Part 4: Storage Space
The twins almost tapped the shortcut simultaneously. Then a separate screen popped up to the rightmost side. It asked them if they wanted to view the storage space, place something inside or take something out.
When the picked ‘view’, that 3D holographic map of the room that they were in, suddenly transformed into a transparent cube. There were a handful of items hovering around inside of it, but it was much larger than the hollow caldera where they had lived for their entire lives so far.
As for the items inside, there were three fifty-pound bags of rice, some heavy iron dumbbells that Azra had used to exercise with many times, four simple fishing rods, a tackle box, a few fish, a bat, some romance novels, pornographic magazines and a single black silkie chicken.
“Umm, I never really got around to giving the two of you a ‘sex ed’ lesson, because I felt pretty awkward about it… I mean, sure, you know about mating habits of animals, anatomy and all that kind of stuff, but I didn’t anticipate that you would both be such late bloomers. Honestly, I think that if I didn’t force you two to stop sleeping together when you were nine, that sooner or later… Well, you both understand that it isn’t normal for siblings to be ‘intimate’ with each other like that, right?”
Yuri glanced over at her brother’s face and noticed that he was blushing, so she reluctantly stopped clinging to him. He smiled awkwardly and muttered “We’ve both read enough to know that already… Besides, it’s not like we’re even attracted to each other…”
His sister murmured “If we were to reproduce, there is only a ten percent chance that our children would have birth defects of any kind… The stigma on incestuous mating is illogical.”
Azra patted her on the head and said “Okay then, so why don’t we get back to reading the message?”
“The third shortcut will display the world within the chessboard. It can show you everything that is happening in there. However, it should be totally empty right now, so there’s nothing to see. The fourth icon will let you actually design your world. This covers everything from terrain, to the day and night cycles. For now, open the World Design program.”
As soon as they tapped on the icon, the 3D hologram displaying the storage cube vanished and was replaced by a top-down map of a cloudy crystalline square. A separate screen appeared to the right of the desktop, which asked them “Which preset would you like to load?” Several images and descriptions were displayed below the question.
[Temperate Plains: Flat grasslands that are hot in the summers and cold in the winters.]
[Arctic Tundra: Flat and mostly barren land that is slightly above freezing in the summer and far below freezing in the winter.]
[Scorching Desert: A flat and barren land that is mostly sand or extremely dry soil. It can be chilly at night and incredibly hot during the day.]
[Barren Wasteland: A flat and dry land which has scorching summers and freezing winters.]
[Tropical Rainforest: A flat land which gets plenty of sun and rain. The temperature is always hot and humid.]
[Subterranean Caverns: A flat and dark land with no sunlight. It can be extremely hot or cold depending on the level of volcanic activity at the time.]
[Equatorial Islands: A huge ocean with small islands which is always warm and usually humid. Hurricane season can be dangerous.]
Part 5: The Divine Chessboard World
“I think we should just go with Temperate Plains to be safe.”
“Safety is relative… Temperate environments can be extremely difficult to survive in. Droughts occur occasionally and the winters can be very deadly. Tornados are also a likely threat. I believe that we should choose the Tropical Rainforest.”
As the two of them were debating what to do, they continued reading their grandfather’s note.
“In case you brats are already bickering about which environment you want to pick, stop. Every single chess piece has its own individual settings.”
Azra picked the Temperate Plains and then tapped on the square where his silver king was located. The screen zoomed in on that particular square and it was rapidly covered with bedrock, various types of minerals and finally, lots of dirt. Within moments, grass was growing everywhere.
Yuri selected the Tropical Rainforest and touched her own king’s square. It also had rocks, minerals and soil, but there was a thunderstorm that abruptly formed. A light drizzle started, as dozens of different kinds of trees and plants began growing rapidly.
The twins returned their gazes to the message and Azra muttered “No way…”
“Once you’ve created an environment, press the fifth icon and you’ll be able to travel inside.”
Before her brother could get over his shock, Yuri had already tapped the icon and then selected the jungle. When his sister suddenly vanished into thin air, Azra yelled “Damn it!” and followed after her.
“Woah~! Gah~, my eyes!” The first thing that he did after arriving was look up into the sky and stare at the sun.
Yuri walked around and gently caressed a few elephant ear leaves, she also bent over and sniffed a small pitcher plant. There were all sorts of small insects flying around, including a few mosquitoes that immediately attacked the two of them.
As Azra was scratching a red mark on the right side of his neck, he asked “So now what? Are we trapped in here?”
The small girl walked over and suddenly hugged him tightly, her head pressed into his chest and he let out a long sigh. Even if they were just inside of a tiny world, it was still much larger than the cavern that they were stuck in for sixteen years. She murmured “Azra, we’re finally free…”
After the two of them explored for a bit longer, a few screens popped up in front of them. Then they actually heard their grandfather’s voice whispering into their minds.
“Unlike outside, you’re both telepathically connected to the divine chess set when you’re within this world… You’re also fairly safe, at least from anything that’s outside. The chess set might be indestructible, but if some deity picked it up and threw it into a volcano, then you’d be screwed. You could also die from all kinds of things inside of the chessboard, so I would suggest being careful at all times.”
Azra looked around and yelled “Gramps, is that you?!”
However, Yuri immediately stated “It is most likely just the continuation of his message… Stop shouting, there might be dangerous animals lurking in this jungle.”
“Ugh, sorry, I just… I thought that maybe he didn’t really die…” With all the crazy magical nonsense that was happening to them, it wasn’t strange for the boy to want his grandfather to somehow come back to life.
“The sixth shortcut is one of the most important, the tower customization menu.” The twins didn’t even need to do anything. The screen automatically changed and they saw a bird’s eye view of the jungle that they were currently standing in, along with the grassland that was incredibly far away.
Sariel’s message continued “You kids have been stuck in that stupid cave for sixteen years… I have no idea how you managed to stay sane. Me, I had plenty of time to roam about and explore the world before you brats entered my life… Anyway, it’s time for the two of you to finally have a real home. Actually, you’ll each have your own.”
The holographic screen showed the silhouettes of thirty-two chess pieces altogether, but only the wooden and silver kings were selectable.
“Every chess piece will grant you access to more power, but for now, all you have are the kings. That’s fine though! The kings are incredibly important! In chess, when you lose your king, you lose the match. However, this isn’t a game…”
Part 6: Twin Keeps
“The king represents your home, or more specifically, your keep. Both of you have read plenty of stories that take place on Earth during the Medieval Era, so you should already know about castles.”
The castle was typically a walled city or stronghold, while the keep was a small fortress or palace. Essentially, the keep was the last line of defense and the most important structure in a castle. However, the options that the twins received were very different from each other.
For Azra, there were three large buildings made out of stone. The first was circular and extremely wide, the second was rectangular and very tall, while the third was rectangular and wide. Yuri’s choices were a giant tree, a massive mushroom and a colossal conch shell.
“Don’t stress out too much over the first choice… You’re just in the blueprint stage. If you really wanted to, you could design your keep from scratch. This is something that can take years. I know that you kids are absurdly patient, but for the time being, you need a decent place to live.”
Oddly enough, it only took a moment for Azra to say “I like the tall rectangular one… It kind of reminds me of a skyscraper made out of stone.” Once he picked it, there was another menu which displayed a floor plan and exterior design.
The top floor was a single roofed building, meant to garrison troops. There was also enough room for people to walk around the outside, which was labelled the ‘battlement’. Directly below that was a huge bedroom. The second floor was segregated into a large dining room and a small kitchen. At the very bottom was a cellar for storing goods. Both the second and third floors had fireplaces, so there were two prominent chimneys at the very top of the guard barracks. There was enough space between the outer and inner walls of the keep for an adult human to easily pass through, while each of the corners had narrow spiral staircases which allowed people to go to any floor they wished. There was also door that led directly from the outside of the building, to the dining hall.
“Hmmm, it seems pretty good already… It’s at least a thousand times better than where we’ve spent our entire lives so far.” Although there was no furniture, Azra wasn’t too upset about it. The last part was merely aesthetic, but there weren’t too many options. All he could really do was choose what color he wanted the stones to be. The default was a dull and boring grey, so he decided to pick silver.
After Yuri murmured “This abnormally large sakura tree is interesting.” She was also sent to a secondary menu, but the floor plan was a bit simpler. There was a wooden spiral staircase around the trunk of the tree, all the way up to a large gateway. The double-doors led into a grand dining hall. There were numerous branches in every direction, which were hollow, but only large enough for a single person to crawl through. Certain areas of the branches had external wooden forts set up, along with several small garrisons. Finally, above the hall was another spiral staircase that led all the way up to the top of the tree, where the master bedroom was located.
Similar to her brother, she wasn’t too interested in changing anything yet, but she did alter the color scheme. She made the bark black and the leaves pink.
Chapter 1: Sariel’s Guidance