I let out a low groan as I awoke, glancing over towards the computer. There were no flashing alarms, so the ten years must have passed without any real problems. At least, nothing major enough to warrant setting off one of my alarms. The first thing that I did once I got up was to check the time left until the invasion.
Just over ninety-six days, huh? Wait, what’s this? I glanced at the corner of the screen, and there was a familiar icon blinking gently. Not one of my alarms, no this was far smaller than that. This was a message sent over the Keeper network. When I opened it, I found it to be a message from Jugularnaut, the Keeper that I would be invading soon. More accurately, it was an invitation to chat, dated three days ago.
Shrugging my shoulders, I accepted the old invitation, but did not stick around. It had been three days since he sent the initial message, meaning it was when I was in the middle of my training. And since it had been so long, I highly doubted that he would still be there to respond immediately.
Instead, I decided to first check in with my representatives at the citadel, to see how life was treating them now. As for what I would descend as… let’s go with a dwarf this time. I hadn’t descended as a dwarf in a little while.
Closing my eyes, I allowed the familiar blue light to carry me down to my throne, the point that I had chosen to descend. For a moment, I was confused when I opened my eyes. I could only sense two presences within the citadel at the moment. However, my confusion vanished a moment later when the third presence abruptly appeared. Tsubaki… so she suppresses her presence when I’m not around?
I wasn’t quite sure what the meaning of that was. However, I could feel Tsubaki’s presence rapidly approaching my location. If I wasn’t mistaken… she even used one of the easier hidden passages as a shortcut to reach me faster.
She had started on nearly the opposite side of the citadel, yet she arrived before me barely ten seconds after I sensed her appear. When she arrived, she immediately knelt down in front of me, placing one fist against the ground. “Tsubaki greets you, my Lord.” She spoke gently, her eyes on the ground beneath her.
I shook my head with a small smile while I looked down at the kitsune. “You may rise, Tsubaki. Now, do you have anything to report, since you rushed here so urgently?”
Tsubaki lifted her head up to look at me, before slowly rising to her feet. “It is only natural for me to greet the lord of the castle upon his arrival.” She said, and I could at the same time feel another of the presences making its way in this direction. If I wasn’t wrong, that should be the human representative. “However, there are things for me to report.”
I could tell that time had taken its toll on the kitsune. The marks of aging were subtle, but they were still present. However, I was more surprised when I took a look at her level, seeing that it had risen by another twenty since I was last here.
“I have begun to spread the teachings of the library to every race except the green-skins.” Tsubaki began her report. “I believe the Goddess called them heroc. Their representative died before I could disseminate the information to that race, so I do not have a point of contact with them.”
I nodded with a slight smile when I heard that she was sharing the information equally, not just with her own people. “Good, very good. Is there anything else?”
“Yes, my Lord.” Tsubaki nodded once. “The representatives of the elves, the demons, and the kitsune of Deckan have expressed their wish to rescind their earlier decisions. If you would accept them, they would like to come live in the citadel.”
As she said that, I heard the door to the throne room slowly creak open. Standing within it was Melora, but she looked… different. Her body was thinner than before, as if she had not been eating well. Her eyes were sunken, and her hair was an unkempt mess. When she saw Tsubaki standing in front of me, she squealed like a struck pig, backing away a step.
However, Tsubaki did not even turn to regard her for a moment. Peering into the thoughts of both of them, Tsubaki barely seemed to register Melora’s presence at all. However, Melora was screaming internally, cursing that the ‘monster’ was here. She seemed genuinely scared, and only approached after she confirmed my presence once again.
“M-my Lord.” She spoke hesitantly, dropping down to both knees at the foot of the stairs. Unlike Tsubaki, she did not climb the stairs to stand in front of me, but rather stayed at the bottom. “M-may I go back? I… I don’t want to stay here anymore. You can find another representative if you wish, but please…” She did not raise her hand once while she spoke, her voice shaking.
I raised an eyebrow at her behavior, before sending a mental question to the pantheon. Okay, who can tell me why the human representative is acting like this?
Surprisingly, it was Bihena that spoke up first. She had a conflict with Tsubaki nine years ago after attempting to injure her. Tsubaki responded by scaring her, and her fear has festered all this time. It was clear that Bihena had no sympathy for the representative of her own race. Tsubaki may have been a bit harsh with what she did, but it was not unwarranted. If she was as weak as she made herself appear, Melora would have destroyed one of her limbs.
I see. I nodded briefly, glancing down towards Melora. My silence seemed to scare her even further, as her body had begun to tremble. Aurivy, take her home. Bihena, if they do appoint a new representative, mind letting me know?
I received an affirmative from both goddesses as golden mist wrapped around Melora, causing her to vanish from the citadel. “Tsubaki, would you like to explain what happened between the two of you?” I asked, and the kitsune’s eyes remained steady, not a trace of guilt in them.
“Of course, my Lord.” She spoke up. I had already heard the story from Bihena, but I wanted to make sure that Tsubaki would not lie to try to cover the truth of the matter. If she did, I was prepared to send her back as well. “Nine years ago was when the incident happened, to my knowledge. That is when she became unstable after a confrontation between the two of us.”
“I thought that I had forbidden such conflicts?” I asked with a low groan, shaking my head. However, Tsubaki shook her head.
“That is incorrect, sir. Such a rule was never spoken. You wished for us to regard each other as equals, but at no point was personal conflict forbidden.” She spoke confidently, causing me to blink. I had not expected her to point that out so easily, and it made me re-assess whether I had actually stated that rule or not.
Tsubaki continued while I was thinking to myself. “Nine years ago, after I had first communicated with the other races, I ran into Melora as I was leaving the communications room. She had attempted to run into me as we passed, enhancing that side of her body with her ki so that she would hurt me. As such, I responded in kind. When we collided, I stole the ki that she had gathered in that region of her body.”
“My guess is that she was using her ki to alter her appearance, as her arm began to subtly change while she screamed after that. As I attempted to continue on my way to the room, she cursed at me, claiming that I had broken the rules of the citadel and attacked her unjustly. She threatened to use you to kill me.”
Finally, for a moment, Tsubaki’s ears dropped as she turned her head away. “I may have… lost my temper briefly, and spoken a few harsh words. However, I did not attack her, as that would leave the humans without a representative and no knowledge that they needed to appoint a new one. I hope that you can forgive my leniency.” She bowed her head in apology, not because she had acted harshly, but because she had not killed Melora then and there.
I couldn’t stop myself from blinking in confusion, peering into her mind once again. Apparently, it was common for those in the Servant Corps to kill those who insult their appointed master. Tsubaki felt it a disservice to me that she was not able to uphold this action due to my wish for her to treat the races equally.
Letting out a sigh, I once again shook my head. “I admit, it was an oversight of mine not to forbid personal conflicts. I had thought that would be clear when I mentioned for you to treat each other equally, but it would appear that was not the case.”
“The fault is not your own.” Tsubaki spoke quickly, lifting her head to look at me directly. “I firmly believe that the human would have performed similar actions regardless, as she herself believed that such a rule was already in place. And she likely would have continued doing so until a result was seen.”
“...No matter.” I spoke after shaking my head again. “Anyways, is that the end of your reports?” I was glad that Tsubaki had admitted the truth of the story, and had even done so more thoroughly than Bihena had. As for whether it was the complete truth, I questioned it mentally for a moment before Aurivy whispered into my mind.
She said everything. Aurivy answered calmly. Well, aside from the exact words that she used… but I doubt even she herself remembers exactly what she said in a conversation nine years ago.
I gave a brief nod at that, while Tsubaki spoke up. “Yes, that is all. However, I do have one personal request, if I may ask?” She glanced curiously at me as she said that, gauging my response.
“What is it?”
A small smile formed on Tsubaki’s lips as I allowed her to make her request. “There is mention of a few classes within one of the books in the library. I have spoken with the representatives, and nobody they know of has obtained them…”
“You’re talking about the world spirit, martial spirit, and perfect self classes, right?” As I asked that, her eyes flashed briefly in surprise and recognition. “Two of those classes are perhaps more suitable to call races. The martial spirits are like Trixy’s companion, while world spirits are the little fairies that I believe sometimes frequent small villages.”
“And the perfect self, my Lord?” Tsubaki asked, clearly more interested in this class than either of the other two.
“The perfect self is a class that nobody in the world has unlocked.” I answered calmly, being quite sure of my answer seeing as how the class was not even unlocked in my own information window yet.
“The description for the class…” Tsubaki spoke up, her voice firm. “It states that a user will have complete control of their body. They will not bow to hunger, thirst, sickness, or even time itself.”
“That is correct.” I answered, keeping my eyes curiously on the kitsune.
“Then… I would like your permission to train in this class. I believe that the techniques required are too advanced to share to the public yet, as they are taking a while to catch up. However, for my individual study, I believe that it is something I can achieve within my lifetime, if you would allow it.”
My brows furrowed when I heard that, a gentle sigh leaving my lips, past the scruffy beard that came with the body of a dwarf. “Tsubaki… in order to train the perfect self, you must kill yourself.” As soon as those words left my lips, there was a silver dagger in her hand. “Not like that!” I hurried to shout out, causing her to glance at me curiously.
“I’ll allow you to train the class, but you have to let me finish explaining first!” I grumbled, shaking my head as I relaxed back in the chair. “To train the perfect self class, there are three steps required that I am aware of. I suggest you not attempt it until you have thoroughly studied the energies involved, to ensure that there is no lacking information.”
“Now, for the first step, you need to merge your spirit with your mana and your ki. This already is a step beyond the realm of what people today can do. After that… you shatter your body, destroying it completely. You will only succeed in practicing the class if you do this, and are then able to reform your body with your spiritual energy.”
By the time that I had finished speaking, the dagger in Tsubaki’s hand had vanished, and I had no idea where it had gone. She simply stared at me for a long moment before nodding. “I understand. This means that I have your permission to try, correct?”
I let out a low groan, but ultimately nodded my head. “Yes, you can try.” If I had to guess, it was also forbidden for people like Tsubaki to put themselves in danger for personal gain without asking for permission first. At least, judging by how she was acting.