After Ivan had left the office and was escorted away by Theodore, Joshua gestured for Nostradamus to sit and explain in detail what the Emperor had to tell him.
The elderly mage did not dawdle either. He had a sip of tea before summarizing all he had to say, subsequently narrowing his eyes and stroking his beard in anticipation of the warrior’s response.
Joshua had listened quietly the entire time. When Nostradamus had finished, he said calmly, “So They’re finally asking.”
There was no hint of surprise in his expression, as if he had expected this from the start. When Nostradamus raised an eyebrow and stared at his face, he smiled.
“I’ve planned to run to the Far South anyway,” he explained. “After I finish things at the academy and whether the Church called for me.”
Tapping the desk, the old mage wrinkled his brow. “Joshua,” he said in cautioning tone, “that’s the Far South. It’s the heart of the draconic plague and the most chaotic region on the continent. You’re a noble of the Empire on the other side of the worldwhat would you do there?”
Nostradamus paused, seemingly considering his wording. “To be frank, the Sacred Mountain of the Distant Sea would merely be eyeing your Order power. There are plenty of sacred objects that can act as your substituteso you’re not really that necessary.”
Joshua wasn’t shocked by the old mage’s reaction too. “You’re saying no, but I really don’t think it’s that bad an idea. They’re willing to pay me with two sacred items too! And I could make my pick from the holy altar if I go.”
“Fine. To be frank, I don’t want you to go.” Nostradamus sighed and shook his head perplexedly.“I really can’t understand your intention to head there. It’s all bedlam over there and all you get is a migraine. Furthermore, compared to most hazardous incidents handled by Supreme-tier adventurers, two sacred items do not quite justify it.”
“Please don’t trouble me, I’m looking for trouble.” Joshua shrugged dispassionately as he recited his life motto. “Fair or not, what matters here is that my hand itchesI can’t just hole up at the residence, and just ‘hear’ news of the frontline. If the Church is even willing to pay, why not?”
The warrior then lifted his hand and showed the old mage his fist. “Could you see this, Nostradamus? Do you know what this is?”
It was a clenched and weathered fist of an aged copper color. It was sturdy and indestructible like steel, and the veins throbbed with the brimming breath of life.
Even Nostradamus had not seen a fist that rich in powerit was as if nothing could stop it once it takes a swing.
“Formidable. As expected of the youngest Supreme-tier hero, your lifeforce is even more majestic than a dragon’s.” He sighed in awe but still could not wrap his head around what Joshua was trying to say.
“Then, what?” The baffled old mage asked. “There are a whole lot of Supreme-tier mystical dragons down south, you can’t really beat them all.”
“Indeed. There are also tens of thousands of people being trapped in areas under the dragons’ control, and the central defense line against their skirmishes is also assaulted by tens of thousands of dragons every day.”
Joshua replied with the reports of the last few days of skirmishes, although he was not really answering Nostradamus’s question.
“Of course, things are getting better with the Kingdom and the Elven Combined Army reclaiming lost lands. But we all know that this was because the Pentashade Dragons are merely saving their strength for a single concentrated push to break the barricades of the Church of Seven.”
“If they prove successful and the Church is removed from the equation, the dragons and the other races would push up to the south of this continent tooespecially towards densely populated areas. Life will be replaced by ashes, and civilization will be consumed by barbarism.”
Joshua’s gaze now looked distant. He was remembering the days he had fought down south, a sensation that makes the blood boil and still fresh in his memory.
But he did not delve too deeply into it, and light returned to his gaze as he returned Nostradamus’s stare.
“So, now,” he said calmly, “My fist tells me that the power should be used there. It has been trained and molded for more than years not just to sit idly by.”
“ I see.” The old mage was at a loss for words, his expression troubled.
Obviously, Nostradamus knew that it was a point of no return for anyone if the dragons did take the Sacred Mountain. After that, every human faction would be hard-pressed to turn the tide but was that possible?
One of the champions of the continentPope Igor of the Church of Seven was there, and there were also the Church’s entrenched barriers set in place for millennia.
Even the descent of the Dragon God may not be enough to conquer the mountain, for the Seven Gods of men always had their eyes on the distant souththey would not just sit and watch.
Ultimately, it was the old mage’s opinion that all of it was too far from the Empire to matter.
“No man is an island,” Joshua said solemnly, shaking his head at Nostradamus’s attitude. “Every individual is human, just like you and me. None can stop the funeral bells of their own deaths, just as doubt wouldn’t save fence-sitters, while prudence wouldn’t help those who hesitate.”
Although there were considerable shifts in the worlds and timeline Joshua experienced, the warrior remembered clearly the dire state the Church was in.
On a stormy summer night, three Legendary Pentashade Dragons led a multitude of berserker dragons to attack the Sacred Mountain under the cover of a monsoon typhoon. The Church was prepared, but the intensity of the draconic onslaught pinned them down.
As the storm raged on, the three Legendary Dragons did not even have to lift a finger as the invading dragons took down the outer fortifications. Most of the clergies abandoned the isles as well as smaller towns and retreated to the impenetrable altar and fought on.
The war then turned into a tug-and-pull affair. Every day, new berserk dragon armies flew in from everywhere else in the world, even the most remote of seas and lands. They were endless, unstoppable, and never restedthe worst match for humans of flesh and blood.
However powerful the clergies were, they were only humansand they entered a state of high tension in just a week. Then, when they were essentially running on fumes, the Legendary dragons struckready to take the final defenses of the Sacred Mountain.
Pope Igor and the rest of the bishops had nothing left but to face them, the force of their battle sending out shockwaves that blew away the rampantly raging typhoon.
The encounter lasted for eight days and nightsbut the weaker clergies who could not hold out that long perished from sheer exhaustion and exposure, left huge gaps and confusion in their wake.
It was by a stroke of huge fortune when an unknown priest received a divine sign to develop a special warping formation.
With it, all who had occupation related to the Sacred Light could rely on dimensional sacred items and their resonance with each other to transport clergies all around the world through the portal to the frontlines. With fresh and new forces ready to deploy at all times, the ranks were solid once more.
Thus, in the final bout, Pope Igor’s extraordinary power prevailed. He alone managed to outclass the five Pentashade Dragons’ tremendous combat power, and his epic might managed to ward off the dragon army.
Still, it was all too late.
It soon became clear that the Church of Seven had taken a huge blow to their vigor from the war. Knights and priests were virtually gone from the continent, and the cultists took the chance to spread like wildfire, ravaging the lands.
Furthermore, with the domain of the Sacred Mountain shrunk, many sealed lands and Chaos-invaded areas began to expand. It was then that allowed the little crack in the Anos Abyss to slowly grow into a full-blown doorway for the Abyss.
If a champion had been willing to help the Church then, things would not have become that bad.
“I’ll return to my residence first, Nostradamus.” Joshua rose, and glanced up at the dormer where the sun was setting. He squinted, unwilling to explain anymore and said quietly, “I need to tell Ling and Ying that break time’s over.”
“It’s time for me to go too.” Realizing that he could not convince the warrior, Nostradamus, too, sighed helplessly and stood up to leave too.
As if remembering something, the warrior suddenly took out a transparent crystal and stared at it, as if hesitating.
Then, he made up his mind. “Next up, the Imperial CityI have something to tell his majesty.”
Half a day later.
Morlaix Palace that stands atop the Three Peaks within the Empire of the North.
Feeling the quiver of a teleportation, Israel, who had been reading a map of the Far South in the study, lifted an eyebrow.
“That’s quick,” he said quietly while stroking his chin. “As expected of youth, so much more decisive then us fossils.”
He picked up the map and hung it on a corner by the wall, before simply sitting down and wait for the visitor.
A rhythmic set of footsteps rang from the corridor outside before pausing by the door. Sensing that powerful lifeforce, Israel smiled.
“Come in, the door’s not locked,” he called. Though an Emperor, he was never one for ceremony and was rather easygoing in private.
Hearing his master’s voice, the door then swung open, and the Overseer of the Empire was not surprised to find Joshua’s face.
“So, you’re accepting my invite?” Israel bypassed formalities and went straight to the point, his eyes twinkling with strong interest.
He was not resistant to the idea but was merely curious. As a warrior himself, he understood Joshua better than the mage.
Still, he gave a non-committal shrug. “Right, you’re the restless sort and never pass on a chance for battle. But where are your Divine Armaments? And will the Sea Dragon be following you too?”
Israel was clearly in an upbeat mood, a far cry from that Emperor who once sat on his throne tiredly, distractedly and pensively. Joshua also could not put his finger on why he seemed to be so talkative too.
He did not bow, but merely crisply explained, “Ling and Ying are still babysitting Brandon and Vale’s childrenI’ve already notified the couple to quickly take them off our hands.”
“As for Black, he’s too big now and needs a special dimensional waypoint. Nostradamus didn’t have too much time, and could only make the doorway tomorrow.”
“Let’s leave the armaments aside for the time being,” Israel saidhe had frowned doubtfully at Joshua explanation. “Didn’t I give you a Shapeshifter’s Pendant last time? It could easily change the dragon to the size of a horse. It’s not that time-consuming and could definitely get past the warp.”
Suddenly forgetting to breathe, Joshua realized that he did forget about it.
He had quickly gone off to solve the cultist problem and the dragon eggs issue after his last visit to the Imperial City.
After that, he had to help with the preparations for the comprehensive assessment of the Winter Fort Academy, while also receiving Brandon and his wife at his residence and agreeing to their request of babysitting their daughters.
Naturally, he would not remember a thing about the pendant!
It was a bad habit of his. The warrior always neglected to check the items he had on hand, considering them no different from weapons.
But Israel did not pay particular attention to Joshua’s expression. “You’re here to find out more about how you’re heading to the Far South?” He asked peaceably. “No worries, the Church and I already had made plans. This, after all, is a matter that affects the Empire’s sovereigntyyou would definitely be surprised.”
The Empire then beamed, as if quite satisfied with that ‘surprise’.
“That’s part of it, I’m here with another thing in mind.” Joshua swiftly switched topics when he realized how further off the conversation was wandering. He walked up to the Emperor’s desk and said in a low voice, “Your hidden injuries.”
The atmosphere within the study quickly froze at the warrior’s words. But as soon as it did, it was dispersed by the might of the Legendary champion.
“Well, can’t say I’m shocked that you could see it,” the Empire said in self-deprecation, before rising and pacing around. “It was a faux pas on my part at the Glorious Hall last timepain and fatigue had made me forget about hiding my temper. Hell, you might have noticed it earlier at the moment we had our first bout.”
‘Earlier’? It’s more appropriate to say ‘in the past life’.
Joshua kept quiet while a detailed panel had slowly appeared before him.
He was unable to use system verification as a Gold-tier warrior to discern the Emperor’s status. Now that he had reached Supreme, however, he could see it clearly with the panel despite the clear gulf between Legendary and his own tier.
[Name: Israel Diamond]
[Titles: Lord of the Empire, Dragon Knight of Revelations]
[Race: Northwest Branch of Humans, special category, ‘Revelation’]
[Special Racial Skill: The Divine Chosen One (All skills experience x 1.10)
[Level: LV94 Legendary of Destiny]
[Challenge Level: LV90]
[Life Profession: Fishing]
[Status: Hidden Injury (Back), Life Draining (Suppressed)]