Chapter 331: Shifting Focus
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After finishing my divine soul, I immediately returned to the Admin Room for a moment, just long enough to reset the permissions for the various deities. I had no desire to keep them locked out any longer than necessary. However, once that was done, I returned to the Sky Citadel. Now that I saw how much Leowynn enjoyed watching Tsubaki playing VE, I didn’t really feel that it was right to keep her locked up in the Admin Room all the time.

Back in the citadel, I made my way to my own bedroom, closing my eyes in thought. I was able to rework some of my habits now, with how far the world had evolved. I didn’t need to stay away the entire time anymore. Unless I wanted to purchase something for my world, or speed time up, I could stay down here now, right?

I went through a mental checklist of things that I typically needed to remain in the Admin Room for. Using my world sight, I could keep a constant watch over the world, just as I had with the map. The only exception there was with Lorek. However, now that Tubrock wasn’t fast forwarding that world anymore, I’d be able to leave it alone for a while.

Aside from that… there was the messaging system, and my alarms. Terra. Is there a way to handle messages from down here? Given that she was my System Companion, this seemed like an appropriate question for her.

Afraid not. She replied in a light tone, and I could practically feel her head shaking. I can give you a warning about when someone sends you a message, but companions don’t have access rights in the system to respond. And the system rejects anyone submitting a function to the market that grants specific Administration Room abilities to a descended Keeper.

I gave a faint nod at that. I had already noticed that other Keepers, even those as experienced as Sarah or Grimor, were bound by the inability to respond to messages while descended. If there was a system on the market to correct that, then surely the two of them would have gotten it already. And that is an obvious enough system that it simply didn’t make sense for anyone not to come up with before now.

I sent another quick message to Terra, asking her to relay any incoming messages or alarms to me, before sitting down on my bed. “Leowynn?”

Yes, father? Her voice echoed out from within me in response to my call.

“Would you like to come out and watch the game some more with Tsubaki?”

There was a brief moment of pause before a golden mist began to pour out of my body, pooling into Leowynn’s form in front of me. “Are you certain, father?” She asked, though I could see the barely hidden excitement on her features.

I nodded, gently waving her off. Her body erupted into a stream of mist that rushed from the room, leaving my sight instantly. Now alone within the room, I laid back atop my bed, sending out another message. Ashley? Is there any way I could talk to Vivi? I know you have a point of contact, but I don’t have a terminal here.

Hmm? Yeah, sure. I can get the desktop app for Vision Expanse set up, and send one your way. If you’ve got a headset, you’ll be able to use it to log into the game. But I’ll let her know that the program is going to you, so she’ll be able to handle things there even if you don’t log in.

Hearing that, I couldn’t help but glance around the room. There were no power outlets in the walls for me to plug in a computer, though that only made me remember how power was handled in my more magically inclined worlds. While Ashley was setting up the computer, I had Ryone get me set up with a mana-powered generator for my room. It was easier than getting Tubrock to wire the entire room to connect it to the current grid.

As for the internet connection… this was an internet junction from what I saw, so it should be safe to say that a wireless connection wouldn’t be that hard to set up. I added it to the list of things I needed from Ashley, pleasantly surprised when she told me that she was already working on it.

After about ten minutes, I had a new computer resting on the desk of my room. It looked strikingly similar to the one that I used in the Admin Room, making me think that Ashley had been keeping it around to wait for me. Next to the desk, there was a small capacitor with a simple blue stone resting atop of it.

From the moment the device appeared, it began to emit a low, gentle hum. A pulsating light gradually built up from the bottom of the capacitor, all the way up to the top, at which point the light of the stone dimmed. There was a clear power outlet on the base of the device, which I plugged the computer into.

As soon as I had turned on the computer, I heard a gentle voice coming from the speakers. “Good evening, Keeper. I’m glad that we are able to speak again so soon.”

“Vivi?” I asked, looking towards the screen. The silver face that I had seen through the map previously appeared on the desktop background, and she nodded her head. “Okay, this is… unexpected. Are you supposed to be my operating system or something?”

“Hmm? No, Ashley merely set my program to run on system startup. She said that you wanted to talk to me.”

I gave a small sigh at that, shaking my head at my own misunderstanding. “Yeah, I had an idea for the game, and I was wondering whether or not it would be possible to implement.”

She gave another nod, silently urging me to continue. “I saw that it’s possible to have the desktop connected to the game display a third person camera perspective of what’s going on. It got me thinking about how drones could be used for things like news broadcasts. So my question is… if someone had a ‘media’ access, would they be able to create a custom character that existed just to fly around and record gameplay?”

“Such a system has been made possible within this world, yes.” She explained. “The media avatars are not invincible, but they are a naturally invisible race capable of flight. So long as they maintain their distance from a battle, only the largest area attacks will disrupt them. They may also cancel their invisibility at any time in order to conduct an interview.”

“However.” She lifted one hand, indicating there was still more. “Media avatars have a built-in flaw. They are incapable of dealing damage, and do not register on most game systems. A media avatar can’t be used to unlock new features, or fight any kind of monster, or even gain levels. They exist purely to function as observers.”

“That’s fine. Did you already tell Ashley about this?” Having a strong media presence within the game would help to build up the excitement for it over time, turning it into a proper source of news.

“I have, Dale.” Vivi gave a brief nod. “She asked me a similar question not too long ago, so I have already made the preparations necessary to create the media access accounts. Would you like me to set up an admin account for you, while I’m here?”

I shook my head at that. “No, I’ll be staying out of the game until its official launch. I’d rather experience it with the rest of the world.”

“I understand. Is there anything else you’d like to discuss with me?”

Her tone was professional, but I could see that she was interested in the conversation, her eyes having a kind of focus to them that I hadn’t seen when she was just monitoring the world. “How are Aurivy and Tsubaki doing in the game?”

To my surprise, Vivi actually showed a small smile at that. “Aurivy has shown excellent persistence against normally insurmountable odds. The area where she has been conducting combat was built to accommodate at least a hundred players hunting at once. At first, she perished time and again, and I feared that she would grow frustrated with the game.”

“Despite my worries, however, she sought different solutions. She trained herself in various other fields, accumulating skills and experience until she was able to safely retreat after each battle, even without using her admin privileges. With the addition of Tsubaki, who appears to be a combat specialist, the two are now able to fight their way out of the heavily populated starter areas.”

Hearing that, I nodded, a small smile on my face. “Can you show me what they’re up to?”

“So, how’d it go with Dale?” Aurivy asked the leather-clad kitsune as the two walked along an abandoned dirt road within a forest. She had a pair of daggers sheathed at the back of her waist, her hands behind her head as she walked casually with her traveling partner.

“He requested that I take some time off for myself.” Tsubaki answered, glancing down towards Aurivy. Her own weapon was a rapier fastened to her waist, a faint red crystal attached to its pommel. “And he suggested that he wishes for me to experience this game for myself, so that we can play it together later.”

The halfling let out a happy laugh at that, jumping and throwing her hands into the air. “See! I told you! Sorry, Tsu, but you’re way too stiff. If you want to make Dale happy, you’ve got to learn to relax more.”

Tsubaki let out a long sigh, shaking her head. “I understand that, Lady Aurivy. At least, in theory… However, it is difficult for me to discard my etiquette training. Above all else, I am his servant.”

“Yeah, yeah, I get it.” Aurivy grinned towards Tsubaki. “That idea has been worked into your mind since you were a kid, so I understand. But… didn’t Dale seem happy that you had found something you enjoyed doing?”

“He did, yes… And I intend to honor his wishes. However, please be patient… it will likely take a great deal of time before I am able to truly relax, especially around my Keeper.”

“Rome wasn’t built in a day, after all.” Aurivy told her with a shrug of her shoulders, earning a confused look from the kitsune as they continued their walk down the road.

“What is a rome?”

“Uhh… you can just ignore that.” Aurivy shook her head. “It means that big changes take time. I’m not expecting you to change immediately, and neither is he. But this game’s going to be around for a very long time, so it’d be best if you really tried to enjoy it.”

“I will do my best.” Tsubaki replied lightly, before her ears began to twitch. Her hand began to shift towards her rapier, alerting Aurivy. The halfing lowered her hands, her palms gripping the hilts of her twin daggers.

“How many?”

At her question, Tsubaki closed her eyes. “I hear three sets of footsteps. Bipedal, though they’re small. Definitely not demon bandits. There’s also a scraping noise, so one of them is dragging something heavy.”

“They should be on a regular patrol path, then.” Aurivy said after a moment of thought. “Are they approaching us, or moving within the forest?”

Tsubaki focused a bit more, her ears twitching once again. “Their footsteps are growing closer, though they are not headed directly in this direction.” Slowly, she drew her rapier and pointed to a position roughly twenty meters ahead of them. “My senses are dulled in this body, but if I’m right, they should be passing by that point in about two minutes.”

“Alright. Just let me know if you hear them stop to fight anything.” Aurivy was still tense, remembering the starving situation of the dogs outside of the starter city. If the creatures here were the same, then they would stop to fight any wild beast that they came across. If that happened, then they would need to prepare for a fight, even if they remained outside of the aggro range.

Tsubaki remained quiet, her blade drawn. Soon, three short figures emerged from between the trees, standing just a bit smaller than Aurivy herself. They were pudgy, clearly well fed, though their arms and legs were overly scrawny. Two of them carried short spears that they held over their shoulders, while the third pulled a long club behind himself. Sure enough, they moved to pass by the same spot that Tsubaki had previously indicated.

“Fairy, can you identify these creatures?” Aurivy asked in a quiet voice, not wanting to make enough noise to trigger combat, in case they had an extended aggro range.

“Of course!” The fairy appeared next to Aurivy’s shoulder, nodding her head. “These are forest hobs. Level six monsters that live within otherwise unpopulated forests. Known for traveling in hunting parties, they are a common monster encountered by explorers, and also the lowest ranked force in the Mad King’s army.”

Aurivy paused upon hearing about the Mad King. It wasn’t her first time encountering the name, and she believed that it was a part of a plot built up within the world. From what she knew, it was the Mad King that had led a number of forces to attack demon lands, cutting off contact between cities with his hordes of monsters.

“We’ll let them pass for now.” Aurivy whispered to Tsubaki, who simply nodded her head. It was too much of a run to get back here from Endhor, and they were too close to the next city. Once they arrived, they’d be able to set their new spawn point, and have less to worry about when it came to fighting monsters.