Translator:EndlessFantasy TranslationEditor:EndlessFantasy Translation
When Nick Ironfort awakened from the long mirage, he saw not the familiar ceiling but a silver starry sky that has long gone into night.
The night that came after the abnormality of daylight had always been the samestars were brighter than the twin moons, and thanks to the dazzling specks of light the night glow was almost the same as a gloomy day. Perhaps still groggy after just coming to, the young dwarf mumbled subconsciously.
“Whose light is that?”
“Who knows. It might be the Seven.”
Nick heard the familiar voice of girl then, the faint and slightly voice was wafting from his opposite direction. “You really took your time to wake up.”
“Karin?” Sitting up after having heard the voice of a friend, the dwarf’s mind promptly cleared. He looked up to see the red-haired girl holding an iron rod and prodding a bonfire in a bored manner. Their other two teammatesIvan and Amelia Makarov sat on either side of the fire, gulping down water and rations, emanating the presence of two bears.
The sight made Nick hungry too. Unable to hold back, he groaned once and finally woke up completely, and remembered everything that happened before.
“Karin. What time is it now? Is the trial over?” he quickly asked boisterously.
“It’s late into the second night,” the red-haired girl replied as she threw a piece of firewood into the flames. Usually spirited, Karin now spoke with a rather soft voice as if exhausted. “The trial had lasted for two days and one night. It’s over now.”
With those words, she looked up rather gloomily and frowned at the dwarf. “Although I don’t remember clearly, I feel that I might have failed” She complained. “Nick, you’re amongst the last batch to conclude the trial did you pass?”
“Karin, you’ve failed too?!” The young dwarf’s eyes widened in shock at his friend’s complaint, not quite minding the last part.
The quartet of the first mage-faculty party in the Winter Fort Academy were the best students in the institution, each of them possessing their own specialty that outshone their contemporaries. Ivan Makarov, the academy’s student council president was their team leader, with his sister Amelia Makarov, Karin, and Nick the dwarf being the other team members.
Amongst them, team leader Ivan had outstanding live magical combat prowess and brilliant sword skills. His enchantment and magic that could create burning flames, and instantly unleash hundreds of burst missiles when equipped with specially designed scepters could. Indeed, he was considered the best in the entire academy in terms of firepower.
Amelia on the other hand was a genius acknowledged by many instructors including Dean Nostradamus himself, with her arcane affinity surpassing even her own brother and was essentially the top student in the academy. Unlike most mages who could only use spells of one or two attributes, the girl was born with the ability to command elements of all attributes and could smoothly switch to cast a variety of basic spells in battle. With her powerful enchantment combined with a considerably reliable bow technique, she could hunt dozens of low-level monsters in the forest alone.
Nick himself was well-versed in self-buff spells. Stone Skin, Agility, Strength Up, Sharp Eyes, Giant those were almost Silver-tier buff magic that he could proficiently cast in a second. With his robust body that rather ill-fits a mage, as well as diverse empowerment ability, he could stand with ease before the team and help alleviate pressure on the other three so that they could cast spells smoothly.
With their partnership, it was not unusual even if they went out to hunt Silver-tier monsters. However, Nick, knowing every member of their team by heart, was aware that their ability and personality were too extreme.
Their team leader Ivan Makarov usually appears to be a friendly northern youth who was calm and easy-going, and only voicing his opinion after thinking deeply whatever the matter was. Nick, however, knew that the leader was a lunatic who could not hold back once the fight started, a mage who would charge into the swarm of monsters with just his sword to unleash a blade storm when he was out of mana. His kind was the first that the dwarf had come acrosseven in legends.
Amelia Makarov was a girl with a virtuous air, as well as a sweet and adorable appearance. Nick would admit that he first agreed to join the team because of Amelia’s beauty, but after spending longer time with her that admiration was quickly and cleanly ground away. Unlike her brute of a brother, the sister favored hiding in some obscure corner shooting arrows while throwing out the occasional ambush spells.
The dwarf had suspected more than once that Amelia was a spy, an interloper interloping within the mage facultysuch a malicious style of crouching within the bushes, was it really befitting for a mage famed for nobility? Was it not an innate talent for northerners to wrestle with bears?
Nick Ironfort also knows that he himself was an outlier. There were certainly combat mages existing who were proficient in both magic and combat, but his type of ‘mage’ who was purely reliant on buffs before using brute power to fight was virtually an embarrassment for all mages. After all, there had never been a mage who was unable to cast Mage’s Hand!
But Karin was different.
She was not the same as Ivanthe seemingly friendly boy whose heart was about to explode under the drive of hatred. Neither was she the same as Ameliacute, prim, but turning unscrupulous when it came to her ends. She resembled Nick himself even lessan unprincipled person who was fine with both spells and martial arts.
As the daughter of a knight, Karin was the only one devoted to learning magic and genuinely learning it.
Whenever Ivan was driven by impulse and charged into the beast swarms for the massacre, there would always be someone covering him and clearing a path for the northern youth to retreat. Whenever Amelia’s hiding spot was discovered, there would always be someone beside her who would fight with her against the approaching threat. And while Nick himself was besieged by powerful monsters and on his last legs, there would also be someone who would cast one or two simple spells that splendidly clears the danger.
If one were to stay that trio in the four-man cell had each of their strengths, then Karin was the core that gathered them as a team. Indeed, Ivan was in name only since the party’s authority ultimately lay within the seemingly ordinary red-haired girls’ hand. Though she was no prodigy in abilities, her wisdom was definitely above the crowdwhile Nick himself frequently squabbled with her, he trusted her in the depths of his heart.
And yet here Karin was, saying that she had failed? If the same Karin who was most complete in capability amongst them did not clear the trial, then what about the others?
Then, as if sensing Nick’s astonishment, Ivan, who was still hungrily wolfing down the food after going two days without it lifted his head.
“We didn’t fail,” he said clearly while chewing his rations. “But we can’t really tell if we passed the trial.”
As he spoke, he nodded lightly in another direction, gesturing for the dwarf to turn and have a look.
In the nearby clearing, the dwarf found a dozen unconscious academy students and knights who were laid out in an orderly manner. In their midst were several white-robed clergies who intermittently applied Holy Light to observe the fainted individuals’ complexion.
“Those are all failures. They did not progress through the trial according the liege, and part of their spiritual prowess was taken by the divine mark as an offering.” Amelia continued after her brother as she swallowed the last bit of ration, clapping her belly in the most-unladylike northern female manner in front of her friends.
“So good” she exclaimed, relishing. “Right, Nick. You haven’t told us if you passed the test. You haven’t told us if you pass the trialit seems that everyone’s mission is different, but the later you awaken, the higher your completion rate, and you’re almost the last to wake up.”
In return, the dwarf sunk into deep thought, remembering the mission he had gone through in the mirage.
It was a difficult trial. First, it was a diverse examination of quizzes and spells to assess quick-wittedness, quality, and basic mana ability. As an outlier amongst dwarf, Nick’s quick-wittedness and quality was the best of the besthe would not make it into the mage academy otherwise. Furthermore, since the basic mana ability did not require other spells, he could incidentally use his body buffs to gain high marks.
Then what followed were some smaller, miscellaneous trials, mostly choices in terms of personality that determines temperament and decisiveness. Fortunately, the dwarf always did possess an upright personality, dealt with things quickly and simply shattered the tooth of any evil beings even if they were allegedly unfairly treated or have some difficulty in life. Nick could not even remember if he did thinkthat checkpoint had been passed so swiftly.
But in the end came the trial of his own greatest weakness At the very thought, the dwarf’s expression changed slightly, his heart clenching.
In the mirage, boiling magma was spreading beneath his feet and many unforgettable scenes replayed before him, causing his breath to promptly become hurried.
“Hmmm. Don’t think about it if you don’t want to, the final trial is certainly hard to bear.” Karin quickly rose and consoled him at the sight; the red-haired girl then sat beside the dwarf and mumbled emotionally.
“Everyone has an unspeakable past. But to me, to clearly see my own weakness is something great.”
The young dwarf who habitually speaks uproariously for a long time was speaking in a rare discreet manner. Even so, Nick could see that the Makarov siblings were clenched their fist until green veins were bursting. Privy to the fact that they were the last survivors of their mountain village that was massacred by berserk dragons, the dwarf could guess what their trials were. Then, remembering the outcome of his own trial, complicated emotions writhed within his heart, before finally changing into a silent sigh.
“I passed the trial,” Nick Ironfort said nonchalantly to his friends. “I conquered my fear.”
In his heart, the sound of his vague will began to flounder bellow, until it finally turned into an unbreakable pillar of conviction that holds the dwarf’s spiritual realm aloft.
Keep on living, he thought.Triumph against this world, become stronger, and keep living eternally.
As the trio was left surprised by the young dwarf’s reply, the man who had been leading his divine armaments and strolling through the nearby sky stood above the clouds and overlooked the land.
The black-haired man’s flight was not the repulsive force exuded from certain energy to rise. Compared to those primitive methods, the one he used was much more exquisite and fundamental, such as levitation by magnetism or barring gravity from himself.
Walking amidst the clouds, Joshua body glinted with countless minuscule specks of light invisible to the naked eye. In every passing second, the specks would absorb and assimilate massive amounts of energy and atoms from its surroundings. At the same time, they would assemble a brand-new rune of the utmost quality, and use its power to alter the man’s body.
Every detail over the land was reflected in his eyes. Joshua watched the parties that were resting around the bonfires, his mind revising ‘information’ regarding their trials.
Sinoer the River God had attempted to calculate his weakness and almost self-destructed due to overload. However, the God of Might’s clone had descended to repair His mark, which was why all the trialists were unaffected, the only difference being that Joshua’s direct link to the most central of Sinoer’s divine mirage had allowed him to witness the process of the trials.
Now, shifting amidst the warrior’s mind was several individuals who had passed the trialor the information of people that had fulfilled Sinoer’s requirements.
Unlike most who believe that Joshua was just joking or spreading rumors, the warrior currently really did intend to take in one or a few apprentices.
It was not out of boredom, but out of necessity.
At this very moment, the Northern Count of the Radcliffe Family was a Legendary champion and one of the peaking combatants in this world. His existence alone would raise the aggregate performance of the entire Mycroft Continent over a few hundred pointsif he was willing to take in several apprentices to leave behind his Legendary development and legacy, it would be normal if the aggregate ability was added with another few hundred points.
Meanwhile, the entire Moldavia would unquestionably acquire a huge improvement in powers too.
Joshua certainly was not being narrow-minded and unwilling to propagate his legacy and existence. He always felt that it was up to a man himself who decides the outcome of a cultivation, and to understand its underlying knowledge and wisdomnot some other messy thing. If not for that, there probably would not be more than thirty quasi-successors from the world of Grandia.
Even so, Joshua had strict demandshe would never allow some token existence to become his student. At the thought, the warrior recalled that single apprentice of his in the past life. While he would not insist that his students from Mycroft to reach a level that sizes up to that apprentice, they must at least exceed in quality.
Coincidentally, a Divine Shroud of a deity had descended upon the North. As a god, they would not be biased against or over anyone and was incomparably fair. Those whom they pick as their heirs would definitely have some uniqueness even if they were not divinely gifted.
“That’s why I’m not stealing students from Nostradamus.”
As the divine armament siblings watched and accompanied their master in flight with puzzled gazes, Joshua clasped his hands behind his back.
“I’m stealing successors of those gods,” he murmured softly, his lips curling up slightly.
In the past life, the Divine Shroud was ultimately dungeon levels, but those in this world were true legaciesa fundamental difference between the two. As Joshua’s mind flipped through layers of images to browse information regarding the trials, he saw several figures he was familiar with.
He left the few heirs from Grandia aside first since they came from a despairing, post-apocalyptic world, and there was nothing out of place if they could clear the trials. The warrior was more concerned about the few from Winter Fort Academy.
Ivan Makarov, Amelia Makarov, Karin Syndra, Nick Ironfor. Those four had largely passed the trials, and were the youngest and most talented amongst those who fulfilled Sinoer’s requirements. It was even more surprising that the runic dwarf Nick’s completion rate was the highest, and was the first-ranked successor candidate Sinoer had in mind.
Joshua was familiar with those four two since they were first in everythingthe first party of Winter Fort Academy, dominating the academy points rankings as first placers from start until the end while completing many difficult missions they should not be accomplishing at their level. They had even been awarded many citations from himself and Nostradamus, and the warrior also recalled giving them a healthy white dragon egg.
That’s rare. So, the entire party succeeded, huh.
The unusual circumstance had attracted Joshua’s interest without a doubt, and so he seriously watched the sights where they passed their final test.
What seemed like half a day passed. The warrior, having generally browsed through the information, narrowed his eyes.
The winds billowed shrilly while the night was painted with a silent color. The flames burned with a cracking sound, spreading across the air as building crumbled resoundingly. In the forest village ignited by dragon, two siblings exhausted all efforts to resist the dragons that destroyed their home. With traps, courage, wisdom and a little bit of luck, they managed to destroy the pair of fire dragon mates, taking them along to the netherworld.
Courage, tenacity, and determination that reaches madness molded the pair.
The horns echoed as the northern winds bellowed. Endless monsters were surging like a tide towards the fortress at the Dark Forest beneath the Great Ajax Mountains. The moment it was about to be utterly encircled, a young girl no longer merely cried and prayed for her father’s safe return, instead standing with a brand-new posture beside her father. The progeny of a knight was showing considerable style of command and sorcery technique, and with her wisdom waves after waves of attacking monsters were wiped out.
Wisdom, keen observation and ability to adapt allows her to shine brilliantly.
And lastly, it was a bright underground cavern where magma boils and searing heat extends. With a light tremor, a reservoir of magma poured, drowning an underground dwarf village under red-god magma that blankets heaven and earth. None in the settlement survived at the time apart from a young dwarf whom parents had burnt through their bloodline power to protect. Now, there was a true mage who was starkly different from the young dwarf and his parents who could only use bloodline spells. Having diligently practiced for years, the dwarf who could swiftly use a dozen different buffs and only those braved mana depletions, but still successfully saved every villager.
Years of perseverance, the resolve to never give up allowed an ordinary child to grow into a man who knows the weight of responsibility.
“Exhausting all strength to improve in power for victory, courage and the zeal hidden in the heart.”
“Unscrupulous in striving for victory, decisiveness and resolve to never give up.”
“Desiring to inherit a father’s ideals, becoming an existence who would surprise everyone and earn their respect, the coexistence of wisdom, brawn and social ability.”
“Desiring” Joshua suddenly frowned, even as he summarized the deepest thoughts within the hearts of the trialists to see the essence of their hearts. It was not death, but the detection of something peculiar.
“Desiring eternal life? Only desiring to become stronger and eternal lifebut without reason?”
Was he some celestial being? He remained a dwarf after a good look, and yet his enlightenment was so incredible.
Still, Joshua was not baffled. It was not surprising for setting the pursuit of eternal being and pure power as an ambitionit was even considered a far-reaching ideal. Indeed, while there was little wonder why one who had his own pursuits in this accepting world would be enlisted by the River Gods as a candidate heir, why would he decide to become a mage?
And what difference was there between the dwarf who know no other spell other than self-buffs and the warrior? Nothing. He was essentially an avant-garde warrior!
As those thoughts crossed his mind, Joshua raised his hand seemingly thoughtfully. Silver-gray specks of light condensed across his body and formed a starry hazy fog at his palm.
Though the fog appeared light and so thin it almost does not exist, it was the Steel Strength that the warrior came to comprehend after traversing many worlds. The fog was merely a form it takes in the mortal realm, but just that pinch of immeasurably condensed power that belonged to him exclusively was heavier than a small hill.
If it touched land, it would directly sink into the world’s core.
And Steel Strength itself was the existence that spawned mana and lifeforce. Though the two could not mutually exist in his legacy, all energies must have a place that could connect and reach a reciprocating ground.
“If that’s so” Joshua mumbled, watching intently as the quartet chattered in surprise beside their bonfire, the outline of a certain cultivation method surfacing in his mind for the first time. “There is something that could be given to them as a seal.”
“Ying, Ling,” he suddenly called, speaking with a relaxed tone to the divine armaments as if no long period has passed by. “Wait for a few days until they have rested enough.”
Then, the warrior pointed at the few people below him. “Then, tell those few to meet me at the liege’s residence.”
Thanks, Sinoer. All of the heirs you have picked are excellent.
But now, they’re all mine!