Book 8, Chapter 41

Broken Souls

“A deity from a primary plane? How is that possible?” Asiris was astonished; from what he knew, gods could never cross planes that way.

“We’ll know when we get to the Genesis,” Richard responded, “I feel like we’ll find something there.”

The unprecedented airborne troop passed through the vast highlands, quickly nearing the Genesis. The earth grew even more desolate as time passed by, with no signs of birds, beasts, or even insects. In only two days, the occasional bushes and shrubs were gone as well; there wasn’t even any wind!

At one point, Richard had the broodmother pick up speed, flying towards a small group of people on the ground until they were about a hundred metres apart. It was a gang of about thirty barbarian warriors, wearing traditional leather armour and armed with simple, primitive weapons.

These warriors possessed surprising strength, averaging at an impressive level 15 that surpassed the shackles that left normal barbarians unable to pass level 10. One of them proclaimed loudly, “This land is sacred, any creature that comes here must die! Kill yourselves, or you shall suffer the wrath of our ancestor!”

Richard’s followers just stared at each other, not knowing how to respond. Any one of them could kill this entire group easily, but the barbarians were still asking them to commit suicide. Even Richard himself couldn’t figure out where this immense confidence came from.

Asiris frowned, “They seem… strange. They possess no judgement skills, almost like puppets.”

Richard nodded and waved a hand, having the barbarians killed. He had thought of just leaving them alone after scaring them, but they didn’t choose to flee no matter how many of their number had died. When he flew down, Asiris landed next to a warrior who had just fallen and pressed his hands into the woman’s head, black energy flowing into her brain for a moment before he stood up, “Her soul is almost completely broken; I couldn’t gather any memories.”

Richard nodded, “Leave it, let’s keep moving. I want to know what this sacred land and ancestor are all about.”

The broodmother continued to advance, and the number of barbarian warriors they met along the way slowly went up. Their average level also slowly grew to level 16, and once they were 200 kilometres in that was now level 17. At the same time, they started seeing strange bushes on the ground with sharp spikes for leaves that vaguely resembled cacti. Still, Asiris couldn’t find a single complete soul that he could gather memories from.

Once night arrived, Richard had the broodmother land and allowed all of his cavalry to get off her and rest; they would resume their journey early in the morning. He was determined to fight a decisive battle this time, bringing 300 rune knights, all of his battle elites, and more than twenty members of the clergy including four grand priests, but at this scale they needed to be well rested and organised for maximum impact.

The earth started shaking at dawn, dark shadows appearing on the distant horizon as numerous figures in black hide walked over with slow and steady steps. Their march caused the earth to tremble constantly, the very winds starting to shift in the face of their march as the dust they set off mixed into the clouds. Deep footprints were left behind in their wake as they surged forth, a tidal wave of warriors who were all over level 15.

Even Richard’s followers couldn’t help but hold their breaths at the sight; compared to them, this small army of a thousand suddenly seemed unremarkable.

“This is gonna be hard,” Medium Rare scratched his head, looking at Waterflower who was gripping her sword silently. Her eyes were flickering with a dangerous glint, a natural reaction she had to high-pressure situations.

Zendrall spoke up from behind Richard, “I can sense an aura of death from them; it’s very faint, but definitely there.”

“I can see some darkness and chaos as well,” Asiris added, “Almost like a fallen creature.”

Richard squinted his eyes a little, looking at the black tide and asking calmly, “Do you see the so-called ancestor?”

All of the followers shook their heads, and after a moment the broodmother sent a message as well, “This is the only life in a hundred kilometres.”

“So their master just escaped, or they’re hiding somewhere and controlling things. Let’s give the coward a surprise, then; broodmother?”

“Yes?”

“Let’s go straight, we’re splitting them in the middle.”

“No problem.” The broodmother leaned forward a little, slowly picking up speed. Shockwaves rippled out as her immense body moved, covering the ten kilometres of distance in only a few minutes.

“Master was never scared of large hordes of enemies…” Richard muttered from on top of her, seemingly to himself but also as though there was an unknown being listening to him. A faint, cold smile spread across his face as he continued softly, “Neither am I.”

The earth started to shake violently as the broodmother crashed down, a loud explosion ringing out as she slid forward a full kilometre before stopping. Her mountainous body formed a trench that was a hundred metres wide and more than a dozen metres deep, splitting the barbarian warriors into two while crushing those right underneath her.

However, the barbarians clearly knew no fear and took to the sky in tandem, jumping atop her and plunging their weapons in. A full attack from a level 15 warrior was something even the broodmother’s armour could not withstand, and as they erupted with all their energy they started cutting in. However, it was like an army of ants trying to gnaw on an elephant; even though an individual strike went as deep as it could, that was nothing when compared to her armour that was several metres thick.

A ring of flames suddenly burst out from the broodmother’s body, exploding and sending all the barbarians on her flying. The warriors that were about to jump up were also torched by the raging fire, struggling before falling back down. These flames were a dark red and not particularly hot, but they were extremely viscous and near impossible to put out until the energy fuelling them was gone.

Richard walked past the broodmother’s back, fireball after fireball shooting out from his hands and covering her entire back. The horde of barbarian warriors tried to charge him with reckless abandon, but they were met with fireballs to the face that left nothing behind. He seemed to have no limits to his mana, drowning the world in a sea of fire and screams.

As Richard made his way down, the thunder of hooves rang out as the 300 rune knights split into two and charged down the broodmother’s wings, charging to the flanks of the battle. The arc they took was filled with sparks as they launched their javelins, every attack bursting a barbarian to shreds. Constant explosions filled the air.

This set of javelins was coated in the most powerful batch of gunpowder yet, each explosion knocking down a number of barbarian warriors nearby. Richard had brought out all the stops right from the get go, prepared for a quick yet decisive battle. However, even with severed limbs flying all over the place, many warriors struggled back to their feet. The explosions weren’t particularly lethal to any level 15 warriors, and these barbarians were especially virile and could fight on even without some of their bodies. Outside of those who were close to the epicentres of the blasts, most did not perish.

With their armour now damaged, the barbarians revealed muscular frames. However, their skin didn’t look the healthy brown of an ordinary barbarian, but a strange grey with a green tint to it. Their expressions were also stiff and lifeless, the only change after the volley of javelins being that the injured ones had terrifying red clots in their eyes. The limbs that were severed didn’t leak the normal red blood, but instead a translucent yellow liquid.

Fortunately, Richard’s rune knights were seasoned veterans of war that fought alongside the broodmother’s drones and had killed a number of dragons before; few creatures could actually terrify them. They nimbly drew out their second volley of explosive javelins, injecting their energy within before launching. If the first wave of explosions did not work, there would be a second. Their horses were carrying ten each, while the flying chrysalides at the back carried even more.

While the rune knights were dealing with the flanks, the winter soldiers and arrowbeasts started working in tandem to protect the closer sections. Each winter soldier was almost four metres tall and had an absolute advantage in strength over even these strengthened barbarians, their weapons capable of sending anything within twenty metres flying upon contact. Forming up all around the broodmother with covering fire from the arrowbeasts, they kept her from suffering the attacks of too many opponents before fanning out and opening up some distance.

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OMA's Thoughts

Translated By: Styles

Edited By: Theo

TLC'ed By: OMA