Yawm laughed, “Hah, hah. It seems as though I’ve run into several talents that defy expectation. One is a mysterious warrior clad in black armor and the other is an eldritch that knows a way into Schema’s system. Incredible, truly incredible.”
He raised his hands as fists, “What a marvelous awakening this has been. Earth treats me well. I’ve explored many planets over hundreds of years. None have given me the gift of seeing a crack in Schema’s code.”
Yawm stood from his chair, giving Amara a light bow, “Just knowing the possibility of what you’ve done is a precious gift. Thank you for sharing that with me.”
The eyes on Amara’s hands opened wide. She pointed them towards me, then back towards Yawm. After a few seconds of being frozen in place, she stuttered,
“Your kindness is overflowing. This is what made me different from the others that floated on the other side. I had a mind. and access to a pristine example of the dimensional code. With my adept form of touch-”
Amara’s raven hair moved, each strand acting as if it had a mind of its own. I glanced closer. After inspecting her, I learned what she meant. Each strand of her hair was an antenna. A creepy, disgusting ass antenna, just like a roach or cricket. I suppressed a shiver and a grimace.
It didn’t matter if it was a pretty way of learning the cipher. It was undeniably effective.
Amara continued, “Time and opportunity let me learn the depths of this...cipher as you call it. Over the many years that I was imprisoned, I mastered it. At least what I found of it.”
She regained her calm aura as she continued, “I may share what I know with you, for a price.”
Yawm steepled his fingers. If the man had a mouth, he’d have a glowing grin on his lips,
“What is it that you want?”
Amara’s fingers flexed. It reminded me of someone creasing their eyebrows in anger,
“I want many things. I need a safe, quiet place. I want books, more books than my eyes could ever read. I want protection, not only from the AI, but from my own kind as well. For these things, I’ll share what I’m willing to tell.”
Yawm raised a hand, the ominous hiss and pops of his magic echoing out,
The aura collapsed into his palm before he snapped his fingers. Another room appeared along the side of Yawm’s ice castle. It mirrored my own room, though it was given additional size. As I wondered why, Yawm answered,
“I have given it additional storage for bookshelves. As you read, I’ll add bookshelves and room for more stories. All you have to do is ask, and I have no problem accommodating more than what you’ve asked.”
Amara glanced back and forth from the new room and Yawm. Her mouth gawked with amazement at Yawm’s speed at granting her request. She murmured,
“How do I know this place is safe?”
Yawm raised a finger, “Because this is my own personalized rift. Since it’s not a part of Schema’s world, he can’t glass us with orbital strikes. Outside of that, I’ve tamed most of the wild eldritch here. If anything even comes within several miles of here, I’ll know.”
Yawm leaned towards her, “And I assure you Amara, I will handle whatever threat that comes personally. You will never know it existed, just as it will never know it died.”
I pursed my lips, “Hey, Yawm.”
Yawm turned towards me, “What is it?”
I pointed towards her room, “Where did you get the books to fill her rooms?”
Yawm’s chest deflated, “Oh...yes. I did disintegrate all of my own personal books several decades ago. Now all I own are research logs. Well, that and tomes detailing certain aspects of the cipher via vague, cryptic terminology. They aren’t the most stimulating of reads.”
I turned towards Amara, “If you’d like, I can get you a library with a bit more diversity.”
Amara turned her hands towards me. They narrowed into slits,
“You can do what Yawm cannot?”
She sounded like she had a hard time believing that. I didn’t bother giving her an answer. Instead, I opened one of my dimensional storages, pulling out an extra obelisk. In the back of my mind, I thanked Torix for giving me a few extra. I tossed it towards Amara. Her hair/antenna shifted into place, catching the sphere.
I pointed at it,
“That’s an obelisk. Connect to it, and it will automatically upload a peaceful memory. Once you’re done with that, I’ll look through my own personal library and send you a few books. There should be a few thousand that I can give you at the very least.”
Amara moved her hands around the sphere, inspecting it in the weirdest way possible. Once done, she used her hands to click an invisible screen. Seconds later, and a sphere of white materialized around her. As she messed around with the obelisk I stood up from my chair of ice.
Yawm did the same. I walked up to him. He crossed his arms,
“If there is something I miss about Schema’s system, it’s an obelisk. If I can regain access to his system, then that will be the first thing I acquire.”
I nodded, “It’s a really nice device to have.”
I took a step back from Yawm, opening my obelisk. The clicking of cicadas and running water flowed into my ears with a pleasant hum. I smiled before opening Torix’s library. In it, there was a section marked as forbidden books. I selected every other book and sent Amara a friend request.
Seconds later, Amara appeared on my friends list. I sent her the file, thousands of books being sent in seconds. I closed my obelisk. Yawm’s viewing room reappeared, the same aquatic giants floating in the water above. Yawm tapped his chin,
“I hope this question doesn’t probe to deeply, but how did you acquire such an extensive library so quickly? Your planet hasn’t even been in Schema’s system for a year.”
I shrugged, “It was from Torix, the lich that came with me when we first met.”
“Ah, now I feel even worse about my misunderstanding when we first met. After all, if there exists one aspect I respect about another person, it’s a love for books. I simply must apologize next time we meet and invite him for a discussion about stories.
I glanced up, looking at the phosphorescent shimmer of a passing jellyfish, “Who knows, maybe he knows a few fairy tales you haven’t heard yet.”
Yawm clapped his hands once, “An excellent suggestion! Fairy tales hide the wisdom of the cultures that created them. There’s much we may learn from one another.”
I frowned. If Yawm and Torix talked for more than a few minutes, Torix may give away our secrets on accident. In my head at least, it seemed like they would get along too well.
Before I continued along that train of thought, the white sphere around Amara dissipated. She walked up to me, inspecting my armor,
“You are more than you appear to be. Here I imagined you were merely in a guise.”
Yawm turned towards me, “A guise?” He turned back towards her, “What do you mean by the word guise?”
Amara turned towards me. As much as I was hiding it, there was an inkling of fear on my face. It was obvious now. Amara could see my level and Yawm’s. Anyone with half a brain cell could tell there was a massive gap between us. It looked like she was about to reveal me.
My brain entered overdrive. It was now or never. If she exposed me, all hell could break loose. Would I be able to bullshit to Yawm about my strength again? I didn’t know. If he hit me twice in a row, then I’d be dead. That was a risk I didn’t want to take.
An idea popped into my head. Was it a good one? I didn’t know at the time because the pressure was on. I just went with it. I opened a hand towards her,
“Since you don’t think much of me, how about we have a little test?”
Amara grinned at me, “What kind of test?”
I would use her biggest strength against her. I weighed my hands back and forth,
“A test of wills. We’ll see who has higher mana generation rates.”
The grin on Amara’s mouth grew. A bit of drool leaked from her, “What will I receive if I win this contest?”
I waved my hand like I didn’t care, “I don’t know, you can eat me or some shit. If I win, stop questioning my abilities, eh?”
Yawm observed with an expressionless face. I’d been around him enough to know that if he had lips, he’d have an amused grin on his face. Amara seemed giddy at the prospect,
“You are a warrior. Why are you comparing our mana generation? We could have a simple fight if you’d prefer that. Even though I may lack the brute force of many eldritch, I have magic and what I’ve learned from the cipher. It would be a fairer test.”
I shook my head, “There’s no need for all that. Let’s just keep it simple, short, and sweet. What do you say?”
Amara’s hair bristled up, goosebumps appearing over her skin as saliva flowed from her maw. She grinded her teeth together, the sound of gears turning echoing out. She hissed,
I grinned at her confidence. It was nice to see, but I unlike her, I had something she didn’t have. I’d seen her status screen in full. All she knew for certain about me was my level. I couldn’t blame her for her certainty either. She was 1,000 levels over me, a mage, and mana generation was her specialty.
The thing was, she didn’t know just how stupid high my mana was.