The Lady of the night was one of the three gods who had succumbed to the invasion of the astral beasts, and also the strongest of them. Her divine domain was eventually taken over by Runai, who had then been the Goddess of Day. That was how Runai became the so-called goddess of time, but Richard had always been confused about one thing regarding the entire process; just how had Runai never become a full-fledged intermediate deity despite possessing two divine domains?
Even though calling herself the Goddess of Time was an exaggeration, Runai should still have been strong enough to become a greater deity directly with that fusion. It was impossible for Faelor to obtain a true deity of time— even for Norland, in fact— but that shouldn’t have mattered. This shrine seemed to hold the secrets behind that weakness.
This shrine seemed to be Runai’s reason for building her city out in the middle of nowhere. The stars were a defence system that clearly hadn’t been breached yet, and from the looks of it any absorbed life force was fed back into the system and turned into divine force somehow. One had to break through the entirety of the defences before going through, but there was no telling when all of the stored divinity would be exhausted.
Loitering around the outside of the shrine, Richard could tell that it was likely his biggest gain from this war. Spending some time on it, he eventually came up with two solutions to get in.
The first was to perform an analysis of the divinity of the Lady of the Night. It wouldn’t have to be complete, just sufficient enough to suppress the effects, but it was still easier said than done. Looking at the type of divine power within the starlight, he estimated it would take him a thousand days to get to that point.
The second method was a simple one, and a stupid one as well: he just had to use an enormous amount of life force to wear out the shrine’s defences. Even with the absorbed life force being fed back in, it couldn’t be a perfect cycle with no leaks— if she had that ability, the Lady of the Night would never have lost to Runai no matter how weak she was. At some point he would be able to exhaust the defences entirely, but that was the whole question; just how much life force would he need to accomplish that?
However, something suddenly clicked in his mind. If a single mote could only carry so much divine power and every one could only latch on to one target at a time, he could run the shrine dry very quickly with a number of low-level lives!
He tried bringing in a few rats, but they simply triggered a different kind of defence system that was unbelievably weak against even normal humans; clearly, that loophole had been predicted. However, as the only one on this plane with a broodmother on his side, he was the one person who would find this problem trivial. Contacting the broodmother, he asked her to create a drone between level 3 and 5. The broodmother herself wouldn’t have to bother with such a thing; her larval forest could handle it with a single command.
Once she had his requirements, she quickly decided on a metre-long worm with twenty days of life and no special abilities, a single one of the now-buried worm nests capable of producing 10,000 a day. Production began immediately, and the astral chrysalis as well as a few wasps were sent back to the Land of Turmoil to carry them over.
After finalising the plan, Richard left the underground shrine and returned to the city, a priest rushing towards him the moment he was in sight, “Your Grace, most of the books and records in the shrine have been burnt to ash. However, we found a handful of hidden notes in the pope’s chambers, please take a look. This is the list of important divine items and materials we found.”
Richard nodded and took the list, reading through it as he entered the cathedral once more. Runai had been operating in this city for centuries, but there were clearly no exceptional items within. The best was enough equipment to arm 50,000 men, but none of it was up to his par and only good enough for the Crimson Dukedom’s militia. There was only a year’s worth of stored food, and the treasures were only worth a million or so gold as well.
It was the art that was perhaps the most valuable. All of the pieces depicted Runai’s great deeds and were beautifully made, many of them centuries old and a few even more than half a millennium. They could be worth a few million gold as well, but liquidating them wouldn’t be that easy. Faelor was in times of chaos right now, so few people were willing to spend their gold on art instead of armies. Such a thing would have to wait for later.
The haul was disappointing, but still within the boundary of expectations. To build a city in such a desolate area meant most necessities would have to be moved hundreds of kilometres to take care of the citizens. Most of Runai’s money would definitely be spent there.
Compared to the loot and the city itself, Richard was much more concerned with the plight of the residents. Anyone who had chosen to live in this isolated city definitely had to be extremely faithful, but Runai had just sacrificed all of them like pawns in an attempt to kill him. Even those who acknowledged their own villainy would think twice about such a thing.
He eventually came across the residence of the library, consisting only of a bedroom, a living room, and a private library. The library looked quite grand, but the other two rooms were quite simple in design. The hidden notes had been found behind a darker brick in the bedroom wall, with no traps set in place to stop any intruders from taking them.
Flipping through one of them quickly, Richard realised that these notes came from all of the past popes of the Church of Time, extending all the way back to when Runai first became a god. There were six books in total, containing the notes of 37 leaders of the Church who had passed on their experiences to the next when on their deathbed.
Sitting on the library table, Richard opened one of the notebooks and started reading. It was an account of the invasion of the three astral beasts, detailing the enormous price the gods had paid to kill them. Two deities had died, while many greater gods had suffered serious injuries. The pantheon had been left in shambles.
It was at that time that a divine war had erupted between the Lady of the Night and Runai. It was likely that Runai had been the one to ambush; the Lady of the Night was always significantly stronger, but she had been gravely wounded during the war so she was in no state to engage. Even so, she almost managed to turn the tables and even escaped with her soul intact.
With her domain seized and kingdom destroyed, it would be nearly impossible for the Lady of the Night to return. However, divinity worked in strange ways; so long as her defeat wasn’t complete, there would be a day when she returned. Runai searched for dozens of years afterwards before she finally found the underground shrine, believing that a spare body was hidden within. So long as the Lady entered this body, she would be able to light her godfire once more and regain her godhood.
Runai had immediately tried to break through and retrieve the body, but she had been stopped by the defences of the shrine. Two avatars, four demigods, and thousands of paladins later, she eventually gave up and sealed off all the entrances. Moving her own cathedral here, she built the Divine Fort to protect from the eventuality. Even if the Lady of the Night awakened, her soul would be caught before it could enter the spare body.
There was some history about the Sunset Shrine as well. One of the popes had deduced that the appearance of the Sunset Shrine was connected to the Lady of the Night, her soul still possessing the power of laws. People had started converting out of nowhere, the skills and tenets of the Church of Night embedded into their very souls.
At their core, gods were embodiments of faith that were connected to the laws of existence. So long as the core laws still existed, a fallen deity would eventually be replaced. Having tried to usurp the laws of night and thus form the laws of time, Runai was trying to cut off any chances for the Lady of the Night to return.
It was three popes later that the matter was brought up again. This particular pope received an oracle ordering him to investigate the source of the Sunset Shrine. At that point, Runai believed the Lady of the Night couldn’t hold on much longer and was starting to dissipate. As long as her shrine was guarded for a few more centuries, she wouldn’t have a chance of coming back.
The biggest threat at that point was the Sunset Shrine trying to steal the body or any other divine items in secret. Having tried everything she could think of, Runai eventually allowed the pope to just close off the last of the passages and bury the shrine underground.Previous Chapter Next Chapter
Translated By: Angie
Edited By: Theo
TLC'ed By: OMA