Book 5, Chapter 75

Exploration

A simple tombstone was eventually put up in the centre of the graveyard, with Lina’s name personally engraved on it by Richard. He couldn’t help but look back when they left the hallowed land, glancing at the Dragon Mage’s eternal repose. This place was beautiful and serene, definitely something Lina would have loved. And so long as he didn’t lose this plane, nobody would come to disturb her tomb.

“Go, we have other things to do,” he said to everyone. His voice was eerily calm, almost devoid of emotion, but he felt like a part of his heart had been ripped out from him. His followers left, but he himself remained motionless on the suspended bridge for a long time before finding the strength to walk away.

His first task after returning was to interrogate the three priests, a task he only spent half an hour on before they were drained completely of their lives. They had answered every one of his questions, but even so their expressions before death were of horror and not relief.

Richard didn’t ask where their souls had gone, because he already knew the answer. On the other hand, his followers made it a point to maintain their distance from Nyra after witnessing the entire process.

According to the three priests, the Godnest and this church had existed from before there was civilisation on the Resting Orchid Plane. Their people had experienced no setbacks as they evolved their current power systems, and at one point they had discovered some of the secrets of this church and deciphered a way to enter the legendary realm. They had then built the City of Saints around the church, using generation after generation to further explore its secrets in an attempt to crack the mysteries that still remained.

Norland wasn’t the locals’ first contact with the myriad planes. There had been other cases in instances where two planes had aligned, and although these people could not traverse the planes themselves, they had eliminated any invaders. Even Norland’s first raiding party had suffered a complete defeat.

There hadn’t been enough time to learn everything from these priests, but a majority of their memories had been sealed alongside their souls. Nyra now held them captive, able to extract those stored memories whenever she pleased. There was a limit to how many times she could browse through them— every scan damaged the target soul greatly— but she kept them on the verge of consciousness and nourished them regularly. Unable to escape her grasp, they could only suffer eternal torment.

There was an air of mystery to this church. Whoever built it was clearly strong, perhaps even more powerful than those of Norland. At the very least, Norland’s construction methods weren’t on par with this. A link to another primary plane that was perhaps even more powerful than Norland would definitely be a great discovery. Richard thus started at the most important place, the control room that they had found the three priests in. It seemed to be capable of controlling a number of things in the shrine, but the locals had only managed to figure out a few of those functions. The Smiting Ray was one of them, while the opening and closing of the interior were another.

Richard circled once around the control room, studying every corner before moving onto the central table. Spending a while poring over the runes carved into the metal, he quickly concluded that the locals hadn’t figured out most of the shrine’s functions. The three priests merely used their own energy as a catalyst to drive the table’s powers, and had figured out the specific energy signature that would activate the Smiting Ray by chance. Having experience with the craft of ancient elves, dwarves, and dragon blooded gnomes, Richard knew that the mechanism definitely couldn’t be so simple.

Once done with the control room, Richard headed to the realm of divinity that made up a quarter of the top floor. The place was divided into a number of smaller rooms, but the locals had only managed to open up two while the others were still sealed tightly by metallic doors. Richard felt a sense of deja vu as he looked through the place, as though he had been transported back to the Schumpeter lab in the Forest Plane.

Within were a bunch of troughs, some with blue liquid flowing through them and most without. Each trough had a transparent cap, but those of the empty troughs were opened. Inside each of the closed troughs lay a local of the plane, all lying flat on the ground with terrifying scars all over their bodies. Their chests were slowly moving, and once could feel their life force being replenished within. Amongst these people were a few enemies Richard had recognised, saints that had been severely injured in battle who managed to escape. At that time he had assumed they would just die in the city, but looking at them now he realised there was a chance for them to recover.

This ever so slightly piqued Richard’s interest, causing him to head deeper towards the second room to find a better-decorated area where the troughs were also built to be larger and sturdier. Two of the troughs here were completely empty, while a woman was laid inside the third with blue fluid washing over her.

One could see from the tattoos on her face that she was a totemic warrior, but she wasn’t built as large as the others he had seen so far. In fact, her stature seemed even smaller than those of ordinary locals. Still, one could see from the proportions of her body that she hid explosive strength within.

The woman had a long yet shallow gash along the side of her waist, even the deepest part revealing a slight amount of hip bone, but the flesh all around the wound was a deathly grey. The liquid in the trough was constantly bubbling in the process of healing her, but the new flesh being created only took a few moments to wither away.

Richard was surprised at the sheer lack of recovery. The trough obviously had astounding healing properties, and the loose skin was evidence that she had been here for a long time. However, the woman’s heartbeat was extremely slow and she gave off the feeling of an empty shell whose soul had long since been drained.

“Daychase!” A growl rang out as his followers entered the room, “How is she still alive?”

“You know her?” Richard turned to Senma.

“This is one of the two local legends, and not something useless like Stardragon. She single-handedly held off both Gaton and Mordred during our initial push, and still managed to kill off half of our rune knights. Even Lord Gaton couldn’t help but admit that the only reason we beat her back was her lack of runes.”

Recalling the events of that day, Senma sighed, “However, Mordred managed to find an opening near the end of their battle and wounded her severely. He even used his bloodline ability to launch a soul-destroying attack, so we were all confident she would die eventually. There aren’t any priests in this plane, and even if there were one would need someone in the realm of saints to completely eliminate the destructive energy. The locals have been insisting that she’s still alive all this while, but she never showed herself in battle again… Anyway, it looks like only her body is still alive. There isn’t a soul within.”

Richard walked over to the side of the trough, his eyes lighting aglow. His expression quickly turned serious, “No, her soul is still alive. The body has some spiritual connection, so her soul just left for some place. It wasn’t long ago either.”

Everyone immediately grew alert. A mere soul couldn’t accomplish much, but one couldn’t always tell in the case of legends. She might be able to attach herself to another body, or live within a magical puppet. Even if the new host wasn’t nearly as strong, her own experience and expertise would make her a terrifying force. With all of its other mysteries, it wouldn’t be strange for this church to be hiding powerful puppets.

Richard knitted his brows, quickly surveying the room. He then shook his head, “Nyra!”

Nyra opened her mouth wide, letting out a piercing scream that rang for hundreds of metres in all directions. A wave of light grey rippled out from her mouth, quickly passing through the walls. Richard’s eyelids barely even twitched as the soul-rending ripple passed by, while Flowsand didn’t seem to even feel that. Asiris shook his head in dizziness, while the others reacted much more violently. The stronger ones started swaying back and forth, while the weaker rune knights directly fainted.

The scream that covered half the shrine had a huge impact on the soul, although not as damaging as Wail of the Banshee. If Daychase’s soul was nearby, this attack would likely rip her apart. However, Richard didn’t sense anything no matter how closely he listened. Eventually, he just shook his head, “Take the body.”

Io took one look at the trough before shaking his head, “Her body is filled with destructive energy. It’ll decay the moment she leaves the trough.”

“I thought you were a level 18 priest,” Richard commented softly.

The battle priest promptly lifted his head in arrogance, “Taking care of it is a piece of cake, but if I heal her she becomes a great danger. I’ll have to heal her completely to remove the destructive energy, and if her soul returns that will be a fully healed legendary enemy!”

“That’s simple. Heal her for now, I’ll be sending her off to a certain someone in Faelor.”

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OMA's Thoughts

Translated By: Styles

Edited By: Theo

TLC'ed By: OMA