Book 5, Chapter 71

Marked

The church was the tallest and most majestic building within the City of Saints, a hundred-metre-tall spire made entirely of metal and carved with intricate patterns. Even most master artisans would be rendered speechless by the quality of the work; it was definitely well beyond Norland’s current expertise. Even structurally, the fact that this building could hold up that much weight was a miracle in itself. Few artisans in Norland could match this craftsmanship, and all of them would take centuries to do it.

The pitch-black apex of the spire started to glow a harsh white, a ring of light forming around it that quickly started to pulse and rotate. Neither Asiris nor Richard had paid it much attention before, just thinking it to be a landmark of the city, but they didn’t know there were three priests within chanting relentlessly. The energy they emitted was constantly channelled through to the halo, that was growing in strength. A screen of light flashed a number of messages before their eyes, but unable to read the mystical language they ignored it completely.

The spire was much taller than it seemed, the base extending all the way through the cellar of the church. Numerous extensions of different lengths protruded from within, like the roots of a giant metal tree. A hundred metres below the spire where the priests were located, another round table was glowing with mystical writings.

The basement of the church was a massive hall more than a hundred metres across, an absolute feat of brilliance for something entirely man-made. The workmanship here surpassed that of even the best dwarven artisans, the walls, dome, and even the floor covered in tracks for energy to flow through. These tracks slowly lit up, absorbing energy from all around as they moved up the spire to meet the halo on top.

A low boom resonataed in the church, the hall shaking as a dim red light illuminated the round table down below. The metal appendages started to come alive, wriggling around as they lit aglow. The table started to spin, its top opening up to reveal thick, crimson liquid.

Even as the moving appendages cast shadows on the walls, the red glow intensified as a small pillar from the spire extended into the red liquid. Metal rods fell from the side of the table to the base, as though to keep the spire from being swallowed whole.

Atop the church, the exterior of the spire started to peel away like the layers of a black rose. The halo at the tip was concentrated into a single point around a giant black crystal, filling into it through three metal grips.

The priests were currently slouched on the floor, faces pale and sweaty, but they didn’t once take their eyes off the enchanting image projected to them.

……

On the battlefield, Richard had just ordered his followers to retreat from chasing Stardragon, leaving only Zangru and Phaser to continue the hunt. His own body was glowing with divine light as Flowsand and Nyra showered him with spells, trying to figure out what Stardragon had done. He felt an intense energy coursing through his body, so strong that even his followers could sense its presence. However, not even Flowsand and Lina could distinguish just what elements this energy embodied.

Numerous attempts at dispelling the energy wound up useless. The power still coursed within him at its own pace, showing no signs of even weakening despite the numerous purification spells.

Despite his best efforts at analysis, Richard barely managed to capture a few hints of this energy flow. It seemed to disregard all other energy, be it from the priestesses or his own. As he tried to trace the energy back to its source, the only conclusion that came to him was that this power was not of this world. That was why it couldn’t be dispelled by Flowsand and Nyra.

However, that evoked other questions; how did Stardragon manage to stir up such a mysterious force, and to what end?

The moment he had this thought, Richard suddenly felt himself filled with dread. He spun around and caught the sparkle of light coming form the horizon, noticing the black crystal glowing brightly atop the spire, pulsing with white energy.

Despite being several kilometres away, he felt himself freezing up in fear. His eyes went so wide that they almost popped out.

That was the call of death!

Despite several close brushes with lethal danger, Richard had never felt the possibility of his death so acutely. It was akin to being sent to the gallows with the noose tightened around his neck, waiting for the moment when the floor below would give way.

Richard’s followers finally felt the danger from the pulsing light, starting to panic as well. They prepared to steer clear of the impending ray of doom, but nobody moved. Being experienced powerhouses, they knew that the attack still needed a bit of time to reach them. Thus, as they always did, they waited calmly for Richard to give them their orders.

Able to sense the danger more acutely than anyone else, Richard was the first to react. He had already moved back to try and get away from the range of the attack, but no matter where he went he felt the brunt of the energy seemed to be focused on him. It didn’t take long to notice the mysterious energy within him starting to get restless, connecting to the power gathered within the crystal.

A beam of light was finally launched, heading directly in his way.

Richard quickly understood that the energy Stardragon had left within him was meant to track the target of this blast. So long as he had this energy within him, he couldn’t possibly avoid the attack. However, no matter what he tried he just couldn’t expel the mysterious energy from his body.

As his mind shifted to different ways to stay alive, he glanced around at the followers nearby. Even Asiris and Fuschia couldn’t block the energy he felt coming from this spell, and he couldn’t feel any loss of energy even as the beam travelled the kilometres of distance it took to get to him.

The beam was quickly picking up pace, and in only a few seconds it had crossed the first kilometre.

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OMA's Thoughts

Translated By: Hazel

Edited By: Theo

TLC'ed By: OMA