“Why?” the old priest in the middle questioned in a dignified manner.
“This group of invaders is unlike any that has come before. They’re much younger, with great potential and the cunning to obtain what they wish for. Their style of battle is unusual and unpredictable, and most importantly they have a cleric amongst their ranks!”
The one on the left commented, “Does a group of insignificant invaders really require our battle priests and the more powerful paladins? Even intruders of a higher level would not need the church activating all its troops.”
“This time is different. I have a premonition that this invasion could cause an interplanar war!” Essien remarked bitterly, a pained smile on his face.
“An interplanar war?” the priest on the right sneered, “Less than two dozen invaders could cause a war between planes? Hmm, that term is interesting though, it’s my first time hearing of it. Are you saying that these insignificant invaders are all individually as powerful as the astral beasts of the past?”
Essien helplessly repeated himself with a sigh, “They have a cleric…”
The old priest sitting on the right sniggered even more piercingly, saying, “A cleric? How many spells did they cast? Don’t tell me it was more than ten. This is Faelor, the God of Valour’s plane. Which demonic god can secretly send their power here? Even children know this, Essien! I once thought you were bright and responsible. I didn’t expect you to fabricate nonsense in a bid to cover up your defeat!”
Essien opened his mouth, but was momentarily at a loss for words. The priest was right; even he himself was unable to believe it until he saw that priestess perform more than ten spells. Even if Baron Forza’s soldiers brought back news that all pointed to this conclusion, he’d never once believed it himself, thinking all along that it was an excuse they’d given to shirk responsibility.
Despite knowing the outcome, he heaved a sigh and repeatedly nodded his head, saying, “The cleric did in fact perform more than ten spells.” Such a reply could very well increase the degree of his punishment, and he knew it, but he really needed to warn the high priests.
The moment he said this, the faces of the three priests immediately changed. It was not with surprise, however, but anger. After a period of silence, the one in the middle asked those to his sides, “How should this be dealt with?”
The priest on the left hesitated to speak, but after a while he couldn’t help but blurt out, “Penal servitude.”
The priest on the right sighed deeply, looking at Essien with a piercing gaze, “Penal servitude!”
The one in the center nodded in agreement, looking at Essien, “Priest Essien. Your negligence has destroyed a church, lost a sacred relic, and had the church’s paladins killed. The clergy hereby sentences you to five years of penal servitude in the Valley of Darkness. Do you have any objections?”
Essien shook his head. In fact, the priests were already letting him off by punishing him in this manner. Even though people who were dealt with the same punishment as him rarely survived past three years, he himself could likely survive more than ten. This was much better than an immediate execution, as through this they were giving him a chance to live. Penal servitude was considered a punishment with pardon.
The priest in the middle ended with a question, “Essien, do you have any requests?”
And in response, Essien resolutely lifted his head, “My last request is for battle priests and at least a hundred paladins to be deployed to destroy these invaders, and leave none of them standing!”
The priest looked conflicted, saying with a sigh, “There is something that you’re still not aware of, my child. Another batch of powerful invaders has recently entered our plane. The church’s battle priests and half of the elite paladins were transferred out to deal with them, but the results of the battle are out— the combined forces of two big churches were all wiped out.”
“What?!” Essien stood up abruptly in shock.
“Nothing can be done about the invasion of Baron Forza’s lands at the moment. We can only rely on Earl Jayleon’s troops handling the situation. We need to use all our might to rid us of these new invaders.
“We have already cautioned the cardinals of the central church, and will soon gather an army to suppress these enemy troops.”
Essien sighed and said helplessly, “I still stand by my request. Even the strongest invaders can be defeated if they have no priests in their midst, but these ones are different. They will establish themselves here and grow, eventually destroying all of Faelor!”
“Enough! Essien, I’ve had enough of your wild imagination!” the priest on the right rebuked angrily, “If only you didn’t live in your fantasies all the time, and spent that time studying the Lord’s teachings. Your achievements would greatly surpass what they are today!”
“Perhaps…” Essien sighed, but he stopped retorting and let two paladins drag him out of the hall.
Early that morning, Richard set off from the base alongside his troops. It would be a long journey, and nobody could estimate the time of their return.
The trolls and Gangdor each had big chests in hand, while the rest carried their own equipment and supplies to head towards the depths of the forest. Without the right equipment to transport their belongings, there were still many goods and supplies that they had no choice but to leave at base.
It had only taken a few minutes for Richard to decide whether to leave them or destroy them. He’d followed his intuition— after all, it was no big deal to leave this equipment here. With Baron Forza’s strength, the most he could do was hold on to these items for now. When he returned, he would recover it all with interest.
The path leading to the northwest wasn’t a proper road. There were small tracks that snaked deep into the mountains and untouched forest, with most of the area deserted. The only people who passed by this area were adventurers. Despite all that, Richard steered clear of the beaten path to avoid being tracked. He signalled the broodmother to pave a new path for them a few kilometres away, parallel to the existing one. Safety wouldn’t be a problem— any dangers the broodmother passed through would be completely swept away.
And thus, the troops progressed smoothly along this new path. The forest was deathly quiet, with no beasts in sight. There were still a few ruins of goblin camps and the like along the way, but none of them had any life.
They walked for an entire day in the lifeless and unchanging surroundings. Everyone except Richard slowly started to tire, and even the trolls who were in such high spirits that they were cracking jokes at the beginning started to quiet down. Having been in this desolate forest for a significant amount of time, everyone was starting to feel a measure of gloom in their souls.
Only Richard knew the reason for this. The path had been paved by the broodmother, so any dangerous beasts along the way had become food. Those that were lucky enough to escape death steered clear of this place once they smelt its presence.
Richard suddenly stopped in his tracks, closing his eyes as he seemingly tried to make sense of something. There was a clear fluctuation in his sea of consciousness, as the number of raptors near the broodmother started to drop. Three of the lit spots in his mind’s vision had disappeared in the blink of an eye.
“Broodmother, what’s wrong?” Richard asked in alarm.
“There is a really unusual, strong enemy here, Master. I might need your help,” the broodmother replied. This startled Richard— this was the first time the broodmother had asked him for help. He immediately identified its location, relieved to find that they were less than ten kilometres apart.Previous Chapter Next Chapter
Translated By: Nugget
Edited By: Theo
TLC'ed By: OMA