Book 7, Chapter 169

Thunderclouds

Outside the Divine Fort, Richard who hadn’t slept the entire night was staring at the map before him. To him, the city was in a strange location. This area was still close to the northern wastes, with freezing winters and rainy summers that were not comfortable in the slightest. It was also surrounded by hundreds of kilometres of barren land, requiring food to be hauled from more than 200 kilometres away. This was enormous pressure on a city that had hundreds of thousands of mouths to feed.

Richard thought about it for a long time, but after he couldn’t come up with a good explanation he eventually just smiled and realised he had complicated things once more. He was already bearing down on the city, he could just figure things out after the battle. When the first rays of the morning sun lit up the sky, he led his troops towards the Divine Fort. The pope’s face darkened at the sight of his army, an expression mirrored by his cardinals of whom one fumed, “They actually want to invade us with such a small group?!”

“This is an opportunity,” the pope’s deep voice rang out, “Attack them at full force, burn these heretics with the pillar of judgement!”

With a wave of the sacred sceptre, long trumpets resounded through the sky as a good half of the cardinals took off their robes to reveal armour underneath; this group were originally battle priests.

Smoke and dust polluted the city as the army was mobilised, the gates opening shortly after as the brightly-armoured paladins rushed out followed by the battle priests, regular priests, and even many cardinals. Tens of thousands of soldiers poured out of the city unendingly, taking battle positions before it.

Gangdor rubbed his head with disbelief, “They want to fight outside? Is that godspark’s brain intact?”

“Look at their defences,” Richard replied, “There’s no difference either way. Our army will jump over their walls easily, and then our smaller numbers actually favour us. Here, they can at least mobilise their full force. They think we’re only the advance party, they’re trying to wipe us out quickly.”

Gangdor nodded in understanding. Outside of the thousand elite human knights from the Dukedom, all of the broodmother’s drones could scale the ten-metre city walls with ease. The astral and flying chrysalides would also allow them to just launch an attack on any section of the city they wanted to, outmaneuvering the opposing army. It would just be another repeat of the Frozen Throne.

Still, a trace of anger flashed across the brute’s face, “They think they can wipe us out head-on? Let me go out and vent!”

Richard just stared at him, “Put on your helmet.”

Gangdor immediately smiled, “That toy is too heavy, and it blocks my sight. It’ll just be a hindrance!”

“No point in me giving you a full set of armour if you’re not wearing it all.”

“I’m already a turtle like this, you see—”

“Put. It. On.”

Gangdor could only grumble to himself at that point, retrieving the helmet from his mount and donning it unwillingly. Once the helmet was put on, the entire set of heavy armour started to glow.

Richard then gestured a few times towards the sky, sending out orbs of grey energy that turned into thunderclouds floating above the city gates. A lightning storm at this position would cut off the retreat.

As the first of the clouds took form, one of the cardinals on the walls sneered, “What is that, a lightning storm? Are they cheering for our triumphant return?”

However, the faces of everyone in the gate tower immediately turned ugly. The cloud rapidly expanded to cover a large area in front of the gates, lightning bolts slowly starting to fall from its location. The bolts were spaced apart by more than ten seconds each, making it impossible for the cloud to cut off the retreat of so many soldiers, but the gate tower itself was within range! With clouds forming over the other towers, this meant the pope and cardinals could be attacked at any time!

The city gates were over a kilometre away from Richard. To place the thunderclouds here so effectively meant this was perfectly within his casting range. Not even all legendary mages had such control!

One of the cardinals quietly raised his own sceptre, shooting a ray of white light towards the thundercloud above them. However, the attack only caused the cloud to surge and rumble a little violently before returning to normal, continuing to expand at a rate visible to the naked eye. The man brandished his sceptre and shot a number of attacks right after, managing to carve a few craters into it, but once his strength was depleted the holes quickly started to patch themselves up.

“What power is this?” he huffed in shock. It took two more cardinals attacking to finally destroy the cloud, but the others Richard had deployed were now starting to speed up their lightning strikes. Their ceaseless growth left people unspeakably depressed. These clouds were more difficult to dispel than any grade 9 magic they had seen in their lives.

Runai greatly exaggerated her divine domain by calling herself the Goddess of Time, but she could still influence the flow of time to a certain degree. However, Richard had made countless offerings to the Eternal Dragon in his life, and every instance was an opportunity to come into contact with the laws of time. Although he couldn’t yet analyse such laws, his personal comprehension dwarfed even the pope’s; a few adjustments made his clouds very resistant to Runai’s divine power.

He certainly didn’t mind that one of his clouds had finally been dissipated. Waving a hand, he sent another seven right behind it.

The cardinals immediately paled, no one willing to use their limited reserves to eliminate the clouds. The pope, who had been looking up at the sky all this while, frowned and whispered, “Those clouds hold the power of laws!”

The power of laws! A few of the cardinals were terrified, but most only had a blank look. They didn’t possess enough strength to truly understand what the power of laws was.

Fortunately, Richard would show them. A bolt of lightning struck down with a snap, killing a heavily-armoured knight and setting off a fiery explosion that knocked down everyone nearby. This wasn’t even a dent in the numbers of the huge army, but it caused people to turn around and notice what was going on behind them. Fear immediately crawled up many of their faces.

The thunderclouds in the sky gradually joined together, spanning hundreds of metres and still expanding towards a kilometre radius. This spell was more powerful than most of the soldiers could comprehend; even backed by a god, the hearts of the ordinary warriors were shaken.

Looking at the growing clouds, one of the cardinals murmured… “Where is the Goddess…”

He suddenly stopped as the pope’s stern gaze fell on him, but before he could explain the deep voice rang out, “You suit the front lines. Go!”

A few special paladins clad in black armour flocked around and pulled the cardinal away from the tower. The man could only scream in surprise, bursting out, “How much longer do you think you’ll remain the pope?! Even now, the Lady is nowhere to be seen, when will she appear? Those thunderclouds can withstand her power, will you just watch as they bring down the army?!”

This cry was mournful and loud, spreading far away. The army in front of the city was thoroughly disturbed as even more soldiers raised their heads and looked up, showing signs of fear as an enormous shadow blotted out the path back to the gates. The entire force suddenly pushed forward, not an order from any knights or generals but a natural reaction from the rear of the army wanting to escape the range of the clouds.

Only one lightning bolt had struck the army so far, and its power wasn’t particularly great either. There was no evidence of activity amongst these clouds outside of their expansion, but their size alone was now overwhelming enough. Richard just sneered as he saw the confusion in the enemy ranks, his own mages and priests starting to buff the soldiers at his command. Everyone was rooted in place during the process, not twitching a single muscle.

Richard’s preparations were methodical. He had fewer than 3,000 men going up against over 50,000 but his soldiers were faster and far more powerful. The blanket of thunderclouds would ensure that the enemies remained disorderly at all times, allowing them to burrow through formations with ease.

Strengthening the clouds against Runai’s divinity wasn’t the only thing he had done. Using his elven truename and the power of Ruven in particular, he had empowered the clouds with nature energy that greatly increased the speed at which they grew. This had slightly dropped the effectiveness of each bolt, but that didn’t matter nearly as much.

Slowly floating into the sky, he took a good look at the army he would soon crush.

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OMA's Thoughts

Translated By: Choco

Edited By: Theo

TLC'ed By: OMA