Soul Of Searing Steel Chapter 651


Chapter 651 Subterranean Realm

Translator: EndlessFantasy Translation  Editor: EndlessFantasy Translation

Galanoud’s was not lost for long. In the end, she was a Legendary-champion of firm will—apart from Father Nature and the future of all elves, there was nothing that could shake her resolve.

“I’ve made a gaffe.”

Taking a deep breath and withdrawing the faint emerald radiances that were revolving around her into her body, the Nature’s Magister inclined her head, the hint of a smile showing on her face once more. “You’re right. Father Nature is already gone—I do not have to doubt myself, and just do what I must.”

“I shall correct myself if I’m wrong, and start again if I was mistaken. My Legend’s way and the elves are nothing so fragile.”

Though her words were so, Galanoud appeared not in a fine state. Noticing that as well, she bowed apologetically at Joshua. “It’s regrettable, Count Radcliffe,” she said ruefully, “that I invited you here to merely speak about such frivolous things.”

“It’s fine.”

On the other hand, Joshua did not find it so since he attained one Mother Lifetree Seed almost without cost, as well as certain meaningful information. Additionally, the elves are indicating that they are willing to participate in the Empire’s development projects, which made him find his trip here to the Lake of Eternity very valuable.

However, he could tell that the Nature’s Magister was not in a fine state, and so took his leave before she could say anything else. “Since our matters’ mostly settled, I shall take my two chaperones for a walk around Redwood City since there’s still some time to Hill’s wedding. You can look for me anytime you wish if there’s anything, My Lady.”

“Ah… alright. Please don’t let me keep you, Count Radcliffe.”

Galanoud paused for a moment after the warrior spoke first, saying what she already had in mind. Even as she tried to muster a reply, the Nature’s Magister could only smile bitterly as Joshua rose into the air without hesitating and darted towards the distant horizon. Staying where she was and unsure what she should say at the moment, she could only shake her head. “Really, what an unorthodox fellow—I should have been the one to bid my leave first.”

“Maybe he’s just trying to help me save face…”

Muttering and sighing, Galanoud closed her eyes, and her human form instantly vanished from her lakeside stroll, her beautiful features instantly dispersing into countless tiny roots and leaves. Her body now an unusual human-shaped plant, she seeped deep underground, the plant’s roots itself extended into a hole below. There was no telling where her true form lay along the hole, only that there was an emerald radiance flowing deep beneath the Lake of Eternity, as if it were the veins of some colossal creature.

But soon, the hole became level like the healed of a creature.

Meanwhile, Joshua flew rapidly back to Redwood City.

He entered the skies where the air was thin in supersonic flight, taking a brief few minutes to cover the distance between the Lake of eternity and Redwood city. Along with the fact that his conversation with the Nature’s Magister was plain and direct, it did not take more than half an hour for Joshua to land at the heart of Redwood City, in the tree crown of the towering redwood tree.

As the guards and inspectors exclaimed in surprise and saluted him, Joshua landed at once on the wooden castle with a portal. The elven reception that had been bewildered by the warrior’s departure hence hurried out from the castle, but before they could utter a thing, Joshua simply said, “I’ve already talked to the Nature’s Magister, so there’s no need for that complicated ceremonies of yours. I’ll just be bringing my companions for a walk around the city.”

‘My Lord! We’re not making complicated ceremonies here!’

The elven reception party at the fore consisted of leaders from major tribes—elven nobles, to a certain extent. However, their faces now appeared pained: it appeared harmless for a Legendary champion to visit the city, but it was not so if that person’s name was Joshua van Radcliffe! Though it was now clear that most of what they knew about him was false, anyone who was just a little sensitive would suffocate when they encounter his mighty presence of the Halo of Despair that appeared intermittently.

Those with weak abilities would, like mountain dwellers, be unable to sense the profoundness of their mountains, while the powerful ones would at least be able to resist that Halo which had been deliberately suppressed, though they may not compare to the greatness of mountains. It was those of average ability and yet sensitive who would detect the power of that absolute Halo of Despair, and through Redwood City was not exactly crowded, who knows what kind of trouble Joshua could stir in his stroll.

“Relax, I will keep it down.”

Joshua made a rare smile when he noticed the worried and nervous elves. “I’ve mentioned it before: I’m not some beast or floodwater, but a kind and reliable guy. I won’t make a move unless there be evil.”

Simply consoling the fidgeting elven leaders of Redwood City, Joshua also generally grasped the state of the city itself.

These nobles were mostly hierarchs of the Tidesong tribe, and in turn subordinates or followers of Hill’s father. Hill and Fina were having an audience with individuals of the elven court at the moment about his inheriting of his father’s title, while these nobles, being aware of the relationship between Hill and Joshua, came to him to welcome the Legendary champion and try to secure a good impression.

Having no violent struggle for power, putting on airs or conspiracies, the elves were very much a sincere bunch. As the sole heir to the Tidesongs’ bloodline, while Hill’s union with a dragon lady of Ancient Dragon bloodline was a little contradicting to some ancestral doctrines, nobody in Starfall Year 837 would pay much attention to some thousand-year old teaching. Inversely, Ancient Dragon Bloodline certainly would not dishonor elven bloodlines, and it was far important that progenies were stronger than pure-blooded ones—and with a Legendary champion watching his back, any who would try to stand against them was certainly seeking death.

The thinning of racial bloodlines had also been occurring throughout the continent. The idea took root essentially because Extraordinary abilities are gradually becoming common, and it was nothing difficult for Gold or Supreme to adjust their own bloodlines. Be it lich, vampire, death knight, werewolf, Drakonid or various rare bloodlines, all of those were champions who had altered their own bloodlines and race. Though there was a great gap between elf and Ancient Dragon bloodline, the essential differences were gone when they arrive at Supreme, and they were much a new species in Legend: the only identical aspect they would share with their previous race when the time comes was merely in spirit.

As one who believed himself to still be human, Joshua did not dwell on it too much. Arriving at the guest hall of the Redwood City Castle, he found the divine armament siblings who were poking jovially in front of a screen.

“That post is all contraband, I banned him!”

“Eh, sis. Look at the management manual: we should issue a warning during the first violation and deduct their reputation points. On the second count, we will have to examine the situation before banning him.”

“But look, he’s posting images of delicious food in the middle of the night…”

“Then ban him.” The youth’s voice became determined.

Ying and Ling’s eyes were flickering with a faint ice-blue light, a radiance where the Information Terminal operated.

“Stop playing, Ying. I gave you administrative rights not to simply ban people—learn to regulate justly.”

Joshua simply shouted by the doors to the hall. “You too, Ling—don’t fan the flames. Look after your sister but don’t indulge in those spam posts as well. It’s important to maintain order in the Winter Fort Academy’s forum, but those can wait: we’re going for a walk around the city.”

“Yes, Master.”

“Understood, Master.”

The two siblings answered at once, and obediently turned off their screens, rose from their seats and flanked Joshua.

***

Just as Joshua had mentioned, after the Information Terminal network had begun its operations, he had shared superior management rights with the other few Legendary champions, while subordinating administrative control were handed to a few Imperial Royal mages who maintained the network. The forums, meanwhile, were delegated to Ying, Ling, and Zero-Three, the latter of whom was in charge of upkeep for the trade panel—the vital experimental panel for the core External Development redemption system in the future.

Meanwhile, management of the forum was handed to the divine armament siblings. Since they were fundamentally of psionic bodies and humanoid ‘fairies’ to a certain extent, with weapons being their true form and resting state, adding supplementary functions were simpler for them compared to humans. And by request of the siblings, Joshua had directly their main body to the server of the Information Terminal, allowing them to directly transcend space as they connected to the network, in turn allowing the warrior to stay in touch with Winter Fort Academy’s network at all times.

“By the way, Master, there are now thirty-four parties participating in the Subterranean Realm mission!” Ying said, rather pleased even as she studied the unique decorations around her, while following Joshua out of the Redwood City Castle. “Half of the forum is talking about the mission.”

“And the other half is all meaningless posts.” Ling grunted coldly. Even if he did try to dissuade Ying from simply handing out bans, it was clear that he hated non-compliance much more than Ying. “I broke up today—what should I do if I can’t find a girlfriend—the canteen food is disgusting… how they could post such things so boldly?”

“I, for one, find canteen food important.” Ying nodded solemnly beside him. “I get sick watching them having beef stew every day even I don’t eat… Right, Master—Ivan and the others had entered deep into the cavern Zero-One dug.”

“The First Party? Well, well—they do get my gist. Very good, Ying, remember to report in their findings when there’s a chance.”

Joshua nodded, pleased at once that everyone had the spirit of exploration. “I could sense that Lisa, Syndicate, and Zero-One aren’t in danger, so I’ll let them play around a little more.”

Not one to hold everything in his palm, Joshua was fine with seeing his own student throwing away his plans and going for an adventure in the vastness of the world… Naturally, they must do no wrong, or the warrior would act himself to clear things up.

“Still, it’s been a week, but Lisa and the others still don’t wish to return.” Joshua could not help being puzzled at the thought.

“Is digging really that fun?”

***

While it was fun, it was also a tinge tiring.

“By the way, Mister Syndicate—how long have we been digging?”

On the other side of the world, beneath the Icy Plains of the Extreme North amidst the Northern Realms, a hungry-looking Drakonid girl has spread herself over the head of a huge steel giant as she spoke unenergetically with the balrog inside her own body.

“My body clock is now haywire…”

“It’s definitely hard to judge without the change of day and night, but it should be around eight days and seven hours according to my calculations.”

Compared to the Drakonid girl who had a bad complexion since she had been only eating rations and drinking distilled water all the while, Syndicate’s spirit signature appeared rather energetic. “As expected of His Lordship’s progeny: Though it was created before he ascended as Monarch, it’s fundamentally powerful. In eight short days, it had dug such a long two-way passage—it would probably stretch directly through the earth’s crust and deep into the magma layer!

“Magma?!”

The word itself jolted the Drakonid girl, who could not help but remember the underground ruins, and she frowned amidst instinctive fear. “But Brother Zero-One isn’t digging in a straight line. It would occasionally go up or bypass some mineral veins, and though I don’t know where it is digging, it doesn’t feel downward.”

“Bzzt-bzzt, bzzt-bzzt-bzzt.”

Below the Drakonid girl, Zero-One, who had transformed half of its body into a gigantic tunneling shield solemnly emitted a series of electromagnetic signals, which the Drakonid girl nodded in return. “Look, Brother Zero-One is saying that it is searching for something, and not just digging downwards.

“It’s just an observation… Ah, you fool could actually say ‘brother’…”

In Lisa’s body, Syndicate breathed a long sigh.

Since the Drakonid girl learned that Zero-One was born just a few years ago, she did not hesitate calling herself sister, while Zero-One quietly acknowledged that relationship. While Syndicate could understand the jovial exchanges of electromagnetic signals between the two, the balrog always felt that it was on a completely different page. Still, it remained fortunate that both were rather compliant with his orders, just like how Zero-One avoided several underground cavities thanks to the balrog’s scans, allowing them more time to dig.

Though Zero-One itself did not fear being buried beneath a cavity, Lisa was not that well-built. The two reckless little fellows certainly need an old and wise being in the lead… the balrog could not hold back the sense of inner exhaustion at the thought, since it had never worried so much in the centuries before it met Lisa.

Nonetheless, it did not find that worry troubling. It was willing for it to last its whole life if possible.

And one way or the other, the trio were not digging aimlessly.

***

“A weird call…”

That was what Zero-One had said in the first place.

It was a night of snow when Lisa and Syndicate led Zero-One on a stroll beneath the Lost Sea. After all, beings of Extraordinary power only feared extremely turbulent oceanic flow instead of icy water, but Zero-Three’s mass resolved that issue perfectly. The trio thus used electromagnetic radiance to happily study the diverse fishes in the depths, and Zero-One told them about something that troubled it, which itself had been unwilling to mention to Joshua.

“Bzzt-bzzt-bzzt-bzzt, bzzt-bzzt, bzzt-bzzt-bzzt.”

(It was a curious voice from deep below the ground, as if it was summoning something. It is not directed at me deliberately, but seemed to be sent to all beings that fit the conditions.)

Zero-One had been disturbed by that voice all along, which is why it always dug underground passageway and strolled around in the evenings to shake off that voice. Now, feeling Lisa’s encouragement, it intended to investigate the source of the voice.

“Hey, wait! Stop digging!”

Just as Syndicate was busy remembering the start of their journey, sirens began to wail across its mind halfway through. “There’s something blocking my spiritual sensory dead ahead… It’s a cavity right below us!”

“It’s about to crack!”

“Bzzt-bzzt!?”

“Eh?!”

The Drakonid girl and Steel Elemental exclaimed in surprise at the same time, but with Syndicate’s ongoing spiritual scan they noticed it a little too late, which was why the gigantic tunneling shield Zero-One turned into kept digging ahead.

‘Ka-cha.’ An echo of indeterminable weight sounded.

Therefore, in the very next instant, earth crumbled and stone shattered. With prompt weightlessness and infinite boulders and clumps of dirt, Lisa’s three simply dropped from the sturdy underground passageway down into a mysterious cavity.

‘Boooom—’

A tremendous rumble resounded over the entire subterranean cavity. Before fainting from the sudden blunt force, Lisa could vaguely see that the underground cavity was not dark. Various fluorescent fungus glinted faintly in different colors, and she could still hear the weak gushing sounds of water—it was the sound of a cascading underground river.

But it all happened in one brief moment. In the very next second, the unlucky Drakonid girl was unconscious from the sudden fall from up high due to a single instant of carelessness. Though her strong physique prevented her from being injured by the impact, her fainting from the intense brain concussion was unavoidable.

Even so, the Drakonid girl opened her eyes again in no time at all, although there was an unusual red glint in her eyes now.

“Damn it, Lisa has whited out. I need to check things out…”

Temporarily controlling Lisa’s body, Syndicate stood over Zero-One’s head as it slowly reverted to its steel giant form, and looked around. “Wait a minute,” he muttered in slight surprise after doing that for a few seconds. “Luminous fungus, underground river, huge cavity… is this what His Lordship mentioned…”

“Subterranean realm?”