Translator: EndlessFantasy Translation Editor: EndlessFantasy Translation
Chaos was a curious thing.
Thousands of years earlier—even before the Sage was born and the Glorious Era had yet to begin, in the age prior to the founding of magic and aura by pioneering sages, humans had already come in contact with Chaos.
But bizarrely, Chaos did not exist as a negative adjective at the very start.
It was a neutral term.
‘Order’ opposed ‘Chaos’, ‘existence’ contradicts ‘nothingness’. The Initial Flame burnt Chaos to fill the nothingness, creating existence, just as existence would branch into all living things of Order, becoming scattered remains after their deaths.
When the Initial Flame and the remains vanished, all things would return to Chaos, just as the Flame would reignite upon the ashes and create all life once again. Such was the world cycle the early sages deemed to exist, the eternal movement of the Flame.
The Chaos was neither evil nor hostile. It did not represent destruction or end, but was coal for the Flame, the most primitive form of all things and the most ancient of concepts.
And that was things had been, once.
In spiritual space, Joshua van Radcliffe moved his soul that was akin to a sun and crashed into the Evil God of Wither’s galactic-shaped defensive ramparts without any elegance.
A collision—simple, direct and pure, without any fanciness or sound in the spiritual realm, nor any shockwave.
And yet it was such a simple collision that contained boundless force and unbelievable technique—time was controlled in the hands of a single man; such was the power to surpass world.
Thus, everything shattered in the instant the silver sun crashed into the Dark Galaxy.
Silver Steel Strength radiance incinerated Chaotic mist. That inscrutable outer shell of black ramparts of the Wither and did not permit even light to escape was completely broken into countless fragments.
The turbid and incomprehensible thing that was an Evil God’s body that none knew what they actually were, and yet could corrupt the hearts of men and decay all things began to rapidly decline and deteriorate under the warrior and its own power.
Thus, the sounds of crying could be heard.
“…the sun shattered?”
“What’s going on? All the Void sentry posts are destroyed. We simply can’t get any information from the outside!”
“…it’s meaningless, my comrades. Our world is isolated by a dimensional windstorm—high-energy radiation from the sun’s destruction fills this world and left the microscopic realm in shambles. Our technology could not obtain any movements.”
“Move underground and live on the core’s heat? Please, we have wings, and we are a race that soars the skies!”
Erratic voices appeared with vague illusions from the broken ramparts of the Evil God. Countless whispers that could not be singled out wafted in the Void and became an irritating background static, even as unbelievable scenes appeared in the many illusionary images.
As countless twin-winged creatures raised their hands in shock, the colossal crystalline sun in the sky broke as if it was made from glass. Millions of solar shards became asteroids that crashed down on the land, just as a dimensional windstorm moved ever closer from beyond the Void, hammering the World Barrier and severing all communications between worlds. Uncountable realms thus dimmed, and even if there were those who held on stubbornly, there was no telling how long it could last.
“It’s fifty-seven years now. I’m about to forget the sensation of flying.”
“We now have no sun, our technological progress is sealed and we can’t get to other worlds in the Void, and you lot are still toying with coups and civil strife. Isn’t that suicide?!”
“…From today, the Yutaidel provisional military government would assume control over seventeen underground shelters including Pola, Dirk, and Alanda. All citizens must accept the new governmental rule, hand over all private weapons…”
The Silver Sun was neither curious nor compassionate. He crashed again and completely shattered Wither’s spiral arms behind the Void, and where the Dark Galaxy once was, only the heart of the swirl was left, where some profound being throbbed at its very center faintly.
“They hold all key departments and hide all technology, implementing an obscurantist policy!”
“But what could we do? Their generosity in food and entertainment is outrageous—none would join our resistance.”
“If the day comes and we could return to the surface, we won’t be ourselves.”
“Hah! Most importantly, if our kind still exists when that day comes.”
Joshua coldly swept away every illusion. Silver crystalline ray tore through the swirl, penetrating deep within.
He naturally knew that the illusions were the memories of the ruined world and civilization before Wither became an Evil God. As he utterly splintered its Chaotic constitution and the mists and information hidden in its shell burst out, it proved that he had partially broken the Evil God’s essence.
Pity? Anguish? Hah! Naïve thoughts of a babe. Against the hate accumulating from the destruction of a world, the death of a race and the end of a civilization, none had the right to stay their hand.
It was an Evil God.
A World Eater that wandered ten thousand worlds and destroyed infinite civilizations!
Especially when that hate could likely be the weapons a superior being was building.
Abandoning thought, hearing, and observation so that he was not affected by the Chaos Presence of the Evil God of Wither, Joshua left all his senses and sealed himself inside a ‘personal world’, and briskly collided with the Chaos swirl through programming he maintained.
As profound Steel Strength silently eroded the Chaos, the warrior completely fragmented all of Wither’s constitution.
Thus, in that split second, the Evil God of Wither broke.
The Dark Galaxy imploded resoundingly as the Silver Sun bounced off an abrupt, great force. Soon, as an immeasurably dark flash illuminated the soul space where Joshua and the Evil God of Wither fought a terrible battle, a massive cavity appeared in that space, just as an unusual, huge river streamed away from that cavity, forming an ocean swiftly at the bottom of the soul space.
Meanwhile, the Silver Sun that bounced away—Joshua’s soul— puzzledly and quietly reverted to human form and stared at the churning ocean beneath his feet.
“The ocean… is the essences left after the Evil God is broken?”
Frowning and muttering to himself, Joshua did not smile despite defeating the Evil God. He could not verify if his guess was true, but it might be the only possibility after breaking every part of the Evil God.
The Evil God that threatened the warrior viciously, and that ocean was its remaining essence.
It was an atypical spiritual presence, a viscous fluid that appeared both translucent and turbid in Joshua’s eyes. It was undoubtedly alive: infinite vague faces appeared and vanished from within, some crying in anguish or laughing in joy, just as others were solemn or sad.
With consecutive echoes, the nine giant soul pots that had been floating around Joshua descended on after another. Those were the souls of nine Legends from the bygone Glorious Era, reverting into human form after Joshua.
Amongst them were two humans, one Avian, two elves, two dwarves, one Mulroc and an extremely tall centaur who appeared to have titan blood.
There were signs of Chaos corruption that permeated down into the bone on those Legends’ souls. They fainted the instant they assumed human forms, perhaps slumbering to repel the corruption of Chaos.
A long time ago, to withstand the Evil God of Wither’s impeccable corruption, they sealed their own souls and handed their body processes to be managed by their warships. The Legendary champions had used the power of Chaos to fight Chaos itself, to the point that endless Chaos flesh and appendages had grown out of their warships after thousands of years, becoming massive moons that floated over the Sealed World.
Joshua retrieved and arranged those Glorious Legends souls, placing them above the Great Khan’s soul that had fainted as well. They were so powerful that the Chaos corruption did not exceed the boundary of beyond salvation, and all they needed was to be placed somewhere filled with Holy Light, Order power, or Steel Strength to swiftly dispel those symptoms.
With that accomplished, he looked down toward the ocean once more.
The Ocean of Souls.
Narrowing his eyes at its vastness, Joshua saw human, elf, dwarven, and Avian souls—but the most numerous of them were a race with two wings, a bird head, and appeared rather aberrative. Those souls were thrown together and lost all personal self, with only endless information and energies being transmitted and stored at the depths of the Ocean.
“Looks like every living soul in the Sealed World had been fused into the Evil God’s essence over the last thousands of years… So that’s how Evil Gods strengthen and regenerate: consuming souls and all information within, using it as a source to corrupt the physical world… a completely different existence.”
Joshua muttered to himself with a complicated tone. “It appears that the souls of the nine Legends would decay if we arrived any later and fall into this Ocean… When the time comes, the Evil God of Wither would be completely restored and not maintain its half-broken state.”
All life and souls that were corrupted by Chaos were being drawn and devoured by the Evil God at the world core seal, the only end for all life in that realm without Soul Cycle or Steel Python.
Joshua, however, noticed that were unexpectedly few elven faces in the ocean, even after their longevity was taken into account. It was evident that the elves had evaded Chaos corruption by certain methods to maintain the existence of their souls. However, every other race including dwarf, human and Avian and probably elves that could not escape the Chaos were all here.
Eaten away by Chaos, they died in the truest of definitions, their remains exploited by the Chaos as a fuel for the Evil God. Though some souls still retained dazzling luster and must have died or was consumed only recently, their souls were being rapidly corrupted. Furthermore, the lack of personal ability and Soul Mastery basically meant they were beyond saving—Joshua could maybe save one or two, but fishing every single one out was impossible.
Endless whispers of souls could be heard in that vast spiritual Ocean.
There was anguished wailing, agony, and despair.
There were curses, dullness, idleness.
There were scolding, bewilderment, spite.
All that was sinister gathered upon the turbid, churning Ocean of Souls. The decaying scent of despair spread from within, seemingly able to corrupt and destroy all things…
…just like an Evil God.
Nevertheless, everything stops here.
The warrior clenched both his fists. Even if he was all soul, he was filled with power.
He was aware that when he completely destroyed and purged the Ocean of Souls, the Evil God of Wither would be completely destroyed, just like the many Evil Gods decimated during the Glorious Era without any trace of them left. Of course, the souls inside the Ocean that were assimilated by the Evil God would be utterly wiped out and cleansed as well.
But in the instant Joshua mustered his strength and was about to attack, two huge points of light and five smaller ones appeared, assuming the form of the Nature Magister and her Legendary beast companion, just as the five members of the Elite Party appeared in the Soul Space.
“…Why are you here?”
Forced to stop, Joshua wrinkled his brow at the direction of the newcomers. “And you lot. This isn’t a place that freely admits Gold-tiers, your souls would end up like that too if you came any earlier.”
The latter half of his words were aimed at the five members of the Elite Party. Though Joshua’s tone was strict, there was clear concern.
“The Evil God of Wither’s physical form had just diminished. Now the entire interior of the Sealed World is filled with an indescribable and unusual presence… It’s remarkably similar to the Chaos but unexpectedly mild, and touching it would grant entry into this place.”
Then, as the Nature’s Magister vision turned downward at the turbid Ocean of souls, she promptly frowned as Joshua did. “Although I wanted to congratulate you for triumphing over an Evil God… it appears that things aren’t over yet?”
“Of course not.”
Joshua lowered his eyes at the rolling tides that appeared intend on rallying. “But there’s only the final step left.”
Even after being totally fractured and its essence reduced to an ocean, a powerful Chaotic being such as the Evil God was fundamentally immortal and indestructible. After sometime being left unharmed, the diminishing Ocean was now beginning to squirm as if intending to assume a whole form once more and reassemble the Evil God of Wither’s core.
And the warrior absolutely would not allow that to happen. Therefore, he raised his right fist and mustered power in it again.
A faint but resolved voice that seemed to had gathered every bit of courage spoke out.
Glancing sideways, Joshua turned to the speaker—the leader of the Elite Party and his own pupil, Priest.
Joshua has many apprentices and pupils, with some amongst them being on anonymous, official or provisional capacity. Apart from the four members of the First Party who were about to graduate from Winter Fort Academy, only the Drakonid girl Lisa and Priest of the southern provinces were initiated as his official students.
Compared to those taken in out of guilt for the Berserker Dragon Plague or to care for the Drakonid race of Kronos, many were surprised when Joshua had taken in Priest, a normal human with slight talent as a pupil. There were those with finer innate talent and birthrights or were simply more competitive in comparison, so why would Joshua select a mundane fellow such as Priest as a student?
Was that not just puzzling.
There was however, one reason: during his assessment, he was the one person who dared to voice his true opinion.
It sounded mind-boggling, but in reality, true courage and determination were absolute necessary in the face of a Legendary champion who emanated a mighty presence.
Like now, as Joshua quietly watched Priest, waiting for his pupil to give him a reason for stopping him.
“There are still many souls in the bottom that hasn’t been corrupted by Chaos!”
Facing his mentor’s direct stare, while the Nature Magister and a Legendary beast looked on beside them, Priest felt his feet and soul abandoning himself as his body began to shudder violently. He knew that now was not time of skill instruction or imparting knowledge—it was a place of battle against the Chaos and an Evil God, and himself, being a mere Gold-tier warrior, had no right to speak.
Even so, he must speak at the risk of punishment, scolding, even death. Priest was very aware that he could never condone giving up on his own opinion out of ‘fear’, ‘terror’, and ‘cowardice’, refraining from the diligence that would prevent a future he did not desire.
The Ocean of Souls dipped in Chaos churned and stirred. Endless turbid souls, combined with starry colors, were wailing in sharp despair and agony.
Joshua’s expression turned subtly at his pupil’s words
“I mostly understand what you mean… You wish to save the uncorrupted souls—or just one, right?” Joshua said calmly although his expression had now turned icy. “Priest. Do you know what you’re saying, and the situation here?”
It was now that Priest’s speech became smooth instead. He appeared to realize that there’s no going back, and thus replied flatly, “You’re right, Sir, and that is indeed the case: I wish to save them, and just one if push comes to shove.”
‘It does not have to be Sol.
‘It does not have to be elven.
‘Anyone would do.
‘Even so, there is no standing idly by.’
Priest knew that his impulse at the star may have been out of simple fear and panic. He was scared that Sol’s vanished spirit might be inside the turbid Ocean of Souls.
Soon, he realized that he, or even his mentor would never be able to find an individual soul with precision out of the vast Ocean.
But should he be giving up right then? Should he feel fortunate and give up at the sight of so many souls that needed aid, even if he had no way of knowing whether Sol’s soul was in there?
Of course not.
While Priest may have not mastered the Path of Gravity that Joshua had instructed him and become his mentor’s true heir, he learned his terrible temper of never giving up and never looking back.
He wanted to save, to reach out with his hand and help, and therefore he would do so no matter who he reached. It was that simple.
Believing that he would be reprimanded or punished, Priest suspected that he had mistakenly heard Joshua’s calm reply.
That was when he heard his mentor’s next words.
“Ten minutes. You’ll enter and search it yourself,” Joshua said flatly. “Don’t depend on the sympathy of others—enter as you wish, and save them if you will.”
‘If you can.’
With that, Joshua stomped towards the raging Ocean of Souls. As silver ripples spread, the squirming, gathering tides calmed at once and no longer showed any signs of stirring.
It was his mentor’s style as always. One’s choices, one’s responsibilities.
But that is what should have been.
Priest breathed a huge sigh as he calmed. With a thankful answer, he left the Nature’s Magister protection that kept him away from the Ocean of Souls and leaped at once into the slightly calm sea.
There was no question that Gold-tier souls had escaped the mundane and was hardly corruptible by Chaos—but only Chaos spilling from the minions of Evil Gods. Even Joshua would be left in pieces when it came to Evil Gods, just as their power could hardly be penetrated. Indeed, once Priest’s soul entered the Ocean a pillar of green smoke emerged as if erosion, while countless miniscule soul fragments peeled off from this skin.
“Has our lead—leader, gone mad?”
Alchemist was left gaping at the sight and could not refrain from whispering. Even if they knew that Priest probably would do it, they never imagined that he would leave with such resolve and without a word of banter.
“That’s it… looks like we need a new leader,” Caster said pessimistically. “Love makes one blind, as expected.”
Joshua shook his head, having heard the Elite Party’s quiet discussion. While he was not sure why Priest did things and how such resolve came to be, he was sure that what burnt within his heart was not something like love.
If he must put his finger on something, it was arrogant yet respectable compassion and sympathy.
Meanwhile, at the depths of the turbid ocean, Priest kept swimming toward one erratic soul spot after another and grabbing it into his own embrace, his thought extremely simple.
“You, all of you should see the world beyond.”
‘Sol, you’re right.
‘Humans aren’t fishes and should not live in a tank… The world is so huge that we should take a look .’
At the same time, above the ocean.
“He had no hesitation… so truly decisive.”
The Nature’s Magister spoked softly as she watched Priest’s figure diving deeper. “Completely without thinking.”
“But of course,” Joshua answered as if it was natural and without any pause.
“He is my pupil,” he added, before stopping Galanoud as she was about to retort. “Will do—my silly pupil thought that I’m destroying this ocean. Did you not think so as well?”
Galanoud’s eyes widened at Joshua in return. Though she had to admit that the power of the male human before her exceeded her expectations and truly defeated an Evil God—even if it was one that just awakened from its seal—the Nature’s Magister did not imagine that he had other ways to handle the sea of Chaos.
‘And you were clearly raising your hand and mustering your power!’
Joshua, however, paid no heed to the Galanoud’s doubtful gaze and simply turned, overlooking the edge of the supposedly boundless Ocean.
Were Evil God basically countless souls filled with spite, combined with Chaos, a weapon made from supernatural power that could yet be studied?
A tool of devastation that was build with worlds, species, and ruins of civilizations as raw materials?
That might be the case, and that conjecture might hold for now… But whatever the circumstances, the ignorance, incomprehension, and worry Joshua had about Evil Gods were all gone, for it was proven that they were not unbeatable and indestructible beings.
And ultimately just that.
The warrior raised his left hand and clenched it. Unending power gathered within as obscure silver mist and millions of translucent luminous dots appeared out of thin air, gathering into his palm as if pulled by a black hole.
“You people may have some misunderstanding about my usage of Steel Strength. In reality, the ‘Steel of Origin’ is the source of all life and every physical substance in this world.”
He spoke softly, as if offering an explanation for the surprised Nature’s Magister and the Elite Party, or perhaps simply muttering to himself. “That being said, it is the power of creating worlds and all things.”
A beautiful gem the color of the sky could thus be seen, appearing upon Joshua’s right palm.
“The Azurite… the Unkindled Flame.” Joshua said, staring nostalgically at it. “The Radcliffe family’s origins in their fight against the Chaos.”
“Of the four relics left by the Sage, the Twin Blades of Order are weapons to fight against the coming Chaos; the Bright Scepter and Initial Flame authority is the fire that kept the dying Flame of Mycroft going; the Robes of Order is the heart of the world, the key to activating the grand spell of Grandia.”
“And the Azurite is the source that reignites the Flame Seed.”
The true form of the Azurite had already vanished on Grandia when its grand spell was activated and the Flame Seed of Mycroft was reignited, leaving the Crown of Searing Soul in Joshua’s body.
“You… you actually made an Azurite?!”
It was only then that the Nature’s Magister, who stood in a corner puzzledly inhaled sharply and comprehended what Joshua intended. She unwittingly clenched her hand, a pale tree root thereby popping over her pale white skin. “Your Creation technique actually reached such level!”
“Of course I can create it.”
Joshua smiled. Closing his eyes, he began to communicate with the Azurite he made out of thin air.
‘I’m not an Evil God bent on destruction.
‘I am the Legendary champion who created Restoration Beams, Soul Spheres and simple tools that realized resurrection at its truest definition!’
The Azurite that Joshua made did not have the concentrated Order power in the original version left by the Sage, although it was brimming with the warrior’s own Steel Strength as it gathered rapidly and without limit within.
“I once told Lisa that the power of the strong could reverse future and destinies, turning tragedy into comedy and granting rebirth to death.”
Joshua opened his eyes. The Azurite in his hand unleashed bright, peerless splendor as if a supernova.
“Priest, this is the power to change everything.”
‘Therefore, keep that resolve… and become stronger.’
His palm freed, the light descended.
The silver azurite fell into the sea of Chaos.
Radiance shone, devouring the Chaos.
And all that was spiteful returned to peace.