Translator: EndlessFantasy Translation Editor: EndlessFantasy Translation
The black tentacle convulsed in the air, and swung down upon the expedition party with a force that could crush continents—even before it hit its target, the impact force and tidal momentum already caused tremendous shift across the entire continent.
Chaotic storms swept across the mountains and plains of World Zero One, breaking apart the layers of metal ore that accumulate over centuries. Huge clusters of dust rose from the ground, becoming new, broiling clouds as a long ravine appeared over the central continent even before the blow of the black sphere hit true.
If using a sledgehammer on a nut was already wasteful, to describe that the Black Fog’s effort was equal to killing a mosquito with an anti-aircraft cannon would be being kind since it was more akin to destroying a cockroach with a Star Destroyer. To kill a little team of unknown beings, the massive Black Fog had generously launched an offensive sufficient to destroy a medieval civilization, a single blow which would undoubtedly part the tectonic plates if it did strike the continent.
But in response, Priest merely raised the huge crystal shield in his hand. It was an advanced gravity shield, a high-level enchanted item worth 4000 points and one C-class exchange clearance available in the redemption center of the Imperial External Exploration Department. It could redirect impact force by forming a gravity field, thus withstanding most physical attacks. Even so, it was not an especially rare item—there was phase-shifting circle worth one B-class exchange clearance and 7500 exchange points, just as there was an A-class spatial barrier shield, which would place the wielder in an artificial space, avoiding all attacks.
The shield in Priest’s hand was different, however. Its materials were normal crystals, although Priest had imbued an iota of Joshua’s power into it. With Steel Strength alteration, the ordinary enchanted item had become an embodiment of the warrior’s Legacy.
In other words, absolute protection.
Back in Fort Ares, Priest had asked Joshua for knowledge to ‘protect’. He wished to keep safe the person he cherished and distant her from all danger and calamity, a wish the warrior happily granted. He placed information of his Legacy a bit of his Steel Strength and handed it to Priest, letting Priest learn that power by himself. Naturally understanding the warrior’s expectations, Priest therefore exchanged for the gravity shield which was a perfect fit for that Legacy, thereby imbuing it.
And what Joshua had given Priest was the Legacy of ‘gravity’. With the gravity shield as an anchor, he would eventually learn to control that natural force, diverting blows against him—while he improved, that simple gravity shield gradually became the sturdiest barrier in the world, a genuine dimensional barrier. If there was a day that Priest ascended to Legend on that path, the shield in his hand would become a wall between world and Void that even Evil Gods could not tear apart at once, an ‘absolute protection’ they would have to wear down in time.
Still, he was far from that level at the moment.
Against the Black Fog’s blow extended in passing, Priest did not hesitate to raise his shield. Using his aura that was converted to ‘gravity aura’ as an anchor, he activated the Steel Strength hosted within that shield.
A dazzling silver light burst out, and the translucent crystal shield instantly shattered into infinite crystal shards. Thus, an abundant, terrifying and irresistible power that lost its host exploded with all its might, and the result of its burst…
As the black tentacle crashed down on the continent, dimensions began to distort by margins visible to the naked eye. Standing against it were infinite crystal shards frozen where they were, throbbing at the heart of the crystal, but shrinking instead of expanding at every throb. Massive gravitational disturbance emanated at once, as if a profound solid body had connected itself there from across realms just as dimensional pits appeared—themselves resembling tentacles, they were wildly absorbing all substances around.
Meanwhile, the entire expedition party was shrouded in an unordinary light instead of being absorbed by those dimensional pits. The ground and mountains around them were not so fortunate, however. As if being caught by an invisible hand and ragged into the silver radiance that shrunk without stopping, in less than a single second, major portions of the metal mountains and land had their substance drawn away, while the rapidly expanding vortex-shaped dimensional distortion assumed form beneath the Black Fog’s tentacle, leaping up and crashing into that appendage.
Sensing an anomaly and a major threat, the Black Fog quickly adjusted its tentacle’s power output and form, but it was too late—it had completely lost that part of its body and control, and could only watch as the dimensional distortion kept rising like a meteor darting in the opposite direction. The river-like tentacle was hence broken with relative ease, drawn into the gravitational anomaly itself.
The so-called protection had withstood all power the enemy had unleashed, while the nova that emanated distorted gravity as if it was a bottomless abyss had devoured the entire continental-shattering power of the tentacle into its body. Nonetheless, as that abyss limit to devour was reached and it arrived at the highest point in the sky, it quickly self-destructed in an incomparable detonation!
A speck brighter than a star hence appeared in the dark reaches of the universe. Infinite substance sucked into that gravitational vortex that was yet to be converted were being wildly ejected into the opposite direction, and amidst a shockwave that trembled half a planet, a circular nebula shroud unfurled over the skies of World Zero One. Within it were infinite energies, dust, blinding light, and heat, temporary illuminating the world which had lost its sun.
And on the other side, the Black Fog which had lost a tentacle hurriedly escape into the darkness of the universe, for a genuine fear had arisen after that attack which mysteriously appeared.
As a cluster of microscopic runic constructs, the Black Fog was nigh indestructible and eternal. Nothing could kill it apart from offensive methods of a microscopic scale, and yet that dimensional distortion had easily cut off the connection to part of its body, destroying it as the most fundamental of particles, even the purest of energies. There was no ‘indestructible’ or ‘eternity’ against such an offensive—even eternal existences of old would be devastated If struck.
How remarkably similar such circumstances was to the Black Fog itself.
But before the Black Fog fled, it appeared to have paused a moment in the ‘rainbow of the dark’, before vanishing into the vast darkness, nowhere to be found.
Meanwhile, the entire expedition party and their flying car had crashed down on the surface distractedly.
The sturdy vehicle drew a huge trail out of the ground with a sharp metallic scraping noise, before stopping on a pile of metal dust. The bottom half of the car body was completely damaged from sheer friction, its adamantite body hardly durable against such extensive torment.
Still, not all of the passengers were lost. Before the impact, everyone had prepared accordingly, employing magic, aura, Holy Light, even alchemical adhesive to hold themselves to their seat, and cast a barrier to block the blow.
Those series of moves had certainly saved their lives, but that did not mean they were untroubled. As Priest stirred, he realized that his hands that held the shield had completely vanished with his enchanted armor—it was fortunate that the Silver-tier warrior’s stalwart body instinctive contracted his muscles to stop the bleeding, or he would have died from blood loss when he had been unconscious.
Before Priest felt delight that his determined actions successfully blocked the Legendary otherworld being’s blow and protected himself along with his team, he looked around to find that the current situation was bad, in the genuine sense of that word.
Because their entire team was now heavily injured and almost immobile.
At the very front, Rider was most heavily concussed, and lay sprawled on the gasbag which was slowly leaking. There was no trace of life in him, just as Clergy’s skull had been shattered on impact. If there had not been signs of Holy Light flowing on his body, making it evident that he was relying on his supreme spirit to barely maintain his self-awareness, anyone would have thought that he was truly dead.
Mage, who had been maintaining a barrier, was a little conscious, but he was now vomiting clear red blood by the mouthfuls. It was clearly because of the feedback caused by the collapse of the magical barrier, which left his internal organs heavily injured. As for Priest himself and Alchemist who were both at the back row, the former’s sturdy physique had limited the impact force and kept him from critical injury, while the latter, having undergone multiple physical alterations using parts of magical creatures, remained fine since he was essentially inhuman.
Thick black smoke rose from the bottom of the off-road vehicle. The totaled magical engine was completely devastated, although there was no need to worry about it exploding. Then, before Priest could tell him, Alchemist had risen and hurried to check on the two others at the front row.
” Cough —how are those two?” Priest, focusing and using aura to seal the sense of pain by his injured hands, gritted his teeth. “Still alive?”
Alchemist whispered, his expression turning into one of indescribable sadness after checking the Rider’s heartbeat and brain process. “Clergy is alive—but dying. In truth, he died minutes before Rider, but held on thanks to the sacred spell ‘Final Will’.”
The five members of the expedition party had trained together for more than a year. They had survived on barren islands, undergoing inhumane, hellish training in different hazardous environments and yet completed all practical missions. While their bond appeared plain, every single one of them would entrust their backs to each other, just like how Priest could stir the entire party to not hesitate fight to the death alongside him with just one line.
Meanwhile, although Alchemist’s voice was grim, he did not remain beside his perished companions and hurried instead to Mage, who was still alive and at the center row of the car. He plucked out a few healing potions as fast as he could and injected them into Mage’s body, and the timely supply of vigor brought sanguine to Mage’s pale face. No longer in danger of dying at any moment, Mage’s eyes rolled back into his skull and he entered a relaxed coma.
If Mage had not cast the final anti-impact barrier, even if Priest had evoked Legacy power to block the Black Fog tentacle’s blow, the high-speed crash of the car into the ground would have killed everyone. To a certain extent, Mage had saved everyone as well.
Afterward, as Alchemist appeared intent on going to the back row to treat his captain’s terrible wounds, Priest suddenly remembered something, and shook his head strongly, refusing help. “Stop wasting time,” he said with a low voice. “Did you forget that the Restoration Beam has a ‘Soul Pool Sphere?’ Quick, use it!”
Alchemist, having taken out a tube of green healing potion and administer it to Priest paused, lost for the moment. His face erupted into the delight of grasping the last straw, and quickly took out the few silver-based red black spheres from the storage compartment on the back of his enchanted armor, before hurrying to Rider and activated the simplistically designed ‘Soul Pool Sphere’ with his own mana.
The metallic spheres, marked with a ϕ symbol turned translucent at once. Veins of light then appeared around Rider’s body, forming a translucent human-shaped shroud that entered the Soul Pool Sphere as if it was being summoned. When the shroud had completely seeped into the sphere, the Soul Pool Sphere reverted to its original appearance of a metallic ball, though its silver base hue was accompanied with a bloody crimson.
It was then that Clergy breathed his last as well. Alchemist hence quickly activated another Soul Pool sphere, and the metallic ball converted the radiance into solid too—in other words, absorbing the visible soul into its body, although the base hue of the conversion this time was a pale gold.
Having completely recovered his companions’ soul, Alchemist went to Priest, his hands still shuddering. He now had no strength to even speak, only able to gesture with his head at the silver cylinder that was the Restoration beam. Fortunately, Alchemist himself had a better physique than both Mage and Clergy, with no serious harm getting to his transplanted magical beast organs. Therefore, he could still lift the ton-heavy cylinder—his grip may slip otherwise, and there would be another injured personnel in the expedition party.
“Wisdom unquenchable, Order eternal!”
Alchemist looked nervously around before yelling the password and put the Restoration Beam on a flat surface, while Priest remained in his seat and patiently waited for it to complete its countdown. The waiting duration of three minutes which should have been the blink of an eye seemed to drag on forever then, even as the remaining duo of the exploration party who remained conscious observed their own surroundings vigilantly, praying that no enemies would appear.
Nevertheless, there was one scholarly theorem: in the damned Multiverse, whatever can go wrong, will go wrong regardless how wretched it would be.
With the buzz of cascading electromagnetism, Priest and Alchemist noticed indistinct sounds echoing from all directions. Soon, countless unusually shaped mechanical forms that were seemingly pieced out of multiple geometrical shapes appeared before them.
Those were semi-automated machines created even as the Black Fog fled to monitor the dangerous planet. And now, they came across their target of highest priority: the expedition party.
One of the weird machines hissed sharply, and shot a probing beam at the two survivors who maintained expressions of unswerving determination—in the very next instant, the countless machines were hence guided by the beam and surged towards Priest and Alchemist.
Millions of bizarrely shaped machines hence charged at the expedition’s crash location like a silver-grey tide of metals, encircling them and cutting off any chance of escape. Priest and the others would be intercepted no matter how they tried to evade.
“Looks like we’re not getting out of this fight.”
Priest forced himself to stand up. While he did lose both arms, he still had both feet, and hence could kick instead of punch. Even if his feet were lost and was left with his skull and teeth, the man would never give up, and he flashed a cold smile at the inferior machine smile, or more precisely, the Black Fog’s primitive descendants. “All in. Hold nothing back, just like we did against the Black Fog.”
However, beside him, Alchemist simply said quietly, “Leader, take Mage and run. I’ll hold them off.”
At those words, he took out several bottles of differently colored potions but which magical energy cascaded to the extreme. Without pause, Alchemist tore off his translucent visor and stuffed all of the potion—along with the tube containers—into his own mouth and crushed them with his teeth. Be that as it may, the glass could not scratch the sturdy oral cavity of that Extraordinary individual and was simply swallowed Alchemist’s stomach along with the magical potions that were fusing and reacting.
The potions were useless to Priest and the others, but it was essentially a catalyst that could unleash the transplanted magical beast organs inside Alchemist’s body on full capacity, granting him power beyond his own level. Even so, the price was that his physique would be completely converted and devoured by those organs, while his soul would be crushed in the turbulent flow of magical energy, ending up a humanoid beast with no coherent thought.
It was his trump card, the greatest sacrifice he could offer.
Before them, the endless machines poured forward, spreading themselves across the vast plains in a brief few minutes.
At the same time, in the dark depths of the Universe beyond the skies of World Zero One, another vigilant and icy will was watching every member of the expedition party. It was not sure what that burst of terrible power had been and completely pulverized its tentacle that should have been indestructible, which was why it was willing to lurk in the depths of darkness, awaiting the opportune moment.
And yet, it was under such a hopeless situation, even before the three-minute activation period had completely counted down that the silver cylinder which had been slowly unlocking itself suddenly shot into the air. It thus rapidly awakened in the sky, and though it would cause irreversible damage to its composition, it disregarded it all and accelerated its activation, and discharged a voice that left both Priest and Alchemist in shock.
“Internal system of Restoration Beam self-activating, executing emergency verification… Checking for vitals sings of expedition members: two dead, soul preservation complete—verification cleared. ‘Extreme’ threat level confirmed, executing emergency protection command.”
“Substance devouring system online, unlimited self-replication permitted, gravity armaments unlocked, mounting star core—”
As the emotionless voice echoed in the air, the silver beam which had mostly self-collapsed following its self-activation had reverted to its original form as if time had rewind. In the very next moment, it split into thousands of narrow beams that shot into the numberless geometrical-shaped machines. Alchemist, who had been prepared to leap into the fray even as his mind turned murky abruptly felt a heavy punch to his stomach. An invisible power that swept across his entire body, suppressing the stimulated magical beast organs and reverting them, just as the man himself cried out and vomited the mix of potions he just stuffed inside himself.
Then, with a roar similar to a tidal wave, every machine in front of Priest and Alchemist were instantly eroded by silver radiance, with the ground they stood upon not being spared as well. Everything appeared to have lost all mass and floated in a jumbled mess, and transformed after a few seconds into a mountainous silver hand.
“Searching for hostile targets… target acquired.”
The cold voice resounded in the atmosphere, just as the gigantic hand clenched into a fist, aiming at the Black Fog which was hidden in the vacuum of space. As it froze in ‘shock’, the emotionless machine voice promptly changed into the deep, cold voice of a certain man.