“It’s fortunate that it can’t be done. You’ve overestimated humanity,” the elderly mage said quietly. “If it was achievable, there’s no need for Evil Gods—humans would destroy themselves in a decade.”
Joshua was not angered in return. How could he not be aware? The precursor case that was the world of Simboa remained, and the warrior naturally understood that before all humans developed sagely set of morals, making powerful supernatural abilities available to all equated to self-destruction.
Still, it was slightly better to destroy oneself than being vanquished by Evil Gods. Joshua knew well that he had became a little consumed by his preparations against those Chaos entities in days to come, but what else could he do? Even if he would become powerful enough to fight a few of them at once, the citizens of Mycroft needed their own power in the face of Evil Gods invasions.
That was why Joshua thought about the perfect base human form. According to the most perfect plans he had in mind, he would change all human using core physiques modified from Void Behemoth flesh, while they would be covered in huge enchanted armor, becoming superior Void warriors. They would survive freely in the Void and live even if their world was destroyed, each of them wielding the combat might of modern civilization.
It was hence a pity that the flesh of the Void Behemoth proved uncontrollable. Even with Joshua’s mastery of lifeforce, the Void behemoth was not subjugated despite being an incarnation of Steel of the same class as he was. Otherwise, even if all the Legends of the world and all the gods did not agree with him, he could come up with a way in which any willing person could complete those modifications.
“That being said—the experiments on perfect base form and the Void Behemoth is almost completed, and I’ve intended to conclude it soon anyway.”
Joshua sat in front of the slab, his fingers placed crossed upon on it. “For now, we should be discussing about the issue of ‘Awakened’ in certain regions.”
“What Awakened?” Nostradamus was a little puzzled, but soon realized that Joshua was referring to the superhumans who had awakened Steel Strength Authority. His brow lifted slightly at the very thought, and he said curiously, “Why? There’ve been less of them recently, and it’s not a worrying stage.”
“I’m not talking about that… Anyway, I just mentioned that I’ve been to Simboa.”
Joshua did not hide his experiences from his acquaintances, with almost everyone being aware that he had been to a world at the heart of the Void Vortex some time ago. “To put it in a nutshell,” he said simply, “that newborn world had become so large and more importantly, the magic in that world changed significantly. Every Simboa Ultrahuman sensed the appearance of a new dimension—they call it the ‘Shadow Realm’.”
“Simply put, a realm where everyone’s shadow was connected. Like the subspace of certain worlds and Psionic Space, although for it, all shades are linked.”
Raising his hand, Joshua made a screen in the air where the shadow of humans moved amidst the shade, moving through corresponding ability just like teleportation. The warrior looked on at each scene, and spoke quietly, “Could the master assassins of Mycroft do that? They may be glorified as sovereign of the shadows, demon kings of the night, and if anyone could move through the shadows, they have to be the ones.”
Nostradamus was silent for a moment, before shaking his head.
“…They can’t,” he said, looking up and watching the various unusual movements displayed in the screen. “Of course not.”
“Hitmen, assassins, even grandmaster night sovereigns simply use rapid movement or partial unique spatial magic to execute discreet ambushes and killings. Most of them relied upon tricks to the eye, the innate flaws in natural vision in all creatures to hid themselves. Teleporting with the power of shadows? Completely hiding by lurking in the darkness? Not even mages could do that since such magic did not exist.”
At that, Nostradamus began to laugh rather hoarsely. “Slipping into shadows? How could they? It is a phenomenon of light…”
“But it’s real,” Joshua interjected emphatically. “Regardless, a new dimension had appeared in the world of Simboa, and it’s manifesting in the worlds around the Void Vortex as well. I imagine that soon, Mycroft’s own shadow realm would take shape as well, and from then on, shadows would no longer be a light phenomenon, but a whole new supernatural power… Nostradamus, the world is changing.”
A long silence followed between them, with the elderly mage thinking and the warrior patiently waiting.
In the first place, Joshua had intended to let some time pass before he sought a trusted person and inform them of his discovery. It was fortunate that Nostradamus himself had come to knock on his door, sparing him the effort.
“…I know what you’re thinking. Even so, Joshua, what if that’s simply an anomaly caused by the Great Mana Tide’s stir of magical energies?”
Nostradamus finally spoke again after some time. This time, his tone had regained normalcy and was rather strong. “You can’t keep thinking in worst-case scenarios.
“But what if it isn’t?” Joshua countered calmly. “We are Legendary champions—reasonably speaking, we ought to plan for the worst. And if the Shadow Realm’s appearance was no Great Mana Tide singularity, but a whole-new, Multiverse-class upheaval like the ‘Holy Light’… do you know what means?”
The order between light and shadow would hence be broken, and in time, the boundary between reality and illusion could blur.
At the very thought, Nostradamus crushed the other handle of his chair. The arteries around his temples were already bulging, with pure energy flowing within in liquid form.
The mage closed his eyes tightly, and could have been either running away or pondering in his thoughts.
“You should have read data from the Archives.”
Joshua rose, calmly recounting what was the most secretive of information even in the data vault of the Unified Archives. “The Mana Tide is a periodical shift of magical energies. Each time it comes, civilization would progress greatly—Mycroft had the fortune to experience two waves, each bringing great development for society and the invasion of those malevolent beings known as Evil Gods.”
“The first Evil God ever recorded in Mycroft history to have invaded in tandem with the Mana Tide was called ‘Disparity’. Sun and Moon lost their luster when it arrived, the sea boiled, and all balance, be it warmth and cold, light and darkness, even life and death was broken. Undead spirits appeared by the masses, and ninety percent of marine life perished—it had been a powerful anonymous psionic who banished it, but the price to pay was most of the world’s life, as well as the undead spirits that lingered unto this day.
“The second Great Mana Tide incidentally pierced the entire Glorious Era, bringing a dozen more Evil Gods than the first, along with countless minions and Abyssal demons—if not for the Sage’s presence, Mycroft would already have been a dead Abyssal wasteland.”
“We’re the third,” Joshua then added with a tone devoid of emotion, “and might not be the last.”
“That’s not all either.”
Nostradamus ended his silence at that moment, his eyes widening as he spoke softly. “Apart from psionic power, the First Mana Tide had added the six elemental magics and ether to Mycroft. They combine perfectly with mana, unleashing powerful spells far surpassing psionic energies—even Aura had been completed towards the end of that era.”
And needless to say, after the Second Mana Tide, the world of Mycroft along with the entire Multiverse saw the addition of the supernatural power known as the ‘Holy Light’.
“Joshua, what are you trying to say?”
Nostradamus promptly looked up into Joshua’s own eyes. “Are you insinuating that…” he said with immeasurable solemnness, “that the so-called Shadow Realm is the same?”
“Nostradamus, I’m not saying anything.”
Joshua’s voice was flat like a machine’s as he responded. “I’m simply stating facts of what had happened, and past records of history—the Shadow Realm’s manifestation is a sign that natural phenomenon is changing fundamental, and the shade is no longer an optical phenomena but a certain supernatural power. What that could mean, what it foretells, would you dare imagine?”
‘The Multiverse was being changed. It was as if someone was using a gouge to inscribe upon it, and we do not know who wields it—’
“…Of course I’d dare to.”
The elderly mage rose slowly at Joshua’s question, exhaling before speaking with a somber voice, “it’s too soon to frighten me with virtual space. Moreover, whatever hypotheses there may be, it remains too early to sum things up now. Nothing can be proven with so few information.”
“On the other hand, are these things all that you’ve been doing recently? Perfect base human form, Void Behemoth flesh alteration and studying the Shadow Realm or whatnot… you’re more a mage than I am with these crazy projects.”
“Is that crazy as well?”
Taking up a piece of paper from the slab, Joshua’s eyes flashed with a series of complex data before becoming still. “Actually, Nostradamus,” he said softly, looking up. It’s far from that.”
The report Joshua held in hand also contained packed pages of proposals, amongst of while including curious jargons such as ‘Restoration Beam Upgrade’, ‘Soul Collection Refinement of the Soul Pool Sphere’ and ‘Reducing Burden on Souls in Resurrection’. The warrior’s face was covered in shadows then, his expression inscrutable. “I’ve been thinking what so-called ‘game’ actually meant.”
Then, Joshua van Radcliffe’s voice echoed at the center of the Fourth Practical Lab, reverberating over the entire demiplane.
“And what ‘player’ meant as well.”