If I were to claim that the process of creating the Perfect Soul was easy, I’d be lying. If I said it was done quickly, Terra would probably kick my ass. Hell, even though I knew the formula, this was still a long, painful process. Even though I had World Sight to guide me, it still blew up in my face repeatedly.
And let me tell you… even though you could deal no true damage to yourself in the Admin Room, having your soul detonate inside your body still hurt. Even with the Admin Room seeming to prevent me from losing my mind. Watching your spirit fracturing in front of you as you tried to turn it into a perfect gem, feeling as if every bone in your body was breaking like shards of glass…
Let’s just say that I’m glad I only had to do this training once. If I did ever reset, and have to start all over, this training is never being repeated. No thank you. I’ll take my thousands of years of slow cultivation in Tubrock’s world with a side of ice cream.
The days passed rather quietly within the worlds. In the wake of the recent battle, everyone still felt the Keeper’s presence watching over them. Kings and queens alike dared not enter a war too easily, and temporary truces were called. Nobody wanted to face the wrath of a battle-weary god.
Within the world of Deckan, changes began to take place. The return of the Deckmaster was a joyous event. His name had been announced to every world, the name of one who went above and beyond, and who used his skills to ensure that the battle could end before the enemy spread too far.
There were those who knew of Alu’s past. His history as a noble, and how he had used his family’s fortune to prepare for this. They were not many, and previously they had even been hostile towards Alu, but no longer. To chastise him would be to denounce his service, which the entire world knew of.
Instead, they began to act as if they were the oldest of friends, wanted to get closer to the ‘hero’. But Alu was no fool, he could tell where he should put his trust, though sometimes questionable. After his return, he did not contact his family. He didn’t reach out to friends to celebrate. No, immediately upon his return, he ran towards the Royal College of Magic in his home country of Kirol.
He spared no effort, conjuring his blue dragon mount and flying as long as his mana would allow. Belatedly, he cursed himself for not learning the basic runes of Fyor, as he recalled there being a spell of teleportation possible there. But no, he had what he needed. And with this new discovery, he might have more than he would ever need.
Upon his arrival in the capital, he finally allowed himself a rest, paying for a night at an inn. He took the time to eat and sleep, recovering his energy to full. After all, the next day would change everything for him.
Early the next morning, just as classes were beginning, the door to the dean’s office was kicked open, its hinges snapping and the wood falling off to the side. “Sir, I tried to stop him!” Said a female voice from behind the door as Alu walked into the room, a determined expression on his face.
The dean, an elderly kitsune with greying hair, raised an eyebrow curiously above his glasses towards Alu. “I’m afraid that will be quite alright, Sylvia. You are Mister Desari, correct?” He asked towards the man who strode in to stand before the desk. “I wonder what business you have with me?”
Sylvia, the demon assistant who helped manage the college, let out a sigh as she moved back to her desk. If her boss dismissed her like that, then what could she do? Clearly, she knew who Alu was as well, but that was no excuse for such behavior!
“I’m here to change the world.” Alu said simply, a growing grin on his face. “I’ve learned a new ability, one that I need help studying. And I have it on very good authority that your college is the best place for me to have this ability studied.”
“Well, I must say that you have captured my interest.” The elderly kitsune sat back in his chair, his grey tail shifting to rest in his lap. “I assume this is not some mediocre trick, for you to come all this way? Surely, this ability you claim to possess will be worth at least the door you broke.”
Alu chuckled at that. “Doors, actually. Sorry, I was in a hurry.” His response made the dean’s eye twitch for a moment. “And I assure you, what I have to offer is worth all of that and more. Perhaps you’d like a demonstration?”
“So long as it does not cause any more destruction of my property…”
Alu nodded, and retrieved two basic cards, both of the lowest tier fire element, and placed them on the man’s desk. “Substitute fusion…”
Just as he had done in the citadel, he quickly performed a manual fusion of the two cards. The dean’s eyes began to widen as he saw the process, knowing what it signified to not need to use a card to perform this feat. He could even see the mana patterns above Alu’s hand, knowing that this was legitimately his own power.
“How?” He asked after a brief moment of astonishment.
“It’s my title, sir. It evolved while I was working for the Keeper. I’ve tested it, and I can fuse up to high second tier spells on my own. Anything greater and I lack the mana to do so.”
When Alu spoke to Krishna, the descended incarnation of the Goddess of Magic herself, she had told him to study this ability. She wanted him to take it as far as he could. And to do so, she had told him to come here, to this college. Where the greatest arcane minds of all Deckan were gathered.
Kirol was not simply any kingdom. It could even be called the iconic kingdom of the world. It was here that the Legion was born, the first teams of kitsune and demons that allied together after the worlds connected. It was here that the Advanced Classes were first discovered. Even the Fairy Gate fell within its borders.
It was only natural that nearly every major aspect of society focused on this one country. Education, trade, even the military of Kirol was greater than that of its neighbors. The only thing stopping the queen from conquering the world, outside of her lack of desire to do so, was a fear of reprisal from the Keeper, as well as what would happen if all other kingdoms joined forces to stop her.
“I see. I see.” The man nodded repeatedly, staring at the low tier fire card that appeared on the desk. “Yes, this will definitely need to be researched. As someone who earned the title of ‘Deckmaster’, I’m sure I don’t need to tell you the implications behind what you just did.”
Alu smiled, not even needing to answer. He knew that this was a turning point for the world. And for the second time, he was there to help guide it.
“Oy, put yer backs into it!” A burly dwarf called out, standing atop the ship’s bow. He was cruising along on a long rowboat with thirty other able-bodied dwarves. The light of the sun hammered down on them as they crashed into wave after wave. In his hand, he held a bow as large as his body, a full four feet from end to end.
On his back, he wore a quiver of giant arrows. His eyes constantly scanned the seas, wary of any monsters. The journey to the distant shores was dangerous. In fact, had it not been for certain reports, he’d have never volunteered for this trip.
Nearly a year ago, a tower had been built upon the coast of Skar Hul, meant to watch for monsters that might roam onto land. A necessity, as many sea beasts were far too strong to fight with spears and swords. Evacuation would be the only answer.
However, roughly a month after the tower had been completed, the seas were almost unnaturally calm. So calm, in fact, that the tower could see some nearly three hundred kilometers away that had never been seen before. They saw the distant land, unobstructed by wave or storm.
More importantly, they saw what looked to be buildings on that distant shore. The land was too far away to see clearly, but there were certainly structures that did not seem to be of nature. So, the local lords gave the only order they could.
They tore down a dozen fishing boats, creating a long rowboat able to hold the strongest of men. They assigned the captain of the town guard, Shanir Steelfeather, as ‘captain’ of the voyage. Though the ship would only be a few hours out at sea, the dangers lurking beneath the wave could not be questioned.
Already, he had been forced to fire his bow twice. Both times had only been for the lowest grade of sea beasts, yet still strong enough to capsize the vessel had they been left alone. And with each kill, his wariness increased. He feared for his safety, and the safety of those under his guard. Powerful beasts often found themselves drawn to blood.
Soon, the shore was in sight. Three hours into the voyage, and he saw the distant lands. But he saw something that shook his soul all the same. A shadow swimming beneath the water.
Immediately, Shanir lifted a closed fist, and everyone stopped their rowing. They didn’t know what he had seen, but they knew to trust his judgement. Slowly, he pulled one of the long arrows, which seemed closer to harpoons, out of his quiver.
What lurked below was another vicious beast. Unlike the previous two, this one was of a higher grade. The sea dragon, known to viciously devour anything that moved within its waters, beast or man alike. Its long, serpentine body darkened the water below them, making Shanir too afraid to even alert his men of the exact danger.
If the worst were to come, and it did indeed, attack… everyone here was dead. Simply lifting its body from the water would be enough to destroy the boat, leaving the men at the mercy of the dragon and other beasts. If Shanir was lucky, very lucky, he might be able to take the beast out with him.
It was better to pray, to let the boat gently drift on the water while it passed below, hoping that it did not notice them.
Seconds felt like hours as the waves rose up slowly from beneath them, alerting the men to just what lurked below the boat. Some of them instantly had looks of despair written on their faces. Others, tense focus as they prepared to row the boat away at the slightest command.
Eventually, Shanir saw the shadow moving deeper in the water, further away from them. He did not give the signal to start rowing again until there was not a single trace of the sea dragon’s shadow. And even then, the speed they rowed at was far slower than what they had been showing previously. They could not afford to stir the waters too heavily.
Thus, the trip that was supposed to end within another hour lasted an additional three. The sun was starting to get low on the horizon as the ship pulled up onto the beach. Now that they were on the shore, they easily recognized the structures that had been spoken of. Aged, stone buildings, cracked from what looked to be millenia of damage.
Yet… something felt off. If these buildings were indeed so old, the storms and beasts would have erased them long ago. As Shanir walked closer to one of the buildings, and put his hand against it, his expression changed.
He could feel a strange power swelling up within the structure. It felt as if the strength of the sun itself had been captured within the stone. And at the same time, he felt vibrations, gentle thuds that seemed to grow closer and closer.
“Men! At arms!” He called out in alarm, immediately drawing one of his harpoon-like arrows and nocking it on his bow. He could hear the swords being drawn behind him as his men prepared for an unknown foe.
Soon, the source of the steps came within view. A walking stone in the shape of a man, its body cracked in various places. Where its right hand would be, there was a long spike, whereas his left had been replaced with a wider shield. It turned, looking towards them as a golden light leaked out from the cracks.
Just as Shanir was about to order his men to charge and fight, the creature turned, walking away as if it had seen nothing.