Translator:EndlessFantasy TranslationEditor:EndlessFantasy Translation
Starfall Year 833, Morning on the 17th of April.
This was a dark day for mages who serve the Empire.
Because their incomparably majestic Emperor was upset.
Very, very upset.
Within the three magical fortresses at the outer perimeter of the Triplet Mountains, dimensional ripples from teleportation spells were appearing seemingly without end. Within the duration for the commoner’s breakfast, hundreds of warp portals had openedin the blink of an eye, countless spellcasters donned in long robes and wearing fatigued expressions flooded the streets in the Imperial Capital.
They were all mages loyal to the Empire, rushing here from all corners of the world. Amongst them were observers of the South Sea draconic plague, explorers who venture deep into the Dark Forest, researchers who nestled within laboratories and even quite a few mages attached to the Southern fortifications.
The Imperial Mages Guild, after all, comprises of every mage within the Empire and was amongst the top five spellcaster organizations within the Mycroft Continent. They had more members than the Council of Seven of the Eastern Plains, only next to the Skypiercing White Tower. With just a portion of their members gathered, their high-tier casters alone exceeded two-hundred. Still, their pace was hurriedwithout exceptionas all of them headed for the Morlaix Palace.
After the Black Shroud incident at the Underground Lab 2 last night, half the Avenue of Truth was destroyed, thousands of citizens left homeless and many valuable spells and experiment reports were lost to corrosion. The direct damages alone were above eight hundred thousand Imperial gold, with plenty of indirect damages that was inestimable.
Most of the responsibility belonged to the mage in charge of the No.2 Underground Labthe Gold-tier mage Husk, his apprentice, and several other partners, the other mages present when the incident occurred were undoubtedly held accountable too.
Although the Emperor’s fury would be spilled over their heads and not the entire guild, the reformations in the organization that would soon follow involved all of them.
The Imperial Mages Guild was an aged associated with a history of more than five hundred years, with a multitude of smaller factions within as well as holding great influence all over the land.
Nonetheless, it would be difficult even for Israel to seize this chance to quickly shift things around. While most research mages were easier to handle, most noble mages in the guild owned towers, territories or even academies. At most, those mages would simply accept the assigned subjects and missions, before returning to their private research as soon as they completed their assignments.
In short, they had a lot more freedom than their counterparts in the Imperial Capital.
Still, whatever the case may be, these mages drew research and special funding from the guild. It was a large sum even for the Empire, with the development for the mobility core of airships in itself costing the nation four million gold coins.
The heartache from throwing out this money notwithstanding, Israel’s main concern was that guild mages were starting to behave rather indifferently towards missions assigned by the EmpireHusk’s lab incident being the most apparent. Therefore, he resolved to do something about that.
Chief issues regarding the reformations were still being discussed in the Glorious Main Hall. Many guild mages who were away from town in expeditions or performing research had speedily sent representatives to attend the conference. Some of them were anxious, some excited and some who were clearly disinterested.
That being said, most were mindful only about a single issuewhether or not their funding would be cut.
All these, of course, had nothing to do with Joshua as he prepared to leave the Imperial Capital.
After finishing his rather late supper, Joshua rendezvoused with Nostradamus again to meet the Emperor.
This meeting was rather short and simple. Overall, Israel was praiseful towards Joshua, but since time was short the Emperor had cut straight to the point and gave the warrior a deserved reward.
“I heard you’ve got a dragon.”
Sitting on the throne in the Glorious Main Hall, the domineering Emperor seemed to relax, shedding the hint of anger once he started to talk about his own dragon. His gaze turned distant as he smiled and nodded. “They are a little ferocious, but once they become close to you they are some cute little critters.”
“Yes, Your Majesty.” Joshua nodded in agreement. That was the truth, although Black’s tongue-licking as a show of affection should not be left unchecked as a bad habit. “Problem is they are hugecan never really bring them anywhere.”
Hearing the hint of pity in the warrior’s voice, Ling who had been standing in a corner immediately became alert. Ying, too, reacted with a frown, and whispered to her brother, “Master never cleaned Black’s scales, did he?”
“Or prepared food for it. Come to think of it, we do all those stuff.”
“He rarely takes Black out for walks too. If he really does bring it everywhere”
An atmosphere of caution spread, as the pair looked at Joshua alertly.
“Is that so? Ah, rightyours is a sea dragon of the Smelting Black Dragon bloodline. Being flightless is an issue”
Not minding the chatter of the young boy and girl, the Emperor nodded thoughtfully. “My dragon always followed me,” he mumbled softly. “It is of the Hellfire Dragon bloodline; its body heat is scorching and hard to bring around too. Still, it is a Celestial Dragon, there has to be a solution.”
“The same should apply for Primordial Dragons.”
After thinking for a while, Israel seemed to have decided something. Opening a miniature dimensional passage with one outstretched hand, he started to fumble around for something with a shake of his head. “We’re short on time so we can’t properly reward you. Still, Liege Radcliffe, you’ll like this.”
With that, Israel pulled out a curiously designed pendant and handed it toJoshua.
The pendant painted entirely in silver was the size of a fist and V-shaped. From touch alone the warrior could tell that it was crafted in mithril, and saw the light-blue magical light stripes wrapped around it, obviously holding great power.
“The Shapeshifting Pendant, usable even for giant dragons; this will be my private token of gratitude. The Empire never leave good deeds unrewardedtake this as a little interest, since the Imperial Mage Guild would definitely show their thanks after you solved the Black Shroud incident.”
As Israel spoke, he slid a glance at Nostradamus and both men nodded in mutual understanding.
“The Imperial Mage Guild has temporarily lost functionality and cannot handle experiments in relation to the Plague,” the Emperor then said with a formal tone. “Thus I’m sending the Third Research Team led by Tamara Moore to Moldavia and begin the examination of the Plague there.”
Joshua was not surprised. Nostradamus had mentioned it before, it was a mere matter of having the Emperor confirm it himself.
The old mage seemed quite pleased at the moment too, nodding and stroking his beard with a smile. The main priority of sending the entire Third Research Team to Moldavia would definitely be studying the Plague, but could such a thing that originated from an Evil God be studied in the main town area, where there was not a single professional mage lab?
That, of course, was impossiblebut there happened to be one such lab that fits the requirement near the Winter Fort Academy in Nissia Mountains.
This naturally had nothing to do with the Winter Fort Academy’s recent lack of instructors. Nostradamus definitely did not specifically get his old friend temporary reprieve that was also an absolute mocking move towards the Empire. After all, it was perfectly normal for mages to do other work aside from their research, such as adventurer, mercenary or even assassin.
Therefore, there was nothing out of ordinary for a mage to be a teacher.
That about summed things up. After Israel had provisionally handled these matters, he indicated that he was a little tired and needed rest for that meeting with the mages’ representatives waiting the next morning.
Nostradamus too informed Joshua that he would be staying for the conference too and could not come along to the North for the time being. However, he had already notified MooreJoshua just needed to look for him to return to his domain.
All that was left were the goodbyes.
With the matters in the Imperial Capital handled, the warrior prepared to return to Moldavia through the dimensional doorway Nostradamus set up in the guild. Behind him were fifteen elite mages in long grey robes and pointy hats, chattering mutedly about their mission.
Regardless, all of them behaved respectfully towards Joshua, and also polite towards Ling and Ying.
They were ultimately magesindividuals filled with intelligence. Joshua’s power and methods were way above that which they could handle. As such, why not be a little mild and show their kind intentions? Of course, it also had something to do with that Abyss-reaching charm of Joshua’s. Anyone would suddenly forget whatever they want to say the moment they see his face, so how would they act high and mighty then?
Even Moore did not say much; Nostradamus’s friend simply stood quietly behind the warrior. It seems that he was remembering the dream he had last night.
At one corner, the silver-haired girl was fiddling with a V-shaped pendant. But it did not matter how she poked it aroundthe magic imbued within would not spill out.
After half a day of fiddling around, Ying could not help become a little grumpy. She handed it to Ling for the black-haired youth to try something while she went over to Joshua’s side.
“Master, what’s this thing for?” She asked.
The warrior, who happened to be waiting for the portal to open, heard her question, but could not help feeling a little hard-pressed to reply to her question.
“I’ve used a Shapeshifting Pendant in my adventures before. In a nutshell, you use itunder situations where safety is guaranteedto change a person’s size to traverse through tight stone cracks and passageways.”
Joshua had used something similar in his preexistence to get pass certain special dungeons. That included the missions in the fairy kingdom. Those could only be accepted after using the Shapeshifting Pendant, since those little bastards hated body statures that were far larger than their own.
“But what use is there?” Joshua suddenly remembered Israel’s unusual expression and frowned. If it was only to make Black smaller and make it more convenient as a mount to all sorts of places, there was no need to hand him a pendant so formally. Perhaps there was some sort of special function? In the end, the Diamond family did have a contract with the fabled fairiesit would not be a surprise if it turned out to be the case.
Joshua simply shook his head lightly to end his chain of thoughts.
The dimensional doorway in the heart of the hall had opened; its light blue radiance illuminating the entire lobby of the Mage Guild. The passageway towards the Northern Realms kept expanding gradually until it reached the size of a carriage.
“Everyone, it’s time to leave.” Joshua addressed the others.
Shaking his head again to clear the distracting thoughts from his mind, Joshua led the way and stepped through the portal.
The first thing he heard once he went over were sharp ear-splitting screams.