Book 2, Chapter 123

An Effortless Attack

Most of the soldiers had already filled their stomachs up by the time Richard returned, washing up downstream before they returned to their tents to sleep slowly. They were already used to sleeping at any time; anyone who wasn’t on patrol or night watch slipped into slumber quickly.

Someone had placed a plate of roasted meat in front of Richard’s tent, alongside a piping hot bowl of meat soup. Just a whiff of the delicious aroma told him this was cooked by the trolls, so he ate to his heart’s content.

Both his mind and body were currently relaxed. Contrary to expectations, he was in great spirits with no hurry to sleep. He thus took out the runes he had retrieved from the bearguard  knights, beginning to repair them. Some ended up unusable, but most of them would work.

By the time the night passed, Richard had five strength and a single defense rune on hand. The boosts varied from 15% to 25%, a far cry from their original effects but still divine compared to the goods he sold to those of Faelor.

He left a single 15% strength rune untouched, while he attached the rest to slots and slotted them onto the Archeron knights. Only five of them were left; the only one at level 11 got both a strength and defense rune, while the youngest got nothing. With the boost in power from the runes, the power of the rest was boosted and stabilised at the calibre of level 11.

Richard led his troops through the boundless hills and woods, all of them stronger than ever before. They walked for five days before finally managing to locate Sinclair’s base.

Unlike their own, this was an enormous base that was comparable to a small city. The towering Lighthouse of Time was extremely striking, just as striking as the Mensa Family’s crest on the wide open gates. However, it was extremely quiet. If one looked through the gates, they would see not a soul in sight. It seemed to be a ghost town.

The base was located on an open plain that was out of place in the middle of the dense forest. Richard didn’t enter right away, remembering the circumstances when he had first reached Faelor. He stationed a majority of his troops in the distance, personally leading his direct subordinates who were used to forest battles and five of the wind wolves as he began to search the surroundings.

That decision proved to be fruitful. They found a small army camp not far away, with about a hundred soldiers, five paladins, and a young cleric. Looking at the crest on their robes, they were worshippers of Cerces. Richard had spent a lot of his time in the Bloodstained Lands learning about the gods of Faelor. In a certain sense, they would be his true arch enemies.

He later found traces of a portal and the remains of a battlefield on the other side. Although the place had been cleaned up, some of the permanent traces provided enough indication of how tragic the battle was. All of the dead bodies had disappeared, however. They were probably carried away by those of the church.

Richard quietly returned to his own camp, waiting until the dead of the night before stealthily leading his soldiers out under the cover of darkness. They surrounded the enemy camp, waiting until two past midnight before launching a surprise attack on the sleeping soldiers.

After the extremely arduous battles in the Bloodstained Lands, this surprise attack was so effortless it was startling. The normal soldiers woke up to a sword in their face, their first reaction being to kneel down in surrender. The paladins showed their usual spirit, fighting with their fists even if they had climbed out of bed naked. However, an impeccable will would not reverse the situation in front of such brutal and vicious enemies.

When Richard stepped into the tent that the young cleric occupied, the youth had just sat up on his bed. He was still half asleep, unable to figure out what was happening.

The surprise attack ended in overwhelming victory. Not one of his men had suffered even minor injuries, while ten of the opponents had died before the rest surrendered. Three of the paladins had been killed in battle, while two more were knocked out before the battle stopped. As for the cleric, he had surrendered as well.

Seeing the results of the battle, Richard shook his head in resignation. Repeated battles on the edge of death had toughened up his subordinates, making every blow of theirs fierce and violent. Now the problem was that they often couldn’t stop themselves in time. As such, more opponents were killed than injured.

Richard had his soldiers clear up the battlefield, making an inventory of the spoils of war as he entered the cleric’s tent and sat down. He had the cleric escorted over, beginning the interrogation.

Someone who surrendered without a fight certainly wouldn’t have a strong will. The fellow wasn’t of the sort to sacrifice his life for his faith, and he was exceptionally cooperative as he rapidly answered all of Richard’s questions. This would surely affect the grace he was afforded, maybe even forcing him to drop in level, but to him that was a small price to pay to keep his life.

Kars was as young as he looked, only 22 years of age but already level 5. In the pantheon of Faelor, someone serving a greater god like Cerces could only be called a cleric at level 5, given independent charge of a task.

According to him, a great battle had ensued on the day that the invaders moved through the portal. The allied armies of the greater god Cerces and the intermediate god Neian had suffered a crushing defeat, their battle priests and paladins completely wiped out. This was nearly the entire combined force of two large churches, severely diminishing their power.

Some time later, the church had joined with the Iron Triangle Empire to launch a second expedition. However, they discovered that the formidable invaders were nowhere to be found. They only found a base of unknown origin. Many priests, mages, and paladins as well as the commander went to investigate, but they were abruptly met with mishaps as people suddenly lost parts of their bodies to sudden, rapid aging. Some even died immediately.

Having paid a heavy price of nearly thirty lives, the army finally retreated from the base. It was only then that they realised the seemingly peaceful base was flooded with the chaotic energies of time. Any unassuming corner could be a death trap that no man could withstand. Even a saint level powerhouse had been lost to it.

The pope had thus declared this entire base dysfunctional, making it a forbidden ground because of the effects of the chaotic spacetime. He just had a group of soldiers stationed beside the base.

Guarding this base that was deep into the desolate mountains was unquestionably an arduous and unrewarding task, no different from being sent into exile. It was obvious that this handsome young man was in some sort of trouble if he was assigned to it. The reason he had set up a kilometre away from the base was that he was afraid of the chaotic energies leaking. A single trace of that energy could kill him, regardless of whether it was time energy or spatial energy.

Once the young cleric was done saying all he could, Richard finally looked him in the eyes and stated indifferently, “My name is Richard. I’m a frontier knight of the Sequoia Kingdom.”

“Sequoia Kingdom!” Kars exclaimed, immediately aware of the crisis he was in. The country founded by a legendary hero had a chaotic relationship with religion. Three churches existed within their borders, but more than half the population were atheists or worshipped their ancestors. Besides, none of the three gods they did worship was Cerces.

Kars had been cooperative all this while because he could tell that the other party was an aristocrat who didn’t slaughter him. He assumed they had just stumbled upon this deserted and cursed place, having high hopes of freeing himself by letting the man take him as prisoner and turn him in as redemption. He’d never thought the other party wasn’t someone of his empire, so the matter quickly grew complicated.

Richard thought for a moment before saying, “You should understand that I do not wish for anyone to know that I have showed up here, not to mention my attack towards Cerces’s warriors. You have two options. Remain loyal to your god and sacrifice yourself, or change your faith and live on.” 

“Change my faith? You’re a follower of the vile god Jadosh?!” Kars exclaimed, his face looking extremely pale.

“You have no need to know. You’ll understand our god when you convert.”

Kars seemed extremely frightened, his throat bobbed up and down as he swallowed, before he asked in a strained voice, “Will my divine power be burned?”

Richard nodded, “Becoming a fallen cleric is your only chance to survive.”

Kars closed his eyes, going through a short internal struggle before nodding his head.

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OMA's Thoughts

Translated By: Hestia

Edited By: Theo

TLC'ed By: OMA