“Mariah, we’ll be leaving this up to you.” Jerrim said helplessly as they walked away from the group of foreigners. Although a scout was undoubtedly the best when it came to exploration, nobody could rival a trained mage when it was time to search for something.
The human woman nodded her head, reaching into her robe pocket to pull out a small book, slowly flipping through its pages. “Been awhile since we were on a fetch quest.” She muttered to herself. “Aha, here it is.”
As she lifted her staff once again, her eyes focused on the book. “Mal’fis, krol’hyn thinayr.” Once again, a rune lit up from the tip of her staff, though this one was different from when they were teleporting. This time, the rune shifted to form a circular blue disc in front of Mariah, a pulse of white extending out from the center.
Everyone watched eagerly, hoping that one of the orbs they were looking for was nearby. Yet, no such luck came, as the pulse reached the edge of the disc moments later. Afterwards, the entire disc seemed to shatter, vanishing into the air. “Sorry, doesn’t look like there are any nearby.”
Jessim simply shook his head, a small smile on his face. “It’s fine. It would have been too easy if they had all been clustered together like that, right? Solin, lead the way, and we’ll try again in a couple hours.”
The young halfling nodded, rushing forward to scout ahead. This was the fifteenth floor, so they had to be cautious.
Like this, they moved out, leaving behind the gate and the group which had come through it. However, that group was instead staring at them in surprise. The Seekers had assumed that they moved beyond their hearing, or perhaps just that these foreigners would have no interest in what they were doing.
Yet, they were wrong on both counts. Unlike the people of Fyor, Earth’s residents hadn’t had to worry about a level cap restricting their growth for a very long time, roughly a thousand years or so. Even before then, they were accustomed to spreading their levels out across a variety of classes. As such, everyone in this group of six had at least some levels in the scout class, amplifying their senses enough that they had heard and seen what Mariah did.
“What was that?” The lycan woman asked the leader of the group, one of the elves.
“I… don’t know.” He shook his head honestly. There were indeed spells of Earth that could search for items, but what Mariah did didn’t match any of the spells he knew of. “Did you say that image that appeared? It did not appear to be a spell diagram, right?”
“Should we ask ‘er?” The dwarf asked, jerking his head in an upward motion, indicating the citadel overhead. “She’s ‘is favorite, right? Oughta know a thing or two, I figure.”
The leader of the group made a difficult expression, before sighing and nodding his head. Closing his eyes, he called out to her with his mana. “Lady Tsubaki, may we speak with you?”
I already know what you want to ask. Tsubaki’s voice entered his mind a moment later, surprising him. I was watching after I left, to ensure nothing happened. All that I can tell you is that what they did is this world’s magic. Similar to the cards of Deckan. Beyond that, I am as unfamiliar with it as you are.
“There is nothing even within the great library?” The man asked in surprise.
I have not noticed any new tomes being added within the last few weeks. I believe that the Keeper wishes for us to learn this on our own, or perhaps to learn it from those who live on Fyor.
He was forced to nod his head in acceptance of this, relaying the information to the others. “It looks like we’re on our own with this. Tressy, report back to Earth and let them know what we found. Hesa, would you mind constructing us a residence? For the time being, this will be our base until they return, or another group arrives.”
The lycan woman pouted, but nodded her head, moving back to the gate and making sure that the proper key was in place. While she set off, one of the elven women glanced around, identifying a flat area roughly a hundred meters away from the cannons. “This should be good.” She spoke to herself, lowering her body to kneel on the ground, her eyes closing.
The ground beneath them began to shake, though the five remaining people did not pay it any heed. Gradually, stone pillars emerged from the ground, shaking slightly as the dirt fell off of them. Their edges smoothed themselves over, cracks vanishing as if erased.
Hesa furrowed her brows in focus, tossing a seed out from her pocket. When it landed on the ground, it began to sprout a small tree. However, this tree was entirely under Hesa’s control. Rather than growing naturally, it split off, forming into countless planks that rose up and affixed themselves to the stone pillars.
When she was finished, a two-story house had been completed. It had no door, its windows lacked any glass, and there were no furnishings within. However, it was somewhere that they could stay for a time.
Slowly, Hesa rose to her feet, wobbling unsteadily. Nobody said anything, as they all knew the drain that a quick construction typically put on a druid craftsman. By now, she should be suffering from a terrible migraine, evident by how she covered her eyes and made her way inside.
“By the way.” The dwarf spoke up, once again looking upwards. “Any of ya notice… I don’t see no sun.”
“Nonsense.” The leader refuted him immediately, glancing upwards himself. “How can there be daylight without a sun…?” However, as he looked around, he saw that there was indeed no sun hanging in the sky. Briefly, he considered the idea that it was behind the Sky Citadel, but that would put them standing within its shadow. And clearly, they were not in any such shadow.
Just then, as if to mock them, the sky began to dim. They looked around, expecting to see a beautiful sunset, but found nothing of the sort. The sky lost its light evenly, replaced instead by darkness, and the twinkling of what should have been stars overhead.
“This just keeps getting weirder.” The leader said sullenly. First, a magic system that they had never seen before, and now the sky itself defied all logic.
Like this, the days passed by to weeks. More and more people began to appear, coming from Earth, Deckan, and Desbar. Some ignored the warning about the physical requirements, and met with catastrophe as soon as they appeared. Their bodies collapsed to the ground on the spot, unable to force themselves to move more than a slow crawl, while even that felt like their bones were shattering.
As the weeks turned into months, more residences started to get built around the site of the gate. However, after learning their lessons from history, they did not try to monopolize the gate, or impose any restrictions on it. Rather, they reached out towards the Seekers, asking them to invite people of Fyor to join the settlement they were building.
At first, the response was rather slow. The Seekers were, after all, in a mission where their lives would hang in the balance on a daily basis. Once they were able to respond, they sent word back to the Council, and a group was sent to join the colony.
Months became years, and gradually these groups of people began to learn more about one another. Perhaps the largest trade was that of magic systems. While the magic of Fyor was far more useful in a fast-paced tactical battle, the magic of Earth was instead better in other situations, such as enchanting or warding.
Although the mana requirements were higher, it was worth the price. Using runic magic to ward a city required the ward to be refreshed on a daily basis, resupplied with energy. However, geometric wards could last until they were broken. Similarly, most enchantments conducted with runic magic were similarly temporary. Only if the proper materials were gathered could they be made permanent.
As expected, while the people of Fyor were happy to have access to such a useful tool to enhance their weapons and defenses, the mages of Earth were astounded by the utility of runic magic. All they had to do was to learn the words, which could even be recorded in a common tome, and recite them out while imagining the associated runes. This made many advanced mages question why they had spent decades studying the complex formulas involved in casting the magic that they were familiar with.
Of course, that wasn’t all. There was still the card magic of Deckan, which Fyor found almost equally interesting. The only downside to it was that there was a limited supply of cards, so it required a constant system of trade, as opposed to a quick exchange.
And finally, years turned into decades. Twenty-five years had passed before the Seekers found the first racial orb of the foreigners. This was for the race that they had come to know as the lycans, one of four beastkin races. And it was also at this time that the foreigners were struck with another realization.
The lucky lycans that had been staying in the growing town all rushed for the boundary gate, hoping to see the lower floors. Some of them even made it through. Others, however, found themselves still halted by the gate, unable to pass.
It did not take long to discover what all of those left behind had in common. They were all those whose level had exceeded two hundred and fifty. Even just going one over prevented them from using the gate. And at the same time, those who were able to use it could no longer advance beyond that point, without returning to their home world.
This created a dilemma for the people of the three old worlds. They had always been viewing this as a great place for them to expand, an area of potentially unlimited space and resources. Yet now, they were struck with the same restrictions of its inhabitants.
The thought of forcefully capturing the world never even arose, because such a thing would be foolish. Only those within the system of Fyor could access the gates, and they would have to access the gates in order to get to the first layer to get their race recognized. If they tried to send in a group of maximum level people to try to capture it by force, it would lead to a brutal and bloody war.
Perhaps more importantly, they had already seen how such wars ended in the past. While Tsubaki herself faced those same restrictions, and was thus unable to journey between the floors to the best of their knowledge, she could wreak havoc on not only the fifteenth floor, but back on Earth as well. Thus, nobody even considered the option of a forceful takeover.
Decades turned into centuries, the Seekers being replaced by more exploration parties. Eventually, the level cap rose not once, but twice. With the limit extended by a full one hundred, more and more people appeared to aid in the search for the holy spheres. After a hundred and thirty-eight years, the last of the racial orbs had been uncovered. Finally, every race was able to travel between the layers of Fyor, so long as they had not grown too powerful.
Though, even with the level cap having risen to such an extent, it had become rare to find those able to advance their levels to match it. The name Maxer became less and less common as the years passed, turning into an elite breed rather than the basic prerequisite to be called a true adventurer.