For most groups, a dungeon full of chaos beasts would require weeks of planning and testing in order to properly conquer it. More if the configuration of the monsters changed randomly over time, as was common in dungeons to prevent the appearance of detailed strategy guides that could let even a beginner walk through a high level area.
However, Legion was different. As they had displayed in their fight against the Mad King, they had different equipment sets to counter different elemental affinities. As long as they were given enough time to swap their equipment, they could easily raid chaos beasts.
Of course… this only applied when chaos beasts traveled in ‘packs’. This was what they called it when multiple chaos beasts of the same element moved together. Once you mixed in beasts of multiple elements, that is where things truly turned chaotic.
As such, for the first few rooms, Legion did not encounter much difficulty, sending their scout out to check the elements of the next group of monsters so that they could prepare accordingly. For them, the true problem came in the seventh room. This seemed to be the library of the Citadel, judging by the tall rows of books that had been tipped over, crashing against the wall.
Logain could tell as soon as their scout returned that something was wrong, due to their pale expression. “We finally hit one, huh?” He asked, to which the scout nodded his head.
The scout was a young halfling man, a friend in real life of Jade’s. At first, people thought he got in due to his connection with her, but he was able to display true skill when it came to stealth and exploration. “It’s a pandemonium… fire and water. Spider types, from what I saw. Tiny ones, no bigger than your hand.”
Logain’s complexion went dark when he heard that. It was wrong to assume that larger monsters were more dangerous. Although it was true that a level fifty elephant had more force than a level fifty ant in the real world, the threat levels became different in the game. In the real world, levels were a measure of the creature’s composition, whether their mana density, ki purity, or muscle structure.
Yet, in the game, creatures were purely measured by their danger level. In this sense, a small creature could be considered far more dangerous when on the same level. And this was a horde of them, from opposing elements no less. “We’ll start with a mass lightning burst. Jade, Crystal, Leon, that’ll be up to you. Everyone else, equip anti-fire gear. Once the opening barrage has hopefully taken out most of the water-attributed monsters, we’ll focus on using our ice-attribute weapons and attacks to clear out the rest.”
This was a very dangerous strategy. When a chaos beast was struck by its own element, it was hard to predict the result. Lightning was different enough from fire to not trigger their effects… but if there were water beasts caught within the area of their ice attacks, it would be a problem. In the worst case scenario, it might trigger a cloning ability, and they’d be back to their full combat strength.
“I’ll offer ye all some defensive spells.” The dwarven priestess said as she held up her marble staff, patterns etched along its length. Beneath her breath, she muttered a chant to bless her party.
As the spell began to take effect, the rest of the party began changing their equipment to prepare for the battle.
“You asked to see me, my lord?” Tsubaki spoke up, appearing behind me as I was walking. I may have flinched just a bit, not having the same spiritual or magical perceptions in the game that I had in the real world. From how calm she was, I guessed that she hadn’t heard the news about the Sky Citadel appearing within the game yet.
“That’s right.” I nodded my head. “First of all, I wanted to congratulate you on passing your Trial of Blood.” I turned my head to regard her with a small smile. “I know that it had been important for you.”
Tsubaki gave a firm nod, her expression largely unchanging. Though, I did notice a small twitch at the corner of her mouth. “Thank you, my lord.”
I could tell that she was purposely avoiding the standard address of ‘my Keeper’ that she often used, likely in case of eavesdroppers. As a rather popular player, it was hard to tell if a media source was trying to follow her. Even Tsubaki herself would not likely be able to detect them if such was the case.
“Now, next… they’re having a special event right now. It doesn’t seem like you’ve heard, but… the citadel has appeared within the game.”
Tsubaki’s steps faltered for a brief moment as she heard that, though she quickly corrected herself. “I… I see. Would you like me to go and claim it?” Her response was… pretty much as I had expected, causing me to shake my head.
“No, this is for them. I just wanted to make sure you knew so that you didn’t decide to go take it for yourself in the name of ‘preserving’ it.” I could see one of her ears slightly drooping when I said that, and knew that that was exactly what she had planned on doing. “For now… I need you to guard me while I take care of some business. I need to enter a high level area, and this character isn’t properly equipped to do so yet.”
Hearing me ask for protection, Tsubaki seemed strangely happy. “Yes, my lord. I will ensure that nothing threatens you. Though, if I may ask, could you not handle this matter with your other account?”
Naturally, Tsubaki knew that I had an admin account to the game. It would be somewhat ridiculous if I didn’t. Nonetheless, I shook my head. “For the future, it will be best if I handle this myself, to build up the practice. I have to personally measure how the energies are different between this world and Earth, or it might cause a catastrophe in the future when I attempt to use these energies myself.”
That seemed to help her catch on, as Tsubaki offered a quick nod of her head. “Very well… though, I believe that I may be able to offer some assistance to my lord in this matter.”
I glanced back towards her curiously, and she reached into her inventory. “During my trial, I accumulated many tickets for the ‘hardcore’ lottery. This was because I refused to obtain the loot from creatures, despite hunting above my level. Since I myself do not require a large amount of equipment, I saved these items in the hope that they may prove useful to you.”
“Through these lotteries, I managed to acquire a set of items, known as the ‘Manipulator’s Raiment’. If your goal involves interacting with the mystical energies of this world, then I believe that these items would be useful for you.” As she said that, she retrieved six different pieces of equipment from her inventory to hand over to me.
Blinking in surprise, I accepted the equipment. Among them was a leather tunic, a pair of fingerless gloves, a pair of brown cotton pants, a pair of leather boots, a long, straight staff, and finally a headdress that looked similar to a black turban with a golden gem on the forehead. Inspecting them, I found that each item offered bonuses when manipulating either ki, mana, spiritual energy, or natural energy. Oddly, none of the items had level or stat requirements, simply being tagged with ‘hardcore’ at the bottom.
Without waiting for me to ask, Tsubaki explained. “Hardcore items can not be equipped through the system interface. In order to equip them, you must do so manually. However, hardcore items have no requirements for their use, aside from needing to fit the wearer. I have already had all clothing items that I obtained from the lottery modified to fit you.”
I didn’t have to bother asking how Tsubaki knew my size. Most likely, she was able to tell from a simple glance. I simply shook my head, moving to stand near a tree as I began changing into the new outfit. She was completely right, this equipment would prove a huge help to me. As for trying to be modest and change behind the tree, or asking Tsubaki to give me some space to do so privately…
I had just asked her to protect me, and we were already in an area beyond my level. Asking her to leave my side at this point would simply be a contradiction of commands. Either way, I was able to tell that she had turned her back to allow me to dress privately.
Once I was done, I stored my previous equipment in my inventory, and cleared my throat. “Okay, let’s get back to business.” I muttered, resuming our walk. Now that I was equipped with the full set, I had the appearance of a middle-aged monk, using the staff as a walking stick to guide my way.
“Might I ask what your goal is, so that I may best protect you, my lord?” Tsubaki spoke up, stepping in to walk immediately behind me.
“I’m going to create world spirits.” I answered simply and honestly. “If I do so, I will have a link with this world that I can use to send my avatars in directly, as opposed to needing to log in with these devices.”
Tsubaki gave a small nod, trying to understand. “Would Vivi not count for this? From my understanding, she is functionally a world spirit.” Given how I had spoken, it seemed like she no longer intended to maintain anonymity, as I had already revealed my identity to any watching with what I had just said.
“Afraid not. She’s not governed by the game system that permeates this world, and is instead in a position above it. I require a world spirit that is bound to the rules of this system. Something that possesses the inherent ‘skills’ of a world spirit.”
Tsubaki gave a sharp nod at that. “I understand, my Keeper.” Immediately afterwards, Tsubaki’s body vanished briefly, and I could hear a blade slicing through the air nearby. My current level wasn’t such that I could properly monitor her speed, which was exactly why I needed her to guard me in the first place.
Soon, we reached an open clearing, far out of the way of any normal hunting grounds. The monsters within the clearing were disposed of quickly, and I nodded in approval. “This will do, this will do wonderfully.”
Personally, I did not have any of the energies in high enough quantity to create lifeforms, whether they martial spirits, aeons, or other such entities. World spirits were unique in this regard, as they could be created purely through external energy sources. All that it took was proper understanding and control.
As for why more people hadn’t created world spirits before now, if it was so easy? After I did so, they quickly began consuming the spiritual energy of the world, making it harder for an artificial birth to take place. Still, maybe someone did succeed in creating them. I couldn’t be sure. What I did know was that it was impossible for more than one complete world spirit to exist in the same world. I couldn’t create one here, because Vivi already existed.
Thankfully, I did not need a complete world spirit. Just a simple, basic one would do. And as I closed my eyes, connecting to the energies around me, that was exactly what I intended to create. “Gather.” I held my new staff up, summoning both the natural and spiritual energies.
Wisps of silver and green began to spiral from the forest around us and into the clearing. The items that Tsubaki gave me truly were fitting for a high level character, making this far easier than it otherwise would have been. Part of me was even considering creating my world sight within the game, but I shook away those thoughts.
In order for me to create world sight, I would once again have to block the view of the deities after I trained to create the energy for this particular world. Once I was able to appear here with an avatar, it wouldn’t matter. I could connect to the natural energy of the world itself to be my eyes at that point.
Keeping my eyes closed, I focused on the streams of energy encircling me. Before I proceeded with the fusion process itself, I needed to clearly understand any changes within the substance of the base energies. Otherwise, I was likely to blow myself up by doing this… and the new equipment in the process.