Translator:EndlessFantasy TranslationEditor:EndlessFantasy Translation
Story of the battle in the Imperial Capital had happened more than half a month ago spread through the Empire.
The Triplet Mountains’ Imperial Capital was located at the central northern plains, connecting north and south as well as the barren desert in the west. It was the very heart of the Empire’s politics and trade, with thousands of merchant teams coming every day to the satellite cities or marketplace at foot of the mountains to conduct their business.
At the same time, it was where news and happenings throughout the world came in or spread out.
The fight between Emperor Diamond and Radcliffe, Count of the North was undoubtedly a matter most concerningthat is, after a few beers. Therefore, in the matter of days, traveling traders and speedy magical communications had delivered the news to the more informed of nobles and merchant guilds. In weeks, even farmers busy with their harvest got the general idea.
Joshua’s name once more became the center of attention; he dared to challenge a Legendary individual as a Supreme fighter himself after all. While he did lose he returned unscathed, which in itself was a legend to some extent. Naturally, everyone knew it was because the Emperor had stayed his hand, but it was still enough for people to relish the story.
Scattering rainclouds and throwing down torrential showers. Gale and elemental ripples sweeping through the entire Triple Mountain region, heat as if a second sun had descended. Those were caused by the sheer shockwave from the fight, which in turn helped common folk who had never witness a real fight between champions understand the power of extraordinary individuals above gold-tier.
The peasants may be able to disregard the reason for the brawl and simply fuss over the display of incredible power, but the nobles could not. Compared to Joshua showing his inconceivable level of ability once more, most head of clans wanted to know why the head of the Radcliffe familyone of the key pillars of the Royal Partywould fight against the sovereign of the Empire.
It was a scenario they could not even dream of.
But since nobody blocked the information from spreading, the nobles quickly got wind of the truth to piece together the general idea behind the incident.
Firstly, due to competition with the Radcliffe family, the Felthams’s arms trade at the northern and eastern regions had taken a blow, along with many other smaller noble families and the reputable Sewards. With the Count of the North himself being on the Sacred Mountain and essentially missing, the Feltham family decided to hold talks and threatened the property caretaker of the Radcliffes.
The threats clearly did not work since the caretaker was assassinated. Such violence was no cause for concern for most of the nobles, however. Although such matters were depraved and would shame most of the clans with a long history, it was not unacceptable since it was regarded as part of the hidden rules.
Then things turned interesting. As if there was some obstacle, news of the caretaker’s assassination did not reach the count at once. When it finally did, most of his subordinates in the Imperial Capital were killedbelieving that Joshua feared them, those foolish Feltham midgets did not hold back, becoming more bloodthirsty the more they killed.
Needless to say, Joshua rushed to the Imperial Capital afterward and cut down the second son of the Seward family as well as three members of the family proper. If His Majesty the Emperor did not happen to be present at the Capital and moved to stop him, the outraged Mr. Count would have fulfilled his promise and charged towards to the northeast of the Empire to kill all six Felthams in their very own territory.
“Remember to tell that bunch that they still owe me two lives.”
Those were the words the Radcliffe family head left before departing the Imperial Capitalhe clearly has not killed enough. If not for Israel stopping Joshua’s killing streak and compelling the noble to seclude himself in the Northern Realms, the count would not have hesitated to head to the Felthams looking for trouble.
The matter had circulated with extraordinary speed amongst the nobles. Some were unconcerned, others raised eyebrows, but most of them grew cautious about that count who would take his cleaver at the slightest annoyance. As for the few others left, half were clapping in glee, and the other half seething.
Of course, those seething were the two families who had most of their people killed or maimed. While they were enraged over the deaths of their own kin, they had nowhere to vent since Israel had essentially taught Joshua a lesson. It was already a very serious punishment to have a Supreme fighter who could challenge a Legendary elite to stay in the North for a year.
And there’s the fact that they could not fight him or find a way to seek payback.
Not being able to fight him was entirely understandable. According to some estimations by organizations behind the scenes, the northern count’s combat strength could be classified at the pinnacle of Supreme following after fighting the frenzied dragons at the Battle of the Sacred Mountain and the Emperor himself.
In short, he was above the standard of the older Supreme men, and even the commanders of the Five Great Armies would hardly compare. The fact is undeniable even for his enemiesJoshua’s war record had been witnessed time after time and could never be faked.
It was not unusual that there was no opening for them to seek payback either. Before the Northern Lands had set up the warp network a year and a half ago all four territories were in fact isolated. All their trade with the outside world relied upon draconic caravans and the Magel’s Unfrozen River, and all were direct deals with the Imperial Family and the Five Great Armies.
Now, with Joshua himself being kept in his own territories for a year, it would take incredible lunacy for the Felthams to attack their merchants. As such, they simply could not conjure any idea that could help them retaliate against the invincible Northern Count.
All they could do was hold it in and wait for the opportune moment to strike back.
Meanwhile, the more his name spread, the higher Joshua’s reputation became. Even the many formidable adventurers who were not concerned with any happenings or politics and concentrated solely upon their expeditions became familiar with his name.
Several parties of adventurers and mercenaries had therefore gone to the perimeter of the Great Ajax Mountains and its perimeter just to get a glimpse of the ‘Most Powerful’ Supreme-tier count out of sheer curiosity. Therefore, even if the snowflakes of early winter had fallen there was still a steady stream of them heading for Moldavia.
Furthermore, the travel ban was meaningless.
The North would be immeasurably cold in the coming half-year, and as the liege of his land he had to stay, constantly vigilant against the wave of malevolence coming from the Dark Forest. As the dean of Winter Fort Academy he also had to prepare for the next early summer assessment with Nostradamus, not to mention the construction of the runic factory and the production of enchanted armor.
If no huge and sudden incidents similar to the Anos Abyss, the warrior would be busy over a year according to his timetable. There was no time for him to leave, and there was the looming Harvest Festival as well as the nature magister’s procession who would arrive anytime.
Starfall 833, Fifth of October, the Great Ajax Mountains, Moldavia, The North.
At the volcanic karst flooded with lava, a team of mages and workers wearing simple suits of magic armor were working. The mages were turning stone into mud and using quick transporting spells to dig up a passageway while the workers who were in their highly insulated and fire-elemental resistant armor carried off boulders of inert stone and minerals.
Under the guidance of spells, their excavation went quite fast and in the proper direction. As every laborer evaded magma lakes and spots of heavy mana condensation, the effectiveness of their enchanted armor kept them efficient.
They were a small engineering team sent here by Joshua to dig up the passageway to the Illgner dimension. After the attack by the Evil God of Calamity, the volcanic Mount Sigma had completely disappeared, therefore also sealing the portal within the lava cave inside Mount Great Ajax temporarily. The rising lava then filled the entire karst, filling the cave that reaches to the surface with solidified lava.
To ensure that the way between two worlds could be unearthed before the nature magister arrived, Joshua had dispatched several lecturers at Winter Fort Academy as well as mages from the Guild who were still researching the Black Blood Plague. He had even got several knights under his command to wear the enchanted armor and act as a miner.
Under the protection of those armor plates, the Silver-tier knights could be provisionally spared the fear of lava. The proficiency of having two extraordinary groups combine was also terrifyingin less than half a day they had completed a quarter of their target and approached the karst where the dimensional passageway was deep below ground.
They even uncovered a rich vein of fire elemental crystals.
The day’s work ended by evening. The leader of the teamsa dwarf familiar with volcanic zones used a spell to give Joshua the work progress. He factually reported everything to the count who was in Moldavia and awaited his next orders.
Still, there was not much for the warrior to say apart from giving a few words to encourage them, along with reminding them to be cautious about safety.
After the conversation was finished, Joshua undid the communications formation as he returned his attention to within his own body. He was currently meditating alone in the study within his own residence.
Despite definitely losing in his fight against Israel, in reality, the warrior was still able to learn many things from that short exchange of blows.
The immaculate manipulation of force and the timing of each hit was a whole new experience for Joshua. It was a combat technique that starkly contrasted against his own and a worthy reference, especially with that last blow where Israel turned will into form, transfiguring his fist into a piercing lance.
This was a power of an entirely different threshold from that which Joshua once possessed. The unrestrained switch between aura and will was so exquisite it was art in Joshua’s eyes.
It should be noted that will and spirit are energies that originating from the Flame, comprehensively distinct from the aura that originated from Steel. Joshua knew that the secret in converting the two was the method in which Israel improved to Legendary tier.
Therefore, he must take it as an example and learn it seriously.
The warrior thought that relying on the system made things too dullin the end, men still need a second choice to challenge themselves.
On his chair, the warrior stopped his meditation for a while. There was a shred of subconscious pressure when he opened his eyes.
He was already a Supreme champion and an individual who had reached the world’s summit. Save for the gods and Legendary fighters he had no enemy in the land.
So, there was only one thing that could get him to show a face that had sensed a threat.
The Mana Tide.
“The Mana Tide looms” muttering softly, Joshua rose from his seat and walked towards the window. Below him, he could see Ying and Black who were playing happily with two little girls.
“Of course the strongest person in his world has noticed it,” he said calmly.
The Mana Tide commonly referred to the yearly surge of daemons in the Central Dark Forest. Countless horrendous magical beasts would stream out of the depths of the enchanted forests to attack civilization. Indeed, the Southern Fortresses of the Empire and the huge quarantine zone of the Eastern Plains was established with the express purpose to counter the Mana Tide.
But the Mana Tide that Israel referred to was not the usual surge of mystical monsters. He was talking about the Great Mana Tide that raised elemental tides in countless worlds, engulfing the Multiverse.
In the Multiverse that has no borders, the apex of powers was ultimately inconsistent. The entire world’s energy levels had been stable in the past thousand years since its rise and decline were rather slow. But with the Great Mana Tide about to come, it could only mean that the concentration of energies in Mycroft would climax in no time at all.
And that meant a great many things.
The overflow of elementals meant a great upheaval in this world. As all life became soaked in dense mana environments they would experience what the first creatures experienced during creation.
Every race, magical creatures, and plants would display a devolution process that was aggressive, even as colossal primordial existences were unleashed from their hostile abode to propagate and survive normally. The earth would become much richer in minerals and even more valuable, while normal people would feel the forces, making it extraordinarily easily to enter the threshold of Black Steel Revelation.
The very grade of this world would be pulled up by one or two ranks indiscriminately. Although the glorious shine of Gold would still be rare it would not be as rare as it was now, with only several thousand reaching that level in a huge empire with millions of people. The average level of giant dragons too would be elevated to Gold, becoming a genuine Golden race.
When the time comes, innumerable geniuses who had been silent would gush out like a fountain. The entire continent would hence enter their most prosperous dynasty and reach the footsteps of the last civilization.
Of course, those were the good things. Joshua blinked, and shot a glance at the distance towards the Dark Forest.
The bad things were equally terrifying.
The magical creatures would benefit from the high concentration of mana just as sentient life did. Their empowerment might even be superior since they were more savage had a greater affinity to the essence of the violent tide of mana.
Therefore, when the Great Mana Tide arrived and before men could adapt to the horrific mana concentration, the infinite number of mystical creatures would already have done so and begin their rampage. With each of those horrors possessing more than ten times the power they once had, they would sweep out of their old habitat and raid any unprepared faction.
Thus, that would be a calamity.
That being said, the warrior was not afraid of those beasts. He believed that under his own leadership Moldavia and even the entire North would not be damaged by the wave of malevolence coming from the Great Ajax Mountains. Humankind had resisted the hordes for a thousand years, what was one more time?
He was concerned about humans.
As the unbridled energies cascaded so too would ambition and desire. Within the months the Great Mana Tide had struck, the deadlock between the four largest human settlements that were in place after war broke out. The cultists had then declared that this was the sign of their gods descending and the heralding trumpets of doomsday. Even the demon summoners noticed that they could now easily call for the Abyssal forces.
Furthermore, the mana upheaval does not benefit only the kind. Villains such as pirates and robbers would have they ability raised as well. The dormant necromancers would also awaken from their extended slumber in their own graves even as countless ancients descended regardless of their allegiances.
Of course, those were not the most important things.
Joshua looked away from the silver-haired girl and the black dragon lass and up towards the sky. He stared, as if his eyes could penetrate space and see the gods who resided in the Infinite Horizon, a realm outside this world.
The Great Mana Tide meant a lot of things, but there was nothing that mattered more than
“The descent of the gods,” the warrior mumbled. “Men and deities living upon the same land.”
His own words conjured a rare sense of danger in himself. Pausing, the corner of the warrior’s mouth curled up and formed a smile with a shred of excitement.
“Really, what a tremendous era that surges the mood.”