"So, weren't you wondering how you could gain control of Trodar?"
Jack didn't respond immediately. Still pondering his role in Daruun's plan, questioning more of Daruun's intentions.
But he also understood that he had no choice but to eventually return to his friends who were waiting for the next part of the plan. "Yeah… I need to know how I can gain control of Trodar while saving it and what steps do I need to fill for that to happen."
"That I can help you with." Daruun nodded. "For you to save Trodar and gain influence over it there are a total of five steps that you must follow. Step one: you must slow the Limneer-Sandros alliance's advance and find evidence for Tralon to push the Trodan Council to act. This will be one of the harder steps. Would you like to ask questions before I explain the other steps or after?"
"I'll ask the questions afterward…"
Daruun continued, "Very well. Step two: you must find a way to cut off the supply lines from Churstin to Prachten, the very supply lines that the Trodan Council knows nothing about. Step three: you must help Korten in order to gain their trust. Also note, that your friend Daliea will be key to this and that without her this step will fail. Step four: you and your party must officially join the Leisure Guild. Step five: you will have to successfully be elected onto the Trodan Council."
Jack scratched his head in thought, still irritated with Daruun. "For step one will I need the entire party?"
"As you've already planned, I would advise that your party split up but in a different way. I believe a few party members should head to Prachten in order to learn more about supply lines. They won't need to act, though, so there's not too much danger there. On the other hand, those with you will be in immense danger as you infiltrate Limneer and forcibly halt their advance by some means after giving Tralon the evidence of their alliance, which breaks the war pact they signed. If you can't slow down their advance, then the Trodan forces won't make it in time to stop the invasion."
"Then who do you suggest I bring?"
"I suggest you add a couple people to those you already planned to bring along. Together with Daliea and Rydel, your small party is quite powerful for its level but you'll still need the help of Eliza and Keela if you want to avoid catastrophe."
With widened eyes Jack looked back to Daruun. "You mean--"
Shook his head. "The catastrophe will only happen if they don't join you. But if they're with you, then that catastrophe will be averted. Their help in controlling battles and healing the party will be a pivotal asset during this first step of your plan."
"All right…" Feeling a bit more at ease Jack let his train of thought continue. "Where do you suggest each of our parties began our searches?"
"Maura, Lina, and Maynard should start their search in Talmook, to the south of Prachten. You and the others should start in Zurden. Once in your respective location, you should start searching for information and claim a place to hide in secret. The fewer the people who know of your existence the better," explained Daruun.
"Sounds simple enough… Why is step one so dangerous?" asked Jack.
Daruun shrugged and looked away. "Because you will be dealing with a small army that only a handful of people know exists. The moment you make yourself known, they will do everything and anything to shut you up and keep you from revealing them. If they're found out, that means they've incited the anger of the high leveled people of Trodar, something that the Limneer citizens were always against. Which would then lead to a lack of support."
"And what would happen if I fail any of these five steps?"
"Then you will either fail to save Trodar or fail to gain influence over it, only saving it a couple of years before its imminent collapse," replied Daruun. "Again, this is an example of how difficult a claim against fate is. But if you succeed in the end against all the difficulty that lay in front of your party, then you'll find yourselves in a much better position to protect your loved ones. Doesn't that sound worth it to you?"
A slow nod came from Jack's head. "And what should I know of the other steps?"
"Most everything will explain itself as the situations unravel. For step two, all you have to do is stop the supply line and that can be by any means you deem necessary. Step four is self-explanatory and step five will involve you running a campaign where you publicly announce your involvement in steps one through three so that the public will rally on your side," explained Daruun.
"Step three is the second hardest but is more than possible, so long as Daliea is with you. With her step three is a guaranteed success. Any other questions about this?"
"No, I don't think I will get anything out of you besides needless details," grumbled Jack. He took a moment to think. With only one question left from the tutorial stone, Jack pondered what to do next.
"Shouldn't you save the last question just in case?" Mentioned Daruun.
Hearing that, Jack couldn't help but agree. After one last look at Daruun, Jack turned and walked away without a word. Just as he was about to exit the tomb, he heard Daruun's last question.
"Would you like to know what skills will help you the most?"
His footsteps stopped. Turning around, Jack stared at the still emotionless God. "And what would those be? Wouldn't that be a waste of my last question?"
Daruun showed a subtle smile as he shook his head. "Thanks to your efforts and your recent tomb raiding, you've now got seven hundred and fifty-nine skill points. Do you think it's best to buy an immensely powerful spell or to distribute them amongst a few spells that are less powerful yet quite practical?"
"Just tell me already since you know best," whined Jack.
"What I recommend is that you level up both mana capacity and mana regeneration first, which will take 320 skill points. Then you should buy Spatial Disruption," advised Daruun. "This will aid your entire party at once and create the ideal environment for teamwork. As for the remaining 39 points, that's up to you."
Jack scoffed, "Wouldn't Revivification be a better choice?"
"I wouldn't recommend it."
"I see…" Jack showed no hesitation as he opened up his skill list and purchased Revivification along with upgrading mana capacity and mana regeneration to lv. 6.
Daruun sighed and shook his head. "Very well… Good luck."
As Jack reentered the barren, sand-covered world under the dark night sky, he was tackled to the ground. Before Jack could do anything fox saliva painted his face. "Bowzer, calm down."
'Did you find it?' Asked Bowzer.
Jack nodded and neared Appa. The giant bird lowered his wing and allowed Jack to climb on, followed by Bowzer. In moments the three of them vanished as if they themselves had become stars in the distant firmament.
A knock sounded on the locked door of the Heavenly Palace Inn. There was no reply. Again, knocks came from the door.
"I'm coming, I'm coming," a distant voice rang out. A few moments passed till the door finally opened up after the lock was undone. "Thanks for choosing… Oh, it's you, Jack. What took you--"
"I'm off to bed…" Exhausted both physically and mentally, Jack brushed past Martha and trudged up the stairs.
He stayed quiet as he passed numerous rooms and soon turned a door handle, finding his own personal space. Deep breaths filled his stomach and lungs, gradually calming him. In his tired state, Jack forgot to release Bowzer, leaving Jack alone in the pitch-black room as he struggled to drift to sleep.
Hours passed and the sunshine quietly crept through the foggy window covered in morning dew.
Something heavy started to weigh down Jack's chest, enough to wake him up when accompanied by the gentle calls of his name.
Jack tried to wipe his eyes but found himself unable. Something was on top of his arms, as well as his body. As he cracked his eyes open, it took a moment for Jack to clearly see the woman laying on top of him. He blinked. He noticed that she was still clothed and wasn't trying to do anything but shake him awake. "Eliza… What do you want?"
"It's time to wake up," Eliza smiled as she sat up beside him. "If you're tired and sore I can always give you a massage?"
"Maybe later… For now, just let me rest…" Jack mumbled as his dark and tired eyelids heavily fell, shielding Jack from the morning sun's rays.
"Fine… Rest well…" Standing up Eliza took a good look at Jack. She had never seen him so tired.