Translator: EndlessFantasy Translation Editor: EndlessFantasy Translation
“Warships already? Could those nobles really intend to rebel?”
Joshua found things unusual after he heard Israel’s tone that was rife with killing intent. “It’s just spreading Extraordinary knowledge, and making information regarding magic, aura, and runes available for common use,” he said, frowning at the person on the other side of the screen. “No matter how aggressively the nobles would react, they would not rebel over something so trivial.”
“You believe that I’m so vigilant against certain groups?”
Israel shook his head in return. “Leaving ability aside, I am ultimately Emperor without absolute jurisdiction over land conferred to regional nobles, although they would not raise their flag in an uprising over such a matter. The orcs and draconic plagues had just passed, with both army and civilian antiwar force being so great that it’s impossible for them to raise armies.”
“What I worry about are those individuals who would lose their rights to expression and interpretation over Extraordinary power, and in turn execute covert sabotages. The new aerial battleships are just a deterrent, to maintain order in the possibility of chaos.”
Joshua nodded in return. Things made sense that way.
The so-called rights to expression and interpretation of Extraordinary power was, to a certain extent, authority. The core power of religion was precisely the rights to expression and interpretation toward god, the world beyond death, future, miracles and many other aspects. That was similar to how local tyrants benefited at present: by using their rights to expression and interpretation over Extraordinary power, they drew capital as they instructed in those abilities and consolidated their own faction. Nobles would perhaps tiptoe around Israel, Nostradamus and Joshua and their Legendary power that could flatten entire lands, but those little characters would not fear the trio—in the end, they avoid direct confrontation, and would only cheat, incite and various schemes to stir and make trouble for everyone else.
But once the aerial battleships were completed, any chaos and problems would be remedied instantly—beneath the absolute violent power that hung above their cities, none would dare to try anything. Even the braver ones would fail to find allies.
—Although Israel might have to be reminded that such radical governance would not last long.
Joshua had at first found the measures a little harsh, but realized that the Northern Empire was a feudalistic and dictatorial nation in the first place when he thought about it, with their main deity the God of Might and Justice. From that perspective, such measures could be very normal for Imperial Citizens.
Israel almost had his say. His communications were merely to inquire after Joshua’s recent whereabouts and informing him about abnormal movements in the Abyss of late, and now that he has settled, His Imperial Majesty still had much to busy himself with.
“Adrian also seems to still be at yours,” Israel told Joshua before he left, appearing like a concerned father toward the Sixth Prince’s whereabouts. “The Fairy Cards thing he was playing with recently is selling extremely well in noble circles, with Baron Dreman even presenting me a luxurious limited-edition card table… It’s no easy for young ones to make a mark—Joshua, next time you meet him, tell him he doesn’t have to hurry back. I let him leave was so that he could set up his business.”
“I will pass the word.” Joshua agreed seriously. As for Fairy Cards… he could remember nothing other than the embarrassing moment where two Legendary mages cheated over a mere game of cards.
After Israel, Nostradamus appeared on the other end of the screen. Following Stellaris, the elderly mage, whose appearance had turned middle-aged had his hair turn white again, though the wrinkles on his face did not return. There was a hint of a smile on his face, and he breathed a sigh of relief when he saw Joshua.
“Joshua, this old man won’t sprout nonsense since you’ve conversed at length with Israel… The two best mage academies under the Skypiercing White Tower’s banner had recently told us that they intend to send a batch of students to us for an exchange learning program, to trade skills and research regarding magic and various disciplines. But that is a matter related to your domain after all, you say is needed for approval.”
“Anything is fine as long as there’s no spying.”
Joshua simply agreed. He had always been supremely proactive with technical exchanges since there was no future in seclusive technical development: for even mixed-breed species to be far excellent, inspiration and skill would be no different.
After briefly discussing the exchange program with the academies affiliated to the Skypiercing White Tower, Joshua turned off the screen after biding the old mage farewell.
‘Almost everything has been settled.’ He breathed a long sigh as he thought calmly. ‘The Ancient Dragon Blood had been handed to Zero-Three just now—she will pass it on to Hill and Fina. So, it’s about time I really rest for a while, soak in and digest my recent rewards.’
Joshua recalled the five utterly enriching years since he came to the Mycroft Continent in Starfall Year 831, and could not hold back a sight. “I have virtually fought for five years and never rested. Even if it is a pleasure, but to ensure there is no hidden injuries or gaps from perfect form, I must undergo a complete recuperation and self-examination.”
After all, the Draconic Plague was extinguished, the cultists vanished without a trace, the Earth Cult splintered, the Flame reignited, the Abyssal demons probably unable to even fend for themselves, the Evil Gods were decades away from Mycroft and the appearance of the Multiverse Sacrificial Grounds… In short, there was almost nothing significant that required the warrior’s attention at the moment. Everyone was expecting the development in the future, allowing the world to calm considerably.
Thanks to Joshua’s fights and struggles over five years with his full-might, the so-called continent of eternal strife had indeed entered a rare period of peace. The only unknown was how long that would at least.
“In short, it’s fine as long as nothing huge comes up. I’ll play a normal Count and manage my territories.” Joshua concluded a plan for himself in the future.
Thus, two months later, news of a gigantic steel statue which resembled a certain liege and appeared overnight outside the southern reaches new Moldavia left the world shocked.
The immeasurably huge statue depicted the posture a certain armored warrior standing upright as he held a sword. The width and length of its base and were already over a hundred and twenty meters and eighty meters respectively, and stood at an inconceivable two hundred and eighty meters. Even so, what was more frightening was that it appeared to have carved out of some heavy alloy, with absolute smoothness on its surface, devoid of any patterns… Leaving aside the massive material, the skill and craftsmanship were considered top in the entire world.
In reaction, the locals were certainly cheering and delighted after their initial astonishment. They were rather moved that the Northern Liege had finally remembered that his domain needed an iconic building, and showered incessant praise for every intricacy of the statue—as a new metropolis, Moldavia lack some depth and reputation to other traditional cities. But now, the colossal liege statue that appeared out of the blue had fulfilled the shortcoming without question, and locals would have something to boast about when they go out.
And a certain troubled liege was rubbing his forehead in the hall of his own residence.
“Damn it. It’s all Ying and Zero-Three’s fault for dragging me into this, and I accidentally made it a little large… Just a little distraction in thought, and the difference is so large.”
He then stared rather worriedly at the shroud of Steel Strength in his own hand. “Looks like there’s still some ways to go before I reach the threshold of constructing a Nuclear Heart at will.”
In the liege’s residence, the warrior’s rest and recreation were still continuing.
Meanwhile, in a little camp at the Lost Sea, north of Winter Fort Academy.
The cold winds billowed back and forth at the leather walls of the tent. The cold frost particles slipped through the cracks and dropped into the little fire inside the ten, causing the rather dim flame to crackle. And around the fire were five youths with solemn expressions, staring at the flame that was about to die.
They were wearing black windbreaker capes tailored by Winter Fort Academy, with longswords, scepter, arrow quiver, longbow hanging at their respective hips. The runes on the steel pieces by their cuffs flickered, as if sending information to the distance.
The five were the five nominal apprentices Joshua had previously taken in: the human siblings Ivan and Amelia, their white dragon, the dwarf Nick, the daughter of a knight Karin, and the recent addition to the party—the Seventh Imperial Prince, Arlwa. The quintet were senior students in Winter Fort Academy, and compared to the last few years of arduous lessons on principles, they now had more free time. Most of their instructors no longer taught fundamental knowledge, instead giving many practical missions and topics, allowing the students to experience Extraordinary power with their own bodies through combat and natural threats.
And now, the five-men party had accepted another mission, assigned by a certain instructor who specialized at dragon-training. It was a mission to the Lost Sea, to ascertain the coordinates of the slowly shifting southern magnetic pole, at the very edge of the world.
After the Flame was relit and the world reborn, the stagnated magnetic fields of the world had slowly moved, the poles along with it. Initially, one could not see auroras in Moldavia, but now, when the lights of the city were not bright enough, one could often observe the green or golden auroras swaying in the skies. It was undoubtedly a momentous event that affected the entire world, and an exceedingly vital information for mages who studied the inner workings of the world.
While the two deans of Winter Fort Academy could almost instantly calculate the actual coordinates of the poles with their powers, they did not do so to train the students and allow them to experience it themselves. Instead, it was made into a mission, for them to accomplish it should they accept it.
“They call it Lost Sea, but in the end it’s pretty much all ice plains—just a little spot of water wasn’t frozen.” The dwarf Nick mumbled in front of the fire. “Ice Mountains everywhere, and who knows when the ice beneath our feet will break. We are all mad to come to his place to find some pole.”
Due to the dwarves all inhabiting either hot magma regions or gloomy subterranean reaches, he was extremely hateful of such extreme coldness and a mere half-day of sunlight. Having stayed over twenty days by the Lost Sea, Nick was now about to lose his mind—no matter how sturdy he was, he could withstand the twofold torment that came physically and psychologically.
“Only loonies would keep this up!”
However, Ivan, leader of the party shook his head determinedly at a corner as the platinum blond youth handily added to the flames in the fire. “A mere ice plain, and just one magnetic pole…” he said firmly, looking around at his four teammates. “We’ve even killed quite a few Old-World draconic beasts, are we now going to lose to wind and snow?”
“More importantly, are any of you willing to lose to a little girl who is just a dozen years old?”
At the mention of the girl, the entire party abruptly burst with an unusual motivation.
“Indeed… How could we lose to a latecomer!”
“Damn it, we clearly came first!”
Amelia and Karin gritted their teeth at the same time, their eyes showing an intense competitiveness. While Arlwa said nothing beside them, he was as moody inside.
Lisa Kronos—the mutual opponent and competition of the party.
The mysterious young girl who was brought back by their master—the Legendary champion Joshua van Radcliffe was inducted into Winter Fort Academy by the warrior himself. From the start, the quintet was rather caring for the young girl thanks to their mutual closeness with Joshua. They even helped Lisa, who had dragon horns and tails and was clearly no normal human at once glance, with tuition classes for supplementary Extraordinary knowledge, aiding in learning various magical skills.
And then… they were quickly outshone and outclassed.
It was not to say that Lisa was very powerful—even if the Drakonid girl’s talent and training methods were first-class, the others who had passed the trial of a Divine Dungeon Shroud and learned from the skills Joshua provided were no slouch as well. In fact, it was due to being in a different world that Lisa all-around weaker compared to the party who were experienced in combat and older. Basically, everyone in the party, including Arlwa who just recently joined, would be able to counter the Drakonid girl’s simple attacks single-handedly… Although the pre-requisite was that the Drakonid girl must be alone.
And was Lisa even fighting alone? Syndicate, the former balrog was instructing her from behind!
As a former Supreme-tier archdemon, Syndicate could still correctly grasp the weakness of all five party-members even as he was left awed by the unordinary abilities of Joshua’s other apprentices. With that old-timer’s instruction, Lisa could take on any challenge that exceeded her own class, and after one difficult fight she bested all five of her seniors! Then, under Syndicate’s rather sinister humor, the naïve Lisa told them about her place as Joshua’s only formal apprentice.
“Do your best, guys! One day, you will be real apprentices of Master Joshua as well!”
Lisa had simply earnestly wanted to encourage them, but for Ivan and the others it was as painful as being stabbed hundred times over—they had worked diligently for so long, and yet they were still provisional apprentices. And now, one little girl that came out of nowhere had become a formal apprentice… the blow was simply too massive!
“Could it be… that the rumor is real? That the liege admires young girls…”
Joshua, whose reputation in his apprentices’ mind had suffered a blow, had in fact simply forgotten to tell the First Party that they were already full-fledged apprentices. He had always assumed that if Ivan, Amelia, Karin, Nick, and Arlwa could already practice a portion of the techniques he provided them, they would already have been aware that they were his real apprentices. In short, the warrior forgot that one simple line of acknowledgment would inspire far people far more than any other words.
And now, Lisa, Ivan and the rest had accepted the mission to investigate the actual location of the magnetic poles in the world of Mycroft. Theirs were now a relationship of utter competitiveness, but if Joshua could see the benign rivalry now, he might have held back the fact, allowing the young ones to gain some vigor.
Just as everyone strived diligently to improve themselves in these days of peace, Joshua suddenly sensed a cluster of waves that made his heart palpitate. He had been staring at a huge metallic outside the gates of the Moldavian City—presently a common term referring to the main city as well as its four Satellite Cities.
It was not alarm caused by a great power approaching, nor was it exhilaration from a will to fight. Instead, it was a much more plain and normal sensation akin to resonance…
Joshua turned his eyes to the direction where the wave came from.