Under the cover of night, Yaksha of the Shadow Council made his move. He had two targets listed for him to assassinate among the magisters, and their defenses had already been fully decoded. There was nothing left for them to prepare. Tonight, the leaders of Dawn would fall.
His body seemed to blend with the shadows. He saw his target, the young Jasper Fallows, walking to his room. Utilizing his mana, he made sure to contain his own thoughts, for fear of the young Magister having an ability to detect those watching him. Among powerful mages, it was not such a rare thing, after all.
Once Jasper had entered his room, closing the door behind him, Yaksha began counting down in his mind. Five minutes to go over recent news. Twenty minutes for a late night meal. Then another five to get ready to log in. For safety, he added an extra ten minutes, ensuring that his target would already be logged into Vision Expanse. Jasper was known to play on a fairly regular schedule, which was why he had been chosen to be the first target.
Yaksha timed the passage of the lightborn guards, making sure to pass unseen as he went to the magister’s door. When he arrived, he used the same spell diagram that he had been taught, and heard a faint click from the door itself. Smiling inwardly, he pushed the door open, closing it behind himself and using the same diagram to seal the lock again.
The next step was actually more complicated, as it required a string of runes mixed within a second stage diagram to access a barrier within the room. Jasper was only able to come and go so readily because he wore the key to the barrier around his neck, the diagram enchanted within it.
However, this was also something that they had prepared for, although it had taken considerably longer to do so. Lifting one hand from his robe, Yaksha retrieved a small copper amulet, one which had been enchanted with the same spell. With a confident smile, he placed the amulet against the barrier, only for his eyes to go wide with alarm.
An icy blue light spread out from the barrier, stretching over Yaksha’s arm before he had been able to pull back. This was supposed to be an alarm barrier, not an attack! He thought to himself, gritting his teeth as he prepared for a worst case scenario.
With the lightborn patrolling the walls, it was impossible to send messages through mana. Instead, the Shadow Council had something else, a string of beads, each with a name printed on them. Below each name, a single line of text. I vow to die. These weren’t the real names of the Shadow Council, of course, just the names that were used for their missions.
As Yaksha prepared to crush his own bead, warning the others that the plan had gone awry, he hesitated. The ice crept further up his arm as a deathly chill went down his spine. There was already a bead missing from the string. And, while he was watching… another one shattered. And another.
They knew! He shouted the words inside of his head, believing that the magisters had known about the day of their attack, and had chosen to alter their defensive wards to trap their assassins. It was even possible that one of the assassins themselves was a spy, and had simply shattered their own bead willingly, giving the appearance that they died.
Yaksha reached into his robe, and pulled out a long, thing blade. Clenching his jaw, he brought the blade up, cleanly severing his own arm. The pain immediately made him want to cry out, but he would not let himself. Even the smell of fresh blood would attract the dovah to this room soon.
Wait… the blood… Yaksha stared at his arm, frozen in midair. Not by ice, but something else. The spray of blood that should have spread across the floor and wall had halted, suspended in midair as innumerable droplets.
The assassin soon found that his own body had similarly been trapped. It… felt like raw mana was holding him down, yet he could not sense one iota of it. All he could feel was an endless pressure, before a word whispered into his mind. A word that felt familiar, but was completely unknown to him. Gresholl.
When the word thundered through his mind, he felt his consciousness growing faint. He could hear the beating of his heart slowing down. The blood in his veins seemed to turn solid as he began to collapse. Yet he never made it to the floor.
The last thing that he saw was the deepest darkness he had ever known. The pressure holding his body in place vanished, just in time for an even greater pressure to grab him from all sides. Glowing red eyes pierced through the darkness, before white, jagged teeth flashed in front of him.
I gave a small nod as I saw that the situation with the Shadow Council had been dealt with. Aside from one individual, all of the assassins had fallen for Ryone’s altered spells, and been transported to the bottom of the ocean. As for what happened to them after that… well, it wasn’t pretty.
For the one who got away, though, it was the same individual that had investigated the wards in the first place. It seemed that he did his due diligence, and had once again inspected the wards as he was undergoing his mission. That was why, at the last moment, he had noticed a slight shift within the ward. The key in his hand was no longer set to disarm the ward, but rather activate a hidden one.
He had immediately retracted his arm and fled the scene, watching as the beads crumbled one by one. At first, I thought that he was going to go back to report his failure. Instead, he bit his lip, crushing the last bead on the string before slipping into the darkness. Just looking at his surface thoughts, I could tell that he had no intention of returning to the Council.
No, if he did that, he would likely take the blame for the failed operation, being its only survivor and the one who had been sent to investigate the wards in the first place. Going back meant a guaranteed death sentence. At least, if he remained in hiding, he had the chance to survive. He would never be able to make a name for himself, but it was better than being hunted down.
And sure enough, the council had received the news a moment later, using the same set of beads to confirm the status of the assassins. This was sure to be a hot topic among them… but since Dawn would never be able to respond to this assassination attempt, it would just look to them as if their opponents had no need to fear such things.
Shaking my head, I brushed away these thoughts. There were other things for me to consider. I was in no immediate rush to fully ascend and finish my training for the divine will. Before I did that, I had to get used to my current level of power to make sure that I was ‘ready’ for it. That’s why I had refused to log into the game ever since I upgraded to my current stage.
Now, though… I was ready to get back in, to see how things had progressed. I wasn’t going to stay in the game long, simply checking in and seeing what had happened. Not to mention… Udona’s guild mates still had questions for me.
I gave a quiet sigh, grabbing my own visor and slipping it on, logging back into the game within my workshop. Almost immediately, I noticed two things. First… my workshop’s inventory had been stuffed full of various ‘gifts’, whether they were inscription diagrams or materials. The system actually warned me that the inventory had been filled.
The second thing that I noticed was the fairy on my shoulder, who had materialized in order to speak with me. “You have six hundred and seventeen missed messages, Tebor!” She spoke up in a cheery voice.
“Please delete all of them…” There was no way that I had the time to go through everyone’s messages. Especially when they were all likely to be the same questions repeated from multiple people.
“Understood! Incoming message from Jessex.” She reported, before her voice seemed to shift.
“You came back, huh…?” The voice the fairy spoke with now was far more subdued than how I remembered Jessex. “So, it’s really true?”
“And now you get why I didn’t advertise it in the first place?” There was a bitter smile on my face as I responded, earning a light laugh from the fairy.
“Sorry, sorry. Nuado is one thing, but this… this is a whole different level. I think… she said that we’re supposed to just treat you like anyone else. But… well… I’m sure you’ve already seen it?”
“You mean the workshop?”
There was a brief pause from Jessex, before she seemed to understand what I was talking about. “Oh, right, that. No, not that, though. There’s… something a bit bigger.”
“Jessex, you’re beating around the bush.”
Another pause… “I’m not entirely sure what that’s supposed to mean, but given the context I have an idea… Life Dream was officially recognized as a guild within the Lyrean Kingdom, and Nuado earned herself a noble title. It should have been in your messages, but we have a guild hall now. The members were… quite insistent that we establish the best workshop that we could for you, as well as giving you a separate residence within the hall.”
This was starting to turn into more and more of a headache. I mean, it was good if it was one of the automated workshops, since that would mean that I didn’t even have to log in to keep working. Though, it was safe to assume that automating the process meant that there was no skill experience gained.
“I’ll take a look at it some other time. Can you help me move the items from my workshop inventory here to the guild hall? I am not planning to be logged in for very long.”
“Ah! Sure, I’ll be over once I’m done with this quest.” There was a brief tone of surprise in her voice, as if she hadn’t expected me to ask her for something like that. “You won’t be leaving the guild, then?”
So that’s what she was worried about. “No, I said that I’d stick to it… besides, it’ll be nice to have more people to team up with later. I just have to take care of other things first.”
With that, I ended the conversation, dismissing the fairy and closing my eyes. Vivi. Has there been any progress made yet by the players towards exploring further?
I waited for a few moments before the voice of the world spirit entered my mind. They have begun researching a method to leave this planet. Currently, the demons are the leading force in this regard, as they had their old space program to go off of. Many of the other players are more focused on exploring the entirety of this world, refusing to leave it before they have mapped it out in its entirety.
I estimate that it will take roughly five years for a full space program to be ready, such that they will be able to travel to other worlds. Even this timeframe is only possible by relying on the inherent mixture of magic and technology found within this game.
However, the travel will not be short. I estimate that it will take six months for them to reach the next closest planet after they have set a proper launch. To reach the next inhabited world… I estimate at least fifteen years, at a minimum. This timeframe can be adjusted if certain technologies are discovered early, or it may be delayed as long as fifty years.
Regarding this subject, I should inform you that the first planned expansion for the game is scheduled to launch once they have completed their space program. With this expansion, the NPCs will become more motivated to expand and explore space, as well as establish interstellar fleets and civilizations.
Hearing her report, I nodded my head here and there. However, I was honestly surprised with how much she talked, and all of the information she was giving me. Were you… lonely?
… Her reply was delayed by several long moments of silence. The goddesses have not logged in for some time, and Tubrock refuses to speak to me for fear of gaining unfair information. I have at least found solace in the fact that Tsubaki continues to communicate with me.
It took me a moment to fully process that. As a being who had personally watched a ‘lifeless’ world evolve, she was suddenly able to see countless ‘real’ players, but unable to interact with them. I could understand how she would feel lonely from that. Sorry. I’ll make sure to let Rivy know… trust me, you’ll be begging me for some solitude by the time she’s done.