Moments after I saw the notification window about my new achievement, I felt the enchantments of the room I was in beginning to shake. Around the entrance, a small hole was torn open within the sealing barrier, and Leowynn rushed inside, panic on her face. “Father!”
She had felt the pain that I had gone through within the Admin Room… but down here, where everything was so much more real, that pain meant so much more. Immediately, she saw the scattered blood and strips of flesh, a hand going up to her mouth in shock. She had felt the pain of my body being torn apart over our link, but she had never seen what it meant.
“I’m… fine.” I spoke, my voice a bit hoarse. My body was in perfect condition, but my mind was still reeling from the pain I had just gone through. Slowly, I made myself sit up, glancing around the room. Seeing the mess for myself, I winced a bit. Not at the pain, but at the cleanup that it would entail. Yeah… let’s not leave this one to Tsubaki. Pretty sure she’d freak out if she just saw a drop of blood from me, let alone all of this.
I raised my hand to signal for Leowynn to step back, and called on the natural energy that I had used to stabilize my new body. With a simple thought, the air within the room burst into flames, incinerating the blood, flesh, and bones that had been scattered about. Soon, all that was left was ash and scorched walls. Much less traumatizing for her…
With a soft sigh, I looked back towards Leowynn. “How’s Tsubaki doing?”
“She seemed to be fine.” Leowynn informed me, sitting down on the floor before me. “She’s still in her trial, and still really tense… but she didn’t look angry or anything.”
That was something, at least. I didn’t know what goal she had set herself for this trial of blood, so I didn’t particularly want to interfere. I knew that the original test that the ninja village put for lasted for an entire year, but… I couldn’t see Tsubaki doing that here. Not that she didn’t have the resolve to last for a year like that, but I couldn’t see her finding it necessary. A month, maybe, to bring out her latent battle instincts that had laid dormant for so long.
“Let’s go back.” I said as I stood up, feeling the dire need to rest falling over me. There was something else that I wanted to do first, but sleep was very high up on my list. Did I even physically need to sleep anymore? Or eat, for that matter? Questions for later!
Once Leowynn had returned back inside of my spirit, the two of us ascended to the Admin Room again. The first thing I did was to restore everyone’s permissions for the various worlds, making sure that I didn’t forget to do that before sleeping. I did not want to cause mass havoc over a simple oversight.
Just as I was finishing that up, I felt something soft pressing against my back, two arms wrapping around me. “That was really dangerous, you know?” Terra muttered softly to me, leaning her head against my own.
I cracked a small smile, trying to look less tired than I was. “I was confident that it would work… and that you wouldn’t let me try if you didn’t think I could do it.”
That earned a brief laugh from her, before she shook her head. “Still, I get worried. One wrong slip with things like this… I was readying myself to jump in at any moment to make you rush back to the Admin Room before it was too late.”
“Oh please no.” I visibly paled at that. “The last thing that I want is to have to go through all of that again. I won’t have to, will I? I get to keep that divine body no matter which race I descend as in the future?”
I could almost feel Terra smiling behind me, and that smile sent a chill down my spine before she spoke. “No, you won’t have to do it again… not unless you reset your world for some reason.”
“Talk about motivation to never have to reset…” Though I said that, I knew that it was likely inevitable. Alkahest had already mentioned before that most Keepers at his level had reset their worlds a few times. That didn’t mean I wasn’t going to do everything in my power to try to avoid it, though.
“Out of curiosity…” I muttered, turning my head to glance towards the felyn goddess. “In general… how does this method compare to other methods of becoming a false divinity?”
Terra furrowed her brow for a moment. “Well… I can’t give you specifics, of course… there are some ways that are easier, but take a lot longer. Like with your cultivation system, the breakthroughs are fairly painless, and simply require an understanding of the laws. But, through that system, you would need to cultivate to gradually build up all of the energy needed. That is the only way to get it yourself, without waiting until your residents reach that level.”
I gave a faint nod, recalling something from a previous conversation with Balu. “She said that she does this every time… But she runs a cultivation type world, too…”
Terra let out a sigh, bringing her arms back and moving to sit on the edge of her bed. “Most likely, she set up a cultivation site or something that allows her to gather the energies needed more quickly. Such things exist, but they’re hard to configure properly. She might even have an individual entity on the market that she purchases who has a cultivation close enough to what she needs that she can take the last step on her own.”
Both options made sense, and it may be that she did a mix of them. Either way, I shook my head. Balu had sent a request to chat, and so I opened up that request to accept it. There was a brief pause, before a row of text appeared on the screen.
Starkiller: There you are! Have you seen the system’s assignment yet?
I gave a small chuckle. Most likely, she had tried to send this message to me back before I sent the invasion off towards Vanity, depending on what her last round was. I just hadn’t been back to check my messages in a while.
EarthForceOne: Yeah, sorry. I was just training for the Divine Body.
Starkiller: Oh! Oh… first time. Right, understandable. Surprised you got into it so quickly.
EarthForceOne: It’s fine. But yeah, I saw. I would hope I don’t have anything to worry about with you?
Starkiller: Course not! Well, not unless you wanted me to give you a real challenge for some reason. Our fight will be right after the annual meeting. Want to talk trade at the meeting? We can meet over lunch!
EarthForceOne: Sure. Mind sending me a list of available options to consider until then?
Starkiller: I’ll have it for you soon!
Just like before, I wasn’t sure that I’d actually buy anything from Balu. She was bound to have a powerful world with plenty of things to choose from, but… whatever I ended up getting would be going to Earth and its connected worlds. She ran a cultivation world, so the most benefit I could get would be if I could send those goods to Lorek.
Not to say that there wouldn’t be any benefit for Earth… It might even be useful to see if I can buy a portion of one of her races, as they would have the knowledge of the ‘foundation’ that would help train people of my world. Though, I still planned to get that out of Lorek, once that world had progressed to a point that I was comfortable with it.
Either way, I had finished my conversation with her, and turned to find Terra already laying down in the bed. There was a knowing smile on her face as she lifted an arm up to invite me over. Not needing anything else said, I moved over to embrace her, and allow myself to properly rest for a little while.
Just as with the rest of the worlds, Fyor was experiencing a new trend. The game Vision Expanse was becoming wildly popular after the reveal by the Keeper himself. Some people suspected that the virtual reality visors were being sold out as fast as they could be produced, every family wanting one.
However, this also presented a new opportunity. One that certain people capitalized on. Within the Council, an intense debate had begun. “Dawn has been disrespectful of us for too long!” One man, an elderly halfling, called out. His fist slammed against the stone desk that he sat at as he addressed the crowd. “We are the ones who sit at the core of this world, the ones who have the right to rule it!”
Another man, a human this time, nodded in agreement. “It is one thing to forfeit Nexus, as they control the fairy gate… But Dawn is made of residents from this world. Yet they forbid us access to resources that should rightly be ours. Resources that could help make the world a better place.”
An elderly human woman sat at another of the desks, her eyes closed and hands folded in her lap. “There is little that we can do about this matter. The world has recognized their governance. Their mages are also surprisingly powerful, and present a military might that we should not take lightly.”
As soon as she said that, a small smirk appeared on the face of the halfling that had initially spoken. “That may have been true before… but things are changing. Their mages can no longer keep a watchful eye at all times.”
“Explain yourself.” A fourth person, another halfling, spoke up. This one wasn’t as old as the others, showing that he was likely a newer member of the Council.
“What I mean to say is… The Keeper has bestowed us with an opportunity. This game that he created… when someone is playing it, their senses will be cut off from the real world. Those mages who manage to keep themselves alert even in their sleep will no longer have any awareness at all while they are playing this game.”
As he said that, he slowly stood up, his hands on his desk. “If the Keeper has granted us this chance, surely he intends for us to use it! This is exactly what we need, a way to eliminate the threat to our world’s order silently, with minimal loss! I’m sure that he knew of our crisis, and wanted to help us in a way that wouldn’t warn Dawn about our intentions!”
The room fell silent at this claim. Sure enough, it was possible. The network of Desbar had spread throughout all worlds, and the Council was no exception. They understood the features that the virtual reality device offered.
With nobody else speaking, all eyes turned towards the elderly woman, her eyes still closed. She was the most senior member of the Council, her words carrying the most weight. Everyone respected her decisions, as she had always thought carefully before making them. With a long sigh, she leaned forward.
“Mobilize the Shadow Council. Tell them to investigate Dawn’s mages, and see if they are truly vulnerable while they are within the game. Depending on the wards they set, or if they have guards watching over them, we will make our decision soon.”
With a groan, I awoke, feeling the absence of anyone beside me on the bed. I wasn’t too surprised, Terra often slipped away while I slept. However, when I turned over, I found her sitting at the desk, watching something on the computer. “What are you looking at?” I asked groggily, knowing that she could see anything she wanted even without the use of my computer.
“Just a group of old idiots.” She responded lightly, waving a dismissive hand. “Nothing to worry about.”