As the years passed, the balance of power within the world of Spica gradually began to shift. Previously, two main factors had allowed the nations of Demacry and Solace to preserve their own territories, despite the constant war.
The first of these factors was population. Elves had extremely long lives, and slow gestation. This meant that there population was a lot thinner than the other worlds. In turn, they did not require as much land. Even with the territory divided among the many different tribes, there was more than enough land for both nations to be content, and neither wished to risk the precious lives of the elves in a struggle for something that they did not even need.
The second, and perhaps the most important factor, was the comprehensive power each nation wielded. In the beginning, when Demacry first broke off from Solace, they secured a small territory, and began using their technological inventions to expand outwards. This lasted until they had split the world between themselves, as Solace was no longer willing to allow them to encroach any further.
This balance of power had never been so great that Demacry could surely gain victory in the past. Even with their inventions, the magic of Spica was equally powerful. Even with their satellites, the risk was too high for the High Ministers to desire an all out war.
But now… things were beginning to change. While Solace did not partake in the technology of Earth, and merely embraced their artifacts, Demacry did not hesitate to use both. The crafting techniques brought forth a new wave of innovation among the engineers of Spica, with more powerful armors and weapons produced as a result.
After a while, they were no longer satisfied with the status quo. For thousands of years, Solace had scorned them simply for their love of knowledge, waged war on them for no reason other than their thirst to advance their own civilization. But no more.
Admittedly, Demacry was wary that the beings from Earth would participate if a true fight broke out. Thus, their stratagem started out small. They captured a small province along the border, far from Earth’s colony. And then, they waited. For years, until they were certain that this news had reached Earth.
Yet the colony made no moves. For just one province, Solace did not even seek the aid of the self-proclaimed neutral party. It was a minor loss, and Demacry’s battle tactics ensured a minimum of lives lost, preferring to capture enemy soldiers or officials alive to ransom back to their home country.
Typical civilians did not even have to worry about that much. Demacry’s troops largely ignored them, unless they actively fought against the troops. When the battle was won, the commander of the battalion gave a very simple edict to each city. Anyone who refused to comply with Demacry rule could freely leave for Solace.
While Demacry held a grudge for the generations of scorn that they suffered, this grudge was not against the common people. Only those in power, those that actively sought to oppress Demacry were the true targets of the war.
And when Demacry saw Earth making no moves, the true campaign began. Every year, Demacry would advance and capture one province, offering them the same treatment. After fifteen years, they had fully captured one of the two continents that had been divided between themselves and Solace.
Now that they had their presence removed from one of the continents, Solace began to feel pressure. In all these years that their planet had been divided, Demacry had never made such bold moves. Immediately, they turned to these foreigners, pleading for aid.
“In the name of Emperor Naer, I am here to request aid on behalf of Solace.” An elf spoke politely in the native elven language of Earth to a halfling diplomat. He had long since learned not to judge those members of Earth by their appearance, as many could be far older or younger than they appeared.
“Oh?” The halfling, a young woman named Rose, smiled. “What is it that you need?”
The elven diplomat was relieved that Rose seemed willing to hear him out. “Please, the forces of Demacry are advancing further and further into Solace’s territory. If they are not stopped, it is only a matter of time before our empire will cease to exist.”
“Hmm…” Rose crossed her arms in front of herself, thinking. “You know that we swore an oath of neutrality in the name of Bihena, right? We can’t get involved with the disputes between your two nations. We can supply food, or manpower to help rebuild damaged areas, but to provide soldiers would break our oath.”
The elf had heard of this ‘Bihena’, apparently one of the many deities present in the world that the halfling came from, who governed the field of war. Solace had a hard time accepting the existence of multiple deities, but the fact that Earth already worshipped Ryone managed to alleviate some of their concerns.
“I am aware of that, yes… but are you not already involved in this war?” The man questioned, doing his best to maintain a polite tone. “You have supplied Demacry with the weapons that they are using against our people, aren’t you?”
Rose blinked in confusion. “Anything that we have offered to Demacry has similarly been offered to Solace. It’s up to you whether or not to trade for anything we can provide.” Of course, Rose was aware that Solace had forbidden the purchase of more advanced technological goods from Earth. However, that was truly not something for her to be concerned over. The fact of the matter was that they offered equal trade to both parties.
The elf’s brow twitched, unable to find a rebuttal that would allow these negotiations to remain friendly. In the end, he simply sighed. “Is there anything that you can offer for trade that could potentially help us?”
Rose brought one hand up to her chin, thinking about that. “Well… there is one thing that we were thinking of adding to our selection. But I really don’t know if it would even interest you guys.”
Seeing that the diplomat was interested, Rose shrugged her shoulders and explained. “A while back, the Keeper provided us with a few thousand different grimoires. They have the function of recording spells for later use. And with their recursive design, it is possible to empower the same spell multiple times before casting it.”
Before the elf could reply in his excitement, Rose lifted a hand up to stop him. “However, we have only managed to reverse engineer these grimoires in the last few years, and have only been able to make them work properly with our magic. As you know, mana-based items from Earth do not function in Spica, and vice versa. Even if we gave you the grimoire, you wouldn’t be able to use it.”
“Then… why put it in the selection at all?” The elf asked, feeling as if cold water had been doused on his hopes.
Rose simply shook her head. “The idea was for scholars of either Solace or Demacry to temporarily migrate to Earth, so that they could study the inner workings of the grimoires. Then, by comparing the magical processes with that of Spica, you would hopefully be able to come up with a way to make them yourselves over here.”
“Alternatively, you could wait for the research to finish up with that on our end.” Rose offered with a small, comforting smile. “But, I’m sure you understand that we can only invest so much manpower into researching the development of something we wouldn’t be able to use in our own world.”
The diplomat did not particularly enjoy that truth, though he did understand it. There was only so much that Earth could be expected to do, and losing his cool over this matter would only put them in an even worse position. Part of his mission was to ensure that the relationship between Earth and Solace did not worsen, for fear of Earth joining Demacry’s forces.
“I understand…” He spoke with a regretful tone. “I’ll pass your words on to His Highness. Hopefully, you shall hear back from me soon for further business.”
“Of course, sir!” Rose nodded her head, her smile growing. “As always, be sure to return whenever you wish.”
With that, the elven diplomat sullenly left, unable to obtain the reinforcements he had been sent to request. In truth, nobody expected that Earth would supply Solace with troops, but he had still been hopeful.
As he was walking out of the embassy to find the nearest starlight bridge, a human walked up alongside him. This human wore a heavy black cloak that obscured their figure, but a distinctly masculine voice emerged from within. “You are here looking for troops, right?”
The elf’s eyes shook as he heard that voice, feeling as if it were the temptations of the devil itself. Still, he nodded his head in answer. If there was hope for his people, he had to at least report the possibility.
“Tell your emperor this… If he chooses to support the Council, the Council will support him. If he agrees, we will supply you with the troops you need.” After saying that, the man broke off, dipping into a dark alley and vanishing from sight.
“Really?” I raised an eyebrow, having caught the exchange between the Council representative and the Solace diplomat. I had been watching the diplomat out of curiosity, unsure how his meeting would play out. Would he lash out at Rose, claim that Earth had betrayed their trust, or accept things calmly?
His response was quite nice, but this… I briefly went to check on the situation with Fyor. As soon as I did, I began to understand what the Council was after. My plan for self-governance had already begun, multiple floors having already broken away from the Council to establish their own sovereignty.
This move seemed to be a last ditch effort by the Council. By covertly supplying Solace with aid, they aimed to have the favor returned and secure their own position.
I shook my head in disappointment, as I could already imagine how that would play out. Even assuming that they were able to amass the troops, and that they were able to secretly bring them out of the colony to join Solace, it would be obvious that the Legion of Allied Worlds had lent troops to Solace.
While the vow of neutrality that they took was not an official ceremony to Bihena, they had still done so in her name. The system might not punish them for breaking that vow, but… if any priest were to question the origin of these troops, I could not see Bihena being too happy that her name had been used falsely.
Perhaps the Council still believed that they were favored by Bihena and Aurivy, and that the two of them would not ‘betray’ their own people. Either way, once the news of where those troops came from spreads, the other worlds would be honorbound to move against the Council.
This desperate move by them relied on too many factors that simply did not rest in their favor. I had called for the independence of the different floors of Fyor, but I had not imagined that it would be through something like this.
Leaning back in my chair, I allowed myself to sink into thought. There was no way that the Council had not considered that their ploy would be noticed. They had to be prepared for a battle with the other worlds.
As I thought about that, my eyes widened, recalling some information I had all but forgotten. The Council had long since seized control of the first floor’s mana spire. Not only that, but they had researched it, dealt it small damage in order to test its recovery speed. They’ve likely been prepared for a siege all along. All that they need to do is shatter the spire, and their floor will be completely cut off.
Worse yet, because they control the central spire, no other floor will be able to submit new orbs. As long as the spire is broken, Fyor will be unable to advance to new floors due to the difficulty spikes. And all that they would need to make this work is enough food and water supply to be self-sustaining.
Bihena, you free for a minute? I called out to her, only knowing of one surefire way to stop such a scenario from occurring.
Bit annoyed, but otherwise yeah. What’s going on?
Ah, I take it you noticed Fyor’s movements. Well, that was going to make this easier at least. Though, her frustrated tone showed that she was taking this more personally than I expected.
Yes. Yes I did. She replied, and I could practically hear her gritting her teeth.
Okay, then I’ll keep this brief. If, for any reason, a war breaks out between the Council and the other governing bodies, I want you to send a message to Tsubaki for me. Have her visit the first floor of Fyor, and ensure that the spire remains unbroken.
This was my plan, to have Tsubaki act in my stead. However… Dale… Tsubaki already surpassed the level cap of Fyor. She won’t be able to reach the first floor.
I furrowed my brow, having forgotten for a moment about the level restrictions in place there. Do we have anyone else that can fill that role, then?
There’s… one. You met her before, right? The Shadow Saint. If we contact her, she should be able to do it.
I sat upright in my seat, surprised by Bihena’s recommendation. Wait, she’s still alive? I had imagined that old age would have claimed Thelsa by now, so my surprise was understandable.
Her title leveled up a while ago. She can now restore her own vitality as long as she’s in darkness. She’s been using that to keep herself young.
Good to know! I nodded my head, a pleased smile on my face. Then yes, please contact her for this mission. We need to ensure that the spire remains safe. If we don’t, it’s possible that the Council could just continue to damage it for generations in order to protect themselves.