The Emperor waved and returned to his armchair as Joshua kept studying him..
"There isn't many who knows about my Dark Wound," he slowly said. "Nostradamus is aware, Dimore understands a little… But you—only you, Joshua, discovered it all by yourself."
Right now, Israel did not have the dominating aura he shrouded himself in. He resembled more of a middle-aged warrior, with dim-gold locks and a tranquil expression.
There was almost no hint of the might and aura of a legendary warrior from him either.
"Thanks, but that's not it."
Turning away from the character profile panel, Joshua who seemed to understand a few things now did not sit—he did not come to prattle after all. "I'm here at Morlaix for your injury. Nothing else matters." He said curtly, shaking his head.
The Emperor, however, was not amused by his candidness.
Enduring the rather disgruntled glare, the warrior stood his ground and calmly explained, "Your wounds might have been a hex by some orc shaman decades ago. It could be a cursed arrow imbued with dark energies that impaled your back—it did not get the kidneys but was quite close to your vertebrae."
"Impressive." Israel was displeased when he thought that Joshua was ignoring his goodwill to blabber about. But after the younger man's explanation, his eyes widened and he complimented him in a low voice.
"An accurate analysis."
As if he did not notice the Emperor's surprised expression, the warrior kept going.
"At the time, you were fighting strenuously on the battlefield, which caused your neglect of the curse while persisting in your use of combat aura," Joshua said regretfully, shaking his head. "The skirmish had been a long one—and may have lasted more than a day. Therefore, the power of the curse that could have been exorcised easily fused with your very strength and the core of your life, and thus started to drain your lifeforce until now."
"That wound couldn't be cured easily. It's no longer a curse but part of your life now. Raising the fundamentals of your lifeforce is required for a full recovery, but Legendary champions are already the limit to the extraordinary in the Mycroft Continent. In short, it's impossible to raise your tier and remove the curse."
Israel wanted to say something but stopped when he found Joshua fumbling around for something in his chest pocket. The warrior then took out a crystal, and his expression was so solemn that the Emperor could not help but stare at the crystal too.
Without a moment of hesitation, Joshua placed it on Israel desk, and said nonchalantly, "Unless…"
"Unless I take my first step towards divinity." Israel interjected, and picked the gem up carefully.
The moment he touched it, a ferocious lightning energy was unleashed.
If it had been a normal Gold-tier champion, or a Supreme-tier's moment of carelessness, they would most likely have been consumed. But against a Legendary warrior, what was the significance of such paltry power?
The lightning dissipated before Israel could breathe. He stared at the crystal as he gripped it tightly. "First step, to condense divinity itself," he said, whelming with emotion. "And I could see that this is a crystal that contains power that activates divinity, given from the One who resides within the Chest of Erebos."
The Emperor then set the crystal aside and kept quiet for a few moments. He then turned towards the still expressionless Joshua and said in a low voice, "You could have kept it for yourself or find a good chance to sell it—whatever the case may be, you should not be putting it so lightly on my desk. So, I'll just ask—why?"
With the prowess of a Legendary warrior, Israel naturally could analyze the catalyst for divinity, and use it to condense his own divine powers while improving his life essence. It was much more practical than waiting for the divine healing ceremony by the God of Life's agent while raising his own capabilities too.
He was puzzled. Joshua had solved the Chest of Erebos incident himself and won that piece of divine crystal. That was expected, but for him to generously giving it to the Emperor was not—even the carefree Israel felt chagrined right now.
"Why?" Joshua smiled and repeated His Majesty's doubt, his face relaxed. "Your Majesty, you're a Legendary champion. I'll need a lot of time to catch up to you."
This was the real world, after all. It was different from the pre-existence and there were no unlimited amounts of savage beasts or duplicate items. If it was not for the almost infinite number of the Grand Army of Chaos, the warrior would probably not have reached Supreme.
Joshua shrugged at that thought. "I really want to spar with you once—without holding anything back," he said. "If you're dead before then, it would be a shame."
In their past life, Israel's passing came five or six years in the future. But now that Joshua has changed the timeline, he knew that the timeframe for the Emperor's demise would be shifted too. Still, he would not blow his own horn and claim that he could reach Legendary by that period.
"Right, there are still things to take notice of."
Joshua then started to explain the hazards regarding divinity. As an unparalleled power, divinity is a power that is to be learned but not imitated. In addition, the godliness of peaceable individuals and those with a tendency to dive into conflict was different.
In fact, it could prove to be one man's meat and another man's poison.
Nevertheless, Israel had perished in the past life despite acquiring the crystal. Joshua thought that it was because he never thought about the divinity of the God of Fortune and Despair being incompatible with royalty such as Israel—which certainly begs attention.
"You're a great help, Joshua." Isreal's somber expression turned into delight following the warrior's description, before calming himself. He stood, and asked with a formal and grave tone, "Is this from the knowledge of the Sage Legacy too?"
Joshua did not answer, which Israel took as a silent acknowledgment. "All this while, those who tried to help me could not even see the roots of my Dark Wounds," he said sentimentally. "Even if they did they could not suggest an effective method—perhaps even the divine healing ceremony by the Church would prove to be maladjusted."
"What is your heart's desire?" Israel asked pointedly as he held Joshua's gaze, cutting through formalities and going straight to the point once more. "The demonic incident, the Chest of Erebus and now my Dark Wounds—your contribution and aid have been much, but I never gave you anything you deserve."
"I shall give you whatever you want, that's an Emperor's oath."
Israel had been keeping himself tranquil for the sake of not aggravating his wounds.
But now, an opening was torn into that façade, and he was once again a tyrant over the fields of battle.
"Whatever I want?" Joshua paused—he had never thought of it. "I can't really say I have any."
His intention to heal Israel was based on one thing only—the reluctance of seeing a champion passing away so quickly without the chance of a real spar.
Perhaps the warrior had also thought about keeping a Legendary combat strength in the war against the Abyss in the days to come, but that was further down in his priorities.
Then what did he want? He did not care for territory, titles, and money. On the other hand, glory and a chance to fight were extraordinary ingredients he could use to improve his own powers—those were far more practical.
Still, the warrior did not think of those as being necessary to be awarded. He could simply move and get it himself, and his decision to go Far South was exactly that.
Some wished to be powerful, just like men who desired to conquer or male eagles wanting to fly higher. It was an instinct. But he did not have those thoughts, or the desire of being declared strong. Obviously, those who wished to become powerful must edge past him—although that was not really related to his wishes.
"Come to think of it, I don't really have anything I want," Joshua frowned after his mind essentially ran a few laps. It was then that he realized he was essentially a monk who lived plainly. Still, although he did not need anything, others around him was not quite the same.
"However, does Your Majesty know of any method to empower Divine Armaments?" He asked earnestly and rather urgently. Ling and Ying, who had stood loyally alongside him through all those fights had been great aid even in his daily life. Joshua simply could not imagine handling all the political and administrative duties all by himself.
Even if that were so, he knew that they were beginning to lag behind in terms of ability.
The Divine Armaments were crafted by the Radcliffe family from daemonic kin of the Evil God of Famine. Even if that were the case, the Radcliffe clan had only ever reached the midpoint of Gold-tiers, despite having their inherited power of Order too.
Joshua, meanwhile, had arrived at Supreme-tier. Even if the Divine Armaments had self-improvement capabilities, they would never catch up to his own powers.
There would thus be a day when Ling and Ying would not be able to keep up with him. Their exasperated reaction to that made Joshua shudder from the bottom of his heart.
"Empowering Divine Armaments? That indeed is difficult…" Israel repeated and pondered thoughtfully, before smiling. "But for the Empire, it may be a mere matter of time, and is incomparable to the huge contribution you, Radcliffe, had given. Since you're heading to the Far South, I'll get someone to prepare. By the time you return, the personnel and ingredients needed will be waiting."
Then, Israel frowned again. "Just that? It's just upgrading two weapons, Joshua. Anything else?"
"… The Winter Fort Academy needs an instructor for dragon riding." Joshua had frowned in thought too, finally finding another thing he might need. "There are already several fine candidates for warrior and adventurer instructors, but dragon riding instructors aren't that easy to find."
Israel shook his head lightly. "That's even simpler than the other request. Just pick anyone you need—whether retired or on active duty—from the knights of the Five Grand Armies. They won't refuse you."
It was then that the Emperor, who intended to press on about what the warrior needs, noticed something. For men like Joshua, they favored reaching for 'the things they need' by their own hands.
Therefore, Israel simply gave up.
Joshua left after he had settled the finer points about upgrading the divine armaments and the instructor. He had always been that blunt, and always departed the moment he finished dealing with any matter.
Meanwhile, Israel sat on the armchair behind his desk, his expression pensive.
"Such a youth, you can't be too careless with him." He muttered softly, clenching and staring at the crystal—he could not help recalling the sudden glint in Joshua's eyes when the warrior was asked about his wish.
It was the gaze of the most ferocious of beasts, boasting incredible bloodlust and extreme danger.
"So, I'm to become a prey in the future? Is that perhaps his true wish? Oh, what a challenger. The challenger who never stops challenging."
Not even angered in the slightest, Israel beamed excitedly.
"So that's why he came to give me this treatment method, not just so that I won't die before he challenges me again. No matter. Indeed, that's the bravery and mark of a true warrior who is thousands of times greater than that bunch of sons of mine who're just waiting for my death. Always looking forward, never retreating, not even hiding his thoughts."
But the smile was soon replaced by a distant stare.
It's such purity, that's what makes it dangerous.
Israel was silent again.
If Joshua never inherited a domain and noble title in the Empire, he would not have to take care of his subjects and be concerned over his divine armaments. He would not have friends who matter, subordinates and nothing to bind him…
If such a pure fighter like Joshua was able to grow freely on the continent, what kind of existence would he be?
If he did not fall in the battlefield but instead became stronger, striving towards the world's horizon and the pinnacle of the skies… What sort of terrifying existence would he have become?
Purely pursuing conflict, and with such natural gifts…
He would lead all things to destruction in every single one of his battles.
"Luckily, he's still one man."
Storing the divine crystal carefully, Israel picked up his book once more and turned towards the direction Joshua left. "A human worth paying attention to," he said, the corner of his lips curling up. "One with subjects, friends, Divine Armaments. Though he slightly lacks impulses, that's understandable."
The Emperor then paused, seemingly having thought of a great idea. "If that's so, I could give that to him."