After Leowynn and I took a moment to adjust to our new abilities, I opened another mirror portal. This time, it was taking us directly to the Sky Citadel. I felt no need to make any grand announcement about my new status. Instead, it would become obvious over time to those who paid attention, so there was no need to make a fuss.
Once I had returned to the world, I felt something within my mind subtly change. Intangible connections forming between me and countless places within not only Earth, but the other three worlds as well. At first, it caused me to stumble slightly from the new sensations, before I was able to mentally suppress it.
It didn’t take long to figure out that what I was being ‘connected’ to were mirrors. Every mirror… giving a slight nudge of thought towards the closest link, I could see an empty stone room, one of the unused bedrooms within the citadel itself. And then another, and another… it didn’t take long to find the room that had the maid peacefully laying on her bed, a black visor over her eyes.
Was the moon just too far away? Why didn’t I get this before… or was my divinity still ‘adjusting’ to my body before I left? I wondered inwardly, shaking my head as I focused to suppress the connection between myself and the mirrors. I knew that I would find a use for this, eventually. But that was something to think about for the future.
Instead of moving towards my throne room, I walked out towards the garden, taking in the sights. Fafnir was just dragging his way out onto a nearby beach, his mouth holding the tail of a large serpent, showing that he had finally been able to hunt a sea creature. Below, I could see a vast expanse of trees, opening up in select areas to make way for various cities.
Stretching my sight out further, I looked through the network portals with the aid of a mirror, seeing the Dawn Kingdom. Their mining ships sailing across the seas, looking for new mineral deposits while they fight back the powerful monsters that lurk below. As I focused on that, something special caught my eye…
“And you’re saying that this information can be trusted?” Jasper asked curiously, looking over a hand drawn map that had been laid out in front of him. Across his desk, one of the Lightborn stood at attention with a calm smile.
“We’re investigating that right now. However, it seems that an identical map has appeared within the Consortium. They’re currently acting to verify its contents, as well.” The Lightborn nodded his head. He appeared to be a dovah with pure white skin, the subtle glow about him giving him an angelic appearance.
“The Consortium…” This wasn’t the first time in recent days that he had heard that name, and he knew all too well what it meant. Such a thing didn’t exist during his mother’s time, as Dawn had been cut off from the rest of Fyor. But now… the Consortium controlled the shadows of Fyor. Any shady business was likely tied to them through some manner or other. And if not… it was just a matter of time until they sought it out.
“Do we know where the map came from?” He glanced up towards the Lightborn, who nodded, pulling out a pitch black coin. Along the coin were two narrow, red eyes and a crooked red grin.
“This is supposedly the token of the Grinning Shade. In truth, it is simply a painted underworld coin.” He flipped the coin over, allowing Jasper to see where some of the paint had been scratched off, revealing a copper surface underneath. “It was used as a storage device, the map left inside of it. Once we received word of the parcel, and what it contained, we brought it to you immediately.”
Jasper nodded his head. Many of the other magisters were training within the next floor, growing their own power to ensure that they remain strong enough to keep the kingdom safe. Leaving him as one of the highest ranking individuals of the kingdom. “Let me know once you verify the map’s authenticity. If we can quickly break through to the twenty-first floor… the others will want to hear about it.”
Jasper, admittedly, wasn’t the best when it came to political maneuvering. He knew that it was important for them to secure the new territory, but he wasn’t able to figure out what they would need to do from there. He was a mage, through and through. Since a young age, he had been focused purely on his studies of magic. His training as a ruler didn’t come until much later, and was arguably still far from complete.
He had been chosen to remain behind and oversee Dawn not because of his gifts as a Magister, but his strength as a mage. Whereas the others had to train in the floor above to get more powerful, Jasper was already far beyond the norm. Thus, they were confident leaving the area in his hands for the short duration it took them to train.
“Let’s see…” Thelsa furrowed her brows in thought, looking over the map that she had drawn. “Dawn, the organization... right, gave it to the herocs on twenty, as well… Maybe I should stop by Nexus, spread the map to the other worlds?”
Once she had realized that the twenty-first floor was ‘safe’, Thelsa had gotten an idea. Using her monocle to peer through the barrier between floors, she grasped the location of the twentieth floor’s gate, and began to trace it back from her position of safety. There were too many swarms for her to risk manually exploring the area, which was the same reason that nobody had done so before now.
As for mapping it from the floor below? That would just let them know where the starting line was, but they wouldn’t have any idea where to go to find the other gate. Only someone that had personally been to both locations would be able to map them out like she had.
Nodding her head, she picked up another of her token coins, holding it tight as a smile came over her face.
The sounds of blades crashing resonated through the bandit camp. Players shouted in frustration as their hard work was quickly torn apart by two young-looking women. The first, a halfling with pink hair, a popular look for any female followers of Aurivy. The second, arguably an even more popular look, a golden-haired kitsune in a maid uniform.
It was natural for people to idolize Aurivy as a goddess, and many aspired to become like Tsubaki as well. So, when these two individuals appeared at their gate, the bandit players thought that they were just a pair of people dressing up. It was a game after all, right? So many people wanted to live out their fantasies within Vision Expanse… There were even people that took on the appearance of the Keeper himself.
But when they unsheathed their blades, and began to dance through the battlefield, there was a viciousness about them that did not at all match the normal ‘roleplays’ people had regarding these two figures. Everyone wanted to portray the Goddess of Love as a gentle, caring individual, out to explore the world and see everything that she could. As for the Keeper’s Servant, they often portrayed her as being firm in her service to her lord, but not very outgoing.
Now, however… they were like two reapers. Bloodthirsty smiles filled their faces as their eyes glinted fiercely. Most of the NPCs had been wiped out in under a minute, while the players themselves were struggling to hold on, using the skills that they had acquired through their life. After seeing the mass slaughter of the NPCs, they no longer thought of this as a game… they felt as though they were truly fighting to survive.
The bandits began pulling scrolls out of their inventory, one after another in a desperate attempt to save themselves. Potions were gulped down without remorse, talismans thrown. Even bombs were thrown around, uncaring for the friendly fire so long as it bought them the chance they needed.
Seeing the attacks raining towards her, Aurivy grinned, crouching down and slapping the ground. “Tremble, Shinnok.” A glowing blue circle of light appeared on the ground where she had touched, before spreading out around her. As it expanded, multicolored lights emerged from the grass, the burning tents, even the items being thrown towards her.
Moments before those items could hit, however, a towering hand rose out of the ground, the palm forming a shield that covered Aurivy’s entire body. It waited for a moment as silence descended, before grabbing the ground, seeming to pull itself up. Now, the circle expanded even further, everything in its path ‘donating’ mana to fuel its arrival.
“S-she’s a summoner?” One of the bandits uttered as a towering, armored giant appeared, nearly twenty feet tall. Its armor was a deep ocean blue, its skin pitch black. On its helmet were two curved horns, while on its back it held a sword as large as its body.
Naturally, everyone knew what a summoner was. However… nobody had seen one in the game, yet. They had tried the traditional methods of unlocking advanced classes, but none of them seemed to go how they expected. This one was no different…
Aurivy wasn’t truly a summoner, not in the way that Earth recognized the class. Shinnok was not an Aeon that she created. Instead, she had learned how to create pacts with certain powerful beings. She carried a token of their power, and when she called for them, they used her as a medium to summon an avatar of themselves.
The rituals that she had to learn to gain the attention of these powerful individuals were well worth the effect that they had in combat. At least, in her mind. And as she watched Shinnok grasp the greatsword on his back, she sent a small grin towards Tsubaki.
The kitsune’s brows furrowed, her black wings forming and unfolding behind her as she called her scythe. The two of them were having a competition… to see who could eliminate the most bandits. As soon as Aurivy called for Shinnok, she knew that she couldn’t afford to hold back anymore herself, or she would surely lose their bet.
Leyla leaned back against her chair, letting out a soft sigh as she finished writing up an email. “You sure this is alright, Vivi?” She asked out loud, her eyes closed as her head tilted back to rest against the back of the chair.
A voice soon responded from her computer. “I assure you, there will be no problems with the operation of the world. It had always been designed with a modding community in mind.”
Leyla gave a brief grumble, doing her best to nod her head. She had been worried, understandably, when she learned that there were people trying to dissect the code of Vision Expanse. Some of them wanted to create mods, things like shared minimaps, reskins, or new UI features. At first, she was worried that their meddling would somehow damage the world itself, but Vivi had repeatedly assured her that nothing like that would happen.
Mods would not change anything about the world itself, only the way that the player perceived it. This was a rule not only for Vision Expanse, but any game world built with the Reality Virtual system. As such, Vivi actually encouraged her to allow the modding community to create what they wanted.
“Alright… if this doesn’t work…” She mumbled, but deep down she already knew that it would. Vivi wouldn’t have spoken with such confidence if she was unsure. As such, the two of them had come to a conclusion, a contest issued to the public.
Whoever was able to create the most popular mod for Vision Expanse would be given a ticket for a very special lottery. This lottery would include only second or third tier skills, making it an extremely valuable reward. While the person might not get something that they immediately want, they would have the option to teach the skill to other players, earning a substantial profit in the process.
“By the way, Vivi… how hard would it be to add in a new god at this point?” Leyla asked, her lips crooking up slightly.
“If it is for one of the undiscovered worlds, it would still be a simple matter. Did you have a specific idea in mind?” The voice from the computer asked, seemingly curious about Leyla’s idea.
“I do, yeah… Dale just finished ascending, it looks like… So, would you be able to make him the God of Mirrors, Kings, and… let’s go with Rebirth as the third one.” As Ashley was the one that had been placed in charge of the game by Dale, Leyla was able to ask for certain things without having to run it by Dale first. “Let’s just keep this as a surprise for him… If you could put him in the same areas as Leowynn, that’d be best.”
“Noted.” Vivi spoke up in a light, playful voice. “I’ll add it into the registry.”