Okay, Leowynn, you can come back… I thought inwardly, laying back on the ground. I wanted nothing more than to ascend and return to my nice and cozy bed. Thankfully, it didn’t take too long for her to return, and I was able to do just that. As soon as she was back, and had returned to the grey mist that seeped into my body, I let out a groan, sitting up and willing myself back to the Admin Room.
Once I had ascended, I briefly remembered to set the computer to allow the goddesses back into the world below, before everything else turned into a haze of sleep.
Back on Lorek, changes continued to happen, one after another. Now that they had unlocked the power of their ‘inner stars’, those lucky few from the first voyage across the water had begun to rather suddenly change their areas of focus. Shanir no longer seemed interested in leading the town guard, despite being a more powerful fighter than ever.
Rather, much to the surprise of those who knew him, he had established a blacksmithing shop on the edge of town. The ‘Blacksmith’s Star’, as he called it, quickly became a popular store for any in need of weapons or tools. The items he produced may not have been of the best quality, given his relative inexperience in the field, but his crafting speed was far greater than that of any normal blacksmith.
It was to the point where other, more experienced blacksmiths began to approach his store. Some sought to sabotage his business and steal his secrets for themselves, while others made an open attempt to either take Shanir as an apprentice, or become his apprentice themselves.
Naturally, Shanir was not opposed to learning more about his desired craft from others who pursued it. He even understood that many of them only cared about his ability to push out decent quality goods faster than anyone else. However, the ability to do so was no great secret. It was merely an insight that he had gotten as part of the inheritance from the ancient civilization.
Sadly, this inheritance couldn’t be shared with others. Even though he brought back the book that had told him these great new powers, nobody else had been able to read it, even among those of his comrades that had joined him on the trip. It felt to them as though the language written there had been entirely alien.
This was not simply the case for him, as everyone else had experienced similar sensations with their own inheritances. Durak, the one who had inherited the information of the Water Master, had taken up a seafaring post. He had shared his own research scroll with Shanir, but the blacksmith had found himself unable to grasp the meaning of any of the words, despite knowing that it was the same language as his own.
So for now, everyone pursued their own paths. Some even took disciples of their own in order to pass on the teachings, transcribing their texts into new scrolls and books to pass down. However, there were simply not enough ‘Stars’ known for everyone. Not everyone wanted to follow the same paths, so there were naturally those that had no interest in taking an apprenticeship with one of them.
These people hired Durak to ferry them across the water, hoping to find a path for themselves on the other side. This business had become quite profitable for Durak, as the Water Star gave him insights on how to avoid the more dangerous among the aquatic beasts. He could even feel himself growing closer and closer to his inheritance every time he made a successful journey, giving him the sensation that he had to go out onto the water yet again.
Though, perhaps the one who benefited the most, and at the same time suffered the most hardships, was the young dwarf by the name of Baltak. He had been the one to gain the inheritance of the city’s lord, who they had begun calling the King Master. These names were not blindly chosen, and each one was based on the star that had been described within their inheritance.
For Baltak, the inheritance he received had been for the King Star, a star that would allow him to stand above any man. Compared to the other people who had gone on their voyage with him, Baltak was among the last to make the breakthrough and achieve the ‘starlight body’ that everyone had come to enjoy. When Shanir asked him about this, the young dwarf had explained honestly to him.
The difficulty of cultivating the King Star was far greater than that of any other. It did not simply require one to gather the necessary energy, but it required an extensive training of the mind as well. One had to thoroughly understand the hearts and minds of those around him, or else they could never break through. At least, that’s what the young man had said.
Time flowed on, and Baltak continued to be stuck at the bottleneck. Sometimes, he could be seen drawing various complex images on papers, strange shapes that nobody could make any sense of. He swore that they had a meaning, but he himself had trouble explaining what that meaning was.
Only a few months later did he finally achieve the success he wanted. And it was a success that was far greater than anyone had imagined. Rather than the golden starlight body that others had obtained, the light emitted from his breakthrough had been a light blue.
Unlike the others, there was no explosive increase to his physical strength. Rather, he had learned a new power. Those random shapes and symbols that nobody could understand before came to life in his hands. He was able to create fire in his palms, or create a shield of light around his body.
Of course, there were stories of similar events in the past. Folklore of men and women who had gained similar abilities, those who had shunned Tubrock’s grace and walked the path of witchcraft. Yet now, when Baltak himself displayed these powers, it did not feel as if he had turned away from the lord. Rather, it felt as if he had understood a part of him that nobody else had done.
Such an understanding was in itself a scary thing to imagine, especially for those within the church. They tried to brand Baltak as a heretic, practicing a devilish art. And, by extension, they accused the others as well. ‘No mortal should covet the power of a god’, they said.
Hypocrites, the lot of them. More than once, Durak had seen the clergy aboard his ship, seeking passage to the ‘Old Home’ as we began to call it. Even as they began to sneer at him for relying on an ‘evil’ power, they themselves sought that strength.
Despite the ‘best efforts’ of the church to acquire and restrict this new power, it continued to spread. With everyone who learned how to cultivate a starlight body, they then taught others. It was not difficult for most to absorb the power of the night, after all.
Within three years, the kingdom had changed drastically. This change was both for good and bad, as is with man’s nature. Yes, there were many who sought to spread this great gift, but there were still many more who wished to use it for their own ends.
For a while, crime ran rampant, unchecked as those first criminals broke free of the shackles of law enforcement. Several small towns had been destroyed by a single person’s desire to run wild. Only when the enforcers grew to an equal strength were they able to keep those criminals in check. New prisons were built underground, where no man could feel the power of the sky.
Still, darkness lurked in the hearts of every man… no matter how brightly they shined, this was a fact that could never be changed.
My eyes felt heavy when I finally awoke, forcing them open. I was still sore from the training, but… at least I was able to move without feeling like I was being torn apart. As I sat up in the bed, I glanced around the room, confirming that I was still alone in it. I wouldn’t have really been surprised if either Terra or Ryone had snuck in while I was sleeping, but it looked as if that was not the case this time.
Glancing inwardly, I was curious to inspect the changes to my spiritual realm. What I found was… surprising. Disappointing, but surprising nonetheless.
The small field where Leowynn had created her home within my spiritual realm did not seem to have changed at all, nor did they sky hanging above it. The extra star representing my world sight still shone, breaking her otherwise perfect recreation of the elven sky from so long ago. No, if there was a change that had taken place, it was that everything looked more… solid? More real, maybe…
I was curious to test out if I had gained any new abilities from this, but I decided to hold off on that until after I had fully recovered from the previous training. For now, there was something more important that I had to take care of. Leowynn? I called out mentally through my spiritual realm, using my connection with her. She wasn’t in there, so I wanted to check on her.
You are awake, father? Her voice called back, a touch of happy surprise to it. I wondered just how long I had been sleeping, if that was the kind of reaction I got. Sorry, is there something you need?
I just wanted to make sure that you were alright after the training before. Terra promised that you wouldn’t be hurt, but… I wanted to hear it from you.
I am… fine, I suppose? She responded in a slightly subdued tone. I must admit that it was a bit painful for a little while. I almost thought that I had lost my connection to you while you were training. However, a few minutes later, I could feel the connection stronger than ever. If I must say that anything was different, it was when I returned to your body.
Oh? I asked curiously, wanting her to explain more.
That’s right. At first, it felt as if I was being devoured, or rejected. But then, something strange happened. The force trying to push me back suddenly welcomed me. It was warmer than normal, and I found myself slipping in without knowing it. Although the area I had created was gone, I was able to rebuild it with a bit of difficulty.
I gave a small nod as I listened to her talking. I didn’t know what that rejection was all about, though. Maybe an automatic defense against spiritual invasion, or something of that sort? I could see that being a thing. But, since it accepted her, that meant that there shouldn’t be any problems in the future with that?
Have you noticed anything new about yourself since that happened? I couldn’t help asking, curious to see if Leowynn had benefited from the refinement of my soul.
Hmm? Nothing that I have noticed so far. Is there something I should be looking for?
No… probably nothing. You would have probably noticed if it changed you in some way. I shook my head as I sent that message to her, a small sigh escaping my lips. It would have been nice if there were an actual power up involved with this energy. And maybe there is, and I just haven’t found it yet.
I pushed myself up to my feet, walking out of my bedroom slowly. In the living room, I could already hear the sounds of the TV, and knew that there were people out there. When I arrived, I saw Terra sitting on the couch and, unsurprisingly, Aurivy sitting in her lap. The two of them were watching another one of Aurivy’s anime, and the halfling goddess seemed fully focused on the show.
At least, that is until she noticed me walking into the room. Her smile turned into a wide grin, and she called me over. “Morning, bro!” She said happily. “Finally decided to wake up, huh?”
“Looks that way.” I nodded softly, moving to sit next to her and Terra. This seemed like a good time to take a break from everything. At least for a little while.