There wasn’t really much to talk about when it came to the training with Terra. After I cheered her up by scratching her ears a bit, she took the two of us to a wide meadow to demonstrate the Ten Thousand Threads and the Thousand Arms martial arts separately. As for what I was able to learn from it… well, my improvement wasn’t nothing, at least. However, I was not able to take away as much as I had hoped.
After that hour of study, I was able to come to a pretty solid conclusion. One that Terra was more than happy to back me up on. “It’s just a matter of practice, Dale.” She said to me with a sigh, finally pulling back the energies that she was releasing into her surroundings. “You’ve got the drive and the talent, you just aren’t well practiced with splitting your mind like this art requires. The fact that you’ve already managed to come as far as you have shows just how stubborn you’’ve been about it.”
I couldn’t help but laugh bitterly when she put it that way. “Do you think that I’d be better off just getting a pure ki art instead?” I couldn’t help but ask as I glanced towards her.
Terra sank into thought for a few moments, but ultimately shook her head. “It’s really your own decision to make, Dale. Will you be able to progress faster by using a ki art? Possibly, yes. But at the same time, any of those arts that you can buy on the market won’t be the truly powerful ones.”
“Yeah, I saw one of those.” I pointed out. “I take it that people like to develop their own powerful abilities on their own, without the system’s guidance.”
Terra gave a brief nod at that. “That’s right, Dale. Most techniques on the market fall under two categories. Either the Keeper wanted to list them to preserve a story behind them, or they wanted the system’s help to complete a technique they were attempting to create. Your Aki Seppo falls into the first category, while the Thousand Arms, Ten Thousand Threads falls into the second.”
I could just imagine that. Someone wanting to create a martial art focused on multitasking, to bring their frame of mind closer to that of a companion. Part of me wondered how many Keepers had actually practiced it to completion. “So, I should continue practicing what I have, while trying to make something of my own.”
Terra didn’t answer directly, only offering a small smile while moving the two of us back to the bedroom. “Everyone has their own path to strength, Dale. I can help you on your path, but I can’t show it to you. Otherwise, it’s no longer your own path, is it?”
Honestly, that just sounded like a well worded excuse for ‘the system won’t let me say anything else’. “You seem to be able to do a lot more lately.” I couldn’t help but point out, drawing a laugh from Terra.
“The further along you go, the more I can do. Almost every restriction, as you’ve learned, has a way to be unlocked. I just can’t tell you how to do it. Of course, there are some that can’t be unlocked, but those are there to protect the Keepers.”
I gave a small nod at that. “Like revealing info of other Keepers, or managing your own world.”
Terra’s lips pursed together as I mentioned that, her ears drooping slightly for a moment. “Right. After all, a world designed by a System Companion would be able to unbalance the games, simply because we know what we can do.”
Sighing, I shook my head and reached out to take her hand, doing my best to comfort her. “You’re still able to help out in plenty of ways.” I told her, offering a soft smile. “And we can find plenty of ways for you to have fun.”
Her lips began to tug upwards as I encouraged her, and she gave a small nod. “Yeah, you’re right. And if I don’t have enough fun, I can just find you or Ryone to fix that.” She added on playfully, eyeing me again.
I rolled my eyes, leaning over and planting a brief kiss on her cheek. “Sure. But first, could I ask you to do me a favor, for when I unpause Earth?”
She started to pout again when it seemed I wouldn’t take that bait again, but simply let out another sigh. “Alright, what is it?”
“I want you and the other beastkin goddesses to pass on an edict to end the war between the beastkin and humans.” I said simply. I had seen the situation of the two races before I left for the meeting. Although their war was not as intense anymore, it was still ongoing. It seemed more like a tradition to fight at this point more than actual hatred.
Terra groaned, falling down on top of the bed when she heard my request. “Gah, we tried that already. Barely ten years into the war, when it looked like it wouldn’t stop, we all sent an order to every priest and church to put an end to the war. You know what they did? They launched a full scale assault. Their idea of ending it was to try to end it quickly.”
I blinked as I looked at her. I wasn’t really surprised that they had sent an order like that down. “I wasn’t meaning to the churches, though…”
Terra’s eyes opened wide, and she suddenly sat up in the bed, looking at me with an excited expression. “You’ll finally let us use them, really?!”
I felt a grin break out on my face as I nodded. “Yeah, I think this will be a good situation for you to put your ninjas to work. They haven’t been taking part in this war, right?”
Terra shook her head, the excitement still evident on her face. “No, we asked them a long time ago to keep themselves secluded to grow outside of the influence of the kingdoms. They have always been their own power, and have refused any commands from any kingdom for aid.”
“There was one point where a queen demanded them to help with the war, and sent her army into the forest. She woke up the next morning with the heads of her army arranged in her throne room, a reminder that the forest is the land of the ninjas.”
I gave a small shudder as I heard that, surprised by the brutality of the ninjas. However, Terra quickly shook her head and looked at me. “They’re not savages, though! They only did that because the army was threatening to destroy their homes. They’ve even taken in volunteers that go into the forest hoping to join them.”
“Do they still have that statue?” I asked, not quite sure I wanted to know the answer. However, Terra’s growing grin told me more than her words.
“Oh yeah… they’ve got it.” She told me, not wishing to elaborate.
I shook my head with a sigh, slowly standing up. “Alright… back to training.” I told her, drawing a frustrated groan from Terra. Still, she didn’t really object, and simply watched me continue to train with my chakra.
Like this, my training went on for a few days. Every now and then, I would stop to test myself against either Keliope or Accalia’s monsters. Although it was slow, I could see a vague improvement in my performance in the amount of time it took me to lose. In fact, every now and then I even managed to beat them.
My skills weren’t perfect by any definition. Far from it, they weren’t even decent for my level. But I was able to beat monsters just as strong as myself, which showed that my skills were passable. After all… how often am I going to come across someone on the same level of power as myself, if I’m not in one of those tournaments?
Finally, roughly six days after we had returned from the tournament, I received a message from Tubrock, calling me down to the forge. When I arrived, I found the assembly line replaced by three wide platforms, each filled with engraved concentric circles. These didn’t really look like a ‘gate’, as I would call it, but given the context of the situation, I had to assume that they were the Fairy Gates.
“You managed to finish them, huh?” I asked as I looked at the three platforms, drawing a small scoff from Tubrock.
“Aye. Got the gates set up now and ready to install, and I’ve made two copies of each Gate Key.” As he mentioned the keys, He lifted his hands, where six circular plates appeared. “According to the blueprints, ye just slap one of these in the center, and it will lock onto the target world. Otherwise, ye could end up anywhere.”
I nodded my head as I saw that, glancing back towards the wall of his forge, where he had shown me his little project room. “And how much longer do you need to get everything else finished?”
Judging from how his beard lifted up slightly, he seemed to grin at the question. “If ye let me bring the Sky Citadel up here, I could have it done in three months. Down on Earth, it’d be closer to a hundred years to make all the changes we need.”
“Of course, that hundred years is closer to three seconds, really.” And while I wasn’t against three more months of waiting around and doing nothing, I’m… pretty against three months of waiting around and doing nothing but training.
“Aye.” Tubrock answered with a nod. “Though now I be having a better power source for the citadel, so it will be airworthy even if you aren’t feeding it.”
I gave another small nod at that. It would certainly make things more helpful if the Sky Citadel could be seen as a constant symbol of authority, even when I wasn’t around. “Alright. Once I get back to my room, I’ll set another fast forward. After that, we can install the gates down on the three worlds, and get everything started.”
Tubrock gave a hearty laugh at that, and the two of us quickly parted ways. On my way back towards my room, I met up with Aurvy who decided to accompany me the rest of the way. “So, is it true? Are the ninjas finally being put to work?” She asked in every bit the excited tone that Terra had spoken with.
“Yes, yes, it’s true.” I answered helplessly. I knew that Aurivy had been waiting a long time to see the ninjas sent out for some real work. After all, it was her and Terra that had originally orchestrated the creation of the ninja forest in the first place, after I taught the class to a select few.
Though, that did make me think of something. “Now that the status orbs are being distributed, won’t there be more people learning how to be a ninja?” I asked, glancing down towards Aurivy as we walked to my bedroom.
“Meh.” She answered simply, shrugging her shoulders. “They get the class, but so what? The ninjas of the forest have been studying ki, mana, and chakra extensively for thousands of years. Other people who get the class are just third-rate ninjas compared to them, believe it!”
I let out a low groan as I heard that explanation, shaking my head. “Sure, I’ll take your word for it…” She did have a point, as I had even witnessed some of their at the time groundbreaking discoveries. “I take it you’ll be watching to see how they handle the situation?” I asked, sending a curious glance towards her.
“Yup!” She nodded her head happily, moving along next to me. “Besides, I might as well stick with you for now. You’ll need my divine power when you decide to install the gates.” And again, she had a point…