Translator: EndlessFantasy Translation Editor: EndlessFantasy Translation
Joshua scratched his head, with sparks bursting out when his fingernails touched his hair.
He mumbled to himself for moments, with his right hand stroking his chin—anyone could tell that he was pondering.
Then, he finally sighed.
“Forgive my frankness, Your Majesty,” he said earnestly, “I don’t think your Order works.”
“To be frank, it’s a little silly.”
The God of Love and Death uttered softly, lifting her brow. “Well, how is it silly?”
Both of them did not care about the pontiff who kept gesturing with his hands at a corner. “We often debate about Order.” Yolanda smiled softly, seemingly not angry with Joshua’s forthrightness. “Don’t worry about me getting provoked by honesty. It does not matter to the gods.”
“It’s folly from the very beginning.”
The warrior lowered his head—Yolanda was very close to Joshua then, and he had to look down to gaze upon her eyes since he was taller. “As long as the one who made the choice was human and not a pure machine of logic,” he said quietly, “choosing to love or not to love would remain mere hormone reaction when a choice is made.”
“A student who is adept at drawing could, out of one moment of excitement or praise by friends and family choose to love literature. A child of a mage adept at archery could be forced to become an alchemist out of family reasons. If one never discovered what they truly loved or was adept at, and choose to ‘love’ what they were neither good at or like in the heat of a moment, was such lovely one freely given as well?”
Joshua loved and was good at fighting. He knew what he wanted, for it was an answer he gained after going through the fields of war challenging countless talents.
Even so, was it the same for others? Were they aware of what they were adept at, what they love? Were the ideals in their hearts truly not a moment of impulse?
“Humans would always regret, and that leads the Order which Your Majesty has chosen down a path of darkness.”
The warrior looked up at the streets around them—the people of Moldavia were converging upon them as they watched what the fuss was about. “You are merely running away,” Joshua continued softly as he watched them, “Humans would be avoiding conflict with Your Majesty’s power and authority, escaping the struggle between self and desires.”
“With a god granting the ability to love and not, humans no longer have to fight against their own nature or think about their path they took, enjoying ‘freedom’ in the name of god when it’s actually an escapist’s bliss.”
Yolanda’s elven form gazed upon Joshua then, her eyes burning as she paused for a moment in response to the warrior’s accusation, before answering him matter-of-factly. “Even so, is that not a path chosen by life itself? One did not have to do what they are good at, and it remains human freedom to choose a path one was not adept at or sure about. The power I give would only affirm them as they choose.”
“Furthermore, the world would no longer see crime or darkness in any case. Everyone—even those with anti-establishment tendencies— would choose a path that treats all equally. Could that not permanently resolve the inner struggles of civilization in a single stroke?”
Joshua merely shook his head. “Since when must freedom be granted by others?” He countered coldly. “Likewise, must choosing between good and evil need the divine power of the gods?”
“The progress of society, along with the propagation of civilization and culture rises with moral standards. The day would always come that it would not require external help but the progress of civilization alone, just like humans. They do indeed need to control their desires, resist their nature and stand against all that is unfree in this world.”
Joshua said with emphasis and a low voice, just as he strode forward to Yolanda, arching his back to face the God of Love directly. “Your Majesty, all of that are what humans should be doing. From an ignorant child who goes with the flow, gradually growing into a champion who could stand against the tides of fate as they moved forward, seeking their own destiny.”
“And that process is life: growing, living and fighting!”
Joshua had certainly almost been convinced by the God of Love and Death at first, for her ideal that ‘Love was Order’ and its interpretation definitely resonates with the warrior who loved to fight so purely.
Only with passion comes determination and displeasure. If not for true passion, would one be able to pour all their strength to work and strive?
The world that the God of Love spoke of, however, left Joshua frowning—such logic was not one of intelligent beings, and it was then that Joshua realized that it was actually a battle.
A battle that required neither limb or transfer of energy, merely the description of one’s own perspective and ideals, the battle known as the ‘Struggle between Truths’.
The Seven Gods that watched over Mycroft civilization each had their own Order. The God of Might and Justice had found his heir in Emperor Israel, with the two powerful beings molding a world with ‘Order of Might’ in the Northern Realms.
Meanwhile, the God of Love and Death had sought himself, hoping that he would join her in building a world with ‘Order of Love’.
There was no question that the other gods that had simply looked on as the world revolved must be finding their own heirs in preparation of building their Order. They did not influence the world or declared religion for those were meaningless—fanatical followers were the ones furthest away from the gods.
In short, not understanding a divine doctrine in detail or the logic and Order that it embodies, without acknowledging the god’s righteousness as a free man, they would never become empower their gods, at most aiding them marginally from a desolate corner.
Gods did not require faith. They merely yearned to decide the path of civilization, the fate of the races and the Order that would exist in the world’s future!
Therefore, since it was a battle, he would have to defeat an enemy he did not acknowledge.
“Your Majesty, the freedom and love you speak of is simply abandoning a life of possibilities, converting people into a society without warmth with machine efficiently.”
The warrior said drily, unafraid at all of angering a god as he made clear his perspective. “The humans you mention—how are they different from machines, puppets and artificial intelligences that had presets objective and development plans?”
“Being independent and self-aware, humans should not be swayed by fate or nature from day one. Each should have their ambition and principle, accepting or rejecting it in the crossroads within the course of their life. To not fight with one’s own nature, not attempting to understand and study one’s own desire and giving up on conflict with the world is mechanical—operating after having a single target, is that even life?”
“That’s merely a machine.”
Irresponsible choices are the root of evil. It is only by truly comprehending what one was doing, what kind of person one would become in the future that genuine and free choices could be made.
“Your Order is radical and wrong, perhaps even more dangerous than the future that Israel and the God of Might hope for. In your own words, love is not skin deep—to allow every person to choose to ‘love’ is no better than allowing them making their choices with their saturated teenage hormones, a love that undoubtedly cannot be reasoned with. It is only by experiencing that phase, obtaining jobs to become self-independent should one think about one’s own future, and only then would the choices made by a person deciding for themselves could be described as a free.”
Joshua could not help breathing a sigh after he had said so much; he even subconsciously flexed his arm and clench his fist.
Thinking about such things was more tiring than beating up the Great Khan.
Nevertheless, he would never dare to be half-hearted and whimsical before a god. It was irresponsible and not his attitude, because if he did not seriously retort, Yolanda would undoubtedly make her own order a reality.
If a god performed such a radical social experiment over the entire world, the harm would be greater than an Evil God’s invasion—it would not be impossible for civilization to collapse if it occurred a greater scale.
But it was also precisely why Joshua became even more puzzled.
What were the origins of the Seven Gods?
Were they defensive mechanisms the Sage left to protect Mycroft civilization? Stewards whom the Sage left behind as he himself headed to the center of the Multiverse and find out the truth behind Evil Gods and the cycle between Order and Chaos.
And if that was the case, why would the stewards possess their own ideals?
They were not old surviving deities from the Glorious Era—no ancient text ever recorded their existence, just as they were not ascended mortals of Starfall, since they were already supreme beings when the citizens of Starfall first encountered them.
Joshua was already aware of the of who their enemy the Evil Gods were, but he remained ignorant of the Seven Gods, their own allies.
It must be said that it was a dark joke.
Meanwhile, Yolanda was not angered by Joshua words.
Even if directly refuted by the warrior, even described as ‘unreasonable’, she remained calm.
In fact, she was smiling.
“You really resemble him.”
The God of Love and Death gazed on Joshua’s face, and spoke with a rather distant voice. “He had refuted my idea as well back then, demanding that I change my study and redo my graduation assignment… He even stated the same reasons when he refuted me then, that humans would only have the right to choose after fighting against their own nature and desires.”
“Even so, how should I change things in a hurry? It would have been fine if there had been delays… It’s a pity that war has ignited—it’s meaningless for me to change my study since no one is there to grade it.”
“Wait. what are you talking about?”
At those words, even Igor had abruptly stood up after sitting in a corner and watched helplessly as god and warrior debated away. Now, Joshua and the pope stared, their brows tightly furrowed at the God of Love and Death.
“‘Him’? Study, graduation assignment?”
‘What on earth is this god talking about?!’
However, Yolanda apparently would not answer their questions. She merely looked up at the skies that had been dyed violet by her divine powers, mumbling in a faint voice, “He loves the world and all its people, while I only love the world because I love him.”
“Radcliffe, I’m very happy with your answer. You’re right—my Order is unreasonable and a joke.”
Yolanda’s voice returned to normal as she looked down and spoke calmly once again. “I know you are searching for the way to the ‘Bottom of the Abyss’, and I incidentally have the answer to that mystery.”
“No, wait. Your Majesty, who is the ‘he’ you mentioned?!”
In that very moment, Joshua simply had no focus to spare on some abyssal depth. Though they had no inkling at the moment, they could just ask about it from other gods who probably hold certain clues.
On the other hand, the secret that Yolanda spilled could hint an aspect of the Seven Gods’ true identity. “From what you’ve said, you were actually his student as well? And with the future of an entire civilization being a study…”
“That question is trivial, its answer unhelpful.”
Yolanda interrupted Joshua calmly. “We were no longer our old selves since a long time ago. Compared to such a meaningless question, information on the ‘Bottom of the Abyss’ is much more important to all of Mycroft.”
In response, Joshua breathed a sigh and held back his curiosity, just as Igor took a deep breath beside them and calmed down.
As they shared a glance, both knew that each other were aware of present circumstances—now, Yolanda would clearly not say a single thing that could clear away their doubts, but even so, it was better to quickly obtain a clue about the Bottom of the Abyss than to fuss over what they wanted to know.
They would always have the time to discern the relationship between the Sage and the Seven Gods.
Be that as it may, the God of Love and Death left Joshua and Igor’s mind and spirit thunderstruck for a second time.
“The Bottom of the Abyss is known as the ‘Abyssal Paradise’ back in the Glorious Era. Every Steel Shard of destroyed worlds inside the Abyss gathers there, awaiting the day that the Flame reignites and worlds were reborn. Its location had shifted due to the ‘Final Battle’, and it should now be at the Nine Hundredth and Forty Ninth Abyssal center… it was where the Evil God of Fertility and the Sage fought decisively, and their very grave.”
Yolanda turned. Her divine power that froze all of Moldavia began to diminish and time flowed once more, just as human voice started to become noisy from afar. Even so, the deity remained unconcerned with the questions Joshua and Igor asked at the same time, her frame thus becoming thin, vanishing as if a shadow.
“I know you are shocked and puzzled. But in return, I could only say that he is already dead to us—the one who returned and was resurrected from the bottom of the Abyss may have been the ‘Sage’ you speak of, but it isn’t him at all.”
Before vanishing, the elegant elven lady form of the God of Love and Death spoke softly and vaguely. “Therefore, to me, the Bottom of the Abyss is the grave where he and the Evil God of Fertility both perished.”
“As for you, Joshua Radcliffe…”
“We look forward to the Order you desire as well.”
The silhouette was no longer discernible, even as Yolanda leveled one last complicated but hopeful glance behind herself.
“Therefore, Radcliffe, show us that future if you can.”