Translator: EndlessFantasy Translation Editor: EndlessFantasy Translation
Like a towering guardsman standing over barren ice plains, even snowstorms that blanketed heaven and worth could not conceal the silhouette of Mount Nissia.
Before the lofty snow mountain was a snowy pine forest that stretched as far as the eyes could see. The diligent nurturing by Winter Fort Academy in the last few years had finally provided a hint of life to the desolate icy planes, and in the center of the pine forest was the conspicuous Pawprint Lake. Mana radiance shone out from the depths where mana crystal veins lay, making the lake itself dazzle.
When one extended their view toward the mountain ridge, tourist who came years before would now be immeasurably shocked that the steep and craggy mountain terrain of the snow mountain had changed drastically. The crisscrossed stony ditches had been filled with mud entirely, forming a level path that heads directly to the mountaintop.
And right at the center of the mountain ridge, a grand and imposing building would be reflected into the eyes of all who come. Most of it was built inside the body of the mountain, with a little part jutting out, as if it was something embedded into the mountain.
Here, one would sense that mana was many times more concentrated than outer boundaries. Due to its unique geographical location and the detailed human adjustments to the mountain’s construct, the Nissia Snow Mountain had long since become the mana focal point of the entire Icy Plains of the Extreme North. Any learned mage would easily observe that a huge vortex formed from magical energy, slowly whirling around the mountain that gathers all mana over thousands of kilometers around it here.
Starfall Year 836, the 15th of December, Winter Fort Academy, the Nissia Snow Mountain, north of the Northern Empire.
The sound of surging soil and stone echoed from the ridge of the Nissia Snow Mountain—was the sound as if stone was shattered and steel scraping. There was a snowstorm at present where pale white snowflakes danced: even the best hunters of the mountain could hardly discern anything over ten meters away, but where the sound echoed from, a huge human figure several dozen meters tall was slowly moving that the violent snow could not hide its whereabouts.
“Zero-One, I remember you were just a little tall than I was before—about seven or eight feet… How did you become so tall out of the blue?”
The huge figure walked amidst the mountains, and as immeasurably powerful energy surged to formed tidy lines of magical circuits, the craggy mountain path began to shift tremendously due to its power. Mud and stone changed shaped like flowing water, while the trace amounts of metallic minerals started to stream toward the huge steel figure called Zero-One like moths to a flame.
Walking beside the huge steel figure were two girls and one orb. One of the girls was silver-haired and had an emerald gaze, while the other had black hair and dragon horns on its head, where the luminous orb rested.
“I could still sit on your shoulders back then,” Ying said, even as they followed Zero-One across the snow while the Steel Elemental flattened the entire Nissia Snow Mountain. In the meantime, the divine armament girl gestured over thin air of a ratio of hers and Zero-One’s sizes in the past. “Now I can’t even touch your toe!”
On the other hand, Black looked up at Zero-One’s colossal body, and made a noise that was at once envious and disdainful. “Hmph. I’m still in puberty—when I’m really grown up, I will definitely be larger than you! And Master said, when I’m an adult, he will ride me into battle!”
“No, Black. You need to remember the duration of Ancient Dragon puberty…”
Zero-One paused for a moment when it heard the two girls. It stopped its inborn Steel Elemental ability to control earth and slowly arched its back, opening its palm that was as huge as the roof of a typical house right in front of Ying and Black. Ying stared blankly for a moment before happily dragging Black to stand on the palm, and the two was then placed on its shoulders as they watched the steel giant continue smoothing the mountain.
“That’s more comfortable… Although Master told us to help you here, there doesn’t seem anything we could help with.”
Then, as she watched the surrounding forests and snowy plains from high above, Ying frowned as she appeared to recall something.
“Come to think of it—Zero-One, I remember that you speak, right? Last time Master told us that you could talk in human language.” She said curiously over the Steel Elemental’s shoulder, watching as it controlled the surrounding earth and minerals to adjust and flatten the craggy mountain. “Why would you keep buzzing? It’s hard for others apart from Master to understand what you’re saying.”
Almost immediately after Ying spoke, she, along with Black who was keeping warm by hugging the luminous orb abruptly shuddered—there was a sudden dull sound of moving machinery and buzzing electric current ringing around Zero-One’s chest. Then, just as the two girls were left jarred, a synthetic human voice fused with strong electromagnetic static wafted into their ears.
“Bzzt-bzzt. Because, speaking like this, very troublesome.”
“My body, has no vocal, organs electro, magnetic communications are my voice. Wanting to speak, like humans requires shaping a construct in my body… My lord isn’t hearing buzzes, but analyzes my electromagnetic signals directly.”
At first, Zero-One’s voice was cold, flat and filled with sharp static, and its sentences very rigid. However, the more it spoke, the sharp voice became milder and its sentences smoother, until its voice completely turned into a calm, echoing human voice.
“It’s the same for Light. It’s also communicating with something similar to electromagnetic signals, although its signal sounds like bells on its part.”
“Ding-ring-ding-ring!” The luminous orb jingled in agreement.
Both Ying and Black nodded thoughtfully in response. This world certainly did not host the human race exclusively—beings that did not interact with sounds undoubtedly existed and were not in the few.
Why would they speak like humans given that they were not them?
Now, Zero-One was explaining things with human speech because of its concern over itself and others.
But those were trivial matters—the most important was to complete the job Joshua had entrusted it.
Due to the gradual rising intensity of the Great Mana Tide, the magical energy that flows between heaven and earth thickened. It was assuredly a fine thing for the various wielders of supernatural powers, and a way to change fate to the peasants. However, unlike those who were mana-sensitive, ordinary people would attain some magical power when they consume food from grains and livestock that absorbed the substantial mana accumulation in the ground.
In other words, all life on the Mycroft Continent—as long as they did not naturally repel mana—would have some mana reserves in their power, and are able to use various magical facilities that only spellcasters could previously.
If that were already the case for ordinary people, there would not be much to elaborate on for the various spellcaster organizations and magical colleges established over respective local hubs of mana. The mana concentration in those locations would rise rapidly daily, but exceedingly substantial mana was nothing good for spellcasters. For those living in those places, they could be infected with ‘Mana Addiction’– spellcasters showing those symptoms would fall into extreme hunger for energy when they move to places where mana was not concentrated enough, and could fall into madness, causing all sorts of accidents and calamities.
To avoid that, the mage colleges that once did their best to gather massive mana reserves started to disperse some of the excessive mana. Having received the mission from Winter Fort Academy, Zero-One used its power to calibrate the mountain, slightly weakening the Nissia Snow Mountain’s to assemble mana.
At present, Zero-One resided in another mountain near the Nissia Snow Mountain. Winter Fort Academy initially planned to construct a huge building for it, but it opted to dig a lair to live in—it appeared to have developed a taste for digging holes after living for a long time with the dwarf, and excavated earth worth several mountains through its innate abilities. None knew how deep it had actually dug either.
And when that ability is used on evening out a landscape, it was almost comparable to twenty fully-equipped dwarven construction team. Fact also proved that it was not an exaggeration.
Now, by the end of Starfall Year 836, it was not only the Northern Nissia Snow Mountain undergoing various construction work. Everywhere—the main city of Moldavia, the entire North, the Empire, and even the whole Mycroft continent were carrying out various tightly scheduled grand projects.
As magical technology slowly became widespread, cities that did not change for centuries began to pull down their old city walls and undergo large-scale construction. By the edge of the Dark Forests, various fortresses that maintained order also began to carry out multiple widespread renovation.
The dwarves had also dug a huge tunnel into the depths of the earth’s crust, drawing the searing heat energy from the earth’s core to meet the energy requirements of the entire tribe. The mages of the Eastern Plains also diverted a huge amount of resources by the calm coasts of crystalline bays, where a floating city was slowly taking form. The Seven Gods Church had announced to every follower in the world that they were raising a titanic light tower with the Sacred Mountain as its base, and the Holy Light as its energy source: where the light of the tower touches, any followers could teleport between various churches and temples through holy light.
Various majestic, extraordinary and imposing buildings thus slowly took shape in the tide of supernatural power, and it was not the only change. Almost everyone appeared to be suddenly aware that they would fall behind the times if they themselves did not try to improve. According to statistics from Magus Weekly, in the two years following the end of the Draconic Plague, there was a fifteen-point seven percent rise in expenditures over construction of civilian buildings across all nations on the continent. Now, capital that were once allocated to military reserves moved to research of cutting-edge technology and basic amenities.
And in that two years, it was as if the whole world had changed—places where feudalistic castles and villages once stood were now cities of varying sizes. After many refurbishments, stony fortresses had also now become metallic fortresses covered in runic armor.
Moved discreetly by the true champions that controlled this world, almost all flourishing core urban zones had completely entered an age of magical industrialization. Only some of the cities and villages in isolated areas maintained their shape in the past few centuries.
The Northern Empire was now implementing a grand project as well. Recently, Joshua had been invited by Israel to perform some research in regards to materials and alloys. While the warrior left everyone else in the North, he would occasionally talk to Ying, Zero-Three and the others through communications spells—Ying noted on every occasion that her master was very excited, appearing to be very satisfied with the secret project.
“It’s definitely a great step ahead of the world,” Joshua said into the screen. “I can’t reveal anything to you about it, but there is no question that I’m witnessing brand-new history—history I myself created!”
Sitting on Zero-One’s shoulder, Ying mulled over Joshua’s words. The warrior rarely bragged, and while occasionally arrogant that demeanor was only aimed at enemies, an absolute confidence stemming from his heart. Even so, Ying never heard of such words—history he created? Could her master be saying that he could change an entire world?
The silver-haired girl blanked out slightly once she thought about it.
It seems that… Master had indeed changed a world, and not just one world either!
“Then, what project could it be…”
Unwittingly, Ying began to become expectant. She reached out to stroke the luminous orb held in Black’s embrace, and overlooked the world shrouded in snow amidst its jingles.
And in that moment, a tremendous mana ripple emanated from the nearby Great Ajax Mountains.
Zero-One, Black, and all beings above Gold-tier in the entire Winter Fort Academy turned their eyes. They sensed the strong, incoming dimensional ripple, as if something was striding through space and half the continent here.
“That presence…” Ying mumbled.
But before she could finish that thought, Black promptly widened her eyes and tightened her embrace over Light. “Isn’t it those two old codgers who cheat even when playing cards!” She exclaimed, a little shocked.
“Black, don’t keep copying Master’s words—it’s Mister Barnil and William! And you must never say that when you’re in their presence!”
The two arrivals were certainly the Legendary mages Barnil and William. As most of the teachers and students in Winter Fort Academy were rather accustomed to their presence since they taught classes there occasionally, which was why calm returned to the Nissia Snow Mountain after a brief uproar. Meanwhile, Ying tapped Zero-One’s shoulder, gesturing for the giant to pause its work.
And in the very next second, both mages appeared before them.
“You’re Joshua’s chief maidservant, and his steed!”
Just as Ying thought, the two Legendary mages sought them out directly. Their faces were flushed in excitement, with Barnil who was up front stroking his own eyes and speaking with a friendly voice. “Do you know where Joshua is? We and Barbarossa are looking for him over something important—it’s very important and related to the Ancient Dragon’s power, and he would definitely be interested!”
“It’s a great discovery that would absolutely make the history books!” William added, appearing to be reveling and delighted in the outcome from long days of research.
“Apologies, but our Master hasn’t been in Moldavia recently. He has been invited by the Imperial Family to participate in an important project, and had not returned for almost a month.”
Responding to the two Legendary mages that had no lid over their mood, Ying instead assume a demeanor she never showed to others she was familiar with. She rose, smiling as she stood over Zero-One’s shoulder and said very courteously: “But there is no need to worry, for I could contact Master at any moment—if there be a need, gentlemen, you may head to Winter Fort Academy with us, where I could make said contact.”
“Then we’re counting on you.” The two mages nodded at once. They did not appear surprised that Joshua was away from his domain, and appeared prepared to miss him.
Just as Ying and Black led the two Legendary mages to Winter Fort Academy and prepared to contact Joshua, beneath a certain flat highland in the western mountain region of the Northern Empire.
It was a large subterranean cavern that spanned almost ten kilometers. Appearing to have been eroded natural out of mana, there was also signs of artificial augmentation through magic. And now, the entire cavern was occupied by a variety of huge steel runic machinery, with spiral spires flickering in green fluorescence spread everywhere, condensing thick magical energies within.
Anyone familiar with magical machinery would definitely be left astonished by the sheer grandness of the amount of construction this place had seen—if not for aid from Legendary champions, such a sight would never have been accomplished by any faction in this world, and impossible even for a nation that exhausted all resources to do so. It was essentially a city built from steel and machinery, with countless complex runic veins connecting every machine and spire, with sensational mana cascading within.
By the edge of a long walkway in the depths of the underground cavern, Joshua, Israel, and Nostradamus stood side by side, watching the center of the cavern by the window of the walkway, his expression somber.
In the heart of the city of countless steel machinery was a huge depression that resembled a dockyard. At its center was a behemoth that was over three kilometers in length, levitating in the green magical boundaries emitted by the spires almost motionlessly. Mages were floating and flying around it, busy controlling magical circles around them as they examined and maintained every little part of that behemoth.
And yet the three Legendary champions were not staring at the colossal magical creation that seemed to have the outline of a gigantic vessel. They were looking instead at the huge depression that resembled a dockyard, as well as a steel runic trail that was under construction and as if about to break through the top of the cavern.
“This is what gives you confidence, Israel?” Joshua asked softly.
Like the others, he had been staring at the magical machinery—most of which he had made by his own hands through Steel Strength Creation. “To use these things against those nobles? You intend to kill a mosquito with an entire production line of Void Warships?”
“I suspect you plan to conquer the world.” He said gravely.
“Of course not, Noble Radcliffe. The nobles are only a small obstruction in the way of my operations. Their existence stands against the future I desire.”
Beside the warrior, the Emperor shared a smile with his teacher. “I also have to thank you for your help,” Israel said slowly. “Without your Steel Strength, I might not even finish constructing this base even after dozens of years… But now, three Legends are partnering for this. Would a mere world be enough?”
The more he spoke, the more the smile on his face became unbridled. “I’ve said it before.”
“What I pursue is far over the heavens and the starry skies.”