Time passed again, and we once more entered into a leisurely regular life. For ten days, we followed the same schedule as before. The only difference was that Thessa and Rache no longer visited the town to get information and supplies. In order to give off the appearance that we had already left to go exploring, we stayed within the house for those ten days.
It was… a bit boring, honestly. I enjoyed being able to take a break now and then, but this… I had gotten so used to the quick changes in my life that having a long period to just relax felt weird. Enough so that when dawn of the tenth day came, I grabbed the power stone that I had harvested, and teleported directly to the nearby city.
The area was more lively than it had been in the past, largely due to the new sources of trade that had been stimulating the local economy. I could see people of many different races, even those not native to this world, walking about and talking to each other. It brought a small smile to my face as I moved to find the local priest.
I had been told to use this man as a point of contact to the Blayd couple if I ever found anything important. As such, I had sent the tidestone and void concealing stone through him as well. Perhaps, aside from Ryner and Hana, he was the only one in the world that knew that I was the one actually finding these discoveries.
“Geoff.” I called out when I saw the halfling cleric dressed in white robes not far away. He was holding his staff, leaning slightly against it as he stood by the gateway to the lower floor. When he heard his name called, he snapped to attention, his head jerking up and looking around quickly.
Once his eyes settled on me, they widened in alarm, and he hurried over to me. “Shh, shh. No need to cause such a fuss, friend.” He smiled amiably as he spoke. “I did not expect to see you again so soon.”
“I got lucky.” I explained with a shake of my head, plucking the bag of holding from my waist to pass to him. “Could you ensure that this gets to them? I think that they will find it to be even better than the others. I included a map in there as well, so that should help.”
His eyes practically shined as he took the bag. He knew that the Blayd couple planned to eliminate me once I had provided them with enough riches. Hell, he was even a part of the deal. What he didn’t realize was that they were also planning to take care of him as well. After all, there were only two people aside from the Blayds that knew where these materials come from, and they couldn’t afford to leave any loose ends.
“Of course, of course.” He nodded, taking the bag gingerly and pocketing it. “I take it that you’ll be off again?”
“Afraid so.” I smiled slightly, shaking my head regrettably. “The boat and the girls are still waiting for me. I just came by to quickly drop this off, and have to get back to them now.”
His eyes seemed to flash at that, and I could tell from his thoughts that he realized how important the contents of the bag must be if I had used a teleportation spell to cover such a long distance and deliver the package immediately, as opposed to journeying back the long way. He glanced down towards the pocket where he had stored the pouch, and gave a small nod of his head. “I understand, sir. I look forward to seeing you again.”
With that, I waved my hand, speaking the teleportation spell to return to my little island home.
Hana awoke with a start, a frantic knocking at the bedroom door breaking her out of her slumber. “What is it?!” She shouted, her eyes only half opened as she crawled out of bed. Her robes were a mess, but she lazily adjusted them to look at least somewhat decent while she made her way towards the door. “I swear, this had better be good!”
“It is!” A familiar voice spoke from the other side of the door, and Hana’s eyes snapped open. The Blayds were not staying at their home anymore, instead staying with Geoff in order to evade the Council’s eyes. It would look too strange for them to be able to bring in new discoveries that required days, or even weeks of travel all without ever leaving their home.
That fact had momentarily eluded her when she was awoken by the knocking, but now her mind was awake. And if Geoff came here to find her this early in the morning…
She quickly opened the door, glancing down to the halfling with a smile, her hair showing that she had just woken up. Wide tracts of skin were clearly visible through her partially parted robes, easily drawing the halfling’s eyes for a moment before he remembered his objective, and he shook his head.
“Styx just made a delivery.” He said, holding up the bag. As soon as Hana took it, she closed the door on Geoff, leaving him standing in the hallway.
She couldn’t be bothered to listen to his grumbled complaints about ‘his house’. He wouldn’t be an issue for too much longer, as far as she was concerned. It was just a matter of waiting. “Mmm, what is it, babe?” Ryner asked groggily from the bed, his own body lifting up as he glanced towards Hana with half-lidded eyes.
“Nothing to worry about, dear.” Hana replied with a comforting smile. She loved her husband dearly, but he was no scholar, so there would be little point in trying to explain whatever discovery Styx had found to him. Instead, she moved off to the writing desk at the side of the room, and began retrieving the contents of the storage bag within her hands.
There was a brief flash of light, before a large, glowing crystal the size of her fist was on the desk. Another, and a rolled up scroll appeared next to it. However, Hana’s eyes were immediately captivated by the gem. Not simply because of the fact that it was a giant crystal. No, she could feel the mana radiating off of it. If she didn’t know better, she might have mistaken this for one of the Core Pillars found in every floor.
Eventually, her eyes moved towards the scroll, and she unfurled it. On one side, there was a map that chartered a voyage from Styx’s island off into the distance, showing where the crystal had been retrieved from. On the other side was a brief passage. ‘This crystal appears to absorb mana that is injected into it, storing it for later. I did a quick test, and the mana can be harvested by a mage for their casting, or for an enchantment.’
As she read over the words that had been left for her, her suspicions were gradually confirmed. She could feel the mana inside, and her mind had immediately gone to the tidestone. It had taken in ambient mana to create water. This one seemed to take in that mana and simply store it.
Hana’s mind began flashing to a number of uses. Yes, it could be used to power spells or enchantments. But… what if there was more? What if you could inject the mana for an already completed spell into the crystal? If that could be done, then it might even be possible for warriors like Ryner to carry life-saving spells on them.
Hana quickly shook her head, reaching to grab a scroll of parchment from the desk. She copied the map in her own hand, altering the starting location so that the voyage appeared to set off from the port rather than from Styx’s island. Some detail may have been lost, given that her copy was not a perfect replica, but it would be more than enough for the Council to be able to plot their own voyage.
Once she was done, she placed the stone and the new map back into the bag. Standing up, she walked over and gave her husband a gentle kiss. “I’ve gotta step out for just a little bit. I’ll return soon.”
His answer was a groggy grumble, his eyes barely even opening. Hana fixed her robes, and brushed her hair to look presentable, before striding out of the house. She didn’t find Geoff at his post, but it didn’t matter much to her. Instead, she walked through the gate, and found the priest on the other side to send her off towards the Council.
She knew that this discovery would be what did it. This would be the final push that her and her husband needed. With this, they would be set for life.
Barely a day passed after I sent in the power stone before a significant change occurred. While watching the city through my world sight, I saw caravans coming through, large groups of workers piling out one by one. Most of the wagons carried construction material, but they did not seem to be purely for ships.
Mages came through, and took to the skies, flying off to the horizon as fast as they could. I felt a smile tugging at my lips as I realized what was going on. They weren’t here to build ships. Those materials were to start a new city. Maybe even more than one city.
There was one disgruntled halfling among the caravan, an elderly man who wore a ring on his finger that allowed his body to resist the gravity of the floor. Looking into his mind, I saw that he was an actual member of the Council.
We need to get ahead of them. He thought to himself. Can’t let pesky adventurers claim everything themselves, or our coffers will run dry.
Either voluntary or through an assignment, he had come to the Great Blue to govern the area. The amount that they had begun to owe Hana and Ryner was simply becoming too much, and it seemed that they feared that they couldn’t afford it if new discoveries were made at this pace. They needed their own people in on this. People that could be paid in political favors, rather than coin.
More importantly, they needed to amass more crews to mine this floor for all it was worth. Void concealing stones may not be too incredibly useful for the common man, but tidestones and these new power stones? It was enough to make anyone rejoice.
A few hours later, most of the mages returned via a teleportation spell, and reported that they had found a suitable island. Thankfully not my island. I mused inwardly, thankful that the plot of land I had chosen for myself wasn’t large enough to accommodate an entire city.
One of the wagons began unpacking its supplies, constructing a gateway off at the edge of the city that I was by now quite familiar with. If I wasn’t mistaken, this should be the same type of gates that the elves and heroc created on Earth to quickly allow transport between cities, or even between continents.
Once the gate had been created, the mages began to teleport another wagon away. Barely an hour later, and the gate lit up, connecting to its twin on the distant island. The caravan now had its path, and they moved through to begin the construction of their new home.
I felt a small smile creep across my lips, realizing that this was only the beginning. This was the first wave of people sent by the Council. But, what would happen when the rest of the Maxers heard that the Council was mobilizing as many of their own people as they could manage?
I resolved myself to wait for another week. To give the rumors time to spread through the different groups. The final stage of the plan was about to begin.