Book 4 – Chapter 20 – Part 1
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Thank you so much for reading and please don't forget to rate the story. There have been a couple of recent drive-by raters that have tanked the score! So please take the time to rate it.

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Charles stood with Kira as Alli entered the building that had been created for the returning children and women. She had wanted to do this herself, as a show of independence.

“Should we wait for her?” Kira wondered aloud as their fluffy silver companion vanished inside.

“No, I have a feeling that this is going to take a while.” He grinned at her and held her hand tight. “Let’s go on a date, and then afterward we’ll head to the lab.”

Despite them ostensibly dating, they had never been on a proper official date. It was an oversight that he was determined to remedy that day. It would be different from what they might have done before the apocalypse, but it would be special none the less. Sometimes it was the thought that counted, that and showing that he was putting effort into their relationship.

Granted, he had never been in a relationship, but neither had she. Both of them could only work through the process together and give their partner the leeway they so desperately needed.

“What kind of things were you thinking on this date of ours?” Her eyes twinkled with concealed mirth.

His mind raced through what was available inside the developing town. A couple of restaurants had opened that specialized in monster meat dishes. They had already been to them in the past when they first opened. The food had been alright for the most part, many of the chefs were still getting used to the new meat.

“Uh,” He mumbled in embarrassment, not coming up with anything that was different from what they did normally. The normal options from before obviously were no longer available or were something they had already done. Like going to a movie theater, that was no longer possible, but they had watched movies on the laptop his sister had fixed for him.

As the older, although even less experienced person in the relationship, Kira took pity on him. “We already do most of the things people do on a date together. I don’t see a reason to go out of our way and make our day stressful. Let’s just enjoy our time together like we normally do.” She was happy with how things were progressing between the two of them.

Which is exactly what they did. They walked through the town enjoying the constant changes it was undergoing, spending a few minutes to talk to Ray and then moving on to the temple. A line of prospective applicants for the positions of priests and priestesses extended down the road from the entrance.

They were tested individually inside in a manner that resembled how they had joined the town. At the front of what would normally be considered the chapel where the pulpit or podium usually stood, was a pure block of white granite. It was there that they would place their hands and await the judgment of the gods presiding over the temple.

“I didn’t expect this many people to be interested in religion,” Charles had a complicated expression on his face as they walked past the line and into the temple building.

“Is it really a religion at this point? Everyone knows the gods are real, there is no faith involved in their current actions. To my way of thinking at least, that means it isn’t a religion but more of an institution in nature.” Kira held little regard for organized religion in the first place, and despite knowing that gods existed, her opinion hadn’t changed in the slightest.

Charles shrugged after a moment’s thought and decided the entire matter was unimportant. At the end of the day, the knowledge didn’t affect his actions one way or the other. He would continue acting as he saw fit while working towards keeping those closest to him safe.

The block of granite would flash if the person touching it had whatever the gods were looking for. If they didn’t, then it did nothing.

The line of people moved quickly, as it only took a moment for the small pillar of holy stone to decide. Those that it accepted left through a doorway to the side, while the rest exited the same way they had entered.

They stayed for a few more minutes to watch, and then left when it became apparent that nothing was going to happen until everyone in line had been tested.

Just walking around the town was enough to show them how good they had it compared to other places. Even the other towns they had created were lagging behind their development. There was no need to mention how the rest of the world was managing to survive.

They weren’t. More and more people died every day due to the hordes of monsters and their own inability to adapt. Outside of some people in third world countries, everyone had grown up with electricity and shopping for food at the store.

Out of all the people that survived the integration of their mana and then the monsters that attacked right away, how many of them knew how to survive? The answer was not many. Some had learned by need, but for every person that had learned, there were more that were unwilling or unable to do what was needed to live.

It was with those thoughts heavy in their minds that they walked towards the lab. It was time to continue working. Their gloomy thoughts thoroughly shattered the good mood they had been enjoying earlier.

“Good, you’re back. We should be able to start in just a few minutes, the batteries are charging faster than we expected.” Charlotte began as soon as they joined her at her workstation. “There is something else we need to talk about, however, and it might be better if we did it upstairs. This isn’t something that others should hear just yet.”

“What’s going on?” Charles asked as the door to her apartment closed behind Kira. “What’s so important that you didn’t want the other scientists to even know?”

“Earlier, after you left, James came up to me and relayed a message he had received from Gaia.” She took in a deep breath and sank onto the comfortable couch they found in the town inventory. Placing a simple meditation orb on the table, she leaned back and closed her eyes. “Apparently one of the functions some of the temples will be capable of is awakening the magic inside people. It will work in a similar manner to how you do it the first time, after that they will need to meditate. It was suggested by Gaia that we sell the orb to the store, so it can become available everywhere.”

“They aren’t going to teach the people; they’re only going to unlock their magic?” Charles asked, wanting to make sure he understood what they were going to do.

She nodded.

“I’m fine with that. There was no way I could have ever made it to all the people who want to learn magic, anyway. We have the head start we wanted and the orbs you’ve made have gotten better. Sell one of the older models to the store. That way if they want something even better, they will have to come to us.” The way he spoke made it sound like they were power hungry. In reality, it was the opposite. Kind of.

They wanted to prevent other people from growing too strong, too fast. Humanity had a bad history concerning individuals who outpaced the people around them. The entire idea was to give people the power to protect themselves, not give them the tools to subjugate their fellow humans.

It was a good thing the effect would be limited to system-built towns, since they were the only ones that could build the temples. All the people who were members of those towns had to obey certain tenets, that kept them mostly honest in their actions and dealings. The real problems would arise when others started making towns.

They still had some time before that happened, however. The town creation gems cost fifty gold coins to anyone but him, and it would be a while before anyone else was able to use their magic well enough to influence a marker.

Still, a countdown was hanging over their heads, and it would be a race for them to make as many towns as possible. Any towns not created by Charles would not be part of their shared UM pool, nor would they have the same basic tenets.

The entire first version of book 4 is now up on my Patreon page, as well as the prologue to my new story.

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And don't forget that this is the pre-release text with minimal edits done to it, certain details will get fleshed out or changed in the final version.

P.S. Thank you to all the people who have taken the time to rate the story and to my latest Patrons! Also, I have begun the rewrites and editing on this book.

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