In response, the Sage paused blankly for a moment before smiling in relief.
Ah, yes. While you are indeed Miracle and War, you would certainly refuse every decision that demands a sacrifice.
Because miracles are indeed such a thing.
It would only be a miracle to discover not a single casualty after horrific natural disasters such as a great downpour, the ground splitting apart, and the mountains crumbling.
It would also only be a miracle to have not a single man fall when invaded by another nation, with armies and citizens all going up in arms to engage in terrible war over day and night.
On the other hand, if the Multiverse were to face a dire threat like now other and countless individuals were to sacrifice themselves, fighting as much as they could and pall their price, so that their 'today' could be exchanged for the one fraction of hope that is 'tomorrow' and in turn pacify the threat…
Would that be a miracle too?
No! That would be no miracle!
"Sage, I am a champion more powerful than you are."
A hand reached out from the infinitely blazing Flame, pressing upon the shoulder of Holy Light and gently pushing away that radiant human figure.
Striding out with a single step and taking his place, the warrior who directly faced the onslaught of countless mayflies spoke with a steady voice that resounded across worlds.
"I have already surpassed you—and, as such, I would be able to make a decision."
"And my decision is to have no one get hurt or die, to redeem all regrets, so that Future would have not one bit of gloom and miserable total triumphs!
Clear the game with a single attempt!
Defeat the powerful foe in just one try!
The definitive and perfect ending! A final chapter without regret!
And the greatest future!
He had trained in the path of the Extraordinary, slain infinite Chaos and untold legions of Evil Gods. He kept himself alight despite despair, fighting alone in the Initial Flame for over one hundred and twenty thousand years—if sacrifice was all it took for salvation, if sacrifice was all it took for victory, was the warrior and war itself even necessary?
He, Joshua, had fought until the present moment not to sacrifice what he cared for, the people he loved, or everything else—for that matter!
The Sage showed an expression of astonishment in the instant when he was pushed away. He was not alone either, for Shadow, Elements, Ether, and even the Wise One of the Future who shrouded the Initial Flame, as if wanting to envelop it, leveled a stunned glance at him too, countless thoughts circulating under the illumination of the Initial Flame.
However, there was not a single exchange.
The differences between them required no exchange at all: the clash between conflicting paths, the battle between the right and the right which were an eternal contradiction is muted, never resting and never yielding.
And at this very moment, Joshua, who had taken the Sage's place and was now stuck at the last, tiny gap over the Dyson Sphere of Multiverse Mayflies covering the infinite Initial Flame, was spreading his world molding four arms, firmly keeping the gap open.
Meanwhile, his will would still resonate through every Wise One present even without needing words, as well as the heart and minds of all beings in the Multiverse!
Sacrifice is the easy way out!
Having someone give up on something and pay a certain price in a resistance was just no different from a child throwing a tantrum at an adult…victory gained through sacrifice was very much taking a short cut and cheating!
The true victory…the true and complete triumph would be needing no one sacrifice themselves or pay the price, but to take every step of the journey with the aid of all predecessors, and with punch after punch, beating down the ever-powerful enemy in an upright manner—and just like that, with the greatest power and the greatest talent, the hardest diligence, the finest fortune, and opportunities, open a radiant path towards the heavens amidst abyss of absolute darkness!
Victory was only obtained through that: a most difficult, painful, honorable, and praiseworthy victory!
Yes, it would indeed be difficult—too difficult. In fact, should it not be asked that how could anyone achieve such a thing?! It was simply unreasonable and virtually impossible!
But if it was not done just because it was too difficult, why even bother to fight? Why struggle? What would opportunity even be for?
Rouse your spirits and fight, and hence bring about salvation to dire affairs!
Every person and every being were all warriors and heroes who could save themselves! All life and all worlds had been born to resist, to do battle against the Multiverse where everything was 'too difficult'!
"And I am all of that given form!"
Joshua's will was leaving the Initial Flame trembling and causing it to fire sparks out of its vicinity. At that single instant, the event light cone which was 'restraining' the Wise One of Shadow had been shattered, and the hostile circumstances which 'held back' the Wise One of Elements and the destructive tempest that 'threatened' the Wise One of Ether had stopped.
And now, the warrior had taken the place of the Holy Light and took the brunt of the direct onslaught unleashed by the Wise One of the Future!
There is no falsity in what you say, and sacrifice is certainly the easy way out…
The Holy Light which was pushed away—the Sage who had experienced Joshua's power—was already regenerating his body, and as he watched the warrior back, he smiled in relief again.
However, making a choice is to endure the possibility of defeat as well.
Joshua, if this challenge against miracles is destined to be our defeat, there would no longer be independent intelligent beings in the future of the Multiverse, just as there would be no resistance. The Multiverse may exist, but there would be not a single mind to acknowledge it, nor would there be any minds that could understand our former resistance and battles…we would be no more than a dream: forgotten when the dreamer wakes up, or like a book finished that would never be opened again once closed.
If we exist but without purpose at all, just like the countless mayflies transmitting information, he asked serenely, would you still hold on? It is such a meaningless resistance and battle.
"Victory and purpose?"
All the Sage received in reply was a sneer.
"I just want to fight. What does victory, outcome, hope, or courage have anything to do with me? Even if defeat is destined and being forgotten is a surety, even if my life should be without meaning at all…I would still fight on in this very moment."
"Even if I would have fight against Future, Eternity, and everything that is too difficult, or even the ending awaiting the Multiverse…"
Joshua did not hesitate at all to move past where the Sage formerly had been, shattering the obstructing layer of Future Mayflies to head deeper into the Initial Flame as the last exchange from his will exuded.
"It would be no different!"
You really are a fool…
Freeing himself from the infinite event light cone, Shadow teased the warrior as he moved to where Joshua was.
…just like us.
Freeing himself from the worst possible world, Elements laughed at himself as he moved to where Joshua was.
Doing the same meaningless thing over and over, and yet expecting different results
Freeing himself from the tempest of devasting existence, Ether laughed carefreely as he moved to where Joshua was.
Is that not a vivid portrait of ourselves?
It is indeed.
Is that the will of Miracles?
The Sage's mild words were reverberating around the remnant Flame as he moved to where Joshua was. Along the way, he would find that the radiance of the blazing Flame was even more glaring than the Initial Flame itself.
But wanting victory requires sacrifice. The Multiverse has always been that way, just as it is no exception even now.
He caught up with Joshua, who was incessantly advancing, diving deep into the swarm of mayflies and approaching the Initial Flame.
In the face of Future's absolute advantage, we could only at most maintain a stalemate even after you have joined us.
If the Evil Gods beyond this world would wipe out the Multiverse, we would still be defeated.
Sacrifice is necessary for an assured victory.
"Is it right just because it is the way it has always been?!"
It was such a stubborn reply and such a determined rejection.
At the same, boundless light appeared around Joshua's body as a power that could rule over all probability and all universal principles unfurled, sweeping away and obliterating every mayfly in range—still, the mayflies were equally inexhaustive, for they embodied power to rampage across endless worlds. Now, they were dashing towards the Initial Flame, bent on suppressing Joshua along with the other Wise Ones following behind him.
At that very moment, the warrior felt the monumental pressure that Holy Light experienced: those were unlimited, swarming memories, a crushing power and limitlessly cascading information and will.
I would create unlimited parallel worlds and unlimited possibilities for the future, and surpassing even the unlimited itself, heading off beyond the Multiverse to a stage even more profound!
I acknowledge the chance of my defeat, but that is the cost to be paid in the name of final victory: a little sacrifice in comparison.
The deepest and staunchest consciousness of the Wise One of the Future was overflowing in the zone closest to the Initial Flame. He was ensnaring and engulfing the Initial Flame, intending to swallow the Root of the Multiverse into its own stomach—and when it would succeed, that was when the Ruler of Infinite Futures and the Multiverse Mayflies would thus come to be!
The endless legions of the Evil Gods and the mayflies that kept spreading beside the Initial Flame were actually two sides of the same coin that was the Wise One of the Future.
If the other Wise Ones would spend too much time culling the Evil Gods in the Multiverse, the mayflies would seize that opening to expand themselves to envelop more of the Initial Flame, or even all of it, and in turn achieve their goal—if that was the case, the existence of Evil Gods would become unnecessary.
But likewise, if the Wise Ones headed for the origins of the Initial Flame to mount a resistance against the Wise One of the Future, the being destined to be Infinite would be firmly suppressed. All he could do would be to sit and watch from as the outer reaches of the Multiverse, where the Evil Gods held infinitely greater advantage compared to Order and consumed all eras and worlds of Order.
Then, when the Initial Flame would be kept intact by the Wise One's combined might and no longer leak while also leaving the many cosmoses without stopping, there would no longer be new cosmoses born. That would also mean that the Evil Gods of Chaos would hold control over the future, while all aligned to Order were fated to be destroyed at their hands in the endgame.
Therefore, from a certain point of view, the Wise One of the Future, who possessed the two great advantages that were 'antiquity' and 'future' respectively, was truly invincible.
It was a multiple-choiced question, with each choice being mutually exclusive. Something out of 'A' or 'B' must be picked, and there could only be one selection.
And choosing either would still mean defeat.
Don't you understand? All of you are destined to fail.
Even if the Wise One of the Future could not actually give form to the worst possible outcome from unlimited parallel worlds and he could only fight against Joshua with the mayflies that were his true form, his consciousness appeared to be mocking.
All of your efforts have been meaningless.
"But that does not mean that we would give up."
"The purpose of my existence, the purpose of life's existence, and even the purpose of your existence, 'Future', is to lay waste to all that is impossible."
Striking out with a punch, Joshua plunged deeper into Initial Flame. It was a strike that would have unleashed negentropy upon millions of worlds in the cosmoses beyond and form the frame of a Vortex of Creation: a basic infinite cycle which would create an entire galaxy. Here, however, all it did was to shatter a tiny cluster of mayflies, destroying one out of the unlimited form of the Wise One of the Future, which was actually also less than the numbers he had created in response.
But now, the Sage, Shadow, Elements, and Ether were joining him—it certainly would not be too difficult, since five Wise Ones were combining their powers to resist the pressure from the Wise One of the Future, even if they would not claim any results.
They could also feel that the Wise One of the Future was exhausting his own full power then. The strength he had been sparing even against the four Wise Ones was all now being used to fight off the newly ascended Wise One that was Joshua.
The battle between beings of the Infinite transcended space, time, substance, and energy.
Their existence and will pierced every single corner of each world across the Multiverse, and they could simultaneously fight or retaliate at once in each corner of boundless vast spaces.
As long as no one would stop them, they could create machines that would produce many singularities that entirely ignored the movement of distance: information, logic, fate, destiny, causality, and everything else could be created by their hands, tools to be produced without limit.
Therefore, the battle between the Infinities would at best be locked in a stalemate, but the Wise One of the Future was special in that he and the Evil God legions shared a duality within a single form. In addition, it had not been the Wise Ones' plan to merely fight out to a stalemate, but to stop Future from bringing his plan to fruition.
Meanwhile, though Future's plan was just a little fraction away from accomplishment, for the gap to widen between both sides required the other Wise Ones to pay a price greater than Future in order to reverse the almost complete and determined reality.
That was also why the ascension of a new Wise One would do no more than maintain the stalemate against Future, while leaving the worlds beyond exposed to the Evil Gods' continuous assault and the keep the causality of end times intact.
Moreover, the stalemate of the Wise Ones was no different from awaiting the coming of Future, an advantage which was simply overwhelming for Future.
So, right now, how would Joshua turn things around?
It was a question every Wise One was thinking.
The answer to it was very simple as well.
Through a miracle, naturally.
And not from Joshua alone, but a miracle born out of every existing being!
"I so declare!"
After plunging deep within the infinite swarm of mayflies ensnaring the Initial Flame, Joshua finally felt the actual radiance of the Root. In the end, in the battle between the Wise One of the Future and the other five Wise Ones where there was now single split second or effort afforded for thinking, the warrior issued his declaration and emanated a change that would distort all of the Multiverse!
I, Joshua van Radcliffe, shall bestow a blessing upon all things across the Multiverse.
As long as one would persevere in diligence, determination that is not worn down, and step up to the highest peak when the path reaches the end—as long as that is being accomplished, regardless of who it could be or what they are aligned to: advanced intelligent beings, ordinary fish, or jellyfish, the just, the evil, the warmongering, the peaceful, the living, the lifeless, Order or Chaos, all existence or oblivion…
I shall bestow a miracle upon all things!
The declaration that engulfed the Multiverse was equivalent to providing a spare opening for the Wise One of the Future to think, to detect the power that Joshua had released.
Even so, he was not mocking, merely offering a calm response in return.
It is too late to release your power now. Even if doing that does maximize the effect you could cause, but it likewise gives me an opportunity, allowing me to use your own power to resonate with the Initial Flame so that I would achieve my goal quicker.
Indeed, it could clearly be seen that the 99.8% of Future Dominion progress had promptly increased to 99.9%! There was clearly another Wise One fighting against him, but Future's progress had increased and there was nothing to stop it!
"Is that so?"
Nonetheless, Joshua was laughing heartily and without fear. "Well, let us see who has really been giving who an opportunity!"
"I shall have you witness now what terrible misery has been growing out of the 'chances of victory' that you have given up!"
Then, the warrior continued his declaration!
Let the dead come to life, let the regretted be redone anew, and let those who should never have been Extraordinary be Extraordinary!
At that very moment, all beings that were clashing against the Chaos in the Multiverse beyond—all union of beings serving Order and doing battle against the Evil Gods—realize in shock that something resembling the Restoration Beam, a remarkably simple and user-friendly resurrection spell, had appeared!
In similar fashion, the Mirror of Truth, a divine object which could restore all powers and statuses of a single person in exchange for another Extraordinary power, had also appeared in the heart of a certain cosmos!
Let the Chaos be divided by light and darkness, and the world no longer monotonous or mundane—let there be light in the darkest depths, and let there be dawn and night!
Infinite power was correcting the entire Multiverse on the foundation of all predecessors and all Wise Ones!
From that point onward, even in the most isolated worlds in the Multiverse that was left in utter stillness in ruins where they could not even bask upon the Great Mana Tide, the power of Miracles had descended. All Flames were hence restored, bathing everything within the light of the Extraordinary!
From that moment onwards, the force called Miracles had come, even upon worlds untouched by the Great Mana Tide, reviving all that had been Extraordinary and bathing them in the light!
Even the completely empty Void where nothing existed had thus began to chance!
Within the 'oceans' of eternal oblivion and perpetual silence which also carried all realms, the tides were beginning to churn! Starting from this point of time, the random surges of inexhaustive dimensional storms would lead to the creation of brand-new worlds, creating something out of nothing even in the absence of the Initial Flame!
Those were realms that were molded completely without that Fire of the Root, but given birth by another Infinity: the power of Miracles, a brand-new origin in the Multiverse!
Hence, a small Flame was then finally reignited upon the long dormant Multiverse which had long since stagnated in an unknown moment during the past and had ceased expanding!
Meaningless! The more you change and the more you declare, the easier I would resonate with the Initial Flame and accomplish my plan…Look! My plan is complete, for I have remembered all information!
Meanwhile, the Wise One of the Future naturally did not care at all about all that. He was not concerned with what Joshua was doing, because everything within the Multiverse was in his grasp as long as he could accomplish his go—when that would happen, where it was nullifying Joshua's influence or absorbing the other Wise Ones into himself, everything would be hence matters to be accomplished at his whims.
Progress of Future Dominion: 100%!
Now, the plan of the Wise One of the Future was a complete success. He had now remembered everything now present in the Initial Flame, and he would soon… ascend?
No…why is it not working?!
The bewildered consciousness extended as he thought through every possibility in spite of his surprise, although he did not get any answer. Once again materializing his progress, he saw that there was no mistake: it was definitely a hundred percent!
No, that's not right.
It was not just 100%, because it was then that he saw that the progress had actually became 100.000~01%!
At the same time, Joshua also ended his alteration of the Multiverse. He was guffawing loudly, smoothly and most boldly, shooting down every thought the Wise One of the Future was able to spare with his own power!
Across the Multiverse, the battle between the six Wise Ones had instantly escalated to a white-heatedness. Everyone was simply unable to think, and unable to do anything other than mutually resist!
But many things were about to happen now.
In fact, they had already happened!
After the Initial Flame had been fully shrouded, the progress of the Wise One of the Future reached 100%. Hence, after that, entirely new rates of 101% and 102% were thus created!
No matter how long the progress bar would hover, there would always be an even longer distance awaiting! Even if all information and every principle of the present had been remembered, there would be even more prolonged and more unknowns awaiting exploration!
Even if there would not be a path ahead and every existence would hence stagnate, unable to move forward even for an inch, a new path would be opened, guiding all that there was to stride out once more!
"This Multiverse is not something that your stagnated future could apply to describe by 100%!"
"Becoming more powerful than yesterday and journeying further tomorrow than today, maturing upon every turn and becoming more perfect after every passing instant!"
"The future of the Multiverse, the probability of all beings—how could it be described by such an arrogant 100%!"
Hence, that one hundred percent and all that was impossible shall be surpassed! Let all that was stubborn, disbelieving, and improbable be left behind!
And that was a miracle!
Today, I shall accomplish a miracle. Let the cycle of darkness and tragic circulation that shrouds the Multiverse be the brightest day, a tomorrow filled with hopes!
I am the agent of the struggles that all things commit to in the name of tomorrow: The King of Miracles, the Lord of all Armies, the Sovereign of the Skies! I don't have to choose either of 'A' or 'B', because I shall create 'C' and 'D', bringing about the Alpha and the Omega, creating endless miracles!
Watching as the Wise One of the Future was left in panic and withdrawing, unsure of where his progress should be directed towards, the warrior's consciousness proclaimed sonorously as if about to burn himself out, "That is the battle between humankind against destiny and future. The light that this burning heart unleashes is my soul!"
I will set the worlds aflame with the fire in the heart! Then, I shall thus declare to the Multiverse:
There is no inevitable! No Eternity! No Infinity! I disclaim the Absolute in the name of the Absolute! I shall bestow the chance for all things to turn all things around!
From this moment forth, there shall be a faint chance for everything that cannot be done in this Multiverse. A chance for even evil, Chaos, or you, Wise One of the Future, to change everything!
Every being—mortal, champion or god—who were fighting against the Evil Gods could feel the sensation of a shackle being broken, a perception as if they had been freed from a certain restraint…it was very much as if something that definitely could not be done was suddenly afforded with a fraction of a chance for reversal!
Though the probability which must be grasped to secure that reversal was almost impossible, but there was no doubt that the vital gap between the possible and the impossible had been opened by someone!
This is the worst! This world has no Order to it—everything would be forgotten and nothing would be remembered!
The Wise One of the Future was still bellowing. His power was still entirely able to suppress each Wise One, keeping Joshua, the Sage, Shadow, Elements, and Ether at bay.
You who have declared yourself aligned to Order, would desire such a future more chaotic than Chaos itself?!
"That is nothing but your own Order and your Chaos!"
The warrior was bellowing in return as well, pressing on with his own power and without any hesitation. "All I am doing is allowing everyone to be their own protagonist—as long as they are able to remember everything about themselves and develop their own future, that would be enough!
"No longer would there be a destiny controlled or a plot fated to happen. No longer would there be things forgotten right after they end, books which would be closed after they are read!"
None of you would change this infinite perseverance!
It was such a wrathful roar that Future was left wordless and silence, but he also began to use his full power and tried his best to reach the threshold beyond 100%. After all, he was the first and the most powerful Wise One, and the superior being who occupied the absolute advantage even now!
Reaching beyond 100% was all there was to it. He could definitely do it!
"Of course we can! Because it is not just us—there is still the many 'us' in the future!"
Nonetheless, Joshua was not all concerned, instead persisting in his resistance against Future alongside the other Wise Ones.
Do you still not understand? Life does not need your meddling remembrance. We are grateful that you would not forget us, but that does not mean that we should not be allowed to choose: to perish without leaving anything, to be forgotten by everyone, or a right that is eternally free and belongs only to self.
Do you still not understand? The ripples resulting from by rapid and brief life, a flame that rages rampantly over decades, is simply insignificant to the Multiverse even after traversing the scale of one hundred and twenty thousand years.
Regardless of what being or civilization or how long they would last, it was all the same to the infinite and eternal Void: small and brief.
In comparison to the limitless that was known as the 'future', everything was a brief splendorous flame, sparks wafting in the air.
Even so, the fire that died as soon as it ignites would still instantly illuminate all things and brighten the dark Multiverse!
The Wise One of Psi had kept Future from persisting in his widespread creation of Evil Gods through devastating civilizations, breaking all remaining balance between Order and Chaos. That had been the first light!
The Wise One of Arcane had given probabilities for Extraordinary upon all things, and was the root of the Great Mana Time. It was the day that descended upon the Multiverse!
The Wise One of Life had sowed the foundation of Eternal World Cycles and the capacity that something could be born out of nothing in the Root. Endless worlds had thus been born in the Void!
Those three Wise Ones who had submitted to their defeats were the ones who had created the 'present'. Everything had been the benevolent mother of success! Their passing was to bestow a greater triumph upon all successors!
And then there was the other Wise Ones.
The Wise One of the Shadow had brought about all key elements for victory, rapidly creating a passage that would not be burdened by time! He was the path to victory!
The Wise One of Elements had brought about prosperity upon all living beings, and was the foundation upon which all life in the Multiverse grew! He divided all things, categorizing and creating Order, allowing the mental logic of Order to be seeded deep within all beings! He was the synopsis of success!
The Wise One of Ether had gently kept everything together. He enlarged the foundation where every life could be born without limit, allowing the insignificantly small radiance to spread! He was the foundation of ascension!
"Lastly, The Holy Light, the Sage, the one whom I have been pursuing all along—he hoisted the flag and the road signs, guiding me here! He is the leader of the reversal!
"While I shall bring about the reclamation of all sacrifices and every regret, a complete and definitive victory!"
"I ask not for the eternal or to be remembered. What I want is for all beings to be themselves, a miracle where all things are granted every possibility in the present!"
"That is my path and my demand. I hereby command this Multiverse: commence the reversal!"
At the warrior's command, on the other side of the infinite Multiverse where the cosmoses serving Order were, the last war of Armageddon hence commenced. The sacred horns declaring the holy war for heaven was blown, and the Army of Order which emanated with fire and light was able to revive itself, strengthen through battle, and increase probability through culling of the Chaos, hence beginning to advance at the infinite darkness!
Though the army was small in the face of the endless darkness, they were backing down before the army which could improve endlessly, finally diminishing and routed! The Evil Gods were being killed, and when combined with the interference that the other Wise Ones were asserting upon the Wise One of the Future, it was equivalent to having weakened the Wise One of the Future himself!
Even if the era of the sacred war would last eternally but only ever reclaim 1% or less, having that 1% meant that they had a future whereby they could claim 2 or 3%, and endless more!
With the birth of the Evil Gods being suppressed by the Wise One of Psi!
As worlds were being nurtured by Joshua and the Wise One of Life!
As the Wise Ones—apart from Future—combined their strength to keep spreading Extraordinary powers!
The first light of triumph had arrived!
Just like for the Wise One of the Future, a progress bar which represented 'hope' was thus appearing. Before it, the power which vaguely shrouded every existence, the Chaos which brought about despair, was hence broken. In its place was the most genuine and realistic of hopes and futures!
If the future was to be held back by infinite memories, it would be stagnated, remaining where it was and never moving forward.
In turn, if all that the infinite did was stay where it was and never getting a move on, it would be nothing more than just a mark.
"Rouse your spirits and fight, and hence bring about salvation to dire affairs!"
The voice of Joshua van Radcliffe resounded across all of the Multiverse. His will, his faith, and even his very soul was now ablaze!
No longer would all things be destined to be remembered.
All things have finally reclaimed their right to create their own futures and remembrance from the grip of Future.
Oh, this tragic but hopeful Multiverse which is continuously lost and forgotten!
Finally, it could move forward once again!
"With the fire in my heart, let all worlds be alight…"
Watching as the Initial Flame expanded and enlarged without stopping and the Wise One of the Future who was shrinking and diminishing in contrast, along with that extending and ever brightening genuine futures, the warrior steeped forward, laughing out loud as he swung out a final punch at the dark and endless mayflies!
"This is the Soul of the Searing Steel!"