Translator: EndlessFantasy Translation Editor: EndlessFantasy Translation
Within the vast Kronos Mountains, Drakonids might come across countless unique and bizarre monsters, view many majestic sights. However, for those who still survived on this day and was observing the outer reaches of the mountain, what they say was wondered that outshone all they had seen in life.
The dark meteor fell from the heavens above, with everything it passed being eroded by a dull ripple. Winds were altered, clouds were eroded, even rainwater turned into dark toxic as it poured over the land, turning what was once desert into churning swamp. Thunder and earthquakes were the most astonishing natural phenomenon Drakonids had ever experienced—when thunder streaked across the skies, all Drakonids could feel the majesty of nature, while none would suspect the power of the earth that carried all things when the earth trembled the mountains.
Nevertheless, in this very moment and in the face of the Darkness that eroded the world, all appeared powerless and laughable: thunder was merely its food, while the earth could not stand against it.
And yet, such a Darkness was bound by several profound beings who descended from the sky to a spot, rendered immobile.
Facing the Darkness that appeared to have paused motionlessly, Joshua never hesitated to dart within.
The squirming vapor had become stagnated thanks to Barnil’s restraint, while the magical barrier William set up limited the spread of the mist. Carrying flame and magnetic field, the warrior turned all black geometrical shape that intended to attack into fundamental molecules, and like a crimson belt of light that patrolled the mist, swiftly seek the location of the dark core.
Against the enemy’s clearly inhuman processing hub, even Barnil could not last long. Its sheer processing power was no domain humans were familiar with, which was why he must seize the moment.
Fortunately, it was no difficult matter. For Legendary champions who focused his mind solely upon searching the whereabouts of an enemy, it was no issue to seek out a black sphere over forty-meters long within mist that was over dozens of kilometers in diameter. Even if they could not find it with their eyes, there were other ways for them to look for it.
“Should be nearby.”
Close to the center of dark mist, Joshua stopped moving for a moment, looking around at the black mist that now moved slowly, yet still wanted to erode him. Extending his right hand and balling his fist, the warrior promptly launched a vein of frightening ripple that swept across the area engulfed in dark mist.
His eyes flashing with silver radiance, Joshua was now freeing himself from the restraint of his own weight, allowing hundred thousand tons of mass to corrugate across dozens of kilometers. Steel Strength surged, buffing the mass itself so that the massive force spread uninhibitedly—the warrior was now the heart of the cyclone, the windstorm shaped from gravity drawing all black mist to his body.
Beneath Joshua’s might, the earth shook, while the nearby geometrical shapes and black particles began to shudder uncontrollably in the dark mist. Countless nanometer black particles had lost the ability to move, involuntarily approaching Joshua and getting caught by Joshua. The geometrical shapes were no better—as if losing gravity, they began to sway and drop, and approached Joshua just like the black particles.
The entire interior of the black mist had seemingly fallen into a curious weightless state—it was the earth’s gravity being nullified by the gravity of another being. The black mist torrented, its serenity now filled with dense wrinkles.
If I can’t meet my enemy, I’ll have my enemy come meet me.
That was the way Joshua chose.
And the method was unexpectedly effective—the powerful electromagnetic boundary that was unleashed along with the distorted gravity had paralyzed huge layers of black mist and geometrical bodies, with the warrior at the center.
All of them, like moths to a flame, rapidly closed in on Joshua and crashed into his Steel body, thus assimilated by Joshua’s Steel Strength. The mist that devoured worlds was, after all, matter, and now that it had no countermeasures, it was nothing other than food for the warrior.
However, Joshua did not pay attention to the dark particles or the geometrical bodies. He looked down onto the land below, his gaze somber. In seconds, as the land that had been eroded into a swamp by the Darkness wrinkled, a huge, smooth black sphere slowly rose from the surface. It was trying to resist the warrior’s deliberately empowered magnetic and gravity field, but how could it win as it simultaneously fought four Legendary-tier powers from Barnil, William, the Ancient Dragon and Joshua? After struggling for seconds, the black sphere abruptly wafted out from the surface and approached Joshua.
The Ancient Dragon let out a low growl when it saw the true form of its nemesis. Wielding electromagnetic field and taking one step forward, it started to gather flame and lightning by its maw, whereas purple-green lightning beams began to assemble around the Ancient Dragon’s body. It pierced the air, as if the dragon intended to directly ejaculate a contracted electromagnetic breath to directly destroy the black sphere—and with Joshua as well.
But it did not do so in the end, because William, who had been maintaining the magical barrier discreetly approached it a little. Barnil, who was busy struggling for control against the dark core turned his head subtly as well, glancing at the Dragon God out of the corner of his eye.
Joshua was not caught surprised that his move was so easy, because he and the Ancient Dragon had already maimed the Darkness, but anything else it did now was a mere struggle. The dark mist’s advantage lay in the fact that it was mysterious and indestructible, and would have countless times of resurgence as long as its core was not destroyed. But now that the location of its true form had been exposed, it was ten times less formidable as a threat.
Furthermore, now that there were four Legends surrounding it and giving it a beating, it would unusual if it was not easy instead.
The dark core was still trying to fight back against Joshua’s gravity. Countless dense concentric circles began to appear over its smooth surface like a lake during rain. Veins of powerful purple-black electric currents pierced all of the black particles, allowing them to be freed from the warrior’s gravity, but that remained temporary—it did not matter how the dark core tried to interfere and struggle, Joshua only had to maintain his power over it thanks to the attractive forces between gravity and magnetic fields. Joshua hence reached out with his right hand again, making a ‘pull’ gesture at the dark core across thin air, and it promptly moved one large pace closer to the warrior.
Everyone believed that the battle was about to end. Barnil, who had been using his full strength to fight against the dark core to take control of the mist could not help but sigh, and wipd away the liquid nitrogen on his head that was used to cool his brain.
But in the very next moment, the dark core made an unexpected move. Abandoning the resistance against Joshua’s gravity, it accelerated instead toward him, a profound hole of darkness appearing out of the smooth surface of its core. As if a gaping jaw that consumed everything, it borrowed Joshua’s full power as the warrior tugged at it, launching a counteroffensive at the warrior instead!
Both Barnil and William blanked out when they saw what was happening. Due to the dire moment, their entire body surged with powerful mana and runic constructs, simultaneously attempting to warn the warrior with spiritual link, but it was too late.
Joshua had been swallowed by the dark core.
The Ancient Dragon flapped its wings when it saw the sight, rising into the air and ignoring the two Legendary mages’ precautions as if a great enemy had arrived. Instead, it summoned thunder and lightning from the magnetic field of the world itself, with electromagnetic sparks promptly condensing in the air visibly. Lightning and thunder crisscrossed in the skies, forming a vast sea of green-blue lightning, with the Ancient Dragon at its center—it had yet to launch its assault, but already shown a presence of destroying worlds. The Ancient Dragon stared at the dark core that became motionless after swallowing Joshua, its draconic pupils flowing with purple-red light.
It had seen that spectacle many times before: the warship of the Kronos people before had been devoured by the mist as well, and soon reappeared but as a turncoat. Thought the Ancient Dragon did not know if the corrupting force would work against that powerful being, it must be prepared to utterly bury that dark core even at the price of devastating Kronos again.
And in the darkness, the unscathed Joshua heard an inorganic voice.
“Please hand all resources to us.”
Having been swallowed into the dark core, Joshua was not facing any danger. If the Void Mother’s molecular disintegration fog was useless against him, it would be the same for the nanometer-class particle erosion that was remarkably similar. The warrior’s body streamed with million-degrees of searing flame, incinerating all dark substances that approached, but just as he intended to burst out his power to destroy the dark core from within, he heard an unusual inorganic voice.
“Please hand all resources to us.”
There was no emotion at all in the voice, or indeed no soundwaves at all. It was a spiritual language directed to the soul, stirring the surface of Joshua’s spirit as it distinctly conveyed its meaning. Joshua had thought at first that the control behind the dark core was speaking to him across thin air, only to find that it was a voice from the dark core itself.
The dark core did not attack—or perhaps its attacks had all been blocked by Joshua’s autonomous defenses. It had repeated those words again and again with no emotion after having sealed the warrior in its own body, it words resembling a machine.
“Please present your energy to us.”
“Please present your substance to us.”
“The enemy has come, the Final Defense established. All life must make a contribution.”
Upon hearing that, Joshua could not help pausing mid-movement, having mustered his strength for a brisk break out of the dark core’s restraint by destroying it from within.
Was the enemy of the dark core not the Ancient Dragon? It was not right according to those words—that enemy appeared to be something the Darkness could not stand against, having the need for them to set up the so-called Final Defense. At most, the Ancient Dragon was an equal of the Darkness or perhaps even losing out slight, and therefore the enemy the Darkness mentioned was clearly not the Ancient Dragon.
The enemy that made the Darkness felt threatened must be even more dangerous than the Darkness itself. But Joshua did not intend to hear the dark core out—in his hand, the dancing light of a blazing sun slowly dimmed, turning into a spherical silver luster of Steel Strength.
The core powers that Joshua had mastered at the moment were Steel Strength, broiling flames, magnetic field, and profound mass—all of which were based on the Nuclear Heart Engine and the highly-dense substance shaped from Steel Strength. But apart from battle, Steel Strength could also embody information, which was the ability that allowed him to interact with the balrog across realms, attaining world memories. It was also thanks to Steel Strength that he could awaken from the distortion of divinity, recovering to his original spiritual state.
Now, he would use that power and deliberately acquire the information recorded in the dark core, instead of listening to its hideously messed-up tale.
In the very next second, the warrior raised the silver radiance his hand and pressed it inside the dark core. The radiance became countless specks of light instantly, seeping into the core, and Joshua promptly sensed a massive amount of sporadic information poured toward him from the end of the Darkness.
And he saw the truth hidden behind the Darkness.
The final bell rang at the center of the world. The dull yellow was consuming the sun, and as the gloomy radiance shone upon the land, the earth trembled violently and rumbled resoundingly, with debris from the crumbling towering buildings crashing down like raindrops on the city amidst the waves of astonished cries from the survivors.
Over the distant dull-yellow skies, shades were spreading, where a colossal and unnamable being was descending—but before that, the aberrations of Chaos were surging like swarms of insects across all directions. Everything along the way was destroyed: cities flattened, humans devoured, while the occasionally unleashed magical lights disappeared without a trace after a few seconds of resistance, just like fireworks.
After civilization was devastated, the sun was extinguished. The world has fallen, the end has come.
“Warning, the Endbringer is breaking through the world fort—Shelter Delta has been destroyed, all survivors move to the next shelter at once!”
“Damn it, how did those bastards gather into swarms? There was nothing like this before in the past decades of observation!”
An irritated and raging voice rang, and was soon followed by many other voices. All of them reported the current situation in an orderly manner, but everyone’s information was extremely bleak.
“Shelter Omicron is invaded by the Endbringer of codename: Rot, Shelter Theta is invaded by the Endbringer of codename: Calamity!”
“More than half of the twelve World Shelters within the Alliance’s domain has been invaded by Endbringers, with at least five Endbringers launching simultaneous attacks… Heavens, how did they learn to combine? That did not happen even in the last Great Mana Tide!”
“Withdraw all forces—we can’t stand against so many Endbringers at once. Move all citizens to Shelter Alpha… Where are our allies? This isn’t the time to be troubled over Alliance dignity—no matter how great the price, we must block this wave of invasion!”
“Leader! Intelligence shows that there is dimensional quaking of indeterminate levels around the world of Mycroft! More than four hundred Abyssal portals had opened there, with several Endbringers closing in on them… they are worse off than we are!”
“Could it be that every Endbringer of the Multiverse is here?!”
There was despair in the voice. Through endless reports, the circumstances in the surrounding dimensional region was elucidated in the mind of the person called leader: more than ten Endbringers and virtually half the demons of the Abyss had come. They were wandering the Void with their own minions, destroying all living worlds along the way—over a dozen worlds with smaller civilization were completely destroyed, whereas several powerful civilizations were struggling.
But failure was foreseeable.
Defeat was at hand, even for one as powerful as them and the world of Mycroft.
Endbringers, corpses of worlds and destruction incarnate were nightmares for all civilizations in the Multiverse, the greatest foe of Order, with only powerful civilization stood a chance against these beings. In the past millennia, the Alliance had not encountered Endbringer invasion—even so, to face five of them at the same time exceeded their ability.
“Damn it!! Why did those bastards gather?” The Leader calmed after brief bewilderment, taking a few deep breaths. “Prioritize moving First-class citizens into Shelter Alpha,” he commanded with a cold voice. “We must protect the Spark of civilization. Use Shelter Omega, Eta and Beta as buffs, and wait until everyone had evacuated to unleash the ‘Black Fog’.”
“Leader, although the inscription of core runes had been completed in the Black Mist, Master Nok said that his guild had not completed the combat module yet!”
“There’s no time. As long as the core rune module is there, the ‘Black Mist’ would learn to self-evolve. It is the highest crystallization of our civilization—defeating the Endbringers notwithstanding, it at least guarantees the safety of one shelter world… Hurry, time is short. They are coming!”
The voice became faint until it finally vanished, and what followed was the sight of shelter worlds being destroyed one after another—Calamity dropped stars that tore the earth’s crust apart, whereas Rot eroded all things, turning grass and trees into flying dust. Before the unnamable beings called Endbringers, nations, and cities that civilizations spent millennia to establish were as fragile as sandcastles. Even vast Void Fleets were just as weak, only able to buy time so that migration vessels could escape into the distant Void.
Joshua viewed it all with a superior angle of vision. He could hear many familiar words from the dark core such as the worlds of Karlis and Mycroft. But before he could think about the meaning behind those words, clusters of new information appeared once more.
“The plan has failed. Virtually all civilizations in the surrounding dimensional region were destroyed… though there appear to be few survivors, there is no world suitable for living even after the Endbringers are defeated.”
“Most of the migration vessels were shot down, the world is ravaged, the surviving population could not guarantee the prolongment of current technology… Though the Black Mist had been released and separated from the senses of the Endbringers, Shelter Alpha is becoming unsuitable for inhabitation… We are falling into the Abyss.”
“Mana is rapidly decreasing, our descendants are already experiencing devolution, progenies are unable to maintain pure bodies of energy, we might not be able to hold on to the next Great Mana Tide… But even if the Alliance is destroyed, the races facing extinction, we still have one last chance.”
The voice that was rich with emotion gradually dispersed before finally quieted. In its place was a machine voice, inorganic and emotionless.
“The extinction of the Creator race had been observed.”
“The destruction of the Creator civilization ascertained.”
“Hidden backup project found… backup information storage found.”
The voice that was linear, calm and unfettered echoed amidst countless flashing mirages. Joshua knew that it was the voice of the dark mist.
“World Reshaping Project executing… Cleaning Chaos ripples, adjusting landscapes, repairing natural ecospheres, recovering Order cycle of Shelter Alpha.”
“Warning! We can’t create souls! We can’t create souls! We can’t create souls!”
“Unable to revive creator race! Revival project failure!”
“Order cycle canceled. Undergoing plan β, seeking power to create life.”
In the Void, a cluster of dark mist suddenly surged. It was covered in darkness and had fallen into a broken world inside the Abyss, circling it a few times before peeling out of its mother form to fly toward other worlds, patrolling the Multiverse in search of their target.
Joshua did not need to keep watching to know the truth behind. To recover the Order cycle of their world and revive their Creator’s race, the black mist finally found the silver Ancient Dragon—its power that symbolized Creation itself was undoubtedly what they needed. After centuries of entanglement, the black mist that lacked a combat module and was therefore far from a threat for the Ancient Dragon eventually learned to fight. It kept tight pursuit of the Ancient Dragon, and finally came to the edge of the world of Kronos.
Soon came invasion, war, and destruction.
The battles between civilizations had always been cruel. By using focal points to destroy the balance upon the earth’s surface, the dark mist destroyed the world of Kronos, maimed the Ancient Dragon while utterly destroying itself. Even so, as long as one bit of the mist returned to their mother form, the mother form located in Shelter Alpha would dispatch new mist to maintain its pursuit on the Ancient Dragon.
But to Joshua, many questions remained answered: was the dark mist the ‘Darkness of the Stars’ that the Earth Temple claimed to have bewitched them? And who was the enemy the mist mentioned? Why would it invade other worlds of Order without bridle—perhaps its Creators did not enforce that restriction upon it?
That was why Joshua kept watching, the warrior maintaining the information exchange with the dark core as he waited for the truth to present itself.
Thus, he saw a sight he had already known.
It was the starry skies of the Multiverse where the light of countless worlds twinkled, shaping into a boundless silver river of light. However, a vague darkness flowed in the light, eroding the surrounding radiances, disintegrating worlds, destroying and assimilating them into a darkness like themselves… As the radiance of the Great Mana Tide shown, that darkness followed it, wandering toward distant worlds.
Those were the shadows of Evil Gods—the so-called ‘Endbringers’.
Just like the Seven Gods, the black mists discovered the signs of the Evil Gods’ return a thousand years later!
“All is for resistance.”
“All is for insurance.”
“Through calculations, your kind has been noted to be unable to resist the Endbringers. The Final Defense has been established. Please hand all energy and all substance to us, please make your contribution for the final victory.”
“The selfish ones shall be destroyed. By assembling all forces that could be assembled, we would fight the Endbringers. Please hand all resources to us.”
The cold and inorganic voice wafted again. It was not a memory of the dark core, but a voice in reality. When he heard those words, Joshua could not help clenching his fist.
—That explains everything.
Everything now made sense.
It was Order without emotion, morals or restraint. The ‘Black Mist’, an ultimate weapon created from wisdom had loyally executed every plan of their Creators: collecting all resources, fighting Evil Gods, do their best to revive their race so that their civilization can be reborn… To achieve that gold, the Black Mist did not hesitate chasing after the Ancient Dragon, destroying other civilizations, harvesting races, and worlds as resources… They were the Darkness that walked amongst the stars, allowing terror and despair to spread step by step.
It destroyed the world of Xillia and created the Bloodmoon Abyss. It destroyed the world of Kronos, and if not for the Ancient Dragon’s presence there would have been another Abyss. It made deals with the Abyss, allowing those demons that did not have many bribes to invade other worlds and finally harvesting itself… And those were merely the known cases. In the unknown depths of the Multiverse, it was ultimately unknown how many worlds and civilizations the black mist had destroyed.
Through the profound backup data vault left by their Creators, the Black Mist could use virtually every scheme and conspiracies to achieve its own ends. The cold and callous will did not care about the price it paid in its quest to revive its Creators and fighting the Evil Gods would invade other worlds of Orders without restraint, using any means necessary to plunder energy and resources.
It was no Evil God and yet greater than them. It was Order and yet the foe of Order. Its purpose is justified and could be justified to other civilizations, but its methods brimmed with malevolence and plunder that there was no hint of civilization.
It slaughtered for revival, destroyed for Order. If one were to say that Evil Gods were the incarnation of Chaos and the corpses of worlds after death, then this paradoxical body was the other side of Order, an embodiment of darkness—and Joshua realized that the damage for such a being as it wandered the Multiverse, would surpass Evil Gods!
Still, the origins that led to the birth of the Darkness were ultimately the Evil Gods…
If not for the invasion of Evil Gods, all of this would not have happened.
Canceling the information exchange, Joshua withdrew his right hand that was touching the dark core, closed his eyes and clenched both his fists. Patterns akin to porcelain cracks slowly unfurled over the surface of his body, scattered sparks began to dance around him, glimmering like embers.
Having known the truth of it all, he was left at loss for an instant. Joshua would never know if there would be a better outcome should the dark mist had used the correct manner to treat other civilizations and interact with the Ancient Dragon, or if the civilization in the Shelter that once interacted with the world of Mycroft could be reborn. But now, the present truth was that the dark mist was a cancerous tumor of the Multiverse, and he could not abide by the continued existence of such a being.
But the more one pondered, the more helpless one felt—for Evil Gods were born from destroyed worlds as well.
What use was there even if the Evil Gods were all wiped out? They were born in the despair and anguished cries of worlds, and just as there is shadow with light, there would be Evil Gods of Chaos when there are civilizations of Order. There would always be the next every time… A repetitive cycle with no end.
This Darkness that permeated the Multiverse, engulfing the stars and worlds was not some black mist or Evil God, but the reason the Evil God was born, the shade after the Initial Flame burned.
—Perhaps that was the reason why the Sage left.
At the very thought, Joshua found that he vaguely understood why the Sage would leave the world of Mycroft after the Final Battle. He must have realized early on that if the origin of the sorrowful cycle was to be utterly destroyed, he must learn why Evil Gods are born after worlds were devastated. Every battle would have been meaningless if the reason was not found.
“Every life must contribute…”
The dark core was still speaking those bizarre words, but now the warrior was no longer listening. He had become aware of what his objective was.
Mere minutes had passed beyond the dark mist. While the Ancient Dragon awaited the next move of the Dark Core so as to use its most powerful blow to completely destroy it, it suddenly picked up a presence that was both immeasurably familiar and affection. Barnil and William gaped too, turning to look at the dark core that had been frozen where it was, for scarlet traces that resembled magma had suddenly appeared over the dark yet smooth surface of the core.
It was the traces of Flame, proof of Order. The power of the King of Searing Soul cascaded, breaking the dark core.
Inside the Darkness, Joshua took a deep breath and looked up at the mist that whirled incessantly as it approached him. He spread his arms as if in an embrace, while burning flames unfurled at the same time, incinerating all black particles and mist.
The warrior’s gaze became composed once more.
Circulation of Darkness? The Darkness of the Stars? The Unbreakable Circle of Anguish?
Those were all stagnating excuses, reasons given while one sat and watch as darkness spread—if the Multiverse was dark, then they should simply illuminate it with Flames. The pioneers had brightened the lightness night with fire, and he shall brighten the universe of Chaos with the flames of Order.
I am He who reignited the Flame. I am Joshua van Radcliffe.
I shall wipe away all darkness and Chaos until life ends.