Book 3, Chapter 118

Sacred Artefacts(2)

With the defensive perimeter established, it became a simple task to deal with the enemies. Richard renewed the walls of fire whenever they dissipated, using the spare time to send fireballs towards the undead trolls. Tiramisu was casting his own fireballs as well; they weren’t as strong as Richard’s, but he could easily cast twenty to thirty these grade 3 spells. Zendrall kept himself busy as well, casting control spells on the guard captains who were more powerful than the rest. Given his extreme focus, the necromancer succeeded with four out of five, sending each controlled enemy into the wall of fire to burn to death.

The unicorn had puffed out clouds of white smoke from its mouth the moment it saw the large group of undead, sending them towards the enemy. This white smoke flowed through the aura of undeath, completely eviscerating ten times its area of any traces of the power of death. All the air in a ten-metre radius had been purified in a flash, keeping all of Richard’s followers safe. Only Zendrall remained hidden outside, avoiding the clouds completely.

The idle Io finally decided to act as well, stretching his hands and sending a ball of dazzling light flying towards the enemy. The ball had ten thin rays rotating around it, burning every undead creature it touched. Even the strongest of the enemies was hurt by these rays!

The steady stream of light arrows fell upon the undead trolls like rain, making them tremble. The ball quickly reached the other end of the room and exploded into a dazzling blaze, wiping out anyone nearby. The remaining trolls were left on the brink of death.

This was a grade 7 spell that Richard had never heard of, but it could even compare to grade 8. It was likely another one of those skills unique to battle priests. It had left a bulk of the people in the hall entirely silent, awestruck by Io’s sheer power.

Richard’s expression turned sour. This bastard hadn’t been disciplined in a while, so now he was showing off.

Even though the combination of magic and the divine was burning through the enemies, there seemed to be no end in sight. The number of warriors in the crypt was far beyond anyone’s expectations, undead still streaming out of the passages and heading in their direction. Once his followers had used up half of their energy reserves, Richard decided to retreat. The destroyed warriors would not come back, and their energy and mana could be built back up. Unless it was absolutely necessary, he had no plans of engaging in a melee.

They retreated from the crypt and rested an entire night. When everyone returned to peak condition, they returned to finish the job. This time they made it all the way to the centre of the third level, a place guarded by four level 15 warriors that were obliterated by a barrage of spells. 

Gangdor finally came of use, helping Tiramisu open up the copper door to the core of the crypt. The former’s axe had been thirsty throughout this expedition, but it was only now that he could come of use. Be it Richard, Flowsand, or Io, each one was an unreasonable extremist who destroyed everything with their spells.

The troll shaman had long since been stunned into silence. He had only entered the royal crypt once, and had been lucky to escape from the clutches of the undead warriors. However, these invaders made it seem like a walk in the park.

Behind the door was a ten-metre-tall room with a raised platform in the centre. Atop the platform was an enormous gold coffin, with a bronze jar underneath.

“This is where the greatest chieftain of our empire rests, Warlord Drahkzan. Only he has the rig— NO!”

Richard and the rest had seen what set the shaman off as well. The cover of the golden coffin was open, with nothing underneath. Furthermore, the aura of undeath was especially strong here, already condensed into a tangible grey mist. If not for the unicorn neutralising this power, even Richard’s team could not easily survive here.

Richard had Flowsand cast a death guard spell on him before circling around the graveyard a few times. He finally stopped in front of the gold coffin, picking up the bronze jar, “This is the soul jar you spoke of?”

The troll only then recovered from his shock, nodding in reply, “This is it! Only the chieftain has the right to use it, storing the souls of his predecessor. It is said the souls stored here retain a portion of their memories from when they were alive, passing their wisdom down to the next generation.”

Richard picked up the jar and inspected it closely, finding several complicated drawings and ancient troll texts engraved upon it. Combined together, they formed what seemed to be a magic array. Richard had never seen these patterns before, but he could sense that the array possessed great power. It was different from the ones he had seen in Norland, storing a shocking amount of power in a few simple strokes. Even if they found nothing else, just understanding this array would be of great help to his growth as a runemaster. He immediately started to think of ways to simplify the arrays he normally used.

However, just like the jars outside, this one was open as well. The chieftain’s soul had either escaped or dissipated, but looking at the empty coffin it was most likely to be the former.

Richard muttered to himself for a while before passing the soul jar to the shaman, “It seems like Warlord Drahkzan is linked to the evil spirits. There isn’t much else of interest here, let’s return and rest for the night. We’ll go to the shrine tomorrow and figure things out then.”

The shaman bowed deeply to Richard, hugging the soul jar as they left the crypt. Richard knitted his brows, summoning the idle Waterflower and softly whispering into her ear, “Keep a close eye on him when we leave. If he tries anything strange, kill him immediately!”

Waterflower was surprised, “Isn’t he the only one who can trap the evil spirits?”

Richard shook his head, “He said it himself, there are seven or eight troll tribes nearby. Every tribe can afford a shaman at least.”

The young lady nodded. To her, the troll’s neck was no different from a dead tree.

……

Fortunately, the night was uneventful. The next morning, Richard took his men back to Zhubvar’s upper levels and headed into the shrine. This place was a pyramid that was tens of metres tall, with an altar on the top level dedicated to Zuka. Flowsand had already deciphered all the texts on the various tablets, so she knew the steps to offer sacrifices.

On their way to the top shrine, the army was attacked by hundreds of infected trolls. However, the party advanced at a steady pace; outside of two people who sustained minor injuries, they defeated all the enemies with no losses at all.

The top floor held a stone altar in the centre. Atop a copper rack in front was a stone basin filled with ashes, and at the sides a pit as tall as a human with sharp spikes at the bottom. A huge statue of Zuka had once stood tall upon the altar, but something unknown had destroyed it. All that remained was the base.

“First, take out the holy incense from the storeroom and light it up in front of the altar,” she read out. Indeed, there was a small storeroom nearby. However, when Richard opened it up to get the incense he was completely startled.

The walls of this room were painted in gold, with a large pot in each of the four corners. There were three copper shelves lining one of the walls, filled with pieces of incense the smallest of which was as big as a bowl. Richard’s heart started beating uncontrollably at the smell; this was obviously made from the finest maple amber! Maple amber grew more effective with age, darkening the older it got. The small fist-sized piece of amber he had gotten from Stormhammer was a light colour. The smallest piece of amber on the shelves was still larger than that, and more importantly each one was dark purple!

Normal maple amber was an essential ingredient in the making of many grade 2 runes, but purple amber was an extremely rare material used even in grade 3 runes. It was the fossilised essence of ancient beasts, possessing the ability to communicate with souls. The more powerful maple amber could even cross space or turn back time, allowing people to look into the past.

The sum of the ambers in this room, if brought back to Norland, could easily fetch a price of six to seven million gold! Richard forced down his excitement, returning to the altar with a piece of incense in hand. He then moved to light it with a piece of burning wood given to him by the shaman, something that had clearly been used for millennia but still wasn’t used up. He studied it for a long time, but couldn’t pinpoint exactly what kind of wood it was.

Before the ceremony could begin, however, Flowsand stopped him, “Are you sure you want to go through with this? Ceremonies like this could invite beings that are far more powerful than us, ones we cannot control. It could get very dangerous.”

Richard muttered to himself, feeling the destiny crystal in his pocket. Its presence bolstered his confidence greatly, and he started laughing, “If we want offerings, how can we not take risks? Don’t worry, whatever spirit is summoned we can deal with it.”

Flowsand sighed, deciding not to persuade him any further.

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OMA's Thoughts

Translated By: Styles

Edited By: Theo

TLC'ed By: OMA