Translator: EndlessFantasy Translation Editor: EndlessFantasy Translation
“That should be all for greetings, let’s now move to the real question—compared to meaningless partnerships, Vahina, I’m more concerned about this.”
At the center of the guest hall, Joshua sat right opposite Vahina, having cut the Eastern Sea Sage short. He leveled his gaze at her indiscernible facial expression and lifted a rather old tome that bore ancient sacred inscription over it. Joshua narrowed his eyes that flickered in silver radiance, and calmly said: “A classic related to Steel Strength. I remember it well—it was part of the deal the remnants of the Earth Temple made with me.”
“Why would it be in your possession, and why are you the one giving it to me?”
“Don’t you know?” Surprised, Vahina asked in return with her projection that was engulfed in a layer of obscure silver shroud—she was now curiously stroking her temple with her right index finger. “I thought every Legendary champion knew that I am a descendant of the Mother Goddess’s bloodline… Though I have left them and had also since stood against them, I was ultimately born there. It’s nothing too unusual for me to return since they had now given up on those mad plans of theirs.”
“It is indeed a book chronicling Steel Strength training of Majestic Mountain Titans allied to the Mother Goddess in the previous era. Even if it is given to you, its original had already been inscribed on a huge stone plaque in the Earth Temple, copied bit by bit by generations of predecessors.”
Joshua did not reply. His gaze was still filled with suspicion—he naturally knew that Vahina had spoken with composure, but everything remained doubtful. Still, there was no reason she would lie about such things as it was something that one could find out after a few questions.
On the other hand, Vahina took no offense against Joshua’s vigilant expression. “It’s fine, Count Radcliffe.” She laughed shortly. “Not everyone from the Earth Temple are lunatics—it’s just that none could comprehend the anguish of being connected to the Land without experiencing it firsthand. As for me, a sage who had melded with this world, I had originally intended to rise as the new Mother Goddess with my innate gifts. It ended up in failure, and I was forced to split apart with the other lunatics and assume another path.”
Even at the mention of becoming a god and taking the mantle of gods that had perished in the previous era, Vahina was still calm as if it was all logical. The lady with crystalline hair was ever composed as she waved her hand, gesturing that she did not mind Joshua’s cautiousness. “Joshua, you have reignited the Flame and thus saved the world from Finality—I had long intended to visit you and convey my gratitude.”
At that, Vahina rose and arched herself in a ninety-degrees bow, a deed so profound that Joshua stood as well in acceptance. He would have found it acceptable if the accomplishment was his alone, but it remained that it was something the Sage had left behind, and he himself being a mere medium—with Joshua personality, he would never accept such a grand gesture from her over it.
And now, Joshua certainly realized Vahina’s sincerity as well. The Oceanic Sage definitely neither held conspiracies, schemes, enmity—nor lies, for that matter. She had told her of her motives and reason for being here, and she had no reason to fool him.
“If that’s so, apologies for the troubling you to deliver this book… As for partnership, what does a mountain city in the North like Moldavia could collaborate with a coastal town like Sea Dragon City?”
Joshua sat, his demeanor softening considerably as he began to peacefully interact with Vahina. “As for training Dragon Riders, I indeed wish to learn about some tips from the Sea Dragon Knights. For our part, we might only interest you in magical technology.”
“Those are trivial.”
It was now Vahina’s turn to shake her head. “Everything in the world of Mycroft is now trivial. With your opening of the Multiverse Sacrificial Grounds and learning the vastness of the outside realms, all matters of the continent are no longer important.”
“Though it remains a foundation and an origin, everyone knows that if focus was kept upon the continent, we would be eliminated decades later—because the future lies in the distance, in development.”
The woman known as the Sage of the Oceans spoke with a clear voice and held herself composedly. “To this world, the partnership between you and I are most important—not between two regions,” she added with a melodious voice, lowering her head slightly. “While I am interested in the latest magical technology, that is a partnership that Barbarossa and others had already spoken to you about. I would not interfere for I know my place.”
That was certainly not incorrect. Joshua nodded, aware of the influence Legends held over the world. There would be twenty or thirty places on the Mycroft Continent equivalent to Moldavia no matter how much the city flourishes, but Legendary champions were different—it was a threshold that only the accomplished would know, a sublimation of a being’s essence.
Still, even if he understood those things, Joshua really did not want anymore nonsense for today—he did not make the journey back from Kronos through the Void to keep working, and so cut straightforwardly into the matter at hand once more.
“Alright, sage. Since you have shown good-faith on your own initiative, there would be no problems with a partnership—but as you would know, working together means mutual benefit: I just want to know what you intend to gain from me, and what I could gain from you.”
“…you’re really direct. As expected of the only being who wields Steel Strength in this era.”
Having listened silently to Joshua’s slightly abrasive—albeit certainly time-saving words, Vahina laughed shortly, keeping quiet for a moment before speaking again. “If that’s the case, I would spare no time to for nonsense either—to be frank, I had always been searching for ways to travel toward other worlds.”
Joshua lifted a brow slightly, uncomprehending. “Even Supreme could attempt moving across worlds after gaining certain methods, with even normal individuals able to transcend in the presence of natural dimensional passageways. Is there a need for you to come to me for something so trivial?”
“Those are random exploration of unknown worlds. What I want is to move, localized and selectively with certain conditions.”
Vahina shook her head; the elegant lady appeared emotional. “Do you know? Living worlds in the Multiverse are extraordinarily rare. Many worlds have stable Steel Strength cycle but not the radiance of Flame, and there is a million-year wait even with the possibility of birthing life. There is no meaning in going to such worlds.”
“I once desired to connect myself with this Land and become the new Mother Goddess, granting it revival… Though that arrogant plan failed, I found a way to communicate with the world even as I ascended to Legend and melded to the region near the Sea Dragon City. And yet, that shackled me as well.”
“One world only would no longer allow me to progress. If I wish to become stronger, I must attain information on other worlds.”
At those words, a hint of urgency appeared over Vahina’s face, the silver spiritual shroud cascading around her projection.
“Information of living worlds.”
—Very much the same as I am, Joshua thought in return. His own Steel Strength had been attained after traveling through quite a few worlds and analyzing the information therein as well. In that respect, the Eastern Sea Sage was the same as he was, having possessed a power that requires the study of more unfamiliar worlds.
Everything made sense that way: Vahina’s power had stagnated, but she saw a turning point when Joshua activated the Multiverse Sacrificial Grounds. Unable to control it herself, she turned her eyes to him, who was very likely linked to it.
And she was not wrong—had Joshua not just return from a living otherworld? Even he found her appearance here too much of a coincidence.
In the meantime, the sage was still revealing her thoughts. “Being honest, Joshua, I am very interested in Stellaris—the world you described as having a different psionic energy. It is energy that is highly compatible for me, and it would definitely be a great help to me… I know that you could communicate with the Will of the Multiverse Sacrificial Grounds, and I hope that you could request that it sends one of my spiritual clones to that world.”
“Logically, it could be done. The Commanding Will would not refuse such a request.”
Joshua refrained from asking why: everyone has thoughts and reasons behind their every action, much less Legendary champions. It would not be a bad thing for Vahina to become stronger since she was a friendly and benevolent human—Joshua was naturally happy to help her, though there was a lingering doubt in him. Even if it was not exactly related to Vahina herself, Joshua could not stop himself from asking.
“Sage. You mentioned that you are a blood descendant of the Mother Goddess, and intended to ascend as a deity to replace the Her in restoring the world… Then may I know if you’re aware of the reason the Mother Goddess had fallen?”
“According to what I know, She still lived after the final battle against the Evil Gods and the Abyss. But now, there is no doubt that She had indeed perished, and the World Will is enraged toward all humans. I assuredly have some guesses, but I’m not clear on the truth.”
“I don’t know much about the Mother’s death.”
Vahina could only shake her head and sigh. “We remain humans even if we are descendants of divine bloodline…” She said a little helplessly. “History was lost in change, leaving words thick with subjective opinions and biases… You could ask Barnil and William about it if you really wish to know. Those two are the most learned of this world and especially in those respect—even the Pentashade dragons granted them access to their classics.”
“Apart from them, you could inquire after the fairies in Fairyland. The four Fairy Queens possess complete legacies from the last era, with the Fairyland itself having not seen the fires of war over a thousand years and is now the most well-preserved region.”
Joshua nodded, and assumed a thoughtful pose before pressing her for more details. “Why would the fairies know about such things? Now that you mention it, they are more active recently.”
And that turn of events is completely different from the preexistence , he thought.
“They never left Fairyland since the Lost Three Hundred Years. Their legacy is hence undisturbed by war, preserving much knowledge information about ancient times. The ancestors of your Emperor Israel once carried fairy blood, which was why the fairies would aid and approach them. You must have come across those fellows as well.”
At that, the corner of Vahina’s lips curled, showing clear disdain. “It’s normal as to why they’re now active. Being the most sensitive race there is, the fairies felt that this world is quite uncomfortable when the Flame was waning, and were in greater anguish than us blood descendants of gods. It was also why the Fairy Queens would build a demiplane beyond this world that emulated a realm to protect their race.”
“It is a correct decision for a race, but the equivalent a deserter for a world… Whatever the case may be, the labor was quite profound, and with time the Fairyland might really become an actual world without the need of Ancient Dragon, World Will, a world built entirely by intelligent beings… it is also simple while they came out—with the fire reignited, nature was rebalanced, and why should there they stay in Fairyland, a half-baked product?”
Vahina spoke quickly while subconsciously communicating with her spirit, an equivalent of having two echoing voices. It would have been very difficult for any normal person to hear her clearly, but it was not for Joshua.
“Alright.” He nodded in response to the sage’s answer—there was nothing more to say since he had mostly understood the circumstances. Now, it is only up to Vahina to tell him what she could give him.
At the same time, the Sage of the Oceans was slowing in her speech. “That is my request—I wish to attain the coordinates to Stellaris and have the Multiverse Sacrificial Grounds send me there. And please tell me about information regarding that world.
“As for me, I would tell you all I know about Soul Mastery.”
Vahina smiled even as Joshua reacted with a rather surprised gaze. “You’ve never hidden your whereabouts and requests, and as a result, anyone who wanted to would learn about your latest worries… As a being who ascended to Legendary through Soul Mastery, I could see that you have already started on its path, but my experience could help you from going on detours.”
However, Joshua was not actually quite surprised by that fact.
—Finally, a spellcaster who had ascended through Soul Mastery. He thought, almost laughing when he remembered Barnil and William.
And in that moment Joshua was slightly distracted, Vahina had risen, the silver spiritual shroud around her body turning into a small spell boundary that covered the entire guest hall.
“My body here is a spiritual clone,” she said the instant Joshua regained focus. “She carries no substance, a pure spiritual body… Even so, through her, I could still see colors, hear voices, touch objects, enjoy delicacies and smell.”
At that, Joshua promptly understood that Vahina was starting to explain Soul Mastery for him—and she was being so straightforward because her spiritual clone was about to vanish. Still, the warrior was not offended by such styles. He rose as well, and listened carefully as the Legendary spellcaster explained her experience.
“I have dissected my own body to ascertain the fact that the body is the base intelligent beings use to observe and sense the world. Those stimuli are sent through micro-electric flow from synapses to the brain, displaying all we see and touch. In that respect, the soul is not of much use.”
“The human mind is mostly driven by the brain, living a minor part for the soul. That is also why the brain is a vital point for most beings, proving for the Mycroft people that the soul was actually not necessary, and that there would also be intelligent races without souls in the Multiverse.”
At those words, Vahina’s spiritual form began to disperse like a crystal, refracting many radiant translucent specks in the air. Be that as it may, she still said with composure, “On the other hand, there would be races who existed in soul only—just like me.”
“If the soul could sense all that the body could, and when the training of the aspect of soul arrived at such a threshold, then what is the difference between the formless soul and the physical body?”
Joshua shook her head in
There were no longer any differences.
He could already guess the meaning behind Vahina’s words, and what she intended to say.
At the moment, the Sage of the Oceans was still conjuring a large cluster of elegantly written runes in the air with her spirit like a gentle teacher, seemingly engrossed in a special realm within. “The soul is an energy, just as it is a form of substance. In the first place, substance and energy are of a single body, just like soul and substance… they could be converted as long as the technique is grasped.”
The elegant runes in the air were withdrawn into Vahina’s hand at once. Clenching her lithe and white fist, the sage then spread her fingers: on her palm was a cluster of pure energy radiance that were undergoing an immeasurably mysterious transition. Energy, substance, soul was symbolized by light, crystal, and shroud respectively, a trinity that formed a wheel that whirled incessantly.
There was an earnest and prideful smile on Vahina’s vague expression—it was delight, shown by a seeker toward a person on the same path.
“Runes for Spirit-Substance Transition—that’s what I intend to trade with.”