Translator: EndlessFantasy Translation Editor: EndlessFantasy Translation
Built upon a sturdy stone foundation at the edge of a narrow earthen rift, the exploration base was placed full of equipment. The five members of the expedition party were walking back and forth to the instrument or left the camp from time to time for extracting study samples.
Most of the equipment were actually built by the Alchemist using materials from that otherworld itself, with only certain precise core parts carried around by their team leader. It was a fortunate coincidence that World Zero One was rich with metals, which was why the party quickly built some apparatus to establish a makeshift laboratory.
“Eh? Mage, take a look—the mana concentration here isn’t quite right.”
At the moment, Alchemist, who had been monitoring the surrounding energy and elemental concentration gasped softly, before calling out to Mage. Rider, Clergy, and Priest who all happened to be nearby all turned towards the shifting meters as well.
“Hey, that’s not right!” Rider exclaimed loudly, taken aback. “How did it suddenly leap to thirty or more times above standard values? Isn’t your tool broken?”
“I think so too, that’s why I called Mage here to take a look.” Alchemist nodded calmly. “No need to panic, Mage and I will check if that’s the case.”
Soon, however, there was no need to examine their equipment for malfunction. Everyone present could sense the distinct, exponential rise of mana concentration at once as all elements were beginning to condense in the air. Rider, who did not understand magic at all was now actually able to see the radiances of the six great elements—those were the signs that veins of magical crystals were gathering, a phenomenon that left the expedition party bewildered briefly.
But soon, even that brief moment to be bewildered was gone—for as the skies rumbled over them, the Black Fog finally descended upon the land as if it was a dark rain.
A black line plummeted vertically down from the vacuum beyond the world, sinking into the dense metallic clouds and splitting incessantly along the way. Like an ink droplet falling into clear water, it pervaded all substances around it, and within instants, the Black Fog had consumed all metal clouds within dozens of kilometers, turning the grey-white metal particles into a dull, crystalline watery surface.
In the very next moment, the surface collapsed into endless cascading turbulences, surging toward the bottomless earthen rift. More than forty streams of Black Fog, moving from above the skies of World Zero One simultaneously dived into an equal number of earthen rifts, driving deep into the center of the world. However, as the Black Fog tunneled, the tectonic plates that had been shaking ceaselessly calmed instantly, while searing magma cavities ceased. The now serene lava lakes cooled, while the rifts that had been releasing substantial metal smoke and broiling steam were no longer active as if having died, and even before all that, the tremors and volcanic eruptions were all gone.
That orange-red sea of magma at the depths of the earth’s mantle could also be seen darkening, as if all vigor had been taken away… They can be sure that the Black Fog was rampantly absorbing all energies from the planet, using the earthen rifts as a pathway.
The planet was merely its resupply station.
And the Elite Party who were standing at the laboratory near one of the rifts were ‘blessed’ to witness it all.
Mage, who almost intended to continue with examining mana concentration watched in astonishment at the footage relayed from the depths of the rift. He and his companions were silenced as they saw firsthand how the Black Fog entered the inner reaches of the planet to absorb magma, fearful of catching its attention.
“What the hell is that thing…” Clergy murmured quietly, “diving inside the planet’s core, absorbing magma and self-replicating? And it’s at least Supreme Pinnacle?”
“No…” Priest swallowed as he watched the screen, staring as the Black Fog gulped magmas by the mouthful, cleanly devouring all energies from the rifts. “It’s Legend. We are encountering a Legendary otherworld being—what are you all standing around for? Run!”
Everyone in the laboratory hurried away at Priest’s command, and in seconds, all of them had taken the most vital data while abandoning any apparatus, since those things would never compare to the fact that they had stumbled upon a Legendary-tier otherworld being. Their most important task now was to distance themselves from the terrible being as much as they could and contact Mycroft for rescue.
In thirty seconds, all of them were onboard the off-road vehicle, and with Rider stamping the magical pedal, the car engine bellowed and instantly changed form, rising into the air.
Be that it may, it was only then that the Elite Party truly witnessed the terror wreaked upon World Zero One.
Rider’s hand began to shudder at the very sight, but he quickly reacted and grasped the steering wheel firmly. Still, the flying car abruptly turned an entire circle in the air, prompting everyone to cry out in surprise.
Still, Rider was not completely at fault since everyone else reacted more or less the same… After all, what they all saw would leave even Supreme champions unhinged.
—It was a black colored sky.
The gray-white metal clouds that blanketed the skies of World Zero One were now all gone, having completely turned into a smooth black substance that appeared to reflect energy ripples. The black vapor covered half the surface of the plant, absorbing all energy and heat it could from within, just as more than forty sucker-tubes like black needles were extended into various earthen rifts. Golden-red clumps of energy would flow from beneath the needlepoints up to the black vapors above, causing its dark form to glint in golden-red faintly as well.
The sight was so profound that it would escape the imagination of most. If a metaphor had to be made, it was a colossal insect that blotted out the sun, arching itself over a giant that was the world and absorbing its burning blood without restraint.
The Elite Party was simply helpless… What option was open to them? They could not do a thing, having encountered such a class of being in their very first expedition, and so they could only urge Rider to accelerate, to get away from the edge of the rift without catching its attention.
“We’re just insects, so just ignore us like a pebble…”
Alchemist was randomly making various hand gestures signifying different divine beings, praying to a deity that was anyone’s guess. Clergy, too, had closed his eyes, all while mumbling, “You can’t see me, you can’t see me, you can’t see me…”
Meanwhile, Priest did not have the luxury of ignoring reality: he was reviewing the map he and the others had made after exploring their environment while pointing directions for the madly pedaling Rider. Mage, too, helped by casting five agility spells on their off-road vehicle, so that they could better escape.
But it was all futile.
Boom —with a thundering crack, the black skies appeared to have finished feeding and withdrew its tentacles back into its body. Its gigantic bowl-shaped main body thus began to transform into a black sphere primly hanging on the skies, floating upon the land despite its radius that was more than fifty kilometers long, wreaking suffocating pressure upon the entire world.
Then, its next move scared the living daylights out of the Elite Party. The black sphere, which was so massive it was comparable to a city began to materialize a geometrical form below its body, ‘staring’ at the small car flying at two hundred kilometers per hour away from itself as if thinking… before forming a tentacle that ‘wafted’ towards its direction.
The very minds of the Elite Party froze in the second the black sphere ‘stared’ upon them. They could sense a horrifying yet profound being leveling their gaze upon them both physically and spiritually, dulling the entire world. All light and color were hence meaningless, and they would sink into that darkness until their wills were broken, their flesh melted and their very life dissipating into the Void.
That would certainly have been their fate if they were ordinary people, with all chance of salvation denied. Hence, it was fortunate that they were not ordinary humans—having gone through the personal instruction of a certain Liege, they had all the experience against such offensive aspects.
Thus, after a brief moment of sinking into oblivion, Priest awakened from the dark phantasm with his body drenched his cold sweat. Rider promptly got a handle on the car that he almost lost control of and crash, just as everyone else recovered at the same time. Still, before they could rejoice the resistance they developed through fortune and training, they saw that the tentacle throbbed ‘gently’ several thousand kilometers away.
Though it appeared ‘gentle’, the tentacle that the black sphere extended was almost a kilometer thick. It swept through the atmosphere, drawing a rumble and impact force that could flatten hills, actually splitting apart an entire mountain that had been in its way by its ridge, the cut turning into magma due to the searing friction.
At the very sight, the Elite Party knew at once that even Supreme champions would be crushed into powder by that blow at the speed of thought. What then, was those youths who were not even Gold-tier? As a result, the angrily-accelerating Rider lifted his foot off the pedal, just as Mage sighed and sprawled himself over his seat, albeit maintaining the shield cast over the car. Alchemist was holding up an Information Terminal and was leaving his will, while Clergy had taken out a photograph, his eyes closed as he mumbled to the person in it.
Priest was no better, the very first thought in his mind being ‘would it hurt when killed by a Legendary being with one stroke?’. However, at his moment of despair, the gray-haired man from the south noticed the photograph in Clergy’s hand.
It was the enchanted selfie of a young girl smiling happily, who might have been Clergy’s kin or girlfriend… However, it was that image that made Priest remember his own sister, his duty and the promise he made to her. More memories quickly followed, including that afternoon in Fort Ares, that ultimate move he learned from that certain noble person—or more precisely, barely learned.
“What the hell are all of you blanking out for? Are your deaths really sealed?!” Priest bellowed abruptly in the car, glaring at all of his teammates around him as they jolted awake from the deathly silence of despair. “Even if we die! We must fight until the very end! No matter how strong the foe, we have to act, even charge!”
“Have all of you forgotten who taught you all that! If you’re brave enough to act, you’d be spared the blushes in hell!”
Even before he was finished, the leader of the Elite Party had taken out five bottles of magical elixirs glinting in different radiances, gritting his teeth as he opened the injection compartment by his arm with no hesitation and administering each potion, one after another.
Glug, glug, glug —at once, the five advance magical potions Dragon Strength potion, burning potion, lightning potion, armor portion, and divine healing potion were injected into Priest’s body. Raging magical energy and the Holy Light brushed within the warrior’s body. Amidst the sounds of blood pumping, the transparent visor on Priest’s helmet turned a bright red just as the party leader took out a large translucent shield that resembled a crystal plate, positioning it in front of himself.
“Fuck. If our leader doesn’t want to live anymore, neither do I!”
“Death it is. I do wish to see if that otherworld monster’s offhanded blow could do anything to me after all!”
Courage stirred in the hearts of the other Elite Party members at the sight of Priest’s courageous move. Since it was death anyway, why not do their best and die heroically? With the sounds of syringe injections, the entire off-road vehicle accelerated by a notch while the outer barrier thickened beyond imagination, wrapping around many sacred Holy Light spells.
“Haha, that’s the spirit!” Priest shattered the glass behind the car’s backseat, feeling pride as he watched the others rally and place their lives on the line. He strode out and stood behind the vehicle, holding a huge translucent crystal shield forged by Joshua van Radcliffe in front of himself, his eyes and entire body cascading with wild white aura flames.
And before him, a mountainous tentacle that could tear the earth’s crust and continental frames apart was slowly descending.
“I’ll have you witness the ‘ultimate move’ my master taught me!”