Soul Of Searing Steel Chapter 682


Chapter 682 Who Seeks My Aid?

Translator: EndlessFantasy Translation  Editor: EndlessFantasy Translation

Just as the Seven Gods Holy Mountain cheered over the detection of the signal from faraway, Joshua had yet to head toward the Void.

At the moment, he was still on the Mycroft Continent.

He could head to the Void from anywhere by just flying upward over seven hundred thousand meters to the edge of the world. The dimensional boundaries in that place were faint, and he would easily reach the beyond with a little push without any need for a portal. Furthermore, with his ability, he did not need to rise too far above—as long as his power did not affect the height of buildings on the surface, he could distort space at any given moment and head to the Void.

But now, with the coordinate that the warrior himself set, he strode through the portal, arriving inside a plain and inconspicuous mage tower at the southern hill region of the Eastern Plains, amidst pale blue flashes of light.

The ‘Nameless’ stone tower is a circular building located at the highest point of the Magna Hills region. Its outer layer of granite and ashlar filled with indentations as if scarred by the wind, while magical fluorescence flickered within. Many adventurers living around Magna would often think that it was an ancient ruin at first, only to realize as they went closer to explore it that the seemingly unordinary mage tower was actually armed with powerful defensive magic circles around it. According to some adventurers who once slipped to the edge of those circles, there was a huge stone puppet standing aloft around the tower, as if refusing all visitors.

Many believed that the master of the tower might have been a certain powerful mage who often wandered off, which was why the huge puppet was guarding his dilapidated tower. They had the right idea in fact, but were merely a little too conservative regarding the power and number of mages who owned that tower.

Joshua stepped out from the portal on the fourth floor of the stone tower, with Barnil and William standing in front of the portal, welcoming him. One was reading a large grimoire, while the other was telling an obsidian to brew some coffee. When the dimensions stirred and the warrior left the rippling portal, they put everything on hold and saluted him.

The ‘Nameless’ tower was precisely one of the few settlements the two Legendary mages, Barnil and William spread across the world of Mycroft. This particular tower was their largest research base of the Eastern Plains, with none apart from a few students they brought here to assist in their research knowing that the tower belonged to them.

“You’re here. There are some approximate results from the analysis of spiritual shard and demonic cocoon—we found some interesting things.”

Without sparing time for chatter, the trio started to talk as if they had been doing so for some time. As each nodded and ascertained the situations, they all headed to the laboratory on the top floor of the tower.

Barnil, who was in the lead, shook his head as he spoke. “Naturally, invasive experimentation was not conducted because the specimen is too scarce, which is why the efficiency is lower.”

“The spiritual shard is too fragmented,” William then continued after Barnil. “It’s as if it was heavily damaged and then completely pulverized—it’s too difficult to isolate the memories inside.”

“Thanks, but also sorry for the trouble.”

Joshua did not say much in return, and earnestly thanked the pair after entrusting them. Soon, they arrived at the top floor laboratory.

It was a stark-white room, everything from floor, wall to ceiling were of the purest white and having no trace of impurity. On the silver-white metallic work platform were pale-blue veins of runic circuits, with various types of labels bottles placed inside cabinets, including ‘Squirming Forest’, ‘Abyssal soil’ , and ‘Nether River water’… The most conspicuous, however, was the three crystal balls and the huge circular magical formation at the center of the lab.

“By the way, it was a real coincidence that Barnil and I caught a demon in your domain last time around. By studying its spirit and soul, we cumulated the first analysis study of archdemon, making this task easy.”

When they arrived at the lab, William pointed at one of the crystal balls on the formation, a tinge of emotion in his voice. “If not for that particular experience, we might not have dared to accept your commission.”

“What demon?” Joshua turned around in curiosity.

In the Bloodmoon Abyss, after his battle against Black Dragon King and two Demon Generals, Joshua had given the spiritual shards of the Beholder Demon General and half of the Insectoid Demon General Saluka’s remaining body to the Imperial Royal Mage Guild, as well as Barnil and William. However, the Imperial Royal Mage Guild had recently been preoccupied with otherworld exploration and hence unable to help the warrior analyze those Legendary-tier remains as soon as possible, which is why Joshua ended up giving them all to the two Legendary mages.

It was now also clear that both Barnil and William had completed Joshua’s commission with great focus. In a few months, they had attained much results, and was even able to arrange most of the data before Joshua left for another world.

At the very thought, he looked toward the crystal ball William pointed at. Upon finding a familiar face, Joshua’s expression became puzzled.

“Raldan Asth? You two caught it in my domain?”

***

It was a perfect sphere that alternated in red white stripes, inside of which a demon that was on its last breath was imprisoned. Joshua could clearly see that it was the Supreme-tier Archdemon that once fought against the warrior with his clone—Raldan Asth, the Heart Devourer. Be that as it may, the once fearsome demon was despairing as it shriveled inside the crystal ball, not to mention it could not even unleash its despair aura. It was now completely oblivious to anything external, a near-dead piece of meat even as three Legends stood around its cage, staring at it.

“Indeed. It must have been when you were returning from the world of Grandia—it had just traversed the Ural Mountains and we incidentally came across it.”

Barnil, however, did not elaborate on how they caught the archdemon, instead softly stroking the surface of the crystal ball and continuing emotionally, “if not for analyzing the soul and physicality of this Heart Devourer so that we could grasp how to separate soul shard and memories, we might not have succeeded with what your commissioning. By the way, we discovered that demons are not too different from normal creatures in their living essence—it’s only mutation after living in hostile environments, their meat tastes just fine after purification.

“It’s a pity that though the Heart Devourer’s spirit had yet to crumble completely, it’s now in full-autistic mode and no longer reacting to any of our stimulus. It won’t even move if you kill it now.”

“Is that so… What a coincidence.”

Taking a long look at the archdemon—the ‘future’ Legendary Demon General in the preexistence—that never once moved, Joshua laughed softly once and turned away toward the other two crystal balls. “Does that mean you’ve finished studying Helm’s spiritual shards and Saluka’s body?”

“Saluka is rather complicated. We have yet to determine how its energy fuses with its cells to transform into lifeforms, but analysis on Helm’s spiritual shard is definitely done.”

William then walked toward another crystal ball. It was silver-white, inside of which floated with prismatic fragments of myriad colors—the spiritual shards the Beholder Demon General left after death. “It’s just that it had been excessively damaged, the memories are hence sporadic…” the Mind Lord added, turning to Joshua, “heaven knows who broke it.”

Joshua did not reply. Keeping his eyes on the crystal ball, he asked seriously, “apologies for the inconvenience—well, is there any noteworthy information?”

“Yes… But to be frank, neither Barnil nor I understand it. Though if we often traveled across the Void and the Abyss, we really never seen such a world.”

Barnil extended his hand in an inviting gesture. “Well, please take a look for yourself.”

Joshua did not refuse. Walking up before the silver-white crystal ball, he reached out and touched it.

Light and shadow thus intertwined as large pieces of memories formed a raging stream of thoughts that cascaded towards Joshua.

He saw the many memories buried beneath the mind of Helm, the Demon General—the broken soul of an otherworld mage, it had grown and evolved after cannibalizing its own species, warring incessantly in the Sixth Abyss to expand its influence. Joshua hence saw the difficult labors a demon went through to survive a post-apocalyptic world, as it turned cruel and callous.

The lives of demons are long, far beyond that of humans—even thin, scattered memories were extremely vivid comparatively. Joshua, however, subjugated every demonic memory and thought, taking only useful information.

Goliath, the Gluttonous Demon King had been willing to be maimed as it broke past the barrier set up by the Multiverse Sacrificial Grounds just to steal Saluka’s remains and Helm’s spiritual shard. Joshua did not believe that it solely wanted to preserve the corpses of its two lackeys, but that they must hold something that made Goliath willing to pay such a price. That was why he did not mind the hassle of collecting the spiritual shards of Helm he himself shattered, and entrusting them to the Mind Lord and the Rune Master, who was the zenith on the aspect of self-alteration.

Nevertheless, while Joshua obtained considerable geographical intelligence on the Sixth Abyss, it was not all useful. Therefore, he delved deeper.

In the turbulence of the Demon General’s centuries worth of memories, Joshua sunk deeper into its more profound thoughts. Searching for memories it considered ‘secret’, he merciless tore them apart.

As a result, he found an image hidden deep beneath Helm’s recollection.

It was a memory more than three hundred and seventy years ago. After a failed teleportation, the archdemon that was yet to develop into Legendary had been squashed in a dimensional seam between worlds.

It was there where it witnessed ultimate destruction.

There was light, boundless light. The stars flickered in silver-blue radiance just as gamma rays that destroyed all things burst out from their center, turning planets into ash at the snap of a finger, as if a giant blew away a sand castle.

Death sounded its trumpet; destruction chanted psalms. Planets that raised colossal energy shields were instantly vaporized, their ashes dancing within the flowing light, as if sparks wafting above a bonfire. The metallic core of stars turned red entirely, and crashed into the body of the planet—it was a sight difficult to comprehend for Legendary mages who always lived on planes, but Joshua knew it extraordinarily well: he saw light exploding out of a supernova engulfing the galaxy, destroying every star in its way before finally striking the sun of that system.

As if egg having its shell crushed, the yolk and its white dispersed in vacuum, just as hot liquid gas shot out from within the star, dispersed by the light.

A star thus died.

Joshua could not help holding his breath as he witnessed it all alongside Helm. He understood the horror of that spectacle more than anyone else—even more than Helm, who witnessed it firsthand.

The raging gamma rays from the distance did not actually destroy planets. It merely blew away the planet’s gravity and atmosphere, at most killing all life on its surface. If what Helm had seen was true, there was only one possibility… Somewhere nearby no more than a few lightyears away from that planetary system that was devastated, an infinitely colossal super nebula had burst, before and shrinking to form a neutron star… or perhaps a black hole.

“Certainly shocking. Never thought that the original form of Helm’s Star Blaze was actually a real burst of gamma rays… but Goliath wouldn’t care about that.”

Joshua was unfettered apart from a brief instance of shock, and he soon frowned in thought. “One astronomical disaster may be the inspiration for a spell for an Abyssal demon—there should be no urgent need to reclaim it.”

‘There should be some other vital but undiscovered information’, Joshua thought, and continued searching the remaining spiritual shards Helm left, intending to obtain more details.

Afterward, countless sporadic memories flashed past… Having attained greater power, Helm ascended as Legend—to affirm its Legendary form, it used its devastating rays to subjugate a portion of the Sixth Abyss, and prepared itself for its noblest conquest. However, an even more formidable power cut Helm’s ambition short.

It was Goliath, the future Demon King.

Unbelievably powerful and never once using any trump card, Goliath had used sheer energy intensity and muscle strength to rout Helm, which for its part had been fighting at full power. The Abyssal Liege that could seemingly dominate all things flashed its edge for the first time and united the entire Sixth Abyss. Then, instead of killing other Demon Generals, the Demon King compelled them to conquer other worlds to satiate their own ambition.

Due to various reasons, Helm did not choose to resist. It had decided to temporarily swear fealty to the powerful Abyssal Liege, but Joshua could tell that Helm was not as loyal as it was now in the first hundred years since it had been defeated. In every moment, it thought about how to empower itself, to usurp Goliath’s throne and become the next all-ruling Demon King.

It tried many things from meditation, discovering new spells, accumulating energies or honing the energy assembling and acceleration constructs in its body… There was no question it became stronger, but it remained immeasurably troubled as it still could not defeat Goliath until it finally came up with the only way.

And it was too return to that world where gamma ray burst off, studying the source of that terrible power.

Helm held conviction that if it could grasp the truth of that frightening power, gods would have a difficult time standing against itself, much less an Abyssal Liege. Hence, after a dozen years of preparation, it finally returned to the coordinates of where it mistaken teleported to, ready to reenter that world in search of the origins behind that power.

“…I can’t find its source… It’s too far. I flew for months, but never once left these sheets of hot-cloud zone.”

“The energy radiation here is even more frightening than it was in the Void, even I could not withstand it for too long… The Star Blaze had not ended, sporadic energy flow is still bursting intermittently.”

“Weird… It’s a harrowing sense of spatial distortion. What is that in the distance? Light is actually turning into a vortex… What is that coming?!”

“It dashed inside! No, it had already dashed inside… It’s light of decades ago… That is the source! That is what triggered the calamity!”

***

That was Helm’s final piece of memory. It had sensed an incomparably bright star, and an insignificant speck that came out of nowhere, crashing into that star.

Taking his hand off the silver-white crystal ball, Joshua took one step back and furrowed his brow in deep thought. Beside him, neither Barnil nor William disturbed him—in truth, they had the same feeling when they first studied Helm’s memory, and found it harder to understand than Joshua did now. Having lived in a hemispherical plane all along, they had never heard of boundless worlds of stars and planets.

Meanwhile, Joshua thought about what that final part of the memory meant.

The Beholder Demon General don’t have Psionic Warp Engine like I do,” the warrior mumbled, “it can’t traverse astronomical units of space in the universe. Even after flying for months, it was still stuck inside the nebula that extinguished a sun.

“The energy burst had yet end, meaning that the nebula at the origins of the explosion had yet to stabilize… But if light can be distorted into a vortex, it is definitely a black hole that is more terrible than a neutron star.”

It was easy for Joshua to understand that final image: the gravitational chaos caused by the black hole might have cause light itself to twist. Therefore, it was only decades after the calamity happened when Helm saw it, even if it should have appeared alongside the gamma-ray burst. It must have seen something appearing around the supernova that was about to detonate, hence evoking the crumbling and blast of the new star.

However, what could it have been? What could have caused that terrible bang of gamma rays?

There was no continuity. It was the final spiritual shards Helm had left in the world, most of which was with Joshua, with a little portion in Goliath’s possession. Until now, Joshua never understood why the Abyssal Liege must reclaim Helm’s spiritual shards and denying him it—at present, however, the warrior had a vague hypothesis in his mind.

Nonetheless, it was rather nonsensical that even he found it unlikely.

“Solved your problem, Joshua?”

Barnil spoke after Joshua finished his train of thought; he stared at the warrior gravely, shaking his head. “To be frank, William and I can’t tell anything. Those demons’ memories are a hideous mess and quite bizarre.

“No… But there are more questions instead.”

Though that was what he said, Joshua’s visage appeared to have improved considerably. He may not have understood Goliath’s intentions, but he did learn about the source of Helm’s power, and the coordinates of that galaxy… Helm had not warp engine and hence could not cover lightyears worth of distance, but he could. In future, when he had the time, he would certainly go to that world to have a look and ascertain what actually happened.

“Don’t worry too much, Joshua. Demon memories are mostly like that.”

On the other side, the knowledgeable William who had toyed with who-knows-how-many minds laughed shortly, turned towards the black-and-white crystal ball wherein a cocoon was placed and shrugged. “While we had not finished studying Saluka’s living form, it must be said that they are certainly Legendary champions. By just analyzing a tiny bit of their living essence, it is enough to help us greatly progress research in ‘limbs regeneration’, ‘longevity’, ‘augmented organs’ and so forth. That cocoon is even still alive, and much more valuable than the spirit shards of a dead demon.”

“Hahaha. It’s fine as long as there’s still value—either way, I’m counting on you two for research in that respect.”

Joshua grinned in return: that was the reason he sent the remains of Saluka’s body in the first place. While he also had the technique to study the remains of the Insectoid Demon’s body, he did not have the time—he may appear leisurely to others and never had to mind his own domain, even scampering everywhere, he was far busier than anyone thought. For example, right now, he was halfway in his journey to an otherworld, and had merely spared some time on this detour to procure information about those Demon Generals.

After a few more exchanges with the two Legends and confirming that the Winter Fort Academy had accepted a joint study, Joshua left the tower. Standing upon the hills of Magna, he slowly looked up towards the sky, and his body soon turned into a dull silver light that rose directly to the skies.

Many things crossed Joshua’s mind while he flew in a straight line… Demon, Abyss, Evil God, otherworld and gamma ray-burst, a god’s question about Order and the faraway Sage… It sounded complicated, but the warrior was a simple man: for him, no amount of doubt would stop him, merely driving him forward instead.

“Really. So many interesting questions.”

If that was the case, things would not be boring for some time.

At the thought, Joshua arrived at the Void beyond Mycroft. Beneath the silver glisten of the Multiverse Sacrificial Grounds, he looked around as if sensing something while standing amidst dimensional turbulence.

Hence, he spoke to the Void behind him solemnly. “I’ve kept you waiting, Karlis.”

“It’s a mere instant for me.”

The dimensional turbulence quivered as Joshua spoke—a majestic will transcended space, directly conversing with Joshua’s spirit, in a mild and deep voice that puts the heart at ease. “Well, are you ready, Joshua?”

“Of course.”

The swift and decisive reply echoed from the dimensional turbulence. Joshua stared at the Void serenely, and said softly, “Let’s begin.”

“Allow me to see which worlds seek my aid.”