In the orb space.
Jeremy was examining a few translucent clouds moving around his innate orb.
"I wonder what's this thing. My orb has been spitting this thing out for a while now." He thought to himself.
"Unfortunately, there is no one I can discuss with…."
No one heard his gloomy voice.
He looked around this space; there were no nearby innate orbs, except for some in the far distance.
Nevertheless, he already knew that those far ones represent the people in other islands.
However, two or three orbs belonged to people of the same island as himself, but they were at far-away corners of the island.
A little while ago, he entered the orb space to communicate with his neighbors; this was the usual way everyone gave themselves some comfort before night came and the fog reached its max density.
He has known his neighbors also for a while and met them when going out to hunt; they were excellent fighters, which everyone who survived so far had to be.
Those who haven't had their purification dome run out of mana and usually had a grim end if they could not find someone kind enough to take them in.
Most people would not help because of the food problem.
However, he had a good head on his shoulders and figured out that if you are underground or in a cave, the dome's mana consumption would be significantly reduced, especially at night.
He was then lucky enough to find a cave and decided to move his innate orb there. Fortunately, the entrance was small and could be blocked during the night with a small boulder.
The cave is the main reason he survived this long, while most people didn't.
However, this night seemed to be different, nighttime came way earlier than expected, and before he closed the exit, the fog seemed to be different, but he could not figure out why he thought this.
In the end, he ignored it and made sure the exit was closed firmly, and went to sleep.
However, he was awakened by something trying to open the entrance.
Luckily though, whatever it was, it seemed too big to fit into the cave and eventually left.
He did not know how long he waited, but eventually, he started to see the light of day coming through the small gaps in the cave entrance.
He moved the small boulder and confirmed that the clouds were out and shining with a strong luster.
He quickly went back to his cave and checked the orb space; he wanted to inform his neighbors about what he encountered but did not see their orbs in the orb space.
He knew that a person could prevent the appearance of his innate orb in the orb space by cutting off the connection with the clouds.
But, combined with the appearance of that "thing" and the disappearance of everyone's orbs from the orb space, he assumed the worst case happened.
This night brought a calamity that only allowed him and a few others on the island to survive.
While digesting this shock, a strand of light fell from the sky and connected with his innate orb inside the cave.
It seems that the strand is the reason why these strange transparent clouds are being produced.
Looking at these clouds, he tried commanding them to move, and they did move as he commanded.
'I wonder what help these clouds can give me cause I'm in dire straits.'
He thought of the "thing" that is probably still on the island.
Jeremy noticed something moving in his general direction.
At first, it looked like several innate orbs were moving together in a pack, but he quickly noticed that a giant cloud surrounded them.
He instantly guessed that giant cloud was made up of the same translucent clouds he also had.
The giant cloud stopped between Jeremy's orb and the other survivors' orbs.
The next moment, Jeremy saw a part of the cloud stretch out and quickly touch his innate orb.
"Hello everyone, I'm here to sell you goods to help you survive. It does not matter what; I can provide weapons, tools, information, food, water, skill orbs, mana to power your innate orbs. You name it, and I'll provide it to you for a fair price."
Jeremy was startled after hearing a woman's voice out of nowhere.
"I accept payment in the form of mana or these clouds you all have. You all should make the most out of this opportunity to have a better chance at survival."
Noelani began to advertise her business.
Jeremy was speechless; regardless of this bizarre scene, he did not think there were people so comfortable in this world that they would have the leisure to sell such crucial survival necessities.
But hearing the things the seller was offering, his heart began to race.
"So, are these clouds meant to allow the transfer of items between the orbs? Did your island also face a calamity?"
Jeremy began asking a few questions he wanted to get an answer to.
"Please, everyone, calm down, I'll answer your questions one at a time, but you all must pay to get your answers."
Jeremy noticed the woman was talking as if there was more than himself this person was talking to. He looked towards the other survivors' orbs and saw that the giant cloud also seemed to have connected with them as well.
It did not take long for Noelani to start moving again, with her giant cloud slightly bigger.
"Business is going great."
'Even though it takes a noticeable amount of mana to move these clouds, my total mana levels have not gone down too much.'
'It's to be expected, after all, once people learn that you could use these clouds to trade with your island neighbors, no one would want to sell them.'
If Noelani had not returned from the future, trades would only occur between island mates, at least for the first few months.
Trading between islands would not start only after a while later.
Something to note, though, the first islands to start trading with other islands were ones that quickly harmonized and joined their innate orbs together; this is the best survival strategy in the first few months.
'As I suspected, the second-biggest seller is the tools and normal weapons, and it's not a surprise considering they are so cheap and barely making a profit; I still need to spend mana to transfer them.'
'The biggest is, of course, the information.'
Thankfully, I was able to get my innate orb to level-3, which also leveled up the orb-space-connection facility, allowing for transfers of small inanimate items. Level-1 could only send mana and the orb clouds.'
'As for skill orbs, it's true I put it at a high price, and the only way to buy one is if people pool their resources together.'
'But that is on purpose; if island inhabitants could not organize and join their orbs together, then there is not much use in helping them, especially since these skill orbs can be put to better use.'
Noelani thought about her plans; most of the ploys she executed were not conceived on her own. Instead, they were agreed on and deliberated with the other remaining future survivors before she was sent back to the past.
A part of the plan focused on getting Noelani camp to stockpile tools and weapons to sell, which is why she gradually reduced the number of hunters in the camp and eventually only allowed her team to be hunters.
The rest of the camp worked on creating those tools or helped in some way.
Her actions may seem cruel, but it is necessary to increase the survivability of humanity, and the way to do so is by rationing resources to the most competent.
Noelani mentally shook her head and looked at her accumulated "wealth."
'The clouds have become large, but it still is going to take some time before I reach my destination.'
She knew that her orbs wouldn't reset back to the original position, which is why she wanted to reach a location that would allow her to connect to a few key islands.
'With all the camp's orbs with me, the cloud production should be sufficient. But, I feel a little melancholy; the camp's original position will no longer have any innate orb. As though to declare to everyone that the shadows had wiped out our island.'
'Maybe I should not have shattered Adam's orb then, heh.'
She thought sarcastically.