Shh. I'll update again someday.

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Reverberations

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Age 749, October 17, Early Morning, The Sky

As the magic carpet soared into the sky, carrying us away from Korin's tower, I couldn't shake the weight of the situation. Chichi continued to lay beside me, immobilized and unconscious, the result of the diabolical serum that had stripped her of free will.

The urgency of finding a cure pressed on my mind, overriding the sense of mild amusement I had felt when I'd seen my new companion move her, bed and all, onto the carpet.

Speaking of which… I turned my gaze to the creature beside me.

Mr. Popo, silent as a monolith, guided the carpet with his mind alone, it seemed. The sky stretched endlessly above us.

I stole a glance at Chichi. Her features were tense, so unnatural was her slumber.

"Mr. Popo." I began, my voice betraying a mix of determination and concern. "Is there really anything you can do to help her?"

Popo's empty eyes met mine, and he spoke with a calm assurance. "Trust the journey ahead, young Ten. I am sure that the guardian knows the way forward."

I exhaled at that before looking away, off into the distance. I found it odd that, not even an hour prior, I had still been climbing the damnable tower— and now I could barely even see Korin's home.

I marveled at the speed of the magic carpet, the world below us blurring into a mosaic of colors. "This is incredible! We're moving so fast!"

Popo, however, shook his head, his expression unchanged.

"We could have been there already if I didn't have to take it easy."

"Take it easy?" I said, blinking in surprise. "This feels anything but slow!"

But Popo did not acknowledge my shock, instead pointing upward. "Ah, there it is."

Following his gaze, my eyes widened as I saw a distant structure shimmering into existence above us. It was an otherworldly expanse— a floating palace nestled high above the clouds. Towering spires and lush greenery adorned the landscape, a serene haven above the world. The air here felt even more hallowed than that of Korin's tower, charged as it was with an energy that whispered of ancient wisdom and something else I couldn't quite place.

As we approached, I could make out a grand structure with intricate architecture, all carved out of marble as white as the pure snow. The tranquility of the place contrasted sharply with the urgency pulsating within me.

"It's breathtaking." I murmured, taking in the beauty that surrounded us.

Mr. Popo guided the carpet toward the heart of this celestial sanctuary, and I braced myself for the landing, only for us to set down without even a hint of discomfort.

I turned to Mr. Popo, questioning eyes meeting his calm gaze. Before I could utter a word, he snapped his fingers.

The magic carpet dissipated beneath us, leaving only the well shined white tiles beneath my feet.

To my surprise, Chichi, along with the bed she was attached to, began floating toward the main structure in a gentle motion, keeping the girl unconscious. I moved to follow, but Popo's raised hand halted me.

"She's being taken to a warm, cozy room." He assured, his voice a tranquil reassurance. "I need to speak with the guardian. Would you mind staying here, young Ten?"

"A-all right." I said, feeling completely out of my depth here.

As he walked away, the weight of uncertainty settled in the air once again. I watched Chichi disappear into the distance, hoping that she was indeed in capable hands, while I remained on the celestial plateau, my mind filled with questions which had yet to be answered.

Could the guardian actually heal Chichi? Did he hold the answers to the mysteries that had plagued my thoughts for a while now?

Time passed at a glacial pace, each moment stretching out like an eternity. I couldn't shake the nervous anticipation that gripped me.

Where are they? I thought, getting more and more agitated. Are they just going to make me wait?

The palace loomed above, its grandeur a tempting mystery. Ignoring Popo's directions tugged at my thoughts— my haste seemed justified in the face of what I was dealing with.

I wrestled with the urge to defy his guidance, the inner turmoil fueled by a significant sense of urgency and impatience.

Would they forgive my trespass if it meant hastening answers and a potential cure for Chichi? The weight of the decision pressed on me, each passing second intensifying the internal struggle.

Just as I was about to take my first step, Popo emerged, walking over to me.

I watched him quietly as he approached, slowing my breathing down to normal.

"Follow me." Was all he said before turning back.

As I fell in step behind Popo, he took me through the celestial palace, its grandeur unfolding before me. The entire structure, constructed from a luminous, white marble-esque material, exuded an ethereal brilliance.

Yet, the stark brightness found a subtle balance with darker-toned plants and fabrics interspersed throughout the place, creating an atmosphere of serene duality.

The halls echoed with an otherworldly silence and the sound of our footsteps as we navigated the majestic corridors.

Finally, Popo halted in front of a nondescript door, breaking the pattern of uniformity.

"You may see the Guardian now." He stated simply.

I stared at him, and then at the door.

As it loomed before me, I braced myself for the revelations that awaited within.

"Thank you, Mr. Popo."

"You are welcome." He said even as I knocked on the door.

There was a long pause.

"Come in." A voice came from the other side.

As I opened the door, a spiral stairway beckoned, leading downward to a room made entirely of glass. The transparency of the walls and even the floor revealed the world below in perfect clarity, as if suspended above the very fabric of reality.

I descended the spiral staircase, each step resonating with a sense of anticipation. The glass room unveiled a breathtaking panorama, offering a bird's-eye view of the landscapes beneath. The majesty of the scene held me spellbound, and I couldn't help but marvel at the unique vantage point this room provided.

As I approached the center of the glass room, a figure stood, an aura of ancient wisdom emanating from its presence.

The being's back was turned to me, and as I drew closer, the distinctive features of the guardian became a little more clear.

His dark green, wrinkled skin spoke of the years he had witnessed, his pointed ears and two antennae adding an otherworldly hint to his form.

Draped in a white robe, a red symbol written in kanji adorned the fabric, saying "God".

Dark blue shoes completed his attire, grounding him against the transparent expanse of the glass room. The soft glow reflected off the being's serene countenance, etched with the wisdom of a protector who had watched over the realms.

I stood in shocked silence, for above his head I only saw a single name:

Kami

Much like Popo, there were no level indicators, not a single bit of information displayed aside from his name.

Was he blocking my Game abilities somehow, or was this something natural?

"Be welcome." The being said as he turned to me, displaying an aged, wrinkled face. "Ten of South City."

Green. I finally realized, my mind immediately going to—

"The Greenlight Serum, isn't it?" The man said, reading my thoughts with the same ease that Korin did. "Quite a feat of science, it was."

"You know about it?"

The green man before didn't answer immediately, instead turning around and walking to the edge of the room. "I can see quite a bit from my Lookout, young Ten."

He gestured for me to come, before pointing towards the South.

"I have seen your meteoric rise, from the time of your power's awakening." His hand shifted to the East. "To the invasion you've stopped, and, more recently…"

He pointed straight down, and I imagined that was where the Red Ribbon base was. "Your altercation with the Red Ribbon Army."

"You…" I said, dumbfounded. "You could see all of that?"

That got a chuckle out of the green man. "Of course; as guardian, it is my sacred duty to watch over the planet."

A moment of silence passed while I absorbed this information.

"Ah, but where are my manners?" The ancient creature said as he turned to me, hand extended. "My name is Kami, and I am the God of Earth."

"Ten." I said and shook his hand. "But you already knew that since you addressed me by name, so…"

Kami regarded me for a moment before nodding and stepping back, as if he was gauging my worth.

"Normally, I would not have granted you an audience…" Kami said, raising his hand to forestall whatever response I had. "While I have deemed you to be good, you are not completely pure of heart, which would make me disinclined to see you. However, the circumstances have forced my hand."

I absorbed his words for a moment, letting go of the slight irritation I felt at the confirmation that I likely wouldn't be able to ride Goku's Nimbus.

"... Do you mean my question to the Dragon?"

"That, and the matter of your friend." Kami said. "I have been keeping a close eye on the Red Ribbon Army. They are far more threatening than I had originally anticipated."

"You mean their genetic enhancement."

"It goes far beyond that, young Ten." Kami's words hung in the air, each syllable carrying an ominous weight that sent a chill down my spine.

"True, they have managed to increase their soldiers' martial and mental abilities by a significant degree, but their most recent project has defied all of their expectations." Kami said. "You are familiar with the word 'Greenlight,' of course."

"Yes." Ten said. "I saw that word over Chichi's head, and... Her race changed. She's no longer completely human."

Kami's eyes reflected a mixture of concern and solemnity.

"Then it is as I suspected." Kami said. "Recently, I discovered that the Red Ribbon Army has recovered the sealed entity that was King Piccolo, and released him."

I felt my heart stop at the information, remembering the placard I had seen in Central City, as well as every frightening bed time story told to me by my mother.

"They awakened… Piccolo." I said, eyes wide. "One of the worst, most brutal tyrants in known history. That Piccolo."

Kami only nodded. A moment of bewildered silence passed before I exploded.

"Are they insane!? What are they thinking?"

That seemed to amuse the old guardian. "I had a very similar reaction when I first sensed his presence."

"We have to go down there!" I exclaimed, a surge of urgency propelling me forward.

The gravity of the situation demanded immediate action, and the realization that King Piccolo had been awakened intensified the need to confront the impending threat head-on.

"Calm yourself, young Ten." Kami said. "Piccolo may have been released, but his presence has been weak for some time. It appears that the Red Ribbon Army has him subdued— or perhaps he is biding his time."

I resisted the urge to argue and instead took a deep breath.

Immediately, my thoughts turned to my experience in the Demon World.

Genus, the dread fiend, had held my father captive for years, building his forces and biding his time until the secret to opening the portal had been found.

Piccolo would be behaving much the same in this regard, but I didn't know just what kind of game he would be playing.

"Whatever they're planning, it can't be good." I said, backing up a few steps. "You said they're keeping him subdued, right?"

Kami didn't answer, and I took that as a sign to keep going. "Best for me to get back down there, find him and get rid of him before half of the world is destroyed again."

"And I would have agreed with you— if I still knew where he was." Kami said, cutting through my thoughts with his chilling statement. "As soon as he became aware of my mind seeking him out, he shut me out."

"Then he's gone."

"For now." Kami nodded, extending a hand and materializing a staff out of thin air.

"[Magic Materialization]." I breathed.

"Indeed it is. One of the many skills I've mastered over the years." Kami said as he began to leave the room, gesturing for me to follow. "But let us speak of this later. I believe you've brought a friend of yours here, have you not?"

I nodded and followed, going back up the staircase and back to the white tiles. We were joined by Popo soon after, and off we went through the halls.

Kami led me through the halls to where Chichi was kept, the anticipation building with each step. Halfway there, I attempted to speak, but suddenly, I doubled over, gasping for breath.

"What's going on?" I managed to utter between breaths.

Kami, unfazed, explained. "I wondered when you'd notice. The air is very thin at this altitude. It will take some time to acclimate. Deep breaths, young Ten, and take care to exercise the most minute movements to conserve your energy."

I nodded, trying to follow his advice for the rest of the way there, checking my [Status] to confirm his words.

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Name: Ten
Occupation: The Gamer
Level: 39 (32,500/52,000 XP)

Race: Human
Age: 14

HP: 61,075 [Dyspnea]
MP: 54,445
Ki: 82,317

STR: 145 ; [304]
VIT: 157 ; [324]
AGI: 200 ; [405]
INT: 136 ; [197]
WIS: 132 ; [191]

Points: 5

Battle Power: 170, [344]

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So it's true… I thought calmly and did my best to adjust my movements.

We passed through a few more halls before I was led inside a sparsely furnished room, in which my eyes immediately went to Chichi's sleeping form.

I said nothing as Kami approached her, scrutinizing the young woman for a moment before holding his hand over her, a white outline surrounding them both.

Seconds passed, and the old guardian's face wrinkled even further in sadness.

"...It is as I feared." Kami said, with his hand still over Chichi's body. "I can sense Piccolo's presence within your friend."

"The Greenlight." I said. "She was subjected to an experiment."

"Yes." Kami said as he opened his eyes and turned to me, the power dissipating. "And I would imagine that she has gained abilities not found in regular humans— a far more rapid regeneration, better control over her energies, and increased strength?"

"I— yes." I said, surprised at his insight. "She even gained magic, though it seems to be locked."

Kami didn't say anything, though from the look on his face, he knew what I was about to say.

"How do you know all of this?" I said. "Even my own [Insight] could tell me so much."

"I am familiar with these traits, because they are part of myself, as well."

"Meaning…" I said slowly as I put the pieces of the puzzle together. "You and Piccolo are related?"

It all made sense; his knowledge, his ability to seek out a singular mind from such a great distance, the fact that Chichi had turned green…

Granted, that last part was a little silly, but it corroborated my theory.

Kami's eyes twinkled with a subtle amusement, and he offered a gentle smile.

"You're close." He replied, prompting me to lean in, eager to unravel the mystery.

"Long ago." Kami began, his voice carrying the weight of ancient tales. "I had traveled to the Lookout as a single being, wishing to be a guardian of the people, but the previous guardian saw in me a selfish desire for the position's power. I had wished to control the world.

For many years, I brutally trained until I was able to separate my impure desire, casting it off and sending it down into the world below. I became Kami, the Guardian of Earth, focused on spiritual guidance and protection. The other half became Piccolo, a foul agent of evil, and one of my biggest regrets."

"You're…" I said, trying to wrap my head around the story. "You split yourself into two?"

"That is correct." Kami confirmed, though his voice remained kind, even as he gestured towards Chichi. "Your friend has been tainted with my other half's essence. I can sense it."

"... Is there anything you can do?" I said before giving Kami a deep bow. "Please. I'll do anything you want."

"I believe I can help." Kami said, and my expression shifted into relief just long enough for him to turn back to me with a severe look.

"You said you would do anything?" Kami asked, his gaze penetrating.

"Yes." I affirmed, determined to assist in any way possible.

"Take any action, no matter what it may be?" He pressed, his voice carrying a sense of urgency. I hesitated for a moment, then nodded.

"Anything for her." I said, trying to keep my emotions at bay.

"I can sense the honesty in your words." Kami said. "I feel the guilt and love in your voice, young Ten. This tragedy is not of your doing."

The hell it isn't! My mind snarled, though I kept quiet. If I hadn't sent her in, then—

"Then she would have never been harmed in the first place, yes?" Kami finished for me. "It is certainly possible. And yet, if you had gone in, you may have fallen victim to this… Greenlight, yourself."

"I…" I said, looking down and letting out a deep breath. "Maybe you're right."

"Your friend gained enough power to challenge you as a result of her change." Kami continued, driving the point home. "What would have happened if you were the one to have been infected?"

I swallowed and finally allowed myself to think it through. "With that kind of power, and under the control of the Red Ribbon Army, I would have brought the world to its knees."

"Indeed you would have— or, you would have done so until Piccolo decided to do away with you and the army." Kami said wryly. "He was never one to abide any threats to his power."

"I understand." I said, bringing attention back to Chichi. "Still, I feel responsible."

"It is only natural." Kami said, his voice softening slightly. "I have delved into Chichi's mind— I sense her love for you. It is as bright as the Sun itself."

"Then you understand I'm serious." I said, nodding. "I would do anything for her."

"I know." Kami said, though he raised his hand. "But there is no cause for concern. I had already begun the process of healing her mind a few moments after I linked my power with hers."

"You— what?" I said in shock as my mind tried to catch up. "Then those questions—"

"A test." Kami said, though he did not appear guilty in the least. "I wished to get the true measure of you, young Ten."

"A test…" I repeated, a mix of astonishment and realization dawning on me.

"Yes." Kami affirmed, his gaze unwavering. "I needed to understand your dedication, your willingness to face the unknown. With the fate of your friend hanging in the balance, I needed to ensure you would stand resolute."

Relief washed over me, tempered with an equal mix of irritation and understanding. "Right. I understand."

Kami nodded, a faint smile playing on his lips. "Good. Your sincerity has proven itself, Ten. Now, let us continue on the path to healing your friend."

"You mean there's more to do?" I asked, my concern deepening.

I turned my gaze to Chichi and noticed, to my dismay, that she was still tinged with the same shade of green.

I thought it'd disappear since he healed her, but I guess it's a partial heal…?

Kami's expression remained solemn. "The healing process for this kind of corruption is complex. I've lightly mended her mind, so she is her own mistress once again, but reversing the physical and mental changes completely is a true challenge, and I'm not entirely certain if it can be fully achieved— or if it can be achieved at all."

"What about using the Dragonballs? Shenron could fix this— he can bring people back from the Otherworld." I suggested, hopeful that the Eternal Dragon's mystical powers could aid in reversing Chichi's physical changes.

Kami's expression shifted, a frown forming on his face.

"The Dragonballs." He mused. "Yes, they can certainly be used for this, but I've been contemplating their existence. They've brought good to this world, true; but many evil forces have risen through the ages to lay claim to them."

"What are you saying?"

"Perhaps it is best if the Dragonballs were removed, and destroyed."

I didn't say anything for a long moment. On some level, I understood the old guardian's misgivings. Both of his creations, Piccolo and the Dragonballs, had brought misery and strife to the world.

But, on the other hand…

"Destroy the Dragonballs?" I exclaimed, appalled by the implications of such a decision. "The Red Ribbon, and other factions, already know about them. If they can't detect them, they won't just stop. They'll find other ways. They have Piccolo, don't they? Maybe he already told them about you— what stops them from eventually finding their way here?"

Kami sighed, acknowledging the validity of my concern. "My Lookout is hidden from the average human, but you're right. The Red Ribbon and their allies are far beyond average. With Piccolo aiding them, your words are not without merit."

A silence settled between us, stretching on for minutes. Kami's contemplative gaze remained fixed on Chichi, and I couldn't help but wonder if my words had crossed a line, if I had offended the guardian with my frankness.

Finally breaking the silence, Kami spoke, "I will not remove the Dragonballs. As you rightly pointed out, Ten, the Red Ribbon will stop at nothing to get what they want. However, I have another proposal for you."

I looked at Kami, a mixture of confusion and curiosity in my eyes. "What is it?" I asked, eager to hear his alternative solution to the complex dilemma we faced.

Kami stood up a bit straighter, and strangely enough, an orange icon depicting a one-star Dragonball appeared over his head.

"Seeing that I can no longer sense Piccolo's presence, and that the Dragonballs won't activate for a while, still, why don't you train here?" He suggested and I opened my mouth to answer before closing it when I saw the notification before me.

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A Main-Story Quest has been unlocked through player action!

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Sanctuary Training

Description:

In the secluded sanctuary of Kami's Lookout, a unique opportunity for training has emerged. With the Dragonballs currently dormant and Piccolo's presence no longer detectable, Kami suggests honing your skills in this celestial realm. The challenges and mysteries within may offer a chance for growth and preparation against the looming threats.

Accept Quest?

- Yes

- No

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What the hell? My eyes widened in bewilderment.

The format, akin to the usual quests I'd become accustomed to, now left me stunned.

True, I'd unlocked a few quests due to 'player actions', but this was different.

Main story? Is my life being told like a story to people, or is this just another peculiarity of the system?

Kami's brow furrowed in confusion as I remained silent, my attention still captured by the in-game quest prompt that floated before me. Sensing his puzzlement, I shook my head, dispelling the surprise that had momentarily gripped me before mentally accepting the quest.

"I accept." I finally said, breaking the silence and taking a step forward to Kami.

A subtle smile played on Kami's lips.

"Very well, young Ten. Your training begins tomorrow. For now, I advise you to acclimate yourself with the Lookout as I continue to tend to your friend." He declared, a sense of anticipation underlying his words.

The acceptance marked the beginning of a new chapter of my life, and yet all I could feel was a resolute determination.

Whatever the Red Ribbon Army had in store next, I was going to beat.

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