Anos Abyss, the Black Sea, the main hall of the Epoch.
“A sea dragon?”
A voice of a drunk young person, filled with curiosity came from outside the door of the hall with gentle footsteps. “And where did you get yourselves a dragon knight?”
Before he finished his sentence, the man walked into the main hall. His voice had slight dissatisfaction. “I have to be clear why are you still looking for more people?”
Joshua turned towards the direction of the voice and furrowed his brows.
The man outside the door was a young man of about fourteen to fifteen years old. He looked pure and delicate. His chin a little sharp and his was skin healthy. The young man wore a black orc-skinned leather armor on his upper body and only a pair of pants that was deliberately cut short out of convenience, revealing his two long, slender legs.
It seemed that the young man had drunk a lot of wine. His cheeks were flushed. His small little tiger teeth hid behind his lips as he complained. The young man noticed that everyone around him was staring at him. Instantly, he became sober. Then he turned around and looked at Joshua, greeting the warrior warmly, “Nice to meet you, newcomer. You must have been summoned here by those non-drinking Puritans to help Wow!”
The young man was not psychologically prepared before he looked in the eyes of the warrior. He instantly felt a sudden wave of heavy pressure overwhelming him for a brief moment. His drunkenness subsided greatly. He immediately took two steps back instinctively and quickly hid outside the hall.
When he was slightly calmer, the young man slowly reached poked his head out in to look. He stared at the warrior cautiously but remained unsettled as he spoke to the silver-haired knight beside the warrior, “Did you guys just invited a count of Supreme-tier who is a dragon?! His Dragon’s Might is amazing”
Obviously, he had mistaken the Aura of Despair on Joshua as the Dragon’s Might. Not to mention that Black’s presence lingered on the warrior. Hence, the young man thought the warrior to be a Supreme-tier dragon who turned himself into a human.
Everyone laughed at the young man. The atmosphere became lighter, fuelled with cheer and joy. The three of them had spent quite some time with Joshua. They had even experienced the pressure from the warrior. Even though they still felt a little uneasy every time they saw him, they were not as shocked as the young man, Hill.
“No, boy. If you’re not that drunk, you can actually see and tell that the man in front of you is a true human being.”
After having a good laugh, the silver-haired holy knight shook his head and spoke to the young man, “Mr. Hill, even though Anos Abyss is currently under a windless period and we get to relax for the moment, we are still responsible to handle any sort of danger. You can have your wine and beer, sure. However, never get so drunk. If you behave so inappropriately again, we shall be forced to restrain you from using the materials and goods in the warehouse.”
While Robzek tried to talk some sense into the young man, Joshua also looked at the young man with little interest.
On both sides of the handsome face of the young man, the quivering pointed ears revealed his elven identity. His long black hair, tied into a ponytail, was left hanging by his shoulder. That was the ordinary style of the elves that hailed from the distant south.
The elves have always been a race of handsome men and delicate women. The appearance of the young man was probably an eight out of ten. Furthermore, he was drunk and his clothes were messy. But, what caught the interest of the warrior was the weak and faint Dragon’s Might that was quite similar to Black’s Dragon’s Might that dwelled deep in the young man.
“An elven ranger who wields the power of a dragon knight?”
Before Robzek could finish his words, Joshua interrupted, “Your mount must be an Oceanic Bladed Dragon of Thunder Attribute. It is a female and it possesses the strength of Gold-advanced. Not to mention that its bloodline has been fused with the bloodline of the Giant Island Whale. It is currently supporting the ark to move forward during the windless period. Am I right?”
“Im Impressive! You can actually tell that much just by sensing that little presence you felt on me?!”
The young elf saw right through the warrior and shouted in surprise. However, after hearing what the warrior said, he blinked and smiled and he shook his head as he said, “But you got one thing wrong though. I’m not a ranger. I am, in fact, an oceanic druid, and Funa is not my mount. She is my familiar.”
“Druid?” This time, Joshua was puzzled. The warrior scanned Hill from top to bottom again. “Now this is unexpected.”
He found some magic runes engraved on the waist, abdomen, and the inner thighs of the young elf. In fact, those were the magic runes that belonged to regular druids. They relied on the power within all the runes to activate their Beast Transformation or by using their Divine Spells of Nature.
However, in general, there were very few druids tried so hard to hide the magic runes on their skin. Most of them could not wait to show off their magic runes, which looked wild.
Meanwhile, Hill walked up to Black. The young elf reached his hands out and gently touched Black’s neck. Then he spoke a little drunk and relaxed, “Such smooth lines and patterns. What a delicate body It seems that you’re a little uncomfortable now, but this is not a big deal.”
Before he finished his words, a green light suddenly emerged before him and began to swirl rapidly in the air. It formed into a mass of light. In the middle of the light mass, the power of nature surged back and forth as vital energy waves gushed from it.
A superior divine spell, the blessing of nature. Hill took a breath and cast a natural divine spell on Black, pouring a refreshing power into the draconic horse.
The moment when the energy wave entered its body, the draconic horse instantly felt much more refreshed as its spirit was lifted by that flow of power.
The Black Smelting Dragon was capable of transforming the elements of water and fire into its own life force. The main reason why Black, with the bloodline of an Ancient Dragon, was feeling so uncomfortable for being on the levitating warship in the sky was mainly that the fire and water elements high up in the sky were too thin. Furthermore, even if the elements were dense enough, most of the elemental power would be absorbed by the magic energy core of the warship.
Not to mention that being on a transport like that was like sending a man to a highland with thin air. At least in Black’s case. So naturally, Black could not adapt to the surroundings.
Without the shape-shifting pendant, it would threaten Black’s life if it wanted to keep its huge body in the middle of the air for another few days. Even if it could return to the ground for a while, it would still suffer some of the after-effects, causing the draconic horse, which was always lively to feel a little ill. However, now that the young druid had blessed Black with some power of energy, it had regained its spirit.
“Mr. Hill, if you’re tired, perhaps it is best you retire to your room now and have a good rest.”
Hill yawned and remained standing at the side after he cast the spell. Sister Saya who was currently occupied with the research on the crystal shield before her, reminded the young man, “We’re in the depths of Anos Abyss. Danger is imminent. We just cannot be sure when we are going to face it. I hope you can maintain at your best at all times.”
The great nun spoke as dignified as the captain of the knight’s order. She sounded as if she is used to speaking in that manner.
“Alright.” After responding to Sister Saya, Hill immediately turned around and walked towards the door. When he walked past the warrior, the young man slowed down and reminded the warrior gently out of goodwill, “Mr. Dragon Knight, you might want to care for your dragon more. It is currently stuck at the threshold of Gold-intermediate. If you often allow your dragon in the state before I cast the spell, that will slow down its advance into higher tiers in the days to come.”
“Your insight is very useful,” Joshua said and then turned around to look at the draconic horse that seemed to be much more spirited than before. He nodded at the young man cautiously and said, “Just call me Joshua. And thank you very much for the advice and the aid.”
“It’s alright. After all, I’m a dragon knight myself.” Hill smiled with ease as he moved toward the door. “Gold-advanced is actually extremely difficult for dragons to cross into, especially dragons that are half-blooded like you and me.”
“It can go further if it can break that barrier. However, if it can’t, it will remain at its current tier, never to advance ever again. The dragons usually feel devastated if that happens.”
After he was done talking, Hill left the great hall. Hill walked straight towards his own room gently.
“No wonder you’re so polite to him.”
After the young elf had left the great hall, Joshua rubbed his chin as he looked at Black, which was wagging its huge tail enthusiastically as he thought to himself, “In terms of strength, he’s not strong. He should only be about Silver-tier. Even with the power in his runes all over his body, he could only buff himself up to the strength of a Gold-tier to protect himself during a battle. However, he possesses skills and related knowledge to wield the power of superior nature magic. With a Gold-advanced dragon coupled as his partner, he could indeed become a powerful support during a battle.”
“Young man? Joshua, it seems that you have forgotten some common knowledge during your long stay with the dwarves in the North.”
Roland laughed at what Joshua said. He shook his head and waved the cup in his hand around then said, “Hill is much older than us. He is a little younger than Commander Robzek thoughin fact, judging purely on his appearance, he seems about thirty or forty years old. Other than addressing him as ‘mister’, what else could we call him? Furthermore, Hill is a member of the Order of Leviathan Knights in the Eastern Plains. He has just traveled thousands of miles to join our little expedition across Anos Abyss under the order of the church. Of course, we need to be courteous towards him.”
“Although his strength appears to be a little weaker than we expected, that man is still an expert in conducting expeditions across the regional sea. Furthermore, an oceanic druid can predict the storms and the currents of the sea. Hill was the one who predicted the windless season in Anos Abyss.”
Rozbek nodded to express his agreement then said, “His draconic companion can also scare away most of the gigantic beast lurking in the dark sea. That will save us plenty of time in our expedition. After all, our main destination is the center of that gigantic whirlpool. We are not here to slay some terrifying creatures that have been tainted by Chaos.”
“So who else did you invite?”
Joshua was curious to know more about the people that were tagging along on this adventurous expedition. According to Pope Eagle, the church had gone into Anos Abyss for over four times to explore before they invited him. Naturally, all four expeditions had ended up in failure. After being agitated by the results of the expedition, the Church of the Seven Gods had finally decided to gather all of the Champions in the continent to join their fifth expedition across the sea of Chaos.
“Not much. Only three which includes you and Hill.”
Robzek seemed to have anticipated the warrior questions. After looking at Roland and Saya, Robzek immediately replied the warrior, “I shall introduce you to the other person when we have time later. But now, we have something to ask of you.”
Top floor of the ark
The Epoch was completely different from any other ordinary ship. It was similar to a square and the shape of two trapezoids joined together to form a hexagonal shape. That ship would undoubtedly be greatly affected when it was sailing. However, the powerful divine spell had already taken care of the negative influence.
The powerful divine spell covered the entire body of the ark, protecting it against the dark tides and waves that were over tens meters high in the dark region of the sea. The divine runes that contained secrets even transformed the impacts of the tidal waves into the driving force of the ark, making the ark move faster than before.
However, such a magic on the ark came at a great price. The energy required to power the ark was a few times more than the energy required to power up ordinary ships. Even though the Church of the Seven Gods had their very own magic-core technology to minimize the exhaustion of magic energy to power the ark, they could not ignore the fact that the ark required way more. Therefore, in order to conserve as much energy as they could, they would only use the energy on necessary ground. The Church would need to find another energy source in order to replace the usage of the magic energy core during ordinary times.
The huge magic circle with a diameter of approximately twenty meters gleamed brightly with sacred light. Just like the core located in the main hall, there were gold and white crystals placed on the nodes of the giant magic circle. They gleamed with the flow of the holy power. At the center of the divine circle, a gemstone the size of half a man floated in the air and spun slowly. It appeared just like the sun, unleashing blazing positive energy.
Even during daytime, Anos Abyss was shrouded by the haze and the mists. The surroundings of Anos Abyss looked as dark as the night. However, that gemstone seemed to emit light bright enough to shine across thousands of meters into the region of the sea, blocking any malicious evil into the vicinity.
“The Nuclear Star! You guys actually brought this thing along too?!”
Following the three men from the church as they made their way to the top floor of the ark, Joshua looked at the gemstones that he was familiar with. He was surprised by the determination of the church in making this expedition a success.
Truth to be told, everyone knew that the Nuclear Star before the warrior was the treasure that was placed in the middle of the Glorious Main Hall to decorate the hall. It also resembled the kingdom annihilating the orcs and crowning themselves the ruler of the North of the Mycroft Continent. Seeing that sort of treasure here kept everyone wondering how much the church had to give up in order to get that thing here.
As they have yet to meet any danger, nor did they sail into storms or great tidal waves, the operation of the divine circle was minimal. Layers of runes that appeared like gears turned slowly as they directed the positive energy flowing out from the core of the Nuclear Star to disperse even the slightest power of Chaos.
“During our last expedition, we managed to reach the deepest region of Anos Abyss. We were so close in getting near to the center of the great whirlpool.”
Taking a step forward, Robzek looked at the divine circle and said to Joshua, “However, at the end of that expedition, all our efforts were in vain. The power of the Abyss was too dense and the dark mists were rolled into the area, causing the ark to lose its sense of direction because of that, we have wasted too many resources. So, we had no choice but to flee the place We had to prepare for the next expedition.
The great nun, who was standing near them also voiced out. “The Nuclear Star is already the best and most powerful treasure of positive energy in the entire Mycroft Continent. Even though it is not capable of shielding the ark from the mist, it is not because the Nuclear Star is not powerful enough. It is just that we need it to resist the storms and the great tidal waves as well. So, after thinking about it, the church finally came to an agreement to listen to Roland’s proposal and invited you.”
The last time Joshua was in the Imperial City, he helped the church and the Imperial Royal Mage Guild to expel the Divine Dungeon Shroud. For Robzek and Saya who did not understand that, they believed that the Divine Dungeon Shroud and the black shroud in the depths of Anos Abyss were basically the same thing. Hence, it was the right move to have invited the warrior on-board.
“So, you have invited me to be your human torch to light up the darkness?” Joshua had finally understood that. He shrugged and said, “I am your human light bulb, so did you all plan to use the Order energy of my Azurite to break through the black shroud in the depths of the abyss? Indeed, the positive energy of Order and the positive energy of the Nuclear Star can actually do much better in dispersing the power of the Abyss.”
“Of course. And not only that.”
Of course, as a friend who had been living with the warrior over a long period of time, the holy knight understood what Joshua really wanted. So he suddenly spoke, “Rest assured my friend. There are many corrupted sea monsters, huge ones, lying in the depths of Anos Abyss”
Before he finished his words, Roland shut his mouth and remained silent. The warrior understood what Roland was trying to say so he smiled lightly.
“No matter what, my liege, please try to take control of this magic circle first.”
Next to the warrior, Saya reached out her small palm and released waves of holy light from her hands. She amended and reconstructed some parts of the divine circle without looking at it. A few seconds later, the round waves of runes that looked like gears shrouded the entire magic circle and began separating themselves to form a path wide enough for one man to fit in.
“How do I control it then?”
Walking up without any hesitation, Joshua set foot onto the platform of the circle and instantly felt as if he was being bathed by warm sunlight. “Although I understand a thing or two about magic, it does not mean that I know how to destroy them.”
That was undeniable. The warrior took a glance at the divine spell circle and instantly noticed that there were seventeen weak points in its course of operation. If he was given a little more time, he could have spotted more weak spots.
“It’s simple, my liege.”
The soft and gentle voice of the great nun echoed from the magic circle, “Just stand on top of the circle, in the core. That should do it.”
It was indeed pretty simple. One second later, Joshua was stood straight in the middle of the circle right beneath the Nuclear Star.
However, right after he stood on the platform, he immediately frowned.
“This power something is strange.”
The moment he set foot into the center of the magic circle, Joshua could sense that he had made a strange and yet wonderful connection with the ‘Sun’ above his head. Positive energy was controlled and directed by the Divine Spell by his mind. It seemed that he could actually command the magic circle and the circle would obey.
But that was not the thing that disturbed him. The warrior remained silent as he observed. He used his mind and heart to feel the strange power that surged around the circle.
The more he immersed himself into the connection, the more serious Joshua looked. The entire top floor of the ark instantly went quiet and calm as if the ark was controlled by the warrior. Only the sound of the wind across the sea and the noises from the operation of the divine spell was heard.
“Perhaps the Pope did not tell you the details of our goal because of the time constraints.”
Robzek was a plain and simple man. He was seen as a traditional holy knight with a sound heart. He broke the silence about ten minutes later and spoke gently to the warrior, “Because we were worried that you might not believe it. So we wanted you to come to Anos Abyss with us to witness everything”
“You don’t have to explain yourself.”
Joshua could sense the sacred power, familiar and yet unfamiliar, inside the magic circle. He suddenly said, “I am well aware of what you are trying to do here.”
The structure of the magic circle was extremely amateurish compared to the one in his previous life. There was no doubt that this was the prototype of the ‘that’ magic circle used during the second war with the Dark Abyss.
“I should have guessed it. After all the efforts spent on gathering powerful champions in the entire continent, the church even sacrificed greatly in order to get the royals to lend them the Nuclear Star. So it is impossible that they are just sending us here to explore Anos Abyss.”
“The main goal was not to resist the Pentashade Dragons, nor was it to sever the connection between the Dark Abyss and our world. The true goal of the Pope behind all of the smokescreens is indeed extraordinary.”
The shadow of a green orb slowly emerged on the chest of the warrior. The power of Order churned. The warrior turned around and smiled at the other three from the church before laughing. “The Church of the Seven Gods has really big ambitions. I bet you guys do not even treat the Dragon’s Calamity as a threat, not at all. Instead, you guys decided to use the rift at Anos Abyss as a shortcut to bring the fight straight to the depths of the Dark Abyss.