Book 9, Chapter 61

Burning Oasis

Asked to guide Klandor, Mountainsea stopped and pondered for a few minutes, “We need to change, or we will soon be conquered by Norland. We do not have the natural barriers protecting us that Lithgalen does.”

“Change?” Urazadzu asked, “How?”

“Think, create. Respect traditions, but no longer blindly. The ancestors were powerful, but we need to break away.”

Even Greyhawk was shocked by her words. Tradition was the soul of all Klandorians, their ancestry being the root of their courage. The various tribes placed utmost emphasis on even the more archaic ways of thought amongst the populace, for no other reason that that it was how they had always functioned.

Uruzadzu pondered for a moment before responding, “Our citizens will lose their innocence. Their courage and candor will devolve into the sly cowardice of Norland. They will learn to lie and deceive; what do we do then?”

“What did it matter when the Sacred Tree Empire poisoned my chosen one right before the sacred shrine? The tribes have fallen long ago; we are simply holding onto an image of the past.” Mountainsea ignored the obvious flush on the shaman’s face, continuing calmly, “Teach the people what they need to learn; do not hide our knowledge within the shrine. Let they decide their path themselves; there is no reason for them to be beholden to the guidance of people that lived thousands of years ago. There will be some chaos, but they will learn to moderate their desires in time. Invention and intelligence will supersede bravery and sacrifice; forced contracts will overcome word of mouth to become a new driving force. But this is merely change, not the end.”

Mountainsea spoke very slowly, every word uttered after prolonged deliberation. Her own intuition had combined with the broodmother’s abilities to show her several scenes of the future, one that the barbarians could not imagine. Uruzadzu and Asa felt suffocated; even as leaders of the entire continent, they couldn’t imagine a world where they deviated from tradition.

However, the ceremony had gradually come to a close. The blood signals lit up under the Grand Shaman’s feet once more, an indication that it was time to leave. The three nodded and returned to Klandor, leaving the Land of Turmoil quiet once more. Moments later, Mountainsea’s figure receded into the broodmother who finally started to twitch, inching forward to reveal an enormous dark gold egg that was two metres tall. The large creature sprawled weakly across the ground in the wake of the exertion, her abdomen visibly reduced in size.

At this moment, a pair of curious eyes was watching over everything in the larval forest, belonging to a young red-haired girl who seemed to be ten years old. Having grown up in this larval forest, young Fiora’s aura was so blended with the environment that even Asa and the other three didn’t notice her.

The girl watched as the large egg started to shake, cracks appearing on the surface before it was broken apart to reveal a completely naked young lady within. She looked exactly like Mountainsea, but now there were various marks on her skin that were a combination of red, brown, and white. Especially noticeable were two belts of colour across her face, the mark of a totemic warrior of the Azuresnow Shrine.

The totems of Klandor were a mark of someone bearing the will of the Beast God. Mountainsea had abandoned her’s years ago when she left Klandor, but now she had laid claim to that power once more. The combined broodmother turned to look at the totems on her body, after which point she made a few circles with her hands to summon dark clouds in the sky. Washing off the mucous on her body with rain, she scattered the clouds and jumped on top of a tree, quietly tying her hair in braids.

……

In the Church of the Eternal Dragon, Richard placed an entire case of ember essence on the altar. However, the Eternal Dragon’s presence did not appear at all, and he didn’t see any blessings on the list that would inform him about the broodmother or the reapers. There were two drops of activated essence, and apart from that he could choose a number of other options but without a single one that even approached a rank 2 blessing.

He waited for a long time, but in the end he picked up the two drops of ember essence. In addition with what he already had, that allowed him to create three more divine weapons with enough essence left over for ten on top. With some more legendary and sub-legendary equipment in tow, he returned to Faelor with a renewed understanding of the lack of reliability of the Eternal Dragon.

While he had no solution to what he’d thought would be the major problem, many more were springing up along the way. The enormous casualty rate in Faelor had scared any new legends and saints from participating in the battle against the reapers, and the withdrawal of those who had participated before brought news of the situation back to Norland. Almost overnight, nearly every major family knew that the Archeron forces were virtually decimated, with their top end rune knights losing more than half their number. Speculation sprung up that Richard’s demise was inevitable, and the hearts of many started to stir.

The secrets behind Midren were tempting to almost everyone on Norland, and Richard’s own power as an epic being wasn’t enough to deter the most powerful or most desperate of his enemies.

Richard connected to the broodmother the moment he arrived at Faelor, but she informed him that she had managed to suppress the commands and negate the pain entirely. He was surprised by this revelation, but instead of questioning her he reorganised his defences and started pursuing the scattered units of the reapers.

The days passed slowly as he constantly reordered his hunting teams, destroying many prongs of the assault. Mountainsea eventually joined him in his journeys, and despite growing a little more reticent her power had skyrocketed. Her fighting abilities seemed much more refined than before, and she said she had taken on her totems once more to grow in terms of sheer strength. Assuming it was her bloodline awakening instinctive combat abilities, he brushed it off and focused on wiping out as many enemies as he could.

While hunting the reapers seemed rather simple, it was fraught with danger. While these new armies were much smaller than the original, they were also much higher in quality. There were more large warships than small ones, and the truly miniature models were nowhere to be seen. Even Richard had to be cautious when fighting them lest he be brought down by an avalanche of small injuries.

Neverending battle left him exhausted, and his followers found it difficult to keep up. Many were allowed to return simply so they wouldn’t fatigue themselves to death, so a rotating group formed around him as he went from battle to battle. The group managed to do quite well overall, but it was in the pursuit of their eighth target that they lost one of the gambles they were making repeatedly. Ironshield’s rival wasn’t particularly fond of helmets or armour, and in a moment of carelessness was struck by the primary cannon of a large warship that immediately disintegrated half of his body. The soul was dispersed in that one attack, with no way of putting it back together.

It was in their tenth assault that disaster struck. Two waves of reapers had managed to sneak up to the borders of the Crimson Empire and the Land of Turmoil, and they began an assault before Richard could return. The broodmother managed to defend just fine, but by the time Richard arrived at Bluewater Oasis most of the city’s defenders and the millions who were waiting to migrate were slaughtered. Half the capital was torched by the flames of war, and the warships were in the process of destroying the planar passages.

He didn’t hesitate in the slightest as he jumped straight into battle despite having exhausted his mana just teleporting over. Aiming for the large warships, he took on several powerful energy beams in battle simply to ensure that the passages wouldn’t be destroyed. Exhaustion turned to pain and then to numbness, but his mind seemed to fade away entirely as he entered a battle frenzy that didn’t stop until the last of the enemies were destroyed.

However, the damage had already been dealt. Most of the city was in ruins, with over two million citizens wounded or dead. Nearly a thousand night elves and hundred rune knights perished in that war, alongside the lightning mage Shaun and a dozen strong saints. The portals themselves were unharmed, but the mages controlling them were now dead. It would take days to find new ones to take over and resume the migration. This was the heaviest blow to the Crimson Empire since its formation, and all Richard got in return was a dozen bottles of ember essence.

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OMA's Thoughts

Translated By: Styles

Edited By: Theo

TLC'ed By: OMA