Book 8, Chapter 123

Secret Of The Chosen

“Let’s take a look at our situation first,” Richard started, “You should know by now that my authority in this church far exceeds yours, even in your private hall. As for the amount of grace I have, I can show you once more.”

He stretched out his hand, a magnificent hourglass floating atop his palm. Although she had already expected this, Sypha’s eyes widened in shock as she saw the magnificence of it first hand. She didn’t need to meticulously count the number of lines; one glance told her what she needed to know. When it came to the Eternal Dragon, the appearance of one’s hourglass was directly related to their importance. It was a rather crude method of establishing hierarchy, but an effective one. Given that system, the visual impact of Richard’s was beyond comparison.

She didn’t know how she felt seeing that. Just how many offerings had he sacrificed to get it? Ten? Twenty? More?

Richard smiled, “I don’t have all that much grace remaining, but I can still chase you and the other priestesses here out of the church. If it’s you alone, I can excommunicate you seven or eight times.”

The priestess turned pale, asking bluntly, “What do you want?”

“No, the right question is what can you give me? We might have started out on the wrong foot, and it won’t be easy to wipe it from memory. I’m sure a leader of the Church is more experienced than random clerics; you should know what your true role is.” He flashed a cynical smile, with a tinge of something that she couldn’t quite understand mixed in, “Not one of you is irreplaceable to the old dragon, regardless of your talents. You meet his standards, and that’s enough. There is no point in overqualified decorations, or am I wrong?”

Sypha paled further. Richard’s words echoed suspicions she’d had herself, but she’d never managed to word it so frankly.

He concluded, “In the eyes of the Eternal Dragon, only the Chosen and those like me are special. I can turn an ordinary person into a priestess, and a priestess into the master of the church. Just like the one waiting out there.”

“But… how do you know so much about all this?”

“I have a friend with a… complicated relationship with the old dragon. She was the one who showed me how to make good use of my title, or I’d just be bullied by you people. Heh, that would have been a big joke.”

Sypha sighed, losing all hopes of redemption. A helpless smile crawled up her face, “Since you already know so much, then you also know that there’s a limit to what I can do. At most, I can allow you to make offerings through me. When you come to the Church in the future, there won’t be any need to use the other families of the Empire.”

“That’s it?”

She gritted her teeth, asking with determination, “What can I get from you? I’m willing to pay a price, but I need to know what I’m paying for!”

“Tell me what you want,” he smiled. This willingness to make demands was a good start.

“I want the right to host your ceremonies. Not necessarily solely, but it has to be at least marginally more than that w…oman out there.”

He sat up and nodded, “Ambitious, but that isn’t worth a channel.”

Sypha’s body went rigid, but after a moment of hesitation she finally stood up and walked towards him, sticking close as she sat down awkwardly. She stiffened once more as he lifted her chin with a hand, but she didn’t resist and just closed her eyes.

Richard lightly brushed a finger against her lips before smacking her butt, “Deal. But I’ll collect on my end later.”

Her eyes shot back open, a flurry of emotions flowing through them. She’d actually been let off so easily? A sigh of relief was tempered by faint disappointment; she knew that the man in front of her might have the secret to being Chosen by the Eternal Dragon, and it was clear that one could use him to better their relationship with the old dragon.

As a high priestess, becoming Chosen was her ultimate dream. Although all Chosen eventually had to head to the Darkness, it was the only way to earn a shot at freedom.

The two walked out of the wooden house, but this time side by side. Sypha only lagged behind a little, lost in thought as she weighed her options.

“Do you know why you aren’t Chosen?” Richard asked randomly, piercing into the heart of her desire.

Sypha tried hard to maintain her composure, but her trembling voice betrayed her, “Why?”

He stared into her eyes, “Be good, and I might give you some suggestions in the future. For now, I have one piece of advice: becoming Chosen is never a good choice.”

“I don’t care about the price!” she shook her head, clearly full of resolve.

Richard sighed softly, saying no more as he thought back to the halls that Ferlyn and Flowsand chose. Flowsand’s shrine was an endless desert, while Ferlyn’s was an empty hall with nothing inside. They stayed in those rooms for decades at a time; it was impossible to know just how much time passed during each stay.

But what kind of person could bear to last hundreds or even thousands of years in such an environment? He thought of something he normally didn’t pay attention to, Ferlyn’s past. He roughly knew about the circumstances that had turned her heart to stone, allowing her to become the high priestess that guarded the Church alone. What about Flowsand? Was there another story behind her that no one knew?

The first time he met Flowsand, she looked like a girl barely into her teens, no bigger than himself. He had easily neglected her status, but it was only in recent years that he wondered how she could endure the loneliness of the unchanging desert. He wasn’t confident that he would be able to do such a thing.

“What is it?” Sypha noticed the sudden change of expression.

“Nothing, I just thought about some things that I normally neglect. Let’s go make the offerings, I don’t have much time.”

Despite the dismissal, the woman nodded and called upon the timeforce around them, warping back into the main hall. Richard walked over to the woman who had been waiting all this time and smiled, “Tell my men to bring the offerings inside, bravery should be rewarded.”

“Yes, Your Grace!” the girl sped away with excitement.

“The cheap whore!” Sypha swore at the retreating figure, prompting a laugh from Richard that silenced her immediately.

Not long after, a stream of rune knights carried chest after chest into the main hall, the sheer number of offerings changing the expressions of many. Just looking at the number of boxes, any of the priestesses could tell that they wouldn’t get as much grace in twenty years of hard work. Richard had come prepared this time, with a full fifteen top-tier offerings in hand.

As she saw the number of offerings, the beautiful young priestess was stunned breathless. Richard had to remind her that it was time for the ceremony, at which point she regained her senses and bowed sensuously, “Thank you! Please, let me know if you need anything at all in the future!”

Richard just smiled, walking to the altar. The curtain of light quickly surrounded him, enveloping the inner room.

Standing outside, the beautiful priestess watched the curtain of light rise. Excitement was written all over her face, eyes shining with mad resolution. Richard hadn’t mentioned to Sypha that this cleric was more likely to become Chosen than her, that she didn’t have the requisite insanity that true Chosen possessed. The old dragon didn’t require rational people, he needed lunatics that would willingly give up their future for what could be considered dumb reasons.

Standing in front of the altar, he couldn’t bring himself to calm down at all. He wasn’t certain why Flowsand would become Chosen, but now he at least knew why she had gone to the Darkness so early. If there was one thing that made her a lunatic…

It was him.

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OMA's Thoughts

Translated By: Choco

Edited By: Theo

TLC'ed By: OMA