Holding the Flame Seed tightly in his hand, Joshua looked straight at the source of this light with his red eyes. He looked at the faint Flame with a serious look on his face as if the Flame was reflecting everything in the world.
The body and will of Joshua were led by this fire and went deep into the world.
He originally believed that this was the spontaneous act of the Azurite. It was just like what he had done in the Legacy Quest in the other life. The Sage's artifact would send him a trial in some mysterious location. After proving himself by passing the trial, he would be given an advancement of Legacy, just like how it was back then when he was in the family graveyard.
However, this time, he was wrong.
The endless stream of light was surrounding the body of the warrior like a flowing river, leading Joshua across some sort of strange border, allowing him to see the 'world'.
In spite of that, however, truth to be told, Joshua was using his spirit to 'feel'. Countless pieces of information were flowing directly into the warrior's brain, giving him an emotional ride. He could not help but sigh. The world that he had been seeing was so shallow. Meanwhile, the true world was so much more complicated and yet wonderful.
He had felt it.
It was a Will.
That was a mind that enveloped the entire world, carrying all things along with it. Ever since it revealed itself from the void into the heaven and earth, it had maintained its own existence in this world. It was a soul that would exist forever.
That great mind was currently guiding him, going along the spreading veins of all things.
The long river of time was flowing on Joshua's side. Numerous shadows and images were overlapping each other. Countless pictures formed into a moving image.
Joshua had seen it.
He had seen the chaotic context that was spreading on the earth.
He had seen countless veins that had already dried up and decayed, and also mineral rocks turning into dust and sand.
He had seen that deep down underground, there were ruins of cities and the remaining wreckages of all living beings.
He had seen in the core of the earth, the surface of the earth had been shrouded with black clouds, and the cold winds that were surrounding the seas. He had seen the structure of the world, the blueprint of creation, the everything of everything; everything of existence.
He also saw the very same evil that invaded from the void, deeply rooted into the flesh of the earth, using strange crystals as its tentacles, constantly expanding its territory.
He had seen it. The connection of Chaos had deeply plunged into 'its' flesh, slowly corrupting its core, causing the entire world to decay, turning into a world of famine.
Joshua was led by the existence all the way down here. He was looking at everything. Right in his eyes, he seemed to be able to see the vision from the future.
The world, was slowly collapsing under the corruption of evil.
Water dried up; time and space descended into an eternal rest, quietness.
Wind stopped moving; magic and elements vanished without a trace.
Land distorted and collapsed; the earth and every being on it reduced to nothing.
Fire completely extinguished; all existences returned to Chaos.
Finally, the vision ended. Joshua regained his consciousness only to notice that the river of light that was guiding him along had brought him to an end. The gushing of flowing light rushed past Joshua's side. However, the flowing light no longer led Joshua forward.
Joshua was currently standing in the middle of the darkness in the void. He lifted up his head and saw the vault that was forged by the stars. Right behind his back was the River of Time (the past) that had ceased to flow further. Meanwhile, before him, there was an infinite void that was extending into the distance (the future).
What is this place?
What did I just see just now?
Joshua who had regained his consciousness could not help but feel surprised. He furrowed his eyebrows as he looked at his surroundings. However, what he found was that the scenes around him kept changing as if they were changing according to his observations.
"This is… the inner side of the world."
Meanwhile, something seemed to be able to hear Joshua's thoughts that he had in his mind. A voice came from the void. It was low and a little husky, however, the voice was gentle at the same time. At first, the voice was a little faint to catch, however, the voice slowly became clearer, "What you saw just now, is the past of this world, and the things that are about to happen in the future."
Joshua looked around and found no one around. However, not long after, he noticed that there was a small little dot coming from afar deep in the void.
The small dot was like the fainting starlight in the sky. It almost seemed like it was not there. However, the dot was swiftly turning bigger as it flickered. Finally, under the gaze of Joshua who seemed very surprised at the moment, the dot had turned into a giant silver python that was as large as a planet. It was twisting its body as the scales that looked metallic were rubbing into each other, generating red sparks. Meanwhile, its silver twin eyes were staring right at Joshua with a hint of curiosity in them.
Looking at this shocking scene, Joshua could not help to shake his head and calm himself down first.
Regardless of who the other person was or what it was, at this time, it did not show any ill intention towards Joshua. It also seemed that the creature could be communicated with. The situation was not bad at all. The warrior let out a breath of relief, then he opened his mouth and asked, "Excuse me… May I know where this place is?"
"And who are you, really?"
Although he did not open his mouth to talk, however, the gigantic python that seemed endlessly long and large seemed to know what Joshua was thinking. It calmly replied, " This is the inner side of the world. "
" And I am the very Will that is formed from the world you are living in. You can call me the Steel Python, Karlis. "
After a brief moment of silence, Joshua quickly accepted that setting for the situation.
In the fantasy world, there was nothing wrong with the appearance of the Will of a world. There was also a true God on the Mycroft continent. What's more was that the world's first God was the world itself. That did not seem to be shocking news at all.
However, he still felt a little strange though. Why would the Will of the world reveal itself right before him—a normal warrior that was merely a Gold-tier being?
So Joshua directly asked, "So… why did you bring me here then? And why did you reveal yourself to me?"
" Because of the Flame Seed. "
The low and yet gentle voice echoed across the void. The gigantic python slowly coiled itself up as it was looking at Joshua and the faint Flame in the palm of his hand. Then it spoke again, " I was still in my state of slumber since the beginning. I, who's about to meet my imminent death, have awoken because of the appearance of the Flame Seed. That is why I've descended down here. "
"Then, you're saying that you're here because of the Flame Seed then?"
Joshua lifted up the green crystal in his hand. The faint Flame was still combusting vaguely within the crystal. He looked calm. He was not bothered to be peered at by the Will.
" That's not really the case. "
The Steel Python seemed very calm. However, the words it said was truly beyond the expectation of the warrior. " Although I am currently awakened by the sudden appearance of the light, however, I've not even the slightest desire towards the Flame you are holding on to. "
It gazed its eyes upon Joshua in silence as if it was more interested in Joshua himself than the Flame Joshua was holding. The Steel Python continued to speak, " What can I do even if I can have your Flame? "
It did not have any reason to deceive the warrior. It was only voicing its thoughts. " My children are all dead now. Their corpses which have already decayed and reduced to dust are currently in within my body. Even if you pass the Flame to me and let me live for another thousand years, I will no longer be able to foster and cultivate a second civilization. I do not have what it takes to ignite my Flame one more time. "
Upon saying that, the Steel Python chuckled bitterly.
After that, Joshua could not fathom why he was feeling a little uncomfortable. Then he frowned and said, "No, if you say that all lives are your children, then not all of your children are dead."
He lifted his head up and looked at the Will that was as large as a planet. Then he spoke in a low voice, "03 is an Artificial Intelligence. She still exists. She has been traveling across the desolated lands of wilderness, keeping the only remaining Flame Seed of yours."
" … Perhaps ."
Remaining in silence for a moment, the Steel Python then gently said, " If this is a thousand years ago, I would have asked for it directly. If it was hundreds of years ago, I would probably come up with a fair trade to obtain the Flame from you. However, now, I'll not let you suffer any loss at all. "
It looked at Joshua's eyes as it seemed to be even more interested in Joshua. " Young man, you actually have such an enormous amount of Order energy imbued in you… This is the best method to battle against Chaos.
" I know that you come from another world, but it doesn't matter. You have a lot of questions on your mind… Just ask your question. As a reward for awakening me once again, I can answer all of your questions. "
"The Evil God."
Upon having some thoughts over, Joshua became determined and he asked, "The reason for everything that has happened would be the invasion of the Evil Gods. What is their origin? And what is their agenda?"
Upon asking his question, he was not given a response immediately. After remaining in silence for another brief moment, the Steel Python moved its body and wiggled a little in the void. After that, it began to answer.
" The Aragami, the Crystal Insect Yurmadais, The Famine… their world began with the fire in the forest. The flames of civilization burned in the swamps and forests. As a civilization which had lived through it for tens of millions of years, that civilization has finally developed into a void. They vowed to pass their own flames to other worlds .
" However, just like there are isolated islands around the world, sadly, they have not found any other world within millions of years.
" They are located in the remaining worlds where there is no fire. It is already a miracle among miracles for a civilization to be developed. However, this time, there is no more miracle. "
When the Steel Python spoke about that, it sounded a little sad, " The development of the civilization has reached its limit. All of the resources have been depleted. However, they still couldn't find another world across the Astral Realm. Hence, the civilization began to deteriorate, gradually, they no longer have the ability to enter the Astral Realm to continue on with their search .
" With the limited amount of resources that were gradually decreasing day after day, they were forced to consume their own world— they dug up dirt and rocks, truly exhausting every single substance in their world. They had even hollowed out the earth by digging the entire earth. They also used energy cautiously, in attempt to keep the cycle to loop on as long as possible. They had been doing that for over thousands of years, tens of thousands of years, sinking themselves deeper towards their own destruction. "
The gigantic body of the python went round the River of Time as it looked at Joshua while having some of its own thoughts on its mind. Then it continued to speak with its husky voice, " In the beginning, there were billions. Then there were only tens of millions. The number continued to decrease gradually to hundreds of thousands, then to thousands, then to hundreds, then to ten…. And lastly… to one…
" Until the last man died in endless loneliness and starvation, the fire of their civilization had finally lost their woods to burn. So the fire was extinguished in pain and despair .
" Meanwhile, the world has been distorted under the despairing pain. "
The Steel Python was about to finish describing it.
" The world, would also move its place. After an uncertain amount of time, a new world which had developed magic technology was exposed to this desolated world left in wreckages .
" As a result, the sad and hungry Aragami were born from all that. "
The Will of the Karlis world lowered its head down and coiled up its gigantic body that had occupied half of the void. " As for the agenda, the purpose of the Evil Gods. No one knows about that. However, they will only bring despair, pain, hunger, war, plague, and death. There is no doubt about all that at all. "
The python looked at Joshua's eyes and calmly said, " I am still the Steel Python, Karlis. "
" The descendant of Steel, upon knowing all these, are you willing to become the Guardian of the world, casting Chaos away from this world, and guarding Order? "
In the meantime, Joshua was having his own thoughts on the matter.
A moment later, Joshua replied, "I refuse."