“Udona wins the first match!” I called out, and everyone again started the game. This time, everyone was on guard against her, not wanting to let her get the advantage again. Everyone focused more on defense, and built up their culture and security so that her stealth units couldn’t so easily function.
Udona was actually eliminated in the first round of real combat, having lost to Aurivy. She smiled playfully as she came over to sit with us, choosing to watch the rest of this round. I wasn’t sure why her defenses had been so weak this time, but I shrugged it off for now.
The winner of the second game was Irena, who had built up a large force of specters in every previous match, and used them all at once to claim victory. She seemed happy with her win, but the game continued right afterwards. And once again, Udona was eliminated early, this time by Tryval. It was actually the first time that Tryval had been able to knock his opponent out, so he seemed satisfied.
What are you up to? I asked Udona secretly through the mental communication, causing her to turn and smile at me. As soon as I saw her face, I knew that there was something going on, a bigger plan in her mind. However, I’d have to wait to see what it was.
The third game went to Aurivy, who had created a world of high technology, discovering a method to use countless other worlds through space exploration to bolster her forces. In the final fight, she didn’t just have six or seven worlds, but over twenty. This caused the other players to start revising their strategies in order to expand their influence.
Yet, it didn’t really help. Even with this new strategy, Udona powered through all obstacles. This time, she focused purely on defense while raising a cultivation world. Cultivation worlds had a special ability where they became more powerful as time went on, without the need of extra assistance. Of course, this still had a limit, but by the time that limit was reached she had effortlessly crushed two opponents.
From there, it was just a matter of covering her weaknesses, and she was easily able to emerge with a second victory. Through this, people had realized two new strategies. The first was to grow more worlds like Aurivy had done, while the second was to use the special effects of a world to overcome the numbers.
For the last round, everyone seemed to come to a mutual understanding. They couldn’t let Udona get another win, or else she would be the final victor. From the very first round, I could see that everyone had begun purchasing counters for the cultivation tactics. Items that could disrupt supernatural energy flows.
However, Udona had switched away from her sure-win strategy. With everyone building their foundation to counter her previous strategy, she had already switched back to her previous focus. Once again, she was using stealth, but it was different this time. Her stealth tactics had a strange effect on other worlds, reducing their culture value by planting propaganda.
Once culture falls to a certain point, the inhabitants themselves will rebel against the player. While everyone else was trying to figure out how she did this, Udona had secured her third win. Without any doubt, she had shown everyone that the Goddess of Entertainment had spent plenty of time studying the Keeper’s Cards, and all the different ways it could be played.
“And the winner is Udona!” I called out with a laugh while the various people were sulking. Some muttered about it being luck, while some seemed to want a rematch. “Don’t worry, everyone. As I get enough points, I plan to let everyone have their own ‘private’ world. This is just to see who gets it first.”
That seemed to cheer them up, though some were not content with that. Tryval gave out a huff as he vanished from the room, no doubt wanting to go vent his frustrations. The others all left one by one, returning to their own business until the only ones left were myself, Terra, Aurivy, and Udona.
“How much did you practice?” Terra asked her, slightly surprised by the strategies that Udona had used throughout the tournament. In the first round, she used assassins to take out the opponents with minimal force. Then, she threw the next couple rounds to lower people’s guards. Finally, she came out with two new strategies that swept everyone away.
Udona’s grin could probably power a third world country as she answered. “I’ve been combing through the rules since we found it. Though, there were notes that some things won’t work the same in the real games, and the rules balanced that by adjusting the odds of being the invader.”
So that was why she had been on the defensive so many times when she was using the cultivation world. The system had judged its overall power to far outstrip the enemy, so she was set to defend repeatedly. I glanced towards Terra, and she confirmed my suspicions with a nod. “The system will only ever place you against a Keeper of roughly equal power to your own. Someone using her strategy would have their own means of countering it.”
I gave a slight nod at that, and then looked towards Udona. “Alright. You’re the big winner, so let’s get this set up.” She grinned happily at that, and I navigated through the menu mentally to establish a new world. “Since I want to harvest a bunch of resources from this world, I need it to be at least a size six.”
Udona nodded her head, giving it a bit of thought. “Size six is fine. But, can I get something special for it? I’ve been working on this idea for a couple of weeks now, and I think this is the best time to offer it up.”
I couldn’t help but glance at her curiously, before giving another nod. “As long as it’s within the budget, sure…”
Udona grinned wide at that, and held out her hand. A thin sheet of paper appeared in it, covered with neat handwriting. “I came up with an idea for a new world type, and a system of magic to accompany it. I even had Ryone go through the market to make sure that there wasn’t something similar already out.”
Well… that was surprising. I took the sheet of paper, and read over it. The new world feature was called Card Law, and it essentially made it so that people could cause anything that they could carry to turn into a small card. Items stored in the cards age naturally, so the only convenience was to reduce the size and weight of the object. I gave a brief nod as I read through the information, and entered it into the system after choosing the ‘Custom World’ option.
Congratulations! You have earned a grand achievement!
I blinked in surprise as I looked at that announcement, and a fanfare arose from around me. Confetti flew up from my head and rained around us for a brief moment, before everything returned to normal. This is definitely the biggest point reward I’ve gotten from one quest.
Seeing Udona and Aurivy looking at me questioningly, I shook my head. “What kind of race do you want in the world?” In total, the Card Law came to one hundred points, causing me to spend ninety to get it.
Udona rolled her eyes playfully and smiled at me. “Kitsune, of course.” I had expected that answer, so I went ahead and keyed it in, spending the thirty points needed to purchase them. When I entered the information for the magic system, I was given another congratulatory fanfare, though the confetti was notably less than previously.
Congratulations! You have earned a large achievement!
It took me a moment to realize why the magic system hadn’t triggered the same ‘grand achievement’ as the world type had. The magic system required the world type, so it wasn’t suitable as a ‘standard magic’, and could only be offered to those who had that world.
To summarize, there was a chance for a slain enemy to create an extra card the first time it is turned into a card itself. This extra card was the new type of magic, and they could be used or combined to create various spell effects. Udona had went through and detailed several possibilities, in order to let the system handle the rest. If used properly, the cards could even be combined to summon a defeated enemy.
When I saw the price of the system, I shook my head slightly. It was a total of one hundred and fifty points, reduced by my royalties to one hundred and thirty five. Without hesitation, I went ahead and spent those points. “You’ve got almost seven hundred points left to spend of your ‘prize money’. Do you have anything else you want?”
Udona quickly nodded her head at that. “Can you get me the first four tiers of monsters, and the next three card tiers?”
I chuckled, but shook my head at that request. Pulling up the market information, I saw that the tiers were priced similarly to other magic systems. “I can get you the second card tier for six hundred. But the third one will cost eighteen hundred, so that is well outside your price range.”
She sulked slightly at that, but nodded her head. “Then, the first two monster tiers, and the second card tier.”
That was easy enough. Unfortunately, the system did not credit me with the creation of each individual tier of the card magic system, so I had to pay the full price for it. A total of six hundred and seventy-five points later, and I gave a satisfied nod.
Udona seemed happy with this, as she and the other girls were staring down at the kitsune that were just starting to walk out of their caves. So, I started my own work. Opening up the page of ores, I chose several to purchase. Orichalcum, mithral, magnartum, lightning ore and numbasic. Those cost me a grand total of fifty-five points, but would offer plenty of resources to harvest for the foreseeable future.
“What do you want to call it?” Aurivy asked as she stared down. One mountain that had been granted a particularly high concentration of magnartum rose up into the sky, turning into a floating island that hovered several hundred meters above the surface. Similarly, scenes like that could be seen all across the world, though the floating landmasses would never get too large.
“Hmm. Since it’s a card theme… Let’s go with Deckan.” Udona nodded her head, her tail swishing back and forth happily. It was clear to see that she was excited about the new world she was getting ready to lead.
I chuckled, glancing towards Terra. “Same deal as with Ashley, please. Set it up so that she keeps the pool of points to use to adjust the culture of her world.” Terra nodded her head with a small smile, even though her ‘favored contestant’ didn’t win.
“When I get enough points, can I come back to you to have you get the next monster and card tiers?” Udona suddenly turned around to ask, smiling widely. In her magic system, the card dropped from a creature could never be ranked higher than the creature itself. That meant that it was most effective to buy the two together.
“Sure, though that’ll probably take a little while… If you can get Ashley to lend you her points, I’ll allow it.” I smiled slightly, before giving them a wave as I turned to leave. I had half expected Aurivy to follow me out, but she seemed engrossed in watching the world as it began to rapidly spin below her, setting itself to the ‘starting point’.