For the next ten days, I watched as the gods and goddesses went about their training. In order to supply Tubrock with the materials he needed, we had parked the Sky Citadel near the connected mine on Earth. Though, the items he was making didn’t really seem to be anything too special, compared to what I had seen before.
I think I’ve been spoiled by godly craftsmanship… I thought to myself as I watched him work.
Like this, ten days passed by, everyone feeling the tense atmosphere growing thicker. Throughout the world, people were counting down the days. Soon, any new monster would be treated as an invader aiming to destroy the world.
As the Sky Citadel rested in the sky, and the heavenly hosts prepared, so too did the people. Many of them had had their entire lives to prepare, training harder than anyone before them. Now, ‘Heroic Troops’ were established in almost every major city of Earth, Desbar, and Deckan, those who have trained themselves in order to battle whatever enemy they may face.
In Fyor, the preparations were equally as fierce, yet at the same time more conservative. A single Heroic Troop had been spared for the fifteenth floor, with other floors being occupied by Maxers. After fifty years of preparation, it was now far more common to find people who had forced themselves to train all the way to three hundred and fifty, especially among the mages.
Nobody knew where the enemy would appear. It could be in the vast wilderness, or even the middle of a city. They could appear in the sky or the sea, or even the Keeper’s own palace. And, aside from a general month when they would arrive on one of the worlds, nobody even knew the exact time.
As such, tensions were rising higher and higher. People became afraid to leave their homes, unless they were those who had become a part of the troops protecting the worlds. Those people stood atop the walls of their cities, gazing out in anticipation.
Finally, the day is here. I thought to myself, watching the clock ticking down. Only a minute left.
Sorry, Dale. Ryone spoke a bit sadly to me mentally. This is the last we’ll be able to talk for a while. We’ve done everything we can…
Wish me luck. I prayed to her, rising up from the throne. “Queen of the world spirits.” I called out for my first trump card, ignoring the formalities this time. I could feel the energies in the air trembling as she pushed past the barrier, forcing herself to take form within the Sky Citadel.
“Yes, Keeper?” She asked politely, standing in the center of the floor.
Ten seconds… My eyes once again glanced towards the countdown. “A group of invaders, likely monsters, are about to appear.” As she raised her eyebrow, I saw the message appearing in front of me, but briefly ignored it to continue my instructions.
“I want you and the other world spirits to be on the lookout. Somewhere in one of the four worlds, there are enemy creatures that weren’t there yesterday.” Her eyes opened wide when I said that, but she remained silent. Only when I dismissed her did she disappear into green mist, and I was able to look at the message that had appeared.
The time has come for the Keeper Games! For this match, you have been designated as Defender, with your opponent being Savage.
While in Defender mode, certain resources will be restricted.
Really, I get a new menu? I thought curiously, immediately summoning it in order to check.
Current enemy forces within planet group Earth: 5
“Wait, what?” I asked out loud, much to the surprise of Tsubaki who had been keeping an avatar near the door. Only five? Is… is Savage still recovering from a previous round and unable to send in a large force?
Isn’t this a good thing, Father? Leowynn asked from within my spiritual realm. She honestly seemed a bit disappointed that there were only five enemies.
Well, I mean, yes. I was just expecting a bit more. Of course, only having five enemies meant that it would take longer to find them… If not for the world spirits, I could spend a lifetime searching Earth alone and not find five particular entities.
That thought made me remember something, and I slowly rose from my chair. “Tsubaki.”
“Yes?” She turned to face me immediately, and I could feel a rush of power from all over the citadel. Prismatic streams of light poured out from under the doors, flowing back into her body.
Immediately recalling all of her avatars? I mused, before shaking my head. “I want you to take me to Bloodhaven.”
There was a brief confusion within her eyes, before she seemed to realize what I want, nodding her head heavily. “Of course, sir!” Almost immediately, a black portal arose next to Tsubaki, who calmly walked through it. Naturally, I did the same, soon traveling from one palace to another.
Almost everything within the palace itself seemed identical to the Sky Citadel’s throne room. I was only able to immediately spot two changes. First, and most importantly, there was only a single red throne. Second… the smell of blood was thick in the air.
Scarlet sat upon her throne, her eyes closed in focus. There was something that she needed to do. Something that only she could do. However, as she was focusing, she felt a sudden shift in the energies around her.
Rising to her feet, Scarlet summoned a cloud of blood behind her, fuel for a coming battle. However, once her eyes found the portal in the center of her throne room, she sighed, recalling the cloud back into herself just as Tsubaki stepped through. Soon after, her creator also appeared.
“Keeper.” She greeted respectfully. His face seemed calm, moreso than she would have imagined under the circumstances.
“You possess the ability to track down powerful ki holders, anywhere in the world, correct?” When Scarlet heard his words, her eyes opened wide for a brief moment, before she nodded her head.
“That’s right. I assume that you wish for me to put that talent to use, in order to find the invaders?”
“There’s no guarantee that they appeared on Earth, but… yes.” He confirmed her suspicion, earning a light laugh from Scarlet.
“I have been using this ability for the last six days.” She told him with a small smile. “I assure you, Keeper, if a powerful ki holder has suddenly appeared, it was not on Earth. Even now, I’m watching for new energies, but… there is nothing.”
Dale seemed almost relieved when she said that, but at the same time annoyed. “I see… would you be willing to come with us to the other worlds, in order to scan them as well?”
Hearing that, a difficult expression appeared on Scarlet’s face. “I could… but I would not be able to tell you anything. I haven’t felt the other worlds, so I would not know if anything was new. I apologise, but I do not think that I will be of much assistance here.”
“I see… There is nothing that can be done, then.” He shook his head solemnly, a trace of disappointment in his eyes. “I am sorry for troubling you, Scarlet. If you can, please continue monitoring for any traces. And if they appear here, please let me know immediately.”
After saying that, Dale once again stepped through the portal. Tsubaki offered a polite bow, before immediately following after. Scarlet could do nothing but sigh helplessly. Her people were in just as much danger as any other, so it was only natural for her to want to help dispose of the enemies quickly.
“Well, it was worth a shot.” I muttered as I walked back to the throne within the Sky Citadel. I knew that the odds were fairly slim that Scarlet would be able to accurately pick out the invaders, but I had still hoped it to be possible.
As I sat back down, I glanced towards the enemy count again, my eyes widening when I confirmed the number. It was no longer at five, and had instead already increased to seven.
Balu said that they reproduce rapidly, but I didn’t think she meant THAT rapidly. It had been mere minutes since the invasion began, and yet the numbers were already starting to rise. Maybe this was why he only sent five, because that’s all that he needed to. Five beasts to begin the flood.
Rather than worried, I felt a rising excitement from Leowynn, who now seemed to realize that she’d be getting the fight she had dreamed of. “Now… we can only wait for the world spirits, or for the reports to come in from the cities.” I muttered helplessly, hoping that it would be the former. Otherwise… people would no doubt begin dying before we ever had the chance to help.
Days passed slowly for the Heroic Troops. Every moment requiring their utmost attention. Many were unable to bear the mental strain, forced to abandon their posts until the battle arrived. Yet there were still those who stood firm. The children of the Age of Heroes, born to combat the evil that sought to end the world.
In the fifth kingdom of Accal, upon the walls of Geth Bator, stood one such troop. A lycan man by the name of Sebas. With a silver staff in hand, he stood upon the wall. His gaze focused outwards, watching for even the slightest shift in the treeline.
Word had long since passed through the Tower of Communication, warning that the enemy had appeared. However, their location was still unknown. Whether it was the continent they were on, or even the planet, nobody had confirmed a sighting of them.
That was, until now. Glowing red eyes stared back at Sebas from within the forest. Focusing, he saw creatures in the shape of wolves, a black tar-like substance dripping down from their bodies. One, two, four… tens of them staring at the wall, undeterred by the wards. He could feel an intangible presence that made him raise his staff.
The first act of battle for any troop was predetermined. Even if it also became their final act. “I call to the spirits of nature, in the name of the silver ghost.” A complex spell diagram appeared directly above Sebas’s head. “I fear that the world’s enemy lays at my gate, and seek aid from those who would provide. Sound the call, and let my light guide the way.”
This was not the first time someone had sent out the call. Nobody knew the form of the enemy, so it had happened at various places already, only to find that what had startled them was a normal monster. Each time, however, the response was swift.
A silver beacon shined in the sky, a deafening roar echoing from the spell. Even the creatures within the forest seemed to shrink back beneath the noise. Only when it passed did they begin their charge.
I have heard your call. A voice spoke into the mind of Sebas as he was preparing his second spell to deal with the enemy. A beautiful figure appeared, standing in the air in front of her. Her race was not discernible, looking somewhere between a human and an elf, her body wrapped in a green dress.
When she lifted her hand, the sky darkened. Lightning danced on her palm, striking down at the ground and forming figures. Beasts matching the size and shape of the charging wolves. The queen of the World Spirits did not hesitate to personally take the field, after confirming that these enemies seemed to not be of this world.
When the blackened beasts struck those made of lightning, a fierce brawl ensued. Both sides were fearless, each tearing the other to shreds with every ounce of their strength. However, the spirit queen simply stared down at them impassively. Any time one of her lightning wolves was slain, she simply created another.
Like this, it was only a matter of time until the encroaching horde was dealt with. The tens of monsters which had seemed imposing appeared to be child’s play in front of this woman. The battle was over even before the other troop members had reached the wall.
Unbeknownst to them, lurking within the forest was a flock of birds which had been observing the fight. And within that flock, a single bird stood out from the rest. It watched the queen of the spirits fighting the wolves, as a pitch black tear seemed to drop from its red eye. At the last crack of thunder with the end of the battle, the birds took flight, finally scattering now that the moment had passed.