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Guidance Withdrawal chapter 9

(Michael Hrenka) #1

Guidance Withdrawal

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Chapter 9

Back to Arratan

Lady Vanya continued to quiz vice-chief Lairesh: “That seems unusual. Who betrayed you and for what reason?”

Lairesh responded: “It was the blue dragon Zaphenix Areol of section 10 of the Scintillating Mist Hunters of Arratan. He committed a grave violation of our rules of conduct. His behavior has proven to be extremely disruptive. Wherever he is, his influence might endanger the local political stability. It’s of utmost importance that he’s stopped and magically flagged as traitor.”

“Dragons aren’t easy to hunt down. How do you plan on catching Zaphenix?”

“We do have a plan, but Zaphenix is very fast and dangerous. On our own we may fail to find and overwhelm him. But whoever will help us to capture him will have the gratitude of all sections of the Scintillating Mist Hunters of Arratan.”

Suddenly there was murmur all around the place. Offering the gratitude of a whole powerful clan was a big deal. Whether it was resources or allies, such offers could have far reaching consequences.

Vanya raised her head attentively, swished her tail, and commented: “Neat. I hope you are aware of our current political situation. Even just issuing such an offer publicly won’t go unnoticed. We will have to discuss this matter in our high council. Your representatives shall wait in the lobby of our Great Hall at the forum until they are invited to our citadel. Except for your non-anthropomorphic dragons, in accordance with our laws. We beg them to wait here until further notice. Thank you. For the rest of the members of section 73 of the Scintillating Mist Hunters of Arratan, feel free to visit our city. Please accept the papers granting you access to Ailissa.”

Those ‘papers’ were actually aura imprints projected magically on the visitors by Lady Vanya. They were signed by the high court of Ailissa.

Adano was puzzled. Hadn’t Shi told him that the tribe didn’t want to get dragged into the politics of Ailissa? And now their vice-chief had made offers that would clearly influence the political situation of Ailissa, if they were accepted. Was there a change of plans for some reason? Or did they plan on that offer being rejected? Or were there different factions within the tribe that worked against each other? Adano demanded an explanation from Shi: “What was that all about? Didn’t we want to stay neutral?”

Shi justified the tribe: “Getting the Quest item is our current top priority. Our chances of getting that are higher, if we get help. If the political factions aren’t willing or able to provide help, our preference is to remain neutral. But we’d rather get involved in politics than to lose the chance of getting the Quest item.”

Adano suspected: “Is this Quest item something that’s currently in the possession of this Zaphenix, or is this vendetta a pure cover story?”

“There’s no need for you to know about that. The less you know about the specifics, the better. Chief Modi suspected that your appearance here might be connected to the Quest item somehow, but that might turn out to be a false guess. Let us handle this situation.”

As the others were entering the city through the South gate, he silently joined his team consisting of him, the mechanoid Danisho, the player Desmond, his magic teacher Jolan, and the talkative half-elf with divine background Frenya Razni. This sparse information policy really annoyed Adano, but he didn’t feel like challenging the tribe would further his goals in any way.

Shortly before he arrived at the South gate, his internal regulator AI contacted him: “There’s something we need to talk about. Ever since your arrival here in Arratan, I tried to shield you from the full impact of the trauma of suddenly being disconnected from Diolineda and everyone else. While you were busy, I was trying to minimize the potential damage to your mind, but I can’t go on any further without your conscious help. Without a severe intervention, you’ll destabilize rapidly, and there’s nothing I can do about that, if we don’t work together.”

This revelation made Adano angry: “Wait a minute! What do you mean with me destabilizing rapidly? Who do you think I am? You certainly know what I’ve successfully endured during my indomitability training? This challenge should be nothing to me! How dare you make such pessimistic predictions about my mental state?”

Apologetically his regulator replied: “Sure, you are an exceedingly strong person, but I also know that indomitability training is not a sufficient preparation for guidance withdrawal. It hasn’t taught you how to act without having access to your wiseguide. And that is something we need to figure out quickly and robustly before you start acting rashly.”

“Wasn’t our conclusion that we try to solve the puzzle why we were beamed into Arratan? If we focus on that, why should I really require wiseguidance?”

“It’s not that easy. Even solving such a difficult puzzle requires you to make very difficult decisions. Even just the attempt to solve the puzzle on your own isn’t clearly the best way to move forward. Before your arrival in Arratan you’ve relied quite often on having a guarantee of making optimal decisions, but now you don’t have that anymore. I can’t predict what that sudden loss will do to your psyche. I haven’t been prepared for such a situation, either. But the longer you remain disconnected from wisenet, the more your psyche might deteriorate.”

“Oh, so you want me to get out of Arratan as quickly as possible, so that I won’t lose myself? Is that what you suggest?”

“Well, you should reconsider your options. A prolonged stay in Arratan might change your character permanently. You might not want to go back to your old self, even after you manage to leave.”

“That’s not necessarily a bad thing.”

“But it’s certainly not provably an optimal thing. If you manage to reassure yourself about the best choice of action by reconnecting with the wisenet, you can go back to Arratan again, and continue this quest with the certainty that it’s the right thing to do.”

Then Adano got distracted by an energetic Frenya who wanted his attention: “Arratan to Adano. You seem to have lost your connection to us. Can you please focus on your mission? Being absent-minded won’t help you much here. Whatever you’ve been thinking or talking about can wait. We are now in the fascinating city of Ailissa. And we’re here to find out about the Quest item, and the Ailissans, and much more. Cheer up! This will be fun!”

While Adano felt the desire to lash out to Frenya for disrupting him in this important conversation, he realized that this wouldn’t help him, so he chose a different strategy and asked: “Yes, it sure looks like a nice city, but I need to get something to eat first. I feel like I haven’t eaten for days.”

Jolan, his magic trainer told him: “That’s because you really haven’t eaten for days. You were too engrossed into your magic training to care about such banalities as consuming food.”

Frenya sighed and gave in: “Fine, let’s grab something to eat. There are certainly a lot of taverns in this town. For example here. What a nice name for a tavern: ‘Ravenous Revenant’. Let’s take a look!”

So far, they haven’t been deep into the city. They were on the main road towards the central forum of Ailissa. The road was surprisingly wide and clean. There were tall trees decorating the middle line of the road. On both sides of the road there were small shops and taverns in the ground floors of mostly three story tall buildings. The Ravenous Revenant didn’t look really special. It just happend to be nearby when Adano mentioned his hunger.

As they entered the tavern, Adano noticed that there were already more than a dozen guests dining and loudly talking in an elven tongue that he couldn’t understand, because it wasn’t automatically translated – due to the inaccessibility of the metanet in Arratan. Adano’s group was greeted by an elven ghost communicating in Sol Traditional: “Welcome to the Ravenous Revenant, travellers. Do you wish down to sit down at a table with six seats?” Adano, Jolan, Danisho, Desmond and Frenya were five persons, but Adano guessed they didn’t have tables fitting that exact number.

Frenya spoke for them: “Yes, sure, if it’s possible at all, please close to the guests that are already here. The conversation seems to be pretty interesting.”

Danisho asked: “Wait, are you a character ghost? Aren’t you supposed to reincarnate, so that you get your body back?”

The ghost replied: “Ah, you may not be familiar with the specifics of the more subtle points about ghosts in Mevara. Ghosts do become more powerful, if they don’t reincarnate for quite a while. It’s an unusual choice to play without a fully material body, but it has its advantages. I was feeling quite down after the last time that this city has been burnt to the ground. So, I remained in my ghostly state, so that I couldn’t be harmed as easily again. After a while I figured out how to use my magical powers to move and levitate things and found a liking to that. I rebuilt this tavern as ghost and interestingly it was more successful with me being a ghost, so I’m going to stay that way. Anyway, you can order anything via the magical crystal. If you have any specific wishes, simply call for me, your Janestre Pheros.”

Then Janestre pushed two tables together, close to the group of guests who were in a heated conversation. The travellers took place and a magical crystal suddenly appeared hovering over the middle of the newly combined table. When they looked into that crystal, the guests could see the menu of the tavern. Adano was pretty hungry, so he ordered the full ‘Ravenous Revenant’ menu. He asked Frenya to translate the conversation of the other tavern guests for him.

Without further comment, Frenya complied and translated the conversation into Sol Traditional in real-time for the whole team.

A very loud male elf with long black flowing hair protested:
“Rumors! Rumors! Rumors! Why should we believe you?”

The hooded figure in a dark grey cape replied:
“Perhaps because I’m a certified information broker for Ailissa?”

The loud one shouted: “Certified, shmertified! There’s so much misinformation around here that you can’t even trust the most certified person.”

A female elf with short brown hair and lots of silver jewelry inquired: “Even if this was all true, what would it have to do with us? We won’t be quickly affected by this.”

The caped one responded: “Ailissa may be far from the poles, but it certainly won’t be spared by the last influx into Arratan. The newcomers will be upset about the disruption and demand accommodations. There may be business opportunities connected with this event.”

Janestre Pheros joined the conversation, too, and opined: “Anyway, this situation surely won’t last long. Until the newcomers will reach Ailissa, the lockout will certainly be lifted again. There’s no need to think about this.”

An anthropomorphic rat disagreed: “If this lockout has been enforced for security reasons, it can be expected to last for quite a few days or weeks. Situations like these aren’t unprecedented in Sol, even during the last decades.”

The loud one was loudly annoyed: “Hypotheticals within hypotheticals. We don’t even have proof that this so-called lockout is even true. There’s not even a clear reason why this is even plausible. It’s not like Arratan is so special to even warrant an unusual influx spike.”

The jeweled elf mentioned: “Guys, we are being listened to. Ah, oh, haven’t I seen them somewhere? Weren’t they among the spectators at the arena outside of the gate?”

Frenya used this opportunity to introduce herself, in the local elven tongue while still simultaneously translating the whole conversation into Sol Traditional with her mind: “Yes, you are absolutely right. We belong to section 73 of the Scintillating Mist Hunters of Arratan. My name is Frenya Razni, granddaugher of Fova Razni, the glorious sky goddess of the flying city of Vevedria. We couldn’t avoid listening in to your conversation, since it was pretty hard to ignore. I assume that you watched the recent duel. Did you like it?”

The loud one commented: “Your Lord Arun has some pretty amazing combat prowess. It was long ago that our city champions had an even closely worthy challenger. He should join the military of Alyade. We could use more fighters of his caliber.”

The jeweled one cautioned him: “Arkan, please be more considerate. The Mist Hunters probably won’t like it, if you encourage their members to desert their tribe.” She continued speaking to the team: “I really like seeing travelers who are courageous enough to face our champions in battle. You did pretty well, and it looked like you actually had a real chance of winning. That was exciting. I suspect that the top sections of the Scintillating Mist Hunters of Arratan have warriors who could defeat our champions fair and square.”

Boastfully, Frenya claimed: "Sure, section 1 would completely wipe out your champions and this Herak guy at the same time with ease. Of course, section 1 has more important things to do, than dealing with the warrior or even gods of this region.

Arkan wasn’t happy with that remark: “You seem to underestimate Ailissa. Haven’t you seen our defenses? They are merely the tip of the iceberg. Your section 1 might be able to crush our defenses, but certainly not without serious casualties.”

Jolan intervened to moderate the debate, with her arctic fox voice only able to produce a rough and broken version of elvish, which was thankfully autocorrected by Frenya: “Please, don’t get too excited about who has the best fighters here. There are certainly impressive champions on both sides, I guess we can agree on that. Maybe we could continue the discussion from before. This unusual lockout. What’s that all about?”

The hooded figure explained: “Three hours ago, I got notice from my fellow information broker from the metropolis of Zartaxis that there has been a sudden massive ingress spike into Arratan 65 hours ago after which the whole lockout of the habitat has been put into effect by Arratan herself. As for the reasons for this sudden ingress, there was no comprehensive public announcement. It was officially blamed on an anomaly of the Hyberbolic Vortex exchange programme. After the lockout was issued, all non-critical communication coming towards Arratan was blocked. No new visitors, no streams, no mail.”

Adano had a sinking feeling about this. He privately asked Jolan: “When have I arrived here in Arratan exactly?”

She replied: “Exactly 64 hours and 39 minutes ago. If this story about the lockout is true, you are among the last persons who have managed to enter Arratan.”

Now Adano asked to the whole group present in the tavern in Sol Traditional: “When was the last confirmed arrival to Arratan?”

The hooded one told him in Elvish: “According to the data my colleague could collect that was exactly 64 hours and 41 minutes ago. During that last minute there were 2517811 registered arrivals to Arratan that we know of. Given the information policy of Arratan, there were maybe ten times as many. One minute later there were exactly zero.”

Danisho continued interviewing the hooded one, using proper Elvish: “How did all those people arrive here? Via ship, beam, or a different method of transportation?”

“Ah, that’s an interesting question. The transport ship CCST Dawn of Deliriously Dreaming Dolphins docked at Arratan shortly before the lockout and brought 278619 passengers with her. Still, more than 80% of the latest arrivals traveled via beam.”

Danisho demanded further: “It would be tremendously helpful, if you could share the raw data of the ingress and egress of Arratan of the last 30 days with us.”

“Sure, that’ll make 3000 Arratan Cred, fixed over 30 days.”

The Arratan Cred was the standard peer to peer reputation index of Arratan. The fixation duration was the duration for which the issuing of reputation was guaranteed.

“We probably only need the last 20 days. You’ll get 1500 Arratan Cred for that, fixed over 20 days.”

“I’ll make you a better deal. The whole 30 last days for 2000 Arratan Cred, 30 days fixation.”


After he got the data, he immediately shared it with the whole tribe via the near range telepathy mesh.

A few seconds later Danisho addressed the hooded figure: “Thank you very much. What’s your name?”

“I am called Inselm the hooded.”

“What a fitting name. Thank you again. Our shaman just verified that the data you just shared with us was signed by Arratan herself. So much for the claim of the lockout being a ‘rumor’.”

Suddenly the tavern was so silent that you could have heard a needle drop to the floor.

Adano wanted to get more information out of this Inselm and contacted him privately: “What do you think makes Arratan so attractive as destination?”

“Arratan is a very much a place of mist, shadows, secrets, and intrigue. It’s a great refuge for those who want to hide in the darkness of ignorance without going to the extreme of completely immersing oneself into a simulated world. Something must have happened in Sol that made such an alternative acutely attractive.”

Adano quickly checked that almost all of the latest arrivals actually came from Sol. So, it was most likely not an interstellar invasion, if one could trust the data that seemed to come from Arratan, which was at least kinda questionable.

In private, he asked Danisho whether something like this has happened before in Arratan, which he denied. Then he continued his secret conversation with Inselm: “Actually I have arrived at Arratan rather recently, myself. I am honestly spooked by this sudden lockout. If I wanted to leave Arratan as quickly as possible, how should I do that?”

Inselm now seemed to be busy with many parallel incoming private conversation requests. This made him reply more slowly, but without too much of a delay. It was to be expected that he used an internal AI assistant that handled most of the conversation threads for him. That would make it hard to tell whether Adano talked with Inselm or his assistant, but the difference wasn’t too important most of the time. The reply that Adano got was: “From Zartaxis you can get an express train to the near space hub. I’d take an outbound ship from there, if there are any left, that is. The problem is that you’d need to pass the Zartean Alps to reach Zartaxis. That would take you at least ten days by foot.”

Adano continued his inquiry: “How did your colleague travel from Zartaxis to Ailissa?”

“Let’s just say that my colleague can fly.”

“Is there a faster route, if I was able to switch to the Machinium realm?”

“Sure, in that case it would hardly take you more than half a day to reach the space hub from here.”

“With Ailissa being so great and stuff there’s certainly a way to switch to Machinium from here, isn’t there?”

“That would seem like a reasonable guess. But what does a new arrival like you do in the highly respected Scintillating Mist Hunters of Arratan?”

Adano tried his luck with the cover story provided by Shi: “It’s not very glorious at all. I merely won a lottery. I got beamed here from Asgard. Let’s say that I have become somewhat homesick.”

“Oh, the standards of the glorious Scintillating Mist Hunters of Arratan must have fallen drastically. That is, if you are actually telling me the truth.”

Adano got pretty nervous now. This Inselm certainly wasn’t easy to fool. He seemed to know this habitat and its inhabitants pretty well. It was pretty scary, but the situation called for the escalation to the next level of the cover story: The truth.

“You are pretty good. This was the cover story that I’ve been told to spread. But with your knowledge and insight, you won’t be deceived by lies. So, here’s the truth… but, first of all, I need to ask you to keep this confidential.”

“Hah, that’s much to ask from an information broker. But here’s what I can offer. I will keep that information confined to my close network. It won’t leak to the big local players here.”

“Who’s your ‘close network’?”

“That’s obviously confidential.”

Adano thought about this, but decided that it was worth the risk, whatever that was: “Ok, that’s good enough. Well, I was beamed into Arratan spontaneously. I don’t know why this happened. There was no prior notice. At the same time, I got excluded from the wisenet. I have been wiseguided prior to my appearance in Arratan. So, I’m suffering from acute guidance withdrawal without having been sufficiently prepared for that.”

Now Inselm seemed surprised and mustered Adano intensely: “For that you seem to be remarkably calm. Either you are lying, or you have a regulator that is working on overdrive. In any case, your story seems highly unlikely. But given the recent unusual ingress of people into Arratan, I am considering the possibility that your story is actually true. As secondary cover story this feels like a far stretch. But the Scintillating Mist Hunters of Arratan are known to be quite eccentric when it comes to inventing strange stories. Can I please have the real truth now?”

“This is the truth. Nobody has made this story up.”

“Fine. Do you know about anyone else who suffered from a similar fate?”

“No, do you?”

“Not yet, at least. I might do some research if there are actually cases similar to yours. If your story turns out to be true, it would be a pretty big deal. However, it’s not clear how that’s connected to the sudden ingress spike.”

“I’d love to find out about all the reasons for everything, but I’m actually getting rather homesick. So, is there a way for me to reach the Machinium realm or leave Arratan otherwise?”

“I assume the Scintillating Mist Hunters of Arratan don’t trust you with a lot of information, or am I mistaken here?”

“Well, you are pretty much correct about that.”

"Too bad. Otherwise I would have been able to arrange a quick departure for you.

“What information would I need to give to you, so you can move me out of Arratan?”

“The real reason why section 73 has showed up here would be a good start. What are they looking for exactly? And don’t tell me something like they are looking for a Quest item. That’s so generic as to being almost completely useless.”

That comment made feel Adano embarrassed and cheated. Of course Quest players are always looking for Quest items of some sort or another. The Scintillating Mist Hunters have really told him nothing, while acting as if they shared at least some secrets with him. Why should he trust them? What have they really done for him so far?

Adano tried a different approach now: “Is there another way to leave Arratan quickly?”

“You might want to appeal to Arratan as directly as possible. Even if she’ll deny your request, which is very likely, her reply might be insightful.”

“Thank you. Do you see any other option?”

“Getting banned from Arratan should do the trick. But that would be very foolish. It would make it very hard for you to find out the reason why you’ve landed here in the first place. You should keep your options open, even if that means that you’ll feel horrible.”

“Is there maybe a different way to convince you to arrange for a quick departure for me?”

“Unless you have some really amazing proven information, I am sorry. I’m dealing with information and have a reputation to uphold. I’m neither a charity, nor a travel agency. Even if your story was absolutely true, there must have been a good reason for you to arrive here. Leaving Arratan would probably destroy a valuable opportunity. That would be irresponsible.”

“But you’d still be willing to help me out, if I could deliver some really useful information to you?”

“Sure. I’m a businessman, not a nanny who insists on others doing the right thing.”

“All right. How can I reach you, if I have some info for you?”

“I’ll give you an internet address. Use it to suggest a meeting place and date. The outer taverns in Ailissa are my home territory, so they are much preferred. Don’t expect me to be able to meet you far from Arratan, though my network may have a further reach. Don’t use the internet to share your information with me. It’s not safe enough.”

“Perhaps this is a stupid question, but aren’t you risking walking into traps, if this internet is not safe?”

“Nobody who sets up a trap to a serious information broker remains unpunished. That’s my insurance.”

“Oh, there’s something that you might help me with. Is there a way to change one’s body here in Ailissa?”

“Let me guess: You want to have wings, so you can reach Zartaxis quickly?”

“Well, that wasn’t really hard to guess.”

“Let me tell you that unauthorized shapeshifting or body switching is illegal in Alyade. You’d need a permission by a local security council, or you’ll quickly have a bounty on your person. And even then you will also need to find someone who is willing to transform you. Don’t even think that anyone would be willing to do that without you having a permission.”

“Fine. How do I get a permission?”

In the meantime, Janestre Pheros was hovering the appetisers to the table of the team. Adano got a hot soup with noodles and mushrooms. He started consuming it greedily.

Without delay Inselm replied: “Join the Special Forces of Alyade, or forget about it. And no, you won’t easily get into the Special Forces. Try something else. This idea is a dead-end.”

Adano’s curiosity wasn’t completely satisfied. He wanted to dig deeper. He dared something unusual: “What would you think, if I told you that I arrived in Arratan after the onset of the lockout?”

“That you are either a crazy liar, or that you are a special pawn in a very peculiar scheme of Arratan. I assume that you are talking hypothetically here.”

“Hah, no, I’m telling the truth again.”

“I really wouldn’t make such outlandish claims without having any proof.”

“What if I could provide you with a proof?”

“In that case, my network would watch over you like a guardian angel.”

“Would that include providing me with a quick escape route from Arratan?”

“No, you’ve got the wrong idea there. We’d work like crazy to reveal your mystery.”

“But would that invalidate your offer to get me out of Arratan, if I delivered some very useful information to you?”

“Either you are diving into crazy nested hypotheticals here to trick or test me, or you are really telling the truth. I can’t tell what’s scaring me more.”

“I still want to hear your answer.”

“First, let me tell you that you are playing with fire here. Our discussion so far has been so unusual that you are now obviously flagged as person of special interest within my network. Honestly, my best guess is that you are a complete nutcase, but my greatest hope is that I am wrong about that. Given that preface, you have my word as businessman that I’ll do everything in my ability to help you out of Arratan, if you provide excellent information to me, and you wish to leave our exciting habitat. However, I personally beg you not to leave Arratan until you have solved this mystery.”

Adano’s heart was beating heavily. He told his regulator to disguise those signs of excitement. Yet, he feared that his teammates have already found out that he has been in a deep discussion with Inselm, though at least Frenya seemed to be too busy discussing ways to impress potential newcomers with fancy jewelry with Kela, the elven woman who dared speaking up against Arkan. What’s really remarkable is that he rarely felt so alive as in this moment. And there was something else. His own behaviour seemed to be at least somewhat unusual. Why did he go so far in his discussion with Inselm? Was this a sign of his mental state destabilizing?

Wait, there was something! Deep inside, where the void of Diolineda’s absence has been. A subtle dark presence was there that he guessed had pushed Adano so far in his recent conversation. It had some similarity to the push of Diolineda, but at the same time, it felt completely different. Like a ghostly presence that disappeared once you tried to focus on it. Was he merely imagining this? Was his subconscious trying to compensate somehow for the loss of Diolineda with this kind of … shadow of a wise? Was he going crazy? He asked his regulator: “What is happening with me?”

“Your wiseguidance intuition has been active recently, but I can’t figure out why. It might be a typical symptom of wiseguidance withdrawal for wiseguidance intuiters. At least that’s my best guess. To comfort you a little bit: There aren’t too strong indicators that you are going insane. However, your overall mental state shows signs or mild to moderate deterioration.”

Slightly panicked, Adano asked: “How do I fix this?”

“Get out of here as quickly as possible!”

“But what if this really is a once in a lifetime chance?”

“Then it’s also a once in a lifetime danger to your mental integrity.”

“You aren’t being particularly helpful here. I’d rather embrace the shadows.”

“Oh, of course. You’d rather follow an imaginary being than you loyal regulator. This is the kind of deterioration that I’ve warned you about.”

“The scary thing about this is that it actually feels good and right.”

“Please, be reasonable. There’s no need to resort to this kind of extreme strategy.”

“Ah, and what else am I supposed to do according to you?”

“As I said, just focus on getting out of here.”

“But what if I need to act a little bit crazy to solve this mystery after all? What if this is what Diolineda has prepared me for?”

“Perhaps you are right. But you are really risking your sanity here.”

“What sanity? You should know who I am. The notorious Adano Rahec Tessel Jirac.”

“Oh, yes, this is one of your typical outbursts.”

“They have belonged to me ever since Arizzi and Diolineda have pushed me beyond my limits. Perhaps it’s time to accept them as part of my character. What if I really lose myself, if I lose them?”

“Ok, you are allowed to be a daredevil, but … please don’t overdo it.”

“Perhaps I haven’t overdone it far enough, until now.”

In this moment he decided to give this mysterious shadowy presence in his mind a name: Shinpi-tekina Kage, Mysterious Shadow.

Next chapter

Guidance Withdrawal chapter 10
Guidance Withdrawal chapter 8