Book 6, Chapter 29

Fair And Just

Most of those present in the crowd were barbarians. There were other races present too, like orcs, dwarves, and even gnomes, and the few humans present were clearly slaves. Everyone was whispering to each other, quivering in fear at the fate that was about to befall them, but a gesture by Richard calmed them down.

“Amongst you may be fanatic worshippers of the Highland Wargod, but it doesn’t matter. Unlike the priests, you are only commoners. I do not command you to change your faith, but those who choose to continue their current worship will be turned into slaves. The rest will be allowed to live here as free citizens. If you wish to remain steadfast in your faith, walk out now.”

Richard’s words immediately caused another ruckus. Such leniency from a conqueror of another race completely stumped the barbarians; in the history of Faelor, religious wars grew even more vengeful than those against invaders. Holy cities were often razed to the ground, all of their citizens killed off to destroy the faith. The gods themselves condoned such an act; after all, getting someone to change their faith was a long, uncertain process.

Some people slowly walked out of the crowd and headed to the area Richard pointed out. There were likely some fanatics still amongst the majority who stayed, but he had the methods to deal with those too. He waved a hand and a troop of knights marched out, escorting row after row of clerics into the crowd.

“The rest of you are to recite the prayers these clerics teach you. Refuse, and you will be enslaved as well.”

The clerics started chanting a mysterious prayer, and under the threat of the knights the people slowly followed. An invisible energy slowly filled the square, and the knights constantly plucked out those who remained quiet.

A few moments later, a young woman suddenly screamed in pain and fell to the ground, writhing desperately as fire spewed out of her orifices. The people around her were immediately shocked, knowing that this was divine punishment. She had incurred the wrath of the Highland Wargod!

But she had just chanted the prayers like everyone else. Why was she smitten? Such thoughts were quickly interrupted by the knights’ shouts, “Continue reading, nobody can stop!”

More screams started to interlace the crowd as the people found the prayer wasn’t as simple as it seemed. An old man fell to the ground and burnt, followed by another youth. The true worshippers of the Highland Wargod fell one by one.

Richard looked up into the sky, his eyes seemingly piercing through the void to arrive at the divine kingdom in the void as he shouted, “You call yourself a god? Pathetic bastard, what can you do but punish your own worshippers?”

The question spread like thunder, not only through the square but also echoing within the divine kingdom itself. It sounded like a whisper in the ears of every petitioner under the Highland Wargod’s control, but the curses against the Wargod shook their very souls.

Theodore had once said that faith was like a noose, one end tied to the worshipper’s neck and the other in the hands of the god. The deeper one’s faith, the tighter this noose was. A fanatic worshipper’s prayers could be heard by their deity word for word, and the Highland Wargod wasn’t a tolerant deity. Even losing his own power and prestige, he would strike down those who betrayed him. This method that had come from the false priest was very effective at identifying those with the strongest faith using their own god’s hand.

The ceremony continued on for a while longer, and some of the more devout amongst the crowd started to burn while others headed to the designated area of their own accord. Some rushed to the knights and clerics, hoping to take one down with them, but they were cut down before they could take more than a few steps.

When the ceremony finally came to an end, Richard had the fanatics sent away and spoke to the rest, “Congratulations, you are now citizens of the Crimson Dukedom. You will soon know the benefits that identity will bring you.”

Richard’s voice had been extremely bright and clear, but people still left the square in suspicion. Not being attacked even after they reached their homes, the ones who had lost loved ones finally relaxed and began to cry.

A few days later, Richard transformed the remains of the Highland Wargod’s church into an altar for the Eternal Dragon, and Flowsand presided over a ceremony with her Book of Time.

The entire process was quick and low-key. Richard started with a top-tier offering, but the options he received immediately made him grunt with anger. He had been given only two choices, one an extension to his life and the other a piece of equipment. In any other scenario he would have chosen the time— after all, he already had far more equipment than he required— but there was an added context that flowed into his mind when he looked at it: “Choose me, and the host will be given more grace.”

The explanation had left him speechless and angry. He really did want to give as much grace to Flowsand as he could, but he didn’t want it to be this way. He finally understood a little of why most of the stronger people he met despised the old dragon; this thing liked snooping around and forcing you into decisions!

No powerhouse liked the feeling of being manipulated, and even though he did choose the equipment in the end Richard was no different. He was still frowning as a piece of broken bone dropped from the ball of light and he was informed that it could repair or empower bone weapons. Recalling how he mostly used Carnage’s dagger form as a shortsword, he pulled it out and touched it to the bone. The bone immediately sank within, and the bone blade trembled as it grew longer and more slender. The dagger now actually looked like a shortsword.

The entire weapon now seemed to pierce through the dark grey sky, its aura more fierce than ever before. Smelling rust, Richard examined the blade to find that it had two added enchantments on it now: extra sharpness and armour. The blade could now block more powerful strikes without the threat of breakage.

Richard glared at the ball of light that was fading away. A top-tier offering had been consumed just to turn a sub-legendary weapon into a legendary one. This definitely wasn’t worth it, and he could only hope that the dragon gave Flowsand some extra grace as promised.

…

Outside the curtain of light, Flowsand shook a little as she felt a large amount of divine grace flowing into her body. Some of the grace flowed into the Book of Time, strengthening the artefact once more.

The grace left for Richard himself was little more than a greater sacrifice! She hadn’t interfered with the ceremony, how could it be like this? A million doubts erupted in Flowsand’s mind, but she couldn’t disturb the ceremony until it came to an end.

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OMA's Thoughts

Translated By: OMA

Edited By: Theo