Book 3, Chapter 113

Exploration(2)

Flowsand waved the Book of Time around, “Of course you can! Once you set up a Lighthouse of Time, the old dragon can extract fragments of a plane’s past in exchange for divine grace, putting it in the book. That’s what I’m looking at right now. It isn’t just the history of Zhubvar, but also the script of the troll civilisation.”

“This… This information also requires a payment of divine grace?” The look on Richard’s face grew slightly strange. The Eternal Dragon seemed capable of using anything at all to make a profit.

“Of course. Understanding a plane’s history is very important if you wish to conquer it. It helps greatly in the first stage of conquering the plane, integrating into it and establishing a foundation. This information is more important than a few rune knights.”

Her words were irrefutable, but Richard couldn’t bring himself to share the opinion. A plane like Faelor had an incomparably long history that spanned hundreds of thousands of years. Innumerable civilisations had come and gone since then, a place like Zhubvar but a tiny speck in the grand scheme of things. If it all required divine grace… The total amount of divine grace needed to learn the entire history of the plane would far exceed his wildest imagination.

He was starting to feel more and more like the blessings of the Eternal Dragon were simply omnipotent. In battles between two equal sides, the one with divine blessings would trump the other easily.

……

The group continued its journey the next morning, spending another day trekking before they finally reached the boundaries of Zhubvar at dusk. Only seeing it for himself did Richard feel awed by the vast capital of the trolls.

An enormous staircase was dug out from the side of the hill, every step a giant block of stone that was nearly a metre tall and an astounding fifty metres wide. There were stone platforms on each side, decorated with carvings of flames, suns, and giant beasts. There was also the occasional stone brazier, but the elements had weathered away all the carvings on those. The entire capital of the trolls was built atop the hill; the slope levelling out after a certain distance to become flat, inhabitable land. There were as many as thirty stone platforms until it reached that level.

At the end of the staircase was a pyramid-shaped sacrificial platform that neared seventy metres in height. Even looking up from the foot of the hill, one could still sense the magnificence and dignity of the place. Nobody knew just how long the trolls had taken to build this miraculous city.

Richard narrowed his eyes. Gazing into the distance, the layout of the troll capital seemed comparable to a gigantic altar. A thin mist filled the entire ruins, desolate cries faintly echoing everywhere. One could feel the increased humidity the moment they stepped foot into Zhubvar; just as Flowsand had expected, there were likely new sources of water here. However, there was also a marshy smell of decay in the air. With his sharp senses, Richard also smelt the stench of corpses.

He waved his hands and all the knights dismounted from their horses, growing more guarded. Giving the nameless elven sword to an elite humanoid, he drew Extinction and walked to the barracks on either side at the foot of the stairway. The roofs had caved in long ago, vines wrapping around the stone pillars. The troll rooms were of simple design; all the wooden wares had long since rotted away, leaving only the stone fire pits intact. A few metallic spear-tips were strewn around the barracks, long since rusted beyond imagination. Richard picked one up to take a look, but the tip actually broke apart in his hands. There seemed to be no redeeming quality about it, from the material to the forging technique.

He shook his head, continuing around the barracks. Walking to another broken section of wall, he suddenly felt a faint rotting odour and stopped to look in that direction. Under a brick on the wall was a strange dark-grey moss, the surface seeming like the thick white fur of a rotting corpse.

Some information from his time in the Deepblue surged to his mind, but he couldn’t be quite sure. “Zendrall!” he shouted, “Come take a look at this!”

The necromancer walked over and took a close look at the moss, saying with surety, “This is graveyard moss. They only grow in places where there is a dense concentration of souls, mostly graveyards where the undead are active.”

“Ghosts are active here?” Richard turned solemn. If a large number of undead beings appeared in this place, there was a high possibility of powerful ghosts appearing. There was even a chance of liches and the like that had the potential to become legendary beings.

Zendrall carefully examined the graveyard moss again, “The undead have definitely passed by here, and it hasn’t been a long time since. I can sense the aura of spirits.”

Richard nodded, “Then we need to be careful. Summon two warriors of darkness just in case, we might need to use them to check some places.”

The necromancer nodded and headed outside, beginning to summon his warriors of darkness. The past few battles had greatly expanded the number of undead under his control; now, he had 200 or so warriors and three death knights. He could even control up to fifteen at a time.

The fact that undead were active in the troll capital caused Richard to raise his guard, but he felt no fear. His army had a large number of clerics.

Flowsand found a stone tablet at a corner of the barracks. Once the moss growing on it was wiped away, it revealed that the letters were still clear and legible. She didn’t translate it right away, instead taking out a blank scroll to inscribe the words onto. Richard stood behind her, looking at the tablet as well. While he had studied the ancient troll language with her last night, it had been for too short a time. He could only vaguely make out a few words relating to sacrifices.

“What does it say?” he asked.

The scroll in Flowsand’s hands shot a beam of light towards the stone tablet, copying all of the text onto itself in a moment. Flowsand took a look, “This is a scripture that details how to offer sacrifices to someone named Zuka, but the tablet only has the first steps. Hmm… this Zuka seems like a holy spirit that the trolls worshipped.”

Richard nodded, “We found traces of active undead nearby. Be careful.”

Flowsand thought nothing of it, patting her pocket with a smile, “There’s twenty divine scrolls here.”

They quickly searched through the ruins of the two barracks, finding nothing of value outside of the stone tablet. Richard had his troops enter formation, leaving a small group of guards before heading further into Zhubvar’s depths. However, just as they got to the steps his unicorn suddenly halted, uneasily pawing at the ground with a hoof while neighing in a low voice.

Richard was amazed at the sight. This was the first time the silver unicorn was behaving any differently from a normal horse, so much so that he was starting to doubt its uses. The unicorn had used twice the divinity of Phaser to make, and even at level 10 Phaser was a force to reckon with.

Within his mind, he felt impatience and frustration. The unicorn was getting increasingly violent, radiating animosity towards something hidden deep within the capital of the trolls. It was becoming more and more restless, the tip of its inch-long horn beginning to spark. The neighs grew louder and louder; Zendrall’s expression changed as he felt a bout of dizziness, causing him to distance himself in shock. The power of death gathered around the two warriors of darkness that had just been summoned, but a pale silver fire burnt them until they started to cry out.

Richard quickly placed his hand on the unicorn’s back to calm it, only getting it to quiet down after a lot of effort. However, with this he found out that the unicorn was a natural nemesis of the undead.

“Boss!” Gangdor suddenly shouted, “There seems to be something in the city. Look there!”

Following Gangdor’s finger, Richard was just in time to see a dark silhouette flash between two buildings. However, he was too far away to see what exactly it was. Listening attentively, he caught faint whistling echoing through the ruins that was growing more concentrated.

He turned back towards his men, “All dismount! Be on guard!”

This time, even the drone knights dismounted. They could only display level 8 strength when not on their horses; it was their connection to their mounts that allowed them to be so powerful. However, in mountainous terrain like Zhubvar’s the mounts were of no use.

Although there was unknown activity in the ruins, Richard was not flustered. He instead summoned all the elite bats in his mind, having them soar into the sky. With them circling overhead, he immediately felt much safer. The entire troop then moved up the stairs, continuing to explore the troll capital.

There wasn’t much outside of a few more stone tablets in the lower regions of the city. The buildings here were crude and simple, records stating that it was for weaker peasants to reside in. The troll empire followed a strict hierarchy; there was a strict division in society based on power and role. The most obvious indication of this was the stairway itself.

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OMA's Thoughts

Translated By: Ying

Edited By: Theo

TLC'ed By: OMA