Translator: EndlessFantasy Translation Editor: EndlessFantasy Translation
“You’re too slow. Why would Ling and Ying arrive before you?”
Nostradamus’s discontented voice echoed across the chief’s office in the Imperial Royal Mage Guild.
“Just soothing a fearful child. Never thought that I would have some unexpected rewards.”
Joshua took no mind towards the old mage’s interrogation as he stepped out of the portal. Leaving aside the fact that he was less than a minute late and that there was a long time before the actual time of appointment, his arrival still should count as early. Furthermore, they do not even have to be mindful towards spatial distance with Nostradamus around, and could head for the vicinity of the Void anomaly anytime.
As for Zero-Three’s behavior just a moment ago, the warrior thought nothing of it apart from being awestruck over how much her emotional plugin had evolved. One way or the other—it was still too early.
This world had been freed from its future of destruction, and yet countless dangers existed. Abyssal demons, the land itself and its enchanted beasts, the mysterious Ancient Dragons, the Evil Gods returning from the other end of the Multiverse and the Darkness hiding amidst the stars—it was not at all the time to relax. Additionally, Joshua still had to trace the Sage’s footsteps and to learn the truth of the Lost Era, as well as stand at the peak of the Multiverse by fighting the endless ranks of champions across worlds. To do that, it was far too early for the warrior to stop in his tracks.
“Never mind then, but your new pet is really unique.”
Having already gotten used to Joshua’s occasional irrelevant replies, Nostradamus shrugged and turned towards the excited luminous orb that appeared intent on its own game and shot out another jet of water. “Such an intelligent elemental lifeform,” he said in wonder, letting Light go from his palm. “It’s the best familiar for mages—what a waste that it ended up in your warrior hands.”
A fine familiar could share the burden of mana resource with a mage and accelerate construct of large-scale spells, even acting as a mobile energy reservoir, which in other words meant providing great many applications that would raise mage’s ability to the next level. Moreover, as an elemental lifeform, Light in fact was an even more profound existence that was certainly the ideal familiar to Nostradamus.
“What, you don’t have one?” Joshua asked in return, perplexed. After all, Nostradamus was a Legendary mage who had an entire Empire’s support—it would not be difficult for him to capture an elemental elder, much less a simple familiar. But after his question, the warrior himself remembered something, shook his head and kept his mouth shut.
Of course not. Nostradamus’s former partner had died in the war against the orcs due to mana overload, and the mage had not taken in a familiar since.
“It’s not a bad thing living in excess, and it does not have to enter the battlefield… But why would you bring it along? You can’t cast spells.”
Simply bypassing the question, Nostradamus looked on as the luminous orb flew around in his office before finally landing on Ying’s head. “Exploring the dimensional anomaly might not be difficult,” he said doubtfully as he laid back in his chair, “but it’s not so easy as to bring pets along.”
“Light is not an ordinary orb… creature.” Joshua replied, having no plans to others about Light’s true identity. He has not completely ascertained the facts surrounding the Blood Moon enough to write an exposé, and so simply gave a passing explanation.
“I’m bringing it along to test a hypothesis. It’s not something decided on the spur of a moment.”
That was not a lie. Ling and Ying were his weapons, they were hence assuredly called upon since the expedition to the dimensional anomaly is far more important than searching for missing persons in the Abyss. Light, a being suspected to be similar to the Initial Flame and the frame of a World Will may prove to have special service—if the worst happened, Joshua could thrust it back to its main body through Steel Strength resonance, hence nullifying any danger.
“Well, as you wish.”
Having seen that Joshua has his own consideration, Nostradamus cut things short and rose from his chair. “There would be four factions in this voyage to the dimensional anomaly,” he said. “Five Legendary champions would be holding the rear—you and I who represent the Empire, Barbarossa who represents the Skypiercing White Tower, the sage Vahina who represents the Eastern Plains coastal cities and the murloc’s high priest Godard. Since Fairyland is the closest plane to our objective, we came to an agreement with the Fairy Queens to use Fairyland as our encampment as we begin our expedition.”
Nostramaus had informed Joshua of all those matters through other channels; he was now merely repeating it once more in person. “Though calculations and analysis and probes through clairvoyance spells, it can be ascertained that his journey would not be difficult—therefore everything is done traditionally as it had been for the last few centuries, with each factions dispatching elite teams to explore within, while Legendary champions just have to hold the rear.”
“Just us few?”
Unlike Nostradamus, Joshua who was aware of the ruins behind the anomaly became rather shocked, although he found it ordinary after some thought. Most factions in the southern reaches of the Mycroft Continent—the Seven Gods Church, the Elven Court, and the Far Southern Kingdom were preoccupied at the moment, with matters such as post-calamity rebuilding, cleansing corrupted ground or grooming the World Tree did not permit any distraction. While the dimensional anomaly was important, their matters at hand were far more so, which was why those factions could only at best send a few envoys to spectate as well as make records instead of sending participating elites.
The West Mountains were even less worth mentioning. They consisted of sporadically distributed warlock families and kingdoms rule by extraordinary individuals in the first place, and would never leave their territories for such matters. In addition, their attention was fully grabbed as the subterranean races had formally begun to establish relations with foreign soil—especially to those new, vast underground domains filled with brand-new resources.
“It’s enough. A defensive line with five Legendaries is not something even millions of demons could take. If not for the seriousness of that ancient anomaly which could hold heritage of the Glorious Era and important technology, along with the value which allows it could exist steadily across millennia, how else could we have assembled such a formidable expedition?”
In the center of his own office, Nostradamus looked up towards the sky, his expression grave. “Let’s head over early and prepare. It’s time to leave.”
Joshua certainly would not refuse. In the very next moment, as a pale-blue mana radiance that spilled out of the office window appeared alongside dimensional ripples far powerful than ever before, everyone in the room stepped through the dimensional fissure with the Legendary mage’s power towards the distant end of the Void.
Almost at the same time, within a stone tower that seemingly directly grew out of the continental frame in the eastern seas of the continent, a plainly clothed bald old man who was holding a smoking pipe and dressed plainly stood upon the elevated warp platform on his own mage tower. There were neither pupils or sclera in his eyes—merely a burning radiance as he studied the twelve quiet mages who stood on the platform. Barbarossa, the Element Maven was a man with few words who acts after thought and use practical actions in place of words. Seemingly influenced by him, his students and apprentices had a similar temperament too.
“Begin,” he said immediately.
And so, teleportation light shone.
Sensing that an old acquaintance—as well as an old rival—making his move, a plainly dressed lady who had her eyes clothes tied up her waist-length ivory hair inside a crude hut by the outskirt of the most prosperous eastern coastal port known as Sea Dragon City, the base of the Sea Dragon Knights. Her expression serene, she activated a circle that caused the dimensions to ripple, whereas in the heart of a new murloc settlement amidst the distant sea, a huge black murloc and its elite subordinates teleported to the predetermined location with a ripple that tore the dimensions apart as well.
In the chaotic Void outside the world of Mycroft, thousands of bright clusters of light latched onto the world’s atmosphere. They varied in size from the Earth’s moon to just several meters in radius, the appearance that demiplanes and independent dimensions took in the Void—beyond them, there was an unusually conspicuous dark and distorted dimension. It slowly whirled in orbit of the world, incidentally arriving around a particularly large cluster of light.
Joshua and Nostradamus stepped through the portal, bringing along the divine armament siblings and the luminous orb to Fairyland. It was a rather extended and complicated teleportation between demiplanes and worlds, with the Fairy Queens having to perform reviews from time to time. It was hence fortunate that there was nothing wrong in the process, allowing the procession to arrive at the edge of Fairyland face-to-face with the blackness of that distorted dimension.
“Quite the crowd.”
Joshua was a little surprised as he looked around at the four simple encampments that were established rather distant from each other in Fairyland. There were at least twenty support personnel in each base preparing materials as if to renovate it into a temporary base, with the camp himself and Nostradamus landed upon having fifteen elite adepts who were dressed in the same style of armor and robes. They could be the members of a single party, and with priests, mages, archers, thieves, archers, and alchemists amongst them, they were considered a standard adventurer party.
Before he could continue surveying their surroundings, three consecutive dimensional waves spilled into the three other encampments, and Joshua detected three powerful beings traveling through the other end of the dimensions in that very moment. There was a fused body of elements that glinted in rainbow colors, a being that rapidly assimilated into Fairyland’s environment in an instant, as well as the seemingly unfathomable depths of the dark sea.
Element Maven Barbarossa, Sage of the Oceans Vahina, Murloc High Priest Godard—three Legendary champions, their most elite squad in tow, arriving simultaneously by the edge of Fairyland.
Joshua observed all of them with interest just as the others did in return. The bald elderly man squinted; he saw a majestic volcano spraying golden-red lava. The lady who had her eyes closed lifted her brow—she sensed a sturdy and spirited steel that seemed unconcerned as the world shifted around it. On the other hand, the huge black murloc adjusted a ritual decoration made from a string of skulls and gems. What it saw was the purest and most condense of lifeforce that boiled like flames, emitting a sear that far escaped human imagination.
And after that brief survey of each other, an even briefer exchange began.
“Then, humans, as we have decided.” A cryptic spiritual ripple emanated from the murloc camp in the distance. “We’ll move separately, sending teams to undergo the initial exploration before we share any information gathered to make a comprehensive hypothesis.”
It was the pre-planned action agreed upon by the four factions: the dimensional anomaly is a spot of distorted space. According to the Legendary champions’ hypothesis, it should be an artificial demiplane like Fairyland but did not orbit around the world of Mycroft due to some accident, moving instead on the outer hemisphere of the Void. It was precisely so that the Legendary champions could not simply enter—there would be severe consequences if their massive power was not withheld and clashed with world’s energies, the implications of which did not merely include the entire demiplane being destroyed.
Therefore, before Joshua and the others acted, the elite adepts from each faction would first enter to collect different parametric information so that the Legendary champions could calibrate their power essence and not disturb the demiplane, just as Joshua need time to adapt to the local Steel Strength in the world of Grandia.
Their divide-and-conquer operation was also to prevent conflict. After all, there had been severe strife amongst the three factions of the Eastern Plains—if one were to discover that another faction had found some vital material or ruins, they would unquestionably mount an ambush which would in turn escalate into total war. If that happens, not only would the discord worsen, the expedition would come up fruitless, which was why everyone would only act as led by the Legendaries only under special critical circumstances.
It was a procedure that Nostradamus appeared very familiar with. He had even participated in quite a few similar joint operations in the last few decades, although this was the first time he was in one that involved Legendary champions. Joshua too found it novel, although it was in terms of a point of view.
“A dungeon where the levels of power are restrained, a handpicked but lower-class elite expedition team and champions who were mainly behind the scenes, acting only during key moments.”
Though Joshua’s voice was low, he laughed—causing Ying and Ling to throw sideway glances at him while Nostradamus turned to him perplexedly. The warrior, however, paid no attention to their gazes and looked towards the distorted space that moved slowly in the Void. “How familiar… It’s just that the identities had changed.”
He was once part of the expedition team; he was now the champions holding the rear behind the scenes.
Unwittingly, he had arrived at this level.