Translator: EndlessFantasy Translation Editor: EndlessFantasy Translation
The ancient presence from the subterranean abyss was spreading.
“This is the right place.”
Nostradamus closed the grimoire in his hand, having been using magic beside Joshua to suppress the shockwaves as Joshua tore the earth’s crust apart. Though he did not support Joshua’s excessively direct actions, he would still admit that it was the safest and swiftest approach.
Indeed, though resounding, tearing apart a portion of the earth’s crust through the power of Legendary champions was actually the safest move. Joshua had even especially used his presence to disperse most indigenous animals and magical beasts before he moved, which would in turn be led to a vast wilderness nearby. No life would hence be hurt apart from certain underground dwellers, and preparing by tearing apart the earth’s crust was definitely safer than fighting beneath the surface while bursting with power that tore the land apart.
“Zero-One and Syndicate had left a mark. I just have to trace the coordinates.”
Joshua looked down at his work—a huge rift valley that stretched across the entire Northern Ural Plains. His eyes adjusted the distance as he looked directed towards the vast underground cavity, the luminous fungi, as well as bats that were fleeing in panic like incessantly rising clouds of grey distinctly visible despite being thousands of meters down below.
“To be frank, Joshua, I tried to stop you was not due to danger… but mainly because permanent adjustment to landscapes would irreversibly affect ecosystems.
Nostradamus was staring at the cluster of gray clouds as well, a hint of pity in his gaze. “Those bats had lived their days all along in the sealed reaches beneath ground; they simply do not have the adaptability to life on the surface. In months, they would be extinct due to the dramatic change in environment, while the chaos from moving a huge population of grassland dwellers would definitely not show in one or two days either.”
“After the Northern Ural Plains had been turned into a rift valley, the Mana Tide from the mountains would not flow to the North with the wind as well, descending here or simply clashing against the mana from beneath the surface. Magical beasts would migrate in infinite numbers due to the change in mana cycles, a change that would echo over hundreds of years. All of the North would feel its effects profoundly, and no one would know what it would result in… Which is why I hope for prudence on your part.”
The power of Legends was so frightening that it could move heaven and earth, turn deserts into forest, oceans into continents… Legends, however, would force upheavals in the environment unless it was necessary, for that was shaped by the life upon that soil—their choices and bold moves could only make things worse.
Meanwhile, Joshua silently listened to everything the old garrulous mage had to say, and simply nodded without retort.
“I know,” he said later.
Permanently changing a landscape would naturally monumentally affect the balance of wildlife and mana… For example, those fungi and rare herbs that had flourished in the underground cavity might wither due to the fact, causing great losses.
“That, however, isn’t unsalvageable. Look, right behind us are the elites from Winter Fort Academy and the Imperial Royal Mage Academy. Those mages, herbologists and druids would prevent the worst-case scenarios, preserving the environment that nurtures those herbs and acquiring precious cultivation knowledge through that process. Most importantly, Nostradamus, the being we are facing is worth that risk.”
The warrior turned to look at the rift valley, where yellow ripples were expanding gradually. While those lights that were difficult to describe with words and yet emanated the sense of ‘earth’, ‘vigor’ and ‘flourish’ were faint, it was caught by Joshua with clarity. That was Divine Earth Power, a profound power originating from the Mother Goddess over a thousand years ago.
“If that being—the mother of the Mother Goddess awakened,” Joshua added, “the upheaval would not be limited to the Northern Ural Plains.”
With those words, even Nostradamus could not help but sigh, and admit that Joshua was right.
The being they faced now of such great importance even when it was sealed. If the World Will that despised humans reawakened, would turning a simple grassland upside down be even comparable to the destruction it would wreak? To judge the anomalies afoot beneath the surface, Joshua reaction was assuredly decisive.
And now was not the time to be chattering away either. After that brief exchange, Joshua closed his eyes and studied the source of the Divine Earth Power, opening his eyes again in seconds, having picked up the source.
“There’s an old underground lake which three subterranean rivers flow into… The surface is clear, but the depths has cumulated with mineral shards as well as the corpses and secretions of aquatic slime molds. It’s a pile of refuse.”
“And the origin of the Divine Earth Power is at the depths of that lake.”
The rift valley tore apart the barrier with no name, allowing Joshua’s gaze to smoothly enter the deeper reaches. He saw that there was a deep pit directed straight below in the center of that massive cavity, the depths of which was where the divine power emanated. It could interfere with all mana and spiritual sensory, but Joshua was not affected greatly since he was merely ‘seeing’. There was no telling how many years the pit had accumulated with turbid water and corpses of various creatures, the depths of which was welling with so much water polluted with viscous heavy metal fluids that no creature could approach it.
Joshua made a soft utterance of surprise while watching thousands of black serpents swimming with the light. The radiance of Divine Earth Power appeared over their bodies, separating water from the impurities and cleaning the water itself so that the surface of the underground river stayed clear. Joshua could also see that some of those black snakes were swimming along the rivers as well, purifying those streams like the most dedicated of cleaners.
“Interesting,” Joshua said, showing a fascinated expression. “I had thought that the black snakes are guards, never assumed that they could be cleaning users that maintained the underground ecosystem… That means they shouldn’t be killed whimsically.”
The warrior then turned to the elderly mage. “I found the coordinates, Nostradamus. What say you?”
“What is there to say? I’ll do it.” Nostradamus shook his head, his mouth twitching at Joshua’s doubtfulness. “Send me the coordinates.”
Taking no mind of his friend’s grumbling, Joshua smiled lightly and delivered the coordinates to the underground lake to the old mage. Then, withdrawing the massive magnetic field and gravity that spread incessantly from around his body, he landed on the surface alongside the mage.
A wild wind bellowing beside him, Nostradamus stood by the edge of the rift valley, his eyes flickering with pale blue illumination of runes. After calculating for some time, the old mage extended his hand and pointed at the region around the underground lake.
With the slight hum of the dimensions being torn, a vein of dark fissure stretched away infinitely from his finger, heading towards the direction he was pointing. It easily shattered all earth, stone, and minerals in the way, piercing layers of ground almost twenty-five hundred thick right down to where the underground lake was located.
As the tremendous dimensional magic slowly diminish, there was a ten-meter wide sloping passageway now visible on the ground. It heads straight into the underground lake without any detours.
“Alright. Let’s take a look at what has been unleashing Divine Earth Powers…Tsk , the dimensional fissure isn’t straight enough.”
Drawing his hand back, Nostradamus wriggled his fingertip, appearing dissatisfied. Still, he strode out and descended into the tunnel below, while Joshua smiled and shrugged before following suit.
Joshua could tear out a rift valley simply because of his sheer incredible power, but he would not compare to Nostradamus who has mastered the aspect of dimensions when it came to precisely opening a path at a certain target.
Unlike roundabout underground tunnels that stretched on for who knows how many thousands of meters, this was a straight path that was no more than four thousand kilometers that two Legends could cover in seconds. His body releasing silver-white light, Joshua dispelled the darkness around them, illuminating the dark underground lake.
Bizarre oils and clumps of mold floated ion its surface even as thousands of black snakes swam beneath it, disintegrating most pollutants or moving them to the shore, their substantial mana releasing a pale blue lightning in the air. The stone walls around the lake were grown full of mana crystals as well, gathering pure mana and almost forming an entire mining vein.
The presence of Divine Earth Power here brought incomparable vigor, with the shores of the lake grown full of various extraordinary plants. There were also rodents that either mutated or innately born in unusual forms weaved in and out of the luminous enchanted herbs alongside insects. Arlwa would have been thrilled if he was here, too—there were colossal mushrooms and ant-hives that he imagined to exist underground, those creatures that could never be found above ground forming a bizarre ecosystem.
Joshua tearing apart the earth’s crust and the old mage’s opening a passageway did not appear to affect the creatures around the lake. An unusual power was anchoring the surrounding rock layers, preventing them from crumbling due to the massive tremors, and Joshua could clearly sense that it was Divine Earth Power at work.
Having arrived there, Joshua naturally spared no time for nonsense. Extending his hand simultaneously with the elderly mage, a vortex abruptly appeared on the surface of the underground lake. Countless dark, turbid lake water was drawn by the warrior and teleported to the surface by Nostradamus. Even as the infinite black snakes fled in fear, Joshua adjusted his strength so that the beasts that labored dutifully over the years would not be killed. Eventually, as the lake was drained, a path directed down to the depths of the lake was visible.
Sensing the slowly surging ripple of divine power, Joshua and Nostradamus stopped. Until now, the two did not meet any danger they imagined: there were no beast empowered by Divine Power Infestation attacking them, nor were there any traps left by World Will or deities. They simply and smoothly arrived deep underground and found the source of divine power, making the warrior who expected a fight and the rather suspicious mage to be both pensive and bewildered.
“Is that it?” Joshua muttered to himself. “Even eating’s not that easy—and I didn’t even make an effort.”
“This can’t be it…” Nostradamus was pondering as well. “There should at least be some traps, ambushers or mysterious circles left from ancient times, right?”
Nevertheless, it was clear that things were not as the combative warrior and the worrywart mage had thought. The path was simply that uncomplicated, devoid of any pitfalls or monsters and as smooth as drinking broth.
At the moment, most of the water of the lake had been drained and the rivers blocked, with any remaining water flowing across all directions through various subterranean crevices. Slowly, the source that lay at the depths beneath the surface while releasing divine powers was also revealed.
It was an aged ancient temple, built entirely of stone.
When it was no longer engulfed by the deep lake and was exposed completely to air, an immeasurably faint ripple started to spread from it to all directions across the Mycroft Continent—in that very instant, countless insignificant people over the entire land paused where they were and stopped whatever they were doing.
Amongst them were ordinary peasants or master chefs, brave warriors or learned mages, agile thieves or devout priests. Some lived in poor, filthy slums, surviving amidst anguish, while others stood on the stands of their palaces, overlooking their subjects and nation pridefully.
In the distant Earth Temple, the white-haired Elder of the temple sat before the old temple built entirely out of stone. He closed his eyes, as if considering some problem that could not be solved for eternity, but a faint ripple suddenly swept past him. The Elder hence widened his bloodshot eyes all at once, rising and looking towards the northernmost edge of the world, but soon doubtfully looked around him as if sensing something was not right.
Below him, the aged temple was shining mildly, gently and warmly, as if it was the gaze of a mother.
In a small isle beside the Sea Dragon City in the Eastern Plains, the residence of the Eastern Sea Sage suddenly shone with pale silver radiance. Every ascetic left their houses in surprise, looking towards the holy land at the center of the island.
Within the residence of the sage, Vahina, who was meditating in the house and linking up her spiritual clone that had been sent to Stellaris from time to time sensed that ripple as well. Her composed frame of mind was shattered as an immeasurably complex emotion unfurled within her heart. Rising slowly, Vahina left her residence, looking towards the northern edge of the world, but soon turned again, as if looking around across the entire continent.
In the eyes of the sage, more than a hundred specks of light were glinting dazzlingly.
At the crevice at the center of the Northern Ural Plains, Joshua looked around at the shining temple, sensing that faint ripple as well. Believing something to be not right, Joshua had intended to stop it—the ripple, on the other hand, simply made a beeline for him, having no intention of compromise.
Indeed, most of the ripple was directed at him.
Joshua hence refrained from evading. Wanting to learn what that ripple was, the warrior directly took one stride ahead and gathered most of the ripple into his embrace. Just as he tried to study the information contained within that ripple, he suddenly froze, blanking out where he stood.
He stayed silent for a long time, his eyes flashing with silver radiance as countless dated memories stirred with the tides of Steel Strength: he learned why that temple was built deep underground, why it was built and even why those ripples would gather at him, as if having a predetermined target.
The truth of it all was so simple.
“Wake up, Joshua. Did something get you?”
Nostradamus, having waited for a long time could see Joshua’s body moving a fraction and knew at once that the warrior had recovered from his blanked-out stance. “You’ve been gone for a dozen minutes—what did you see from those ripples?” he quickly asked.
Being not the target of the ripples, the elderly mage sensed nothing.
“It was civil conflict.”
But even as Joshua returned to normal, his gaze darkened. He smiled bitterly in response to Nostradamus’s voice and stared at the Ancient Temple before him, shaking his head. “The confusion after the war, a conflict between man and world.”
“Nostradamus, it’s truly a discovery that escapes our imagination.”