Book 7, Chapter 157

A Conflict For Offerings

“Jacqueline can choose to nurture whoever she wants,” Richard grunted, “You’re the one I’m offering sacrifices with, and no one else. Go tell her that.”

Noelene hesitated a little, “That… isn’t how the rules work. Customarily, all priests and priestesses have a rotational opportunity to host the sacrifices unless a decision is taken by the high priestess. With her absent, our own agreements aren’t binding.”

“I’m a titled offerer to the Eternal Dragon, I’m pretty sure that puts me above most grand priests.”

“Oh?” Noelene was a little surprised. Obtaining a title wasn’t purely about the number of offerings sacrificed, it also showed a certain amount of favour from the Eternal Dragon. Her face lit up in joy, “That might make things a little easier to handle. Wait for me, I’ll see what I can do.”

Richard sighed softly as he watched her leave. There were bound to be conflicts over profit anywhere in the world, and the Church of the Eternal Dragon was no exception. Ferlyn could suppress the rest and allow him to do what he wanted, but Noelene didn’t have the same power.

It didn’t take long for Noelene to return, but accompanying her were Jacqueline and two other familiar priestesses that he hadn’t been introduced to before. Behind them was a fragile, delicate-looking silhouette— that of Prince Ryan.

Just like Nyris, Ryan was beautiful by any metric; that beauty was only enhanced by the nobility of the priest robes he wore. On the other hand, it was Jacqueline who had lost her gentleness and instead started to radiate some murderous intent, “Your Grace, it is tradition in the Church for all priests and priestesses to get a chance to host ceremonies. With Flowsand and Her Excellency Ferlyn gone, I hope you can uphold these traditions.”

Richard barely spared a glance at her, “Don’t care. Are you going to reject my offerings?”

Jacqueline exchanged glances with the other two grand priestesses, “In principle, we can. If three of us agree, you will no longer be entitled to perform sacrifices in this church. Your entire family will be denied that right.”

Richard scanned across the three of them and smiled, “You know, Flowsand and Ferlyn haven’t been gone very long, but here you are, already having forgotten about them. Amazing memories, really. Do you think a bunch of grand priestesses can do as they please in the Church of the Eternal Dragon, even affecting me?”

“Watch your words!” Jacqueline hissed, “This is the Church, not your island. You do not qualify to criticize our actions.”

“You know where my island is. Since you’re so confident in your authority, why not try dropping it to the seventh level?”

Jacquline’s expression turned ugly, “Your Grace, please leave this place at once! The Church does not welcome your presence any longer!”

“You’ve actually gone insane,” Richard’s voice finally turned cold as well. He looked at the other two, “And you’re joining her?”

There was a flash of hesitation with the two priestesses, but it disappeared quickly as they nodded. Noelene just flashed a bitter smile, “I’m sorry, Richard. I can’t overturn this decision.”

Richard nodded to Noelene, “It’s fine, I’m still going to honour our agreement. We can keep working together.”

“If you mean with regards to sacrifices, there will be none of that,” Jacqueline quipped.

Richard abruptly turned his head, his aura flaring up as he looked at the grand priestess. The woman felt her heart freeze, subconsciously taking a few steps back before she regained her senses. Immediately overcome with anger and shame, she shouted in a shrill voice, “GUARDS! Send this person out, and never allow him to return!”

Fully-armoured paladins emerged from the shadows, but recognising Richard they didn’t rush to take action. The entire Church knew of his close relationship with both Flowsand and Ferlyn. Richard didn’t even look at them, instead turning to the two other grand priestesses, “I’m not just a sixth-level lord of the alliance, not just a future duke. I’m also a saint runemaster, and making an enemy of me has its consequences. I believe both of you still have family and friends down below?”

All colour drained from Jacqueline’s face, “Richard, you’re threatening priestesses of the Church!”

“And you just pissed me off. I’d rather be threatening the clergy, honestly.”

One of the other grand priestesses suddenly stepped forward, “Your Grace, Jacqueline, is there a need for such a plight? Can we not compromise? We will strive to serve Your Grace as before, but we request that you respect the traditions of the Church. Ryan could be the next Chosen; his quick growth would be a benefit to all of us.”

“You know what? Men!” Richard called out, prompting twenty shadowspears to enter in single file. Amongst them, they were carrying ten magic-sealing cases and chests of various sizes. The drones silently opened up all of them, putting the contents on display for all to see.

Even though Noelene already knew what was within, she could hardly believe her eyes at the sight. Jacqueline and the other two priestesses gasped, turning pale as they muttered the words “top-tier” repeatedly under their breaths.

It was a hilarious scene, but Richard didn’t really feel any mockery or derision. He of all offerers knew that this was a clergy that existed solely for timeforce. Even Nyra, Io, and to a lesser extent Nasia would lose their minds at such a sight. “This was what I was going to offer today, but do you really think I need to come here for it? Both other empires will have their churches welcome me with open arms.”

Jacqueline trembled for a slight moment, the greed visible in her eyes. She clearly wanted to order the guards to confiscate those offerings for her to use, but she wasn’t truly insane. Using these guards to detain Richard would be courting her own death; it could have been possible if the legendary captain and vice-captain were still present, but both were heavenly guardians that had disappeared when Ferlyn left returned to the Lightless Void. Another option was to borrow the divine power of the Eternal Dragon to kill him instantly, but she didn’t have enough power here to perform such an attack. It would only be possible if all four grand priestesses grouped up, but Noelene would never agree.

While she was still thinking about such things, Richard shook his head, “But even without these offerings, you clowns are overstepping. I’m quite curious, do you have the guts to inform the Eternal Dragon about your actions?”

Timeforce immediately gathered around him, golden divine symbols dancing around. All the energy in the church began to ripple, as though acquiescing to his presence.

“A title!” Jacqueline cried out in shock. It was impossible to fake the flow of divine power, making it clear that he was blessed by the Eternal Dragon himself. Even if he had the lowest title of them all, he would have the right to offer a sacrifice in any Church across the myriad planes. She simply did not have the right to even stop him from it, much less banish him.

She gritted her teeth as the surprise faded away, “Do you think a mere timewalker can give orders to a grand—”

Her words were cut short as the timeforce around suddenly surged towards Richard much faster, condensing into bright orbs of light that danced around him. If one looked closely, they would notice innumerable divine symbols.

“A… planewalker…” she yelped in surprise, her chest starting to heave as she swallowed the rest of her words. She had been considering swindling him a few moments ago, but now she didn’t have such guts. The Eternal Dragon could see everything, and a planewalker would certainly warrant some attention. Trying to thwart Richard would be equivalent to betraying the Eternal Dragon.

Still, she took a few deep breaths before saying with hatred, “Impressive. I truly can’t stop you from offering sacrifices, you may proceed if you wish. But don’t get too excited, you still do not have the capacity to change the Church’s traditions; Ryan will host.”

Richard looked at her and sighed, not expressing any opinion as he just stared Ryan in the eye before heading for the altar. The former prince remained calm and composed, not betraying any signs of his age as he followed him into the altar room.

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OMA's Thoughts

Translated By: Choco

Edited By: Theo

TLC'ed By: OMA