Book 9, Chapter 58

Of One Soul

“What do we do?” Back in Bluewater, Richard abandoned a rune he was working on and flew into the sky. If the broodmother didn’t have a solution to her pain, he would fly towards the reaper base and aim straight for the enemy mothership. He refused to let her suffer extreme pain, and if she truly did lose control the war was lost anyway.

In a rare instance, she truly had no response. There was nothing about such pain commands or other control mechanisms in her genetic memory, so he would have to find a way himself.

He frowned, “Transfer everything you do know to me, I’ll analyse it!”

Moments later, he received a flood of information. At the same time, the reapers sent another message through the flying scouts. In the Land of Turmoil, the broodmother’s body roared thunderously as her abdomen started to thud, forming a hole in the ground even as the worm nests nearby slanted from the tremors. She started scratching the ground in extreme pain, acid fog leaking from her spiracles. A few sharp noises prompted the larval forest to form a dense layer of fog covering the sky, but that didn’t help her at all. Unless she destroyed the scouts to cut off the connection, she would be tormented endlessly.

Richard was confused as to how the reapers could control something given to him by the Eternal Dragon, but feeling her consciousness fading he dismissed the thought and started looking for a solution. He quickly made up his mind, “Cut off the scouts!”

However, the beasts didn’t explode as per his command, instead continuing to send images of the reaper base. The broodmother’s voice rang in his mind, “Master… I treasure… my independence… I’ll… keep at it… Don’t worry…”

Even after cutting off his control of her, this was one of the only times the broodmother had rejected Richard’s order directly. However, even this was done for his sake, and there was a large price to pay. His frown quickly transformed into worry, even fear. He simply didn’t know how to deal with such a crisis.

“What’s happening?” Nasia suddenly appeared behind him, patting his shoulder heavily. Almost knocked from the sky, Richard quickly stabilised and told her about his problem, to which she responded after some thought, “You said she was formed of your soul, right? You could just try to use your soul connection to share the pain… WAIT!”

Her scream fell on deaf ears, with Richard having made his decision so quickly that even the broodmother couldn’t reject him. His face immediately paled, a few teeth shattering from the sheer pressure he applied on them. His entire body started trembling as he plummeted to the ground, barely kept from crashing as Nasia flew down and stopped his fall. He had felt all sorts of pain in his life before, but this was definitely the worst by far.

Even half of the broodmother’s pain left Richard fainting and regaining consciousness repeatedly. He lost all ability to move as his body tried to adjust, vaguely sensing that Nasia was trying to speak to him but unable to make out any words over the high-pitched whine filling his mind. He tried to adapt slowly, but it felt like his soul was being burnt in a furnace before getting covered in eyes.

Hundreds of years seemed to pass in an instant, but Richard suddenly felt the load on him being halved. Regaining control of himself, he immediately realised that there was another passage connected to his soul now, pain flowing out from him to this newcomer. He followed it to find Waterflower, but he found her scrunched up in a corner of the room with her entire body shaking as blood flowed out of her mouth.

Realising that Waterflower had taken on too much of the pain, Richard pulled a large portion of it back, only giving her just enough so that he could maintain consciousness. However, the pain was quickly halved as another sturdy connection was established, this one seemingly made of two parallel passages. This time, however, Tiramisu seemed mostly unaffected by the change, the only difference being that his body heated up and started losing energy. To combat that situation, he started eating immediately, consuming several times what he normally would with no fear of running out. After all, there were enough rations around for a hundred thousand soldiers.

The ogre warlord was in many ways simple-minded, but this naivete was something that gave him a powerful will. Hailing from a race that could withstand much more pain than humans anyway, he was much better at dealing with this scenario than even Richard himself.

Richard heaved a sigh of relief as the ogre joined, but a few more soul connections were quickly established to help him further. One came from Olar, but two more surprisingly came from Ironshield and Shaun, who had only recently joined him. The legendary assassin also joined in a short while later, and surprisingly enough a small connection was even formed by Romney.

Olar was one of Richard’s first followers. Although the bard had limited talent and couldn’t get past the barrier to the legendary realm, his soul had been strengthened repeatedly and he was familiar with Richard’s soul as well. He could handle this shared pain, but any other saint was simply looking for death. Romney’s decision both touched and amused Richard, but he decided to let the assassin know of the consequences by sharing a small amount that promptly forced a blackout.

With the help of his followers, Richard felt greatly relieved. The small amount of pain he was still feeling didn’t affect his movements at all, and he could instead use it to strengthen his soul. The broodmother had stabilised as well, and was doing a similar thing. She retained as much pain as she could handle, while transferring the rest to him to allocate. A network was thus formed to deal with the reapers’ commands.

Ironshield and the legendary assassin actually cheered at the fact that they could train their souls, but this allowed them to feel each other’s presence and they grunted in tandem. Waterflower and Tiramisu knew of this benefit the moment they came into contact with the pain, so one was quietly enduring it while the other ate ferociously. Olar joined in as well, leaving only the poor saint assassin who had fainted to miss out on the opportunity.

They had finally averted the crisis, but this wasn’t a long term plan. Richard knew that the reapers would increase the pain threshold further once they realised their orders weren’t working, and he even feared any hidden killing mechanisms that they could activate in her soul. There was simply too much that they didn’t know about this situation.

“Is there anything I can do?” he turned to Nasia. This was a situation he had never encountered before.

“Since there’s still some time, you should go make some sacrifices quickly. Have the broodmother withdraw her drones while you’re gone, maybe the old dragon has a solution to this. He’s the one who gave her to you, anyway. Take the ember essence, too; he’s not going to answer without a hefty sum. I’ll take care of this place, don’t worry.”

Richard nodded, picking up a large case of ember essence and preparing to return to Norland. Before he left, he asked Nasia again, “Do you need some offerings?”

“No,” she shook her head, “I’ll need a rank 2 offering for every level up to 25, and a rank 1 after that. You can’t afford it right now.”

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OMA's Thoughts

Translated By: WQ

Edited By: Theo

TLC'ed By: OMA