With James bedridden to recover from the massive expenditure of energy, and taking his first ‘sick day’ since he started working, Chel let out a small sigh. The atmosphere of the research lab seemed almost empty without James present. Although she knew that he would be back before too long, it didn’t help that feeling of loss.
“Is the boss alright?” Treisha asked as she walked over, looking down at Chel. Everyone present knew that Chel was perhaps the most important person in the world to James, so she was the one who knew him best.
Chel put on a small smile, nodding her head. “He’ll be fine. He just overworked himself, like always. You should have seen him in the old days, back when he was just a normal man. He’d go days without eating or sleeping if I didn’t slap some sense into him. Once he’s gotten enough rest, he’ll be back on his feet and in the lab, whether we want him here or not.”
Treisha let out a small sigh of relief at that, before asking the very question that Chel was hoping to avoid. “Do you know how long that will take?” The research hadn’t hit a critical point yet, but James was always the brightest mind in the room. Without him, things would slow down substantially.
“I… don’t.” Chel had to answer honestly, knowing that making up arbitrary estimates wouldn’t help anyone. “It could be a day or two, or up to a year. It all depends on how quickly he’s able to regain his information.”
“Well, if that’s the case…” A voice spoke up from behind Treisha, causing her and the rest of the research assistants to turn around with their bodies tense, seeing Ryone standing in the center of the lab with a knowing grin. “Why don’t you get him something nice for when he wakes up?”
Chel looked at the goddess, having a rather good idea for her personality. After all, both of them were residents of the Admin Room. “What did you have in mind?”
“It’s actually not from me.” Ryone shook her head, before manifesting a crystal sphere roughly twenty centimeters wide in her hands. “The Keeper prepared this. It’s something that will help you find more primordial relics like the one in your… possession.” She cast a knowing grin towards Treisha as she said that.
“It costs half a million mana to activate the spell within this crystal, and one hundred thousand every day to maintain each instance.” Ryone walked over to Chel’s desk, placing the crystal sphere atop it. “The Keeper imbued six million mana into a battery cluster that I’ve linked with this crystal, and used that to activate three instances of the spell. Counting the item in your possession, this crystal will seek out a total of three primordial relics, functioning as a star map to their location.”
Chel quickly ran the numbers in her head. “One-point-five million for the initial cast, and three hundred thousand a day… that means that we have fifteen days to find and retrieve these two relics?” She prompted, with Ryone nodding her head.
“Of course, you can use your own mana to keep the item active longer, if you want.” The goddess said with a small smile. “But, I’d say that two weeks should be plenty for the few of you here to get the job done. And just think, what will James say when he comes back and finds two new artifacts waiting for him?”
Chel gave a bitter grin, nodding her head. “He’d ask why we didn’t drag him back here sooner. Thanks, Ryone. And pass along my thanks to the Keeper as well.”
Ryone giggled lightly at that. “There’s no need for thanks. This is all something that he wanted to do to reward James. Just make sure that this sphere doesn’t land in the wrong hands. It’s the only one of its kind, with only the Keeper and myself knowing the spell to create another one.”
Chel’s face grew firm, offering a serious nod. “I’ll keep that in mind.” The warning from the goddess had a very clear meaning. They were not the only ones looking for these relics, a fact which Chel had already been made aware of. Previously, it was the ninja elder who had tried to get his hands on the relic, but Thea and Nora refused his requests. Lately, there had been other people asking over various networks for information on this and similar objects.
If they wanted to find these relics, they would have to do so without alerting any of these various forces. And that meant that they would have to prepare. With Ryone vanishing after giving Chel a meaningful smile, the small kitsune turned to look at the others. “Thea, Nora, get your things together. Three-Fifty, you remain behind with Treisha and Syris. I want you to increase security, and make sure that the anti-stealth fields are constantly active.”
Long ago, Chel had given Thea the recipe for a stealth energy that was relatively easy to train in, knowing that Thea would feed that energy back to her people. Naturally, she would not have done this if she did not have a way to counter that energy herself, and soon afterwards she established an anti-stealth field the surrounded the lab. “What do you want us to do?” The lycan assistant asked as his name was called.
Chel simply smiled. “You’ve got to keep the lab running while we’re gone. Until we’re back, operate under Blackout protocols. Everyone sleeps on-site, and nobody leaves the complex for any reason. Every five days, release the blueprints for one of our tools as a research paper. This will give the appearance that we’re still all actively working and producing results.”
“And… what are we going to do?” Nora asked, looking at herself and her sister, Chel’s smile growing into a full grin.
“I’m going to pout at one of the most powerful beings in the universe, and bring you with me.” Chel admitted her plan shamelessly, before sitting back down at her desk and closing her eyes.
“Are you… praying?” Thea asked, though Chel shook her head.
“No, a normal prayer won’t get their attention. I have other methods to contact them, but… this is more fun. Plus, I can’t take you two along with the other method.” As she said that, a hundred dots of light spread from her body in numerous colors, seeming to revolve around her.
“I’ve been plotting the course of Sanctum throughout the universe ever since it was created. Given that the planet defies gravitational pulls and moves faster than the speed of light, this was… easier said than done. Currently, according to my calculations, it is in a neighboring galaxy, on a return path towards this one.”
While she spoke, the dots of light around her body began to group up, slowly merging into each other to become larger and unstable. Only her will seemed to keep the energies from violently erupting. “If I had the exact coordinates, I could just open a gate and be done with it. But thanks to the speed of the planet and its unique laws, it would destroy a normal gate as soon as it was created.”
“So, I’ve gotta get creative!” Chel’s eyes opened, beginning to glow as the energies started swirling together once more, condensing into a single, prismatic sphere. “The devout priest’s best friend, Divine Following.” Chel’s grin grew more playful as she grabbed the sphere, popping it into her mouth.
“You just did something ridiculous again, didn’t you?” Nora asked in exasperation, earning a light laugh from Chel.
“Oh, definitely. Now, if I send a prayer towards someone, Divine Following will trace that energy back to its physical destination, and allow me to open a portal to their location. This portal maintains a relative position to the person I’m praying to, which bypasses the pesky restriction of Sanctum’s speed and exact coordinates.”
“I’m pretty sure that this qualifies as cheating…” Thea pointed out, but Chel simply closed her eyes and prayed, ignoring the words of the black-haired kitsune.
Hey, Aurivy? I hope you don’t mind, but I’m coming to visit, and I’m bringing friends! As soon as she sent that brief prayer, a silver portal erupted in front of Chel. She grabbed the hands of the two twins, jumping up from her seat and pulling them into the open gate, making sure to take the crystal sphere with them.
“What–how–why?!” Aurivy asked on the other side, having been in the middle of a card game when the three kitsune suddenly appeared in front of her and Julia. “This is cheating! This is totally cheating!”
“Sorry.” Chel stuck her tongue out, clearly unrepentant for what she had done. “But I came to ask for a favor.”
“You want my help to send you to the other two artifacts, right?” Aurivy asked, clearly already aware of the situation.
“Nothing so boring.” Chel shook her head, her grin growing wider. “I want to use the Traveler.” Certainly, it was possible for Aurivy to send them straight to the coordinates within the star map, but that would hardly help them. After all, the map would only point them to the right solar system, and even a member of the Greater Pantheon might not be able to identify the exact location of the relic within that system.
Aurivy’s eyes went wide at the request, before narrowing slightly. “How do you even know about that? I haven’t even told Dale yet! I was saving it as a big reveal!”
Chel rocked back and forth on her heels, her arms behind her back. “Who do you think taught James how to monitor your place when it was his turn? You guys don’t even know how to set up basic anti-monitoring zones, and I get bored when James is busy.” Thea and Nora could hardly believe what they were hearing. Not only was Chel important to James, but she somehow had ways to spy on the secrets of even the Greater Pantheon?
Aurivy’s cheeks puffed out at that, throwing down the cards in her hand. “Fine! You can take it out for a test run. But in return, you have to teach me how to make those anti-monitoring zones!”
“Deal!” Chel nodded her head readily, as if having been prepared for this condition. “And really, you’re excited to see your baby in action, aren’t you?”
Aurivy crossed her arms over her chest. “Maybe… but I was still hoping to make it a big reveal in an emergency!” After she said that, she stuck her head into a manifesting pool of golden mist, retrieving a small metal slab that she tossed over to Chel. “Bring it back in one piece! I haven’t had the chance to test its arsenal, yet!”
“Don’t worry, I know what I’m doing.” Chel said, before pausing. “Mind sending us out into space? If you made this how I’m expecting, it will make a bit of a commotion when it appears, and we need to handle this secretly.”
Aurivy rolled her eyes with a nod, golden mist enveloping the two of them and transporting them away from Sanctum. Thankfully, the silver portal closed after they left.
When they reappeared, they were deep within the cold void of space, without a single planet within their line of sight. Nora, the first to process everything that had happened, sent her voice to the other two to establish a conversation. So… what is the Traveler?
Chel glanced at Nora with a playful smile as she held the metal slab up, slowly tracing it through the air. Lines of golden light shot out of the slab, forming the wireframe outline of a massive structure. Over time, this outline began to fill itself in as Chel explained. The Traveler is Aurivy’s answer to space exploration, a place where the power of one’s two feet simply can’t take them from one position to another.
As the Goddess of Travel, she needs a symbol that evolves with the world. In the old days, her relic was a pair of boots. Now, that simply isn’t enough. Now, she needed something bigger. And as the Goddess of Dungeons, she had the means to accomplish this. The wireframe structure took on the appearance of a ship, one over fifty kilometers long and with a sleek structure. Numerous weapons slid out of concealed ports, scanning the surroundings.
The Traveler is Aurivy’s newest divine relic, a Divine Dungeon created in the shape of an interstellar transport, fully autonomous and having a portion of her personal power. As Chel said that, she flew over towards the ship, holding up the slab. A door formed in front of the two of them, allowing themselves inside.
“You are not my mother… however, you have the pass.” A voice spoke over the intercom. “Welcome, guests. I am the Traveler.”