Book 6, Chapter 27

Incongruent Ideals

Before he left Faelor for the Battlefield of Despair, Richard had once said, “Let even those we step over live better lives. That is what gives us more warriors and believers.”

Io had his doubts about this decision. The Eternal Dragon did not need faith, and Richard with the broodmother’s drones had no need for warriors. This policy of helping the barbarians lead better lives seemed to be an empty cost. Why take the stubborn ones upon their own shoulders? They could ship them off to other kingdoms, where slavers would instil obedience.

When he had voiced this question, Richard had only smiled, “I just want them to live better. We have the ability to grant them this, and it won’t cost too much.”

The battle priest still had his reservations about that decision. In his view, planar war was a process of chasing resources and working towards one’s own interests. Many nobles of Norland and other planes had promoted fair trade in the past, but that idea had flopped every time. Thus the saying: even the orcs of Norland were more attractive than the best beauties of another plane.

The hate between planes was indescribable, but in one way it could just be considered the conflict of different systems of laws.

Richard did not refute Io’s stance, but he still remained firm in his own decision. In his own words, “I came here for the sake of profit and strength, but I might as well leave some people better off for it.”

“That’s complete hypocrisy,” Io had grumbled. As a priest, he was someone who always divided the world into two sides, his own and the rest.

Richard had admitted there was some truth to those words, but still ordered leniency towards the barbarians. As such, the greatest resistance to the Crimson Dukedom’s occupation of the barbarian plains had come from other human kingdoms instead of the barbarians themselves. To them, the barbarians could only be killed or enslaved.

……

Now, that decision paid off. Given the Crimson Dukedom’s good treatment of their prisoners and Richard’s current proclamation, the army charged through the ancestral plains almost unopposed. Richard’s army accumulated an increasing number of foreign races, but there was very little discord amongst these forces.

The apocalypse tree banners constantly spread through the barbarian plains. The number of soldiers that responded to this flag constantly grew as it spread out, becoming a terrifying force. By the time they reached the Church of the Highland Wargod, a powerful army of nearly 100,000 men was flanked by flying bats and winged serpents for kilometres on end. A dozen cloned brains followed behind, ensuring that this massive force coordinated just as well as a force only a thousandth of its size.

Richard and his followers were stood on the back of the astral chrysalis, looking down at the slow march of his army. For days now he’d been in a good mood, and with this view in front of him he flashed a content smile, “We can take on a million enemies and win. Let’s see what the four gods can gather.”

“You spent more money on this army than a million troops, why would it be strange to win?” Flowsand habitually poured some cold water over his head.

Richard just chuckled, “I don’t need so many people under me. These are for you.”

“The war might not be as easy as you think,” she warned, “Be careful.”

“I know.”

……

A few days later, the torrent of steel was only thirty kilometres from the Highland Wargod. This was the location of their first encounter with the enemies, fighting nearly 10,000 fanatics with disorderly weapons and a strange mix of races. The centre of this army even had a tall siege tower with four bare-chested barbarians desperately playing their war drums and praying for victory. There was a faint glow of power that washed over the rabble, but compared to the Crimson Army it was nothing.

The battle was nowhere near glorious. The enemies had taken the initiative to charge, and were completely routed before Richard’s army continued marching on to the church. That very dusk, Richard and Flowsand stepped into the central church building.

The shrine was noticeably new, and despite the lack of materials in the ancestral plains it was passably magnificent as well. The hall alone was fifty metres in height, with the statue of the Highland Wargod standing thirty metres tall. It looked like the Highland Wargod was a four-armed barbarian warrior with a horned helmet, holding a sword, axe, hammer, and shield.

The Wargod’s idol still shone with red light, indicating that his will was still upon the world, but all of his priests had been captured and handed to Kellac and Nyra. The two of them naturally had the means to separate a clergyman from his deity, so the Wargod didn’t even have a chance to talk.

Richard himself refused any attempts from the statue to connect to him; he felt that there was nothing to talk about. He wasn’t here to conquer but to destroy.

“It’s said that the Highland Wargod didn’t look like this a few centuries ago. Then, he seemed more like a hybrid of humans and dwarves with only two arms, holding a sword and shield,” he commented.

“That’s normal,” Flowsand replied, “The weaker deities in this plane are known to change their image to grow the faith. It’s easier to acquire the faith of someone who relates to your appearance.”

“But won’t that weaken their image in front of their worshippers?”

“Yes, but it’s not like they were strong in the first place. You think your three goddesses care all that much?”

Richard immediately shut up, knowing that this was not a topic to be broached. Multiple times over this expedition the priestesses of the three goddesses had tried to seduce him, and even before that a large number of beautiful young girls had been gathered in Bluewater for the same purpose. He had also been informed that the goddesses themselves could descend for a night of pleasure with him if he asked.

The only reason Flowsand hadn’t pushed him on the issue was that the three goddesses were the core to their disguise as Faelorians. Although she wasn’t exactly happy that people were constantly trying to seduce him, she wouldn’t push out such allies.

The Highland Wargod hadn’t been much better off than the goddesses when they first came to Richard. His best path would have been to affix himself to Richard like them, but he had hesitated over the opportunity and missed it forever. Now, it was too late; Richard had chosen to use him as an example for all of Faelor’s gods.

“Let’s see what else is here,” he shifted the topic, scanning the entire temple. His eyes lit aglow as the layers of construction in the hall turned transparent in his vision. He suddenly snorted and looked at the statue’s brows, noticing a single shadow there that blocked his power. 

Floating up to observe it carefully, Richard found that the shadow was less than half a metre wide and less than a metre deep. Pulling out a small dagger, he cut through the stone to dig out a fist-sized metal orb.

The ball was dark black, polished to the point that it was shining, but its weight was far beyond its size. It was easy enough to pull it out of the stone, but when he felt the tonne of metal fall into his hands he almost dropped it instantly. The only reason he even managed to hold on was a quick activation of Mana Armament alongside some lightening spells.

Now that it was in his hands, Richard noticed that the orb wasn’t actually as smooth as its sheen made it look. Its surface was made of numerous tiny triangles, each subdivided into even more. When his natural sight could no longer notice the divisions, he activated Insight and only found that the number continued to grow. By the time he reached his personal limit, he hadn’t found an end.

He floated down to the ground and handed the ball to Flowsand, “What is this thing?”

Despite the lightening spell, Flowsand’s hand visibly sunk down as he handed it over. Her eyes widened a bit in surprise as she looked over it carefully, her expression growing more solemn with every passing moment.

She quietly opened the Book of Time, placing the orb over one of the pages. Timeforce wrapped around the sphere and disappeared into it silently, but no matter how much power she put in the ball absorbed it all.

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OMA's Thoughts

Translated By: OMA

Edited By: Theo