Translator: EndlessFantasy Translation Editor: EndlessFantasy Translation
“You could actually contact me through ‘Light’… It appears that the Steel Shard possess uses I don’t know.”
Holding Light, who was now a complete metallic silver by his lap, Joshua conversed with the Steel Python Karlis whose body was on the other side of the Void. The warrior was frowning, appearing unhappy by the sudden intrusion.
“You could have told me earlier.”
On the other hand, Karlis spoke as mildly as it always did.
“That Steel Shard is a part of my body in the first place, ” it said softly, “contacting you through it was the reason I gave it to you in the first place. However, I never thought that you wouldn’t fuse with it, even giving it to a newborn integrated body of wills… and you gave it fragments of other worlds as well?”
There was genuine surprise in Karlis’s tone. “How generous.”
Common speaking, ordinary people would not hesitate to use World Fragments for themselves, given that it grants them might, since those were miraculous items that could elevate mortals to equals of Supreme champions after all. Karlis the Steel Python had indeed followed that trail of logic, and hence believed that it could contact Joshua directly through its own shard.
But the warrior certainly proved to be uninterested in its Shard… The power that Karlis could grant was the manipulation of natural phenomenon that involved the elements, but Joshua did not need the shard and that power since his own ability could achieve that. Precisely because he found it to be chicken feed, Joshua simply fed Light with the shards since it seemed to benefit it as a fellow World Will as well.
“Apart from communicating, that Fragment had no other function. This child here had simply sought you out when it heard my voice.”
Karlis explained briefly, before its tone changed abruptly. “Joshua, I have come to you this time for something important.”
“What is it?”
Joshua could sense that Karlis had no ill-intent, and Light was certainly helping the Steel Python contact him out of its own free will, and as such did not concern himself over the matter about the Shard. On the other hand, it must have been a matter of significance that made Karlis utilize its rather waning strength to contact it across worlds.
“Though unbelievable, Joshua, I could sense that the world of Mycroft is about to die.”
Though the words it spoke were plain while the content was inconceivable, Karlis’s tone was also filled with disbelief as well. “I witnessed the rekindling of the Flame Seed of Mycroft, and felt the firm vigor in the world…” it continued, paying no attention to Joshua’s expression of curiosity. “Unlike my world, Mycroft should have completely recovered into an ordinary world, and while its life isn’t endless, it should have been stable for dozens of millennia.”
“And yet I sense the cries of a world about to die… That voice was virtually the same when ‘Famine’ descended.”
As it spoke, the Steel Python wriggled its colossal form that pierces future, its gem-like serpentine gaze flickering with red radiance, indicating its doubt.
World Wills could not interact with mortals as they were beings that existed on a different dimension compared to ordinary lifeforms. As an ‘existential’ being, they could only communicate with Searing Souls: those who bear the Authority of Initial Flame. Karlis remembered Joshua once it noticed the phenomenon, and only by interacting Joshua like it did now could it verify the phenomenon. While ‘Light’ counted as a being that could communicate with it as well, the luminous orb did not possess combat ability.
“A voice similar to when the Evil God of Famine descended? In Mycroft? A death cry? That’s not something to jest with.”
Joshua’s expression slightly changed as he heard the news akin to bombshells. It was a matter that concerned Evil Gods and the death of a world, one that allows no carelessness: If it was a misunderstanding on Karlis’s part, even it must act for that was its responsibility.
“Why can’t I sense anything… Tsk. This matter is of extreme importance, looks like I have to contact the others.”
While doubtful, Joshua abruptly rose from his seat, prepared to reach out to Israel and Nostradamus before calling for Pope Igor, since Igor could contact every other Legendary champion. However, when he was about to approach the Emperor and the Archmage, another possibility surfaced in his mind.
“Karlis. According to your senses, is everything normal in the world of Mycroft? As in the world itself.” He asked, emphasizing the last part.
“There’s nothing unusual… It’s the death cries that flowed along the Great Mana Tide, spreading without stopping toward the surrounding Multiverse.”
At the other end of time and space, the Steel Python answered Joshua’s question patiently even as it found it unusual. “I made contact with you at once when I sensed that things were not right, which is why the voice has not spread too far as of yet… but if it continued, it might attract certain terrible beings.”
Karlis did not make it clear what those terrible beings were, but was there anything other than Evil Gods that could prompt fear in World Wills? “The dimensional region we are present is connected to the Abyss,” the Steel Python continued, a sense of insistence in its tone. “Many ancient evils lurk there as well, and they would not hesitate to devour the remains of a world and they notice the cries of death.”
“Is that so. I mostly understand now.”
There was an idea Joshua had in mind as he narrowed his eyes, but it was not convenient to simply tell it to the World Will. Therefore, after a brief groaning, he strode out of the study and headed to the top floor of his manor.
“Master? Are you going out so late at night?”
Ying, who had been reading a book on the battlements could not help being surprised by Joshua’s appearance, who was also carrying Light that was now emanating fluorescence. “Taking Light out for a stroll? How rare… Are you coming back tonight?”
“Yes. Remember to prepare supper for me.”
While eating was meaningless for Joshua now, the process itself was part and parcel of life. Having no consciousness as an inhuman champion, Joshua would have the customary three daily meals when he had the time—and having informed the silver-haired girl, he turned into a flash and darted into the skies.
In a mere instant, he broke through the world barrier and arrived at the Void, where the light of the Mana Tide surged. The white energy waves churned amidst the Multiverse visibly, countless worlds flickering amidst the shrouds of starry clouds, obscure yet dazzling.
The second he arrived in the Void, Joshua abruptly felt a tinge of pressure. It was the energy of the Great Mana Tide being drawn by the mass of the world, a motion that streamed it incessantly into the world—in other words, gravity. That motion would have no influence to a small body and was virtually nonexistent, but it would accumulate for larger objects, turning into an irresistible pressure instead.
That was the case for the Infinite Horizon, the residence of the gods that breathed alongside the world and hung high over the world of Mycroft. The bubble plane that was located at the outer reaches of Mycroft like Fairyland was being pressed into Mycroft itself due to the motion that the Great Mana Tide created, a process that not even the gods could stop. All they could do was do their best to keep the fusing process with the Infinite Horizon stable.
It was the reason the gods descended as Holy Ones into Mycroft in the pre-existence.
And therefore, in this life and as a Legendary champion privy to much hidden information, another possibility hence arose in Joshua’s mind.
“Karlis. Could you share the ‘voice’ you’ve heard with me, here in the Void?”
Beyond the world barrier of Mycroft, Joshua’s body was flowing with silver radiance of Steel, while he held Light that appeared intent on darting everywhere.
“Try your best to make it distinct,” he told the Steel Python on the other side of the dimensions, “so that I could sense it at the same time.”
“It will be done.”
Karlis was not aware of Joshua’s plan, but it trusted in the warrior, and shared the ‘voice’ it heard with Joshua through Light as a medium.
And in the very moment Joshua sensed the information from Karlis, he ascertained the truth behind the incident.
It was the voice of Mycroft—or more specifically the voice of its ‘World Will’, Mycroft the Steel Python. Like electric ripples, it flowed over the vast Void, and none would notice that virtually nonexistent information flow if they were not World Wills or Legendary champions such as Joshua who trained in Steel Strength. But if they did, they could distinctly make out that cry that carried endless hate, despair, anguish, and sadness.
That was no real ‘voice’, but an extremely faint information flow that used Steel Strength as a carrier and spread toward the distant Multiverse.
—The World Will, sealed by gods of the Glorious Era and the Sage himself… It has recovered to the point that it could make contact!
The Mother of all things, sealed by its own Children has been dormant over a thousand years deep in the center of the world. And yet, it was now wailing as if its death was arriving, a voice that echoed within another World Will, Karlis, just like the moment it was invaded by the Evil Gods.
—It did experience anguish comparable to death.
Things would be explainable if that was the case. To Karlis, World Wills were equivalent to the world itself, and Steel Pythons equated to worlds… In the Multiverse, that notion would apply to most worlds, but not on Mycroft: The Gods sealed the Steel Python, while the Sage severed the link of the world and the World Will. By the end of the Glorious Era, the two were completely separated.
In the instant, Joshua realized the truth, he wanted to return to Mycroft at once. He believed that he must notify other Legendary champions to strengthen the World Seal deep underground once again, but abruptly turned his eyes to the Infinite Horizon on another end of the dimensions.
Driven by the Great Mana Tide, the Void plane slowly fused with the world of Mycroft. At the edges of the World Barrier where the two touched, there were a dozen veins of divine light of varying colors. It was a move the gods of the Starfall Era were employing to keep both worlds stable even as they fused: though they were silent during the advent of the Great Mana Tide and did not interfere much during the Berserker Dragon Calamity, they were merely upholding the principle that ‘the strife between mortals should be settled amongst themselves’, and because most of their power was used to maintain the stability of the world.
“Joshua, that is the ‘voice’ I heard,” Karlis said solemnly in the spirit link, appearing taking no mind that Joshua was distracted.
The warrior nodded, grunting in return. “I know.”
While Joshua interacted with Karlis absent-mindedly, both his eyes were staring at the Infinite Horizon—to the champions who could enter and leave the Infinite Horizon, the sight was considered majestic. Even the warrior had to admit that he never saw such a sight. However, having bore some preconceptions, Joshua found it more familiar the more he looked.
To use a metaphor from a common phrase, it was like ‘nailing’: The Infinite Horizon was a nail, and Mycroft was the wall the nail was driven into. A pair of formless hands, using the power of the Great Mana Tide, was now hammering that infinitely mysterious plane that existed for years since the Glorious Era, into the world of Mycroft…
Then, completely subjugating, even destroying a certain being.
“Could it be…” Joshua could not help mumbling quietly, shocked by his own inference. “Whether the world’s Flame was rekindled, when the Great Mana Tide arrives and the worlds tremble, ‘it’ would become the most unstable factor… that’s why the gods descend upon the mortal realm, turning into Holy Ones that walked amidst the world.”
—The gods descended on their own initiative… to subjugate Mycroft’s World Will.
Joshua found that very likely.
In the pre-existence, after the gods of the Infinite Horizon descended, they showed no movement apart from enriching the doctrine of various denominations of churches. It was as if they were still in the Infinite Horizon, virtually never interfering with any mundane incidents, and so much so that when they finally appeared to do battle against Ancient Evils, Void Behemoths, and Abyssal Lieges, they seemed forced to do so.
It was neither unusual nor unnatural. Players guessed that it was a limitation put in place so that the combat prowess of divine classes would not arrive too quickly in the mortal realm. Now, however, it appeared that gods themselves came, bearing a tremendous mission. They simply did not have the time or strength to mind other things!
If Mycroft the Steel Python—a being that held great maliciousness toward civilization was freed, its strength alone could discreetly alter the world’s environment even if it could not directly destroy the ecosphere. It could make the world unsuitable for the survival of mammals, or it could simply cause an accident in the battle between civilization and Abyss… No one could do a thing if the World Will that was sealed for a thousand years went on a rampage after it was unchained, intent on destroying itself with Mycroft’s civilization at all costs.
That was the gods must descend and strengthen the seal… Before that was achieved, they would not care about other things—which explained why the Seven Gods Church did not do anything realistic to promote peace throughout the world of Mycroft even as it fell to the chaos of civil strife. Hence, it was not until the Abyss invaded that one or two divine decreed was given to unite all surviving powers of the world.
Though Joshua hypothesized the cause behind the phenomenon, he did not know how to inform the worried Karlis about it. In the end, Karlis was a World Will as well, and was more kin of the Steel Python, more than the civilization that was closer to mere Children. If it learned about the circumstances revolving around Mycroft’s Steel Python and decided to rescue it, Joshua would not know how to respond, since even he did not know what actually happened in the final days of the Glorious Era that caused an enmity between the World Will and the civilization that it stood alongside to fight the Abyss and Evil Gods with.
Ultimately, Karlis had come to caution him out of kindness—Joshua could not respond to that half-heartedly.
Just as the warrior was left troubled over the matter, a streak of illumination from the distant Infinite Horizon appeared to have noticed his presence as he observed them. Thus, a dark purple ray instant broke through the Void, arriving before Joshua.
“Joshua van Radcliffe. Heir of the Sage, the One who reignited the Flame Seed. Nice to meet you.”
An ethereal, feminine voice that echoed twofold rang beside the warrior’s ears, throbbing his eardrums. At the same time, spiritual link and various other senses picked up the stimulus, while Joshua looked up toward the imposing symbol that was slowly materializing between dazzling lights of purple and blue.
It was a Withered Heart, a symbol where massive divine power gathered around.
“Nice to meet you, Master of Love and Death.”
Joshua studied the Withering Heart that slowly materialized and nodded solemnly, a gesture of respect and reverence toward the other. Though they never came across each other before, the warrior who was close to the Seven Gods Holy Mountain naturally knew the Master of the Symbol.
“Yolanda, Your Majesty.”
Even as Joshua spoke, the slender form of a female elf took form out of thin air.
The Withering Heart was slowly throbbing, as everything was soaked in by surging divine power. Even the forces of the Great Mana Tide surged as if having its own will, assembling all things in the Void as if it were a matter of nature, shaping into that translucent elf’s form.
The elven lady held a rubberwood scepter, and was wearing a violet gown with thick and multiple layers resembling violet petals. Joshua could not make out her facial expression—an indiscernible face that one could not determine if it was beautiful or ugly, old or young. She was at once an extreme beauty or pale-white skeleton, whereas pure-white energy formed wing-like ribbons that flapped slowly behind her.
The God of Love and Death nodded lightly, responding to Joshua’s respects—but when she spoke, her voice was hollow and emotionless, thin, as if all passion had been burnt away.
“I have noticed your unexpected actions, Joshua. The gods are watching you, after all.
“Your observation of the fusion process between the Infinite Horizon and the world of Mycroft: is that out of curiosity, or because you guessed something?”