I briefly debated with myself whether I should find Grimor to talk to him before going back, or wait until I was in my own Admin Room. Ultimately, I decided to wait. I didn’t want to have a question about whether or not Balu was really trustworthy when anyone could just eavesdrop on it, including the girl herself.
Yes, it may be rude to talk about someone behind their back like this, but when you consider that situations like this could mean the life and death of hundreds of millions of people, maybe even billions by now… Better safe than sorry. Bihena and I gave our brief farewells to both Kathy and Balu, who both once again expressed an interest in seeing our Admin Room when we could invite other people into it freely.
Once we had chosen to leave, I mentally braced myself again. Yes, I might be embarrassing myself if something simple happens, but in the end I was glad that I did. This transfer method was not exactly a nice one.
The floor around mine and Bihena’s feet began to shift like sand, before seeming to liquify. Our bodies lowered for just a moment, making me think we were going to fall through the floor, until I saw a trio of black fins rising up from the ground. “Ohh, I hate this one.” Balu said quietly, quickly jumping back away from us and pulling Kathy with her.
“Dale…” Bihena looked at me worriedly, her eyes wide with a hint of fright. The trio of fins sank and rose above the ground as they circled us, one in front and two behind. With how they always maintained the same position, it was clear that they were part of one creature.
Soon, my assumptions were confirmed, when the creature rose enough that a section of its smooth black back was exposed. Wide and smooth like rubber, a wet sheen causing the light to reflect off of it. By now, some of the other Keepers were looking our way. Some had looks of pity, others fear, and still more curious.
I felt a hand in mine, and looked over to see Bihena gripping it. The land shark, for that was the only thing I could call it, was starting to move further away. Or… to be more accurate, it was lining up to attack. Our feet were stuck in the ground, unable to move now that we had decided to leave, and the ‘animation’ was in effect.
When we saw the trio of fins turning towards us, we knew it was almost over. However, what we weren’t prepared for was the sheer size of the creature’s body. From snout to tail, the shark was twenty meters long, and five wide. Its mouth, when it opened it, did not contain endless rows of teeth. Instead, there was a swirling black mass that seemed to suck everything in.
As it approached, the creature leapt out of the floor, rising up enough that its giant jaws completely engulfed mine and Bihena’s bodies. I closed my eyes tight, clenching my fists as I heard Bihena let out a screech. My entire body seemed to tighten as it was pulled towards the black mass in the center of the shark.
Twisting, snapping, breaking, my body screamed out at me in pain as I was broken down further and further. I could faintly hear the whimpered cry of Bihena beside me, before everything seemed to happen in reverse. Suddenly, I felt myself being pushed away from the previous suction force, my body warping back to normal until I crashed into something hard. From behind my eyelids, I could see a faint light.
My hand was still holding onto Bihena’s, but I found something else. A viscous liquid covering the entirety of my body, dripping off in large globs and falling to the floor with a splat. Bihena let out a brief whimper from next to me after a long moment, but soon we heard another familiar voice.
“Oh my god, Dale!” Aurivy shouted from somewhere off to the side. “What are you covered in?!”
“Don’t know… Don’t care… Not a fan…” I muttered out, my own voice sounding distorted to me. I brought my free hand up to my face to wipe at my eyes, uncovering them enough to open. “Did anyone see what happened?”
Finally, I saw Aurivy standing next to me. We seemed to be in the hallway outside my bedroom, and she was the only one in sight. “I don’t think so…” She answered with a shake of her head. “I just heard a large crash and came to check it out. Is… is Bihena okay?”
“I’mfine.” Bihena herself answered, speaking so quickly that it sounded like one word. “Just… Just let me clean up.” Her voice was still shaking, and it was clear that fine was very far from what she was. However… I knew that she would be able to get past that.
Her words reminded me of something important. Closing my eyes again, I focused on cleaning myself. Removing all the sickly green gunk covering mine and Bihena’s bodies. What I could only assume was the gastric fluids of the shark after it vomited us back up. “I hate that one.” I found myself agreeing easily with Balu’s opinion of this transport method.
Once the gunk had been removed from Bihena’s body, she seemed to visibly relax, her body sagging against the wall. “Agreed… I promise not to make fun of you next time a door appears.” She said weakly, turning her head to look at Aurivy.
When Aurivy saw Bihena stretch out her two arms, a knowing smile gradually appeared on her face. She walked around me so that she was in front of Bihena, and then crouched down to sit in the human goddess’s lap. “There, there.” Aurivy spoke in a teasing tone.
“Talk later. Need healing now.” Bihena scolded softly, shaking her head as she wrapped her arms around Aurivy, simply choosing to hug her. I raised a curious eyebrow at the sight, before shaking my head with a light laugh.
Releasing Bihena’s hand, I moved over towards my room, since we had appeared directly next to the door. Before entering, I glanced down to the two of them. “I’ll be back once I check on things and see what we can get with our budget.”
Aurivy giggled, turning her head to nod at me from within Bihena’s embrace on the floor. Once I was in the room, I found that Terra wasn’t present. Likely, she was with one of the others. Otherwise, she would have probably come to check out what happened when we got spit up as well.
Shaking my head and shivering at the memory, I moved over towards my computer. It had been over a day since the announcement at the Keeper meeting about the card magic, and people even had the chance to see it in action at the tournament. So now, hopefully I would be able to earn some more royalties.
Thankfully, I saw that a total of two hundred and sixteen people had bought the Card Law system since I last checked. And out of them, a hundred and sixteen bought Card Magic. In total, that was just over forty-five hundred points of royalties.
Since I had paused the world before leaving, there obviously wasn’t any technology advancement, but I was still able to receive a couple hundred points since the last time I collected. This brought my grand total, counting what we earned in the meeting, to just shy of fifteen thousand.
“Thank whatever almighty power is out there for free advertisement.” I muttered to myself, knowing that the Gilded Branch’s advertisement likely drew in a large portion of those ‘customers’ to purchase my system.
Once again, I ran some quick math in my head to determine what we needed. Just to get the gates set up, we needed tier three of all of our energies aside from divine. That meant we had to purchase four tier three information globes. Add on the need for the three tier two ones for ki, spiritual energy, and natural energy, and the price came to nine thousand even.
I had also promised to get Udona the next tier of monsters and cards when the gates opened, so that is another eighteen hundred and fifty points. Finally, I needed to buy the other systems for both Deckan and Desbar, so that they could be fully integrated with Earth. That was going to be the difficult part.
Going back through the list of systems that I had purchased for Earth, and adding their costs in for each of the new worlds, the grand total price came to just under thirteen thousand. This price was enough to make me start to sweat, but I had pulled up a calculator on the computer to double check my math.
“Okay… First thing’s first.” I muttered to myself, sending a message to Ryone. We’re back now, and we have all the points we need. I’m going to go ahead and buy the information, that way you and Tubrock can work on the gates. That shouldn’t boost our world power any, since it’s not something in our world.
Welcome back! And understood. I’ll be by shortly to collect them so we can get started. I take it Bihena performed admirably? She seemed to have a hint of expectation in her voice when she asked that.
Right now she’s a nervous wreck receiving ‘healing’ from Aurivy in the hall. But while we were there, yes, she was fine. I decided to tease Bihena indirectly by only telling half the truth. Though, I’m sure that will come back to bite me later.
Ryone didn’t reply for a long moment, as if stunned by the message I had sent. Eventually, however, I heard her voice in my mind again. Wow, that must have really been something. Anyways, standard rules of no teaching the mortals what mortal are meant to learn for themselves?
For now, at least. I confirmed with a nod. Once the gates were in place, I was going to enter a rather serious training phase while the world adjusted to everything that was being added. If they haven’t learned enough when it’s getting closer to time, we can have everyone teach them for a couple hundred years or so to make sure that they are ready.
After fighting in the tournament, I was actually fairly confident of my chances in the Keeper Games, at least for the first tier. Just looking at the level of power that a first tier Keeper had let me compare myself with what was expected. While I may not be a match for them presently… that was bound to change as soon as I lifted the level limit of the world, and trained my world’s skills.
Without wasting any more time, I purchased the tiers of knowledge for the four energies. I held off on buying the third tier of monsters and magic for Udona’s world for now, since I wanted to wait until the gates were actually done for that. I saw myself how powerful the cards could be when unleashed, and didn’t want to take the risk that flooding Udona’s world with them would push me into the games even earlier than expected.
Finally, I fired off a message through the system. I hadn’t forgotten about my interest in learning more about the ‘adorable’ acting StarKiller. I had just been delayed due to getting things ready. So I spoke to Alkahest while the information globes began to form in front of me, turning into seven balls of shining blue light.
EarthForceOne: You free for a moment?
Alkahest: Ah, you went back already? Sure, what do you need?
EarthForceOne: One of my companions became friendly with another Keeper, and I want to make sure that they don’t have a bad reputation or anything, before I consider inviting them to my Admin Room later.
Alkahest: Alright. I guess that sounds fair enough. Remember, we’re information brokers, Dale. If you want detailed info on something, it’ll cost you. Though, what we can provide is typically limited. If it’s just which side of the line they’re on, I can probably hand that out for free.
I tensed up slightly when Alkahest mentioned the possibility of a fee. I was experiencing firsthand the scale of points that experienced Keepers dealt with, so I could only imagine how much the personal information of an older Keeper would cost. Thankfully, a simple ‘can they be trusted’ was a free service, or I might not be able to afford it at all.
EarthForceOne: The Keeper’s title is StarKiller.
Alkahest: Oh! You met Balu? Yeah, you have nothing to worry about. She’s actually one of ours, in the guild. Part of that Avenger branch I told you about. As long as you’re not one of the bloodthirsty types, she’s totally harmless. That’s all I can say for free, though. Sure you understand?
I sent a quick message saying that I did. It was surprising to learn that Balu was a member of the Gilded Branch, but less so once I found out she was in the Avenger branch. The way that she spoke about the living spell, it was obvious that she had seen struggles at that level repeatedly. And if she developed her own profound laws for her world, that meant that she has been in the ‘business’ for a long time.
EarthForceOne: I’m a bit strapped for points, so not sure if I can afford the answer to this, but I’m honestly just curious… Has she been around since before the titles were handed out? StarKiller just doesn’t really seem to fit her at all.
There was a pause as Alkahest seemed to be considering whether or not to respond to me. However, a few minutes later, I received a message back.
Alkahest: Nah, that was her predecessor. She came in a few years later. Like so many other unfortunate souls, she inherited a title completely contradictory to her character.
I couldn’t help but chuckle as I read that, thinking back to MissTerry in the tournament. It was obvious that the one who made that name should have been a woman, and he had inherited the title as well. Though, that made me think about how long it must have been since the titles became a thing. After all, MissTerry had become powerful enough through their own training to create the technique that destroyed me in the tournament.
Terra had once told me that it was two generations of Keepers ago when the names appeared. However, if I recall right, that should have been the Keeper that had a space-age tech-themed Earth. There was no telling how long he was around before he died, so that was a long timespan to work with. Of course, it’s not like it mattered all that much, just my idle curiosity.