Translator: EndlessFantasy Translation Editor: EndlessFantasy Translation
The Deep Space Observation continued, and the golden dots that were worlds increased continuously in the Void Model. However, the energy reserves of both the Holy Mountain Fortress and the Void Observatory began to show limitations as the observation range kept expanding.
As the pale-blue runes inscribed upon the Void Observatory turned into a red that signified ‘danger’, the Holy Light barrier on the outermost zone of the Holy Mountain Fortress which warded of dimensional turbulences also began to dull. It was then that the colossal Deep-Space Observation spell began to reach its limits, appearing to draw entire galaxies within and replicating a model of its reflection.
Although there were other galaxies, those could not be observed by present-day Mycroft.
There was no question that the outcome of the observation was a great success. The three factions had jointly scanned the entire galaxy where the world of Mycroft was positioned in its entirety, and as the Sentry Array just outside Mycroft transmitted the arranged data, they could even learn whether each world have life—normal golden dots were worlds without life, but there was life if those dots carried distinct red patterns.
But the final results of the observation made every present researcher scowl, a chill rising in their hearts.
Tamara Moore, the Vice-Chief of the Imperial Royal Mage Guild who was on the Void Observatory and taking Nostradamus’s place unwittingly pulled a beard off himself when he read the results of the observation. However, he did not have the time to mind his receding hairline, instead widening his eyes and exclaiming in stifled rage. “How? How are there so few?”
No other mage other than him spoke as they all fell into a deathly silence. Things were the same over at the Holy Mountain Fortress: the many clergies stared blackly at the Void Model that flickered in their monitors, doubting their eyes.
Nevertheless, their eyes were not mistaken—such were facts.
In the vast galaxy, there were virtually no living worlds apart from those around Mycroft.
The massive Void Model whirled in front of everyone’s eyes as millions or more dots that were worlds were arranged densely in the shape of the galaxy, and in those worlds, the worlds with life signatures were pathetically few. Those that do have were mere faint red patterns to, meaning that it was ‘environment where life is possible’.
Apart from the bright red light that flickering over Mycroft, other worlds glinted in a blinding gold. Even so, that golden luster gave everyone a bizarre sense of chilling instead of warmth, because there were more worlds that flickered in red light in the Abyss than in the galaxy.
“…Funny. There are fewer living worlds in the ordinary Multiverse than the Abyss—the graveyard of worlds?”
“You must be joking!”
Clergies from the Holy Mountain muttered in frustration, but no matter how soft their voices were, the two Legendary champions present could not be fooled.
In the central control room of the Holy Mountain Fortress, Pope Igor stared solemnly at the monitor before him. He had intended to discuss more about the Void Vortex with Joshua, but now his attention was diverted to the results of the Deep Space Observation.
“So few? Unbelievable… And you were supposed to have encountered a few civilizations around Kronos as well.”
The elderly pontiff appeared puzzled by the data; he frowned tightly as he spoke to Joshua beside him. “I remember your last report about foreign civilizations that could move through the Void… I thought they were the minority, but could you have incidentally met those few worlds precisely?”
“Your Holiness. Kronos is five hundred levels beneath the Abyss. Those civilizations had headed for that place for the Ancient Dragon’s power of Life.”
While Joshua was just as puzzled by the information, he was not as surprised by the ‘lifeless’ Void Model as an individual hailing from a star-faring race. “Civilizations that need the power of Life are no doubt more or less the same as the Abyss,” he explained calmly. “Or perhaps they were Abyssal civilizations that never corrupted into ‘demons’, and simply did not exist in the physical galaxy.”
“Is that so? I never imagined that the Multiverse would be so vast…”
There was disappointment in Igor’s expression. The old pontiff soon sighed and announced to everyone present that the Deep Space Observation was a success, while reiterating that the Void Model was an A-class secret, not to be revealed to outside parties without permission. He then sent away several high-ranked clergies who appeared out of it, giving them a few words of consolation to encourage them so that they continued to strive, instead of being excessively worried over the results of the study.
Then, having finally settled most matters, Igor gestured for Joshua to follow him, and the two entered a small, plain room in the Holy Mountain Fortress.
“This is originally a storage space. It’s not empty since we eventually found out that we did not have to prepare too many materials… Void warships have smaller space so living is tougher here. I hope an Imperial Noble such as you would not mind.”
The pope drew a chair for Joshua, slapping away the dust on it as the warrior conveyed his gratitude before sitting down with him. Only now did Igor showed a tired visage, and he smiled bitterly. ” Sigh . While my true purpose in conducting the Deep-Space Observation was not really to search for signs of other existing civilizations, I never imagined such as result.
To see millions of worlds but to have less than fifty showing distinct signs of life, with more than half of them certainly some barren plane and not a world with intelligent civilization… would such findings not trouble anyone?
“Having too many civilizations would also mean greater competition, and in turn wars could be waged over frontiers and resources… Having too few on the other hand would mean less competition. Interacting with them from the start would yield a greater chance of peaceful interaction.”
Igor mumbled long-windedly, the wrinkles on his face appearing to deepen as he sighed again. “But as things stand now, it would not be an issue of making contact. It would take us a long time to move to any other dimensional region, even having to transcend extended dimensional cavities—the uncrossable distance between civilizations. It makes me feel very lonely, it is as if us people of Mycroft are an island in the Multiverse, having no competitors, much less companions.”
“Don’t worry. To be frank, there are innumerable conditions for life—while primitive beings are unlikely to develop into civilization since intelligence is not a necessary aspect for life to flourish, only a few species such as human would embody it.”
Joshua spoke, consoling the elder at the sight of his worried expression. “In the end, the galaxy we’re in is at the fringe of the Multiverse, and slowly falling into the Abyss. It would be normal for there to be fewer living worlds, and moreover, they have the ability to hide their own worlds, hiding it from our scanning.
“…You still don’t understand the seriousness of the matter.”
Igor could not help but frown from Joshua’s words that were more to hurt than to console, while starting to be worried over the warrior’s emotional quotient. Still, that was also the reason most of the pontiff’s own worries diminish, and he looked up, leveling his gaze at the warrior’s. “In decades,” he said quietly, “the Evil Gods would follow the Mana Tide and return to these parts of the galaxy. If there are not enough galaxies and insufficient ability, how would we find allies?”
Igor paused at that and continued smoothly after seemingly realizing there was no one else around apart from Joshua. “How would we ‘use’ them to delay the Evil Gods?”
That was too honest, although neither persons present minded it. “Compared to relying on ‘allies’ or other civilizations as bait to slow them,” Joshua said, shaking his head, “why should we not consider how would we improve our own ability? After all, even allies would not be able to care for themselves, while baits are only effective by situation—how long would those last? In the end, Evil Gods did not need days to destroy a world without resistance.
As he spoke, the warrior told Igor about every information he had about the ‘Shelter’ civilization. He had revealed part of those in his previous return from the world of Kronos, and Joshua was now talking about his new discoveries around the Void Vortex.
“Didn’t you ask me how I know about the Void Vortex before? In fact, I have just returned from that place.”
Joshua raised his right hand and drew a line on thin air, and a circle of luminous shroud composed completely of Steel Strength appeared before him. The shroud at once transformed, forming a detailed Void Model identical to the one in the observation circles before! The warrior then stretched the model so that the vision was focused at the vortex energy construct at the center of the galaxy, pointing at the center of the spiraling formation. “To be precise, from a world located at the center of the Void Vortex, returning after solving a problem troubling the World Will.”
The old man listened silently and seriously as Joshua generally explained what he saw and experienced in Simboa. However, the warrior never emphasized Fattrovi’s ability and might, merely the outcome from the wild spread of Steel Authority, as well as the existence of the ‘Black Fog’.
“That’s what mostly happened after Extraordinary powers went out of control… As for the Black Fog, it is the ultimate weapon of Shelter, their master being an ally of Glorious-Era Mycroft. That civilization’s influence also encompasses worlds, and Mycroft might be inferior when compared from that fact alone since their member worlds were numerous, and they had at least ten core worlds. Their vassals might also be innumerable, but such a grand scale Void civilization was still destroyed beneath the besieging of multiple Evil Gods.
At that, Joshua could not help looking at the cavity and darkness stretching across their galaxy, shaking his head. “I originally thought the Void Vortex was caused by the centuries of battle between Shelter champions and Evil Gods, but now it is clear that the cavity was too huge, and there may be some other reason.”
“The Steel Particles from the Great Mana Tide had actually caused such rapid awakenings of supernatural powers? That is definitely worth being careful about—it took much for our worlds to progress into a peaceful age of rapid development, there must be no chaos.”
Igor’s nodded with a somber expression after having listened to Joshua, and letting out a long exhale. “Well, it would also explain why there are so few living worlds in these parts of the galaxy: they are mostly destroyed by the Evil Gods in the previous era or had fallen into the Abyss, and now we are seeing a new generation of races and civilization.”
“Actually, there is also the possibility that the Black Fog had wiped out some newborn civilization over their hunt for resources.” Joshua said with a deep and grave voice, stroking his chin. “Compared to worrying ‘scarce few living worlds in the Multiverse’, it is more important that the issues beside us be resolved.”
That reason would mostly explain the outcome of the Deep-Space Observation, although Igor appeared to still have questions. He was not curious why Joshua would run off to the depths of the Void to handle something troubling a World Will, but was instead troubled by certain matters that existed from the start.
“Let’s put a hold on the findings from the Deep-Space Observation and things like the Black Fog. Joshua, you should know that I had something I wanted to ask you about a few months ago.”
Igor’s visage calmed as he leaned slightly onto his own chair, keeping his gaze leveled at Joshua’s. “And the Deep-Space Observation project today was precisely over that,” he said slowly.
The warrior remained quiet in his chair and said nothing, waiting for Igor to continue as the aged man appeared to consider his words for a few seconds. “Joshua, do you know that Mycroft isn’t complete now?”
Joshua nodded—he was naturally aware. Compared to the Glorious Era, the continent of Starfall alone had lost a great few chunks: The Infinite Horizon that was once a part of the skies was only recently replaced. In fact, it was almost normal for Mycroft to be incomplete, to the point that it was part of common knowledge for Legendary champions.
“And the matter concerns a part of Mycroft that it had now lost,” Igor said calmly. “Built by various races in the Glorious Era, an independent demiplane wonder located above the western continental skies, a library with everything—the Unified Archives.”
Joshua nodded thoughtfully when he heard the term. However, no information related to that word came to his mind: it exceeded his information reserves.
Igor seemed to not mind what Joshua was thinking, stretched out his hand to move the Void Model created by the warrior to a corner, before creating another model—this time, one depicting the Mycroft Continent in the Glorious Era. Joshua was familiar with that since he had seen it from the Divine Dungeon Shroud and the Earth Goddess’s memories. Then, Igor pointed at the western skies of that continent, gesturing at a demiplane entrance beneath the Infinite Horizon. “That is where the Unified Archives once was.”
“It’s a common archive and library for all races, the content of which was public to all citizens, although some were restricted due to considerable risk, and those without clearance could not browse through it… In that era, no race or tributary would conceal their skills, instead sharing them proudly to everyone. Certainly, core contents required corresponding clearances and price, since it was impractical for full altruism.”
Igor appeared to be fascinated by his own description of the Unified Archives, although his expression soon returned normal. “It is a pity,” he said regretfully, “the Unified Archives, like the Infinite Horizon, was pushed out from Mycroft. Unlike the much larger paradise watched over by the gods, the demiplane where the Archives was had directly been sent flying by the shockwaves from the battle between the Sage, the gods, and the Evil Gods, leaving no trace since then.”
“And you have found a clue about the Archives current position some time ago?”
Joshua nodded thoughtfully again, grasping the elderly pontiff’s meaning this time. “You initially wanted to have me—a frequent traveler of the Void—to take a look at the location, only to realize that I was gone, and came back as a cocoon that could not be awakened for the time being. That is why you conducted the widespread Deep-Space Observation.”
Igor quickly nodded, rising from the chair and moved to a porthole of the narrow room. “The existence of the Unified Archives has always been noted in classical texts of the Holy Mountain,” he said, looking toward the chaotic Void. “Every former pontiff paid significant attention to the large information center that held almost all knowledge of the Glorious Era, and with it, our civilization would have something like a shortcut for swift progress.”
At that point, Igor looked up and laughed slightly. “I’m not boasting, but my ability is the strongest amongst every former pope. If I had the will to project, and monitored through the Saint’s Eye, finding a clue of the Archives is a matter of time.
Joshua nodded in understanding in return. It was essentially meaningless to debate whether civilization should use shortcuts or assume the path of Glorious Era once more, since the society form of the Starfall Era was fundamentally different from the previous age. Starfall has its own knowledge and rules for magic, aura and various supernatural powers—even an Archive of a bygone era would not influence a civilization that had assumed a form. Instead, having substantial data that had been proven would reduce the time researchers would have to spend on meaningless tests.
As for the elderly pontiff’s boast… There would certainly be no issue, to be perfectly honest. According to his claims, the trail in which the Archives were sent flying was recorded, and if the coordinates of the worlds around did not change drastically, searching for clues would definitely be a matter of time.
It is hence a pity that what Igor lacked most was time.
“Then? You found the Archives?” Joshua asked, “Could it be near the Void Vortex?”
In response, Igor nodded and then shook his head. “Probably. It’s a vague guess.”
“A while ago, on the day I requested your help,” he added “the Holy Mountain Fortress incidentally intercepted a message from the depths of the Void. It had been sent from the surviving Guardians from the Unified Archives—they had survived from the shockwaves of the battle, and flourished until now… When things took a turn for the dire. The cycle of materials in the Archives was crumbling, and that communications might even be a dying message. I suspect they won’t last long.”
At that, Igor inhaled deeply, a slightly troubled expression showing in his face, but he continued cruelly, “to be truthful, those Guardians deserve respect. Even so, their fate is not important: our vital objective is to find the position of the Archive, the infinite information and data it holds is the true priceless treasure. The reason why I did not boldly launch a rescue operation and searched nearby Void instead was to prevent waste of resources.”
“And now, I could mostly confirm that it is near the Void Vortex you’ve mentioned—or perhaps beside the world of ‘Darkness’, because the demiplane where the Archive was does not have starlight.”
That was perhaps the correct decision. Compared to those venerable Guardians, the Archive itself was of tremendous importance—there must be neither carelessness or rash operations.
Joshua could not help sighing in response, rising and stood alongside the pontiff beside the porthole.
After a brief silence, he spoke. “What can I do? And if we are to survey the worlds around the Void Vortex, the Black Fog remnant from the Shelter civilization must be gotten rid of. With their lair being near that location, they would not sit idly by as we act.”
Igor stroke his beard and looked towards the Void, seemingly watching the worlds on the other side.
“Joshua…” the elderly pontiff said quietly. “You could freely converse with the Steel Pythons, right?”
Joshua nodded slightly in admission, while Igor continued as if given confirmation. “You know many Steel Pythons as well, right?”
“That is the case.”
Joshua replied, but just as he intended to add ‘but not many of them, just a few’, Igor spoke solemnly again, turning to the warrior with a twinkle in his eyes.
“Well, if they could entrust you to aid them in handling their issues, could you ask them to help us search for the whereabouts of the ‘Archives’?”
That was Igor’s true intentions. As the only being who was acquainted with multiple World Wills, Joshua did not have to act in person on every turn. Indeed, his words might well surpass thousands of aimless searches.
Naturally, the Seven Gods Church or any other factions would not have you pay the price alone. We would shoulder whatever rewards the Steel Pythons require—you just have to be our middleman in contacting them, we would even pay another portion of reward… for the Unified Archives, for all civilization, he was willing to pay any price.
At least, that was what Igor wanted to say. But before he could say, Joshua’s voice rang.
“Alright.” The warrior agreed easily as if being invited by a friend for dinner or drinks. “That’s not a problem—although I can’t give assurances on whether it could be handled quickly.”
Joshua certainly knew what Igor wanted to say through his changing expression, and simply shrugged in return. “It matters to the civilization. Why bother with some reward and be so calculating? After all, according what I do know, those World Wills would not fuss over such frivolities—just remember to say thank you then.”
“You should know,” he added in good humor, “Simboa never once said thanks after I helped Simboa solve its troubles from great lengths.”
“Ah… I see.”
Igor, having been prepared to say more, could not add anything after Joshua agreed to things so easily. Instead, he smiled in gladness, and clapped his hand heavily on Joshua’s shoulder—which took some effort since Joshua was almost a head taller.
“Thank you.” He said softly.
Afterward, Joshua quickly left the Holy Mountain Fortress and entered the Void portal to return to the Multiverse Sacrificial Grounds. However, before the warrior could leave for Karlis and contact the resident Steel Python, a slight emergency interrupted his plans.
Lisa Kronos, the Drakonid girl from Kronos and an apprentice of the warrior, had suddenly fainted in the Multiverse Sacrificial Grounds encampment.