After sending Tsubaki off on her mission, I returned back to the role of Dale, the traveling healer. My absence was only a few hours, as I had not fast forwarded at all while I was gone, so it would still not seem suspicious.
“Did you hear it too?” I heard someone asking on the streets, conversation bustling about the message that I had sent out.
“Another new world… But it has such high requirements… second ring bodies just to enter it? How strong would the monsters be there?”
“And there was a change to the magic, too? Is anyone here a mage that can explain that?”
Following that question, there was a murmur of voices speaking up while I exited the alleyway that I had descended to. It seemed that none of the nearby mages had discovered what had changed about the magic system yet, aside from the city’s defense wards being activated. I was quite curious to know how it would work out myself.
Okay… let’s try this again. Udona, mind guiding me to the next destination for my work?
Yeah, sure. She answered, her voice seeming distracted. You’ll need to visit the guild again. The portal network was shut down after your announcement for safety. They don’t want to operate until they know the extent of the changes and how it will affect the portals.
Understandable. After nodding my head slightly, I made my way towards the local guild. When I arrived, I saw that there were quite a lot of people were waiting in lines to file requests. And every time a request was filed, either a blue or green emblem page would be posted on the board.
From what I could see, the blue emblem requests were for people to study the new changes on the magic system, the reward based on the amount of information received. The green ones, as expected, were transport requests to make up for the portal being shut down.
Since there was nothing else for me to do, I decided to wait in line for my turn. So, Ryone, spotting any changes yet?
A few. The elven goddess’ voice was laced with excitement. I’m sure you noticed the wards. They’ve been activated because there is an outside source of mana in contact with the control device for them. Mana is no longer simply being generated by people, Dale! It’s now a passive energy filling the world, like natural energy.
I paused for a moment when I heard that, before shaking my head. Mana is the energy of thought. This should be a fundamental truth no matter how it has changed. It’s the basic ideal behind mana as a whole. So, if people aren’t generating the mana, then what thought is driving it?
Can I butt in here? Aurivy’s voice suddenly spoke up over the connection, her tone mischievous. I think I can answer some of these questions, if that’s alright Ryone?
Please, be my guest. She agreed readily, seeming to take a step back. These changes came from merging Aurivy’s world with the rest, so Aurivy would be the one most likely to understand the changes.
Thanks, Ryone! Anyways, you’re right Dale. Mana is and will always be the energy of thought. I can’t say exactly how this change will affect elementalists, because Fyor hasn’t unlocked them yet, but I know the origin of mana. In Fyor, mana comes from nearly every living creature. It passively leaks out of them, in amounts so small it is hard to detect.
Anything that is capable of thinking outside of its own existence naturally leaks its mana into its surroundings. She explained, before letting out a long sigh. This is both a good thing and a bad thing.
On the one hand, if the morale of the people is high, then the ambient mana will carry with it a positive attribute. This can cause crops to become more abundant, or people to have their natural recovery bolstered just from being in the area.
And if morale is low? I couldn’t help but ask, having a bad feeling about that.
Exactly… if anger or depression sweeps over an area, then it can cause monsters to be attracted to that area. Even worse, if the situation gets severe, the mana itself can coalesce and form its own monsters based on the thoughts of the local creatures.
After our war against the dark elves, grief struck our people. They felt genuinely sorry that they did what they had to do, and that grief spread like wildfire. Soon, a skeletal army of undead elves had risen from the ground, and launched a renewed assault.
Oh… oh my. Ryone spoke up, half in shock. So, it is a cycle. If the people are happy, good things happen to make them happier. But, if their mood takes a turn for the worse, or heaven forbid if someone takes advantage of this to cause a disaster, it becomes a spiral of sorrow.
Pretty much! Aurivy confirmed. Thankfully, it takes quite a bit of gathered mana for either effect, so it isn’t a constant thing to worry about. Once a blessing or a curse occur, the mana has to build up before another can--eh? EHH?!?
...Aurivy… what just happened? I never liked it when people suddenly got cut off mid sentence. Especially when that person was literally an all-seeing god.
Druids… druids in dungeons. Aurivy muttered through the mental link in disbelief. Oh no, no no no, this is wrong. Sorry, Dale! I’ve got to go! If druids can do their work in dungeons now, that means that they can alter the dungeon terrain. I have to go reinforce the dungeons! I’ll get back to you later!
After she left that message, I felt her presence vanish from my mind. I couldn’t help but let out a sigh, shaking my head. She really was the Goddess of Dungeons, after all.
Glancing ahead, I saw that it was almost my turn in line, so I stopped bothering Ryone. As I stepped up, the felyn woman behind the counter looked at me with a haggard expression. “Travel, right? Where are you going?”
Getting my destination from Udona, I quickly answered. “The capital, Dukan please.”
Almost mechanically, she spoke up. “That’ll be six haram, seven sil, and five pen. Do you have a comm crystal, so that I can call you when your order is accepted?”
I nodded, bringing out the silver pearl that I had bought from Irena’s incarnation, setting it down on the counter along with the requested coin. She pulled her own crystal out, a bright pink, and we registered each other. “Thank you for your business. Next, please.” As soon as I had stepped out of the way, she began the same process over.
I felt a bit sorry for her, and the other receptionists like her that would be suddenly getting an overload of work due to the recent announcement. Still, I moved off to the side, palming my comm crystal while I watched someone run back to the counter and take a pile of new requests, mine included, over towards the board to post them.
It would be nice if I said that I didn’t have to wait very long. Actually, the druid that would take me to Dukan had already arrived before I did myself. However, he just waited, watching the requests piling up with a wide smile on his face.
Only an hour later, once his eyes flicked towards the door, and he saw someone else wearing a green guild badge entering did he gather up a pile of requests and head to the counter. The receptionist’s eye twitched as she saw the stack of quest papers that had been presented, before she pulled out her comm crystal.
I felt the silver pearl in my hand shake, a mental alarm going off in my mind to accept the call. Doing so, I grasped the pearl firmly before hearing that same tired voice again. “Everyone who wished to go to Dukan, someone has taken the job.” And with that, the call was cut just as abruptly.
A number of people walked with me towards the counter, and the lycan man who accepted our requests turned to face us. “Hello hello. My name is Judar, and I’ll be taking you all to Dukan today. Is there anyone missing? No matter, I can just send them through once they come by.”
I heard a few grumbling voices from the crowd, no doubt other people who had noticed Judar waiting for quite a while before taking the requests. This was bound to be a huge payday for him, simply judging by the number of people that were gathered.
“Now now, no need to fuss. Better to handle as many as I can at once, right?” He asked, reaching down and pulling the lid off a leather pouch at his waist. “Ocean water, straight from the port of Dukan.”
As he spoke, the water emerged from the unsealed pouch, forming a portal in front of us. It was only large enough for one or two people to move through at a time, so people began to line up, hastily walking through. Nobody felt like waiting any longer than they had to in order to get where they were going.
Once I was through, I parted from the crowd, exiting the building and glancing around. In the distance, I could see the castle rising up, the top of it just barely covered by the city’s shimmering shield. Okay, what can you tell me about this area, Udona?
Quite a lot. However, I’ll keep it brief and only tell you the relevant parts. Dukan is perhaps the smallest of the beastkin capital cities, due to the Druidic Massacre at the end of the ancient war. It took a long time for people to be willing to move to the city after that, and even longer for trade to flow through it again.
Okay, my fault. I shook my head, waiting for Udona to continue. Due to this, the slums of Dukan are actually quite a bit more populated than they were in Suram. You should plan to be here for a couple of weeks.
There was a moment of hesitation before Udona spoke up again. More importantly, there is another severe case here. And… it’s a ninja. A rather high ranking one, with their own Servant.
What would a high ranking ninja be doing in the slums? I asked in surprise, moving towards the area I felt Udona guiding me.
They don’t use the same currency as the rest of the continent. So when they send people out, they do so with little to no financial support. His Servant is capable enough that he is able to stay fed, but he can’t afford lodging, and the Servant isn’t skilled enough with alchemy to treat his master himself.
Part of me felt a wave of relief when I heard that the Servant was a ‘he’. Seeing one Tsubaki was enough, if I saw more attractive beastkin women wearing revealing maid uniforms, that could be bad for my mental health. But it’s something that I should be able to cure?
As long as you can earn the trust of his Servant. Otherwise, you should not expect to be allowed close to him.
I nodded my head at that. I could just imagine if I were sick and Tsubaki were guarding me. She’d be likely to cut down anyone that tried to forcefully approach me, attacking first and asking questions later. Are there any influential figures in the slums here that I can get to help me, like Jaren was?
There… are a few. Like I said, the slums here are quite a bit larger. It’s not just one small community like you saw in Suram. I’ll guide you to the leader of the first community, and you can start from there. As she said that, I felt a small shift in the direction I was being led, but simply followed along. While walking, I heard more and more people discussing the changes that had just taken place in the world, and what they all meant. There were even those eagerly wanting the portals to come back up so that they could visit the elven lands and use their gate to check the new world for themselves.