Translator: EndlessFantasy Translation Editor: EndlessFantasy Translation
It was already halfway through May, Starfall Year 835 when Joshua returned to the Mycroft Continent from the dimensional turbulence.
Karlis had pulled him from the turbulence into the Vault of Stars, the core of the world. The flow of dimensions in that place was extraordinary—a minute could be a day, and yet a month could be an instant too. It was also why most common beings could not converse with the Steel Python—it was difficult for them to maintain their self-awareness in such an environment that was beyond the norm.
Joshua’s luck was hence considerable. In the period he conversed with Karlis, the flow of time was rather ordinary. There was just a little accident when the Steel Python sent him back to the Mycroft Continent as a small eruption of the Great Mana Tide had greatly delayed the time of his departure.
Regardless, he has returned to a familiar place—the Great Ajax Mountains of the Mycroft Continent.
When the pale blue door was opened, the dimensional fissure appeared over the most majestic mountains of the North. Supremely obvious dimensional ripples spread across all directions, grabbing the attention of many who were waiting in that place. As layers of magic undulated, three mages and two Gold-tier warriors rose into the air and approached the pale-blue portal.
The Great Mana Tide had allowed the global level of ability to improve daily. After the baptism of almost a year’s worth of high-density mana, many former Silver high-tiers had ascended into Gold beings. Even so, Gold beings remained a high-tier power in the entire world, and yet the reason those elites would wait here so respectfully was naturally because they had orders.
Orders from the Emperor.
Almost a week before, the Emperor and his trusted instructor had come to the North together and met two Legendary mages who had lost touch for some time. Their exchange was extended, with the two highest leaders of the Emperor learning mostly about what happened in the Sixth Abyss from Barnil and William. Neither Israel nor Nostradamus was surprised by what the warrior did—whether it was slaughtering demons or maiming a Demon General. They were not even shocked or worried that Joshua had suddenly disappeared halfway through a teleportation.
Toward Barnil’s doubts, the dark blond Sovereign of the Empire merely answered with a calm smile.
That was all he said, with no explanation offered. And yet, those simple words were actually enough to explain everything—after some thought, even the two Legendary mages could not help nodding agreeably.
“Right. If it was that fellow, it certainly would not matter.” William said in relief after he recalling the warrior’s action in the Abyss. “It’s my first time seeing someone going to the Abyss to slay demons—such a person would be fine.”
And the truth was as they had projected. Joshua returned safely, and though he was delayed, the warrior was not too emotional as he met the mages and Gold warriors that showed their respects the moment he stepped out of the portal. “Alright,” he said calmly. “Go tell His Majesty and Nostradamus that I’m completely fine, there was nothing unexpected.”
“I’ll also be meeting them in a few days, please ask for His Majesty to set aside some time.” Joshua added deliberately, entrusting the matter to a mage who wore a Pentastar Sun Ring crest, and was clearly close to the Imperial Family. “It would be best if it was in the Void Star-Observatory, there are many tools in that place that would come to use.”
“Yes, Count Radcliffe.” The Royal Mage quickly lowered his head and replied respectfully toward Joshua’s request. “I shall deliver your words to His Majesty in verbatim—may I know if you have any other solicitations?”
Joshua, however, did not utter that word because he had already stepped toward the south, the Moldavian domain and the direction of the liege’s residence between breaths. Before everyone who was on standby—be it high-tier mage or Gold-tier warrior—could see it, Joshua had already vanished. It was only until that Royal mage had looked up at the place where Joshua had been, that he became aware that Joshua had already left.
He was home.
Meanwhile, on the roof of the liege’s residence, Black was bored stiff, her head holding an orb aloft as she lay at the battlements by the edge of the tower, staring at the azure sky.
The black dragon girl had been free the last few days. After all, she did not have to handle administrative duties like Ying or monitor the situation throughout the main city like Miss Zero-Three. Even Ying was busier than her—the divine armament girl worked concurrently as the leader of the maidservants, with cleaning important places such as the study and the bedroom being her usual task.
Only Black, whose position as a mount, has nothing else to do other than following the warrior for a stroll from time to time, which was why she was unusually idle whenever Joshua was not around. Whenever the warrior was too busy to keep her company, the black dragon girl would actually go for a trip around the Icy Plains of the Extreme North. she would even try catching fish around the Lost Sea. But now, Joshua had not returned after a long time, and not only the divine armament siblings and the artificial intelligence girl were concerned—even Black who was usually worry-free did not have the heart to go for a stroll.
Luckily, the orb is here, Black thought, and carefully reached out to stroke the cream-colored orb that appeared contented between her two horns. A crisp jingle sounded too, proving that it was in a great mood.
Warm and cozy, she thought happily.
Would it be angry if I do not keep touching it? The black dragon girl began to worry a little.
Ying, Ling as well as Zero-Three had indicated considerable curiosity toward the orb being. The divine armament siblings believed that it was a spiritual body like them and possessed a body close to a physical energy body. The artificial intelligence girl on the other hand believed that its form was quite worth her referencing—in fact, Zero-Three had been keeping herself within the central control room for days, seemingly attempting to emulate the repulsive force boundary field that was clearly just energy and yet could be touched as if it was a physical object.
Everyone thought that there was assuredly a profound value in the unknown being that the Master had brought back. Otherwise, why would Joshua bring nothing else from the vast Abyss and just that orb? So, perhaps out of curiosity or initiative, they started to use their own ways to improve, and planned to show the results to their master once they returned. Without question, like Israel and the others, the people within the liege’s residence believed that the warrior would certainly return safely.
For that, Black was rather superior since she did not think much about it. To the dragon that was usually left by the warrior at the Pawprint Lake in the Nissia Snow Mountain, her master was usually absent.
Therefore, when she saw a scarlet a scarlet trail cutting through the azure sky and pausing before her eyes over the liege’s residence, Black was not too delighted or excited, merely energetically raising her hand to greet the warrior.
“Master! You’re back!”
“Yes, I’m back. Did you worry about me?”
Landing on the tower, Joshua habitually extended his hand, intending to stroke the black dragon girl’s head. But just as Black too habitually craned her neck out, the warrior noticed that his hand was touching something soft and elastic like jelly. The orb of light emitted a series of crisp wind chime sounds, as if expressing annoyance at Joshua’s unannounced departure.
“I did not leave you behind—it was all an accident.” Plucking away the orb from Black’s head, Joshua used his right hand to stroke the black dragon girl’s head as she made a comfortable face, while glancing sideways and speaking to the orb in his left hand. “How was it? The Mycroft Continent should be much better than being inside the Blood Moon. I had even thought that you would not adapt to an environment with air, but it seems now that you’re fine.”
Amidst the wind chimes from the orb, mana ripples began to assemble in the air while footsteps sounded from the stairs. Having sensed the movements in the top floor and the familiar presence, both divine armament siblings and Zero-Three reacted immediately and reacted most rapidly.
Without a word, Joshua looked up and leveled his gaze with Zero-Three, who had just gathered her mana projection, as well as Ling and Ying who walked out of the stairs. He smiled and nodded.
“I’m back,” he said. “And just a little late.”
“Too late.” The silver-haired girl pouted discontentedly. Ying furrowed her brow and folded her hands across her chest, her voice a little angry. “And that’s not the most important point, neither was it not bringing us along—it’s not saying a word before you leave!”
“Leaving not a word in parting would cause confusion, Master!” Even the typically mild-mannered Ling was showing a worried expression; the butler who had always been handling administrative duties for the warrior appeared both physically and mentally drained. “By the gods, nobody expected you to leave so abruptly. Thrice the Dark Forest Fortress sent documents to request reinforcements—I wouldn’t have dared to sign it in your absence. However, this one was a genuine emergency so I had to forge your signature and solve the issue first. You wouldn’t mind, right?”
“Of course not, I even plan to praise you.” Joshua blinked. Why would he reprimand Ling? Without him, the warrior would have drowned in administrative duties as innumerable as the stars. It should naturally be also noted that Joshua lacked knowledge on being a liege—to put it lightly, his personality was unrestrained and unshackled by frivolities, but to put it severely he was not a competent leader. At most he could command a team that dashed across the battlefield, and was completely unable to stay in one place while handling administrative duties.
The divine armaments were annoyed that the warrior had gone on an adventure without bringing them along. Both Ling and Ying felt that they were extraordinarily incompetent as weapons, and it took Joshua some effort to solve that issue by agreeing to bring them for a spin when there was a chance next time to slash something up without reaching the point where they forget their duty. Then, the warrior turned toward Zero-Three, who had been quiet all along.
“Why the silence?” Joshua asked, curious. He remembered in similar situations before that it was always the A.I. girl who spoke first. This time, however, she had kept quiet—there was a feeling that things were not the same as before.
“… You did something dangerous again, Joshua.” Zero-Three mumbled softly after staying quiet for a while after the warrior’s question. “You thought that it was dangerous too, which was why you didn’t bring Ying and Ling along… Black is quick and could evade most dangerous situations—which was why you bring her along.”
“The Abyss isn’t dangerous for me, but it’s different for all of you.”
Joshua’s expression involuntarily became somber at the words of the A.I. girl. “There was a lack of consideration in bringing Black as well,” he answered seriously. “But there wasn’t too much trouble, and I’ve also discovered quite a few hidden issues after my travel into the Abyss.”
Joshua could not help nodding lightly as he remembered the divine runes carved over his bones. He could distinctly sense the influence of divinity over himself which was one of the greatest rewards for the trip, only next to the information that the Steel Python had given him.
“Now that you mention it, Zero-Three. It isn’t the same as usual—you are actually concerned about my safety.”
Joshua returned to attention after many thoughts flashed past. He studied Zero-Three, whose expression remained worried, and smiled. “You were definitely so confident in me before, why would you suddenly worry about my safety?”
As he spoke, the warrior’s mood was very laid back. He was merely speaking by instinct without much thought, although inversely, Zero-Three thought about it seriously before answering his question.
“Joshua,” she said very earnestly and solemnly with such distinct emotion that Black stopped stroking the jingling orb, not to mention both Ying and Ling who were serious from the start.
Then, after a few seconds as if deliberating her words, Zero-Three spoke again. “Now, we are all happy.”
“Ying, Ling, Black, that orb, Archbishop Artanis, Mister Brandon, Miss Vale Dani, the two young ladies of the Scarlet family, as well as Nostradamus and His Majesty the Emperor who visits infrequently.”
Though her voice was not loud, it was distinct. Then, after glancing around at everyone present, Zero-Three continued. “One or two years ago, everyone’s expression was not good. Them—us—are filled with worry because many things were unsolved. Now it’s different, our lives had gone on the right track.”
Ying and Ling had adapted to their roles as chief maidservant and butler, respectively. The silver-haired girl was no longer the ignorant divine armament, instead becoming a lead figure who regulates any issue within the liege’s residence as well as proficiently handle housework. The young boy was an excellent butler too—Ying’s handling of administration improved and was more comprehensive by the day, sufficient enough to let anyone entrust work to him with ease of mind.
The black dragon girl also learned the way humans lived. Certainly, she preferred turning into dragon form to play in the wilderness, but her efforts were undeniable. The aged Archbishop Artanis now longer presided over the Cathedral’s work. His former and current acolytes were now starting to take over Mass and prayers, leading other clergies to inspect for traces of cultists.
There was even less reason to mention Brandon’s family or Israel and Nostradamus. The former was in familial bliss and no longer disturbed by tides of beast or cultists, while the latter had ascended into Legendary, with nothing left in the Empire capable of thwarting their opinions. All of them had attained the life and power and wanted.
“The world is progressing toward stability, so why would you place yourself in danger? There was clearly no need.”
Zero-Three spoke softly. Her gaze, leveled at Joshua, was glinting in a pale blue radiance as if the A.I. was doubtful. “It’s precisely because it’s too perfect that Ying, Ling and I hope that you would be safe… Because without you, all of it would lose meaning.”
Joshua kept quiet for a moment at Zero-Three’s sharp and unprecedented rebuke. He was assuredly aware that not even people close to him comprehended his actions, and to everyone, all danger had already gone into the distance.
The orcs were extinct, the berserk dragons defeated, the cultists chase away while demon worshippers fell into silence in the mountains. The entire Mycroft Continent welcomed genuine peace that had long been denied, and even those aware of the truth understood that the flame had been reignited, the thousand-year problem that had troubled the champions solved by him—Joshua.
Naturally, an extraordinary era of stability had come, and everyone just had to enjoy bliss that they had not enjoyed in a long time. It was the same for the A.I. girl that had kept going for millennia despite her world, Karlis, having been destroyed early on—she longed for peaceful, boring daily life instead of unrestrained and uncertain adventure.
Why would Joshua still deliberately place himself in danger? It was hard for her to comprehend the question. She never would have asked such a question if not for an unknown impulse—A.I. never have the drive to put forward such an untoward inquiry.
“… You’re right.”
Indeed, Zero-Three was right. The world has welcomed stability and prosperity—even the demons would definitely not invade in twenty years or more according to previous history. At that, Joshua closed his eyes and opened them. He did not know how to explain what he knew to this family of his.
A family that was not blood-related, and yet eclipsing blood-related families.
What should he say? The Abyss was just a hostile neighbor that they must be vigilant against, while the real threat was the Evil Gods that would likely descend a dozen years later? It was simply ridiculous and should not even be mentioned—information regarding the Evil Gods should not be elaborated to anyone.
Recalling the memories of Steel Python Karlis and that unfathomable, evil and unnamable god of terror that was so profound and grand it even made an entire world tremble in fear—Joshua could not stop a deep sigh in his heart. It was exactly because he knew more, that he thought and did more. Even if his actions seemed unnecessary to others, it was necessary. A few dozen years may seem long, but to the difference between Legendary and Evil Gods, it was very brief.
Not enough, far from enough. It’s precisely because you guys are now feeling blissful that I must do it as soon as I can.
Not sure how to say those words, Joshua could only step forward and give Zero-Three, who was floating in the air, a hug. Under the warrior’s power, the illusory mana projection was drawn in his embrace just like a corporeal body.
“I’ve been impetuous this time but it’s fine,” he said before letting go, and turned to give Ling and Ying who had already come close a hug too. The warrior thought about the charge from Karlis, before continuing to speak solemnly. “From this day forth, I would never cause concern for all of you.”