Book 3, Chapter 117

Sacred Artefacts

A mere sacred spirit that couldn’t even compare to a demigod accurately prophesied a planar invasion millennia in the future? Was Zuka beyond even the Eternal Dragon? Richard snorted, “What holy beast?”

The large troll pointed his finger at the unicorn in the yard, “Is that not a holy beast? It is extremely sensitive to my clansmen who have been tainted by the evil spirits. I observed it during the battle, any tainted troll who was touched by its horn died a fiery death; that creature cleansed their souls, liberating them from their torment.”

Richard turned to look at the unicorn and then back to the large troll. Try as he might, he couldn’t shake of a heavy feeling of unease rising in his heart. The unicorn was a special drone designed by a combination of the broodmother’s divinity and Zim’s bloodline, born only a short time ago. It was hard to believe that it was the holy beast of the prophecy; even though unicorns were mythical creatures that qualified to be holy beasts in many planes, he felt like this one was only a good imitation.

“Alright then. Let’s move onto these evil spirits and sacred artefacts,” he said impatiently. 

This time, the large troll had an unexpectedly positive response. He did not know exactly what these evil spirits were, but ever since Zuka had fallen into a deep slumber they had taken over his shrine and altar. Anyone approaching the upper levels of Zhubvar would be influenced by them, several trolls never seen again after they entered the shrine. Even those powerful warriors with great willpower who did not enter the shrine were adversely affected, some losing their wisdom and turning into wild beasts that acted solely on instinct.

There were seven or eight large tribes around Zhubvar who had survived, all under the protection of new sacred spirits. The two nearest to Zhubvar were protected by Kum, the rhinoceros Richard had seen in the small shrine in the camp. Whenever drought enveloped the surrounding regions, the only source of water was in the upper levels of Zhubvar. Any warrior that wished to enter the vicinity of Zhubvar to get the water had to rely on the new spirits’ support, but those who made the trip enough times still lost their wisdom.

The shaman also told Richard how to deal with the evil spirits. One of the three sacred artefacts was the soul jar, placed deep within the royal crypt. Once it was acquired, one could enter the shrine and offer a sacrifice just like they would if they were summoning Zuka. Doing so would cause the evil spirits to descend, at which point one would have to give their life to trap the evil spirits in the jar. If Richard was willing to deal with the evil spirits, the shaman was willing to sacrifice his own soul to activate the jar.

Having heard this, Richard had someone take the shaman away before turning to look at Io and Flowsand, “What do the two of you think?”

Io shrugged, “Mr. Great Mage, if you have an idea just say it.”

Richard wasn’t angered by this, instead muttering to himself for a while before speaking up, “If the soul jar can really trap evil spirits, it could possibly be an offering itself.”

“Possibly? It definitely is! Given the aura I sensed in Zhubvar… Once the evil spirits are trapped, it will definitely be an intermediate offering at minimum!”

Flowsand nodded in agreement, “Even in Norland, such an offering could start a war between two large groups of nobles.”

Thinking back to the unprecedented list of possible blessings, Richard couldn’t help but grow excited at the thought of an intermediate offering. Still, he forced himself to think and evaluate the risks, “The shaman mentioned that these spirits have great power over one’s mind. If we want to fight this, the only possible method is to have incredible willpower.”

Io unexpected stretched out both hands and smiled radiantly, “Not a problem for me.”

“I’m the same,” Flowsand added.

Richard was left speechless. It seemed like he was the only one who would pose a problem.

……

It didn’t take much time for an agreement to be reached. Richard would deal with the evil spirits, but in exchange the shaman would obey him unconditionally and eventually give up his life to trap them.

The army returned to Zhubvar within an hour, with a few dozen trolls added on. Outside of the shaman were some of the berserkers as well as about ten of the trolls that had lost their minds. The shaman had mentioned that these infected creatures were key.

Guided by the shaman, Richard quickly crossed the chieftain’s territory and arrived at the foot of the shrine. There was a passage nearby leading downwards, the end blocked by two large stone doors. This was the royal crypt, the location of the soul jar.

The crypt was truly magnificent. The doors were ten metres tall, with no way of telling how thick they were. The handles were engraved with the totem of life-like feathered serpents that made one feel like they were being watched. Richard felt a great power on the other side of these doors, slowly creeping out. He pushed hard, but the doors would not budge; they were too heavy even for someone like Tiramisu to open.

“Allow me,” the troll shaman said hoarsely, walking up to the doors and indicating for two berserkers to pull over one of their deranged brethren. He unsheathed a bone dagger and stabbed it straight into the troll’s heart, the ashen-white blade quickly being stained crimson. The dagger started throbbing as though it had a life of its own, viciously sucking out all of the blood from the troll’s heart. Despite its great tenacity the troll was left a shrivelled clump of flesh, as dry as a mummy. The dagger had turned a dark purple, looking like a leech that had just finished a good meal.

The shaman then placed the dagger in an unremarkable slot in the stone door, causing blood to immediately spread across the door’s surface. The entire crypt started to shake as a few loose stones fell down above, the two heavy doors sliding open of their own accord.

The shaman turned around, “Only the blood of the degenerate traitors can open the doors of the crypt.”

Richard nodded, but the moment he entered the graveyard his expression warped into a frown. Behind the doors was a spacious hall, a row of slabs propped up on each end. Every slab held a mummified troll corpse, while at their feet were dark grey jars.

“These are warriors that once protected the graveyard. Those jars contain the souls of these loyal warriors who have protected these sacred grounds for generations.”

The aura of undeath here was extremely strong, the conditions making it likely for many of these trolls to turn into undead creatures. However, the corpses all seemed to be in pristine condition with no signs of conversion; these jars below likely held secrets of their own.

Still, the aura of undeath was far too strong for even the humanoids to endure. Flowsand and Io couldn’t protect them all in such conditions either, so Richard wound up having to leave all his soldiers behind as he only brought his followers into the crypt.

The crypt was split up into three levels, with even the first two levels that housed more than 3,000 mummified trolls being extremely magnificent. The shaman mentioned that he had tried to retrieve the soul jar himself once, but was forced to turn back at the end of the second level. The power of undeath that had accumulated over millennia had reached a shocking point; had he tried to enter the third level, he would have been turned into an undead creature. It was only because of Io and Flowsand that Richard’s team could enter.

The moment they entered the third level, Richard quickly noticed that the jars of the mummified trolls here had been broken. “Be careful!” the shaman cried out in shock, “The royal guards have come alive!”

The mummies in the hall seemed to sense something. They slowly stood up, making their way to the door.

However, Richard did not panic. He started off with a few detection spells on these undead creatures, revealing that they were about level 13 or 14 each. It seemed like the royal guards were more skilled than the elite berserkers outside.

Still, the undead were a welcome enemy for a party with two powerful priests. Flowsand opened the Book of Time, and a dazzling ball of light made its way out to float atop her head. It constantly shot out faint gold rays, lighting up everything within twenty metres. Any undead creatures within this region were incinerated by divine fire. Some of the weaker creatures tried to avoid the light, while the more powerful ones tried to shield themselves as they made a dash towards the party. However, the light had severely weakened them; they weren’t even level 10 anymore.

Richard brandished his staff, spawning several walls of fire to keep out the attackers. The walls were meticulously placed, exactly on the fringe of Flowsand’s domain so the warriors that rushed into them would be hit by both at the same time. The thirty seconds of these walls was more than enough for the party to do a lot of damage; even if the undead trolls made their way past the walls, they would only be left with half their lives.

Richard was still unsatisfied. He took out the Book of Holding and cast a grade 6 Nature’s Beckon, spawning six direbears just beyond the reach of the walls of fire. The undead that braved their way through the inferno were just swatted back by the bears’ paws, forced to do battle within the blaze.

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OMA's Thoughts

Translated By: Styles

Edited By: Theo

TLC'ed By: OMA