Chapter 1057: Eternal War


It was a new age which still could not be considered ‘bright’.


Following the battle between the Wise Ones in the vicinity of the Initial Flame, the gloom which shrouded all existence began to disperse. The deathly still Multiverse hence began to revive, and future was returned to the grasp of all living beings.


Perhaps after thousands of years, the endless worlds which had been destroyed would fill the Void once again, illuminating the Multiverse in brightness again. However, even as everything was improving rapidly, the night had yet to go out and dawn had yet to come—but everyone was aware that it would eventually come.


It was a Multiverse which could not be considered perfect no matter how one went about it.


In a single great shockwave that reverberated across the Multiverse, boundless realms were reborn from hollow emptiness and countless races revived from the stillness off the dark. They opened their eyes once more after a near-eternal slumber, gazing upon the distant stars.


An absolute and perfect conclusion had definitely been paved by a certain Wise One by force with a most physical measure, but the follow-up was still a headache—especially what should be done in the very last instant when those races and civilizations were about to die and to prevent their deaths as planned by the Wise One of the Future. In addition, there was also a need to manage those neighbors and predecessors who had popped up out of nowhere, which was indeed a collective conundrum for the many civilizations in the Multiverse.


Naturally, it was an improving and increasingly perfect tale of driving forward without stopping.


No longer were there Evil Gods that laid waste to all Evil Gods or were there Wise Ones bent on seizing dominance upon the future of all things. From that point onwards, all living beings would gain their path and their own choice, and it was only the spirit in all things that judged themselves, whether they would drive themselves to their own fall or continue onwards.


Even if there would be new misery and despair in store, all of those things would only be their own choice. Moreover, unlike before, all existences would still have the chance to reverse tragedy even after it had happened.


Far away, on the other side, there was a Prayer Drive which rewrote all that there was.


It was said that around the Initial Flame where all things had come to be, apart from the three Stars of Origin which shone upon the Multiverse, there was another star known as ‘Reversal’. It was hidden beneath the radiance of the Flame itself, and there were many tribulations to be overcome if one desired to reach it to create a future they wanted.


Be that as it may, there were countless champions across countless civilizations who had set that star as their goal, and embarked on a journey of their own—because it was alleged that once they arrived at the bright star which orbited nearby the Multiverse like a mayfly, they could distort the Multiverse itself by force, forging a future they desired.


Naturally, that distortion would not be without restraint. If it was only to change misery, regret, or accomplish some unimaginable ambition, all those things would be absolutely enough. An element representing miracles and futures, the star called Reversal was a spoil of war, after all beings in the Multiverse had defeated the darkness.


Either way, it was all over now.


The era of suffering and despair has ended, whereas the time of brightness and hope has begun.


What the future meant was not just ‘happiness’. There would certainly be bewildering hardship and upsetting wounds, just as hope would not be as shiny and dazzling as most life would imagine—such perfection was a haggling and fussy princess, and if various complex conditions were not met, she would not grant you the grace of her beauty.


As such, both future and hope were a necessary part of life, which was why it was filled with challenges, obstacles, various hassles, and adversaries.


In other words, those beautiful words were absolutely not as romantic as most would imagine. Though hope and future were beautiful things, to struggle for it was most cumbersome, and therefore there would often be beings holding romantic illusions about them, as well as the belief that triumphing over those things would allow indulgence. Still, they would only be more disappointed the more they progressed, as if nothing at all had changed and remained just like before.


Still, to the leader of the conflict and the creator of miracles, delights, suffering, challenges, and adversaries were all that he ever hoped for.


Because war never changed.


The age of hope had just begun, and countless probabilities were waiting behind the curtains.


In the new era where all light are shining again, the moment when ideals and resolve had yet to diminish, the Multiverse was shining with the flame ignited by the struggles of beings.


Such was the greatest hope and future Joshua van Radcliffe had in mind.


***


“I say, where has our mentor run off to?”


The hub of Moldavia—the divine realm, the highest heavens of the Three Worlds and Nines Skies.


Lisa, the Ancient Dragon Empress, was seething and complaining into her Spirit Terminal, although her expression would essentially be penetrating the dimensions. Priest, the Invincible Sacred Shield who was on the other end of the communications, furrowed his brow, instinctively moving his own terminal away from his ear.


“He did say that he would take Syndicate and I to visit the Initial Flame soon! I want to set my eyes upon the remains of the Three Great Wise Ones too! How many years has it been? He had promised me back during the banquet so long ago, and he has since been putting it off again and again!”


“Shush, silly girl. Keep your voice down! This is the hub of the Three Worlds and Nine Skies—it would not do if someone else hear you!”


Breathing a long sigh and casting multiple layers of ether bounded fields, Priest replied rather helplessly into the Spirit Terminal, “Didn’t he also promise that he would take me and Ivan ‘out’ for a visit if he had the time during the Banquet of the Wise Ones? In the end, leaving aside the fact that I have not been exploring the new Multiverse, I have also been staying in this divine realm for over twenty years and getting stuffed by Sol and Britney as if I’m a pig—did I even get to move around?”


“I’m just complaining…our mentor isn’t instructing us, and the AI for the Grand Colosseum has not been updated for over decades.” Lisa said gloomily as if worrying over certain matters. “Syndicate, Zero One, and I are worried if he…”


“He really doesn’t have the time, with his need to calibrate the structure of the Multiverse and remolding the endless debris in the Silent Void. That one time he returned, he had to help Lady Zero Three improve the core framework of the Multiverse Mana Net and converse with the gods. There would be various old friends visiting or inviting him to feasts even if he had the time, and he did talk to Lord Nostradamus and the Seven Gods for a long time on that one occasion…our stuff isn’t that important, so just wait. And by the way, weren’t you already Demi Saint? Go embark on your own migration journey to visit the Initial Flame.


“I want to do that too.”


The Demi Saint replied helplessly and dejectedly. “But after our dear mentor ascended again… to be frank, I really have no idea how those old bones can achieve such things. One way or another, he and the other Wise Ones are working together to seal the Void around the Initial Flame, saying that they would modify the Root itself into something called the Unlimited Omnipotence Drive thingamajig.”


“According to what he said, it’s a great upheaval transcending eras, but my ability is still too inferior to notice the actual change, not to mention that the Initial Flame is becoming ever harder to approach—the torrential force of the Great Mana Tide is becoming ever stronger to the point that even Demi Saint pinnacles, just inches below the Wise Ones, cannot go near it at all…I’m even suspecting that the Wise One of the Arcane is being resurrected, or this Tide would not have lasted for so long…”


Really, that just might be true…Priest thought to himself.


He was not aware if Lisa and Syndicate’s clan who were wandering the edge of the Multiverse had heard about it, but just a while ago, the Triple Curtains of Stellaris did find out about anomalies surrounding the Psybugs. Though the fall of Wise Ones were irreversible, things like Truth and ironclad rules in the Multiverse were no more than popsicles before their mentor, which he could gulp down and complain how tasteless it was.


Priest was ready to tell Lisa about his theory when he was interrupted by another male voice from the other end of the Spirit Terminal.


“Dear mommy of your kids, stop chatting and help look at this one for me. How should the storyline of the World in the Shell be plotted so that the exploration side quest can be entertaining while educational, so that children could easily understand? Zero One is saying that he has no experience with raising kids and therefore has no opinion to offer.”


“Well, dear daddy of your kids, setting aside why you would ask that question to an intelligent machine collective, can’t you see that the data for the World in the Shell is not for those aged 25 or below, and non-adults are banned from buying it? And you using that for educational entertainment, to teach our children and the children of others?!…I’m sorry, our family idiot is causing problems…let me take a look.”


Priest could hear as Lisa’s voice moved further away, before he finally heard a loud yelling.


“Are you crazy?! Our mentor has given us that plotline because he trusts you! And leaving that aside, why the heck did you also gender bend Fattrovi?”


“You too, Zero One. The Soul Puppets are not your own kind, do not make them appear so innocent… Aaaaargh…I’m dying here! Both of you, on your knees!”


“I’ve heard that it’s quite popular…everyone in the Era of Peace loves it…”


“Bzzt-bzzt-bzzt-bzzt, bzzt-bzzt-bzzt-bzzt-bzzt-bzzt-bzzt…” (Aren’t they? I thought I’ve finally found a brethren race…)


“You two are a part of history. Be an example and respect it!”


***


The bygone gloom had diminished. In turn, peace and entertainment had now become the main aspects in the world.


Alteration and entertainment in regards of past history may be the norm for generations born in the light. They had never experienced the misery and darkness, which was why their mindsets were ever relaxed and joyous. Even if such things were wrong, the old forerunners who had fought would probably give no more than a few strong words before smiling and sighing, because the new generations were living without pressure and leisurely, just like their most perfect envisioning before.


Certainly, fundamental respect was still there—amusing interpretations of history were not lies, just as adjusting it was not randomly rewriting it.


“Our mentor is really gone.”


Cutting off communications from Her Imperial Majesty who was too busy educating her own family, Priest contacted a few other acquaintances, such as his old teammates who were planning to meet online and enter the Darkest Abyss, the members of the First Party who were organizing a delicacy competition after a tour around the Multiverse, as well as a certain captain and his Amos Wife who were educating the Warship Fairies, the Fortress Fairies, the Planet Fairies, and others of their kind regarding common sense.


Still, the responses were always the same.


His mentor had really disappeared.


With Priest’s present ability, he would certainly not worry over such a thing. However, to be honest, being an adventurer whose mental logic was almost identical to his many students’, he already had a similar idea…there definitely was no existence which thrilled their mentor in this Multiverse, since there was actually hierarchy even amongst Wise Ones, not to mention that his mentor had taken most of the Wise One of the Future’s power.


After such a long time, he would probably have arrived at an unbelievable level.


“Could it be…”


It would not have been unusual.


As far back as the Banquet of the Wise Ones where all ranked champions in the Multiverse were invited, his mentor had revealed that he was not a being from this Multiverse in the first place, and his transcendence to reach this place was purely because of a miracle. Nonetheless, his own existence had great increased more cases of transcendence—it was actually now a primitive channel where non-Void civilizations would hence be able to reach out to other civilizations, in turn greatly enriching the diversity of the Multiverse civilizations.


At present, he had accomplished all pacts as well as fulfilled every promise made in this Multiverse.


He had slain all Evil Gods and wiped out all the Chaos.


The warrior who had once made a pact in fire and steel to incinerate all darkness and evil was a torch, turning despair around to bring light into the Multiverse.


Every chain tangling causality was now broken and all monumental responsibility shed.


Now, the warrior was free like never before.


“Could it be that mentor has really…”


***


Just as Priest frowned in thought…


New Karlis, the Three Worlds and Nines Skies, the axis realm of the Multiverse.


“I am Joshua. I am he who reignites the Flame…”


The consciousness of Karlis, an elegant silver-haired lady, was bemoaning tiredly into a communications circle. “Just in the three hours that we’ve lost contact with you completely, Zero Three has used the Mana Net to scan all the cosmoses…if you hadn’t brought Ying and Ling with you…oh right, and Black, she probably would have been even angrier.”


“No, that’s not right. She’s angry because you’ve brought them but not her! I say, old man, are you leaving without saying goodbye?”


Those words were at once a complaint, a worry, and an inquiry transmitted to the other side with a rather indistinct signal, while a certain man’s perplexed voice replied. “What are you saying, Karlis? I’m just going out for a stroll. I’m leaving and all…what are you even saying? I’m not a hermit, so I would always have to leave for a stroll, won’t I?”


“I will be home soon. Just tell Zero Three to prepare—when I go back, I’m going to take her too visit the worlds in the Vortex of Creation…uh, I’ll be bringing you with me as well, it’s just that it might be a little dangerous.”


“That’s dangerous?” Karlis sighed, her elegance fading as the Steel Python lady ran her fingers through her hair. “There’s no finding your whereabouts and causality in this Multiverse, and you’re telling me it’s just a stroll outside of home?”


“The entire Multiverse is my home. What is weird about me going outside for a bit? Alright, my stroll won’t be too long…I’ll just be a little late this year, so you don’t have to wait for me.”


The voice from the side spoke as if everything was only natural. “Don’t keep that PTSD attitude like I’m slipping away just because I’m not showing my face—listen carefully, it’s not like I’m staying in this Multiverse out of any responsibility, agreement, or for all of you.”


“I am only staying because I want to!”


It was a choice that had nothing to do with causality, love, responsibility, or belief.


Just like how miracles needed no reasons at all.


After all, could a person not determine which place was his home, and still have to explain the reasons to the others? He would really like to see if there would be anyone who would dare to doubt and try to reason that out—a certain warrior in this Multiverse was really not afraid of anyone who would come at him.


“…you are really using the unit of years to count time…”


Unable to think of a retort at once, Karlis did not even have the strength to ask. She simply stayed silent for a moment, before smiling and shaking her head.


“Really…what a worrisome fellow.”


Indeed. He had had always been that way, only ever enjoying himself as he did things that left heaven and earth shaken.


In turn, those things changed the world. As for what actually came as a result, that was a story for later.


“Just hurry home.”


“It’s fine. Our objective this time is quite interesting, and we probably could continue modifying the Omnipotent Drive when I get back.”


Then, he hung up.


***


Beyond the Multiverse, the man who was clenching two weapons and had a black dragon sprawled over his shoulder looked up towards the distance.


Outside of the unlimited orbits of Multiverse, there was an extradimensional realm which was absolute oblivion for all beings in the normal Multiverse, with endless light flickering.


Within, there were roots extending across all diversities to control over boundless probabilities.


It belonged to a World Tree which ruled over everything. It had a counterpart that resembled its own shadow, an Abyssal Tree growing upon a binary Multiverse, its branches and leaves being the Abysses while itself reaches out to boundless realms.


There was a Lord of the Horizons which was omnipotent and omniscient, crafting story after story which he enjoyed in the cycle of life, as well as a Ruler of Fate which used fate as his tool to control all things in the Multiverse.


There was also the one soaring between domains physical and incorporeal, the Undying Bird which was eternal and invincible; the Demon of Entropy living in eternal heat; The God of Order which used worlds and other divine being as its core, a collective that ruled over unlimited worlds; the Omega Worm which consumed Finality to birth Beginning; the Serpent of Chaos which directed the flow of time, ruled over all balance, consumed itself, and was born in a cycle repeated without end.


Moreover, there was a ‘World Brain’ which was a Multiverse united under one body and soul; a multidimensional weaver with lines crafting endless destinies and worlds; a Scales of Balance which was an absolute truth that permeated space and time, even multiple Multiverses and a ‘Time Turning Furnace’ which reversed time and allowed for Multiverses to be reborn from death and restored to its origin point—repeatedly.


Those were immeasurably powerful beings which surpassed their own limits and transcended the Multiverse itself—in fact, they were refined Multiverses in their own right.


And now, those profound beings had all appeared within his sight.


Meanwhile, in other Multiverses where their greatest ruler had yet to ascend, there was certainly Wise Ones who were in direct or subtle conflict against each other.


“If the Wise One of the Future had succeeded, our Multiverse might have become a part of the Multiverse Mayflies, and one of them.”


Joshua muttered to himself, only to be shot back by his own weapon.


“Wait, Master. Do you actually think that you’re different from the Wise One of the Future? Look, they’re all looking at you!”


“I’m looking at them too. It’s nothing, Ying, so don’t be too nervous. I did say earlier that what lies beyond the Multiverse is quite exciting too.”


“It’s a little too exciting though, Master. Look at Black—she’s shaking.”


Ling’s mild voice echoed, but Black immediately shot back with a retort. “Nonsense, I’m trembling from excitement!”


“I didn’t say that you were scared.”


“….”


Joshua never had been too concerned with his weapons and his mount’s squabbles. He smiled, before sensing that there were faint threads of dimensional consciousness belonging to the other superior beings reaching out and probing him.


The King of Miracles, the Lord of All armies…like how Joshua himself could instantly learn about their titles, they instantly knew what Joshua represented.


“I really should thank the Wise One of the Future…or the many Wise Ones would never have been so united in body and soul like this. In the end, the best solution to unite a profound collective is a common enemy.”


Although he appeared to be thinking, there was really nothing in Joshua’s mind.


At that very moment, he could see that the ‘Light of an Azure Shroud’ was glimmering in the faraway unlimited orbits of Multiverse.


The shroud itself was stretching without end, while a bloating Multiverse surged within his body.


It was clearly a stranger, and yet Joshua felt an unexpected sense of acquaintance.


“That fellow…looks a little familiar.”


The ‘Transcendent’ and the ‘Azure Shroud’? Such interesting names.


***


The story was not over; the path was still long.


The purpose of birth, death, transcendence, war, home, return, time, and reunion…


Within such an unlimited, supermassive united form, there was still much to cover before true omnipotence and omniscience could be reached.


But what was there to it? The scenery along the way and the battles midway through that journey had been the most interesting and the most important, the very purpose of existence and happiness.


As one battle comes to an end, another new battle would perhaps be starting.


Narrowing his eyes and flashing a smile, the warrior brandished his weapons, leveling a friendly grin at those who had ‘surpassed’ and were the ‘infinite’.


“It’s not like we can’t have a fight.”