Soldiers At The Gates
When the divine kingdoms of the three goddesses started to move, Richard and Gangdor were already a few dozen kilometres along their way. It took an entire afternoon and half a night at a brisk gallop for them to advance 200 kilometres, coming close to the cathedral before they set up camp. This was why he had chosen only the elites of the army; he wanted to ensure that they could move as quickly as possible.
In fact, the cavalry could have held out charging straight to the gates of the parish. Unfortunately, the mages and priests in the army weren’t nearly as durable. They needed time to rest and meditate, recovering their mana and divine force in preparation for battle.
Late in the night, Richard and Gangdor were patrolling the camping grounds to make sure everything was alright. This was a habit from back when Richard had commanded only a few hundred men, but he still liked doing such a thing before personally leading a battle.
“It was so much easier back then, Boss!” the brute said as they walked between the tents, “We didn’t have to think about anything, just chop up everyone in front of us. Look, I haven’t grown much in years, now I can’t even put up a fight against Waterflower. When we were back in the death camp, I managed to get her out of trouble a few times.”
Richard sighed, “True, commanding troops takes too much effort. But who else can I trust?”
“Olar isn’t too bad. He’s not the best general, but he has enough tricks to maintain it.”
“He isn’t a saint yet, and it doesn’t look like he’ll become one soon. If I leave him in charge of Faelor, do you think he’ll be able to control your generals?”
“I’ll beat up anyone who dares to disobey him!”
“Hehe, see? You’re proving my point. Don’t you use your fists to suppress dissenters?”
“That’s not true!” Gangdor answered hastily, “I’ve won respect with my victories!”
Unable to even reach his shoulders without stretching anymore, Richard just patted him on the chest, “A little while longer. The moment I find a good replacement, I’ll send you to the Land of Dusk for a few years.”
“Deal!” the brute’s eyes lit up.
“Ugh,” Richard shook his head, “Everyone is scared of that place, but you can’t wait to go there.”
Gangdor wiped his head, “Boss, we’re people who survived the death camp, why would we be scared of dying on the battlefield? You don’t know, but Waterflower always complains that she wants to go back to the battlefield of despair; it’s so boring following you around. We don’t even get to fight for long!
“Oh right, how are we going to attack a church with such few people? I heard there’s tens of thousands of people stationed in there, and they’ll definitely have a few avatars.”
“We have reinforcements,” Richard said with a smile, pointing at the sky. Gangdor looked up to see an enormous shadow covering the moon, bigger and faster than even the wasps. The astral chrysalis stopped a few kilometres outside the base and started spitting out a number of supply chests, ten large silhouettes jumping off its back at the same time before walking towards them with steady steps.
Three-metre tall bodies with tough armour and all sorts of heavy weapons showed themselves, their powerful auras surprising Gangdor as well. The brute pointed at them in confusion, “These are…”
“Winter soldiers, a new drone type.”
“Like the shadowspears?” Gangdor drew a deep breath, “But isn’t this way too powerful?”
The shadowspears were each level 12, while this batch of winter soldiers was level 16! The broodmother’s troops were also more powerful than their level indicated, which meant these troops were almost equivalent to basic rune knights. However, rune knights required a large investment while the broodmother’s soldiers could be mass-produced.
Richard smiled, “They’re not as scary as you think. These are the elites, normal ones are still only level 13.”
Gangdor relaxed for a moment, but he quickly realised something was wrong, “Wait, still! Boss, if the broodmother goes up… two levels… won’t she be able to create rune knights?”
“Maybe. Maybe we can see a dragon she’s created flying through the skies one day, too,” Richard chuckled.
“Boss! That isn’t funny at all!”
Richard paused for a moment. Thinking over what he had just said, his own smile faded away.
Following the winter soldiers, dozens of arrowbeasts jumped off the astral chrysalis followed by hundreds of shadowspears. Once it had unloaded everything, it slowly rose up into the sky and departed. With this huge boost in power, Gangdor was much more certain about the upcoming battle.
This was one aspect in which Richard was different from Raymond. Raymond preferred quantity and always tried to create an overall advantage so he could win with numbers. On the other hand, Richard preferred nurturing a smaller group of powerful soldiers that could tear into enemy formations and retreat quickly, using mobility to their advantage as they wore away at opponents. With his micromanagement, he could bring much more out of these smaller units.
The next day, Richard led his soldiers another 200 kilometres forward before setting up camp at a spot less than thirty kilometres from the Grand Cathedral of Time. He didn’t make any attempt to cover his traces, so not long after the tents were pitched the parish started bustling. The city was brightly lit with many torches on the walls, and a sweeping beam of light roved through the regions nearby to prevent an ambush.
The defences around the cathedral were heightened greatly that night, but Richard’s troops just slept like logs. Some spies and scouts were dispatched from the city, but they never managed to get back to report. A few paladins were eventually sent out as well, alongside a few larger squads, but once all of those were captured the church stopped its attempts and focused on strengthening defences.
Richard was sitting alone in his tent, looking at a report that had just been handed to him. The paladins sent by the city had spilt everything after a few minutes of torture, giving him detailed information about the city.
The Divine Fort was true to its name, a city that existed solely to protect the Church of Runai. Most of the hundreds of thousands of residents served the Goddess of Time, a good number of them even being an official part of the clergy. The cathedral had more than 2,000 members, but that didn’t include their 3,000 paladins. About 300 clergymen were capable of useful levels of divine magic, with that number having doubled as Runai constantly transferred priests from other churches in the last few months.
There were currently 50,000 trained soldiers and 10,000 mercenaries protecting the Divine Fort, and the captured paladins revealed that there were at least two avatars and several demigods aiding the defence. Runai was clearly planning to use this as her last bastion in the mortal world. The central church was the primary source of a deity’s connection to their worshippers, and its fall would reduce their ability to replenish their divine force greatly.
In terms of power in the mortal realm, Runai couldn’t begin to compare to Richard’s army. She had initially formed an alliance with many other gods just to have an even battle, but with the appearance of Sharon and the Celestial Sage, they had all changed their stance last minute. Some even pretended to be mute and deaf, like they had fallen into a deep sleep.
“It’s me this time, but you’ll be next!” Even now, the goddess was calling for help in the skies. However, there was no one to answer. Unlike deities, legends could do whatever they wished in the mortal realm because their power was their own. If Sharon decided she wanted to destroy every church in Faelor, there would be no one to stop her. Gods like them only survived because people of that calibre rarely cared for such inconstant power as divinity.
As long as the plane still continued to exist, deities would be around forever. The specific individuals occupying a domain could change, but that domain would always exist. Right now, the gods of Faelor just hoped that Richard wouldn’t care about them after a point.
By dawn, Runai’s pope had already delivered the message that Richard was here with his troops to his goddess. The cathedral was brightly lit at that moment, all the cardinals kneeling on the ground and praying in low voices for a miracle to destroy their enemies.
There was no statue on the altar, only an enormous hourglass that represented time which slowly flipped over under the power of divinity. Every complete turn signified a day had past. The hourglass was black on one end and white on the other, signifying the cycle of day and night. This symbol was Richard’s excuse for starting this war.
As the prayer drew to an end, the hourglass suddenly emitted a majestic aura and a ray of light fell from the sky. The pope’s ears perked up as his body went almost flat on the ground, listening to Runai’s words before slowly standing up and raising the sceptre in his hand, “Our Lady has given us an order; she will send down a third avatar to resist the heretics, we are to wipe them out!”
They had three avatars! The cardinals immediately started cheering.Previous Chapter Next Chapter
Translated By: WQ
Edited By: Theo
TLC'ed By: OMA