Translator: EndlessFantasy Translation Editor: EndlessFantasy Translation
With no pause, Joshua strode forward, following the surging river of energy shaped by the Great Mana Tide and approaching the heart of the Void vortex bit by bit.
The silver vortex was vast and majestic. Streams from countless directions in the Void would gather energy for it while the vortex itself swirled, and even dimensional turbulences trembled at its presence. Beneath that horrifying drive and pull, even Void Behemoths would have a hard time escaping the reach of the vortex and fall into the colossal energy trap.
Joshua, however, was different. His body was too small, with its density surpassing all living creatures. Tides that would leave Behemoths shuddering were mere breezes to him, and the warrior hence kept walking freely amidst the raging flow of energy as if pacing serenely in his own guess hall. Endless Steel particles fluctuated around him, as if schools of fish beneath the deep sea.
“…You’ve become stronger once again compared to before,” Karlis said softly inside his mind. “Even an entire world might not have held against the draw of that vortex.”
Joshua did not answer, walking silently instead—he had now passed thirty-six spiral arms, but he still found it strenuous as he approached the core of the vortex: the excessive density of energies had distorted all his senses. Light was twisted, the dimensions were erratic and his sense of direction was jumbled. In fact, Joshua could not judge the coordinates of the vortex’s eye that was very near, relying only on his own senses and control to adjust his own direction, stopping himself from getting lost in within.
But it was in that moment, a weak but inexplicably distinct spiritual presence wafted to him.
The presence resembled a dying candle in the wind, and yet it somehow easily transcended the violent energy vortex to reach Joshua’s mind. It contained a series of dimensional coordinates that shifted incessantly, and Joshua understood instantly that it was the position of the vortex’s eye.
“Interesting. That’s close by.”
Joshua did not doubt the veracity of the coordinates since he could tell that the data was acceptable. Hence, pausing where he was for an instant, violent crimson fiery light shot out from the warrior’s back and feet. The energy burst from the Flame of the furnace drove Joshua rapidly forward like the most dynamic of asteroids or rocket, but as he advanced, he seemed to sense that he had crashed into a sturdy physical energy barrier. It was, however, fragile before the Steel Strength incarnate, breaking instantly into millions of pieces in an instant.
Everything became clear at once.
All things—be it violent energies, gravity that no Void Behemoth could shake off or streams of Mana Tide streams that could push worlds forward, vanished in that very instant as if they never existed. Joshua stopped moving forward in return, extinguishing the flames and looked around with Karlis. The calm Void with no describable color was akin to a paper without creases, the dimensional turbulences of the outside region appear to completely not exist there: in the center of the vortex was a huge, whirling world, its outer layer was emitting bright light that illuminated everything around it.
Joshua nodded slightly. He had arrived inside the eye of the vortex.
“There’s only one world in the eye of the vortex?”
Karlis exclaimed in slight shock within Joshua’s mind. ” And I thought there would be quite a few, shaping into a cluster of worlds at the peaceful zone inside the vortex… but there’s actually just one?
“Isn’t that just the same as ‘Famine’…”
There was a somber alert in the Steel Python’s tone. As a world invaded by Famine, Karlis was naturally aware what gave form to Evil Gods: due to a hole in the Void and no neighboring worlds, while the existing civilizations exhausted all resources of their mother world up to the last soil and stone, even as they were prevented from exploring foreign worlds. In the despair of nothingness, the Crystal Insect finally devoured its own civilization and world, becoming the Evil God [Famine] that wandered the Chaos.
And now, the world in front of its eyes was also completely isolated from other worlds. In Joshua’s mind, the other closest world was some ten million standard coordinate values away, but so what if it was close? As long as the violent energy flow of the vortex was not bypassed, no civilization inside would be able to interact with worlds beyond… they were in absolute isolation.
“At least, it isn’t now.”
Joshua nodded, indicating that he understood Karlis’s worries as he quickly flew toward the only world inside the eye of the Void vortex. He flew swiftly, almost instantly arriving at the outer reaches of that world—as the radiance of the world barrier shone upon Joshua’s body and seemingly sensing the arrival of the guest from afar, a profound will slowly awaken on the surface of the world. It stretched out with its spirit, prepared to link itself with the warrior.
Joshua extended a hand, connecting with it deliberately.
Thus, he heard a very weak but serene voice.
“Greetings, Foreigner and my own kind.”
The voice reverberated in spirit. It was no language but any being could understand it—it is directed straight toward the depths of one mind, transforming naturally into language and symbols that the other could understand. Joshua was familiar with it, for it was an inhuman method for exchange: it was the language of Steel Pythons, or in other words, the language amongst worlds.
There was no question that it was the World Will that sought help from Karlis. Even as Joshua wondered what change could the world at the center of the Void vortex had in requesting aid, but having heard the clear voice even inside the vortex, the World Will before the may possess the ability to send information past tides of energy.
“You’re early,” the voice of the World Will remained serene. “Much earlier than I imagined.”
There were tremendous differences between the sense of timing of World Wills and mortals. Months was not exactly a brief time for Joshua, but for World Wills that led lives amounting to tens of millions it might really be an instant.
Joshua’s personality, however would not allow himself to be drawn into an idle conversation, and hence spoke in a forthright manner. “I have received your call. You’ve claimed that you needed a little help to free yourself from your current adverse circumstance, but please be honest.”
Joshua paused for a while and looked at the calm Void around him. Seeing the wafting Steel Particles and the energy tide of the vortex that appeared to crush everything even as it swirled rapidly amidst the Void made the warrior shake his head. “I don’t think this situation needs a ‘little’ help.”
And he was being truthful. He had thought initially that it could be some Chaos incident like it was in Illgner, where the Evil God of Ten Plagues descended with its own incarnation and kin to destroy civilization. If that was the case, he only needed to purge those things while collecting some information about Evil Gods… But in the end, he arrived at a unique world inside the Void vortex. It was indeed so extraordinarily positioned that it was almost the supernatural work of the Multiverse, and Joshua would admit himself that he did not have the ability to drag it out from the vortex.
Not that the gods could do that, either.
“Could you be referring to my environment? That isn’t true—I’m quite satisfied.”
The unnamed Steel Python’s spirit shuddered for an instant. It understood Joshua’s thoughts and responded by shaking its head, while continuing speaking with a mild voice. “I find such an environment quite fine. There are no external enemies or exchanges, while those destroyers prowling across the Multiverse are reluctant to approach this place. It’s peaceful, it’s safe, I like it very much.”
“My name is Simboa. Foreigner from afar, I had called out in distress not to shift my position, but for another matter.”
The World Will Simboa revealed its name—most names of World Wills were names given by the first civilization in that world, and the Steel Python had happily accepted it. Now, it was ready to directly reveal its intentions like Joshua, but it noticed that the warrior appear distracted.
In fact, Joshua had turned around, staring towards where he came from—the direction of the Void vortex. The warrior’s eyes were like melted silver metals, powerful radiance flashed within as he stared directly at the outer layer of the Void. His gaze was piercing the erratic energy turbulence in the vortex, reaching directly towards its edge.
“What are you looking at, Joshua? Simboa is speaking to you.”
Karlis asked curiously, knowing that Joshua was not one to neglect others deliberately. He would even converse with beggars in the city and send them to be trained in army camps, before allowing them to find their own work. Even so, it was reality that the warrior is ignoring the words of a World Will, his head turned as he stared at the Void vortex that seemed to consist of nothing apart from energy flow.
But Joshua did not have the time to answer Karlis. His brow was furrowed tightly almost into a straight line, his gaze sweeping across the distant vortex. Then, Karlis also saw what Joshua could see through their shared vision: those were huge clumps of black fog that wafted slowly, foreign energies that appeared to have been brushed by the Great Mana Tide and was slowly approaching the Void vortex.
“What is that?” the Steel Python asked curiously, having never seen that unique Black Fog that remained orderly beneath the brush of the Great Mana Tide.
“…Black Fog.” Joshua answered softly, his tone somber. “The Black Fog of the Shelter.”
Why was it there?
Joshua never forgot that encounter against the Black Fog on Kronos—the battle was not difficult but unusually nerve-wracking: it was only thanks to a few Legendary champions jointly destroying it swiftly that the nanometer-class of fog-form runic construct that erodes all things was destroyed, preventing greater destruction. While Joshua knew that the mother form of the Black Fog was the Alpha Shelter that once protected civilizations and that he merely destroyed a high-tier child form, he never imagined that he would encounter it once again out of the blue in this place.
Joshua did not elaborate, keeping his eyes instead on the Black Fog at the edge of the vortex. He had been suspicious about what that Fog intended, but he understood now.
It was searching for food, or perhaps moving something.
Behind that first cluster of Black Fog was another greater add denser cluster of Black Fog, streaming like a dark river from the other side of the Void to the edge of the vortex. They resembled diligent ants that approached each spiral arm of the Vortex as they swirled, absorbing substantial energies that were far denser than anywhere else, along with inestimable amounts of Steel Particles.
Hence, the dark Black Fog that did not release any radiance as if a black hole whitened visibly, shining and finally turning into a radiant grey shroud. Having absorbed the dense Mana Tide, the Black Fog assumed its return journey slowly, wafting into the Void and communicating its position to the next cluster of Black Fog. That behavior was repeated at every location of these parts of the Void: as if a high-effective energy absorber, the Black Fog would store great amounts of energy and Steel Particles within their special construct as they assumed their return voyage, as if they were living energy packs.
The feeding and transporting process was swift—in less than five minutes, the Black Fog had finished loading themselves and began to retreat. Those actions were so smooth that not one Black Fog was interested in the vortex or fell into the energy trap, which in turn proves that it had a series of complete transportation procedures that were carried out over thousands of times.
Alpha Shelter is nearby!
Joshua ascertained the fact without any need for guessing. Having fought the Black Fog, he was aware of any strength and flaw the unique, microscopic runic construct clusters had. To put it in a nutshell, the Black Fog would be extremely weak in that overloaded energy storing state— any Void Behemoth would easily eat it in that form as if a huge parcel.
What was more, that state greatly consumed their power. If the coordinates of the Shelter world were extremely distant, such energy absorption is folly at its worst, and the losses would far outweigh any gains.
There was only one possibility: the mother form they must provide energy to was nearby!
While it was a mere guess, Joshua found that highly likely. He had noted the direction of the coordinates in his mind, and he thought that there was a huge chance of finding Alpha, the lost Shelter civilization if he followed along that direction.
However, the warrior was still aware of his faux pas at the moment. Apologetically he turned, prepared to ask forgiveness from Simboa the Steel Python, only to sense its nonchalance.
Which was just as well. A few minutes for mortals would not even be enough for a World Will to complete the energy cycle of a single breath: Joshua’s distraction was only a brief instant of blanking out in its point of view.
“What is it that requires aid from us Foreigners?”
Joshua brought the conversation back on track with a cough. The Black Fog was still in its mind—the warrior intended to search for the mother form of the Black Fog when the issue at hand was handled, before asking every Legendary champion on Mycroft he was acquainted with to head there and destroy it.
That applies to gods as well, if need be.
Joshua was not a fellow who had to handle everything alone. Against foes that require partnership, he naturally would call for allies.
Then, Simboa’s serene and unemotional voice wafted to them once more.
It spoke softly, its voice echoing in Joshua’s mind. In that moment, there was finally a faint color of emotion in the words of the Steel Python even as it spoke feebly.
“Foreigner, I have lost my link with my body.
“I could no longer sense my body since a thousand years ago, or news of the world… My link with it had been severed by a power. My Will could no longer enter it, only able to waft around beyond.”
At present, a formless energy was gathering outside the world as the infinitely colossal shadow of Steel Python appeared in the Void beyond the world. “I do not actually know what happened,” the displaced World Will said, as if laughing bitterly. “I’m kicked out of myself, how laughable and helpless that was… That is why, Foreigner, please aid me if you could.”
“Help me enter the world and search for my body.”