Translator: EndlessFantasy Translation Editor: EndlessFantasy Translation
There was nothing that especially sets the center of the Dark Forest apart from the outer zones, although it was probably more suffocating than the outside, having thicker miasma and Chaos mana, and the monsters that existed here were more formidable.
It was natural phenomenon. In other words, it was the Urban Heat Island of Mana, and the closer one was to the center of the Dark Forest, there would more high-grade magical ingredients, enchanted herbs and powerful monsters that lingered there out of greed for such an environment. Their gathering even formed a unique reaction that gathered mana, causing eighty percent of magical energies to focus on the core region that probably made up twenty percent of the Dark Forest’s surface!
And the cause for all that was because the corpse of the Evil God [Fertility] remained in the Dark Forest—at the center of the Mycroft continent, or perhaps the very heart of the entire world.
“How powerful are Evil Gods actually?”
Slowly flying toward the center of the Dark Forest, Joshua could not help having the question raised in his mind as he watched the hostile environment around him gradually became otherworldly. More than a thousand years, and yet it remains still influence the entire continent, birthing countless monsters, even influencing a world’s ecosphere and mana cycle.”
But that question was quickly answered by Joshua himself.
It was immeasurable, a power indescribable with numbers
Were Steel Pythons powerful? Very. Though he never clashed with them, Joshua was vividly aware that Steel Pythons which grasped all Authority in a world, and how frightening they were in their own world. They dominated all things and all life, and if they wished, they could even flip the skies and the oceans and levitate continents—but within their world.
Steel Pythons were World Wills, but the will, rationale, and wisdom of this world originated from its existing civilization of Order. Steel Pythons could embody Authority that destroys worlds, but they would never be to use all of its power since its Order was wisdom itself, originating from the countless races that flourished upon their bodies. On the other hand, for the Earth of Joshua’s preexistence, Steel Python was not simply Gaia, but the shared body of Gaia’s will and the human subconscious— in other words, the compound of Alaya.
It was impossible for mortals to unleash their full power because excess exertion would damage the muscles, overburden internal organs and hurt the body and reducing lifespan. The same principle applies to Steel Pythons: their Authority existed, but can never be unleashed by a hundred person. They have to be careful even when using it so that they would not affect the races that lived upon their bodies.
It was also precisely why the Steel Python of Simboa had its authority stolen by Fattrovi: it might not have been due to its laziness, but because the Steel Python had realized early on that it was the best for the civilization in its body if it did nothing. In turn, that pessimistic attitude led to everything.
Joshua was confident that he could stand up to a full-power assault of a Karlis-class of Steel Python when it was enraged, but his powers might be lacking for Steel Pythons such as Mycroft and Stellaris, although that did not mean he did not stand a chance. Due to their weaknesses being distinct, Joshua was confident that he could grasp those chances, and that as long as he did not make any mistakes, those World Wills would not be able to defeat him and vice versa.
Evil Gods, however, were different. It might be the combination of Gaia and the subconscious of different races, with fragments of worlds as dopants, a creation freed from a hundred percent of restraints and distinct from Steel Pythons.
They never feared destruction for they were already destroyed. They did not care for losing intelligence because they were already chaotically imbecile.
They were the agent of death and end, certainly without restraint—it was fine as long as all things descended into Chaos and nothingness.
And it was precisely why they were far more powerful than they were alive.
At the thought, Joshua’s curiosity became sullen. He remembered the corrupted Steel Python of Mycroft, and how he hardly forgot its red-black scales and its dark-red eyes which had been eroded so extensively they were almost invisible. If it had not been sealed, the power of Chaos flowing from its body would have eaten the entire world, birthing a new Evil God.
If that really happened, what should that Evil God be called then? Was it [Curiosity] of the Sage and the Steel Python held toward the cycle of Order and Chaos, or the series of [Blunder] which began from the Multiverse Sacrificial Grounds?
Just as the warrior frowned in thought, a small spatial rift tore open beside him, with a Platinum Tendril creeping out from within and emitting a distorted voice, “Legend of the North. Do you intend to head for the ‘Spring of Chaos’?”
“Vine Mother? Could you be referring to the center where Chaos magic boils?”
Joshua nodded calmly in response. “Certainly. Don’t you live nearby, according to stories from Adventurers? The other human Legends and I are prepared to completely extract that tumor which had rooted itself into Mycroft. That was in our agreement as well.”
“I know. It was I and the Platinum Ancient Dragon who had sealed the magical energies in the Spring of Chaos for the last one hundred and thirty years and stopped it from spreading.”
The Vine Mother answered, speaking as if it was answering something that could not be more natural. “If you really resolved yourself to uproot the Spring of Chaos, you must do it as soon as possible. The longer it stays upon this world, the worse the pollution would be.”
Afterward, Joshua learned about the progress of the other Legends thanks to the rather fragmented speech of the Vine Mother. Apart from him who was so effective overturning the earth as if it was a turn of his palm, the Nature’s Magister who was the second fastest was only half-done. Although he would be the sole human Legend in the Dark Forest Inner for most of the day, the Vine Mother did not mind going into detail about the ‘Spring of Chaos’.
“As you would know, the Spring of Chaos is the source of Chaos of the entire Dark Forest, and perhaps the world.”
The Vine Mother’s voice emanated from beyond the spatial rift. “According to what you had said, it was where the Evil God has fallen. Still, the reason Colorado and myself ascended as Legends was because we resisted it day by day.”
Joshua was now very close to the center of the Dark Forest, and could now see a platinum mountain nearby, as well as the churning Spring of Chaos beside it.
Moreover, Joshua could sense an abnormal Steel Strength from that platinum mountain which accelerated the flourishing growth of all living things, and accelerated the lifeforce spawning from it. Meanwhile, the turbid Spring of Chaos beside it was streaming with an unusual power as well, encouraging the growth of life as well but without limit, a [Fertility] that kept progressing even after reaching the peak until it reached the ending of self-destruction.
Any normal lifeform would have grown in excess under such terrible and radical environment, growing tumors all over their body or extra limbs, just as magical creatures would develop various types of mutation. Now, the warrior finally understood why there were new magical creatures appearing without end every year—he had believed the survival of the fittest was the cause of it all, but now it appeared to be a mere rapid mutation of Chaos magic.
“It is a Chaos that drove human toward ‘flourishing’, and then ‘destroying’ them.”
Joshua lowered his head to stare, watching the collection of materialized Chaos power while muttering to himself. “How fitting for the definition of Glorious Era. Vine Mother, if you and the Skybinding Dragon did not choose to work with us humans, you would have fallen to such a state as well.”
In return, the Legendary beast did not say anything or tried to argue, and simply withdrew its tendrils to close the spatial rift.
Joshua paid that no mind. He slowly landed on the ground at the very heart of the Dark Forest, sensing the welling Chaos magic around him at a close distance, as well as the Steel Strength left by the Platinum Ancient Dragon.
The Evil Gods came in many forms, and embodied distinctly varying powers.
[Famine], born out of isolation and hunger; [Calamity], born out of indefensible destruction, [Pestilence] born out of selfish desires, along with [Apocalypse], born from self-destruction: the birth and power of those Evil Gods are simple and clear. Famine possessed the devouring ability to consume worlds, Calamity possessed the power of natural calamities to destroy worlds and devastate civilization, the Evil God of Pestilence spreads itself and infect all reaches of the Multiverse, seemingly having lost control over greed, and there was no much to elaborate about Apocalypse: it symbolized destruction itself.
But those were now the most powerful Evil Gods. In the old records of Mycroft, the most dangerous Evil God which ranked at first placed and was known as the most powerful Evil God was [Fertility].
All who heard the name would not be able to freeze for a moment. Famine, Calamity, Pestilence, and Apocalypse all appeared extraordinarily unlucky, but it would symbolize their lamentable fate. So why Fertility, which was not something untoward, become the name of an Evil God?
Joshua stood amidst the completely mutated, squirming ink-black forest. With no change in his expression, he stretched out his right hand, where a faint spark appeared in his palm.
The birth of that spark appeared to come out of the Void, from an indiscernible condensation and burst. In seconds, it rapidly expanded to a fist-sized golden fireball that burned steadily, emanating substantial light and heat, the exceedingly frightening heat popping as it burned like a small star.
Joshua held the sun in his palm as if it was insignificant, pushing it into the distance before pulling his hand back. The warrior then no longer controlled the fireball, allowing the surrounding forces of Chaos to erode it freely.
In the very next instant, something that was logical yet but chills the heart happened.
The magic of Chaos invaded inside the small sun at once after Joshua withdrew removed the protection over it. That once steadily burning star unleashed heat and light dozens of times more powerful than before—the illumination was so blinding that it was akin to the final glory of a person before their death, and that was certainly the truth. After that brief, powerful illumination, the mini sun that could have burned steadily for a long time promptly bloated, and thus become a thin but fragile red giant that was one point eight meters in diameter.
Joshua could even see some residual White Dwarf substance remaining in the center of the small ‘red giant’, even as it rapidly cooled and dimmed. It was perhaps in a dozen seconds that the bright ‘white’ dwarf turned into a dark, silent, ice cold ‘black’ dwarf that could never have formed even if the Multiverse died.
Such was the outcome of using his Steel Strength to emulate a star, and after it was affected by the power of the Evil God of Fertility.
Fertility, prosperity, and glory. Those words held very close meaning in Mycroft basic, and the power the Evil God of Fertility insinuated was the barren after fertility, decline after prosperity, as well as the dullness following glory. Therefore, what it represented was the abrupt withering and death, after something had reached its peak.
If the civilization on earth realized communist ideals and progressed towards a utopia, only to suddenly be utterly destroyed by a sudden war of superweapons, such a fate may have been closer to the tragedy when the Evil God of Fertility. Another close example was the Glorious Era of Mycroft civilization itself after the Multiverse Sacrificial Grounds was built, standing without question at the zenith of history, only to be directly destroyed by the sudden invasion of Abyss and Evil Gods.
The dark tides of the Dark Forest itself was a certain form of a mark—the beasts amongst them had flourished to an extreme and hence charged towards the fortresses of civilization, acquiring their final destruction.
“The birth of the Evil God of [Air] was because the Evil God of Fertility passed by its home, its energy welling and turning a star into a red giant, destroying the ecosphere of a planet. The gaseous lifeform had attained civilization after genuine difficulty, only to meaningless vanish in the ice-cold universe without electromagnetism.”
Joshua shook his head while walking amidst the Dark Forest, recalling the other piece of Evil God’s body he recovered from the subterranean reaches of the North. “A depressing and hateful cycle.”
Evil Gods would not merely destroy civilization and Order. Their existence would create new Evil Gods albeit without anything barring them, or at least that was what Joshua believed. If the Evil God of Air did encounter the Evil God of Fertility, the former would probably not hesitate to attack the latter regardless of their difference in power or the environment they were in—and the same relationship may apply between Calamity and Apocalypse.
In the end, they were remains of worlds. Perished spirits of Chaos are without logical thought, but it all remained Joshua’s own deduction. Joshua’s current knowledge of the Evil Gods originated from phantoms of ancient memories and description from Steel Pythons.
Thus, to understand them more, he had come here.
Pushing away the Dark Forest before him that was about to solidify into a black statue, Joshua walked upon the soil of Chaotic pitch, arriving at the true center of the Central Dark Forest. In front of him was a small hill made entirely out the Platinum Dragon’s molt, wherein mild Steel Strength emanated, protecting the world around it. And yet, on the other side of the hill, Chaos energies were spreading without control, the air hence flowing with an unnamable and terrible presence, distorting the elements, mana and even itself, forming a spectacle of spring that cascaded and disperse outwardly.
As Steel Strength incarnate, the Ancient Dragon might not be able to directly counter the remnant or Evil God that bound the world, but its power was enough to achieve balance against the remaining body of the Evil God, keeping the vast Central Dark Forest from really turning into the largest foreign realm of Chaos in the world.
As for Joshua, himself an incarnation of Steel Strength—and at present a world, was a notch above Ancient Dragon to a certain definition. To him, the lingering Chaos energies from the Evil God of Fertility was like a breeze to his face, completely unable to harm him.
Joshua walked, just as circles of luminous runes appeared beneath his feet. The words were dark red like blood mixed with ink, whirling and appearing as if they were natural, resisting the surrounding forces of Chaos for the warrior. Any archmagi learned with runes would be left astonished if he saw them, for those simple fonts did not exist in any language of the world, a rune that never appeared in the world before.
In fact, those were Joshua’s own runes, a ‘World Authority’ that belonged to him alone.
After he had resolved himself to assume the path of ‘My Body is the World’, both Joshua’s clone and original form began to display various changes, with the runes surrounding his body and feet being not exactly a vital cycle amongst them… those were essentially runes unique to a world that could draw magical energies, and if the world in Joshua’s had life in the future, they could study that world’s essence from the runes, mastering various power and develop their own aura, magic, divine spells or any diverse supernatural abilities.
Nevertheless, discussing them now remained too early. They remained Joshua’s own power at the moment which develops ‘shockwaves’ when brushing against Mycroft, since the warrior was strictly the shape of a world, and if he released his power in another world there, would certainly be various anomalies.
At the mention of anomalies, Joshua could not help remembering something important that he somehow was about to forget, and yet could never truly forget.
It was the System.
A few months ago, when Joshua was still a giant silver cocoon, he had discovered the true form of the System that had long vanished and could not be found regardless, all amidst the information loss as his body’s molecules quickly crumbled. It was normal since Joshua’s own will was about to be destroyed by his own power at the time, so what if it was a System, something he was simply too lazy to search for?
The anomaly at the time was quite similar to how it was now. Circles of unusual, sacred text that was completely different from Mycroft’s basic runes had slowly appeared inside Joshua’s body, and then wiped away by the collapse of Degenerate Matter. At the time, Joshua almost understood the essence of the System, and why he had a hard time finding it.
Because the System was, at its core, a part of his soul.
That part, however, had been altered and mutated. A power unimaginably great had, unbeknownst to Joshua, sublimated that part of his soul, his special ‘organ’, building a supernatural module. It would accelerate the absorption of other lifeforce, in turn augmenting Joshua’s own power, an Azurite he could carry around anywhere from a certain point of view.
Perhaps, even if Joshua did not have the Azurite or inherited the Radcliffe’s Family Legacy before, his swift development would not have yielded much change. However, such an Extraordinary constitution would not be stable, and would be distorted with Joshua’s own advancement in ability. When Joshua ascended to Gold, his exceedingly personalized soul had caused the System to display the first discord, and various malfunction when he was Supreme, before directly vanishing when he was Legend—now, not even basic verification and development reports were all wiped out.
During the first time Joshua’s refined his own essence after ascending to Legend, the System was left with no vestige and was directly pulverized. That was because Joshua’s own soul had built an information network in his own body that surpassed lightspeed, an inhuman mutation that did not even gave the System any space to hide.
As for its source, Joshua never cared as usual.
Whether it came from the Sage, the Steel Python Mycroft or was simply a final gift from Earth for him, the Traveler—everything was fine, was it not? He is now so powerful that he no longer needed any help from other being and could still carve his name down in the Multiverse. Indeed, whichever being or person who had helped him so much for whatever reason, they could now rejoice and laugh heartily.
Such was the warrior’s best repayment for their aid.
At the thought, he strode forward again. But just as he started forward, another spatial rift appeared.
“Legend of the North. Do you not intend to wait for the other Legends?”
A Platinum Tendril that was much larger than before appeared, and the Vine Mother spoke, slightly uncomprehending. “Do you intend to explore the Spring of Chaos alone? Or do you wish to recover the Evil God’s corpse by yourself? That is too dangerous, and I could not aid you.”
‘ Because I haven’t lived enough.’
The meaning insinuated from the Vine Mother’s words were so simple and forthright that it allowed Joshua to directly hear her overwhelmingly resounding mind, and was very straightforward. After all, beasts were different from humans—they would act according to their thoughts.
“I alone am enough; your help is unnecessary.”
Joshua approached the Spring of Chaos, and could feel the presence of Chaos thickening around him. It was unlike the minions of the Evil God of Famine, Calamity’s projection, Pestilence’s Void Mother, and a completely different power and class compared to the weak remaining body of Air.
It was affirmed by the Sage as the most powerful Evil God of all known Chaos, the remains of the [Evil God of Fertility]. Most of its body had been destroyed by the Sage amidst the Void of the Multiverse, although its bare few ‘bloodstains’ or even ‘grounded flesh’ could still put together the present-day Mycroft continent, their remaining power even nurturing an existence such as the Dark Forest.
It was once so powerful that the shockwaves it emanated in passing could trigger stars to self-destruct, but now…
It was nothing much.
“The last few years, I’ve had many dealings with the projection of Evil Gods and their minions. Your centuries of encounters might not outnumber the information I gained from a single year of Otherworld traveling.”
While he appeared to be slowly striding, Joshua was actually moving at a speed that far surpassed human sprinting. Circles of complex runes appeared beneath his feet, defending against the darkening forces of Chaos that directly catalyzed the flourishing and withering of certain things. Even the Vine Mother did not dare follow him, instead closing the spatial rift, just as the warrior murmured softly, “I know it is left to me, unlike you, beings of Order who have actual bodies, had been born and embody fluctuating energies.”
Even as he spoke, Joshua had already arrived by the edge of the dark spring of Chaos. He widened his eyes to observe the endless turbidity before him: it was a shroud of indescribable filth and gloom, eroding all existences that even dense beehive cavities were carved out space itself. Those cavities breathed and exhale the shroud of gloom and despair, utterly absorbing all evening radiance of Mycroft.
That was the power of Chaos given from beyond the world. Compared to the shroud, the liquid magical energy of Chaos was ten thousand times more turbid, with thousands of unnamable illusion and specters appearing within. Those appear to be the shadow of countless destroyed worlds and civilizations being wiped out, and as light and shadow intertwined, there was no telling how many billions of years of existing information stirred, revealing the tens of thousands of years that the Evil God of Fertility existed, displaying its feats for the first pair of naked eyes that had seen it after a thousand years.
Planets expanded, systems dulled while millions of stars died one after another, dragging a long dark domain in the galaxy. It was prosperity and destruction, a darkness that wandered amidst the stars, whimsically moving across the Multiverse to sow seeds of despair and Chaos. Uncountable worlds dimmed beneath its happy songs, just as infinite Chaos was born in hate.
Joshua stood in front of the spring of Chaos. The boots condensed out of Steel Strength was being touched by the dark, erosive mana, and yet not a single fragment was shaved out of the substance that emanated silver radiance and was nigh indestructible. The warrior stared at the assemblage of Chaos that was just one step away, aware that his target, the final remains of the Evil God of Fertility in the Multiverse lay beneath the black lake.”
“I’m eternal, a world unborn. I am ‘my Order’.”
‘If I can’t even hold up against the power left by an Evil God, how would I kill them one by one in the future, purifying their existing and turning them into my accomplishments?’
As he thought, Joshua threw himself within.
The light of dusk was rapidly diminishing from the world, and everything around him instantly entered darkness. All was consumed, all was enshrouded—it was a sensation as if a person was staying in the isolated bottom of an oceanic abyss ten thousand meters below the surface, without sound, light, touch or physical existences that could be obtained or sensed.
As if everything remained in the nothingness and Chaos before Creation.
But just as everything appeared to stay in the eternal darkness and silence, a faint echo wafted from the dark abyss.
Some silver fiery light shone at the depths of the abyss.
It was the Flame of the Order, the fire of existence, the divide between life, death, coldness and warmth, the blaze of light and darkness.
It was a flame that belonged to Joshua alone.