Soul Of Searing Steel Chapter 781


Chapter 781 Looking Toward The Distance

Translator: EndlessFantasy Translation  Editor: EndlessFantasy Translation

When Nostradamus found Joshua, the warrior was having a drink with a clone of the Nature’s Magister, in the underground dome beneath the Multiverse Sacrificial Grounds.

“Elves are a race whose bloodline essences shifts easily. In the distant past, our forebears were influenced by Father Nature and became elves, hence adapting to the forest environment. That is perhaps precisely why whenever elves leave the forests for other regions, their physiques often change to suit their surroundings.”

Galanoud was wearing a purple-blue ceremonial dress of flower petals, and though she held a goblet, the contents were bee honey. She appeared to be chatting with Joshua about bloodline alteration, and was quite emotional at the moment. “Forest elves, grassland elves, Northern elves, elves of the distant sea… and the dark elves who had recently returned, all elvish variant were a result of rapid mutation due to their surroundings.”

“If the reason for mutation could be found, it would be fortunate for all races.” Beside her, Joshua was listening silently all along—it was until the Nature’s Magister was finished that the warrior nodded affirmatively. “Elven adaptability is definitely unchallenged in Mycroft, and there’s no wonder that they are the first race to colonize the Multiverse.”

“That’s all in the past. Now, we could only shrink into a corner of the Far South.” Galanoud smiled, shaking her head, and turned to find Nostradamus standing at a corner. “Ah.” She laughed. “The great mage is here.”

“Of course I’m here.”

Forcing a smile for the Nature’s Magister, Nostradamus turned and quickly changed his expression to pull a stern face at Joshua. “Count Radcliffe, did you know that just now…”

“I solved the downtime issue of the Multiverse Sacrificial Grounds.”

Joshua replied plainly, lowering his goblet. “I have the coordinates of the Elite Party as well.

” Ahem —fair… enough.” Nostradamus condemning demeanor was at once deflated. “I knew it. You may look brainless, but you have an order to doing things… Where are they now?”

Doing his best to not be concerned as the Nature’s Magister covered her grin and Joshua’s challenging expression, the elderly mage walked to their table and conjured a chair for himself to sit. Either trying to skip the topic of conversation or in genuine urgency, Nostradamus hurriedly added, “Now’s not the time for dallying. Who wouldn’t seize the chance to rescue them since they’re still alive? What’re the coordinates, hurry!”

“They’re still alive and not in danger at the moment. Although my Steel Strength is disconnected, I could at least be sure that their Restoration Beams are not destroyed.”

Joshua nodded and shook his head. “The issue is that the coordinates I am aware of are coordinates from twelve thousand years ago—after the galactic upheaval, who knows if that world remained in its original position. Going out simply is essentially trying to find a needle in a haystack.”

What was more, the Time Dilation effect meant that twelve hundred years on Mycroft was a few millennia at the edge of the galaxy—in that period, primitive humans from the stone age would become civilized individuals who could rise beyond the atmosphere.

“Then go and search for them. That’s still better than doing nothing.”

Nostradamus knew what the issue was at once, which was why he could only sigh. “In the end, it’s the Return Beacon I’ve made that developed an issue, and if those young fellows run into something bad… Really unsettling.”

Joshua understood that feeling.

Although the Legends of Mycroft might not be on the side of the angels in a common definition, all of them, without exception, had a strong sense of responsibility. Although most of it was limited to their respective clans and factions, it was plenty enough.

“That’s why I’m here. I wished to ask the Nature’s Magister permission to read the star chart stored in the ‘World Tree Seed’… or World Tree Seedling at the moment.”

Joshua explained to Nostradamus calmly. “The star chart of the Multiverse Sacrificial Grounds is mostly wrong and have variances of millennia. Teleportation is possible but it would help in a search—on the other hand, although the star chart that Father Nature provided a while ago has errors too, it had been adjusted to more recent mapping.”

“Comparing between both would thus provide the trail in which the galaxy moved, hence finding the world coordinates we require, that is, if the Nature’s Magister is willing…”

“What is there to refuse. You were the one who brought back the World Tree Seed in the first place.” Galanoud replied, having a feeble gulp of her honey, shaking her head. “It’s a small matter, and with our relationship, Count Radcliffe, I would agree to even more… excessive things, if you be willing.”

At those words, the Nature’s Magister smiled enigmatically and raised her goblet at Joshua.

“Really?” As Nostradamus looked on, stunned, Joshua’s brow suddenly arched and clinked goblets with the Nature’s Magister. “If that’s so,” he smiled and continued, “having three Legends to look for those missing fellows would definitely overwhelm them.”

“…Huh?”

***

Just as the three Legendary champions made ready for departure on the other side of the dimensions, a voice that was supremely energetic and not feminine at all echoed within a brightly lit cavern of the Overwatch tribe’s settlement.

“This is my home!”

Priest, following Sol, entered her home. Although it was called a home, it was just a cavern with better ventilation at the edge of the Mother Lifetree’s roots.

After crossing a path that was not too long, Priest realized that there was certainly substantial mild magical energy in the cavern around the Mother Tree’s roots. It would nurture the growth of various creatures, even granting extraordinary affinity of Nature Power—like for most elves.

It might be the truth of why the elves were inclined towards Nature Power: it was not bloodline inheritance, but the influence of their environment.

Even so, there would not do—Priest was here as an invited guest in Sol’s home, and learning about the Otherworld elves’ customs could wait.

In that case, a matter that transpired after Priest conversed with the antler-crowned elf had to be mentioned.

After learning that the Otherworld elves resisted the corruption of Chaos by focusing most of it upon a select few, subsequently applying a ritual that killed them utterly as a primitive sacrifice, Priest understood why there were no progressed after such a long time had passed.

Just imagine: a tribe without having to worry about their lives, staying in a fine environment with no natural enemies just as they shared no civil strife. Furthermore, with the mutual sharing of knowledge and experiences, they have no curiosity towards the unknown, and all technology was sufficient.

It sounded ridiculous great. But was that the perfect ending for civilization’s progress?

The answer was of course not.

Excessively perfect environments were islands, and would instead stall civilization from moving forward.

Back on Mycroft, there were many native islanders found living in the tropics on an island in the Distant Seas down south. They were survivors who had left the shelters a thousand years ago as well, and usually did not have to labor, living year by year in comfort by fishing and harvesting fruits.

However, other survivors who left the shelters on other parts of the Mycroft continent had seen their civilization progress towards the Void and the Multiverse. Through it all, those islanders remained islanders, living like monkeys, never even developing the wheel.

Meanwhile, not only did these elves of another world not have the motivation to develop as well, they have no civil conflict since their spirits were connected—they could sense each other’s sadness and rage, but all would remain united, a tribe that lasted a thousand years without schism. It was fine up to that point since it was not no development but slower development, but the most terrifying was the way they staved off the Otherworld Blight: by having the champions of their own tribe sacrificing themselves.

Indeed, all of their spirits were linked, which is why the champions are willing to sacrifice, just as the weak would earnestly feel sadness and reverence. However, when the word ‘strength’ equated to ‘sacrifice’, would anyone desire empowerment? No one was reluctant to sacrifice themselves, but would it not violate natural instincts for willful empowerment and then sacrifice themselves?

These elves had sealed their own final path of development with their own hands. Even if tens of thousands of years passed for this world, the elven society would never change.

Unless an outsider break that fixed cycle.

***

“Priest, what are you thinking?”

Just as Priest lamented quietly inside, he suddenly felt a warm breath by his ear—he quickly turned to find Sol watching him puzzledly. “It’s you who asked to come to my place and have a look. Why are you blanking out now that you’re here?”

” Ahem … just thinking about something.”

Priest awkwardly pretended to look around.

It was certainly Priest who asked to see Sol’s home. He mainly wanted to determine the elves’ daily routines and technological standard—observing and collecting information in a nutshell. Most elves would not allow outsiders like Priest into their home, but with innately friendly types such as Sol, she would have invited Priest even if the young warrior never mentioned it.

After a few days of interaction, she had become very familiar with Priest, which was why she did not hesitate to agree when he asked to ‘see an elven cave’. Indeed, Priest could not help feeling chagrined over exploiting her kindness, but it was also precisely why he observed seriously.

The hall of the underground cavern was about a hundred and fifty square meters and averaged three hundred and forty meters in height. It was vast and gave no impression of being narrow.

There were a few rooms on both sides of the hall. As Sol passionately explained away, Priest learned that those were storerooms and closet rooms where things such as fishing nets and farming tools were kept. Each person’s rooms were also solitary, inside of which contained magical circles that regulated temperature and air, running on magical energy from the Mother Tree.

The lives of elves were a little more comfortable than imagined. There were primitive work platforms and utensils placed in the vast hall, which could have been where Sol’s father—the antler-crowned elf usually brewed potions and created scepters or arrows. There was a huge aquarium on the right side of the hall too, where many beautiful fishes and shells of different dazzling colors could be seen.

The aquarium was made from rather crude glass. It probably was made by the brute strength of some champion, and not a replicable craft. It was unusual, however, that the fishes inside were sickly and barely moved. Some even had their bellies facing upward, their eyes rolled.

“Hmm? Do you like fishes?”

Noticing Priest’s expression, Sol, who had just put her fishing net into the storeroom smiled proudly. “Haha, I’ve caught all the fish inside the aquarium! Beautiful, aren’t they? It’s a pity father and everyone else didn’t like it—even if he made the aquarium for me, he doesn’t think that the fishes are pretty.”

At those words, she stepped forward, arching her back and put one hand on the fish tank. “They are clearly so colorful and good looking,” she said regretfully, “why can’t father and the others understand that?”

“Flowers are beautiful, deer are lively, trees are huge and grasses fragile… there are so many beautiful things about a single forest that no one would get sick of looking at, and there’s also new sights that are just as beautiful on the side of mountains… so why would father always said that it’s meaningless?”

Even as she said all that, Sol’s gaze darkened as her large beautiful eyes grew dewy.

Priest looked into her eyes. Those were golden-emerald eyes most pure-blooded elves possessed, as beautiful as grasslands beneath sunlight… At once, Priest, who belonged to a supernatural civilization could not find any fitting description, and unwittingly stared at her eyes for a good few seconds.

“Wrong.”

Even so, Priest quickly reacted: now was not the time to think such things. Composing himself, the young warrior slipped a black, metallic pearl out of his pocket—pretending to be distracted, he dropped it on the floor… and the pearl once extended many mechanical tentacles upon touching the ground, and quickly dug a hole deep into the ground like an insect.

***

Faraway, the four other members of the Elite Exploration Party who were waiting patiently for their leader cheered.

“Success! Our leader did it!”

“The stored energy of the miniature observation puppet would allow it to dig more than five hundred meters. That’s too short a distance for us since we’re too far from the Mother Tree.”

“The elves’ residences are different. The roots of the Mother Lifetree are the pillars of their caves, and we will soon gather data about the Otherworld Mother Tree and determine how serious the Chaos infection here is. We could also collect special information about special information of the Tree itself, and in turn sell it for a whole load of exchange points!”

“Well, looks like our leader didn’t forget about work.” Mage joked, wiping away a pinch of sweat while stroking the scepter in his hand. “I thought he’d be in a daze while conversing with the young pretty elven girl and forget his mission.”

“While she is young and pretty, she might be older than our grandmothers,” Clergy added.

“What?” Rider retorted unhappily. “Is elven age even age?”

***

Then, even as Clergy and Rider argued away about ‘the age at which elves counted as young girls’, the slightly forlorn Sol completely regained her spirit.

“Ah. These fishes are indeed pretty, but they die rather quickly.”

Patting the fish tank, Sol sighed heavily and shook her head unhappily. “It took me most of the day to catch them, but none of them would give me face—all of them tend to die at most in a week. Well, there’s no helping it… even if they are beautiful, they are good for deep-fried or baked fish…”

As she spoke, the young elf girl gulped and showed a ‘sad’ expression. On the other hand, Priest breathed a sigh of relief after accomplishing his mission, and turned his attention to the sickly fishes in the aquarium as well, and his rich experience quickly made him realize why the fishes were dying with a single sniff of the water.

‘—Rubbish. When you rear a saltwater species in fresh water, it’s a sign of the fish’ enduring vigor if they survived for a week!’

Priest leveled a sympathetic gaze at the fishes that breathed bubbles furiously in an effort to survive, just as he remembered his sister.

Really, one of them treating a sapling as grass, while another reared saltwater fishes in fresh water…

How cute.

By the way, did he tell little Britney before he left that she was using a sapling and not grass?

One way or the other, it exposes the ignorance of the Overwatch tribe in regards to such knowledge—it seemed that they had never reared saltwater fishes nor were concerned about such things. Even if Sol herself found the problem, none would try to discuss with others, and so the issue of ‘why saltwater fishes cannot survive in freshwater’ slowly become a simple, unrelated question of ‘not giving face’.

Such a depressing way of thinking was the root of folly.

“Sol. Did you never notice that seawater is salty? And the water you put the fishes in isn’t salty…”

“Oh, so that’s why!”

Priest had tried to explain things as simply as he could, but it appeared that he underestimated the young elf girl’s intelligence. Sol’s expression lit up at the mention of the saltiness of seawater, sparing Priest from having to explain the difference between freshwater and seawater.

Watching as Sol brightened in understanding, before turning sadly to touch the fish tank and apologize to all the fishes inside, Priest could not help wanting to smile for a bit.

But he could not.

In reality, such thinking is nothing other than a pit, but it could be easily be filled if more than one person pondered. Be that as it may, no other person from this elven tribe ever discussed ‘why’ with Sol, each of them simply keeping to their duties and worked as if they were ants, never once considering the reasons behind what happened.

“Um, apologies…”

Priest saw that the young elf had suddenly turned to him: Sol was still stroking the fish tank, and saying apologetically, “I had intended to take you around my house and see the wonders of the Mother Tree… but now I want to change the water for these fishes as soon as I can.

“Ah, no problem.”

Priest stared blankly for a while before smiling, shaking his head. The wonders of the Mother Tree could be observed by the miniature observation puppet—his objective achieved, whatever followed was free time. “I’ll come with you if you want.”

Both Sol and Priest, being the type to put thoughts into actions immediately, quickly carried the fish tank away from the elven settlement while the evening sun still shone.

Many elves were traveling back from all directions to the settlement after hunting and harvesting. Both Priest and Sol, walking in the opposite direction were hence unusually conspicuous. However, apart from the first elf looking up and glancing at them once, every other elf carefreely walked pass them without a change in their expression. Priest could even see the antler-crowned elf—Sol’s father passing them -impassively, not even curious that his daughter was leaving the settlement with an unfamiliar male individual.

Beneath the naturally calm expression was dead, stagnated green water beneath a deep well.

The orange otherworld sun was slowly descending while the nine rust-colored Behemoth moons arose. Beneath the illumination of the red light that could be either unusual or sinister, Priest and Sol silently headed for the seashore path—the former carrying the fish tank while Sol took tools to change the tank water.

It was on Priest’s own request, since a mere aquarium was not too different from paper for a Gold-tier warrior. Even as he held it over his shoulder, Priest would try his best not to stir waves inside the tank.

Soon, they were the shores… where the tides were swelling.

It was a completely different sight from the day—under the nine dark-red moons of bloody rust, the surging tides were as if churning waves of blood, while abnormal fluorescence cascaded amidst the waves, kicking up undulations of magical energy. Although the fishing harbor that the elves had constructed stood quite tall, it was now half drowned, the stone base being slapped upon by the waves at the bottom and kicking up sparks-like radiance.

Bizarre, but actually not too frightening. There was even a unique aesthetic to it.

“Let’s put it here.”

Sol led the way towards a beach that was not completely drowned, with Priest in tow. He placed the fish tank by the edge of the tides, waiting for Sol’s next move.

It was then that she cast a faraway gaze upon the sea’s horizon, as if she was watching the clouds and starlight that appeared faintly over the distance.

“Priest,” the young elf girl suddenly asked. “What do you think is on the other side of the sea?”

“…Probably another continent.”

The young warrior narrowed his eyes, answering in slight uncertainty. “I can’t really tell since I don’t know if this world is a planet or a continental realm.”

Sol, however, did not appear to care about the answer—she only seemed to like having someone answering her. The young elf girl sat upon the beach, hugging her knees while saying dreamily, “I love looking out towards the distance: the sea, the mountains, the forest… I love all of it. I am so excited every time I think about that to the point that I could not hold myself back, even wanting to board a little boat and float to the other side of the sea for a look.”

“I think my ancestors must have liked looking afar as well. Why else would the tribe be named ‘Overwatch’? What could they be trying to see that got them to choose that name?”

‘The stars, perhaps,’ Priest thought but did not say it, merely looking up subconsciously to the Otherworld’s stalwart World Barrier that even Void Behemoths could not destroy. A barrier that isolated the inside and the outside, stopping entry or exit.

Perhaps the elves who had left to colonize this place… missed their homeworld too.

“And yet, father, my uncles, and aunts… all of them did not like to look toward the distance. They were the Overwatch, and yet they kept their eyes on the ground, never thinking about going out.”

At those words, Sol fell into a deep silence. It was until Priest found things unusual and tried to console her that she grunted and promptly stood up, almost knocking the young warrior in the nose.

“I’m almost dead anyway,” she shouted, one finger pointing at the sky and another on the ground. “I have made my choice—I might not go out to the sea, but before death comes for me, I will go to the other side of the Sacred Altar Mountain and see what actually is there!”

At that, Sol simply lifted the aquarium on the ground and opened it, forcefully pouring the fish and the water inside into the sea.

“Eh, weren’t you going to change the water?”

Priest, who was still at a loss over his shock that ‘Sol was dying’ could neither react nor stop here. He simply walked to her and took the empty aquarium and asked regretfully, “You’ve said that it took you a lot to catch those beautiful fishes. Why would you release them?”

“It’s fine, I could hardly keep them alive anyway.”

Sol, however, appeared much happier after freeing all the fish. She tidied her hair that was rather left rather unkempt by the sea breeze, narrowing her eyes and beamed naturally. “After all, fishes aren’t creatures in a pot. It belongs in the sea—it’s one thing to catch and eat them, another to keep them inside an aquarium.”

“After all, I don’t like being locked up either—I want to go out too. That thought alone made me reluctant to rear fishes since.”

In return, Priest’s voice promptly turned deeper.

“…you can go out.”

He then looked up at the slightly surprise elven girl. “You should go out—it’s a right everyone should have.”

“Haha. Does that mean you’re willing to visit the mountains? I might die halfway, you know? It’s a pain.”

Sol laughed candidly and remarkably reminiscent of a drunken middle-aged man, both her tone and demeanor a far cry from her refined and graceful appearance. Soon, however, the elven girl’s candid laughter that was actually self-deprecating was cut short by Priest’s solemn voice.

“Yes, and not just the mountains.”

Priest looked up at the Void overhead that was complete darkness apart from the nine moons. “You have much to see in the future,” he said quietly. “And not only such a little part of a small world.”

“That, I promise—that, I pledge.”