The Durak Nomads, as the former Water Clan had taken to calling themselves, were camping within one of the great ancient cities. They felt safe with the old, worn golems protecting them, knowing that those golems were capable of taking on any star beasts within the territory.

It had been over a dozen years since the appearance of the first Grandmaster, Jana. Although her body did not show any signs of age, her face was tired, always looking back on her past. Her advancement had been earned only through the sacrifice of someone she cared for deeply. And yet, how could she face him if she did not carry on his will?

So, she guided her people. They found an old, ruined map that showed a few other cities, and made their way between them carefully. Never staying in one place too long, never drawing too much attention from the wildlife. Move in like the tide, and retreat just as quickly.

During their travels, they had secured far more inheritances from the ancients. More than they had people to train them. Finally, it was getting to a point where Jana was thinking about stopping. About finding a quiet mountain range to make their permanent home. The clans from the homeland would have long since lost their trail, so there was no need to run, and they had enough knowledge on cultivation to create a system of education that would lead talents all the way to the Grandmaster level, should they have the ability.

As she looked out over her people, she nodded her head, thinking that this was what he would have wanted. Right now, the nomads had everything that they needed in life to prosper. Everything, except for a home.

“Grandmaster, I found something!” One of the youths called out to her, causing Jana to slowly raise her head to look in his direction. She was not the only one of her rank, but out of respect for her, she was the only one known simply as ‘Grandmaster’.

Jana rose to her feet, walking over to follow the youth. “Forgive me for disturbing you.” He hastily apologized as he led her along. “But this is something new. I’ve never seen anything like it before now.”

“I trust your judgement, Raul.” He was only a novice, but Raul was one of the most passionate when it came to exploring the ancient cities. The short, stocky dwarf with black hair and only the trimmings of a beard enjoyed researching what had happened to the ancient people. He had already discovered several old murals and documents, including the map that had been guiding them between cities.

And this time was no different. “Thank you, Grandmaster, but you really need to see this.” He led her towards a remote part of the city, to the basement of a library that he had obviously had to clear out on his own, collapsed walls shifted to the side to make a path.

What she saw on the far corner of the wall made Jana arch one brow in confusion. There was a dwarven male shaking hands with a… something else. It was clearly a person, but… it was taller by far, almost double the height of any dwarf, and thinner. This was the first time that a mural of such a creature had been discovered. “What are they..?”

“The Ursa.” Raul said excitedly, moving over to a line of text beneath the mural that had been treated with the utmost care. “That’s what they’re called, from what I can tell. ‘To our Ursa allies across the seas, if you read this one day, I hope that you can understand. The Starfall…’ and that’s it.” He pointed towards the end of the text, where the words had been broken off from age.

“Starfall?” Jana muttered the other unfamiliar term. Seeing a new hope for her people, she turned to look at Raul. “It mentioned the seas. Have you found anything that could indicate which direction the Ursa live in?”

Raul smiled a bit bitterly. “Not… exactly. This is the first mention of them that we’ve found, though… We’ve been moving south for the last couple of years. If we keep moving further south, and are able to find more clues… it should indicate that their influence was the greatest in this direction. So, their continent should be reached by the port in the south.”

Jana nodded her head, thinking that these assumptions made sense. Given how little information they had to go on, they could only trust in such guesses. “We’ll continue moving south, then. Spend another day, and see if you can find any more information that will help us.”

Raul was clearly excited at his new orders, and agreed immediately, leaving Jana to walk back towards the camp and inform the others of her decision.

When I went to look at the progress that Lorek had made, I was… honestly quite surprised. Tubrock first asked me if he could buy a Time Zone for the southern continent of Lorek, which I naturally agreed to, and then said that he wanted to share the world with Keliope. I hadn’t expected him to take such an initiative when it came to working with her, but…

I saw him quickly going in through different cities, adding in little tidbits of information about their ‘old allies’, the ursa. And then, once the ursa had been purchased, he did the same thing as before… he incarnated as an ursa youth, and began to populate the entire continent with another ancient civilization. Only this time, he was even faster about it, given that he had ‘practiced’ once before.

While this portion of the world was fast forwarding, I was able to see the ‘ancient civilization’ spreading out all across the continent at a visible pace. The architecture was even different, showing an approach favoring multiple-story buildings like pagodas. All in all, it felt like Lorek had become Tubrock’s playground.

Looking away from that, I turned my eyes towards Accalia’s new world, interested in seeing what she had built for herself. Spica and Lorek were both coming along nicely, so it was time to check on Kione.

“Are you ready, dear? It’s a big day for you.” A kind woman with brunette hair and soft eyes looked down to her daughter, a teenager with almost matching features. While the mother wore a leather armor that showed off her stomach and legs, carrying a bow on her back, her daughter wore a long, black robe.

“I’m ready!” The daughter, Yasmin, answered in determination. “I’m going to get the best, momma! The best!”

Today was Yasmin’s Binding Day, her first real step to open up the path of magic. In accordance with the laws of the Saintess, everyone underwent their first Binding on their thirteenth birthday. Today was her turn, and so, she turned, walking into the dimly lit room that had been prepared for her.

Yasmin stretched out her hands, palms facing inwards, and began to speak the chant that had been taught to her. “Spirit that dwells within my spirit, heart of my heart. Give shape to my will, and form to my soul. Guardian of the laws of magic, keeper of ages. Clad in the armor of the heavens, bear witness to this pact.”

A silver flame began to form between Yasmin’s palms, illuminating the room. Then, in front of her, a circle of fire rose like a gateway along the wall. “I beckon the partner which has been chosen for me. If you heed my will, step forward and become my strength.”

The shadow of a large figure appeared within the silver flames, before the dull crash of a giant step echoed. Then, as if to mock that very noice, a tiny white paw pierced the flames, landing on the wooden floor. A feline head poked through a moment later, that of a kitten, white with black spots.

Although it was small and young, it walked forward with the pride of a king. And once it was through, the flaming gate behind it closed. Immediately, Yasmin could feel a powerful connection between her mind and that of the kitten. Her eyes brightened, and the flame between her hands vanished as she stepped forward.

Their was no resistance from the cat as she picked it up, cradling it in her arms. In fact, it seemed surprisingly comfortable in her embrace. “Oh, you’re so cute!” Yasmin said with a giggle, turning and walking out of the room.

When her mother saw the tiny bundle cradled in her daughter’s arms, her eyes widened in excitement. “You really did get a good one, didn’t you dear?” As an older, more experienced woman, she had learned more about familiars than her daughter. Although she did not specialize as a mage, she had enough of an interest to identify the different breeds of familiars.

“That should be a Strigan Leopard.” Yasmin’s mother mused to herself, the cry of a bird causing her to look up, just in time for a large bird with black plumage to descend and land on her leather-clad shoulder. “It may be small now, but if you can take care of it, they can get really big.”

Yasmin nodded her head in excitement. She didn’t doubt her mother’s words, and knew that her familiar would grow to be a mighty friend. But right now, when it was simply nuzzling its head against her chest, curling up in her arms, she only saw it as the cutest kitten in the world.

Seeing her reaction, her mother gave a knowing smile, shaking her head. “I’ll let you spend some time together and name it. You can start learning spellcraft tomorrow.” Saying that, she turned and began to walk away from the house, likely to begin hunting for the day.

“A name…” Yasmin muttered, moving to take her new kitten back into the house, going through the front door this time. She passed by the modest decorations and traveled back to her room, sitting down on her bed. Her eyes closed as she thought about it, knowing that this name would stick with her familiar forever.

“I’ll call you Winter.” She decided after a few moments, earning a soft mewl of approval from the kitten. The noise caused her smile to widen. “You like that, huh?”

Okay, that was… unexpected. When I had first read the details of the ‘Familiar Binding’ magic, I expected that mages would have to tame and bind a wild animal, and that would become their familiar. I hadn’t expected that their familiars would be summoned, created from a shadow of their user’s soul.

However, there wasn’t exactly anything wrong with this method. It caused people to grow up knowing and understanding their familiars, gradually learning how the two could work together. Though… from what I saw in a quick search, it was possible for familiars to be killed. Doing so would greatly hurt the mage, as a part of their soul was crushed.

If a familiar died, it was possible to summon a new one after the mage’s soul had recovered. This familiar would not be in the ‘infant stage’ like the one that a child summoned, but would instead be at a stage of growth similar to that of their summoner. Their form would simply be different, and the mage would need to train them once again like they did their original.

As opposed to the questions about Spica being able to join the other worlds, or Lorek’s problems, Kione was actually looking like it would be a good fit. I couldn’t see much conflict arising between the different systems of magic that had been purchased, so Kione would be able to experience a flat increase in power once they had gained the game system.

I was somewhat curious if familiars would be able to store magic of other systems, such as runic or geometric, or even potentially card spells. If they could, then that would be another alternative to the grimoire that I was planning to buy from Balu, though I still intended to get both. The grimoire was useful for more than just its worth as an item, as it allowed me to experience the method of trading between Keepers.


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