The top floor of the Tower of Wizardry dubbed “Sage Quarters", was split into Elder’s private rooms, the research room, office and the aide’s room.
When the translucent field preventing entering or leaving the elevator had split from the middle and opened upwards and downwards at once, Mira moved forward and off the elevator. After walking through a passage made of a transparent tube, she entered a circular corridor and in front of herself, she found the research room.
“Hey, Luminaria. Are you heeere? Answeeer me!”
Mira formed a fist with her hand and started pounding on the door. Along the young girl’s bell-like voice the door also screamed due to reaching its limits.
Ever since Luminaria had become an Elder, she often holed up inside the research room. In other words, that room had the highest probability of her being inside.
This is why Mira always started by knocking on the research room’s door, after which Luminaria would open the door saying “Stop hitting with all strength!” and released a kick at Mira. But this time the usual exchange did not happen, so Mira stopped knocking.
“Is she not here?”
During the few times she was not here, she would always go to a nearby forest in order to perform experiments that could not be done around people.
(“She sure can’t read the mood.”)
Mira complained in her heart and putting a finger on her chin, she started thinking carefully.
“Who are you?”
When Mira started walked back and forth, wondering if she should wait here until Luminaria comes back, suddenly a calm female voice sounded from behind her. Mira knew this voice.
Turning around, Mira found a beauty who had ideal facial features for a secretary and semi-long blonde hair that made glasses fit her well. Her blue eyes were turned towards Mira, looking with suspicion.
“Ohhh, it’s been a while Litaria. You know maybe where Luminaria went?”
The beauty that Mira called Litaria, was the Elder’s aide.
Every Elder received an NPC aide who dispatched from the country and who would help the Elder with research and office work. In other words, Litaria was Luminaria’s aide.
And since she was an Elf, she had a long lifespan allowing her to retain her beauty for a very long time, which is why some people looked up to elves as of a perfect race.
However, in Ark-Ars Online, players were unable to select races other than human, so it was a race exclusive for NPCs. Other than Elves, there were also other famous races such as Dwarves, Hobbits, Sirens, Werewolves and Giants. There were also Meowfolk who were a race who possessed cat ears and tails, but were same as humans except for those cat features, Galideafolk who possessed very muscular bodies, as well as many other NPC races.
“Who are you? There is no other way to enter this floor but to use the elevator, and only few people knew how to reach this floor with it.”
In this tense atmosphere, Litaria’s eyes have been dyed deeply with caution.
“I said, I’m…ahh. Right, I forgot…"
Mira just recalled that she no longer had her solemn appearance and was a girl now. Also, it seemed like Litaria was unable to “Inspect" Mira as she inquired who Mira is.
There was no guarantee Litaria would believe her if she claimed to be Danbulf. Even beside that, it would be very hard to bear the gazes of her acquaintances who learned that the majestic sage Danbulf of all people, had been enjoying his time in a little girl’s appearance.
However, that was a minor problem when it came to Luminaria.
After all, Luminaria had amused herself with “this kind of thing" more than anyone else, and Mira had seen Luminaria enjoy her female body countless times. Which is why Mira was confident to say her own state was cute in comparison.
Still, the current situation was unexpected.
When Litaria spoke, Mira finally recalled that there was a special way of manipulating the elevator to get to the top floor. It was a special procedure put there so that Sages’ fans did not trespass on their’ rooms.
Of course, as an Elder herself Mira knew of it and was able to reach this floor, but from Litaria’s perspective, it was a suspicious thing for the girl in front of her to have reached this place.
Most likely an excuse that she’s a just a summoner passing by to visit, would not work.
In which case… Mira put a fingertip on her chin and started thinking of a solution. An excuse that would explain the reason why Mira knew how to use the elevator to get here, that would not reveal her real identity, but would justify Mira’s presence in here and would allow her to freely come and go.
And, she came up with one.
“You, do you know Danbulf?”
Mira suddenly spoke, posing a question with a smile full of confidence as she looked up at Litaria.
“Of course I do know him. He is the Elder of the Tower of Summoning!”
As she responded in an instant, Litaria’s voice became a little lively.
“Ahh right. You see, I’m that Danbulf’s disciple. My master asked me to meet Luminaria…-dono and relay a message to her, so I came to do that.”
Mira lined up complete lies without her expression even budging, but inside, she nervously watched Litaria’s reaction.
“Danbulf-sama’s disciple…?! In such case, indeed… But no, I haven’t heard of Danbulf-sama having a disciple like you.”
The moment Mira has introduced herself, Litaria’s expression revealed that she was clearly shaken. It was just natural considering a disciple of a person missing for thirty years has suddenly appeared.
“Of course you have not. After all, I became master’s disciple after he disappeared thirty years ago.”
“After he disappeared you say?! Then, did Danbulf-sama return to this country?!”
Litaria approached Mira, taken over by the interest, her eyes being a full of sparkle. Seeing the momentum at which Litaria responded made Mira’s expression to crumble slightly.
“Yeah, indeed. However, due to certain circumstances he is unable to move now. Which is why I came instead of him.”
“Is that so. So Danbulf-sama is… But, what kind of circumstances are there to stop Danbulf-sama from moving?”
“Aahh… Um-mm, well.”
This was something that Mira just came up with, so she was troubled to answer the details, but was able to come up with a certain thing. It was about her own actions when she was still Danbulf. If this world was a continuation of the game history then this might work.
“Master secluded himself in the town of mythical beasts to raise a new spirit summon.”
Mira spoke with uncertainty, not sure if this excuse would pass.
"...Yet another, new summoning spell, is it. As expected of Danbulf-sama. In the past he did sometimes disappear to head to the Town of Mythical Beasts to train, it appears he didn’t change. In which case it’s no wonder he can’t move. Oh Danbulf-sama, I want to meet you again.”
It was a fairly desperate excuse, but it appeared that Litaria was satisfied with it and had nodded. Mira was able to confirm that her past actions had properly remained in this world people’s memories.
The Town of Mythical Beasts was a famous hunting ground among players.
Although it was called a town, there was no one living in there as it was an ancient ruin. A field filled with many types and shapes of monsters, as well as mythical beasts going rampant in it. By beating monsters in that town, it was possible to acquire the blessing of the ancient town which increased the speed of acquiring experience and recovery, as well as the rate of enemies dropping rare items. Enemies appearing in there were also very varied, so it was a staple hunting ground for high-ranked players.
The problem was that once you left the town, the blessing was reset. Which is why it was common sense for players who went to the Town of Mythical Beasts to have always bought as much supplies as it was possible and to remain inside it for as long as they possibly could.
“Ahhh, well, that’s how it is. So, about Luminaria…-dono.”
Seeing how Litaria had entered a state of excitement, Mira thought this to be a perfect chance.
“Yes, about that, currently Luminaria-sama is… Oh, no, nono...this isn’t good, not at all. Indeed what you say is sounds much like Danbulf-sama, but you still might be someone who knows him well and only pretends to be his disciple. Do you possibly have anything that could prove it?”
Litaria not only respected Danbulf, who together with Luminaria had supported the country, but pretty much adored him. The words of Danbulf’s survival had been like a light to her and her expression became very lively and energetic, but she did manage to calm herself down and prioritized ascertaining whether Mira was saying truth.
“A proof. Hm-mmm…this should be easy to understand proof.”
After thinking for a moment, Mira opened the item box and took out an item that only Danbulf possessed. It was of course the silver card with nine towers engraved on it - the Master Key.
“This is...the Tower of Summoning’s Master Key, isn’t it! Then you really are Danbulf-sama’s… Could you please tell me your name?”
After confirming that the Master Key was from the Tower of Summoning, a smile immediately bloomed on Litaria’s face.
“I’m Mira. Litaria, I heard of you from my master. So, Luminaria-dono isn’t here now?”
“Yes, currently Luminaria-sama has left for Lunatic Lake. She most likely won’t return until tomorrow.”
“Mm-hm, is that so. It can’t be helped then. Let’s come back later.”
If Luminaria was not here, there was no way around it. Thinking it was too much of trouble to head to Lunatic Lake now, and that Luminaria was supposed to come back tomorrow, Mira decided she had to come again tomorrow.
“I know! It’s already late, so how about you stay in my room tonight? It might be a good idea if you stayed until Luminaria-sama returns. Meanwhile, if possible, I would love to hear about Danbulf-sama!”
Suddenly, Litaria approached Mira again like a cat who found its prey. Mira reflexively took a step back just to hit the door, her expression stiffened as she turned her gaze away.
Although Litaria only wanted to hear some stories of Danbulf, to Mira it meant she would have to think of various excuses on spot. It was unknown where Mira would slip up, so it was not a good idea to let this continue for too long.
“No, actually I have other things to do as well, you see. I will come again tomorrow.”
Mira said so without any hesitation, deciding that escaping as soon as possible was the best choice.
“It can’t be... Then, just for a moment, you don’t have to stay the night. Could you please tell me what happened thirty years ago? Please, tell me what was Danbulf-sama doing all this time!”
“Let us leave that for next time. First, I need to accomplish what I was requested to by master.”
Tearing off Litaria of herself, Mira leaped away towards the elevator and headed below.
Mira thought that she needed to prepare a set of believable excuses for the next time she is caught up in trouble like this.
While slightly regretting what she said, Mira looked up the elevator to see Litaria’s appearance completely unlike her usual self - clinging to the translucent tube of the elevator, and heaved a sigh.
“She used to have give off a more intellectual feeling before, mm.”
Litaria whom Mira knew as an NPC did not have a personality that would justify actions like that. She gave off an impression of a skilled secretary. Maybe it was because of these thirty years, or maybe this was her real personality from the start. Mira smiled wryly and put a hand on her chin as she watched the floors she passed.
After several dozen of seconds she arrived at the first floor, and rousing herself up, she walked towards the entrance. On the way, she said “do your best!” to cheer on the researchers whom she passed by.
From Mira’s perspective, it was just something she used to do since the times she was Danbulf. But from the perspective of the researchers, they were suddenly cheered on by a girl passing by whom they have not seen before, resulting in a few of them deciding to do their best and do an all-nighter. However, this was none of Mira’s concern.
After leaving the Tower of Wizardry, Mira entered the Tower of Summoning. Tomorrow Luminaria should come back home, but there was something else she wanted to confirm before that. When she told Litaria that she had something to do, it was not a lie.
This thing she needed to do, was to check on her own Sage Quarters that was her home. If it was the same as it used to be, Mira would be able to use it to spend the night.
The inside of the Tower of Summoning was constructed the same way as the Tower of Wizardry and the quiet insides were lit up by swaying lights created with Abstract Magic. Mira squinted at the brightness for an instant and as she manipulated the elevator to head to the top floor, she thought of proposing to adjust the light intensity later.
On the way, unlike it in the Tower of Wizardry, he did not see any researchers on the floors of the tower, it looked deserted. At this sight, Mira recalled the knight mentioning that summoning was unusual.
The number of people in the Tower of Summoning had clearly decreased. Experiencing it personally, she felt a little helpless as if she was seeing her comrades retire.