Book 4, Chapter 104

Eternal Hope

I will do my best. A simple answer with no exaggeration, no fancy words. It only showed a determination to see things through to the end. Ferlyn heaved a long sigh and looked Richard in the eye, “You… You keep promising things to others, don’t you? And once you make the promises, you’ll also make sure you fulfil them… This personality, where do I even begin?”

“Someone just praised me for being smart!” Richard said with a smile.

“Who was so shameless that they lied to your face?”

“Beye,” he said innocently.

“The Orleans girl?!” Ferlyn cried out, a smile slowly creeping up her face as she pursed her lips strangely, “That one doesn’t call people stupid, she just fights. And if she calls someone clever… Did she knock you on the head?”

Seeing a dark gold light flashing in Ferlyn’s eyes, Richard immediately felt his heart sink. His hands twitched in an attempt to cover his head, an instinct he had to force down. It was far too embarrassing for someone nearing twenty years of age to be treated like a child.

Ferlyn’s eyes grew unfocused, an expression of astonishment rising up on her face. It seemed like she was painfully restraining something for a few seconds, but eventually she gave in and laughed loudly.

Richard’s eyes immediately started burning, but he could do nothing but wait until the priestess had enough and returned to her normal dignity. “Ah, that was fun. I haven’t laughed so happily in a long time.”

“It’s my honour!” Richard gritted through his teeth in annoyance.

The smile immediately faded from Ferlyn’s face, “Sigh. Let’s talk about what I wanted to ask of you.

“You should know Flowsand was originally abandoned at the door of the church when she was young. However, she wasn’t the first such child and she won’t be the last. We normally send these orphans to normal families for adoption, ours is not a church based on kindness. However, that girl… Even as a baby she had this stubbornness on her little face. I felt… connected to her, as though she pulled me in. And then I watched her grow up, become a cleric. Even as a young child she was gifted, quickly gaining the favour of the old dragon to become a titled priestess, a chosen one.

“But her personality is too similar to mine. Watching her is like seeing my own younger self. Now, she’s walking onto the same path I took then, and this worries me.”

Richard could see a slight sheen covering her reddening eyes, something that seemed to spread to himself. “What do I have to do?”

“Promise me one thing. Give her hope. For now, and ever.”

If she loses this hope, she will become the same as me. These words didn’t need to be said. It was only now that Richard realised Ferlyn’s tranquillity did not belie happiness.

“How?” he frowned.

“That is something for you to think about. I cannot teach you.”

Give hope? Richard fell into a daze. This was something he never had to think actively to do. Just like when he’d suddenly gone to Klandor. He certainly missed Mountainsea, but that would not have convinced him to brave the unknown. Ever since he found out that there was a quick route, a small voice had whispered in the back of his mind to go see her. Just to tell her that he was still alive, that he would be there when the time came. Five years was too long of a time to waste. He wanted to spare her that torment.

However, nothing came to mind as he thought about it. There seemed to be no immediate answer to his question. And yet, the small voice whispered once more. As long as he had the heart, he would know when the time arrived.

“Alright,” Ferlyn said lazily as he snapped out of his stupor, “Let’s talk about this ceremony. What offerings did you prepare, what blessings do you wish for?”

Richard thought over it for a moment, “I have more than I expected to. I’d originally prepared two divine tools from Faelor that retained a significant portion of the deity’s power…”

“Not bad, that should be enough for a high-level ceremony each.”

“... And I also obtained another batch of greater offerings, so there are two more.”

Ferlyn’s eyes lit up, “Quite capable of you! Did Beye give you all she had?”

Richard froze up. It seemed nothing could be hidden from this high priestess. For some reason, he could feel Ferlyn had a faint hostility towards Beye. Thankfully the time for the ceremony had arrived; she didn’t ask about their relationship and just let him begin.

Seeing him struggle to lift the heavy chest with all the offerings, the high priestess personally accompanied him to the heart of the church. Something even Beye had to strain a little for was actually bounced up with a single hand, as though it had no weight at all.

Richard was a little surprised. This chest weighed close to ten tonnes; even with Mana Armament activated, he had to use all his strength to carry it. And yet, Ferlyn made it seem light as a feather. Even in pure physical strength, she likely surpassed most saint warriors.

When they approached the ruined altar, Ferlyn placed the chest nearby and nodded to him before retreating out of range. He quickly started the process of the offering ceremony, the power of time an unending stream of gold that encircled him completely. By now he had learnt that this altar had brought him to an entirely different plane of existence; outside of titled priestesses like Flowsand and Ferlyn, nobody could affect the proceedings within. Even a grand priestess like Noelene could barely tilt the balance in one’s favour.

He first placed a simplistic battleaxe made of gold on the altar. Those of the Baruch Kingdom would recognise it to be one of Lutheris’ three divine artefacts. The day he was besieged by numerous grand mages and saints, Zangru Baruch had lost this and the helmet in his bid to escape. The tools then fell into Raymond’s hands, naturally passed onto Richard when he decimated Raymond’s troops. Although Faelor’s divine artefacts could not compare to those of the Eternal Dragon, the weapons from a greater god of war were still more powerful than many legendary-grade weapons.

This time he followed the standard procedure for a sacrifice, silently thinking of the blessing he wished for the most: the coordinates of the Rosie plane. He believed he was now qualified enough to fight through and find the whereabouts of his father.

He suddenly felt a wisp of timeforce sweep past his body and softly touch his soul, floating away to become one with the timeforce that cascaded down from the void. Four symbols congealed before his eyes: two hourglasses that likely contained blessings of time, a spinning chest that would offer equipment, and a tall door that represented the strengthening of the planar passage.

Four choices was actually quite rare for most ceremonies, indicating preferential treatment. However, none of these choices contained the blessing he wanted most. Richard sighed and pointed towards the door of light.

However, the power of the timeforce he felt this time was a third greater than he had expected. It condensed and burst forth from his finger, melding into the void as it sped over to reinforce Faelor’s passage. He knew instinctively that transferring one person would only need 9,000 gold now; this boost was close to what could be expected from a top-grade offering.

He then followed up with the golden helmet. The power of time swept past his soul once more; he suddenly felt like this was how the Eternal Dragon could tell one’s hopes and desires to personalise the blessings on offer. That way, even if the exact blessing one needed didn’t appear, the alternatives couldn’t be refused either.

This was the primary difference between the Eternal Dragon and most other deities. Normal gods only chose whether or not to respond to a worshipper’s prayers, asking what they wanted and granting the wish at their discretion. However, the Dragon relied on a principle of trade. It never asked for faith, only granting blessings proportional to the power of the offering itself. From a certain perspective, this was much fairer than having to rely on a god’s mood. Prayers did not guarantee a god’s favour, but offerings to the Dragon would certainly beget blessings that one would want.

He had never been able to tell of this wisp’s existence in the past. Only now that his blessings had advanced and granted him the Analytic ability could he barely discern the existence of that cryptic energy.

Even as he continued to think, the options for this sacrifice had descended as well. The timeforce this time condensed into three symbols, one of which was the choice to strengthen the passage and the other two equipment.

Richard’s gaze focused on the two chests for a moment. He randomly felt like the chest would give him at least a piece of divine equipment, perhaps even two. However, as he was now he grew in strength faster by just levelling up. The planar passage would determine how much of his power could be mobilised; it was much more important.

The blessing he wanted most still did not show itself.

This entire process was different from what he was used to. With Flowsand he was directly given a list of blessings to choose from, completely unlike the randomness that was meant to be a portion of the Eternal Dragon’s faith. This was more of what a normal ceremony would look like, with the symbols only giving a vague idea of what could be acquired.

He didn’t rush this choice, instead standing calmly and starting to think. Flowsand had found the coordinates of Norland when they had been stuck on Faelor. If she could do such a thing, there was no way Ferlyn could not. If a ceremony the high priestess had personally taken charge of didn’t give him any convenience, it had to be telling him something.

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OMA's Thoughts

Translated By: Karen

Edited By: Theo

TLC'ed By: OMA