Book 5, Chapter 8

Twists Of Fate

Richard started wandering around Bluewater, trying to look for someone who could explain events. As he walked past Raymond towards the city proper, the Joseph youth looked up from a map to smile at him. Richard suddenly felt an urge to scold him, but was preoccupied and decided to let it go.

Mito’s gates were shut and the servant taking care of the grand mage told Richard that he was currently meditating and was not to be disturbed. Kellac and Zendrall had both rushed to the northwest, quelling a counterattack from the barbarians who had taken the opportunity when the soldiers had left.

Feeling helpless, he eventually, walked to the Church of Spring Water. Hearing that he was back, Faylen rushed out to receive him in person and dragged him to the back of the building. This new pope was now level 17, but she was so warm and happy that it seemed like a teenage girl had just embraced Richard’s arm and pulled him along.

Fuschia was annoyed by her intimacy, but she followed them in. With her strength, nobody in this church would be able to stop her from doing what she wished.

It took an hour for Richard to get a picture of just what had happened. At the same time, he also understood the source of Faylen’s passion. The battle in the Bloodstained Lands had eliminated most of Neian’s battle priests and paladins. With these most loyal worshippers having died, Neian’s powers had taken a hit as well; he could not sustain his assault on the three goddesses and was left with no choice but to retreat.

The souls in Neian’s divine kingdom had suffered heavy losses as well. Initially held back by the forces of the three goddesses, they had lost momentum with the defeat in the mortal world and slowly been pushed back. Neian had traded the Goddess of the Hunt and the Goddess of the Forest blow for blow, but once the war front had reached the Goddess of Spring Water, he had lost a sizeable chunk of his forces.

The three goddesses absorbed the strength of the souls that had perished in their kingdom, growing stronger with time. By the time Neian was forced into retreat, even the Goddess of the Hunt and the Goddess of the Forest had recouped most of their losses.

Having won in the mortal world, Faylen had been boosted to level 17 by the Goddess of Spring Water. Furthermore, she had been given a secret decree; any child she had with Richard would continue her papal legacy. So long as she conceived, she would be boosted to level 18 as well. Few priests or priestesses in history had advanced so quickly in their time.

With this oracle in mind, Faylen constantly pressed her body into Richard’s as she recounted the events. Fuschia seethed with rage, eyes piercing through the impudent priestess on behalf of her mistress, but she forced herself to remain calm.

It took Richard a lot of effort to piece together the course of events from Faylen’s explanation that was riddled with mistakes and time jumps. By the end, he was left wondering just how she had been selected as pope. If not for his support, she would probably have destroyed the Church of Spring Water by now.

Thankfully, Fuschia served as a perfect deterrent; in her presence, Faylen wouldn’t dare do anything extreme. The uncharacteristic closeness left Richard uncomfortable, but considering how she was this flirtatious despite Fuschia’s eyes spitting murder he realised there was likely a reason behind it. Perhaps it was related to the Goddess of Spring Water, he mused to himself.

……

After bidding Faylen goodbye, Richard immediately rushed to his command centre. On the other hand, Fuschia stayed back for a bit to ‘escort’ the pope back to her office before she followed.

In the command centre, Richard opened a map of the Bloodstained Lands and started retracing the events of the war. His brows slowly locked together as he studied it deeply, leaving him with far more questions than were answered. Given Faylen’s overview, the strategy had been flawless during the second half of the war; even if he were in command with elite bats for scouts, the outcome wouldn’t be much different. Furthermore, he had a number of strong subordinates who could launch multi-pronged attacks to ease the situation.

Given the abilities of Kellac and the broodmother, there should have been no way for them to be this good. He could only think of a few names off the top of his head who would even approach this level of perfection: Alice, Salwyn, Raymond, and Gaton.

As that last name came to mind, Richard suddenly felt a spasm in his heart. He quickly brushed the name off the list, pretending he had never thought of the man. Instead, he put the map down and ran straight to Raymond’s residence, finding him still sipping tea. The only difference was that he was now reading indoors instead of in the courtyard.

“Did you lead the war?” Richard asked directly.

Raymond placed his book and teacup down, looking at Richard seriously for a moment before sighing, “You found out so quickly, you’re smarter than I expected.”

“How did you convince the broodmother?” A cold glimmer flashed past Richard’s eyes.

“We came to a small agreement. The details aren’t that important,” Raymond said with a shrug. However, he saw Richard’s expression growing sterner and eventually just threw his hands in the air helplessly, “Alright, there’s no need to be so serious. It really wasn’t much, you can see for yourself.”

A large, pure-white bird flew into the residence, perching itself on the window with a sense of familiarity. As charming as it looked, its eyes held traces of intelligence. Richard could instantly tell that it was a creation of the broodmother.

Just as he started wondering why she would create such a flashy being, the bird let out a clear call before spitting out a pearl-like bead from its mouth and flying away. Raymond picked up the bead and immediately threw it into his mouth, laughing at Richard’s disgusted expression, “No need for that, I’m just doing this to preserve my life. That bird is a special being on the plane I grew up in, and I’ve been growing nostalgic lately. In exchange for helping the war effort, I had the broodmother make one for me that also makes these beads of nutrients to keep me alive. Nobody wants to get bitten by a huge mosquito every few days, it was starting to give me nightmares. It’s been so pleasant for the past month.”

Richard continued to look at Raymond silently, not speaking a word. Eventually, Raymond was unable to withstand the glare and groaned, “Alright, you win. You took Magister Mito in and placed him here. A short while after the war began, you forced him to the frontlines alone. That was a death sentence! I owe the man so many lives, I couldn’t just watch as he got killed. That’s why I agreed to help you win this war, the bird was just an afterthought.”

“Aren’t you afraid I’ll grow stronger and destroy your family?” Richard asked.

“And you’re saying you wouldn’t have anyway? Even if I wasn’t leading, you would have won this war anyway. The casualties would be much heavier, sure, but with a seed of war and destruction helping you why would that matter?”

Richard went mum for a while, “… Nothing can defuse my grudge with the Josephs, but you did help me out. When I destroy your family in the future, I will consider showing them some mercy.”

Raymond merely smiled and lifted his book once more, at which point Richard stood up and left.

An unexpected war had been won in unexpected fashion. However, as news of Richard’s return spread many people started to shudder.

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OMA's Thoughts

Translated By: Styles

Edited By: Theo

TLC'ed By: OMA