Translator: EndlessFantasy Translation Editor: EndlessFantasy Translation
Starfall Year 836, 30th of January. It was a clear and tranquil day in the Northern Realm of Moldavia, a day people could not help having a lazy lie down in their homes.
A meteorite was streaking across the airspace over the Northern forests before vanishing in the other end of the skies. Its dull radiance only caught the attention of a few children who were coincidentally looking up, while some mages who made a living by watching the skies too noticed the sight but did not pay much attention that little light which moved away rapidly, merely making a stroke in the records. It was the same for other individuals who were busy with their daily lives—none of them sensed the seriousness behind the matter.
The chilling flow over the edge of the Lost Sea gathered into a tempest over the vast icy plains from the same direction as the meteor, before bursting through the main city of Moldavia, with mixtures of white snow dust striking the metallic armors patrolling knights in clanging noises. However, the streets were filled with bustling chatter, including the prattling of adventurers, merchants shouting to promoting their own goods, the angry banter between drunkards and brutes as well as the sounds of physical contact. As the crowd cheered them on, the warm air everyone breathed out in excitement rose into the air as clouds of vapor, displaying the liveliness of Northerners to one and all.
By the banks of Magel’s Unfrozen River a little further away from the main city, a blue dragon was leading a dozen white dragon infants that had recently learned about flapping their wings how to glide in the air. It was unquestionably a difficult life to lead a bunch of audacious little buggers to fly across half the North, but through its presence and its fine training earlier, the blue dragon successfully ensured that none of the juveniles fell behind. To further ensure that they were enthusiastic, it made a major gesture of kindness by promising that if their gliding training went well it would bring them to the edges around the Icy Plains of the Extreme North next time for live combat and hunting, an exciting suggestion that made every young dragon whooped.
As they flew past, the draconic cries of varying pitch caused a five-person party who were on a trek in a forest looked at each other. All provisional students of the liege, the prince, siblings, dwarf and lass knight had to stop and begin to discuss if the spreading Dragon Might would affect the objective of their hunt, which ended up with the answer of a conclusive yes. As such, the dwarf flashed his middle-finger at the dragons—it was an offensive hand sign that was globalized at some point in time, although the dwarf clearly has not vented enough and followed things up with a few other crude and obscene gestures that promptly enraged his female teammate who learned flame magic. As the two started to bicker over the snowy ground, the two siblings took out a map and frowned as they considered how to complete the mission, while the prince discreetly mimicked the dwarf’s sign language, his expression a little tired yet smiling earnestly.
Around the Nissia Snow Mountain, instructors from Winter Fort Academy were leading their students to the Paw Print Lake by the foot of the summit to a canal directed towards the distant Magel Unfrozen River. The artificial stream that was more than thirty kilometers long and averages at a depth of twenty meters was alleged to have been drawn out by a stroke of the Legendary liege’s finger in the air within one night. None knew the veracity of those words but it had truly appeared overnight, and even as they admired the miracle the procession also welcomed batches of new students who came on boats. Winter Fort Academy that was now a complete comprehensive professional academy had expanded their recruitment scale—no longer limited to just mage initiates, many combat-class instructors were in keen anticipation as well, waiting to see if the new students were seeds that could carry what they have learned for life.
Meanwhile, at the top-floor of Winter Fort Academy, Joshua withdrew his sweeping gaze over the entire region of Moldavia. The Legendary champion’s observation was now no longer primitive photosensitivity, but a threshold that could be described as magical. The warrior alone could scan the whole region with Steel Strength resonance in its entirety within seconds through his lifeforce emission, even any magical beasts hiding deep beneath ground. That naturally included the now-domesticated armored mountain dragon which was presently helping the dwarves to dig a long tunnel beneath Winter Fort Academy that reaches out and connects four strategic locations—the Great Ajax Mountains, the dwarven settlement, Winter Fort Academy and the main city of Moldavia. An enchanted construct resembling a locomotive was placed right beside the excavation point, awaiting the day the underground tunnel was completely cleared and the rail tracks were put in place.
“Master, we’re ready!” Ying’s voice wafted from behind him.
Joshua turned to find the divine armament siblings were jogging towards him—perhaps it had been long since they could travel alongside the warrior, Ying was really happy. Ling’s complexion also appeared much better after having rested for half a week for this day; he was beginning to delegate administrative tasks to clerics recently and was much more relaxed.
“When are we leaving?” Ying asked, tugging Joshua’s right arm naturally the moment she reached the warrior, her jovial tone causing him to shake his head.
“We’re going to work, nor play. The Void environment is dangerous—you guys best be prudent, or even I would have trouble searching if anyone gets left behind.”
Beside them, Ling appeared distracted with his gaze fixed on the sky, his handsome brow furrowed. “Master, that meteor just now… It’s weird. Why would it vanish by the horizon and not plummet? Perhaps it was only darting across the outer reaches of the sky?”
“You noticed? Well, it’s complicated.”
Allowing the silver-haired girl to hug his arm as she wished, Joshua patted the youth’s head but did not directly answer his question. The truth was very complicated as the warrior had mentioned, and could not be explained in a few sentences, although the fundamental thing was that for the hemispheric and lesser-scale world of Mycroft, the stars were all projections of other worlds in the Multiverse. Apart from representing matter that split from other worlds that dropped into this continent, meteors also meant the death of a world.
Hence, it was no meteor, but the final light a world emits while it fell into the Abyss, or was simply destroyed in its entirety.
Additionally, that meteor appeared precisely from the planetary region that Karlis once pointed out to him—the direction from where the Evil Gods were returning through the Great Mana Tide. Joshua was aware that one star was just the beginning and an insignificant one at that, but in the foreseeable future Mycroft’s intelligent beings would see even more falling stars and bear witness as countless worlds die under the brush of the Great Mana Tide and the onslaught of the Evil Gods.
And they would probably amongst them.
With a clear sound of a windchime, Joshua sensed a certain luminous orb wobbling as it floating towards himself from the air. He nodded slightly and reach out to catch him, but before he could tell Light off for its erratic flight, dimensional ripples surged around him. Soon, a palm-sized dimensional fissure slowly opened from which Nostradamus’s voice wafted.
“Time to leave, Joshua.”
“Alright.” Having gotten used to the old mage’s such way of interaction, Joshua did not pay too much mind towards the fissure that was slowly closing itself, striding instead towards the portal that was already ready at the top of the liege’s residence. Ying, Ling, and Light all followed behind the warrior, but when Joshua was prepared to enter the portal he suddenly stopped in his tracks, staring blankly for a moment before saying, “You three go in first, and tell Nostradamus to wait for me.”
“Yes, Master.” Though puzzled, Ying nodded and briskly led her younger brother and the luminous orb across the portal while Joshua simply stayed where he was.
Soon, with a slight surge of magical energy, Zero-Three’s mana projection appeared before him.
The AI’s form mimicked the form of avian people that went extinct on the world of Karlis a thousand years ago. They have delicate facial features and lithe bodies like elves, with Zero-Three’s own face unquestionably the most exquisite of them all and perhaps considered perfect. And now, the petite avian girl was flapping her wings uncomfortably, her expression a little pale.
“You were looking for me. Is there anything?” Joshua asked curiously. He knew the AI girl’s attitude—she would not do anything meaningless, and the fact that she called out to him meant that there was clearly something to discuss.
“… That meteor…”
Fretting and twirling her long, pale-blue hair over her fingers, Zero-Three has clearly lost her usual composure as evident from her mana projection. Circles symbolizing intense wavering of her heart flashed, as if the visual static appeared due to poor connection.
“I’ve seen similar things…” She said uneasily.
Joshua nodded silently, and stepped out, extending a hand towards her. Silver radiance glimmered in his palm as she pressed it over Zero-Three’s shoulders, delivering a data called comfort and ease. The AI that had been immeasurably nervous to the point of distraught hence blanked out for a moment, before regaining its usual state.
“It’s nothing. Continue.” Joshua shook his head at Zero-Three’s gratitude, before saying seriously, “You’ve seen similar things? Could you describe the entire phenomenon from start to end?”
In an instant, Zero-Three opened the corresponding memories from her data vault and narrated with a clear, soft voice.
“A thousand years ago, when the world of Karlis was still at its peak, there were similar spectacles—silver stars streaking across the sky yet never falling to the ground, as if a passing visitor of the world.”
“I had not been created yet, but the data vault indicated that it was the final occasion in which the people of Karlis dispatched Void Battleships to other worlds. When I was finally created, I have also seen those meteors that never fall on many occasions through the observation equipment of the moving fortress, and that was when the army of Evil God minions invaded the entire world, that spectacle…”
That spectacle was just like this one.
The azure skies were now obscured by white yet bright light, and amidst those heavens utterly devoid of color, countless dull stars plummeted as far as the eye could see, turning into an endless meteor rain that shoots across the horizon, a wonder that was so magnificent yet tragic it captured everyone’s imagination.
In that infinite distance, the Initial Flame was extinguished. Hence the stars no longer shone, and even as the dying light glinting in the shadows of the Multiverse it traversed the infinite void, turning into a meteor that fell across the horizon of other worlds, passing in the blink of an eye.
The Glorious Era dimmed, therefore the birth of the Starfall Era came to be.
Through Steel Strength resonance, Joshua learned what Zero-Three feared. A thousand years ago, she witnessed the Karlis civilization dying amidst falling stars, and as the stars flashed across the horizon once more now, she sensed the terrifying future and a destruction that was about to happen again, and hence panicked.
“Don’t worry, Zero-Three. The Mycroft and Karlis worlds are different.” Joshua smiled unconcernedly, consoling the AI. “You can’t be afraid even before disaster strikes. You must learn to defeat the mirage of the past, only then you would attain a true future.”
“I wasn’t there a thousand years ago, but I’m here now.”
Patting her head to indicate that she did not have to worry, Joshua moved towards the portal as he spoke. Instead of worrying about the ruination of the past, he was much more concerned with the Multiverse Sacrificial ground. In those ancient ruins where the final battle of the last era triggered, Joshua believed that he could definitely find more information about the Glorious Era or perhaps learn the true intentions and whereabouts of the Sage. Even if he could not find him, he would at least understand why the final war began for that was the first battlefield.
He thus never expected that, with an intense surge of magical energy, he was tugged by a corner of his clothes—it was not the Authority of Steel Strength, but the mana projection that was so dense it had materialized, and now possessed the ability to deliberately touch physical objects as well. Startled, Joshua turned, wanting to know why Zero-Three would do that.
A kiss greeted him.
As he felt a pair of lithe hands with alabaster skin wrapping around his own neck, Joshua felt a slight touch on his forehead. He gaped for a moment, unable to react to what was happening, and it was all the time Zero-Three’s projection needed to vanish without a trace.
Blinking, Joshua’s gulped once when he finally understood what happened a few seconds later. He wanted to say something—Zero-Three would definitely hear him since her observation circles were spread throughout the main city—but kept quiet after some thought. The corners of his lips then curled up as he shook his head, muttering ‘that’s too early’, before turning and moving through the portal and arriving beside Ying and Ling who had waited for some time.
The luminous orb on the other hand was being held by Nostradamus as he studied it—not one to be outdone, it sprayed a jet of water at his face.
Then, as the mage wiped it off with a spell, he noticed Joshua’s appearance, and said unhappily, “You’re too slow.”