Translator: EndlessFantasy Translation Editor: EndlessFantasy Translation
Starfall Year 837, the eighteenth of March.
The state of the Mycroft Continent changed by the day. After all, factions across the world numbered up to the thousands, and even the wisest and most experienced analyst would be completely incapable of predicting the change in every faction. While that may be the case, certain movements in the previous week made everyone felt uneasy—analyst did not have to allay those doubts, for even illiterate peasants could sense the nervousness from the prices of daily food and the atmosphere within cities.
The greatest change unfurled within the Northern Empire. Beginning on the tenth of March year Thirty-Seven, an indescribable ambiance shrouded the skies of the entire nation. According to statistics from a reliable source, on the tenth itself, a hundred and seventy-two local triads and fifty-three merchant guilds were incinerated by blazes descending from the heavens. It was bizarre, however, that the fearsome heavenly flames that resembled meteors killed only those triads and merchant guild chiefs with extreme precision—people such as housekeepers, chef assistants and receptionists were spared. Amidst shock and bewilderment, as the atmosphere around the Helgamoth plains cleared as a result, the locals who appeared oppressed had in fact held more than a few celebrations inside their homes.
Furthermore, it was roughly estimated that more than twenty nobles fell to sudden deaths, with even more, incalculable numbers of attendants and children dying to similar causes. It caused a chain reaction that engulfed their domains with chaos for days, but armies from the Imperial Family would quickly take interim control over local administrative duties. Still, every Imperial Noble were in a collective panic, suspecting that the Imperial Family was ready to act against them. However, the moment they gathered to discuss what on earth was going on, inspectors from the Court for Nobles would arrive at once and imprison them, awaiting judgment from the Court.
While the Empire appeared to be mired in confusion, there was in fact order in the chaos, with a pair of invisible hands that appear to be manipulating everything. The old nobles who usually behaved high and mighty withdrew their claws at once, while triads in villages or desolated areas, merchant guilds and slave traders were all purge at once. For the peasants, apart from the few who fear that the ‘Heavenly Flame’ would blow their brains out, most praised it like a savior—some as if it was a god. Indeed, in the western swamp settlements where the triad problem was the worst, the ridiculous ‘Heavenly Flame Temple’ was already established.
Such widespread blows against nobility and local triads would have become a talking point for other people, with the noble pointing fingers, the small to medium factions getting into conflict while the greater factions learning from it. Now, however, not many would throw that topic out in taverns since the state of the world was very complicated at present.
For one, the Eastern Plains is quickly emulating the Northern Empire’s large-scale construction of magically powered factories: Eastern Plains technology had been top-notch given their identity as a settlement for mages, even the Empire’s own factories were jointly designed by elite mages invited from the Skypiercing White Tower. Now, having seen how constructing those factories extensively would exponentially raise productivity, the White Tower and every other mage faction could no longer hold back. In months, magical factories of varying sizes were established by the dozens, with every faction not avoiding detours as they followed the Empire’s example.
Soon, however, the side-effects of magically powered factories appeared as well. In cities without Supreme champions, nobody could handle the air pollution caused by the production in the factories—powdered magical crystals would enter the lungs of mortals, which in turn would at best cause fibrosis of internal organs, and crystallization at worst after long-term exposure. It would also be difficult to grow ordinary crops over soil where processed mana seeped into. Anything that would grow there was myriad-colored, and anyone could tell at a single glance that it could not be eaten.
Imperial factories, such as those in the North, are either built around cities with Supreme or Legendary champions or desolated icy mountains or plains. Common folk would not be affected despite pollution, whereas the largest industrial zones in the Empire were actually constructed in places such as the East Barnett Highlands that were basically unpopulated. In that respect, the Eastern Plains that were mostly flatlands do not have enough wildlands for centralized factory construction, while the complicated relations between organizations stopped them from joining hands. As a result, all mage organizations, with the Skypiercing White Tower at the helm, temporarily halted production in most factories as they urgently research how to reduce the pollution index.
Just as the Eastern Plains were left overwrought by the pollution issue, the nations in the West Mountains were exploring the abysses. After three years had passed, the war between stone dwarves and the night elves were heading to a conclusion, with the former achieving independence and occupying a corner of the subterranean cavity. The night elves meanwhile were in certain confusion—having lost their laborers at the bottom of their hierarchy, their vast kingdom could split into many smaller nations. Still, both sides had made contact with different realms above ground, with the first explorer ‘Grand Duke’ Romain joining forces with the dwarves. Since both sides having come to a general agreement for partnership, and the ambitious Grand Duke having attained a huge portion of underground riches, he already could not wait to crown his own head.
Moreover, the headquarters of the West Mountain dwarves and the elves of the Lake of Eternity also dispatched three Supreme-champions as envoys to that subterranean realm. As people of a same race, they wished to reestablish contact with their cousins who were thought to be lost for a thousand years. Additionally, now that both stone dwarves and night elves were in their weakened post-war state, they would naturally not reject any good wishers. Both sides came to an understanding, with both races absorbed into the history books of their respective races. As a reward, the stone dwarves were given the Divine Hammer ‘Gundar’s Tempest’ forged by the Divine Dwarven Craftsman himself as a gift—although it was more a massive lathe than an actual hammer. Even so, it would establish a solid foundation for the stone dwarves’ construction efforts.
The night elves, on the other hand, were given the ‘Lightless Wood’ created by the Nature’s Magister own hands, a unique Mother Tree that would grow in the fluorescent pools of the night elves. In return, both surface elves and dwarves received part of their lost ancient legacies and various creations unique to the world below, enriching their vaults considerably.
In the distant south, the Far Southern Kingdom was finally stable. Though its land and actual jurisdiction mostly shrunk, their royal family remained. Then, as their old king abdicated and the new king was coronated, the incumbent monarch attempted strategic partnership with the Trade Federation, exploration and development toward the Dark Forest and the distant oceans, driving the nation forward in full swing.
Comparatively, the Seven Gods Church were rather quiet. They showed no movements apart from sending a legion of Holy Knights across the continent to cull raging magical beasts, but the Church were never one to indulge in worldly matters in the first place, and therefore none find it unusual.
All the same, the world appeared to be improving in the common people’s perception of reality. While there may be the occasional threat and change, it was not as if they could not adapt since magical factories, policy shift or the appearance of subterranean realms would not be able to get them to change their living habits. Even so, they might slowly notice in a dozen years later that those seemingly unmeaningful was changing the world.
And for those with considerable supernatural abilities, they felt that much more distinctly.
The world was on alert, and the most direct observation one could give would be that all factions—the Empire, Eastern Plains, West Mountains, and the Far South—were nervously preparing for war. The middling mages of the Skypiercing White Tower believed that they might be fighting the murlocs, just as Imperial Chancellors were asking if His Imperial Majesty plans for a return to the West Mountains, since the Diamond Family’s origins lay in the West Mountains. Voices of doubts were echoing amidst the elven and dwarven tribes as well, for they see no enemies and it was during the Berserker Dragon Calamity four or five years ago when they had been so alert.
“Your Holiness… What is the reason you have summoned us, the High Priest of the Seven Gods, back here to the Holy Mountain?” A white-haired priest asked Igor curiously.
They were within the Grand Temple at the peak of the Holy Mountain, which stood over the Grey Island of Aida amidst the Distant Southern Seas. The priest himself had muscles resembling a barbarian’s, which stretched his white clergy robes almost to the point of bursting. Behind him stood six other priests who carried different demeanors, ranging from mild and kindly or cool and silent. Each of them emanated mysterious yet powerful presence, and appear to be Supreme-advanced champions at a single glance.
The elderly pontiff himself sat on the white chair at the edge of the throne, stroking the scepter in his hand as he looked toward the horizon distractedly. Then, when he heard the question from the muscled priest, he looked down and replied with a rather friendly voice.
“Langston, patience… As overseers the Seven Gods’ temples, I trust all of you are aware of the news from the Infinite Horizon?”
The seven High Priests present nodded together. Being only next to Igor in the Church’s hierarchy, they were individuals of authority alongside the respective commanders of the Holy Knight legions. Naturally, they did not care much for their own power as devotees of the Seven Gods, and usually went from temple to temple, inspecting if the local clergies were up to par.
“Then all of you should know that the Infinite Horizon is about to fuse with our world… in that process, the Gods would be exerting their full power.”
“They would not have the strength to spare against the Great Mana Tide.”
There was a priest who understood the meaning behind the pope’s words. “Then, Your Holiness means to say…” he asked, frowning, “that forces from other worlds would prevent the gods from lowering the Infinite Horizon?”
“Why? What good would that even do for them! If the joining fails, the raging gods would definitely retaliate!”
“Though Their Majesties are discreet, they are not impervious.”
Igor silently watched as the High Priests erupted into a debate over the news, and only spoke again when they slowly calmed. “If it were any other time, certainly no being would dare strike against Mycroft, a world protected that gods and many Legends. But what if there comes a time when the Seven Gods could not act, and most of the Legends were preoccupied with various issues?”
“What if there is another tremendous power in our very own world, planning its vengeance to wipe out everything above ground?”
The Temple quickly fell into silence. Every High Priest knew about the being that had been sealed beneath the land, and could vaguely understand why the enemies were coming in return.
“High Priests of the Seven,” Igor said softly, having seen the change in their expressions. “We have ten days—ten days to prepare against anything unexpected. At the moment, the research department of the Holy Mountain is carrying out a grand undertaking, with Count Radcliffe and Barbarossa the Element Maven joining us. Even so, we lack certain vital elements, which was why I summoned you from across the world… Your aid is needed to complete ‘It’.”
“And then… in ten days, it’s war.”
“At most ten days, and might be less than ten.”
Joshua was having a stroll with Barnil and William along the coastlines of the Lost Sea in the Icy Plains of the Extreme North. While they appeared relaxed, their exchange was solemn.
“After ten days, the Infinite Horizon would fully combine with the world of Mycroft,” the warrior spoke with a clear voice, watching the frozen shores and seawater stirring in the distance. “The seal over the Steel Python would thus become a Klein Bottle, and it never would be able to free itself forever.”
“And when that time comes, even after the gods had assumed the form of Holy Ones and hence unable to fight at full-power, they still could defeat all invading foes with our aid.”
“So, we must hold on for these ten days?” The fatigued Barnil muttered quietly, having been invited to the Empire’s Special Research Department to conduct experiments in adapting the Information Terminal for common use.
Beside him, the spirited William frowned instead. “While that may be the case, we must never let the battle take place too close to the Void around Mycroft. The power of Legendary champions reverberates across dimensions, that would greatly affect the seal!”
“You don’t have to worry about that.”
Joshua waved his hand to calm the duo, looking up at the Void and spoke pointedly, “I’ve already thought about that and made adequate planning and preparations. All insurances are in place—they would never affect the seal completed by the Seven Gods.”
“…That sounds a little not ‘Joshua’.”
As they strolled along, Barnil and William made an unusual face and the two started to mutter under their breath. Joshua paused for a moment, not quite understanding what the pair were saying, although he soon shrugged nonchalantly. “Either way, all factions across the world are preparing. The elves had calmed their civil unrest, while the Seven Gods Holy Mountain is readying a certain grand thing in anticipation of war. As for us, our chief priority is to enable the gods to stay untroubled in ten days as they complete the seal.”
“Or, to put it in another way…”
At that, Joshua grunted as he looked up at the skies and spoke coolly, “how we could beat up those bastards who harbor ill-will in these ten days.”
“Not bad,” the two Legendary mages exclaimed together in return. “That’s very ‘Joshua’!”