chapter 159: underworld and underprepared

Before I decided to go back to work on maintaining Earth, I thought that there was one more person that I really needed to talk with. Irena, do you have a moment? She was perhaps the person most affected by the addition of the extra worlds, and I wanted to make sure that I wasn’t pushing too much work onto her. If I was, I could rework the afterlife system for Desbar and Deckan.

Of course, Dale. Where would you like to meet?

I glanced back towards Leowynn, who was still curled up asleep on the bed, and moved towards the door. Living room alright?

By the time that I arrived in the living room, Irena was already sitting on the couch waiting for me, her wings lifted up over the back of the couch to allow herself to get comfortable. She offered me a small smile when I arrived. “What did you need to speak to me about?”

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I gave a small sigh, moving to sit next to her on the couch, and turned to look at her. “Well, I wanted to check how everything is going for you and the Underworld. I’m not giving you too much to do with the extra worlds now, right?”

Irena closed her eyes, slowly shaking her head at the question. “Not at all. In fact, we had a recent population boon from when you had everyone stop guiding their civilizations. Thanks to that, the numbers in the Underworld are growing a lot faster than before.”

I… didn’t honestly know whether to take that as a good thing or a bad thing on my part. Irena seemed to notice my expression, her smile turning knowing. “Don’t worry, it really does help overall. The increase in numbers let the current governor expand both the retrieval army and the merchant sector.”

Okay, that was a bit interesting. “I see… what about the development? Nothing bad happening?”

Irena sank into thought when I mentioned that, possibly taking a moment to check for herself. “There’s a small war going on, but I expect it to be quelled within a week. The governor holds over eighty percent of the army, with various other leaders controlling small portions for local security. A few of them teamed up to rebel, is all.”

“Aside from that, our research has gone quite a ways beyond what Earth has in terms of artifacts. If I had to put it in Terra’s terms… I think we are nearing mastery of the first tier, but are lacking direction in understanding the second. The addition of souls from both Deckan and Desbar actually help with this, as they all provide a fresh outlook. And, people are beginning to understand that time seems to flow differently in the Underworld. For now, at least.” Once she said that, she flashed another knowing smile towards me.

“Alright… Well, is there anything that you need? Anything that could help with the Underworld management?”

Again, Irena lapsed into thought, before shaking her head. “Nothing that I can think of, Dale. Though, I have an idea I would wish to suggest. Something that my governor asked about some time ago.”

I motioned for her to continue, and she did so. “At this point, the number of souls have grown beyond the minimum requirement to establish a regular patrol in most populated sectors of the three worlds. Especially with Deckan and Desbar advancing time beyond that of the Underworld itself, our numbers practically exploded at that time.”

“My governor presented me with a request, asking if it were possible to use the spirits and the daeva to guide the living. Not in overly obvious ways, more subtle. For instance, those who have family that are still living could enter their dreams to offer advice. He tested this privately, and it was proven that spiritual energy can be used to enter the dreams of a sleeping individual.”

“Another idea is to have the daeva appear in the dreams of a researcher, and offer knowledge from the Underworld to help them advance.” Once she had finished explaining, Irena looked at me with a very business-like expression, as if it did not particularly matter to her one way or the other if these suggestions were approved.

I crossed my arms in front of myself, lowering my head as I thought about these suggestions. “I don’t want the Underworld to become a power that politically effects the living world… So there can’t be anything like them appearing before nobles or royalty. And they would have to know what information had to be kept secret, so the people who get to do this would have to be strictly trained beforehand.”

Irena nodded marginally upon hearing the answer, and closed her eyes, likely relaying it to her governor. “One other thing…” I asked, a thought occuring to me suddenly. When she opened her eyes to look at me, I began. “Have your people had any luck manifesting a physical body with their spiritual energy?”

She gave another nod at that. “They have. Several high leveled soldiers on patrol have manifested a physical form as experiments. Since they have not been permitted to interact with the living, there hasn’t been any particular use for these forms. Especially since using them reduces their combat strength drastically.”

“Makes sense…” Well, there goes the ‘guardian angel’ idea I was thinking about. If the combat strength of a spirit is low after materializing, they can’t be used to protect people from life or death situations.

Though… that did get me thinking, and I pulled up the market window to look at something. Or to be more specific, to look for something. “Irena, another idea… this one for a class I am thinking about creating.” Her head shot up as she heard that, interest suddenly clear in her eyes. Since the beginning, spirits typically only had access to two, maybe three classes if they were lucky.

“What do you think of a ‘Guardian Spirit’ class? A class that is specifically built to protect the living from harm. After designating either a person or a location, they become its guardian. They wouldn’t live in the Underworld with other spirits, but in the living worlds. And in order to sustain themselves with spiritual energy, they would take from those they protect.”

The goddess of death raised a curious eyebrow as she considered that. “It could work. But, wouldn’t the feeding process ultimately harm the people that the guardian is meant to protect?”

“Possibly… but I don’t think that will be an issue for Earth. If I understand the system properly, it would divide the ‘tribute’ among the number of people being protected. So, if someone were to protect a city of thousands, then it would not even take one percent of a single unit of energy to maintain them each year.”

“As for a personal guardian, they would mostly be there to ensure that someone survived long enough to become strong and able to take care of themselves. That implies gaining levels, which would replenish their spiritual energy.”

Hearing my explanation, Irena offered a small nod of understanding. “I… can see that working. A spirit specifically designed to be able to manifest and fight normally, by borrowing the powers of those it wishes to protect.”

To be honest, it was something that I was surprised wasn’t on the market already. However, in a way it made sense. It was already possible for spirits to manifest to protect people, this just turned it into a class specialized for that.

Since Irena seemed to agree that it would be a good idea, I went ahead and submitted it to the system. Unsurprisingly, the class only cost ten points as a base price, meaning I’d only be getting a single point in royalties from it. However, this could become a big help later on. A guardian spirit could become a key defense in the Keeper Games, I think.

“Alright. Next time you speak with your Governor, tell him to begin a training program for guardian spirits. Their primary jobs for now will be to defend against monsters, not people. We don’t need them getting slaughtered in the wars of the living.”

Irena offered a small smile and a nod. “Already done, Dale. I expect that we’ll be seeing results from this shortly.”

I gave a small nod as I heard that, agreeing with her assessment. “Alright, then I’ll be speeding up Earth soon. I’ve been forced to realize lately just how lacking it is compared to where it should be. If we want to be able to compete later on, our level of magical engineering has to grow by a lot.”

This was actually very true. From the voyage I had taken, I saw plenty of things. I saw how it was possible for enchantments made of tier one and tier two magic to withstand the blows of powerful monsters. However, such enchantments were so rare, and only placed on those important ships. Aside from the items we got in the dungeon, very few members of the crew had a single magical item on them!

Before the world is ready to fully move into the third tier, I think that there are some things that need to be done. Magical weapons that can be mounted on city walls to defend against monster invasions, long range communication artifacts, maybe even an item to allow for flight. From what I could tell, all of these would be possible to create with enchanting. And more importantly, enchanting was such an easy thing to mass produce, as long as you had the mages for it.

Irena and I exchanged a few words, before I left back to my room. Leowynn seemed to just now be starting to wake up, slowly rising from the bed as I entered and rubbing her eyes. “Hmm… hello, father. How long was I asleep?”

I shook my head with a small chuckle at that. “Not sure. I keep forgetting to add clocks around the place. Though can’t say I’d easily be able to read them anyways… standard time can get confusing if you’re not used to it.”

Only allowed on

Leowynn looked blankly at me, clearly not understanding what I meant. She hadn’t been there when I had discovered about Keeper Standard Time, so the only method of tracking time that she was familiar with would be that of Earth. “Well… what are we going to do now?”

“I was thinking of fast forwarding a while.” I answered honestly, while sending a heads up to Ryone. Out of anyone, she would be the most useful in solving the missing symbols to finish our tier one and two magical knowledge. “Want to watch?”

Leowynn smiled slightly, moving towards the edge of the bed and rising up from it. After nearly falling back down, she laughed and made her way towards me at my desk. “Sure…”

I opened up the culture window, while also keeping track of my point balance. After collecting my royalties, and the accrued cultural advancements, I was brought up to just under three thousand points again. And most of this seemed to be recent, with dozens of Keepers buying the new Card Law and Card Magic systems.

I felt a small sigh of relief escape me when I saw my balance shooting up like that, since I was about to need to spend it like crazy. Going through each of the six continents, I chose one kingdom each to spend a hundred points on, focusing their future development on magical research. And yes, I was a bit biased and chose the elven kingdom where my Host was staying for theirs… given what happened before, I wasn’t sure the western kingdom Hetheros would be able to survive much longer.

With that out of the way, I set several alarms, marking various benchmarks of cultural development and finally hit the great fast forward button. If none of the conditions were met, it would move a full two thousand years in one leap… though I doubted that it would take even half that time.

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