Book 5, Chapter 34

Smiling Between Tears

Not all of Richard’s followers were out on expeditions. Flowsand and her two heavenly guardians kept watch over Bluewater City; the guardians had reached their natural limits, and Flowsand only gained strength from sacrifices anyway.

The shrine to the Eternal Dragon had been renovated, now looking a little more classy. However, it was still nothing compared to the three magnificent churches in the centre of the city. All Flowsand had was a library and an altar, nothing else. However, neither she nor Nyra paid this any mind. Those serving the Eternal Dragon didn’t care for things that could be ruined by the flow of time. Even the altar in Faust was ruined beyond repair.

Io was the only one who was unhappy with the arrangement, constantly muttering to himself that the glory of the Eternal Dragon was paling in the face of the deities of a secondary plane. Everyone understood his mode of thinking. The three churches were grand and open for all to see, while nobody could enter the shrine to the Eternal Dragon without Flowsand’s express permission. Even though he was more powerful than Faylen, Fermi, or Shea, they had far more status in the eyes of the commoners.

Flowsand was currently sitting in her living room, staring blankly at a sealed chest. Nyra and Io were sat beside her as well, also staring intently at the box with different thoughts running through their minds. Richard hadn’t returned as expected, instead sending people with this chest and a letter.

Flowsand kept silent for a long while before she finally opened the box. All colours of the rainbow shot out from within, lighting up a simple idol, an unassuming rock, two grey bones, and eight image diamonds.

Io’s breath stopped at the sight, while Nyra’s eyes started fading to grey. Both of them had sensed that these items were offerings, with two even being top-class!

The bones were lesser offerings as well, and while the image diamonds couldn’t be sacrificed they were a basis for the crafting of spatial equipment. However, all the two heavenly guardians could see were the idol and the rock. To them, these offerings meant a direct upgrade of their limits.

Io’s eyes remained fixated on the chest, his throat constantly bobbing up and down. Nyra was much calmer in comparison, bringing her eyes back to their normal black and white in a few minutes.

On the other hand, Flowsand just sighed. She was still young, in the prime of her youth with beauty that could not be described with words. Her aura had grown more captivating as she levelled up, now seeming undisturbed by the flow of time. However, the sigh made her sound like she was growing old. If they didn’t know of her true age, Io and Nyra would have thought that she had lived a very long life just like Ferlyn.

Flowsand took up the letter, but after hesitating for a while she shook her head without opening it. The chest and letter had already been here for many days, she just hadn’t brought herself to be able to open it. The contents of the letter didn’t take a genius to guess; Richard had something important to do in the Land of Dusk. His location had been made known to all of his followers the moment the messenger arrived.

However, only the smarter ones had even a vague inkling of just what had happened. Io and Nyra exchanged glances; as Flowsand’s guardians, they knew her better than they knew themselves. Important tasks carried significant risks. If Richard had entered a battlefield of despair, it wasn’t impossible to say when or even if he would come back.

Io had been almost blinded by the radiance of the two offerings, but he steeled his heart. This chest was more than enough to wipe out any ill will he had towards Richard previously, but he had already chosen to side with Flowsand. Feeling that it was time to express his position, he cleared his throat, “Miss Flowsand, Richard has gone too far this time! He didn’t even bother to meet you before going to a battlefield of despair! We all know just what kind of place the Land of Dusk is; he isn’t even a grand mage, what if he never returns? He’s far too irresponsible….”

The battle priest continued his impassioned speech, but as he droned on he soon discovered that Flowsand fell into a daze. When he finally petered out, she sighed again and said gently, “Yes. He went to Klandor to risk his life, and now he’s going to a battlefield of despair… He, he… ”

“Exactly, he didn’t even come to bid you farewell!”

“Yeah…”

“Sigh…” Nyra shook her head, halfway between disappointment and anger, “Miss Flowsand, you know why he left without visiting. Lord Richard should have his own reasons for going to the Land of Dusk, and if he’s decided to go he should know what he is doing. He’s a responsible man, he wouldn’t play the fool with his life.”

“But who can guarantee that they would return from a trip to a battlefield of despair?!” Io butted in.

“That is true,” Nyra nodded in rare agreement, but her next words shocked both Io and Flowsand, “So if he came to bid you goodbye, would he not be afraid to leave?”

Flowsand’s eyes immediately filled with life once more, “Is that really it? Maybe…”

Nyra pointed to the open chest, “If he doesn’t return, those are items for you to remember him by.”

“Ughh…” Flowsand groaned. She understood this as well; given Richard’s income and expenditure, the items in this box were the most valuable ones in his possession.

“You…” Io cried out in surprise, staring at Nyra in disbelief. However, she didn’t bother about him.

Flowsand picked up the letter, thinking about it carefully before placing it within the chest and putting the chest beside her bookcase. She stared at the items within lovingly as she closed the lid, locked amber brows slowly unfurling as the corner of her mouth rose up in satisfaction. In the end, she happily sent the two heavenly guardians out.

Just as they reached the bottom of the stairs, Io blocked Nyra at the door and glared at her, “Why did you say those were gifts?!”

“Are they not?”

“How could they be? They were items Richard gave to Miss Flowsand so she could repay her debts!”

“Oh, so that’s what you wanted to do with them?” Nyra asked sarcastically.

“Grr… Of course not! There was more divine grace in there than she owes! But now, she won’t even think of using those offerings. We can forget about her upgrading us!”

Nyra sighed, “You really think she would use those offerings even if I kept silent?”

“But…” Io sighed himself, but this was for Flowsand and not himself. He pondered over it for a moment before saying bitterly, “Then what about our advancement?”

“There are a thousand good offerings on this plane,” Nyra said softly, “We can get them ourselves.”

“Get them ourselves?” Io was taken aback. This was something he had never thought of.

“Yes. What, you don’t have the guts? Sit here and be pretty, then, I’ll go grab them for myself.”

Io fell silent for a moment before gritting his teeth, “… Of course I’ll go! What’s the worst that could happen? I’ll just wait until someone else summons me!”

Nyra shrugged, “Alright. We can’t just leave, though, let me check if Tiramisu wants to go with us.”

However, Io didn’t step aside. He stared at Nyra suspiciously, “Why are you so different from before?”

“I’ve changed?” Nyra asked with a smile. She was actually quite pretty, and her smiles broke through her aura of wrongness to make her seem cute.

“Of course!” Io was certain. The Nyra he knew was always gloomy and scary.

She seemed to ignore his question as she turned away from him, pointing out past the door as she left, “Sunlight is great, isn’t it…”

“… Sunlight is great…? What is that supposed to mean?” Io muttered to himself in confusion. He had already forgotten that the place they came from was shrouded in constant darkness.

Upstairs, Flowsand had closed the door and fallen deep asleep on her sofa. She hadn’t been able to sleep well for the past few days, and the exhaustion came in like the tide. Her dream seemed to be very peculiar; the corners of her mouth were etched in a soft smile, but tears were streaming down her temples.

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OMA's Thoughts

Translated By: Styles

Edited By: Theo

TLC'ed By: OMA