Lightning crackled over the seas of Lorek. The Lightning Master stood atop a large boat, one of two that had been crafted by the gathering of clans. He let his aura freely burst from his body like a storm, his energy cascading into the sea and sky alike. When it came to the beasts of the water, he knew no fear.
The boat he was standing upon was two hundred meters long and fifty across. Three stories high and with a dozen billowing sails, it was the grandest ship that they had ever created. Contained within was the hope of the future generation. A hundred people each from twenty-five lesser clans, and five hundred from the lightning clan, for a total of three thousand dwarves.
Nearby was another ship of identical make. The sea seemed to scatter before it as it cut through the waves like a blade. Atop the second ship was the Spear Master, his hands behind his back as he stood straight. His ship carried a similar number of people, all for the sake of moving to the ancestral home.
This was what had been agreed upon in the gathering. Of the splintered, lesser clans, fifty of them would each send a hundred bodies. The two great clans, however, were guarding the ships with their clan masters. Thus, they were given five times the space.
One ship cut through the waves calmly, and the other crashed through like a storm. However, with the imposing might of the two masters being released, there weren’t any aquatic beasts in the region that came up to fight for the chance at such a large feast. This only made the two masters more and more sure of themselves as they sailed closer and closer to the ancestral home.
As soon as they were close enough to drop anchor, the two masters jumped from their ships, their bodies sailing through the air to land on the nearby shore. Both of them had secretly made arrangements of their own before they left, to ensure the continuation of their clans. They had left behind elders to lead the clan, as well as assurances that they would return when they had found a new inheritance.
However… neither of the two of them truly had an intention to return. There were numerous excuses that they could give if asked, such as needing to protect the clan members that they came to this land with. In their hearts, the only thing that they truly cared about was creating new, more powerful clans using the strength of the ancestral home.
That… and finding the traitorous water clan. Neither of the two masters were happy with the fact that the water clan had left by themselves, sealing off the way for the other clans to easily commute to the ancestral home. To them, it was only such a move that made them break away from their own clans.
The two exchanged looks, and nodded to one another, turning and waiting for their clansmen to arrive on the shore with smaller rowboats. This was where the protection of their clan ended, and everyone would be going their separate ways.
As the days past within Desbar, more and more excitement began to build up. The mystery around the game was gradually dismissed when a small design team came forward. They appeared with Leyla publicly, announcing that it was them who had been working on the game in secret all this time.
“In truth… we approached Darkflame Technologies with the game concept several years ago. However, at the time, the technology to properly play the game hadn’t been released yet. So, we continued working in silence, polishing our product. There have been people who have come forward, looking for the money trail, saying that there was no way that such a game could appear.”
The demon male flashed a toothy grin. “In truth, Miss Fyre has been very generous with us. She was willing to pay us out of her own pockets, so as to ensure the secrecy of the game. We were afraid that news of it getting out before it was accessible would stir discord within the public. Now, however, technology has caught up with the dream. I am happy to say that I helped with this project. That will be all.”
The man gave a small, polite bow as he stepped back, the rest of his team joining him. Leyla Fyre stepped up to the stage next to address the crowd. “I hope that will settle some of the concerns I’ve been seeing pop up lately.” She said with a small smile. “In five more months, we will launch the mass release of Vision Expanse across all worlds. Our production factories in both Deckan and Earth have assured me that there will be more than enough models to cover all of the pre-orders placed so far. However, I can’t make any promises for how long they stay on the shelves once it’s out, so it’s best to act fast!”
After saying a few more words, she nodded her head, turning and walking out after the design team. When she arrived backstage, she saw only the single man who had been talking, the rest of his team seemingly gone. However, she only let out a small sigh of relief, shaking her head. “Thanks for doing this, Tsu. You’re really pulling me out of a bind here.”
The demon male nodded his head. When he spoke this time, an entirely different voice flowed out, far more feminine and soft. “Of course, Lady Ashley. I must do what I can to ensure the completion of His plans.”
Leyla chuckled slightly when she heard that. “You sure that I can’t set you up with an early access account? Aurivy’s been real lonely testing the game by herself. I won’t make you take an admin account or anything like that, don’t worry.”
The demon hesitated, showing a difficult expression on ‘his’ face. “I’ll… accept. However, I ask that you pass my message to the Keeper. I will attempt to be there to tend to him if he appears, but I am unsure if I am able to maintain my avatars while my consciousness is within the game world.”
Leyla nodded her head, looking amused at that. “I’ll let him know. Honestly, I think it’d be nice to surprise him with you not waiting at his feet the moment he arrived. To be fair… it’s a bit creepy, seeing you kneeling in one position for decades like that.”
“C-creepy?!” The demon’s eyes widened, his horns suddenly standing up straight. They widened into fox-like ears, which had stiffened in alarm. “H-he doesn’t think I’m creepy, right? Oh no, what have I done…”
Leyla blinked in surprise, having not expected to get such a strong reaction out of such a casual comment. However, given who she was talking to, it was only to be expected. “You should ask him yourself, once he shows up again. It’ll be soon, don’t worry. At the latest… I think he’ll try to show up for the game’s launch, to play it himself.”
“He’s going to play it?” Tsubaki’s eyes widened once again, her form shifting back to her natural appearance from what she had assumed for this endeavor. “I see, I see… no wonder you goddesses have continually asked me to play. Very well. Is it possible to have two accounts? I would like one that I could use to learn the game on my own, and another for use when he is active.”
“Of course.” Leyla readily agreed to the request. “Setting up an extra account for you shouldn’t be a problem. I’ll ask Vivi to take care of you. Should I let Aurivy know to expect you in the game soon?”
Tsubaki hesitated again, before nodding. “It would be best to get started quickly. Please inform Lady Aurivy that I will be joining her as soon as I am able.”
Rivy~. Ashley’s voice echoed in Aurivy’s mind as she sat at the blacksmith’s forge. I found a gaming buddy for you.
Aurivy’s half-lidded eyes immediately opened, and she looked up. “What? Did Udona finally decide that she’ll play before the official release?”
Well, no… still no luck on that front. She’s being pretty insistent there. But I got someone outside the pantheon.
“Ugh… don’t tell me you talked one of your employees into babysitting me? I’m not that desperate, Ash.” It seemed as if the blacksmith working just a few feet away either didn’t hear Aurivy, or didn’t care about her sudden outbursts of conversation with herself.
No, no. It’s Tsubaki. I talked her into playing the game.
“Really?!” Aurivy jumped to her feet, excitement written across her face. “You got Tsu to play? But how?! She never does anything if it’s not for Dale!”
I may have told her that Dale plans to play the game himself. I mean… it’s not a lie, right? He did get the game so that he could enjoy it personally as well.
“Well, I mean… I think so? He never said it directly, but he definitely seemed interested. If he doesn’t want to play it right now… I’ll get him in. I’m not going to make a liar out of you, Ash. So… when’s she getting here?”
Just as soon as you can send her a couple of consoles. I’ve got two in my office with the game pre-installed and--they just vanished off my desk.
Was it ten or fifteen days? It was hard to measure the passage of time so accurately when I was training, since I typically didn’t pull up the interface to keep track. Doing so was only a distraction. What I did know… it seemed like this would be easier than I had expected. The training this time had not been overly painful when I succeeded, though I still felt that same soul tearing pain whenever I got the mixtures wrong.
From what I could tell, it appeared that the creation of the Divine Soul was a bit more lenient than when I was creating the Perfect Soul. This… made me feel a lot better. It had only taken a few days for me to get the right formula down, and after that I had begun refining it.
Though, it did make me feel a bit worried. If it was this easy to create the Divine Soul from the Perfect Soul… would the Divine Body be the real problem? Or the Divine Will? I could definitely imagine it being extremely painful to remold my body with divine energy.
Either way, I made my way back to my room. With the ease of performing this fusion, I didn’t feel overly pressured to do it quickly, but at the same time… I did want to get it over with. Everyone, I’ll be cutting off access to the world in a few moments. This time… I’ll be down there for about eight hours, so make whatever preparations you have to do.
After I sent that message, I looked down at the world. Or more specifically, at the Sky Citadel. I could see Tsubaki… not kneeling in front of my throne. Her avatars did not fill the halls, handling her regular cleaning tasks. Though, given how spotless the place was, it was likely she had already done so.
Instead, I found her lying in her own bed, a black visor fitted over her face. Tsubaki. I whispered into her mind. Barely a moment later, she pulled the visor off and jumped to her feet to stand at attention. I’ll be heading down for something important in a moment. When I do so, I’ll need you to vacate the Sky Citadel for roughly eight hours. Once eight hours are up, you can come back immediately.
Tsubaki gave a small nod, not looking at anything in particular, as if she was simply responding to my voice in her mind. A swirling portal opened beside her, which she readily walked through. Once she did so, I confirmed that there was nothing remaining within the Citadel that could interrupt me.
Well, time to get to work.