After leaving Terra to curl up on the couch, I made my way back towards the bedroom. It was pretty clear that the others would be able to find a game easily enough, so all that I had to do was make sure that the situation in Fyor was handled properly, and that Desbar’s technology progressed in the proper direction.
The latter was fairly easy to accomplish. I merely had to open up the culture window for Desbar. Looking through, I found that Lenan was still a major power, and the leading technology contributor for the world. They’d be the best target for this. So, I assigned their secondary goal for the future to be game development.
This way, they wouldn’t take away too much from their current focus, but the technology would still be advancing in the proper direction more and more rapidly. Especially once the goddesses started getting involved.
With that out of the way, I turned my sight back to Fyor. Nothing was going to happen there if I didn’t speed things up a bit. As I recalled, Aurivy and Irena were just getting ready to propose a notion to help better things in the Great Blue. So for them… a five year skip would be good to show some progress.
“Kat, are you okay?!” Rache asked urgently as she rushed over. The pale-skinned human had doubled over, letting out a low, pained scream as they were walking through the streets on patrol. Rache’s eyes were wide and worried as she looked at her friend. “It’s getting worse. We’ve got to get you looked at.”
Katrina simply let out a light chuckle, shaking her head. “You know that there’s nobody that can treat this.” As she spoke, she winced, bringing a hand up to wipe the blood away from her mouth. “Just get me somewhere I can vent, and it’ll get better for now.”
Rache nodded, closing her eyes and reciting a spell. “Mal drakaris, fin.” Runes of light moved out from her body, wrapping around the two of them before they vanished from the dark road, appearing on a nearby island. It was the same island where Rache had once lived with her sister, and now used it as Katrina’s ‘venting’ ground.
“Alright, we’re here.” She said softly, taking her hands off of Katrina and slowly stepping back. The human woman stood up, reaching for the ring on her finger. When she slid it off, her eyes began to shine like beacons in the night. The mana in the air was dense around her, enough that they were afraid of triggering a siphon if they did this nearer to town.
“Oh… that’s better.” Katrina spoke, her voice free of the pain that it had been experiencing moments before. It even seemed to carry an odd echo within it, her words resonating with the very air around her.
“Krollostria, Laria, Lorian.” The words flowed from her mouth as she looked off the shore of the small island. Ripples forming in the ocean’s water, before great waves rose, splitting the sea. Even in the darkness, Rache could make out the muddy floor from the light cast in Katrina’s eyes.
“Kra ‘call’, shora nae, boleer urtho-lo.” A glowing blue mark formed along Katrina’s right wrist as she cast her next spell, and at the same time five figures seemed to walk out from the water, standing on the muddy ground between the two great walls of waves. It was hard to call them humanoids, as their body flowed with every motion, their limbs whipping back and forth in odd torrents.
“Call. Call. Call.” Every time she repeated the word, five more figures emerged from the wall, joining the others. They stood in a neat formation, as if an army awaiting the command of their general.
And once all twenty of them had been created, Katrina gave her final command. “Prakta.” As another rune seemed to flow from her mouth and eyes, the shapes moved. Their bodies began to contort in an odd dance, spiraling about one another while the two girls watched on.
Strangely enough, this had become the ‘treatment’ for Katrina’s own mana pulses. Due to being born blighted, her body produced far more mana than it could ever hold. As she grew older, and trained as a mage in order to control that very energy, the amount she produced only grew as well. Even with the enchanted ring to dispel her mana, it steadily began to build.
When it grew to the point where her body simply couldn’t contain it, she would be brought here. She would use the most mana-draining spell that she could without overly damaging the environment, which happened to be this performance. Twenty watery soldiers summoned to do nothing more than dance.
The very fact that Katrina had memorized a second tier ‘dance’ rune alone had initially surprised Rache, since she knew that it was Katrina’s own memory, rather than Irena cheating. That was… not exactly a rune most mages would care to remember, and was likely only recorded in order to be thorough.
Rache didn’t speak up, simply counting the seconds down in her head. It had gotten to the point where they had to make almost daily trips to this island, so she knew exactly how long it took in order for Katrina to deplete her mana. And sure enough, after a few moments she began to approach again.
The moment that she reached Katrina’s side, the sound of rushing water filled her ears. The walls of water collapsed, swallowing up the soldiers. Katrina herself was no better, falling down into Rache’s waiting arms. The halfling quickly pried the ring from Katrina’s unconscious hand, and slipped it on one of her fingers again. “Looks like this body’s wearing a bit thin, then…” She whispered gently, knowing that nobody could hear her.
She spoke the teleportation spell again, taking the two of them not back to their patrol, but rather to Katrina’s home in the town. The place which had once belonged to her mother now felt empty with only the sleeping girl resting inside. Seeing her like this, Rache shook her head sadly, walking out of the house.
Once outside, she almost bumped into the large, furred form of a wandering dovah. “Ah! Pardon, miss, didn’t see ya down there.” He apologized with a nod, before he seemed to recognize her. “Ah, if it isn’t miss Laerin. Pleasure to meet ya again, miss.” His tone was gruff, his elongated jaw proving difficult to pronounce certain words the same way.
Rache smiled sadly to the dovah. “Hey. Sorry, Jax, but I’m not really in the talking mood right now… could you do me a favor?”
“‘Course, miss.” He nodded his head, his own mage robes shuffling from the movement. “What’ll it be, then?”
“Could you fetch a doctor? I know it’s a lost cause, but…”
“Oh?” He blinked briefly, before looking back at the door that she had come from, his nose twitching as he sniffed the air. “Ohh… it’s gotten worse then, has it? Don’t worry, miss, I’ll fetch someone. And if you want to chat later, about anything at all…”
“Thanks.” Rache nodded gratefully. “I might take you up on that. How’s everything going with the… uhm…” It seemed that she didn’t quite know what word to use without sounding offensive.
“The wife.” Jax gave a wolfish grin. “Well, people are still a bit off about the whole thing, but we’re making do. Thanks to you and those policies you keep pushing, things’ve been better for us.”
“I couldn’t have done it alone.” She gave another glance back towards the house behind her as she said that. “Anyways… I have to get back to the patrol. Could you let me know what the doctor says?”
“‘Course.” He nodded, turning and heading off into the street. Rache knew that she could count on him. He might be a dovah born after the darkness fell, but he was still one of her oldest friends. He was trustworthy, loyal, everything you could ask for.
So it was no surprise when he captured the heart of a human woman, after risking life and limb to save her during the large Siphon years ago. One of the monsters that came through the barrier had almost killed her, but he showed up just in time. Since then, the two had been forced to keep their feelings for each other hidden, afraid of the public ridicule.
Rache naturally knew the truth of the matter, given her… divine connections. Unlike Irena, Aurivy had no problems abusing her divinity to get things done. While pushing for the equality of dovah, she raised the issue of interracial marriage. Between human and halfling, such a thing was actually rather common in Fyor, but with a dovah…
Her proposal was faced with almost constant rejection for several years. People saw the dovah as glorified beasts due to their more animalistic nature than even the beastkin. To propose a marriage with one… it was not an easy pill to swallow. But in the end, the louder voice often wins when it comes to politics. And Rache was quite loud indeed.
Particularly in recent years, she pushed her agenda of racial equality harder than ever. She stressed how they struggled just as much as anyone else, how there was no point in treating them as lesser beings. Her ideals were not popular with the older generation, but the younger ones… those more open to change slowly began to gather around her.
Finally, interracial marriage had been accepted by the Circle. But the people as a whole… it would take more time for them. Maybe an entire generation, maybe even two, just to let people grow up with the idea that there is no reason to judge someone harshly because of their race. Was it likely an opinion that would be shared by the entire population? No, definitely not, there were always those who ostracized anything that didn’t fit in their narrow view of what the world should be like.
Thankfully, in Rache’s eyes, such people didn’t tend to last long in an eternal night, living in a world where you either train your body and mind to become stronger, or get literally crushed by the pressure. For those people, who thought that they were supreme beneath the heavens simply by the right of their birth, she had no sympathy. The sooner they realized their mistakes, and put in the work needed to survive in this world, the better off everyone would be.
I gave a small nod of approval as I looked over the changes that had gone through Fyor. It was… a bit sad that I couldn’t stop Irena’s incarnation from suffering as she was. I couldn’t even use my ki of beginning, since it was a birth defect that caused her problem in the first place.
Though… that did get me curious about something else. So… what did you get up to while we were at Sarah’s place? I sent the message off towards Keliope. I totally hadn’t forgotten about her while I was looking at the shiny new games. Nope, not at all.
There was a mental huff before she answered. Was sparring with one of her battle gods. Guy was good, real good. Gave me a few pointers to help me improve. Unfortunately… this big red door swallowed me up right as we were about to go another round.
Yeah… sorry about that. Okay, so I couldn’t admit that I did forget that she had wandered off. I may have been slightly distracted. Forgot to send you a warning to let you know that we were heading back.
It’s fine. She replied with a mental sigh. Bright side, I learned a few new tricks, and it looks like we’ll be getting a fun game world soon. If Udona’s screaming is any indication.