It didn’t take long for me to get a resounding yes from Aurivy after I had the two of them relay my question to her. She was all too happy to play the role of the ‘big bad’. Seeing her getting pumped up, and working on her skill profile to play the part brought a small smile to my face before I chose to descend again. This time, I was going back to the Sky Citadel, having accomplished what I wanted from my training.
Until I achieved the next breakthrough to the Divine Body, I couldn’t truly finish my domain abilities. I could only theorize and practice with them slowly.
When I descended, I found Tsubaki once again waiting for me in the throne room, kneeling at the base of the stairs. It was obvious just how little energy she had left, now that I focused on measuring it, and I was glad that she was taking a break. “I’m home.” I spoke up, getting her attention.
Her head shot up abruptly, looking at me with wide eyes. However, after a brief moment, her lips curved upwards. “Welcome home, my Keeper. Do you have any plans for the day?”
“Actually, yes. I do.” I gave a small nod, rising from my throne. “I was planning to play some more Vision Expanse, until the dragon fully awakened. Assuming that my last party member is ready to get started in the game, as well?”
She caught me looking pointedly at her, and she really must have been tired if it took so long for my words to sink in. “O-oh, me? You want me to join you, after all? I imagined that you would be at too high of a level, and I would need to catch up first…”
I waved my hand dismissively at that. “I just barely hit the double digits in levels myself. I’ve spent almost all of my time in the game so far crafting. It let me build up a small fortune, but hasn’t really done much for my levels.”
In truth, my small fortune only amounted to a few gold coins that I had earned. As it turns out, purchasing the ink for higher level scrolls costs a lot more. Nearly a silver per vial of the most recent pattern I had learned.
“I see… very well.” Tsubaki looked down at the ground, though I could tell that it was to suppress a smile growing over her lips. “I would be honored to be able to play the game with you. Are you still being based in Lyrea?”
“That’s right. Udona’s guild invited us along to join her there. Though, once you’re in and ready, we might move on to other things.”
She gave a small nod at my words, before slowly rising to her feet. “Shall we get going, then?”
Nodding my head as well, we turned to walk out into the hall, heading towards the bedrooms. Meanwhile, I sent a brief mental message towards Terra. So, as the Goddess of Fate, if you had to give a guess… how long do you expect it will be before the dragon wakes up?
There was an amused laugh transmitted in response. Knowing our luck? As soon as we find something fun to get working on. But, if I had to guess in my capacity as a goddess holding some gift of foresight… Six days. If my domain readings are correct, that should be when its hunger overwhelms it and it truly awakens. There is a margin of error, though.
Six days… that would put it just before the troops are sent off to fight Vanity. But still, that was six days to get Tsubaki to relax more… And how long will it take her to get back to peak condition?
That’s… a bit harder. If she spent some time in Hell again, she might be able to recharge overnight by absorbing the energy there. Natural recovery… I’d give it a month for her to get back to a hundred percent.
...So it was unlikely that Tsubaki would be able to directly participate in the battle against the dragon. She wouldn’t even be back up to a quarter of her energy by then. I just had to figure out how to tell her without getting her to be upset at herself for ‘letting me down’. A task that was far more difficult than it sounded, if you actually knew the girl.
A loud crash sounded within an obsidian palace, the door being thrown wide open. From beyond the doorway walked ten figures, their faces tired. Their shoulders slouched slightly from fatigue. However, they moved onwards. They had only paused outside of the palace long enough to swap out their equipment for a fresh batch before heading in.
Their weapons still dripped with the blood of monsters as they approached the throne room. When they forced that door open as well, the hallway was consumed by darkness. Even the reporter, still diligently watching the scene, found herself only barely able to make out what was going on by using a different vision mode.
“W-what the…” The leader, a human warrior with a shining sword, spoke in surprise, even the glow of his blade muted in the darkness.
It was at that time that a voice echoed out from within the throne room. “You are not prepared to fight me. Rest, recover your strength. Do not bore me with incompetence.” The voice was old and deep, and powerful enough to send chills down the spines of the party members.
The priestess, a dwarven woman carrying a seemingly plain wooden staff, struck the ground with the base of her weapon. “O’ light, cast out this darkness!” Her staff began to brighten, yet only a few feet around her had become visible to the group, even when she was visibly struggling to focus on her spell.
“I said not to bore me.” The voice spoke again, before a snap echoed through the room. The glow of the staff faded as, with a startled cry from the dwarf, it shattered into pieces. “You may rest within the palace. When you are ready to fight at your full power, I will be waiting for you.”
All this time, and the members of Legion had yet to even see the Mad King, the one that they had come here to fight. They had only heard his voice, and what sounded like the snapping of his fingers, yet that alone had already destroyed one of their weapons, and seriously injured their morale.
Just as Legion backed away, moving to find a place that they could recover, the reporter decided to take matters into her own hands. She used her undetectable form to fly into the throne room, staring straight at the throne.
What she saw was a throne made entirely of bones, the armrests branching off into spikes as skulls decorated the top of the throne itself. Sitting in it was what looked to be a young man. Elven, by the look of his ears. His face did not show any of the age that was present in his voice, yet he was the only one in the room.
As the group left, the Mad King sat back within his throne of bone, letting out a soft sigh that echoed through the room. The door slammed shut, the darkness pulling back into his body. Although he was alone, the reporter still heard him speak. Something that logically shouldn’t have happened with the NPC coding of the game.
“It looks like the time has finally come…”
It didn’t take long after I had logged in before I found myself once again sitting in my workshop. I decided to take care of a few talismans while waiting for Tsubaki. Something that would help her quickly close the distance between our levels.
What I ultimately chose to work on was a set of healing talismans. Specifically, the ki-enhanced variety, which the system named the Healbrand Talisman. I had been waiting to unlock the ‘good quality’ for them before mass producing any talismans, just as I had done with the Lightningbrand Talismans.
My current workshop was a bit improved when compared to my old one. Most notably, the buffs had improved, meaning that time seemed to move at a different speed for me once I actually started scribing. Aside from that, the alchemy set to mix inks had become more complex, and I was able to use the interface to place orders for new materials.
But enough of that… I was just finishing up the first batch of talismans when I saw a prompt appear in front of me. A simple warning message that someone was waiting for me outside of the workshop. The message was off to the side, out of my direct field of view, so that I wouldn’t notice if it I was truly focusing on something. In fact, I wasn’t entirely sure that I caught it right away this time, as I had been double checking the items that I had just finished making.
Moving to the door and opening it, I saw someone that could only be Tsubaki. Although her golden hair and tail had switched to silver, how many other kitsune wearing beginner’s gear would be seeking me out right now. She seemed to study my face for a few moments, before nodding in satisfaction. “I believe this is the right place. I have come to make my initial report.”
“Your report?” I blinked in confusion, earning another nod from her.
“Yes. My name in here is Fated Soul, though you can simply address me as Fate.” She gave a polite bow after that introduction. “I chose to take the lottery for my skills…” Fate glanced towards her skill window, grimacing slightly. “And it seems I have obtained Archery. Not entirely useful for our plans… but I can easily acquire the skills I need.”
Since she had given me her player name, I sent a quick confirmation to make sure that it was really Tsubaki, because she seemed more… lively that I am used to. Thankfully, she did indeed confirm it with me. Stepping aside, I waved for her to enter my workshop, closing the door behind her. “Sorry, but I actually just got done preparing something that should be able to help you with that. And don’t worry, the room is soundproof.”
There was a light sigh of relief as I turned around, walking back towards the desk where five talismans with light green ink were starting to dry. “I understand, my Keeper. May I ask what it is that you prepared for me?”
“They’re still drying, so you’ll have to wait a couple minutes. But, I made you a few healing items. If my appraisal is accurate, they should be able to recover up to two hundred points of health each. Which, if you look at your stats… is a lot more than you have.”
When I said that, I could see Fate checking her own information to confirm, and thought I would do the same. It had been a while since I looked at my numbers, though there weren’t very many in this game to look at…
These talismans would even be able to fully heal myself, let alone a new level one character. Once Fate had confirmed that fact, she gave a nod. “You have my thanks. I shall be sure to use them carefully.”
“Good. Just make sure not to wait until it’s too late. Also… take this.” I reached into my inventory, pulling out five silver coins and passing them over to her. “If there are some basic skills that you aren’t able to unlock yourself and you think they’d help, go ahead and get them. Whatever’s left over can be used to upgrade your starting equipment.”
Fate hesitated, looking at the five coins resting in her palms before gently closing her hands around them. “Very well. I will follow your wishes. Would you like me to report back again when I have raised my level to match your own?”
I gave that a moment of thought before shaking my head. “Honestly, you’re a better fighter for your ‘level’ than I am. Once you hit level eight, we should be able to start adventuring together.”