“Lady Aurivy, are you sure that you are fine?” Tsubaki asked, sitting on a small chair next to a large bed, atop which laid the halfling incarnation of the Goddess who had participated in the invasion. Ever since the battle ended, her condition began to grow worse and worse.
First, she lost almost all color to her face, and then a few hours later she had collapsed. It was not until shortly before Dale himself woke up that the halfling did. Her skin was a sickly yellow, something that would not be considered healthy for any race.
“Of course not, you goof.” She said, coughing out a laugh. “I’m dying. But it’s fine, right?” She had a genuine smile on her face as she looked towards Tsubaki. “The battle’s won. I knew all along that I wouldn’t live long after the fight. Hell, I’m surprised that I’m the only one that had to push themselves that hard.”
“Is there… no way to save you?” The maid asked with concern. She may not be a skilled alchemist, but she knew some simple potions, and was already having one of her incarnations working on them.
“‘Fraid not!” The halfling grinned, her eyes starting to lose their light. “I exhausted my divine spark, and then kept going, channeling extra divine energy from the gods. A body’s just not made to handle that. Don’t worry, though, my soul will return to the Goddess, where it belongs.”
Tsubaki hesitated, before giving a small nod. “Is there anything that I could do to make it a bit easier?”
“Well, you could kill me.” She said with a weaker smile. “I’ll be perfectly honest, this hurts like hell… Think you could do that for me?”
Tsubaki was a bit surprised at the request, but then… at the same time, she had half expected it to be the case. She nodded slowly, bringing her hand up over the halfling’s heart. “Be at peace, then. And thank you for your service.”
Aurivy gave one last nod, closing her eyes for the final time.
Nearly a full day after the battle, an announcement was made towards every king and queen, which they in turn passed to their followers. The battle was over. The enemy had appeared within the lands of the beastkin. And with the help of the Keeper, as well as the incarnations and a distinguished kitsune, they had been destroyed.
But the victory did not come without a cost. A village had been lost before the enemy was able to be tracked. Over two hundred lives had been extinguished. To the four worlds, this was a small sacrifice to defeat an enemy that threatened all of creation.
However, to those who knew them, those two hundred lives may have been their entire world. Friends, family, loved ones, extinguished without the chance to fight back. While the four worlds at large were able to write off those deaths as an unfortunate sacrifice, those people mourned.
The Heroic Troops were disbanded following the end of the battle. If another battle emerged in their lifetime, they may still be called once again. But until then, they were at peace. Some joined the armies of their homelands, while others decided to go solo.
And thus, life moved on. For many of the average citizens, their daily life had barely been changed during the battle. Farmers still had to tend their fields, shopkeeps still had to sell their goods. They knew of the dangers, but whether through their trust of their fellow men or simply their need to pay their bills, their routine continued.
There was, however… one exception. One man whose life was forever changed by the battle. Not through loss or sorrow, but through an unexpected gain. Alu Desari, the Deckmaster, sat in one of the rooms of the Sky Citadel. He had not been forgotten after his contribution, but rather allowed to remain within the citadel while he rested.
But there was something more important on his mind. In front of him, he laid out two of the most basic cards. A single, first tier fire element of the lowest power, and a similarly ranked projectile modifier.
Extending his hand out towards the cards, he muttered quietly. “Substitute fusion.”
With the keyword spoken, the new ability he had gained from his title activated. His mana began to exit his body a little bit at a time, moving in strange patterns as it surrounded his hand. He had studied geometric magic enough to know that this was not the formula for any sort of spell. It was far more abstract, a twisting knot of mana that gradually unwound itself.
And when it finished, a familiar phenomena appeared. The dark vortex, the result of the fusion card itself, appeared before his hand. As if cast through a normal card, it sucked in the two ‘ingredients’. Moments later, the vortex vanished, and a weak fireball card fell to the ground in front of him.
Alu stared at the card in surprise, and then back to his hand. He had just used card magic… without a card. Although it felt like the mana consumption was far higher than a normal card fusion, the fact remained that he performed it without using one of his valuable fusion cards.
Suddenly, Alu felt an intense focus on him from somewhere far away. “Oh, Allluuu.” A melodic voice spoke out from outside his door, which slowly opened to reveal a certain smiling elf. “I think we need to have a bit of a chat.”
Soo… Dale. Ryone’s voice spoke into my mind while I was browsing through the information on the Profound Star Laws. You remember that Deckmaster guy?
Hmm? I looked up from the orb, curious, and set it aside for the moment. Sure I do. What about him? He didn’t get into any trouble now that the battle is over, did he?
Well, I wouldn’t quite call what he did trouble. He did, however, get an ability that lets him fuse spell cards together. Without the fusion card.
I felt my eye twitch slightly at that. Given her all too innocent tone, I immediately questioned her. You’re already practicing it, aren’t you?
Hell yes, I am! Do you know what this could signify?! The ability to use card magic without cards! A deeper, underlying system controlling the magic trapped within them! It might even be possible to manufacture cards without the need to kill anything!
I shook my head with a small sigh as I listened to that, knowing that there was no way to talk her out of this. She’d study this new ability as much as she could, until she either ran out of information to further her research or fully figured out how to copy the card effects. Instead, I changed the subject.
Have you made any progress with combining geometric and runic magic?
Huh? Ah, sort of… I mean, technically yes. I’m still working on it, though. So far, I can insert the runes along certain points of tier one and two spells. It adds a bit more versatility to the spell, and a little more power, but also increases the mana cost. More importantly, adding more elements like that drastically increases the complexity of the spell. It’d only be practical to use on a ward or enchantment.
I could see how that might be an issue. Geometric spells are already pretty difficult on their own to quickly envision. Add in runic scribbles the need to be pretty precise as well, and most of the more complex spells would begin to fall apart. Unless you’re literally the goddess of magic, anyways.
Well, keep working on it whenever you can. It’d be nice if there was some way to combine all three systems to create ‘super spells’ or something.
Her reply came immediately and energetically. I agree! Just imagine it, a ten point diagram, a card at every point, with runes drawn along the lines of the spell! I’ve been trying to make it a reality ever since Fyor was created!
I shook my head with a faint smile, glancing towards the information globe again. I thought about going ahead and practicing the Perfect Soul energy fusion. But first, I wanted to wait until Balu and Kathy had left. Right now, Leowynn had already left my body to go and spend some time with them, and Terra had joined her. This left me alone in the room to study these new laws.
Though really, the profound laws were… strange. The first section was essentially a cryptic dictionary. Thousands of words were listed, each with various sentences describing the words. Rain, water, wind, life, fire… everything I could think of seemed to have a ‘law’ associated with it.
The next section detailed the actual cultivation method. How to accumulate ki by absorbing the light of a star within oneself. At first, I was worried that that would exclude the sun, thus leading to an event where the stars in the sky were not the same type of heavenly body as the sun. Rather, they were treated as yin and yang.
The sun provided the warmth, and the night stars cooled. In order to cultivate properly, the two must be taken in balance. At least, that was the case for the first stage. In order to break through to the second stage, one had to use this ki to create a star within themselves.
From what I understood, this star functioned similarly to the secondary ki ‘hearts’ I had set up within my ki path. A structure capable of slowly generating ki on its own. Already, I was beginning to see similarities between this cultivation system and the normal ki use that I was familiar with.
From there, it became a matter of choosing one of the laws to focus on, and slowly modifying the star to accept it. Again, this seemed similar to choosing an elemental ki and slowly converting your own ki to match it. Part of me even began to wonder if it was possible to absorb the energy of stars to create ki normally, or if that was one of the special features of this system.
Once the star was fully converted, rather than further evolving that one star, you were meant to create others to form a constellation. The shape of your constellation would ultimately determine what abilities you were able to use. Although slightly modified, this felt similar to the construction of a ki path.
The steps went on and on, the process changing step by step. In the next section, a similar method was described, but this time focusing on cultivating one’s own mind. This section felt… incomplete. Though, I was at least able to tell why. At the beginning of it, there was an explanation that the law must first be assigned to a world with a magic system in order for mana cultivation to be possible.
Then, finally, there was a third cultivation section. This one, like the first, was complete. Its focus was on cultivating neither the body or the mind, but the spirit. Naturally, there was a warning that the level of difficulty for this method was far higher than either of the other two. It was even suggested to only begin practicing it after you had reached the third stage of one of the other types, though doing so would cause you to progress more slowly.
And finally, the last chapter held details about how to tackle multiple cultivation paths at once. The so-called dual and triple cultivation. This was where things got powerful. The key to becoming a ‘god’ was to cultivate all three paths in unison. To only perform one or two would lead to a bottleneck, while all three led to the divine path.
I gave a small nod of my head when I read that. Balu had already told me that this system had the possibility to cultivate all the way to the stage of a false god. Obviously, such a thing would be difficult. Maybe even impossible for most people. But as long as the possibility was there, it could be done.
Rather than study further into the globe, I set it aside, waiting to hear back from Tubrock.