Book 8, Chapter 40

A Barren Land

Richard’s eyes remained locked onto the map for a very long time. The Genesis was the sacred grounds of the barbarians, a forbidden region full of mystery. However, there were hundreds of such places in Faelor that his followers had investigated before, only turning out to be legends born of rumours and hearsay that contained no value. Even with the strange circumstances of the barbarians, he hadn’t been left with much interest in this area once he had found nothing in the plains which were larger than even the Iron Triangle Empire.

The barbarian plains were so barren it was quite shocking; one couldn’t even find any decent ore anywhere, nor were there any rare species of flora or fauna. Even abandoned planes normally had more resources than that. Given those circumstances, he was already preparing to pull his followers out and have them work on the other resource-rich planes like Goldflow Valley or the Boulder Highlands.

Richard hesitated for quite a while, but eventually he furrowed his brows tight and made the decision, “Let’s end this quickly.”

He immediately contacted the broodmother, “I need the astral chrysalis at Dragon Valley right now; also get ten messengers and wasps. Have the cloned brains fan out and build a passage straight towards the Genesis, I want every battle elite at the barbarian plains right away.”

“Is there something important there, Master?” the broodmother asked as she made the arrangements.

“I’m not sure, but I feel like it’ll be big.”

“Hmm… then I’m coming too.”

“Huh? What for?”

“I have been feeling a vague draw from the area as well. I don’t know what it is, whether it’s good or bad, but it feels like the drones won’t be able to handle it themselves. I’ll have to go personally.”

Richard’s eyebrows knitted together. The broodmother was a powerful combatant at this point, tougher and stronger than most legends, but the manpower he possessed right now was a force to be reckoned with as well. Even without her, he could still kill powerful legendary beasts like Kralkalor. Mobilising her for combat was a loss of almost eighty level 5 drones and two level 16 elites every day.

“Fine,” he decided to let it happen, “Let’s meet at the plains.”

Shortly after ending the communication, Richard sent an order for all of his followers to assemble apart from Olar and Gangdor. However, Nasia informed him that she was in a crucial phase of her advancement and wouldn’t be able to join them; her absence would greatly impact their top-end combat prowess, but since it also meant Dragon Valley was safe he didn’t really mind. This valley was the source of his fortune, giving him more than thirty greater offerings every month, and protecting it was perhaps even more important than the assault on the Genesis.

……

Even as Richard was preparing to advance on the Genesis, a strange traveller appeared in the barbarian plains. It was a feminine figure covered in a dark grey cloak, her face hidden within the shadows. Every step she took covered dozens of metres as she headed into the depths of the plains, invisible to those around her.

……

One week after Richard made his decision.

A barbarian tribe was currently migrating through the plains. It wasn’t particularly large at only about a hundred members, with three carts able to fit all of their belongings, but tribes like this one were common throughout the barbarian plains. These highlands were just too barren and unpredictable, rivers often running dry in years and forcing those living off them to move elsewhere for sustenance. Wildlife and flora appeared and disappeared almost at random around these rivers, making any form of food gathering unpredictable. Only a tribe that was light on its feet could survive the rigours of the plains.

The barbarians walked slowly yet steadily, the tough environment leaving even the children resilient enough to walk continuously for twenty hours a day. One such bored youth who was gazing at the sky suddenly pointed at the distant clouds and asked, “Elder, what are those?”

The tribe elder’s once-majestic body had been withered by the merciless flow of time, his salt-and-pepper hair a testament to his age. He looked in the direction the youth had pointed, but couldn’t see anything in particular, “Those are just clouds, child.”

“No, there’s something in them! They’re coming here!” the youth shouted in panic, catching the attention of the rest of the tribe. Everyone looked at the distant clouds, but they saw nothing outside of the ordinary.

However, the youth was quickly on the verge of tears, screaming in anxiety, “There’s really something there, it’s coming!”

As he broke down, a massive object soundlessly broke the line of the clouds, looking like a mountain flying through the skies. It was squirming ever so strangely, every wiggle propelling it several kilometres forward. Behind the mountain was one large and wide creature followed by ten huge puffs, finally followed by a horde of bugs and winged snakes.

The company silently flew through the sky, no flaps or any other noise indicating their presence if one wasn’t looking. Witnessing their might, the barbarians shuddered in stunned silence; even the red-eyed bulls pulling the carriages fell straight to the ground and refused to move a single inch.

Standing on the broodmother’s head, Richard attention was suddenly drawn to a cloned brain that relayed the image of a whole tribe focused on a youth. Seeing the child staring straight at them, he hummed, “Not bad, he looks to be gifted at perception.”

“Should I have him brought up?” the broodmother asked.

“Hmm… Nah, let it be. He might get to sainthood some day, but that should be it. I have a lot of gifted subordinates already, I’m much better off putting my resources into them. But still… Zendrall, why are there so many migrating tribes here? Didn’t we build a number of cities all over the plains?”

Having fought in the plains for many years now, Zendrall answered immediately, “Not everyone was willing to accept our offering. The cities can provide a much better standard of life, but many of them insisted that dying during migration was how their souls joined their ancestors.”

Richard frowned, but he didn’t question it further. If the barbarians wanted to keep living like savages, there was nothing he could do. He had hoped to assemble an army of them at one point— even limited to level 10, they were an impressive race— but now he was focused on elites that were much more powerful. There were almost no true barbarians left in his army.

As they continued flying westward, Richard’s doubts grew and he called Asiris over, “Is this supposed to be normal? I don’t see any usable resources at all, and I can’t recall such a thing in any other plane I’ve been to. Even deserts should have something.

“It is rather strange; the plane’s origin force should permeate through every corner of the land to create a number of resources or at least ore veins. Even dying plains have some resources or at least traces, but there’s nothing here. It’s like something is sucking away the essence of this land, but… that should be impossible. Even a god doesn’t have the strength to draw in all of the origin energy in this vast region. How could there be something like that here?”

Even though he wasn’t the strongest of Richard’s subordinates, the Dark Priest was the most experienced in planar war and more erudite than any of Richard’s followers. Faelor only had a handful of greater gods, and none of them could do something like this without being noticed.

Seeing his confusion, Richard put forward a conjecture of his own, “I think there might be a deity from a primary plane here.”

Previous Chapter Next Chapter

OMA's Thoughts

Translated By: Gem

Edited By: Theo

TLC'ed By: OMA