Translator:EndlessFantasy TranslationEditor:EndlessFantasy Translation
There was a small royal ranch behind Morlaix Palace, complete with an artificial lake as well as an exquisitely preserved grove. Unlike the other parts of the palace, only members of the Imperial Family could enter this placeeven the servants were barred from entry.
Even so, there were not many members of the Imperial Family. Only eight children were borne of Emperor Israel himself and his harem, with the Eighth Princess dying during early childhood due to bloodline issues. Later, there was no longer any progeny conceived after Israel had completely ascended to Legendary-intermediate, and so the Royal Family now only had seven childrenthe Eldest Prince, the Second Prince, the Third Princess, the Fourth Prince, the Fifth Prince, the Sixth Prince, and the Seventh Prince.
It was regretful even for Legendary champions that their outstanding power and living essence cause them difficulties to procreate with normal life. Throughout history, only the first commander of the Celestial Knights had fathered offspring with a human-form golden dragon despite his Legendary-intermediate abilities. Naturally, the golden dragon lady had Supreme-pinnacle depthshe would not be able to carry their descendant otherwise.
Due to his sister’s early passing due to a defect in her living essence, the Seventh Prince was the youngest child amongst all the Emperor’s children. At present, the youth with dull-blonde hair and sky-blue eyes was paying scrupulous to attention to detail as he practiced martial arts and trained his breathing in an isolated corner of the royal ranch, his posture meticulous and without a hint of idleness.
It was late winter. All the leaves in the grove were a snowy white as if ice sculptures. The artificial lake was also frozen like a mirror, making the frosty thicket all the more chilling. If an ordinary person were to come for a stroll, they might catch a cold or in the very least, shiver. However, the Seventh Prince who was just a dozen years old seemed to feel nothing, with his forehead sweating incessantly and hot air boiling around him due to his training.
As harmonious breathing and movements adjusted energy rotation within his body, shocking heat turned into steam that wafted off above his head just like a chimney. Halfway through his training, he began to feel overheated and tore off his clothes impatiently, revealing the robust and well-proportioned physicality beneath. A layer of radiant aura appeared over his flesh beneath those smooth muscle lines, barring the surrounding chilliness.
Arlwa, the Seventh Prince had originally intended to continue his Koyku-ho training, but stared blankly when he noticed a little shadow running urgently towards him. The youth smiled and crouched to catch the little treant that was about to crash into himself, as if it could not brake in time.
“What, is Mother sending word again?” he then asked the little creature with a violet over its head.
“Jabber jabber” The little treant mumbled in a rather adorable but unintelligible manner.
Still, Arlwa seemed to get the message. “Is that so?” he said, frowning. “I understand, it certainly needs some consideration.”
His dull blonde hair, facial features, and excellent physique was certainly an inheritance the Seventh Prince received from his father the Emperor, while his ability to communicate with the treant was something he inherited from his mother. His eyes, on the other hand, neither resembled Israel nor Empress Edna. It was perhaps an anomaly in his bloodline or a special ability formed after his birth.
After receiving the treant’s message, Arlwa tousled the flower over its head and released it. It would later return to the garden, and revert to its violet form.
“Count Radcliffe, huh”
The royal ranch returned to silence. Despite being alone, the Seventh Prince was no longer interested in continuing his training, and simply sat on the snow. He then looked up at the sky while muttering with an envious voice.
“Another new Legendary, huh.”
When Arlwa was in court alongside his father several years ago and received the word from Nostradamus, he had become extraordinarily envious of the Northern Count who held the Sage’s Legacy and would ascend from Silver into Supreme in just a single year. He was still young then, and his immature mentality had believed that if he could achieve those feats too if the Legacy was his.
But after some years and certain experiences, Arlwa clearly understood that his own ability was not as great as he imagined himself. Furthermore, that warrior who had developed into Legendary definitely was not a man who relied on luckfor there was no higher being who could lean solely on fortune to sublimate his own living essence to become supernatural.
Every champion had to possess an outstanding aspect, and he was certainly a much outstanding figure than himself.
It had been precisely because of the stories about the count and the other young elites he kept hearing in the palace that he trained determinedly and incessantly. With help from the royal resources, their deft legacy and the best instructors, Arlwa too had reached Silver tier. The Mana Tide also heightened the exponential development of his abilities, reaching a level where he could cultivate aura at Silver-intermediate. He was different from the usual Silver tiers toohis profoundness in capability would earn him victory even in a group fight against several knights of the same threshold.
But that was far from enough.
Leaving the count aside, he was lagging far behind when compared to Dimore, the Second Princethat brother of his whom he never met.
Only three amongst the seven children of the Imperial Royals were worth Arlwa’s attention. Amongst those three, the Eldest Prince was ruling a province towards the east of the Empire to train in administration. Though his skills were considerable and he had earned much support from the nobles since, his ability had only risen to Gold following the Mana Tide, a standard the Seventh Prince believe he would completely surpass in a few years.
Meanwhile, the Fifth Princess was devoted to art as well as magical technology, and was currently studying in the Skypiercing White Tower in the Eastern Plains. She was also a famous painter who was popular in that region, while her ability was alleged to have reached Gold-intermediatepossibly even advanced. With her mother’s power, the princess’s underlying authority should never be underestimatedher connections with the formidable mages of the White Tower would even keep her one step ahead of the Eldest Prince. It was hence a stroke of fortune that the Fifth Princess had zero intentions of returning to compete in the Northern Empire as she devotes herself to the highest command in art and Truth.
The throne? Don’t disturb the Princess’ journey towards the Truth!
As for the other Princes and Princesses, they were either traveling alongside champions dispatched by the Royal Family or staying in the Imperial Capitalbut essentially common folk.
In terms of backing, Arlwa himself had the strong support of Empress Edna and the other families behind her. In fact, he did not lose out to his siblings, but there was a slight gap between his individual ability and theirs due to their contrast in age. Amongst the trio who are worth his concern, even the Eldest Prince who was lackadaisical when it came to martial arts in reality could best others of his age thanks to his excellent royal bloodline. Even the Fifth Princess who prioritized knowledge more than pure power had Gold-intermediate ability, not to mention the Second Prince who was said to have been molding himself all along in the army and had reached Gold-pinnacle when he returned.
This was a world with extraordinary powers. Occasionally, individual power far outweighs the factions behind one’s backgiven that the current Emperor had risen through the ranks through war, Israel would especially pay attention to the fact.
The divide between Gold-pinnacle and Silver-intermediate was so vast it was despairing. When it came to two competing individuals with the same innate talent and pouring the same level of effort, what decides the victor was time and luck. Though Arlwa believed that his luck was not poor it was certainly not favorableand time stood on Dimore’s side.
Now, the Emperor was in good health and so his children did not need to struggle yet. It was the same as how young dragons would not struggle for territory against siblings before their parents left.
Still, as an intelligent person, Arlwa often thought further. What if the Legendary champion Israel who subjugates all suddenly did not want to be Emperor one day and simply went off, traveling around the worldwhat would the military reserves of his heirs do?
No one would concede the throne.
Father loves all his children equally, which is why he wouldn’t love anyone.
Arlwa shook his head lightly at the very thought. The young prince had already seen through his father’s plan for some time, understanding it far more than his mother. Israel had not decided on an heir at allhe sent the Eldest Prince to learn administration, allowed the Fifth Princess who favored magic to study abroad while giving free rein to the other prince and princess to do what they like. That way, everyone’s future progress would assuredly differ, with the one who excelled amongst them decidedly becoming the next Emperor.
And yet father is so demanding when it came to the Second Prince.
Arlwa could not help but his fist when that came to mind. He closed his eyes, his brow furrowed.
A demanding treatment did not insinuate suppression in the Royal Family. Instead, it meant greater expectations, and it was exactly that and dissatisfaction that moves the hand to mold it. Be it a Legendary champion or the Emperor’s expectations, it was fine if it proved unachievable.
But if Dimore really completes father’s training, would he really be able to compete?
Intelligent people know how to weigh advantages and disadvantages. Arlwa was certainly intelligenthe would have given up if he was in a normal noble family struggle for the place as family head, and not the Royal Family. He understood the limits of his ability, and the merit of taking a step back occasionally. Nonetheless, it would not be the same for the Royal Family. The Seventh Prince knew very well that his mother and several nobles were behind him, and his fight for the throne concerned their personal benefit.
It was not something he could decide to give up alone.
“Initiation Of course. To be initiated under a Legendary champion is the only way I could forcibly catch up to my siblings in terms of combat power.”
Then, thinking long and hard about his mother’s message, Arlwa could not stop himself from laughing out loud, shaking his head. “But why would the Northern Count take me in? Is there anything about me apart from being a prince? Mother is overthinking it It’s better to sort myself out before thinking the future.”
Having tidied his thoughts, the young Seventh Prince rose and returned to the embrace of the trees.
Soon, sounds of Kokyu-Ho’s unique rhythm and limbs striking the air in practice echoed across the ranch.
It was soon Starfall Year 835, the 20th of April.
Within the liege’s residence up in the North, Joshua was preparing to depart for the Imperial Capital.
Spring thunder was reverberating. Even the northern weather was beginning to warm whilst the accumulated snow over the farmlands began to melt. Farmers were beginning to sow seeds in certain areas, and the construction workers responsible for the main city’s expansion had resumed work, not to mention the warmer parts of the Empire where the people returned to labor half a month before the North.
The arrival of First Spring also meant festivities. Since it really meant the start of a new year, the annual celebrations would require the Emperor’s personal hosting. It was not some complicated ritual either and merely a joyful carnivalthe childhood memories of many children from the Imperial Capital was indeed the yearly First Spring Celebrations, which would fill them with delight on the day of.
Naturally, things might be different this time.
Currently, the day of the festivities approached by each passing day, and yet the atmosphere in the Imperial Capital was immeasurably gloomy, causing much inward pressure for the people. Many nobles had also stopped their kin from going outdoors while they waited prudently within their residence, carefully watching the surrounding circumstances.
Joshua indubitably understood the reason. Although he was in the North, there was no blockage of information. He knew that Israel and Nostradamus had both been missing for months, and the moment he learned about it he already guessed where the pair were.
The Divine Dungeon Shroud, and the Void Star-Observatory.
“Come to think of it, I’m the cause.”
Joshua stood before a mirror as Ying took out one ceremonial robe after another, comparing. He never did understand the concept of dressing, and was so nonchalant that the silver-haired girl worried for him since he was fine with whatever he wore. After all, a Legendary champion could wear armor to the festival and the nobles would naturally throw out a ton of paradoxical excuses.
Nevertheless, he would tidy himself up if he could do so. Ultimately, he not only had to save face for the Emperor, he too was representing the Radcliffe family himself.
“What cause, Master?”
At the moment, Ying was drawing out all sorts of robes incessantly from the closet, and, standing on her toes, sized them up against the warrior. The divine armament girl who once upon a time would not even change her conjured clothes had become a master of clothing arrangement following edification by her fellow maidservants. She would intermittently mumble things like ‘too giddy’, ‘colors don’t match’ or ‘too thin’ while taking the time to inquire after her master.
“The moment I told them about the true function of the Divine Dungeon Shroud, I knew Israel would definitely bring Nostradamus along to a few of those shrouds within Imperial borders for an excursion and some recreation.”
Joshua laughed lightly once as he watched the busy Ying, and shrugged. “He should generally grasp the mysteries of divinity by now too. Observing the divinity of other gods is absolutely a way for him to progress. As for the Void Star-Observatory, that should have something to do with Nostradamus.”
In the end, that was the most apparent and most fragile spot of the dimensional pathway as well as the closest point between the world of Mycroft and the Great Mana Tide.
Finishing the thought, Joshua glanced at the still-troubled Ying. Shaking his head, he simply took out a set of black robes. “This one. The other colors are too bright for me, this one suits me.
“Eh, no way! Master, how many times have you wore that colorthere’s no novelty at all!” The lass could not help crying out after Joshua declined the fashion ideas she took so long to come up with in no time at all. “There’s still time, we could keep picking, such as this silver-gray that resemble your war armor mode You’re already a Legendary champion, isn’t it fine to be slightly late?”
“My little Ying, there isn’t much timeI want to head for the Capital earlier.” Joshua gently reminded as he patted her lithe head. “The festival begins at noon, and it’s ten o’clock now. Brandon and Vale Dani are waiting for me there, and promises must be fulfilled. Plus, being Legendary champion is no reason to be late.”
“But it’s better for main characters to appear as late as possible” the girl grumbled, clearly reluctant.
Joshua merely nodded, and looked pointedly towards the sky. “You’re quite right there. It’s better for main characters to appear as late as possible.”
And sometimes, not appearing early means not viewing the great spectacle from start to end.
Then, a voice rang from the ceiling above.
“I’m going too!”
03’s mana projection slowly descended from the air. The avian girl was frowning as she tugged at the warrior’s clothes, and said determinedly, “Joshua, I’m going too!”
“ I undoubtedly would not protest, but how would you be going?” The warrior would assuredly not refuse such a rare request from Miss 03, which might in fact, be the first. With his status, it was fine even if he brought along Archbishop Artanis and all his apprentices within the Saint Laurent’s Cathedral, while 03 was just one person.
Still, Joshua was puzzled. “Could you be bringing your real body along? That’s a little dangerous.”
“Looks like you’ve forgotten Of course, I don’t have to bring it along!” she replied, her tone somehow becoming indignant as the vivid mana projection rapidly scattered, leaving just a voice that spoke out of thin air.
“I’ll be right there!”
Joshua and Ying looked at each other, while Ling also poked half his head in after hearing the commotion. The trio was baffled.
“Shouldn’t 03 be saying ‘I’ll be right back’ instead?” the black-hair youth murmured.
While it was not clear to them if the artificial intelligence did really make an error in her speech, dull and cumbersome footsteps soon began to approach the second floor amidst the maidservants’ surprised exclamations downstairs.
Boom! Boom! Boom!
Metallic bangs and the shrill laments of the obsidian floorboards rang synchronously. Thus, the iron girl, the living metal construct weighing two thousand two hundred and fifty-five kilograms appeared before the astonished gazes of two divine armament siblings and one warrior. Where she passed, floorboards were shattered, stairs were scarred, and the entire liege residence was left in a mess from the dungeon to the second floor.
“Joshua, it was your present.”
Snorting a laugh, the petite but abundantly weighted 03 moved her steel body, with her arms folding across her chest as she smiled.
“I’m a little bored with watching the North, take me to the Imperial Capital that you guys keep talking about!”