Translator: EndlessFantasy Translation Editor: EndlessFantasy Translation
Temporal retrogression might have been something that most intelligent beings once imagined. Everyone would have intended to change certain things in the past to varying degrees, with the intention to alter tragedies so that they would not lead lives of regret, so that there could be perfection.
But time could not be reversed. It would never flow backward within the known universe.
The past was the past, and it could never be saved. However, just as time itself did not exist, there might well be a way to pause time or achieve something as unthinkable as ‘reversing time’, what with Fattrovi and Joshua’s using Steel Authority and Absolute Zero.
The huge Steel Puppet landed slowly from the skies, his hand holding a silver greatsword. Fattrovi, too, stood once again atop the Spiral Tower, Scepter in hand—it was the eighteenth time he rewound time and restored the dilapidated world of Simboa. The two stood off against each other over hundreds of miles and yet did not move, for both knew that the battle would become an endless cycle if they kept squabbling like this.
Both of them must find a way to deal death upon the other.
At the thought, Joshua could not help looking up toward the starry skies of Simboa—Fattrovi did too, looking toward the heavens emanating in pale blue radiance as if their hearts were linked.
In the very next instant, both scowled in alert.
Joshua frowned for he saw the dimming stars on top of the sky that were recovering their brightness little by little… It meant that the consumption of Soul Stars was not permanent but renewable! When he considered it, the world of Simboa was located at the center of the Void Vortex, permeated with rich energies from the Multiverse in every single moment. As long as the Soul Stars could absorb those energies, they could naturally recover.
If that was the case, Joshua’s plan to force Fattrovi for temporal retrogression for over sixteen hundred times and then fight him decisively was a failure: from the very velocity Soul Stars recovered, it would definitely form an unbroken cycle.
And Fattrovi was frowning for a reason beyond the world.
“The First up to the Seventeenth World Barrier had been broken, and the Eighteenth is predicted to fall in three minutes. He is even breaking through at a faster pace… could it be thanks to that snake’s aid?”
Embodying the world’s Authority meant that Fattrovi could exert Steel Python dominance as those beings would, which include augmenting World Barriers. But even so, the Time Turner was still considering the situation prudently.
‘What is with that speed of erosion? Where did the Foreigner actually come from? The multi-layered World Barrier I’ve especially augmented won’t even hold him for a day!’
The Time Turner was not actually too mindful of the huge puppet before him, aware that it was a little clone that his adversary had planted. It was the original form of the Giant God beyond the world that he must reserve his full power for, and before that, he must collect as much information as he could about his opponent’s battle techniques and style as that he would not be ignorant before the decisive bout.
Meanwhile, Joshua could not come up with any strategies at once—or more precisely, reliable strategies.
He could naturally see that Fattrovi embodied considerable divinity, and would revert time before all Soul Puppets were wiped out. According to logic, the warrior should tailor his actions against those self-conscious Soul Puppets whose religion preserved Fattrovi, so that they could be killed at once and the source of the foe’s religion could be severed.
Joshua, however, would never do that; he would never attack the weak.
How was he different from Fattrovi if he did?
Moreover, being one who had spoken to gods on multiple occasions, Joshua naturally knew how vital religion was to a genuine deity. It was an adhesive that held divinity together, and yet was not necessary—and all the Soul Puppets could die at once, Fattrovi just had had reverse time.
The two refrained from attacking, standing off against each other in silence even as the sights in the heavens changed drastically. Fattrovi’s multiple summoning of suns and directing the energies of Soul Stars had energized a certain force hidden in the network of Stars. The clouds and dust over the skies began to descend, the obscure night sky hence becoming clear while a white and dazzling river of stars began to form. It was the reflection of the Void Vortex beyond the world, the true appearance of the starry sky.
At the moment, the night was becoming translucent, and scenery of the Void apart was now directly visible across all directions, apart from the earth beneath Joshua’s feet. It was as if the Simboan continent was floating in the Multiverse itself, and as the stars swirled, it was clear that they are in the center of a vortex.
It was after a long time that Fattrovi finally spoke.
“Foreigner, why would you come to this world to stop me?”
Beneath the stars and atop the Spiral Tower, the Time Turner’s words remained apathetic as if all emotion had been wiped away. For eighteen times, the warrior had fought him and destroyed the world together with him, and yet he showed neither rage nor annoyance, merely asking calmly. “This world has nothing to with you. You are no Simboan, and even belong beyond the Vortex… You are wasting your precious time to interfere with plans on a world that has nothing to do with you.
“You have killed billions, or perhaps more than that. You stole the Steel Python’s Authority, sealing the world.”
Standing upon the land, Joshua leveled his gaze against Fattrovi’s just as solemnly, and replied sonorously as he planted his blade into the ground. “Wasting time? You’ve destroyed civilization, made the world into your laboratory. The world only has your will alone, and yet you call it Order.”
“I intend to stop such things.”
“Intelligent beings, civilization.” Fattrovi appeared wanting to laugh, but have long forgotten such sensation perhaps after living alone for so long. “Simboans, feeble remnants, unstable destroyers, and pitiful self-destructive beings—those are no intelligent beings, and neither are their society civilization. The value in their existence is to provide fuel for me.”
“Only rational puppet intelligence is genuine intelligent beings.”
Fattrovi’s expression was as hard as stone as he spoke. It was the doubtlessness after living through millennia by himself, the sturdy conviction that he was ‘right’. As he gazed upon Joshua down below, the clock hands in his eyes slowly whirled even while he spoke with a puppet-like flat voice. “Emotion is but a flaw born from incomplete evolution, a chaotic processing used to estimate and react toward certain situations, and its area of applications is scarce, and filled with errors.
“To hold such a rotten module, praise it and worship it would mean true Order will never come. The feeble Simboans do not deserve this world—they have a blessing from on high, and yet use it to slaughter each other. The Soul Puppets would never do that, and they would keep establishing new Order, constructing a perfect, rational Ultra-power society and civilization, rebuilding the world.
“As for Simboans… When the Soul Puppets could produce and replicate souls independently, there would be no value in the Simboans existence.”
At that, Fattrovi said nothing—not that he needed to.
Such was judgment.
It was the decisive judgment as curtains fell upon the man’s story a thousand years ago.
Joshua understood Fattrovi’s meaning. In return, the warrior exhaled, feeling the terrible will that was contained in those words.
It was an eternal, unchanging conviction and disappointment that would not change even after a thousand years. Who could imagine what kind of despair and disenchantment would force a human to cage his fellow men like livestock, harvest their souls to replace their civilization with a brand-new race?
And Fattrovi did that. He stood upon the peak of the spiral tower, just as pale blue radiance descended from the edge of the skies—those were starlight gathered from a billion Simboan souls, and the Time Turner showed no pity and hesitation as he watched them.
For him, it was as simple as breathing, and as normal as eating.
—I want them to despair. None would love them, none would save them, and they shall be without god, without salvation and without a savior. I shall have the world become the hell they desire, and attain the mercy they ask for just like that.
—I want them to lose all hope with no expectation of reprieve.
Unexpectedly, Joshua was not angry even after seemingly hearing a voice that should not exist. He looked at the world around him—the Simboans were retreating to the south, while countless Soul Puppets were fleeing the center of the world. Still, that would be futile: as long as the two champions in the heart of the world fought to a stalemate, they would never escape the destruction how far and how fast they would run.
Turning back to Fattrovi, the warrior said softly, “And yet here you are, attempting to reverse time.”
“Throwing away hundreds and thousands of lives, burning through star after star. You exhausted all efforts to collect and store souls, because in the end you wish to return, to change things that could never be changed.”
“Which is why I am a remnant too. I never denied that.”
Fattrovi answered peacefully, and looked up, staring at the stars above. “Foreigner, it appears that you have resolved yourself to stop me.”
“At first, I did not intend to spend much time on you. Now, however, it appears that my plan would never come together if you are not gotten rid of.”
“If that’s so, I don’t mind waiting a few hundred years more.”
As he spoke, Fattrovi raised his Steel Python Scepter.
It was an imposing scepter of power that appeared forged from steel, resembling a stretched silver python, the shaft being its body and the tip, its head. And upon the serpentine head, were two bright, flickering lights—it was certainly no ordinary authority, but the world’s scepter of power itself and evidence that Fattrovi had usurped the Steel Python. Its wielder was the World Will, and could command heaven and earth.
A thousand years ago, the Time Turner had driven the slumbering World Will out of its own body and occupied its throne. And now, Fattrovi would use the greatest ‘Steel Authority’ which originated from the world itself for the first time.
In a split second, the world changed color.
Waves of runes containing endless secrets were spreading outwards from around Fattrovi, forming endless orderly pale-blue patterns in the stars. Those patterns absorbed all mana in the air around them, emanating large blankets of shrouds and specks and turning the world illusory as if it was swiftly falling into an unknown domain.
The blinding luminous shroud stretched forward as clusters of bright clouds, and as Joshua looked on, the pale-blue domain had already engulfed the Spiral Tower and the world around it, the craggy earth hence instantly consumed while he appeared to be standing within clouds. In the air, mana stirred as a storm formed from the Seven Great Elements swept across the world, rumbling deafeningly—when the gales that formed the elements were blown away by the clouds, Joshua could see the world beyond, and that the earth of the real world was crumbling, yellow-brown soil being replaced by an unnamed space and finally turning into something akin to a parallel space.
Joshua did not destroy that space that Fatttrovi opened since he was very familiar with it. Unsurprised, he looked up to find the dazzling Vault of Stars.
It was the World Inner, the residence of the Steel Python.
“I do not wish to spend so much energy.”
A grand voice suddenly sounded. It was Fattrovi’s, and the shrouds were dispersing with his very words. Joshua then realized that he was inside a vast and spectacular throne room: infinite starlight flickered overhead as pale blue radiance glowed powerfully. Endless runes were cascading on both sides of the hall, finally shaping into two large, bright streams, one surging while the other had not a single ripple.
When the two streams began to flow, Joshua noticed that the reflection of a hundred Soul Stars on the enchanting vault were extinguished at once. It was unlike before, when they dimmed after time was reverted—they had definitely died, destroyed, no longer existing. They vanished, just like a candle in the wind.
And in the instant the Stars utterly disappeared, a towering Celestial Giant that would outsize the stars of an entire world stepped out of nothingness. The entire World Inner began to tremble violently with his every stride, and the Vault of Stars appeared dwarfed when he finally appeared there—the giant had no facial features and was entirely black like the lightless Void, but in the depths of his body were luminous starlight, as if a galaxy swirled in his body.
The silhouette of a colossal Steel Python wrapped around his body like vines winding around an old tree.
Fattrovi’s cold voice emanated from inside the body of the Celestial Giant. “You should not have come.”
The boundless giant hence lifted his massive hand that could hold planets, and threw it down at Joshua, who was motionless seemingly from shock. The descent of the hand was akin to a collapsing mountain that shrouded the entire Vault of Stars, as if that enlarging dark hand was all that was left in the world. Shockwaves billowed ragingly, sending everything flying.
But Joshua was laughing.
The Steel Puppet was without expression. It had no breath, no vocal organs or changeable facial features, only loudspeakers and observation modules. However, even a Soul Puppet could sense that Joshua was laughing in that very moment for forceful soul signatures were extending across all directions.
“And I was afraid you won’t go all out.” He was guffawing as he watched the mountainous palm lowered. “World Inner, how familiar.”
Truly a fine place for the decisive battle!
Boom— With a terrible rumble, a huge rift opened behind Joshua’s body, emanating searing presence and fiery light, with the incandescent flame appearing capable of burning souls and animate passion within the hearts of all living things. It dyed the World Inner that had been filled with pale-blue soul illumination in red, just before a sturdy, thick and indestructible giant hand forged from Steel appeared from the other side of the rift, meting the dark hand of the Celestial Giant forcefully.
Amidst rolling thunder, a burning Steel hand hence transcended the rift and caught the Celestial Giant’s palm with a vice grip. Before it could react, the Steel hand pulled it outside the world powerfully, with a strength that could overturn the lithosphere!
The behemothic Celestial Giant was forced to half-kneel on the ground by the pull of the gargantuan strength. It was only then that Fattrovi reacted and began to tug back—the stars inside the Celestial Giant’s body began to swirl, shining as he mustered his full strength to pull the Steel Giant from the other side of the rift into his domain. Nonetheless, none of them were allowing the other to get their wish, and the two behemoths hence began a violent tug of war through the rift, across worlds!
“How did you find the World Inner so quickly?!”
Fattrovi was left utterly puzzled by the phenomenon. He was long aware that Joshua’s original form was about to break through the World Barrier and arrive at Simboa, but he was unable to trace the source of power for Joshua’s puppet incarnation. That was why he intended to use his full power in the World Inner and capture his clone, breaking its code and securing the initiative in the decisive battle.
He just never expected that Joshua’s original form could find the World Inner quicker than he broke through to the World Barrier, a realm none should know about!
In return, Joshua said not a word. As the one who rekindled Flames, he had come across many World Wills, entering various World Inner for at least ten times and frequently conversing with the Steel Python Karlis in that place. The so-called concealed domain was no secret to him, and he had long mastered finding and entering it!
With another tremendous sound, the Celestial Giant had a little advantage, and had dragged the Steel Giant’s right arm entirely into his own domain from beyond the world. With the Giant God’s shoulder visible, he never expected that the second right arm of the Giant God would pierce space once again, catching the Celestial Giant’s elbow with a firm grip. With a strong pull, Joshua pulled the Celestial Giant down on his knees, as if to pull him completely outside the world!
And in the Void beyond the world, the entire body of the four-armed Giant God once again burned. Endless heat spread, combining with Steel Strength to further eroded little cavities upon the World Barrier. He laughed, dragging the arm of his adversary to pull him out of his lair.
Indeed. Why should he fight against a World Will in its own world, on its home ground, racking his brains to counter his temporal retrogression again and again?
He should drag his opponent into the Void and give him a good beating!