Translator: EndlessFantasy Translation Editor: EndlessFantasy Translation
Just as the warrior’s words were uttered, a white light that was not bright but extraordinarily gentle flickered. Then, an illusory figure abruptly appeared before Joshua like a projection.
It was the current pontiff of the Seven Gods Church, the Legendary clergy—His Holiness, Pope Igor.
Joshua had not waited to speak a little longer with Hill and Funa, instead leaving briskly and cutting the conversation short, mostly because he had sensed a spirit was attempting to communicate with himself. Having discerned who the owner of the spirit was, Joshua knew that Igor would not have contacted him out of the blue if it was not anything urgent. Still, out of respect for Hill and Funa, he finished his business with Hill and Funa before he contacted Igor subsequently.
“It’s my blunder—I did not think that you would actually be meeting someone else.”
The old pontiff was certainly not a man who believed that he was entitled despite his position, and started apologetically once he noticed that he was disturbing Joshua’s interaction with others. “I’m now deep within the Great Shrine in the Sacred Mountain, having split a little of my spirit that was not strong enough to pay attention towards the circumstances before, and unable to meet you like Barbarossa did.”
“It’s fine, Your Holiness. May I know if there’s an emergency?” Joshua asked curiously but very respectfully towards the elderly pope whose ability, personality and morals were all considered flawless. “If there’s something urgent, why didn’t you just come to the Void and converse with me directly?”
“There has been something… internal going on in the Church. But that has nothing to do with what I intend to speak to you about.”
Igor’s projection stroked his own beard as if not knowing how to put it to words, but did not reveal to Joshua after some thought, and said softly: “I have learned some facts regarding the Multiverse Sacrificial Grounds from Roland. It’s consistent of the certain information found in old text kept within the Seven Gods Church. However, because it is linked to the Sage, I hope to invite you here to the Holy Mountain and discuss correlated matters in depth. Please do come when you have the time.”
“Of course. Roland had already informed me—I never thought that you would come to invite me by yourself.” Joshua nodded in a straightforward matter. Leaving aside the matter that the Seven Gods Church was a powerful faction that owned many classical volumes, Pope Igor himself wield a Sage’s Legacy, with the entire Seven Gods Church and even the seven gods seemingly having a significant relationship with the Sage himself. After becoming Legendary, the warrior had already planned to converse with the old pontiff in the first place—it was hence a fine coincidence that the other side would extend an invitation first.
Igor appeared a little surprised by Joshua’s straightforward agreement, but his projection quickly asked: “If that’s the case, when do you plan on coming?”
Before he was finished, Joshua took a step out and arrived immediately in the Void. By sensing the dimensional turbulence around him, he ascertained the general location of the Far Southern Holy Mountain with relative ease, and left the few words ‘I’ll be right there’ for the pontiff’s gaping projection in Fairyland.
Igor, who had been left astonished by Joshua’s decisive personality on more than one occasion before was astonished once more—he had truly never seen such a fellow that was so brisk, simple and direct. Unable to stop himself from laughing, the old pope’s projection shook his head and sighed with much emotion.
“Ah… How fine a thing it is to be young…”
Even as it spoke, the pope’s projection vanished where it was. Then, having sensed an out-of-place ripple, Ying and Ling ran out of the expedition base and gaped at Joshua’s shadow that was moving away from within the Void.
“Master… Why did he run off again?!”
“How could this be! Every single time!”
“…Aren’t we just mascots now?”
The divine armament siblings whined.
Meanwhile, in a secret chamber in the depths of the Shrine of Heaven—the Great Shrine of the Seven Gods Church in the Far Southern Sacred Mountain.
A layer of pure silver sand covered the white marble floor, Stardust that had been smelted from Mithril were spread like sand over every corner of the secret chamber. Seven crystal lights constructed from veins of spiraling crystals, charged with the purest of holy light energy, emitted warmth and radiance of the purest Order power while shining like a spotlight upon seven statues of holy symbols placed around the room.
An old man with white-hair sat at the very center of the secret chamber. Stardust absorbed all sound around him, as well as blocking the ripples of elemental energies, leaving only holy light and Order power pulsing in the environment. There was an obscure sheet of white light shrouding the man, while the radiance inside was mild and filled with vigor like the rays of dawn, and yet as dim and silent like the twilight sun. Innumerable variants of light of different wavelengths and intensity occupied all around him, creating a complete, self-consistent cycle.
As for the seven statues of holy symbols, they were the black halo that represented the God of Might and Justice; the withered heart that represented the God of Love and Hate; the ouroboros that represented God of Order and Destruction; the bird with a crown of thorns that represented the God of Law and Freedom, the book and hammer that represented the God of Conservation and Reformation; the bifurcated eye that represented the God of Skills and Schemes, and lastly, the skeleton, soil, and grass that represented the God of Life.
The old man closed his eyes, not looking at any of the statues even as they flickered with radiance consecutively while directing part of the beam from the crystal light onto the old man’s body. The process was repetitive as if delivering some message or speech, interacting.
A long time passed after the elderly man listened carefully, before he spoke slowly.
“I disagree.” His voice echoed in the quiet secret chamber. The old man, the Pontiff of the Seven Gods Church, Saint Igor opened his eyes and spoke with a calm tone. “He is a better choice than I am.”
“Yes, I am your Holy Seer, your Executor amongst men and your representative. I love this continent, this world and everything that lives upon it just as you do, but identity has nothing to do with it.”
“I’m old… Yes, I could still live for years, even up to the dawn of a new era if nothing unexpected happens. Even so, my heart has aged, and I could only protect. Pioneering does not agree with me—my apprentices are far more suitable for that position.”
“The Ancient Sacrificial Grounds has reappeared, the door to ten thousand years has reclaimed its place. The river of fate now streams, and the future has shifted to the darkness called unknown which we do not know.”
The old man spoke softly, his tone calm and level. “O Gods, the calamity, cries, and deaths that you have foreseen did not come. That alone was enough to prove that you are not absolute—mortals could sometimes change fate, skewing everything from the original plans. I have already been prepared to sacrifice myself, and yet, look. The Flame has now been reignited, and that perfect future that which you hoped but could not even demand, has now come.”
“It that is the case, then why not try to have a little faith.”
All seven statues quivered once at the pontiff’s words, and after a long silence amidst Igor’s quiet watch, all statues emitted dazzling lights of different hues, before consecutively shining upon Igor’s arm.
Black halo, gray heart, silver ouroboros, white bird with brown thorns, red hammer and golden book, green bifurcated eye and the white skeleton, black soil and green grass. Seven symbols of starkly different colors and undulations were carved onto the pontiff’s hand, forming the picture of a tree consisting of the seven symbols.
Radiance flickered. Limitless information flowed as if entrusting something, while the old pontiff listened to everything silently and finally nodded solemnly.
“I am a god who walks amongst men, spokesman of the gods, Pope of the Mycroft people.”
Slowly rising, Igor thus stood in the heart of the room and looked around at the seven holy symbols that were emanating radiance, and said, with utmost stateliness and earnestness, “I am Saint Igor.”
“I would certainly find the ‘God Waker’ that you have searched for a thousand years.”
Coincidentally, a crimson star began to rapidly plummet at the edge of the horizon over the distant southern seas, in the skies above the Far Southern Sacred Mountain where the winds stop. Then, it quickly stopped in the very moment it was about to touch the Sacred Mountain’s barrier as if completely ignoring the existence of inertia.
Joshua paused outside the barrier, his arms folded across his chest and waiting for the barrier to be opened. It was also the very moment quite a few Sacred Mountain clergies noticed the true form of the meteor, and exclaimed in surprise when they looked up to find the warrior’s pose, and hurried to inform each respective higher-up that the Legendary champion, hero of the Battle on the Sacred Mountain—Count Radcliffe had suddenly arrived over the distant sea, but none knew his intentions.
In the secret chamber, the old pontiff’s expression twitched slightly. He has received the memories from his projection, and smiled, shaking his head. Controlling the barrier out of thin air, Igor opened a little door, which the warrior entered and landed beneath the Sacred Mountain having received permission, and advanced towards the long, stretching stairs and headed for the Great Shrine on the mountaintop like he did last time around.
Joshua’s ability certainly could afford him to ignore the Sacred Mountain Barrier and the rule of climbing the stairs, but he was no agent of chaos who ignored all ethics—freedom was not meant to throw your weight around others. He knew Order, and was willing to preserve it.
Soon, he arrived by the entrance of the Great Shrine. Every elite guardsman stationed over the Sacred Mountain bowed at once, indicating with due respect that His Holiness the Pope awaited him in the Sanctum.
Staying on the simple corridors and reaching the gates to the Great Shrine, Joshua stepped within to find a golden-red path spread out for him, illuminated by the setting Mycroft sun that sneaked in through the gaps on the roof. The warrior looked up towards the end of the path of twilight, at the statues of the Seven Gods’ symbols located deep within Shrine. The statues formed a circle around the center, where an old white-haired man studied him silently.
Joshua and Igor thus looked at each other—they no longer needed words to understand the other’s intention. Igor hence swiftly understood why Joshua would so simply accept his invitation to the Sacred Mountain, and why he himself would meditate for his best form in the secret chamber.
It was instinct. An instinct of two champions.
The old pontiff already knew that this day would eventually come, because the man was Joshua van Radcliffe. He just never expected it to come so quickly, and so delightfully.
“Is there a reason, Joshua?”
Standing at the innermost reaches of the Great Shrine and surrounded by the symbols of the Seven Gods, the elderly white-haired man asked serenely, staring into the distance at the warrior on the other end, shrouded in dusk. “I would like to learn your thoughts.”
As for Joshua, the warrior instead inhaled deeply, feeling the power deep within his body that was bursting forth. “The pride in which humans desired to become the most powerful,” he said calmly, shaking his head, “had no reason from the very start.”
“I wish to know what level I have reached. Apart from you, I could find no other to help me determine that.”
Having heard those willful, prideful, conceited yet earnest words, Saint Igor stared blankly before laughing naturally. Joshua followed suit—there was no reason why they laughed, but their laughter was equally cheerful and relaxed.
Soon, the old pontiff withdrew his mirth.
“You really flatter me,” he said. “But, I am glad.”
He then clapped his hand once, and the circle that had been carved in the temple for some time activated. Then, as the dimensions rippled mildly, the two of them were longer in the Far Southern Sacred Mountain, and entered a tranquil void that was filled with light.
It was a space with neither matter nor dimensional turbulence, appearing to be a Void and yet was not simultaneously since there were neither trace of stars nor the halation of worlds. This was a borderless place that was more profound than the heavens, a boundary with neither cloud nor winds.
It was the residence of the Gods—the [Infinite Horizon].
“Joshua, since you plan to challenge me…”
Saint Igor, the Pope of the Seven Gods Church had everything prepared and instantly teleported two Legendary champions to the Infinite Horizon. Innumerable mysterious bubbles of light that resembled glass orbs hence started to appear behind his body, fusing and splitting as if each had transformed or reappeared over a thousand times in the briefest of moments, insinuating the dimensions, fate, infinity…
Igor’s mortal form slowly paled and dissipated as his body emanated the same unfathomable and shifting rays. In the end, there was only endless specks of light that were splitting and fusing, as well as a question asked in a level tone.
“Well, do you comprehend light?”