Book 6, Chapter 22

Secret

The portal of summoning continued to spew holy energy as the celestial warrior tore through the bastard demigod. The creature was huge, but its true core wasn’t nearly as large and it didn’t take long for the warrior to find and attack this weakness. The tentacles bursting out from the mass of flesh were quickly smashed apart.

However, Richard’s eyes flickered as his hands clutched the necklace he had retrieved from his robes. Once the battle was far enough in he activated the Gun of Genvis, spawning a beam of light that shot through the back of the celestial warrior to pierce the demigod’s soul. Time seemed to halt for a moment, giving Richard a clear sight of the emptiness on the other side.

Both the celestial warrior and the demigod screamed with rage, but before they could switch targets Richard stimulated the necklace another time. The most frightening thing about this beam attack was that it was not elemental, the pure energy was equally lethal to all beings. When the second attack struck through, the demigod was left near-dead while the celestial warrior was completely drained of energy. He raised his enormous sword in Richard’s direction, but that was his last action before he fell to the ground unmoving.

The mass of flesh screamed in fear, trying to run away from the church, but it only managed to move a few metres before its body was stopped by an invisible force. It tried to push out again and again, but there was no chance of success.

Flowsand finally appeared in the hall, but her image was extremely blurry. She hadn’t completely returned to this plane, instead maintaining her position between it and the semiplane she had been trapped in. Looking behind her, all one could see was a land of ruin that had been eroded beyond belief. It was almost exactly like one of the churches of the Eternal Dragon. The semiplane was full of golden light, keeping it bound in time.

Watching the semiplane shake with every struggle of the demigod, Richard realised that the creature was likely tied to the place. With Flowsand forcing time to stop in the area and suppressing its struggles, she could keep it from running away.

Nyra immediately floated into the air, trying to look for the demigod’s core that was hidden within the mound of flesh. Richard activated Insight to do the same, an azure moon floating above his head as he started hacking the remaining babies apart.

The demigod finally felt a true fear of death. It suddenly raised its voice, cursing everything in existence as the flesh exploded everywhere. The attack was so fierce that all of the group in the hall were thrown into the walls, while Flowsand’s connection to the semiplane was severed as well. She grunted in pain as she fell out of the air, blood dripping from her nose.

A small storm was stirred up in the hall of anguish as all sorts of dark matter splattered across the walls. The two doors of pain quietly revealed themselves and opened up slightly, allowing a thin black figure to rush out of the church. White smoke erupted from its body as it exited the hall, but it just screamed and fled into the distance.

“FUCK!” Richard tried to get back to his feet as quickly as he could, but by the time he even approached the doors there was no sign of the enemy at all.

“Damn it…” He cursed as he turned back, shaking his head in disappointment. Still, there was no point to regret; he started to examine the hall and quickly picked up a broken white wing that was on the ground. He assumed it was heavy at first, but the limb was far lighter than he had expected.

This half-wing was all that was left of the celestial warrior. Everything else had been destroyed in the explosion from the demigod. However, this wasn’t nearly as disappointing as the enemy’s escape. All celestials were renowned for their sheer control over energy, not for their bodily strength. Looking at all of the matter in the hall that began to turn into an ooze with the demigod’s departure, he growled and started walking out, “Let’s get out of here!”

Everyone felt a little relaxed as they left the Church of Pain, even if they were still in the Valley of Darkness. Richard asked the other four about their fights, confirming his theory that they had al been sent to fight in what was a number of interconnected semiplanes or a single one that was just fragmented. Io had it the easiest of them all, easily blowing through the enemies with his divine power, while Nyra spent a little more time dealing with the horde and trying to extract information from the demigod that had come upon her.

Flowsand directly destroyed the castle with her timeforce before trying to study the place, discovering its relationship with the demigods and thus working out a way to try and trap it. It was Waterflower that suffered the most; the girl had blindly rushed into the castle, cutting apart all she could for almost an hour before she managed to wear enough away.

“Should we go looking for the demigod?” Richard asked Flowsand.

“It’s fine, it won’t last long in this plane unless it finds a place similar to this. And if it does manage to escape through the crystal wall, it has nothing to do with us.”

Richard sighed and nodded, starting to assess their situation, “So we got literally nothing for this, did we. I don’t think even the broodmother would be interested in this rotting meat… Tch, to think Neian’s land of punishment was actually developing demigods, what the fuck was he thinking?”

“It might be a good idea to search the place,” Io commented, “There’s obviously something hidden beneath the land. It isn’t easy to build an operation of this scale just anywhere.”

Richard nodded, contacting the broodmother once more to have her dispatch some worker drones to help dig through. In the meanwhile, the enchantment blocking the astral chrysalis was broken so it finally arrived with the fifty shadowspear knights in tow. He immediately ordered them to spread out through the Valley of Darkness, killing every overseer who was still alive. If there was anyone too strong for them to deal with, they were to withdraw and wait for the winged serpents to arrive.

There turned out to be very few overseers in the valley. Most of them were just wandering aimlessly with their master having fled, so the shadowspears didn’t encounter much resistance. While Richard had expected some of the brainwashed prisoners to help their wardens, they had just gone still and remained indifferent to everything that happened around them.

In the middle of the night, Richard met Bruno in his cabin. Also present were Ptolemy and a few dozen other prisoners that had managed to retain their free will. The rest had all lost any modicum of independent thought, and as the demigod recalled the fragments of itself that controlled them they had turned into dazed husks. The cloned brains that had recently arrived counted a total of 23,000 such people, a number that caused Richard to grunt in surprise. He didn’t think even the harsh Church of Valour could justify so many prisoners; it was more likely that they had bred most of those who had been dropped in here.

“Why?” Richard asked the former pope.

“To gather sin and pain, to breed cursed demigods. The construction of the Church of Pain required a lot of manual labour, and the demigods needed even more pain for their birth. Only half of these people were even captured by us, the rest were just slaves we bought from the secular countries.”

“And why is Neian trying to create what is the worst enemy of all deities?”

“For power. If He could control the greatest weapon against the remaining deities, then He was basically guaranteed to become the ruler of the pantheon. I saw glimpses of the holy writings once before I was sent here, and it mentioned that the first of these demigods was only a fragmented soul brought over by one of His avatars. It was that avatar that guided us in the building of the Church of Pain.”

“Alright. And a pope was sent here because?”

“Because I left a guess in my diary that the Lord wanted to form an army of demigods to sweep through the rest of the pantheon and take control of Faelor. He wanted to become the only god, the Overgod, and turn the entirety of Faelor into his divine kingdom. He would then use that as the foundation to conquering other worlds.”

At this point, Ptolemy smiled, “Obviously, I knew too much.”

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OMA's Thoughts

Translated By: OMA

Edited By: Theo