Translator: EndlessFantasy Translation Editor: EndlessFantasy Translation
[There is a war in this world.]
[But in this war, neither sword nor spear were wielded, nor were there blood or fires. It was a war of civilization and progress, of hierarchy and resistance. It is silent and unknown, with one faction holding torn chains in their hands, the other being society itself.]
[And yet that war was equally bitter and devastating than any other. Countless perished.]
How many shambles has it been that the Glorious Era had left for the Starfall Era, now?
Each time Nostradamus added up data from ancient text, he could not help remembering that question that went unanswered.
And was it countable? Everything Starfall had been developed from the remains of the Glorious Era. They inherited magic from ancient sage, aura from ancient warriors and the path of training in Holy Light taught by the gods themselves. Even their culture and sources originated from former races.
The nine categories of magic, the thirteen orthodox aura cultivations, Holy Light meditation, blueprints of colossal war puppets, cores for floating cities, Mana Net and the innumerable ancient techniques left that came from underground ruins, even the continent beneath his feet and the Multiverse Sacrificial Grounds circling beyond the world—all of it were relics from the Glorious Era.
From a certain point of view, the legacy from the Glorious Era had been so thick that it allowed the Starfall pioneers who numbered to approximately a million could progress to their present-day threshold in a thousand years. Nostradamus would never hesitate to believe that, if not for interference from Dark Forests—remnants of Chaos, the greater human settlements would have integrated their might centuries ago for technology exchanges and develop into the magical industrialization state of today.
On the other hand, the Glorious Era also left endless shambles—Dark Forests that burst with Dark Tides, hostile environments at the edge of the Abyss, portals connected to many lands of Chaos, a dying world, the spying of infinite evils and enmity from the World Will.
And yet, the people of Starfall lived under such radically difficult circumstances, moving step by step with legacies from the previous era. That speed was considered swift, even across the Multiverse.
Nevertheless, that was far from enough… Against the destined calamites, the descent of Evil Gods in decades, such progress remained too slow.
Nostradamus could not help remembering the Multiverse Sacrificial Grounds, Stellaris, that Void Mother who could extinguish an entire civilization, and its puppeteer the Evil God of Pestilence.
It was power that could cause despair… It was fine if it were the Void Mother only since he and Joshua managed to kill one in tandem before, and it would not be difficult for either of them to handle one alone following their immense progress in abilities. However, who knew for sure how many Void Mothers there were? The ominous name of the Evil God of Pestilence still spreads across the Multiverse, its swarms of minions probably outnumbering the entire human population of Mycroft. If that Evil God assaulted their world in full force, how could they stand up against them?
And this time, they do not have the Sage on their side.
At the very thought, Nostradamus turned to the warrior beside him.
Both mage and Joshua had left the subterranean realm and had now arrived on the surface. It was now late night, the silver moonlight combining with auroras to shine dazzlingly.
Nostradamus was aware that the aurora was no natural phenomenon but one caused by the presence of the Legendary warrior who stood alongside him—even if powerful magnetic fields were suppressed, they would party affect their environment, disturbing the magnetic fields in the skies above and causing the aurora to appear under any form of weather.
Joshua had been silent ever since they depart from that dated Earth Temple. The Divine Earth Power incident might not be as serious as they thought—such as the measures the World Will put in place to attempt freeing itself, but it remained that they had stumbled upon an incredibly bad piece of information: placing its very own existence on the line, Mycroft the Steel Python had sent a distress call to the edge of the world, putting the power of a world that it wields as leverage in exchange from freedom.
Since he had not mastered summoning or séance, Nostradamus did not know how profound the so-called power of a world could be and what presence it could attract. But when he saw that hint of expectant expression amidst Joshua’s solemnness, the old mage knew at once that it was definitely a troublesome foe. It made sense when he thought about it as well: any being interested in the power of a world would be equivalent to Void Behemoths even if they were no Legends, and hence were supernatural beings not much different from Legends.
“And it also should be noted that the world of Mycroft is at the frontier of the Abyss. There are not many nearby worlds with significant ability.”
Joshua suddenly said as if for his own benefit; the warrior was simply voicing his inference. “Most nearby worlds are like Mycroft itself back then: their Flames are slowly dying—what few normal worlds are left would never allow the growth of champions either, so only Abyssal Lieges and Void Behemoths wandering nearby could be possible threats.”
“And that is already troubling enough.”
Since Joshua had mentioned it before, Nostradamus knew that the Seven Gods and the deities of other races were unable to act at present since they were reinforcing the seal on the World Will, and they might even need others to ensure the safety of the seal. “If even one being could bypass the lockdown,” the old mage murmured, shaking his head, “it could definitely aid the World Will in breaking its chains. You and I know the power of Legends—at full power, destroying that subterranean seal takes just a few minutes.”
The rift valley they were now in was proof. Joshua’s full power had torn a colossal crevice in brief dozen seconds; he would gain in speed and depth if he focused his power to solely destroying the seal.
“Would be nice to have a guard post.”
At the thought, Nostradamus stroked the spine of his grimoire, a hint of pressure in his voice. “The Observatory could see the surrounding worlds, but the range of its objectives are too wide and hence unable to pick out human-sized Legendary champions like you and me… If there is a station that could distinctly capture and massive energy signatures in the Void, defensive measures would be much easier.”
“That is precisely the meaning in establishing an External Exploration Department. For, the first mission for that branch should not be to find living worlds, but to construct substantial guard posts around the world of Mycroft.”
With a simple point of a finger, silver radiance formed a screen in the air even as Joshua continued calmly. “One’s backyard should not be burning when one explores distant regions. It is time for us to formally activate the External Exploration Department after the Steel Python is handled.”
The warrior then turned and nodded lightly to Nostradamus.
“Well, I generally do not manage Winter Fort Academy—you had been basically handling everything…” the old mage said in slight awe. “It is a great success: without the training of those many technicians in the Academy, the External Exploration Department would not have been established so quickly.”
“That’s for sure. Other aspects aside, nobody in this world save for Barbarossa could compare to me when it comes to teaching.”
Even Nostradamus himself was a little humbled—he rarely heard Joshua boasting so directly. Though he stroked his beard in mirth, he soon breathed a sigh. “It’s a pity that there’s only one Winter Fort Academy right now.”
The pair had now strolled to the Northern Ural Plains, where countless grassland beasts and magical creatures were led by students of Winter Fort to another grass plains—a special experimental zone. These students did not possess formidable ability and were unable to carry out difficult missions like the First Party or the Drakonid girl Lisa, which is why the Academy arranged for a large-scale activity, allowing them a rare chance to collect Academy points.
The two Legends observed from afar as the learners used magic and aura proficiently despite their young age, but did not approach them. After another silence, Joshua asked, “Why is there only one Winter Fort?”
There was strong doubt and curiosity in the warrior’s tone as he watched the youths, who were hopes for the future. “I’ve wanted to ask some time ago—since the Winter Fort module has been so successful, you should be establishing other adept academies in other regions of the Empire… Even if those places developed slower without Legendary presence, it’s better than not having one.”
That was something Joshua found unusual. Though Winter Fort Academy took up substantial funds from Moldavian territories, it had brought great profit to Moldavia in return. As Liege, Joshua thought nothing of money, and it was thanks to Winter Fort that he had the confidence to expand his city as much as he wanted without even minding about his own capital—no other adept academies could have developed Moldavia so perfectly, and neither would there be anyone who would attempt it.
Nostradamus first nodded in response, before shaking his head.
“It’s not that we don’t want to, but because we can’t. Joshua, this Empire does not belong to the people, but to the Emperor, Nobles and Extraordinary individuals.”
Nostradamus directly pointed out the crux of the problem. “Apart from Legendary champions like you who are completely uninterested in power, completely do not manage matters in your own domain and is utterly not a threat, building academies for adepts at any region would only supply local nobles with power for tyranny, preventing the gains from spreading to all levels.”
“Wait. I’m not—I…”
Joshua frowned in return, tutting and intending to retort, only to find that Nostradamus was on point after some thought.
He also understood why Israel wanted to carry out reforms—Just like how peasants and land had to be freed from feudal lords to give way for industrialization in the preexistence, mortals with Extraordinary talent must be freed from nobles and existing Extraordinary individuals to achieve widespread attainment of Extraordinary powers.
“But us three Legendary champions, with Israel especially being the Emperor, I had wanted to ask a long time ago—for reforms, we could kill any nobles unwilling to play along at any time and purge the Empire in its entirety. That wouldn’t take three days.”
“Revolution isn’t about giving someone a treat. Having heads roll is inevitable when needed—our time left isn’t much and we can’t afford to let them slowly change their thinking.”
Even as he asserted voice, Joshua’s voice was dispassionate as if he thought nothing of human life. He was willing to protect the world and stand against the Chaos, but that did not mean that he was a saint. What he was willing to protect are the weak who had no way to withstand calamity, and not those who would interfere with the world’s progress. He naturally would not cull even innocents, but he believed imprisoning them and changing their minds by physical means was certainly achievable.
“What good would that be?”
Speechless, Nostradamus shook his head at Joshua’s simple yet violent solution. “You could remove the mountains crushing the bodies of people, free them from the shackles of nobles and give them the power to change destiny… But what good would that be? You can’t remove the mountains in the hearts of men.”
“Look at those students, Joshua.”
Joshua did as he was told, looking once more at Winter Fort students who were carrying out various tasks under the guidance of instructors.
They were compliant, showing flawless work and showing no discrimination whether they were nobles or peasant. None believed themselves to be inferior or superior—a doctrine maintained by the Winter Fort Academy over the years: status is weightless, ability comes first.
“You could just ask those students who act as if there is no gap between nobility and peasantry what they ideal of the future is.”
While Nostradamus’s voice was calm, Joshua could hear a hint of coldness and anger within. However, the warrior did not really sought out any of the students and asked, for he knew the answer all along.
“Each of them wants to be important,” Joshua answered, shaking his head. “Having learned magic meant becoming a noble. Being knighted meant developing imperial frontiers. Even being inducted as a priest meant leadership of a church, then parishes, and finally titles of bishop or archbishops. Even those are important ranks, equal to counts and up to barons.”
Nostradamus closed his eyes in return. “Yes, you’re right. And it is that simple.”
“Their equality now is out of belief that everyone else would be important people in the future, that they would return to their homeland and rule over the peasants and consolidate hierarchies, an ‘oligarchy’ that disallows the presents any chance of rising beyond their own ranks… That is the only reason why nobles could be jovial with peasants, why the sons of counts would fool around with the suns of hunters.”
It was the first time Joshua heard Nostradamus repressed his own emotions. He felt as if the old mage was a volcano that was about to erupt, but he soon calmed, coldly watching it all and then showing a chilling smile. “That’s just it. Everyone knows that Legendary champions could change the world, that it would not be difficult for you and I to wipe the Great Ajax mountains from the map if we worked together, that it is easier for us to slay those nobles and local tyrants than to flip our palm… But if the minds of the masses are not freed, if the masses are not awakened and the mountains in their heart overturned, they would merely be the new oppressors when they attain Extraordinary power.”
“Freeing the mind of the masses, huh.”
Joshua could not help remembering the world he once existed within. He recalled those wars waged over thought and ideals detailed in history books, realizing with a start that the rather primitive society on Mycroft had actually reached that stage.
And that stage is almost about to unfold, right before his eyes.
“To popularize knowledge, dispel illiteracy, necessitate compulsory education and begin collective political education at the start of early secondary…” Joshua became quiet as the many education procedures established in the preexistence flashed in his mind. He was not sure how the revolution began and succeeded then, but he knew that developing the mind of the masses was a must.
The only thing he did not know was such widespread change fitted this world.
In the end, there were no supernatural powers in the preexistence. Would there be anything unexpected if everything was emulated like how it was before? This world is one of magic and aura, completely different from the peasantry and feudal system…
And the more he knew, the more he would hesitate at this moment.
“Do we have the right to choose the future path of societies for humankind?” Joshua asked.
“You’re wrong, Joshua. We are not choosing a path for the future of humankind.”
Nostradamus replied, the corners of his mouth curling up, and he looked up at the dazzling starry skies and the aurora. “I’ve always kept in mind what you’ve told me before… You’re right, we are only leading them forward to this very stage.”
“Then, humankind would choose that path.”
“…Hahaha. To actually answer me with my own words.”
Joshua first narrowed his eyes in response as if reminiscing, but soon laughed heartily. “And to think I was worried for you people. You and Israel have already come up with countermeasures, right?”
Nostradamus answered briskly and laughed as well. However, what he said after that short joviality caused Joshua to stare blankly.
“In a few days, that is.”
“We planned to tell you about the news early on, but we refrained from troubling since you’re in the Far South attending a friend’s wedding.”
Nostradamus leveled his gaze to Joshua’s own, and said sincerely, “Count Radcliffe, please be present at the appointed moment.”
“To witness the advent of a new era alongside us.”