Translator:EndlessFantasy TranslationEditor:EndlessFantasy Translation
Icy rain dripped out of black clouds, following a wind that carried a sharp odor blew as it blew across the land.
Lightning weaved across the dark shades in the sky while a chill that pricks the bone spread amidst the wind and rain, as if creating on Grandia the icy hell that was a hundred and seventy-layers below the abyss.
Standing amidst the ground that were filled with craters and scattered bones, Joshua exhaled a long breath. In his hand, the Dragonslayer Swordspear transmuted into light and split into a young boy and young girl.
Though the pair had wanted to congratulate their master for triumphing against a powerful opponent, they ultimately kept quite due to the extraordinary atmosphere.
Armand Fernand was dead, but the deathliness that shrouded the Southwestern Wastelands remained. Apart from the survivors who Joshua had rescued and the ferocious blood-lusting beasts that hid deep within the forest and caverns, the land was still lifeless.
A commander of the undead spirits was killed, and yet nothing changed.
Having followed Joshua for the longest, Ying had become familiar with the warrior’s personalityand so, after waiting for some time, she asked gingerly, “Why don’t you look too happy?”
“Indeed.” Ling quickly pressed after the silver-haired girl. “You’ve killed that Death Shade commander, master. Their kind won’t come looking for trouble for some time, and those survivors would be safe.
However, Joshua appeared to be remembering the sensation when his spear tore through the military god phantom’s core.
“No, I didn’t kill him,” he replied after a while in a rather helpless tone. “Armand killed himself.”
Both Ling and Ying stared blankly. They were unsure if there was an issue with Joshua or themselvescould their own perception of stabbing through the enemy be an illusion?
Still, the warrior did not intend to explain the conundrum in detail. He merely stared at the bare few energy fragments before his own eyes, the final remains of the being known as Armand.
How could eliminating a person who intends to die be killing? Even though Armand did use his full-power in the final moments, one should burn until they surpassed their own limits, while putting life and boiling blood on the line for that thing named battle.
Perhaps, to that general, dying in honorable combatespecially to a powerful existence he had always strived but failed to become was the greatest sense of belonging in his life. He did not want to have such regrets like the Gemstone Dragon King, and Joshua was but fulfilling his wish.
The warrior did not understand why such a bygone hero would fall to a state where he desires the destruction of the world and allow all things to die. He only knew that killing Armand was meaningless, and that the Southwestern Wastelands would remain the Southwestern Wastelandsit was impossible for the abundance it boasts twenty-seven years ago to return.
Grandia would remain a dying world too; it would not change because of such triviality.
At present, those thirty-something survivors had nowhere to go. Would killing a single undead commander remove the Death Shade calamity that engulfs the continent?
Certainly not. That was why Joshua’s heart was very somber now.
Maybe killing all seven undead commanders would indeed rescue the worldbut he did not have much time to do that. In the warrior’s heart, the fate of the Mycroft Continent was more important than this world.
But If everything ended with time to spare even after the fourth Sage’s Legacy had been retrieved by the Church of Seven Gods There is no harm in trying.
In the end, Joshua only breathed a heavy sigh.
“Let’s go,” he told his weapons afterward. “Arman might be dead, but he gave some meaningful information during the battleincluding the fact that the Second Commander is pursuing a dragon-winged girl.”
The young heiress that the resonance projection had shown seemed to have a pair of dragon wings too, he thought, and turned to head towards the cavern where the survivors hid.
“The Second Commander should now be heading northwest within these Southwestern Wastelands. I believe the source their information should be more reliable than our arbitrary guessing.”
“Yes!” The divine armament siblings replied, quickly chased after their master.
After a few moments, a cave that had been sealed with a boulder was opened by a man.
Outside the cave, in the wastelands that were blown by violent gales into a smooth land of sands, Joshua looked at the thirty youths who were training with the Kokyu-ho he founded.
Just days before, these meager-aged survivors who were no older than twenty were so weak that even the Death Shade commanders could not sense their presence.
But now, by training with abundant protocrystals and actual combat, they had mostly entered the threshold of Grandia’s entry-level professionals, while innately gifted ones like Crete had definitely arrived at intermediate-level.
Their depth was not weak. If they were cultivating themselves in a college at the Mycroft Continent instead, they would have become a key member of a legion or organization within years. The chances of them improving into Gold would not be small either, and with the Great Mana Tide about to arrive at Mycroft, they would could train by simply absorbing mana from the airit would not be slower than by acquiring crystal magical energy.
But they were born in Grandia, a dangerous world without order that buried their innate talent. If not for Joshua, they were destined to become a pile of withered bones on the ground.
“I’m leaving,” Joshua said calmly as he swept his gaze at the surviving youths who stood in an orderly formation. “I’m no guardian; I’m here for a certain matter. The training method I gave you is also an experiment of mineyou don’t have to be thankful, it’s a fair trade.”
Ignoring the survivors’ little uproar, Joshua looked towards the cavern entrance. After muttering to himself for a bit, he reached out with a hand to assembled incredible lifeforce, manipulating the mud and rock of that region and shifting it into an entrance concealed amidst the soil.
“The Southwestern Wastelands remain a dangerous place,” he said after completing the reconstruction. “This spot, however, is well hidden. I’ve also completely removed all undead spirit marks within several thousand square metersDeath Shades would not spawn here, so it’s very safe.”
“Those without any place to stay could live here, although I also hope for those who do to live here too. With more than thirty people helping each other is far better than fighting alone or in just groups of several people.”
Joshua only started to leave after having accounted for some other miscellaneous matters. But as he was prepared to fly northwest, the leading youthCrete, who had made a breakthrough to Silver, suddenly asked, “My lord, what do you have to do?”
The blond teenager’s nervous voice seemed to be out of sorts, but out of his heart’s desire to repay a debt he disregarded his instinct’s resistance and forced himself to speak what he wanted to say.
Joshua, slightly surprised, turned to look at him, and paused. Then, the corners of his lips lifted.
“I’m looking for someone,” he replied. “A red-haired girl with dragon wings on her back.”
“She might not be older than you,” he added as he glanced at Laurel beside them. “She looks young, and was warped here to the northwestern wastelands several days ago, but I’ve not found a trace of her even until now.”
Joshua then waited patiently as he stared at the frowning youths before him who were deep in thoughteven those who granted other favors must give the ones favored a chance to repay the grace. Even if Joshua did not expect reliable answers from them inwardly, there was no harm in tryingit would soothe the youths’ hearts in the very least.
The outcome was unexpected.
“I remember a pale-blue radiance glimmering near the village some time ago.”
The one who spoke was a rather skinny girl with dull freckles. She seemed to be remembering, and describing the situation then bit by bit.
“The merchants who came from the Northwestern Holy City were just leaving our village at the time; they headed towards what appeared to be the same direction where the radiance glimmered.”
Joshua thought he remembered that rather familiar term. In the fight against Armand, the word ‘Holy City’ had assuredly came up quite a few times amongst the valuable information he spoutedsuch as how, after some time, the seven great undead commanders (now six) would rally their forces to assault the four Holy Cities that protected the Tomb of the Saints.
“Yes, my lord. The Holy City.”
This time, it was not the freckled girl who spokeinstead, it was Crete’s cheerful childhood friend Laurel. Having heard the warrior’s doubtful question, she quickly filled him in.
“There were almost twenty shelters here in the Southwestern Wastelands, the largest human settlements apart from the Four Holy Cities. What’s more, there are many special local products and protocrystals, that’s why the Holy City would occasionally send people overto exchange food and other items for those products and protocrystals.”
Each of the other teenagers then tried to get a word in, gesturing the direction towards the Holy City. One of them, a boy who had learned to draw even scrawled out a general map on the sandy ground for Joshua.
“Is that so.” Joshua’s eyes glinted as he took a glimpse of that sand map. Having largely guessed the location of the dragon-winged girl at present, he laughed loudly, his tone emotional.
“Never thought that I’d actually get something. I wouldn’t have wasted these two days if I asked earlier.”
Nevertheless, if that was the case, the order of events would not have unfolded as it did now.
If Joshua had not rescued these survivors in the last few days and trained them until they had the strength to fend for themselves, the freckled girl who held that information would have died before the warrior could ask his question.
At the thought, Joshua could not help looking at the youths before him once more.
In their eyes were the delight of finally being able to help.
Then, an idea flashed through Joshua’s mind.
Perchance, after he finds the fourth heir and got the Church of Seven Gods to open the dimensional passageway to the Mycroft Continent, he could bring these children together and leave this world. The passageway would have stabilized by that point, and would be enough to carry them.
Despite that, Joshua did not make that promise. Nobody knows the futurefor all he knew, the circumstances would be so dire when he did find the fourth heir that would not be any time left for them to escape, or maybe the children themselves would have died of unexpected factors even before he completed his mission.
Or maybe the world of Grandia still had a chance to escape their apocalyptic state, and reclaim their bygone days of prosperity.
And so, after taking a long look at the youths, Joshua bade them farewell and took to the skies, flying in the direction of the Holy City.
Staring as the warrior turned into no more than a speck and vanished by the horizon, the forlorn youths dispersed. However, they were not returning to their own settlements, and were conversely moving some valuables from their homes as Joshua had suggested to live with these companions of the same heritage in that hidden cave.
Meanwhile, in the ruined study covered by dried blood stains within a broken shelter village.
A bulky book entitled ‘History of the Central Empire’ was blown by the wind, and fell to the ground after swaying for a while.
Its pages flipped, before eventually coming to a stop at a thick sheet that was almost the end of the tome.
The compiler had written that particular page with his quill strokes as well as the beautiful but obscure Grandia common tongue. It described the numerous feats of an undefeated general, his unbreakable trust and loyalty to the Emperor he serveda tale of the ruler and his general, whose deeds were praised for a long time in the generations to come.
But in the very end of that page was a rather sketchy description of the general’s last moments.
It was an ending summarized in a single sentence.
[Dragon-slayer General, Armand Fernand]
[Died in the battlefield following an underhanded assassination organized by the rebellion, five-hundred and seventy-two years after the Central Empire was founded.]