Translator: EndlessFantasy Translation Editor: EndlessFantasy Translation
Lowering his gaze, Joshua growled, “Profound, transcendent—and equally unhinged!”
Igor exhaled a breath in response. He looked down again the miniature organic molecules, no longer puzzled but astonished.
“It’s certainly profound… it’s hard to imagine that the Black Fog, an entity that only knows destruction is capable of such grand thought and design,” the pontiff muttered. “However, how is that unhinged? It’s now essentially a Creator of a new world, building a civilization it desires!”
Joshua, however, took a deep breath, glancing around coldly at the dark, turbid ocean before turning to Igor.
“Your Holiness,” he said coldly, “stop bemoaning the state of the universe!”
“How much information and experience are needed to build a new world? Just think about that galaxy—the massive stores of Steel Strength and countless broken, incomplete mold worlds. What do you believe those were? The Black Fog’s toys? All that have been its experiments, ruined protypes it could not reuse!”
“How many worlds it destroyed? How much energy it gathered? How many mistakes it made and how many lives it squandered just to create such an ocean of birth? Millions of years? With the speed that the Black Fog destroys civilizations and spread itself beyond, this galaxy would not satiate one bite from it!”
Igor understood his error at once, and sighed, unsure what to say. “And yet… you appealed to the gods for these primitive lives so that Shelter Alpha could be removed from the Black Fog… Those energies had been your reserves.”
“Regardless of how many worlds the Black Fog destroyed or how many times it experimented to create this new world and ecosystem… Life itself is innocent.”
Joshua closed his eyes. “Moreover, the Shelter civilization was not wrong in the first place.”
Indeed, Shelter did nothing wrong.
When it came down to it, what perhaps have been their single mistake was their creation of the Black Fog… like how the Glorious Era made the mistake to open the Door to the Multiverse.
When Joshua and Igor left the oceanic depths and returned to the continent of Shelter Alpha, the elderly pontiff looked down upon the dark red sea—under the influence of the elements, and the environment deliberately calibrated by the Black Fog, primitive life may appear in several millennia or dozen thousand years, before rapidly evolving into a complete, living world. When the races of Shelter regained life, they would have been created by their own creation.
It was essentially a ring, a fated cycle.
“In the end, it’s still because the Glorious had opened the Door,” he muttered grimly. “If… everything would not have happened.”
That was the second or third time he had said those words. Perhaps Igor himself was not aware of his unwitting regrets and sympathy, but Joshua, who had been keeping quiet beside him, was finding it rather unacceptable.
“Your Holiness, you have been saying such things since the very moment main body was being sealed.” Joshua stopped mid-air, pausing his flight away from the world to stand atop hot steams, his voice at once helpless and indignant. “Since when have you become so inflexible? Yes, the Glorious Era, the Sage and the gods had created the Multiverse Sacrificial Grounds and opened the door, allowing the collective invasion of four hundred Abyssal realms—we all know the cause of the Final Battle, but what does that have to do with ‘wrong’?”
“The Multiverse Project is a path, designed so that the Glorious Era could prepare for its journey as a Multiverse class of civilization. However, that project had been destroyed by the maliciousness of the Abyss and the Evil Gods from the very start, and the society of our forebears was annihilated as a result as well. Your Holiness, could you have no hate at all against the Chaos, and begin to blame yourself instead?”
Joshua had never once looked up to or revered the Glorious Era, and had spoken to every other being as an equal. Watching as Igor frowned and appeared intent on saying something, Joshua continued rather angrily without pause, “someone sabotaged your plans, annihilated your home. Those monsters came from afar, destroying all cities along its way—yes, those affected civilizations had the right to hate our forebears, curse us and the Glorious civilization for vileness and hubris. Nevertheless, you, me or the Starfall civilization must never believe that we do not deserve anything!”
Joshua’s voice became gradually louder. “This isn’t some failed magical experiment that blew up the entire dimensional region—those evil beings had come on their own initiative to invade us! Should we blame a civilization’s instincts for progress, instead of loathing Chaos and the disorder of the Abyss?!”
“Fine then, stay in a small world and live out your days as an isolated society. Take not a single step into the Void, die where you are as if famished, creating another Evil God of Famine!”
Igor held up a hand to press on his own forehead, appearing slightly pained. “You know,” he said quietly, “that’s not what I meant. I simply wanted to say that I never imagined that the war between our forebears and the Evil Gods actually involved so many worlds and civilizations… I never thought that why we are part of the reason the galaxy is so dim…”
The pontiff recalled the results from the Deep Space Observation: the dull but vast galaxy model had carved itself profoundly in everyone’s mind then, with himself, a Legendary champion, being no exception.
Perhaps it was precisely because Igor himself was a Legendary champion, the most powerful Extraordinary individual who could represent the Mycroft civilization, that the very torment of such loneliness and loss left the deepest, invisible mark.
If— Just if—
“How nice it would have been if things weren’t like this…” the pontiff finally sighed.
But there was no ‘ifs’ in this world.
Joshua clenched both his fists at Igor’s words. A long time ago—when the Black Fog’s main body was being sealed, he had been holding in an indescribable surge of rage in his heart. A sheet of golden-red fiery light began to glint over his body, as if blazing from his very anger. However, the flame was held back, replaced by the deepest of bellows that somehow quaked the clouds.
“It already happened! The Shelter civilization is destroyed more than a thousand years ago, just as so many more worlds was destroyed by the Evil Gods!”
“What can we do? Pray for them? Mourn them? Tell them we feel sympathy for them, feel pity over such endings?”
“Shall we broadcast our apologies throughout the Void, saying that it was all an accident that we did not wish for? Shall we lower our fucking heads and submit ourselves to the damned Multiverse, and say ‘yes, it’s our fault’?!”
Quit it with the fucking jokes!
Joshua did not look at Igor, keeping his back toward Shelter instead and take a tremendous forward to the Void beyond the world.
“Should we surrender to the damned Multiverse?”
There was intimidating stifled emotions in his tone, but his very voice would have torn the atmosphere into fragments. “Myself, all of us, humans, all intelligent beings should never say that for all eternity.”
“We could argue for a thousand, ten thousand or even billions of years whose fault it had been, but the cycle or devastation will never change, just as the wheel of despair cycling between Order and Chaos would never stop!”
“The torrent of Evil Gods would engulf the Multiverse once again. Your Holiness—Igor, who does your sympathy go to then? I could already name quite a few worlds that faced destruction. Do you wish to cherish your own, or people from another world?”
A long silence.
The only sounds came from the rolling storms of steams, hissing in the heavens.
Igor swallowed. The old man’s expression aged instantly, but in the end, he closed his eyes before opening them. “You’re right…” he said quietly, “I am the pontiff of Mycroft, always will be, perhaps even just that.”
“I’m leaving first.”
With those worlds, the pope turned into boundless light, instantly transcending the Void and left Shelter Alpha.
Joshua, however, stayed where he was and lowered his head in isolation, staring at the atmosphere, the sea, and the land. He gazed upon the world, a combination of turbidity, crimson and scorched blackness.
Saint Igor chose to cherish his own.
The Sage, on the other hand, chose to cherish the Multiverse. Everything had been his fault, and therefore he would shoulder all outcome while putting an end to the very source of all those mistakes.
Having not the face to endure the devastation, the Sage raggedly left his own home. He could no longer abide by the existence of Evil Gods and repetitive Chaos—he would head to the heart of the Multiverse and end that very cycle, to extinguish all sadness from its very roots.
Who could say that such an opinion was wrong? Still, Starfall Era had to live with the torment their predecessors had caused.
Silently, Joshua strode off and left Shelter, arriving at the outer reaches of the World Barrier, once against entering the core of the seal.
The main body of the Black Fog noticed the warrior’s appearance. It did not know what Joshua and Igor did in Shelter Alpha, but it would definitely imagine the worst-case scenario—thus, the infuriated ancient being which had all its supernatural powers sealed swung its tentacles down upon Joshua once more!
But it was all futile. Without Black Body absorption, Void energy steal, gravity disturbance, its bizarre yet frightening armaments, the sheer physical blow was laughable to Joshua, a body of Neutron Star matter—it was nothing but an insignificant breeze touching his face. The warrior had even turned, exposing his back nonchalantly and reached out to touch Shelter Alpha.
“Listen,” he said calmly, but that was no telling if he was speaking to the Black Fog, he world, the Shelter civilization that lay in ruins or was simply muttering to himself.
“Everything has ended… Everything has just begun.”
“It’s meaningless even if you’re adverse against it. You’re dead, destroyed—your civilization and race would never exist again, our plunder hence indefensible. We would absorb all of your society, culture, and knowledge, converting it to our nutrients.
“We would move forward, the food in our stomachs granting us energy. We would progress, your ideas becoming our new principles.
“We would hold the hardship you endured in our hearts, pick up the burdens you’ve shouldered. It might be insignificant, it might be discreet, it might be a brief tide, but you would become one of us.
“And then, we continue forward.”
Joshua paid no heed to the Black Fog’s roar and did not resist its attack that became gradually violent but weaker. He simply withstood those endless blows and turned towards the transparent sector of the seal.
Be it in vileness or hubris, civilization should move forward towards the edge of the Multiverse in song.
—I will trample upon these stars, incinerating all darkness.
I will destroy all Evil Gods and all Chaos.
I will uncover out the mastermind that may exist in the shadows, drag them from the crevices of the Abyss and burn them down to a quark, and throw them in a blackhole.
We will pay the price for our forebears’ mistakes, just as they would. They would eventually pay for all they did.
I shall settle every debt.
Joshua closed his eyes, passing through the transparent seal as infinite complex patterns materialized behind him, finally closing the seal. As he opened his eyes once more, the entire multidimensional seal began to rumble—profound, inexhaustible energies streamed from Joshua’s true form located at the core of seal, separating Shelter Alpha from the main body of the Black Fog.
The Black Fog’s resistance was unexpectedly weak. It appeared to be aware of the warrior’s intentions, that they did nothing and why the Mycroft people would pull Shelter Alpha away from its body… Therefore, it helplessly, grudgingly and painfully let go.
Shelter Alpha was the light of the Black Fog, a radiance in the darkness.
It was an illumination for the Black Fog and its main body amidst eternal lightlessness, dimmer than even the darkness itself and yet more seductive than hope. It was precisely why the main body never fled, staying stubbornly where it was, fearless even in the face of obliteration.
This world was the Shelter civilization, the light of the Black Fog’s perpetual darkness.
Then, what about us?
“Sir… What about His Holiness?”
Joshua suddenly heard Priest’s uncertain and uncomfortable voice beside him. He glanced sideways at the youth once, before saying quietly, “it’s nothing. His Holiness simply realized that self-blame is without value… What we can do is to carry out our duty as humans and a part of civilizations.”
Joshua led Priest—who was still nervous and puzzled—away from the multidimensional seal, moving pass layers after layers of dimensional seal and checkpoints after checkpoints.
“Priest, you once appealed to me for absolute protection,” the warrior said unhurriedly.
“Yes, sir,” the young warrior nodded fervently and spoke with no hesitation. “I still remember everything.”
Joshua, however, shook his head. “Priest, there is no absolute protection.”
“No matter how stalwart the defense or how long one held one, everything would weaken in time and collapse. That is the same end for worlds, planets, stars, grand civilizations, Evil Gods or even Black Fog.”
“There is only way if you wish to ensure the safety of people and things you wish to protect,” Joshua added softly, “and that is to destroy all of your enemies—all of them, sparing none.”
Both of them had returned to World Zero One. Priest would stay there to continue his training, while the warrior would link up to the Multiverse Sacrificial Grounds Holy. In seconds, a powerful dimensional power distorted heaven and earth, and he arrived at the Void outside the world of Mycroft in a split second.
My heart is a hell filled with destruction and slaughter.
Joshua slowly approached Mycroft’s world barrier instead of teleporting at once inside the world. Extending his hand ever gently, he placed his palm on the outer shell of the world, as if a human stroking a potted plant in his hand, an infinitely delicate and precious piece of art.
That is why I so earnestly and passionately love everything.
This… world, that one could love so tenderly.
—Volume Fourteen, Light of Perpetual Darkness. End.