Soul Of Searing Steel Chapter 786


Chapter 786 Because Therefore

Translator: EndlessFantasy Translation  Editor: EndlessFantasy Translation

Joshua was not actually surprised by the state of affairs.

Due to the Return Beacon’s error, Priest and the others were lost at the edge of the galaxy, and information from the Multiverse Sacrificial Grounds indicated a great chance that they were lost within a Glorious Era relic.

Incidentally, when Joshua was dissecting Void Behemoths a while ago, he had sensed the distinct unfamiliar presence of an Evil God, and those creatures had come from the edge of the galaxy.

They were very weird specimens—juvenile Behemoths would often infiltrate worlds and spread their seeds, spawns, or even spores while feeding, just as adult Void Behemoths would mostly peel off the outer layers of worlds before feeding. On the other hand, although the Void Behemoths Joshua encountered appeared young, they were basically fragments of adult Behemoths. They had lost spawns’ the ability to infiltrate worlds, and neither did they have the power to break most World Barriers.

Joshua had originally deduced that it would have been the result of being torn apart by an Evil God, but it appeared that there might be another explanation.

‘Evil God of Wither’.

The Evil God which records were concealed even from the Unified Archives, possessing the power to wilt all things and briefly turn Legendary champions into children.

It would therefore not be unusual that it turned Void Behemoths into younger forms.

Three bizarre phenomenon appearing at the same place at the same time—Joshua just had to work his brain a tinge to connect them easily.

“It’s a little troublesome but it’s nothing adverse. At least we’re alerted to an Evil God’s presence in advance, and not after it had completely awakened.”

Both Joshua and the Nature’s Magister were not fearful of the Evil God’s suspected awakening since they could sense that the Chaos Being was very weak, even if it was an Evil God. Should it recover, it would not recover its peak power for the time being—or even twenty percent of it.

There is a hierarchy of power even amongst Evil Gods. The weakest probably consisted those such as the ‘Evil God of Air’, one born from a destroyed world without intelligent civilizations. Even a single Apostle of the Sage alone was capable to repel it given its lower ability, which was what appeared to be case even if the Apostle was supremely capable or that the Evil God could not display its true power.

For its part, the Evil God Wither itself had come across unexpected things and was thus pursued by nine Legends. According to Zero-Three’s obtained data, its full power when unleashed could only suppress five to six Legends at the same time, and was left in difficult situation when it faced nine. That was not quite weak—in truth, it was simply not formidable, and when estimated in relative to the Evil Gods Famine and Calamity, their powers were just a single notch above.

There was also the fact that Calamity was rather special. It would not hang around long, and move away after unleashing some natural disaster, something which powerful civilizations could basically block. Calamity would hence be unthreatening to them, just as it would not clash directly against them. Truly powerful Evil Gods, such as the Evil God of Pestilence could spawn a million Legendary-tier Void Mothers.

As for the Evil God of Fertility, a monster that could trigger a star to change into a red dwarf, it was best to leave it aside discreetly for the time being.

One way or the other, Joshua and Galanoud would try subjugating an Evil God that was not too powerful and only had twenty percent of its power regardless if they succeeded.

If they would not even dare to do that, it was best if everyone just packed their things and left, for what Legend was there to be if they conducted themselves so embarrassingly?

Starlight flickered. They advanced without stopping amidst the Void, bright and dark worlds streaking past the pair’s bodies. One or two amongst those tens of thousands of worlds would be the lucky ones to host life, with the luckiest amongst millions of those living worlds birthing intelligence.

The birth of intelligent life and civilization were not absolute. Each was a miracle of miracles.

“It was said that our galaxy was densely populated by countless intelligent beings before the Final Battle.”

The Nature’s Magister said serenely as she looked around at the streams of stars around them. “Although most could not enter the Void, they were at least a type of civilization… but now, only these barren worlds are left.”

And it was natural, with nothing to do with Evil Gods.

That was what Joshua thought. After all, according to the theory of Time Dilation, five or six thousand years had passed for the worlds at the edge of the galaxy, a time enough for civilizations to de and be revived for a few cycles. Civilizations are in itself fragile beings that easily destroy each other even without the threat of Void Behemoths and Evil Gods. Was that not for the case of the Six Abyss? Nuclear war and chemical weaponry had destroyed an entire ecosphere with such ease.

“Eh?”

Suddenly, just when the Nature’s Magister was thinking about how she should spread some seeds so that a world’s ecosphere could recover, she abruptly let out a soft murmur. She then stood up from the tendrils of the Legendary beast ‘Shaggy’ puzzledly, calling out to Joshua in alert, “Stop. There’s something ahead.”

“What is it?”

Joshua sensed nothing beyond Chaos presence. However, it must have been something unexpected since the Nature’s Magister was so solemn.

“I sense life moving… There’s too many! That’s more than the total population of Mycroft?”

Galanoud closed her eyes, Nature’s Power spread as pale emerald rippled from her as if still water stirred. Nature Power itself was a variant and a complex of lifeforce that could only work at full capacity in environments with substantial life, but in reverse, those who learned that power could swiftly find locations lush with vigor.

“That way.” After reaching out with her senses, the Nature’s Magister somberly opened her eyes again and gave Joshua the coordinates. However, the warrior found only dense assemblages of Steel Strength when he turned in that direction.

In other words, worlds.

“I don’t see any life, only some small worlds… It’s weird, they are too small and moving too quickly.”

Joshua did not see the populous lifeforms the Nature’s Magister indicated, but neither did he find it unusual. Each Legend had a different path and saw worlds differently, just as they would have different emphasis. It would not be curious that the Nature’s Magister could directly sense life within worlds.

On the other hand, a world that moved quickly was uncommon.

Worlds usually moved but at very small margins, and it was evident from how planetary maps of the Multiverse needed updating only after one or two hundred years. Still, there were some worlds that moved masters, but those were so-called Hidden Worlds which coordinates could not be determined by star maps, and there was only a single way of tracking them.

Meanwhile, that world they were seeing on that particular direction was moving so quickly that it simply could not be a natural occurrence.

From the speed and vector, Joshua made a shocking conclusion.

“Those worlds are moving to the Evil God!”

Both at once accelerated at the same direction.

“What’s going on? Why would there be worlds moving deliberately toward the Evil Gods?”

Joshua felt it unusual. His perception was clearer than before now that he was focused, picking up the huge specks of light moving quickly in the Void. “Fast, just a little slower than Void ships such as the Grancypher but also without any energy burst… It feels just like it’s wafting naturally.”

“I’m not sure… but Joshua, perhaps you didn’t sense the Void Behemoths’ presence?”

The Nature’s Magister’s expression was entirely serious as well. Although it was nothing wrong with finding many living worlds at once, things were just not right: An Evil God was reviving, and if incidentally many lives were being presented to it, the Evil God could be quickly restored through devouring civilization and consuming Order.

An Evil God with most power was restored and an Evil God that had just awakened were completely different concepts. After all, while both a dying star and a star at the height of its energy were both stars, were they on equal in terms of luminosity?

Moreover, around those worlds were numerous Void Behemoths… which was more troublesome. Even if they were not on the side of Evil Gods, they were not on the side of normal lifeforms either. If the scene erupts into chaos, their operation to suppress Wither would perhaps go awry.

But even after reaching out with his senses extensively, the warrior found nothing. All he detected was luminous specks of worlds, and was unable to feel any Steel Strength as pure as it was abnormal of Void Behemoths.

“Let’s hurry to the Evil God’s world before they reach it.”

Then, without further ado, Joshua accelerated again, even slightly releasing his own gravitational restraint. A colossal appeared in the dimensional turbulences where there was Order within Chaos. As if an oceanic abyss that consumed everything, it drew everything within range—even erratic dimensional flow and starlight was warped and dragged forcefully by the vortex into veins of patterned arcs.

Therefore, Joshua’s speed accelerated a notch above.

***

Faraway, the World Fleet.

“Sensor anomaly! Large scale dimensional shift detected in the 113rd planetary sector!”

“Warning! Unknown object rapidly approaching! Estimate threat level: Very high!”

“It’s coming toward us!”

Countless spores expanded and burst in the Central Hive, just as streaks of bioelectrical flow that contained information compounded with an atypical spiritual force, driving forward alongside strips of fungal network. Soon, the information detected by the sensors were transmitted to the Core Court.

“My King! An unknown, powerful being is swiftly closing in to the Fleet’s left flank. Unable to determine hostility.”

Kumocinda the black eight-legged fungus quietly dealt with every information as he accepted the bioelectrical signals. According to the Fleet’s sensors, a colossal object was accelerating at three times their own speed as it ventured closer to them. There was no telling if it was friend or foe, but at least it was apparent that they could not escape with its speed.

“Estimated ability class is ‘Star Eater’, huh… prepare defensive measures and stop the feeding Behemoths, continue advancing towards the World Eater’s vector in a defensive form. The object may be going for the World Eater and not us.”

‘There may be no need to involve the Great Khan in this matter,’ Kumocinda thought, and then issued his second order. “All herders and breeders are to cease task and leave ‘Akasha’, and seek refuge within the body of the Behemoths.”

Star Eaters were not a rare presence in the Multiverse. The Lost Galaxy notwithstanding, there were a considerable number of them back in the galaxy where the eight-legged fungi originated.

Even so, there were differences amongst the Star Eaters. Some powerful ones held compelling advantage against some of the older ones even if they had just ascended, just as some which sheer combat ability would grow without ceasing even after living for dozens of thousand years. Furthermore, even if they could have significant power over others, it did not mean that the champion’s destructive ability was greater than others—all was relative.

Of course, it was also because they had chosen different paths.

On another note, each of the Behemoths of the Starherder’s World Fleet had ‘Star Eater’ class power, which were the reasons for their confidence in moving across the galaxy and the origins of their name, ‘Starherder’. Rarely were there races capable of such feat even across the Mutliverse, for farming Behemoths that roamed the Void was their pride.

Nonetheless, it was not out of deliberate intention. If their homeworld had not been… One way or another, the Starherders had spent unimaginable price and sacrificed innumerable eight-legged fungi to achieve all that. Furthermore, the scarce few Kings of the Akasha amongst the Starherder race could only control one or two Behemoths, but only a single entity controlled and truly farmed the Behemoths.

That was the Great Khan, the most high.

Without the Great khan, the Starherders would not have fled their homeworld, and would probably be destroyed with their home planet. Without the Great Khan, the Starherders would not have been able to settle in the Multiverse with their early, crude airships and Void warships, much less flourish.

‘All glory belongs to the Great Khan.’

As it murmured thus silently in its heart, Kumocinda no longer payed another attention to the Star Eater being that abruptly appeared—there were more than twenty Behemoths in the World Fleet, and nothing would be mad enough to stand against that.

***

In the elven settlement within the unknown world, Priest and the others who were persuading the entire Overwatch Tribe to seek shelter in Hub Accrafa was not aware of the unraveling beyond the Void.

Nor did he needed to know, for the interior and exterior of the Void were essentially two worlds.

“We could never leave the Mother Tree.”

Despite Priest’s kind and patient advise, the antler-crowned elf who was arranging his effects within the half-collapsed underground cavern calmly declined. “The Mother Tree and us are one.”

“What a joke! Elves and Mother Tree are never one body!”

There were a few times in his three-hour long advising that Priest wanted to just punch and knock out the stubborn old elf. Even if he was not Sol’s father, the fact that the otherworld elves were a single spiritual body meant knocking one out was not enough, and he would not have spared time for such nonsense otherwise.

“There are so many elves roaming everywhere on the Mycroft Continent, and your ancestors were the pioneers to colonize the Multiverse! How could leaving the Mother Tree to live away be any different?!”

Even Father Nature himself never once bound the elves to stay beside him, and simply allowed His children to evolve into grassland elves or mountain elves—forms that did not require him. Since when had such a stalwart race became a squeamish child that required the Mother Tree’s protection?

Be that as it may, the battle of tongues was futile. “No,” The elven leader shook his head once more and added, “we would definitely die if we leave the Mother Tree.”

Priest was instantly dumbfounded at those words.

It appeared that the entire elven tribe had enough, which was why the antler-crowned elf slowly began to explain things. “Our spiritual connection would vanish if we venture too far away from the Mother Tree… that’s how many had vanished in the forest, singular bodies corrupted by Otherworld Blight and turning into aberrations.”

Though the elven leader’s expression was as mild as ever, there was no warmth, and he also appeared unconcerned despite last night’s blood rain and tremors, as well as the enshrouding of the purification field. “We thank you for using the Sacred Altar Mountain to banish the Otherworld Blight”, he said quietly, “but we can’t leave the Mother Tree. It holds our tribe’s knowledge, and it’s very painful for us to become singular forms.”

At those words, he watched Priest with a seemingly compassionate gaze. “That feeling is the same like having no limbs, or your once sharp eyes turning blurry, and being alone even amidst the crowd… I could not feel what others around me think or what they think around me, if they hated me or respected me… That frightening sensation of the unknown is far terrible than all aberrations. It would tear apart the peace between the elves, bringing hate and conflict amongst us… That is how the Otherworld Blight spreads.”

“…So you feel that we singular humans are pitiful?”

Priest forcefully calmed himself against the rage of wasted time. “Do you mean that Sol is an alien because she’s not in your network, and that she’s unsociable because you don’t know what she thinks, likes or is afraid of?”

“Yes.” The antler-crowned elf answered quickly without hesitation. “You humans do not even know each other’s thoughts and mood… unable to share pain or happiness… just as my daughter could not be in our fold out of misfortune.”

“That is why I allow her to go along with you, because she is essentially your kind.”

Upon hearing those words, Priest actually smiled—it appeared that the elves’ invitation for them to join the spiritual network from the start held great kindness! Their cautiousness toward the elves were certainly paranoid, but even if they were kind and well-intentioned, it did not mean that they were right.

It was also for certain that they were not wrong, however, for all the humans and dwarves that once lived here had perished. The elves’ survival by staying by the Mother Tree would at least prove that, until now, their choice was correct.

But it did not mean that it was something worth holding pride and steadfast over when the time to change had come!

Priest clenched his fist subconsciously. He had come to convince the elves to the Hub to seek refuge not for Sol, but because he was a pupil of the Legendary champion Radcliffe, the Northern Count!

He was a warrior who had set his will to fight for Order!

His mentor’s lesson had taught him from the start that differences amongst the races lingered amongst the nations and factions on Mycroft, but it was something immaterial—the conflict between Order and Chaos, however, was eternal and mattered most. Since the elf before him remained a being of Order and was a descendant of the Legendary champions who once sealed an Evil God, they thus ought not be destroyed as if refuse by the shockwave that would definitely come.

Indeed, a shockwave that would surely come.

When Priest was made aware that the planet beneath his feet could well be a prison of an Evil God, he was almost scared out of his wits and would absolutely had fainted if he was not left half dead by the blast of information back then.

It was also precisely because he did not faint that he understood one thing: if anything happened to the seal that stopped the slumbering Evil God from its self-destructive conversion, the planet’s best outcome was being torn in two as if an eggshell as the Evil God freed itself.

Or perhaps… just like the Frozen World eaten by his mentor, perfect in appearance but utterly empty inside.

That was why Priest wanted the elves to find refuge in Hub Accrafa, just as he had swiftly transmitted an extradimensional signal to notify the many champions of Mycroft, asking them to come forward and suppress the Evil God—that was the only way most of these people would survive.

And yet these elves simply did not budge, intent on never leaving their Mother Tree even in death!

Indeed, the environment around the Mother Tree was fine since it was free of earthquakes and various calamities. When there was drought, the Mother Tree would absorb subterranean water or even vaporize seawater as fresh water. If It was hot, the Mother Tree would disperse moisture to create a cool climate, and in fact perfectly handling whatever weather or storm—it was the best living environment.

Additionally, the Mother Tree had kept substantial information on production. Added with rich resources around it, the elves require no consideration for their survival… and that was about it! This place appeared to be paradise but was in truth hell itself!

In contrast, a world where rewards were given where it was due and where diligence meant progress was true paradise. Comfortable, peaceful, unbridled and slothful environment were simply toxic to civilizations, and the Evil God of Wither was here too, a being of Chaos capable of weakening thought and causing one to forget knowledge! If these elves carried on thus, they would perhaps become primitive tribes living amidst the forest in another few thousand years!

“Damn it. I’ll warn you this one time—you have no right to refuse, and if you don’t follow me, I’ll…”

The more he thought, the angrier he was. Calm at first, Priest could not help bursting out, prepared to spew out vicious words right before he knocked out all local Gold-tiers, and then drag every elf into Hub Accrafa. Even if they were Gold, the Elite Party were like their namesake, a party no ordinary Gold-tier could match.

If they be willing, a sudden ambush could get rid of most of the Overwatch tribe… but that was when he suddenly picked up a bizarre, ensnaring sweet scent.

“This scent…”

Priest was taken a back, but his mind stayed alert as the antler-crowned elf in front of him suddenly started to wobble. Despite his rank being a Gold-tier champion and was immune to most toxins, he was unwittingly in a daze.

“Chance!”

Priest naturally would not spare time for nonsense. He promptly strode out, and with a rapid sonicboom slammed a heavy fist down the elven leader’s stomach, before sending a backhand chop to his neck to knock him out, with an artistic movement akin to moving clouds and flowing water.

Priest mostly understood what was going on after rendering the elf unconscious. Narrowing his eyes after handling him in a single second, he carried him on his back and out of the cavern, where he found Alchemist as expected—his teammate had been sprinkling some potion everywhere he could reach, with many elves now fainting around the roots of the Mother Tree, their legs convulsing.

“Yo, Leader. My secret concoction for elves is not bad, huh?”

Born half-elf, Constantine the Alchemist stood by the roots of the Mother Tree as he brandished a dark purple bottle and laughed. “Extra-concentrated spiritual ecstasy—weren’t these elves connected in spirit? I got thousands of them high until they are completely dazed!”

Priest saw that the other three Overwatch Gold-tier champions were prone on the ground as well, while Rider, Clergy and Caster all were building a rectangular container out of fishing nets and tree trunks, stuffing one fainted elf after another within before taking turns to fly them back to Hub Accrafa.

“These elves are really kind—they actually helped us built the container.” Alchemist appeared rather proud at the sight. Then, seeing that the bottle of ecstasy in his hand was almost finished, he drew out another from his hip and used mana to spread it evenly in the air.

“Using an addictive toxin on the natives? Your report is going to be rubbish—just wait, you’ll be locked in isolation and told to do some soul-searching.”

Priest made a deliberately fearsome face, saying, “You also would have to explain why you’re carrying a clearly-forbidden addictive drug. It’s a crime!”

“Injustice, injustice! Am I not Alchemist, and how is it a crime for Alchemists to brew ecstasy!” Alchemist mimed a rebuttal, but was interrupted by Priest halfway through as his leader threw the antler-crowned elf at him.

“Take him back too, no one would know. I’m going to the beach, there should be other elves laboring over there.”

“Will do. I’ll fetch you with Rider later, and remember to arrange them tidily or it’ll be a drag.”

Alchemist did not add anything since their partnership did not require it—after all, the expedition team was trained to communicate with the eyes! A glance alone was sufficient for division of labor, leaving Sol alone, staring bewilderedly at her own people who looked in bliss even as they were left sprawling over the ground.

“Heh. Sister-in—Lady Sol, you should help carry them into the containers as well.”

Caster was controlling a spell to place the elves tidily into the containers, and could not help smile at Sol’s rather lost expression. “You are a conspirator now, don’t just blank out.”

“Oh… right.”

Not a fool, Sol was obviously aware that Priest and the others were doing all this to help the elves, and her tribespeople appeared not in pain too… Given that such was the case, Sol threw away her worries and dumped one of the elves into a container.

“Hi-yah!”

***

After a few minutes, Priest arrived by the beach.

There were of course some elves ready to catch fish, but seemingly due to the time and that the tides had yet to recede, they were not working yet but waiting by the beach. However, mutual spiritual sensory left them fainted in exhilaration like their own tribesmen.

“That’s an actual disadvantage of spiritual link, huh. Got it.”

Shaking his head and piling the elven fishermen together tidily, Priest then waited for Alchemist and Rider’s arrival.

The skies were vaguely brightening then, and he narrowed his eyes at the distance.

The sight of the dawning horizon shone before Priest’s vision, the faint orange star hence leaping out of the water’s surface.

Priest watched as the not-quite-warm sunlight glinted upon the sea’s surface, refracting the coastal tides into millions of luminous specks. He exhaled and settled down on the beach, relaxing his excessive uptightness for the past half-a-day, as well as his muscles and body that was still tightened until now.

If it was the past, the fishermen should be working by now—they would have lively conversations as they took their boats into the sea and spread their nets. Priest knew how they lived, and how comfortable, peaceful and settling such a life was.

How peaceful.

Priest enjoyed the tranquility and wished to let his sister live in such a world. Who would not want that? Such a still ocean and a beautiful sight… it was a garden of a world, and anyone would be captivated within.

And yet such tranquility has no future to speak of.

Peace and excessive resources would destroy civilization’s will to progress, especially when they have no conflict. They were not ant colonies born to reproduce and propagate themselves, just as they were normal beings who somehow possessed shared spirit.

“Humans are flawed. To be precise, human flaws are so great that it can’t all be listed with a brief few words.”

Priest could faintly hear a voice—it belonged to his mentor, Joshua van Radcliffe. That powerful Legendary champion had always been so serious when giving lessons, and he never held back from telling his pupil everything in his mind.

“Humans are selfish, cruel, slaughters each other, has no limit, and because they possess the self-awareness to conquer their own instincts, they could become beastlier than beasts. They could even watch indifferently as others, or even other civilizations died and ended, their hearts unfettered and perhaps even delighted.”

“Humans do not understand other humans, nor would they try to. No one could feel as another, and every individual’s struggle and happiness were their own. Therefore, humankind would envy, compare, discriminate, and hate.”

His mentor’s voice was deep as if it stabbed into the depths of the heart as he unrestrainedly dissected the base evil in humans, and yet his tone was not judgmental.

After all, it was not judging.

Indeed, the elves are agile and their tribes united, solving any conflict swiftly. They were intelligent, lively, powerfully adaptable and filled with desire for adventure, a right granted through extended longevity.

Indeed, the dwarves were stout and strong, their wills so toughened that they would scream even as magma incinerated their flesh. They would repeat workday after workday, never complaining and never bored even after a mountain was emptied.

Indeed, each race had their unique attributes: The Avian people could fly, the courage in their hearts holding them as they soared. Orcs were stubborn as stone, and if they had resovled themselves, they would not hesitate to strive forward come blades or mountains or fiery seas.

Halflings, gnomes, avian-people, sauroks, centaurs… Those extinct and those yet to extinct all had something special, their civilizations irreplaceable.

Only humans have nothing, carrying nothing other than uncountable flaws.

“Who cares.”

Priest suddenly smiled and looked up at the nine moons in the sky yet to dull. “Though it is not peaceful at all, there is danger in every turn—but so what?”

Even when living a world that was not paradise and was filled with torment… even if their minds could not be connected and everyone could not understand the thoughts of others…

Even if everyone was filled with flaws.

Still, in the end, only humans that have countless flaws, selfishness, indifference, conservativeness, prudence and embodying endless desires…

…were human.

There is only selflessness with selfishness, passion with indifference. Humans were modest yet vicious, earnest yet cruel.

It is because we are normal humans, conservative, prudent, selfish and arrogant, and because we live in a world that was not peaceful and filled with strife…

That was why there are generations after generations of adventurers. Carrying dreams that no one else would know and belonging only to themselves, striding out thus without hesitation toward the distance.