Book 5, Chapter 74

Conflagration

The followers quickly returned to the army even as Flowsand stepped back to give Richard full control once more. The war cries and screams of pain suddenly grew louder as the last warriors of the City of Saints were slaughtered off, and Richard’s large army turned into a tidy troop that made its way towards the holy city. With the shadowspears all dead, his followers and contracted rune knights were the ones leading the locals.

The City of Saints still mounted a defense, but the resistance only came from the citizens who didn’t have much strength at all. A bitter, unexciting massacre ended in two hours, and by the time Richard’s troops occupied the church less than a quarter of the residents were still alive. Even that was because they hadn’t been addled enough by their faith to charge into an impossible situation.

With Lina still in his hands, Richard started chanting a spell as he walked forward to enter the church from the front. However, Tiramisu’s enormous frame blocked him and a few rune knights charged in like a tempest, all refusing to let him take more risks. He quietly assessed his own wounds, finding that he didn’t have the heart to fight.

A few moments later, all resistance was taken care of. The last mysteries of the Resting Orchid Plane would soon be his to decipher, but Richard found it difficult to care. He stood at the plaza outside the shrine, looking at the beautiful spire above him that had taken Lina away. What kind of race could leave behind such weaponry?

A rune knight hurried out of the church, coming before Richard and kneeling down, “My King, the enemies have all been destroyed. It is safe for you to enter.”

Richard nodded and followed behind.

The shrine was majestic, more than a hundred metres tall with the lower levels almost fifty metres wide. The interior was bleak and run-down, but the glistening black walls made of unknown material were the only things keeping this place up. The only semblance of a pillar was the base of the spire down in the centre, with metallic appendages extending to the rest of this building. An altar was in the centre while a spiral staircase wound around the edge, with a dozen corpses lined neatly on the stairs.

Richard walked over and inspected the corpses, gathering from their attire that they were mostly people who worked on the church’s upkeep. A dozen others were crouched over in a corner of the hall, shivering with fear as a few rune knights guarded them. He said nothing, merely turning around and carrying Lina up the stairs to the upper levels of the church.

The staircase was thick and broad, evidently in the style of the locals, but it was completely different from the walls and the altar. Just the metallic lustre was something the artisans here could not accomplish; even in Norland such talent was extremely rare and the materials forbiddingly expensive. However, Richard only made note of that as he continued to follow the stairs up another level, passing a storage and resting area to the core of the shrine.

The battle here was obviously the hardest fought, with blood and severed body parts strewn all over the place. The difference in construction between the locals and whoever originally built this church grew obvious as well; those built recently had been destroyed by the rune knights’ weapons in the melee, while the original constructions were only nicked at best. Judging from this toughness, the material used to build this place was even tougher than lafite.

At the top of the stairs was a corridor with two opened doors. A dimly lit hall was behind, with a strong stench of blood permeating the air. Three people dressed in strange robes were within, likely the three priests of the City of Saints. It seemed like they had fought hard, but looking at Asiris and Senma leaning over their near-corpses Richard knew that resistance had been futile. The Dark Priest and the Blood Paladin had great chemistry in battle, and both could sustain great damage before they lost their abilities.

The three priests were groaning in pain, twitching every now and then as they regained consciousness and winced. Asiris was busy circling around them, casting unknown spells from time to time, while Senma was just looking around. She walked over to Richard’s side, “They’re the three priests of the plane, they weren’t even half as strong as we expected.”

Richard surveyed the entire hall, looking at the eye-catching table in the centre that was carved with mysterious symbols that he didn’t recognise. A quick detection spell didn’t return any magical reactions wither, which meant this thing was completely foreign to any magic he had ever studied.

His gaze landed on the three priests once more; it looked like he would need their… cooperation… to unravel the mystery. Asiris noticed this and stood up, “They will not die anytime soon, they are at your disposal.”

Not wanting to waste precious time on them, Richard turned to Nyra, “All yours.”

Nyra floated forward like a ghostly apparition, a faint mist surrounding her as she spoke with a dull voice, “Don’t worry, I will make them spill everything they know.”

The strange heavenly guardian sent a chill down everyone’s spines, but Asiris just continued to lean against the wall and whistled, “Careful not to break them.”

Nyra stopped in her tracks, her black and white pupils starting to rotate as she looked at Asiris blankly, “This is no challenge for me, kid. Worry about yourself.”

Asiris just smiled, but that quickly turned into a look of horror as the three priests started screaming in pain. Nyra just stood between them all as they turned around on the floor, watching them confined to the little space she allowed. After a moment, she spoke once more, “You may question them soon.”

Richard nodded, “Graveyard first, we will bury Lina there.”

According to Archeron tradition, the first choice of burial for a skilled warrior was in the family tombs. However, Lina didn’t have Archeron blood, and even otherwise Richard had a better idea in mind. She was a beautiful mage, and she deserved a beautiful resting place.

Everyone followed him to the top of the shrine, past a long suspended bridge to arrive at the most sacred graveyard of the Resting Orchid Plane. This was a gorgeous area, with a mysterious force blocking off the bitter winds from an isolated world of jade. Spring water flowed down a slope and scattered about this small world, entering ten exquisite pavilions each of different styles. Every pavilion was also a tombstone, marking just who was buried within. The explanations were brief, merely stating the greatest accomplishments of the deceased individual during their lifetime, but by this plane’s standards every single one was earth-shattering.

The only ones currently alive who even stood a chance to qualify for such a burial were the three priests alongside Daychase and Stardragon.

Richard looked around and nodded, “Move all the graves, I don’t want anyone disturbing Lina.”

The rune knights and his followers set to work, quickly moving the pavilions and the remains below away. The cemetery truly did have magical powers, closing up the dug earth in minutes and reverting to the beautiful green grass that covered the place. Richard chose a spot he was satisfied with, having his followers dig up a grave before laying Lina flat on her back. They held a short ceremony in Archeron style before he placed his hand on Lina’s upper body and formed a dim red fireball.

The flames looked gentle, but this fireball had been powered by his truename’s energy. Once it touched Lina’s body, it erupted into a conflagration that burnt brighter than any he had previously cast. Everyone bowed their heads and started singing an old, bleak war song. The song itself was fairly short, but it was sung repeatedly and hearkened back to the times when each Archeron struggled just to survive.

When the flame finally died down, the world no longer had a Dragon Mage. The only thing left in the grave was ash, and Kaloh who had been circling above finally let out a pained roar as he ripped space apart and returned home.

From start to end, Richard had remained silent without shedding a single tear. Neither did his followers, nor even Asiris and Senma.

There was no need for tears when an Archeron left the world.

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OMA's Thoughts

Translated By: Styles

Edited By: Theo

TLC'ed By: OMA