Translator: EndlessFantasy Translation Editor: EndlessFantasy Translation
Joshua had been flying for over dozens of hours.
In the Void, speed and distance alone were meaningless. What separated worlds were simple ‘dimensional coordinates gap’. In other words, two neighboring worlds were not in proximity in a physical sense, but having a trace of overlapping in coordinates. As for two worlds faraway from each other, it was essentially a tremendous difference in coordinates.
Therefore, speed is not required to move from one coordinate to another—level of ability was needed instead.
The higher the level of ability, the greater the energy output and in turn one could move faster through dimensional turbulences and coordinates. In fact, moving amidst the Void actually requires energy and spirit, ascertaining and shifting one’s own dimensional coordinates, which differs greatly in the common definition for flying… If Joshua’s standard cruising velocity in vacuum was one-tenth of lightspeed—in other words, thirty thousand kilometers per second, he would be able to displace coordinates of several worlds.
“Why not use the Multiverse Sacrificial Grounds?”
Karlis’s will had kept communicating with Joshua. The Steel Python told the warrior about many news regarding the survivors of Grandia: they were now farming on the land where the Flame had reignited. Green seedlings sprout across mountains in the summer, with many adepts nervously watching over them—there would certainly be a grand harvest come autumn.
Apart from that, the many survivors from Grandia formed adventurer parties and colonies as they began to spread out over various reaches on Karlis in search for new places to settle. Like young trees that were branching out, they were exploring the new albeit barren world.
Karlis the Steel Python felt emotional over that. As the intelligent beings flourished and moved, its once dying fire showed signs of stabilizing—the Flame Joshua gave it had been rootless duckweed that would be utterly extinguished in decades, but now, the once dying world of Karlis regained vigor thanks to signs of life, slowly recovering for the better.
Now, however, it did not keep exclaiming in wonder over that, asking the warrior doubtfully about another matter instead.
“The coordinates we are heading to is extremely far, but it would be very quick by teleporting through the Multiverse Sacrificial Grounds… It isn’t efficient to move like this through dimensional turbulences and the Great Mana Tide itself, or perhaps you intend to train your ability to move through the Void?”
“Not quite,” Joshua answered briskly. “I don’t do meaningless things… I have my plans.”
And in truth, the warrior did.
The reason he did not use the Multiverse Sacrificial Grounds and directly moved physically through the Void was not to hone his mobility in that space, but instead to examine the density of ‘Steel Authority’ scattered amidst the Great Mana Tide.
Before Joshua left Mycroft, the world had seen the rise of ‘mages’ and ‘successors’, populations with unique abilities. While their abilities were mostly weak and would vanish after lasting a few days, there was no question that the Steel Shards in the Great Mana Tide had washed into the world once more under those waves of energy… While the situation at present was controllable for the various factions, what should they do if there were more evokers who wielded inconceivable ability?
For example, there were abilities where the users could create ice or produce head without limit. While both disappeared almost right after they surface, or that it actually was not unlimited since it consumes one’s Steel Strength, it would certainly raise chaos within the world if it kept appearing.
Therefore, the warrior planned to use the time of his journey in the Void to survey things in real-time, collecting Steel Shards from the Great Mana Tide beside him and infer about the secrets behind them… perhaps they were shattered worlds from the heart of the Multiverse just as his predicted, but that requires proof before he could warn the people of Mycroft and get the world to stay alert.
And that plan bore considerable fruits.
“In the dozens of hours advancing in the Void, I detected over two thousand completely different Steel Particles… this means that, on a conservative scale, over hundreds of worlds destroyed.”
In flight, Joshua spread and looked towards his palm, where thousands of differently colored particles gathered into a chaotic starry cloud, slowly revolving as if to form a planet. The warrior’s gaze was grave even as he stared upon those shattered Steel Particles, and there was no reason why he should not be—who would have the gall to laugh knowing that over hundreds, or perhaps thousands of worlds were destroyed? After all, he had not even come across a thousand worlds before!
“Most are basic Steel Shards that control elements such as flame, water, tempest, and earth, while a rare few are related to spatiality, psionic or other domains like transformation… It’s fortunate that those would not affect the world too much, or many wild animals or magical beasts would incidentally awaken otherwise. Have to warn the others when I get back to hunt such awakened enchanted creatures.”
That was the only thing that he could be pleased about. Due to the attributes of Steel Shards and the Flame, magical creatures with lower intelligence would not attain those gifts, with only a rare few able to attain the unique powers from the Void… Otherwise, Mycroft might see large populations of superpowered cats and dogs, or any similar creatures.
“By the way, Karlis, you were saying that we are heading to a small world… What is it actually like, and how extensive is its limit over supernatural powers? How should I face the enemy?”
That question had suddenly crossed Joshua’s mind when the Steel Python mentioned that ‘we are quite close to our destination’. “What are the so-called limits?” He asked Karlis through their spirit link. “Could it be that I can’t use powers that exceed a certain boundary?”
“That’s not what it means.” Karlis shook its head in response. “The limit refers to the world itself, not you… what I meant with ‘a small world’ is that the entry of any profound being is enough to overstretch it, causing it to burst apart. As a Legendary champion comparable to a Void Behemoth, you could easily offset the balance of that world utterly when you unleash your powers without restraint, causing it to self-destruct.
“Fragile Order could never resist greater Order. It is that world which could not withstand the advent of your full power, and not you being restrained by it.”
“Is that so.” Joshua could not help but sigh, before adding uninterestedly, “If that’s the case, wouldn’t that world be incapable of supporting the presence of a powerful enemy? That’s dull… Then why did it—the World Will—ask for aid?”
“Its current circumstances are very complicated that the World Will alone could not solve it. Hmmm… It’s difficult to answer that question, but we are about to arrive—it would be better if you discussed it with the requester.”
Karlis appeared to struggle for an explanation then. In the first place, it was just contacting, making exchanges and sending aid to other World Wills encountering adverse circumstances: It only knew that a world needed the help of an outsider, and was willing to prepare a handsome reward, which was why it contacted Joshua.
Still, the warrior did not mind that. It was fine if he did not have any powerful foes—he could simply run a lap around the Void and hunt some Void Behemoths after he handled that world’s issue, and it would be best if he could find Leviathan: Having encountered it twice but not quite finishing it off was rather disgruntling.
At that very thought, Joshua kept displacing his own coordinates in the Void. His speed was so swift that he left worlds after worlds behind him, and he soon unwittingly arrived at dimensional region further away from the world of Kronos, which was actually in the depths of the Abyss.
In the Void that was painted a lustrous white by the Great Mana Tide, there were distinct waves that sent shudders to hearts—it was the trace of a champion passing through the dimensions, a single ray flashing in silver that wrought the ripples amidst the vast Void in the background, piercing heavy clusters of white shrouds and energy tide. It headed straight ahead, bypassing worlds.
It was in that moment that Joshua, flying at full power, sensed that something was not right.
“There are fewer, worlds… Moreover, Steel Shards… the density of Steel Particles is rising?”
It was no illusion. As Joshua looked around, he could see that the worlds he left behind were growing fewer, and there were also times when he could see none, as if having entered a ‘hole’ where no world flickered. It was then that myriad colored particles would appear in the shroud of the Great Mana Tide before disappearing, gone in a single flash just like the sparks wafting off a bonfire, as if an illusion. Only the warrior whose observation ability had transcended boundaries could catch it distinctly.
The starry cluster of Steel Shards in his hand hence multiplied by a notch—the ones he gathered in the last five minutes was much more than what he could gather a few hours ago. Noticing the extremely unusual phenomenon, the warrior paused.
“What is it, Joshua? The destination is not far now; the world seeking is just ahead. I could now hear its voice.”
Karlis did not appear unhappy when Joshua stopped abruptly—it simply appeared curious. “Why are you surprised?”
“These Steel Shards, Karlis.”
Joshua observed the Steel Particles in his hand, replying with an unfathomable voice. “This is really abnormal, they are too dense… And there are too few worlds around us.”
If he were to say that the Steel Particles around Mycroft was as imperceptible as dust in the air, the Steel Particles surrounding Joshua now was virtually equal to a sandstorm. The two differed so immensely that it made it suspect if both belonged to the same Multiverse.
However, the Steel Python appeared puzzled… Which was easy to understand as Joshua quickly realized. For exceedingly colossal beings such as the World Will, it would only pick up if it was something as big as the Steel Shard it had given to Joshua back then. Smaller particles were perhaps nonexistent for the Steel Python—being the union of Fire and Steel, would they actually see such things that were equivalent to atoms?
Hence, he did not add anything, and resumed his flight towards the coordinates Karlis had given him. There was a hypothesis that could well be fact in Joshua mind about the current situation, but he would not admit it so easily, and would keep observing the surrounding Void.
But the more he flew and observed, the unease kept growing inside Joshua’s heart: he could still see no traces of worlds around him.
Meanwhile, in the Void that was virtually empty, the white shroud of the Great Mana Tide began to surge as if a raging river cascading ahead. The white energies that resembled the surface of a rapidly flowing river on first glance sped faster than the warrior, while millions of different hued Steel Particles rose from the shroud as if sprinkles from the river’s surface, before sinking back into it.
They accelerated as if there was a waterfall, a funnel or a formless power right ahead, drawing them endless… The unknown presence was pulling energy from the Mana Tide within the surrounding dimensional region, gathering it in itself as if a black hole.
Naturally, it was not a real black hole: Joshua could sense that its pull was not strong, that he could completely resist it before turning to leave. The warrior, however, was no man who would stagnate, unable to advance over a little bit of unknown. Hence, he solemnly frowned and prepared, advancing along with the surging Mana Tide.
The dimensional turbulence in the Void obstructed Joshua’s sight, preventing him from seeing anything in the Void that was too far away, and naturally unable to observe the source of the pull. But though his vision was blocked, he could hear a certain sound… Of course, there was no sound in the Void but an illusion Legendary champions developed in their senses for energy. He detected an immense power was flowing and gathering dead ahead where the coordinates of his destination was, emitting a bellow of power that echoed in the Void, as if the reverberation from an oceanic vortex.
And that was indeed so.
Joshua, who thought that he would have to traverse past layers after layers of dimensional turbulence suddenly felt his vision ahead cleared. In the instant before he could react, the turbulence that obscured the eyes of a Legend was now no longer there, while dimensional ripples were becoming cohesive as well under the draw of extreme power. When both Joshua and Karlis looked up at once to observe the Void, they were left in shock, mutely exclaiming in wonder as the two of them, beings who were considered profound, looked at what lay before them.
“Heavens,” Joshua said softly. “What is that?”
It was a nebula vortex.
Massive energies were churning the Void, just as the rapids from the Great Mana Tide stirred the Void. The energy from multidimensional worlds were gathering at that point from every direction, clashing, stirring and compounding into a single body of vast turbulence… a silver-white vortex-shaped nebula of immeasurable proportions, formed from ‘Great Mana Tide’ and ‘Steel Particles’.
Dozens of spiraling arms that resembled galaxies and formed from the energy of the Mana Tide were swirling, stirring. With the background of a pure-white Great Mana Tide, billions or perhaps infinite Steel Particles broiled in the Vortex, flickering in tens of thousand different colors like a neon light that flashed incessantly. Meanwhile, a pure white light shot out from the eye of the vortex, as if a bridge or perhaps a signal.
Due to the extraordinary Void composition and the chaotic dimensional turbulence, the energies from the Great Mana Tide gathered in that place as a swirl akin to a vortex. It resembled a galaxy but was much more dazzling than that, a sight which both Joshua and Karlis the Steel Python gaped at—it explained everything: That vortex which extended within the Void was observing all energies from the Great Mana Tide around it, and it was due to its pool that the density of the Steel Particle increases, and the energy from the Mana Tide hence appearing abnormal.
“How beautiful…” Karlis said after a long time; its voice was filled with admiration and puzzlement. “But why… Why would such a colossal energy vortex appear in the Void? Why are there no traces of any worlds around it?”
Like Joshua, the Steel Python had noticed it: since the abnormal surge from the Great Mana Tide and the exponential increase in Steel Particles density, it was as if there were no longer any traces of any worlds in the surrounding Void region. While it was not long, the range of their journey was not short either, and through it all no starlight had flickered.
“No, there are still worlds.”
Just as Karlis was left confused, Joshua spoke out while standing at the edge of one of the vortex’s spiraling arms. His eyes were flickering in silver radiance as if to see through the essence of the gigantic vortex—in seconds, the radiance were gone, and he looked towards the eye of the vortex and spoke in a complicated tone, “Look, right there.”
“At the center of the vortex.”
Using Joshua’s eyes as a window, the Steel Python observed the distance. It did not come with the warrior and was accompany him in spirit, which allows it to see what Joshua saw. In seconds, the mild, calm and untroubled Karlis exclaimed. “There?! At the heart of the vortex?”
A faint radiance was flickering at the center of the vortex, whereupon the two profound beings gazed. It was the proof of a world, a flickering starlight that was what the outer membrane of a world appeared amidst the Void towards the Multiverse…. Now, the celestial light was obscured by the superseding energy vortex, but that could not fool the gaze of a Legend.
“We are about to help… a world positioned in such environment?”
Watching as the center of the gargantuan vortex fluctuated but shone with stable starlight, the warrior was between laughter and tears. “You said that it’s a small world, Karlis.” He said with a voice that could have been sighing or excited. “Lying isn’t good behavior—I thought Steel Pythons do not have such crudeness.”
“It is a ‘self-proclaimed’ small world.”
Karlis hurriedly corrected Joshua. “It is just a little special in experience…” it said rather gloomily. “Fine. It’s too special—but I wouldn’t know, I’m just the messenger… Who knew what circumstances reside behind the spiritual communication?”
The two gazed once again toward the world swirling within the Void nebula, before Joshua broke the silence. “Although it’s not quite the same as I imagined, and things are very unexpected… But since I have made a promise, I shall fulfill it.”
“Let’s go, Karlis.” He said pleasantly. “We shall see what bizarre troubles that unique world encountered.”