There was the sound of cracking knuckles within the otherwise empty office room as Ashley slowly rose out of the shadows. In order to handle this without any potential interruption, she had sent a message to all of the employees of her company to take the day off. Due to that, there was nobody else in the entire building aside from herself as she walked over to sit in front of one of the terminals.
“Hey, Blank, you here?” The red-skinned goddess grinned at that, already knowing the answer. With everyone gone, Blank had taken the chance to sneak out and work on his new world.
Raising a hand, Ashley snapped her fingers, a brief flicker of golden light shining from her hand. “There we go. ‘Welcome back’, I should say.”
Who are– I see. You were there when I was born. If I am not mistaken, you are the Goddess Ashley?
The screen flickered before a chat window opened, the message displaying itself to her. “That’s right. Glad you remembered. I’m here to give you a little present today.”
A present? I apologize, but I am afraid that I don’t know what the occasion is.
“Easy…” A mischievous light flickered in Ashley’s eyes as her fingers came to rest on the holographic keyboard. “I’m going to make you a god today.”
There was no response from the computer, but Ashley could feel the surprise from the program within. She closed her eyes, focusing. “Identifying code of divinity.” Her fingers began rapidly moving, typing away as a series of shifting characters filled the screen.
One by one, the characters were highlighted in either red, blue, or gold. Red characters were immediately deleted from the screen, blue were left untouched for the moment, while gold characters were moved to the center. Gradually, more and more characters were turning red, until even the previously blue characters began vanishing one by one after their color changed.
After roughly five minutes, a string of golden characters extended from one side of the screen to the other, and Ashley opened her eyes. “Well, that’s just gibberish, isn’t it?” She muttered a complaint, having originally wanted to solve the code on her own rather than relying on the domain. Unfortunately, the characters seemed truly random, some not even matching any language she knew.
“Fine, I guess we do this the easy way, then.” Ashley let out a grumble, her fingers gaining a faint, golden glow that seeped into the keyboard. Compared to her rapid typing from before, each character she typed now was slow and deliberate.
Similar to the original code, the characters that she typed appeared random, with no discernible meaning. She wasn’t sure how anyone was meant to actually decipher this code on their own, unless it was the would-be programmed god themselves working day and night to generate random keys. Even then, how long would it take?
When Ashley hit the last key, she lifted her hands from the holographic keyboard. Meanwhile, the terminal in front of her seemed to shudder, the two lines of code glowing on the screen. Gradually, they came closer together, merging into a single line of text.
“Once again, I’d like to welcome you to the world.” Ashley said, golden light shining from the screen. This light rose up, forming a humanoid shape before condensing into the same black-robed man that had become Blank’s avatar. “Blank, the God of Games.”
“I am…” Blank looked down at the sitting Ashley, surprised. This was his first time ever leaving the computer, a feat he thought impossible previously. Yet now, he felt as if he could come and go at will. “I am a god?”
“That’s right. Try not to mess everything up. We’ll be counting on you, from now on.” Ashley brought a hand up to her forehead, offering a brief salute as her body dissolved into darkness.
“Alright guys, are we ready to get this started?” Ashley asked with a wide smile as she appeared within Tubrock’s workshop. Ryone and Tubrock were already waiting for her, with only one figure absent.
“Sorry, I’m here!” Aurivy called out as she ran into the room. “Had to let Dale know what was going on. You confirm that he’s your sub god, Ash?”
Ashley nodded her head, looking towards the halfling. “That’s right. I felt it when I helped him ascend. I can use the Games domain myself, now. I’ll need to explore whether or not I’m able to affect the system governing the worlds, but we might be able to save a few points now.”
“Awesome!” Naturally, the halfling goddess was ecstatic. The ability to save points meant that they could potentially do more with their own systems. Ashley might be able to create new classes on her own, personally create achievements, or even use her divinity to create entirely new systems. Of course, they all knew that bigger changes would no doubt consume more energy.
“Oi, lasses!” The gruff dwarven god spoke with a large hammer over his shoulder. “Ye came here ta work, not ta gossip. Let’s get movin’!”
Saying that, he turned, walking back to the back room of his workshop. They passed by his assembly line, where they saw golems working to put together miniaturized stone structures piece by piece. Some appeared to be platforms, houses, others entire castles. When they arrived at the back room, they found rows of display cases. Each case held over a hundred such miniaturized structures.
“Let’s see… I put the gates ova’ here, I think.” He muttered, walking off to the right, arriving at a glass case that held far less than the others. Roughly twenty items made of black stone, looking like small rings.
“You already finished their structure? And this many, too…” Ryone looked impressed as she appraised the items within the case.
“Aye. The base materials are an alloy from both Deckan and Fyor’s higher floors. Should make ‘em a good deal more resistant. Just gotta handle the final touches.” Reaching forward, Tubrock opened the glass case, and the twenty small rings lifted themselves off of their velvet displays.
After finding a spot in the center of the room, he set them all down close to one another. “Now, it’d be all the more dramatic to shrink ourselves down ta size ta do this. But let’s hold off on the theater and just get it done, aye?”
Aurivy gave a small pout at that, before nodding her head. “Party pooper… alright. Ryone, mind starting us off, then?”
The goddess of magic brought her hands up to her chest, where they began to glow with divine light. “As the Goddess of Magic, I bless these materials to accept power beyond the norm. May they shine brilliantly with our light.”
Next up was Aurivy, who nodded her head and performed a similar action. “As the Goddess of Travel, I bless these structures to connect beyond the bounds of space. May the infinite realms open before them.”
Finally, it was Ashley’s turn. “And as the Goddess of Games, I bless these structures with the template of a world. May all be as the origin.”
The dwarven god nodded his head, watching the three strands of divinity reaching out from the goddesses. Golden light wrapped tightly around the rings, and Tubrock’s grip on his hammer tightened. Ki, spiritual energy, mana, and natural energy all seemed to flow together within his weapon. Normally, the four energies violently opposed one another, but now they seemed almost docile.
“Here I go!” He said, swinging the hammer down. It struck the golden light, causing it to sink beneath the surface of the twenty rings. Then again, this time seeming to impact the air itself above those rings. Blue, green, silver, and yellow lights all left the hammer with every swing.
Again and again, Tubrock struck with his hammer, controlling the energy carefully to prevent himself from shattering the objects he was working on. All the while, the three goddesses continued to channel their blessings.
This pattern continued for roughly half an hour, before Tubrock set his hammer down. A bead of sweat could be seen falling down his brow as he nodded. “Aye, they’re all done now. Little lass, ye can take eight of ‘em to replace the old gates.”
These were no longer the Fairy Gates that they had bought from the system. Tubrock had studied those blueprints and improved upon them. His new name for these items would be Fairy Rings, and would allow far more efficient travel between worlds.
“Just to make sure.” Aurivy said as she reached down to scoop up eight of the rings. “The old keys will still work with these, right?”
“Aye, they still lock onto worlds the same way as the old ones. Ye slip the key into the left side of the platform. Easier ta see it when the whole thing’s bigger, but you’ll spot it.”
Having received the answer she wanted, Aurivy gave a happy smile, her eyes squinting shut. “Thanks, Tubrock! You always do the best work.” After saying that, her body vanished, along with the rings she had carried with her.
“Why’d you make twenty, though?” Ashley couldn’t help but ask, looking down at the dozen rings which remained. A grin formed beneath the red beard of the dwarf.
“Follow me.” He said, walking over towards the far wall. A door seemed to materialize as he approached, which he opened to guide the two goddesses in.
Inside, the two of them were shocked to find three spherical lumps of stone floating idly. Of the two, Ryone was the first to speak. “Where… how did you get this much material?” If the three rocks were what she thought they were, there was no conceivable way that it could be explained through simply accepting offerings from his people.
“When our reach expanded, I set some mining sites out on a few dozen worlds.” Tubrock explained, stroking his beard. “They’re out of the way, not likely for anyone ta stumble across ‘em.”
“Wait, are these–” Ashley’s question was cut off as Ryone nodded.
“He’s crafting planets. So those assembly lines we saw on the way in…” She glanced towards the dwarven god, who let out a loud laugh.
“Aye, lass! Yer a bright one, alright. Buildin’ a world from the ground up! Now, how’s that for innovation?! Just missin’ a couple details ta make it work, which I was gonna end up askin’ help with from the two of ye.”
“You’re a madman, Tubrock.” Ryone said, a playful glint in her eyes. “And I approve.”
“Wait wait wait, what exactly do you need our help for?” Ashley asked in confusion, glancing between the other two.
“Well, mostly me, I imagine.” Ryone explained. “Your job will be to connect these worlds to the game system Dale uses in the rest of his worlds. My job will be to establish a universe for them after trading a large portion of my divinity to temporarily obtain a new domain.”
After saying that, she turned to look at Tubrock. “When are you planning to implement this?”
Tubrock offered a small shrug. “Hard ta say. I’m workin’ on the blueprint for the golem race I want ta place in ‘em. While I’m doin’ that, I’ve got their cities bein’ built out there. After I get the race’s blueprint done, I’ll set up a new line ta work on that. I’ll let ye know when I’ve enough of the golems to implement these worlds.”
Ryone thought about that for a moment, nodding her head. “Alright. Knowing you, you won’t settle for anything less than a truly intelligent golem. I’d suggest looking into clockwork technology.”
“Clockwhat now, lass? Don’t go makin’ shite up in front of me.” Tubrock glared towards Ryone, earning a laugh.
“I’m not making it up. It’s a type of technology that Dale’s old world enjoyed writing about. You should ask Udona for some references, I’m sure she’d be happy to help.”
Synopsis: Somewhere in the universe, there was an altar. On it, laid a bloody eye as big as the sun itself. It burst with light and bathed the entire star system in red.
"The aura of an ancestral artifact!" Someone's voice rose in surprise.
The Great Galactic Era had begun.