Translator: EndlessFantasy Translation Editor: EndlessFantasy Translation
Why was the world born?
Ancient theologians and philosophers once fiercely debated that noble and sacred topic.
Some claimed that the world was born from holy saints or made in seven days, that giants opened the skies or by a single dream of the old Gods.
Some claimed that the world was born from one great explosion, an oscillation or a flame that who-knows-how-it-even-started, or perhaps that a god had mistaken his spaghetti portions.
Many discussed that question, just as many answers were obtained. Depending on society, species and thought, each society and race had differing opinions—regardless, all of them finally selected an answer that enlightened themselves about ‘how the world was born’, and then happily leave that question aside.
After all, no matter how worlds were born, what does that have to do with the daily life of a mortal? Whatever, who cares.
So the question is: why was the world born?
Joshua slowly opened his eyes and calmly survey his surroundings.
He was inside a dark but vast space with no sky, no ground and no borders. It was the form of the universe before the concept of ‘Light’ had taken form.
But at the same time Joshua opened his eyes and endless light thus shone from his body, rows of tidily arranged, dazzling prism crystals emanated endless radiance from within to beyond, instantly brightening the entire world. He also realized at once through Steel Strength vision and multiple energy sensory that he was present within a special, small world made of silver metal crystals entirely, was extremely dense and emanated powerful gravity.
Still, that was inaccurate since he was not ‘present within’.
Joshua felt the world though a formless profound power that swept across the empty sky and land, and it was just like a person rubbing his forehead as he considered a question.
In fact, the world was his body.
And now, the warrior sensed that he was at the center of the world, an ultra-dense Steel Strength composite that released boundless radiance… in other words, the world’s sun.
“A Cavity World, huh.” He mumbled quietly. “I did it?”
In the past few millennia, the ancients once thought endless times about the constitution of worlds. Some thought that the sun, the moons and stars orbited around worlds, while orders believed that it was the other way around. Others also imagined that the world was a sphere and everyone lived inside, and that the center of that sphere were the sun, moons and stars that every creature could see.
Truth be told, all of them were right.
There were millions of worlds in the Multiverse. Whether it was heliocentric or geocentric; worlds with an orbicular sky and rectangular earth or their counterparts; Abysses, floating islands, oceanic worlds, mountain realms, magma worlds or gaseous worlds—there are only worlds that human could not imagine, and absolutely none which did not exist in the Multiverse.
And subterranean worlds were one in those millions.
Disregarding the description, imagine that the world was a balloon.
A very thick balloon.
The external portion of the balloon was a World Barrier, its durability being relative to the size of the world. The larger the world, the tougher it was and harder to penetrate, while barriers of smaller worlds are easily ruptured, allowing creatures to move inside or outside easily. Indeed, barriers in large worlds were easily tough, its presence undetectable without certain ability.
According to projections, if a world was large enough to the scale of countless galaxies, its mass would push the stalwartness of a World Barrier to an unbelievable reach. There would be no power in the observable universe that could break through it, and people from the outside would not be able to enter just as those inside could not get out. They would be completely independent from the universe, just like black holes and its event horizons.
Meanwhile, inside the balloon was a world where ordinary lifeforms lived.
According to the shape, core and energy density of a world, the inner composition of realms was mostly different. Some worlds would have no substance and was pure energies; those were known as an elemental plane to the layman. Other worlds could be complete filled with substance but have no air at all or could be a place where life birthed within endless magma, those were uncommon ‘mountain realm’ and ‘magma worlds’.
However, due to Order resonance, most worlds had a general reality, balanced mass and a construct that was accommodating for life. Those constructs were most common found in continental realms or worlds with orbicular sky and rectangular earth, as well as singular worlds inside a small planetary system.
And the world Joshua’s body had molded into was a ‘Cavity World’ that was rather rare in elemental realms.
Imagine. The world was a hollow sphere, its outer wall being its World Barrier while its interior the land where all creatures lived, and the center of that world was the sun that illuminated upon everything.
To be more specific, it was like the symbol ⊙.
Having understood the present situation, Joshua knew very well that his risky ascension after destroying the Evil God of Wither was accomplished perfectly—both the Sealed World and the world frame that was his true form had been welded into a whole new world by burning Wither’s corpse, a world that was around one light-second large.
One way or another, a unique world without ‘gravity’ in the common definition.
Indeed, there was no weight in Joshua’s world at all. The single thin layer of ground that latched on to the realm’s frontier did not have enough mass or attraction force and attraction force. Even so, the sun at the center of the world emanated both a great attraction force and a boundless high-energy flow that shrouded all things, ‘pressing’ every object on a fixed position and maintained a mysterious balance.
Innumerable silver prism crystals could be seen standing upon the vastness of the world, standing aloft like obelisks that reflected the sun—Joshua’s light, and illuminate the entire world.
A single cluster of obscure light swirled at the center of the prisms. Joshua knew that those were the souls of the bygone civilization which had been the main body of Wither, as well as the expeditionary army and their descendants.
For life to exist, naturally born worlds had to rely upon pure chance, or powerful beings such as Ancient Dragons or the Black Fog’s main body. After life was born, souls that were born and embarked upon supernatural paths could instead help the world harness energies from the surrounding Void of the Multiverse, grooming that world towards high-mana and high-spiritual levels.
Rarely, or perhaps no worlds would hold substantial souls at birth—even Fairyland, when it was first created by the Fairy Queens.
But Joshua was different. His world was born from burning an Evil God’s body, with endless souls being reborn along with his world. Through his power, the souls inside the crystal prisms would slowly evolve into natural spirits in the future and born as creatures resembling the Silver Fairies within Joshua’s world. To a certain extent, they were his kin.
“So, this is the beginning of an ancestry… It’s fortunate that the Evil God of Wither’s own spawn were all wiped out millennia ago, or this would be much more troublesome.”
After muttering to himself, Joshua closed his eyes.
He could take it slow in observing the newborn world. It was his body and it would still grow for a while, so there was no hurry to understand everything just yet.
For now, the most important thing was to interact externally.
Although Joshua had subjectively closed his eyes, endless Steel Strength, electromagnetic waves, gravity, and shockwave began to emanate from the ‘sun’ to the Void of the Multiverse beyond.
In virtually a split second, Joshua completely gathered all information around his world.
He was now at the edge of the galaxy, in the region where the Sealed World once was. Incalculable runic constructs were whirling around his body, seemingly protecting and augmenting the world’s form.
There were a considerable number of Void Behemoths and Legendary champions energy signatures not far from the Cavity World. They appear to be Void Behemoths driven by the outsiders, as well as champions of Mycroft who were here for exchanges and guard duty.
At present, many Void warships of various sizes were collecting data and energy signatures from the world he had turned into. It appeared that the scholarly organizations of various factions were taking him as their core research topic—it was a considerable hassle to have them run here from so far away since Joshua had intended to attempt his ascension around the Multiverse Sacrificial Grounds.
Apart from that, Joshua naturally sensed the great energy signature of a familiar presence.
The miniature silver world was Joshua’s body at present—unlike Steel Pythons that were fundamentally a combination of Gaia and Alaya, a composite of soul cycles with the unit of worlds after intelligent life was born, an incarnation of every spirit in that world.
Joshua, on the other hand, was the world itself. Therefore, even world barriers were an extension of Joshua’s sensory organs and will.
It was why Joshua could easily see a rather modernized Void base was built around him rapidly, with several massive Void warships transporting resources and building small fortresses in nearby Void nodes. In fact, Fort Glory, the warship that the Far Southern Holy Mountain had transformed into was anchored at the center of a nearby fort. He could hear many researchers fiercely debating as they studied the actual process of the world’s birth and various conversion of matter.
Indeed, Joshua could sense a great many things. Although he could hear in the first place, that range and procedure of his perception after developing into world had expanded and increased by a great level, to the point that he could observe million-class unites concurrently. Still, that was just the tip of the iceberg—Joshua believed that he could even empower that ability through the processing array specially constructed in his body.
He could even see the faint light that other galaxy emitted in the distant darkness.
It was precisely why that the powerful presence which had been standing guard all along beside that silver planet turned towards the world, seemingly feeling Johsua’s unconcealed ‘gaze’.
“You’re up, Joshua.”
Saint Igor, the pontiff of the Seven Gods Church said very solemnly. “Do you know how long you’ve slept?”
“A hundred and ninety-seven days,” Joshua answered briskly. “Although it’s a brief moment for me, I should now be saying ‘long time no see’, You Holiness.”
“And I thought you didn’t know.”
The elderly pope’s deliberately cold expression vanished at once as he heard Joshua’s precise report of his own slumbering duration. He first smiled, before shaking his head to sigh regretfully. “I could’ve told you that it’s now fifty years later, that the Evil Gods’ invasion was at hand.”
“Never imagined that Your Holiness was one for corny jokes.”
Joshua laughed courteously and materialized a clone in the Void. As silver shards of light appeared out of thin air and assembled into a rather vague but gradually vivid human figure, the warrior flexed his limbs before shaking his head.
“As I’ve thought, forming a human clone directly in the Void easily spills my power.”
Usually, Joshua’s clones had solid Steel Strength as a medium, and he especially needed Restoration Beams—a part of his own body to act as a medium—when he traveled between worlds. Directly creating a clone over a continent would diminish even the warrior’s power: it was a collapse phenomenon that would assuredly occur in supernatural worlds with high-energy disturbance, a phenomenon that is worse in the Void due to the presence of dimensional turbulence.
It was also exactly why Joshua knew that the old white-haired man before him was no clone. Pope Igor’s true form was indeed here, and had been waiting for his awakening.
“It’s now more than half a year after the incident. We’ve questioned and entered an exchange with both the Nature’s Magister and the Great Khan for a long time.”
Igor naturally did not spare time for idle conversation. Knowing that Joshua did not have to mind such things at the moment, he simply reached out and clap his hand on the warrior’s shoulder. “Still,” he said softly, “I believe you have to describe the course of events firsthand… especially the battle against the Evil God of Wither.”
That was something natural. Joshua intended to share his experience and information gained from the fight against the Evil God in the first place, and he had much to say especially when asked about it now.
For his part, the pontiff listened carefully and occasionally interrupted with several questions, and only when it was absolutely necessary.
“So that’s what happened. The Evil God of Wither… If that power could be grasped, even non-Legendary attacks could harm Evil Gods.”
In return, Igor was silent for some time. Joshua did not continue either, and it was after a long moment that he exhaled and asked in slight wonder, “And those souls… are they all now inside your body?”
“Yes, all inside my world.”
Joshua replied solemnly, looking up at the dark Void “Most of those souls are severely damaged, with a great many amongst them dying from old age. The souls themselves do not have the desire to awaken either, and would stay in slumber even when fully restored.”
“Is that so.”
Igor replied simply, and fell into another long silence.
The old man’s expression was clearly complex: there was delight, satisfaction, pensiveness and an indescribable loneliness—in the end, however, he smiled. “Either way, congratulations, Count Radcliffe. You have ascended to Legendary-advanced, assuming the endless path but one step closer to the Sage’s level.”
“Thanks to fate and certainly much lucky coincidences.” Though Joshua never paid much attention to human relationships, he still was observant enough to tell that there the elderly pope was having a complex mood. “What?” He said quietly, frowning. “Your Holiness—from your expression, could something has happened in Mycroft during my two-hundred-day ascension?”
“No, everything is alright in Mycroft… In fact, it’s countless times better than I imagined.”
Igor smiled bitterly, shaking his head. “Who would’ve thought that I was thinking about using my own life to maintain the Flame ten years ago?” He said quietly. “Who would’ve thought, ten years later that Mycroft, where endless chaos, conflict and fires of war existed would develop so rapidly?”
“Everything is great, Count Radcliffe. The orcs are extinct, the Draconic Plague calmed, the cultist purged and all tumors of Chaos removed. The Emperor of the North who rules over a quarter of humans regained his valor thanks to you, and at least did not leave his nation in shambles. You’ve also reignited Mycroft’s Flame, restarted the Multiverse Sacrificial Grounds and recovered the Unified Archives… Seven Gods above, I rarely pray for I know that my way is that of the gods. Even so, Count Radcliffe, did you ever notice that the world is improving at an unimaginable rate because of your existence?”
“Is that so.” Joshua remained unconcerned. Being a Foreigner and holding a System probably gifted by the Sage or some World Will, was it not natural that he could achieve such things? If he, Joshua, could not even do that, he should just stay home and get fat.
“But of course, some trivial tasks.”
Igor, meanwhile, watched Joshua with an unusual gaze that made the warrior slightly uncomfortable. “It’s simply gone too well, Count. The Multiverse Sacrificial Grounds brought our world many low-cost resources, the Unified Archives spared us substantial scientific research, and it is a matter of time that magically powered factories become common. Our civilization is progressing so swiftly and everyone’s lives are improving.”
“Indeed.” Joshua felt something was not right as he listened to the pontiff’s tone, and asked puzzledly, “Isn’t that a good thing?”
“It is,” Igor said mildly and then pointed at Joshua. “But what about you?”
At those words, the elderly pontiff narrowed his eyes at Joshua’s own. “Everyone enjoys the change you’ve brought, and yet you kept fighting at worlds beyond. I’ve advised you to notice the ground beneath your feed and not keep looking up at the skies—you should be concerned with your own living, and not keep sacrificing yourself for all civilization.”
“Just like this battle with the Evil God of Wither.”
With those words, Igor strode out amidst the Void with Joshua beside him, both of them strolling around the silver planet as the pope spoke calmly. “This time, you and Galanoud could already subjugate the Evil God of Wither, alongside a champion of the Starherders. That’s quite enough, Joshua, and you did not have to use the harmful methods such as self-destruct as you always did to experience the Evil Gods’ power. You have reinforcements, and we would have soon arrived and kill the Evil God with a sufficiently safe method, rescuing every soul within instead of having you bear such a great risk as if you fought alone.”
Igor stopped in his tracks and turned, speaking earnestly, “Joshua, you are one of Mycroft’s hopes, Ying and Ling’s owner, the Liege of Moldavia. You are not without options, you are not alone—there is still decades to come, the Evil Gods are not invincible, and we still have excesses… do you understand that? You could enjoy the special rights and delights of life that nobility, liege, Legendary champion and your other statuses grant you. You could even afford to be extravagant, and not risk yourself again and again like this, throwing yourself into near-death situations.”
Joshua naturally knew what Igor meant.
The old man spoke honestly and earnestly. He was like a senior who could not bear to see his junior leaping into the fiery pit again and again, thereby unable to refrain from having a word or two with him, get him to relax and stop being so uptight and adventurous, so that everyone watching him would not be so nervous as well.
Clearly, he was aware of Igor’s intentions, just as it was clear that Igor did not understand Joshua.
“Thanks for your concern, Your Holiness.”
Extending his hand, Joshua wanted to clap his hand on Igor’s shoulder like he always did when he calmed others, but withdrew it and pressed his own nape when he thought about the issue of formality. Then, after considering his words for some time, he simply said: “In truth, I really enjoy this life.”
Joshua answered Igor’s puzzled question simply. “Because fighting is my ideal, and I had always acted with that rule.”
As he spoke, Joshua strode out once more, and Igor followed him this time. “Of course, I occasionally doubted my ideals before… Because I wanted battle, not to protect, not to invade, not to destroy. I don’t care about victory, defeat or sense of accomplishment, not even who I compared myself with. The battle I seek is pure, hollow and unmeaningful.”
Ignoring the pope’s ‘so you do know’ stare, Joshua look at the dark Void and continued as he walked. “There’s many a time I’ve seen Your Holiness striving for all of Mycroft, the Nature’s Magister working hard for the elves, Israel racking his brains for the Empire, just as many other champions fought and became stronger for their future, past and the things they wish to protect. There were definitely times I suspect that my own life was a little hollow.”
“I was certainly lost then.”
The warrior answered that fact heartily. He was never concerned that he was flawless in that respect, for it was only through admittance that there was certainty, and subsequently cleansing… Ignorance is always the wrong choice.
With half his face illuminated by the light of the planet, the other sinking into the darkness of the Void, Joshua said, “I have earned titles such as savior, guardian, or even new god in the many otherworlds I’ve saved—but I never intended to do good in the first place. I just did them by chance, and those titles had nothing to do with my original intent.”
At that, Joshua laughed quietly. “Doesn’t the ideal of fighting for the sake of fighting sound crazy? It’s like how we saw the Evil Gods back then. None knew their intentions, why they came, and why they decimated all things.”
The existence of Evil God as a weapon and the culprit behind all that were all Joshua’s guess. Everything remained shrouded in mystery.
Still, the warrior continued. “Holding on to that ideal could well drive me into the darkness. Would I become another type of Evil God in the future like Pestilence or the main body of the Black Fog? I have thought about that question since the journey to Simboa.”
Igor, who had quietly listened to Joshua all along asked quietly then. “Have you found the answer to that question now?”
‘Have you found your Order?’
“I am awake, Your Holiness.”
Joshua answered, a reply with multiple meanings. He lowered his head slightly at the Void and stars that were just as endless, and said mildly, “Now, I actually know what my heart beats for.”
“I’m alive, I would fight. That is my Order.”
Looking up once again, Joshua suddenly changed the conversation with a soft laugh. “Your Holiness. Did you know? Life is born without meaning.”
“Inorganic matter would turn into organic matter. Organic macromolecules would then eventually accumulate into thick primordial soup wherein the framework of life is birthed… There’s no meaning behind that existence: there is no god, no creator or choice, a sheer coincidence.”
“Virus, cells, bacterium, unicellular organism, multicellular organism… Their births are solely because they simply exist.”
“And existence itself is to fight against the world.”
At that, Joshua stopped. They had already circled the silver planet once, with the two Legendary champions having covered its single light second length.
Everything returned to its original position.
Meanwhile, the warrior stared at his own body, the silver world. There was no emotion in his face and yet it did not radiate coldness, where a lightless warmth was gathering.
“Breathing, moving, feeding, breeding… why do all these impulses exist? For nothing. Just like the appearance of life, and everything that existed including the world—their birth, existence and end all did not require reason.”
‘I have found my Order.’
Joshua closed his eyes and remembered all that he had gone through in life. The images of his experiences flashed in his mind that was now faster than supercomputers, and he quickly finished browsing through all he had been through.
He did not have to decorate his actions with some grand justice, nor did he have to color his thoughts with nobility.
To fight when he wanted to, to triumph when he desired to.
“Don’t pay my feelings any heed, Your Holiness. It’s all what I’ve chosen, and what I enjoy.”
Joshua opened his eyes, turned and pointed towards the edge of the galaxy, seemingly challenging and sending a declaration of war against that boundless and infinite darkness.
“Because it’s what I want to do.”
As he spoke, Joshua’s finger swept past the Void and galaxy before him. Silver trails of Steel Strength illuminated the starry sky as he laughed heartily, while beside him, the solemn-faced pontiff also could not help shaking his head and smiled as well.
“Because it’s my life.”