Translator: EndlessFantasy Translation Editor: EndlessFantasy Translation
To adventurers who lived in the North, their recent lives were far better than their comrades from other regions.
It was not due to the harshness of the Northern environment that was considered second to none over the entire continent. Be it the half-year-long winter or the land, mountains, and forests being perpetually covered in snow, with even the occasional monster that skidded across inconspicuous ice surfaces that usually made adventurers’ work difficult, all of it was gradually becoming different in recent times.
While the comprehensive development spreading across the Great Ajax Mountains had reduced official exploration missions, other missions such as hunting and excavations increased with the rich species of life and incalculable precious resources in the mountains… But more importantly, for some reason, that Person from the North had suddenly acted and shifted a steep summit that everyone must cross to reach the path within the Great Ajax Mountains—that promptly made traveling easy for adventurers who made a living in that mountain range.
Everyone how painful it was to scale a mountain in snow; none would miss the difficult journey before with a flat ice plain path directed towards the mountains. Apart from that, that Person’s act also gave him a rumor of vague effects: when the Legendary champion alleged carried the mountain off, the entire Great Ajax Mountains was silent—the world had nary a sound apart from shattering rocks and flowing soil, the birds of the hills did not dare to fly while monsters shuddered in caverns, not to mention those adventurers who gaped and almost fell prone to the ground. In no time at all, that Person earned the title of ‘Mountain-Moving Silencer’.
Now, the moved mountain was placed beside the Forest of Frosted Leaves in the Ice Plains of the Extreme North, becoming a famous local tourist spot. It was said that a part of that Person’s still remained there, which in turn attracted a lot of his admirers to underground harsh training in that hostilely cold place.
There was, in fact, another event that changed the lives of the ordinary adventurers beyond those upheavals. It may be unusual, but many were certainly going wild over it—even if it were just few card tables that appeared out of nowhere in the taverns within the Main City of Moldavia.
The ‘Broken Sword Tavern’, an old tavern with a long history that had been run by a half-elf, had its front door opened for everyone perpetually opened on the Liege Avenue and the street between the new theatre. It was neither famous nor prestigious at first, but in recent years where adventurers began to camp in the North and the master of the tavern being a former adventurer himself, it gradually became an illustrious tavern catering to elite adventurers.
The atmosphere in the tavern was considered harmonious, or in the very least dissimilar from other places in the North that brimmed with crude language and the chaos caused by drunkards. In the hall and each private room, many adventurers wearing exquisite equipment were discussing the acquisition from their recent expeditions or the detailed preparations before they leave, with the intermittent clinking of goblets signaling the end or beginning of a delightful partnership.
However, there was a significantly different atmosphere in a corner of the tavern.
“Quick, play a card!”
“What are you waiting for? Play ‘Spectral General Hector’, slap his face and kill him!”
“Shut up, I don’t have the mana—you fool, he now knows my hand!”
The atmosphere that was bustling and noisy, or in other words chaotic appear completely out of place in the entire tavern. However, every guest present had long gotten used to it, with some who had finished and paid for their drinks rising and joining the corner, excitedly spectating the new game called ‘Fairy Cards’.
Fairy Cards was an enchanted card game that became popular around one or two months ago. Because it involved magic, not many tried to play the new game at first, even after the tavern master had sworn on his honor and a dark oath that it was now on a free trial period. Magic, calamity, who knows what curse or traps layered over it? Could it also be a new gambling trick, like enchanted dices in casinos? Adventurers were often extraordinarily cautious on such aspects.
However, after a pair of dwarven brothers demonstrated how to play the card game, the hearts of all adventurers who always hung out in taverns and lacked any enjoyment were conquered at once.
While Extraordinary individuals on Mycroft prioritized improving their abilities, it did not mean that they did not require entertainment. Furthermore, the cultural standard of this word was just a little better than the medieval era, with everyone having not much in way of entertainment. Even nobles usually killed time by hunting, theatre, squander their riches in red-light districts or use it on heaven-knows-what artistic creations. They kept the business running for eighty percent of artists in this world, and yet no one thought about what kind of game would be interesting.
Ultimately, this was a world with mana. The presence of Extraordinary power had greatly decreased the free time peasants have, who trained diligently despite the knowledge that they would never become champions as they awaited the day they could turn the tide. It was perhaps only the fairies, who never had to be concerned about daily living and seemed to exist eternally were capable of creating games such as Fairy Cards out of boredom.
Whatever the case may be, Fairy Cards had filled the emptiness of Northern adventurers, the direct confrontational style of the game of which appeals to their forthwith temperament. Now, in the Main City of Moldavia, business boomed the few taverns with Fairy Cards tables. Most of those taverns were linked to the dwarves, or perhaps the liege—and through alleged facts someone attained from their uncle, the card tables came from the enchanted factories of the Northern Dwarves, a joint production entrusted upon them by the Moldavian Liege’s Office and the Imperial Royals.
Once tales of its origins that were a little ridiculous spread, a lot of schemers dispelled the malicious plans in mind, while the rest decided that they must get a cut out of the card game that would definitely be wildly popular. Therefore, they did not worry about spending a huge amount of capital to attain licensed distribution in certain zones within the Imperial Capital and the southern fortresses.
At present, Fairy Cards were spreading across the entire Northern Empire and other human settlements. It was said that His Imperial Majesty of the Morlaix Palace that tried to play the game under his own child’s invitation, and had given it the simplistic ‘not bad’ assessment, which once again accelerated the spreading of Fairy Cards.
Spring then arrived unwittingly. After gaining a rare period of rest, Joshua began to prepare for helping Barnil and William to search for information regarding Ancient Dragons.
The delay was considerable but had nothing to do with the warrior—the main reason was the two Legendary mages who first had the purify the Ancient Dragon Bloodline. After attempting to glimpse into its power only to have it destroy all laboratory results out of thin air, the two could only begin anew by extracting live Ancient Dragon Blood from the living composition of the Squirming Forest, which required a lot of time. Additionally, they had also asked for Hill and Funa and conducted a series of examinations and bloodline experimentation for the dragon lady, the two matters of which delayed progress as they performed both at the same time.
Joshua was unconcerned, however. Given that the two who entrusted him with the matter were not feeling urgent, why should he be? The warrior was certainly contented and enjoying his daily live, and had done nothing much apart from moving a mountain away because it was obstructing his view of the Great Ajax Mountains in his morning jogging sessions. He was the still doing the usual things from day to day otherwise, such as occasionally glimpsing into the frontiers of the Seventh Abyss, sensing indirectly the movements of the various Demon Generals and the Demon King Goliath in the Sixth Abyss.
As for the cultists and the Pentashade dragons, they were all completely gone from the North without a trace or news. Indeed, no cultist or dragon that had lost their minds to suicidal tendencies would ever come so far to the North just to end their own lives.
It was also in those two months that the various factions’ expeditions to the Multiverse Sacrificial Grounds came to an end. They had explored all regions around the Sacrificial Grounds and arrived at the center, where hundreds of Giant God Warriors stared at them silently.
Noticing that the Giant God Warriors were not attacking them, the party fearfully reached the heart of the entire demiplane below a gigantic metal obelisk even as the puppets watched their every move. They were there to carefully clean and excavate the place, where they found many ancient inscriptions. As they translated and deciphered nervously, they discovered in astonishment that the inscription recorded the old myths and history related to Creation by Initial Flame, and important events that happened in the last era—the era commonly known as Glorious Era. It was a great breakthrough for research regarding the origin of races and the history of the Mycroft world, for in those ancient but distinct steel inscriptions were the path to civilization for the Mycroft civilization.
—In the beginning, there were seven continents in the world.
Humans were born and lived on the Southeastern plains of the Central Continent, living in units of family and tribes, building houses and using fire, stone and bone as tools of development. After a snowy disaster resulting from an extended winter, some of the humans began to move to southern parts in their leather clothing, sailing in small vessels to another continent and fount a towering tree. They hence coexisted with the tree, and became the precursor to the ancient elven race.
As the continental weather shifted, the sea flows and Teutonic movements altered the temperature of the entire world. With volcanoes erupting incessantly, humans found all sorts of meters and learned to craft tools with the blaze, while some with special innate talents even sensed the patterns of mana from the natural mana.
It was in that time that some craftsman who, to search for better metals and minerals dived deep into underground caverns only to be sealed within subterranean reaches due to tremors caused by a volcanic eruption. Though these people were hence isolated by the world, they profited from the disaster and discovered a huge, mysterious gem. The gem that appeared to have formed below the world’s surface during Creation itself had unique properties, allowing the craftsmen to rapidly adapt with living in underground environments. They eventually became the precursors of the dwarven race.
There were also many other intelligence races who flourished on other continents—humans, elves and dwarves only occupied two continents. From inscriptions regarding latter periods, it was clear that the three races had began exploring and conquering other places for expansion. Wars that flooded soil with blood lasted for a millennium or perhaps even longer, destroying countless lives while the bones of innumerable races piled into mountains. In that period, magic, aura, and every new Extraordinary physicality that the successors desired developed swiftly due to war between the races, while their populations decreased over decades.
As the Mycroft Continent was hence on a straight path to self-destruction due to those wars, until that day, as the final portions of the inscriptions had written, a man known as the ‘Sage’ appeared like a sun upon the world and ended all madness.
The rest of the inscription praised the majesty of the Sage and the gods. He created the Holy Light and unified the magical system, determined the veins to cultivate aura and ensured the continuation of psionic bloodlines. He got the elves to lose their undisciplined ways, united the dwarves under one nation and stopped the war alongside the gods, allowing the civilizations across Mycroft to integrate and revitalize for new vigor.
The inscription ended there—the explorers never found out the reason the previous era had ended. It was an unknown that bothered all intelligent beings on the Mycroft Continent, and apart from certain Legendary champions, no one knew the truth behind the transition between the eras.
And those who knew the truth were conducting an important experiment at the moment.
Above the Great Ajax Mountains of Moldavia in the North, a spindle-shaped airship was silently floating in the skies over the Squirming Forests amidst thick cloud layers. The gray-white clouds were stirred by ripples of mana that spread from the airship intermittently, forming a tremendous vortex of clouds. Lightning weaved around it visibly, emanating powerful mana.
“Accidents here wouldn’t affect others on the surface.”
Within the Skypiercing White Tower airship exclusively used for experiments, William the Wandering Poet was grinning at Joshua in the central quarantine zone. “Furthermore, not everything ancient is powerful. The accumulation of wisdom could level the innate gap between beings—such is the meaning of civilization and legacy. No matter how powerful that Ancient Dragon could be, it could never defeat us three Legends combined, much less cause any danger.
“If thing really go south,” he added, “you could ask for His Imperial Majesty and Nostradamus. That way, we’ll have five.”
Barnil, who was controlling some equipment to perform the final distilling of Ancient Dragon Blood also turned, seemingly used to echoing his best friend by finishing William’s sentence with a serious tone. “I could also get Barbarossa. He may always keep a stinkface, but would still come for William and myself—that would make six Legends, and at that point it’s not like we couldn’t challenge a god.”
“I could also call for La Motte—the current Sword Saint!”
“You have to compete your list of contacts with me, huh? Do you think I can’t get Vahina? All old friends who explored the Dark Forest together with us…”
Joshua could not help sighing and rolling his eyes as the two Legendary mages’ daily and bizarre little competition brushed him aside. “Alright, stop arguing. I could also ask for the Pope and the Nature’s Magister. That way there would be ten Legendary champions, with humanoid races just lacking one divine dwarven craftsmen—we’re not going to kickstart a world war. Is the experiment starting yet?”
“Now is fine.”
As mana forcefully reverberated, Barnil finished the final distillation processes and made a fist in front of countless complicated apparatus. Abruptly, powerful lightning flashed in a container, unleashing an astonishing vapor form of lifeforce that was compressed into a gemlike blood drop. The mage put it in a test tube inscribed with thirteen layers of runes, and handed it to Joshua. “The procedure is not too complicated—with the method I told you about, you could easily sense details of the world where the Ancient Dragon was through lifeforce resonance. When that happens, don’t enter direct conflict with it, just destroy this portion of blood by your own accord and it’ll work.”
Joshua hence briskly accepted the immeasurably precious Ancient Dragon Blood that Barnil told him to ‘just destroy’ so inconsequentially, and executed the mission. All three Legendary champions stared at the test tube at the quarantine lab as the warrior held it in his hand, his plam flickering with silver and obscure radiance. An immeasurably concentrated and profound lifeforce that superseded the Ancient Dragon Blood hence emanated, spreading across the skies outside and directly dispersed the clouds over thousands of meters.
In that instant, Joshua was using the most simple, direct and dangerous method to directly link his Steel Strength and Ancient Dragon’s Blood. Through resonating information, he felt that he was quickly sinking into a darkness, and began traversing the unilluminated yet mysterious spiritual world. He felt that his own spirit had pass through the Void and several planes, arriving at an unfamiliar world that some how had a familiar presence.
—What could it be that I find myself so acquainted with?
Then, Joshua no longer had the time to think about the extra question because he could sense that he found his target—a great being that resided deep within the desert. It was not in full-slumber but was simply resting on ice layers, although its rest was several life cycles to mortal beings. The billowing sand and wind buried its body, forming a colossal sand dune, and now, having sensed that someone was glimpsing into its power, it opened its eyes and stared emotionlessly and dispassionately towards the direction where Joshua’s will was projected from.
“Greetings, Ancient Dragon.”
Facing the Ancient Dragon’s stare, Joshua did not panic. Instead, he felt an indescribable excitement boiling within his body, making him unable to suppress a smile.
“Let me see your face.”