Chapter 480: Dark Expanse

After spending some more time with the world spirit of Fyor, I finally left, returning once again to my cultivation location within Lorek. Part of me wanted to try to find James, to get a glimpse of his abilities. However, I was not naive to think that my mirrors were foolproof. 

If he truly did have wicked designs and was able to detect the mirror that I used to spy on him, he might be able to use an ability to follow it back to me. Worse yet, the elemental planes didn’t count as a realm that was within my domain as a Keeper due to how this world was set up. Meaning… even if I went back to the Admin Room, I wouldn’t be able to spy on him with the assistance of the system.

The best thing that I could do was get stronger. If he turned out to be a friend, my strength would aid me in my next battle. If not, it would aid me against him. Either way, it was important that I allow my host to cultivate.

Once I was set into the familiar rhythm of nurturing my internal star, I ascended back to the Admin Room. As I arrived, I saw Terra walking out of the bedroom, her face haggard. “Everything alright?”

“No.” She muttered, before shaking her head. “Sorry, it’s just that this has really never happened. Keepers are meant to have only one chance, and that’s it. If you die, game over. Your soul is shattered into fine powder and thrown into the endless stream, your memories recorded only in the system’s archives.”

I couldn’t help but raise an eyebrow at that. “So nobody has ever just done something like buying a companion with an old Keeper’s memories?”

“Oh, of course they have, but that’s different.” Terra offered a weak smile. “No matter how rebellious a companion is, they can’t directly cause the death of a Keeper. Like when Bihena got mad at you for the emotions you put in her head when you made her. She could rain hellfire down on the world, lead the people to slaughter one another, but she wouldn’t be able to kill you.

“James, on the other hand… he’s not a companion, but a creature legitimately born in this world. There aren’t any rules in place to protect you from him. If something happened, and he did end up killing you, he’d have another go at being the Keeper.”

I gave a small nod when I listened to that. If James was able to figure that out, it would be all the more reason to be wary of him. “I’m surprised that the system didn’t terminate him simply due to principle.”

“For better or worse, it doesn’t work that way, Dale.” Terra groaned, leading me out to the couch and having me sit down so that she could drape herself across my lap. “If something happens, it happens. This may go against procedure, but that’s just how it is. Just a really, really unlikely coincidence.”

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“And since it’s never happened before, I can’t ask for help from other Keepers.” I gave a small sigh at that. Well, maybe Grimor. He seemed like good friends with James, if I recall. The news that his friend miraculously survived may be taken quite well with him. Though, on that note… maybe don’t tell him until I am sure of James’ intentions.

If it really does turn out that James wants his ‘job’ back, Grimor might just find a way to help him get it. He was likely much closer to James than myself. Gah, why does it feel like I am paranoid about everything, all of a sudden?

I shook my head, reaching down to stroke a hand through Terra’s hair. “Regardless… I’m quite curious. Did you see that dagger that the world spirit was using?”

“Mhm…” Terra nodded her head, her eyes drifting shut. “Manifestation of natural and spiritual energy, the two working together to create a poison to target energy bodies. Pretty advanced technique, really. Would have been annoying for you to force the energy out yourself once afflicted.”

“So that’s what it was…” I gave a small nod, continuing to pet her hair. “Did I miss anything else while I was down there? Any progress with the AI?”

“Blank. It named itself Blank.” Terra informed me, but… really? Blank? “It’s been getting along pretty well with Vivi, and looks like it’s going to try to create its own game world soon.”

“Interesting… we can have Ashley deify him once he’s done with it. It’ll be a good learning experience for him.” If we were going to make him the God of Games like we planned, having personal experience creating games would surely help.

That reminded me about something else that I wanted, and I pulled up the system, checking my balance briefly before buying the fourth tier of ki. Now that I was focusing more on cultivation, it was especially important that I learn this. “Looks like it’s time for me to do my homework…”

You can create a WORLD? Sora asked in shock from within the shadow, gasping. She had been asleep when the achievement came through, resting from a previous battle. Thus, the information was especially shocking for her.

Apparently. Thelsa confirmed hesitantly. That’s what the window said, at least. I haven’t actually tried it, yet.

Well, what are you waiting for? Maria urged her excitedly. They had all waited for Sora to wake up so that nobody was left out from this event.

Okay… let’s see how this is done. Thelsa rose up from Petra’s shadow, patting the demoness’s shoulder. “You’ve done very good so far Petra. Would you mind watching over me for a few minutes?”

Petra gave a bright smile, nodding her head. “Sure thing, Thelsa! I won’t let anyone bother you!” After she said that, she turned around, her back facing Thelsa as her eyes began to scan the surroundings. Thelsa could already feel the darkness moving to Petra’s will, shadows shaking along the ground. However, the seriousness she gave to this gave Thelsa a warm feeling.

“Alright, let’s try this out.” And so, Thelsa focused, calling up her new ability. “Shadow of the World…” A quiet pulse of energy echoed within her words, the trees surrounding Petra and Thelsa beginning to grow darker. Her shadow began stretching at unnatural angles, spreading out in every direction.

You have created the Shadow of Fyor

Due to local interference, the Shadow of Fyor is incomplete. Name changed to Incomplete Shadow – Twenty Third Layer of Fyor.

The Saint of Shadows has claimed her first domain. While within her realm, her power will be increased, and shadows are more likely to come to her aid.

Thelsa read through the windows that appeared, but… they didn’t seem to register entirely. Her legs shook, and her head spun at an unfamiliar sensation. Her body suddenly felt… no, light wasn’t the word for it. As if there was a powerful gust of wind just at her back, supporting her.

Okay… this is cool. Maria muttered from within the shadow. Or, to be more accurate, from within the shadow realm. Previously, their shared shadow had been something akin to a large room. Thelsa had shaped it with her will over time to make it more comfortable, and because doing so helped train her abilities. She was able to create other rooms to help raise her shadows, but they always tried to stay in that one room to make it easier on her.

After she used the Shadow of the World, however, the walls of the room seemed to crumble. Maria and Sora found themselves standing within a dense jungle, one which almost perfectly mirrored the world outside. However, there was one key difference, that being that light and shadow had been reversed.

Anywhere that light shined on the outside world, there was only darkness within this realm. However, those areas of darkness beneath the canopy of trees instead became fairly well-lit.

While Maria and Sora were adjusting to the view, Petra spun around to help Thelsa stabilize herself. “Are you okay?” She asked, her eyes wide with concern.

“I’m… fine, I think.” Thelsa shook her head. “I just… need to adjust. This isn’t like leveling up.” As if the very inside of her head had expanded, Thelsa knew that she would need to take time to get used to this feeling. “For now, do you think you can make us a home in that world? I think the old one broke…”

Thelsa may be the Saint of Shadows, but Petra was the Demigoddess. She knew that reshaping a terrain made of her domain would be an even easier task than it would be for Thelsa herself. However, her words weren’t met with a confirmation. Rather, Petra’s eyes went wide once again in panic.

“Mister Snookums!” She cried out, diving into the shadow. Where are you… come on, Snooky, where’d you go?

Only allowed on

Is she… looking for her stuffed cat? Maria asked hesitantly within the shadow, watching Petra run through the forest hurriedly.

I think so, why? Did you see where it flew off to when the room changed? Sora asked in curiosity, eliciting a nod from the warrior.

Yeah, you could say that… I think it might have fused with one of these trees when the area was still forming… Maria pointed off towards the ‘bright shadow’ of a nearby tree, where the faintest tip of a black paw could be seen.

Sora went pale when she saw that/ May Ashley have mercy on all of us… Uhm… Petra, sweety? He’s over here…

“No, no, that won’t work at all.” Blank muttered, shaking his head quickly. He sat at a large table within a vast expanse of nothingness. Atop the table were four floating books, two on either side of him. Each book was open, their pages slowly flipping.

Kris was asleep, so Blank chose to slip away unseen, moving to his testing ground. “I like Geometric Magic the most, but… something is missing. Without full understanding of the magical laws, I can’t perfectly recreate the system. Anything less would simply be a flawed copy that restricted the ingenuity of a caster.”

“No, I need something better. Something mine.” Blank didn’t even seem to realize that he was talking to himself. But, in a way, he wasn’t. There was another pair of eyes watching him from the distance, the silver-skinned Vivi keeping watch on his progress. “Something that takes aspects from each of the three systems of magic.”

He thought on that idea for a moment, internally simulating the end result. “It won’t be useful for mages to practice with such a unique system. However, this is still only a trial. If I decipher the magical laws, perhaps my next world will include something better.”

Snapping his fingers, a pen appeared in his hand, and a fifth book materialized directly in front of himself. “Now, let’s get this started. I think I’ll call this… Binary Call.” As he said that, Blank began writing within the book, recording his ideas for this magic system. While understanding an existing set of magical laws fully was an insurmountable task for him, he found it much easier to envision how mana would react with his new system of magic.

“Pytharian’s Loop Casting might pose a bit of a problem here…” Blank muttered, one of the four books flipping its pages. “If I work the mana like this, it should be able to resolve itself…”

Within the void, Vivi gave a playful smile, nodding her head in satisfaction. She knew that he was almost ready, and was quite pleased in how this new AI was growing. After studying him for so long, she had even completed the second objective that Ashley gave her. She had found his God Key, the shifting string of characters within his code.

Naturally, she wasn’t able to solve his key herself, but she could give it to Ashley. The Goddess of Technology would no doubt have her ways to crack the code.

- my thoughts:
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