After logging out of vision Expanse, I moved over towards the computer. I had to admit, a small part of me was hoping that the reaction of Udona’s guild members wouldn’t be so extreme. I had expected it, but at the same time, they had accepted Udona’s identity previously without much fuss.
When I pulled up the news online, I was able to get a quick grasp on what had happened lately. The demons’ attempts to research space travel had not been simply limited to the game, and they had also begun openly studying the subject in the real world as well. There even seemed to be more progress on this end, due to a more advanced understanding of magic than what was found within the game.
Seeing this made me hopeful that the demons would soon be able to develop the technology to properly leave their own worlds, and explore out beyond. Of course, there was still a long ways to go before that happened. If I wanted to see it finished any time soon, I would have to fast forward the world once again.
With that in mind, I shook my head. I wanted to wait until I had finished growing into my divinity before I did any more large fast forwards like that. It was fine to take things slow, to make sure that I properly understood my own abilities before forcing myself forward. Some Keepers might want to ‘speed run’ the system, but to me… that only sounded like they were asking to get overwhelmed.
Turning in my chair, I conjured up another mirror, intending to look through the world to see if there was anything else that immediately caught my interest. As it happened… there was something.
“This should be it…” An elven man looked out over a carefully engraved spell diagram. The room was lit only by torches placed in the eight corners, four along the floor and four along the ceiling. The door, assuming that there indeed had been one, was flush with the wall, another engraving covering it. Whether runes or diagrams, the entire space available had been used.
The elven man, Jonas Bayrun, smiled as he looked over the diagrams. For years, he had been working on a formula to properly merge all energy types. To take the very essence of oneself and perfect it. He knew that there were others who pursued this goal and failed rather… explosively, but he was also convinced that success was possible.
Jonas closed his eyes, recalling the descriptions that he had heard of the Keeper’s Servant. A woman who withstood the test of time better than any elf. Her body freely shifted in whichever manner she desired. She was his goal, a perfect being beneath only the gods.
Many people assumed that she had the Keeper’s help to reach her state, that no mortal could accomplish such a thing alone, but Jonas thought otherwise. If a mortal can do so with the Keeper’s aid, then what is to stop them from doing it alone, but the lack of preparation? Even when others criticized his work, or viewed him as a man walking to his death, he paid it no mind.
Instead, he worked tirelessly, merging his energies one at a time. He mastered the art of chakra creation easily, became a trained elementalist, and even learned the art of crafting aeons. For weeks now, he had been steadily merging his spirit with his mana and ki, and finally he reached what he felt to be the tipping point.
A bridge had been formed within himself, a bridge between his mana, his ki, and his soul. Yet, this was not the perfection that he dreamed of. No, he could still not achieve the fantastical feats that the Keeper’s Servant performed casually. There was still one step remaining. His bridge did connect his energies… but it also kept them apart.
In order to fully join them together, he would have to take a leap of faith. If his body was the bridge that kept his energies apart… then he would shatter his body. That was what the spells laid into the floor and walls were for. They would keep his energy contained, and ensure that his spirit was fully aware even after death.
If he failed here… he would die, it was as simple as that. He knew the risks and accepted them. But if he succeeded… perhaps he may never die. If he took this leap, and found what awaited him at the other side… where would his growth end?
As he walked into the center of the room, a feeling of warmth flooded through him. The feeling of a child whose parent was watching them take their first steps, or as they walked up onto a grand stage to accept a reward. It felt as if the eyes of the world itself had chosen to watch him, to immortalize this event.
With this feeling, he couldn’t help but speak, placing his hand over his chest. His ki began to run wild within his body as he smiled. “To eternity… and beyond.” And with that, his body erupted, shattering as blood and gore splashed across the room.
Immediately, the spell diagrams flared to life, preventing any of the energies from leaking out. His mind recoiled for a moment from the pain, before he realized that his mind had recoiled. He was still in control of his mind, still connected to everything that had formed his being.
With a flex of his will, he began to gather his energy, pulling it back to a single mass. This process, at least, felt familiar to him. It felt as if he were crafting an aeon again, shaping its body with the energy he had captured. Only this time, the body that he was shaping was his own, a body that he couldn’t have been more familiar with.
While he was forming the body, allowing his energies to truly merge, he felt as though something was lacking. A crucial step missing, preventing his body from stabilizing. At that moment, he reached an epiphany, calling on the elements of nature to rush into his body as well.
Now, he had reached a whole new problem. Well, perhaps not a problem, per se… but it was concerning. As his energies merged, they condensed, shrinking down much further than he had expected. He knew that the size of the body did not entirely represent one’s power, as shown by the Keeper’s Servant, so he had assumed that he would be able to maintain his former appearance.
Yet, what he found was now completely different. When he attempted to retain his normal size, his energy had grown faint, threatening to scatter at any moment. He had been forced to shrink himself down, further and further until a solid form appeared upon the floor. It was the same elven man, yes. Jonas had returned to life as a Perfect Self, at a grand total of… one foot tall.
Still, when the message appeared in front of him, congratulating him on his achievement, his mind raced. It was a class that had been completely unknown to him, one that contained everything he had dreamed of. The system itself had confirmed his beliefs, that there was a perfection that lay beyond the mortal flesh.
A second perfect self finally rose up, huh? I asked with a small smile, watching as Jonas began exploring his newfound abilities. Of course, he’d need to gather plenty of energy in order to restore his former appearance, just as Tsubaki had done originally. And for him… it would likely be a much longer road.
Tsubaki had spent six years in hell, just to gather the energy she needed to fully condense a normal sized body. Now, if I recall properly, she had started out a bit shorter than he was now, and had trained until her body had reached a density she was satisfied with. But still… if he trained in a normal environment, I was expecting it to take him at least a dozen years to regain his former… stature.
That was also assuming that he spent his entire time training. Given what I was able to see of his history... I did not expect him to spend so much time training. No, he was too outgoing for that. He was the type of man who would rather spend his time helping others. Even his pursuit of the Perfect Self had been so that he could help others.
But… I had to admit that he did have one advantage over Tsubaki. When I focused on him, I saw a rainbow of colors stretching out beyond his physical form. The extremely rare ‘protagonist’ aura that Terra had told me about so long ago. Tsubaki’s aura was a bloody red, mixed with specks of silver, showing her aptitude for battle. But, according to Terra’s words, a rainbow aura such as this represented someone with the ability to easily pick up whatever they set their mind to. They were the ones that shaped history, and this man just obtained the ability to not only shape it, but watch it grow.
Part of me was excited to see that, looking forward to what would happen next. But, as with the space travel, that would all come later. For now, there were other things that I could work on.
My sight turned towards Fyor, to the last explored floor. This was still proving to be a great challenge for the residents, as they had not yet found all of the level cap spheres. They were forced to fight at a heavy disadvantage, against monsters that swarmed out from all directions.
But if they never advance further, they will be left behind by the other worlds. Fyor will become the weakest of the four, unsuited for the training ground it was meant to be. “Find me the orbs.” I commanded the mirror, spreading out my divine energy to create five other mirrors as well.
I knew that there were still five level orbs that had not yet been found, counting the one in the uppermost floor. It did not take long for the central mirror to locate that one, an orb which increased the maximum level by a full hundred. The twentieth floor marked a new spike in difficulty, which was why it had been so hard to pass for so long.
Two more mirrors quickly came into focus as well, showing a pair of orbs hidden within dark caves. It was no wonder that they hadn’t been found yet, as they were likely so far from anyone that would be looking for them that detection magic simply didn’t reach. However, it was the last two that really got under my skin.
The last two mirrors showed an identical sight to one another, a pair of blue orbs resting within a closed box. Commanding the view to expand and show me the surroundings, I soon saw that they were in a vault within the Council. These orbs had long since been found, but had been hidden away in secret, no doubt to slow the growth of the world and keep it under their control.
It was hard to say if they even remembered the fact that these orbs were in their possession. But the fact that they had been kept there annoyed me to no ends. Aurivy… I’m looking for a master thief that wouldn’t mind going on a dangerous mission for the greater good.
And why did you want to ask me about that?! Aurviy retorted, sounding shocked that I would think to look to her for something like this.
Because you’re you. So, have anyone in mind?
As I smirked knowingly, I could hear a faint grumbling. Yeah, yeah… I know a girl. Real Robin Hood type. Loves to steal from the rich and give to the poor. And before you ask… yes, she’s in Fyor. Have your mirrors look for Thelsa Whitefallow.