In the multiverse where an infinite number of worlds exists, there were always many regions that the local races would deify as holy land.
Whether through religion, history, a grand battle, some incredible discovery or the death or birth of an important person, these places were so special not one move inside those zones escaped unnoticed.
The Mycroft Continent, the Distant Seas of the South, the Sacred Mountain of the Seven.
On Starfall Year 834, the calendar commonly used by the continent, the Church of the Seven Gods had built an altar here constructing over the highest peak. With some of the architects being elves and dwarves, the Altar of Genesisnow known as the Great Altarhad countless distinguishing features of their respective civilizations.
As the religion of seventy percent of the continent’s population, the founding place of the Church naturally became a holy land. Nonetheless, it has never known much peace.
Since it was built, strife had never departed from the summit. Since its establishment, it had seen thunderstorms, tidal waves, typhoons, the invasion of the Merfolk Empire, attacks from behemoths of the depths of the sea, infiltration, and sabotage from the cult and the encirclement of the undead army.
Amongst them, the Merfolk Empire alone had mounted five large-scale invasions. The once-prosperous race summoned beasts beneath the waves to become the mounts, and with tidal waves as their vanguard, threw everything with the intention of sinking the Church into the bottomless sea.
Naturally, what followed was a schism that tore their Empire in two. Forced to flee, they were separated, one faction to the coast of the Eastern Plains, the other scattered between the seas surrounding the Thousand Islands between the Western Mountains.
Long years of battle eventually molded the Sacred Mountain into a gigantic fortress. It might look like a bunch of temples built over an island along with towns and fortifications sprinkled here and there, but this land was absolutely soaking in Holy Light. Everywhere were formations of Divine Spells that bunched together amidst the scattered buildings, forming the largest Divine Spell pattern.
Since it was raised there, forces that dared to attack them became fewer and fewer. It had brought almost a century of peace.
That is, until another power decided to bare their fangs at the Church.
The sky was dark, wild winds were billowing at clouds of gloom concealing the starry sky. It was the usual restless weather at the Far South.
In fact, summer was typhoon season. Anyone looking down from above would see huge cyclones rising from the warm sea towards the southern continentsomehow with the Sacred Mountain was on its exact path.
The air currents that could bend trees and buffeted the sea, raising swells that reached up to seven and eight meters. Only gigantic arks built with enchantments and divine spells could sail under such weathereven the fishes and sea monsters had dived deep below the sea and were keeping a safe distance.
However, the wind was also carrying indistinct sounds that resembled the growls of ferocious beasts as well as screams of pain and confusion. A middle-aged priest who was making rounds to ensure the condition of each divine spell formation looked up doubtfully at the clouds layer to the north, frowning.
As the torrential rain closed in the skies in the distance were blurred. The priest could not see a thing, but his agile senses helped him single out the sounds of ferocious growling within the winds.
It was draconic.
“The berserk dragon swarm are facing something unexpected?” He muttered to himself quietly.
Although the priest could not confirm what was happening, he knew that storms were a chance for the beasts to strike and that those hideous big lizards had come testing the defenses four times today alone. Right now, they should be flying around, orbiting the island, and looking for vulnerable spots.
Nonetheless, there was not a single one of those vermin to be seen over here, while quite some distance away, the sounds of dragons bellowing in agony could be heard.
“There must be something up. Dragons can’t possibly get hurt from raging air currents.”
Shaking his head lightly, the middle-aged priest turned, intending to return to the altar and report to the higher-ups. However, he did not travel far when incessant booming of explosions rang across the horizon over the whistling winds.
Turning in shock, the priest saw itfour thin and red pillars of light were blowing out of a little dot that stretched out long and far. Within seconds, there were scorching detonations that tore apart the gloomy skies, dyeing half the sky blood red.
Despite being on the island and being buffeted by the damp sea wind, the priest could feel a shred of the blaze from the light alone. However, the mystical discharge did not last for long and the red sky returned to darkness, while the frenzied dragon roars became more distinct.
Without hesitation, the priest quickly turned again and sprinted as fast he could back toward the altar. He could tell that someone was engaged in a vicious skirmish against the dragonsperhaps they were the rumored support forces.
And their own battle was coming too.
North of the Sacred Mountain, the airspace high above the Distant Sea.
Ice-cold rain was blown across all directions. Water and air, directed by gales at speeds over fifty-meters per second, pounded forcefully on the ship.
Nature’s might had raged, intending to overturn the huge iron beast, and the craft expressly refused to complythe winds were mighty, but they could not defeat the magic crystals. Behind the ship’s armor too were layers upon layers of runs that floated, shaving off the force of the wild draft, and even turned it into propulsion that further increases its considerable speed.
Right now, the Gale was making a beeline for the Sacred Mountain through wind and rain. Shrouding it were endless numbers of dragons.
Thousands upon thousands of those monsters were flapping their wings in pursuit of the gigantic craft. Each time they closed in, however, they would be deflected layers of hexagonal magical shielding. The molecular integrity could endure even dragon breath, so what were simple physical attacks to it?
Through it all, the alchemical cannons on the broadsides of the ship never stopped firing, forming a net of compact firepower that blew any dragon coming too close off the air.
Although the Mana Condensing Cannons were incredibly destructive, their cooldown period was long. Having been fired just now, the ship could only lay suppressing fire with the alchemical cannons. It was therefore fortunate the dragons lacked intelligence entirelythough the cannons could not take out one with each blow, they stopped their advance perfectly.
Still, nothing ever goes perfectly to plan. As the cannons almost complete their cooldown, a special-type dragon shrouded in curious magical ripples took an unusual trajectory and crisply penetrated the web of projectiles. Ignoring the angry gust of wind, it plummeted down from on high towards starboard.
This particular dragon resembled a demon from the abyss. Both its wings were filled with spiky scales, its head had a pair of horns covered in demonic spiral circuits and its eyes were a crazy violet. It let out a shriek as it dashed towards the iron craft; its target being those four ports for the Mana Condensing Cannons.
As one of the leaders of the frenzied dragons, it still carried slight intelligence and understood that there was where danger lies. Those things must be destroyed as soon as possible, and its own life was a small price to pay.
But before it could turn and fly inside the ports, a red-black flash stroke past it.
Breaking through rain and vapor with a sharp sonic-boom, it heavily slashed on the dragon’s neck, cutting through scales that were sturdier than steel. The special-type dragon’s face froze without feeling its death or realizing that it was being attacked.
As for the flash, it did not stop at cutting down the near-Gold-tier dragon and kept pushing into the swarm, tearing ruthlessly through flesh and bone. More than ten dragons were cut in half in an instant, wailing as they took the long fall into the sea below.
On the deck of the Gale, Joshua’s held the giant axe and sword. He had merely made a cut into the air, and so many dragons fell. Walking towards the special-type dragon’s corpse, he kept looking ahead dispassionately without a word.
His pace may be slow, but each step seemed to be a heavy as a mountain. The freezing rain could not even graze himevery drop was vaporized into white steam by the red-black combat aura.
Beside him, the huge Steel Elemental named Unit 01 picked up the corpse to let Joshua have a good look. The warrior could tell with a glance what it was.
“Abyssal Wyvern. The lower-grade version of abyssal dragonsno wonder it’s used as cannon fodder.” Joshua shook his head with disdain, his face expressionless. “The Pentashade are actually sending such weaklings to encircle the Sacred Mountain?”
That was simply underestimating the Church’s history itself that had stood for a thousand years, the origin of every clergy on the continent. It was a sacred land that all Light shone upon.
But as soon as Joshua said it, a thunderous holler rang from the clouds about.
“Human, stop right there!”
The cry shook the atmosphere, the vibration in the air instantly whirling away all the rain and clouds. A gap that was upwards of a hundred meters appeared, and a dragon that was a few times larger than the others around it dashed towards the Gale in a gust of wings.
With one syllable, the warrior who had been disappointed by the lack of a worthy opponent looked up towards the black shadow, his eyes glinting. “Here it comes.”
Joshua was in keen anticipation. That roar alone told him that it was a Supreme-tier opponent, and it would be the first time he fought an opponent of the same level after he broke into this threshold. He still did not know how much his power had improved, and this black dragon just happened to come right by for his assessment.
The black dragon has already reached the front of the ship. Its body was shrouded in black smoke, and it threw a wary purple-crystal gaze on the warrior, its expression unfathomable.
“Turn back. You can’t reach where you’re heading now. As a sign of respect towards your power, we won’t chase you if you turn back now.”
It was a well-built black dragonits scales were flawless, shiny and glinted with a purple hue. Black fluorescence floated on both its wings while razor-sharp spikes protruded out of its back.
The other dragons looked like children to it. Even the aerial battleship appeared to be just another airship.
“So it’s you.”
Squinting as he searched of his memory, Joshua quickly recognized the other. The ends of his lips curled up, revealing stark-white teeth. “Grundy of the Deathly Smoke.”
The black dragon named Grundy that hovered before them may appear young, but its age was above two-hundred and fifty.
It had once rampaged across the Far South continent, and together with Mandagar the Undead, destroyed a small nation that once stood beside the Trade Federation, looting treasures and precious resources in the process.
That, in turn, outraged every nation as well as the Church of Seven, and thousands of dragon culling bounties were issued against those two malevolent draconic abominations. Hunting guilds flocked to the Far South by the millions, tracking any trace of them down.
Under those circumstances, even the Pentashade Elders kept quiet, afraid of saying too much.
And it was also exactly under those circumstances that the still-flamboyantly active Mandagar got cut to a state of near-death by a man who possessed a sacred sword. The prudent Grundy, on the other hand, swiftly returned to wherever its old nest was after what befell its friend.
No humans had seen it in almost hundred of years, but Joshua never expected that it would move out of seclusion to come here and lay waste to the Sacred Mountain too.
In his pre-existence, Grundy’s old nest was discovered by a legendary mage in a little swamp within the Eastern Plainsfour to five years after the draconic plague ended. The mission to assist the mage was a series of Supreme-tier tasks which countless players happily spared their time for.
A century ago, Grundy was already at the pinnacle of Gold-tieran existence nearing Supreme. Its naturally gifted composition would hold against any Supreme-tier human, and it was now already deep within the level of Supreme as it reappeared before human eyes.
The mages and even the captain on the Gale were collectively stunned to see it through the screens connected to their magical circles of observation. They clearly remembered the evil dragon which made the history books with its terrifying behavior alone!
Furthermore, they did not know how strong Joshua was. Even if the rumors in the Imperial Capital held any grounds most of them were definitely exaggerated. All they knew was that Joshua was at the tier of Supreme, but the dragon before them was too and was an old champion of its race too.
Even setting aside the natural differences between human and dragon, that was decades of experience!
Powerful ‘Supreme’ men held a core molded from body, soul, and technique. Despite being a genius who reached this rank before thirty, Joshua could never outclass Grundy’s own centuries of training by much.
In an instant, every runic formation on the Gale began to whirl, and the two magical cores were now exuding full-power. The captain knew Joshua’s personality well enough to know there was no telling him to run against that ferocious dragon.
Now, man and dragon are set for an intense fight. But before that, the captain has to both ensure the safety of the battleship as well as assist Joshua in defeating that abyssal dragon.
Grundy’s body was surging with a fog completely devoid of light. It was negative energies condensed to the very brink, and it was so thick that those at the Nether River in the Abyss could not compare.
Every time the darkness surged, the clouds and vapor would also thicken. The all-too-powerful force aggravated the atmosphere, prompting thunder and purple lightning that streaked across the sky, releasing terrifying energies.
All these abilities were now completely locked on to Joshua, and the dragon was glaring at the man who held his axe and sword as if waiting for a reply.
The warrior, however, did not respond. He merely stood there, facing off against Grundy without a word.
Nonetheless, the dragon was vigilant in its movements. Noticing that Joshua was a Supreme champion, he did not approach and kept hovering about a hundred meters from the moving airship. Even Joshua could not guarantee that he could make a sudden move that the opponent could not react to in such a distance.
As their standoff continued, sheets of dark smoke suddenly leaped out from the vapors of rain and thoroughly smothered the Gale.
The reason Grundy was known as ‘Death Smoke’ was due to its utter proficiency at manipulating negative energies, changing the very molecules of that power into smoke that would not disperse and make any immediate vicinity its domain. It was through this technique that it covered that little kingdom in darkness, before massacring humans by the millions alongside Mandagar during their little excursion.
With the high levels of precipitation on elevated altitudes, the Deathly Smoke was even tighter, swallowing warrior and ship with nary a sound.
Clearly, Grundy had never intended to set them free. It was only bidding its time and slowly leading everyone into a trap. As a supreme Lord amongst the dragons, it was truly being wary to the supreme.
Nonetheless, a cry of clashing metals blew out from within the smoke, and red-black aura that was even more violent soon overlapped and covered the black smoke. A silver-white sword cut through the darkness, the blade throbbing under the aurait was what had made the clanging noises.
As the unbelievably forceful ripples of combat aura spread in every direction, the air was cleared at once.
“Is ambush the only thing you can do?” Joshua only showed a contemptible smile, before vanishing immediately without another word.
With an immense burst of power under his feet, he left a dent that was several meters deep, making the entire airship dip by several degrees. Using the force as a catapult, the warrior covered the distance in no time and reached the black dragon.
Clenching the silver sword with his right hand, he let out a rather stifled war cry and swept it at Grundy’s stomach.
To a dragon, the warrior was palm-sized, but his power does not lose to that behemoth.
Ying’s divine armament form may not have any special enchantments but it was incomparably sturdy. Virtually indestructible, its sharpness was capable of cutting through steel and any other weaponas well as tear through dragon scales like paper.
The giant sword broke through vapor, the shockwave striking Grundy like a hammer before it really reached the dragon. All the negative energies atoms were split in two, while his body started to tremble violently.
But vapor was all it was.
After the air was cleared, Grundy’s gargantuan body was nowhere to be seen. It was then that the observers in the battleship realized with a start that the dragon had quietly materialized behind the warrior.
[Vapor Mirage] and [Shadow Ambush]!
The dragon’s expression was unfathomable, and an energy ball congealed from the shadows with pure negative lightning flashed urgently like a spell making a thunderstorm.
Grundy’s years in seclusion clearly did not pass meaninglessly; its natural gift at shifting water and negative energies now reached a whole new level. Able to use a chain of spells without ripples discreetly, it had teleported behind Joshua to deliver a lethal blow.
If not for its size, the black dragon would have been an assassin whose name would bring fear whenever mentioned.
Still, facing the gathering of negative energies, Joshua took no mind. As if he was aware of it from the start, he turned, and his left hand that had been mustering strength for some time swiped out.
Black-red aura vibrated quickly over the jagged teeth of the giant axe, and a sharp whistle overlapped the thunder. The ear-grating sound trembled even the mana elements within ten meters, spreading waves of red-black lines in all directions that resembled a ceaseless storm of axe edges returned at Grundy.
There may be a huge difference between size and weapon, but there was none in terms of the blades formed by aura. The huge body of dragons may provide them with immense physical strength and mana reserves, but it would not allow them to dodge such air strikes that filled the air.
That was why Joshua could stand fearlessly against a possible doom and ignore Grundy’s spell. Still, reluctant to take damage, the beast canceled the spell in front of its chest and quickly flew behind, pulling away.
But would Joshua allow it?
Illuminated by lightning, a white halo appeared in the air. Before even making a sound, the warrior had vanished again and appeared before Grundy.
Joshua could clearly see every crack and furrow on the dragon’s bodythe beast, legendary for its tyrant behavior had countless scars covered by black scales.
Grundy’s reptilian gaze was now leveled tightly at the minuscule warrior who was approaching its chest, while its mouth murmured an unusual lyric.
A bizarre spell blew out of the dragon’s mouth, affecting Joshua’s body in seconds.
Being a Supreme-tier dragon, it had many methods on its disposal to evade the warrior’s strike, but it did not, and stayed on course for a head-on collision. Additionally, at the same time it mouthed the spell, the dragon had flashed its steel talons at the direction of its own chest.
Even if it could not maim the warrior, it would certainly grab him an advantage.
Therefore it was disappointing that the second the curious Order power touched Joshua, a mysteriously glowing rune started to vibrate in his bones. Divine power flashed, releasing a blinding radiance.
Thus, the Order spell was suppressed and nullified by an even more powerful force while the warrior’s axe slashed at the dragon’s chest without delay.
Although Ling’s divine armament form alone was tough, the warrior’s own strength had raised it to its limit. The black axe soon lost its original shape and turned into a streak of red light that was so incredible it flooded the darkness, Grundy’s body as well as Joshua himself.
A huge noise rang.
The observers on the Gale and the long-range spotting clergies on the Sacred Mountain could see ita black-red star, forming in skies enveloped in darkness. It kept expanding before it eventually detonated, turning thousands of dragons into ash in its wake.
The shock wave from the celestial body cleared several kilometers worth of clouds as air currents collided, forming brief cyclones. A low bellow echoed in shock and rage over the atmosphere.
A huge black shadow was fleeing into the distance in a stream of light, vanishing into the bulky clouds.
Everyone watched with gaping mouths.
Joshua was still hanging in the air, having made just a single swing with his axe before he could make a follow-up attack. He frowned, as if feeling something wrong with his power output, and turned to look at the giant axe on his right hand.
The red light lingered over his weapon, releasing a putrid smell.
“Ling, are you alright?!” Joshua’s shocked voice carried a hint of panic.