Translator: EndlessFantasy Translation Editor: EndlessFantasy Translation
The voice from afar echoed like the muffled hums of the evening tides or the gentle sounds of a foliage. It resembled a song, caroling a psalm none knew and unlamented sadness.
In the Bloodmoon Abyss, both Joshua and Light turned as the indescribable voice pierced the World Barrier, looking toward the direction it came from.
It was Mycroft. In the Blood Moon, the huge luminous human figure titled its head and blinked curiously, while Light jingled once, not quite understanding what the voice was trying to say despite hearing it. However, it sensed familiarity and affection from its tone, as if a distant senior entrusting something upon it.
Apart from the Bloodmoon Abyss, other Legendary champions doing battle in other worlds, the elderly pontiff standing off against the Dragon God in the Void, as well as the gods in the Infinite Horizon heard that voice that resembled a song. They too could hear that incomprehensive meaning and feel that the voice was sighing, mourning that something had passed. Only Vahina, the Eastern Sea Sage paused slightly—in her ears, that familiar voice had become a certain call, as if a mother was calling for her children.
Outside the Earth Temple in the distant seas beyond the Distant Seas itself at the very edge of the Mycroft, an old priest who had been sweeping the dust off the front yard of huge stone temple paused where he was, gripping the handle of his broom. He heard much more than what the others could hear—an entrusting, a call, a self-mockery and a thirst of urgency. Suddenly remembering something, he quickly turned to the temple of the Mother Goddess, but it was not shining. Her statue was silent too, the deity it depicted having passed on not too long ago. The old priest smiled bitterly at the very thought, putting the broom down and, as he reverently knelt before the temple, he prayed.
Joshua slowly landed on the continent he just created, his brow tightly frowned at the seal where the Seven Gods Church placed, separating the connection between the Bloodmoon Abyss and Mycroft.
“Do you hear it, Light?” He said after a long silence.
The luminous orb expanded and contracted. Though Joshua nodded, he appeared to be filled with question. “Could hear it, but not understanding it… It’s as expected. But why?”
Compared to the questions the others might have, Joshua understood that the voice was incomprehensible to others, but what he frowned at was because that incomprehensible accent and melody all naturally turned into words he could understand. Not only could he hear it, he easily understood it.
It was an indescribable voice, as if having just awakened from a dream and lamented the passing of a bygone era. It was reminding all life to be prudent and cautious, filled with self-mockery and regrets while calling the names of its children, one after another. However, those names were cryptic and difficult to understand, as if the divine words and names of an ancient era, although Joshua was familiar with one of them.
For that was the divine name of the Earth Mother.
Apart from that, it yearned with urgency for one’s arrival, and was using its last iota of strength to call throughout the Multiverse, although none replied… Joshua suddenly felt as if something awakened in him when he heard the call, along with a spreading warm sensation.
‘It’s calling for the Sage… It’s calling for me.’
Joshua found his answer in one brief instant. As to the issue of ‘why me’, the warrior would no longer consider it—indeed, a better question would be why not him? He was the Sage’s Successor, the King of Searing Soul, the Savior of a World who reignited its Flame and a Fated Legend. In fact, Joshua found it not unusual because champions were vortices that drew everything to them, but even so, he questioned why the voice—the World Will, Mycroft the Steel Python would summon him and the Sage with such a tone?
Were they not mortal enemies after the Sage sealed it?
Indeed, Joshua could be sure that it was precisely the voice of the World Will, just as what Zero-One and he heard back then. The warrior was a hundred percent sure that there was nothing different.
“A cry before it is sealed? Or a temporary moment of lucidity before its eternal slumber?”
May different guesses cascaded in Joshua’s mind, but he made his choice. As one who had witnessed with his own eyes the rise and end of the Glorious Era and a former master of that world, the call from Mycroft must not be a typical anguished cry or final rally before its death. Even if it was, humans should listen to the last words of the profound being, the Mother of All.
It was basic respect.
At the very thought, Joshua strode out and rose into the air, flying toward the seal between two worlds. Light, held in his embrace, jingled urgently, questioning what the warrior intending to do.
“I don’t know,” the warrior answered simply. “That’s why I must go.”
With the embodiment of such a mood, Joshua arrived at the seal over the dimensional rift that once connected the two worlds. He reached out, silver radiance flashing against holy light—being the only one who could directly communicate with the Multiverse Sacrificial Grounds, Joshua was the only one who could freely traverse the world that used as a trap. In fact, in the original plan, after he finished off his assigned opponents with Light’s aid, he would directly head to other worlds and assist the Legends of Mycroft to wipe out all invaders from beyond.
But now, according to feedback from the Commanding Will of the Multiverse Sacrificial Grounds, none of the Legends of Mycroft were at a disadvantage, with the Nature’s Magister was even conversing peacefully with the unnamed Behemoth. There were also three other Legends who had arrived at the world where the warrior was, greatly alleviating the pressure upon the others. The old pontiff has also combined with the Holy Mountain Warship to steadily hold off against the assault of the Pentashade Dragon God: everything was under control, and he was not needed to help out.
Thus, as a human-sized hole appeared upon the sacred seal under the power of Steel Strength, Joshua briskly crossed the dimensional rift back to the world of Mycroft.
However, the moment he stepped across worlds into the oceanic domain of the Anos Abyss, the earth suddenly began to tremble, the seas churning. Every Legendary champion who were subjugating the World Will by the seal felt an abrupt freeing sensation upon their hands, realizing that the Steel Python that had been resisting at full power to tear the seal apart had stopped resisting. The excessive contrast almost made them lost handle of their strength output, just as Joshua sensed an extraordinarily profound will had forced itself to come before him, at the price of no longer being able to resist the seal.
The World Will had chosen to give up on resisting, allowing the Sacred Swordsman who had been guiding the descent of the Infinite Horizon feel a considerable decrease of pressure upon himself. The many runic formations that could have been used to suppress, seal or resist also hence lost any form of usage, but in return, the Steel Python that had given up would attain brief freedom before the sealing formation adjusted itself.
At the same time, Joshua was with that profound Will, following that natural cycle of energies and entering the inner sanctum of the world that he was familiar with.
The realm where the Steel Python lived.
Joshua had been there countless times—be it Karlis, Stellaris, Illgner or Grandia, he had witnessed multiple World Wills, engaging them in pleasant conversations. On the other hand, he had never seen or been inside the world of Mycroft, the world he himself lived in.
At present, Joshua lifted his eyes to the vast Vault of Stars, watching as the starry skies that were once immeasurably dazzling flickering in dim and dappled radiance. Then, he looked down, and saw that the vast dark land around him was without life.
On the warrior’s flanks, the two River of Time that denoted ‘past’ and ‘future’ was churning with turbid and impure bubbles. Red-black and brown light flickered in the river as deathly and Chaotic presence emanated, symbolizing the advent of the end.
Joshua watched the two rivers silently, tracing their flow and origin to find a coiled, black Python in front of him, staring at him with its two eyes that flashed in dark, red light.
Grey particles wafted in the air as if a gloom that obscured all light, pervading the land. Half of Mycroft’s body was shrouded beneath that gloom, its once silver body now filled with traces of dark rot, blackening its entire body similar to how iron rust.
Now, the Steel Python gazed disappointedly at Joshua, who had come to the inside of its world. “You’re not him…” It spoke after a long time. “You are not the Sage, you are just his Successor.”
“Is he no longer, or has he left?”
A hoarse feminine voice wafted from the Python’s maw, its fatigue distinct. As Joshua looked up at the being that seemed to stretch from heaven down to the earth, he realized that it was larger than any other World Will save for Star, the World Will of Stellaris that barely sized up to it. Indeed, the head of Mycroft the Steel Python appeared to be keeping the dim galaxies aloft, while its coiled body was akin to a black mountain chain that extends across it. Its mass took up one-third of the inner realm, making the entire space appear narrow and suffocating.
Joshua then nodded in reply to the Steel Python’s question. “He has left,” he said calmly, “to the depths of the Multiverse in search of an answer to Order and Chaos.”
“So, he has left…” the black Steel Python muttered slowly. There was no disappointment or rage in its voice, only a sigh. “So, we’ve finally failed.”
But just as the Steel Python said those words, Light abruptly shook uncomfortably in Joshua’s embrace. It had been brought by the warrior into the World Inner, and now appeared very unwell. In response, Mycroft lowered its head slightly and studying the luminous orb with some interest. “The child form of a newborn World Will… You’re actually carrying it around? The Sage and his heirs had always been so bizarre.”
“Successor, help it block the Chaos presence around.”
Joshua had noticed the power of Chaos that filled the World Inner before the Steel Python finished, and had already created a Steel Strength for light just as it made the suggestion. Then, when the Python finished, Joshua had already lifted his eyes again to the Python, his brow still frowned tightly.
“World Will, Mother of All—are you not an enemy of the gods and the Sage following the fall of the Mother Goddess? It is precisely because you wish to destroy the world that we would seal you.”
“Why then, in this moment, you show no hint of hate at the mention of the Sage, and no tendency to act against me, his Successor?”
That was the most pressing question in Joshua’s mind. Before he returned to Mycroft, he was ready for a final counter-offensive alongside other Legends against the World Will’s final stand, and would not have been surprised to be dragged into the World Inner. It was what Joshua expected, and he would understand if his opponent showed such an attitude: The Steel Python should be showing its rage like it did in those memory fragments, cursing humans and all living things. It should have been behaving like before, to summon every powerful foe across all Multiverse here to destroy Mycroft’s civilization, even at the price of going dormant.
It was precisely due to such a tremendous contrast that Joshua asked about it so straightforwardly, with neither hesitation nor tact.
“Could you be referring to my madness? Huh. It certainly is an act of immeasurable lunacy, but I am no longer myself under the influence of Chaos.”
The colossal Steel Python lifted its head in response, its dark red gaze emanating a black presence. Mycroft kept silent for a long while as if remembering the past and mulling over its thoughts then, before finally replying with a calm voice a dozen seconds later. “Though it may be hard to comprehend for you, successors, back then, the Sage and I simply wished to conduct an experiment.”
“Experiment?” Joshua repeated the word unwittingly, taking a step forward as he felt that he may have stumbled upon a revelation. “What experiment?”
The colossal Steel Python closed its eyes and repeated with a very thin voice. “An experiment on how to ‘convert Chaos’.”
With the serene narration from Mycroft, the history hidden beneath the darkness was slowly revealed.
After the Final Battle a thousand years ago, the skies had crumbled and the continent sunk. The world of Mycroft had splintered, with sky, land, and oceans falling into indescribable Chaos. After triumphing against every foe, the exhausted gods watched helplessly as their homes faced destruction, with some of them wanting to leave or to stay. It was under the silent support of the Sage that they all stayed, and slowly rebuilt their homes.
It was then that the Sage headed to the World Inner. He found the Steel Python that had just awakened from slumber, and discussed the world’s future with it.
“During that time, the Sage appeared lost. He appeared to be interrogating himself, or perhaps muttering to himself… He said that we mustn’t stay ignorant of the Chaos, that we must understand our greatest adversary.”
Mycroft spoke calmly of all matters, be it about the Sage or itself; it only showed a faint fettering at the mention of Chaos. “We have fought the Evil Gods countless times, but could never find the reason they were born… We are aware that they come from the Chaos, that there are remnants of worlds destroyed, but why would those remnants become Evil Gods? And what power did they attain from ruin? We know nothing at all about all that.”
The hoarseness of Mycroft voice was reminiscent of a lady that had been sick for a long time. Even so, its voice was not feeble and contained considerable vigor as it repeated the Sage’s words, question by question. “How could we learn about the origins of Evil Gods? Could Evil Gods be created by artificial means? And if that is possible, could we reverse the Evil God’s form, so that they would return to Order’s embrace?”
“Chaos and Order are akin to two opposing poles. One darkness one light, one to be ignited into new Flames of Order, the other slowly dying and reclaimed by Chaos devoid of Order—such was the predetermined cycle of the Multiverse. Could we recreate that process, and artificial switch Order and Chaos?”
Amidst the rhetorical questions put forth by the Steel Python, there were seemingly new explanations for the images of the past. The Sage had discussed with Mycroft about Order and Chaos in the World Inner, intending to study the principle therein and find the link between them. In the end, the dying Steel Python and Sage decided that they would use it as an object of experiment, to attempt converting Chaos and recreated the cycle between the two with their very own power.
It was the only way to save the world. If they had not, even the sacrifice of the Gods and the Earth Mother would only delay the coming destruction, for they were a part of the world, and their sacrifice was similar taking down a wall to repair another. Hence, only by guiding a new external power could Mycroft’s severe injuries be healed entirely.
“So, you’re saying that you decided that with the sage all those years ago?” Joshua asked curiously, his face showing complete astonishment. “But why… Why would things have ended up this way?”
“Because I never once resisted the corruption of Chaos.” The colossal black Python said softly, an indescribable light flashing from its crimson eyes. “I went mad.”
When the experiment failed and the Flame died, everything was falling into the unsalvageable Abyss. The bold actions of Steel Python and Sage dealt a deep blow to the world, the tides of Chaos almost engulfing the Chaos and the Oceans. It was fortunate that the Mother Goddess noticed that at once and stopped all Tides of Chaos—the Mycroft civilization would have been destroyed a thousand years ago otherwise with no chance of continuation.
Then, the Steel Python that had descended into madness almost turned into Evil God, or what may be the first Evil God created by the world and its own civilization across all Multiverse. In that moment, it cursed everything that could be cursed along with itself, before the tired Sage and the gods subjugated it into the world’s core. Under the influence of Chaos, the defenseless gods descended into civil strife as well, the war they waged killing many deities that should have survived, and thus did the Glorious Era ended.
However, that was also precisely because of the gods’ passing that the divine powers of Order spread across the world. The once dying world hence gained a little vigor, the weak Flame kept burning with the Chaos that wafted everywhere upon the continent, prolonging the almost undetectable Light of Order. And the various races, having been protected for three hundred years, opened the doors of their shelters as all Chaos dispersed, returning to the world that was reborn but still fragile.
Joshua did not give any remark, listening silently as the Steel Python described everything in the past, only exhaling when it stopped. “I know….” He said slowly. “This may certainly the other face of history. But why, Mother of All, would you suddenly awaken from the Chaos-induced lunacy? Why would you want to meet the Sage once again, hence summoning him and his Successors?”
Joshua’s answer went answered. The Steel Python simply stared at the warrior silently, traces of Holy Light flickering over its dark scales.
Soon, Joshua understood the reason.
It was the seal. The seal put in place by the many gods and Legends of Mycroft.
As the gods of the Starfall Era gathered their power in the Infinite Horizon and pressed down from beyond the world, the power of the gods struck the seal of the Steel Python directly, guided by the Legends stationed at different locations. The unparalleled Holy Light originating the Sage illuminated all darkness, and before utterly sealed, the World Will awakened from its Chaotic stupor. It reclaimed wisdom and rationality, and at the very last moments of its life, chose to seek the Sage and his Successors.
It was also simple as to why it would seek the Sage and his Successors.
“I wish to warn the Sage that all of you should not be delusions into using the power of Chaos… That is something irrational that escapes all wisdom, and could only be burned by fire into ashes of Steel. Any other method of using it beyond that are complete mistakes: no rational being could resist the corruption of Chaos, for that is an erosion originating from the very essence of being.”
Lowering its head, the black Steel Python leveled its gaze at Joshua’s once more. Deathly rot of Chaotic presence emanated from its body, while the pungent odor of rust spread in the inner reaches of the world. “Let the dying die, the crumbling destroyed, dust to dust,” the World Will said after a pause, its tone carrying self-mockery and fatigue. “All things come from ashes, and must return to it… I should have died a thousand years ago, and everything would not have happened if I wasn’t saved.”
“Worlds do not need Wills, just as you and everything present do not need me to bloom and grow. It would have been better if I chose to die early on.”
The World Will’s voice became smaller and smaller. It then became silent, looking up above at the Vault of Stars that was now darkening even as the rotting and fallen sights of the World Inner stood as evidence for its words—it was difficult for even a World Will to resist the corruption of Chaos, just as the purest of water would never be clean again after a drop of dink fell into it.
Such was the relationship between Order and Chaos.
“What you said is very reasonable… And it answers many questions. However, you still have to be sealed. That cannot be changed.”
Even as the Steel Python was whelmed with its own emotions, Joshua did not appear moved in any way—his expression was calm as always while he held onto Light, now protected by a Steel Strength shield.
“We can’t trust you, Mother of All.” He said, shaking his head at the Python that stretched across the stars. “You have been infected by Chaos and had rampaged once in madness. Who would know what would happen this time?”
There was no mercy in the warrior’s words, being not one to be moved by such stories. So what if the Steel Python might have told truth? The Glorious Era is over, and the gods would definitely not give up on sealing it, the greatest uncertainty in this world.
The World Will is destined to leave the stage of Mycroft.
“It is fine. I never once asked you to abandon the seal.”
The Steel Python responded to Joshua’s forthright doubts with neither rage nor emotion—a pleased smile was actually showing in its face toward the warrior, the red light in its gaze brightening considerably.
“I never needed your trust,” it said mildly, lowering its head, “Child.”
Mycroft the Steel Python stretched its colossal body, although every inch of it had been dyed with the darkness of Chaos. Steel Pythons were initially pure silver-white and should have been the last beings to be corrupted by Chaos, but due to that incident a millennium ago, it had fallen much earlier than its Children. The World Will looked around at the World Inner as if its gaze could pierce the dark space and witness present-day Mycroft.
As it studied the world, the Steel Python spoke with a soft voice. “The reason I struggled to awaken at the very last moment is not to excuse myself from my mistakes, but to tell you about the many pitfalls and hardships we endured, the obstacles and resistances we overcame. I wish to tell you about the blood and sacrifices your predecessors had actually shed for such a simple outcome, for the present and future of your existences.”
“Child, do not trust, empathize or sympathize the Chaos. Follow the radiance of the Flame, and tread the correct path… Though I would not know if there are mistakes in your current path, advance as you will—just remember not to take ours. It is a road with no exit, and we have proved that mistake with our lives.”
As the complex runic formation in the seal was completed faraway, the Chaotic presence over the body of the Steel Python thickened. Holy Light began to brush against the seal once again, crumbling the inner reaches of the world, flattening the World Will and the realm that existed since ancient times. The power of the Holy Sword Mystletainn rendered everything two-dimensional without exception. Overwhelmed by that power, the Steel Python stretched bit by bit, leaving a finally faint whisper:
The seal was once again set in place, and the dark World Inner vanished with nary a sound.
Above the world, half the heavens protruded—endless Holy Light spread as if following a vein, while a titanic plane fused into the world of Mycroft in its entirety, hanging atop the West Mountains. A holy beam connected it to the ground, even as hymns and prayers wafted amidst white light and the winds toward the entire world for its presence. This day is fated to be recorded in every history book, for the gods shall walk amongst men, and the divine realm has returned to the mortal world.
And beneath the divine realm, the former Mother of All fell into silence. It no longer resisted, accepting its own end as layers after layers of seals were augmented. Hence, Mycroft the Steel Python would fall into the flat plane that was its hell in return for its sins committed a thousand years ago.
In the Seventh Abyss, the Ether Drake bellowed unhappily. Having sensed that the barrier put in place by the Multiverse Sacrificial Grounds, it ignored the pursuit of the sage behind it and simply streaked directly into the Void. Thus, it left the rather disappointed Vahina behind along with a blazing and boiling sea of magma, returning to its comfortable lair.
In the dying world, the Divine Dwarven Craftsman walked out of the fused mountains, frowning at the gaping cavity that punched through the entire world. Leviathan had indeed been subjugated by the steel giants it summoned, but the Void Behemoth simply pierced the earth’s mantle to the other side of the world when the seal of the Multiverse Sacrificial Grounds was removed, escaping into the Void. The elderly dwarf scratched his head, vexed, plonking his rump on the summit of the mountains for a break.
In Nature’s domain, Galanoud and the mountainous Behemoth looked silently toward the direction of Mycroft. They did not fight, and simply silently feel the ripples of holy light emanating from the distance. Thought the Nature’s Magister expression was calm, there was no telling what she was thinking.
In the Void, the Pentashade Dragon God was long gone, retreat being its only option when it determined that it could not move past Igor and the Holy Mountain Warship. This retreat may well be eternal, marking the end of a great problem—now that they are free, the gods would not leave any opening for external foes. If the Dragon God that had long been present on their blacklist dared to show its face, all that awaits it was the combined besieging from the Seven Gods.
On the seals over the World Will across the Mycroft continent, the many Legendary champions breathed a sigh of relief. This particular operation had taken every power in the world, and though it appeared simple, each juncture was critical and mistakes must not be made: the Multiverse Sacrificial Grounds’s forced warp must be effective, Igor must stop the Pentashade Dragon God and every Legendary champion must be able to hold down their respective foes… Beyond the dimensional region, many Legends were patrolling and observing every little dimensional region vigilantly, stopping any civilization or being trying to benefit at their expense.
Joshua landed slowly on the surface of the seas over the Anos Abyss. By controlling his mass and magnetic fields, tidal waves were hence not stirred into the seas. Clutching Light, the warrior looked around at the vast oceans—there were no clouds in the skies while sunlight turned azure, refracted by dust in the air. In turn, the oceans reflected the colors of the skies, and a clean sea wind billowed, making the world appear clear and bright.
Silent, Joshua said nothing—not that he has to. He lowered his gaze, his gaze piercing all things as he stared toward the earth’s crust down to the earth’s core. There, a cluster of sacred radiance flickered: The holy light of the Infinite Horizon had turned into an eternal seal, and that radiance would still exist millennia later if nothing unexpected happened.
[I’m not excusing myself from my mistakes, but to tell you about the many pitfalls and hardships we endured, the obstacles and resistances we overcame. I wish to tell you about the blood and sacrifices your predecessors had actually shed for such a simple outcome, for the very present and future of your existences.]
It’s over, Joshua thought.
The remaining toxins of Chaos and World Will had been sealed, the past and dark history buried deep beneath. As the age of Starfall interred the last remnant of the Glorious Era, the people would look up to the starry skies. Their predecessors had gone through much toil and the many vicissitudes of fate, but they did lose out by much—the Mana Tide has engulfed the stars, starlight would hence dim as evil come.
Be that as it may, even if the end has come and the path ahead was a distorted vortex, none would choose not to advance. With the final being of the Glorious Era having been sealed for eternity and the Starfall Era finally putting down the tremendous burden known as ‘the past’, they could finally look toward the future. The time for exploits in the distant starry skies had come, and with the greatest concealed troubles solved, everyone could flex their limbs and display their respective depth.
Joshua could see it: the day Mycroft civilization would reclaim its glory… For sacrifice, for incessant progress, the Multiverse Sacrificial Grounds had orbited around Mycroft over a thousand years without ever stopping. Hence, the trail of the stars switched, the doused Flame was reignited, and the rivers of Fate flowed toward an unprecedented trail.
Things happen naturally, just like how the white day settles to the west while the curtain the night looms.
The rebirth of civilization and legacies are of such a repetitive cycle that when the Glorious Era ended entirely, the Starfall Era completely left the shadows of their predecessors.
Everything was so logical, just like the departure of the dark night and the eastern rise of the sun.
Joshua looked toward the newborn sun, while Light pounced out happily from his embrace, happily floating around amidst the sea winds.
It was time to look toward the distance, and walk toward the future.
—Volume 12, The Great Development Era. End.