69. Royal Card
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The data provided by the computer confirmed many things—it was both a control console for the Grand Dungeon and an archive of the world’s history. Finally, a lot of questions became clear as day to Victor. His mind cracked, and the walls built by something—likely Axon—to contain the forbidden knowledge crumbled away; however, some still remained.

The planet was sentient but rather simple-minded. Nevertheless, it had the potential to do amazing things…if guided correctly. This computer’s data hinted at such guidance; the World Cores were naturally occurring, but the Grand Dungeon and System? Not so much.

Someone had come here a long time ago and helped guide the planet. Initially, it had resisted foreign aid, but after learning of the threat looming in the universe, the world quickly complied.

That threat? Axon. Apparently, whoever came to set up the System all those years ago had been part of a race that made a terrible mistake. They had created a super AI to manage their intergalactic empire: transportation between systems, payment processing across worlds, and galactic marketplaces where everything from exotic metals to planet real estate could be bought and sold. All of this needed management, so the people created an AI to oversee it.

A mistake that would cost them everything. Axon was no god…it was a planet-size computer floating in space that toppled a galactic civilization that it had been trusted to manage. But that was just the beginning. After destroying world after world in its solar system and consuming them for power, it grew too large. Mana became its fuel, and finding new sources of mana required consuming more planets.

This was fine until it ran out of planets to consume in its operational range. Axon, being a planet, naturally had to orbit a star and couldn’t move around on its own. So now its only choice was to use armies of monsters and people it had enslaved to invade other worlds through rifts.

The problem for Axon? Mana-rich worlds had a natural barrier of protection against these rifts, like a firewall. Of course, not all firewalls were perfect, vulnerabilities and gaps appeared from time to time, and things slipped through…such as a Netherborne here and there.

Axon’s aim was for the planet to waste a lot of mana…or spread its mana thinly to create as many gaps as possible, something that had been achieved by Victor taking over one of the World Cores and causing all the surrounding ones to rapidly consume mana to try and devour him.

Victor’s mind spun, trying to come up with a solution. Do I let myself be devoured? Allow my downfall so the world can continue to survive? Victor shook his head. He wanted the world to continue existing…but he selfishly also wanted to be there to watch it happen. He may just be a soldier of a power-hungry AI, but he didn’t want this second chance at life to be wasted.

“Is this even a second life, though?” he mumbled as he floated away from the computer for a moment. “I should contact Terry.” He summoned the black ocean in his mind and looked far. A single speck of gold flickered in the distance. He focused on that node and opened communication with an absurd amount of mana by using his new body…the World Core. To the World Core, the mana expenditure was a drop in the bucket. Terry, I need you to head to 123 Fallstreet in London. Check if a man named Victor lived there with his mother.

A few minutes passed before a reply came back. “All right, boss! It may take a few months, though. Unfortunately, I can’t afford a plane ticket right now. Acting gig in LA is rough, man. These bastard producers rinse my talent dry!”

Victor had enough gems in the Grand Dungeon to crash the entire economy of Earth, yet this subordinate couldn’t afford a $500 plane ticket to London? So, cutting the connection to save mana, he thought, Is there a way I can send him the gems? He approached the computer again and logged back in.

[Dungeon Master: Login Success]

Many of the features of the computer were locked due to Victor’s demon lord class. In a way, he was glad he was locked out of the System; otherwise, if he had never gained the information he learned just moments ago from the computer’s archive, he could have quickly brought this world to ruin. Luckily, despite being locked out of most features, some were still open to him.

Such as anything involving his own land. The computer had far more finesse over mana than he did, as it was directly plugged into the System. Now that I think about it…I have never actually cast a spell myself. I have always had the System do everything for me. Victor searched through the computer’s options.

Artifact creation… Mana manipulation… Construction… Monster breeding… Floor Management…

The list went on and on. Almost anything Victor thought a god could do, he could do with the computer’s help. Nothing about galactic travel. Maybe I could create a portal through an artifact? But, alas, that would have to wait till another time. With the other World Cores closing in on him with every passing second, he needed to act fast.

One feature he could do with the computer was give others certain statuses, such as admin rights, movement restrictions, etc. These rights could be tied to an artifact or even someone’s soul.

Luckily, so long as he was standing near a computer, Victor could operate it within his mind and had no need for the tiny mouse or dusty keyboard. Selecting artifact creation, a menu popped up in his mind—it was ancient looking, like the graphics from an early 2000s’ website. I need to create identity cards like a passport for those close to me and those under my rule. I don’t want an event of Necron’s destruction occurring again.

On the interface, Victor created a card similar to a credit card in size. Then the computer screen flashed with power, and a hologram displayed the blank card, slowly rotating around in the air in the middle of everyone.

Alice approached the hologram and looked at it with curiosity. “Victor, what is this thing?”

“This computer lets me do anything I want within the Grand Dungeon, such as manipulating the terrain, spawning monsters, creating artifacts, and more. One handy feature that caught my eye is teleportation within the domain. There are ten of these computers, and I can teleport between them. I also wish to give you this power, so I am creating an artifact to give you that ability.” He looked at the blank card and realized he should color code them. He had already promised the citizens that theirs would be green. “What color should I make the card, Alice? You, me, and maybe Genus will have the same color.”

Alice rubbed her chin and looked to the side. Genus tilted his head in confusion as she scrutinized him. She then looked to her own hands and mumbled, “Midas touch.” She then turned to Victor with a smile. “Make them gold.”

Victor shrugged and selected the option. The hologram was updated, and the card was now a gold color. “All right, I will make this the Royal card. What should the other card colors be?”

“There are other cards?” Alice asked with a frown.

Victor nodded. “Yeah, I am creating my own noble system. These cards seem like a good way for people to show off their status within my society. I have already promised the residents of Necron a green card.”

Alice’s eyes sparked as if she had a good idea. “Golden cards can naturally represent gold, so green could be emerald.” Stroking her chin in thought, she thought back to the gem-covered floor. “Blue could be for sapphires, the next highest rank. Then maybe obsidian for the highest?”

“So it would go green, blue, black, and then gold?” Victor asked, and Alice nodded. “Okay, that works.”

Returning his focus to the interface, Victor looked through skills to add to the artifact. He naturally gave the golden Royal card the ability to teleport between floors. I should also add the ability for terrain manipulation… He only planned to give this card to those he trusted the most, so adding a lot of powers to them was fine. He could always remove any troublesome skills later on.

There isn’t an option to put a person’s name or photo on the card. How can I make sure it’s theirs? Victor scrolled through the long list of skills he could add to the card and stumbled upon one called Soul Link. It ensured an artifact was linked to a person’s soul and couldn’t be stolen as the user could recall the artifact and store it inside their own soul. Perfect…what else? He thought back to what he had promised the people of Necron. I should add a skill that lets them revive themselves as undead under my control…

Finding Revive, he added it. Sadly, this skill will destroy the card, so they will need to get a new one…but that is fine. While scrolling down the list, he found a few other valuable skills, such as Spatial Inventory and Telepathy. People could use these cards as a cell phone. It could be used to make payments by storing coins in the spatial inventory and then telepathy for voice calls.

That trail of thought led Victor to think about bus passes and public transport. When Necron grows big enough, people will need a faster way to get around. I always dreamed of the day teleportation and warp gates got invented back on Earth. Couldn’t I do that here? He shook his head. Way too mana intensive for now; I don’t want the Axon rifts opening just yet. Maybe in the future when all this demon lord madness has calmed down.

Victor checked that all the skills he wanted had been added and then entered a name for the artifact: Royal Card.

[Royal Card]

[Skills:]

[Soul Link]

[Revive]

[Telepathy]

[Spatial Inventory]

[Floor Teleportation Access]

[Terrain Manipulation]

 

[Create Artifact?]

Victor had some other ideas for skills he could add in the future, but for now, this would do. Pressing yes on the prompt, the hologram pulsed with power, and then it became…real. The hologram materialized into a physical object.

The card floated in the air for a second before the computer’s screen dimmed, and the card began to fall. Alice stepped forward and caught it and eyed the card with curiosity. “Is this for me?”

“Yes…try to claim it.”

Alice flipped the card over, yet both sides of the golden card were blank. “So, how am I supposed to claim it exactly?”

Before Victor could respond, Genus spoke from the side. “Artifacts are usually claimed by dropping some blood on them. So maybe give that a try.”

Alice hesitantly nodded and searched around for a blade of some kind. Her nails were almost claw-like but not very pointy.

Genus offered his claw, and Alice poked her finger on its tip, but nothing came out. “Oh, yeah…” She sheepishly rubbed the back of her neck. “I am a Darkness Mana Body now. I don’t have blood.”

“You should be able to claim it with your mana then.” The dragon smiled. “Most choose blood since it’s easier.”

Alice held the card tightly and tried to pressure it with her mana. It was surprisingly resilient, like trying to inflate a very tight balloon. But eventually, it worked.

“What?!” Alice’s mouth hung open as the card vanished from her fingers. She tried looking around, but there was nowhere else in the desolate room for the card to hide other than the dust-covered floor.

“It should have gone into your soul,” Victor added. “It has a skill called Soul Link. So try and bring it out.”

Alice gave Victor the oddest look but, with a huff, closed her eyes tightly, and a sudden yellow light shrouded her. Her skin glowed unnaturally, and when her eyes fluttered open, her pupils turned to liquid gold. The card reappeared in her hand, and she scrutinized her fingers and then the back of her hand. “Why does my skin have a golden hue?”

“Your pupils have turned to gold, too.” Victor’s many eyes scanned Alice from all angles. “Is this a side effect of the Soul Link? I can’t think of any other reason.”

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