Book 2, Chapter 4

Annihilation

Richard downed half the bottle of alcohol, and some warmth began to radiate from his stomach. He felt better quickly, struggling to stand, “Knock it off! Where’s Olar?”

“I heard his voice coming from that direction,” Gangdor replied immediately, “I’ll look for him.” He then headed deep into the forest in a bid to avoid the awkward situation.

Richard shook his head with a wry smile, ordering the soldiers who could still stand to scour the battlefield. The trolls were put on sentry duty, to ensure that there were no more enemies hiding in the woods. Their naturally keen sense of smell would help sniff any out.

Of course, any enemies present should only be stragglers. Over fifty warriors had died trying to kill Richard’s party, and that had to be around the limit of what a mere knight could command. The knight’s strength had already caused Richard some shock.

Flowsand had finished with the treatments at that point, returning to Richard’s side. Her face was somewhat pale, but Richard looked at her intently before saying, “You seem to have an endless supply of holy spells.”

Flowsand looked at Richard, asking him in an indifferent manner befitting of her class, “I saw someone summon four brutal boars just earlier. Which powerful god of magic gave you the gift to summon a full four boars?”

A grade 4 summoning spell could only bring forth one or two boars. Even with enhancement, the spell would normally limited to three. Without any special additions, even a great mage would not be able to summon four boars with a grade 4 spell.

Richard snickered, not continuing the conversation with this cleric that seemed not to run out of mana.

They soon had proper information on the state of the battlefield. A total of 69 enemies had died, including Kojo, with ten heavily injured and just two unscathed. This was over 70 elites, far surpassing the forces a Norland knight could command. Some of the poorer barons only had that many warriors under them…

Gangdor found Olar after some time, unconscious in the forest with two arrows stuck in his body. Fortunately, Flowsand used the last dregs of power she had to cast a greater heal on him, preserving his life.

Three of the ten soldiers who’d come with Richard had died, while two more were heavily injured. However, they managed to find the supplies they’d sent through the portal, with two crates of armour, one of weapons, and one with ingredients. Richard immediately had the survivors arm themselves.

Questioning the captives proved difficult. Be it the heavily injured ones or the two without much damage, not a word came out of their mouths. Thankfully, some information could be made out through their curses. For example, one of their gods had decreed the arrival of invaders. Kojo was the knight in charge of the reconnaissance party, and the one to follow right after would be a baron.

This meant that their encounter with the soldiers was premeditated, which is why they went under attack the moment they made it through. Their entire group was scattered, with each of them left to fend for themselves. If not for their individual power, they would have been annihilated on the spot.

Richard’s mind grew clouded, and he looked at Flowsand. Her brows were furrowed— this plane had gods, and their enemies had strong faith. This was definitely not good news to a priestess, or for that matter to Richard. It meant he would need to spend more effort gathering information. However, there was something else which required his attention immediately.

“Where is the base that we will be setting up in?” Richard asked. The receiving end of the portal was supposed to have a base set up, but they’d appeared in a forest instead.

One of the soldiers Richard had sent out to scout returned soon, “Lord Richard, I’ve found the base. But… there isn’t a single person there!”

The base was just a kilometre away, and the foot soldier couldn’t seem to explain himself well, so Richard eventually decided to go there personally to have a look. If there was something that he did not understand, Flowsand would most likely know it herself.

However, when they found the base, even the indifferent Flowsand was somewhat stupefied.

The base was the size of a small village, the only difference being a layer of tall, strong walls surrounding it with a tower for scouts and archers that could fit three people. Even with the tall walls the tower in the middle of the camp was visible, and if one looked close enough they could see the runes inscribed on it in the shape of an hourglass. The top was flat-roofed, with torches on it that were supposed to be lit with the eternal flames of time. This was the Lighthouse of Time, the most important construct here that was supposed to have led them on their way.

The entire camp being eerily empty caused one to be flustered. The flames of time were already extinguished for who knows how long, with the gates wide open. Several huts could be seen inside, some with their doors ajar, but there seemed to be no activity whatsoever.

As Richard was about to enter, he was stopped by Waterflower. She jumped onto the wall, her sword in hand as she looked around. She sniffed the surroundings before nodding her head and jumping in.

Gangdor had a shield in his left hand and a giant axe in his right, storming through the gates. Medium Rare and Tiramisu followed, the latter’s magic defense and iron skin spells finally proving that she was a mage. Only after nearly everyone else entered did Flowsand let go of Richard’s hands. However, she was still holding on to his robes.

“I’m not that important!” Richard smiled wryly at Flowsand.

“If you die, so will Waterflower. The others will lose power as well,” Flowsand said solemnly.

“Why would you be concerned with all that?” Richard attempted to reason with her.

“The Dragon of Eternity and Light values you more than me. I cannot allow you to die,” Flowsand said seriously.

Richard didn’t know whether to laugh or cry, so he spoke in an equally solemn manner, “But I’ve never had the habit of letting a woman defend me.”

“Is that a tradition of the Archerons?” Flowsand asked.

“Umm… Probably.” It was a simple question, but one Richard found difficult to answer. Fortunately the cleric didn’t dwell on the matter, instead letting go. However, five or six holy spells were cast on him by the time he took a few steps. Physical shielding, magic resistance, ranged shielding, poison immunity… There was even a rejuvenation spell! Richard’s body shone in all sorts of colours, becoming extremely dazzling. Under such circumstances, it would be difficult for him to die even if he wanted to.

Richard and Flowsand finally entered the base after this minor episode. There was a strange aura all around, so Richard ordered the soldiers to search the perimeter just to be safe, notifying the rest with a whistle if there was an ambush waiting.

The base wasn’t large at all, and it took less than ten minutes for the party to survey everything within. Standing on the empty ground in the centre, Richard’s expression had grown extremely serious. Flowsand walked out from a hut near him, her expression not good either.

There were huts designed for a single person to occupy here, but there were also bunks for soldiers, a granary, an armoury, and a general purpose warehouse. This was alongside a smithy, a lab, and even a small pub. However, no matter where one looked there was no sight of anyone at all. There was still some food left on the stove, but the firewood underneath was burnt out! There were dishes placed on the bar, with a half-eaten steak on the ground.

Armour, weapons, and clothes were strewn across the area, every pile being a perfect set of undergarments, robes, outer clothing, and armour. If a stark naked man walked over and picked a bundle off the ground, all he needed was a weapon to be fully armed. Of course there were other sets as well, like those belonging to cooks, mages, and maids. While all these sets were present, the people who should be wearing them were not. It seemed like they had all vanished at once, without any resistance to speak of. It was absurd.

The scouts returned to Richard, but everyone was left alarmed by the bizarre scene. They subconsciously gripped their weapons tightly, staring at the surroundings.

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OMA's Thoughts

Translation/TLC By: OMA

Edited By: Theo