I let out a low whistle as I watched Jasper bringing in the construction crew. I could tell that it wasn’t just his arms. At least half of his body was covered with the runes that represented a triggered spell. Most of them were centered around water, though I saw that there were a variety that simply boosted his physical ability, or acted as a short range teleport. He must have spent at least an hour setting all of those spells before he confront the group.
Not to mention that the staff he wielded was his elementalist weapon. It may have looked at first like he was an utter monster, able to take them all out easily, but in truth it was just because he had a huge advantage over them. You never give a mage enough time to prepare for a battle. Once you do, you’re giving them more and more tools to hurt you with.
I shook my head, moving back to the time controls for the world. Ashley said that she’d need a week to get everything ready, and I had only given her a few days so far, given that I stopped in order to see what was going on with Jasper in the cave. Though, as I was about to hit the button, a thought struck me.
Tubrock… the Sky Citadel doesn’t have an internet connection yet, does it? Given the state that the world was in now, I was considering staying descended for a while soon. Either as a civilian, or in the Sky Citadel itself. The latter would be preferred, though I’d likely take walks in disguise now and then to get a better look at the world.
Aye, it does. Yer fox lass even requested it ‘erself, once she learned it was gettin’ released across the worlds. Said yer palace could act as a secondary hub for the connections, and has one port leadin’ ta ev’ry world.
Wait, she did? Now that surprised me. I was expecting that she would be against ‘defiling’ the palace with the cables, but to hear that she personally requested it… I’d have to ask her what she had in mind when I visited later.
I thanked Tubrock for the information, glad to hear that I wouldn’t need to take extra measures to ensure that the Citadel would have network access when I decided to go down. With that out of the way, I hit the button to finish the fast forward. I kept an eye on the upload progress of the game, waiting to stop it until the data had been fully transferred.
To my surprise, Ashley didn’t seem too eager to reverse engineer the flash drive after that. Instead, she gingerly unplugged it, and wished it back to the Admin Room. I suppose it’s a good idea to keep the physical copy as a back-up in case something happens to the servers.
Shaking my head after that silent thought, I sent a message down towards Ashley. How long do you think it’ll take you to get the game in working order?
Honestly? There was a surprised tone to her reply as she appeared to be looking the computer. It’s ready. It could do with a few test runs, but aside from that, we could release the game as fast as we can market it and manufacture the dive gear. To build up the hype… I’d say six months, at least? And I can already feel Aurivy flying my way to be the first tester.
I blinked in surprise, shifting my gaze back towards Fyor. Aurivy’s incarnation was still the elderly dovah mage. Has she gotten the hang of controlling two incarnations at once, now?
A small sigh escaped my lips, and I nodded my head. Alright, take whatever time you need to get it done right. I’ve got things to take care of for a while. With that, I stood up from the desk, smiling gently. “Leowynn, could you go play with your mom for a while? I’ve got to do some training again.”
Sure enough, the silver mist escaped my body, flying out through the bedroom door. As my body faded away, shifting towards my training area, I sent Terra a message to let her know what I was doing. Since Ashley needed more time, it seemed like a good idea to spend it productively, now that I wasn’t feeling so bad about the idea of training anymore.
It was time to create my Divine Soul.
“What’s going on, Leyla?” A demon asked as he opened the door to his boss’s office. There was a confused look on his face. “I just got your report… you want us to set up a marketing campaign? But… where did this game come from?”
This man was the Head of Finances for Darkflame Technologies, so naturally it was his responsibility to sign off on important financial affairs such as these. However, Leyla simply smiled calmly at him, standing up from her seat. “It came from me.” She answered simply. “Geoff, would you mind helping me call everyone together for a meeting? I promise that I’ll explain everything there.”
There was a moment of hesitation before Geoff nodded his head. His boss had never been such an eccentric woman that she would spend the kind of money needed to fund such a large game in secret. And he could tell from the reports that were coming in from the servers that it was a large game.
Within a few minutes, he had called everyone into the planning room on the sixth floor of the building. It was a little cramped to fit all of them in, but they made do. Of course, there were a few people murmuring in discontent about how they had been interrupted from their work in order to be here. Once Leyla entered the room, they all quieted down, waiting to hear what she had to say.
“I’d like to thank everyone for gathering here today. Now, as you all have likely heard by now, DF Tech will be releasing a new game onto the market later this year. Many of you are probably wondering where this game came from, and why none of you were aware of it before now.”
Even within the darkened room, she could see the heads of several demons nodding their heads. She was even quite happy to see that there were a few kitsune within the meeting as well. “Well, I have a few pieces of news that will come across as quite the shock to you. First, I would like to make sure that nobody spreads word of this outside this room. Sorry, Hal, but I’m afraid you’ll need to turn your recorder off this time.” She gave a small smile towards a portly demon near the back of the room that had been trying to stay out of her attention.
When he saw that he was being addressed, the man looked at her in shock. “I-I’m sure I don’t know what you mean, miss.”
“It’s okay, Hal. I don’t blame you. I’ve known what you were doing here since the beginning. You’re not going to lose your job over it now, so long as you are able to keep this part a secret.” Being a goddess, Ashley had known from the start that there was a corporate spy in her company, stealing information wherever he could to send to the competition. In an effort to remain fair to her role as a ‘mortal’, she had not exposed him until now.
There was a small gulp from the demon she was addressing, who nodded and reached into his pocket. He glanced around the room, as if looking to make a break for it, but the room was far too packed to be able to get out without hurting anyone. While he might be greedy, he was not a violent man.
“Thank you.” Leyla nodded her head. “Now, first and foremost, I would like to clarify the origins of this game. In fact, this game is a gift to the world. It came from the Keeper himself.”
Silence fell over the room after she said that. The first person to speak up was Geoff, one of the most senior ranking demons in the company. “Leyla… that’s a big statement. You can’t just say things like that without being able to back it up…” There was concern in his tone, because what she had just said was nothing short of blasphemous. To credit or blame the Keeper for something was as good as saying so about the gods themselves, and nobody wanted to invite that wrath.
“Of course I can back it up.” Leyla nodded again. Suddenly, her eyes went pitch black, a dark shadow falling over the room. When she spoke next, there was an extra voice layered over her own. A voice that resonated within the mind of every demon in the room. “After all, I got it from him myself.”
After saying that, Leyla fell backwards, collapsing into a chair that she had made sure to position herself in front of. Where she had been standing was now Ashley, the Goddess of Darkness, Fire, and Technology. “Sorry, guys, I didn’t really plan to let it out this way.” She apologized with a kind smile. “But really? Darkflame Technologies? I’m sure someone put together that I was at least using religious subtext when I created that. Though, to be honest, it was just the first thing that came to my mind.”
Once again, silence fell over the room, though this time for a much different reason. The only sound that could be heard was Hal trembling, his red face going a ghastly pale as he looked at Ashley, who simply sighed. “I told you, Hal, it’s fine. If I wanted to stop you, I would have. I was actually a little thankful that you were helping to get this technology out there.”
“Wait…” One of the kitsune spoke up first, raising a hand. “So… you’re actually her? I mean… you’re the goddess? But… why would you be running a company like this? And… why would the Keeper want to give everyone a game…”
“Both good questions.” Ashley said, pointing towards the curious kitsune. “And actually quite connected. You see, this isn’t any normal game. This game represents an entire world, every bit as full as our own. The only difference is that you can only access it through connecting to the virtual world. Because of that, I had to make sure that this world was able to progress far enough that we would be able to have that level of technology.”
“This is… a new world?” The kitsune asked, her ears pressing flat against her skull. “But… that would mean new dangers, right? Would anyone really play a game if they felt that their life might actually be at risk?”
“I was worried about that at first, myself.” Ashley assured her, and the kitsune could feel a small comforting energy coming from the goddess. “However, there will be no danger inherently present in playing this game. So long as the point you connect from is secure, then you will be fine. But, if your body is attacked while you are connected… there’s not really much that can be done about that.”
The kitsune gave a small nod, relieved that her question hadn’t upset the goddess. Seeing that nobody else had any immediate questions, Ashley continued. “There is another main difference between this world and those that we live in now. This world was created with the express purpose of being an ‘entertainment world’. The inhabitants there have programmed personalities, just like those you would find in a real game.”
“Within this game world, you will be able to practice a variety of skills that would normally be quite dangerous to do in the real world. For instance, if you wanted to practice some scientific experiments or martial arts, you could do so here. Though, I can’t say that you will be able to practice any ‘real’ arcane skills within this world, as it uses a different magical system.”
“What the Keeper, and me personally, hope for with this game is that people will continue to be able to enjoy it for many years to come. It’s not easy to get worlds like this, even for him. Also… please make sure not to spread word that I am… well, me. I’ve been keeping it a secret for a while now for a reason. If not for this game suddenly being ready, I wouldn’t have revealed myself like this. I’ll reveal it to the world in due time… but I think that this should serve as a good enough explanation for why the game was released under these circumstances.”
After saying that, Ashley took a long moment to look over all the different faces in the meeting room, before her body erupted into a dark energy, vanishing from the room. All that was left was Leyla, who groaned as she slowly woke up. “So… any questions?” She asked, though it didn’t seem like anyone was quite willing to ask.