With the help of Rache and Thessa, it didn’t take too long for me to get a map from the nearby town. After that, I simply had to mark down the locations of a few different veins that were close by, and I was able to mail it off to the Blayd couple again. From there, it was just a matter of waiting. Waiting for them to figure out how much information to send to the council, and waiting to see how the council themselves would respond.
Time passed slowly as I was waiting for the changes to start taking place, and I was even able to start living a comfortable life with Thessa and Rache. We slipped almost naturally into a regular routine.
Every morning, Rache and I would wake in our respective rooms, smelling meat being cooked below. Thessa had managed to adjust her sleep schedule fairly quickly so that she could cook for everyone in the morning, but typically napped after breakfast. While we ate, we talked about the other worlds.
Rache enjoyed telling me what had happened with the ninja village over all these years, and Thessa mostly just enjoyed hearing the stories of the other worlds that she had never been to herself. When we started telling her about the new world, Lorek, she became even more surprised. After all, that world wasn’t even connected to the others yet, so there was no way that she’d be able to know about it. Terra was only able to impart information to her incarnations that other people within the world already knew.
After lunch, I’d spend most of the day practicing with either my ki of beginning or my new, perfected spiritual energy. Every now and then, I’d take breaks in order to scan more of the world around us with my world sight while Rache or Thessa went to check on things in the town.
We spent our life like this for a couple of weeks before I received a message from Terra. Your next opponent in the Keeper Games has been decided.
I blinked in surprise, having just been waking up to the smell of breakfast cooking when the message was received. In all honesty, I had forgotten the passage of time and that I had been waiting on that bit of news. Who is it?
Your next opponent is a Keeper with the title RedRose. I furrowed my brows when I heard that name, being unfamiliar with the title. In the worst case scenario, they could be someone who deserved an all out attack. However, that would have to wait. There were still a hundred and fifty days in Standard Time before that invasion. I’d see how far along the world was by then, and if I was able to invest the force needed for that kind of attack.
Shaking my head, I made my way down to the kitchen, smiling as I saw Thessa hard at work. Going by the smell, she was preparing an omelette again. There were a few bird type creatures in this floor, one of which hatched from eggs the size of my head. A single egg from such a creature was easily able to make enough for all three of us to enjoy.
“Good morning, sir.” She said without turning back to face me, wearing her typical cooking apron. “Breakfast will be ready in a moment.”
I chuckled, nodding and moving towards the table. Seeing as I had a few minutes to wait, I decided to save myself a bit of time later, and sent my world sight out to the nearby town. As I did, I was pleasantly surprised to find a construction crew emerging from the gate. Some of them carried axes and saws, others carrying logs on their shoulders.
“Looks like things are finally starting to pick up.” I muttered quietly, opening my eyes.
“Hmm? What do you mean, sir?” Thessa asked as she turned her head back to face me, blinking in confusion.
“The Council. They’re finally acting.”
“Ahh. Does that mean that it’s time to move to the next stage?”
I shook my head at her question, sighing softly. “No, let’s wait for a bit more. They need to be fully invested in this floor before we wrap up.”
Thessa simply shrugged her shoulders, going back to cooking. “Very well, sir. When do you intend to give them the next resource?”
I hesitated at that, thinking it over carefully. “The next one will be a big one… but it’ll have to wait until there is enough of a presence on this floor for me to request a ship for my exploration. Let’s give it another month and see how things pan out.” If it took longer than that, I’d have to go back to the Admin Room and simply leave a Host here for a little while to fast forward. I could easily invest thirty days into a project like this.
“Understood.” Thessa responded as I heard Rache walk heavily down the steps. When I saw her, her eyes were mostly closed, her golden hair a mess. Her shirt was hanging partially off one shoulder, but it seemed like she didn’t notice it. She sniffed at the air a few times, and turned to walk towards the kitchen.
“Thessa… food…” She mumbled helplessly, walking almost like a zombie as she approached Thessa to hug her from behind. “Smells good…”
There was a sigh from Thessa as she put up with Rache’s antics. “I swear, you’ve gotten lazy since we got here.” She spoke half-heartedly as she began to place the food onto plates. “If you keep this up, you’re going to start putting on weight.”
“Nooo…” Rache whined pitifully. “I’ll go burn it all off after we eat… promise.”
“Uh huh. Get off me so we can eat, then…”
Hana stood with a bright smile as she oversaw the construction of the first mining ship of the Great Blue. In her hands, she still clutched the rolled up map that had arrived at their door nearly two weeks prior. She didn’t dare send the entire map to the Council, because she knew that doing so would imply that she either had the ability to effortlessly locate the tidestone veins, or was enlisting the assistance of someone else who had that ability.
Neither option was good for her. For the former, it would be easily discovered once the Council assigned her to the first vessel, and she was unable to find any new veins after ‘discovering’ the ones on the map. As for the latter, it would be the same as admitting that it wasn’t Hana and Ryner themselves that had been finding these new resources. All of their achievements would be thrown out the window.
Thankfully, the map had come with some basic ideas for how to create a craft able to more easily locate these veins without the use of Styx’s unique ability. Hana had been in disbelief at first, because she found the man to simply be too honest. It was like he was asking them to rob him of the discovery.
However, it didn’t take them long to create one of the enchantments listed in the paper. To test it, they flew over to the nearest of the veins that Styx had given them. Sure enough, it returned a positive reading once the device had been aimed downwards, and fed enough mana to reach the ocean floor.
Naturally, they turned over the device to the Council, with Hana claiming the credit for its invention. Once again they had been rewarded handsomely. Her and her husband had already begun eyeing a plot of land on the tenth floor where they planned to build a magnificent mansion. It had even been hinted that, should their contributions continue, they may be placed in a seat of governance over the tenth floor.
Of course, to do that they had to first endure a bit longer. They needed to milk Styx for everything he could give them. But, at the same time, Hana was intelligent. She knew that it wasn’t possible for her to rush Styx. Even assuming that there were, in fact, more resources of value within the Great Blue, it would take anyone time to discover them. Not only would it look unnatural for him to have already harvested a third valuable item, it would look just as odd for Hana to be able to present such an item to the Council.
No, she had plans. She’d give it a few days, let the first ship be completed and the crew setting off to harvest the tidestone. Then she’d commission a boat for her own use, so that she could continue providing aid to the Council. Of course, this boat wouldn’t truly be for herself, but for her to ‘gift’ to Styx as thanks for his aid.
Given his knack for finding precious materials, Hana was confident that it was only a matter of time after he had a boat before he’d be able to present them with something new. It wouldn’t be too late to tie up loose ends once her future had been ensured. A nice, comfortable life within the tenth floor, free from any worldly concerns.
For the next few days, I had used my world sight in order to keep track of the progress of the mining vessel. Sure enough, they had installed the magical radar to detect tidestone on the ship. They even installed a considerable number of high level enchantments as well, ranging from defense to speed, even a few for attacking that I saw. With the help of druids and mages, and skilled shipwrights, it took them a total of six days to complete the vessel.
However, things didn’t stop there. As the first voyage went out, staffed by numerous high level individuals, I saw movement again at the port. Another, smaller vessel was being built. Unlike the larger galleon-class ship that had just set off, this one looked more fit for a crew of two or three. It was at this point that I felt a small smile creep over my face.
Looks like I won’t need to make the first move. I had to admire Hana for this. I knew that she simply wanted to use me to help herself. However, the fact was that she saved me the trouble of negotiating for a ship. For them to be willing to invest the resources into creating a second ship, one meant for such a small crew, it meant that the vessel was intended for personal use. It wasn’t another mining vessel. And that meant that it had to be made specifically for Hana and her husband.
Although she was a mage, a mage’s mana is limited. She couldn’t sustain her spells for flight and detection at all times, so it was only natural that she would require a boat if the Council wanted her to continue exploring out beyond the nearby cluster of islands. But at the same time, it was unlikely that Hana would be willing to take that risk herself, knowing that there were numerous high level monsters within the ocean.
No, it was more likely that I’d find this boat sailing towards my home before too long, which suited me just fine. The more hope that they placed in my ability to find these minerals, the more they would invest in making the ship as powerful as possible. It would be no surprise if they poured most of their fortune into upgrading the vessel, and nobody would question it if they did.
Rather, my eyes were on the horizon in the other direction. Far across the world, thousands of kilometers away, the true prize was waiting. In my estimate, it should be more valuable than the tidestone, and in far higher demand. Unfortunately, it was also more rare.
It wouldn’t be wrong to call the next stone a naturally occurring artifact. Ryone’s name for it was the Power Stone. It held a simple ability, one small enough to be overlooked entirely if one wasn’t a mage. It was simply able to gather and store mana. But this also gave it immense value. With that one simple feature, it would be able to power magical devices by harnessing ambient mana, or act as an external power source for mages.
Although the mineral might be more rare… I didn’t have to tell them that part. It would instead be strange for me to know how common a new mineral like that was. I only had to tell them where I found it, and people would come swarming.