After having a quick conversation with Joshua and Dimore, Nostradamus walked into the palace hall hastily. Right after he entered, the old mage waved his hand and the door was shut and started to glow with blue light. The guards who were on patrol wanted to stop the old mage. However, when they noticed that it was Nostradamus, they scratched their heads and hesitated to stop him from seeing the Emperor. So they slowly moved away from the door.
"It seems that our archmage has something rather urgent to report."
A gray-haired man, who wore a pair of gold-rimmed glasses, dressed in formal attire, carrying a silver carved cane, stood at side. Then he spoke calmly to a young man who was supporting him, "It seems that we are definitely going to have another meeting. I want you to be ready."
"Yes, Your Honor."
Similar conversations occurred among the people who had yet to leave the corridor outside the hall. Nostradamus' hasty footsteps to have made everyone felt something. Not just the royal family's judge who wore a pair of glasses, but everyone else within the vicinity was unsettled by the unusual behavior of the old mage who just entered the hall. The other ambassadors from other kingdoms and city states also noticed that something was not right. They began to talk among themselves.
However, when the meeting was over, some people left the vicinity as planned because they have planned for their remaining time in the Imperial City. So, they chose to ignore that unexpected twist of events. Some who had no other urgent matter did not wander far from the hall. They were mostly the ministers of the kingdom. Those who knew the old mage stayed on the other side of the guest hall as they waited for Nostradamus to come out, ready to ask the old mage about what happened.
No one paid attention to Joshua because of the old mage. Besides Robzek, none of them were interested in the warrior and the others who stood quietly in the corner. Of course, there were also some exceptions. For example, the middle-aged man with a grand outfit and a few of his followers were obviously familiar with Dimore and Joshua. The noble frowned, not understanding why the two of them would show up at a place like this.
Dimore and Count Radcliffe are walking together now? That guy has completely infiltrated the core of the Royal Family? The middle-aged man thought quietly. However, he remained silent. He chose to leave quietly. When he was leaving, he even told his followers not to say anything about them.
"Chancellor of the Exchequer, Kandia. A friend to my mother. A wise man."
The second prince stared the back of the middle-aged man as he left. He spoke sadly, "It is a pity that he has no Gift. He is just an ordinary man. However, because he is an ordinary man, he can become the Chancellor of the Exchequer of the Imperial Kingdom."
"Other than this Chancellor of the Exchequer, it seems that the others do not know who you really are."
Standing in the corner of the corridor, Joshua took a quick glance at the surroundings and said, "As the second prince of the kingdom, why is your name not known to the public then?"
The effect of the Misty Pocket Watch seemed to be working better than expected. Most of the people did not pay attention to the warrior at all. Apparently, Artanis had given the warrior a good item. Joshua believed that he needed to give the old man a gift in return.
Dimore who stood next to him said, "It is actually pretty normal that they do not know who I am. I am rarely in the Imperial City, you know."
"I've been sent to the mountains at the western border by my father since I was very young. I've been training with a holy swordsman who chose to live in solitude. When I reached my adulthood, I ventured back and forth between the Southern Fortress and the Orc Battlefield in the Northwest Plains."
Perhaps it was because he was defeated by Joshua a while ago, the second prince seemed to be much more polite than when he first met the warrior. He spoke in a lower tone, "Father wanted to wait for the orcs to be annihilated first. He wanted to wait out so that everything in the Imperial Kingdom calmed down and stabilizes before he considered the candidate for the next Emperor. So I didn't really have to be here. I only had to strengthen my power, learn a thing or two about politics, learn how to manage people and strengthen the bond between me and the others."
Having his own children, whose Gifts were not up to the standards as portrayed, to lure the attention of the hiding enemies while having his potential heir to the throne strengthening himself up and sharpening his weapons?
The thought was simple and it could serve the Emperor well. Joshua knew the reason behind Israel's decision.
Even though the Imperial Kingdom was powerful, it still has many enemies. So far, the assassination plans have yet to happen. There were thousands of guards patrolling in Morlaix Palace all day long. The Emperor had the guards stationed in a certain way to prevent any possibility of infiltration or assassination. Even so, it remained risky. Be it a curse or by any other means, there were all sorts of methods and techniques in a world full of extraordinary powers like this one that could be used to assassinate a descendant of the royal family.
There were only two ways to counter the attempts to assassinate a member of the royal family. One would be nurturing the future successor to the throne to be more powerful. And the other way was to conceal their identities and send them to the outside world. Even though the second method was extremely dangerous, it remained much safer for the future Emperor to stay outside of the palace than staying in the palace.
Israel's way of nurturing Dimore was obviously a mix of both. And it turned out to be better than expected. His son Dimore had made sure of that by performing outstandingly in all of his missions and tasks. He was undoubtedly qualified to be the next Emperor. Not to mention that he was not weaker than his father.
The people at the corridor were leaving. Only a few guards and some other people were left scattered around. Joshua did not think that the waiting was boring. After confirming that the people had left, he shut his eyes and began to breathe in a rhythmic pace.
Ying and Ling noticed that and went up to the warrior and guarded him. Both of them were used to it. It was obvious that they had been doing this for a long time. Dimore was a little shocked by their behaviors. He had never thought that the warrior would actually start his 'Kokyu-ho' training in a place like this.
He trains all the time, no wonder he's so freakishly strong. He's so young, yet he has reached Supreme.
Initially, Dimore felt emotional about that. However, as he observed Joshua's breathing pace and the energy fluctuation that was happening around his body, he felt a little curious about something.
The warrior had never actually cared about how people looked at him. He was just absorbing the energy around him as if he was doing it in his own realm, gradually enhancing his physique to the finest.
The effect of the Strength Mastery would not fare well if it was being used directly in a battle. Its existence would remain at [each training will sow you rewards] and [every hard work you put in will be rewarded with fruitful outcome].
Although it sounded like there was nothing much about it, there was a possibility that all the trainings and hard works might end up fruitless at the end of the day. When a person has reached a certain age, the injuries that were inflicted upon him would be revealed. Training might even hurt the body more. At best, the person might only be able to maintain his strength. By then, it would be impossible to grow stronger ever again.
However, Mastery would mean that a person has already exceeded his own limit. Joshua's physique had undergone a complete change. Just like steel that would never be exhausted, the body of the warrior could be trained infinitely and be enhanced indefinitely. As long as he trains, his body would keep growing stronger and tougher. Even though the enhancement was not obvious, his body kept growing. Every single training he went through would be fruitful. Since that was the case, the warrior never lets any moment in his life go to waste.
As Joshua kept training, his presence was gradually becoming gentler. It felt as if his presence had gone mellow. However, the airflow around his body was a total opposite of his aura. The energy in the air swirled into his body, soaked deep into every cell in his muscles, flowing slowly into every single blood vessel beneath his skin. The energy then spread to his heart before moving further into all parts of his body.
His blood, muscles, bones and internal organs resonated with his breathing. The pulses and his Combat Aura flowed like electrical surges as it constantly stimulated and strengthened every part of his body. Although some of the energy overflowed during the process, a part of the energy still managed to fuse with the body of the warrior and became part of him.
The most bizarre occurrence during the entire process was the skeleton of the warrior. During the process when the energy overflowed, faint black and red strange lines emerged on the surface of his bones. Those lines were straight and simple. Each of the lines overflowed with heavy energy. In between the fluctuation of the energy waves, Joshua could faintly feel light coming from within his body. The lines on his bones absorbed the energy all around them, charging up the warrior's and enhancing the toughness of the bones and internal organs. His flesh slowly underwent new reconstructions.
On the outside, everything seemed normal. It felt as if the gentle breeze was whispering in the corridor, flowing towards Joshua. The Guardians who were patrolling did not even notice the changes in the wind. As for the other ordinary people, they felt the breeze to be gentle and soothing. They thought that the breeze came in from the other end of the corridor.
Dimore was the only one who managed to sense it.
When Joshua finished his brief training session, he lowered his head and started to give attention to something that was bothering him.
"This is not right" Dimore muttered to himself doubtfully. But in order not to attract the attention of the others, he spoke in a low voice, "It should not be that way"
"Why shouldn't it be that way?"
Joshua turned around after stretching his body and looked at the second prince with interest as he asked Dimore, "Don't worry. Just say it."
Sensing the body of the young Dimore, the warrior could see that there was a shadow of the great iron-blood Emperor within the second prince. Joshua felt quite thrilled to look at the contrast between the current Dimore and the future Dimore. For instance, future Dimore would never have spoken when in doubt; but only when he was certain and with confidence. Even if what he said could be wrong, he would make it sound as if that was the truth.
" You shouldn't have such power."
The second prince decided to talk after the warrior prodded him to, "Strange, this is just strange."
"Hmm? How so? What's strange about it?"
Dimore kept repeating the word, 'strange. Joshua nodded slightly, pushing Ying and Ling who seemed to be enraged by the second prince's words. Then he probed Dimore to explain, "Well, you're not the kind who would whine when you lose a battle."
"Oh no, I am not whining about losing to you. It's just that I was looking at your 'Kokyu-ho'. There's something odd about it."
Dimore frowned as he lifted his head, doubts filled his brown eyes, "Joshua van Radcliffe. The first time when I came across your family name was when my father was reading some ancient books to me. The books mentioned some Guardian families protecting the realm of our world from evil forces. Back then, you have already become the man, known to be the new generation of the Guardians that protect the Sealed Land. If I recall it correctly, that should be about a year ago. During that time, you were just a Silver-intermediate, or Silver-advanced warrior. Pardon me if I remembered it wrong. Well, all in all, you were nowhere near to crossing into Gold yet."
Ying and Ling looked at each other. The silver-haired girl nodded a little. She knew better than anyone that her master was just Silver-advanced when she first met the warrior.
"And I have managed to improve myself at an extraordinary pace within a year that I am a Supreme now. So is that the strange thing?"
Joshua did not feel anything towards Dimore's curiosity. He remained calm as usual. He smiled lightly and said, "Indeed, there's no one in this world who could have advanced through the tiers as I did. However, the reason has already been revealed earlier on, right? You should have noticed it as well."
"The Legacy of the SageFather and Master Nostradamus have been telling me that. At first, I had also felt that to be true. My heart was telling me the same thing. You are a person of great luck. You have acquired the Legacy of the Sage, which aided you to become mighty and powerful."
Dimore's words were simple and straightforward. He spoke as if he knew that the warrior would not be enraged. So he spoke honestly without holding back, "However, after sparring with you in the library, I have changed my impression of youyou're not just a lucky person. Your power was gained through hard work and diligent training. You forged your own strength through all the hardships that not everyone could endure. Your strength is unyieldingly strong and flawless. Even I could not move you at all. And because of that, I'm sure that you have not even obtained the Legacy of the Sage."
Joshua frowned. But the second prince continued to explain his theory.
"I have met Brandon Kaos, a man who has obtained the Sage's Legacy. His strength and his 'Kokyu-ho' come from the dual blades at his waist. His breathing and movements carry the faint presence of the sacred Order. That is the true Legacy of the Sage."
He remained calm and maintained his tone. There was no shivering or whatsoever. Dimore was simply explaining his thoughts and theories. "And you on the other hand even though there's also the presence of the power of the Order on your body, the power is just hanging around your body. Even I can see that. The power of the Order has yet to fuse into you and become one with your bodyJoshua, even though you have gotten hold of the Legacy of the Sage, you have yet to own it."
Joshua nodded slightly, truly impressed for the first time after being so long in this world. He had never expected that the second prince would actually see through all that. He had never expected the second prince to be able to observe him so thoroughly. Dimore could actually see so much on the warrior. "So what else can you see on me then?"
"I can see Your Gift is not really that good. Your progress was not swift at all in one session of your 'Kokyu-ho' training. Your Gift fares at an ordinary standard. Regardless of how hard you train, theoretically speaking, you should not have advanced into Gold before you reach your thirties. Even after you have obtained the power of Legacy of your Guardian family, it would still be impossible for you to attain anything higher than Gold-advanced"
Saying that, the doubts that Dimore had had finally reached its peak. There was a great conflict between his inference and the reality. But he just could not find the reason. "This is impossible. You have no Legacy of the Sage to support you. Your Combat Aura and your qualifications have yet to receive any enhancement or improvement. These things are not earned by learning hard or training hard. So, how did you attain Supreme tier without all that? How can your strength be so solid and extreme? I have even suspected that you might have made a pact with the devil. But, where in the world can you get a devil or a demon to bestow you with such power? That's just too strange even to think about!"
"Alright, Dimore. You don't have to get worked up over it. You're right though. It's actually true that the Legacy of the Sage did not bestow me any 'Kokyu-ho', nor did it improve the quality of my physique. Even the power of the Order is just hanging around my body because I have the Azurite."
Joshua did not feel even a little bit of anger despite being doubted. He tried to calm the person who doubted him. After giving the young Dimore some space to calm himself down, the warrior continued to speak, "However, you're wrong about one thing. You have a wrong perception about the Combat Aura and the essence of power in both of us as warriors."
"What essence?" Dimore asked.
"Do you still remember what they called the Combat Aura in the ancient language?" Joshua asked but did not wait for the second prince answer. He answered his own question, "Potestas of pugna... the battle power. Life is originated from steel. Its characteristics are plundering each other. That's the essence of life. Same goes to power."
"You asked me why I possessed such power. The answer is simple. Just like a man who is growing stronger every day, I'm keeping myself close to the battlefield so that I can always get into battle to kill my enemies. That's how I become stronger."
Dimore's expression began to change. He seemed to be in disbelief at first but eventually seemed to have understood something.
"In ancient times, there was no Combat Aura and there was no 'Kokyu-ho'. Everyone used their own method to train themselves."
Joshua was not bothered by the second prince's expression. He kept himself calm and began explaining, "During that period of time, the Sages of the human being had been slaying daemons and ripping the life force out of the daemons to enhance their power Gift? Legacy? Those things are just shortcuts to facilitate the latecomers to keep up with the former. If you want to get the most genuine power that belongs only to yourself, you'll need to battle, plunder, and kill your enemies, rip the life force out of them to enhance your power!"
Suddenly, Joshua seemed to be shrouded by some sort of shadow. The second prince was startled as he turned to the side. He did not dare to look Joshua in the eye. Every word that the warrior said had struck deeply and clearly into his memory. The warrior sounded so confident as if he was speaking of the truth of the world.
"No one could become a champion by just staying in the house."
Dimore tried to argue. He had also been living on the battlefield by the northwest since he was young. He had experienced more than ten wars. However, the warrior shook his head and interrupted the second prince before he could speak. "That's the reason you're so much stronger than the others. You're not stronger than me because you haven't killed more than I have."
" Is that so?"
The second prince seemed to be completely overwhelmed by the aura and the pressure coming from Joshua. Instantly, he shut his mouth and stop asking questions. He seemed troubled by what Joshua had just told him. He muttered to himself, "I haven't battled enough?"
The warrior was no longer concerned about the young Dimore. He looked at the system before his eyes. There was a list describing all his attributes in detail. The warrior chose to skip looking at those meaningless information though. He only looked at the number that was found at the top of the list.
[Joshua van Radcliffe]
[Level: LV54 Supreme-Tier 'Beginner' (Strength)]
In the pre-existence, LV, also known as level, was a value that determined the strength of a person. Even though it did not determine the full power level of a person, it remained a significant value for the players.
However, there was another way to put it; Level of Violence. The index of slaughtering.
"This is the Mycroft Continent."
The Continental War.
Standing in the corner of the corridor, Joshua lifted his head and stared at the ceiling of the hall. There, he started to recall his past memories of the game he was playing. He then lifted his hand and reached towards the ceiling. He grabbed the air and gripped his palm into a fist as if grabbing onto something invisible.
"Kill or be killed by the world."
Only battle was the truth of this world.
Right in his fist, he clenched rapidly, a sound of air being crushed was heard.
Long ago, the warrior had already understood that truth. In this world of fire and steel, life force and power could be ripped from each other. The power of a dragon could be acquired through bathing oneself in the dragon's blood. Anyone could also acquire a huge amount of magic energy by slaying a demon.
The human ancestors who lived in this world had learned the essence of this world long agobattles and the death of the enemies were the origins of power. There was no remorse or emotion involved. The players in the previous world had also learned that. The concept of killing monsters to level up was the simplest way to obtain the essence of that sort of world.
Gift was not important, nor was Legacy. Cowards who would hide in their own homes would never become a champion. Only those who leave their houses and homes to explore the world, to go on an adventure, and to battle against powerful enemies would be able to enhance one's own life force.
That was the definition of a warrior.
As a warrior, all he needed to do was to eliminate every single enemy that got in his way. Whether the enemy was an Evil God, Chaos, Famine or Pestilence, Joshua would defeat them one by one.
It was as simple as that.