Translator:EndlessFantasy TranslationEditor:EndlessFantasy Translation
“Please be seated.”
Within the shrine built from stone and white lightcrystals at the center of the town named Jarien, the heroic spirit of the swordsman reverted to his original form. It was a single stony longsword stabbed into its grave at the center of the shrine, leaving Jarien’s rather ethereal voice that echoed within the hall.
As the heroic spirit spoke, a wooden chair that had been left in a corner was moved by an invisible power to the warrior’s back. Joshua sat on it unceremoniously, and proceeded to study the shrine with a curious gaze.
Through the names of the town, its citizens and the Supreme-pinnacle heroic spirits, the warrior could largely guess the situation on this land. Everyone within this village built on a summit were descendants of Jarien Astoria, whose name was used to name the village. By being worshipped by his own heirs he became a heroic spirit, staying in this post-apocalyptic world to watch over his own flesh and blood.
It was something that could easily be guessed, whereas the swordsman and the other villagers did not have any intentions of concealing the fact either. From the looks of it, such circumstances were the norm in Grandia.
Night in the mountains always brought a hint of cold. However, the sparkling crystals in the shrine were spreading enchanted warmth and radiance, while there were also two torches beside the sword grave that burnt with flames that never seemed to die, discharging waves of heat.
Then, from within that stair-shaped mound where the sword was enshrined, the calm voice of the old swordsman rang. “To reduce consumption, I won’t appear in my true form. Please understand, my guest.”
“Of course, I’m fine with that.”
The warrior shrugged in his seat, gaining in fluency in the Grandian common tongue with the help of the system. “That being said, Mister Jariento be frank, I could tell that you’re not that welcoming, which is why I won’t stand on ceremony. Please, don’t be worried. As long as you could diminish my uncertainty, I would leave, and won’t disturb your peaceful life.”
Such was the agile observation prowess of the Supreme warrior, although the faintly distant and cold expression in the old swordsman was hardly concealed and revealed for all to see.
“It’s not to the point of unwelcome, but a ‘heavenly’ champion who suddenly appeared and called himself a man from another world at the same time would certainly cause immeasurable panic in a humble mountain town. That is the same even if the champion had no ill-intent, it’s like the hare that fears the elephant passing by its burrow.”
Jarien’s voice mildly rang from within the blade mound. Though his answer was simple and direct, it was still an exact display that was full of good faith.
“Warrior Joshua,” the spirit said, “You’ve saved the lives of my descendants; I shall do my best to answer your questions. I promise that I would not hold anything back or omit anythingI so swear in the name of my spiritual body.”
The old swordsman spoke with the common tongue used in ancient Grandia, its language grammar and structure being quite different from the presentso much so that the locals would find it difficult to comprehend. However, to Joshua who possessed the system’s dictionary, the two were not much different.
Having heard Jarien’s reply, the warrior did not hesitate and bluntly asked, “What’s the current geographical status of this world, generally speaking? Which part of it is this town located? Why would there be so many dark shadow daemons appearing in the wild countryside?”
“This world is known as Grandia, its name originated from an explorer who once traveled the entire continent. This town is situated at the edge towards the southeast, going a bit farther to the east or the south, and you would reach the Green Tide SeaI’ll get someone to provide you with a map of the continent later.”
Jarien spoked mildly but clearly. As if afraid that the warrior would not understand, he would occasionally pause to explain certain names. However, when he started to talk about the dark shadow monsters to Joshua, the old man’s tone finally attained a hint of anger.
“‘Death Shades’. As their name suggests, they are naturally the darkness that came to be after the dead arises.”
Under the other person’s careful description, the warrior finally got a general understanding of the state of affairs in this world.
Around thirty years ago, the entire Grandia continent had been split between the rule of two empires. The other smaller nations sandwiched between the two great powers had long lost their autonomy, becoming their vassal states.
The two great empiresone ruling southeast and the other the northwestwere separated by natural strongholds and topography. Since the interior development and civil dispute had reached limits, both nations needed an urgent shift of attention towards external expansion, there would often be bloody clashes between the two nations at their borders.
There were also proxy wars with the smaller vassal nations, and as time passed, the differences between both nations became irreconcilable. Everyone believed that an all-out global war would ignite in a year or two.
“And that was when the ‘Cataclysm’ occurred.” The old man said indifferently, his emotions stabilizing as he retold the events that happened then.
The Ulan Empire that stood at the northwest had always been famous for its powerful spiritual ability. In the nation itself, psionic cultivation was widespread amongst all citizens, most of them possessing beginner-level of psionic abilities and could freely operate many magical equipment.
On the other hand, Gelug Empire had various natural strongholds and possessed three times the population of Ulan. Their elite ‘heavenly’ champions too did not dull in comparisonperhaps even surpassing the excellent Ulan psionic army. If not for those, that immeasurably excellent army would have long engulfed the entire world and unify the continent.
But during a certain day twenty-seven years ago, an inconceivable change happened around Guetard, capital of the Ulan Empire.
The huge city, where one psionic emperor, six marshal sorcerers, and more than ten heavenly champions stood guard as well as being home to more than seven million citizens, turned instantly into a ghost town after an earthquake of unusual causes. Three army legions of psionic sorcery attempted to investigate the abnormal change, but few survived.
“From that day forth, the abnormal change began to spread from Guetard, spreading to the entire world. The Gelug Empire, at a loss and completely unsure about the situation naturally was not spared.”
With those words, a pair of eyes that were akin to flames formed above the blade mound. The eyes then looked up above the shrine, as if it could see through stone and crystal to see the sky behind it.
“Later, the entire continent was encircled by a black fog,” the old spirit said softly. “The sun and moon dimmed, and come nightfall, countless shadows of the dead would be born from within the black fog, attacking anything they could.”
“The two great empires fell within years, innumerable people were displaced or died violently.”
In just a few words, the warrior could feel the carnage that had occurred.
“And I awakened during that time.”
Jarien the heroic spirit assembled and appeared once more, the old swordsman lowering his gaze to stare at his body made completely out of energy and spiritual essence.
“However, not all souls had lost their self,” he said bitterly. “Perhaps because I had a lot more descendantsunder their consecration, I did not corrupt. Instead, I regained part of the powers I possessed when I was alive, and watched over them in this crazy world.”
“ Now that you’ve mentioned it, the entire world of Grandia would turn into a ghostly world with an outbreak of undead spirits come nightfall?”
In reply, Joshua raised his brow and pressed on with a tone that was very unusual to Jarien’s ears. “So, how are their abilities?”
“Most are just feeble shadows. With a little courage, even children could destroy one or two.” The old swordsman replied, shaking his head.
“If not for their substantial number, they were completely unthreateningeven dire rats pose more of a threat than they do. Still, there would be some champions similar to myself in the mix amongst the Death Shades. Those are the phantom lieges who ruled certain zones, addressed as leaders by other intelligent Death Shades.”
“Is that so,” Joshua replied, not feeling a loss from losing a method to quickly accumulating experienceit was merely a question asked out of habit after all. After a little thinking, the warrior asked, “I’ve heard you mention words like heavenly and psionic. Could you tell me specifically how extraordinary physique abilities are differentiated?”
Joshua’s main mission for coming to this world was to search for the fourth Sage’s Legacy. However, there was also an opportunity for him to ascend to legendary.
So, to get a deeper understanding in relation to the Steel Strength in Grandia, the warrior naturally had to ask a little more about information in that aspect.
“To actually ask such a question, it really seems that you’re here from another world.”
Taking a long look at Joshua, Jarien, who appeared to doubt the truth of the warrior’s words before, was now completely reassured. Arranging his words for a bit, he began to explain everything for Joshua.
In the Grandia world, there are two major schools of extraordinary ability.
One was ‘magical energy’, refined through land crystal energy. Cultivation under this discipline was quicker since ascension was possible through the crystals, but it was unpopular due to its limit to resources.
The other was the ‘psionic energy’ a careful study and development of the spiritual prowess within oneself. Though this was widespread compared to magical energy, it required frequent self-reflection of the soul, and was therefore hard to master.
The old swordsman himself had been a powerful magical swordsman, having done battle with countless champions in life. That was why he was very familiar with the information of all sorts of ability, although he was much more learned in the aspect of magical energy.
What he meant by ‘land crystals’ were, in fact, the protocrystals. Darwion’s carriage convoy had been carrying them that were used to maintain the small town and extraordinary individuals’ training. The protocrystals were also separated into different tiers, from the gray crystals of the lowest level to the jewel seed of the highest level, they contrast as much as the sky and the earth.
With a slight shift of the heroic spirit’s will, a high-quality ‘cloud diamond’ flew towards the warrior, who caught it curtly and started to examine the energy within. While he studied it, Jarien kept up his explanation.
“Before learning the essence of self and developing one’s supernatural abilities, the classes of all bodies are divided into three levelsnovice, intermediate and advanced. After their innate supernatural abilities were developed, the magical energy classes would be named as boundaries while the psionics would be named as hierophants.”
Seems like the boundary here means Gold-tier.
While studying the cloud diamond, Joshua nodded slightly to gesture that he was listening, and so the old swordsman continued.
“As for beings like you who were freed of their natural shackles and arriving at a threshold as infinite as the universe, that is what I mean by heavenly, and what the psionics called pioneers.”
“Is that so, there are indeed some similarities.”
Joshua nodded thoughtfullythe description of ‘heavenly’ was indeed similar to Supreme. It was not out of the ordinary however, since there were humans and Sage’s Legacy in Grandia. Hence, this world and the Mycroft Continent would not be unrelatedthe humans here might have even begun life as a batch of seeds the Sage had transported here, just as Father Nature once did.
At present, the heroic spirit swordsman who waited for Joshua’s next question, suddenly raised his right hand subconsciously to touch the hilt of his sword.
He could feel an intent for conflict rising within the warrior.
“What about you?”
Joshua rose slowly from his chair. Leveling his gaze at the old swordsman, he asked calmly, “You regained ‘part’ of your strength when you awakened, and it was already at the ‘heavenly’ pinnacle you’ve mentioned. You also think nothing of the psionic emperor and the marshal sorcerers I’m curious about your true ability.”
The elder did not say a thinghe merely squinted, staring at the warrior who had two weapons floating behind him.
“Instead of saying a thousand words, why not just try it once. It is only through leveling blades at each other that true colors are displayed.” The mysterious heroic spirit mumbled to himself, before shaking his head.
“It’s not that curious with that personality of yours. But I wouldn’t fight you, warrior from another worldmy sword would only be unsheathed to protect, such is my principle.”
With those words, the swordsman named Jarien had even turned his back to the warriorthe patriarch appeared to have completely given up on his own defense.
As such, the warrior frowned, recalling his aura and returning to his chair.
“Boring fellow,” he said, shaking his head and appearing rather disgruntled as if the swordsman’s behavior was a tremendous insult. “I won’t force you since you’ve refused, but you would actually turn your back to me.”
The old swordsman laughed lightly once. He seemed to have frequently faced beings similar to the warrior, hence adopting a set of countermeasures.
“Do you still have any other questions?” he asked peacefully, ignoring Joshua’s comments.
“No,” Joshua replied, shaking his head. “That’s already enough.”
The warrior had generally understood the state of this world as well as its system of extraordinary forces. With the world map that he would soon acquire, the warrior felt that his journey was a fruitful onehe did not lose much after escorting that squad of carriages rushing about for most of the night.
Jarien Astoria, the heroic spirit swordsman was definitely a man who kept his word. Apart from his ability, he did not withhold anything, while Joshua also fully understood his choiceagainst a being of unknown origins who was powerful enough to destroy the entire village he held dear, completely revealing his power was the most foolish choice.
That was why, even if the warrior did have an extreme interest in the extraordinary swordsman, he would not force him since he was no fiend.
“I should reciprocate a little since you’ve answered so many questions I had.”
Having finished studying and absorbing the energy within the crystal, Joshua squeezed it into a pinch of powder while sensing that his body’s energy output had increased to thirty-nine percent.
“And thanks for this cloud diamond too,” he said solemnly.
By following the procedure in which extraordinary individuals of magical energy class absorbed the inner energies within crystals, Joshua, who himself had repeatedly refined his own body, now had a faint idea as to how he should analyze the Steel Strength within this world.
Within the cloud-white protocrystal that Jarien had given him, there was an energy that was the median between lifeforce and magical energy. It could easily be admitted within human bodies even though it displays enchantment powers similar to elementals.
Hence, those within of the magical energy discipline were training in both sorcery and combat. In short, the extraordinary energy within their bodies was the product of a mix that completely diverges from that which exist on Mycroft.
Lifeforce spawned from aura and elemental magic were branches of Steel Strength. They naturally repel, but there were assuredly products of fusion that could carry both at the same timejust like these protocrystals from Grandia.
The power of Creation was exactly the essence of Primordial Steel. By merely imitating the energy within the cloud diamond and assimilate it with the aura in his body, Joshua raised two percent of output level, thereby proving that his direction was correct.
So, the warrior did not hesitate to give the heroic spirit swordsman the method to train in aura on the Mycroft Continent.
After listening to Joshua’s detailed description regarding the most fundamental of vigor and aura cultivation, the old swordsman who had arrived at the peak of magical energy quickly realized how precious the cultivation of another world was. This was a way to extraordinary with great future that was completely different.
Furthermore, to Jarienone had already attained the level of comprehension by analogy, such knowledge would only further improve himjust as the cloud diamond had empowered Joshua.
Still, was Jarien a man who would willingly accept the grace of others? He had answered Joshua’s query since the warrior saved his descendants, but with the knowledge he was now given, the heroic spirit most assuredly had to reciprocate the kindness.
And so, the two spoke in that manner, allaying each other doubts while describing each other’s understandinguntil noon next day.
Satisfied, the warrior took with him a map that marked out the locations of most surviving factions. Then, keeping his word, he briskly left the village deep within the mountains, and headed west as the mirror guided him.
After sending off Joshua, the villagers returned to their daily lives and began to labor busily.
At the shrine within the center of town, the ancient heroic spirit formed from countless specks of light stood before the mound of his own blade, closing his eyes as he considered what he had heard before.
“Aura” He mumbled softly. Then, a green-gold flame rose visibly within the elder’s hand. Jarien opened his eyes and watched the fire in his hand, nodding in awe.
“He did not conceal a thing Seems like my premonition was wrong.”
The old swordsman did not welcome Joshua to stay at the town for long because he could sense the vengeful spirits that were as substantial as the ocean on the warrior.
It was the curses of countless dead revolving around his body, and with a little release, it would corrupt everything within dozens of miles into domains of despair. Jarien therefore feared that Joshua would release the vengeful spirits out of a moment of carelessness and level the entire town, which was why he was willing to patiently answer every question the warrior had before sending him off in a hurry.
Now, it was clear that the warrior was not one who enjoyed conflict and slaughter, and would not care about anything once he started to fight. As opposed to that, his thought process was stable and rational, his speech crisp and clear, and was also willing to share his own understanding generously with others.
Undoubtedly, the warrior possessed incredible control and will as strong as steel.
“However, to awaken by this method of cultivation is also too dangerous. If the physique is insufficient, it could cause huge injury or death It’s no wonder that such a being would come to be.”
With that very thought, the heroic spirit wrinkled his brow and looked outside the shrine, at the villagershis descendantswho were toiling away, his gaze one of reluctant parting. “And without combat as catalyst, the development of that power would be slownot as quick as the magical energy aspect of absorbing crystal power.”
“The crystal supply now is still enough.”
At the thought, Jarien decided. “If that’s so, I wouldn’t spread the instructions of that power. Until there are no longer any crystals to trade for, I’ll let them try using this power that would easily become widespread.”
Leaves fall and flutter about as time passed. Soon, it was three days after the warrior had left town.
Jarien, who had been slumbering in his altar and saving his energy depletion, suddenly opened his eyes.
Without any hesitation, the heroic spirit swordsman turned into light and left in an instant, arriving at the skies high above, several miles away from town.
With a tone of coldness, he called out calmly to the air around him. “I won’t say it twice.”
At present, Jarien had none of the peace he showed when he interacted with the warrior. He was now almost a sharp sword about to be unsheathed, ready to go. Flames that were of utmost threat burned intensely in the swordsman’s eyes, the radiance combing every inch of the empty air even as streaks of green beams stretched out along his sweeping gaze.
And in the very next second, a cluster of shapeless black shadow that resembled mud simply floated out from the air, before assembling into a dark figure that was almost a human silhouette.
“Earthbreaker Sword Saint, Jarien Astoria.”
The human shadow that was still squirming and twisting, laughed with a sharp and velvet voice at the old swordsman. “I am Loze the Shadeshifter, serving under the Third Commander, here to ask certain information under my lord’s orders.”
“Third Commander? Looks like he’s promoted again.”
Despite facing a daemon clearly similar to Death Shades, Jarien did not move, merely closing his eyes slightly hatefully and spoke in a cold voice. “But he did promise meas long as I don’t make a move, he would leave me alone.”
“Tch-tch-tch-tch, that’s not possible.” Loze’s fluctuating shadow mocked with its sharp voice. “You are another existence born from the ‘ritual’. How could you stay uninvolved? The plan of the lord commanders is almost complete, but a force of unparalleled power had torn through the dimensions, allowing a being from another world to descend upon this world. He is a variable outside the plan, a most dangerous unknownthe leadership must know his whereabouts.”
With those words, the dark shadow turned towards the busy but peaceful mountain town, and said darkly, “If you still want your descendants to live”
Without even the time to think or feel, the shadow was cut in two from its midriff.
Through it all, Jarien’s eyes were still closed, his hands not even touching the hilt of his sword. Neverthless, the so-called shifting shadow was cut apart countless times in a flash, diced into fog that spread throughout the air.
“Even your grand commander would not dare threaten me,” he said indifferently. “Go back.”
But a dozen seconds later, the black fog that spread throughout the air slowly gathered itself. After this weapon that was so insubstantial it seemed to not exist at all had reformed itself, it was barely the size of a fist. Still, an immeasurably feeble voice but laced with strong hatefulness rang from it.
“No, you won’t kill me,” it said even as it slowly expanded. “My real body is faraway and a thousand miles awayif you want to kill me through this clone, you have to unsheathe your sword.”
“But how many times could you unleash your full power as a heroic spirit? The legend that fell mountains in the northwest while shattering land and forming abyssthe ‘Earthbreaker Blade’ that kept the Ulan Empire within its own borders for centuries. Just how many times could it break the world power of ‘divine domain’?”
“As long as you don’t kill me, I will constantly threaten your progeny. But if you’re willing to waste that blade on a minor character such as I”
Loze then laughed malevolently, with a voice as if steel and glass were being rubbed together. “I, Loze, would die without regrets!”
Drawing a deep breath, the old swordsman did continue his assault.
Though he did not speak, his spirit was fixed tightly on that powerful Death Shade before his eyes.
“Even if you don’t say, I have other ways to find him!” Loze exclaimed.
However, even if his speech was not weak, Loze undoubtedly could not withstand Jarien’s presence. After forcing himself to take it for a dozen seconds, it made itself scarce. Naturally, before it left, the Death Shade that possessed high intelligence did not forget to leave behind an evil curse.
“Just wait, Sword Saint Jarien. One day, you would lose everything you hold dear and join us.
“When that time comes, the Third Commander would still choose to serve you, just as in life.”
Soon, Loze completely vanished across the horizon.
The old swordsman slowly opened his eyes. He pressed down on the hilt of his plainly decorated blade that was surrounded by lightning, and was silent for some time.
“The sword that fell mountains in the northwest while shattering land and forming abyss?” Jarien then muttered to himself, and shook his head self-deprecatingly.
“It no longer exists.”
The heroic spirit turned and slowly made for the little village he swore to protect for life. For that town, he was willing to betray his own heart and willing to seal his own sword, and sit watching as thousands of evil schemes went on before his eyes.
The artificial river was slowly flowing at the edge of the village.
The town of Jarien was built upon a flat mountaintop.
As if something had cut the mountain apart.
At the same time, the warrior who flew thousands of meters in the air stopped doubtfully, and swept a gaze at his surroundings.
“Curious, I can feel hostility.”
He muttered to himself, baffled. “Who could be so bold?”