Chapter 1080: Long Distance Relationships

After the second round of negotiations with the Hajit, it wasn’t long before the big announcement was sent out through the city, informing everyone of the new alliance with the rest of Fyor. One thing that was nice was the fact that the premade broadcast that the thought bugs created was still perfectly usable now that they were out of the picture. After all, they were still keeping their existence confidential, so they only included what the public would need to hear in the first place.

Admittedly, there was a bit of unrest within their city for a time, people watching the gate as if it was an exhibit at the zoo while waiting for anyone to come through. When they did go through, these people briefly scattered, as if scared off. Thankfully, the Hajit were strong enough to not let themselves be pushed around by the more forceful adventurers of Fyor, but also peaceful enough that they didn’t try to start any problems themselves.

Ultimately, it wasn’t long before an awkward alliance began, with the Hajit incredibly curious about their new allies while the adventurers were similarly curious about the Hajit culture. Meanwhile, Lifre had long since reported back about the next floor, and the rather… violent occupants of it.

When the guild learned the circumstances of this floor, they considered passing it entirely, once they found the gate to the next one. After all, the fact that the occupants were said to be as powerful as James was no joke, with even Lifre needing to get serious to bring one down. This meant that most adventurers would be incapable of surviving on that floor.

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On the other hand, Lifre reported back with a far more shocking piece of information, this one kept confidential between herself, the higher ups of the guild, and the pantheon themselves.

“I’m sorry… what is this?” I asked, glancing towards the obsidian-like rock that Lifre had deposited on my desk. Although I could identify the rock with my Keeper insight, the information returned was… rather confusing.

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“Like I said, it’s the first step of James’s journey!” Lifre smiled proudly, pointing to the rock. “You know how he went all over the place, before finally settling in the natural energy core of Fyor? From what I can tell, this is what started that journey!”

“And… where does it lead to?” I asked with a hesitant tone, as that information was not provided by the Keeper identification.

“No clue!” She said with a broad grin. “But wherever it is… the gravity is far less than the sixty-fourth floor.”

My eyes widened when I heard that. “Did you explore the area on the other side?”

“With a clone! I know the routine. Especially since there was the off chance that this could lead to the outermost layer. The first thing the clone reported back was the lower gravity, and then it went to explore. There were no signs of habitation, and it managed to find the gate within about half a day, but it couldn’t pass through.”

My brow knit together, thinking. “There are a few possibilities. Obviously, this is another planet in Fyor’s universe. But, if your clone couldn’t pass through, then the system on the planet Fyor isn’t connected to other systems in some way. Whether they each have their own level restriction or not, it’s hard to say.”

Lifre crossed her arms, tilting her head. “Wouldn’t that mean that we won’t  be able to explore other worlds of Fyor, even if we eventually reach the outside?”

“I don’t know.” I said with a shake of my head. “I can’t answer that right now. Either the systems will only link up when we reach that outer layer, or we will need to find some mechanism to bypass the black walls and make it directly to the center and work our way out.”

Lifre blinked at that, before her eyes widened. “Oh! The system wouldn’t just completely lock you out of something you purchased, but it will stick to the guidelines, right? What if there’s a gate at the outermost floor that leads all the way to the center?”

My eye twitched when I heard that. “I would honestly rather that not be the case, since it means that every planet we discover within Fyor has to be explored from the inside out. And if the systems aren’t connected, that means that we’ll need to send the weakest of our people to explore the first few floors.”

Even children commonly had levels ranging from the dozens to over a hundred, meaning that they wouldn’t be able to explore these worlds until the tenth floor of them had been produced. Thankfully, Lifre was able to think of an explanation for that, too. “That’s easy! We just have to get people from Lorek or Spica that have never entered the other world system. As long as we do that, they won’t have any levels in Fyor’s system, but will still have plenty of strength to explore.”

I gave a small pause, before nodding my head. If that happened, it wouldn’t be so bad. After all, a single cultivator of Lorek would be able to easily reach through the first thirty floors. The hardest part would be finding all of the different orbs on each floor to let others through. If an immortal is sent, they may even be able to reach the limit.

Of course, this was something to worry about in the distant future. For now, there was something far more important. “If this was the first step of his journey, then there should be other materials on the other side that led to the next step.” I pointed out.

However, Lifre shrugged her shoulders. “I’m not sure. My clone didn’t notice anything, but this might not be the only one of these rocks on that floor. If more than one appeared, he might have taken that one instead. All I know is that this is definitely the type of material that he used to travel.”

I nodded my head at that. From what I could tell, using Lifre’s report and what the system told me, this rock should be made of a similar material as the black stone walls, only in a much weaker form. Rather than remaining indestructible and blocking all forms of energy from passing through, it simply maintained the ability to connect to a linked stone.

It could be assumed that the black stone walls were either a refined version of this rock, or they were an alloy that used the rocks as a key component. Regardless, this warranted further study. “Have you tried getting Aurivy to help you bring the other sample back?”

Lifre’s shoulders deflated slightly. “I tried, but she said that she couldn’t! Apparently, even her powers can’t bring people in or out of a locked floor like that. Unless we find two sets of rocks that both lead to the same destination, I don’t think we’ll be able to find a matching pair.”

That was… annoying to say the least. Still, I nodded the head, passing the rock back to Lifre. “This one doesn’t have any properties that block out energies, so see if it can be scanned and replicated. Meanwhile, have your clone continue to explore the other side, just to make sure that this isn’t the same place that James went to.”

Lifre nodded her head, offering a quick salute. “Yes, sir! Though, can’t we just have James go and see if it’s familiar?”

At that, I couldn’t help but shrug my shoulders. “Most likely, he wouldn’t recognize it even if it was the same place. He wasn’t there for long if it was the right spot, and that was so long ago at this point that it shouldn’t have left enough of an impression.”

“Heheh… right.” Lifre nodded her head. “Anyways, I’ll be right back!”

After she said that, Lifre turned and ran out of my office with the stone. She returned a few minutes later, now carrying two identical rocks. “It worked!” She announced proudly. “But… I should warn you, they both go to the same spot. I tested it after making the copy.”

“I assumed that would be the case. So, what’s the problem?” When I asked that, Lifre set the rocks down, one on each side of the room.

“The problem is that the other side is also linked to both of them.” She said, sending out a small pulse of mana, likely a signal to the clone that she had waiting on the other side.

A moment later, shreds of blue slime began to spew out of both of the stones in thin ribbons. These ribbons slid along the floor, eventually coalescing into a clone of Lifre, the clone looking wholly unamused by the no doubt painful experience.

“So… travel is essentially one way now, unless it is someone like yourself that can survive being split like this.” I furrowed my brow at the thought. Honestly, any energy being could do something similar, but it was far more natural for her. If a normal god were to undertake that process, they might lose their focus halfway through, and accidentally disperse their body.

“That’s right!” Lifre nodded her head. “I was hoping that copying the stone would give me a new set linked to each other… but nope! Just silly string slime!”

I let out a long sigh at that, nodding in agreement. “Okay… continue exploring the other side with your clone, and get the World Spirit of Fyor to help you find any other stones that might be on that floor.”

Lifre offered another salute, taking the two stones with her as she left the room. Leaning back in my seat, I closed my eyes, mentally communicating with Terra. Why does it feel like the time to explore other worlds of Fyor is coming increasingly closer? I thought that it wouldn’t be for decades… no, centuries still?

There was an amused chuckle from the other side, Terra responding in a comforting tone. It still could be. The only way that this would lead to early exploration would be if one of these stones led to either the very top or the central floor of another world. And, for our sake, I would hope that it wouldn’t be the former.

I nodded my head in agreement. With how many void monsters regularly latch onto Fyor’s world, even with our patrols, I could only imagine the utter devastation that the top floor had become. The laws of physics might not even be the same anymore, for all I knew. Agreed. I’d like to steer clear of the outermost floor for as long as possible.

Of course, we would need to confront it eventually, but ‘eventually’ was supposed to still be a long time away from now. That was the continued hope, at least.

Back on the sixty-fourth floor of Fyor, Lifre cleared her throat. “Little friend, little friend, I’ve got a job to do!”

The natural energy around Lifre shifted, condensing in a green swirl that took the form of a small, halfling girl wearing a green shirt, brown pants, and a backpack. The World Spirit of Fyor looked around, a look of curiosity on her face. “Why does this layer feel familiar?” She asked curiously.

“Uh, yeah… about that. This is the layer that James comes from. The Keeper asked me to bring you here to help me find something.”

When the spirit heard that, her eyes widened in surprise. Lifre quickly held up a hand to stop her. “Before you go running off to meet them… the people on this layer are really violent. Like, smash your face in because you looked at them wrong violent. James was the smart one and got away when he did.”

The small spirit visibly deflated when she heard that, though Lifre smiled again. “Thankfully, we’re not here to fight them. What we’re here to do is try to retrace the path that James took in order to get where you originally found him. The first step is finding more of these rocks.” She said, producing one of the two black stones that she had in her possession.

Hearing that they were going to be retracing James’s step, excitement once again returned to the spirit’s features, clearly eager to see what he had gone through to find his way to the natural energy core.

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