After I awoke the next day, I opened my door and did my best to only be slightly startled when Tsubaki was standing attentively in front of it. Clearing my throat, I shook my head and stepped past her. “Let’s go meet Bracken.” I told her as I walked. Just spreading out my world sight for a moment was enough for me to locate the elf who had already moved to the library. Or perhaps, he ended up sleeping there?
“As you wish, my Keeper.” Tsubaki gave a deep bow and followed along behind me. “May I be allowed to ask a question while we walk?”
“Of course.” I nodded slightly, not even glancing back to her. Hopefully, she’ll eventually feel comfortable to not need to ask whether she can ask a question or not in the future…
“I have come to understand the benefits of the Perfect Self personally over these years. A simple flesh and blood body just does not compare in performance. I would like to know why you continue to appear as you do, rather than becoming a perfect self.” There was genuine confusion in her tone as she voiced her concerns, causing me to chuckle.
“I believe you saw it when you went through the process yourself, did you not? ‘You have died’.”
“That’s correct, my Keeper.” Tsubaki immediately answered the question, then spoke up with a moment of hesitation. “Surely… one such as you doesn’t fear death.”
“On the contrary. I fear death more than anything in this world or beyond.” I glanced back to her, seeing her surprised face. “If I die, even for a moment, everything I have created dies with me. All of the worlds, all of the people will cease to be. While mortals can practice that class, it is an absolute taboo for me to do so.”
Tsubaki’s eyes widened as I told her that, and she lowered her head deeply. “My apologies, my Keeper. I was not aware of this.”
“It’s not your fault, Tsubaki. There’s no way you could have confirmed this truth for yourself without me telling you. Don’t worry, though. I am pursuing a different path to perfection. I simply haven’t achieved it yet because this world is not strong enough. As the worlds grow, so too do I.”
I had no intention of telling her the exact mechanics behind my power, as such a thing really had no point at this stage. It was enough for her to realize that I was directly linked to the world itself. Any action against me would then become the same as an action against the entire world.
“I understand, my Keeper. I shall faithfully await the day that I may see your perfect form, then.”
It didn’t take us much longer to reach the library. As I had expected, Bracken was still here, his head planted against one of the reading tables. He was sound asleep… But that wasn’t what made me feel concerned. I could vaguely sense mana leaking from his body at a slow but constant rate.
Udona… is there a disease that affects mana like this? I asked towards the one goddess most likely to know about such matters.
Hmm? Uh… Aha, you mean Bracken. Just a second, please. It was only a few moments later when she sent another message back. Yes, it looks like he is sick. This is actually something fairly common, especially among elves of his age. Other races can get it as well, but elves appear especially prone to it.
Is there anything I should know about it? Having one of my representatives having what seemed to amount to a mental disorder didn’t entirely sound like a good idea.
It’s not really dangerous directly. The mana leakage is a side effect caused by the host’s thoughts growing disordered. Sometimes, their memories are even affected. However, in every case, the host’s spellcasting ability becomes severely limited. With their focus disrupted, they can’t do more than the most simple first tier spells.
I gave a small nod as I heard that. It was somewhat sounding like a variation of alzheimer’s… which was not good at all. Walking over, I reached up to pat Bracken’s back to wake him up. “Hmm… huh?” He slowly stirred, blinking his eyes at me in a brief moment of confusion. “Keeper…?”
When I nodded, his eyes briefly widened. “Ah, sorry… I didn’t mean for you to see me in such a dreadful state… had you arrived a few days later, perhaps everything would be fine. Maybe… I think that was the plan.”
“Tsubaki tells me that you want to get the Perfect Self class…”
“Huh? Oh, yes, that’s correct sir.” Bracken nodded his head enthusiastically. “If I can get that… everything will be better.”
“Are you running out of time? You should know that you haven’t prepared properly to ensure your success.”
He gave a small smile at my gentle tone. “I’ve prepared as much as I can, sir. My mind isn’t what it used to be… and I feel that if I wait any longer, I may lose what preparations I’ve already made. I have devoted my life to gathering knowledge, centuries worth of it. To feel that knowledge slipping away from me… well, it’s worse than dying. So I’ll take the risk, sir. I only ask that you don’t stop me.”
“Okay… but have you made preparations for if you fail?”
He blinked his eyes a couple time, lost in thought. “I think so… I did, didn’t I?” Rather than looking at me, he looked towards Tsubaki.
“I have already notified the elven High Queen. They are prepared to seek a replacement in the event that you do not survive beyond the week.”
Bracken smiled a bit more at that. “Ah, yes, thank you. I suppose preparations have been made for me, then.”
“I see… if there is anything that I can help you with, please notify me.” I slowly backed away. When I turned around to leave, I could hear the rustling of books as Bracken resumed his studies.
Once we were outside the library, and I had closed the door behind us, I let out a soft sigh. “Tsubaki… please make sure that he’s comfortable for these last few days. Even if his endeavor fails, it would be best to at least let him see that he was cared for.”
“As you wish, my Keeper.”
For the next few days, I continued to ‘feed’ my world sight whenever I had sufficient energy to do so, letting it gradually grow stronger and stronger. At the same time, I would send it out, viewing the situation of Salor to watch how they developed.
It was… disappointing to say the least. Although the king was now insisting to open up free traffic as if his life depended on it, the nobles that he relied on would not hear of it. They continued to grasp for even more power, sure that I was bluffing in my suggestion that the gate could simply be moved.
Of course, there were those that saw reason. A smaller group of nobles which attempted to explain the drawbacks of if I wasn’t bluffing. If the gate could be moved, then they would lose their ability to easily return to their own worlds.
Some even made preparations before the deadline was over. Just in case I placed the gate in another uninhabited area, they planned to return to the other worlds with a retinue of guards and laborers, and then return a few days after to ‘reclaim’ the empty land. This just further emphasized my need to place the gate in an area that was already occupied.
The three days expired, and the consensus among the nobles had not changed. As such, I shook my head, calling for Tsubaki once again. With a brief message to Aurivy, the two of us were sent down to the world below. This time, we appeared inside a magnificent marble palace, much to the surprise of the guards and royals within.
“Halt!” Some called out, drawing their blades. It took a few moments for my presence to fully register to them, at which point I could hear those same blades dropping to the ground.
“Nobody move!” The queen seated upon the golden throne ahead commanded, her face looking extremely nervous as she looked at me. “Apologies for their rudeness, Keeper. We had not been expecting you today.” She quickly stood from her throne, offering a polite bow to me.
“There’s nothing to apologise for.” I told her, waving the matter off. “They were simply doing their job.”
“Many thanks for your forgiveness on this matter.” She spoke with another bow. “To what do I owe the honor of your visit? Has… Bracken passed?”
“No, not yet. I come for something else.” When I said that, she looked at me quizzically. “The Kingdom of Salor has gone against my wishes, and want to impose taxes on all travel through the Fairy Gate. I assume that you are aware of this?”
Seeing her nod her head with a reluctant expression, I continued. “I gave them an ultimatum. They had three days to correct their decision, or the gate would be moved elsewhere.”
“Judging by your presence here, and your mentioning of this, they have continued to disobey your wishes?” She seemed equal parts curious and surprised when she voiced her question. “And… that you are here means…” Her eyes suddenly began to grow wider.
“The kingdom of Gandor is the oldest surviving nation in the entire world. But more importantly, you have opened up a network of traffic to almost every other race that lives within this world.” I smiled softly as I spoke, nodding my head. “Through your own merits, and the merits of those who came before you, you have established yourself as the primary travel center of the entire world. As such, I wish to move the gate to a land controlled by the elves, which will allow travelers easy access to every region of this planet.”
“Many thanks, your Grace, for believing us worthy of this honor.” She said as she lowered her head, her black hair falling down past her face. “Do you have a territory in mind already?”
“No, I wished for you to construct one in an area you deemed fitting. But remember, there should be no restrictions or taxations on travel through the gate. I am willing to move the gate once, so naturally I will be able to do so again.”
“Of course. I shall immediately command every druid and architect at my disposal to clear an area for this task. It shall be done within the week.”
Once I had that confirmation, I sent out a prayer towards Aurivy. You hear that, Rivy? Once they’ve got the land ready, all you need to do is move the gate and cannons to the space they set up.
Yeah, I got it bro. And… if you’re doing this in real time, we might have Fyor ready for your first look by that time!
Oh? That caught me by surprise. I was expecting it to take a bit longer. By the way, two tickets back to the citadel, please.
Right, right. As the golden light transported myself and Tsubaki back to the citadel, she continued. Anyways, we’ve been skipping ahead like crazy, so it’s already been a few tens of thousands of years since you were last there. They’ve gotten their level limit up to ninety so far, but each layer takes them longer to explore. Even Bihena and I didn’t expect some of the layouts we’ve seen so far!
I’ll have to check it out and see what it’s all about, then. I told her with a brief nod, turning and walking back to sit on the throne again, Tsubaki staying at the base of the stairs. Given this unique world, I’m expecting quite a bit out of this, I must say.
I aim to not disappoint, ‘my Keeper’. Aurivy responded, mimicking Tsubaki’s tone with a slight snicker following.