I let out a sigh of relief once Tsubaki had left the room, glancing around at the ‘mess’ she had made. I could still feel traces of energy within some of the gore, and knew that she had not perfectly formed her body. However, it was true that she got the vast majority of it, so the rest shouldn’t be a problem.
Moreover, there was only one real reason that I was comfortable with sending her to ‘hell’, the monster side of the Underworld. Irena had first assured me that Tsubaki met every prerequisite to survive in the Underworld, while Udona said that she was strong enough to handle monsters far above her level.
That was why I had asked her what her strongest kill was. And the guardian of the dungeon Aurivy had set up was at the highest possible level for the time, five hundred and ten. It was a creature that couldn’t have been born naturally yet, and could only exist because Aurivy spawned it directly as the Goddess of Dungeons.
Still, the massive level disparity showed that Tsubaki should currently have more than enough power to take on strong monsters in hell. Even if she can’t kill them, she is after all a ninja. Preserving her own life would not be a difficult matter. At least, that’s what everyone seemed to imply.
Rather than stay in the room that had been covered with bits of kitsune, I walked out of the hidden room, and began making my way towards the throne room. By now, the situation with Melora should be resolved. Or, given the time, she might have already resigned and selected a new successor.
Once I had made my way to the throne room, I sat down in the chair. I pushed enough mana into my voice to project it out through the entirety of the Citadel. “I would like all representatives to please meet me in the main room.” Of course, immediately following afterwards, I closed my eyes, sending a focused message towards Tsubaki. “Not you, you’re still getting ready for your trip.”
It did not take long for people to begin pouring in. Among them, they were all the same representatives I had seen during the initial meeting, which would have been forty years or so ago by now. Among them, Bracken had changed the least, looking every bit as youthful as the day I first saw him.
The others, however, had all started to show signs of aging. Especially so for the demon Jace, whose race had yet to properly master any of the techniques that would allow him to slow his aging. I wasn’t sure if he had picked up any of them from the library, but he had visibly aged, no longer looking like the same vigor that he had once. There were wrinkles along his face, and his red skin seemed to have lost some of its color.
Trixy was a bit better off, as she was contracted to a martial spirit, but even she was beginning to look more mature. At least, as much as a halfling could. And then there was Lily, the kitsune from Deckan.
Like Jace, she had visibly aged more than the rest. However, her planet has had access to magic since its inception, so it was natural that she had her own defenses against aging, to at least some degree. Instead of looking like a woman in her seventies, she appeared to be closer to her fifties, her hair just starting to lose its color.
“Now, this is my first time returning to the citadel in a while.” I began as I looked at the four of them. I had honestly expected that the dwarf girl would choose to live here as well, since I knew that there was a forge inside the citadel. However, it seemed that she had chosen to remain with her people, and left the transfer of information to Tsubaki.
“As such… Many of you have started to grow old, and I’m sure you are missing your families.” I felt my voice grow a bit softer as I said that. “For those that wish to do so, you may return to your home. In one week, you can choose again whether you wish to remain there or come back. You need simply pray to the Goddess of Travel to return you safely to the citadel.”
I could hear a certain halfling snorting in the back of my mind, but I noticed relieved looks on the faces of most of the gathered representatives. Of them, only Bracken seemed unmoved by the offer. “For those of you who wish to remain home after the week is over, you may choose to appoint a new representative to take your place if that is your wish. In the meantime, I urge you to go and prepare your things.”
At my words, three of the four representatives nodded their heads quickly turning to walk off. Meanwhile, Bracken waited for them all to leave, his eyes still focused on me. “May I ask a question of you, sir?”
I raised an eyebrow inquisitively as I looked to Bracken, before nodding my head slightly. Having received permission, he continued. “There are numerous legends regarding you among my people. Some say that you have been the Saint Healer, the Undying Mage, and even that you may have once sat upon the throne of a kingdom.”
“As a scholar, it is my duty to seek the truth. Many of these legends I can eliminate due to inconsistent information, but there are two that I must question you about personally, in order to understand the truth. I do hope you don’t mind.”
I simply gave another nod, though I could feel Leowynn’s attention suddenly focusing on this conversation, as if it amused her. “The first is the Saint Healer. This was a big name among our people four generations ago. At the time, there was an elf who would wander from city to city, tending to the sick and wounded without ever asking for something in return. Unlike most other cases, his death could not be confirmed. Instead, he was last seen exiting the city of Crua’tal.”
“The other one is from a bit further back, but the story it is connected to is no less well known. The story of the Mortal Star, the daughter of the Goddess. It has been theorized that the child Ley’wind was the daughter of the Goddess Ryone, simply using the Mad Enchanter as a vessel to deliver the child to the world.”
I couldn’t help but wince as the story ended up butchering Leowynn’s name. “However, a select few of us believe differently. There is a lesser known story that the Mad Enchanter received the aid of an old friend roughly a decade before Ley’wind’s birth, the warder that prevented the monster tide from destroying Cau Buhnga.”
“My question to you is simply this… were you either of these people?” Bracken asked, his eyes seeming sincere in their curiosity. Even checking his thoughts, this was simply another question that he sought the answer to.
Let me out, Father! Leowynn called out from inside my spiritual realm. Let me at least get the name right!
I could only chuckle, shaking my head, both in response to Bracken and Leowynn. “I’ve been quite a few people in history. But I can’t say that I’ve ever been called a saint. As for Leowynn…” I stressed the name, causing his eyes to widen in surprise. “Yes, I am familiar with her.”
I couldn’t outright say that Leowynn was my daughter at this point. Rather than the humans feeling superior to other races, it would instead become the elves that had that belief. After all, they would have proof that a mortal of their race had once seduced the Keeper. And I’d rather keep those thoughts out of their heads, to present another situation like what happened with Melora.
Bracken’s eyes narrowed in focus as he thought about my statement, before offering a small nod. “My apologies then, sir, for taking up your time with these questions.” As he said that, he was already turning to leave, his curiosity apparently sated.
Why didn’t you let him know? Leowynn sulked from inside my spiritual realm.
It’s not time, yet. I mentally responded with a light sigh. If one race gets proof that they are ‘superior’ to the other races, it will wreck the balance later on. You don’t want another Melora to show up, do you?
Who’s Melora? Leowynn asked curiously, making me blink in surprise.
Were you not paying attention at all to the first group of representatives?
Nope! Was too busy training. So, Melora? Leowynn asked again, seeming eager to know what was so wrong. As such, I briefly explained to her about the character of the person who had originally represented the humans in the citadel. Oh… oh… yeah, I don’t want the elves acting like that. Mom and Terra wouldn’t be able to play nice with them…
Honestly, I was half surprised that neither of them interfered with Melora already. Though, given just how broken Melora appeared, I couldn’t rule out the possibility that Terra had played some part in it.
Bihena, can you meet me in the communications room? I asked as I stood up, stretching my arms before I began moving again. I think it’s time to check on the human representative.
Understood, Dale. Bihena replied, before I could faintly sense divine energy gathering in the room ahead of me. The humans were actually quite worried, since you had not invited their new Voice to the citadel yet.
I couldn’t help but let out a groan. How long have they waited? It wasn’t that surprising that they had a new representative already, as Melora herself was likely to be getting into her later years now.
Hmm… thirty-two years? Bihena’s voice actually carried a hint of amusement. I had to remind them a few times that you were often busy, and couldn’t always come down to handle everything like that.
As I entered the room, I saw Bihena leaning against one of the walls, wearing an elegant silver dress that clung nicely to her figure. Smiling, I offered her a nod. “Did you all take care of giving them a language book, at least?”
Bihena nodded her head. “That’s right. Udona took care of that once the representative was appointed. Though…” Her eyes closed briefly. “It looks like he’s been raising a successor. Do you want to contact both of them, or just the current representative?”
It was good that Bihena understood why I called her here personally, instead of just using her divine powers to speak to the two of them. I could have just as easily ascended to take care of this, but doing it this way felt more… personal. “Let’s go with both. How’s the quality of these two?”
Bihena must have expected my question, because her lips curved upwards ever so slightly. “Much better. Melora managed to convince them not to go with the ‘seduction’ route. So they held a poll on what would be the best to use as the requirements to choose their Voice.” As she said that, she moved over towards the crystal ball, tapping it once with a delicate finger.
“In the end, they chose ‘selflessness’ as their requirement, which made things really hard on them. After all, how do you measure the selflessness of someone in a competition for a seat of power like this? So, they handled the selection in secret, choosing people based on their pre-existing reputation to choose the most noble and selfless of them.”
I was a bit astonished when I heard this method. If it was true, and actually succeeded, then that would be a great thing. “Actually, the selection wasn’t that hard once they found the right person. He tried to keep a low profile, but life didn’t make it easy for him.”
As she said that, the room seemed to shift. A hologram began to radiate out from the crystal in the center of the room and I saw two people. One, an elderly man, looking to be in his eighties. His hair had mostly fallen out, but he had a kind smile on his face as he spoke to the other figure, a small girl no older than ten years old.
Above the head of the elderly man I could clearly see his title. Not with my Keeper’s observation powers, but because he had the title equipped himself. Saint’s Kindness.
“His title is one that he can’t get rid of, as the system automatically equipped it. As long as he doesn’t go against his nature, the title will always be there.” Bihena was amused as she looked at the two figures. “It’s a title that he gained by displaying true selflessness, to the point that it seemed to border on naivete.”
“And the girl? Is she his grand-daughter or something?” I asked, glancing towards the young girl in his arms.
“Nope. She’s an orphan that he found on the streets as a baby. After learning what had happened to her parents, he took her in and raised her as his own child.” Bihena shook her head slightly before turning to look at me. “So, ready to get this meeting over with?”