Book 3, Chapter 114

Sacred Spirit

A little further up were the middle-regions of Zhubvar, where the warriors and hunters often lived. There were a handful of shrines and plazas here outside of basic shelter, and the stone road was much wider as well. At the edge of this district lay a stone canal to channel water, but it was already dried out.

Richard wandered aimlessly into one of the shrines. It wasn’t particularly large, but the height was nothing to scoff at. The remnants of what seemed to be a statue of Zuka lay at the middle of the altar, seemingly destroyed on purpose. The two side walls contained carvings of the teachings of Zuka, as well as some pictures of battle. Most of the paint was scraped off due to its age, but the content was still visible. Richard quietly studied these murals as Flowsand busied herself with copying the scriptures.

One of the murals depicted a giant feathered serpent, coiled around an altar receiving endless sacrifices from the trolls. That was Zuka, the sacred spirit of the troll empire. Another mural showed Zuka fighting a bear of equal size, as well as a huge spider. Beneath them were three clashing factions of trolls, a mixture of blood and flesh. Richard could tell that even though the techniques were rather primitive, the proportions of these depictions were extremely precise. The troll warriors looked like ants compared to the three sacred spirits.

A matured troll could grow up to 2.5 metres tall on average, while the stronger ones were more than three metres tall. If one went by the ratio in the murals, the sacred spirits were at least a hundred metres tall!

Even as he was observing these carvings, he felt a sudden sense of alarm. He turned his head abruptly, just in time to see a troll rush out from behind the altar and throw itself at Flowsand noiselessly!

The troll was extremely robust, over 2.5 metres tall with a blood-red mane and two menacing fangs. Its agility belied its enormous body, the sudden attack too quick for even Richard to react to.

It grabbed towards the seated Flowsand’s nape, but just as its four-fingered hand touched her the Waterdrop Necklace released a shot of blazing light that blinded it. The troll screamed in pain and quickly shielded its eyes, while Flowsand took the chance to get up on her feet. She stepped on the troll’s toe before slamming the thick Book of Time onto its waist, causing the disoriented creature to lose balance. It retreated a few steps, but Flowsand stomped down on its leg; the sound of bones breaking rang through the shrine. 

The troll cried out in excruciating pain, its back striking the wall of the shrine causing the entire building to quake. It rubbed its eyes forcefully, finally regaining its sight before growling towards Flowsand with bloodshot eyes. However, the shrine still continued to vibrate. Tiramisu had charged into the opponent head-first before anyone could react!

Ogres were stronger than trolls by nature. Moreover, Tiramisu was level 13 compared to what seemed to be level 10; the troll flew out upon contact, smashing into the wall before falling to the ground. It struggled to pick itself up, but Tiramisu charged forward once more and stomped hard on its back. Bone-cracking sounds rang out once more as the creature was disabled, never to stand again, but it still growled and tried to prop itself up on both arms. Such was the valiance of trollkind.

Richard cast a detection spell, looking into the troll’s bloodshot eyes before finally shaking his head, “It doesn’t have any intelligence, we won’t be able to get anything out of it. Kill away!”

Tiramisu squatted down the moment Richard’s last words sounded, ramming a fist into the back of the troll’s head. The ogre’s terrifying strength completely shattered the troll’s skull.

Richard wasn’t exactly surprised at Tiramisu’s violent outburst. Ogres and trolls actually shared common ancestry, one succeeding enormous strength while the other inherited unyielding vitality. However, this relationship only served to become the source of a blood feud. Both races believed strongly that they could devour the other to gain their power, so the result of a meeting was always a battle to the death. The trolls wished to wipe out the ogres and vice versa.

On the verge of growing a second head, Tiramisu was basically ogre nobility. He certainly didn’t believe that eating a troll would give him the powers of one, but a hatred established at birth just couldn’t be ended so easily.

Flowsand sent a stream of divine flames out from her fingers, pouring down on the troll corpse. Sparks of pale green light formed near the creature’s head, glinting for a moment before scattering into the sky. She turned to Richard, “There are traces of divinity on the troll. Seems like you’re right, we might be able to find something that can serve as an offering.”

Richard glanced at the troll before taking a look at the mural on the wall, “We have to be careful, that Zuka might still be alive.”

Flowsand patted the Book of Time, “The sacred spirits who accepted sacrifices are mostly souls now. If not for that, the troll empire wouldn’t have disappeared so easily. I actually have a plan to kill such things, your unicorn will come in handy.”

Even as the two were talking, the sounds of fighting suddenly rang out outside. Richard immediately rushed out of the shrine, just in time to see Io covered in a divine aura as he backflipped an enormous troll to the ground with ease. The battle priest then waved the sceptre in his hands, smashing the troll’s skull into pieces.

Upon seeing Richard, Io waved at him and laughed cheerily, “Isn’t it easy for a level 14 battle priest to take out a mere level 10 troll?”

The troll truly was level 10, but given the innate strength and vitality of the race they could cause trouble even for level 12 warriors. Even a high priest couldn’t easily take out such an opponent at close range as Io had. Richard also caught onto another thing, level 14. It seemed like even though the fellow had been slower than he claimed, he had finally advanced. He had jumped two levels in the past few months, leaving Richard quite surprised. Was this fellow special to the Eternal Dragon or something?

Richard’s gaze turned gloomy, but the blood in his veins started to burn. If there was a need, he wouldn’t be afraid of fighting Io fiercely again even if he reached level 16, forget now.

In front of Richard’s eyes, Io took large strides to a warhorse that was carrying luggage and opened a magic chest on its back. Richard had never seen this chest open before, and was quite astonished when the battle priest took out a set of extravagant pale gold armour. He changed out his priest robes for the armour set before giving his sceptre a twist, causing the thick tip to separate into three segments and fall down. Each segment was connected to the handle by a silver chain; in the blink of an eye, the sceptre had turned into a delicate-yet-overbearing three-headed flail.

The battle priest stood there like a god of war, radiating blinding light. The glow of magic from the armour and sceptre indicated they were both epic-level equipment, easily worthy of being the most prized possession of a Faelor saint.

Richard’s eyes narrowed, but he didn’t bat an eyelid during his response, “Who knew even a battle priest could wear such heavy armour.”

Io didn’t bother hiding his arrogance, “This is the power of a level 14 battle priest. Outside of plate armour and tower shields, I can use any sort of equipment without it affecting my power. How’s that for you, level 12 mage? When are you going to be able to use grade 7 spells?”

Richard felt the elven bloodline within him. After such a long period of nurture, the astral trunk had already grown a third branch with the tip showing traces of a new root. Once this soft shoot grew into a leaf, it would give him another ability. He smiled indifferently, “There’s no hurry.”

This time, Io’s expression changed. He looked at Richard, not knowing what he was thinking.

……

There were active trolls in Zhubvar, and a large quantity of them at that. When they stepped into the 22nd district of the city, Richard and his team encountered an increased number of attacks. These trolls were born hunters; with the cover of the buildings and the terrain, they could only be discovered when a few metres away. If not for the elite bats flying erratically through the sky, Richard’s troop would have suffered casualties.

The buildings in the upper levels of the city were taller and more spread-out, the water canal wider as well. In between these buildings were trees, meadows, and reservoirs, with intricate bestial carvings on the remaining infrastructure. One could imagine the grandeur of the trolls in the peak of their glory would be enough to leave people breathless. The number of shrines was increasing the further they went as well, with various statues of Zuka and other sacred spirits. The shrines of the other spirits were significantly smaller than Zuka’s, built around Zuka’s shrines as well. They seemed to subordinates of the feathered serpent.

However, all of Zuka’s statues seemed to be intentionally destroyed by someone. All Richard could find was piles of messy stone fragments that barely related to the past. The sculptures in the affiliated shrines were undamaged, but with the passage of time all divinity had faded away. Statues without divinity were just blocks of stone, their only value being in art and history.

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OMA's Thoughts

Translated By: Gem

Edited By: Theo

TLC'ed By: OMA