Soul Of Searing Steel Chapter 1030
Translator: EndlessFantasy Translation Editor: EndlessFantasy Translation
Intelligent life would only ever feel fear and distress when that which they were familiar with changed.
However, it is also in the consequent adaptation and adjustment—and the process of change caused therein—that intelligent beings would keep growing and become complete.
The Extraordinary individuals were very much further beyond ordinary beings in that aspect of adaptibility.
They would witness firsthand their own hometown developing from a village in the mountains into the holy city of a profound civilization. They would also witness firsthand the diversion of a river they know, directed by their own or another’s power to flow towards a different direction.
The things that they would be able witness were many: from hills that collapsed into plains, to rift valleys raised into great peaks. They could even witness the death and rebirth of stars, the demise and substantiation of the sun…the more powerful the Extraordinary individual, the more difficult it would be to stir emotions in them through such aspects of change. It was similar to how ordinary beings would not be concerned over the furniture in their homes being shifted an inch—it would be nothing important at all.
There was certainly less need to mention beings who had actually surpassed Extraordinary individuals as well: those beings known as the gods. It would be hard to think of any possible changes that could actually prompt fear and distress in them.
And yet, it was nothing but the truth: even the gods would only ever feel fear and distress when that which they were familiar with changed.
On the nineteenth of February, Starfall year 862, time unknown.
The Abyss of the Lost Galaxy, outside the Vortex of Creation.
The God of Life walked amidst the Void of the Abyss without a direction, just like how ordinary beings would take a stroll in vast places to improve their moods.
At the moment, she was recalling the distant past, a memory that had to do with herself thousands of years ago.
There was a secret that was not quite one held amidst the leaders of Mycroft—where had the Seven Gods actually originated from? It was a question that did not have to concern the general population, but for the champions or deities who were close to surpassing the divine, knowledge of the origins of the divine would be a great advantage to their own ability.
At first, not even the Seven Gods were sure about the answer to that question, but in that war against the Evil God of Death Embryo, the truth which had long since been buried beneath dust was at long last unraveled in the expedition down to the depths of the Abyss. Everyone was then aware of the origins of the Seven Gods, just as they had themselves learned about that.
They were remains awakened, ashes revived to answer the call of the Holy One.
They were once humans as well—a part of the diverse beings and the frontier barrier that repelled the Chaos in the last era.
The many champions finally realized with a start then, and understood why the Seven Gods would protect the Mycroft civilization for no particular reason at all, and why such powerful beings would focus their gaze upon the beings of the world. All of them had been born for that purpose, guardians who died for their cause and a protection that stretched across two eras.
Their doubts were hence answered, but when the Seven Gods had found the memory of their human days, they were all left greatly bewildered.
There was simply too much change.
Be it the newly founded era of the Starfall civilization, how it differed from the Glorious Era, or themselves who were once Glorious Era champions and now the Seven Gods of the present Starfall Era…the sights of home had long since vanished, with only one out of the former seven continents left—there were no similarities between the Mycroft of today and the Mycroft of the past at all.
Everything had changed and profoundly so, to the point that even the gods were left in a daze. In fact, there were horrific, radical thoughts that arose from the furthest reaches beneath their minds.
Should I still be protecting all of this?
All that I have loved and all that I remember are all gone with the wind. The turnings are spanning across the world, with any old familiar faces gradually lost across the thousands of years. Apart from its name alone, is the Mycroft of the present still the same as the one I have once sworn to protect with all that I am—including body and soul?
There had been no answer to that, but…
“The only thing that has not changed is the Chaos.”
The God of Life looked up from the depths of a galaxy to the distant cosmos. It was like a person positioned on the bottom of a deep-reaching dimensional well looking out towards the sun and the blue sky from the mouth of the well.
She could see a darkness lingering upon the borders of the endless cosmos, where it was spreading and invading.
Everything, save for the enemy, was now different, be it guardian or the world to be protected. As time flew, the turning of the world and the whirling wheel of civilization—even the memories of the gods—blurred and began to dissipate, but it was only the grudge and the striving heart that never once lost color from start to finish.
That was why the gods had all managed to leave that sense of bewilderment, advancing in determination once more to protect everything in the present—but it was her, the one addressed with the title of the most powerful god, who also never once left her own little circle. She was still reminiscing blankly, searching for a difference between the past and the present.
Be that as it may, with the flames of war in the Piroth Galaxy blazing even more violently combined with the escalating conflict against the spawns of the Evil Gods, the Mycroft civilization certainly had to show by example as the leader of the alliance. Hence, there was not much time left for the God of Life to reminisce—all of the Seven Gods would soon head for the frontlines together and reinforce the violent battlefield. And today, even if she was about to leave, the god would allocate a little time for herself to remember.
“Mentor, this is really different…”
Pausing by the border between the Vortex of Creation and the Abyss, the God of Life lowered her head. Even though her veil was completed covering every part of her face, endless pain and bewilderment was overflowing from her voice. “I can go forth to fight the Evil Gods, and even die once again with honor. Though it is only for all the beings who worship me and the children who praise my name, I am willing to once again take an oath to protect all life.”
“But this Mycroft civilization…a Mycroft civilization that is without you…has simply changed too much.”
For some reason, the god recalled a moment long ago when she was still in slumber and when her memories were yet to be sealed. She had been in the bottom of the Lost Galaxy then too, speaking to that person.
She still remembered what that being had said even after he had already become unfamiliar to her, and began to leave the Darkest Abyss for the Fountainhead of the Initial Flame.
“It would be fine, Eve. You might not understand it now, but in the future—perhaps hundreds, or even thousands of years later, you will finally understand in the endless existence as a god.”
He said thus, the voice of the Holy One echoing until this day, immeasurably clear even in memory. “It is all the same.”
“As long as humans…no, as long as civilizations stands…”
“It is all the same.”
The Holy One who once loved humankind had changed so exceedingly and profoundly that those who were once close and familiar to him were left at a loss. He had become an infinite being whose consciousness enfolded the Multiverse, invoking a change known as the Holy Light, which touched every being in existence.
The individuals, friends, and family whom he had once loved were gone with the course of eras. Only those called the Apostles who walked the same path still followed him—though the infinite existence as a powerful Extraordinary individual granted him many things, it had also worn away much that belonged to him. It was not emotion, and yet his heart was still in heat, even becoming stronger as time moved on.
His love was still there—the God of Life was absolutely certain of that. But in the moment that he left, that love was shared with the boundless Multiverse.
It is all the same.
But how could it actually be the same?
For the beings and the civilization that had once basked alone in his love, it had been such an unsettling change.
The God of Life breathed a sigh before she looked up towards the faraway Void once more, her gaze regaining its firmness.
Her moment of weakness should only be shown once in a place where no one would know, because what would come next was the time when the gods would do battle. She was far from being so weak or so pretentious, because she was the lauded God of Life and a protector of all life. Compared to that duty, the sadness and bewilderment of the young girl was now a memory of no concern, and could be given up however she would.
All in all, compared to worlds and civilization, what changed the most was the gods themselves.
It was just that there was still such a sight that the God of Life did not throw away, keeping it instead in the depths of her heart:
The courtyard had been pure white. It was a sacred citadel that hung high above the skies, and beside a tower of light that was burning with sacred flame, a young girl sat on the bench of a courtyard, a book in hand.
A gentle old man stood by her, explaining the secrets of the text.
A cool breeze blew through the courtyard from a distance place, stirring the leaves and whispering beside the ears of the young girl. The yellowing pages of the thick tome were flipping, the laughter of the elder ever distinct.
“Not bad, Eve.”
At the time, he was still a being who belonged only to the Mycroft civilization, to them and to her.
“You are indeed my best student!”
The laughter dissipated.
A streak of pure-white radiance, just like the one that shone all those years ago, transcended half of the galaxy.
Six other divine radiances also shone from other different places at the same time, converging to a single location.
The darkness was spreading as the distant Chaos invaded. This very moment was another cycle of eras—the nemesis of old had appeared once more, with the calamity striking once more. But compared to before, the Mycroft civilization was not fighting alone this time.
“It is time for battle.”
With the tremendous dimensional quake caused by the activation of the Multiverse Sacrificial Grounds, the gods spoke those words, glancing and then laughing.
“It is also time for revenge.”
And thus, they went forth.
On the nineteenth of February, Starfall year 862, at 24 minutes past 11 at night on Mycroft Standard Time.
The Piroth Galaxy, the cosmos, the frontlines of the Forerunner Fortress Chain.
The blurred, uncertain skies were mixing with the splendor of the Great Mana Tide as well as the radiance of planetary realms to form a rather dull belt of luminous shroud. The powerful flashes discharged from the main batteries of one of the fortresses were also bursting like supernovas, illuminating the battlefield again and again and piercing the belt, obliterating the ever-approaching tides of darkness.
That place was not the stable and peaceful rear of the cosmos, but the frontier between the gradual invasion of the Evil God hordes. In other words, the Piroth Fortress Chain where two long years of war was waged was also the very fore of the battlefield.
The fortresses that were as hard as steel—or whatever material was tougher than steel was—entrenched in the Void like nails, with the countless fortifications building up a single massive spell formation that became a source of disturbance for the entire galaxy. Anything that was an ally would not be able to warp or even move as they wanted, which in other words meant that unless the fortress chain was completely destroyed, there was basically no enemy that could cross the perimeter.
But now, at the forefront of the massive fortress chain, there were already thousands of fortresses fallen, shattered, or completely losing all function.
A steel fortress that was clearly built in human styles stood aloft in the Void, with endless runes encircling it like rings. In the dark dimensional turbulences in the Void, wrecks of warships were scattered all around the fortress as well, along with the corpses of the various species of Evil God minions, not to mention fragments of other fortresses that were burning with fluorescence of energy, pushed towards the distance by the surging Mana Tide.
The design of the warships was mostly Mycroft, while the minions of the Evil Gods came in all forms and sizes. There were those that resembled enlarged insects, grotesque demonic monsters, or even simple geometrical forms including rectangular, cubic, or even pyramidic. One could even see, amongst the disintegrating remains, a single luminous wheel that was darkening—its appearance alone appeared not to be the abominable spawns of Evil Gods, but even as it became duller, it was still releasing unusual energy, stirring ripples at everything around it.
“Mother—, why are the reinforcements not coming?”
A fleet that was still in almost perfect condition advanced rapidly in the Void filled with wrecks and corpses, continuously firing barrages of artillery to their rear and bombarding the scattered spawns of Evil Gods that were in pursuit, reducing them to nothingness. The ship in the lead was clearly not built in human-style design. It resembled a biological warship—having translucent surface armor and resembled a streamline rhombus, flailing with hundreds of hovering, transparent tentacles that conjured an invisible bounded field, tearing an entire horde of Evil God spawns into pieces in the Void.
To be precise, it was a biological warship.
Inside the leading biological warship, a young black-haired captain was holding a communications formation and yelling at something to the other side of the channel—but because the link was simply too noisy and too unstable, he was soon so annoyed that he smashed it into the ground. Fortunately, the captain’s temper was still good enough to end things with a sigh. “Whatever. Fort Grundy is under attack as well, so it would make sense that there is no back up. Damn it, how are the spawns of the Evil God of Isolation increasing? Not even the comms is working!”
“Could it be that the true form of the Evil Gods has already arrive?”
“It should not be this early.”
A delicate and feminine voice could be heard from inside the warship itself—it was not an illusion, but the warship was indeed actually speaking. “According to observation and analysis, it would take a few years before the main force of the Evil God legions arrive since all of them have neither intelligence or personal will, which is why the speed would never change, making them easily predicted since they are very mechanical.”
“Then that is very bad. If the Evil God arrives in the near future, it would prove that they are nothing much…on the other hand, if it takes so long, with how the war itself is escalating, it probably would not take the Evil God much before the entire Forerunner Fortress Chain would fall to the spawns.”
Creed, the veteran fleet chief commander of the Mycroft-Midgard combined fleet, shook his head and said rather helplessly, “Elma, what should we do? If it wasn’t for your power, our fleet would have long since been decimated in that spawn encirclement. The other fleets are being broken up too, and without reinforcements, all we can do is keep running, unless we hold down in a fortified position.”
“I wouldn’t recommend such a choice if other options are available, since we did just see it with our own eyes—the number of Evil Gods spawns this time are far more than expected, including seventy million matured forms just within the perimeter of this fortress engagement zone. Those are all Void aberrates that could make landings inside the world, each of which could give multiple Gold-tier individuals a hard time.”
The living warship—to be precise, a newly ascended Legendary Amos who goes by the name of Elma—spoke calmly and without any panic. After all, with her ability, she could clear a path to escape if they were unable to defeat the spawn encirclement, with at least she and Creed’s safety assured. Be that as it may, even the Amos did not have a rule to abandon comrades so easily.
“Even if we cannot count on reinforcement from the other fortresses, if my memory serves me well, wasn’t the backup from the headquarters of the Mycroft civilization around this time? Still, with the sturdiness of the fortress and our own power, holding the line for a few months would not be a problem.”
Creed could not help falling silent at the suggestion.
Every since That Person had brought him back to Mycroft, he had gained a temporary fame and returned to the ranks of the fleet full of honors. Being one who was valued by That Person and even granted special equipment, there naturally would not be anyone who would give him a hard time—along with Elma, who awakened herself with her own will, Creed was quickly reenlisted, even given the chance to lead an entire combined fleet.
It was not difficult: with Elma setting herself as an example with both words and actions, along with his own diligent learning, Creed’s depth was already considerable was fully realized. Still, the better their performance were, the greater the challenge he would face—and soon enough, he and his entire fleet were directed to the frontlines, and began a defensive battle against the spawns of Evil Gods that lasted for years.
But in all honesty, the taste of battle was really not that bad. Apart from enduring the dejection of familiar faces dying, or the bewilderment of having acquainted fortresses fall, there was nothing actually bad. As an Extraordinary individual with a strong will, Creed could endure such changes, because the man who grew up with the dark tides of the southern fortresses had long since been used to the small miseries of such loss.
Compared to all that, he was less able to live with entrusting hope upon others.
“Elma, don’t even joke about it. Don’t you hate such a thing too?” Creed shook his head, breathing a sigh. “If you were the kind of person who would cower and wait for reinforcements, you wouldn’t have done so much for the Amos Court back then—if we ever want reinforcements, it would be fight back, and not to stay alive.”
“Right, don’t say it—I know it. All of those are just the vanguard and the scouting forces of the Evil God army. It is just a small detachment, a probing assault…right, it’s such an insignificant attack that has left us fleeing between our tails.”
There were no sounds of explosions in the Void, but the destruction of the warships and the energy surges caused by the death of powerful Evil God spawns would still stir cascading surges like echoes upon the observation spells of the warships. At present, the ripples over the observation circle resembled the dense and complex waves over a lake in a storm, and yet Creed’s eyes still held courage. “However, we are all a part of the alliance of civilizations in this cosmos—a small fleet of ships from Mycroft, Piroth, and the Jamad fortress. If there had been just one-thirds of a fleet worth of reinforcements to help me attack the flanks of the Evil Gods just now, I would have immediately turned to destroy them.”
“Then what idea do you have?”
Elma could not help but laugh at Creed’s words, and reminded him, “The Evil God spawns that were pursuing us are decimated, but we would soon become targets for other spawns if we stay outside the fortress…if we don’t quickly reach a closure, it would be equal to having drawn the enemy to attack the fortress by our own actions.”
Each fortress in the Piroth Fortress Chain had a unique concealment circle. The bulk of the fortress itself would not have been discovered if it had not been encountered directly in the Void, but the fortress could still perform limited teleportation and warping, leaving the enemy scampering blankly in the Void without a target they could destroy, and then be destroyed one after another by enemy fort garrisons that could seek out enemies with precision.
To civilized people, it would be the most disgusting type of fortresses that prevented any form of natural strength exertion—but to the legions of the Evil Gods, it was not so troublesome.
However, by enveloping the entire fortress perimeter with dozens or up to ten thousand times of military forces and sweep through the entire Void, there naturally would not be anything that remained hidden. Moreover, monitoring the fleet movements as they entered or leave the fortress was another good way to locate the fortress.
“Well, I do have an idea.”
After relaying a few orders to the fleet, Creed was prepared to discuss with Elma about their next course of action—but that was also the moment when a translated voice spoke from the comms, although the exhaustion could still be heard.
“Thirteenth Sector, Bartony For…attacked…encircled…can’t stop…rescue…”
It was choppy voice with only a few important words delivered, but anyone would be able to understand that it was a distress signal like the one Creed himself had sent out just a while ago—a fortress was being surrounded by the spawns of Evil Gods and the forces within were unable to hold out, and urgently needed rescue.
There would be dozens of such request for reinforcements sent every single day, since this was the frontlines and any given moment was extremely dire. Only Heaven knew when it would be that an entire horde of Evil God spawns suddenly appeared out of the Silent Void, incidentally crashing into a fortress and tearing it into pieces.
“The thirteenth sector, the Bartony Fortress…it should be the fortress chain of the civilization in the Tolan galaxy. They are rather weak, and definitely would not be able to hold on if they face the same level of assault as we did.”
Elma’s voice spoke out, a reminder that seemed to have a deeper meaning. “What is it, Creed? You’re hesitating. Do you not intend to help them because they’re not humans?”
Creed could not help but snigger once when he heard Elma. He looked up towards the living roof of the warship, and smiled with a twitch on his mouth. “So what if they’re not human?”
How is the creature known as human different from other beings?
They are all the same.
“It doesn’t matter. It is all the same.”
He waved his hand and declared boldly, “Since I could not get reinforcements, I shall be someone else’s reinforcements—what you said previously isn’t wrong, digging in and defending a fortress isn’t an issue, and we could let them wait until the reinforcements from home arrive.”
“As for now, I shall be representing the Mycroft civilization to aid our allies who stands with us against the spawns of Evil Gods!”
The flames of war were still swirling over the air.
Like agile little swords, countless fleets were revolving around sturdy fortresses as they moved through the Void, obliterating countless Evil God spawns that were lurking in the invading darkness, crushing them into unidentifiable scraps amidst the dimensional turbulences.
Nonetheless, even the fortresses were breaking apart and the frontlines of the perimeter were being pressured and pushed backwards. The unending darkness was merely the tip of the iceberg, and yet, most of the civilizations that were repelling it together were already out of breath.
And it was in the location within the Silent Void that was the closest to the frontmost perimeter of the Piroth Galaxy that a colossal existence resembling a halo and spreading dark stardust appeared out of the infinite gloom of the Void. It was carrying the presence of Chaos and destruction as it appeared before the eyes of all beings, and then slowly entered the Piroth galaxy itself.
Within a split second, all communication was cut off, leaving every fleet and fortress desolated islands. Everyone was at once alone and panicking as they lingered in the Void, fearful of that very change.
The Evil God of Isolation had arrived.
On the 20 of February, Starfall year 862, at five minutes to five in the morning on Mycroft Standard Time.
From amongst the infinite legions of the Evil Gods, the first Evil God, Isolation, had now arrived upon a galaxy of Order.
On the 20 of February, Starfall year 862, at twenty-one minutes past eight in the morning on Mycroft Standard Time.
The Evil God of Isolation was utterly beaten by the combined might of the Seven Gods of Mycroft, all of whom had also arrived at the fortress chain of the Piroth galaxy.
The Evil God of Isolation was then vanquished.
And starting from that day, the champions from various civilizations in different corners of the cosmos had arrived at the frontline fortresses one after another. The diverse divine beings, protectors, great champions, and creations of civilizations, even their representatives and weapons, had all floated from beneath the depths, revealing themselves to the eyes of everyone else. It was all to repel the hordes of darkness that was far vaster and deeper than any other ocean and was seemingly limitless.
The small and contained skirmishes that the recon forces and the vanguard had been fighting was at an end. From this day going forward, the curtains rose upon the real decisive war waged between Order and Chaos.
On the twentieth of February, Starfall year 862, at thirteen minutes past nine in the evening on Mycroft Standard Time.
The Abyss of the Lost Galaxy, the depths within the heart of the Vortex of Creation.
It does not matter. It is all the same.
An Evil God had been born from a world which had been grown artificially and subsequently reduced to ashes, before the Evil God itself was also utterly crushed and studied by an even greater power.
After that, a voice of immeasurable profoundness that seemed to reach out from the origins of everything and extended to the end of all spoke out, hence passing on within the eternity which had perished.
Meanwhile, an even more majestic mind which was a greater horror than the will that was hosted in the remains of that Evil God arrived, icily erasing every bit of change which had transpired.
In the very heart of the Vortex of Creation, a gigantic silver world that very much possessed the frame of a supermassive singular realm was standing at the precise center of the swirl as if it was a corner stone. He was stabilizing the hub of all world cycles, and changing the rules therein through the sheer force of his will.
One could see that there were uncountable ranks of stars spread around the vicinity of that silver world. Each of them were worlds arranged in an orderly manner, at once appearing real as much as they appeared illusory, even lingering between those two states—through it all, the silver world kept every other world connected, turning a few of them into solid forms from time to time, just as he would wipe out a few of them during other moments, laying waste to everything that existed within.
One could sense the presence of Chaos emanating from the world that had been destroyed. It was real, a presence that certainly belonged to the Evil Gods—however, even before the expanding presence which had just sprouted and began to expand could fully develop, the profound being, which did not obtain the information he wanted, had already destroyed it with a single thought. The silver world had unleashed an invisible ripple that would at once affect both the world that he had been controlling as well as the entirety of the Vortex of Creation, branding a special mark upon the countless worlds born out of the cycles of the vortex.
Another presence of Chaos was grown and born, the Evil God developing as the Perished Eternity began to devour Order, leaving everything in silence.
Another consciousness coldly swept through it, reducing the Chaos to nothingness…but this time, perhaps after having gone through innumerable counts of experiments as well as attempts, he had finally obtained the last piece of the puzzle from the endless process of dissecting eternity, gaining the information that he desired.
[It does not matter—It is all the same—Eternity is splitting apart—]
[It does not matter—It is all the same—The genuine infinity is being born—]
And then, the words came.
“Is it really all the same?”
A sonorous, cold voice resounded from the silver world. The warrior stared at the world he had just destroyed. He pieced together the final piece of the jigsaw that he had just obtained, realizing with a start before shaking his head determinedly.
“No, it is not actually the same.”
The silver world was slowly changing his form. The four-armed Giant God slowly reached out with a few of what appeared to be stick-shaped objects but were in truth the outer World Barrier, hence turning into distinct steel fists, clenching the last ashes left of that other world and holding it in front of his eyes, where he then observed it carefully.
“Ah, I get. The Perished Eternity and Eternal Wonder…so, Mastermind, that is your intentions and your purpose.”
No wonder you would destroy every civilization which had developed transcendently, along with every existence that had stabilized excessively.
Joshua van Radcliffe breathed a long sigh. To the physical Multiverse, a dozen years had passed—but to the silver world as well as endless worlds that had been grown and then destroyed, it was millions or even billions of years. And yet, all of that felt at once like a single instant, as much as it was an eternity for the warrior who had witnessed every fall and rebirth—and in that time that was at once brief and long, he seemed to have gained and lost something.
But most importantly, he had found the answer to what had bothered him, along with every Wise One before him.
“So, Mastermind. Would you assert that it is all the same?”
“Actually, no. It is absolutely not the same.”