Translator: EndlessFantasy Translation Editor: EndlessFantasy Translation
Starfall Year 838, third of January. Fort Ares, the frontier of the southeastern fortress chains, the southern province of the Northern Empire.
A huge gray-haired man stood over the watchtower by the walls of the fortress, carrying the head of three-horned dragon in his hand, its fearsome expression and horns preserved vividly through magical means. The man, who had a scar on his face glanced at the sky that was filled with clouds of gloom, and place the dragon head by the window of the watchtower.
There was a chilling wind stirring the clouds. Like the sea, the sky was cascading amidst the violent tides of clouds, while dried chilling winds condensed the vapors in the air, allowing anyone to see the arrival of winter and torrential snow.
However, the gray-haired man did not pay any attention to all of that. He adjusted the three-horned dragon head and shifted his position so that he could clearly view the nearby Central Dark Forest. Then, making a formal grin, he raised the Information Terminal by his wrist and took an enchanted selfie, while leaning on the dragon head.
[Priest has updated his personal status]
[Year 838, third of January, 17:39: Second day in Fort Ares. Accidentally hunted a gold-tier armored three-horned dragon. (Images attached)]
[Location: Fort Ares, Southern Provinces. Sent by Second Generation of Spiritual Terminal, for Professional Exploration]
Having sent the message, the gray-haired man known as Priest quickly took the three-horned dragon head down from the window, placing it into a magical bag used expressly for safekeeping. An enchantment had distinctly preserved the dragon’s rage and hatred before its death clearly, making it supremely imposing, but it was all magic—if the enchantment was gone, the skull would rot from having no anti-rot measures.
And when all of that was done, Priest reconnected to the Information Terminal.
[Britney has liked your new status]
[Britney: Impressive, brother!]
[Dahl has liked your new status.]
[Dahl: Have to say, you’re too cool, friend!]
[Factory Owner Rondeaux has liked your new status]
[Syndicate has liked your new status]
[Ling (Purple ID Exclusive for Admin) has liked your new status]
Priest could not help but smile in nostalgia after a glance through his friends’ comments and likes. He was especially delighted and driven after seeing the reply from Britney—his sister, feeling gratitude that he could go out for a few more hunts.
“Thanks be to the Mana Net, Information Terminal, status update, and commenting. And thanks be to the great Liege.”
After earnest thanking everything and everyone inwardly, Priest stared at the gem-like Information Terminal at his wrist and could not help sighing in wonder. “This invention is simply too great.”
Since accepting Joshua’s invitation last year, Priest had joined the Imperial External Exploration Department as a student of Victor Academy, although he was forced to leave his sister in Moldavia, delegating her to the care of the academy’s personnel and his own friend, Dahl. Meanwhile, he underwent various hellish training and practical exploration… Their parting was extended buy their reunion short: Priest felt extraordinary bliss and pain in each of his brief return to Moldavia, bliss being finally able to reunite with family, the pain being from another immediate parting, without contact over months.
In fact, such pain of parting was commonplace on Mycroft. From adventurers to mercenaries, traveling merchants or artists who journeyed across the continent would be working outside most of the time, not to mention the soldiers who were stationed at frontiers thousands of miles away from home… While letters, magical communication, and spells with video recording were not some profound spell, most of them were inaccessible to most common folk, even some with special conditions.
Amongst them was Priest, who had to survive in dangerous lands throughout the year. However, the pain of separation began to not hurt him, a Northerner, or more precisely, certain fortunate Imperial citizens!
The new version of the Information Terminal had been added with functions known as ‘Status Update’ and ‘Adding Contacts’!
The Information Terminal was a revolutionary magical tool created under the instructions of that Legendary liege of Moldavia. The earliest prototype of the Information Terminal already had many special functions such as capturing magical projection, trade modules, and other special modules—but in the last two months, as the Mana Net was redeveloped and added with more servers, the newer generation of Information Terminal had new functions and designs!
Every owner of an Information Terminal must verify themselves with their real name, after of which they would get a personal code, which they could exchange amongst terminal users to use the friend adding function, thereby getting the other’s movements while commenting on it—in other words, with Mana Net, they could communicate in real time!
The appearance of the function made long-distance interaction rather singular, and almost revolutionary for the world of Mycroft which virtually belonged to Extraordinary individuals! After determining the reliability of status update and private messaging functions, almost all, mercenaries, merchant guilds or wealthier adventurers in the Empire did not hesitate spending considerable capital to purchase the magical tool called Information Terminal, which still had room for advancement.
The great sales of Information Terminal which brought significant wealth to Moldavia and upheaval to the world notwithstanding, Priest was now blissfully browsing the images his sister sent with Information Terminal—a drawing of the both of them that slanted slightly, drawn with color pencils.
There was a row of small fonts beneath the picture: three days until Brother gets home.
Indeed, the External Exploration party’s mission had concluded. In three days, Priest would return to his home in Moldavia after submitting reports and findings.
Now, the comments beneath Priest’s status update had risen above twenty. Many strangers who commented beside his friends also browsed the photographs the man uploaded, with most of them praiseful likes, just as there were minorities who voiced discord.
[The first commenter is the little sister? A girl so young actually owns an Information Terminal, and could view something as gory as a magical beast’s head?]
[The photo seemed to be taken from the city walls of the southern fortresses? Recommending deletion since it’s a military building—I really believe usage of Information Terminal should be regulated, and user age should be limited.]
Though not many, there were certainly some people who were worried over the sudden widespread use the new thing called Information Terminal, while others believed that the rapid popularization of Information Terminal would lead to information overflow, leading to disclosure of private information such as military secrets, which was why there must be strict rules imposed over spreading information and user accounts.
Priest certainly considered such things as well. Compared to the latecomers, he was one of the earlier users of the Information Terminal who considered similar issues and reported such hidden issues to their superior unit. However, the superior unit—the Liege of Moldavia indicated that, for such issues, ‘the Liege did not consider it something critical, and His Imperial Majesty had granted permission as well’.
Since two Legendary champions had spoken, others certainly would not have to pay any mind.
Ignoring the paranoid comments, Priest followed the stairs and returned above the city walls of Fort Ares. It was then that a dull shadow descended from the skies—with tempest that promptly gained in momentum, and snowstorm that blotted out the sun poured down!
The cold air from the frozen earth of the North billowed across the Helgamoth plains, finally arriving by the frontiers of the southern provinces and colliding head-on upon the damp air pressure of the Central Dark Forest. Wet vapors compounding with dry, cold winds of frost meant heavy snows that crushed even the sturdiest of branches, sealing the lairs of countless beasts, jolting them awake and forcing them out. In the end, beneath the disturbance of Chaos forces, they charged wildly toward human settlements without exception—in other words, the fortresses.
And this was how the ‘Winter Mana Tide’ occurred annually to the south of the Empire.
Priest, a former southerner in the Empire, knew at the sight of snow that the first Mana Tide of the year was coming. Hundred thousand, or up to millions of berserk magical beasts would assault every fortress around them, without shortage of Gold or Supreme-tier leaders.
Each Mana Tide posed a great trial to the southern fortress chains. Every year, there were substantial numbers of those dying in battle listed, and even civilians would have to rise to the city walls during especially trying times to resist the magical beasts that were amok, leading to significant casualties, the ‘Titan Dragonflies’ and ‘Boros Pythons’ being the main causes of severe loses in the last few occasions.
“Looking at the scale of snow this year, the damage could be great on the Central Dark Forest region…”
Priest could not help muttering to himself when he noticed the gray blanket out at the distant horizon. “Perhaps many powerful magical beasts would be forced to awaken from hibernation, and assault the fortresses like before.”
Priest had now reached the halfway point of the stairs to the city walls. The garrison of Fort Ares were patrolling there, and the stationed troops heard the youth from a new Imperial department with considerable authority muttering to himself—it was the news every soldier during each Mana Tide was most reluctant to hear, since it meant great losses and innumerable deaths.
But unlike before, every soldier now looked at each other and smiled, even began to whisper, “Haha, the Mana Tide is coming!”
“This time, there’s no telling who’s on the suffering end.”
“The more or the stronger, the better. Can’t free myself from the grudge otherwise!”
“I lost two fingers in the Mana Tide last time. It’s thanks to the spells from the Seven Gods Church, or I would have retired… Unlike before, they came at the wrong time!”
The stairs became lively at once, and even Priest could not help smiling.
The reason was simple: everyone was aware that the Northern Liege, the great inventor of the Information Terminal would come to Fort Ares this evening, launching a ‘Great Counterattack’ against the Dark Forest that the garrisons had waited for decades!
“Oh! Look there!”
It was now the time to change shifts. The garrison was quickly exchanging posts, forming a crowd which Priest weaved through. But suddenly, one of the guards exclaimed with widened eyes, pointing and gesturing at the skies shrouded by torrential snow, “There, airship!”
Many including Priest looked up towards the snow, seeing the red-black airship breaking through the clouds of gloom and white snow as well. The vessel, which bore a golden crest of a hand that held a sword on its hull, was slowly landing towards Fort Ares.
It was the crest of the Radcliffe Family!
“That Lord is here!”
“It’s the Count of Hell’s vessel!”
“It’s Dean Radcliffe!”
As if struck by a bolt of lightning, the garrison were at once excited. However, there was no fault in their disregard of military discipline since their Gold-tier commanders that supervised Fort Ares were also staring delightedly at the black-red airship high above, just as the excited Priest drew out his Information Terminal and caught a few pictures!
[Year 838, third of January, 17:55: Excited! It’s the Dean’s mount—so cool! (Images attached)]
Nevertheless, when the Fort Ares garrison planned to arrange for personnel to guide the landing of the airship, the vessel suddenly paused where it was. As everyone looked on puzzledly, a figure opened a door and stepped out naturally into the skies, heading towards the Dark Forest.
Everyone’s gaze was captured the instant the figure showed himself. His appearance made the ever-present snowstorm even more violent, just as the surging gloomy clouds crumbled like a gray funnel, gathering toward the figure’s location. Everyone could even at once see the dark snow shroud raging in the air, like clouds of Chaos.
But soon, a bright bolt of lightning flashed through the dark snow shroud, the powerful radiance illuminating the gloomy world in that instant, turning the Fort Ares evening into day. In the very next instant, that figure raised his hand, gently waving it down at the Dark Forest piled with snow below him.
Then came a distinct rumbling across heaven and earth.
It was the sound of earth and stone rolling over.
Amidst a tremendous tremor that was clearly felt even in Fort Ares, layers of soil and rock rose into the air beneath the influence of a great power that could distort even space itself. As if losing all weight, huge chunks of earth crumbled, despite being hard as stone despite being gripped tightly by the roots of Dark Forest plant life.
That wave of a hand had levitated hundreds of square kilometers of Dark Forest soil along with its trees. Then, as everyone who was watching from Fort Ares exclaimed in shock, the figure above the sky simply made hand gestures of ‘turning his palm’ and ‘pressing down’.
And yet, those simple hand gestures tore those hundreds of kilometers of Dark Forest into thousands of pieces, dropping down like puzzle blocks, the tree crown hanging below while the roots above.
Soon, that blanket of Dark Forest dropped upon the land where it originally was, pressed down into the ground by a monumental force, along with countless magical beasts that lived within. Traces of red-black hence spread in the soil—those were what was left of the countless beasts being crushed amidst their confusion.
The figure—Joshua—had no intention of slowing down and speak to the garrison on Fort Ares.
Since he had already arrived at the southern fortress at the edge of the Dark Forest, he would act at once, without having to either wait or pause.