I was alone in the living room for several hours, slowly piecing through the information on how to use ki, until a particular ability caught my eye. In the third tier of ki usage, it began to describe the process of integrating ki with the space around you. Given the power that MissTerry had shown in the tournament, I had to guess that this was what paved the way to the technique he used.
For the third tier of ki, it became possible to create an area of turgid space. While it wasn’t as powerful as creating fractures in the air, or as stable as creating a hole in space to teleport, I couldn’t help but feel that those techniques would begin appearing starting in the fourth tier.
Turgid space might not sound like much of a problem, but it was actually still a powerful ability. It could slow, or even altogether stop projectiles, disrupt aim, and cause people to be unable to exert their full mobility. Seeing the potential, I modified the ki path I had designed to allow me to use the technique.
“Haah…” Suddenly as I was finishing up, I heard a light yawn from behind me. Turning my head, I saw that it was Leowynn. She looked like she had just woken up, so I could only assume that she had decided to take a nap while everyone else was resting.
“Had enough sleep?” I asked with a light chuckle, setting the two information globes down and turning to face her.
“Yeah… couldn’t get back to sleep. Working on your training again?” She glanced down towards the discarded globes. When I nodded, she let out a sigh. “I should probably take a look at the spiritual energy ones, huh?”
“I’m more surprised that you hadn’t already.”
Hearing that, Leowynn grinned, moving to sit next to me on the couch. “Well, everyone knew that they’d be so busy once the worlds connected… So they wanted to have a lot of fun beforehand. Now that they’re all busy taking care of worldly affairs, I have a lot more time to just spend training.”
I nodded my head, closing my eyes and focusing briefly. “Well, you’ll have to get with Irena and Ryone about the first tier but…” I lifted up my hands, calling the two information globes on spiritual energy from the desk in my room. “These will help with the more advanced studies.”
Leowynn offered a small smile, reaching out to take the two items. “Just think… thousands of years worth of research… And it just fits in the palm of your hand. More than that, even. With what Irena’s said… these three tiers could represent tens of thousands of years worth of knowledge.”
I couldn’t help but laugh lightly when I heard that. “You sound so excited about it now… but just wait. Spiritual energy isn’t so easy to understand. I had to give up with the more complicated subjects. Though… I feel like we might be able to release your Goddess Sky powers with the knowledge in them. Maybe even reach the final stage.”
When Leowynn heard that, her eyes opened wide. So far, the two of us had been unable to use any constellations from the Sky of the Goddess with Aki Seppo, but it was very likely that the information we needed was contained in those globes. And even beyond that, Aki Seppo had a second stage of release, and even a third.
Seeing her clutch the two glowing spheres, I smiled, reaching out and patting her on the shoulder. “Looks like you found your motivation to start training again.”
Leowynn nodded her head sharply, a look of barely disguised excitement on her face. “I guess I’ve rested long enough… I suppose it’s been a little over a year now since I really pushed myself.”
As she was standing up, she briefly paused, turning to look at me. “After I’m done, we may need to pay a visit to the Underworld. My level won’t grow unless I absorb spiritual energy, and that is the best place to do so.”
“Sounds easy enough.” I said, easily agreeing to her request. Her eyes had become more serious than I remember seeing them since her death. If before she was just enjoying being able to live with all of us, now it seemed like she was truly ready to put her entire focus into growing stronger.
Leowynn glanced down to the orbs, and then back to me. As if wanting to test something, she let her body dissipate into smoke, returning to my spiritual realm. I could see the information globes floating with the mist towards me, but they did not enter my body as well. Instead, they knocked harmlessly against my chest, falling onto my lap.
With a disappointed sigh, Leowynn emerged once again in the same manner that she had disappeared. “Looks like I’ll have to take care of my training while we’re up here. I’ll go to find Irena then, Father.” She said, turning to bow towards me before walking off with hurried steps.
I was going to go back to my room to see if the others were starting to recover enough for the next stage of the plan, but I wanted to give Leowynn at least a few hours to begin studying the new information that had been suddenly given to her. If I had opened up the possibility of releasing her full power, only to lock her up within my spiritual realm again immediately afterwards… well, I wouldn’t be able to blame her for being upset at that point.
Instead, I first decided to get an ‘expert’ opinion on my world. Right now, there were three Keepers that I was familiar enough with to trust. Those were Kathy, Balu, and Grimor. Out of those three, Kathy was still fairly new as a Keeper herself, while Grimor was likely still busy overseeing the meeting. Thus, I opened the menu, and sent a message towards the third Keeper. According to Grimor, she should be experienced in managing and creating worlds, as she was one of their Avengers.
EarthForceOne: Hey Balu, are you free?
Starkiller: Who are you, and how do you know my name?
Her reply wasn’t immediate, but it did shock me somewhat. Thinking back, I recalled a certain aspect of her personality from watching her game with Bihena… she had short term memory problems.
EarthForceOne: I’m Dale, Bihena’s Keeper?
Starkiller: Oh, I’m sorry! I forgot your Keeper title! How’s Bihena doing? Did you guys manage to get into the games yet?
EarthForceOne: She’s doing fine, just resting. And yeah, we got in. I was wondering if I could consult you about my world, and see if there were any major issues you spotted, since you’ve been at this longer.
After sending that message, I had to wait for a little while for a response. I wasn’t sure if she was excited, or if she had to consult someone about it, or even if she just wasn’t sure if she should do it or not. However, I did eventually receive an answer.
Starkiller: Uhm… well… the guild won’t let me do a consultation for free. Not now that you’re in the games. You’re still new, and a friend, so I can probably do it really cheap, though?
EarthForceOne: And… what counts as cheap?
Starkiller: Well, you’re a rank 1 Keeper, so the prices wouldn’t get too high. Normally, it’d cost about two thousand for a full consultation from the guild. Since you’re really new, and I want to say I can trust you, I can try to do it for only five hundred?
I couldn’t help but let out a sigh as I heard that. It wouldn’t be too hard to ask around to confirm their normal prices, so I wasn’t afraid that she was lying to try to extort me. Above all else, any information broker had to maintain a reputation of honesty, or else nobody would trust them enough to use their services. That’s one of the reasons why I was so comfortable with the idea of asking Starkiller for this in the first place.
EarthForceOne: Can you tell me what exactly is covered in the consultation fee? I don’t want to spend that many points without knowing, first.
Starkiller: Oh, of course! Really… well, you show me whatever you are comfortable with, and I give you my opinion as a veteran Keeper, as well as any advice about flawed systems or systems that would help complete your world.
Starkiller: Also! Almost forgot, but the information you give me is confidential. Guild rules prohibit me from even sharing the information with the rest of my guild, unless I pay you for it.
Seeing the second message sent in so quickly after the first, I raised my eyebrows in surprise. Honestly, I had assumed that information from the consultations would be shared among the guild, used for when someone wanted to buy the information about me.
EarthForceOne: Just curious, but how much does the guild pay for that kind of information?
Starkiller: You’re a rank 1 keeper, so we can’t pay that much… It really depends on the amount of information you give. If you told me everything, and let me see your world for myself, I could maybe offer five thousand? I could really only make the offer after I see what you give me.
I had no intention of fully revealing my world to any Keeper, whether they seemed trustworthy or not. I might be willing to do business, but I didn’t want to put my neck on the chopping block like that.
EarthForceOne: Well, we can talk about that later. For the consultation, do I have to pay you before inviting you over?
Starkiller: Nope! All transactions are only completed after any information has been exchanged.
EarthForceOne: Doesn’t that seem pretty bad for business..?
Starkiller: You mean someone trying to rip us off, right? If they do that, we put them on the blacklist. We don’t do business with anyone on the blacklist, and they can’t come to our meetings. People don’t usually like being on the blacklist.
Well… that’s better than them going on the ‘murder’ list, I guess. Though, with the Gilded Branch seeming to have the monopoly on information exchange, at least from what I’ve seen, I doubted that many people would risk damaging their relationship with them.
EarthForceOne: Alright… how do I invite you over?
Starkiller: Just open up your menu! There should be a new entry for ‘invite’. Enter in my title, set the permissions, and it will send me an invitation!
Giving a small nod, I opened the menu. Indeed, there was a new option that I did not remember seeing before. When I selected it, and chose to invite Starkiller, I was presented with a new window.
Please determine the level of permissions that you wish to grant.
None – Visiting Keeper can not alter the Administration Room in any way, and cannot interact with the objects in it.
Guest – Visiting Keeper can not alter the Administration Room, but can interact with objects or systems installed.
Designer – Visiting Keeper can alter the Administration Room
I wasn’t sure if the computer that Terra had set up for me counted as an object or system that a visiting Keeper would be able to interact with. So, while I selected the Guest privilege, I also sealed off the hallway leading towards the bedrooms, that way there was no risk there.
Once I selected the permission, I simply sat back in the couch and waited. Part of me was curious what method of transportation she would wind up with, until I heard a faint noise. Like an echoing scream from above me.
Looking up, I saw a hole had opened up in the ceiling of the room, and quickly dove out of the way. A few moments later, a bundle of white fur in a red dress plummeted down onto the couch, landing with a loud crash. “Owowowow… That one is always annoying…” Balu said as she rubbed her head with her furred palms.