After recruiting Alu and sending him off to the basement, I once again began adjusting my energies to return to my peak condition. If the spell he was preparing really worked, then we would be able to end this battle swiftly. My only hope was that they were not immune to being tracked through magic as they were natural energy. Though, that shouldn’t be an issue if the information that Balu gave me is still accurate.
“Are you sure that you have everything that you require in order to create your spell?” Tsubaki questioned as she saw Alu sitting down on the ground, retrieving a pile of cards from one of his rings.
“Hmm? Yes, yes. I think I should. If I’m missing anything, it would be one of the common cards, easily replaced.” Although he had answered her, it was clear where his focus truly lay, analyzing each card in the pile.
For some cards, he would shake his head and cause them to vanish, while others he began to set in assorted piles. In truth, the reason that he was able to come by the name Deckmaster was quite simple. Alu hailed from a noble family, one which handled a large spell trade. Thousands of cards passed through their business everyday, of all varieties.
Alu had been training in secret, pilfering a few cards here and there from the family business, weaker ones that would never be missed. He created his own spells, learning how the magic of the cards worked in as much detail as he could. From a young age, he had heard that the world would one day be in danger, within his generation even. And that information made his blood boil.
He didn’t learn card magic because he was wanting personal power. No, he wanted to be like the heroes in stories, who came riding in to save the day. He wanted to feel like his place in the world mattered, more than just a middleman for trading as his family had been before him. However, he knew that he had to keep these desires hidden, as his entire plan hinged on the fact that he would one day inherit the family business.
And sure enough, that day eventually came. When it did… Alu made a decision which could ruin his family. He personally bought up all of the cards that had been moving through their hands, using almost his entire family’s fortune to do so. Although he left his parents with enough money to live comfortably, he made sure to buy as many cards as he could before he left.
Ever since, he had been a wandering mage, using the cards that he had purchased to create fantastic spells to help people. He took various requests from different guilds and commissioners, using the rewards to buy more and more cards. It was only after he had done this for most of his adult life that he had gotten a title from the system itself, which was where the name Deckmaster came from.
Of course, this title came with a special power as well. A foresight for cards, as it were. Both of the abilities gained from this foresight were remarkably useful. First, he was able to determine without any external aid what cards would drop from a particular monster, if any. This alone saved him a vast sum of wealth, simply due to him being able to hunt his own cards more often.
The second ability, however, was what he was using now. He was able to intuitively predict the card effects that would arise from a fusion. Without the trial and error, or the explosive failures that could result from improper fusions, he was soon able to create spells for any given situation. He was able to become a true Deckmaster.
As he found all of the cards that he believed would be needed for the spell, he began the process of constructing the spell itself. This involved laying the cards out in circular sets of ten. At the core of each set was a fusion card, and every ten sets were arranged in another circle, with another fusion at its center.
Alu was very meticulous about his preparation, discarding one card in favor for an identical one with a slightly higher or lower rating, or getting rid of an entire set altogether. As Tsubaki watched, she couldn’t help but acknowledge the hard work that must have led to where he was now.
The entire process for the spell to be completed lasted for three hours. After he was done, he checked and double checked that every card was in its proper place, before focusing on the end result that this fusion would create.
Only when he was fully satisfied did he act, retrieving one of his most prized spells from his rings. Mass Fusion, a spell that could simultaneously activate numerous fusion spell cards. Without this, the process of creating a high level spell like this could take days as he fused each set separately, then waited for his mana to recover and for the individual sets to charge before the next step.
He urged Tsubaki to step back, before doing so himself and holding up the card. Channeling his mana into the card, rays of black energy shot out, accurately striking each and every fusion card that had been placed along the ground.
From every struck card, a swirling vortex of energy rose up, drawing in the cards surrounding them and becoming larger. Soon, those vortexes connected, becoming a massive spiral of energy the began to fill the basement like a black tornado. However, Alu simply stared in excitement, waiting for the energy to settle.
After several minutes, the black vortex began to shrink, little bit little as the floor of the basement was revealed again. The only sign that anything had transpired was the lack of any cards left on the floor. That is, until the energy had faded away entirely.
At the center of the floor, gently falling down from the last shred of black energy, was a single card. Even Tsubaki could feel a faint sense of power from this card, showing that it was far stronger than any other that had been placed out before it.
The face of the card seemed slightly animated, a ripple of energy spreading along the surface of the picture. Beneath the ripple was a black, indistinct figure. Meanwhile, the name of the card slowly wrote itself beneath the picture. ‘Track the Traceless Invader’. While the full power of the spell couldn’t easily be summed up in so few words, Tsubaki had witnessed the entire process of the spell’s creation, and had a better understanding of its potential.
“It’s done.” Alu smiled, walking up and gingerly grabbing the card. He lifted it up in inspection, ensuring that it was just as his insight had predicted. He did not place the card within one of his rings, but rather turned and walked over to Tsubaki, handing it to her. “Please, pass this along to the Keeper.”
Tsubaki looked at Alu questioningly, before noticing the exhaustion in his eyes. In order to create the spell, he had poured in all of his focus, and spent nearly all of his mana. However, he was still smiling. Part of his smile was due to his pride at being able to contribute to this fight, while another was a message that had appeared after he examined his creation.
You have successfully created the pinnacle third tier spell, Track the Traceless Invader. As a reward for creating your tenth pinnacle third tier spell, you have unlocked the third ability of the Deckmaster title.
Substitute Fusion ability unlocked!
He wasn’t sure what this new ability did exactly, but he knew that his efforts were paying off. Of course, he wouldn’t be able to investigate this power until he had received proper rest, given his almost complete lack of mana at the moment.
“I understand.” Tsubaki nodded, holding the card carefully. While she may not know the rewards that Alu had received from the system for creating this card, she knew full well its value to her lord. “I shall show you to a spare room to recover.”
“That would be… much appreciated.” Alu nodded his head as well, a small sigh leaving his lips. Almost robotically, he followed behind Tsubaki, moving towards a set of stairs which took far more effort to climb than he felt reasonable. Still, he soon found his way towards a bedroom, though he barely remembered how he had gotten from the door to the bed before passing out.
“Sir, the spell has been prepared.” Tsubaki spoke calmly to me as she opened the door to the throne room, carefully stepping through and closing it behind me. In her hands she carried an inconspicuous looking card. Though, as she came closer, I was able to spot the strangeness of it. I could see how the image appeared to shift constantly. Not like a holographic card, but… more as if the image was truly moving on its own.
I glanced at my status, and saw that my mana was now nearly full. More than enough to cast one spell. I thought inwardly. I had cast card spells before, and knew that their mana cost was at least half less than casting the same spell through the geometric system. So I could only hope that a single third tier spell wouldn’t require more mana than I had available. If it did… I really needed more mana.
I took the card from her, nodding my thanks. “I’m going to cast this, and then tomorrow we launch our attack.” I’d need that long in order to fully replenish my mana once again, so that I could personally join the battle as well. I had faith in the combat abilities of the others, but I also knew that my base stats were leagues ahead of anyone else.
Tsubaki acknowledged the order as I began to push mana into the card. Once I started, it felt as if there were a force sucking in my energy, much like when I activated the movement function of the citadel. Knowing that this should be normal, I allowed the card to draw in my mana, waiting for it to activate.
In total, nearly half of my mana was spent before the card began to glow. The ripple of energy that had once been contained to the picture began to spread out, leaving the card in a translucent bubble that spread from the card itself.
As the spell passed through the walls, I saw the card in my hand beginning to dissolve into a faint mist, catching me by surprise. Spell cards are typically reusable, so the idea that this might be a one-time cast hadn’t occurred to me. Though, there was the chance that this was simply the spell moving to an ‘active’ stage, and it would again become a card when it was over.
While I was thinking about that, I noticed an energy enter into the palm of my hand. An energy that began to project an image in the air in front of me moments later. It appeared to be a three dimensional radar, which continued to expand outwards. A single blue dot seemed to represent my position, while a red one appeared shortly after, a bit above and off to the side.
Fearing that one of the invaders had entered the citadel, I estimated where the red dot should represent before sending my world sight to investigate, only to find the sleeping form of Alu. It was then that I realized what the spell had done, at the same time as the red dot turned green, before vanishing.
The first step of the spell was to find those who were not from this world. Alu himself was undoubtedly a resident of Deckan, and had only recently come over in order to assist in the fight. Therefore, the spell identified him as a potential invader. But the green dot replacing the red should mean that he was traceable through natural energy, thus eliminating him as a suspect.
Soon, more and more red dots began to appear, many of them turning green and fading away just like Alu had. It was only when the spell had stretched out over what I believed to be fifty miles that red dots began to appear en masse. And unlike those before them, these did not turn green. Rather, after a similar sweep, they became pitch black.
Hundreds of these black dots soon appeared, and they continued spreading further and further. Soon, there were too many to count, many of them all nested in the same location. “Good, good.” I muttered silently as I watched this. “Tsubaki, call everyone here. We’re going to discuss our battle plan.”