The sun set and the sky and countless stars started to shine in the sky. The sight of the stars was the same as it was when it was still a game, which naturally made city-dwellers leak a voice of admiration.
After finally arriving at her goal Mira, waved her hand to the guard saying thanks for his hard work and passed through the gate, just to stand there, astonished for a moment by how much the city had changed.
However, it was no wonder. The walls surrounding the city have grown much larger and the city has grown at least three times compared to how Mira remembered it. Only the city’s symbol in the middle of the city, the nine towers called “Silver Towers" remained the same to prove her this was the great city of Silver Horn.
“Mm, it’s only natural since it’s been thirty years.”
Mira muttered so in order to convince herself as soon as possible.
Then, she started walking towards the towers, which were now much farther from the entrance to the city than before. Multiple citizens walked the main road in various directions, going home after work, and were often sighing.
Mira’s appearance was lit up by moonlight and the city lanterns, this, together with her young facial features had made her appear out of place on the evening road, drawing in people’s gazes.
And while she herself hasn’t noticed it, people who captured Mira in sight were all worried about the young girl walking alone in the evening. They tried to speak to her, but had their gaze stolen by her fascinating beauty, and displayed various reactions to her.
But that could not be helped. As expected of Mira’s appearance, which was made with the goal of creating an image of a perfect woman, it was beautiful enough to take people’s breath away. Of course, the creator herself was also someone who would make such a reaction in a similar situation.
Surely, the knights with whom she had separated at noon would receive praise for withstanding the sight and not staring captivated.
After reaching the end of the main street, there was a four meter-tall wall and a gate that stopped her in her tracks. Behind the wall, there was the sight of the Silver Towers protruding grandly into the sky and reflecting the light of the moon. They were so tall that it hurt Mira’s neck when she looked up.
In order to enter inside the Silver Towers’ premises, one had to pass through this gate. However, the gate had special authentication spell embedded into it which did not allow unrelated people to enter.
To enter, one needed to have an authenticator issued by the Silver Towers’ Administration Bureau which was limited to a few uses, have Silver Key that proved one’s identity as a tower’s researcher, or have one of the nine Master Keys which had nine towers engraved on them and proved the owner to be the Elder, a highest hierarchy member of a tower.
Thanks to the existence of this gate there was no need for guards here, and there was almost no people in front of the towers.
But then again, to Mira who was an Elder herself, this was no obstacle...or that’s how it should have been.
However, when she walked in front of the gate, she realized there was something off.
Before, the gate automatically opened when she approached it, but it did not respond in any way now. Acting like she always used to, she walked forward without confirming what was ahead of her and ended up bumping into the gate before taking a few steps back.
“What’s going on?”
Mira looked up at the gate and walked right next to it, tried jumping away and forward, moving back and forth. However, the gate appeared not to be impressed by her antics and refused to laugh, as if it was watching an unfunny kid, it would not open its mouth leading inside.
Muttering again, Mira recalled all she could about the gate. Authenticators, Silver Keys and Master Keys. As the Elder of the Tower of Summoning, Mira naturally had a Master Key. Recalling that, she opened the item box and displayed the list of special items.
From among multiple item icons, she confirmed that there was the Master Key and tried taking it out. Although it was called a key, it wasn’t a key that could be inserted somewhere, and had a shape of a card. It had nine towers engraved on silver surface, of which one tower shone with gold color. This shining tower was a sign that this was a Master Key.
There was no sight of any problems with the key. Wondering what is going on, Mira started playing with the key in her in her fingers, then put a hand on her chin. That was when, the gate opened without any context.
“This is...hohooh, I see, mm.”
When she put the master key back into the item box, the gate closed. And when she took it out again, the gate opened. Up until now it worked even when inside the item box, but it appeared that the gate was unable to authenticate people if the key was inside the item box. After realizing this, Mira has repeated this multiple times as if to take her revenge on the gate by playing with it.
The method of the gate’s usage changed a little, but there was no problem as long as she knew how to use it. Mira passed through the gate and then threw the Master Key back into the item box.
Inside the Silver Towers premises, there was a large lawn spreading and a few of the the towers’ researchers could be seen busily going in and out of the towers. It was already time for all work to be over, but the tower researchers weren’t bothered by it.
Since it has been thirty years since the era Mira has known she was worried about what’s going on inside the towers. However, this place alone did not change at all, in any age spellcasters were blindly devoted, she thought, and heaved a sigh half astonished and half relieved.
The wide premises of the Silver Towers complex had nine towers that were built to make a circle. From the front and according to the rotation of the clock, they were “Tower of Wizardry", “Tower of Holy Magic", “Tower of Onmyoujutsu", “Tower of Exorcism", “Tower of Summoning", “Tower of Necromancy", “Tower of Daoism", “Tower of Assimilation"1This one put me through some trouble. There is no clear meaning for original Japanese used for this spellcasting school. Even after searching through Japanese dictionaries and sources I could not find one. But there are vague mentions of it which suggests it has a meaning of conquering evil and making that power part of oneself. There are also sources and translations where it's used in terms of being possessed by evil, or devil. And then, there is how this spellcasting school actually works in this novel: it’s all about making monsters’ powers part of your own (there’s more than one method for that). TLDR: This school of magic can "assimilate" monster spells and abilities hence my naming., and “Tower of Abstract Magic" standing one next to another.
Luminaria, whom Graya had mentioned, was an Elder who mastered Wizardry. In other words, if she was here, then she will would most likely be inside the Sage’s room that was at the top of the tower.
Mira turned towards the tower straight in front of her and started walking. As she walked, there were several spellcasters who stared at Mira, puzzled.
There was no need for any key to enter a tower, so Mira just entered it.
The inside of the tower had an open space in the middle extending all the way up, as a result of which it gave people entering it a sense of liberation. It had multiple facilities in shape of a doughnut on every level. After placing such facilities one on top another for multiple levels, it had eventually turned into a tower. And the spiral stairs had connected all the floors, all the way to the top.
Every time the amount of people using the tower increased, the tower was expanded and before long, it had reached the height of thirty floors. As to be expected, using stairs with this many floors took a lot of time, so in every tower an elevator using Abstract Magic was built.
Abstract Magic did not have just one congruous method of acquiring spells and included many spells with unique effects. Based on the player’s ingenuity it allowed the spellcaster to create things like light or motor power, resulting in many useful spell types. The towers’ elevators was also a result of a player’s ingenuity.
Indeed. This tower was built by players.
It all started soon after the game has officially launched its service, dating back to when the spellcasters still haven’t found ways to acquire spells.
Every player, upon starting the game had to choose to start in one of three countries. These three countries were called the initial countries, and when the player reached a certain rank, they were forced to leave those countries. When no longer affiliated with the country, the players received multiple restrictions which were forced on them while they lost the country’s support at the same time.
First of all, when the player died he received a horrifying penalty of losing all items they had in their item box, making them impossible to fight any more. Furthermore, their body would weaken for an entire day to the point where they were completely unable to fight, and it was was quite costly to travel past the country’s borders, too.
When the player was affiliated with the country, he did not lose his items and did not weaken, was able to recover completely within affiliated country just by resting a few minutes, the traveling fees were dirt cheap and they were able to use country’s facilities for free. This, was a support of the country.
Of course, that was not all though, as players had to pay taxes, but even despite that, being affiliated with a country was very charming prospect. And yet, everyone eventually ended up being heartlessly kicked out of the country. At first people showed varied reactions to this, but eventually started thinking “it can’t be helped since this is Ark-Ars Online" and laughed it off.
And when people started to get used to the fact they had no home to speak of, the first players started founding countries. With this, even after leaving the three initial countries it became possible for players to get affiliated with a country and get access to a country’s support. And when the rush for founding countries started, it had eventually moved into the era of wars over land.
Players who became the country leaders paid big money to employ mercenary players, who along with players affiliated with the country have participated in war.
A player who achieved a fairly high level in the game was about as strong as ten NPC soldiers and could do just as much.
The bigger the countries were, the more players joined them. From there on, these countries were capable of making big money in order to employ higher rank players with it, leading to easy victories in war. Such situation started expanding all over the continent, eventually becoming a wide-known problem.
And as the gap between small countries and big countries grew, the big countries started assaulting little countries to make them into vassal states, which made it difficult for any new countries to appear.
In such world full of chaos and disorder, players who were various countries’ leaders have met together and decided to form a treaty.
The “Country Power Ranking System”.
This treaty between countries had split countries based on its land size, economy and military power into five ranks and put a limit to the number of players capable of participating in a war based on the rank of a country.
The biggest characteristic of this treaty was that the maximal number of players allowed to participate was based on the amount of players in the smaller countries, and that players who participated in war were selected randomly.
Furthermore, the players allowed to participate were split in between the people affiliated with the country, and the mercenaries whereas at least 70% of the participating combatants had to be affiliated.
Thanks to this, it became easier to balance the players strength, increased the importance of NPC soldiers, as well as made it possible for situations where individual player’s abilities could decide the entire battle’s outcome.
However, a new problem has surfaced. Back in those days, players who choose spellcaster classes were only capable of using basic spells they had from the start. While they were capable of participating in parties in the opening zones, after everyone moved out of those beginner locations, started the age where spellcasters became a mere burden to other players.
It was a common sense that spellcasters were a weak class and because of this treaty, they completely lost their place in the world. Countries’ leaders couldn’t afford to spend precious places for affiliated players on spellcasters who were worth less than five NPC soldiers because that could lead to the country’s defeat.
And thus, persecution of spellcasters started behind the scenes.
The Arkite Kingdom in the Southeast of the continent was a small country that was born during this warring period. According to the treaty, the newly founded countries could not be assaulted by others for first four months since their foundation, so Arkite Kingdom was not involved in war right away. However, there were multiple small and medium-sized countries in the surroundings, so at this rate Arkite would become an easy victim for them.
However, the country was not doomed. It was because the Arkite Kingdom’s King Solomon and Danbulf were friends since open beta.
At a time when spellcasters standing was very complicated, Solomon still invited Danbulf to his country despite that.
After that, a rumor had appeared that there was a country that accepted spellcasters, and spellcaster players have started gathering in Arkite to request affiliation with the country.
The player called Solomon had been watching for a long time how Danbulf struggled with his class. Thanks to that, he knew how difficult it was for them, and also knew just how much effort they put into improving.
Therefore, when Solomon accepted all the spellcasters who gathered requesting to join the country, a certain interesting phenomenon started to occur.
It was exchange of information between spellcasters who felt close to one another. It was already hard enough to find methods to acquire new spells, so if a player found a new spell no one else knew, they would acquire a definite advantage. It was an age where such information could be sold for a high price.
However, the comrades who gathered in this country started to teach each other the methods of acquiring spells, and their effects.
Solomon himself has given up on standing chance in war, but the affiliated players have not. Wanting to be of use to the Arkite Kingdom which accepted them after they were chased away from their countries, all spellcasters gave up on trying to on-up one another and started working together towards improvement of spellcasters as a whole.
In that, Solomon saw a chance for victory.
He provided the spellcasters a part of the land, where gathered spellcasters could build nine facilities for each of spellcasting schools. These were the beginnings of the Silver Towers and the moment of birth of Arkite Kingdom’s greatest war potential which enabled it to protect itself from large countries.
To this world, it was something that happened over thirty years ago. While indulging in nostalgia, Mira entered the elevator and headed straight for the Sage’s room.
This elevator was unlike elevators in reality, as it appeared like a transparent tube with floor being a thin circular circular stone that had a magic circle drawn on it and which could rise upwards or descend. On every floor there were passages leading to the elevator which formed a sight that when looked upwards, reminded people of fish bones, eventually earning the elevator nickname of Fishbone Elevator. That, too, was something from over thirty years ago.