Book 7, Chapter 174

Buried History

The priests and mages on Richard’s side looked extremely pale, having exhausted all of their power in a short time. Had the three goddesses not moved their divine kingdoms to a spot right above this battle, the clergy would have given out long ago. Of course, the same was true for the other side.

Lying down for a bit longer, Richard slowly started summoning the green patches and flowers below him and recovered using the laws of life. He still couldn’t fight right away, but soon enough he wasn’t on the brink of death.

One of the Dukedom’s knights helped him up, taking a chance to look through the surroundings before letting out a soft sight. Silence washed over the vast battlefield as everyone looked at the lifeless bodies all over.

Of the 50,000 warriors on Runai’s side, more than 20,000 had died in the raging battle. Another 20,000 died in the lightning storm, while only a few thousand managed to flee the scene.

Looking at the stragglers, Gangdor lowered his head and snarled, “Let me go after those bastards, Boss!”

Richard shook his head, “Enough people have died today.”

“But…” Gangdor refused to let it go. This was the best chance to wipe them out.

Richard stopped him before he could organise his thoughts, “Didn’t you hear the pope when the war was announced? This will be the last divine battle. They’ve already run, and Runai won’t have any faith in the future. Our aim was to destroy the priests and zealots; that’s already been done.”

The brute rubbed his head in annoyance, but he didn’t argue any further.

……

A short while later, Richard’s troops entered the Divine Fort. The city had become a land of death, the dozens of arenas within stuffed to the brim with dried corpses that couldn’t even be recognised. Richard himself walked past them calmly, but by the third Gangdor started to lose his calm. This hell-like scene affected even the experienced warriors.

“Aren’t all of these people her worshippers, Boss? Why would she do this to them? There have to be tens of thousands of people here!” the brute asked.

“Don’t you have your own share of kills on the battlefield?”

“How is that the same? That’s battle! Even if I killed them, they died fighting with the honour of warriors! I wouldn’t have a problem if I died like that. But these are different, these are commoners without the chance to fight back. It’s a massacre!”

“No, it was a slaughter. Do you really think the gods believe their worshippers as equal beings? Even comparable? They think of worshippers as livestock; what does it matter if one animal is killed or ten thousand?”

Gangdor rubbed his head even more aggressively, “But the gods back in Norland aren’t like this!”

“Sigh. That’s because we have epic beings who surpass them. If they try this shit, they’re going to be dead in a matter of days. Faelor is completely different.”

“Then… These types of things will happen again?”

“What should we do? Can’t we fight those stupid godsparks anymore?”

“No, we push on. When half of them are dead, they’ll realise that mortals can’t be treated like livestock. Norland was the same too.”

Gangdor shrugged and nodded; he had no interest in the theological history of Norland.

With the conversation finished, Richard started heading straight for the cathedral. A small cloud of cloned brains and worker drones descended from the sky to escort the Thinker, who immediately followed in to collect any artefacts which contained divinity.

The cathedral was dead-silent, with no human beings within. Only a small portion of the people present died to the initial ambush of the humanoid knights, while the rest were sacrificed to Runai.

While his soldiers combed through every inch of the building, Richard paid all his attention to a thirty-metre tall statue of Runai herself. He had seen one that was bigger— that of the Highland Wargod— but that was a deity even weaker than the three goddesses. This was a strange thing about Faelor; the weaker a deity was, the grander their statues. Powerful deities like Cerces paled in comparison to Runai, only having a sacred crest.

A while later, he shook his head and turned elsewhere. The statue had no remains of consciousness left behind, and from the traces of existence previously the counter-attack had injured Runai pretty badly. With her ability to control the flow of time completely shut down, she had lost decisively.

Truth be told, Richard still got the shorter end of the stick in that battle. However, he wasn’t even legendary and had been severely injured already when engaging in that battle of souls. Once he advanced, his soul force would grow exponentially and allow him to crush her without any harm to himself at all.

He walked through the cathedral and watched as the knights carried out oil paintings and ancient artefacts like holy grails, inspecting the entire building for anomalies but with no success. This would be the point at which less devoted worshippers were given an opportunity to change their faith, but the entire city had been killed so there were no people to extend that offer to. Even most of Runai’s avatars and children had been killed, with only one currently missing. With the huge drain from having to activate the curse repeatedly, the avatars had only managed to sustain themselves by forcing the powerful demigods to become sacrifices as well.

Thus, the next obvious thing to do was to topple the statue and destroy the cathedral. With that, the city would be as good as a wasteland and he would just have to wait for the results of the battle between the three goddesses and Runai. However, Richard found himself coming back to the same issue as before the battle; just why would someone build their grand cathedral in such a place?

Thinking over it for a while, he eventually sent a new command to his worker drones, “Dig down until you find something.”

It took five days of searching and a 500-metre dig before the workers managed to find something, coming across an entire underground shrine. It was impossible to tell who it belonged to or how long it had remained there, but the defence systems were still usable and very effective. The first batch of humanoids that had been sent to explore had encountered a stream of starlight that killed them instantly.

When the scene was transmitted to him, Richard was shocked as well. The broodmother’s drones had always possessed great amounts of life force, capable of fighting to their last breaths even if they were cut in half. However, the stream of starlight had killed hundreds of them almost like they had just fallen deep asleep.

He immediately flew over and had ten more knights enter the shrine, watching the entire process. He saw a number of tiny stars flying down from the entrance and landing on them, but they didn’t react at all and let it happen. He quickly realised that he had lost his connection to the drones entirely the moment they stepped through; he could still see them, but it was like they were in two different worlds.

By the third batch, he had realised that the starlight was completely draining the knights of their life force, causing them to collapse. Sending over many batches of workers right after, he found that the amount of power within that starlight was limited and every mote would eventually expire. A single spark could last many hosts, but it only ever attached to one at a time.

Richard stepped back and started observing the outer details carefully. This was a six-pillared rectangular portico made of pitch-black material that was neither rock nor metal. He didn’t feel anything out of place while staring at it, but as he scanned around he saw stars blinking in and out of existence atop the pillars.

Blinking a few times to make sure his eyes weren’t playing tricks on him, he walked close to one of the pillars and reached out to examine it. As his fingers traced across the strange material, he quickly felt an invisible bump and followed it, feeling what seemed like a floral pattern.

He stepped back again, but this time he used Field of Truth and everything changed. The portico was immediately surrounded by the stars of the night sky, with flowers and vines crawling around the pillars and painting them in bright colours. He even smelt a faint fragrance emitting from them. This would have been such a beautiful place before it lost its divine support.

Outside the doors of the shrine was a stele half-buried in the ground. Having a handful of workers dig it out, Richard found a strange divine crest with a hexagram at the centre that didn’t belong to any current god of Faelor. However, it only took him a moment to recall what this crest was; he had even seen it once before.

This was the Lady of the Night.

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OMA's Thoughts

Translated By: Angie

Edited By: Theo

TLC'ed By: OMA