Translator: EndlessFantasy Translation Editor: EndlessFantasy Translation
Though the phenomenon appeared to be a simple transfiguration spell, the meaning behind it was not so.
Countless powerful mages and sages had already studied the art of transforming objects since ancient times—to convert ‘all things’ into gold was actually the ultimate goal of the origins for alchemy, its greatest feat being to produce gold and Elixir of Life, the ‘Philosopher’s Stone’ that provides immortality.
Not too long ago, Helm had incinerated its own body and soul so its particles could be accelerated to the extreme to bombard Joshua’s body, stopping short of emulating a burst of supernova and producing heavy metals including gold. This transfiguration spell, however, could turn stones into pigeons, with the reverse holding true as well. But if that could be accomplished, it would not be unusual to turn stone into gold.
Seemingly mundane, it was actually remarkably correlated to Truth: the pinnacle of alchemy, in fact, lay between these little ‘conversion’ and ‘transfiguration’. Ordinary people may be unable to understand such extraordinariness, but the Legends knew very well that it was a bizarreness and miracle that far eclipsed Abyssal invasion.
Furthermore, what happened now was far from something as simple as a ‘transfiguration’ spell.
In Barnil and William’s airship above the Great Ajax Mountains, Joshua was contacting Nostradamus, while Barbarossa who got in touch with various mage guilds of the Eastern Plains. Both of them, intending to acquire more information, unexpectedly received more news of indeterminate effect.
Within ordinary mountain villages and small little-known towns, various things extraordinary to mages’ eyes were afoot extraordinary—there were youths who could lurk, weaving in out of shadows, children taking flight without restraint over the horizon, young girls who could spiritually summon and befriend beasts while quiet middle-aged men were transforming into superhumans of immeasurable strength… the earliest incident could be traced back to Starfall Year 837, the twenty-first of May.
That was the first known incident of anomaly to be recorded. However, they did not stir any waves since they meant nothing to the peasants.
For the ordinary folk who dwelled in Mycroft and often contacted mages and knights, such things appeared mundane and was essentially magic. While most mages did not consider magic to be as such, there was also the factor of the Great Mana Tide that made common folk accustomed to attaining supernatural abilities on one arbitrary day. Even if it was unbelievable for Legendary mages, it appeared to be typical daily life in their eyes.
“Lurking into shadows? How do you slip into shadows unless it’s a fairy tale? It’s fine if it’s diving into sub-space, but how would a child attain such power?”
“Flight without any principle? Is that natural flight?”
“Summoning beasts out of thin air… Where did their mass come from? And how do they vanish?”
Each question was troubling enough for Barnil and William to racking their brains and had Barbarossa frowning tightly. Facing a burst of such supernatural power that appeared mundane but actually challenged common sense, the Legendary mages felt a mysterious fear—the so-called primitive fear of the unknown. They had initially believed that they know enough, but the trio now felt the familiar sense of unknown that they did not feel for a long time.
But fear was not a bad thing.
Mages were creatures who followed their curious heart. They would explore the rear of mountains, the other side of the seas, staring toward the other end of the stars in search of Truth and strength… They were more curious the more fearful they become: it is because they do not know why that they were raring to try, to learn.
Joshua pondered about the anomaly that may be engulfing the Multiverse as well. Unlike the three Legendary mages, the warrior could not analyze and solve such conundrums with magic since he was learned in that respect, but being a wielder of Extraordinary power, as well as after honing his power and vision to his level, the difference between mana and lifeforce was almost negligible.
To Joshua, these phenomena were neither without cause nor completely unthinkable. He once witnessed such power that escaped the scope of things explainable by magic—therefore, even if he was left astonished, he did not find it as infinitely unbelievable when compared to the others.
His memories returned to the past, recalling a certain person…
Joshua remembered the Sage’s memories he had seen a long time ago, his childhood where his parents feared him and his ability to revive the dead and revitalize the living—because of the unusual time of the now, the image of the ‘perfect’ youth with unsullied white hair arose within Joshua’s mind, along with his ‘miracles’ that recalls the soul and reanimates corpses.
“Identical in that it is both inconceivable and escapes logic… Could there be a connection between the two?”‘
Joshua was actually aware that the power the Sage wields was very likely bestowed by Steel Pythons, a profound Authority linked to ‘lifeforce’. It was hence unlike the various anomalies currently happening, but who could tell if these anomalies were Authority that scattered away from other powerful beings?
The Steel Shards bestowed upon people by worlds held such power. One of three fragments Joshua dumped at Light could command storms and summon hail, replicating any natural weather at one’s whim, while another could awaken objects and bestow life, creating Steel Elementals similar to ‘Zero-One’. The remaining one could manipulate psionic energies, spy upon the minds of others and control their will at one’s fingertips.
Such power was unthinkable to mages. Though they more or less conform to common sense in Mycroft and can be explained by magic, who could claim that common sense on Mycroft applied for the Multiverse, and could the magic of Mycroft even explain the Multiverse? Joshua believed that instead of cluelessly studying the anomalies that occurred without reason, it was better to start researching the Authority of ‘Steel Shards’.
“That isn’t a bad idea.”
Being one who puts thoughts into actions, Joshua told the three Legendary mages about his hypothesis regarding the Sage’s abilities in the past.
Barnil muttered to himself for a while before nodding. “To be truthful, both transfiguration and entering sub-space isn’t actually ‘miracles’ impossible for magic. It is just that the casters were not powerful mages, but children who never came in contact with magic. That is the only inexplicable point.”
“Indeed. The current circumstances are similar to the ‘Authority’ you mentioned…”
William, who was just discussing with Barbarossa about whether the news should be spread around the Eastern Plains turned and voiced his agreement. “Authority is nothing other than a weapon, given form by a powerful being. Those who attained Authority would not have to think about how to produce weapons, only needing to trigger and use it… It’s actually more similar the more I think about it—it’s almost identical!”
“The only issue is why there are so many ‘Authority’. In other words, where the ‘Steel Shards’ come from.”
Barbarossa laughed softly. The huge hairless mage was usually serious in front of his own students and always maintained his gravitas as chief mage, but he was now too lazy to keep his face bunched up with Barnil and William, a pair he once went on adventures with and were of the same era. “Maybe some world exploded,” he pointed up while laughing, “and its fragments spread across the Multiverse alongside the Mana Tide? Hahaha, so many different Authorities, who knows how many… how many… worlds… were destroyed…”
His voice gradually grew fainter and graver. Joshua narrowed his eyes as the four Legends looked at each other, a silence befalling the airship laboratory cabin in an instant.
The thought spread far faster than the words. In the ten seconds that the warrior raised the possibility that the current circumstances might be similar to ‘Authority’, the different principles, and possibilities the three Legendary mages raised led them to an answer that made even themselves uneasy, as if a blade was held to their backs.
“Is that possible?” Barbarossa turned to Joshua after a brief silence, asking the warrior who was most familiar with Steel Strength and Authority amongst them, “I’m simply guessing… could that really be the case?”
Both William and Barnil turned toward Joshua as well, their expressions very solemn. In response, Joshua exhaled before saying with a low voice, “I’m not sure…but.”
Neither agreeing the possibility nor refuting Barbarossa’s hypothesis, Joshua now appeared to be considering his words. The Element Maven’s hypothesis was like a stunning clap of thunder, instantly jolting Joshua off his nonchalant attitude. He abruptly understood that he had been in this world and its environment too long that he overlooked one terrible truth… it was an issue that countless players debated about in the pre-existence but the game developers never gave an official response to. Millions believed that it was just another setting, the tide of an era that came as the players’ ability grew… but what was the actual truth?
After some time, Joshua folded his arms across his chest. He lifted his head and looked toward the Void, his eyes seemingly reflecting that Path of Light that transcended half the Multiverse.
“Does anyone actually know about the truth of the ‘Great Mana Tide’?” He then asked with a deep but clear voice after a pause.
“Why did it happen? What is the principle behind it? Where did it come from, what would it cause, and what would it finally become?”
“To put it in other words… Who here knows where that boundless tide of energy that engulfed the Multiverse came from, and why would it appear?”
No one answered, but everyone understood what Joshua meant. Barbarossa, Barnil, and William all looked up toward the Void as well, their gazes piercing the world as if looking past the endless tide of energy, staring towards its origin at the heart of the Multiverse.
Darkness shrouded everything—even the light of the Mana Tide could only throw a thick silver-white veil over them. Within those shadows that transcended all known vision was an indiscernible radiance.
It was starlight, the light of worlds.
No one would know what happened, or what tragedy befell the shade and the darkness.
And what it finally becomes.