Translator: EndlessFantasy Translation Editor: EndlessFantasy Translation
Joshua was briefly astonished when he easily saw through Steel Strength vision that the Drakonid girl’s essence was the shape of a Slime.
Was Syndicate not… a balrog? No, there was no rule that balrogs must be male, that line of thought was mistaken… That was wrong too, since balrogs have no gender in the first place! But be that as it may, why would Syndicate choose to take Lisa’s appearance? That was completely different from usual!
The rest was hard to describe. One way or the other, Joshua had arrived by the main gates of his residence, with the crestfallen Black in one hand, and the dejected Syndicate in another. Everyone inside gathered toward him at once, asking different questions with surprised expressions—the real Lisa was amongst them as well, the Drakonid girl having just returned with Ying from the factory zone after buying new furniture for her new house.
Some time ago, Lisa had suddenly indicated that she did not want to stay in the academy’s hostel, wanting instead to live alone in a house. No one refused such a normal request, while as for funds, Lisa’s academy points, after being exchanged for precious metals, was sufficient to even purchase the detached villas around the liege’s residence. However, the Drakonid girl simply bought a small building by the southern factory district, and moved in quickly.
The environment of the industrial district was not actually optimal, but higher mana radiation was not an issue for Lisa. There was even a pair of passionate siblings next door who helped her, and the elder brother was said to be a member of Winter Fort Academy.
After they had listened to the whole story, Ling was the one who summed things up most precisely. “So, to avoid misunderstanding and not really knowing how to explain Syndicate had taken up your appearance, you simply moved out?”
“I actually wanted to move as well.”
Lisa grinned in embarrassment, scratching her head. “But I mainly want a house that belongs to myself, it gives me a better peace of mind.”
Meanwhile, Syndicate was honest revealing the actual fold of events as it sat on a chair obediently.
“My Lord, when you were helping to shape me, you said that I could create a new body as I wished. However, I am still a balrog, and couldn’t imagine how to build a human body even after thinking for the better part of day… After getting back to the hostel for a nap, I slowly took this form before I knew it.”
“Instincts, huh? Being part of Lisa’s body for too long, causing not only bloodline to be linked, but even lifeforce to affect each other.”
For Joshua’s part, the warrior was not interrogative. He was mainly curious about the balrog’s change in form. Still, it was rather logical if he thought about it: high-level Slimes and Abyssal Ooze would attain ability to change their form into other creatures they devour, and that was naturally the case for Syndicate’s true form—perhaps on a higher-level as well, able to adapt to its surroundings and augmenting its form.
Still, unlike others of its kind which attained form by devouring other beings, Syndicate was instead being devoured by Lisa for the better part of the year, its bloodline essence affected in reverse… something embarrassing for a balrog.
In fact, the term balrog was a little incorrect. Syndicate was now much adept at the electromagnetism ability of the Ancient Dragon of Lightning. Its ability as a balrog was only left with its power to ‘heat up’, at most acting as a heat pack for Lisa during winter.
“Think positively. At least Lisa’s look is pretty, much better than your ugliness.”
Ying carefreely slapped Syndicate’s shoulder. “Moreover, you can’t stay with Lisa in male form—cohabiting with an underage girl? You’ll be thrown into the Moldavian stockade.”
“Hmm, ah, oh…”
“That’s right!” Black added, trying to spice things up, while Light jingled on her head. “You actually used Lisa’s cute appearance to trick us out for cards, that’s too much!”
” Ding-ring-ding-ring! (That’s too much!)”
Syndicate said nothing.
In the end, it was a little interlude and nothing too momentous—according to Zero-Three, the matter was simply a case of changing into another person after thinking about them for day and night.
On another note, it was rare for them to gather for a meal in the liege’s residence. It was a pity that the First Party was carrying out a mission in the Ural Mountains, or Joshua’s apprentices would be all present instead. Nonetheless, Joshua left them a motivational message on the Information Terminal.
At present, the early quartet of the First Party was nearing graduation, their ability about to reach Gold after seven years of fine training and difficult battles. In fact, their leader Ivan had touched the wall to Gold while exploring subterranean reaches, even stepping into that level recently. Even so, most were not Joshua who directly stabilizes after ascending, and Ivan still needed time to settle into his powers which had increased exponentially.
Apart from Ivan, his sister Amelia had changed her class to a dragon-trainer mage—or a dragon-rearing mage if put plainly. The former huntress had formidable elemental affinity and talents, and could rapidly unleash substantial devastating magics if undisturbed, vaporizing a small forest directly. A true cannon, and while the First Party now shields her, when that white dragon of hers mature in future, she would be able to fight independently.
The unusually discreet Karin was actually nearing Gold-tier as well. She had built a stable elemental in her own body, able to swiftly restore mana through reserves of magical substances in her own body, unleashing spells that far surpasses her typical magical output. The core itself was a simplified version of Joshua’s Nuclear Heart, and as long as she kept striving forward, there would be a day where she became a being who could control the power of the sun as well.
Meanwhile, Arlwa the Seventh Prince’s ability was developing ordinarily. His aura and magic were both rising steadily and not worrying, albeit without any unexpected improvement as well. Still, he had recently earned praise with his culinary arts, even learning to equip enchanted puppets, displaying unprecedented gifts in magical engineering.
On the other hand, the dwarf Nick was the rather special one… He was in seclusion at some unknown place instead of carrying out missions with the First Party. Allegedly, he was altering his body with some augmenting magic or mana elements, refining his living essence, taking steps to become a superhuman being. In fact, that was the most direct path to Legendary, one similar to Barnil’s own, Legendary runic mage who had attained Strength Mastery. If Joshua were to point out which apprentice he believed most likely to reach Supreme first, there was no question that it was Nick, and not Lisa despite her superior ability.
After the meal, Lisa happily took Syndicate’s hand and bade Joshua and the others farewell, before returning to their house at the southern district. Everyone from the Liege’s Residence watched as they left, before cleaning up as usual.
Joshua himself returned to his study—it had been some time since he was here. He reached out to touch the world map on one of the walls which was filled with red and black dots, some of which had words written beneath.
Those were the various major events marked on the map since he had transcended, such as targets of berserker dragons’ ambushes, civil strife in the Empire, the main encampments of various princes and princesses’ faction, as well as cultist settlements. All kinds of things he still remembered then was marked on the map, reminding him how dangerous the world he lived in was.
But now, Joshua laughed once and simply waved his hand. Silver radiance flickered, and the old, yellowing map was taken down and folded into a drawer, just as a brand-new 3D screen hence appeared on the wall. It was a model of the galaxy the world of Mycroft was in! Millions of stars glinted in silver, with a single, obvious red star twinkling at the edge—the location of Mycroft itself.
However, Joshua appeared dissatisfied. He shook his head to shrink the model minutely, and then from a faraway spot of the galaxy, he lit a bright luminous orb so large that even billions of worlds collectively would not compare against… That was a model of the Initial Flame, for there was no word in the world that could describe it, or anything that could imitate it. And apart from that cluster of galaxies and Initial Flame, most of the Multiverse was dark, engulfed in a dim shroud.
That was the Multiverse he has in mind.
Thus, the warrior fell into long, deep thought in front of the model. Ling, who opened the door to the study and was ready to tidy the room quietly left, closing the doors behind him. Zero Three and Ying peeked through well, but did not disturb the warrior either.
It was the next dawn when Joshua finally signed, and diverted his attention away from the Multiverse model. Instead, he turned and left to continue his experiment with the ‘Restoration Beam’ as well as refine his own power. Busy and fulfilling days passed quickly, and soon it was Starfall year 838, the third of March.
And it was that day when Joshua, who was still improving on the systems of the Restoration Beam in the dustless laboratory beneath the Winter Fort Academy, received a notification from the Unnamed Technician.
“Sir, there’s a communication from the Seven Gods Church waiting for you.”
The Unnamed Technician had awakened on the day after he fainted. When he learned that the civilization he expected no longer existed and the once despairing world had been reshaped by its Steel Python, he had breathed a sigh and gave up on the thought of returning to Simboa.
“it’s meaningless. Even if my own kind would rebuild civilization, it would be different from my expectation… What’s more, isn’t this world more interesting?”
Unnamed had spoken simply and straightforwardly, with no inclination of hiding his thoughts. “I should live in this new world since I’m already here—humans should keep their eyes and keep going forward.”
Unnamed Technician had also decided himself that his name was ‘Unnamed’. According to him, since there were those who were named ‘Bush’, ‘Boar’ and might even mean ‘son of certain someone’, then it would be fine if he was called Unnamed. In the meantime, he was trained as a lecturer for soul and puppet studies in the Winter Fort Academy, after of which he would pioneer the discipline of ‘Artificial Intelligence Constructs’ under the branch of magical assembly. He would also occasionally work as Joshua’s lab assistant before he officially assumes that post, helping him with trials regarding the Restoration Beam.
Joshua paused his work when he heard Unnamed, and strode outside the laboratory, frowning. “The Seven Gods Church? What could the old Pope want me for? I have the feeling it can’t be good.”
But the truth was that Joshua’s feeling was wrong.
“Joshua, it’s unprecedented good news!”
From the other side of the screen of the communications room, Joshua saw a rare happy expression on Pope Igor. In his memory, the old man who had labored for all life on Mycroft as long as he lived had always held a grim expression, and rarely smiled so sincerely as he did now. Indeed, he was stroking his beard so happily that he accidentally pulled one out, although he paid no mind to it while it dispersed as holy light. “A few days ago, during the daily Void patrolling, the Holy Mountain Warship had received an unexpected communication—we received a second distress signal from the Unified Archives!”
This time, even Joshua himself could not help raising his voice. “Can you ascertain the location? Your side should have been prepared, and could reduce the search area even if the coordinates could not be determined, right?”
“Of course. We have confirmed the quadrant of the signal!”
On the other side of the screen, there was emotion in the elderly pontiff’s expression. “Unlike what we inferred in the beginning, the source of the signal is located in a part of the Void Vortex. The light of the planets there are dim and were mostly dead worlds, which was why there were no subjects for focused study. Additionally, our search location is too far from that zone—we might not have found a single clue even now if we searched blindly!”
At first, Igor and Joshua had intended to give up on rescuing the Guardians of the Unified Archives since their ability was truly lacking. The Void was simply too vast, while manpower too scarce: searching the Void would hence be a grand undertaking that spans decades. To spend the world’s rare Void-class abilities to save those fated to died was truly insensible, completed incompatible with the advantage and disadvantages of a civilization. Naturally, they were reluctant to maintain absolute rationally, but they were simply baffled in the first place and know not how they should mount their operation. When they considered the difficulty in delivering information in the Void, their objective might already have perished and simply irredeemable.
But this time, having a general lock of the region meant that searching for that world was nothing difficult. As long as there was a clear objective and their survival was ascertained, they could attempt mounting a rescue.
“This signal had almost the exact content as last time,” Igor said. “It speaks of the inner circulation circle collapsing, and that they are hanging by a thread. But recently, shrouds of microscopic matter began to appear in the darkness of their location. They had only held on until now after collecting those matters, as well as send a second distress signal.”
The elderly pontiff then passed the information to Joshua, who nodded after sensing it for a moment. “Looks like they could still hold on for some time. The operation can begin.”
“We had given up because we can’t save them, but now that we’ve learned the general location, it’s not excessive to try.”
The elderly pontiff nodded, pleased. He had been brooding over their inability to rescue the Guardians of the Unified Archives, lamenting at his own weakness. Now that things had taken a turn for the better, he was certainly earnestly glad. “Of course, since they are our own kind.”
“Then I shall notify Israel and Nostradamus,” Joshua promptly came to a decision after brief thought. “I’ll head to the Multiverse Sacrificial Grounds later—it’s about time that the Imperial External Exploration Department carried out their first expedition…”
The warrior turned even as he spoke, his gaze piercing walls as he looked towards the restoration beams in the distant dustless laboratory, grinning enigmatically. “And it’s time to truly test the depth of my Creation as well.”