Translator: EndlessFantasy Translation Editor: EndlessFantasy Translation
Starfall Year 838, the ninth of November. Three minutes to seven in the evening, Mycroft Northern Standard Time.
Cold winds that quietly howled swept across the frozen lands of World Zero One, kicking up dark-gray metal dust and turning into an icy tide that was a hundred and twelve degrees below, engulfing the surface of the shattered planet.
It was the most hostile of hostile environments. In this icy hell, air or even fire dragons born in magma would freeze, every trace of warmth having been sapped from the lightlessness.
Even so, it was upon that lightless and cold planetary surface that three men strolled ahead amidst the tempest. They stepped over layers of ice that was harder than steel, and stood upon a ten-thousand-meter peak that formed due to lithosphere movement.
Joshua and Saint Igor stood upon the highest peak of the planet and looked down upon the devastated world. The great gorge split widely upon the surface, the planetary crust which had been exposed to external atmosphere as well as various signs remained evident of a terrible battle waged upon that world—even the peak beneath the men’s feet was formed by frightening gravity as the warrior entered his neutron-star combat form.
Walking behind the two men was a young man in bloated and heavy protective clothes: Priest, the leader of the Elite party. The youth had a hard time following his instructor and struggled not to fall, and when he stood upon the same peak as well, Joshua and Igor were no longer watching the land below, but had looked up instead at the dark rainbow in the skies.
It was half a year after the battle against the main body of the Black Fog. As time passed, even the unusual energy ripples originating from the planet core of World Zero One cooled rapidly—once ejecting broiling metallic shrouds, the planet was now a cold wasteland and longer what it was.
The expedition here had been success, however. Apart from the first team’s unfortunate encounter with the Black Fog which saw the deaths of two members, none of the others faced danger or died from their own mistakes, while both Rider and Clergy were resurrected in perfect condition thanks to their soul having been completely preserved in the Soul Pool Sphere and Joshua’s own work.
There was naturally a price with resurrection. Any team member who died from their own mistakes would have their expedition license stripped away and dismissed from the Imperial External Exploration Department. The case here meanwhile was that the First Party had bad luck in encounter an unstoppable calamity like the Black Fog, which was why Joshua did not sanction them in manner, and simply got them to retrain and adapt to their new bodies.
Now, Rider had taken a mission to swim one lap across the Aquatic World, while Clergy would be establishing fourteen exploration points on the Frozen world to collect data. While both missions appeared difficult, it was great training for Extraordinary individuals—Joshua believed that they would Ascend to Gold after experiencing death.
As for Priest, the party leader had taken the initiative and requested to follow Joshua for training on World Zero One. Through Joshua’s Steel Strength legacy, he had managed to cast and overwhelming defense against the Black Fog, in turn experiencing a profound moment in gravity manipulation as death flashed before him. Later, after Joshua had instructed him more exhaustively, Priest managed to grasp the key between gravity and dimension, which was why he was here in the worlds with a shattered core and abnormal gravity—to train.
“The seal that the gods had enforced is very strong. There’s no signs of any slipup.”
Up on the peak, the Holy Light in the gaze of the elderly pontiff leveled at the skies gradually vanished, his eyes reverting to normal eyeballs. Lowering his head, he sighed. “This operation, however, had been too difficult—it took a great toll even on the gods.”
After reinforcing the multidimensional seal upon the main body of the Black Fog, the nine gods once again returned to their temples or sacred domains for an extended recuperation, delegating the maintenance of that formation to the Seven Gods Church and the various factions.
Meanwhile, all ordinary citizens on Mycroft were simply unaware of the great battle. They lived their lives that were ever comfortable, and the most noteworthy happening was that the dwarven merchant guilds and nobles who had mines in their domain were troubled by the decreasing prices of metals. Excavations had begun on the alloy mines of World Zero Three, and the surge of the low-cost raw materials into the market had undoubtedly dealt a blow to the once-steady market for metals.
However, those were miscellaneous frivolities. Whether it was Israel’s intentions to confer Dimore the title of Crown Prince that sent shockwaves in the Imperial hierarchy, or West Mountain’s Grand Duke Romain allying with subterranean races following his coronation to wage war against the surrounding kingdoms, everything was vapors beneath sunlight, dissipating instantly before the news that really mattered: the whereabouts of the Unified Archives.
As the gods opened a portal to transfer the chunks of main body of the Black Fog’s colossal mass to the event horizon on World Zero One’s blackhole, they unexpectedly, or perhaps inevitably discovered the dimensional signal from the Unified Archives. Several Legends led by Nostradamus and the gods hence worked together, and successfully ‘pulled’ the Archives out from the accretion disk of the blackhole.
When Joshua had first arrived at World Zero One and saw the blackhole, he had already noticed signs that the Archives was present through gravity waves. However, in his hurry to protect the members of the Elite Party and to summon other Legends to come as soon as possible to destroy the Black Fog and its main body, he did not have the time to study it carefully.
However, it was only after the main body of the Black Fog had been sealed that everyone finally had the time to rescue the Archives that had fell into the accretion disk of the blackhole for a thousand years, just as the Guardians’ surroundings had verified the Pope and Joshua’s suspicions: The Archives clearly mossed the most advanced dimensional transmitter from the Glorious Era, so why could they only send a few distorted signals and was being dependent by luck? There would have been some faint starlight even in the Dark Domain as well, so why all that they could see was only darkness?
The answer was simple: They were right beside a blackhole, which made it difficult for any signals to be sent out and naturally, no light would be in sight. As for the particles they obtained some time before, those were probably remains of the Black Fog.
The rescue of the Archives was an important event for all Mycroft civilization. However, when the factions opened the gates to the Archives and prepared for a reunion with their compatriots separated since a thousand years ago, everyone found in shock that the Guardians had lost ordinary living forms. They were now feeble humanoid creatures, insensitive to light, unable to eat solid food and fearful of any environment hotter than forty degrees.
They have the form of humans but were no longer humans, sharing a symbiotic relationship with unique algae and could farm any essence necessary for survival in the darkness. Still, the price for that was various cysts and tumors of nerves growing over their body, just as poisonous microorganisms seeped into their systems, causing unlethal but agonizing mutations.
The extreme surviving conditions and the demanding source of energy had forced the Guardians to resolve themselves and alter their own bodies. Their earliest ancestors had turned themselves into such states that require minimal energy, which kept them alive. Be that as it may, these Guardians knew nothing about human culture and civilization, knowing nothing apart from guarding the Archives in accordance to their ancient code. Still, it was precisely for these almost inhuman protectors that the Archives was rather well preserved.
The Nature’s Magister, Barnil, William and the others healed the bodies of the venerable protectors’ body, mind, and soul, restoring them so that the Guardians could become normal humans and could be reintroduced into society.
For the first time in recent years, the primary objective of a vital joint operation of multiple actions was not destruction, but rescue.
“In fact, according to my projections, the reason the star of World Zero One would burst like a supernova and become a black hole is very likely due to the Archives collision with it, leading to a tremendous dimensional quake.”
Joshua shifted his gaze away from the blackhole above as well. He looked down at the stricken World Zero One, a former living world filled with lived. Now, however, after centuries of being a burning hell, it became the frozen wasteland it was now, all signs of its beauty vanishing without a trace.
“The dimensional quake on this occasion might have engulfed all worlds around the Dark Domain, or even cause the explosion of countless suns… that may have been the case for the frozen and mining worlds.”
With that, Joshua said nothing more. In his mind, he could not help remembering the memories he saw in the spiritual fragment of Helm, the Beholder Demon General: a living planet had been destroyed in a supernova, while the entire planetary system was wiped out by the gamma ray storm by the proximity explosion. The planet itself was sent flying away from its own orbit, dropping and burnt into ash inside an expanding star.
It was a supernova burst that occurred more than four hundred years ago, perhaps the final shockwave from that dimensional quake. Helm had incidentally been affected mid-teleportation in the Void, and was trapped in a dimensional rift where he witnessed that sight.
“To a certain extent, it was all mistakes made by the Glorious Era… or should I say, our forebears.”
Beside Joshua, Pope Igor closed his eyes and opened them again, sighing heavily. “Suns dying, civilizations in ruins… If the Sage and our forebears did not open the Mulitverse Door, all of this might not have happened.”
There might not have been Abyssal invasions, no wandering Evil Gods, and naturally no gaping wound left in the galaxy after the Evil Gods’ devouring. The Void Vortex would not have formed, with countless races living happily and comfortably in their motherworld, looking forward to their future.
“There are shadows beneath the endless light of the Glorious Era as well… Our forebears forged the Multiverse Sacrificial Grounds, but drew the arrival of the Abyss and Evil Gods that annihilated everything around… It could very well be said that we are the source of all disaster.”
Perhaps the main body of the Black Fog was right.
The Sage and the others had transgressed in their hubris—they should not have so rashly explored the secrets of the Multiverse, but should have waited until the time was right.
At the very thought, the elderly pope found himself at a loss for words, and laughed bitterly.
When was the right time, then? Should they have done nothing? They could not just stop with their civilization having reached such a stage.
Who would know that the Multiversal Door was connected to the endless Abyss? There had been no errors after countless trials—it was during the official activation whereby it resonated with endless Abysses. Indeed, it was better to call it the worst joke ever than to call it a coincidence, the most vicious of conspiracies!
Nevertheless, all guessing was now futile. The Glorious Era had fallen a thousand years ago, and now, Starfall Era rose from its ashes and gazes upon the worlds around it—a bruised galaxy with few civilizations and almost completely destroyed.
In this galaxy, residual Chaos from the Evil Gods invaded worlds, enticing the lifeblood of civilizations.
Black Fog spread by itself, killing race after race in the name of duty.
Abysses with extinguished flames leered upon all fine worlds, paying no heed to so-called future and hope, needing only ‘existence’.
It was unlikely that such scenes unfolded exclusively in this galaxy as well. Similar tragedies would happen in every corner of the boundless Void, the despairing cycle of Chaos and Order never stopping.
Such was the preset state of the Multiverse, beneath the illumination of the Initial Flame.
Infinite darkness. There was a trace of light, and only just.
Joshua did not say anything. He listened quietly as the kind old man ruminated before eventually sighing, and it was until the very last echo of that sigh vanished amidst the cold tides that he spoke.
“We should begin.”
“Right, it’s time for business.”
Igor exhaled. The luminous shroud dissipated as he nodded and looked up once more toward the rainbow in the dark, as well as the gaping dimensional rift beside it.
This time, both Joshua and Igor had come to World Zero one not for a stroll or for a field trip. The most powerful beings on Mycroft, both of them were here to accomplish a vital objective.
The other side of the dimensional rift was connected to the primary body of the multidimensional spell formation. There, the main entity of the Black Fog was being shed of its mass and entropy, which were falling into the black hole.
And that was where Joshua and Igor’s objective could be found.
They would remove Shelter Alpha from the Black Fog’s main body.