all quickly turned to find a new person standing only a dozen meters from them. His blonde hair flowed down his back, his muscular body untainted by scar or dirt.
“Who are you?” The greymane asked, his hands still holding the bow and arrow. He had come too far and prepared too much for this attack to let it be ruined by an outsider.
“Nobody important.” The man spoke in a solemn voice, his steps slowly advancing. In his eyes could be found a trace of sorrow, and reluctance.
Seeing that the newcomer had no intention of identifying themselves or leaving, the greymane pulled his bowstring back, aiming at the man’s human heart. “Forgive me, Tryval, for what I must do for your people.” As he finished his prayer, he let the arrow loose from the bow, watching as it flew straight towards its target.
However, it was doomed to never hit. Just before the arrow arrived, he seemed to disappear, crossing the entire distance in a moment. “No.” He looked to the greymane, his hands covered in blood. Suddenly, two of the closest centaurs fell sideways to the ground, their heavy bodies crashing down. Each of them had two gaping wounds in their bodies. One was located at the left side of their human torso, while the other was at the front of their horse underbelly. The locations of the two hearts of a centaur.
“Kill him!” The greymane shouted, causing the others to all rush towards him. Men, women, even some smaller ones like the centaur that left earlier charged to the man. Arrows flew, spears were thrust, but the man simply stood there.
“I’m sorry.” He said in a small voice, his figure once again vanishing to appear in front of the greymane. This time, the blood covered all the way to his shoulders, and one of his hands were sticking through the greymane’s chest. “I can’t let you start a war. If they did it, I would do the same.”
As his voice fell, nothing answered him but the crashing of bodies. Every centaur that had gathered for this raid, regardless of age or gender, now littered the field. Like before, each had a pair of identical wounds on their bodies. For a centaur, losing one heart was crippling, but not lethal. They still had a chance to maintain their bodily functions to a degree. Losing both hearts or the head guaranteed an instant death. Instant, and painless.
Faint tears trickled down the man’s face as he released the greymane, who similarly crashed into the ground. For seemingly no reason, he turned his head to look at the sky. “I guess I have to leave for a while, now.”
Without removing the gore from his arms, he turned to walk off into the distance, nobody left to see his departure. Some hours later, a herd would pass over the area, concerned by the bloodstains littering the ground. By then, the bodies would have long since been lost, moved to a place where they could not cause trouble for either side. But, this was not a true solution. Whether it was the variants in Tryval’s Hold, or the centaurs that wandered the plains, tensions were rising.
“Hey Dale.” I turned and saw Terra greeting me as I sat on the couch in the living room of the Admin Room, not feeling the desire to do… well, anything really.
“Hey. Finally got Udona settled in?” I asked, only to see a trace of guilt crossing her face.
“Not… quite. I had to tell her a harsh truth, and she’ll probably need a couple days before she is ready to see anyone. But, Bihena said you were looking for me?” She smiled sadly, moving to sit next to me on the couch, leaning her body against me and holding me close.
“Yeah… Is there something you need to talk about?” Right now, she looked like someone desperate for a friend. My curiosity could wait until that was taken care of.
“It’s… The system can be a real jerk at times, you know?” She looked up to me, her eyes slightly watering. “You wanted her to be our sister, so that’s what it gave her. Memories of me, her, Keliope, and Accalia growing up together. Always alone, depending on each other. She had never known anyone besides the three of us, and in her mind the other two were already awoken.”
Terra gave a slight sniff, bringing a hand up to wipe her eyes. “And I had to tell her that none of that was real. That it was just something the system gave her to set a personality. That I had never spoken with her before today, and that her other two sisters had never said a word to anyone since their birth.”
I reached up, gently rubbing her back as I listened to her. “I’m sorry… I didn’t know that it would do something like that when I asked your permission. I thought it’d end up like any of the other gods.”
Terra nodded her head slightly. “I know, Dale. I don’t blame you. If I knew, I wouldn’t have agreed to it. But… I had to tell her. Otherwise, she would have hated all of us once she found the truth out herself. At least this way, there’s something left to salvage.”
I gave another nod, still rubbing her back. “Do you need to talk about it more?” It was obvious that doing this hurt her, and the fact that she might have to do the same thing two more times didn’t make it better.
“Just… let me stay like this for now.” She buried her head in my shoulder, speaking with a weaker voice than I had ever heard from her. In this kind of circumstance, I really couldn’t deny her this, so I let her silently cry against me for as long as she wanted. My questions could wait a little while longer.