Seeing the priestesses remain silent, Richard sneered, “Does the high priestess really think she can hide in her little hole?”
“The High Priestess is training in some mystic arts,” one priestess tried to smooth things over, “It is an inconvenient time for her.”
“Training?” Richard let out a hearty laugh, “You lot only need to stand on stage and make a few poses to get that timeforce all of you die for, what mystic arts do you train? Do you really think you’re all Chosen? Even if Flowsand and Ferlyn aren’t here, it isn’t her turn.”
The priestess blushed, but before she could continue Richard waved her off, “If she doesn’t wish to treat me right, I guess there’s no need to be courteous.”
The golden hourglass appeared atop his head, but this time many recognised that there were even more designs than before. He had recovered what he’d lost from banishing the previous high priestess and then some. One of those new designs suddenly disappeared and turned into timeforce, charging towards the ceiling and converging into the boundless sea of time.
The entire church suddenly started shaking, a cry of alarm ringing out deep within. Many of the priestesses present saw two more patterns disappearing from Richard’s hourglass even as that alarm turned to pain, a golden blade sweeping across and cutting Richard’s threads of time.
Richard sneered at the temporary measures, standing his ground with timeforce slowly twining around him. Even though it seemed like he had stopped, the priestesses felt the pressure on them grow further; they knew just whose scream that was.
Less than a minute later, a young woman was standing in front of Richard, her lavish divine robes broken in many sections. Many trinkets on her body had currently lost their glow, clearly having been destroyed not long ago, but one could still make out her beauty behind all these obstacles.
Richard sized up the new high priestess for a few seconds. While time held no meaning to the appearance of those serving the Eternal Dragon, she was actually quite young and gifted. It was said that the Eternal Dragon favoured her a little, allowing her to cross into the legendary realm early into her life and become the one who controlled this church after the previous leader was banished.
“Richard, this is the Church of the Eternal Dragon!” she said angrily, “You are acting presumptuously.”
Richard was unfazed, “Sypha, right? I presume that you know what the Church of the Eternal Dragon is. You should understand that I can do whatever I want here and it isn’t considered impudent.”
A little shocked, Sypha grew serious and glared viciously at him. It looked like she was trying to peer into his soul, but as someone who had lived on the edge of death for a long time Richard wasn’t affected by such gazes at all. He stood there calmly, his gaze going up and down her body repeatedly while deliberately stopping at the damaged sections of her robes.
Sypha’s expression turned cold as she saw his lecherous gaze, but for some reason she chose not to erupt. Looking to her left and right, she coldly ordered the paladins, “Leave.”
Once the paladins were gone, she then cast a glance at the other priestesses, “You all, do whatever you want and get lost!”
Even though the priestesses seemed unwilling, they had no choice but to listen to her and retreated at once. Only the one handpicked by Richard hesitated, eventually standing her ground. She understood that leaving now would forfeit her chance to host the offering ceremony, of which only one round would be enough for her to accumulate just as much divine grace as she had in several years. For the sake of that much grace, she didn’t mind the risk of offending Sypha.
Sypha took one look at that priestess before saying menacingly, “Good job.”
She then turned towards Richard, raising an eyebrow with a hint of provocation, “Let’s discuss things in my private hall. Do you dare come with me?”
“Is there any place in this building I wouldn’t dare enter?” Richard sneered. He then turned to the other priestess, tapping her nose, “I’ll be back.”
Glee immediately flashed across the woman’s face; she had made the right choice.
Sypha snorted, walking away with her head held high. Her body radiated cold arrogance as she waved Richard forward, the lights shifting as they were teleported into her private hall.
This was an extremely vast space, with an enormous hourglass hanging above the azure sky. A golden glow covered the carpet of glass below, giving the same sheen to the boundless sea all around. Soft grains of golden sand were constantly washed in and out, their sparkle lighting up the ground. In the middle of this island was a small forest, centred around a small hut that seemed to be Sypha’s residence.
This was a beautiful world. Even far from the sea, Richard could see fish of various colours dancing around in the blue and gold water. There were many species he had never even seen before; it was clear that Sypha had put a lot of work into this small world.
He smiled at this small understanding of her character, pointing towards the little hut, “Are we just going to stand around? Let’s go, I want to see your home.”
“No!” Sypha yelled, losing the calm she had tried so hard to maintain.
“Then try stopping me,” he said as he stretched his hand towards the sky. The golden hourglass suddenly stopped its slow rotation, the world freezing in tandem. Waves stopped mid-motion, and the fish froze in the water as well. Time itself hadn’t come to a stop, but all that governed this little world had.
“So, not going to invite me in?” Richard asked with a smile, following along as the woman bit her lips and led the way. The conflict in her expression had taught him a lot as well; this was someone who was smart, skilled, and arrogant, but she also had self-control. He loved such opponents; they were the kind who weighed the pros and cons of every decision.
Such rationality was actually a shortcoming. He would have to act more cautiously if she was someone with nothing to lose, willing to pit all of her accumulations against him just for her pride. The grand priestess had been such a person, someone with immense will and a stubborn attitude who was completely unwilling to compromise. Sypha would give him so much more at minimal cost to himself.
The hut wasn’t particularly spacious, but it was exquisitely designed with every item chosen carefully. There wasn’t any particularly extravagant furniture, but it was respectably cosy within. The single bedroom, study, lobby, and kitchen were the kind of minimalist he liked. Sypha could have built an entire palace within this private hall, but she had chosen a small wooden hut.
Richard carefully looked through every single room, even playing around with a few of the trinkets within. Following along, Sypha had an unnatural mix of fear, rage, and even nervousness on her face. This tour was effectively a peek into her own existence, but there was nothing she could do. He had made one thing clear; if she couldn’t compromise, she would be ruined just like the grand priestess was before.
He had already drained a large amount of her divine force in the short exchange, obtaining control over most of the church building in the process. The entire process left her frightened; fully aware of just how much divine grace that he took, of which he would have to give up the same amount himself, it felt like his reserves were inexhaustible. Timeforce flooded out at his command, as though the world bent to his will.
Even though Sypha was unwilling to admit it, she had paid a huge price for hiding from Richard. She couldn’t bring herself to think of a life without her current status and prestige, and the reason for it all suddenly seemed so stupid it was hilarious. Did she even have any issues with Richard? Did she even have a family backing her in case he stripped her of all her power? She had shared a great relationship with the grand priestess that was banished, but it wasn’t to the point that she would sacrifice everything for her friend.
Richard sat down on Sypha’s bed, as though he was the one hosting her, “Sit down, this isn’t a bad place to speak.”
Anger flashed past the priestess’s eyes, but she quickly buried it and pulled a chair over to sit in front of the window. Resignation filled her face as she stared at him, waiting for him to speak.Previous Chapter Next Chapter
Translated By: Styles
Edited By: Theo
TLC'ed By: OMA