Book 2, Chapter 27

Sacrifice

Duke Bevry trembled slightly, a penetrating gaze landing upon Perrin. He saw a vitality in his son’s body that hadn’t shown itself in a long time, a faint power of time sweeping across the barren boy to dispel his aura of age and decay.

The Duke sighed heavily, “As expected.” Although this period without ageing would only last a scant year, it was hope!

The ceremony had allowed Bevry to see many other things as well. The Dragon of Eternity and Light was a real entity, possessing supreme power; a ceremony presided over by a mere priest could suppress a curse from a god of Faelor. He also realised that this was a completely new model of worship; the Eternal Dragon had many demands, but he was also incredibly generous in return.

In addition, there were many types of blessings. If the Eternal Dragon’s gifts were not limited to the Dewdrop of Life, then this god had unfathomable power. Perhaps Richard and Flowsand were right; maybe he really was a god above all planes.

Once the ceremony came to an end, Perrin who had overdrawn his energy while absorbing the divine grace fell into a deep sleep. Kellac looked at Flowsand with some doubt in his eyes; already a priest of the Eternal Dragon, he had some fundamental knowledge about sacrificial ceremonies. He naturally saw that most of the divine grace was absorbed by Flowsand, only a tiny bit agglomerating into a Dewdrop of Life for Perrin. With some rudimentary ability to calculate divine grace as well, he felt like strangely little grace had been obtained from the bones overall. It was as though a ceremony had already been performed with them before.

‘Don’t tell me you can fill your own pockets even during rituals?’ The disrespectful thought had only just emerged before Kellac nipped it in the bud. Priests could not hide anything from their gods, and the Eternal Dragon was definitely fair. Perrin receiving a Dewdrop of Life had to be His will.

Once the ceremony ended, the Duke met with Flowsand and Richard in a secret room to discuss the next stage of their cooperation.

“The Dewdrop of Life is only effective for a year,” Bevry said straightforwardly, “What do I do afterwards?”

“The blessing can be obtained repeatedly. We just have to offer something else within a year. If the level of the sacrifice is increased, the divine grace can be strengthened further. The Ripple of Life, for example, grants anywhere from three to ten additional years.”

Flowsand’s words excited the Duke, but he wouldn’t ignore the most important details. Bevry looked troubled, speaking hesitantly, “The offerings… I gave up a lot to compete for these dragon bones. I’m afraid it will be very difficult to find something similar within a year.”

“This was only Faelor’s first sacrifice,” Flowsand comforted him, “Some of the grace was wasted in creating the altar that will allow for easier communication with the Eternal Dragon. The effects of the next ritual will be much better.”

“But…” the Direwolf Duke still smiled wryly. Faelor had dragons as well, but these dragons were comparable to the ones in Norland and other planes. Even the weakest adult was not something a level 18 warrior could take on single-handedly. The only reason those from Norland could do so was their runes.

Although Bevry was a guardian of his country, compared to Norland’s saints his only advantage lay in his experience. His individual combat ability was average at best. The lack of magical development had also affected Faelor’s equipment. The same grade of equipment in Norland normally had at least one extra effect over those from Faelor.

“The offerings don’t have to be related to dragons, Your Grace,” Flowsand reminded him with a smile, “Anything related to power— demons, devils, astral beasts, or ancient behemoths— will make for a good offering. Certain mysterious objects like meteors from other planes will be accepted as well. As for the final type of offering, it is the most difficult to obtain but also the best way to rouse His interest… Divinity!”

“Divinity!” the duke was stunned.

“To be more precise, things related to divinity. Like those with divine blood flowing through their veins, or the idols of spirits that have been worshipped for many years.”

The Duke jumped up, a murderous aura radiating from him as both hands clenched into fists. He levelled a cold glare at Flowsand; the Direwolf Family had always worshipped their ancestors, so offering one up was completely unacceptable.

Flowsand remained seated peacefully, looking at Bevry without the slightest hint of fear. The Duke took a deep breath, slowly reining in his aura as he spoke, “We of the Direwolf Family have worshipped our ancestors for generations.”

“I know, Your Grace, but do you also worship the ancestors of other families?”

The words sent a shock through Bevry’s body, forcing him into deep thought. He knew very well that these words could just have opened a gate to the abyss, but he had no choice but to step forth.

For her part, Flowsand did not wait for any reply, “There’s one final thing to remind you about. You or Perrin could conduct the next ritual yourselves, choosing your blessings. But keep in mind that the Eternal Dragon’s gifts are always given from a certain range; nobody can guarantee exactly what you will get.”

The randomness of the blessings was indeed a special characteristic of the Eternal Dragon. Not even Richard could tell that something was wrong, and as someone who had studied the teachings of the Eternal Dragon for some time now, Bevry knew this as well.

Even Richard did not know that Flowsand could greatly limit the range of blessings as long as she paid a certain price. She did not intend to do any such thing; any gift from the Eternal Dragon was incredibly valuable, and could not be returned once granted. She absolutely wanted more of the grace to be used on Bevry himself; a strong Duke would bring her more offerings.

Seeing that the discussion of the sacrifices was done, Richard finally spoke up, “Your Grace, Flowsand and I will be leaving for Norland soon. However, we will be back quite quickly with powerful magic artefacts and equipment. My troops and followers will be left back in Faelor, and as you know I’m now an arch enemy of Red Cossack. When I’m not around, I hope you can help me take care of my followers and territory.”

The Direwolf Duke hummed an affirmative, “My personal territory doesn’t border the Bloodstained Lands right now, so it’s difficult for me to send my troops deep. As for Red Cossack… Hmm, they should be backed by Marquess Yang of the Iron Triangle Empire. It’s a difficult opponent… My advice is to withdraw your troops to the land I gave you. There’s no need to worry about Fontaine, I’ll have Moonbear station his knights on your land.

“Another method would be to leave him here for some time, but it cannot be too long.”

“How about half a year?” Richard asked.

“That won’t do, three months at most.”

“Three months, that is a little short, but… Alright then!” Richard made his decision. With the situation in the Sequoia Kingdom still unclear, he felt like Bluewater which was operating under a balance of power was a little safer.

……

Bevry didn’t stay in Bluewater, instead taking Perrin and leaving quickly under the cover of the night. Someone with his identity could not be seen in the Bloodstained Lands.

Once the Direwolf Duke left, a few mysterious knights appeared outside Bluewater. One couldn’t make them out clearly, but one of them was carrying an eye-catching longbow.

They stopped rather far from the city, but they could still make out a human head hung from the gates. Given their extraordinary vision and a torch illuminating the head, they could clearly see the face from afar.

“It really is Blackwing.”

“He could he even kill Blackwing?!”

“Should we just storm in and avenge him?”

“Rolf is still in the city, and I heard Falcao came here recently as well.”

“So what? How could they match up to Sir Chuck and Sir Phinbar?”

The knights argued quietly, their opinions varied. However, two hadn’t joined in on the chatter from the start. The one on the left slowly spoke up, “What do you think, Chuck?”

“I don’t think it’s a good idea,” Chuck’s voice was abnormally hoarse and unpleasant, like two pieces of metal grating against each other, “Falcao clearly knows he cannot match up to us, but he still rushed over. It can only mean one thing; they have the confidence to deal with us. That isn’t good… My beautiful pet told me that the consequences of rushing in right now would be extremely unpredictable.”

Phinbar fell silent for a while before asking, “Then what do we do?”

“We wait!” Chuck said sinisterly, “Falcao and Rolf cannot possibly be together forever. Even if they wish to do so, we can think of ways to force them out. In fact, we can use the same method that Richard fellow is using. The Golden Warflag also has quite a few caravans, and I don’t believe Falcao can stay hidden in the city if we raid a few. The moment they separate, we’ll get our opportunity!”

Phinbar nodded, saying coldly, “We should remind them that the Bloodstained Lands belong to us, to Red Cossack. If Falcao comes up guarding one of their caravans, we won’t let him return.”

One of the knights nearby couldn’t help but interrupt, “Killing Falcao would spark a war with the Golden Warflag! That wouldn’t be a good idea, should we ask our Lord for further instructions?”

Phinbar did not open his mouth, but a vicious and bloodthirsty aura frightened the man into silence.

Red Cossack and the Golden Warflag had their own unique characteristics. The former held profound strength and controlled a vast information network, while the latter was completely ruthless and vicious. Red Cossack actually didn’t have great chances in a direct war unless their backers were involved, but at that point it would likely devolve into a war between nations.

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OMA's Thoughts

Translated By: Pei

Edited By: Theo

TLC'ed By: OMA