Nostradamus walked into the lounge with a sour face and a gentle sigh.
The robe he wore fluttered and flowed with blue light. The frost that covered the floor and the walls of the living hall instantly vaporized and vanished into thin air along with the fluttering of the robe. The tables and chairs, even the books that were blown away by the energy waves had been returned to their original places. After the entire living hall was restored, the old mage with white hair stared at Joshua as he started talking again, "It's been a while, Joshua. Where on earth did you hide yourself? We've not seen you for a long time. And you've missed the celebration as well. Not to mention that no one could get in contact with you at all…"
Nostradamus sounded like he was complaining. After all, he was the person who suggested for Joshua to attend the celebration. His initial plan was to introduce Joshua to a few old friends of his during the celebration. However, he was not able to locate Joshua at all. Nostradamus went into great lengths to locate Joshua after noticing that the warrior had gone missing. He had even used Divination and Astromancy in order to locate the warrior. However, all of his efforts were in vain. It seemed as if the warrior had vanished into thin air.
"It's a long story, Master Nostradamus. Maybe you won't even believe what I am about to tell you. I've fought a bunch of rocks… perhaps we shall sit down and talk about it later."
Joshua waved his hand as he stood back up on his feet. Then he shrugged nonchalantly. His words held truth. Be it the golems or the great falling star that threatened to destroy a world, everything he encountered was basically a bunch of rocks. The warrior sighed. "They were really difficult to be dealt with."
"Alright. Some special rock elements are indeed much more difficult to be dealt with. However, Dimore… why are you here then?"
Nostradamus mistook Joshua for entering the realm of Earth. However, he was not bothered by that. After all, the celebration had come to an end since. The old mage turned around and looked at the second prince who seemed uncomfortable. "I know, you must be the one who started this, right?"
"Master…" Dimore lowered his voice as he replied Nostradamus. He was no longer inflated with the confidence he had when he was wrestling with the warrior—it was not because he had lost the game. It was merely because…
"You don't have to explain yourself, young Dimore… I'm very familiar with the attitude of the Diamonds."
Nostradamus was slightly angrily but also at the same time, a little tickled. He seemed to have seen this coming, "You're truly the son of your father, and you behave just like him. Whenever you are in the mood, you would just pick someone and challenge them. Your father had wrestled with Joshua in his study room, and now you have wrestled with Joshua in the Royal Library… If it weren't because you guys were too loud, I wouldn't have heard it and the library would have been dismantled to the ground by you two."
"No… We've controlled our strength well…"
"Do you mean you've controlled your strength as well as you did last time?"
Joshua smiled a little when he saw Dimore getting scolded. The great mage was a mentor to Emperor Israel. The two of them had even gone to the battlefield side by side and destroyed their enemy forces. In regards to seniority, all members of the Royal family were students of Master Nostradamus.
After Emperor Israel passed away, Dimore would become more intimidating. His dignified and fearful appearance as an Emperor would surface. His actions would make him look like a tyrant when the humans were resisting the invasion of the Dark Abyss. But now, young Dimore was scolded by the old Nostradamus. He kept his head low and stayed quiet as he received the scolding from the old mage. That was indeed a rare occasion.
Nostradamus was almost done with lecturing the young Dimore now. He turned around and looked at Joshua. At first, he wanted to say something to the warrior for his misbehavior too. But eventually, he only sighed and said, "When I first met you, you were sparring with Brandon… Joshua, are you really that fond of battling?"
"It's just interesting and fun to do it every day," resting his hands Ying and Ling's shoulders, Joshua answered Nostradamus. However, he quickly shook his head and added, "However, this is not a battle at all. This is not even close to sparring. This is just for fun… I believe you can tell by the looks of it."
Nostradamus frowned even harder. His eyes flashed brightly as if he had activated some sort of observation spell. After a few seconds, the pupils of his eyes enlarged. Blue light waves swirled in his pupils. The old mage was shocked at what he discovered on the warrior's body, "You! You've actually broken through the barrier and crossed into the realm of Supreme-tier! You've even reached the realm of the unknown!"
In his eyes, Joshua's body was exchanging energy with the magic energy in the atmosphere. His body was constantly drawing beneficial strengths and powers and expelling redundant energy. Blood flowed rapidly in his body like a great river, rumbling with a strong current.
The 'Kokyu-ho' seemed to have fused deep into the bone marrow, becoming part of the person's instinct. However, the most surprising part was that the warrior's body was continuously becoming tougher. Although that process was slow, his body was not slowing down at all.
Nostradamus was shocked at Joshua's progress, having broken through the barriers before him, faster than anyone could in such a short time. He was indeed wondering how Joshua could have done it—Joshua had gone missing for over two weeks. Perhaps he felt that he was about to break through the barrier so he decided to go quiet and shut himself from the world as he meditated until he succeeded. Perhaps that was the main reason why he was not reachable through any means of communication.
That should explain why Joshua was absent at the celebration. The reason why I couldn't reach Joshua. No one would ever want to be interrupted when they are on the verge to break through their barrier. No matter how significant the celebration was, it would never be more important than stepping into the realm of sacredness… However, Joshua did mention that he was battling a bunch of rocks. Could it be that he had crossed into the realm of earth to break through his shell?
"If we had more time, you can congratulate me as much as you want to. I would have happily accepted all of your blessings," Joshua said, shaking his head. Suddenly, his face turned serious, "Maybe, it's time to talk about official matters… You're not thinking that I would travel all the way from the North just to show off my newly attained strength, right?"
"Of course now… There's no one around now. We can talk about it here."
Dimore was still amazed to learn that Joshua had already crossed into the realm of Supreme-tier. After hearing the conversation between the old mage and the warrior, Dimore narrowed his eyes and was ready to turn around and leave the two of them to their 'official businesses'. However, Nostradamus lifted his hand and stopped the young man from leaving. He shook his head and spoke calmly, "You should stay. You're the heir to the throne of this kingdom. It's about time you learn something."
Hmm? Joshua looked at the two of them as he showed great interest. Then he quietly thought to himself, "So it seems that they have decided."
Then why did Israel suddenly passed away without leaving any will behind? If they truly had no intention to crown the firstborn of the Emperor as the next Emperor, they should have announced to the world that Dimore would be the next Emperor. So why didn't they do that yet?
Joshua made an assumption. But now was not the time to talk about that. He looked Nostradamus in the eyes and spoke about matters that was related to St. Laurent Cathedral, the cultists and the plague that were detected on their bodies.
Nostradamus listened seriously when he was briefed by the warrior. Dimore was listening in as well, he seemed to be amazed. The old mage seemed to fully trust the young Dimore. After he was done listening to the warrior, he asked, "So did you bring the sample of the plague with you? If we have samples, we can get them over to the Royal Mage Association and do some tests right away."
"Of course not. I wouldn't bring dangerous stuff with me everywhere. It's risky and you know it. I would have been surrounded by hundreds of guards of the Imperial City the moment I set foot in the city… However, if you want to take a closer at the plague, perhaps you can travel to the jail beneath the St. Laurent Cathedral. I've completely sealed off the basement there… Hmm… It seemed that I've unintentionally sealed dozens of cultists along with it. I assume that it is probably multiplying rapidly It would die off soon, at least."
Nostradamus was not bothered about the life and death of the god damned cultists. He only felt the urge to look closer at the plague and its behavior. However, before he could prepare to depart, the old mage suddenly remembered something important. He nodded as he recalled his memory about something he had ignored for too long, "That's right. I must inform Israel first. No matter the plague is real or not, it was indeed the right time to sweep the cultists off the surface of the earth on a large scale."
So Master Nostradamus believes Joshua's empty words without requesting for the sample to be presented?
It was the first time that Dimore saw the old mage trusting another man so much. The old mage believed every single word the warrior said without even needing any proof.
In fact, that was related to the plague. A plague could drag a kingdom to its doom, it might even bring destruction to the entire world! It was too huge of a problem to be ignored.
Even though he was the second prince of the Imperial Kingdom, he still believed Joshua to be an honest man. The warrior was right though. Fists were much more reliable than words. Thus, it would be credible to think that a man with such power would never lie.
While everyone left Black Swan Palace and made their way to the center of the great palace, Nostradamus asked for the details of the plague. He clearly knew the identity of Joshua. He also knew about the power of the Azurite. Since the warrior had said it himself, this matter must be closely related to the Evil God. Perhaps this could possibly be the conspiracy planted into the world by the Evil God. No one would ever be negligent anymore after knowing the situation in the distant south, where the kingdom was plagued by the Dragon Calamity and the Berserk Dragon Virus. They have become more vigilant even against accidents and coincidences.
"The Northern Empire is very vast. It has taken up the entire North region. Although it seems that the Emperor controls it as one, all of the territories in the region have their own authorities."
Nostradamus seemed to be walking in a hurry. He shook his head and sighed tiredly, "All of the superior nobles in the regions have special laws in their own territories. If the strength of the Royal the kingdom is not powerful enough, those nobles would not obey them. The humans behaved that way. So the dwarves, the elves, the winter fairies, the goblins, the hobbits, and the other races followed as well… My point is, if the plague had broken out in some territories that belong to some nobles or some other races and they chose not to report it, then we would not have been able to stop it in time."
"Then you must kill everything at their roots, or educate the counts of the territories across the world about the danger of the plague. Otherwise, the plague will spread, and there will be no way to stop it."
Joshua and Nostradamus walked at the same pace. Ying and Ling had to jog in order to keep up with them. "The cultists have invaded my territory which is located at the border of the continent. It seems that the other territories are facing the same problem. For them, it could be far worse. Even my territory, such a marginal place, has sneaked into a cult and it is threatening to spread into the other territories."
"No! I must say this out loud. You're a special case! Your reputation has already spread across the Cults! There's no doubt about that!" Nostradamus shook his head slightly and secretly thought to himself. Then, the old mage spoke again, "Emperor Israel is having an audience with a few ambassadors at the moment. I shall see him immediately. It would make things a lot easier if the ambassadors are still around. The news must be spread as soon as possible."
"What a coincidence."
Joshua rubbed his chin as he thought to himself, "The four main settlements of the human beings and even the churches are nearby the Imperial City. That has really made things more convenient than ever."
There were four large human settlements on the Mycroft Continent. The Northern Empire was the most special one. It was the only large-scale unified regime among all the other settlements. Although was not considered as a united kingdom, under the leadership of a mighty Emperor, the Imperial Kingdom was still able to gather all main forces across the continent and started a great war with the Orcs that lasted years in the Northwest Plains. However, because of the suppression from the orcs, the official forces of the Northern Empire rarely communicated with each other. The war between the two races had prevented the development on both sides. The Kingdom did not have time to put their focus on developing the Dark Forest, nor did the orcs had the time to develop outwards.
In fact, it was because of the orcs that the humans were united as a kingdom to battle.
The Northern settlement of the humans was geographically special. The middle region of the settlement was actually plains and hills while the border of the South and the North were filled with mountains that were connected to each other all the way to the Central Dark Forest and Iceland in the North Pole. In the west of the Northern settlement was the Tartaros Highlands where the orcs lived. Further ahead was the great sea. The east was also part of the endless sea.
The Western settlement was one of the oldest origins of human extraordinary power. There were many kingdoms in the region, each ruled by a family with a long history. Most of their rulers were born with special strength. In other words, each kingdom was ruled by warlocks.
The Western Gathering District remained peaceful. Its racial policies were extremely broad. Apart from demons, any race, even the undead, and the specter lived there. The struggle between kingdoms was confined to the 'civil war' among the superior warlock families. However, due to the lack of domination in the region of the settlement, the west side of the settlement was the region which had the most cults and demon sacrifices. Historically, several large-scale live sacrificial events had occurred on the west side of the settlement. There were too many mountains over there. Each kingdom was separated from the other kingdoms by the rivers and mountains. That was also one of the reasons why there were lesser wars happening between the kingdoms. They would need to scale mountains and rivers before they could even get to the border of the other kingdom. It was too much trouble for any kingdom to start a war with the others. The effort to expedite was just too great for the kingdom to bear if they ever wanted to start a war.
The western part of the mountainous region was linked to the east side of the Central Dark Forest. The other three regions of the Central Dark Forest, west, south, north, faced the sea. Legends had it that there were Elder Dragons living in the north coast of the Lantis Strait.
The Eastern Plains seemed to have mountains that were scattered. None of the mountains seemed to be connected to the other. There were only a few solitary peaks and some hills in that region. It was filled with patches of grassland separated by rivers and forests. That was the last place humans would look to settle down. One must cross the sea in order to arrive there. Another way to the region would be to go through the Dark Forest, which was technically suicidal.
Several mages were the first humans that ever lived there. Powerful casters were capable of getting through the Dark Forest. So they had settled down in that region. They had also brought some ordinary people with them to serve them. That was how the earliest settlement was formed. Then, as time passed, the number of people in the settlement increased. As more and more people migrated from other places, many city states and kingdoms led by powerful mages were established across the Eastern Plains.
Here, kingdoms were nothing more than a tool used by the various casters to rule. The two large association of the mage, 'Skypiercing White Tower' and the 'Council of Seven' ruled 70% of the kingdoms and the city states in the region. Usually, the battle among the mages never involved the civilians. However, the city states would always trigger wars among themselves. Not to mention that war also existed between the mermaids in the coastal region and the Eastern Seas. They were literally killing themselves over power. The humans on the plains were brave and they excelled in battle. The Winged Cavalry of the Fallante Duchy and the Leviathan Knight were renowned in the entire continent.
However, the Eastern Plains also had the most rigorous ethnic policies. Except for the major races such as Dwarves and Elves, the other races besides human were discriminated. But their lives were not defined by their ethnicity. Those who were created by the mages were allowed to gain power and titles as long as their minds and conscience were normal.
Meanwhile, the distant south settlement was also an extremely special place. It was not because there were many mysterious forests and grounds in that area. It was special because of its rich culture.
If the Northern Empire was said to recognize dwarves, halflings, hobbits, goblins, and other creatures as its citizens, many western kingdoms also believed that anyone could be a citizen of the kingdom as long as the law was respected. This kind of policy was regarded as broad and merciful. Hence, there was no such thing as an 'alien race' in the kingdoms in the distance south. In the kingdom founded by the elves, the humans and the fairies, there were gigantic worms, forest people, centaurs and many other races. They also held the freedom and right to join elections and politics in the kingdom just like everyone else. Deep inside the Lake of Eternity, there were hundreds of law-abiding giant dragons living peacefully. However, some of the giant dragons preferred to live among the humans. Some of them had even changed their appearance to look like humans and became the count of a territory.
Perhaps the uninhibited environment had created the rich and artistic atmosphere in the distant south kingdoms. Many renowned musicians, writers, bards, and explorers came from the Far South to learn about the culture of the place or even spread their artistic cultures over there. They were willing to explore and take risks. They were credited for the discovery of thousands of islands across the region. The druids of the Far East even mastered the method of transforming the Dark Forest into an ordinary jungle. However, the process was too slow, making it impractical to cleanse the Dark Forest.
Joshua vaguely remembers the situation back in his pre-existence. Other than the kingdoms in the distance south, the kingdoms under the warlocks rule in the Western Mountain region were worst hit by the plague. The kingdom in the Eastern Plains and the Imperial City remained fine for the moment. One was because the kingdom was under strict management, the other one was because it was further away from the plague. Not to mention that the weather was also a defining factor that kept the plague from spread fast into the Imperial City.
In the pre-existence, the Black Plague broke out during the winter at the beginning of the year. The plague had spread across the world by the summer of the same year. It had reached the Northern Empire by the next winter. As the winter came to an end, the countermeasures to contain the plague was almost done.
Even so, the death toll in the southern border of the Empire had reached the thousands. That was just the statistics. The actual death toll was definitely more that. Although Joshua was not really a saint, one word could potentially save thousands of people. So what was the reason for not doing it? Not to mention that the movements of the cults these days had obviously changed, and they were currently behaving much differently from the pre-existence. It remained unknown that the plague would only spread in the distant south.
With Nostradamus leading, everyone had arrived at the central palace of Morlaix Palace. Many guardians were roaming and patrolling the place. There were also quite a number of people waiting quietly in the corridor. It was pretty obvious that they were the higher ranking nobles, the ambassadors from the other kingdoms and city states, and some ordinary people who were not qualified to enter the main hall of the palace.
However, it seemed that the meeting in the main hall was over. The door of the main hall opened. People with different uniforms and different faces slowly made their way out of the hall. They seemed unsettled. Most of them looked anxious and enraged. Only one of them looked fine—a tall and brawny middle-aged man with silver hair and wore a white robe. He had a naturally angry face but there was also a hint of a smile.
That man possessed an extraordinary strength. The power in the holy knight's body rippled into the surroundings. Joshua could also sense that the man had attained Supreme tier. He was unquestionably Robzek, commanding knight of the [Hammer of Freedom] legion from the Far Southern Holy Mountain.
The holy knight seemed to be surprised when he walked by Joshua and the others. He gasped and turned around to look at Joshua.
Naturally, Joshua also turned around and looked at Robzek.
"Have you seen young Roland recently? No, judging from this presence, you seem to be around him all the time."
The silver-haired man with black pupils seemed to be in a good mood at the moment. "Tell him not to get upset about it. There will always be sacrifices in a battle. He should not give up fighting for the world over the passing of a friend. The holy shrine would remain his home forever—we will never blame him for that. Can you pass my words to him and tell him to come home as soon as he is able to?" he asked.
It seemed that the middle-aged man was Roland's acquaintance.
After meeting the holy knight, Joshua suddenly understood something of significance. He finally knew the reason why he felt that the woman, who was blindfolded, was familiar when he was on the way to the Royal Library. She had the exact same aura as Robzek who stood before him now. Both of them were probably Roland's acquaintances. Both of them had the familiar scent of the holy knight mixed with the scent of blood. It seemed that all of them had been fighting side by side in the battlefield.
"I shall pass your words to him. Unfortunately, he does not intend to come back to the Imperial City with us. He has other plans for now."
"There's no rush…" The Supreme-tier knight narrowed his eyes and scanned the warrior from head to toe. He shook his head a little and turned around. As he was leaving, he sighed. "Young men these days… Every one of them stranger than the other... I'm getting old…"
It was obvious that he could tell the strength within Joshua's body and the warrior did not attempt to hide his strength at all. The fact that a man, barely reaching his thirties, attaining the Supreme-tier was truly astounding.
Nostradamus looked at both of them calmly. He already knew the holy knight so he was not surprised by the behavior and words of the holy knight before he left. The old mage waited for Robzek to leave first before turning towards Joshua and Dimore and telling them, "I will enter the hall and inform the Emperor first."
"Perhaps the both of you can come in after that and personally explain the situation to the Emperor, again. It is always more reassuring and convincing if the words come from you directly, Joshua."A country, territory, fief, or domain ruled by a duke or duchess