"Wait, you actually made a new magic school! It's right here, and it's called [Equipment System]!" I shout, then I glare at Arreira with a mix of annoyance and surprise. "Why didn't you tell us?!"
He clenches his fist and jaw in contained anger and increases his brightness to annoy us. "Because you'd want to cheat and skimp on this lesson!" He confesses through gritted teeth.
The horny dragon inside of me, pun intended, roars in frustration, "Having the skill while practicing would've helped us immensely in not wasting five hours just trying to copy a single spell!"
He looks away haughtily, refusing to set his eyes upon our "inferior" existences, and his fluffy drills take flight. "This is the same situation as you had with [Golemancy], where later on, you'd have problems simplifying things because your Gift gives you only the most evolved form of the spell, not the simplest, most practical one!"
"As if I'd need that!"
He points accusingly to the golems and his fair, shiny skin starts to flush red with anger. "Then make a new golem without your memories, right now!"
I breathe in. "Ooooooh~…"
Arreira clenches his jaw and starts grumbling, "You incompetent-…You're the best and worst Golemancer in existence! And that's just because you're the only one!" Then he *snaps* away to somewhere else, leaving us in the dark for a few seconds while the crystal lights come back on.
"Oh, I got it…" Lina mumbles, as her left gauntlet appears on her hand.
Roxanne un[Equip]s her staff and heavy armor to clap, making my little dwarf smile shyly.
I sigh and lay down on the grass to rest for a moment, then Gify nestles herself on my chest, and I start petting her absentmindedly.
"For a Gods-know-how-old spirit, he's rather impatient, isn't he?" Yunia comments in a low tone.
"I believe he's simply tired of living," Ciel comments, then I turn my head towards her to gaze at her beauty. "He's finally found his 'successor,' and now he just wants to end it once and for all."
"Arreira requires cuddling. He works hard to hide his loneliness," Ted blurts out in her usual neutral and slightly robotic voice, and we all immediately turn towards her, eyes wide open in disbelief.
"He wot?" I mumble in English.
"Arreira is grieving his long lost family while also despising his disowned descendants," Suzy continues.
"He requires mental comforting and skinship to prevent stress accumulation and further outbursts of anger," Ted finishes, then I snort and sigh tiredly.
"Even God-Rulers aren't immune to simpler, or 'lesser,' needs, they're still very much humanoids," Ciel sagely comments.
We hold ourselves back from teasing Arreira, but only outwardly. My mind becomes noisy as the girls and I fully express our skills for banter.
Arreira comes back after a while, and we continue learning his [Equipment System] magic school, though we treat him with a lot more kindness than before.
At level 1, this magic school gives the spell [Link], an extremely watered-down version of [Bind]. It converts blank souls into "extensions" of the caster's, but it doesn't have the same deep connectivity that [Bind] creates. This spell is completely safe in comparison to [Bind] because it doesn't leave a piece of the caster's soul inside the target's soul, removing one of [Bind]s (unconfirmed) weaknesses, where Spirit mages are most likely able to affect the caster through the bound souls.
It only works with completely non-sentient souls, so I won't be able to [Equip] the golems just yet.
Arreira may have used [Bind] as a basis, but he didn't leave any trace of that spell in [Link], so mages won't be able to learn [Bind] through reverse engineering.
At level 5, there's the spell [Equip], which summons the chosen [Link]ed item. This spell uses summoning instead of [Item Box]'s materialization because Box's interface is too clumsy while summoning allows for the caster to instantly summon the item exactly where they want.
The summoning works no matter if the [Link]ed item is in the real world or even inside the caster's own [Item Box], though it doesn't work when it's inside someone else's Box. To prevent an item from being stolen, [Link]ing blocks others from using [Item Box], though the item isn't completely theft-proof since a Spirit mage could still destroy the blank soul, or a Space mage could use [Gate] to teleport the item outside of the mage's summoning range.
At level 10, there's [Itemize], which creates a blank soul for any sort of item. This is a higher-level spell because even though the soul is blank, it's still a rather complex construct.
[Golemancy]'s [Infuse], which creates a fully-functional golem, is a level 1 spell, but in comparison, [Golemancy] is much, much, much, much harder to acquire levels in than [Equipment System].
Even Hana is able to reach level 5 in it after just a few hours while it took me a few months until I learned [Golemancy] level 1.
Each level in [Equipment System] allows for one [Link], but you can create a single soul for an entire armor set and more if you have the mana to use [Itemize], so leveling Equipment only adds more convenience instead of functionality.
We all [Link] our new armor sets and weapons, only needing four or five levels in Equipment. Aoi still doesn't have skills, only levels, so she requires more training because of that and also because she has both human-shaped and dragon-shaped armor to store.
I might also need dragon-shaped armor, but my dragon form is still just hatchling-sized, so I won't be fighting in it anytime soon.
After cheating a bit, we finally finish learning the skill and store our newest weapons and armor. Except for Roxanne, the girls need a bit of a boost in [Space Magic] to fit all of their new gear in their [Item Box]es, but we'll get so many levels once we destroy the core that we can easily afford it.
Arreira conjures an elven banquet for us, and Yunia's sharp eyes melt at the sight of all the comfort food before her.
"Here's the writ," Arreira announces, and a golden piece of paper appears with a *poof*.
It flies towards me, and I quickly read through all the extremely detailed "legalese." It's all written in silver, making it a bit annoying to try to read it when the lights reflect off the golden sheen, shining directly into my eyes.
I have to agree with the God of the Sun that the overuse of gold and silver by the nobility of the past is a bit too much.
I hardly understand what's written on the writ, blinding sheen or not, so I pass it to Yunia, who manages to get the gist of it. We're named his successors and inheritors while at the same time, he explicitly disowns the current royals, even going so far as to mention them by name.
Anything that belonged to Arreira, including Patrono, also mentioned by name, is now ours. Anything inherited by the royals is also ours, though we don't know if that part will actually hold if taken to the Tribunal.
There's not much to discuss, so I store the writ in my "Items," then we continue our feast.
Once we fatten up nicely, it's time to meet the Chimeras again as they've finished deciding who wants to come with us, and who'll fade away with Arreira.
When the Chimeras died, their attachment to the real world created an "anchor" that prevented their spirits from going to Paradise after their bodies rotted away. Now that there won't be a Whakamutu Mutu anymore, most of its denizens decided to end their journey here due to their attachment to the town.
Arreira had cast [Trap Soul] on the Chimeras and used dungeon orbs as vessels. This allowed him to create sub-processes that controlled the memory-wiping he employed. The Chimeras that have chosen to come with us will need their souls to be transferred to something else instead so that they don't fade away with the dungeon. Their new "vessel" could be anything, really, but gems are the best option since mana can be stored in them, and they can be enchanted with [Materialize] so that the spirits can use it whenever they need to.
Having spirits as citizens might cause an uproar, but there's only a handful of people who can stop us, namely the Emperor himself, the Elder Council, the Tribunal, or the temple. The Emperor has no reason to get involved in this, the Elder Council is very hands-off with most matters regarding the Lords, and the Tribunal is likely to consider spirits the same as commoners, leaving only the temple to potentially complain.
[Trap Soul] may be a controversial spell, but it's what prevents the Chimeras from slowly going insane, or fading into wisps, or merging with nature spirits, so the temple has no good reason to intervene. However, they might keep a close watch on us to make sure that we don't mistreat the spirits, which is perfectly fine for us due to our future plans regarding Heretic's Rest.
We enter an open grassland under a blue sky and breathe in the fresh air, then we observe the Chimeras as they finish saying their goodbyes.
Ririmu, the cute raccoon guide is coming with us, and he's saying goodbye to a surprisingly large number of women; Hukarere is speaking with two people that I don't recognize; Kaatohe giving a big hug to Wahinui, with both of the cat women crying silently; and Oritiki seems to have convinced her husbands to come with us, somehow.
Our ships are off to the side, all lined up beside each other, and even the Island Winch is there. I notice that the Carrier is filled to the brim with airplanes, and there's more than just Wasps there.
I feel a chill run through me as I think about how all this military hardware belongs to us, personally. It's a bit overwhelming to try to process this right now, so I return to the Chimeras.
Oritiki finishes hugging her husbands, then she looks around, and her eyes meet mine. She immediately organizes the Celestial Horns, and they march towards us.
The Chimeras notice that something's happening, and a crowd starts to form around us while leaving a path for the Horns.
"Ryders!" Oritiki shouts amicably, then her expression gradually hardens as she prepares herself for her speech.
Once again, we're forced to appear regal, and we start to feel a bit fatigued by it, especially Hana, Ciel, and I, who have little experience with being formal.
Oritiki stops a few meters away from us, the Horns right behind her, and we wait until the Chimeras stop their murmuring.
The closest to us sit down on the grass to allow the others behind them to see, and we're surrounded even in the sky as many winged Chimeras take flight, then the grassland finally becomes quiet.
"The Celestial Horns served only the Divines and none else, but now they are no more, leaving us without a ruler to follow…" Oritiki starts her speech with a measured and controlled tone. "Although we may have served the Divines, our purpose was clear: to preserve the Chimeric way of life."
She looks around at every Chimeric eye turned towards her, eager to witness the famous Honored One speak.
"We kept the peace, aided the weak, supported the poor, eliminated the corrupt, purged the threats, healed the wounded, and even fed the hungry. The Celestial Horns were the hands, claws, and weapons of the Divine, and we found no task beneath us."
The older Chimeras nod and smile along with her words.
"We never needed the Divines to give us commands, for they only gave us guidance, and now that our nation has been reduced to this," -She motions to the crowd and then the ships- "our purpose has never been more clear. No matter what we feel about our situation, we were given this power under an oath to serve our nation, and serve it we shall!"
She raises her fist into the air, and the Horns roar in unison.
"Be it one, a dozen, a hundred, or a thousand of Chimeras, living or not, ethereal or corporeal, we'll fight to protect you!"
The Horns roar again, and some of the younger Chimeras join in.
"And now that you're all being taken in under the wing of the soon-to-be Lord Ryder family…" Oritiki turns to face us, a subtle smile on her long, dark, furred face. "So will we! We'll continue to serve what remains of our nation, we'll continue to protect each and every one of you, but now, we also have someone to guide us!"
The Horns jump and fly upwards as their pure white wings grow larger, then their armor shines, but our eyes feel unaffected by it. They spread out over the sky and flex their wings wide open, then they clasp their hands and lower their heads like angels praying.
Their voices boom through the field as they swear in unison, "We pledge our horns and wings to the Ryder family, soon-to-be Crown Lords, inheritors of Arreira's royal legacy, and the new rulers of the citizens of Whakamutu Mutu. For as long as they protect the Chimera, we offer them our loyalty!"
They form up again, then gently lower themselves to the floor and kneel.
I clear my throat and begin one last speech, "Spirit or not, you're all humanoids. You're all still alive, in a way, and you deserve to be treated properly." I pause briefly to gauge the reaction of the crowd, and they seem to emphatically agree. "We'll protect your right of existence, and give you the same rights as any commoner subject living under us. Due to your special circumstances, we'll have to work on and experiment with different policies to make your lives more comfortable. As the Celestial Horns have taken up the responsibility of protecting you, we'll be working closely with them and any other representative you select to negotiate with us."
I look towards Oritiki, and she rises, then I extend my hand and offer, "To a long-lasting alliance."
She comes forward and takes it, enveloping my draconic claws with her glowing gauntlets. "And a bright future together," she completes with a wide smile.
In the grassland, Arreira opens a huge [Eternal Gate] that leads out of the dungeon, and we get a glimpse of the real sky after Gods-know-how-long, but we aren't departing just yet.
We get a glimpse of a huge and long cloud covering the Gate for a few seconds, and a great deal of Chimeras tense up as they recognize Pua. Oritiki has a rather guilty look to her. The next time they meet, she might wish to apologize to it.
I put down a [Gate] "coordinate" and summon a Holly to keep watch, then we leave the Chimeras and cross through a different [Eternal Gate].
We again find ourselves in Arreira's "personal room" in the middle of the fake High Forest, but we don't even have the time to look around us before something seizes our attention and doesn't let go.
We see an unremarkable gray platform of smooth stone with a pure black orb floating above it. The orb has no reflection, as if the light is being drawn in like with a black hole.
After seeing Dark Voids firsthand, this orb would only elicit a mere curious glance from us, but it's the flavor of the trace amount of mana that's emanating from it that makes it difficult for us to look away.
Every particle has an entire storm inside it. First, we feel chaos and destruction, an uncontrollable maelstrom of… not things, but "concepts," something so abstract that it's hard to properly describe it. Then we see "walls" containing that with absolute authority, an unbreakable wall that not even chaos itself can pierce through. And finally, we see the "miracle" as all this raw… something is funneled away and morphed into… "everything"?
It's easy to guess about what all of this means, but to define the actual details of "what" and "how" is what's truly impossible for our limited, mortal brains.
I feel each and every particle as they hit my sensitive [Mana Body], causing an intense and rather uncomfortable tingling. By the time I finally notice it, I'm already almost grabbing the orb like a hungry orc does with a slab of meat.
I immediately step away and get Hana to shield me from the core. "Oof, that's too intense for me," I admit with a worried frown.
Arreira chuckles softly. "You behaved almost exactly like Shade did the first time you encountered the orb. So much so that I just had a… 'deejay vous,'" he delightedly butchers the word.
"Who's Shade?" Alissa asks, suspicious of him.
Arreira gives her an unusually soft and tired look as he answers, "The being that remained after I had wiped away his ego and his soul. It was also strongly attracted to this orb and tried to seize it before my 'Inverted Weeper' gave him his last trial."
"I guess that was the fantasy with Lily?" I ask, and he gives me a silent nod, then we all go silent.
The time has come, and we all hesitate to act or even speak.
We have to kill Arreira once and for all, but none of us actually want to see him fade away.
After a moment of silence, he sighs impatiently, then his crown of white antlers disappears in a puff of smoke. "I think you already have the real one…" He comments in a low tone and snorts to himself.
"It should be in our treasury," Yunia awkwardly comments, and he nods.
A few more seconds pass in silence, and we see his body gradually stop glowing. Even the silver and gold of his clothes and hair lose their luster.
Something's been gnawing at both my and Lina's heads for a while, so I decide to take the initiative and finally ask for both of our sakes, "Why did you do this? This dungeon, I mean. Why go through all this effort to choose someone to bestow your 'legacy' to instead of just giving it to your descendants?"
He snorts snobbishly and shakes his head, then he answers with his usual subtly smug tone, "The current state of the royals wasn't… unexpected. I wanted to find someone worthy of Patrono, someone I could trust to finish my dream, and I knew that there'd be someone out there that would be a much better choice than my own children."
His feet touch the floor, then the absolutely chiseled, annoying sexy, and utterly majestic man lets himself look… average, as he lets all of his divinity quickly melt away. Though he may call himself a God-Ruler, in the end, he's still a humanoid, a mortal, like us.
He smiles gently and continues, "It was… extremely tiring, but I believe that I've finally found the right person." Then his striking blue eyes stare into mine, and I dare to think that I can feel a paternal intent coming from his gaze. Perhaps he's feeling a small degree of pride for what we've accomplished here.
We had many failures along the way, but we still did it, we passed through all of his trials.
We remain silent for another moment.
Yunia works hard to keep her emotions bottled up so that she can say, "This isn't the end. I'm sure you'll leave a strong mark in the history of civilization, not just through us, but through the wonders you've accomplished here. All of your research on memories and the [Equipment System] magic school that you created will help civilization take a long step forward."
He smiles bitterly. "Perhaps, but even the Gods are waiting to see how many steps you will help us make."
"You can have faith in us! We won't disappoint, and we'll be ready for anything!" Roxanne shouts, forcing herself to be cheerful.
"Gih…!" Gify follows with the cheering, her chirp sounding strained.
"You pushed us towards greatness," Hana comments with an uncharacteristically sober tone.
Ciel sniffles and struggles to say, "You helped us to see further than before."
"Thank you…" Lina mutters, holding back her tears.
"You helped us a lot. We'll miss you," Aoi gloomily admits, both of our tails flopped onto the floor from grief.
"We're grateful for your guidance," the golems finish in unison.
"Wolf, do it," Arreira sternly orders.
I dry my eyes, then I summon Patrono and swing it, slicing the core cleanly in half.
"Finally…" He breathes as he closes his eyes, then a tsunami of Experience floods into our souls, making us orgasm repeatedly until we pass out.
"You are now level 57."
I gasp as I wake up and look around. The golems are holding us up with [Telekinesis] while Jarn is also using her arms; the girls are slowly stirring awake; the forest seems to have become darker than before, with sickly white blotches visibly spreading over every surface; and nothing remains where Arreira once stood.
We quickly regain control of our bodies, then we quietly assess the damage to our clothes.
We orgasmed so hard from the flood of pleasure that we passed out and thoroughly soiled our underwear. To Earthlings, having a boner right now would seem inappropriate, but Rupegians see it differently, and Arreira's last gift being a massive orgasm would seem rather poetic to them… to us, I'm a Rupegian, too, even if it wasn't since birth.
We change our clothes and look around wistfully as the beauty of this place gradually decays. All the art that Arreira himself painstakingly created is going to simply disappear into the void. Though he gave us most of the real art he made, most of it was composed of dungeon mana, so we only have a small portion of his works.
The dungeon itself will last for a few months, but no new monsters will spawn, the plants will all slowly die off, and most of the "special effects" have already stopped working.
The animals and bugs have been released into the forest, but most of them won't survive in the new environment and will die due to the predators quite soon. The portals will continue to work for a long time, so anyone who doesn't want to die in here will have plenty of time to leave.
The Chimeras that weren't transferred should've left for Paradise along with Arreira, unless they had some very deep regrets still binding them to this world.
Our new subjects are still solid, but Arreira's [Materialize] will eventually wear off. They have a handful of mages that could help with that, but it won't be as powerful and as detailed as Arreira's. We have his research notes, so we might eventually be able to reproduce it, even without a dungeon core to fuel the spell.
Right now, we need to secure our home so that the Chimeras can have a safe place to rest. The first step is to announce that we've all acquired the "True Noble" Title.
I open a [Gate] back to our mansion in Goloria, and we all eagerly cross through.
I immediately call for a servant, and the man who answers looks like he's seen a ghost. He's so pale, frightened, and even slightly confused that I just have to ask what's going on.
"Why are you so pale? What's wrong?" I kindly ask him, trying to hide my scary, scaly arms behind my back.
He immediately lowers his head in respect and frightfully answers, "F-forgive me for asking, but y-you're the imperial fellowship under our Lord's protection?"
I raise an eyebrow in confusion. "Yes… we're Helios."
He keeps his head low as he exclaims, "Ah…! 'Helios'! Apologies, Grand Sir, but it's been such a long time that we've forgotten your names."
"What day is it? We've been inside a dungeon for a long, long time," I awkwardly ask with a silly smile.
The man gasps as he comes to understand the reason for our absence. "Ah! I-I see… Today is the third day of the month of prayer."
So we spent… over four months in those trials? Damn…
"Tell Confiel that Wolf Ryder is back along with his harem, and we request an urgent meeting with him."
The servant breathes in heavily and straightens his posture, his cheeks red from the embarrassment of forgetting our names.
We barely have any time to rest our backs since the same servant comes back after just two minutes, gasping for air and thoroughly flustered.
"Confiel will receive you in his office," is all he can get out before he bends over, trying to get his breath back under control.
I burst into his office with Alissa beside me, and my claws leave visible scratch marks on the wooden floor, almost making me wince.
I miss shoes… Wait, how did Aoi never leave scratches like I do?
"Wolf Ry-…!" Confiel aborts his cheerful greeting and freezes on the spot when he notices my new race. It's starting to get a bit annoying, having to explain this so many times.
Before he can even ask, I just take charge of the conversation, "A lot has happened, and I don't want to explain it all repeatedly, so find Klein and Osaria and bring them here as fast as you can. Also, you'd better start preparing an air dock or something like that."
His mouth moves soundlessly, his youthful face warped in shock. He sputters, then suddenly recovers and asks, "A-a-air dock…? We hardly have that many airships, so we never built one."
I grin like a devil. "You might want to, now that I've acquired a fleet."
Hall of Fame of Patrons
The patrons who support Rupegia shall have their names sung by the bards for they deserve the glory and honor. Their names are:
Lord Andrew Meyers.
Lord Samuel Lim.
Lord Michale Erwin.
Lord Nathan Vanbrunt.
Lord Mattirro Draca.
Lord Joshua Tal.
Lord Joxsan Herrera.
Lord Sean Drake.
Lord Brody Haugan.
Lord Mike Bartter.
Lord Cardinal Steiner.
Noble Salty Panda.
Noble Mild Fracas.
Noble Shawn Plumley.
Noble War God.
Noble Andreas Jörgensen.
If you'd like to support Rupegia, you can become a patron at: www.*******.com/manasong
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