Translator: EndlessFantasy Translation Editor: EndlessFantasy Translation
On a ridge of the yet unnamed World Zero One, Priest had carefully placed the transceiver into the rucksack behind his armor after completing his report.
“There’s no need for such haste, leader.” Alchemist could not help giggling leisurely, having watch as Priest made his report grimly and carefully while holding the transceiver as if it was a chicken egg. “Haven’t we tested that thing’s durability before? That thing could actually take Rider’s full-powered blow.”
“Fool! Leaving aside the fact that there are many stronger beings than rider, the transceiver is our only link to the motherworld!” Priest retorted angrily at his teammates’ lackadaisical attitude. “If this ‘thing’ is damaged, we wouldn’t be able to call for help if anything unexpected happens. Leaving that aside, is the antacid potion brewed?”
Priest turned towards Mage and the others who were using different ways to observe their environment, gesturing that his report was over and they could assemble for the next move. In response, Alchemist masterfully drew five crystal bottles that contained green potions, passing one of them to Priest.
“It’s lucky I exchanged some Hydra’s heart sometime ago. Not only am I resistant against such acidic environments, it also makes brewing potions of similar attributes twice faster.”
“Still, it’s best to keep organs transplanting of magical beasts at a minimum.”
Priest nodded while taking the green potion, just as a pure-white luminous flame shone in his hand. It was the light of aura burning along the outer layer of his Enchanted Armor, clearing all heavy metals and acid present in the air, forming a pure environment at Priest’s palm.
And in the very next moment, as a shield plate bounced open, a pinhead grove appeared by the spaulders wherein Priest inserted the crystal bottle impassively. The amount pale-green liquid hence decreased visibly while a fluorescent green light filled his body, forming a repulsive force that repelled all acid around him.
Most potions in Mycroft had been orally administered, providing magical effect through the digestive system. However, leaving aside the low effectiveness and extended duration for it to take effect, as technology progressed, all External Exploration members could now inject their own bodies with potions. Apart from its greater efficiency, they did not have to open their moves to use it under inhospitable conditions.
Naturally, if the world they went to was too hostile that potions would boil or freeze once they were taken out, injecting it was pointless, leaving them helpless.
Still, the conditions of World Zero One—the world where Priest and the others had arrived at was not too inhospitable, although it assuredly was no place to live.
Priest watched as his party gathered and took potions off Alchemists’ hands and injecting themselves, before looking up to the gray-white metal snow wafting in the skies, as well as the dense acidic shroud. “It’s as if someone has cast an acid shroud spell that engulfed the world,” he murmured, shaking his head. “Along with dozens of Supreme-tier ‘Volcanic Burst’.”
Due to the searing heat radiating directly radiating across its surface, the ground of World Zero One was hotter than four hundred degrees, and was accompanied by strong, inorganic acids that compound with heavy metals shrouds and rose into the skies. Furthermore, in the absence of the sun, those heated acidic metal shroud would cool around a thousand meters in the air, turning into snow and land on the surface, a process of heating and cooling that saw a deviation of around five hundred degrees.
“That’s why different worlds are so wonderful,” Mage, who had just injected himself with the potion exclaimed in awe. “That’s why I decided not to study at the Skypiercing White Tower and joined the External Exploration Department instead. There’s no loss even in witnessing such extreme world environments just once!”
“It may not be a loss for you, but the Empire certainly profited massively. Now get in the car.”
Without waiting for Mage to keep delving in his own rider, Rider had prepared his equipment on a flatter part of the ridge: a four-wheeled off-road vehicle with seemingly fragile design, but which joints were actually crafted from adamantite. He called for Priest and Mage, and everyone hence got into the transportation designed especially for travel in otherworlds.
There were three rows on the car. Rider, the driver sat alongside Clergy on the front row, the latter of whom was using Holy Light to illuminate the way. Mage was sitting in the middle row and holding up a shield, while Priest and Alchemist sat on the back row, using probes to survey their surroundings.
Having checked that everyone has got on, the burly Rider made a ‘I-wanted-to-do-this-long-ago’ expression and stepped on the magical pedal forcefully. The car’s four wheels that had stood vertically abruptly shifted, its disc shifting beneath the car to form rotary blades!
Wroom! As a rapid but faint humming sound echoed, the ‘off-road vehicle’ hence rose into the air amidst forceful wind force and mana ejection!
“Drivers who don’t fly their cars aren’t good riders!” The rider, who never once touched a horse in his life laughed heartily, and drove the flying car that was now almost ten meters in the air forward. From the skies, one could see them as an oval-shaped speck of light, covered in a magical barrier that streaked in a straight line towards the edge of the otherworld mountain chain.
“Don’t forget our mission! Our objective this time is to search for the whereabouts of the Unified Archives!”
At the back row, Priest called out to Rider who was now on full otherworld joyride mode, hurriedly warning him. “We just want to head for parts with calmer geological shift to collect mana radiation. Don’t go crazy!”
“Relax. Just a little excited—it’s rare for us to get an actual mission after all.”
And that was the truth. Although Rider was speeding wildly, they were indeed heading for a region with fewer volcanoes and rifts as Priest and the others had instructed. Soon, after dashing forward for one and a half hour and the flying car’s energy reserves was almost depleted, they left the mountain range by a distance of two hundred kilometers, arriving at calmer metallic flatlands.
There were no volcanos erupting around them, which in turn was why there were no metal clouds covering the skies. After ensuring that there was no danger, the party alighted and began to set up some of their more important expedition tools, and commenced collecting data of all mana signatures in a wide area around them.
The process of collecting and filtering collected data for valuable information was dull and uninteresting, and it soon a few hours had passed. Even so, having trained for that countless times, the Elite Party did not find it laborious. Then, Mage, having assembled substantial data of mana radiation, carried a cluster of mana which contained substantial information and frowned as he went to Priest. “Leader, we found now unusual mana radiation on the surface… apart from the spikes of energies from volcanic eruptions and subterranean magma, this world only shows some wind and earth elemental signatures, found inside the heavy-metal acid shroud cycles.”
“Nothing on the ground? Does that mean there is something in the skies?”
Priest understood his teammate’s hidden meaning at once, and Mage nodded in response, his brow tightened and his expression solemn. “That’s definitive…. There’s neither star nor sun in this world, which is why there is no static noise of magical energy. That is why the unusual radiation in the skies is especially obvious.”
There was no need for Mage to continue at that. Everyone else understood him, as all five members of the Elite Party looked up silently at once toward the ‘Rainbow in the Dark’ that had risen and descended in the skies.
“I say… could it be that the rainbow is the ‘Archives’ the Count and the others are looking for?”
The Rider quickly murmured what the whole party was thinking, to which Priest nodded. “It’s likely… Let’s use elevated surveillance.”
That was the only way since their objective was not on the ground. After choosing for a while, the team picked a flat metal surface, and began to take out various spare parts to construct a rather bizarrely shaped enchanted machinery.
Still, ‘bizarrely shaped’ would be a perspective of any person from Mycroft—any Earthlings who came across the sight would realize at once that Priest and the others were building a pocket-sized rocket! However, that rocket was not built using scientific technology. Instead, its surface was filled with sacred Holy Light runes inscription, and was, in other words, a Holy Light rocket.
Its mechanism, which uses Holy Light as propulsion for the small rocket that observes elevated altitudes, was the best choice Joshua found after experimenting multiple times. While Holy Light was not necessarily as dynamic as aura or as formable as mana, it was more durable than the aura and more stable than mana. Therefore, Holy Light was much more suitable in an otherworld where conditions were different, although that was also precisely why there would be no special effects.
A dozen minutes later, following a glaring sacred radiance, the Holy Light rocket which carried a high-altitude probe rose streaked into the skies, leaving an incandescent beam behind it. Parts of the rocket was breaking off visibly, just as the probe at its tip was sent high above.
When he felt that it was almost time, Priest resolutely linked signals as the controller, and a static image showed up on the monitors. The four other members of the party held their breath as they stood and watched behind Priest, waiting for the findings from the probe.
But the results left them puzzled.
“Why is it still all dark?” Priest could not help murmuring as the screen kept flickering in static even as it showed nothing other than darkness. “That’s already ten thousand meters above—and rising, why hasn’t it reached that rainbow?”
“That’s right, and that rainbow never changed in size at all.” Mage whispered in slight disbelief. “The high-altitude probe is now already twenty thousand meters above—gravity here is lower, granting it quicker motion. And yet, there was no change in the size of the rainbow.
That means,” Mage added, shaking his head, “the distance to our objective is far further than we imagined.”
Priest did not join in his teammates’ discussion that was gradually heating up, but simply stared at the various feedback and data displayed onscreen. The high-altitude probe was now almost thirty thousand meters in the air, something which should have been impossible: following Mycroft’s standard motion forces, the probes’ momentum would have diminished when it reached ten thousand meters, therein captured by gravity around and fall.
But now… with the dark rainbow in their heads, the high-altitude probe had abruptly shaken off gravity, entering a weightless state as it flew directly to that circular, glinting rainbow!
Priest had entered several commands to recall the probe, but it was ineffective because the distance was too far, and the probe having no momentum at all. He could only watch as the lens of the probe began to blur, and leveled his gaze at his teammates. “At least the probe still works.” He sighed, self-deprecatingly. “Maybe it would approach the rainbow in a few days?”
In the end, the little setback was nothing too critical. Priest and the others were mentally prepared to lose the probe since they were in another world—there was nothing unusual whatever happens.
But just as the Elite Party prepared to set up camp at the metal flatlands, before exploring World Zero One further and collecting more data, something unusual appeared in the lens of the high-altitude probe that had been flying toward the depths of the dark sky.
In the lightless shade, the darkness within darkness, an obscure, dreamlike ‘Black Fog’ darted past the front of the lens… It appeared intent to approach that rainbow as well, but appeared to worry about something and hence never approached it.
But none of them noticed that.
Meanwhile, in the world of Karlis.
The man and serpent duo of Joshua and Karlis were still excitedly watching the screen for an entire night, even as the entire Silver Fairy tribe fell asleep.
“A barren world is a barren world—there’s nothing to be found.”
Joshua was holding another display, recording all expedition findings of every exploration team. Worlds Zero Two, Three, Five, Six and Eight were all completely barren worlds with nothing of value, and were each marked with a red cross. Only worlds Zero One, Three and Seven were marked with a red circle.
‘Apart from Worlds Zero One and Three that may hold clues to the Unified Archives, only the Aquatic World, World Zero Seven is worth mentioning…” Joshua mumbled, studying the data of those three worlds. “That realm which is completely formed from oceans has no lithosphere formed from metals or stone, a true aquatic world.”
That was the perfect opposite of Kronos, homeworld of Lisa the Drakonid girl. Joshua thought that there was potential in that world, and he could consider establishing a temporary portal so that those two worlds could exchange resources.
There was naturally nothing much to elaborate upon the world rich with metals either. It would be a great base for mining, although there was no telling yet whether the minerals were valuable or if it was worth linking it with a permanent portal. Still, the other worlds were simply barren, although the ice world was worth mentioned… since it could be used as an air conditioning vault. Worlds falling to absolute frost? It was very difficult to find such a colossal refrigerator after all.
“That oceanic world is quite similar to the ‘marine abyss’ Mycroft had been connected to back then, the mother world of those demonic sea-abyss dragons.”
Karlis was nodding slightly as it read the information about the aquatic world. “However, the destruction of the marine abyss had been confirmed, while this world is clearly recovering, even birthing basic lifeforms. Perhaps the impact back then was not too great, and it is calming.”
“Indeed. Black would like it—dragons would move freely even in an aquatic world.”
Joshua, who was paying it no heed at first, promptly nodded after some thought. “We could go to play there if the opportunity arises… that world is quite interesting.
Ultimately, even he could not create something out of nothing and materialize various substance or raw materials out of thin air. Joshua himself required the raw elements ignite the Nuclear Heart, and it would be bad for the environment if he kept heading to the Lost Sea to absorb water. On the other hand, drawing water from an aquatic world that was all oceans would be no issue.
Those worlds that were rich with minerals would be useful as well, allowing easier replenishment of metallic elements… Just as Joshua considered resource resupplying in days to come, one of the eight screens in front of him changed as well. That promptly cut the warrior’s thoughts short, and he looked up at that particular screen.
“It’s World Zero Three.”
Joshua could not help straightening up when he saw the assigned number of the world, and carefully read the records transmitted from the screens—in the end, it was a world where the Archives might be present in, and he must investigate it carefully.
But what he saw was simply the analysis of local special metal particles, transmitted from the expedition party to World Zero Three. That may be of value to the Empire or even the world of Mycroft, but it was not for Joshua who only required raw materials. Still, out of fundamental responsibility, Joshua seriously read through the report… and froze.
“What is it, Joshua?”
Karlis, who had been observing as the unlucky expedition struggled to survive in the icy realm of World Zero Five, noticed that Joshua was suddenly not responding to it. As it turned to the warrior in curiosity, Joshua had abruptly risen from his chair, holding the report in his left hand while spreading his right palm, upon which Steel Strength stirred. He was observing material restoration on a microscopic view according to data transmitted from the expedition team of World Zero Three.
“It’s too similar!” Joshua muttered quietly, staring at the report in front of him. “It’s near identical—although it can’t be confirmed yet, these data aren’t detailed enough!”
The object on Joshua’s right palm had mostly materialized. Those were sparse dust-like particles, but Karlis simply could not make out what it was—the Steel Python was only certain that it was not a substance that formed naturally in worlds.
It was then that Joshua closed his eyes. Silver-gray radiance hence began to flow over his skin as he directed Steel Strength on full capacity, directly resonating with the Restoration Beam inside the parcel of the expedition team located at World Zero Three in the Dark Domain, transcending a near endless distance across the Multiverse!
World Zero Three, the Dark Domain.
The Third Expedition Party was in their off-road vehicle as it sped across the desert formed completely from metal particles. They were collecting information about their environment, as well as looking for a sturdier, flatter stone surface to set up camp.
However, as a silver brilliance flashed, the leader of the Third Party exclaimed in surprise—the armor compartment behind his Enchanted Armor had suddenly burst open, after of which a silver beam as well as himself shot out of the armor and fell heavily on the ground. The car that had been speeding at full speed quickly turned back, prepared to recover the expedition tool as well as their own leader.
It was then that all of them noticed what happened—the Restoration Beam that they complained about being ‘too heavy’ had opened by itself, and was standing vertically metal desert.
“What’s going on? The Restoration Beam opened by itself?”
The leader of the Third Party rose groggily from the metallic sand with help from his team’s Mage. He looked up and studied the Restoration Beam, and grumbled bewilderedly, “Could we have taken a defective one? That really scared me—I thought that something actually ambushed me.”
“It’s a prototype in the first place,” Mage added, “won’t it be normal to have a little accident? Back in my home, the gnome alchemist would cause an explosion each time he made new inventions. You have to see to believe that accidents come hand-in-hand with prototypes—you’ll get used to it.”
“Gnomish products, huh? Shocking… but I am aware of that. This, on the other hand…. Is just a Moldavian product.”
Then, seeing that the other party members had alighted and gathered at the position of the Restoration Beam, the team leader sighed. “This place works. I’m guessing we’re still some distance away from the edge of the metal desert, but let’s camp here.”
In truth, when their party had sent out their second high-altitude probe, everyone realized that the metal desert might not have been the remains of some broken, advance magical creation… because it was simply too huge. A vast region of twenty thousand square kilometers was all covered in the metal desert, the amount of which prompted everyone to assume that the probe was broken.
However, that instrument was not damaged, and what they saw was simply the truth—the metal desert was simply so vast. If that desert really had been the remains of some magical creation, it would a least have been dozens of thousand meters tall, the size of an Imperial province.
Soon, the Third Party had made camp around the Restoration Beam that had activated on its own while studying what had happened to the Beam itself… Naturally, none of them found any defect, and could only lament their bad luck, encountering an unfortunate circumstance that may not even have happened in a ten thousand to one chance.
Meanwhile, on the world of Karlis.
Joshua, who had activated the Restoration Beam and directly used it to consume a small layer of metal particles for analysis inside his body widened his eyes. “No, that is definitely the remains of an advanced magical creation,” he said softly, answering the Third Party’s doubts over endless Void distances. “And it isn’t disintegrated out of some colossal object. Instead, those particles are the assembly of endless smaller objects, forming a bigger piece of waste particles!”
The warrior’s tone was affirmative. He lifted his right palm to study the otherworld substance upon it which was being swiftly analyzed. Those large layers of dust were visibly rising into the air under the influence of powerful electromagnetism, turning into a huge cluster of obscure Black Fog, wafting beside Joshua and forming a vague gaseous armor!
“These are the ‘remains’ of the Black Fog!”
At those words, the warrior clenched his right fist. The Black Fog all hence returned to his arm, condensing into millions of minuscule power and particles, their form transforming to the metal particles of World Zero Three as Joshua accelerated time!
Indeed, the true form of that desert of metal particles which occupied dozen thousands of square kilometers was the remains of abandoned Black Fog!
Beside him, Karlis simply did not understand why the warrior was being so grim. Still, it could tell that Joshua was considering a serious issue, and hence curled up on one side, watching as the warrior gravely browsed through the report transmitted from World Zero Three once again.
“High-altitude observation from more than ten thousand meters above saw over twenty thousand square kilometers covered in metal desert. They could not even observe the depth of the desert, which mean it was at least eight hundred meters deep.”
At minimum, twenty thousand square kilometers and eight hundred meters thick of metal particles meant over a hundred billion tons in mass! The weight of his current true form was nothing in comparison, and the remains of the Black Fog accumulating there could prove to be more instead of lesser!
With a somber gaze, Joshua looked up at the screen of World Zero Three and muttered to himself. “If that’s the case, the magical energy that was eleven times that of normal worlds was explainable—the Black Fog carries substantial mana in itself, and if several of the Black Fog clusters which absorbed energies from different Void Vortices met their end in that world, it was not unusual at all for it to rise a dozen times above!”
“But the question remains. How were they damaged?”
Joshua simply could not find the solution to that particular conundrum. Back in the world of Kronos, the Black Fog was only destroyed with the combined might of the Ancient Dragon, Barnil, William, and himself. While the warrior might best the Fog in a one-on-one encounter, he was not at the level where he could destroy it.
Why would the Black Fog, the greatest creation of the Shelter civilization which actually defended Shelter Alpha from the Evil Gods, fall in such an insignificant world within the Dark Domain? How dangerous was that world if it could destroy an advanced magical armament comparable to Legends, as if it was weeding?
At that moment, Joshua quickly decided to recall the expedition party on World Zero Three. Putting thoughts to action at once, he focused and created a transceiver in his hand, contacting the Grancypher which was positioned in the Void to request that Imperial officials cut short the Third Party’s mission at once.
At the same time.
In World Zero One, the lens of the high-altitude probe released by the Elite Party was flying rapidly towards the depths of the dark sky.
The rainbow that encircled the darkness was flashing deep within the lightless sky, surrounding the darkness which true form was unobservable and had extinguished all light. It swirled swiftly, bobbing and unleashing circles of profound ripples invisible to the naked human eye, as if dancing amidst the Void.
It was a ‘dance’ that trembled the skies, the land, and the stars.