Chapter 11 Volume 1; Forging a Foundation Scene Three

The late summer sun kissed the horizon when Ian finally found the cave from which he originally arrived in this world. Finding it proved more difficult than he initially anticipated. His ears rang due to the number of lame jokes Gaelan cracked over the past few hours.

“You know, you probably should have marked the entrance since there aren’t any landmarks around here,” Gaelan suggested.

“I could have, but if others came here and found the portal, that would be detrimental for me,” Ian replied.

In response, Gaelan pursed his lips and said, “You probably wouldn’t know, but this mountain is something of a sacred area. Nothing really travels the slopes aside from plants and animals.”

“Why would nothing come up here if it is a sacred area?” Ian asked, furrowing his brows. “Wouldn’t this place turn into a pilgrimage route or something if that was the case?”

“Normally, that would be true,” Gaelan answered, “but this mountain, Mount Sacris, is rather mysterious. Most people are unable to even come close to it, much less climb it.”

“Really? Then why are we able to come up here?” Ian asked.

“Could have something to do with Dark Matter, but it might not be so simple, considering I’ve never heard of anyone climbing these slopes,” Gaelan answered while rubbing his chin. Apparently, he did not know the answer.

“Haaah… Great, just great. I’ve only been here a few days and yet I’ve already involved myself in something mysterious…” Ian quietly muttered.

Taking out his trusty LED flashlight, Ian prepared to lead the way to the portal within the cave. However, Gaelan stopped him and asked, “What is that?”

“Oh, the flashlight?” Ian spoke, pointing at the device in his hand. “Basically, it’s a really bright torch that shines in one direction without burning up oxygen like a flame torch.”

“What? Ox-itchin?” Gaelan asked, frowning with a puzzled expression.

“…It’s a molecule we need to breathe,” Ian explained. Within his mind, he thought, Seems I failed to take into account that the periodic table hasn’t been studied here yet…

“So, another way of saying air?”

“Not quite. Maybe I’ll explain it some other time, though it’s kind of complicated and I would totally botch it if I tried to teach you.”

“You know, you’ve used more strange words in this short conversation than in all of the past three days…” Gaelan pointed out.

Desiring to return to Earth before sundown, Ian flipped on the flashlight and shrugged. Shining the beam of light into the passage, Ian started walking with Gaelan following behind. Curiosity gleamed within Gaelan’s purple irises when he saw how much the silver device could illuminate. It only served to increase his expectations of other interesting things he could find in this land called Earth.

Water dripped from the walls and ceiling and echoed around them while they wandered through the winding serpentine cavern, boots grinding against the rugged stone floor. When they reached the small ledge Ian marked previously, he vaulted onto it and gestured for Gaelan to follow. Crouching, Ian placed the flashlight between his teeth and crawled into the small tunnel.

“I could widen this if you want,” Gaelan offered.

“Really?! That would be nice, though leaving the entrance to this tunnel small would probably be good just in case anyone else ever makes it up here.”

Nodding, Gaelan hopped onto the ledge and said, “Step back for a bit.”

Ian backed out of the tunnel and stood next to Gaelan. His mentor then placed both hands on the cave wall near the entrance. Small dark particles floated around his arms and into the stone. Within seconds, the entire cave rumbled and cracked. Stones and dust fell from within. Ian’s eyes widened when he saw the tunnel begin to expand, almost like pumping air into a balloon made of stone. A few seconds later, Gaelan sighed and wiped his brow.

“Whaddya think, kid?” Gaelan asked, lips curled into a cocky grin.

“How long will it take for me to do that?” Ian asked in return.


“On what?” Ian asked while ducking through the small tunnel entrance Gaelan left.

“You, obviously,” the man replied, following his apprentice into the widened tunnel.

When they reached the cavern where the portal made its home, Ian said, “That tunnel was a lot shorter than I thought.”

“I assume you had to crawl last time?”

“Yeah. Well, portal’s over here,” Ian replied, wandering straight toward the far wall. For some reason, he found it a simple task to find the exact spot even though he could not see the foggy oval-shaped portal in the dim light at first. When they reached it, he faced Gaelan and asked, “You ready?”

In response, Gaelan gave a cocky grin and nodded. Contrary to the man’s age, his face radiated youthful anticipation.

“Alright, follow me,” Ian said right before hopping through the portal.

Before following, Gaelan observed the action. In his opinion, it looked no different than a person splashing through a wall of soup. Setting aside curiosity on how the portal worked, for the time being, he stepped through, only to be stunned by the sudden change of scenery.

Once again, Ian found himself in his room, bed just as messy as before. In contrast to the last time he stood here, he now had a visitor. Right away, he took out his phone and placed it on the charging platform on the nightstand next to his bed. Afterward, he moved toward the door. To the right of the doorway, about the same height from the ground as the door handle, there was a rectangular touch-screen panel with a thin blue slider. By sliding his finger up after touching the slider, the lights gradually brightened, causing the two men to squint since they had mostly traveled in a dark cave for the past few minutes.

When his eyes adjusted to the change in light, Gaelan observed the room with great interest. The construction struck him as totally different from the norm in Regnoras. The most intriguing aspect for him was the fact that he could sense the structure of the entire building which meant it was composed of something besides wood.

“I’m not going to need some day-long learning session about this world, right?” Gaelan asked offhandedly.

“Nah,” Ian answered, “Explaining about all the necessary technology to you would take forever, and would not be worth it since you aren’t planning to live here.

“I see…” Gaelan muttered while stooping to rub his hand on the carpet. “This rug covers the entire floor. How extravagant.”

This is extravagant? Really? I guess it’s something I took for granted, Ian thought. Even though he had technically lived on the poverty level, he may as well have been a noble or something by the living standards in Regnoras.

During his ponderings, Ian spoke with a clear, almost monotone voice, and said, “Miri, could you turn on the lights in the kitchen, please?”

Only allowed on

[Yes sir. Also, it has been four days, seventeen hours, and thirty-two minutes since you last made any requests. Is there a need to send for medical assistance?]

Gaelan’s eyes darted around the room, displaying his confusion toward the electronic female voice echoing around them. He could not help wondering if it was some sort of ghost servant or something.

Ignoring the confusion on his mentor’s face, Ian answered ‘Miri’ by saying, “No, but I will need to access my Jungle account after my phone charges.”

[Very well, Ian.] Miri replied.

With that out of the way, Ian faced Gaelan and explained, “Miri is a basic artificial intelligence. In other words, a fake personality used to make life more convenient.”

“Oh, something like a homunculus, then,” Gaelan replied, nodding slightly.

“Homunculus? Artificial humans you mean?” Ian worriedly asked, considering his father once worked on a project to create one but failed. However, it supposedly led into whatever the irritating researcher studied now.

Shaking his head, Gaelan answered, “No. It’s basically just a dextrous golem. Not sure how they’re made exactly, but it’s nothing like a human.”

The answer soothed Ian’s worries to an extent. Intelligent homunculi roaming around was something he would rather not see become a reality.

Then, Ian let Gaelan explore and examine the small apartment while he walked to the kitchen in order to cook something. Basically, it involved pulling a box of frozen lasagna from the freezer and sticking it in the oven. While waiting, he meandered over to the living room and sat on the black leather couch.

A minute later, Gaelan joined him and muttered, “You can get water in your bathroom without using a well. Everything here is so convenient. And this couch… it’s incredibly soft and comfortable.”

Head leaned back and resting on the edge of the couch, Ian said, “Yes, it is. We can get a few things here to bring back, but the one thing I’d really like to do at some point is to get some plumbing hooked up at your place.”

“That would certainly be nice, but it’s a big project. Only a few of the richer nobles have any plumbing right now, and even then, it’s not that great. The Dwarves are far ahead in that aspect.”

“Didn’t the Dwarves teach you blacksmithing? Couldn’t you just ask one of them to help with that?”

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“Perhaps, but they charge a lot for it, even for friends.”

Pursing his lips, Ian fell into thought. Honestly, he could probably figure out how to install some plumbing by searching the internet, but he figured it could wait. Then, he gazed through the sliding door window leading to his veranda and his mind wandered on to other things.

Considering night had fallen, he assumed time flowed similarly in the two worlds. As a result, he would have to wait until morning to go out and purchase everything he needed. In the meantime, he decided to work on setting up a secondary source of income by selling any handcrafted items he made during his apprenticeship. On top of that, Gaelan even gave him a few basic tools like chisels and hammers to get him started after hearing his plan. However, Ian would need to buy items from Earth for his mentor in exchange. Either way, selling handcrafted items in a modern age of perfected mass production tended to be hard to find yet incredibly popular if made well. Therefore, selling some of his works on Jungle, the popular site for online sales, could prove fruitful.

A sudden beeping pulled Ian from his musings. Grunting from soreness after a long hike, he stood and ambled into the kitchen. He retrieved the piping hot, steaming tray from the oven and placed it atop an oven mitt on the table. The smells of melted cheese and tomato sauce rose with the steam and tickled his nostrils.

Gaelan hesitantly rose from the absurdly comfortable couch and wandered toward the kitchen, stepping around the modern, oval-shaped coffee table in front of the couch. Along the way, he gave it one last curious glance. The steaming tray instantly stole the man’s attention, though. Eagerness and hunger visible on his face, he crossed over from the carpet to the tile, yet another foreign material to him.

While gorging himself, Gaelan mentioned how good the strange pasta dish tasted, only to discover that it had been prepared in a factory. The surprise on the man’s face practically asked what kind of heresy this world had come to.

After putting the dirty dishes in the sink and filling them with water, Ian retrieved his smartphone from his bedroom. Although not fully charged, he removed it from the charger and turned it on. Instantly, it blew up with notifications, most of which annoyed him.

{19 Unread Messages}

{4 Missed Calls}

{Your energy is full! Come back and raid with friends in Devil’s Heart!}

{Email received from T.E.S.A.}

Besides the game notification, the rest consisted mostly of messages from work and, astonishingly, some of his family. First, he checked the email from the security company that stationed him at the factory.

Your employment has been terminated due to undeclared absence.

“Haaaah…” Ian sighed. Of course his employment would be terminated if he did three no-call-no-shows in a row.

Next, he scrolled through the missed calls and texts, most of which turned out to be sent from that irritating mother of his. A majority of the texts from her went something like:

T.E.S.A. notified us about your termination of employment. What do you think you are doing? You needed that job. Go find another one immediately and stop embarrassing the family.

Apparently, she still believed she could make his decisions for him. He adamantly refused to fall back into living as her puppet, especially since he had finally found a path for himself elsewhere. Therefore, he ignored her messages and deleted them.

A few of the messages contained coupon spam he had signed up for, but the most recent message came in from his younger sister a few hours prior and it read:

Mom told me to talk to you. I’ll be stopping by tomorrow morning, so make sure you at least have some boxers on.

Ian closed his eyes, pinched his forehead, and groaned.

“Hmm? Something wrong?” Gaelan asked while eyeing the small device Ian had been tapping on for the past few minutes.

“Haaah… My sister will be here tomorrow morning…” Ian soberly answered.

“And that’s a bad thing?” Gaelan asked in return, raising a brow.

“Sort of,” Ian replied. “She is what you might call a, uh, ‘lady of the night’ so to speak…”

Shock appeared on Gaelan’s face as his mouth gaped. “Your sister is a harlot?” he questioned.

“Not quite, but I suppose it’s similar,” Ian said while scratching his chin. Meanwhile, he thought, I guess it’s not so different since she’s a porn actress. Even though it’s pretty much a normal job here, she’d probably be considered no different than a shameful prostitute in Regnoras. Either way, it’s still awkward to be near her knowing about it…

“Wow. Did not see that coming,” Gaelan muttered, furrowing his brows and rubbing his beard.

“Honestly, in this world, it’s a huge business in high demand,” Ian explained while plopping down on the couch next to Gaelan.

“Wait, what?” Gaelan almost keeled over in his seat. “Do you participate in this nonsense?”

Shaking his head, Ian replied, “Nah, it never appealed to me, I guess. Always got called old-fashioned because of it.”

“Good. I probably would have kicked you out of the house otherwise in order to keep you away from my daughter.”

Whoa. That’s intense. I guess it’s a good thing I was more old-fashioned, Ian thought. Truthfully, one reason he sank so low on Earth was because he never really found pleasure in the bountiful amounts of entertainment pervading society. Even the game on his phone only served as a means to keep in touch with his cousin.

“Well, anyway, do you think you could just treat her normally?” Ian requested.

“Of course. Just because I’m not okay with her profession doesn’t mean I can’t treat her like a person,” Gaelan replied, assuring Ian of his position. In fact, the man’s expression caused Ian to feel foolish for thinking his mentor would ever act otherwise.

Moving on, Ian said, “Miri, turn on the News, please.”

[Certainly.] The electronic voice replied from a nearby ceiling speaker.

Then, a decorative panel cranked outward before sliding into the wall opposite them. Behind the panel was a black, rectangular object that Gaelan showed interest in. It practically caused the man to forget the recent conversation.

While the panel rose, Ian walked over to the kitchen to grab glasses of water for them before returning to his seat.

To Gaelan’s surprise, the black rectangle flickered and images popped into view along with sounds. Although it could be considered typical for a News broadcast, it was all a new experience for the old blacksmith. For the next few minutes, the two watched the screen in complete silence, much to Ian’s surprise. By the looks of it, his mentor figured out the use of the television.

Most of the headlines and stories were fairly benign and full of the heavily altered accounts Ian had become accustomed to picking apart for the truth. After a while, Ian remembered his glass of water and lifted it to his lips when the News anchor said, “In other news, a recent law was passed which allows the more radical groups of Nature Purists to practice their belief of pursuing nature’s origin through nudity without getting arrested.”

“Pffffffttttt!” Water spewed from Ian’s mouth like an exploding faucet.

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