Book 4, Chapter 131

The Broodmother’s Zangru

Richard couldn’t be bothered to lie about such a thing. A level 9 broodmother was more important to him than a legendary subordinate. With the ability to create a horde of level 13 drones, his army composition would approach the royal armies of Norland. The difference in runes would ensure that a level 12 knight from Norland could beat a level 13 drone, but unlike drones a human knight took decades to train. In fact, he could already feel a cloned brain flying here to pick him up. She was clearly anticipating this meal.

Zangru eventually realised that Richard was serious and lowered his head to think over it. However, he didn’t seem to find an answer even after some time. Eventually, he looked back up with a questioning look, “Before I talk about my abilities, could you answer a few questions?”

“Sure,” Richard answered calmly. 

“Did you come from a different plane, or are you the soldiers of a new god? Zangru had heard many rumours about the person who had vanquished the invaders during his escape from the Baruch Kingdom, but even seeing representatives of the three goddesses he wasn’t sure which of the options was correct.

“Another plane, it’s name is Norland.” Without any locals to overhear them, Richard was surprisingly forthright. Zangru was about to become a meal for the broodmother anyway; he wouldn’t be able to tell anyone.

Quite surprisingly, Zangru sighed in relief, “Do you have the two other artefacts that I lost to the other one?”

“No, I’ve already extracted their divinity. They’re nothing more than scrap iron.”

This even caused Zangru to smile, “In that case, the Wargod should be after you.”

“If he finds out,” Richard nodded.

“So you’re an invader from another plane and you also stole divinity from one of our gods. It looks like you’re planning to fight the entire pantheon!”

Richard shook his head, “Not necessarily. Depends on them, actually. The three goddesses, for example. I think we’ll get along just fine.”

“And what about the God of Valour?” Zangru’s eyes started to glisten with anticipation.

“Neian can’t surrender, it doesn’t work with his domain. I’ll be uprooting him completely, destroying all of his foundation in the mortal plane.”

Richard didn’t reveal that Neian was the god he had to take out first. Divinity did not imply omnipotence; most of the other deities of the pantheon had already forgotten his existence and wouldn’t be able to realise he was an invader until it was too late. Neian was the one who had sent the prophecy of his arrival all those years ago, so eliminating him would almost guarantee the secret.

Zangru’s eyes lit up, “That’s great! We can definitely cooperate, I’m actually—”

“A bastard child of a deity? So mysterious,” Nyra interjected monotonously.

Zangru’s expression froze for a moment as he was left at a loss for words. Wasn’t being a son of a god mysterious enough? How earth-shattering did something have to be for her to call it mysterious? He was annoyed by Nyra’s indifference, but that was nothing compared to how much her knowing this frightened him. He had always thought level 12 priestesses were small fry that weren’t even worth killing, but this one truly scared him.

It took great sacrifice for the unholy union of mortal and deity to spawn a child. Demigods born this way had some divine attributes, but the process that allowed them to survive their mortal heritage was extremely dark and bloody, twisting their very souls. These unholy children were born deranged and chaotic, crushing everything in their path. Zangru himself was quite tame for his kind, still possessing a mostly human soul that only had a few eccentricities.

“Tch. Continue.”

A click of Richard’s tongue brought him out of his idle thoughts, “Right, so I’m a natural ally against the gods of Faelor. All I want is the fall of Lutheris and Neian. I don’t care about the three goddesses.”

“Ally?” Richard snickered, “That means nothing to me.”

“Richard!’ Zangru growled.

“Shh! You’re a child of a god, so what? Why should I trust you because of it?”

Zangru went silent once more, this time for ten full minutes. “The same goes for me,” he said eventually, “What guarantee do I have that you won’t kill me anyway after you’re done using me?”

“You don’t,” Richard smiled, “That being said, you may not live to see the results, but—”

“I’m a child of a god,” Zangru interrupted, “Without a god purifying me at the cost of some of their power, I am immortal. Even if you tear me to pieces, my body will still reform eventually.”

“Okay then. So long as I’m alive, Neian will eventually die. Lutheris is much more powerful, but if everything goes as planned he will be weakened greatly as well. With a bit of luck on my end, he’ll die as well.”

“What? Impossible! How would you know how to weaken a god?”

“Is it really that difficult? Back at home, we have courses of study on the matter. There are rigorous guides to follow to steal a god’s divinity.”

Zangru instantly deflated. He questioned Richard a little more, but was left with no choice but to believe that he could do as he said. “Alright. If you swear by your god to keep to your word, or at least try your best, then I will do anything you wish that furthers the goal of defeating Lutheris and Neian. However, I want to be able to make my decisions on anything that doesn’t concern me. I also need some basic freedoms, I won’t let you just keep me caged up all the time.”

Richard furrowed his brows, contacting the broodmother with his mind, “Is there a way to use him without killing him?”

The broodmother went silent for a moment as she made some calculations, “... Some of his blood every day for a month. That might be enough to reach level 9.”

“What if that’s not enough?” he asked. If the choice was between having Zangru fight for him and getting the broodmother to level 9, he would choose the latter with no hesitation.

“It might take a few more months at worst, but eventually it should be enough.”

Richard nodded to himself before turning back to Zangru, “If you want your freedom, then I’ll need your blood for my rituals.”

“No problem,” Zangru answered easily. He was basically immortal, so regenerating some blood was no problem for him. Furthermore, any rituals that used divine blood were intolerable to the gods.

However, Richard suddenly frowned, “Right, how can I be sure you won’t just turn around and attack me once you’ve recovered?”

Flowsand, who had been sitting silently all this while, finally spoke up, “The Church has a soul contract on hand, the same kind you used with Waterflower. Go talk to Noelene about it, she’ll sell it for a million gold if you want.”

Richard almost rejected the idea by instinct, but as he thought over it he suddenly realised a million gold was worth far less to him now than it used to be. The rest of his family was still dirt poor, but this was a cost he could bear so long as it was worth it.

“Yeah, I’ll buy it,” he nodded.

……

As the Sapphire Lake welcomed yet another day, Richard’s followers welcomed another special addition to their team. Zangru was currently somewhere between a slave and a subordinate, his hands glowing black and white with energy shackles of Nyra’s make. The priestess’ power of death was a natural enemy of Zangru’s divinity, and added to the injuries he had already sustained from Raymond’s invasion the youth couldn’t do much more than move.

Most of Zangru’s wounds had come from the same grey-robed saint that had killed Bevry, and similar to Bevry’s case the flesh had turned fibrous like the core of an old tree. This special ability was quite powerful, but the youth’s divine blood gave him the tenacity to resist the necrosis. If not for repeated disruptions to his recovery process, he would already be halfway back to normal. Of course, even at full strength he wasn’t a match for Richard’s troops without the three sacred artefacts. It was only for the sake of caution that Richard ordered for him to be watched at all times.

As for the person watching him, Nyra was the natural choice. Zangru jumped up behind Tiramisu since his mount was built to handle enormous weights, but the priestess simply pulled her own horse closer.

The handsome youth just shrugged and wrapped his arms around Tiramisu’s shoulders, chatting with both heads. Tiramisu and Medium Rare seemed quite excited at the prospect of someone enjoying talking to them and immediately befriended him, wiping his name off the list of prey.

The ogre didn’t know that Zangru just wanted to get as far away from the black and white priestess as he could. Of course, Nyra herself did.

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OMA's Thoughts

Translated By: Jessa

Edited By: Theo

TLC'ed By: OMA