Translator: EndlessFantasy Translation Editor: EndlessFantasy Translation
While ‘late’ was the right word, even Joshua himself could not give a lecture about the importance of time when it came to a World Will that considered one thousand and five hundred years ago ‘recent’– especially considering that it might take half a month for it to focus its will alone. Hence, he did not continue and merely shrugged as he changed topics. “Star, you said that I would have to stay for a while you prepared my reward. Now that you’ve come to me, does that mean it’s ready?”
Not long after Joshua had defeated the Void Mother by burning it with the colossal windstorm blaze, the Commanding Will of the Multiverse Sacrificial Grounds was prepared to teleport both him and Nostradamus to Mycroft. By receiving Joshua’s ‘Psionic Soar’ buff, the artificial intelligence that was almost destroyed had healed much of its soul injuries that it could not recover due to lack of energies. Now, it was at 27% from its peak and rising.
But just as the Commanding Will prepared to pierce the world barrier and activate the Multi-Quadrant Teleportation to send the warrior back to Mycroft, the Steel Python ‘Star’ appeared and stopped them. Unquestionably, even if the Commanding Will had recovered part of its strength, it was no opponent for the World Will.
In that period where the Steel Python relied on Light as a focal point to maintain temporary lucidity by emulating the luminous orb’s construct and splitting itself to create an amalgamated Will as a separate focal point. On its own initiative, it appeared and told Joshua of its gratitude over how he had come to aid its children. It hence planned to gift them a generous reward, but due to the hurry, Joshua and the rest had to wait for some time. Furthermore, Star also vaguely indicated that it hoped for Joshua to stay a little longer in its world and do his best to leave his ‘Path of Extraordinary’ legacy. That might help with the Midgardian civilization’s greatest shortcoming, so that they would not be defenseless when facing superior beings.
Joshua did not mind teaching such things since Stellaris was too far from Mycroft and therefore had no competitive relationship. Even if there was, it would be very difficult for the Midgardians to catch up, and there is certainly something stimulating about having an apprentice from every existing race.
But in the end, the plan ended up fruitless: First and foremost, the ion energies adrift in Stellaris was too different from the Steel Strength in Mycroft—all cultivation method hence needed a grand-scale of adaptation before use. The second was that the Midgardians were ultimately plant beings, a fundamentally different lifeform from the mammalian humans of Mycroft.
With Joshua’s depth, to adopt an aura or lifeforce cultivation method suitable for Midgardians was not too difficult. However, it takes a great amount of time to test it out on trials, and incidentally he was in a rush to get home—for two Imperial Legends to go missing mysteriously while exploring a demiplane, heaven knows how Israel’s mood would be after learning the news. The warrior could guess that the Emperor must not be feeling too great at the moment, and if they still stayed, he worried that some great ruckus would kick off.
Even so, Joshua managed to alter a set of basic aura cultivation for plant life to strengthen their life force in less than ten days. He referred to some knowledge where druids nurtured seedlings, while elaborating about the essence of life from the towering view of Legends. As long as they trained in that cultivation method, the integrated physical elements and psionic growth speed of the Midgardians would rise distinctly, the only flaw being the slowness in the speed of improvement. Rising from Steel, the lowest rank, to Silver-advanced would take almost two hundred years—ten times more than the duration needed for mortals of the Mycroft Continent. It was even more difficult for them to ascend into the threshold of Gold, and Omega psionics who naturally awakened would probably outnumber Gold combat-class Midgardians.
Fifty years of initiation, two hundred years for the first indication of results—only the Midgardians with their extended lifespan could use such a method. Apart from the fact that it was extremely solid and would virtually not develop any issues, there was actually no advantage in that cultivation method. Be that as it may, the Midgardian specialists took the original script of the regime from Joshua’s hands with immeasurable gratitude—after all, it was one thing being slow, and another completely with not having it at all. True change came not from one to a hundred, but from zero to one.
Wrapped around the galaxy, with its head holding aloft the Vault of Stars, the Steel Python slowly nodded as it watched Joshua closely with a mild gaze. ” Be it for saving my children, awakening my will or teaching me how to focus my Self, I’m willing to give anything to show my gratitude.”
Before it finished, a silver starry luster flickered before Joshua. Three treasures, wrapped in a spherical bubble of energy, its true form obscured thus appeared before the warrior.
“This is what you deserve,” Star said summarily.
Joshua did not act pretentiously either. He traveled half the Multiverse to come here, to Stellaris and have a huge fight with an Evil God minion, rescuing a race and a civilization—he could take any reward with a clear conscience. Thus, he simply reached out to the first energy bubble that directly vanished the instant he touched it, dropping the thing it wrapped around into the warrior’s hand.
The first reward had already managed a soft gasp out of Joshua, because the object in his grasp was an energy core miniaturized by some extraordinary method, and according to that familiar energy signature and whirling, it was a Void Mother-class energy core that had been purified! Star nodded slightly when it saw Joshua’s stunned expression, and said, “Those beings of Chaos may be the origin of destruction, but they definitely wield great power. I know you wish to study how the Void Mother’s energy core works, but each of them was destroyed in battle… which is why I replicated a miniaturized Void Mother core with my power. I hope it helps.”
Of course it helps. Joshua pocketed the energy core that was half the size of his fist with a pleased face. The composition and operation of the Void Mother’s energy core would assist greatly in the improvement of his Nuclear Heart Furnace, and if the energy within was released directly, it was sufficient for him to gain a temporary ‘Psionic Soar’ buff state. It was a powerful trump card for all Legendary champions, enough to flip the tables at once in vital battles.
Pleased, Joshua opened the second energy bubble, and a silver ‘Steel Fragment’ emanating obscure radiance floated before his chest as if weightless.
Just as it had been with Karlis and Illgner, Star had split with part of its own power and gifted it to Joshua. The warrior reached out and grasped the Steel Fragment in his palm, and clusters of System verification text flashing before his eyes, although Joshua knew the function of the Fragment even without the System.
Unlike the two previous pieces that grant power to manipulate natural phenomenon and give life to inorganic matter, the one Star gifted was related to the aspects of spirit and psionic. With that Steel Shard, even mortals could have special abilities such as mind reading, hypnosis, memory alteration, autosuggestion, and ubiquitous speech. The wielder could proficiently communicate with beings of other worlds through spiritual language, and awaken their very own psionic powers if they had not awakened it after acquiring the Steel Shard.
That was why Joshua was prepared to feed it to Light like dogfood after putting the Shard away. The luminous orb had learned Void Creation after swallowing a Steel Shard last time around—although it appeared to be just spraying water, who knew what abilities it would gain this time if it ate this one? He was rather expectant.
As for the matter of wastefulness, the Steel Shard was essentially something that did not exist for others—save for himself and Light. Almost no one else could sense its presence, and Joshua had a feeling that Light would benefit significantly from absorbing Steel Shards from other worlds, itself being the outline of a World Will. At the moment, there was no clear effort since it was still within the storing period, so all the warrior could do was wait patiently.
Compared to the other two, the third reward was more down to earth. After he opened the third energy bubble, Joshua felt a pure but formless Steel Strength surging out and seeping into his body. In that brief instant, Joshua realized that his Steel strength assimilation rose a full ten percent at once, reaching twenty-seven percent—more than one fourth the total assimilation rate! Though it looked to be just an improvement by one-tenth, it was a decade of laborious training for Legendary champions—or decades if luck was not on their side.
In the end, it may be slightly faster for Legendary champions when they first improved. But soon, the sublimation of their lifeform would become difficult—even true prodigies such as Pope Igor and Emperor Israel had to use a long time for that step.
Thanks to the rapid improvement of Steel Strength assimilation, Joshua promptly felt his entire body sinking as his weight increased by one third—such was the attribute of Steel Strength. The warrior temporarily cold not feel the rise in Steel Strength combat ability, but he could directly sense the abruptly exponential increase in his mass. Joshua now even suspected that even some Ancient Dragons were not as heavy as he was, because he could feel his surroundings distort a little due to his weight.
“It is an Origin power that I have split out from my true form, the purest and most untainted of Steel Strength.” The Steel Python turned its colossal head, seemingly satisfied with its reward. “Your individual evolution had reached a place where natural evolution could not. Even I could only help you accelerate your progress in this manner, and that is the most I could do.”
Joshua nodded without saying a thing. Star was right—in truth, the sudden ten percent increase in assimilation had exceeded his control a little. The warrior could not even speak now, and simply frowned, doing his best to control his own body and adjust the balance of Steel Strength concentration within. It was quite some time later that he breathed a sigh of relief and relaxed his tightened body, flexing his limbs. “Calibration largely completed… I’ve almost humiliated myself.”
“All my rewards are now given.”
The colossal Steel Python curled its body as it watched Joshua, its galaxy-size body whirling beneath the Vault of Stars. “Though I’m a little reluctant in parting,” it spoke softly with a level tone, “the time for it has come. But I believe there would be a day we’ll meet again, foreigner from the land of the Saint, and I hope you would have grown into a reinforcement that worlds could rely upon when that time comes.”
Steel Python Star was certainly a being that did not enjoy nonsense and acted decisively. Having given the promised reward and conveying its gratitude to Joshua, it began preparations to teleport Joshua and the others away from the inner reaches of the world. After all, its true form was still spreading news of impending war across every corner of Stellaris as it would soon be embroiled in a grand galactic battle. Compared to that, everything appeared insignificant.
This time, however, Joshua asked for it to stay.
“Wait, there’s something else.”
Calling out to detain the leaving Steel Python, Joshua pressed his right palm over his own chest when Star turned its head. In the very next second, a silver appeared over his palm, and, holding it, Joshua showed it to the surprised World Will. “I believe that he is a child of yours. Though I don’t know how he entered my spiritual space, I believe I should return this brave soul to you.”
In that very moment, Joshua was holding Azra in his palm. He was the elderly Midgardian who sacrificed his life to inform Joshua and the others that they were encircled by the Void swarm in the battlefield against the Void Mother. After the former Omega psionic had delivered the message with his soul, he entered Joshua’s pool of souls for some unknown reason and fell into deep slumber.
Now, it was the time the send this brave one back to his home. Joshua believed that Star undoubtedly had the power to return the fragile soul back to its homeworld, allowing it to enter the Mother Tree and united with trillions of its kind.
“…Joshua, are you being serious?”
However, Star somehow did not simply receive the soul, and the World Will instead showed clear doubt and displeasure.
“Do you know not what you are giving up?” It asked, slightly baffled.
Nevertheless, Joshua nodded. “Though not fully, I understand part of it.” He said calmly. “After all, ‘gods’ truly exist in the world I live.”
At that, he smiled and shook his head. “Though a coincidence, there is nothing wrong with the Midgardians’ procedures—new gods, temples, monuments, doctrines, it is pretty much a perfect foundation. I could also make a rough guess with the soul that had been unusually absorbed into my spiritual space, not to mention my conversations with several deities and thus learning the extraordinary aspects of the gods.”
“Then, do you intend to give up on that opportunity?” The Steel Python abandoned its intentions of leaving, and turned to look at Joshua once again with a disbelieving gaze. “It should be known that it is a chance that almost never comes by, and if you wish…”
“I know,” Joshua interjected with clear, level voice. “If I wish, I could become a provisional Midgardian deity. I would only need over a hundred years to grow my religion, learn how to use it to nullify the assimilation of divinity and perhaps gain powers that could slay the Void Mother instantly.”
“Then would you…”
“I will not.”
Joshua did not allow the Steel Python to finish its words, and leveled his eyes directly into the World Will’s gigantic vertical pupils that appear to reflect ten thousand galaxies, his speech never once slowing. “I have no plans of becoming the god of the Midgardians, nor do I wish to be tethered by others. If there is a day which I wish to become a god, I would build my own denomination and spread my own gospel on my own accord and not by using the labors of others. I might even simply create a new race who would advocate my faith.”
Then, Joshua remembered the Void Mother and the memories carved into its genetic sequence. It was as if the warrior could see the body of its mother—that Evil God which devours entire ecosystems and gulped worlds into its bowels. He laughed, his lips curling up, his gaze flame-hot.
“What’s more, who would know if I might not become more powerful than the gods in a few hundred years, despite not being one?”