An overwhelming grey tide surged through Richard’s soul, a wave of destruction that spread through every part of it. At the same time, the image of a troll appeared deep within his sea of consciousness; Drahkzan had projected himself here!
A silhouette of Richard himself appeared next to Drahkzan, an embodiment of his soul. The troll chieftain laughed heartily, pressing his giant palm against Richard’s head, “Kneel before me! Even a plunderer from another world must serve the great Drahkzan!”
Richard felt an enormous pressure on his head, the force so great that his bones started creaking as though they could shatter at any moment. A soul struggle obviously couldn’t affect one’s physical body so easily; the reason for this feeling was Drahkzan’s immense advantage in power. The moment Richard knelt, he would be subdued; his mind would then be chained to the warlord’s, a part of his soul extracted as a guarantee. His body would end up just like that of the other trolls, lacking intelligence and only able to survive upon instinct.
And yet, he had no fear nor worry in his mind. Richard was only feeling one emotion right now, humiliation! When he was eight, Elena had taught him resilience. From the moment he had learnt to recognise himself up to their eternal parting when he was ten, she had drilled dignity into his very soul.
This mere troll wanted him to kneel?
The pressure grew increasingly powerful. Richard started panting roughly, feeling a mountainous weight on his back, but he still persisted with all his might. He would rather die than kneel!
However, try as he may, his right knee gave way and smashed hard into the soil.
This was the moment when everything changed, when a dormant volcano erupted.
Richard felt every drop of blood within him burn, his breath growing blistering hot. He breathed in air, but he breathed out fire! Immense shame took over every corner of his mind, leaving him no refuge, no escape. He looked up at the warlord before him, shouting like a wild beast. The sound of bones shattering rang out from within his left knee, but his muscles still flexed as he forced his swaying body off the ground
The warlord was shocked at first, but then he exploded with insanity. The strength within that huge palm doubled in an instant, wanting to suppress Richard’s resistance, but Drahkzan felt an indescribably scorching pain all over his hand. Richard’s body caught on fire, emitting dense flames that were thick as flowing lava.
The web of blood vessels that was his Archeron bloodline emanated an incomparable heat, each vein widening greatly as the lava surging within grew faster and faster. Threads of lava spewed out of his blood vessels, turning into a raging inferno that gathered deep within his soul.
He entered a strange state. His primary consciousness was still raging, but his second turned calm and cruel. The two were distinct polar opposites, but somehow controlled the same body. He opened his eyes and looked at Drahkzan, feeling both raging fury and cold vengeance. He didn’t notice that the troll who had been many times taller than himself was now slightly shorter.
From Drahkzan’s perspective, Richard had already stood up straight. However, the boy only came up to his waist. Glaring at him coldly was actually an infernal demon built of the flames coming from Richard’s body; its form was unclear, but the mere presence left an indescribable fear assaulting his mind. The warlord found that this golden-eyed demon actually left him terrified!
The warlord suddenly remembered something, his voice turning ghastly, “How… How could it be y—” However, he could not finish speaking. The demon snarled, a tempestuous force blowing the phantom away. Drahkzan’s image quickly distorted, disappearing into an explosion.
Richard slowly opened his eyes and surveyed the area. The altar was empty, the troll phantom long since dissipated. The maple amber in the basin had already been burnt out, but there were still threads of the heady fragrance in the air. Humanoid warriors, knights, and throwers were lying all over the place in disarray, most of his followers on the ground as well. Only Flowsand and Io seemed to have come out of this unscathed, even Zendrall and Kellac looking conscious but in terrible shape. The unicorn lay weakly on the ground, its horn lacking lustre. The troll shaman had collapsed on the altar, his body drained of blood. He no longer had any life force within him, the same as all the berserkers. All the signs showed that Warlord Drahkzan had truly been here.
He closed his eyes once more. His memories were a blur, real and virtual mixed up. He still remembered breaking free of some bindings in his extreme fury, bursting forth with power. The warlord in his soul had completely broken down to his scream, dissipating. The fear in Drahkzan’s eyes was still clear in his memories.
Thankfully, even though those with weaker wills like Olar would have to recuperate for a while, all his followers were still alive. Most of the broodmother’s drones were fine as well, only collapsed from the fear. The spirit lances were a spiritual attack, so they had little effect on these puppets with no souls. The elites with their own minds, however, had suffered heavy casualties. Almost all of them had been wiped out.
Those of the church who weren’t fallen were basically unaffected. Leaving Flowsand and Io, even Caesar who was only level 6 was basically fine. However, the fallen clerics had all received great injuries; even a level 13 fallen priest like Kellac had not been exempted. It seemed like the true servants of the Eternal Dragon had a special defence against spiritual attacks.
Richard turned to find Flowsand and Io staring at him, gazes as though they were looking at a monster. This was something that rarely ever happened; he touched his face, ensuring that he hadn’t turned into someone else. Still, the stinging gazes left him feeling slightly uneasy. “Where’s Drahkzan?” he broke the silence himself.
Their expressions turned even stranger at this question. “You really don’t know?” Io asked.
Richard was confused, “How would I know?”
Io stared at Richard for a good while, his eventual reply full of resentment, “Fine, I’ll pretend like I didn’t see you acting stupid! You howled at the warlord and he just disappeared! That was a ghost that was level 18 at minimum, and he was attacking you with a spirit lance spell!”
“Mm. You two are fine, no?”
The battle priest puffed out his chest and answered arrogantly, “The power of my soul is second only to a holy being, nothing below the legendary realm can affect it! Flowsand is a chosen priestess of the Eternal Dragon, even a lesser god’s attack is a joke to her!”
Richard was rather surprised, but by Io and not Flowsand. Outside of grand priests, only those who reached level 20 could be considered holy beings. The only limits for servants of gods to advance was the power of their souls and their piety. In other words, as long as nothing went wrong Io would have no problems reaching level 20.
“Aren’t you much more amazing than I am? I’m a mere level 12 mage,” Richard mocked himself.
“That’s different!” Io corrected him in a grave tone, “Flowsand and I could only save ourselves, but you dissipated the phantom with a howl! That’s completely different! Is your soul beyond that of a holy being?”
“That’s impossible!” Richard denied resolutely. However, Io’s expression was one of utter disbelief.
Ruminating over the battle in his soul, Richard felt rather rueful. This was a battle that revealed his true nature. He now knew that he could be destroyed, but he would never be subdued.
“Where’s the soul jar?” he suddenly remembered.
Io seemed confused, “You’re still fixated on the sacred artefacts?”
“Of course, that’s an offering! It’s very valuable!” Richard stated resolutely.
Io was left helpless in the face of this wealth-starved maniac; be it as a heavenly guardian or a battle priest, he had no concept of money. He just pointed at the jar that was atop the altar, lid closed. A few of the ancient characters on the jar’s surface were flickering with light.
Richard grew stern, carefully walking up to the jar and closely examining it before picking it up. “If I didn’t see wrongly,” Io added, “the soul of that troll was absorbed by the jar.”
With Drahkzan’s soul within, the soul jar’s value as an offering would increase exponentially. Richard jumped off the altar, passing it to Flowsand. Her eyes in turn started glowing amber, shooting out a hazy radiance that covered the jar. Seeing the light the thing reflected, she nodded, “It’s definitely enough to hold an intermediate ceremony.”
It was only then that Richard’s followers and other soldiers started to get up. Io glowed with divine light once more, quickly restoring their strength. On the other hand, Richard started rummaging through the shrine. The troll shaman had mentioned three sacred artefacts, and this soul jar was an intermediate offering. The other two had to be powerful as well.
However, whether it was intentional or not, the shaman hadn’t mentioned what the other two artefacts were.Previous Chapter Next Chapter
Translated By: Ying
Edited By: Theo
TLC'ed By: OMA