Translator:EndlessFantasy TranslationEditor:EndlessFantasy Translation
Between hills and mountain forests shrouded in darkness and thin vapor, countless bones and remains long decomposed were buried amongst the dirt under the leaves. Stones tainted by blood and damaged metallic weapons were spread over every corner of the woods. Broken body armor, blades with split ends and spears without tips stood aloft amidst the cold winds, as if telling the tale of what once transpired here.
It was already evening. The dim sun was slowly rising over the west as the night breeze grew more chilling by every passing moment, as if capable of seeping into marrow and freezing blood.
But a little light suddenly ignited within the thin vapor.
The illumination was weak and dim, but immeasurably solid. Under its shimmering, the vapor dispersed and the darkness retreated while it advanced, and soon a convoy of carriages came into view, hurrying across a small forest path as if avoiding something terrible.
At the fore was a middle-aged woman riding a draft horse, chiding with a husky voice that did not fit with her gender. There were scars scattered across her face and throat, seemingly the reason for her voice. Nonetheless, hearing the urging of their leader, every carriage and rider accelerated immediately towards their heading.
There were almost thirty people in this convoy, most of them horse riders. The five carriages in the convoy were stuffed full of materials, traversing swiftly in the rugged forest route as the horses pulled them along laboriously. Every rider was armed with longswords flails, as well as exquisitely prepared chainmailtheir equipment was excellent and definitely did not lose out to the standard army of a nation.
Even if that were so, the riders still acted as if they were running away as they dashed forward with their lives.
As for the leaderDarwion, her heart was sinking like a stone within a deep sea.
The sun has set; night would soon arrive.
Unsheathing her saber from her hip frustratedly and briskly unleashing an air strike to cut down a huge tree was blocking the road, the female knight displayed prowess that should never be underestimated.
Nonetheless, she was mumbling in fear.
“No good, can’t reach the village in timethe monsters are appearing soon”
“I’ll fight if it really won’t do!” A male knight with a thick helmet who was riding right behind her exclaimed. “Sister Darwion, when the time comes, you’ll lead the convoy back to the village while I lead them away!”
“Fool, depending on you bunch of ascended to stop the ‘Death Shade’?” Darwion mercilessly scolded him, but she could not think of a solution for the time being, and so was only able to seethe. “Damn it, can’t care that much. Everyone, hurry!”
“Yes, ma’am!” the riders replied in unison.
Death Shade was, as the name suggests, the shadow of the dead.
The world had changed entirely since the Cataclysm twenty-seven years ago. Where there was death, Death Shades would appear come night after sunset. The monsters, resembling dark shadows, were bizarre, terrifying, and possessed part of the powers they had in life. They fed upon living flesh, attacking all life indiscriminately.
And how many living things had died in this world? It would probably be dozens or hundredfold the amount of the living. Furthermore, with every corner of this world having been tread upon, the Death Shades were omnipresent, unavoidable.
“Just hope that the Death Shade we run into this time are weaker, allowing us to charge through and escape.”
Many ideas flashed urgently through Darwion’s mind. It was not the first time she led the team on an excursion or fighting against the Death Shade, but there were many reasons that would prolong the traveling time back to the village. Her scarred body was a sign of the many battles she had gone through.
Her logic was sound toothere was level of abilities even amongst the Death Shade. If they were mere peasants or beasts in life, they would be feeble abominations that could be blown away by the wind after they turned. Although they would still be many, it did not mean that they could not just charge through.
Still, the Autumn Waters Forest where the carriages were now running upon was an ancient battlefield. Beneath it was innumerable corpses of elite warriors from two great former Empires.
If they met those Imperial elites
Darwion did not keep thinking, because night had arrived.
The rays of the sun had now completely vanished from this world, and dark fog began to engulf the forest. Even the many torches held by the carriages that burned with warm gleam was the sametheir vision had shrunk to just ten meters in front of them, while the convoy slowed down immediately.
“Do not slow down!” Darwion bellowed. “Falling means being torn apart by those monsters anyway. Sons of Astoria, draw your weapons!”
Against the countless obscure shadows that were spawning within the dark fog, the female rider roared with a hoarse but immeasurably firm voice.
“Light of the blade, glory never-ending!”
“Never ending!” The riders sonorously chorused.
Specks of radiances were appearing over the riders’ bodies. The radiances had different colors, but have the same effectunder its drive, wind flowed faster, and every warhorse started to regain their spirit one after the other. Neighing, they strode ahead, while the convoy was now more than a notch faster than before, as if about to turn into a gale amidst the mountain forest.
Meanwhile, the shadows in the darkness formed a complete shape.
They were dark human silhouettes that were spread out in every corner of the forest; tired knights and warriors wearing broken armor and damage blades. Warhorses that were disemboweled or had limbs dismembered appeared indistinctly within the fog. These slain, reluctant to die, awakened within the darkness, opening their sanguine gaze that followed the carriages hurrying away, and then began to unleashed enraged roars.
Amongst the departed, poles of broken flags were raised while shrill horns reverberated through the night sky amidst the chilling winds. Then, they too began to charge under the guidance of the banners and the commands of the horns.
The gully between life and death across centuries.
A robust but quiet knight behind the carriage noticed the undead armies darting towards them at a speed that escaped human comprehension. The man spat at the sight, and unsheathed a great sword from the flank of his warhorse. His powerful arm muscles knotted and directed the war horse to change directions, dashing towards the enemy like a streak of gale.
Steel cried as blades clashed. The rider dashed into the rank of the enemies alone, his body cascading with soft blue light that was distinct even in the dark fog. Relying on the power of that glow, the warrior slew several Death Shades at the front, and a dozen more with another flurry of swings.
But how many Death Shades were there? In mere seconds, the rider’s silhouette was utterly floodedthough the pale-blue spark was visible, it too, swiftly disappeared as the sounds of flesh being pierced resounded.
Even so, the armies of the dead were held off for seconds, and the convoy pulled away.
Darwion noticed the sacrifice, but her heart was cold as steel stone, unruffled. She could only hate her own inabilityand only that.
Meanwhile, Death Shades were appearing ahead of the party too. Still, those were the Death Shades of some peasants or some scattered adventurers. Darwion pulled out her saber, striking through the wind and vanquishing the obstructing monsters with an unhindered air blade.
“We’re almost at the village protection zone!” The knight bellowed loudly after completely expelling the Death Shades ahead. “Don’t let Handel’s sacrifice go to waste!”
The convoy did not say a thing, but their speed went up a notch.
Then, another horn resounded shrilly.
In front of the convoy, banners broken began to rise as raving howls of wolves could be heard indistinctly.
Three hundred and eighty-two years ago, Bohar the Steel Cutter and Suen the Wolf Shepherd met in the Autumn Waters Forest. Two champions with equal power led armies of equal ability as they began a skirmish of life-and-death. It ended with the blades of the Steel Cutter being broken and the flock of Wolf Shepherd wiped outnot a single soul in both camps survived, every single one of them dying at this very forest.
Now, 380 years later, their shades awakened in the lightless thin fog. The general whose flesh had been completely devoured and the headless rider stood off against each other at the center of their respective factions. Their armies, too, faced off against each other, sanguine radiance almost brightening the forest.
Without a word, the war between the dead restarted in the very next moment.
With the convoy who were at wits’ end in the middle.
Even Darwiona hero amongst womenfelt her heart grow cold. The situation before her eyes was an abyss of despair that none could come out of. When the two armies of the two powerful men charge, everyone would not have a chance of escaping.
All that was left for them were decapitation by the swords before the wolves devoured them.
When the Death Shades appeared after the Cataclysm, ancient heroes and greats too had turned into malicious daemons that rampaged across the darkness. They wielded their olden divine weapon, used crude but powerful spells to slowly press the world of the living into a corner.
As heroes fall and enchanted spirits awakened, the masters of this continent know as Grandia were no longer human civilization that basked in glory, but the undead that awakened from their remains.
Sounds of colliding steel echoed through the forest. Using the carriages as barriers, the riders held off the assault of the two armies. Blinding sparks leaped out as blades struck each other, irradiating the lightless forest.
Darwion stood on the land. She brandished her sword, dark blue radiance flowing over her arm as she did so. Before her were the multitudinous Death Shade soldiers, but they had no way of making it pass her blade. With a flash of silver light and crisscrossing of her air edge, a dozen Death Shades would be sent flying and dissipating into thin air.
Around her, the other knights were bellowing as they battled. Their ability may be unequal to their leader, but it was not difficult to handle these weak undeadafter the men entrenched themselves, they had actually managed to hold off several waves of undead assault.
Still, Darwion knew that it was for the moment. The situation now was thanks to the struggle between two undead armies that had just awakened in a continuation of the war they had in life, ignoring the living that were right beside them. Even if that were so, the waves were not something the thirty of them could endure. In several dozen minutes, when everyone’s strength was spent, the knights would no longer be able to resist.
When that time comes, they would be eaten alive by the Death Shades.
Unable to come up with anything, Darwion’s heart was gradually consumed by hopelessnessbut exactly because of that, a raging fire known as ‘who cares’ roused within her heart. And so, alongside her comrades, she clamored while wielding her air blade and harvested the black silhouettes into pieces, the scene even attracting the gaze of the two undead leaders at the center of the armies.
Since there’s no solution, stop thinking!
Since the death is already cast, fight!
Kill as much as you can before death, for the Astoria family would suffer no incompetent who did not fall in battle!
But even as the knight made her resolve, a gripping thunder suddenly blasted in the sky above.
The single low, resounding crack violent rang in the sky above. As waves of air surged, visible to the naked eye, a gentle blue light engulfed the world in an instant.
Surprised, Darwion looked at the sky.
In the darkness overhead above the Autumn Waters Forest, thick black clouds retreated, utterly covered by the dull light of a blue moon. All that was left afterward was a single indistinct rift that suddenly appeared in the heavens. It fluctuated, as if some behemoth was walking within, quaking the entire sky and forming ripples resembling flowing water.
Then, extraordinary layers of runes never before seen on Grandia whirled and folded amidst the blue light. Humming sounds like that of clanking gears rang, causing discomfort in the hearts of all.
“What What on earth is that”
Not only the female knight everyone present including the undead stared agape at the unusual phenomenon. Thick, substantial tidal mana tore the dimensions apart majestically. Soon, with the incomparably terrifying presence that hazily emanated from the rift, the riders who had been facing the undead were actually showing horrified faces.
Could it be This place was the burial ground of some great hero?!Darwion could not help but think; her heart’s astonishment at its limit.And now that the heroic spirit is about to awaken, the skies trembled?! It’s genuinely nothing to laugh at!
But even as the notion crossed her mind, the knight smiled bitterly. For such a powerful heroic spirit to rise from its eternal slumber and turned into an enchanted soul that could destroy everything, nothing else could be worse for this already-shattered world, much less their little band of knights.
That being said, the next scene escaped everyone’s expectations.
A man stepped out from the rift.
The light-blue radiance vanished instantly, replaced by a crimson beam as blinding as the sun.
This new luster was so dazzling that none could look directly at it. Emission of life energy of the utmost horror spread across all directions, the endless Death Shades crumbling into nothingness with a single touch from it, as if illuminated by the light of dawn.
Darwion stared ahead in disbelief. Before her, the endless armies of the undead were instantly vanquished by the crimson light, without even a single speck of them left behind. The black thin vapor was speedily dispersing like dew in the afternoon sun, before finally dissipating.
On the other hand, the weary knights were left completely unharmed, feeling their strength returning instead.
In the dead center of the armies, the praetorians and the two respective leaders endured for just a little longerand exactly that. Under the powerful lifeforce radiation that was without end, the souls from a bygone era returned to eternal rest, purified and vanishing bit by bit.
“What What actually happened?!” Everyone looked perplexed.
What was it that had just happened?
As the crowd was still confused, Joshua van Radcliffe descended, arriving at this different and unknown world.
Bringing Ying and Ling and dropping from the sky above and landing on solid ground, the warrior did not even notice what his vigor emission had done. He merely withdrew the passive strength that he had raised instinctively within the dimensional portal, before examining the strength within his body with a solemn expression.
As a Supreme warrior who could control everything about his own body to the tiniest bit, Joshua naturally discovered all the unusual things happening to his body.
Gripping his fist intuitively and creating a boom, he frowned and mumbled softly.
“My power has been shackled.”
Despite that, it was something ordinary. The worlds around the Mycroft realm were similar in terms of originsnatural dimensional rifts would not split open otherwise.
However, this otherworld was far-flung. As such, there would be differences between the essence of Steel Strength which was something that the warrior astutely picked up.
“Indeed, Master.” The silver-haired girl nodded in reply. She too, sensed it, and was glancing at her somewhat illusory figure.
“My spiritual form could not materialize completely” She said disgruntledly.
In a corner, Ling was touching his own chest, and nodded along with his sister. “That’s right, master. There is much difference in how the forces flow here as compared to Mycroftthe spiritual bodies of both sister and I are being suppressed.”
“Got it. Turn into weapon form, you two,” Joshua said with yet another nod, while the divine armament siblings briskly transformed into a greataxe and a greatsword that floated behind the warrior.
At the moment, Joshua was reading the notification system that kept refreshing before his eyes, grasping several of the more important messages.
[You’ve arrived at another worldGrandia]
[Due to the different basic composition of Steel Strength, your power will be suppressed]
[Current level of power output: 32%]
It seems that there is indeed suppression.The warrior thought.
But this is also an opportunity.
Joshua was aware that the reason his power was bound because his path was still incomplete. He foresaw that a body which carried Steel Strength perfectly and lifeforce that had been turned into Steel Strength would never have been held back by the contrasting essence of energy in another world, because it was power closest to Creation itself.
But now, with the suppression by this otherworld, he discovered an incomplete aspect about himself. His power output would reach a hundred percent by breaking through that level.
And that be the moment he reached Legendary.