I gave a slight sigh as I watched the scene unfold below. After having rescued Tryval’s Hold, the entire city’s morale was higher than ever. Using the authority of the local guard captain, I had the entire city mobilize to rescue the other two. After that, I left things on ‘autopilot’ and returned to the Admin Room.
Although a few unlucky halflings managed to get pinned down under hoof, spear, or arrow, the majority still managed to break through. After that, they disregarded everything and began running at full sprint. Still, I had not doubt that the centaurs could catch up with them if they chose to do so, being more suitably built for long distance running.
However, my Host stopped them from doing so, choosing to first meet up with the king and knights of King’s Hope. Fast forwarding, I watched as he summarized the events that had happened in the other city, and was praised by several of the knights for getting them out of this situation. This part of the events I wasn’t particularly interested in, so I simply began skipping ahead until they made another move.
After resting for a few hours, the entire force of King’s Hope moved out, creating a massive herd that equalled the combined population of both cities. This centaur army was undoubtedly even bigger than the one that had invaded the halfling forest before, and began moving to save the third city, the rest of their kind. However, it was no longer my Host that was at the lead of the herd, but rather the centaur king, along with his dozen knights.
Like before, there was little suspense with what came next. Terra’s incarnation once again approached the camp resting outside of Sorrow’s Shield, though this time with several other halflings accompanying her, and explained the coming danger. This time, they seemed to listen to the lesson from the previous camps, and immediately began moving towards the forest, much to the confusion of those within the city.
Once the army arrived at the border of the forest, I could clearly see a line of armed halflings just behind the trees. However, at that point, it was time for the second part of my plan. Having my Host convince the centaur king was the easy part, surprisingly. Getting it all to work, on the other hand, was different.
Unlike most of the halflings who stood within the branches, dreadfully awaiting the arrival of an army, one was strangely eager for what was to come. What’s he going to do now? Terrak wondered to herself, her lips tugged up slightly as she gripped her spear. She had been given instructions for what to do from her main self, but had no idea what was to come now. Either her main self just didn’t want to tell her, or didn’t want to use her abilities to spoil the surprise.
However, soon a single figure could be seen walking into the forest. To Terrak’s surprise, as well as the surprise of many halflings, it was the figure of a pink charun. One Terrak undoubtedly recognized as Dayul, the Host with the most, so to speak. In his hands, he tightly gripped a single spear, which had a scroll of leather bound tightly around its shaft.
Seeing the scroll, Terrak let out a noise of exclamation, having figured out what the plan was. Her smile widened, even more so when the figure pulled his arm back and threw the spear into the forest, letting the tip dig into the ground at the base of a tree. Afterwards, Dayul immediately turned and retreated back to the plains.
Several sets of eyes were watching the spear, as if waiting for it to burst into flames. Only one figured leapt down from the branch she was on, steadily approaching the spear and taking the scroll off of it. Several people called out in alarm as Terrak read over the contents. Although no other halfling could understand the physical words, the message would engrave itself into their minds as they read.
Your mission, should you chose to accept it, is to read this writing in order to create an understanding of this language. After reading, please take the time to study these words, and send a reply with a promise scroll. The reward for completing this mission, ultimately, is the shared knowledge of both charon and night killer languages.
Terrak almost let out a laugh as she read the words contained within the scroll, her body shaking once again. Another figure landed near her, the elder that had met her outside of King’s Hope, although he had lost an arm in the escape. He stared at her with concern, as if worrying that the contents of the scroll were some kind of attack. “What is it, Terrak?” He asked. As far as the halflings were concerned, the centaurs had shown no understanding of language as they knew it.
Of course, Terrak knew that this was just because their concept of language was too primitive, so they weren’t able to recognize a language that wasn’t their own as anything other than the jabberings of a beast. Instead of answering, she passed the scroll to the elder, who held it up with his one remaining hand to read it. As he saw the unfamiliar characters, confusion entered his gaze, soon replaced by shock as the scroll translated itself within his mind.
“What… what power is this?” He asked, unable to understand what was happening.
Terrak simply laughed, almost sounding broken inside. “Have you never seen the request scrolls of children? Even if they can’t read and write, we can still understand what it says. I think… I think this is the same.”
It took the elder a while to process that information. Only after that did he seem to understand something. His gaze looked out at the charun beyond the trees, as he clutched the scroll in his hand. “I’ll need to take this to the others…” He said as he walked off, deeper into the trees.
I shook my head slightly, ignoring the laughs that were coming from behind me. “Really… you used the quest system… as a universal translator. Not bad, Dale.” Terra spoke, almost in tears from laughing. With how awake she was, I imagined that her ninja incarnation must be either asleep or comatose right now.
“No, no it’s good.” She confessed, sitting up to look at me with a smile. “I hadn’t considered that approach. Though, this will still not get rid of the hatred between the two races, only make them able to understand each other.”
I nodded my head slightly. “I know… Right now, I just need to make my Host seen as an icon for the two races. Let him become important for a while before I move to the next step.”
As I said that, I began to fast forward the world again, this time much faster than I had done previously. The world became a blur of motion as quest scrolls were gradually exchanged back and forth between the centaurs and halflings. Although, none of them ever exchanged the scrolls face to face, choosing to throw them with a spear or shoot them on an arrow.
Still, only two figures really performed the exchanges. From the centaur’s side, the task was given to Dayul, as it was his idea. The king and his knights decided that he would handle it from now on, though they also read over the scrolls themselves to be careful. From the halfling’s side, it was Terra’s incarnation, who had volunteered for the job. Although some people initially opposed it, or questioned why she would do so, she simply told them that she had nothing left to lose.
This back and forth lasted for many seasons, during which most of the centaurs and halflings returned to their respective cities. The king and his knights took up residence in Sorrow’s Shield, while Terrak and some halfling elders remained in the halfling city closest to the plains. Every few days, one of them would journey to the border between the two areas, and leave a request scroll containing a new bit of language, and then the other would take it back to study.
Aside from Terrak and Dayul, most of the people involved still viewed the other side with hostility. Almost everyone had lost friends or family in this war, so the grudge was not something easily set down. Nonetheless, I had Dayul continue with the plan, steadily monitoring how much of each language the two races learned. Once it got to around the halfway mark, I nodded in satisfaction, opening up the Keepernet for the first time in a while on the computer. Finding the message feature, I asked for help from the only person I could consider that would both know and be able to tell me the answer to my question.
EarthForceOne: Are you free for a bit? Got a question for you.
It was only a short while later before the chat request was accepted, and the conversation could begin.
Alkahest: Good to hear from you again. What’s going on?
EarthForceOne: It’s possible to purchase entities from the market, I saw. Like my World Host. But, how does it work with other cases? Are they always loyal to the Keeper that purchases them?
This was something incredibly important for me to know. However, since I had no real experience with the subject, it was unlikely that Terra would be able to give me the information yet, so I had to ask him. Better than me going in blindly, and buying a creature able and eager to destroy my world.
Alkahest: Aha, good thing you asked first. Actually, that is not at all the case. Sometimes, the entities listed on the market are hostile towards the Keepers that buy them. If you check their forum entries, experienced buyers will give them a loyalty rating for other people to reference. Typically, an entity is just someone a Keeper chose from their world to make a copy of for the market, like a signature fighter and such.
EarthForceOne: I see… I’m looking for one that is incredibly loyal, but also powerful. Can you think of any like that, or would it be easier to just search through them?
I could probably look through the forums myself if I wanted to, but doing so could take a very long time. If I had learned anything from looking at the keeper market, there were a lot of entries. Too many for me to easily navigate and find one that meets my criteria.
Alkahest: Strong and loyal, huh? Well, there is one popular entity that a lot of Keepers choose to use at some point. He’s nicknamed ‘The Fixer’, because Keepers tend to buy him to fix random mistakes they created on their world.
EarthForceOne: I see… That should be good for what I have in mind. There’s not a problem with loyalty or anything?
While I wasn’t sure exactly how powerful he was, if other Keepers use him to clean up their mistakes, then this Fixer should be more than capable of helping me with my issue. The only concern was whether or not he would simply do what he was told, and not run wild when he was done.
Alkahest: Never been a problem before. I’ve used him myself a couple times, and he tends to go into a coma after he’s done with whatever task he’s given. Though, if his body is ever found and killed, he makes for remarkable crafting materials.
That information may have slightly disturbed me, but nonetheless I had him direct me to the market entry for this fixer.