Translator: EndlessFantasy Translation Editor: EndlessFantasy Translation
A tremendous black tear appeared over the green sky, with a dozen meters long black dragon hence rushing out of the wound-like tear. As the air was buffeted by fast winds at almost thousands of meters per second, the black dragon simply could not maintain its balance, and thus gave up, simply plummeting downwards after struggling for a few moments.
“Master! I really can’t hold on!”
In the air, Black was screaming in panic and yet the warrior made no reply. He had seen with a sweeping glance of every tempest and pillar of cyclone in one-tenth of a second, noticing the ancient and majestic floating city below him. Having made the calculation, his ankles burst lightly in the very next moment, and the black dragon abruptly sensed an incomparable power exploding out of her own head, surging toward her limbs and wings. In the very next instant, she felt as if her own body was no longer hers, moving on their own initiative to curl into a ball—her tail coil and her limbs withdrawn—while a layer of silver radiance engulfed the surface of her body.
At the moment, Black was like a black and silver meteor, breaking through the wild winds in a straight line and a black cyclone, before crashing through the barrier on the surface of the floating city and dropping within.
Just as the black dragon became a meteor, shattering the shield and was about hit the square on the center of the floating city, Joshua grabbed the steel briefcase that was Zero-Three’s real form and simply leaped down from the black dragon’s head. Although he did not make any accelerating movements, he landed much faster than the huge black dragon. In an instant, after a loud crash, the warrior stood steadily, visible amidst the square where clumps of dust were rising.
Without hesitation, he reached out with his left hand in the very next instant and held it over his head—the black dragon tried to change directions as it was about to crash onto her own master, but the great power that resided in her body stopped her, forcing her to follow the original trail and crashing toward Joshua.
—Oh no oh no, I’m going to get scolded when we get back if I crash! Who knows how much homework that’ll be!
Just as Black closed her eyes, held her breath and braced for the incoming crash in despair, she suddenly found her body becoming light, shrinking and pinched by a huge hand by the back of her neck. As the black dragon girl opened her eyes, she found in shock that she had actually shifted from dragon to human form. Through it all, Joshua had been holding the briefcase in one hand, her neck on another, standing steadily over the city square of the ancient ruins.
“This Divine Dungeon Shroud is rather unique.”
Joshua released his grip, and the black dragon girl who was still staring blankly and keeping herself ‘curled like a ball’ dropped to the ground. He looked around, and said solemnly, “I have never seen such a mirage… Curious. Is this actually a mirage?”
Meanwhile, Zero-Three’s projection appeared beside Joshua, frowning. “Where… is this place?” She murmured softly. “The style of this building feels rather familiar…”
“It’s the dream of a perished god,” Joshua replied, having seen that he had dropped down on the city square of an ancient settlement. The square itself was surrounded by exquisite buildings and facilities, but most of their debris remained working amidst the radiance emanating from runes. Joshua stared at the buildings, muttered to himself for a while before exclaiming in understanding. “No, it’s the same as with Sinoer—it’s no dream, it’s reality! This unnamed god is truly powerful, as expected of a Prime God!”
“Reality?” Zero-Three promptly turned to the warrior in shock despite her frown when she heard his genuine awe, blinking and saying puzzledly, “But just now we were only dashing into the shroud!”
A dozen seconds ago, they were all still hovering by the mountain ridges around the Lake Forest Fortress northeast to the Northern Empire, watching the white ocean of fog that churned amidst the valley. It was unthinkable that they had arrived at an environment that was so clearly different.
“It’s a little hard to explain.”
While the matter may be rather astonishing to others, it was nothing much for Joshua who traveled worlds from time to time—it was even almost a habit. The warrior took a few steps forward and picked up a few stone fragments from the square, scrutinized them seriously and clenched them with his fist. “But you should understand.”
As he opened his palm again, the stone fragments that were now powder wafted away. Joshua then looked up toward the huge city ruins that seemed to consist entirely of spires and gears. “You should know—Zero-Three, humans use their brain to process external information—whether it is vision, touch, smell, hearing or taste, all of it is feedback sent to the brain by stimulated muscle and nerves.
“In other words, as long as there is a way to stimulate certain nerves in the brain to let you ‘smell’ the fragrance of flowers, you would smell it even if there is not a single flower in reality.”
“…But according to the way you put it…”
Zero-Three nodded—putting it that way was certainly easy to understand. Still, she doubtfully looked around, while Joshua nodded seriously. “What you’re seeing is a mirage the Divine Dungeon Shroud enforced upon you. It’s not just the mind, since even you, Zero-Three, whose pure soul was influenced. That is evident of the mirage’s profoundness.”
“But fundamentally speaking, it is not actually a mirage. Which is why I am in awe.”
Without a pause, Joshua began to head for the edge of the square, reaching an avenue that led toward the skyscraper at the center of the city, Zero-Three and the still-ragged Black in tow. “A mirage is completely fake,” Joshua explained calmly and patiently for the two, “But part of the city in this Divine Dungeon Shroud is reality—it is a giant blueprint in itself, formed from Divine Powers. When given sufficient materials and energy to remake the mirage, it would abruptly become real!”
And that was precisely the technology the warrior was in awe of. The ancient Prime God whose name was still unknown had kept all details of a city into their own soul, with every brick, every particle in the inscribed runes and mana elements remembered distinctly and without any skewing in position. To put it in another way, with sufficient raw materials and energy, it could directly replicate the majestic floating city in the real world with molecular precision akin to 3D printers!
But He has now perished, leaving only His Mark in the Divine Dungeon Shroud in anticipation of the arrival of a successor.
“It is exactly because it is not a dreamworld that the Divine Dungeon Shroud did not give me a trial. According to my senses, we could come in contact with the Mark directly if we head for the tower at the center.”
Joshua appeared unhurried as he treaded the avenue toward where the Divine Mark was in search of the way gods cultivated their souls. Such a move that solidifies all information of a city through divinity into a soul was truly unbelievable, and was equivalent to carrying a few mountains as one sprinted under the oceans in terms of muscle output. Not even ordinary Legendary champions could do that.
Truly a god. Joshua was left awestruck.
Behind him, both Zero-Three and Black shook their heads furiously but silently at once.
No, it was not like there wasn’t a trial.
The two recalled, and a lingering fear flashed across their mind—the black dragon who fell from the sky had experienced the turbulent airflow in the skies, the huge cyclones amidst the oceans, and shattered the protective barrier shielding the floating city, and finally pierced the last runic boundary layer. It was only after all that that they could steadily land over the city square, and was those not trials? No matter how they thought about it, everything was already extraordinarily dangerous—if Black was alone, she might have fallen and be reduced into a clump of dragon puddle!
Most people would have found such a series of disasters and barriers troubling and unrewarding, but such demanding trials was not even worth mentioning for Joshua who had completely broken through all of it with a mere wave of his hand.
Unconcerned by the thoughts of the two girls behind him, Joshua thus arrived beneath the tower at the center of the city.
It was a double-cross shaped unique tower with a regular hexagonal prism base that shrinks the higher it went, just like a huge hexagonal thorn. The prism tower structure was simple and elegant, bearing an uncomplicated aesthetic. It was layered throughout in a dull gold hue, with many pale-blue gems inserted over the body of the tower, while translucent and mysterious runes flickered around it, with gales bellowing from within.
“The tower… why doesn’t it have a door?”
As Joshua stopped in his tracks, Black craned her neck to look around for a bit and scratched her head, befuddled. She then turned, looking around, and called out to the warrior as if she had found something, “Master, Master, look—there aren’t any doors in the buildings around as well! But their windows are huge…”
“Perhaps the race that lived here didn’t need doors.” Zero-Three nodded thoughtfully before Joshua could answer, the black wings behind her flapping and dropping a few luminous specks of mana. “For example, if they had wings, they certainly would not need doors.”
“As for me, I could almost guess the owner of this Divine Dungeon Shroud. Such a unique city construct, countless towering spires… it could only be Him.”
Nodding and agreeing with Zero-Three, Joshua lifted the briefcase and looked up to the top of the tower. As he stretched out with his left hand to gesture for Zero-Three to temporarily nullify her projection, he grabbed Black, who in turn reached out to his palm after staring blankly for a brief moment. In the very next moment, Joshua clenched his left hand, the base beneath his feet shaking briefly right before he rocketed over a tremendous cloud of dust toward the top of the skyscraper!
“Wooooaaaaah—slow down Master!!!”
Unlike the calm and peaceful Zero-Three who had returned to her true body in the briefcase, Black almost started to tear up after barely conquering her own acrophobia. Almost fainting, she could only rapidly rise in the air as Joshua dragged her off like a corpse.
“You’re a dragon! How could a dragon even mention the word ‘slow’!”
Joshua shook his head, disgruntled by the incompetence. Still, he assuredly would not decrease his speed, and simply rushed forward, covering the vertical distance of over thousands of meters within seconds and arriving at the top of the skyscraper.
Before he reached the top, Joshua had felt no danger at all—the ancient city ruins in the Divine Dungeon Shroud had been so quiet that he can’t hear any hint of life even with his hearing. Apart from those tremendous black cyclones that were moving slowly, there was nothing in this world that made a sound, and despite Joshua knowing that there was no safe Divine Dungeon Shrouds, the exceedingly relaxing environment did make him lower his defenses.
Still, he was a warrior who maintained a minimal level of vigilance in every given moment. Therefore, when he arrived at the top, he felt his entire body tighten as a profound threat surged wildly into his mind, and the warrior unwittingly quivered once throughout his body, the translucent frame of the Steel Giant appeared behind him.
“What—what’s going on!”
In an instant, the world changed abruptly. The green skies abruptly turned dark, while the blue oceans turned crimsons, endless bubbles bursting over its surface and emitting black smoke. Those black cyclones over the seas thus started to flicker with dark purple lightning, unleashing dim radiance.
In the thick of the hellish skies, a black vortex cloud cascaded. As purple lightning flickered, a cold malevolent presence began to spread, with chilling winds whizzed over the surface of the sea, freezing the boiling ocean surface. Thus, the floating city began to slowly plummet toward the sea, the overpowering sensation of weightlessness pressing down upon everyone.
Joshua frowned amidst the sudden upheaval, and looked down toward the ancient city ruins in the Divine Dungeon Shroud. He could see that those dilapidated ruins had suddenly become brand-new albeit still being broken. They had reverted to their form of the moment they had been destroyed all those years ago, as if every broken brick had just been wrecked by a great power, and that the battle had just ended a few seconds ago.
As if Joshua had triggered some switch, the mirage in the Divine Dungeon Shroud changed dramatically as if everything had returned to more than a thousand years ago, to that bitter battle where even gods fell. The skies stirred and bellowed, the seas surging and wailing, even as the floating slowly dropped toward the ocean like a falling mountain and about to tear a tide that was a thousand meters tall.
In the silence, Joshua looked up toward the top of the central tower. Unlike before where there was nothing, there was now the figure of a ‘man’. The being that His hands clasped and His back toward Joshua, His head raised and looking toward the churning vortex in the sky with no intention of turning around.
There were two wings growing over the being’s back, adorned with pure white streamlined but broad feathers, emanating a faint but warm golden light, allowing all to see that it was extraordinary and powerful. His robes were rather baggy, simple but not crude, with an emblem of ‘spread wings’. The robes and the emblem fluttered with the wind, just as the feathers over those huge wings did, as if incarnation of sky and wind.
However, at the center of the wings were a huge coal-black cavity. Evil yet chilling presence spread from the wound, and was flowing over the entire body of that being.
“I now know Your identity.”
Carrying Black who was almost fainting and did not dare utter a word just as the petite Zero-Three slowly appeared, Joshua stared at the winged being whose back was aimed at himself. The warrior nodded slightly in what passed off as a sign of respect, before uttering the being’s true name in immeasurable seriousness. “True God, Sovereign of the Skies, the Lord of the Tempset—Gale, Your Majesty.”
With the true name of a god being invoked, the being that stood at the top of the central tower finally moved. He slowly turned, and silently faced Joshua.
Hence, the ever-calm warrior, always unfazed by anything, could not stop himself from gaping.
For before him was a nightmare that none could envision.
There was no hint of the splendor that belonged to the gods in Gale, the Lord of the Skies of the Glorious Era, The God of Tempest, Masters of the Heavens and the Wild Winds. While He appeared to have some majesty belonging to a sovereign or a deity when gazed upon from behind, when viewed in front—
There was only nightmarish Chaos.
His face, chest, abdomen, and feet… Every front portion of the god had completely disappeared, leaving a dark and unstable Chaos distortion. It was a grotesque that not even the craziest of artists who used the filthiest of workmanship could come up with, for it was an unnamable presentation that somehow could not be more real. Clusters of incomparably obscure light flickered beneath the distortion, as if there was something that intended to burst out of the Chaos and enter reality.
—In the final moments of the Glorious Era, the Abyssal Doors had opened, while the gods and the Sage stood side by side to do battle against ancient evils and Evil Gods of Chaos. After thousands of difficult skirmishes, countless gods felt, their soul remnants left in the Infinite Horizon to wait for the advent of the Great Mana Tide, so that their Legacy would reappear when their Mark was revived.
That was the truth of the Divine Dungeon Shroud. It was only now that Joshua truly understood the outcome of doing battle directly against the ‘Evil Gods’. It was also the first time he felt respect for the gods of the last era, who triumphed head-on against the many Evil Gods for their race and civilization.
Was that Chaos-like distortion so terrifying and disgusting? Indeed, it was very astonishing. Even so, that was not a wound that no one would look straight at, while They, bearing the wounds and splendor as Gods who fell from the sky, was evidence that they had succeeded in protecting the world.
Joshua took a deep bow in the face of the horrifying yet unusual face of a deity. In seconds, a voice that was deep yet hoarse resounded out of nowhere and into the warrior’s ears.
“My compatriot… My kin… My Child… Guest from the homeworld.”
Joshua looked up toward Gale, the God of the Sky. The deity bore two great wings still had His hands clasped behind his back and remained motionless. Its face having been distorted by Chaotic corruption, there was no telling to whom its words were directed, with the hoarse voice seemingly directly sent into the mind through divinity. But the warrior knew that those words were not for him.
Joshua turned toward Zero-Three, the girl with pale blue hair who was standing beside him. She was gaping in shock at the moment, her black wings and her entire body rigid, immobile, as if frozen by a great power.
“Could it be… that He’s talking to me?” The A.I. girl murmured softly with an almost quivering voice, turning her head slightly while Joshua nodded solemnly.