Book 6, Chapter 17

The Church Of Pain

The divinity was quickly exhausted and the light faded away. Bruno seemed to age ten years in the span of minutes, his muscles visibly thinning out, “This book of mine, it could only be read once.”

Richard immediately sat down to meditate, not moving for a long time. Two more troops came in to try and drag him to the Church of Pain, but Nyra and Waterflower didn’t let a single once pass. Used in the right way, pain could forge an unshakeable soul. However, the methods employed here made these souls so fragile that Nyra could play with them at will.

It took nearly three-fourths of an hour for Richard to snap out of meditation, bowing towards Bruno in gratitude, “Thank you, Mister Bruno. These laws may be incomplete, but they are Neian’s laws nevertheless.”

“You can understand them?” Bruno’s eyes went wide.

“Perhaps. I can certainly recognise them… Alright, we’ll be off to the Church of Pain. Thank you for the hospitality!”  Richard bowed once more and left the small cabin, but before that he took the time to take the clay pen and scribble some numbers into the blanks on the brick.

Bruno stood dumbfounded as he saw the formulae he had been working on for decades be solved in the blink of an eye. This was only a door to proper understanding of the law he was working on, but it still illuminated the path forward. Such ambitions were only folly for ordinary people, but he believed he had just enough ability to perhaps succeed one day.

Unfortunately, he didn’t have enough time. The old man looked out the window towards the figures disappearing into the distance, murmuring to himself, “It looks like there’s more to your ambition than I thought…”

……

The Church of Pain was an enormous building, just the iron doors more than thirty metres tall. They looked like regular iron slabs from afar, but as one approached they could make out the vivid agonised faces that were engraved all over. From nearby, it almost felt like thousands of people were crying in pain.

“A wall of screams,” Nyra commented as a faint white mist radiated from her body, “A favoured decoration in the hells. I’m growing more and more curious about the identity of the person hidden within.”

One of Richard’s brows shot up, “You sound like you have experience with them.”

Nyra’s eyes started whirling into a chaotic grey as she flashed a horrific smile, “I happen to be particularly good at dealing with those who use pain as a weapon.”

“You know, I’m growing more and more curious about your origins. You’re definitely not an ordinary heavenly guardian.” Richard had been reading up on heavenly guardians in his free time.

“Of course not. If you really want to know, I can tell you in detail.”

“Hmm? Didn’t you say before that you’re barred from speaking about the place you came from?”

Nyra smiled mysteriously, “Yes, but all rules have loopholes. I definitely am able to describe that place, and even help you fully understand it. It should be of great assistance, perhaps even with uncovering another law.”

“Another law…” Richard smiled helplessly. He already had six entire law systems waiting to be analysed, an endeavour that would take him more than five millennia despite his blessings. This was well beyond what could reasonably be expected of his life, so another law system was almost completely useless to him. He himself was currently focused on what he had learnt from the Tree of Life, as that was the simplest of the lot and would benefit him in the short term.

“That’s just one of the benefits,” Nyra added, “The next time you hold a ceremony, I can help you with getting a good guardian similar to me and Io. I still have a sister in that place who is waiting to see the light of day.”

Richard casually noticed the telltale signs of Io panicking a little, but continued to ask with interests, “And what’s the point of a guardian that won’t listen to orders?”

“Heavenly guardians are absolutely loyal to the masters that summon them, you can ask the Eternal Dragon himself during the ceremony. After all, the Dragon’s reputation hinges on it.”

Nyra’s words were tempting, but Richard still felt that something wasn’t quite right. Still, he continued the discussion, “And what do you want?”

“Divine grace. I need three top-tier sacrifices to reach the legendary realm. At level 19 I can help you contact my sister, at level 20 I will tell you everything about my experiences in that place.”

“And legendary?”

“That’s an offering I want to find myself.”

“Good, I’ll consider it,” Richard glanced at Flowsand, but she just shrugged and left the decision to him.

However, Io had been left shocked and angry in this time. He tugged at Nyra’s robes in annoyance, “Where’s your dignity?!”

“Dignity?” Nyra looked at him innocently, “What’s that?”

At that moment, the blurry face appeared in the sky once more. This time, it looked angry and its booming voice visibly shook the earth, “You come before the doors of my temple but still refuse to enter. Neian will punish your soul for this slight!”

Richard smiled faintly, ignoring the sky to look towards one of the faces on the doors, “What’s with the theatrics? Just shut up and open the door or I’ll leave.”

The face immediately shuddered, revealing a surprised expression before laughing loudly, “You managed to find me amongst so many! Wonderful, come in!”

The doors of pain slowly opened up, what would have been screeches replaced by a baby’s cries. Richard stayed in place and stared at the dark corridor that had been opened up, his eyes starting to glow as he revealed all of the illusions within. The glow from his eyes then illuminated the dark passage, burning apart the planeshades lying in wait.

“Really? A planeshade?” he laughed as he swaggered into the hall.

Planeshades were strange creature, partly demonic existences that came from semiplanes. They were extremely powerful, capable of devouring strong souls, but they could not live outside of the darkness. Once they were illuminated, they would immediately be destroyed. Although such creatures were a threat in many secondary planes, they were a basic enemy in Norland that had already been analysed thoroughly. Some mages even intentionally summoned a large group to try and track them back to their home planes.

Disturbing whispers resonated throughout the church for a few moments before everything fell silent. Flowsand followed Richard in, while Io brought up the rear. The astral chrysalis was already descending from its position next to the Valley of Darkness, the fifty shadowspear knights within ready to jump into combat.

However, Richard’s brows quickly furrowed as he calculated just how much the chrysalis had dropped. It had descended multiple kilometres now, and from his own calculations it would have ended up deep within the earth. However, it was still stuck in the thick fog cover above the Valley of Darkness.

He suddenly stopped, growing serious for the first time, “We might be in trouble.”

However, Flowsand just pointed behind them, “We can’t go back.”

Richard turned around, only to find that the door they had entered from was long gone, and there seemed to be no end to the corridor. He looked back ahead, shaking his head as he started to walk once more, “Well… Fuck. We might not be able to count on the support.”

Io’s body lit up completely, turning him into a bright torch, but even so the group could barely see around them. The light didn’t even go so far as the passage walls. “This is similar to a divine kingdom… Not as powerful, sure, but still…”

Richard thought about it for a moment, “Let’s continue forward, the place can’t be endless. Whoever this is, it will take a great amount of energy to just keep us trapped for a long time.”

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OMA's Thoughts

Translated By: OMA

Edited By: Theo