Soul Of Searing Steel Chapter 2


Chapter 2: The Division

Countless memories flooded into his mind.

Humans achieved evolution through the pain of war. They were a species that thrived on deadly battles.

That was why, when a warrior cleaved an orc in half, there was no emotion. No feelings of remorse.

The dark clouds continued to roll in from the far end of the canyon. Along with the rain and strong gale, sounds of war horns, signaling troops to attack and to withdraw could be heard echoing from all corners of the canyon. It was supposed to be a mere passing shower. However, as the wind blew stronger, heavy rain came down onto the land.

It did not take long for the rain to wash away all the blood stains on Joshua's metal armor. No sooner, the water started to rise. Before he knew it, the water level had already submerged his leg guards.

Joshua's breath did not seem to be coming back, no matter how hard he tried to control it. Weakened beyond comprehension, Joshua's shaky hands reached for his battered helmet. He then discarded it a few feet away. The thick green blood of the orc was washed away by the rain. Mixed along with his own, the discolored blood of both red and green left his black hair.

Eyes dead, Joshua looked around again. There were nothing but corpses and internal organs scattered around. Tons of dead orcs were piled up like a miniature mountain. He was the sole survivor as not a single living being could be seen. The vultures, crows, and scavengers had already left when the rain came pouring down. He was the only human alive.

"I did it."

Joshua laughed maniacally.

One man army. Over hundreds of orcs killed.

Such a tale could perhaps only exist in folktales and bedtime stories. It might seem hard to believe yet he had made that story real.

"Ha Ha" Joshua's laughter reverted back to his irregular panting. He could still feel the throbbing pain from the open wound. His headache did not help to ease his physical injuries. The aftermath of war had started to kick in then. His entire being shook so badly that his sight suddenly turned blurry. Countless of visions appeared as if they were actually real.

Demon Meteor Kill Betrayal!

Orcs War Territory Grahhhh!

The pain in his head grew more agonizing. The veins on his temples started to bulge and were already on the verge of bursting. Joshua gripped his head hard with his hands and writhed in pain. Just when he thought that the worst was over, he was experiencing the worst pain he could feel. Compared to arrows and swords, the pain could never compare to the one he was feeling in his head right now.

All his willpower was replaced with rage, reasoning with chaos. At that moment, the being that was Joshua was no longer human, but a hungry, bloodthirsty wolf.

"Demon! Orcs!"

In the darkness of the raining sky and silent canyon, two red eyes gleamed.

All that mattered now was to kill the sons of b*tches until none were left!

Unconsciously, Joshua stood up. The steel sword in his hand rattled with excitement as it sensed the bloodlust from its wielder. The solid iron hilt bent inward from the sheer gripping force.

"Not enough" The man lifted his head. His eyes were bright crimson. The man turned his head and focused on the approaching orc army. His eyes widened with rage and pure insanity as he cried.

"This is not even enough!"

In the next second, he sprinted like a cheetah. His surroundings went dark and nothing but the orcs were in his sight. Just after a few moments, the orc army stopped moving. Joshua appeared from behind them and out came a splatter of blood.

The battle was merely in its infancy

"F*ck! When did you become so reckless?!"

Joshua shook his head violently to regain consciousness. His facial muscles twitched. He tried to apply a little pressure to his temple to ease his spinning head and tried to resist the urge to throw up. "I was interdimensionally transported during a fight So, I didn't die! That's lucky."

After the short burst of pain, Joshua could breathe normally. Regaining his composure, he began to recall his memories.

Joshua van Radcliffe. The eldest son of the baron in the military force located in the northern region. Incidentally, he was also the only person to inherit the title. Following the usual tradition of the Radcliffe family, Joshua was beaten into shape by his father and the knights in service to his family. From a wimpy little crybaby, the boy grew up to be a fine young man.

After reaching his coming of age, he was enlisted in the army and was left there on his own to build relationships and as well as to expand his social circle.

Everything went smoothly and Joshua started out as a bright, happy-go-lucky fellow. Naturally, being the sole successor of a powerful noble family with territory coupled with sharp battle instincts, the man was approached by many. As time flew by, Joshua had performed admirably in the battlefield and had earned many military merits. As such, along with his ranks, he gained many friends and connections all over the place.

The entire 'process' would have been perfect if it were not for a sudden message he received.

Joshua's family being rooted in the cold north, far from the affluent Empire's center of influence in the south was due to one sole reason. It was a service to the people and a duty to guard "something". Although it was unknown to Joshua, the responsibility that was hammered into him since he was a child was severe. The old count never mentioned it in front of anyone else. Not even Joshua. When he tried to ask about it, his father would merely reply him with a vague and unsatisfying answer.

"You're not qualified to learn the truth. Come back to me only when you're capable of standing on your own two feet."

Naturally, for a young man, 'standing on his own two feet' would equate to growing stronger. As such, Joshua had only been pursuing strength the martial way.

When Joshua had received the message from his territory, he felt a little intrigued. Joshua knew his father well enough to know that his father's stubbornness would never bring him to initiate a conversation. In fact, it had been several years since he had last spoke to him. However, when he opened the sealed letter and read its content, his blood was boiling.

[There is trouble with the Seal of the Defended Town. Your father has personally gone to resolve the matter. As there is no one currently in-charge in the city, unknown forces might proceed to scheme an invasion. With the current situation in place, please return to the city to guard the territory.]

The person who sent the letter was the old butler of his house. Joshua was skeptical. He would not believe anyone else but the old butler. He knew the old man since he was young and that he would never lie to him.

Now that there was a new problem brewing at home, a young warrior like Joshua could not rest until something was done.

Just when he had made preparations to retire from the frontline and leave for the north, the Empire had issued a sudden command to the frontline and ordered the army to attack the orcs in the west. It was something that no one could predict. Props to the commander at the headquarters. To cheat the enemies, one must first cheat one's own allies. Joshua was stumped. There was an absolute rule on the Empire's military law, "One cannot leave the frontlines during war".

It did not matter if Joshua was the son of the count of the north, even the nobles could not bend the rules of the military. Hence, there was nothing Joshua could do to solve the problem in the north. As such, with pressing trouble in his mind, he bore an intense hatred and anger into the battlefield.

That and a person from another world had come to merge with his soul and body, becoming a completely different being.

His mind was still as scrambled as a stir-fried beef dish. Both his memories were mixed up like a bowl of fruit salad. The experience of a legendary warrior and 'his' years of vigorous training had given birth to a new Joshua. It allowed him to step onto the battlefield alone and face off hundreds of orcs. Even after the first few battalions were killed, his berserk state was not quelled. As a result, he went straight into the orcs' military encampment and slaughtered them all on his own.

That explained the reason why his entire body was battered. After killing for an entire day and night pushing his way through the narrow canyon, killing more than three hundred orcs, piling all the corpses into mounds, his body went into a state of extreme exhaustion.

"Interesting."

Joshua muttered. The now calm Joshua wiped away the mud and sand that was on his face and raised his head to the sky. The rain had begun to let up, leaving a few dark clouds and lightning that was accompanied by thuder, which was still roaring in the heavens. With a sense of acceptance, Joshua muttered, "Looks like this place is the Mycroft Continent. The battle of the Division started here. This should be the setting of the game."

The rain finally came to an end. He widened his tired eyes and gazed into the night sky. The stars were exceptionally bright since the rain clouds had finally drifted away. He dipped his fingers into the muddy water and tasted it. He then lifted a finger up high and felt the sensation of the wind. "The moon is that way The wind is blowing the other. There's warmth in the squall. Based on the taste of the mud around me it should be Starfall Year 831. Right now, I think it's the end of autumn, which is mid-October. The Historical Warfare 'Glorious Expedition' should come to an end soon. The orcs' impregnable Fort D'ruis should be destroyed in the first battle."

"Sigh" Joshua sighed heavily. "I've come back to this time"

He then raised an eyebrow and scoffed. "Seems like I'm not too late."

Before he was interdimensionally teleported, he was a veteran player of the Full Dive virtual reality game called 'Continental War'. He was ranked third on the Grand Ranking and first on the Legendary Champions Ranking. The game had been active for eight years in real time and thirty two years in virtual time. It had survived through eight major expansions, twelve historical events, and hundreds of legendary quests. The game had different servers which had its own individual events and plots. The Kingdom in the south, the Empire in the north, the flatlands in the east, and the mountains in the west. Before he was transmigrated, he should be proceeding with events in the southern Kingdom, which required him to travel to the northern Empire. Hence, that was why he knew a little or two about the events that transpired in the north.

The war between the Empire and the orcs was the second historical event called the 'Glorious Expedition', hosted in the northern server. The first event was the beginning of the Great Division War.

At that time, he had been invited by a friend to become a part of the emperor-hired mercenaries, assigned to carry out the Flatland Orcs Massacre Mission. That was why he was not a clueless idiot when he came to this alternate world.

"The victory will belong to the humans. That will be of absolute certainty. The Empire has been training three generations of soldiers. When the day comes, they would be ready to give it their all. Hence, with such preparations, they would have slaughtered all the orcs without a problem. The outcome has been determined. I should be able to retire from the frontline now."

When he came to that conclusion, Joshua became extremely calm despite the throbbing physical pain. He decided to put the matter of him being transported to an alternate world aside. He returned to reality and began to plan the pathway for his future. "Right now, the most crucial thing for me to do now is to find the other humans. Find a safe place to rest and think of the matter after I've recovered."

Joshua had decided to leave the thought of transmigrating to the alternate world behind as it would do him no good in terms of survival.

Both the original Joshua of this world as well as the one that came from the apparent real world were open minded and couldn't care less about the matter. Whatever happened, happened, and could not occur in any other way. One part of him was the kind that could get used to a new place within a few minutes of strolling. The other was the kind of man that would not bother to ponder about the things that he did not understand. All in all, whatever happened, happened. What mattered most was the fact that he was still breathing. If he could not turn back time with a flick of his finger, he would just accept the reality he was brought into and live with it. Or rather, suck it up.

With Joshua's soul, the one that came from Earth, taking control of the reborn 'Joshua', he would need to think well about his next step. Even though there was that problem that needed to be solved back in the North, there's nothing he could do right then with a battered body.

"I need to check on my condition."

Nonchalantly, Joshua raised his hands and gestured downward in the air. A status window appeared out of thin air and Joshua checked his own character status.

[Name: Joshua van Radcliffe]

[Form: Leader]

[Designation: Brave Fighter - Grants a chance to frighten when attacked]

[Race: Human Northwest Faction - Racial Skill: Warrior Race (Battle Experience x1.1)

[Level: Level 28 Silver (Challenger Level: Level 29 Silver)

[Attribute: ]

[Physique: Average Human Life]

[HP: Critical]

[Vitality: Critical]

[Morale: Exhausted]

[Magic Power: Sealed]

[Status: Muscles Torn Extreme Fatigue Enfeebled]

[Class: Black Crow Assault / Northern Battle Rider]

[Talent: Weapon Proficiency (Class), Blood for Blood (Self)]

[Profession: Blacksmith]

[Skill: MAX Willpower]

[Profession Skill: Level 21 Weapon Smithing, Level 22 Armor Smithing, Level 9 Magic Weapon Smithing, Level 3 Magic Armor Smithing, Level 1 Magic Tool Smithing]

[Equipment: Broken Helmet, Worn-out Metal Armor, Rusty Sheen Guard, Leather Greaves]

[Weapon: Standard Empire Long Spear Mark III (Damaged)]

[Your enemies would never dare to face you from the front]

"Huh. There's Mortal, Steel, Silver, Gold, Supreme, and Legendary. And I'm Silver tier? I have dropped from Legendary tier to a petty little Silver tier?! Sigh My stats are indeed worse than before but I could not ask for any better than this. Everything is below average. Hmph. As expected from a man of nobility. A well-trained body is what I really need."

The game 'Continental War' was all too similar to real-world physics. Skills and spells would require the same exact actions, spells, and chants. If one were to take damage, they would feel pain which would affect one's strength. All basic attributes could be trained.

Naturally, the most important aspects to look at were levels and skills. Levels would grant skill points to be used on skills based on one's Class. Collecting skill points was for the purpose of investing to create one's own skill tree as well as to develop a unique fighting style. That was the path which all professional gamers would take.

Before being transmigrated into this world, he had already obtained the achievement [Supreme Skill]. It was one of the requirements to be ranked at Legendary tier. All skills had to be unlocked. He never thought he could bring over his game character stats into this world. That would only mean that he could freely choose his skills without the need to rely on or stick to any given path.

"Still what's with this 'Form'? WeirdWhat is 'Challenger Level'? Did players have that sort of thing before? It looks like I am a boss to be killed"

Joshua did pay much heed to attribute stats since those aspects could be raised easily with a little bit of physical training. As long as he could get himself back to a healthy form, he was confident that he could take on the world. However, his current state was nowhere near healthy. His recovery speed was too slow to a point of nonexistence. He would need healing. Promptly.

Again, Joshua did not want to put too much thought into it. He closed the stat window and limped away using the spear as a walking stick. He could faintly hear the sound of human voices coming from the other end of the canyon and paced towards it. He could walk down several steep hills with some effort and managed to spot the human army encampment based on his memory. Just then, he felt something odd. Something was extremely odd.

"Wait. What did I just miss?! What did I just do?!" He was too used to it before. Joshua widened his eyes in shock when he had realized the truth. "I just transmigrated to another world, didn't I?! Even if I did spend half my life playing games, it wouldn't make sense if my brain could conjure out a system for me! I should not be seeing a window in the beginning! I'm no longer in a game!"

Still in his shocked state, Joshua tried to call out the stat window again. It popped out without fail and Joshua examined the entire window to make sure he was not hallucinating.

"It's real!" Joshua was happy for a moment before he frowned worriedly. "Am I really seeing this? Or is it just a hyper-realistic illusion? I've heard of sailors getting homesick and being able conjure an illusion of their lovers. Perhaps I am doing just that? No I best hope not."

Just then, he saw a few messages popping up at the corner of his U.I.

[End of Battle. Calculating results.]

[Killed Orc Axe Warrior Togu (Level 19 Silver), Killed Orc Kidnapper Wallon (Level 18 Silver), Killed Orc Elite Soldier Nad'jer (Level 23 Silver)]

[You have obtained 45 Points of Expedition Army Reputation]

[Expedition Army Reputation: Esteemed (5,037)]

"It's real. I couldn't have imagined it. My mind is not brilliant enough to conjure up such things." His frowning expression relaxed immediately. Happily, Joshua smiled. "Since it is this way, there's nothing that I should be afraid of!"

Truth be told, he was a little worried and afraid of his fate in the new world. However, he had nothing to worry about.

As an ex-legendary champion, coupled with the experience and strength of 'Joshua' of this world, he would never have to worry about taking on any challenges! Now that he had the support of the system, he could gain heights that no one could achieve! Such a privilege could affect his fate, his destiny. Perhaps even steer the fate of that world!

Continental War had countless historical events and legendary quests, which resulted in endings which he was dissatisfied with and hated. However, now that he was at the stage where none of that had taken place, he had the chance to make things flow in a different way. Joshua started to feel the excitement building up in his heart. He gripped the spear in his hand tightly and smiled. A bright glint flashed in his eyes. "There's more to this I'm sure of it!"

A real alternate world. A world that would be larger and wider than the gaming world. He would be sure to see more of what he could not see before. He would be sure to meet more people, fight stronger opponents, kill more devilish enemies

Such a world could release him from his bonds of mediocrity, a means to release him from his common daily boring life. A means to be a real hero!

"Hahaha!" Joshua laughed at his own childish thoughts and decided to calm himself down. "Well, I could do that. Only if I get over this. First on the to-do-list. Get a place to rest."

After thinking logically, he realized the harsh reality. "That or I might die from hunger and thirst."

Despite having a computer-like system in a magical, mystical world, he was not in a game any longer. He was living and breathing, and could also die. He would die if his HP went down to zero. His current stats was too low to even lift a fork. Before, he could fight the orcs due to a sudden spike in adrenaline. However, that was before when he was actually fighting for his life. Limping like an old man, he was overwhelmed with fatigue.

He must quickly leave the dangerous canyon. The three orcs he fought before most likely belonged to a group of soldiers that was retreating. There would be a high chance that reinforcements would return to check on the missing orcs and might stumble upon him. There was no way he could fight them again like before.

Despite having starlight shining upon the earth, the canyon was still void of actual illumination. Joshua limped forward slowly and made his way around countless corpses and dismembered limbs.

He could only hear deafening silence. Nothing else. There were no other noises besides the sound of his feet dragging against the muddy ground. After what seemed to be an eternity, he saw tiny dots of light.

It was a bonfire belonging to the human military camp.

Out of the blue, he could hear footsteps coming from the front. Instinctively, he could sense living beings marching towards him, carrying lights and waving them with vigor. Just when he raised his head to observe the source of light more closely, the sound of footsteps got faster.

"Deputy commander?!"

When he was having a moment of doubt, he heard a concerned voice. In the next moment, a large group of men clad in black armor that had dead crows as accessories rushed toward him in a fan out manner.

From his point of view, it looked like they had left their formation and was sprinting towards him.

Joshua stopped in his tracks and took a deep breath. "What the f*ck?! That's scary!"