Robzek and the warrior nodded at each other. After greeting each other, the captain turned around and stared at the sea that was tainted with dark blue blood of the abyssal dragon. Then he said, "It has been only a few minutes, and you have already killed that Marine Abyssal Dragon…"
The silver-haired holy knight knew that he would not be able to do that. Although a Marine Abyssal Dragon with the strength of Gold-pinnacle was not really a threat to him, Robzek knew that he was not capable of killing that dragon in such a short time. Hence, his tone had become much heavier than before as he looked at Joshua who had performed far beyond his expectation.
The strength of the warrior was completely unlike the strength of a champion who had just crossed into the Supreme-tier. His performance during the battle with the abyssal dragon had turned many of the information the Church of the Seven Gods had on the warrior into just talks and rumors. Because no matter how powerful the rumors said the warrior was, the real Joshua was much more than that.
"A pure means is completely different from this." Having guessed the captain's doubts, Joshua spoke his mind with simple words. "You are a holy knight who wields holy light. You have the responsibility to protect your comrades and friends. Your main goal is to achieve victory. Your abilities are more towards defense, not offense. Your main aim is not to kill your enemies."
"I, on the other hand," the warrior shrugged and continued, "I am quite good in killing enemies."
Silently nodding his head, Robzek did not say much anymore. The strength of the warrior was undeniably one of the significant factors that could increase their success rate on carrying out their plans at the Dark Abyss. That was the main reason they started this expedition into the depths of Anos Abyss. And because of that, they were all glad.
Meanwhile, Saya had also deactivated the Divine Barrier.
With the help of the great nun alone, the sea monsters across the dark sea would never stand a chance against the holy ark. As the embodiment of an overwhelming suppressive cannon of holy light, she held absolute power over all inferior daemons. Even if there were some powerful sea monsters that could break through Saya's barrier, Robzek and Roland would definitely be able to handle the situation and kill all the sea monsters that approached the ark. With the three of them working together, it became possible for the church to sail into the depths of Anos Abyss.
"This is a little unfortunate though…" She walked up to the edge of the ark as she looked at the surface of the sea with her blindfolded eyes. She sounded a little regretful as she said, "Even though that Marine Abyssal Dragon was a little tainted by the Abyss, it had yet to transform into those weird creatures. It should have known something. Perhaps it knew something about something in the Great Central Whirlpool that's located at the depths of Anos Abyss. Or perhaps it also knew where all those monsters came from… We could have interrogated it for some answers before killing it."
The great nun sounded cold when she faced the daemons. She did not show even the slightest mercy towards those sea monsters.
When Joshua heard what she said, his interest was aroused. He asked curiously, "What monsters could it be?" then the warrior pointed his finger at the sea monsters that were fleeing from the ark. "Those are not the monsters you are talking about?"
"Those are just some weak sea monsters. Of course, they're not the 'monsters'. After losing the essence of the dark abyss, they will soon return to their former states. They are only living creatures that are affected."
After hearing Joshua's question, Saya smiled and answered the warrior, "Lord Count, because you have just arrived not long ago, so we have yet to brief you on a lot of things. We have traveled into Anos Abyss for over four times. On our last expedition here, we arrived very near to the Great Central Whirlpool. However, because of some unexpected accidents, we were forced to retreat… right before the end of that expedition, we had encountered some of the sea daemons near the Great Central Whirlpool. We had a hard time trying to defeat them. Strangely, they were much more powerful than us. They were so powerful that we feared them."
Saya raised her right eyebrow a little. Joshua could tell that Saya was telling the truth. Her so-called 'hard time' meant that their strength and the strength of those monsters were equal. Hence, the fear she talked about was not a joke. She did not exaggerate to scare the warrior.
However, could the daemons really do that? Out of the three of them, one was an old and experienced Supreme-tier holy knight. The other one was the great nun with the strength of the pinnacle Gold-tier. The third one was the young holy knight who was a prodigy. With all three of them, the party could easily annihilate anything on the continent. They were also the key of the church to defeat their enemies. They could face intermediate-grade Dark Tide from the Dark Forest head on.
Hill and his oceanic familiar were on board as well. Not to mention that they had even invited one mysterious champion to tag along. So, when Saya said that the monsters in the depths of Anos Abyss were giving a hard time to the people on board of the Epoch, the warrior was very interested to see what sort of monsters were in that area.
"Speaking of which, Joshua. From what I saw just now, I believe that those monsters are somewhat connected to you."
Roland who stood beside them suddenly broke out of silence as if he had recalled something. He turned around and looked at the warrior thoughtfully, "Their aura seemed to be similar to Ling and Ying's… Even though they have sided with Chaos when Ying and Ling were normal—there are similarities between them. I just can't explain it."
Joshua immediately raised his guard with furrowed brows. As he was about to ask some questions, the Oceanic Bladed Dragon which had been following the ark slowly dove back into the sea. Black was attempting to climb back aboard of the ark. The warrior noticed that Black had returned from the battlefield, so he instantly gave the Shapeshifter's Pendant to the draconic horse. A wave of magic energy surging through its body and Black was turned back into the size of an ordinary horse. It carried the pendant as it ran back to its master.
Joshua patted Black's head and praised it for its contribution during the battle. Then he lifted his head and looked at the dark sky as the rain poured. Then his face hardened as he spoke to the three people from the church, "Roland, you have to be more specific than that… Let's get back into the cabin. You have to tell me more about the monsters, where they come from and in what way are they similar to Ying and Ling."
"No problem." The blond-haired holy knight nodded. However, he was a little surprised to see that the warrior was worried.
Roland thought that Joshua would stay calm and uninterested as he usually would. He thought that the warrior was only interested in battle.
—Back inside the ark, in a resting cabin.
As the legitimate leader of the holy ark, Robzek was determining their location with the crew of the ark as they continued to move toward the Great Central Whirlpool. Saya seemed to be on her way to meet someone. So she excused herself from the cabin, leaving only Roland and Joshua at the square table.
"Alright, you can tell me now, Roland."
After taking a sip of the warm tea, Joshua placed the cup down and straightened himself to listen to the holy knight, who gulped down some drink with a serious look on his face. "The monsters you talked about earlier, what exactly are they? What kind of similarities do they have with Ying and Ling?"
"You should be well aware of it. The main goal of our party was not only trying to purify the sea of Anos Abyss. We also aimed to destroy the rift connected to the Dark Abyss located in the middle of the Great Central Whirlpool. We need to understand the conspiracies of the demons and the Pentashade Dragons."
Unlike Robzek and Saya who were not that close to the warrior, Roland and Joshua were quite close. So when Roland was speaking to Joshua, it sounded casual. "There is something strange about it. Other than the sea monsters that are influenced by the Dark Abyss, the powerful monsters in the surroundings of the Great Central Whirlpool did not have even the slightest trace of influence from the Dark Abyss. Doesn't matter if it was their appearance or their aura, they have nothing to do with the demons at all."
According to the description of the holy knight, those powerful monsters near the Great Central Whirlpool looked different. However, each of them had smooth shells. The joints on their bodies and the vertebra on their backs were also formed from some sort of translucent crystal structure. They actually look more like gigantic insects that are covered in crystals that sea monsters.
The most suspicious thing about it was that there was not even the slightest trace of the Dark Abyss on their bodies. Instead, their bodies had a kind of strange Chaos energy.
Roland subconsciously lowered his voice down. He leaned into the warrior and whispered, "They might have something to do with the Golems we encountered back in the Illgner World. They must be the 'children' of some Evil God. Furthermore, their scents are similar to Ying and Ling. So Joshua—I suspect that they are the seeds of the Evil Gods that had been sealed away by the Radcliffe Family in the Northern Sealed Land."
"Your suspicion is right though… The Crystal Insect Yoel Mardas are Aragami."
After listening to the holy knight, Joshua frowned and muttered to himself softly, "Indeed, divine armaments are actually made of the remains left behind by the Aragamis after they are slain. It's not strange that Ying and Ling have the same auras as theirs… However, why would they appear in that place then?"
The warrior shook his head as he already knew the answer deep down in his heart.
That was normal. The Evil God of Famine had invaded many worlds. Over thousands of years, it had turned Karlis into a desolate world, leaving only a few Aragamis that had yet to attain the Legendary-tier to rule over the continent. It would not be weird even if the Evil God found another world that was connected to the Mycroft Continent to invade a thousand years later.
However, Anos Abyss was the location where the rift connected the Dark Abyss to the Mycroft Continent. So what did that have to do with the Evil God of Famine then?
"The situation is a little more complicated than we anticipated. However, I would like to express my gratitude for telling me all that." Lifting his cup, Joshua expressed his respect towards Roland and clinked his cup with Roland's cup. The holy knight looked at his own cup and emptied it before he spoke. He smiled bitterly. "We're not drinking wine. Why are we even toasting? Since we are about to arrive at the Great Whirlpool, you shall see it with your own eyes. So you don't have to thank me for reminding you."
"At least you prepared me, mentally."
Joshua was preparing to pour a cup of tea for Roland. That tea came from a famous tea house in the Eastern Plains. It can calm a person's mind and allow the person to concentrate better, casting away all unwanted thoughts. The tea was very popular among the great mages. Joshua loved to drink the tea but not for that reason. He drank it for its taste because it was similar to green tea, a tea that he used to drink in his past life.
However, obviously, the holy knight was insensitive towards that. He quickly rejected the warrior from pouring the tea for him and said. "It's alright, I don't like to drink bitter things."
As Roland got up, ready to pour himself some other drink, the door of the cabin was suddenly pushed open.
The door opened very quickly, but the two people in the cabin had already noticed the footsteps outside the corridor. Joshua calmly raised his hand and waved at the young elf who walked in.
"Good day, Mr. Hill. Weren't you resting in your own room?"
"That's true, a while ago." Seeing the warrior, the young elf lips curled up a little. He seemed displeased as he started to speak, "If someone did not cause any trouble in the first place, we could have rested at least another day or two—I did not really expect the storms and the great waves to be summoned by the incident."
"It's my fault."
Joshua admitted right away because he knew very well that his action had sparked the entire incident to escalate. So he was the one who disrupted the crews' plans. He picked up another cup and poured some tea into it, "So, let's have a drink then?"
"Other than alcohol, I wouldn't touch anything else." Hill walked straight towards the warrior and sat right opposite him. Then he took the cup and gulped it down. Instantly, his face twisted in disgust as he said, "This is bitter! Yuck! How do you even like this kind of drink?"
At that time, the young elf—even though he was older than the warrior—was wearing an ocean blue robe. There was a coat of arm, a gigantic dragon with a javelin, on the robe. Joshua knew that it was the logo of the Order of the Leviathan Knights in the Eastern Plains. There were also two golden dolphins that suggested the identity and status of the person in the Order.
However, this person was wearing pajamas made of thin silk. He was only wearing a pair of slippers. He did not look like a member of the crew on a perilous journey to expedite the sea. Instead, he looked like a middle-aged man resting in his own house.
"So, why are you looking for me then?'
Without any explanation, Joshua was well aware of the young man's intention. It was obvious that he needed something from the warrior. However, the warrior doubted that he could help the oceanic druid who was a dragon knight in any way.
Could it be that his actions during the battle had interrupted the young man in his sleep? But this young man did not look like a person who would bother himself with such trivial things.
"I have met my familiar 'Funa' a while ago. Of course, I have also met your dragon…" Hill took a deep breath slowly as he swallowed the remaining tea in his mouth, cringing. Then he looked at Joshua in the eyes and spoke doubtfully, "Joshua, I have heard Robzek and the others calling you by that name. So I am going to call you Joshua as well—are you really a dragon knight?"
Joshua thought about it carefully. In addition to having a dragon as his mount, it seemed that he had nothing to do with being a dragon knight at all. Hence, he hesitated before responding to the young elf's question, "No."
"Cough cough—" Hill's purplish eyes widened as he choked on the tea, looking shocked. "How come you're so straightforward with me…"
"Because I really am not a dragon knight."
Joshua told Hill the truth. He brushed his chin and spoke calmly, "Black was actually my warhorse. I have attempted to awaken the bloodline in it. That's how it ended up being a draconic horse—perhaps he has become a true giant dragon now—however, honestly, I have never thought about becoming a dragon knight. It's just that I have a dragon as my mount, that's all."
The warrior also realized that he did not have to ride his warhorse recently as well. However, he did not voice that out. The warrior suddenly realized that Black had become a mobile cannon deep in his heart instead of just a mount. Joshua had already gotten used to charging into a battlefield with Black. Because he could finish the battle faster than he could alone."
"…But your practice has nothing to do with being an ordinary knight at all!" Painfully squeezing the cup in his hand, Hill looked conflicted. "Your dragon did not even have a saddle to begin with, not even a leash—you did not even equip your dragon with armor that could at least protect its weak spots. Are you going to allow your familiar to battle with you in that vulnerable position?"
Roland came back to Joshua after fetching himself fruit juice added with some sugar. He saw Joshua having a conversation with Hill, and he heard what they were talking about. So he shrugged and sat on the other side of the long table.
The poor holy knight did not have the money to get himself a mount. So he decided not to sit with the two of them.
"I seldom let Black into the battlefield alone. Furthermore, it always stayed behind the enemy line as a support."
Although he was reminded by Hill that Black's power level had actually yet to reach its full potential and that was due to his own recklessness, the warrior still decided to remind Hill about his stance. "Normally, I'll charge into the frontline while Black will support me from the back. As you can see during the battle today, Black was always in the safe position during the battle."
"No, that's not what I meant…" Normally, having a giant dragon to play a supportive role in a battle was unprecedented. That was perhaps the first time the young elf had met a wonderful draconic familiar in his entire life. He seemed conflicted with his fingers were intertwined. He seemed to have no idea what to say. "That's just too strange!"
"Speaking of which, Mr. Hill. I wonder if you know a thing or two about magic."
The warrior seemed to have thought of something. Joshua poured the young elf another cup of tea. Then he asked the elf with curiosity, "I'm talking about the magic that can turn a giant dragon into a human. I heard some rumors suggesting saying that the giant dragons in the Order of the Celestial Knights could turn themselves into human form. So, I'm just wondering if the Order of the Leviathan Knights might know something of similar spells or magic. After all, these two Orders are known to be the best in the entire world."
"No, that organization only consists of babysitters, not worthy to be called as the Order of Knights or whatsoever! Not at all!"
Disagreeing with Joshua, he responded the warrior's statement harshly as he understood the warrior's intention. He scratched his cheek and asked the warrior, a little confused, "You are talking about Human Transfiguration Magic, right? Isn't that a spell which the giant dragon should know… Oh, yeah. Your dragon is what it is today after undergoing some evolution by awakening its bloodline. So perhaps it did not get that sort of Legacy skill."
"That's for sure, I suppose."
Suddenly, a fresh lady's voice came from the direction of the door, with a series of loud and clear footsteps. A tall lady came into the resting cabin and explained, "The bloodline that Black inherited originated from the strength of an Ancient Dragon called the Smelting Black Dragon. That bloodline is completely different from most of the Astral Dragon's bloodlines that most giant dragons possess. Only the Astral Dragons can inherit the Human Transfiguration Magic to blend with the people of this world."
Joshua turned around and looked towards the door.
The lady was taller than five feet eleven inches. She was obviously taller than most of the men. She was wearing a plain gray leather armor and had long blue hair. Her pupils were cyan. Although her appearance was beautiful, no one in the room paid attention to her physical appearance as the lady was surrounded with the power of lightning. Visible electricity surged across her body. With a vague horn on top of her head, anyone could tell that she was not an ordinary being.
"Funa, you have finally arrived."
After seeing that lady, Hill smiled and stood up to greet the lady. "Come, have a seat here."
The tall lady did not wait. She walked over to behind the young elf and pulled him into her arms. Then she sat on the chair where Hill was previously sitting.
Joshua started, "…this lady is…"
The warrior already knew the identity of the tall lady. The young elf had mentioned the name of his giant draconic familiar many times before. The blue-haired tall lady who was hugging the young elf in her arms nodded and admitted, "That's right, I'm the Oceanic Bladed Dragon. A human champion that is rarely seen in the continent… So, do you intend to let your own dragon to turn itself into a human? I have seen the Shapeshifting Pendant. Unfortunately, it could only allow Black to reduce in size."
The lady unexpectedly spoke in a very straightforward manner. She smiled vaguely and said, "You have definitely asked the right question to the right person."