Translator:EndlessFantasy TranslationEditor:EndlessFantasy Translation
Starlight hung over the plain.
Joshua looked up towards the coordinates that glinted in a lively manner amidst the darkness, staying silent for a dozen seconds before looking down at the vast wilderness.
It was an utterly unfamiliar land to him. It went as far as the eye could see but was barren and deathly, without a single hint of life. By its edge were the black shadows hidden within the shade, shrouded in sandstorms and dark clouds.
The sun and the moon were completely extinguished, with starlight soon concealed by the clouds too. Apart from the flashing purple lightning, the world was in deep murkiness and without a hint of luminescence. Then, the starlight coordinate suddenly rose and stretched over the edge of the horizon, creating a curved silver line that links directly to the top of Guetard Highlands.
Even the depths of darkness could not hide its luminosity, because it was a final mark Akhar left behind.
Joshua stared intently at the solid belt of light as chill brimming in deathliness spread around his body. It resembled a blind alley directed towards the netherworld, but even if that was the case, the warrior had no reason to retreat now.
Shaking of layers of substantial stone that condensed over his body, Joshua took the first step.
Though he still was unaware of the knight’s name, the warrior understood from the bottom of his heart that he was a praiseworthy champion who had the shoulders to carry all splendor.
Even if he destroyed the world and compelled countless Death Shades to kill countless people, even if the both of them did not exchange more than ten utterances and that they had fought for less than an hour, it would not change a thing.
Each spear jab, each move, and each gravity wave shift were imbued with the knight’s reluctance and doubts, his confusion and sadnessand ultimately his calm heart as he faced it all. Just through several exchanges, Joshua had already understoodbetter than most otherswhat kind of a man he was, and the truth of how heavy his burdens were.
Now, he had left his burdens and died silently, turning into dust.
And now Joshua had taken over everything.
Advancing along the path of light, Joshua suddenly found himself so calm that he was a little cold. He waved his hand, and thus the Dragonslayer Swordspear that had dropped in the distance turned into a ray of light and returned to his hand.
It’s always been so.He thought a little dispassionately.War has always been so, never changing.
Fighting against human champions was completely different from slaughtering beast and Chaos monsters. Each stab of the warrior’s spear, each fist, or each throw out was not to pummel a simplistic lifeform but to dominate their will. Neither did he merely fought with weapon and knuckles, but also his own conviction and soul.
Each exchange was a clash of spirit and will, as well as a wrestle between belief and determination. Power merely decides who was strongerit was the soul that truly determines the victor.
Just like that one blow before.
The incredible gravity shift had levitated stone and sand within a radius of ten kilometers, pulled towards the sky above by the gravity that the old knight had condensed within Joshua’s body. Under the exponentially terrific gravity, the multitudinous gravel that weighed billions of tons would have pounded and compressed the warrior into an unimaginable extra-condensed material, sealing the warrior tightlyor completely crush him, the layer of concentrated stone over his body being clear evidence.
Facing such a calamity-level attack powerful enough to change the landscape, Joshua’s only method to solve it was to abandon his flesh and transform into the lifeforce giant. Then, with the realization that he could lose his life, he simulated the detonation of a Nuclear Star, triggering the lifeforce ignition within his body, he gathered and converted it into the purest heat, impact force, and radiance, bursting it at full power.
He was almost at the last stepat the very last moment, Joshua almost wanted to abandon his physicality to use this final and most scorching self-sacrificing attack, just to attempt breaking out from the invisible cage that could imprison stars.
If everything did turn out that way, it would quite simply be the most perfect battle that would make the warrior’s blood boil to its very limit. It was a bet with life and everything on the line, to see who would gain final victory.
However, it was impossible for all things in this world to be perfect.
[Stellar Bind] was suddenly cut short.
The user’s spiritual fragment went to the warrior, along with the horrifying gravity ripple, which told the warrior the name of the skill and foretold the knight’s end. Stellar Bind was assuredly a formidable technique as its name suggestsas long as he survived after withstanding that skill, the warrior could use the gravity that crushes all things to shatter his own sturdy ‘eggshell’, refining his body into the threshold of Legendary.
But everything came to a prompt end. Akhar’s final attack had initially neutralized all of Joshua’s moves, forcing the warrior to almost use a counter that required the warrior to burn his own life and soul, only to exhaust the old knight himself.
He was simply too old.
The warrior clenched his fists; his wounds, yet to heal, cracked. Blood dripped to the ground and kicked up dust, the dark red droplet seemingly intent on gestating something the moment it came out, only to end up as a bubble of scattered blood absorbed by dried sand. In his hand, Joshua weapons could also sense their master’s fluctuating heart and so remained silent.
A thousand years. It had been a thousand years since Akhar had persished. If not for the Ulan Empire exhausting its national power to find his tomb and remains and used the most depth psionic spells to reassemble his soul mark that had drifted across the entire continent, the old knight would have completely vanished into a puff of smoke a lot earlier.
How then would he reawaken as a Heroic Spirit and unleash a Divine-domain attack? Even then, he had reached his own end. His fight against Joshua was his last stand, and what the Celestial Stockade had burnt was not Akhar’s physical energy, but his very soul.
He did not hold back and certainly fought at full-powerhe was merely old, and only that.
In the end, the knight who lost to time did not receive the most perfect ending.
Meanwhile, Joshua reached the highlands.
Gales billowed, forming vortices while turning dust and pebbles into sharp blades, tearing up all things engulfed within. The black sandstorm in the Guetard Highlands resembled the sturdiest of city walls and unbreachable fortresses, denying entry to all visitors.
The belt of starlight broke through the dust, spreading towards the center of the highlands. Hence, the warrior never stopped walking, and began to hurry instead.
With one step out, the sights around him blurred as wild burning wind flowed around his body, stabbing rapidly into the infinite storm like a red-hot chisel. The dark windstorms thus started to churn and disperse before its brute power, the natural force bowing its head to one man. Soon, the gigantic vortex visibly spilt in twoas if Moses was parting the red sea, it retreated to two ends on either side of the Highlands, revealing in its center the path the warrior should take.
However, Joshua still appeared rather disgruntled. He raised his Dragonslayer Swordspear and made a cross stroke towards both black sandstorms. Now, even as the winds continue to disperse, it started to lose most of its power after the energy source that constructed the gigantic vortex was pierced by shapeless lifeforce emission.
Soon, the warrior slowed down and looked up towards the majestic giant city before him. It was the end of the starlight’s guidance, and his destination.
Guetard, the Imperial Capital of the former Ulan Empire.
The other end of the black sandstorm was a majestic city, built between two majestic hills. On the summit of those hills were six incomparably towering black towers carved with innumerable runes. The city walls were carved completely out of gray stone, its sturdy fort and arrow tower standing behind it. Nearby, four beams of light tore into the heavens and pillared the earth, stirring the black sky into a bottomless vortex.
Though this city was essentially where the Death Shades originated, there was no trace of a single one of those undead spirits. Joshua reached out with his senses seriously, and there definitely was no scent of their deathlinessalthough he also found a curious presence he could not tell if it was alive or dead.
Naturally, no one came to open the city gates. That was why the warrior clapped his hands when he reached the city walls, causing it to crumble into innumerable shards as if it was a sandcastle falling under a wave of seawater. Before him, the gray dust layered a path forward, allowing Joshua to enter the city unhindered.
The city itself was shrouded in complete darkness, with rowdy yet mysterious noises wafting from some unknown spot. The houses covered in the shade were arranged tidily unlike the usual topographies of cities, resembling more of a gigantic magic circle instead.
In the center of the city were four colossal obelisks, with the ruins of three others surrounding them. Those structures were covered completely in a black luster, and were also the exact center of the beams of light that tore into the skies.
Joshua looked up to glance at the obelisk before turning to the houses below ground. It was the source of the presence that was neither living nor dead as well as the rowdy noiseif it was some malevolent monster, the warrior would not mind culling them in his stride.
But what he saw made him stare blankly.
Undeniably, there were squirming and mysterious monsters in each house. Their body appeared to be a mixture of mud and slime, with every single one of them virtually sealed within their rooms. As if sensing Joshua’s gaze, the monsters stopped making any noise and quivered instead, not daring to make a sound.
Still, the warrior could identify their essence in an instant.
They were once humans, but were corrupted by the substantial deathly air of the netherworld and thus morphed into a completely different being.
Twenty-seven years ago, the apocalypse had happened right here in this city. The power that had switched life and death, light and darkness had also delivered netherworld scent across the world, awakening the endless armies of Death Shades.
As for the citizens of the Imperial Capital who were at the closest proximity to that power, they turned into these mysterious monsters.
These thingsor theywere beings that still had enough will to emit those noises. Those were wails and prayers under extreme agony, and normal humans would perhaps be unable to comprehend the bizarre language. Nonetheless, Joshua’s level allowed him to clearly understand the meaning implied.
Neither alive nor perished, their bodies now mere ooze while death meant turning into Death Shades. That was why these being prayed neither for resurrection nor their demise
… but eternal rest.
“Ah” Joshua sighed softly, closed his eyes for a while before opening them again as he headed towards the center of town determinedly.
The fate of Grandia had been entrusted to himself by that anonymous knight. With the truth just before his eyes, Joshua would not stop now.
So, in the very next moment, Joshua already stood before the four obelisks that were still upright.
A huge city square lay at the heart of the city, garnished by white marble. The seven obelisks had been arranged orderly over it, while the middle of it was a tall platform of unknown purpose.
At present, after Armand, the Death Shade Swordsman and the old knight had perished, three obelisks had vanished entirely, leaving just the base.
Despite that, Joshua felt uncomfortable with the black luster that flowed over the remaining four obelisks. They appeared to be the hub of corruptionSteel Strength that has been defiled were spread from each structure. And so the warrior moved, using his spiral spear jab to utterly shatter all four obelisks.
There was no circle or barrier that blocked Joshua halfway through, making process was so easy that it was rather suspect if it had been an illusion. Furthermore, after pulling back, the warrior somehow felt his chest lighter as if a promise had been fulfilled.
Faraway, in the direction of the Four Holy Cities, the Death Shade commanders that had been tangling with the lords of the four cities suddenly froze.
The spellcaster who had been riding a crystal puppet showed an expression of emancipation, while the foggy human silhouette mumbled something in a language that was incomprehensible to normal people. On the other hand, the summoner who had called upon the presence of frost wyrms as well as otherworldy creatures was regretful since he had the upper hand, as the archer who held a golden longbow shrugged and laughed once carefreely.
In the very next moment, these undead champions that had carried the fate of an era were gone with the wind, vanishing into nothingness.
“What’s going on?”
The mechanized elder, elven lady, dwarf and giant were all shocked and puzzled. Nonetheless, their gazes turned into surprise as they quickly look towards the Guetard Highlands while they tried to understand what was going on.
The four dark beams of light in the distance were dispersing while the vortex and black clouds slowly returned to calm. The endless scent of deathliness has also ceased spreading to every corner of the world, instead accumulating at its originGuetard city, shrouded in the lightlessness like a netherworld region.
The darkness itself had unfathomable depth, as if it was the incarnation of death and destruction. It neither had a single glint or a single sound; it devoured everything whether it was the monsters’ wail or the shrill winds.
It was now the chaos of nonexistence, a void before the world was born.
Then, a little radiance ignited.
The magic circle formed by the seven obelisks and the entire Guetard city that also included the highland sandstorm as well as the chilling winds in the barren plains drew everything between heaven and earth within it. The city itself was a mere hub that collected and condensed everything.
Suddenly, at the very heart of that formation, an obscure cluster of light that was without shape or color appeared. It was indescribable apart from the fact that it existed, and was neither transparent nor solid. Even as it unleashed its light it would contract and expand as if a living creature.
And a hand reached out from the darkness, catching the cluster of light.
Joshua van Radcliffe knew that it was the truth of everything. Whether it was the fourth Heir’s unusual behavior, Urbandy’s past, the reason why the Death Shades slaughtered the living or the fate of this world that the old knight had mentioned, everything was contained within that mysterious cluster of light.
He just had to grab it to learn everything.
That was why he grasped it without hesitation.