Translator: EndlessFantasy Translation Editor: EndlessFantasy Translation
“Let me see your true face.”
It was nighttime in the unknown world. Darkness had engulfed the skies, and at the center of the unilluminated overcast, a silver fog whirled in the air, forming clumps of starry clouds.
In seconds, Joshua had collected a variety of information through Steel Strength resonance regarding the world where the Ancient Dragon was. At first, he should have been doing as William had advised, destroying the living resonance from the animated Ancient Dragon Blood, and directly end the deliberate contact. That would avoid any undesirable outcome from triggering an Ancient Dragon counterattack, but he did not intend to end the operation so simply.
Even in the pre-existence, Joshua had never seen an Ancient Dragon that controlled lightning. Now that he had and even stared into its eyes, would it not be a pity to not see how the Ancient Dragon looked like?
Thus, in the very next instant, the Ancient Dragon buried beneath sand dunes abruptly felt that the spy, one who had traced it through its artificial blood, had vanished at once. It was neither speed that surpassed its sensory limit nor concealment of its own presence—all those measures would never be able to fool the Ancient Dragon that manipulates magnetic field and the power of lightning. It was a power that was equal yet unknown to it.
Vigilantly, the Ancient Dragon scanned its surroundings with electromagnetism, only to realize that it was futile. The enemy that had suddenly vanished had appeared again, and descended at no other place but over its very own head, in that sky that was wafting with gales and yellow sand.
It quickly lifted its head, only to find a silver iron fist smashing down at it as if a meteor was plummeting!
Having withdrawn all his power to the other end of the dimensions, and then forcefully unleashing through the Steel Strength resonance, Joshua condensed his own power into a physical body after easily creating the illusion of appearing and vanishing again. A giant Steel fist that was dozens of meters large was aimed at the Ancient Dragon, and was streaking towards it—it was not true Steel, but a mixture of random substances such as dust and sand, gathered through Steel Strength and bound with magnetism and gravity. It was not indestructible, but was enough to split apart the sand dunes that covered the Ancient Dragon’s body.
But what the iron fist met was the infuriated draconic bellow.
A tremendous and extraordinary bellow unlike that of Old World Fire Dragons or Astral Dragons thundered from the depths of the land. There was no other in this world, a roar that existed as a singularity across the vastness of the Multiverse. The atmosphere crackled as the sound that none heard over millennia resounded, green-red electric currents tangling and bursting visibly while gargantuan bolts flickered in the air. In that instant, the dark night sky rolled with thunder that boomed incessantly, innumerable serpentine lightning striking down from above and unto the top of the sand dunes where the Ancient Dragon was!
However, despite being struck by ten thousand lightning bolts, the seemingly fragile sand dune was not vaporized and showed its true form instead. It was a Steel mountain composed of endless steel grains, a layer of ordinary sand that was merely covering its shell. Now, under the control of electric currents, the massive amounts of dark steel grains began to flow like rivers that did not intersect and moved, following the whirling magnetic fields, each forming spherical sandstorms that rose into the air and darted against Joshua’s iron fist!
Boom! With an echo, the fist hastily condensed with Steel Strength quickly dissipated in the collision, materializing a huge cluster of silver fog. Beyond the Void, the Ancient Dragon Blood in Joshua’s hand also vaporized without a trace under an electrifying counterblast.
The warrior was not surprised that his offensive was shattered by the Ancient Dragon. As a primeval being of the world, their power was not something easily fathomable for humans. Still, Joshua smiled nonchalantly—whatever the case may be, he achieved his own objective.
Through an ounce of Steel Strength he left in that unknown world, Joshua had witnessed the majestic form of the Ancient Dragon. The black Steel grains had formed spherical sandstorms which were over ten kilometers in diameter, whirling rapidly under the magnetic field. Behind the storms, a mountainous silver ancient beast floated at the heart of the storm, its wings that blanketed the heavens never flapping even once for the magnetic boundary that distorted all things was enough to support its weight, even if Titans were but children when compared to its size.
The residual Steel Strength rapidly dissipated beneath the raging Ancient Dragon’s thunders, but before it was utterly expelled, Joshua had enough time to glimpse a huge, sharp horn, and a draconic gaze of immeasurable coldness and flickered with green-blue electrical radiance.
The warrior’s stimulating had utterly awakened the Ancient Dragon. It roared powerfully again, its profound power spreading towards every corner of the skies that abruptly turned into an ocean of lightning. Endless sparks and bolts turned into tides that spread towards the very edge and beyond the world, the great undulation trembling the dimensions and making a small, almost indiscernible splash in the Multiverse.
“Oh, God of mine! You have appeared once more!”
“King of Thunders, Dragon God of Salvation! You grace us with your advent!”
However, before Joshua was knocked away in satisfaction, he suddenly heard faint, devout prayers beneath the ground. The warrior could not understand the praying voices, but he understood its meaning—it was the delight of witnessing a revered god, and the most earnest of blessing and consecration. Those were prayers that no god of malevolence could attain—only true gods could attain such glory.
“Huh, that world actually has lifeforms?!”
Joshua only had the time to exclaim, before Joshua’s spirit was completely yanked out of that unknown world and back to the Mycroft Continent. He then opened his eyes, only to find the infuriated expressions of two Legendary mages.
“I’ve already said—don’t get into conflict with the Ancient Dragon. Joshua, why didn’t you follow the plan?!”
“Although there is no evidence at the moment that Ancient Dragons possessed intelligence, it would remember your presence even if it was a mere beast—we only wanted to see its form, witness its power, touch its scales and horns… of course, it would be best if we could dissect it, but we have no intention of fighting it directly!”
William and Barnil were certainly angry—Joshua’s reckless behavior was essentially pushing himself into the Ancient Dragon’s opposing plane. Though unlikely, who knows if it would remember the mages’ own presence too? While they did not fear the power of the Ancient Dragon, they do not plan to fight it.
Nonetheless, Joshua uttered just one line, and their rage was placated.
“I’ve seen the true face of that Ancient Dragon. Want to take a look?”
Using just a few seconds to share the image of the Ancient Dragon inside his mind to Barnil and William, Joshua did not pay attention to the two Legendary mages who proceeded to whoop like children. He was recalling the unknown language and the surrounding environment as he fell into deep thought.
“The sands on that desert was not formed naturally. Those should be remains of substances broken down by electromagnetism… Rather than a habitat, it looked much more like debris after a battle between the Ancient Dragon and some other being.”
Joshua frowned, mumbling to himself in the lab. “Come to think of it, the Ancient Dragon should be nursing its wounds in that place? It appeared to have almost fully recovered and about the awaken, which was why it reacted to those two and my experiment.
While it was a mere guess, Joshua believed that his observation was not wrong. That huge desert was clearly unnatural—each grain of sand appeared to be broken down by a certain power, and that silver-white Ancient Dragon’s natural habitat would never be a dry desert given that it controls lightning. It should be living high above in the atmosphere and weaving around amidst those powerful forces, perhaps never needing to land too.
Furthermore, it had been a world with life, and the Ancient Dragon was clearly not malevolent given that it could coexist with them, and might perhaps have the intelligence to communicate… From that perspective, his own actions were definitely too rash.
Now, there was one only question Joshua pondered over. Where did that unusual familiarity come from?
But he soon found the answer to the question.
It was the scent of the Abyss.
The Hundred and Sixty-Second Level of the Abyss, formerly known as the Toxic Sea, currently known as the Sleeping Dragon Abyss.
It was a toxic world of shattered continents that had sunk beneath the seas. The post-apocalyptic radiation and heavy metal pollution had filled the waters of the world with toxic that easily vanquished all life, while terrible negative-energy spread in the purple-black oceans. Only some of the toughest abnormal insects and giant serpents could survive such hostile environments—even demons were unwilling to stay in this place.
But now, this silent land that had nothing apart from the cries of poisonous insect was now a world of dragons, brimming with draconic cries.
Huge floating islands were hanging over the skies above the toxic ocean through magical ripples visible to the naked eye, its appearance concave like a huge stone bowl. The islands were drawing the poisonous waters from the sea below and purifying them into clean, drinkable water through magic, gathered in the lakes at the center of the islands. Dozens of thousands of dragons hence lived inside these islands and stone worlds, surviving on the clean water and artificially cultivated organic food.
The Pentashade Dragons were living laboriously in their own new home. Even if the insects and serpents never attacked them, the exceedingly hostile living environment left the dragons gasping for air—literally. Within the atmosphere where limitless poison dust wafted, even dragons needed purification magic just to breathe. They could not soar freely either, and were only able to stay in their own respective caverns, flapping their own wings in boredom.
The largest island amongst them—a floating mountain was located at the center surrounded by every other island, inside of which was a vast space. Three great wills were silently standing off against each other within, and it was after a long time that one of the wills spoke first.
“I sense great force trembling the dimensions.” Bognar, the colossal white dragon known as [Lord of the Falling Sleet] and the King of the White Dragons coiled over its crystalline ice throne, and spoke with a rather tired voice. “To be precise, it had made a splash in the Multiverse… It was a Dragon-King class power or perhaps even greater—above Legend according to human measurements. The power is also close to us, and yet doesn’t carry the fallen presence of demons.”
“Countless ancient and powerful beings hide within the Abyss,” a black dragon spoked as well beside Bognar. It was the leader of the black dragons [Nether Sea Dragon] Kanor, whose voice was rather sharp. “Demon Generals, Abyssal Lieges, ancient creations, remains of destruction, monsters that ended worlds or the corpses of defeated gods… the Abyss is the grave of the Multiverse, the settlement of demons. There is nothing unusual for anything to be here, much less a few monsters like us.”
At those words, its voice became quiet. “After all, aren’t we losers who are forced to retreat into the Abyss?”
It was clear that Kanor was uninterested about the power Bognar was talking about. Bognar, however, did not intend to allow the discussion to just end there. “I know, Kanor,” it continued with its slow and fatigued voice. “You have been searching everywhere in the Toxic Sea for magical substances that are useful for our race, but end up fruitless. You are tired and disappointed, but that is no reason to be dispirited… I am mindful of that force because I could feel that the world it resided had no presence of corruption. It was definitely located deep within the reaches of the Abyss, and yet there is still life.”
“Life that is suitable for us dragons.” It added in emphasis, promptly attracting Kanor’s interest.
“That’s impossible—the Abyss is a destroyed world, how could there still be life?!” The Lord of the Black Dragons pressed urgently.
“There is, and it’s possible.” The Lord of the White Dragons answered calmly. “With the presence of Ancient Dragons—the incarnation of Steel during the time of Creation—it just might be possible for even the Abyss to be revitalized. And did we not risked the journey here to the Toxic Sea, exactly because we heart that Ancient Dragons lived here?’
Bognar aimed the topic towards another direction—to the Sovereign of the Blue Dragons, Verdia the [Eternal Mountain Wind]. It stayed silent for a moment, before nodding. “It is information which I required, that there was a great python deep beneath the Toxic Sea that possessed abilities equal to gods. If it were an Ancient Dragon, it would explain how the toxic bugs and sea snakes could live in this dead world… It is hence a pity that it has clearly left despite its distinct presence.”
“Be that as it may, our race can no longer endure another failure. So what if we found a world with life? Fighting an Ancient Dragon would only exhaust every power of us three, and if it failed, who would sustain the material cycle needed for the thousands of dragons that now reside in the Sleeping Dragon Abyss? If that happens, we would no longer have the chance to rise again.”
Bognar merely shook its huge head in reply to Verdia’s question. “No. Not us, just me.”
Then, the huge dragons spread its wings and looked up, its gaze penetrating the mountain walls towards the purple-black toxic sky of the Sleeping Dragon Abyss. “I will search for the source of that energy ripple, and search for that Abyssal plane that might hold life… While you two stay here, in the Sleeping Dragon Abyss, and watch over our tribes.”
“That way, even if I fail, the Pentashade dragons would not suffer and face extinction.”
Both Verdia and Kanor fell silent—Bognar’s words were filled with resolve. Those were also words once spoken by the respective kings of the Red and Green Dragons, the two former Dragon Kings having given everything to find a new place to live without powerful races such as humans. Even so, they went missing in their exploration of the Multiverse, dealing a huge blow to the Celestial Dragons that were already on the decline.
But all of them had been striving for a hopeful future, and no dragon would deny that.
Bognar did not wait for the replies from its companions, and simply left the floating mountain with teleportation magic. The black dragon Kanor too hesitated for a moment before activating the dimensional portal as well, turning towards Verdia who remained silent just before it left. “It’s dangerous for Bognar to go alone—I must aid it. Verdia, watch over this place… it’s the last settlement of our race.”
At that, it too moved through the portal, and headed to the Void in pursuit of Bognar, leaving Verdia to stay silently alone in the floating mountain, quietly watching the empty bowels of the mountain.
“Of course,” it said silently, as if answering its two companions that had already left.
It’s the only thing I could do.
Lava Inferno—the Sixth Abyss.
For the first time, several Demon Generals who were returning from otherworld conquests were summoned by Goliath the Demon King to the Valley of Tears Fortress at the center of the plane. No demons were aware of what they discussed, but the sharper demons inside the fortress could sense that there were three discreet dimensional ripples that trembled the depths of the fortress consecutively.
An unknown world in the Multiverse.
A fleet shrouded in darkness departed from the Void fortress, sailing in the direction of the dimensional ripples left by the waves of the Great Mana Tide, but their target had already been decided—it was a borderless graveyard located at the very bottom layer of worlds, a corner in the depths of the Abyss. They sensed one familiar signature—it was the signature of their prey they had been desperately seeking centuries ago.
“You two, I suddenly thought about an oversight we may have.”
Within the scientific vessel floating over the Great Ajax Mountains in the world of Mycroft, Joshua sought out the two Legendary mages who were calculating the coordinates of the world where the Ancient Dragon was present. “Since the Ancient Dragon has already awakened, its power would certainly unfurl as well… That’s the most important beacon, but we might also have to seize the moment to find it.”
“It’s very likely that we are not the only ones pursuing it.”