In the human kingdom of Hanbei, the queen sat upon her throne, reviewing the message that had just arrived from her neighboring countries. A message that had gone out to all human empires, regardless of political alliances. The Keeper wants a voice, does he?
The image of the Keeper was still fresh in her mind. A rather unassuming male, one who looked built to be a servant rather than a king. No bulging muscles, no deep insightful gaze. Yet, she also remembered the power that she felt from him during his little announcement. An unmatchable power, something that could likely destroy an entire kingdom with ease.
The queen wished that she herself could become his voice. To latch onto that power and aim it at her enemies. But, looking down at herself, she knew that it was a lost cause. She was already well into her later years, with neither beauty nor strength to support her claim.
So, she settled for the next best thing. Looking to her scribe, she gave him a meaningful gaze, at which he pulled out pen and paper. “Let word be spread to every corner of my domain. Any single woman of marriageable age is to report for the chance at being the Voice of the Keeper.”
These were the words written by King Ardas, who had personally met with the Keeper. This would determine which kingdom was the closest to the goddess, and to the one she served. Only the most beautiful woman could be chosen.
To the queen, the suggestion made sense. Although she only knew of the barbarian races among those serving the Keeper, all but two of the deities had been female. Even by human standards, most had been true beauties. And with the Keeper himself appearing human, it was no wonder if he had a human’s ideals.
Thankfully, this selection method was perfect for Hanbei, the empire which had been striving for physical perfection since the First Queen rose to the throne. And has continued to do so even after she walked her final journey. There was no shortage of beautiful women, as ki held the power to reshape appearances. If not for her age already reaching the sixties, her face as well would be young and remarkable.
As the scribe rushed out of the hall with the message, the queen let a cold smile float up onto her face. As far as she was concerned, this contest was as good as won already.
To my surprise, the fast forward came to a dead stop only a few moments after I hit the button. Rather than ten years, not even six had gone by. And as I was looking to see what alarm had been triggered, Terra appeared next to me. “Sorry, Dale, that was me this time.” She said, an urgent look on her face.
“Okay… what happened?” I didn’t even know that she could stop the fast forward on her own, but if she was just now doing so, that means that something big should have happened.
“The Fairy Gates.” Terra began to explain, moving to sit on the bed behind my chair. “The others all asked me for an emergency stop so that you could be made aware of something that was happening.”
I blinked in confusion, glancing back towards the screen and then to her, waiting for her to continue. “The gates are letting monsters through from worlds other than the three you own.” She explained calmly, though her simple sentence made me open my eyes wide in surprise.
“Don’t worry, only one big one came through so far, and we mobilized the Citadel immediately to take care of it. Tubrock is working his factory overtime to pump out defensive structures to place around the gates to prevent it from being an issue in the future, but doing so means that you’ll have to avoid fast forwarding for a couple of days.”
“These other worlds…” I started to question, before Terra shook her head.
“Don’t worry, they aren’t worlds that belong to other Keepers. That still can’t happen outside of an invasion. Rather… think of it this way. You remember in the description of the gates, where entering without a key sends you to a random world?”
At my nod, she smiled knowingly. “The random worlds aren’t just the ones you own. The system will generate random worlds. And without a key to that world, it is nearly impossible to reach the same world twice for a mortal.”
“What’s happening now can be seen as the reverse of that. The system is randomly generating encounters at different intervals and sending them through the gate through one of those ‘unknown worlds’. It took them a few years to notice that the monsters weren’t coming from any of the known worlds, so they were just now able to have me pull an emergency stop.”
“And this was a flaw in the system that you couldn’t warn me about before?” I asked curiously, to which she nodded. “Okay… well, can you at least tell me what the requirements are for you to forcibly stop a fast forward?”
“Yup!” She nodded her head quickly. “It just never really came up before. As long as there is a unanimous agreement among the companions, I can forcefully stop a fast forward to alert you to an emergency. At least, unless you take away that permission.”
Terra raised her eyebrow at me, as if wondering whether I wanted to do just that. In response, I simply shook my head. It was better to have her able to warn me than to potentially miss a disaster I hadn’t prepared for by a hundred years…
“Okay… well, let’s go meet my representatives, then.” I said with a sigh as I stood up. I had given them nearly six years to decide who they wanted to represent them, so they should have chosen long ago by now.
“Do you want me to get the rest of them ready to ‘fill the seats’?” Terra asked, an amused smile on her lips as she said that. However, I shook my head again.
“No, it will be enough with just me this time. Let’s give the others a chance to rest. I’m sure some of them are still adjusting to their new domain.” Terra gave a brief nod when she heard that, and I sent a message to Leowynn, calling her back to me.
There was a brief hesitation before she responded, and soon I saw the grey mist flowing through the doorway of my room and into my body. We’re heading back down already? She asked once she was inside my spiritual realm.
It seems so… Sorry, I was hoping to give you some more time to train with Irena.
It’s okay, father. She said that she was going to try to get mother to teach her how to make those spheres, so that she could more easily teach me. It seemed that Leowynn wasn’t too upset at having to cut training early, at least.
I was just about to descend, when I recalled what I had decided before, to avoid the appearance of favoritism. I couldn’t exactly descend as a human for my first time meeting the representatives, or it would be said by all that I really did love the humans most.
Thinking it over, I instead decided to descend as a heroc. They were a race not governed by any god, so originally they might be seen as the ‘least loved’ race. Appearing as one now would make it so it seemed as if I were being more fair.
After my decision had been made, I felt the familiar blue light encompass me, sending me down to the throne room of my citadel. “Aurivy?” I called out to the empty room, my voice gravelly. Sure enough, the halfling goddess appeared in her throne, as if she had always been there, leaning to the side and peeking back at me.
“Yeah, bro?” She asked with a wide, emphatic smile.
“Please gather the representatives. I’d like to meet with them.” As I said that, I sat down in my throne, which thankfully grew to accommodate my new body.
“Understood!” Aurivy vanished, her body erupting into golden mist that spread throughout the room, splitting into ten strands that pooled together. Each small cloud of mist dissipated to reveal a person. Human, heroc, centaur, elf, demon, dwarf, halfling, daeva, and… two kitsune? Right, one for the beastkin of Earth, and one for Desbar.
The human was a female, standing tall and wearing a golden silk dress, which clung tightly to her somewhat exaggerated curves. She seemed surprised at the sudden transport, before noticing me sitting up on the throne. Her brows knit together slightly, but she seemed to be doing her best to keep her thoughts hidden from the surface. At least, until I focused on her, hearing her curse mentally at why I was not a human.
The heroc was a man, a warrior by the looks of him. A fresh cut was spread along his chest, and his hands dripped with blood. No doubt Aurivy had just pulled him out of a battle. When he saw me, a strange smile filled his face.
The centaur representative was… actually someone that I already was familiar with. Alme Dien, Tryval’s own daughter and Demigoddess of Youth. Looks like the centaurs won’t be needing a new representative any time soon…
For the elves, it looked like they had chosen a scholarly young man. Rather than trying to win me over with their looks, the man looked as if he wore religious robe. Long and blue, with golden embroidery in the shape of seemingly random spell components.
For the demons, they chose a man as well, his skin a dark red. The moment he appeared, he actually stumbled forward, slowly glancing around the room. From the tired expression on his face, I was forced to recall that demons were nocturnal creatures, and that I likely pulled him from his sleep wherever he had been.
The dwarf was a young, stout lady who still clutched a flagon of ale in one hand. She looked around at the others in surprise, before quickly downing the last of her drink and tossing the wooden cup aside as if to hide it.
The halfling representative… actually looked a lot like Aurivy. Her hair was blonde instead of pink, but many of her facial features were the same. She even wore the same outfit that Aurivy had recently taken a liking to, a blue skirt that went halfway down to her knees and a white, short sleeved shirt. Unlike the others, she simply smiled happily as she looked up towards the throne and saw me.
For the daeva, there was a slender man, his two white wings drawn back behind himself. He was momentarily surprised, but quickly composed himself as he stood at attention, every bit the business-oriented person I would expect from Irena’s people.
Lastly, there were the kitsune. The first wore a black dress to contrast her white hair and tail, smiling sleepily as she looked around the room. Another one that I no doubt pulled from their slumber.
The second… I looked to the sport where the second kitsune had appeared, only to find that she had already moved. Searching the room, I found her off to the side, where the dwarf’s cup had been tossed. She was crouched down on the floor, quickly scrubbing away at it with the cup stood up next to herself. Her hair and tail were golden, like Udona’s, and she was wearing… a maid uniform?
Though, what surprised me the most about her was her strength. Of the others, the heroc representative boasted the highest level, reaching a full two hundred and seventy five. However, this unassuming maid had even him beat. Her level had in less than six short years gone from the limit of two hundred and fifty all the way up to three hundred and twelve.
Another surprise came when she stood up, noticing my gaze on her. She quickly bowed low, her tail sticking down so as not to lift her skirt. “Apologies, my lord.” She spoke, making my eyes widen in shock. After all, she had spoken in fluent English.